(In Three Moon Station, Katy, a fugitive witness to a murder, hides out on Tritomis-2, a pioneer farming planet. Purchased by Sar Trant, a reclusive rancher, she believes she's going to be his housekeeper, and only later through an embarrassing series of events, discovers she's legally his wife. Upon arriving at his ranch, Three Moon Station, Katy, still unaware of her new relationship with Sar, meets the other member of the Trant household.)

A man stood in the doorway, younger than Trant, a little younger than she, about twenty, she thought. He was barefoot, wearing unbelted jeans, and an unbuttoned shirt that looked as it had been hastily thrown over the broad shoulders. His long black hair was tousled as if he'd been asleep, hanging about his swarthy face and down his back. He was as dark as Trant was fair but Katy was aware of a startling resemblance between the two.

"I was asleep." He answered Trant's question, though he didn't move his gaze from Katy's face. "Who's this?"

"Who wouldya think 'tis?" Trant replied in a slightly irritated tone, still rankling from her condemnation of his home.

The boy didn't answer and Trant said something absolutely surprising, "Hatch, this is Katy--Katy, this is m'son, Hatch!"

His son! She couldn't do anything but stare--gawk--mouth falling open. He was too young to have a child this age! Nevertheless, she knew it was true. In spite of Hatch's darkness, the aqua eyes and handsome features were Trant's own.

She managed to recover enough to stammer, "H-hello, Hatch," and take a step toward him, holding out her hand.

The scowl forming on the handsome face eased a little as he carefully took her hand, gave it a gentle squeeze and released it.

"Didna expect this," he muttered, looking at his father.

"Have you had supper?" Trant asked, sounding like a parent.

"Couple of apples."

"You need more than that."

A shrug. "'Twas enough." Like Trant, Hatch had an accent. He looked from Katy to his father and muttered, "I'll go back to the barn. Guess you two want to be alone."

He turned and walked out.

"I'll be out in a bit to stable the oxen," Trant called.

Hatch waved a hand over his shoulder to acknowledge that he'd heard but didn't look back.

"Why is he sleeping in the barn?" Katy asked. Trant had said most of the house was closed--and only one bed was in use. "Not because of me, I hope?"

"Hardly!" Trant gave a short laugh. "I've always had trouble ge'ing Hatch to sleep in a house. He'd sleep under the stars if I'd let him--in all seasons!"

"Doesn't he get cold in the winter?"

His father shrugged. "He says he doesn't, though I've made many a trip out there to make certain, when the snow is thick. Once, I found him sleeping in a stall, curled up next to one of the elos!"

"He certainly looked angry."

He closed the door and turned to look at her.

"Probably 'twas seeing how you reacted to learning I have a part-Gadja son." He shook his head, disappointment in the aqua eyes. "I'd na have expected that of you, Sunshine."

"What do you mean?" she demanded, not understanding his accusation. "What's a Gadja?"

"You dinna know?"

She shook her head, seeing the disappointment fade.

"I knew you couldna be that intolerant! The Gadjas are the original natives of Tritomis," he explained. "They're nomads, living off the land, and--like most places open to colonization--they've been made into a minority by the settlers. They're not treated kindly by us, I'm afraid."

"And Hatch thought that I--" She was angry--at Hatch for thinking that, at Trant for not explaining sooner. "You'll tell him, won't you? Explain that I-I was just surprised you have a son that old?"

He nodded, and she thought she saw a quick flushing of his cheeks, as if what she'd said embarrassed him.

"I'm surprised you'd want to have more children now, with Hatch the age he is--" she went on, determined to make him talk of his family, now that she'd met one member. "When do I get to meet his mother?"

He turned away from her, studying the table, picking up one of the books and staring at its cover before answering.

"You'll na meet her, Katy. I've na been married." The words came out with a long sigh.


THREE MOON STATION (release date TBA) will be published by The Wild Rose Press some time this summer. It is written under one of my pen names, Icy Snow Blackstone.

2 comments

  1. Caffey // June 21, 2008 at 8:57 PM  

    Hi Toni. I'm Caffey, a reader visiting the blog and came to a good day! I love to find western historical romances. The theme of arranged marriages and how they fall in love over time is so good to read. And for Katy not even knowing they are married yet is going to be a great tease to read within the story. Loved reading the excerpt. Its going on my wishlist! Is this a stand alone book or any other books connected or will be from the ranch, Three Moon Station? I love re-visiting! Thanks.

  2. Mary Ricksen // June 22, 2008 at 2:21 PM  

    Great stuff Toni. You can really write!