Cut from the Same Western Cloth (Preview)

Chapter One

A pang of sadness rushed through her. Today was the day she both looked forward to and dreaded every single year since her mother had died five years ago. She and her father had decided to honor and remember her mother’s birthday rather than the day she had left them. Before she’d passed away, she had always protested celebrating her birthday, but now it was more important than ever to spend the day in remembrance.

Alice carried two cups of tea precariously into the parlor. It was one of the simplest rooms in the house but also one of her favorites. She enjoyed spending time there with her father, and it was one of the main places where she had spent time with her mother when she was alive.

Her mother was not only the person who had raised her and always loved her. She was Alice’s best friend. The ache of pain and a broken heart sat in Alice’s heart every single day when she thought of her loss.

“I’ll be right back,” she told her father before going back to the kitchen to get the simple spice cake she’d prepared. It had been her mother’s favorite.

She set it beside the tea and then soberly took her seat next to her father.

“It looks lovely, dear.” Her father’s feet fidgeted, nearly knocking into the table. He’d been on edge all day. At first, she’d thought it was just because of the sadness that always came with this day, but now she began to worry that it was something more.

“Is everything okay?” She had noticed her father seemed bothered by something these past few days. He wouldn’t say what was bothering him, and she’d assumed it was just the memory of her mother that had him in a low mood. Now she asked him again.

“We have to … talk about something, but let’s have cake first.” A ghost of a smile lifted his lips. As she nervously cut the cake, she couldn’t help being jittery.

Her father never talked about serious things like that unless they were truly something bothersome. What could be so important on her mother’s birthday?

“You’ve outdone yourself.” Her father smiled as he took a bit of the cake. “It is delicious.”

“Thank you.” Alice smiled as she savored a bit of the cake herself. “I think even Mama would have liked this cake.”

“You’re right. She would have, and she would have been so proud to see the young woman you’ve become. She always talked about how when you would grow up, the two of you would be best friends.”

“She was my best friend.” Alice shook her head. Her mother had been the one person in the world she felt could always understand her, her struggles, and what she was going through. Her mother had a way to turn things around when they seemed impossible.

“I know. I’m sorry she couldn’t be here with you. When we moved here to Riverstone, Oregon, we thought we would be together forever. ”  Her father shook his head. “When you were little, your mother loved being a mama. She loved you so much! She would sit on the floor and play with you. She would glow with happiness when you were with her.”

Alice watched her father carefully. He kept saying things in a strange way as if he expected her to be upset at any moment.

“What’s wrong, Pa?” She noticed the way he tapped his foot, tapped his fork on his plate, and how he wouldn’t meet her gaze. It was so unlike him that fear began to stir in her heart.

“It’s … we need to talk about something. There were things your mother never told you. She didn’t tell me either, at first. Anyhow, when she found out she was ill, she wrote you a letter. She made me promise to give it to you. I should have given it to you last year, but …” he shook his head and looked away. “… I was afraid.”

“Afraid of what?” Her father was never afraid of anything. Now she was starting to feel scared of what was in the letter he seemed so hesitant to give her.

“I don’t know how you’ll feel once you read the letter. It may change everything between us.”

“Why would it?”

Her father sighed. “You just have to read it, darling. She loved you, you know? She loved you so much, she just …well, she made mistakes. Though, for the most part, I don’t think what she did was a mistake.”

“What … what did she do?” Alice took a deep breath. Her mother couldn’t have been hiding anything that big, could she? Her mother was always a simple woman, dedicating herself to her family, cooking, caring for her home, and being there for the people she loved.

“Alice … this letter may change things for you but try to remember how your mother was always there for you. Luisa may have done things she was not proud of, but you were always one of the ones she was proud of. This …” he held a small book. It was a deep red, almost brown, and had a leather string wrapped around it, holding it closed. “This was hers too. It’s a journal she wrote, when she, well when she was younger. It may explain more about what is in the letter. I thought you should have it. But read the letter first, okay?” Her father ran a hand through his graying hair. He looked so old and forlorn. She almost considered telling him to put the letter and journal away so that things could stay the same between them as they’d been for years.

She wondered if she really wanted to know more about her mother if it would hurt her father. She was confused. Her mother had always told her everything. She couldn’t imagine what secret would be so huge that her mother would have to leave her a letter and her father would have to give her a journal to explain it.

“It’s okay, Alice. Take it.” Her father reached over and handed her the letter and journal. His hand shook slightly as the things left his fingers and went into hers.

She held the letter and book tenderly. Any connection to her mother was special and sacred. What she would give for one more conversation with her mother, and now she not only had a letter directly from her, but she also had a book written by her mother in her own words. And yet she eyed them with an unknown trepidation. What unspoken secret could they contain?

“Pa?” Alice asked after a moment.

“Yes?” He looked up at her, his eyes meeting hers, although reluctantly.

“Why would this change things between us if it is from Mama?”

“Because it will tell you things about me, too, things you would never have guessed. I know that you might be tempted to think differently about me, but please don’t. I love you, Alice, more than anything, and I always have.”

“You’re scaring me.” Alice squeezed the letter and book in her lap tighter. How could a little piece of paper and a book change as much as her father seemed to think it could?

“Don’t be scared, child. Just read the letter and remember that although we made some mistakes along the way, it was all done in love for you.” Her father stood, his plate making a soft clink against the table as he set it down. “I have some things to do in town, so I’ll leave you to it.” He shuffled out of the room, looking more defeated than he had in years.

When he was gone, Alice was left alone with only the letter and journal to keep her company. She unfolded the top of the envelope and pulled out a neatly folded paper.

She recognized the handwriting. It had an effortless lilt to it, the same lettering her mother always used to write. She smiled wistfully. Once more, she hesitated. Maybe nothing had to change when she read the letter. She didn’t want things to change.

She had her father, and while they’d both lost someone who mattered more to them than the entire world, they still had each other. They managed to make one another smile, to move forward with life, and to make things work. Did she really want to mess any of that up?

No. Her mother left this letter specifically for her. She had to read it to know what her mother wanted to tell her, even now.

She started at the top, her breath abandoning her as she read on.

My Dearest Alice, 

I am very unwell as I am writing this. I suppose I have been putting it off. If you are reading this, I must not be with you anymore. I am so sorry you have to find out what I will tell you in this way. I should have told you in person, and even now, I still intend to, but life is short, and I can feel mine slipping away. My moments with you are numbered, and for selfish reasons, I am conflicted. I don’t know if I can stand to see you hate me, no matter how much justification you may have to do so. 

There is no easy way to say this, no way that will shelter you or cushion you from the truth, so I will write a plain and simple fact. 

You are not my natural physical child or your father’s child. You are the daughter of Theresa and Walter Carpenter, and you have a twin sister. 

I know your mind must be whirling, but try to understand the rest of what I have to say. 

Alice stopped reading for a moment. Surely she must have read wrong. Her parents were not her parents? Who on earth were Theresa and Walter Carpenter? There was no way she could have a twin sister, was there? She was an only child, something her parents had insisted would be her fate when she’d begged for a sibling many a time. She swallowed back tears that threatened to overtake her. She had to finish reading what her mother had written. She had to find out the rest of the truth, or at least what this letter claimed to be the truth.

You must be so confused right now, and I am so sorry I can’t be there to explain things to you and hug you while I do so. When I was very young, I worked for a wealthy family in the city. They had two daughters, you and your twin. 

Like most rich families, they hired me and another nanny to care for their daughters. They were gone all the time. They barely knew you, much less how to love you. I never intended to take you, not at first. But when I was faced with walking away from you and never seeing you again while breaking your heart, I just couldn’t do it. 

I took you with me, and I ran. You became my daughter, and I became your mother. I met your father later, and he loved you as much as I did. He didn’t know I had taken you until after we were married. We chose not to tell you until you were of age so you could choose what you wanted. I never thought I’d get sick and leave you all alone before that time came.  

There are so many other things I want to tell you, but all the paper I have couldn’t hold it. I needed you to know the truth about your true physical parents, in case you want to find them. The last I heard, they were living in San Francisco. All I ask is that while you go on your journey, please keep your father in mind. He loves you more than life itself, and if he’s lost me, I know he must need you something awful. 

Don’t hold my decisions against him. He kept this secret because I made him promise to, and he loved me, and he loved you. I know you’ll grow into a lovely young woman, capable of so much more than I ever was able to accomplish. All I can do is hope and pray that you can use this letter to bring yourself some sort of closure and answers to our past. 

I love you now and forever, 

Mama

Alice reread the letter four times over. She still felt each word was foreign. When the sound of the front door closing snapped her back to the present, she was shocked to see the sky was dark. She’d let the entire afternoon slip away while lost in her mother’s letter, unraveling her life.

“Alice? Are you here?” her father’s voice floated through the house.

Alice fought tears. What could she do now? Everything she’d believed in was a lie. How could she go on as if nothing happened? But could she uproot her life and everything she cared about only for answers?

Chapter Two

Henry Williams peered closer at the dog on the bench, putting on his best expression of concern.

“So, what do you think it is? He’s shaking so bad.”

“Well, I think it is a bad case of shyness. Sometimes little puppies like this get overwhelmed when they go places where there are lots of people.” Henry did his best to keep a smile off his face and look serious.

He was a doctor, and yet he did know a few things about animals. It seemed that despite him being a people doctor, it didn’t keep children from town from occasionally bringing their animals to him for a proper opinion.

Today was little Marvin, the boy from next door, with a rather small puppy whom he’d taken to school, and now, at the day’s end, the pup was always sleeping instead of looking around with his freshly opened eyes.

“So what should I do? Is he going to die?”

Henry chuckled. Children were so pure, so ready to worry about the things and people around them, and they spoke their minds clearly.

“No, he’ll be perfectly fine. Though I do need you to do one thing.”

Marvin’s eyes widened with anticipation.

“Take him home to his mama and put him with the other pups. He’ll need lots of rest for, I’d say, a good ten days. That should set him right straight.”

“Ten days?” Marvin shook his head. “Are you sure? Lily wanted to see him at school again tomorrow.”

“I’m very sure. If you take him out again, he may get worse, and I won’t be able to do anything for him. He is just a baby, and all babies need to sleep a lot, and they need to be with their mama.”

“Oh.” Marvin’s shoulders sank. He scooped up the pup and turned to go.

“Thank you, Dr. Williams.”

“No problem at all!” Henry called after him with a wave. Once his young patient was gone, he tidied up the front room of his father’s practice, hoping that no one would see that he’d had a puppy in the office. His father hated when animals came anywhere near the clinic.

He checked his pocket watch. He was nearly thirty minutes late. His parents would not be happy about that. They’d invited him formally to an afternoon meal, which could only mean one thing. They had important things to talk about. Most likely, things he didn’t want to hear, but he had an obligation to listen to them for now.

Soon, he’d come up with another solution, a way he could be his own person without having to do whatever his parents wanted, whenever they wanted. He sighed as he threw on his coat and hurried out of the clinic and down the street to his house. It was the biggest one on the street and in most of the city. That was something his parents rarely let anyone forget.

It seemed that along with plenty of money came a lot of entitlement on his parents’ part. That entitlement extended to him, or at least they wanted it to. They had dreams of grandeur, him working as a medical scientist, married to a wealthy young woman who would make the perfect trophy wife to be shown at social gatherings and gossiped about. He had no interest in anything having to do with the life they’d planned for him. He loathed being cooped up in a room all day and would much rather spend his time helping people with his knowledge, real people like Marvin, other patients, or even animals. There was something real about bringing relief to someone who truly needed it.

The parlor was silent, and his parents’ voices coming from the dining room were the only sound in the house.

“He said he’d be here; I’m sure he’s just late.” His mother was trying to placate his father, trying to convince him that Henry was just late, not avoiding their latest invitation or demand.

“He should have been here early. We’ve given that boy too much freedom. You know, he’ll be upset about this new change of plans, but you can’t coddle him, dear. The sooner he accepts how things will be, the better it will be for all of us.”

Henry shook his head. Sometimes, his parents seemed to forget he was twenty-three and not seventeen.

“I’m back,” he said as he stepped into the dining room, drawing the attention of both his mother and father at once. They looked him up and down as if inspecting him to see if there were any signs he’d been somewhere he didn’t belong.

“Where have you been? You’ve kept us both waiting nearly a half hour.” His father folded his paper and placed it on the table beside his plate. He didn’t allow Henry to answer. “We have some very important news to discuss with you, Henry. Take a seat.”

Henry drew in a breath and sat down. This was only for a short time. His parents thought he could not get by without their support, without their money. They would be shocked he was looking for an opportunity that involved almost no money at all. As soon as he had a place out west that would provide him with a place to live, a small stipend, and a job, he would have his own way to start life. He did suppose that until that happened, he had an obligation to listen to the two people who had become overly interested in his success whether he wanted it or not, over the past few years.

“Henry, as you know, you are well past marrying age.”

Henry shook his head.

“I’m twenty-three, Father, not fifty.”

His father narrowed his eyes, clearly not appreciating the interruption.

“Yes, and as you know, as our eldest and only son, it falls to you to marry well to strengthen our family but also to start one of your own. I have talked with many colleagues who have a plethora of young women willing to wed you, but I have wanted to find one that would suit you well.”

“I see.” Henry gritted his teeth. What his father meant was that he’d found a girl who would suit both the family name and business well. It all had very little to do with him or what he wanted, or they would not be having the conversation in the first place.

“She is very well off and well mannered. She’s from a very nice family and will make a good wife.”

“Who is she?” He still had at least a couple of months before he could finalize his plan to leave this life to start over. Until then, he’d have to go along with his parents’ plan, and he wanted to know who he’d be dealing with.

“Cora Carpenter.” His mother said the name as if it should put any hesitation on his part to rest. She sounded excited, like she couldn’t wait for him to share her reaction.

“The Carpenter family?” He shook his head. He’d never met Cora, or any of the Carpenters for that matter, but he had heard of them. They were the wealthiest family in California. She would definitely be the type of woman he was not interested in. “I don’t like it. No.”

“Don’t be so disagreeable, son. You haven’t even met her. We’ve arranged a meeting, and we’ll have dinner soon, in a week or so. You’ll like her, and you’ll get along splendidly.”

“How do you know that? Do you know what she likes, what sort of person she is? Or did you just speak to her parents and listen to what they have to offer you as a businessman? I am your son, not a bargaining chip.” Henry drilled holes into his father’s stern gaze. He didn’t like being used like a pawn in someone else’s game.

He hated that his father was treating his life as if it were simply a bargaining chip he could use however he wanted.

“Nonsense. Don’t be so hard on him. He did try to find you someone that you’d take to well.” His mother jumped to his father’s defense, which was not surprising. “She is rumored to be very beautiful and accomplished, exactly what you need in a wife. I hear that she is quite the seamstress and has also hosted several dinner parties with distinguished guests. ”

“There is more to life than just beauty and frivolous accomplishments.” He wondered how someone like Cora Carpenter would feel about moving out into the wild frontier away from all the large towns and cities, where they might face threats of Indians or have to live in a cabin or a tiny room in a tiny town that didn’t even have a train or any entertainment whatsoever.

“It is good to know where you stand on the issue, but I must insist that you at least meet her before you jump to judgments. You owe me and your mother at least that. We have given you everything you could have wanted. We’ve provided you with an education and with comforts others could only dream of. We have given you every liberty, and now we need something in return. We need your help to keep our family together, to make sure that our business continues to grow, and that we make the right connections with the right people. You are not the first person to have to bear this burden.” His father glanced at his mother, which made Henry’s stomach twist.

His parents loved each other in their own way, but they hadn’t married for love. It had been an arranged marriage negotiated by his grandparents. His parents hadn’t met but twice before they’d married and moved in together. His mother poked at her food, looking suddenly uncomfortable.

“Now dear …”

“No. He needs to understand his duties.” His father’s voice strengthened, and he stood above him.  “Henry, you do have a duty to this family to repay everything you’ve been provided with over the years. People like you can’t afford to fall in love, to throw away everything just because they think they can be happy. You make marriages because they are beneficial, and love comes later. Cora is a very nice young woman, and she will do nicely, and you will give her a proper chance. Do you understand me?”

“I understand.” Henry pushed back an untouched plate of food that had arrived at the hands of the servants at some point during the tense conversation. He hadn’t even noticed; he’d been so distracted.

He stood up.

“I think I’ve lost my appetite. If you’ll excuse me.” He hurried from the table before his parents could say another word. He raced up the winding staircase to the room at the end of the hall, where he let himself in and sat on the edge of the bed, burying his face in his hands.

He was tired of playing politics. He’d only started earning his own money last year after finally finishing his studies. He was now taking extra medical classes and helping his father in the clinic every extra minute he could. His father did pay him well, which allowed him to save his pennies for the day he’d have something else to yearn for. However, no matter how close the day came, he couldn’t keep from worrying about what would happen when it arrived.

Would he really be able to leave? He was not above all of the things his father said. He did feel indebted to his family and his parents. They had given him more than so many could ever dream of. Could he walk away from his parents and go his own way, even if they refused their approval?

He could clearly imagine the hurt in his mother’s eyes and the disappointment in his father’s. They would tell him that he’d let them down and betrayed them in every way possible. He would most likely believe them, too. He was letting them down. He didn’t want to, of course. He cared about them and wanted to make them proud, but he wasn’t sure he could do so at the cost of his own life of happiness.

He’d met plenty of young women just like Cora Carpenter. They were wealthy young women raised with the idea that they must trap a man of equal or greater value to themselves. They were good at treating a man in the right way to make him feel special, at least at first. They would bat their eyelashes and say the right things, but were they real?

He wasn’t sure he ever wanted to marry, but if he did, he wanted it to be with a young woman who truly understood him, a woman that he could adore, who understood people, had a kind heart, and wasn’t greedy. If that sort of woman existed in California, he hadn’t met her yet. He wasn’t holding out any hope that Cora would be that sort of woman, either. Everything he knew about the Carpenters said otherwise. He just had to get through the introduction, and perhaps he’d have to meet her a few more times over the next few months. He’d do everything he could to postpone their marriage to give himself time. When the time came, he hoped he was strong enough to walk away from everything he’d ever depended on and stand up for what he wanted and needed.


“Cut from the Same Western Cloth” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Alice Miller’s world is irrevocably altered by a startling truth in her late mother’s letter: she was not born into the life she knows, but was kidnapped as a baby. Drawn to the romantic city of San Francisco to uncover her true lineage, Alice’s destiny entwines with her wealthy twin sister, Cora. In a daring twist, they switch places, plunging Alice into a world of opulence, intricate family dynamics, and an engagement with the enigmatic Henry, whose piercing gaze sees through the facades of high society.

Will Alice’s heart betray her secret, or can she dance this delicate masquerade of love and lies?

Henry Williams, ensnared in the web of an arranged marriage, finds his world upended by Cora’s sudden transformation. Unaware of the identity swap, he is drawn irresistibly to this new, enigmatic version of the woman he thought he knew. As feelings deepen, Henry stands on the brink of a love he never dared to dream of.

Will his heart withstand the storm when the truth behind his fiancée’s true identity is revealed?

Amidst dusty trails and wide-open skies, Alice and Henry navigate a maze of emotions and veiled truths. As they edge closer, the impending revelation of their entwined pasts threatens to tear apart the delicate strands of their growing love. In the unforgiving light of the Western sun, will their love stand tall, or will the shadows of their secrets turn their passionate flame to dust?

“Cut from the Same Western Cloth” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

One thought on “Cut from the Same Western Cloth (Preview)”

  1. Hello my dears, I hope you were intrigued by the preview of this inspiring love story and you cannot wait to read the rest! Let me know your thoughts here. Thank you kindly! Happy reading! ✨

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