The Brides of Harmon Junction #1

The Farmer Takes a Wife

Autumn's Story


by Nancy Pirri

The Farmer Takes a Wife by Nancy Pirri Autumn Sanders is looking for a husband and answers an ad online for men living in a small farming town in Minnesota looking for wives. Upon entering Harmon Junction, she meets handsome farmer, Paul Michaels, and they immediately get off on the wrong foot. Besides, he’s not one of the three men she’s scheduled to meet.

When Autumn’s pay from her job doesn’t arrive in her bank account to pay the hotel bill, Paul steps in. He pays her hotel bill and takes her home to his farm where she cooks and does home and farm chores to pay him back. Autumn stumbles through learning how to do ranch chores, learning how to run the washing machine, cook for a crew of ranch hands but soon falls in love with farm living.

Autumn soon meets her potential would-be husbands and decides none of the three men are right for her. She finds herself drawn more and more to Paul. Paul wasn’t looking for a wife, but knows he’s found one in Autumn. There’s a definite sizzle between them.

Within just a few months’ time, Paul knows Autumn’s the woman for him and proposes marriage. Autumn doesn’t immediately accept his proposal because she insists she wants him to court her—they need to learn more about each other.

Then Paul receives a letter—one that will ultimately change his life forever—and affect Autumn’s life as well.

Will these obstacles deter them from each other, or will their growing love keep them together?


Purchase:
Kindle (Kindle Unlimited) PRINT

Release Date: June 4, 2024
Genre: Contemporary


Excerpt

Prologue

Autumn

 

Malibu, California

January 2014

 

On a sunny Sunday morning in January, my stomach dropped when I glanced up from my phone and heard the sound of a motorcycle roaring into the parking lot of Café by the Sea.

While I was savoring my almond-flavored caffe latte and strawberry-walnut-maple-syrup covered whole grain waffle, my ex-fiancé Jason Crowley showed up. His latest GF swung her leg over the bike as she climbed off and he followed her.

Fuming, I watched when he slung an arm around the redhead’s shoulders and slunk down lower in my chair where I sat, facing the ocean.

Damn. There was no way I could avoid them.

The jerk knew this was my favorite breakfast place, so his appearance had to be on purpose—to make me feel even worse than I already did after our breakup before Christmas. Rather, I should say, his break-up with me for the redhead, whom it turned out he’d been seeing the entire time during our relationship. His excuse? Doing a comparison of which woman would fit his lifestyle best. I won’t tell you about his life and style. Jason was a broker who aimed to make a fortune and find a woman who fulfilled his unconventional desires.

Side by side, they climbed the stairs to the deck where I sat, then walked down the white washed planking, heading straight for me.

I kept my head down and cringed when I heard the redhead’s soft voice as they drew nearer.

“Isn’t that your ex, Jason?”

I looked straight at Jason, deciding this guy wouldn’t cow me.

“Autumn?”

His smile widened into a big grin as he released the woman, his intent gaze sweeping over my body. I wore my favorite khaki shorts with a white halter top and sandals, which beautifully showcased my tanned, toned legs.

He looked chagrined. “Oops, my bad. I forgot this was your go-to breakfast spot.”

Still steaming inside, I shrugged it off, though I wanted to slap him. “No problem. Enjoy.”

I resisted the urge to make a sarcastic comment as he stood there, locked in his gaze on me.

Startled by me clearing my throat, he quickly responded with, “You, too.”

He casually walked to the far end of the deck, with his girlfriend by his side. Thankfully, he picked up on the obvious clue and decided not to sit nearby.

I couldn’t finish eating as I thought about how cruel he’d been to me. Even though I hadn't given him my virginity, his rejection left me completely lacking in self-confidence after being together for eighteen months. It remained safe and untouched, ready for the man that deserved it, and it wasn't Jason.

He'd wanted out because I refused to sleep with him. When he attempted to lure me with words of affection like 'I want to tie you up, baby,’ it's safe to say that the thought of him doing that or any of the other nonsense he suggested didn't feel appropriate. It's obvious that Jason wasn't the perfect guy for me. I felt hurt when he called off our engagement because I thought we could find a solution.

I grew up in Malibu, along with my eight years older sister, Summer, with my twin sister, Winter, and my baby sister, Spring, only a year younger than me and Winter. Yes, our parents had a ‘thing’ for the seasons and appropriately named us after them. My parents were thrilled to have a family of four seasons.

Our parents were on the dream vacation of a lifetime, a Mediterranean cruise, when their ship crashed into a rock and sank, resulting in their deaths. We would mourn the loss of them for the rest of our lives.

Summer's almost ten-year age gap proved fortunate as she took on the responsibility of raising us after our parents died. Back then, I’d been a snotty, spoiled sixteen-year-old, so she had her work cut out for her. Winter, on the other hand, was the embodiment of perfection as a sister and child. Spring, the youngest in the family, was a soft-spoken and sensitive soul, deeply affected by our parents' passing. Someone had to be the troublemaker, and it ended up being me.

Working as a fashion designer for my sister, who was a top fashion model, was my dream, and Summer was so close to making it come true. Winter decided to take a completely different path. She will earn her business management degree in two months and pursue a career in corporate America. My youngest sister, Spring, was in nursing school, the perfect career choice for her.

Summer is set to retire soon, much to the disappointment of her agent and the fashion world. Her consistent statement was that she would retire when she felt it was the right time. Her plans to open a high fashion boutique in Monterey next year, followed by another in Los Angeles, and one in New York City were well on the way.

I've been designing the clothing for the shops for the past two years, graduating at the top of my class from FIDM in Los Angeles. My artistic abilities always showed in the designs I drew and finished in my graphics program. Summer planned to hire several people to create patterns in various sizes, sew them, and produce clothing on a large scale. It's fine by me, given that my favorite aspect of the job was the designing. With the opening of our boutiques, to be called Summer and Autumn Marketplace, my designs will be showcased, and I had aspired to gain international recognition as a designer. My goal had always been anything but marriage.

Having dated plenty of guys over the years, I thought I knew what I wanted. I’d been wrong. It was clear to me that 'heart, hearth, and family' was my thing.

I leaned in closer and spotted Jason and his girlfriend sitting together on the long decking, patiently waiting for their food. I pushed my plate away and took a sip of my cold but delicious latte.

I was stuck in a love-life rut.

I quickly checked my phone and skimmed through a trendy marketplace ad before stopping at a personals ad. I avoided the others, but this particular one got my attention. Harmon Junction, Minnesota, was in search of brides—women seeking marriage and family life in the small farming community southwest of the Twin Cities. The mayor of the town wrote the ad, including his contact information.

“Huh,” I said as I sank back against my chair with a frown, wondering why these men were looking for wives outside their community? I decided to search for the ad on different platforms and unexpectedly came across a story in a Minnesota newspaper that described the problem in the small town. The lack of industry led to a high number of women leaving the area to pursue careers. Due to a shortage of women, the town’s mayor placed an ad to attract women back to the community. The town boasted low crime rates and sought traditional wives for the many farmers in the area.

The news article detailed the revival of this ad, which first appeared in the 1980s. The women who had arrived earlier were now getting older and had sons who were in search of wives. Even though some farm families had daughters, the women still departed the community for college or careers. It was clarified that the departure of women now was even worse than in the 1980s. The farms in the town held the men captive.

Laughing out loud, I couldn’t help but question what was so undesirable about being a farm wife in a small farming community that these women wouldn’t settle down with a local guy.

Since my design work was primarily digital and online, not working directly with Summer wouldn’t be an issue. Harmon Junction, Minnesota, was becoming increasingly appealing.

 

 

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