Chapter One

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Dawn looked at the empty stone building on the outskirts of town and let her imagination run away with images of what it would look like as her bakery.

She could almost smell the scent of fresh baked cakes, pies and pastries and she shook with excitement. She had left her home back east and alone, without the protection of a man, she had come out west to this frontier town to make her own life.

She wasn’t sure what had caused her to choose this town. She had simply been drawn to it and had decided to go with her gut, follow her instincts. This town was now her home.

She had brought a lot of money with her, and stowed it away safely at the town bank. It should be more than enough to buy or rent this building and start up her bakery. That is if the owner would even consider doing business with a woman, which Dawn knew was a long shot. No matter. She was persistent and determined and eventually she would get what she wanted.

Her parents had died when she was very young and her brother had taken over guardianship of her. Dawn felt a moment of pain as she thought of her brother. She had loved him so but he had had demons eating at his soul. Gambling, drinking and picking fights had eventually led to his death as well.

Dawn was twenty-eight, considered an old-maid, and plenty old enough to look out for herself, though it had been discouraged back east for a woman to live alone. It simply did not look proper the ladies had said. She did not care. Dawn had always been a bit of a loner and so this move had suited her.

The life of a housewife was something she did not want and she wasn’t what most men wanted. Her reddish, gold hair, freckles, pale skin and plump figure had kept her rather free at all the town dances back east.

“Ma’am, is there something I can help you with?” An older gentleman in a worn suit asked as he walked up to her. Dawn smiled the most charming smile she could muster and held out her gloved hand, which he shook as he gave her an odd look.

“My name is Dawn Patten, sir and I was actually hoping to speak to the owner of this empty building.” The man thought for a moment.

“I guess that would be Grange Michaels. It used to belong to Old Man Howell but he passed away a few years ago and left it to Grange, I believe.” Dawn nodded, happy to finally have a name.

“And where can I find Mr. Michaels?” The gentleman laughed good naturedly.

“He should be to town sometime today. He cuts timber and hauls it to the mill behind the lumber yard. He won’t know what to think if you call him Mr. Michaels. He’s just Grange to most folks around here.”

“Thank you so much.” Dawn said appreciatively and the man nodded.

“Don’t mention it. Grange can be a bit odd around folks he don’t know so when you talk to him tell him that Henry sent ya.”

“I’ll do that Henry.” Dawn assured him. She was about to turn to head to the diner for breakfast when Henry spoke up again.

“Can I ask what interest a woman would have in a building like this one?”

“I plan on starting a bakery if Mr. Michaels will allow me to lease his building.”

“A bakery? Where is your husband?” Dawn forced a tight smile and folded her hands in front of her as she gripped her tiny clutch.

“I do not have a husband.” she replied. “Nor do I have a father or brother accompanying me. As a matter of fact I have no guardian or chaperone at all.” Henry’s light eyes widened as he rubbed his wrinkled cheek.

“I can tell you’re from back east by the way you talk. You mean to tell me you came all the way out here by yourself and now you’re gonna start a business?”

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