When The Snow Flies
Laurie Alice Eakes
Audrey Sinclair Vanderleyden sets her heart on fulfilling a promise to her deceased husband to continue practicing medicine, despite opposition from their families. But the old physician from whom they bought a practice stands in her way and refuses to honor the contract. Audrey must either give up medicine and return to her family, or marry a near stranger. A gunshot wound robs Nathan Maxwell of the ability to continue practicing medicine. He must find another purpose in his life. Marriage isn’t an option; only a desperate woman would want a blind man for a husband. Audrey is desperate, but marriage to Nathan isn’t the salvation of her medical career she thought it would be. For Nathan, the union challenges loyalties and exposes what he’s lost.
“A strong-willed woman used to fighting a society that doesn’t accept her career choice goes toe to toe with an equally determined man who would give anything to have a second chance at the job she covets in Eakes’ sweet, richly emotional historical romance.” – Booklist
“Good characters and many plot dilemmas with no perfect solutions create a fascinating story historical fans won’t want to miss.” – Romance Reviews Today
“Relationships are strained, boundaries are crossed, lives are changed and lessons are learned in WHEN THE SNOW FLIES.” – Story Circle Book Reviews
No one met Audrey Vanderleyden at the train. A wizened old man with hair like mountain mist popped out of the station, spoke with the conductor for a moment, then darted into the clapboard building without so much as glancing Audrey’s way.
The train pulled out of the station. Audrey remained on the platform amidst a collection of trunks and valises until the locomotive’s last whistle died away in the valley, and pine resin scent from the planks beneath her feet overcame the stench of coal smoke. Still no one came to meet her, neither a porter from the hotel nor Dr. Hornsby, with whom she had an appointment in an hour, according to the watch pinned to her black lapel.
She left all but one of her bags behind and marched toward the station. Her black muslin skirts hampered her brisk stride, and she kicked them out of her way with each step. When she reached the door, she yanked it open, took one step into the hot, still air, and stopped to look around.
In one corner, the telegraph machine clattered. A diminutive operator sat beside it with his booted feet propped up on the desk on which lay a slip of yellow paper with the words addressed to Dr. Hornsby printed in bold, black letters.
DR. A. S. VANDERLEYDEN ARRIVE AFTERNOOON TRAIN TUESDAY STOP MEET HOUR LATER STOP
The message for the hotel was similar and requested that a conveyance meet her at the train.
“You didn’t deliver my messages.” She used the same tone she too often had to use on nurses who failed to carry out her orders for a patient’s care.
As did those nurses, the old man jumped. His heels hit the wooden floor with a resounding thud, and he sprang to his feet. “Ma’am? I… uh … don’t know what y’all are talkin’ about.”
“These.” Audrey stalked forward and snatched up the messages. “They should have been delivered two days ago.”
The telegrapher shrugged. “No sense in it.”
“No sense—” Audrey paused to take a deep breath and count to ten before her voice shifted from mellow alto to shrill soprano. “And why, pray tell, is there no use dehvering messages I paid Western Union to deliver?”
“Thought it was a mistake.”
Audrey set her jaw and tried to meet his gaze while she waited for him to explain.
He didn’t look her in the eye, an easy evasion, as she stood half a head taller than he. “Well, gosh, ma’am.” He rubbed his bluish nose.
Audrey caught a whiff of smoked fish on his breath, and her stomach roiled.
“We all heard Dr. Vanderleyden died ’bout three months ago,” the telegrapher explained.
Audrey tensed inside her plain black mourning suit. A wave of sadness calmed her racing pulse.
“Dr. Adam Stephen Vanderleyden did pass away fourteen weeks ago. I—” She gripped her leather bag more tightly in one lace-gloved hand. “I’m Dr. Audrey Sinclair Vanderleyden, his wife—widow.”
Even before she stopped speaking, he was shaking his head, sending the wispy gray hair floating up like fluff from a dandelion. She half expected him to deny her claim. Instead, he murmured, “Quarter century back, I thought the War Between the States was the worst thing I’d ever witnessed. But a lady doctor’s about got that beat.”