Thursday, February 6, 2020

Valentine Countdown Blitz: Kendrick by Zina Abbott

My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen name I use for my American historical romance novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and American Night Writers Association. I currently live with my husband in California’s central valley near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” 

I love to read, quilt, work with digital images on my photo editing program, and work on my own family history. 

I am a blogger. In addition to my own blog, I blog for several group blogs including the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, which I started and administer.

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Pinterest ~ Goodreads
 ~  Newsletter ~ Booklinker ~

Kendrick Denham left his family farm back east, fought in the war with Mexico, then answered gold’s call after it was discovered in California. In late 1852, when he reached Columbia, known as “The Gem of the Southern Mines,” he realized the easy-to-find placer gold was no longer that easy to find.  He decided he would do better providing fresh meat to the townspeople. With extremely few women in the region, and most of the respectable ones already married, Kendrick entertains no ambitions for a wife and family. Then the county sheriff rides over from Sonora. With a cryptic expression, he hands Kendrick a six-month-old baby girl. “The mother named you as the father.”

Now her late husband’s stepson, whom she finished raising, is of age to inherit the farm left to him by his birth father, Lydia Meyer and her two young sons have been forced out of her home of over ten years. She leaves Pennsylvania headed for the wild gold fields of Columbia, California. She dreads living off the charity of her older sister who is just as disagreeable and overbearing as their late mother had been. Warned that most of the miners in California, many of whom left families back east to seek their fortunes, tend to be unsettled, uncouth, and prone to drinking and gambling, she worries it may be impossible to find a good father for her children. Even if she weds again, will it be another loveless marriage like her first?

Then there is baby Madeline, who is cast adrift in the world, all alone, with no one to love her. What will become of her?

KENDRICK is a stand-alone sweet American historical romance that is part of the multi-author series, Bachelors & Babies. Under the sub-title, “Too Old for Babies,” it is also part of the author’s own series, Too Old in Columbia."

~ Universal Amazon Link



Kendrick turned away from Jeb and started toward his meat counter on the chance the man had come to his shop to actually make a purchase, not to cause trouble. He cringed upon hearing the distinct sounds of a wagon and team pull to a stop in front of his store. His hands on the counter with his fingers of each hand pointing away from the other, through the glass of the small front window, he saw the bed of the stopped wagon.
Kendrick leaned forward and squinted. Was that a goat in the buckboard tied to the bench back? Several seconds passed before a young man he did not recognize walked to the street side long enough to lift a large trunk out of the back. Upon hearing the loud knock, he jerked his head and shifted his gaze to the door.
“Tuolumne County Sheriff. Open up, Kendrick Denham.”
After glancing at Jeb who stood within a few feet of the door and who wore a questioning expression, Kendrick nodded.
Jeb pulled the door open and stepped back into the shadows.
A man Kendrick vaguely recognized as the sheriff, only because the lawman had been called to Columbia on a few occasions to transport prisoners, strode into the butcher shop. In one hand, perched on his forearm, he carried a bundle with a soft yellow blanket draped over it. With the other, he held the rim of a large wicker basket. The braided edge, which appeared to hold the sides to the bottom, he braced against his hip. Kendrick glanced at the other man carrying the large trunk as he followed the sheriff inside.
As the sheriff approached, Kendrick noticed the bundle in his arm shifted. A high-pitched squeak followed.
Kendrick leaned his head back. What did the sheriff carry into his shop—a piglet? No, surely, a piglet would not allow itself to be hauled in a man’s arm all covered up with a blanket like that. If they were small enough, most people carried one with their hand supporting its belly and the animal tucked under their arms. Why would the sheriff be bringing him a piglet? Besides, a piglet did not explain the basket and trunk that came with it.
Movement outside the shop window distracted Kendrick from the puzzle of the piglet. He bunched his eyebrows together at the sight of two faces—one a young man probably in his teens and another definitely old enough to know to mind his own business—peering through the glass to see what took place inside the shop. The door cracked open a few inches, but no one entered.
The deputy’s question returned Kendrick’s attention to his visitors. “You want I should just drop this trunk here on the floor, sheriff?”
The sheriff kept his gaze focused on Kendrick as he spoke to the other man. “Go ahead, Josh. He can figure out where he wants it after we finish our business and get on out of here.”
Business? Don’t they have butchers in Sonora? Deciding it was better to play ignorant as long as possible, Kendrick cleared his throat. “Morning sheriff. What can I do for you today?”
The sheriff scowled. “It’s more like what I can do for you. I brought something that belongs to you.” The sheriff carefully set the basket on the counter and stepped back.
“Yep! You placed the order. Now, looks like it’s time for you to take delivery.”
Pushing back a burst of annoyance, Kendrick flicked his gaze in the direction of the deputy who had made the snarky remark. I didn’t order anything from Sonora. He returned his attention to the basket. He assumed there must be something important about it, otherwise, why would the sheriff bring it to him all the way from Sonora, five miles to the south? He lifted the basket by the handles on either end to make sure the section of counter underneath had been wiped clear of blood from his morning butchering. Although he knew he had not scrubbed his hardwood counter with lye soap yet, it appeared fairly clean.
Kendrick peered inside the basket long enough to see what appeared to be a pillow covered in a white linen case. In the event appearances were deceiving and something other than a pillow was concealed beneath. he poked the center with his forefinger. No, it was a pillow. If he had to take a guess, it was stuffed with feathers instead of straw.
Kendrick turned to the sheriff. “This isn’t my basket, Sheriff. It’s a nice one, something a woman might enjoy. Even if it was mine, as you claim, I can’t see where it’s valuable enough for you to take the trouble to tote it all the way here from Sonora.”
“Goes with what came with it. I ain’t no expert, but my guess is, she’s going to need something bigger to sleep in right quick. Your problem, not mine.”
She? Again, Kendrick wrinkled his forehead and shook his head. Pigs don’t sleep in baskets. His voice rose in volume, as if he hoped that, the louder he spoke, the more convincing his words might sound to the sheriff. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Hold it down, Mr. Denham. It took us half the ride up here to settle her to sleep.”
Just then, the bundle in the sheriff’s arms wiggled more strenuously and straightened, leaning away from the man’s chest. The sheriff quickly reached his now-free hand to grab the back of the bundle to prevent it from tumbling out of his arms. The blanket fell away revealing a small head covered in a yellow knit bonnet.

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