The course of her life diverted by a mistaken accusation, Mandy's journey now leads her into a faith tested by fire, and a love tested by sacrifice.


Mandy Berringer is on the last leg of a homebound journey to Denver when a mistaken accusation by Indian warriors diverts the course of her life. Believed dead by her family, Mandy will do anything to get home. But a disabling accident, an epidemic, an unexpected love and a tragic loss prolong her separation from her family until she is finally reunited with them--only to be devastated by what she finds. The man she loves undergoes crushing trials of his own, and their search for each other leads them on separate journeys into new tests of faith and enduring love.


They saddled Mrs. Magruder’s mare and her husband’s bay gelding. The wind was rising and the temperature falling as dark clouds moved in, so Mandy went back to the cabin and donned her royal blue cloak. She tried to instruct the boy to remain inside, holding her hand up to signal him to stay, but found him running out to her by the time she was mounting.

“I’ll take him in to Josh,” said Mrs. Magruder, “and he’ll just have to hold on to him till you’re gone. I doubt the horses’ve gone far. They’re herd animals and don’t take a shine to bein’ off by themselves for long. You go after the one that headed straight east. Approach him gently and speak softly. No sudden movements.”


“And Mandy?”

She looked down from the back of the bay.

“You would use that gun.” Her brow lifted, making the statement a question.

“If needs be.” She patted the revolver that was tucked in her belt.

As Mrs. Magruder predicted, the horse Mandy chased hadn’t gone much more than a mile before stopping to graze. She slowed the gelding and moved toward the stage horse slowly, speaking in gentle tones. He didn’t seem to mind her approach. The two horses touched noses and both heads jerked slightly.

“Easy, boy. Easy.” She reached and stroked his neck, then slipped the clasp of the lead onto his rope halter. She headed back toward the station.

Halfway there she saw the Indian boy running trippingly toward her. “Oh, no!” She trotted over to him, dismounted and lowered herself to one knee. He ran into her arms.

“You shouldn’t be out here. Just look at you.” Holding him at arm’s length, she noted the scratches on his hands and legs and face that belied the many times he had fallen on his trek to find her. “I was coming back.” She wished he could understand.

He began to shiver. She removed her cloak and draped it around him. As she did so she was struck by a sound, one she not only heard but actually felt. It was like thunder, rolling ever closer. Had the storm arrived already? Yet there was more to it... a vibration, that penetrated to the marrow.

An ominous sense overtook her.

She rose and turned slowly.

Fear struck with a scorpion-like sting.

A band of eight to ten Indians raced toward her, their horses’ unshod hooves pounding the earth.

Her hand flew to her belt and withdrew the revolver. Racing thoughts collided within her. Stand and fight, or flee? There were more attackers than there were bullets. But was there time to make a run for the station?

Fight? Or flee?

She raised the revolver and took aim.

The boy bolted forward, shedding the cloak and racing past her toward the fast-approaching braves. She reached for him but missed, dashed after him, finally snatched him up and ran furiously back to the bay.

He spooked and reared.

The stage horse ran off into the open plain.

Panic-stricken, she reseated the gun in her belt and grabbed repeatedly at the reins before taking a firm hold of them. She tossed the child onto the saddle and climbed up behind him.Clutching him tightly, she dug her heels into the muscular horse and ran him hard.

The shrieking warriors spread out to surround her. She found herself being steered away from the station. Still she kicked the sides of the sprinting steed. But the swifter Indian ponies soon encompassed her and tightened their circle.

The boy cried out and reached toward a brave who was overtaking them. The gesture nearly sent the child tumbling. As Mandy restrained him she inadvertently pulled on the reins. The horse slowed; the warriors hedged about her. Her heart pounded. Her throat tightened.

One brave rode next to her, grabbed the rein and pulled her horse to a stop. He then reached out to the child, who anxiously took hold of the man’s arm and was swung onto the pony. Stunned that the boy was plucked from her grasp, she reached after him. The brave shouted at her and knocked her arm away.

Another menacing, muscular brave drew alongside her as she gripped the handle of the revolver. He grabbed her wrist and snatched the gun from her hand. The rage in his threatening black eyes paralyzed her. He motioned to the brave who held the boy, and they immediately galloped away heading south. Mandy’s little charge never once looked back.

The remaining braves began shouting and shaking fists in her face. Her breath came fast and deep.

The one who had taken her gun leapt from his horse, seized her around the waist and pulled her to the ground. His stormy eyes remained riveted on hers, intensifying her terror. Verbal assaults penetrated her ears. His powerful hand bit into her arm and he dragged her to his horse. She resisted when he started to lift her onto its back. “No! Let go of me!”

He spun her around and raised his hand above him. She cowered, ducking her head to the side, awaiting the blow.

It did not come.

She lifted her eyes and guardedly glimpsed her assailant. His dark eyes were glacially cold, his hand still upraised.

One of the braves spoke and pointed to the west from where a dozen more Indians rode.

The enraged one cocked his head toward his horse.

Surrendering to a crushing feeling of hopelessness, Mandy condescended.

The warrior lifted her onto the back of his paint and mounted behind her. His burly arms enclosed her, sending frost through her veins.

Taking hold of the rope bridle, he urged his horse south with a pounding of his heels.

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