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Ned’s Choice

Ned Heizer has just released his betrothed from her promise to marry him. He knows she’s in good hands that are not his own.

But if he carries out his intention to backtrack their trail, to ride toward Raton Pass where he last saw the Mormon wagon party, he’ll be leaving behind his brother and his friends to go in search of an unknown future.

Is he mistaken in his belief that Maggie Julander is the girl for him? If the feeling like lightning that passed between them is any indication, he’s on the right road, unless she didn’t have the same experience.

A Shenandoah Neighbors Story that puts Ned in a situation where he must make an informed choice and take risks for his hope of happiness.

*Mormon religious beliefs play a large part in this story.*

Ned’s Choice

A Shenandoah Neighbors Story

Marsha Ward

Copyright © 2018 Marsha Ward

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.

WestWard Books

P O Box 53

Payson, Arizona 85547

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

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Ebook ISBN 978-1-947306-05-9

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Books by Marsha Ward

About the Author

Thank you!

Chapter 1

Ned Heizer shook his head at the sheer folly of what he'd just proposed to do. He had said he was going to leave his brother George and the Bingham family after spending months traveling across the country with them. And for what? To go after a tall girl with a bright smile and a verve about her that excited him from tip to toe.

George spoke up. “Are you sure, Ned?”

He thought of the light in Maggie Julander's eyes. He thought of her winking at him over the ladle of food. He thought of the spark that flew between them when their thumbs touched on the bale of a bucket. “I'm sure as I’ll ever be.”

“Well, brother,” George said softly, “let’s get provisions together so you can leave in the morning.”

Robert Fletcher had something to say, but Ned didn't hear him. It took all his will to break off thinking about the dark-haired lass in the party of Mormons they'd met along the wagon trail near Raton Pass so he could order his thoughts as to what he had to do to reach her.

First, he had to take that rascal trader to the law in Santa Fe. Imagine him thinking he could make off with Jessie Bingham like he'd tried to do!

Jessie. A tremor of sadness ran down his spine. All along he had thought they would make a good match. Good thing he'd come to his senses and realized he only loved her like a big brother would and then released her from her promise to marry him.

She belongs with James Owen. That was certain. He'd been blind not to see it. He wished them happiness and long life. Tomorrow he would turn back up the trail and find Maggie, the winsome Mormon gal whose glance made him tingle as Jessie's never had.

Heppie, George's wife and Jessie's sister, pressed a weighty gunny sack into his hands. “Provisions for the trail,” she said, her brown eyes misted over with unshed tears. She leaned over and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Go with God, Brother Ned.”

Her emotion reminded him of the great step he was taking. He and George had always worked together, back home in the Shenandoah Valley. They had planned to start a new farm here in New Mexico Territory. His leaving would be a loss to George, but George had Heppie now, and from the looks of her form, his brother would soon have even more of a family.

He didn't know for sure where Maggie was headed, but wherever she ended up, that was home for him.


Maggie Julander stopped walking beside the family wagon and turned to look back the way they had come. Cold enveloped her and she wrapped her arms around her chest. The day was bright and sunny, with no hint of a breeze, so where had the sudden chill come from? Old wives would tell her someone had walked over her grave, but she didn't believe that notion, even though the momentary sensation left her unsettled. Why was she looking to the south when her pathway led to the north and then west to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake? What lay behind her?

An image came into her mind, as it often did, of a tall, curly-haired stranger. Ned Heizer, he'd said he was called. They had met over a kettle of stew, and she had winked at him, so her mother said. Her face grew warm at the memory. When his trail and hers had diverted, she had mourned the parting for many long, empty hours. The fact was, he was not of her faith. The fact was, he had no interest in her faith. The fact was, he was a very shy, but nice young man whose limp hurt her soul. A feeling like lightning had flashed between them. That was the true fact.

She shivered, then turned her face and steps northward again. There was no point in moping over Ned Heizer. He had stood and watched her depart, then mounted his horse and followed the few wagons going west. She would never see him again.

Mama waited beside the trail. When she reached her, Maggie sent her a glance.

Mama looked straight back at her for a few moments as they walked together. Then she asked, “Thinkin' of that young man again?”

Maggie liked that she could talk to her mother, but sometimes, her parent’s uncanny ability to guess what she was thinking made her want to shy off. This was such an occasion.

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