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Authors: Nonnie Frasier

Ada's Secret

BOOK: Ada's Secret
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Ada's Secret

by Nonnie Frasier

Published by Nonnie Frasier, 2014.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

ADA'S SECRET

First edition. January 16, 2014.

Copyright © 2014 Nonnie Frasier.

Written by Nonnie Frasier.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Epilogue

A SPECIAL NOTE TO MY READERS:

 

This book is dedicated to my daughter:
I want to be just like you when I grow up. So you know no books were harmed in the production of this novel.
I love you.

Chapter 1

"H
oo-whee, this one’s a lively little filly! I like breakin ‘em when they’s this lively!” His heavy, calloused hand slapped across my face, filling my eyes with tears of pain and fear. There was slobber on his lips as he grabbed my loosely flowing auburn hair, giving him more leverage to force me up against the cold, hard brick wall. “Now, Missy, I’m gonna take what I want.”

He was a big man—not really tall—but his shoulders were hunched and powerful, and his stout legs held me tight against the cold, unyielding building. As he gripped me with one controlling hand, he loosened his pants, liberating his already stiff member.

I had never seen a fully erect penis before, but having heard enough talk from the “ladies” at the Silver Dove, I knew what to expect. This was definitely not the way I wanted to have my first experience.

He stank of stale sweat, cow manure, and cheap whiskey as he forced me down. Sharp pebbles on the hard-packed alley buried themselves into my exposed knees, sending searing pains through my legs. I felt the sting of another blow, and I saw the sadistic pleasure in his eyes as he pushed his rigid manhood toward my lips.

No! This drunk, idiot cowboy was not going to force that horrible thing on me!
Overcome with disgust and fear, I knew he was in complete control; I couldn’t outlast him. As he watched this comprehension dawn in my eyes, his wild lust increased. He formed his grizzled lips into a triumphant howl. I heard him take another breath and then,
CRACK!
His manhood shriveled as his bloodshot eyes rolled back into his head. He toppled flat on his back with my hair still entwined in his fingers.

What happened?
I sat up disentangling my hair from his meaty paw. My fear turned from bewilderment to dread and finally shame as I recognized the six-foot-four-inch, two-hundred-and-forty-pound black man hovering over the unconscious cowboy.

Oh, no! I have to hide. If he finds me like this, he will have every right to be really mad at me.
But I couldn’t move. At that moment I didn’t know if I should run to him and enfold myself in his shielding arms or run away to my favorite childhood hiding place beside the old iron cook stove.

Hot tears trickled down my quivering jaw as Jeremiah’s silky, full voice flowed over my ears. Gently, lovingly, he lifted me as easily as a child would lift a rag doll and stood me on my shaky feet.

“Ada, you are going to be the death of me, girl!” Holding me in his protective embrace he spoke into my ear, “Now that you have come of age, this bordello is no place for you.”

Releasing me, he turned his attention to re-sheathing the heavy bat that he had used to render the raucous cowboy senseless. He spoke softly to the club. “Good Old Jake,” he chortled as he tucked the heavily polished hickory bat back inside his coat.

“Old Jake and I had to have a little chat with this poor fellow. Sometimes we have to remind these ‘gentlemen’ to mind their manners when they get a snoot full.”

Jeremiah smiled as he adjusted the weight of the bat along his muscular hip patting the often-used club like an old, faithful companion. Giving a wink, he continued, “Old Jake, has a way with them, though.”

Jeremiah grabbed the unconscious cowboy under his armpits and dragged the quietly snoring body toward the saloon’s back door. The heels of the cowboy’s heavily booted feet left trails as Jeremiah effortlessly pulled the cowboy over the threshold.

“Tonight, this cowboy will sleep it off in the bull pen in with the other inebriated fools. He’ll wake up with a nasty headache, but he will be out chasing ‘women’ by morning.”

Jeremiah then turned, and his dark expression fell on me. The earnest tone in his voice made me pay strict attention to his next words. “Ada, tonight you were lucky,” he said as he took my shoulders in his huge, strong hands. “I have to keep the working girls safe here and I can’t keep worrying that I might not be there to protect you.”

Jeremiah’s gaze hardened. “You of all people know this is a house of prostitution and any sweet young thing is fair game here. You can’t just go strutting around this place like you do with your auburn hair and sweet face. For these old boys, it’s just like waving a red cape in front of a bull. Listen to me closely. These cowboys are like mountain lions looking for fresh meat. You just might be their next meal if you aren’t careful.”

Jeremiah’s strong features turned soft as he said, “Now, Ada! We only want what is best for you! Please, go with Aunt Elsie to Chicago. She can give you a proper home while you take lessons at the ladies’ finishing school. Girl you just can’t be hanging around here getting these miserable boys all stirred up. There is no guarantee I will be here next time some rodeo clown gets a bit too ornery. Please, promise me you will go to Chicago.”

Jeremiah, the only father I had ever known, did have a point. This place was getting too dangerous for a virtuous young lady, and he already had his hands full attending to the safety of the prostitutes that worked here. He shouldn’t need to be worrying about my safety.

The Chinese cook, Chen, hearing all the commotion from the alley, released the heavy oak door from the kitchen’s interior. A warm yellow light and the usual delicious Saturday night aromas spilled through the opening from the Dove’s kitchen as Chen joined in chastising me in his broken English. “Missy Ada, you know you not to be out here. Get inside before something bad happen to you!”

I hustled inside to the safety of the kitchen, dodging Chen’s menacing wooden spoon and seeking sanctuary in the room that Ma and I shared beside the kitchen when she wasn’t working.

How many times had we had this conversation lately?
Since my eighteenth birthday Ma, Lettie, and Jeremiah had debated this topic frequently with me, and it usually ended with me grabbing my Winchester and heading for the barn at the ranch.

I could hear Ma and Aunt Lettie trying to talk sense into my belligerent head: “Proper ladies don’t wear dungarees or ride astride a horse. Why can’t you be sensible for once?”

“Sensible?” I would repeat. “How sensible are skirts when I’m working the ranch? Silly skirts always get caught up in bushes and fences. And how could anyone hunt rabbits in petticoats and a corset? Dammit anyway!” I would shout. “I can’t breathe in those loathsome things. I’ll never do the things I am really good at like hunt, shoot, or fix a fence if I have to be a lady!”

Sitting dejectedly at the side of my bed, I did have to remember though Ma and I owed our very lives to Aunt Lettie and the Silver Dove. The Silver Dove had always been my home, and even though it was a bordello, I was raised with art, music, culture, and some of the more important knowledge of life.

The Silver Dove was located in the center of Denver. Lettie had furnished it with the best and finest. From the beautiful furniture brought in from New York to the art and antiques that she had collected in California, the Silver Dove was a showcase.

The ladies who worked there treated me like their own child. While Ma knew I had a good idea what went on behind those closed doors, there would have been hell to pay if I should really find out. I cherished my abnormal family, but thoughts of Chicago and being cooped up in a dirty, cold city for the rest of my life made the blood stand still in my veins. After the repulsive experience with the drunken cowboy, I agreed this was no place for me, but neither was Chicago. I had another idea, and it was time to put the plan I had started months earlier in motion.

Chapter 2

S
everal months earlier, Jeremiah’s wife Sarah had helped me design my plan when she found me crying over Ma and Aunt Lettie’s decision to send me to Chicago. I remember how she held me in her arms until my sobbing finally subsided.

“Sarah, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it! Even if I had finishing school lessons, I don’t believe I could ever be a proper lady. I can’t sew worth a damn, teacups make me nervous, and I’m just not good at the petty small talk that proper ladies seem to find interesting.

“I love the outdoors and I can ride better than the hired men, shoot the leaves off a tree and I hunt better than any of the cook’s helpers at the ranch. Everything good in this world exists in the mountains and streams. I would rather die in my dungarees than live in a corset!”

“You had a lonely childhood growing up at the Silver Dove,” Sarah empathized. “Ma, Jeremiah, and Lettie did everything to make your life healthy and respectable at the bordello, but the best thing they did for you was to allow you to be wild and free at the Silver Dove’s ranch.

“You learned many things that girls should never need to learn, but now that you’re grown, Ma and Aunt Lettie shouldn’t try to put you into the social graces if you don’t want to be.”

Sarah reached out and turned my tearstained face to look directly at her as she said her next words. “Your childhood made you strong and independent. You didn’t care what others thought of you. Being raised by prostitutes will do that for you!” She let the smile fade from her face as she said, “I love your Ma and Aunt Lettie, but I don’t agree with this decision.”

“Sarah, I’ve been thinking about something crazy ever since Ma and Aunt Lettie told me about Chicago.” I had always trusted Sarah with all my childhood secrets, and she had never betrayed my confidence. Gambling everything I had on her to keep my trust I ventured, “Would you help me find a mail-order husband? You and Jeremiah have made it work, unlike my Ma. Do you think we could find someone for me?”

I saw a memory flash in Sarah’s eyes as she looked thoughtfully at me. “I know what it’s like to have people telling you what you should do when you already have your mind made up. I ran away from a bad situation like that when I answered Jeremiah’s letter for a mail-order-bride.

“Now after all these years with Jeremiah, I know it was God who arranged my marriage when he chose me through our letters,” Sarah said. “Our church has a mail-order-bride list and some of the correspondence looks interesting, but Ada, it’s not for everyone.

“Most of these men say they are looking for a good God-fearing woman to work their ranch, have children, and build a simple life. You have been raised with art and music. Can you give all that up for the desolate existence of a rancher’s wife? Are you sure you would rather live like that?”

Another thought crossed her dark features as she warned, “And, not everyone is honest in these letters. Sometimes men make themselves out to be much better off than they really are. And what about your own honesty? You won’t be able to reveal the truth about yourself.”

Sarah pointed her finger at me to emphasize her argument. “Oh yes you are a virtuous, God-fearing woman, but how will you be honest with a future husband about your upbringing? If your husband can’t understand your past, you’ll be setting yourself up to live a lifetime of lies.”

“I don’t know how I will work that out, Sarah, but I get too depressed just thinking about corsets, petticoats, and a life in society.” Lightheartedly I said, “Let’s take a peek and see if anything looks interesting.”

Sarah brought out a stack of letters, and soon we were going through them one by one. Towards the end of our search, one letter stood out among the others and I decided to take a chance and answer it.

***

N
ow, months later, sitting in the safety of my room, with my decision final I pulled the letters from Patrick Burgess out of my dresser drawer and re-read everything he had written. As I perused the letters we had shared our conversations over the previous months, I began to imagine a life with him. His ranch sounded perfect. He explained that it was about seventy-five miles north of Denver in the new Colorado Territory nestled in the foothills at the base of the high peaks of the Never Summer Range. Patrick described the mornings as frosty and clear, with warm days, and ending in sunsets that looked like the sky was on fire. “The night skies,” he wrote, “are so vibrant and the stars so bright that they cast shadows.” As his letters revealed his passion for the majestic land he lived in, I realized I had fallen in love with him and his ranch.

BOOK: Ada's Secret
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