Tenderfoot is a romantic suspense with a western setting. An exciting sub-plot include the events leading around the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
Mary Trimble Books
A romantic suspense, Tenderfoot takes place on a working cattle ranch in 1980, the year the world remembers for the catastrophic eruptiion of Mount St. Helens. Corrie Stephens is eager to learn about ranching, but reluctant to become romatically involved--it's just not worth the heartache. Rancher J McClure, on the other hand, has been alone too long. Mount St. Helens has plans of its own.
Tenderfoot draws the reader into the story's strong emotions based on family, love, and the first-hand adventure of the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
She rode over the ridge to look for strays, but it was hard to see with the driving rain stinging her eyes. Rain penetrated the seams of her yellow rain slicker, soaking her shirt. Her clammy jeans stuck to her legs; her boots and hat were heavy with rainwater. Her icy hands, even with leather gloves, felt stiff and weak.
"I'm drowning in my saddle," she grumbled aloud, shivering.
Finding no strays, she returned the way they'd traveled earlier that morning. She neared a creek and sharply reined in, astounded. The stream, already full, spilled over its banks. It was now a small raging river, debris bobbing in the swift water. The place where they normally crossed formed a bend in the river and now water flowed more swiftly at that spot. Studying the situation, she decided downstream would be a better, safer crossing.
At Corrie's urging, the mare picked her way a distance downriver. Corrie sat for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. She didn’t know of another way to get home, other than crossing this river. It wouldn’t be too deep for the horse–horses can swim. Bo was a strong swimmer, labs even have webbed feet. He’d be okay. And she could swim, although she was pretty loaded down with wet clothes. It would only get worse, the longer she delayed.
She coaxed Fancy to the edge of the swift, muddy river. The horse stamped and snorted, uneasy about entering the water. Corrie eased forward in the saddle, kicking the horse’s belly. "Come on, girl." She felt Fancy’s tension as she walked stiff-legged into the rushing waters. Water and debris washed past their legs with surprising force. The horse neighed and laid her ears back in fear. The rushing water sounded like a waterfall. The horse didn’t have to swim; the water wasn’t so deep that she couldn’t reach the bottom.
Just past the middle of the river, Fancy lunged and sank. She struggled, tossed her head and sharply whinnied. Sick with fear, Corrie tried to urge the mare on, praying she could free her legs. The horse was mired.
Bo had plunged into the river with Corrie and crossed to the other side. Now he stood at the opposite bank, looking worried and confused with his mistress still in the river. He barked sharply, standing with his front feet in the water.
"Bo, stay," Corrie shouted. The dog obediently sat on the muddy bank, watching intently, trembling.
Oh, my gosh! What should she do? She slid out of the saddle and into the cold water, hanging on to the stirrup to keep from being washed downstream. The force of the water made her gasp for breath.
Reaching for the reins, she worked her way to Fancy's head, searching for solid footing in the muddy rush of water, which now reached her chest. The mare’s rolling eyes showed her panic. She screamed a heart-wrenching whinny.
Finding rocky bottom for leverage, Corrie pulled the reins. Fancy's neck stretched out, but her legs, deep in the soft bottom, could not obey. Corrie hated to leave, but didn’t know what else to do.
She had to get help. Oh, my God! How could this happen? The water continued to rise. She had to reach Chad. Should she turn around and go back? No, she didn’t think so. She’d head for home. It wasn’t that far and maybe J would be back by then. Chad must have crossed downriver, where they usually crossed. She’d better go for the bank on the closer side.
Reluctantly she let the reins drop with an agony so great she moaned.
Heart pounding, Corrie waded against raging water toward the closest bank. A tree branch swished by, catching on her legs. She kicked free and fought on, inching her way to the water's edge. At last, she reached the riverbank and flopped on her back for a moment to rest. Bo stood above her and licked her face.
She struggled to a sitting position and called to Fancy. She wasn't straining any more, but appeared terrified. The horse looked at Corrie out of the corner of her eye, exposing the white.