Nettie Moser’s dreams are coming true. She’s married to her cowboy, Jake, they have plans for a busy rodeo season, and she has a once in a lifetime opportunity to rodeo in London with the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe.
But life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and unexpected family responsibilities. Nettie must overcome challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams, cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster.
Will these challenges break this strong woman?
This sequel to Cowgirl Dreams is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.
March 2, 1924
Mrs. Jake Moser.
Nettie drew a heart around “Jake” and doodled flowers in the margin of the first entry in her new journal.
I’m married to my cowboy and we’re going to rodeo together. Rodeo. My dream is coming true.
Nettie brushed the dust from her shiny black boots, stretched her shoulders in the unusually warm early spring sunshine, and breathed in the familiar animal sweat aroma. I’ll ride this steer, show Mama how good I am. She could already hear the crowd’s cheers in her head and saw herself accepting a Top Cowgirl trophy. I will be a star, maybe even the next Marie Gibson.
She turned to Jake. “Well, Mr. Moser, how about giving your bride a hand?”
Jake grinned. “Well, Mrs. Moser, I’d be delighted.” He helped Nettie steady herself as she climbed down from the top of the chute onto the bare back of the big red steer. She snugged her hand under the surcingle rope, feeling the animal’s muscles tense beneath her as it kicked against the fence.
Jake squeezed her shoulder. “Ready?”
Nettie took a deep breath. She tightened her knees and nodded. Here you go, Mrs. Moser. She almost giggled. Funny how she still couldn’t get used to her new name even after three months.
The steer crashed through the gate, bellowing a protest at its burden. Nettie leaned back as the big animal kicked its hind legs toward the sky. Gotta find the rhythm. The steer twisted and leapt. Nettie’s body snapped forward and back and flopped side to side. Every jump jolted her from her tailbone to her teeth. She fought to gain her seat on the back of this nearly half-ton of muscle and bone, hearing yells from the Model Ts parked around the corral. Where is my rhythm? The arena whirled around her. Choking dust rose from the ground.
Nettie opened her eyes and saw nothing but blue sky.
Jake leaned over her. “Honey, talk to me. You all right?”
She blinked, wiggled her toes, clenched and unclenched her fingers. “Uh, yeah. How’d I get here?”
Jake smoothed hair back from her face. “Well, little gal, I’m sorry to say, you got bucked off.”
“Oh, fiddlesticks.” Nettie let out an exasperated sigh. She accepted a hand up, dusted herself off, and retrieved her hat. Why did she have to fail today, of all days, when her mother was here watching? Nettie gave herself a mental slap. I was daydreaming. I wasn’t focused on the ride. She tried not to limp as she exited the corral, rubbing her bruised hip and bemoaning her bruised ego.
Mama and Papa met them outside the corral. “Oh honey, are you hurt?” Her mother reached out to gather Nettie in a hug. “That scared me.”
Nettie looked over Mama’s shoulder to see concern etched in Papa’s weathered face. “No, no. I’m not hurt. This sort of thing happens.” She shook her head and made a wry smile. “I wanted to show you how well I could ride. But I just couldn’t find my rhythm. Sorry I scared everybody.”
Mama sighed. “I know you’re a good rider, honey, but I still think rodeo is far too dangerous for women.”
Biting her lip, Nettie glanced at Jake. Oh great. This is exactly what she’s been against ever since I was fourteen years old.
“But you’re a married woman now.” Nettie’s mother gave her a wan smile. “And I know you’re following your dream.” She squeezed Nettie’s shoulder. “Just be careful, okay?”
“All right, Mama, I will.” Nettie laughed. “See you later.” She and Jake walked back toward the chutes.
Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in her veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story.
Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl. It has won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalist award. Follow the Dream is the second book in the “Dare to Dream” series about strong, independent Montana Women.
Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Skagit Valley Writers League, Skagit Women in Business, and the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She is also a manuscript editor, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes in the Pacific Northwest.
Follow the Dream is available from the publisher, Treble Heart Books, Amazon.com or the author website http://www.heidimthomas.com. It is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.