Yellowstone Dawn

By: Peggy L Henderson

Book 4 Yellowstone Romance Series


Carol Spradling, my critique partner. You keep me honest in my writing, you never let anything slide, you’re my toughest critic and my biggest supporter. Thank you for your friendship and for putting up with me.

My beta reader, Arlene Foster, for her reactions and comments. Thank you to my family for their support, and to my boss at work who lets me slide and jot down little notes of dialogue that pop into my head at the most inopportune times.

Thank you, Ramona Lockwood, for creating the beautiful covers for this series! (

Chapter 1

Montana Territory, March 1877

Everyone was dead. Danica Jensen gently placed her hand over the old woman’s face, closing the lids over the lifeless eyes that would be forever frozen in time. She had performed this task five times already in the last few minutes, and her hands turned blue and stiff like the bodies that lay all around her, strewn about amongst the sage and rocks. The wind howled cold and fierce through the shallow valley, sending an icy chill straight to Danica’s soul. The wool blanket she had wrapped around her body did little to shield her from the impeding blizzard’s merciless onslaught. The sensations in her heart and mind matched the ferocity of the bitter cold bearing down on her. She knew she had to find shelter. Someone else depended on her for survival.

The fierce early spring blizzard had descended upon her and the family she’d been traveling with faster than the cutthroats who had swooped out of nowhere and attacked them without mercy. The old woman had thrown a blanket over Danica and forced her to the ground when the first shots had ricocheted around them. Seconds later, the woman’s body had collapsed on top of her, leaving Danica immobile beneath her. The group never stood a chance. No one carried a gun, leaving them completely defenseless against the unprovoked attack.

Danica’s body shook with rage and cold, her muscles tense with anger. After everything she had endured over the last - how long had it been? - nearly nine months, the cruel and senseless death of these innocent people left her feeling numb all over. All her life, she’d been determined to control her own destiny, but recent events left her questioning and doubting if she’d ever be in control of anything again.

Growing up in a male household, and without a woman role model, she had nevertheless been expected to act like a lady. After her mother died when she was only ten years old, Danica’s father had largely ignored her, while he doted on her brother.

When her brother met with an untimely death, she had tried to be both son and daughter to her bitter father, but to no avail. She’d fussed over him as any loving daughter would. Unlike her brother Jacob, she took an interest in her father’s banking business. She soon discovered she was rather good with numbers and business dealings. Her father took no notice, and wouldn’t allow her active participation, so she kept her talent hidden. For all outward appearances, her father acted as any responsible parent would. She had private tutors, the finest and latest fashions to wear, and wanted for nothing, save her father’s love. Danica realized early on that, although she had a parent, she was alone and would have to forge her own way through life.

Everything about her life had changed that fateful day this past summer. What was supposed to have been a fun-filled weekend adventure of sightseeing through the newly established Yellowstone National Park had turned into a living nightmare. Her friend Maddie had, by choice, suffered a horrific death that day, while Danica swore she’d stay alive at all cost. She never did find out what had happened to the six other members in her party. She hadn’t been able to stop the events of that day any more than she could have stopped what happened today.

She gently folded the hands of the old woman across her lifeless chest. Danica’s self-appointed guardian had saved her life, just as she’d taken her in and cared for her months ago, after . . . Danica sniffed. She’d been helpless to return the favor in kind. She hated leaving the bodies of these people she’d grown fond of exposed to predators. She had nothing she could use to dig graves. And she needed to get out of this weather if she was to survive. She turned and glanced at the bodies lying on the hard rocky ground one last time, saying a quiet prayer as tears rolled down her cheeks.

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