Little Jill reluctantly heads west on a stagecoach to join her husband in New Mexico Territory where he is homesteading.
Finding herself penniless and in a city for the first time, a dashing and friendly young banker seduces her and introduces her to the lucrative and exciting idea of financing her trip by whoringto her surprise the life suits her. This is her story.
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
As the stagecoach bounced along the rough trail, heading westward from the only home I'd ever known, I stared out the window blankly. I rode in a stupor, juggling mixed emotions over the days it took to travel from West Virginia to Indianapolis. For the few weeks it would take for me to reach the New Mexico Territory, I was on an adventure.
"Ever been to Indianapolis?" the man sitting across from me asked.
I turned to look at him, noting that the man, who had joined the stage at one of the stops the stage made in a medium-sized town, struck me as pleasingreasonably attractive, well-dressed, with pleasant features. I guessed him to be in his late thirties.
"No. I've never been this far west before," I said, turning to look at him. I left out the part about this being my first time away from home. I smiled at him, wanting him to know I appreciated the distraction from my dreary thoughts. We were the only passengers on this part of the journey, and he seemed pleasant enough. "I'm Warren Lewis," he said.
As he waited for me to reply, I made the odd decision to lie. I can't say why I lied, but when I saw him expecting me to tell him my name, that's exactly what I did. It wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference to anyone if he knew my name was Alice Rogers. He'd have no idea who Alice Rogers was, in fact she was a nobody and perhaps that's why I lied. Anyway, I said, "I'm Jill Landers." Landers was my maiden name and Jill was just a name I like a lot better than Alice.
"Are you off on an adventure, Miss Landers?"
He'd assumed I was single, probably because I didn't say "Missus Landers." A proper woman would immediately correct such a mistake. I didn't, again unsure of my motives, but seeing the flirtatious look in his eyes, I was glad I hadn't.
Warren told me he was a banker. From Chicago, he said. Once he had my attention, I found his attempts to engage me in conversation both charming and flattering. My downcast mood could soak up all the charm and flattery that came my way.
So, I said a few words to encourage him, but listening more than talking. I worried that if I told him about myself, the truth, he'd quickly realize that I was little more than a woman whose life was out of whack. I was young, recently married, and headed west, leaving home for the first time in my life.
Thinking about my life, especially my marriage, summoned up the all-too familiar agony that surrounded everything to do with my marriage, and with Dave Rogers, my husband. I didn't love the man. According to my mother, that didn't matter in the least. He was what she called a good man.'
My parents ran a feed store in the same town where Dave's father farmed a scrubby plot of land, eking out a subsistence living. Dave was seven years older than me and I barely knew him. We had nothing in common. He seemed to love farming and I was a town girl. I had fallen madly in love with a boy named Billy Briggs. He loved me too. He wasn't exactly handsome, but he had rugged good looks. His father was a gunsmith. Both of his parents were incredible people, and Billy courted me with a fever that excited me.
Suddenly my future held promise.