Sneaking in a kiss…
need help with being romantic,” Trevor said.
He took off his hat and wrapped his arms around her,
making sure he didn t hold her too tightly. “If you don t want to,
that is fine. I hope you didn t find me offensive.”
“There s nothing offensive about you, Trevor.” Though
she didn t hug him back, he did note that her hands rested on
his arms. “You are pleasant to be with.”
He winked at her. “You do find a way into a man s
heart. If you would rather wa
it for the kiss, I d understand.”
As he was about to pull away from her, she stopped
him. “I suppose one kiss wouldn t do any harm. I mean, it
would be for your play, and you do have a deadline to meet.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“I haven t kissed a man yet, so I don t know how good
I ll be at teaching you how to kiss.”
“Then we ll have to learn together.” He leaned toward
her and gave her a light kiss. His heart raced with excitement.
“What did you think? Did I do alright?”
She nodded. “You did just fine.”
He was pleased that she seemed to enjoy it as much as
he did. “Perhaps, it would be more romantic if the kiss lasted
longer. Maybe, it should be like this…”
He kissed her again, but this time he tightened his hold
on her and deepened the kiss. He felt her arms go around his
neck as she leaned into him. When the kiss ended, he could
hardly concentrate on anything but how wonderful she felt.
“Yes, that s the kiss to go with,” she whispered.
Oh Adrienne, just wait until we’re married. I’m goi
kiss you like that all the time.
Ruth Ann Nordin
This story begins in April 1902.
“I can t let you marry him, Adrienne,” Mrs. Dayton
spered as she threw some clothes into her daughter s
suitcase. “It s wrong and your father won
t listen to reason. A
young girl shoul
dn t be used to give a
man children. I know
your father is doing what he thinks is best for you, but he
doesn t know a woman s heart.”
Adrienne bolted out of her bed, excited and grateful her
mother was saving her from a horrible fate. She quickly got
dressed in a yellow dress while her mother continued to pack.
“You know Mrs. Crane,” her moth
er continued in her
“She married a man who has money but he just
wanted someone to show off at his dinner parties. She s
nothing more than a trophy wife. She spends all her time going
to beauty parlors and shopping for the latest fashion so she can
look beautiful to impress his friends, but she confided to me last
night that she is lonely. Her husband doesn t pay any attention
to her when they are alone. To the world, he is a devoted and
loving husband but when people aren t looking, it s a different
story. He would rather spend time with his hobbies than with
her. He only spent enough time with her to have children. She
didn t enjoy those experiences and was relieved when he said
that three children were enough.”
Adrienne shivered in disgust. Did men enjoy using
women to fulfill their selfish pleasures? Mr. Parker wanted
children and Mr. Crane wanted a trophy wife. Her father
wanted her to marry a rich man. She brushed her long wavy
“Braid your hair, sweetheart,” her mother instructed.
“You will be taking a train all the way to New York and it s going
to take you several days to get there. My sister knows a young
mother who needs a nanny to care for her baby. She has
made arrangements for you to get the
job. I won t speak a
word of this to your father. He will have to think you ran away
to some unknown place.”
She braided her hair while her mother gave her the
details of her plan. She nodded while her mother spoke. Her
heart raced with relief and expectation. She hoped that no one
would find them and prevent her from leaving California.
Her mother threw her jewelry into a small handbag and
gave it to her. “These jewels are worth a good amount of
money. If you take them to a jewelry store, you should be able
to sell them and get money for anything you need. I cannot go
with you to the train station but I did buy your ticket.” She
placed the ticket for New York in her daughter s hand.
Adrienne suddenly realized that she wouldn t be seeing
her mother for a long time. “Father will be upset.”
“It s better for him to be upset than for you to be
miserable for the rest of your life. You are only eighteen.
Eugene Parker is forty-
eight. A man his age can t make a
young woman happy.
She began to cry. “I m going to
miss you and Father
but I am
glad you re doing this for me.”
hugged her. “I ll miss you too, sweetheart.”
Her mother pulled away from her and handed her the
small handbag with the jewelry in it. She picked up her
suitcase and quietly led her to the front door of the house and
walked out with her to the horse-drawn buggy whose rider was
unfamiliar to Adrienne. “I didn t want to risk anyone we know
finding out, so I ordered this driver to take you to the train
station. I m sorry, but I must stay here. I don t want to risk
anyone seeing us together.”
Adrienne nodded. The hour was early so no one else
was awake to see them.
“I love you, Adrienne. Your father loves you too. May
God watch over you and protect you on your journey. I will be
praying for you.
The driver took her suitcase and put it in the buggy.
“I love you and Father.”
“I know you do, sweetheart. I wish you could enjoy a
good marriage but I suspect you will be confined to being a
spinster. It s not what I wished for you.”
“I ll be fine as long as I m not with Mr. Parker.”
“Wait for me to write to you before you write to me. I
want your father to have time to cool down before we resume
communication. He will be upset but he ll adjust in time.”
Her mother gave her another hug and a kiss on the
cheek before watching her leave in the buggy.
Adrienne tried to be brave and not cry but she couldn t
help it. She felt a mixture of many emotions, but the biggest
emotion she experienced was relief that she wouldn t have to
marry Mr. Parker after all.
Adrienne was exhausted. It was almost impossible to
sleep in a train seat. She took a deep breath to calm her
anxiety. The train reached Virginia by mid-afternoon. It had
been a long trip on her way to New York, but she would rather
be here than married to Mr. Parker.
She closed her eyes, aware of the train swaying her
gently back and forth. She continued to cry off and on as the
miles between her and California increased.
The afternoon dragged on and the tree-filled landscape
in Virginia passed by outside the window. Though she was
exhausted, she couldn t sleep. She had spent days on the
rails. She needed a decent meal, a bath and a good night s
sleep. By late afternoon, the train stopped again and some
people got on while others got off. She wondered how much
longer they would be in Virginia. Each state she passed
seemed to take longer and longer to get through. She wanted
to get to New York City so she could be done traveling. She
seriously doubted that she would ever travel again after this
Everyone in the train car could hear the young man as
couldn t have been older than
he hopped onto the train. He
twenty. He had short light blond hair, green eyes, and a
slender frame. His brown hat matched his farm clothes which
had seen better days. She turned her eyes to the window and
saw a group of people waving to him. The women were crying
and the men were grinning at him.
“I will write as soon as
get to New York,” he yelled
before the doors closed. He chuckled as a young boy held up
waved its paw. “That s my crazy brother,” he told
a mouse and
the conductor who checked his ticket.
takes that mouse
erywhere he goes.”
The conductor smiled and showed him to his seat.
“Thank you, sir.” H
e nodded as he plopped down in the
seat across from her. He had a manila folder in one hand and
a pencil in the other. He opened his folder and took out the
papers in it and began writing as the train started up.
How could he write with all the movement from the
train? She noted that he wrote with intensity.
working on, it must be good. She turned her attention back to
the window and stared at the trees until she got sleepy. She
closed her eyes again, hoping she could take a nap.
She managed to drift off to a light sleep when a male
voice gruffly said, “Hold your hands up and give us all your
Her eyelids flew open and she saw two masked men
holding guns and pointing them at the passengers. She
gasped and immediately put her hands up.
“Take it easy and no one will get hurt,” one man said as
he passed a black bag around the train car so that people
could drop their money into it.
She was briefly aware that a child was crying in the
back as the person in front of her handed her the bag. She
swallowed the lump in her throat. She had never been robbed
before. She dumbly held the bag.
The man closest to her walked over to her and pointed
to her handbag. “Put it in and move the bag to the person
behind you,” he said in a low grating voice t
hat reminded her of
nails scraping a chalkboard.
She trembled. She knew she had to move but couldn t
seem to do so.
“Here, let me do it,” the other man said as he threw h
handbag into the black bag.
She noted the birthmark on his wrist that was in the
shape of a boot. It looks just like Italy. That she should think
such a thing at this horrible moment amazed her. She was
relieved she couldn t see their faces through their black masks,
for they would surely haunt her dreams if she knew what they
The man holding the gun at her threw the bag to the
person behind her.
That’s all the money I have.
She covered her eyes as
she began to cry.
“Hands up!” T
he man with the birthmark shoved his
hand on her shoulder.
She quickly obeyed him.
“Don t get your underwear in a bunch,” the young man
across from her said.
“Did anyone ask for your opinion?” the man hissed at
“She s scared and alone. Give her a break. Here s my
wallet.” He threw it at the man.
The man caught it and huffed as he walked to the
person behind him.
She was too frightened to speak. I am alone. She
wondered if leaving California had been a mistake. She didn t
have anyone to help her. Would she make it to her
After the two men left the train car, the young man
across from her looked at her.
“Are you doing alright?” he asked.
What kind of question was that? She was all by herself,
running from a man she didn t wish to marry and she just lost
all of her money.
He shook his head. “I m sorry. Of course, you re not
alright. You were just robbed.”
She wiped her tears away.
The person behind her told the other passengers that
the robbers left the train car. Everyone on board breathed a
sigh of relief.
The man who sat across from her looked over at her
again. “Do you need anything? I could get you some water or
She shook her head.
. “My name is Trevor Lewis. If you need
anything, just let me know. I don t mind helping you out. You
look like you could use a friend.”
She wondered what he meant by that. She decided not
to ask. She didn t want to talk to strangers. She didn t know if
she could trust anyone except for her aunt. She just nodded at
him and turned back to the window.
He turned back to his writing.
How could he be so calm and just pick up where he left
off with his work? She was shaken to the core. She wrapped
her arms around herself to ease the sudden wave of
vulnerability that washed over her. She didn t wish to cry
again. Her eyes were sore and red from the crying she had
been doing for the past few days. She took a deep breath to
steady her emotions and turned her attention to the trees
outside the window.
The train stopped and she noticed the two masked men
leave the train. She did feel better knowing they were gone. At
she knew they wouldn t be c
oming back for something
else. While the train remained still so the robbers could get off,
the young man across from her stood up with his folder and
sauntered to the back of the train car. She wondered where he
was going. She shook her head. What did it matter where he
was going? It s not like she knew him or anything. Still, it was
nice that he cared enough to ask how she was doing. She
sighed. She didn t wish to dwell on how much she missed her
home back in California.
It’s not worth marrying Mr. Parker and
being nothing more than a breeder for the sake of his precious
“Adrienne! You must return
someone called out
She jerked up in her seat and gasped. How did her
father find out that she was on this train? How did he manage
to catch up with her? He approached her, apparently angry
that she had run away. She bolted out of her seat and ran in
the opposite direction. She refused to go back. She would
rather be robbed again than return to the future her mother had
just rescued her from.
“Adrienne! Come back!”
A man stood up in the aisle and stopped her father.
“Excuse me, sir. Who ar
e you and what do you want with that
“I m her father. Get out of my way! She has defied
She continued to run. She ran from one train car to
another. She had to get off the train! It was her only hope of
avoiding a loveless marriage. She found the exit door which
was right by the restrooms. She quickly glanced back and
noticed that her father wasn t behind her. Thankfully, the man
had stopped him. Otherwise, she wouldn t have been able to
outrun him. Just as she was ready to hop off the train, she
bumped into Trevor who was leaving the restroom. She tripped
on the step. Without thinking, she reached up and grabbed him
by the shirt in hopes of steadying herself but she only
succeeded in pulling him down the steps with her. He released
his folder in surprise and his papers went flying all over the
place as they tumbled out of the train and onto the ground
beside the train tracks.
Before they could stand up, the train was already pulling
out of the station.
Trevor yelled for it to stop, but it picked up speed as it
chugged down the tracks. “My play!” Trevor yelled as he
watched the train run over half of his papers.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized her
father was not able to get off the train.
“I can t believe
this! I spent three weeks on this play. I
only had one more scene to go and I was going to be done!
He stared after the train that was quickly disappearing behind
the trees. Once it was out of sight, he turned back to the train
tracks and picked up a couple of ripped up papers.
She stood up and brushed the grass and dirt from her
dress. She had never been filthy before, so she cringed at her
To her surprise, Trevor sat on the train tracks, clutching
the torn papers to his chest. “
A month of my life has been
destroyed in a matter of minutes,” he wailed.
Hoping to comfort him, she said, “You can always write
His head shot up. “You talk?”
“Of course, I talk.”
“I thought you were mute.”
She blinked. What gave him that idea?
He examined the scattered pieces of paper that covered
. “My work. My precious work.”
the tracks and grass
“What s the big deal? You can always write it again,”
His jaw dropped, as if she had just offended him. “I
can t just autom
atically replace my writing. Each time I write
. It s like a child.”
something, it is unique
“Aren t you being melodramatic?”
“You don t understand a writer s attachment to his work.
When I conceive an idea, I begin to put it on paper. As I m
it s like a pregnancy. It slowly grows and develops into
something that turns out beautiful and wonderful. Then when
I m done, I have given birth to a new story.”
She rolled her eyes.
That is the dumbest analogy I’ve
“Don t you read?”
e was surprised by his question. “I can read.”
Couldn t he tell by looking at her clothes that she enjoyed a
higher standard of living and education than he did?
“Do you enjoy reading?”
She shrugged. “It depends on the book.”
“Imagine that your favori
te book was completely
destroyed. How would that make you feel?”
“I wouldn t care. I still have the story in my head. I can
recall it anytime I want. Just write the story out again. Thinking
it up is the hard part.
“But it won t be the exact same s
tory. Things always
change when I do it over.”
She sighed, quickly getting irritated. “Well, you can t
collect all your papers and put them back togeth
er. What s the
ning over something that s gone?”
point in moa
“You are one cold
he was offended. “I m realistic. Look around you.
Do you think you can gather all the papers together? Some are
probably stuck on the train.”
“Would a little sympathy kill you?”
“It s just a story. You can rewrite it. Who knows?
Maybe it ll be better the second time around.”
He could only stare at her.
“Fine. Do whatever you want. I m going to find out
where we are.” She turned and walked to the station so she
could talk to the man at the ticket counter. As she walked on
the platform, she wondered what she could possibly do about
getting to New York.
“How may I help you, miss?” the skinny, elderly
“I fell off the train,” she explained. “Where am I an
I get on the next train bound for
“You are on the east side
of Virginia. The towns here
are all small and isolated. There aren t any towns nearby. You
have to travel an hour by horse to get to any of them.”
is there a train station here?”
He shrugged. “We occasionally get visitors or people
leaving. The train stopped just now so the thieves could
“Isn t anyone going after them?”
“I can t leave the station, and the conductors tried to
stop the men but they re long gone. We re just going to have to
keep an eye out for any newcomers around here.
She didn t like the sound of that.
Trevor lumbered over to them. He looked miserable.
“When is the next train for New York City going to get here?”
“It will stop by tomorrow at the same time. Do you two
have your tickets?” the man asked.
She gasped as she realized she left the train ticket on
“No,” Trevor bitterly
answered. “It was in my
everything that was in my folder was demolished when I fell out
of the train
“Unfortunately, I can t put you back on without a ticket.
Do you have any money?”
“The robbers took all we had.”
jaw. “You are in a tight
The man rubbed his stubbly
alright. I don t know what to tell you. I can t just hand
you a ticket. You have to purchase a new one.”
“How are we supposed to afford
“I can probably hook you up with a tempo
rary job in the
town. At least it will give you enough money for another train
“Well, considering the fact that there isn t any other
choice, I ll take it.”
The man nodded. “I was ready to head b
ack home. I
can take you two there. I can hook you up with lodging until
you get a job.”
She sighed. “But I need to get to New York. My aunt is
“I m sorry, ma am. There s nothing I can do for you. My
hands are tied by rules and regulations. You need a ticket to
get on the train.”
“How long do you think it will take to earn enough
money to buy a ticket?”
“That all depends on how good you are at saving
money. You ll be paying for food and lodging while you re in
She hadn t e
ver considered the cost of living before so
this news dismayed her. “How much will all of that be?”
“We can discuss prices later. Right now you two need
to get some rest. If you don t mind me saying ma am, you look
like you re rea
dy to drop from exhaus
“It has been a tiring few days.”
“Where are you traveling from?”
“That s certainly a long way. You definitely need to rest.
Come along. I have an old buggy in the back. I usually ride my
horse but with you two here, I ll
hook up the buggy. We can
talk more in the morning. My name is Jeffrey Gallows. I own
the inn in town. My wife runs it while I m here. We ll get things
arranged for you two.”
She nodded and followed Mr. Gallows and Trevor to the
buggy that had seen better days. She tried not to feel sorry for
herself as she sat across from Trevor, but it was hard to be
positive when things looked incredibly bleak. What was her
aunt going to do when she didn t make it to the train station in
New York? Would Mrs. Rochester find another nanny? What
was her future going to be like now? She couldn t imagine
returning home. As much as she missed California, she
couldn t go back to Mr. Parker.
The man hopped on the seat outside the buggy and
urged his horse forward. Despite the evening sky and many
trees, the horse followed the well worn but overgrown path that
would take them to the town where he lived.
“This is all your fault.”
Trevor glared at her.
She blinked, shocked by his tone of voice.
“You dragged me out of the train against my will.”
“I tripped. I didn t mean to take you out with me,” she
snapped. She folded her arms across her chest and looked out
the window though she
knew she wouldn t see anything
“Then you insulted my life s work.”
“You re sore about that?”
“My writing is my life.”
“Write another story.” She couldn t believe he was
making such a huge deal out of it.
“Write another story,” he sarcastically replied. “It s not
excuse me for trying to get away from a
miserable situation back home. I was about to be forced into a
marriage with a disgusting forty-eight year old who wanted to
use me to give him babies. I was getting off the train so I could
evade my father who was ready to haul me back home. So
you can see that my problem is a lot worse than you losing
your stupid story.”
He looked as if he had just been slapped in the face.
She rolled her eyes. “A loveless marriage is more of a
n losing some papers.”
“I think you re exaggerating.”
“I am not! That man was gross.”
He obviously didn t believe her.
She decided not to say anything else. What was the
point? He had a warped view of what was important. Her
eyelids grew heavy after sitting in silence for a few minutes.
She drifted off to sleep for the remainder of the ride.
By the time the buggy stopped, she woke up and
realized that Trevor had drifted off to sleep as well. Mr.
Gallows opened the buggy door and helped her out. Trevor
woke up and followed her out of the buggy. Since it was night,
she had to rely on the flickering candlelight from the lamp posts
to show her the one street town. A small grocery store, an inn,
a restaurant, a bank, and several other small businesses lined
both sides of the street. It was nothing like San Francisco.
Everything spoke of poverty in this sorry place. She didn t want
to be there.
She slowly followed Mr. Gallows into the inn which was
small but comfortable and clean. He motioned for her and
Trevor to sit on the small couch in the parlor by the front door.
Too tired to argue, she sat on the couch.
Trevor groaned but sat next to her, trying to keep as
much distance from her as possible, though it wasn t possible
to avoid touching altogether.
Her eyelids were still heavy and she almost dozed off
by the time Mr. Gallows and his wife came over to them.
“We got a room set up for you both,” Mrs. Gallows, a
pudgy old woman with a kind face and warm smile, told them
as soon as she walked into the room.
Adrienne sat straight up, accidentally bumping
shoulders with Trevor who immediately recoiled from her. She
was too tired to care that he was repulsed by her.
“My poor dear, you are ready to drop,” Mrs. Gallows
softly noted. She helped Ad
rienne stand up. “Come with me.”
She nodded and followed the woman to a small room
with two beds.
“Oh no,” Trevor immediately protested. “I m not sharing
a room with her.”
She was too worn out to do the arguing so she let him
do it for her.
“Are you and your wife having problems?” Mr. Gallows
“She s not my wife. That s why I m not sharing a room
“Oh. Well, that is certainly a good reason. We ll send
you to another room then.”
She breathed a sigh of relief and fell on the bed.
The old woman put a blanket over her. “I ll bring you
some clean clothes to wear tomorrow. Mrs. Peters youngest
girl is too tall for her clothes, so she gave them to me and they
look like they could be your size.”
Adrienne fell asleep so she didn t
hear anything else the
Trevor woke up the next morning in his small room,
aware of the sunlight hitting his eyes. He squinted as he rolled
over in the small but comfortable bed and faced the wall.
Sighing in despair, he recalled his play that he had worked on
night and day for the past month. He was almost finished with
it when that crazy young woman dragged him off the train. His
hard work was destroyed. Now he had nothing to show Mr.
Adams when he got to New York. He groaned as he rolled
onto his back. The sunlight hit his eyes again. He reluctantly
got up and did his best to make himself look presentable before
he left his room.
He walked down the unfamiliar light blue corridor until
he reached the front desk. Mr. Gallows stood behind it, looking
just as happy as he was the night before. Trevor was usually a
happy person too, but with his irreplaceable work destroyed, he
didn t feel like smiling.
“Good morning, son,” the man greeted. “Did you sleep
slept pretty well,” he admitted. “How am I suppo
afford a ticket to New York?”
to find work in this town so I can
“Oh well, we can always use some help in this town.
We have lots of odd jobs available.”
“What is this town called?”
“Farwell. It s
named after the mayor. He founded this
lace thirty years ago. He s
almost eighty. I suppose his son
will be mayor once he dies.”
Trevor nodded. “So what type of work do you need
“Well, we could use a cook, a farmhand, and a cleaner.”
“I was born and raised on a farm. I ll take the farm
“I ll notify Mr. Howard that he can have a farmhand
ow long do you think it will take to pay for my lodging,
food and ticket?”
“It depends on how good you are about saving your
and how hard you re willing to work. By the way you re
talking, I m guessing you have plenty of motivation to get out of
here. You ll probably be ready to head out in a little under a
That long? Trevor hid his disappointment.
“You must be hung
ry. Mrs. Gallows has made a fine
stack of pancakes, bacon, and biscuits. That meal will be free,
as will last night s lodging. We don t want to make more of a
burden on you than you already have to bear, considering the
robbery and all.”
“I ll show you the way to the dining
Trevor simply nodded and followed the man to the
dining room where Mrs. Gallows was setting the utensils and
plates. “Do you need any help, ma am?”
She looked pleased by his offer. “No thank you. I can
handle it myself. Have yourself a seat and rest for a bit.”
He sat down at the place she motioned to him before
she went to the kitchen.
Mr. Gallows sat beside him at the small square table.
when we have a party.”
ng out more tables
Trevor looked around the large room with its red carpet
and red drapes and white walls. “I see you like the color red.”
“Yes. Mrs. Gallows loves that particular color. She
says it encourages people to talk
more. Apparently, there s
something in red that makes people more alert, and when
they re alert, they re more social.”
“So the reason my room is blue is to foster relaxation
“Correct. It s nice to see you understand that.”
“Well, when I do my writing, I try to pay attention to
subtle cues. Sometimes a certain color or object in the story
has a deeper meaning that demonstrates something the
characters need or already possess. I m not sure how many
people get those subtleties.”
“You re a writer?”
“What do you write?”
“I mostly write plays. That s why I m on my way to New
York. I got a job as a playwright for Adams New York Theater
“I m guessing all those papers on the train tracks was
your work, then?”
Trevor frowned at the memory. “Yes, sir. It was a play I
had written to show Mr. Adams
“I m sorry to hear that.”
After that woman s ridicule of his work, he was glad
someone felt some sympathy for him.
“Did you carry any other pieces of your work in your
“I had a couple of ideas in it.”
“I d be inter
ested in hearing them
. It s not o
ften we get
anyone with creative ability through here. Most of our time is
spent doing the necessities, though we do our best to entertain.
We have some people who play instruments in their spare time,
but it would be nice to read a good story
Trevor s ears perked up. “I have a book out. It s called
The Path to Christmas and Other Short Plays. Do you have a
“Sadly, we do not. What s your name, son?”
Trevor, I ll make it a point to stop by the next town
when I go to the train station this afternoon. That place has a
bookstore, and I ll look for your book there.”
Mrs. Gallows walked into the dining room with the
young woman. Instead of her fancy dress, she was wearing a
faded light blue dress with faded pink flowers on it. Her long,
wavy dark brown hair was pulled back with a headband.
Though she was beautiful, she still looked tired and sad. She
sat down and said hello to everyone.
Trevor didn t
feel like greeting her but did to be polite.
Mr. Gallows turned his attention to his wife. “Trevor
here has a book out. I m going to pick it up from the next town
over. He has some plays in it. I thought it would be nice to
introduce the people in this town to one of his plays
Mrs. Gallows face lit up. “What a lovely idea! It is
wonderful to have an author among us.”
Trevor was pleased by their enthusiasm.
“You ll have to tell us all about those stories while we
eat,” she sai
d with an interest that made him feel better about
the previous night s events.
The woman across the table from him rolled her eyes.
He ignored her.
Mrs. Gallows went back to the kitchen.
He turned to the old man. “Can I contact my family and
s to let them know where I am?”
“We have a post office here but we only send out and
receive mail once a week. We won t be due for another postal
run to the next town for another five days. Today is Thursday
so that makes Tuesday for when the post office is open again.
For the time being, you ll have to wait.”
He sighed. “Alright.”
“I could stop by and send out a telegram for you when
I m in the next town if you would like.”
“No, that s alrig
ht. I can wait five days
The man turned to the young w
oman. “May I send a
telegram on your behalf, Miss…?”
“My name is Adrienne Dayton. No, I don t want you to
send a telegram. But I do need a job to make money.”
“We have an opening for a cleaner and a cook. One of
the two women who cooks at the restaurant just had a baby
and the other woman needs help right away. As for the
cleaning position, we need someone to clean this inn. Mrs.
Gallows is getting too old to handle it all by
Adrienne shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “I don t
xperience with either of those things.”
Trevor shook his head.
She’s a spoiled rich girl alright.
azing she could find her way onto the train without any
“Are you willing to learn?” Mr. Gallows asked.
“Which would you rather learn?”
“The cooking I suppose.”
“Fine. Then Mrs. Gallows will take you over to the
restaurant after breakfast and get you started there.”
He had to hand it to Mr. Gallows who was respectful of
all persons, no matter how annoying or spoiled they were.
Most likely, Adrienne didn t want to clean bec
ause then she
would get dirty.
Mrs. Gallows returned with the food. “Eat up. You ll
need your energy.”
“I can t wait to try it,” he said. He hadn t realized he was
hungry until he smelled the delicious aroma from the bacon.
“You ll be having lunch on the Howard farm. Adrienne,
you ll have lunch at the restaurant. Then you ll both have
dinner here around six,” Mr. Gallows said.
Trevor took a bite of bacon.
“If dinner s going to be as
breakfast, I can t wait.
This stuff is really good,
Mrs. Gallows beamed from the compliment before she
drank some orange juice.
He ignored Adrienne who rolled her eyes again.
the thanks I get for trying to be nice to her on the train. Well, I
won’t be doing anything else for her.
“Now, we d love to hear
about your plays
,” Mrs. Gallows
He spent the breakfast explaining the plots and themes
to his work as they ate their meals. He saw that Adrienne
purposely stuck to herself as she concentrated on her own
meal. He pushed aside his irritation and hurt by her obvious
rejection of his work. Not everyone is going to like my material.
I better get used to criticism since critics will be hard on me in
New York. Still, it was much nicer to talk to the Gallows who
seemed excited about his book.
After the meal was done, Mr. Gallows looked between
him and Adrienne. “So, when is the wedding?”
“Excuse me?” Trevor asked
“You two were on the train together going to New York.
Obviously, you are planning to get married. You aren t related
to each other since you have different last names.”
“Oh no, sir.” Trevor was going to put a stop to all of this
right away. He would never marry someone as uptight, stuck-
Adrienne. “I don t even know
up and rude as
A man walked into the room. “Hi the
re, Pa and Ma. I
buggy s wheel tightened.”
Mr. Gallows stood up. “This is our son, Bronson. He s
. It s handy to have him around.”
Bronson looked to be around twenty-two. He had red
hair and freckles and the same pudgy frame that his mother
“Good morning,” Bronson greeted the two newcomers.
“This is Adrienne Dayton and Trevor Lewis.
two of the train passengers who got robbed before they
accidentally fell off the train,” his father explained.
“The cops haven t found the robbers yet but they
be around somewhere.” Bronson
turned to Adrienne in interest.
So, where did you come from
She seemed startled that he talked to her. “Oh. I came
from out west. It s a place that s
Why was she being so vague? Trevor shook his head.
Why did he care?
“I m very pleased to make your acquaintance,” Bronson
said as he took her hand and kissed it.
Trevor didn t hide his amusement at the look of shock
and unease on her face.
“Now son, she s engaged to Mr. Lewis over there,” his
The boy frowned. “Oh. I m sorry.” He released her
“We re not engaged,” Trevor said. “She s free to marry
whoever she wants. She prefers redheads.”
She gasped. She must have understood that he was
giving Bronson free reign to kiss her hand again.
It serves her right for mocking my writing. Trevor was
very satisfied to watch Bronson drool over her as he welcomed
her to the town. She struggled to be polite but he recognized
the repulsion she felt in his presence. He made it a point to
notice small details in people since it helped him become a
better writer because he incorporated the same subtle actions
and words into his work.
“Now, just because you two are having a lover s quarrel,
it doesn t mean you have to call of
the wedding,” Mrs. Gallows
inserted. “I m sure that you can work things out. Marriage is
like a rose. It has its beautiful scent and is pretty but it also has
Trevor thought that was a good analogy.
I’ll have to
incorporate that into one of my future writings.
“At least, their
relationship doesn t seem serious,”
Bronson argued. “The ring isn t on her finger yet.”
“You got that right. Why, Adrienne and I can hardly
stand to look at one another. I don t mind letting another man
Shoot, I ll just make it all official right here and now.
I call off the engagement. She s free to be with anyone she
“As if I would ever consider marrying you,” she spat.
Trevor blinked. S
s talking again.
Bronson was grinning like a schoolboy.
Trevor chuckled to himself. It was funny to watch
Bronson and Adrienne, but Trevor was eager to start working
so he could make money and head out of town. “I m read
go out to the Howard farm,” he told Mr. Gallows.
Mr. and Mrs. Gallows looked shocked but nodded.
“If you ll follow me,” Mr. Gallows finally replied. “Do you
ride a horse?”
“I sure do. I ve been riding them since I was two.”
“We ll have to get a welcoming party to introduce you
two to the folk around here,” Mrs. Gallows said. “I ll make
arrangements for tomorrow. It looks like you two will be here
for at least a month.”
“Or maybe longer.” Bronson smiled at Adrienne who
Trevor laughed as he followed Mr. Gallows out of the
“You should be careful,” the man
kindly warned him.
“There are plenty of young men in this town who are eager for
a young lady as beautiful as Adrienne
What did he care? If some other man wanted to be
miserable by confining himself to a marriage to a woman like
that, then let him.
Trevor walked to the horse stable with Mr. Gallows who
told him that he could have some of Tom Peters
“That boy just turned sixteen. He
shot up like a weed overnight
and outgrew his clothes. You look like you could fit his old
. We l
l send those clothes to your room by morning so
you can change. Thankfully, what you re wearing now will be
adequate for farming.”
Trevor hadn t considered that he was smaller than the
average man. He was slender and only 5’6″ which made him
shorter than his brother who was six feet tall. Most men around
him were a little taller than him, and he hadn t minded it before
but realizing he fit into clothes of a sixteen year old boy
suddenly bothered him. After all, he was twenty.
Mr. Gallows led him into the stable and showed him the
horse he would ride.
Trevor smiled at the mare and petted her
. “We re going
to make a good team for the next month. I can tell you re a fine
animal by the way you welcome someone new.”
“This is the easiest horse
“I love horses. I used to work with horses back home.”
“How did you find time to write?”
“When someone loves writing as much as I do, they
make time. I sacrificed a lot of sleep to produce some of my
“You certainly are dedicate
d to your chosen profession.
It s a pity you lost your last manuscript.”
The reminder made him more upset with Adrienne than
he already was. It was her fault and she didn t e
She acted like it was no big deal. How could a woman watch a
break and not care? She might be nice to look at
but she’s got a cold heart.
“Try not to let it get to you too much,” the old man said.
“I know it s hard to
lose something you worked hard on but
perhaps God has something better in mind for you.”
Trevor knew he was trying to make him feel better but it
wasn t easy to let go of the pain.
Mr. Gallows seemed to understand his thoughts, for he
patted him on the shoulder. “I realize it can t be replaced.”
That did make him feel better. “I suppose I shouldn t
when I can t do anything about it.” He sighed. “I will just
have to start over and make the best of it.”
“You have a good attitud
e. I will pick up some paper
and pencils and leave them in your room with your new
“Thank you, sir.”
“If there s anything you need, let me know. I ll do my
best to help you.”
Trevor thanked him again and got the horse ready for
the ride out to the Howard farm with Mr. Gallows.
Mr. Howard, his employer, was a down-to-earth honest
and caring man. His wife was a skinny tall woman who
towered over him. Her husband was also tall, so their three
sons and two daughters were taller than average as well. His
sons were twenty-one, thirteen and seven. His two daughters
were seventeen and nineteen and seemed especially delighted
to welcome him to the farm. They were a little taller than him
and had black straight hair and light blue eyes. They were just
eir mother. They didn t have any obvious
as skinny as th
feminine curves and hardly had breasts. What a contrast to
Adrienne who has lots of curves and a full bosom. He shook
his head in disgust. Why am I thinking such things? Because
I’m a writer. That’s what I do.
I notice details. He comforted
himself with that reasoning.
The work was monotonous but gave him plenty of time
to think of his play. The romantic comedy seemed to be going
well, and it was flowing along nicely before it got destroyed.
But he had to admit that it was missing something. The
characters didn t seem as lively as they should have been.
Usually when he wrote something, the characters came alive
and took over the storyline in their words and actions. This
wasn t the case this time. They were stagnant and predictable.
The plot and action were the strengths of the play though,
which was why he kept writing it.
By lunch hour, he was famished so he eagerly followed
the men into the house, cleaned up and sat at the large kitchen
table where fresh bread, chili and salad waited for them. He
looked around at the siblings and a wave of homesickness
washed over him. He didn t l
ike thinking of his empty room
back at the inn. He didn t like being alone for a long period of
time. At home, he always had the ability to find someone to
mess with or talk to when he was done being alone working on
his writing. He sat at the table and joined in the conversation,
glad for the companionship of the brothers who had already
made him feel like he was one of them. The sisters, however,
were too interested in him.
“You do fine work on the farm,” Mr. Howard told him as
they started eating their lunch.
“Thank you, sir,” he replied. “I grew up on the farm so it
helps to have the experience.”
“It s good to have an extra man around to help out,”
Trudy, the seventeen year old sister, said
. “Planting and taking
n be time consuming.”
care of the chickens and sheep ca
“Once the boys get older, it will be easier since they ll
be able to take on more responsibilities,” Mrs. Howard added.
“Mr. Gallows said he and his wife will be hosting a
dance and a dinner party tomorrow night to welcome you and
he young woman you came with,” Mr. Howard said. “We re
ven t had a good social event
looking forward to going. We ha
for a couple of months. We enjoy getting together with the
other people in this community whenever we can.”
“I m sure it will be a fun evening,” Trevor replied. He
was looking forward to it since it would give him an excuse to
be surrounded by people.
“You came with someone?” Bonnie, the nineteen year
old sister, frowned.
“Yes. Her name is Adrienne Dayton,” their father
answered for Trevor who had his mouth full of food.
“So you re not married?” Bonnie and Trudy perked up at
Trevor slowly swallowed his food. He didn t like the way
this conversation was going.
“Now, let s not make Trevor feel uncomfortable,” their
mother quickly inserted. “He just got here last night. He needs
time to adjust to being here.”
“I ll be going to New York as soon as I can afford a train
ticket,” he announced.
That should get Trudy and Bonnie off
Clark, the twenty-one year old son, glanced up from his
“New York? What are you going there for?”
“I m going to be a playwright at a theater company.”
“How exciting!” Bonnie exclaimed.
“A writer!” Trudy added.
Uh oh. Trevor cleared his throat nervously.
“I wouldn t mind going to New York,” Trudy said.
“Me neither,” Bonnie agreed.
“That was a great meal,” Trevor quickly stated
. “I admit that I m anxious
wiped his mouth with the cloth napkin
to get back to work. I enjoy being outside on a day as nice as
this.” The truth was, he would rather be inside writing but there
was no way he would tell them that since they might offer him a
paper and a pencil to keep him nearby.
“We do have a lot of work
,” their father agreed.
Trevor breathed a sigh of relief as he joined the men
back out into the fields. It suddenly occurred to him that
throwing Adrienne at Bronson was unusually cruel, even if he
couldn t stand her.
Adrienne was surprised that cooking wasn t as daunting
a task as she originally feared. Mrs. Harper was helping her
learn, and she found the thirty year old woman to be a patient
teacher with a kind heart. There are a lot of good people in this
town. If she had to pick anywhere to get stranded, she would
pick this place. She especially liked the fact that the town was
isolated from the rest of the world. It made her feel safe from
her father who was, no doubt, still searching for her. Why
would her father place such importance on her marrying Mr.
Parker because he was rich? How did her father find out she
was on her way to New York? He must have ridden his horse
hard to catch up with me on the train. She was relieved she
got off the train when she did.
However, she did regret she brought that crude man
named Trevor with her. He was sure stuck on himself. He
thought he was important because he was a writer who already
had a book published. She saw his face when he found out
she didn t know how to clean or cook. He thought she was a
rich, snobby person who didn t know how to
do anything but
entertain at parties. Just because she grew up surrounded by
wealth and privilege, it didn t mean she was useless. What she
didn t know, she could learn.
He’s jealous because he didn’t
have the same opportunity to be rich like I did. She found that
many people lower than her on the economic ladder hated the
fact that money came so easily to her. They wanted everyone
to struggle with their finances. Well, they should all be happy
now since I am officially poor.
She cut up potatoes and carrots and added them to the
pot roast that Mrs. Harper had taught her to make. She put the
dish into the oven and turned her attention to the boiling pot of
potatoes that needed to be mashed. With the recipe book in
front of her, she was able to answer a lot of her questions on
She still couldn t believe the nerve Trevor had to
practically hand her over to Bronson. Not that she and Trevor
knew each other but with the way he talked, one would assume
they did know each other and that he insisted on giving her
away to the first available bachelor who showed an interest in
her. She left California to avoid marriage, not to find it. She
had no desire to be with any man romantically. Men were only
idn t care
concerned with what they wanted from her. They d
about who she was or what she wanted. She didn t wish to
confine herself to a fate where she was an object.
Mr. Owen, the owner of the restaurant, came into the
kitchen. He looked pleased. “The customers are happy with
re you sure you ve never cooked before?”
the food. Adrienne, a
She shook her head. “No, sir. This is my first attempt
aged man smiled at her. “You certainly
The fat middle-
have a talent for it.”
“She picks up on it very fast,” Mrs. Harper agreed,
“She s a natural in the kitchen.”
smiling at her.
“The single men will be flocking in here to
taste her cooking and to get a good look at her. It s not often
that we get a single woman in this town who is pretty and cooks
as well as she does. Adrienne, you
re going to do my business
some good. I m sorry for the situation that put you here, but I
am glad to have you here anyway.”
“I do like it here,” Adrienne confessed. “I was only
heading to New York to work as a nanny, but I don t have to go
“That s even better. You ll have your pick of any
bachelor you want in this town. I suspect you ll be married
before the year is up.”
at the thought. “I don t know, Mr. Owen. I
left California to get out of marrying someone.”
“Really?” Mrs. Harper asked. “What happened?”
“My father arranged a marriage between me and a
forty-eight year old bachelor who wanted to marry me so I
could give him children
“Oh. So you didn t love him.”
“No. Nor did he love me.”
“Well, there are single men closer to your age who will
be more than happy to love you,” Mr. Owen said. “You
shouldn t let a bad experience rob you of the joy of marriage. I
love my wife and we ve been married for twenty
“And I love my husband of eleven years,” Mrs. Harper
added. “There are some wonderful things about marriage,
even if there are some difficulties with living with another
person. It certainly is nice to come home to someone who
cares about you.”
“For now, I would rathe
r focus on learning to cook and
getting familiar with the town,” she replied, hoping to end the
Mr. Owens grinned.
“You ll have a good chance to do
that tomorrow night when Mr. and Mrs. Gallows give you and
that young man you came with a
“Speaking of which, are you involve
d with that young
man?” Mrs. Harper
“No, I m not,” she quickly responded.
Nor do I care to
“I heard he s a writer. Mr. Gallows is going to pick up
he dance tomorrow.”
some copies of his book to hand out at t
Adrienne hid her disgust. Why was everyone thrilled
that Trevor wrote a book? He wasn t th
at impressive. She met
authors who were full of themselves. They figured they knew
everything there was to know on any subject they wrote about.
And they were too sentimental about their work. She had
never seen a grown man agonize over a story. He could
always write another one but seemed to find that option too
distressing. He said he couldn t replace his wo
rk, as if
everything he wrote was as important as a person. What a
baby. It might be a good experience for him to lose his work for
once. Maybe it will give him proper perspective on w hat really
She finished mashing the potatoes and handed the
bowl to Mrs. Harper who put the food on the plates resting on
the counter. To her surprise, the older woman told her to take
the plates of steak, mashed potatoes and corn to table number
five. “I ll bring the coffee,” she added.
She nodded and did as instructed. Leaving the kitchen
with the three plates, she frowned when she realized that table
number five was filled with three single young men. No doubt, I
am being fixed up already and I just got here last night. She
sighed and took the plates to the men who smiled at her. She
forced herself to smile in return and set the plates down.
“Are you going to be at the pot luck and dance
tomorrow night?” the one with curly blond hair and a creepy
mustache asked her.
“Yes,” she quietly replied.
“I hope you save me a dance,” the husky
a beard told her.
“It seems that a lot of people will be coming,” she said,
intentionally ignoring his offer. Hopefully, there will be married
“The whole town will be there,” the third man, who was
age, reported. “There will be
already balding despite his young
lots of children there too. Do you like children?”
“They re fine,” she reluctantly stated. He was obviously
after a lineage just as Mr. Parker had been.
The brunette took a bite of her food and grinned at her.
“You re a
mighty fine cook, Miss Dayton. A man could get used
to coming home to a meal this good.”
And he’s after a hot meal.
“Good looking and a great cook. That s an unbeatable
combination,” the blond added.
And he wants a trophy wife
. She hadn t realized
easy it was to read men s intentions
“I must get back to work,” she finally replied and left the
table. She was glad that the kitchen was far away from the
customers. She didn t feel like talking to anyone but Mrs.
Harper and Mr. Owen.
That evening at dinner, Adrienne offered to help Mrs.
“You must be tired. You should rest,” the woman told
“No. Surprisingly, I have a
,” she insisted.
lot of energy
“I suppose it s all the days I spent sitting on a train. Besides,
discovered that I actually enjoy cooking.”
“I did hear many positive comments from people in town
today. Your first day was a great success.”
“I had no idea I could like it so much. It s nice to know I
have a useful talent.”
“I m sure there are man
you do well.”
She wasn t sure anymore. Her entire life had been
wrapped up in dancing and dressing well and making small talk
with important people so she could impress them for her
father s sake. She knew those things well enough but they
t have any use in this town. She was relieved to find she
had an unexpected love for cooking.
“Tonight I was planning to make stuffed green peppers,
green beans, fruit salad and rice,” the woman said.
“Can I try the stuffed green peppers? I haven t ha
chance to make those yet and I noticed they are on the menu
at the restaurant for tomorrow.”
“You are certainly welcome to make them. I must say I
admire your eagerness to learn new things.”
“When it s fun, I like a good challenge.”
“Here s the recipe.” She handed her the card from her
stack of favorite recipes. “Will you be making something for the
potluck tomorrow night?”
“Oh. I hadn t thought about it but I should. Do you
She paused as she thought it over. “Would you li
try fried chicken? We can make it together. It s one of the
more popular dishes and I usually run out of it before everyone
gets a chance to try it. It would be nice to have an extra pair of
hands for the
“That sounds like fun.” For the fi
rst time since she
smiling. “Thank you, Mrs.
learned of Mr. Parker, she felt like
Gallows. You have been most kind to me.”
The woman seemed pleased by her words but shooed
the compliment aside with a wave of her hand. “It s nothing.
You are an easy customer. Since you are helping me cook
dinner, I don t feel right in charging
you for the room.”
“Oh, in that case, I will help you with breakfast too.”
“You re a nice young woman. Trevor Lewis is lucky to
Before she could protest, Mrs. Harper came into the
kitchen. “I m sorry to interrupt but I wanted to stop by and give
you my recipe for brownies before I forgot.”
“Great, Regina!” Mrs. Gallows added it to her stack of
cards. “I don t know what your secret is but I m anxious to find
“Let s make them for dessert,” Adrienne said.
Mrs. Harper shook her head in amazement. “You re a
real trooper. You spent all day in the kitchen and came home
to do more cooking.”
She shrugged. “I m having more fun doing this than I ve
time. I have to be honest. I don t want to leave.”
had in a long
Mrs. Gallows gasped. “But what will Trevor think?”
“I don t care. It s not his decision.”
“I know you re having relationship problems, but do you
really think it s wise to not consult him about this?”
“We re not getting married.”
Mrs. Gallows frowned. “I m sorry it didn t work out for
you. Perhaps it s best you found out before you said „I do .”
Adrienne sighed. She decided to let people think
whatever they wanted to. It was better than explaining her
running from Mr. Parker.
“Will you be staying for dinner?” Mrs. Gallows asked
“I suppose I could if you don t mind five children. Mr.
Harper is working late at the lumber yard.”
“Bring the children. They are fun to have over.”
“That means we ll have to make more food!” Adrienne
looked forward to making another dish. And I can easily ignore
Trevor. The more people, the better. She had been dreading
the meal but now she didn t have to.
Mrs. Gallows chuckled. “You ll fit right in this town.”
Adrienne turned back to the meat and mixed the rice
and tomato sauce with it so she could stuff it into the peppers.
Then she made meatloaf. Afterwards, she helped Mrs.
Gallows with the brownies. Mrs. Gallows made the side
dishes. Once they were done and Mrs. Harper, her five
children and Trevor were ready to eat, they took the food out
and everyone took as much as they wanted.
She noticed that the children were already gravitating to
Trevor who seemed happy to be surrounded by all of them. He
likes a lot of people, especially children.
“Adrienne made the meatloaf and stuffed green
peppers. She also helped me with the brownies,” Mrs. Gallows
said in the middle of the meal.
“You re kidding?” Trevor spoke up. “I thought she
dn t cook.”
“She learned how to do it today, and she s a quick
learner,” Mrs. Harper replied.
“Well, I m blown away. I didn t think
she could pull it
Adrienne glared at him.
He looked at her and shrugged. “Sorry but I m really
surprised you could make something this
“You are a horrible man,” she snapped.
“Why? I just paid you a compliment.”
“Your compliment was wrapped up in criticism.”
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Gallows sighed. “I had not wished to
start a lover s quarrel.”
“She s not my
. I hardly even know her.”
“Well, I don t wish to know you either. I can t wait until
you buy your ticket and get out of here.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
“Trevor, it s not nice to fight,” a five year old girl
He immediately cooled dow
n. “I m sorry, Fiona. You re
“You should apologize,” the eight year old boy said.
He sighed and stiffly said he was sorry.
The kids looked over at her.
“Alright. I m sorry too.”
She quickly said it so she could
get back to her meal and get the ordeal over with. She quickly
finished eating so she could start collecting the dirty plates to
The next night, Adrienne helped Mrs. Gallows and Mrs.
Harper set up the dining room in the inn for the potluck dinner
while Mr. Gallows helped Trevor and a couple of other men get
things ready for the entertainment. After the dinner, they would
enjoy music and dancing. She had taken a bath and washed
her hair so that she could be presentable at the social function.
If she was going to meet the people in town, she wanted to look
her best. She decided to wear the soft pink dress with a dark
pink ribbon that she tied around her waist. Then she pulled
hair back with a pink bow. Her hair fell softly over her
shoulders. It was nice to be dressed up with somewhere fun to
She was looking forward to having a good time and
watching people s reaction to the fried chicken. More tha
cooking food, she enjoyed watching people as they ate it. She
never realized that making a meal could make people happy.
She glanced around the large room which was filled with adults
and children. She was surprised that so many people showed
up for the evening, but it was nice they did.
During the meal, people complimented her and Mrs.
Gallows on the fried chicken. She was pleased that they liked
it so much. The more she cooked, the more she wanted to try
new recipes and revise the recipes she already knew. Mrs.
Gallows introduced her to Bonnie and Trudy Howard and
twenty year old Mrs. Camilla Dundee who was six months
“Is it true that you and Trevor Lewis aren t serious?”
“We aren t even together.”
Adrienne inwardly groaned.
“Oh good,” Trudy replied, obviously relieved. “We think
he s wonderful.”
She could think of a few words to describe him and
“wonderful” wasn t o
n that list. She shook her head in wonder
that any woman could find him appealing. Sure, he was good
looking but his personality killed the initial attraction she felt for
“I m going to get him,” Bonnie said
“No. I will,” Trudy argued.
While the sisters bickered, Adrienne turned to Camilla.
“What does your husband do in town?”
“He works at the lumber yard. It s a big business in th
“Considering the number of
ia, I m not
trees in Virgin
“Where did you come from?”
“San Francisco, California.”
“Oh how lovely. I hear you have the Pacific Ocean out
Yes. It was fun going to the beach
Bonnie and Trudy turned their attention back to
Adrienne. “What does Trevor like?” Bonnie asked.
Adrienne shrugged. “I don t know and I don t care.”
“Mr. Gallows said he wrote a book,” Camilla told them.
even brought several copies here tonight. I think
he plans to ask Trevor to read one of his plays while everyone
“That sounds lovely,” Trudy gushed.
“I can t wait to hear it,” Bonnie agreed.
“It also seems like he s good with children,” Camilla
Despite her better judgment, Adrienne looked across
the crowded room at Trevor who was surrounded by ten
children. He was giving them piggyback rides.
“He is wonderful,” Bonnie swooned. “He writes, he
works hard on the farm, he s good looking and he likes
Adrienne noticed that other single young women were
checking him out too. She grunted. “Most likely, he will expect
his wife to have a lot of kids and make her read his stories
“What s wrong with that?” Trudy wondered. “It s
refreshing to find a man who wants a large family. At least you
know when you tell him you re pregnant, he ll be happy about it.
Some men don t want a lot of children.”
“I guess it s fine as long
as you don t mind being used.”
The three women looked at Adrienne in shock.
“Wow. Whatever happen
ed between you two really left
you bitter,” Bonnie commented.
she was sour to begin with,” Trudy told her
The sisters left her and Camilla.
Adrienne rolled her eyes.
Camilla smiled at her. “Don t mind them. They re eager
“I suppose I can t blame them. Trevor is new and
exciting. It s a nice change from the young men they grew up
Adrienne shrugged. She had no intention of marrying,
so it wasn t her concern.
Mr. Gallows stood up in the center of the room and
asked for everyone to sit down so Trevor read to them.
Adrienne decided to start cleaning up while he read one
of his plays. She briefly noted that he really got involved with
his material. His enthusiasm was infectious for he held his
audience captive for the next thirty minutes. She intentionally
blocked his words out so that she didn t have to hear him. She
was aware that he changed his voice depending on which
character was talking and he acted out part of the story. By the
time he was done, she had most of the tables cleared off. The
audience loudly applauded. She sighed. What was so great
about him or his work?
Mrs. Gallows ran over to her. “Oh, you should have
waited for me to help you clean up.”
“I didn t mind doing most of it alone.”
“I suppose since you ve already read his book, you
didn t have to hear it again.”
Adrienne decided not to respond. Let them think what
they w ant.
Soon enough, he’ll be gone and it won’t matter
anyway. As she and Mrs. Gallows and a few other women
cleaned up the rest of the tables, the men put the tables away.
Afterwards, five men, two women, and two children played
some instruments so that people could dance.
When everything was done, she stood along the side of
the room. She watched Trevor with a mixture of awe and
disbelief. He was taking turns teaching a group of girls and
boys how to dance. Some people stood around clapping along
with the fast music as they watched him with the children. She
shook her head. Apparently, no one else had any trouble
getting along with him.
When the music ended, a man got up on the stage with
a fiddle. “Who wants to do a square dance?”
The people cheered.
“Will you be my partner?” Bronson asked her.
“Oh, I don t know. I ve never done a squ
before,” she replied. She didn t want to dance with anyone but
dancing something unfamiliar was worse.
“I ll help you along.”
She hesitated. She didn t want to lead him on. She
had no desire to be in a romantic relationship with him.
dance as friends,” he added, as if he understood
“Alright,” she consented, relieved.
Five groups of squares were formed, with four couples
to each square. She was glad to see Trevor in a different
square. He was with a girl who was as tall as him but she
looked like she was fifteen. Adrienne tried not to roll her eyes.
Did every man out there want to be with someone who was
obnoxiously younger than him?
The man playing the fiddle started the music while
another man called out the instructions. Adrienne focused on
Bronson s leads and found that switching partners,
promenading, and spinning around were fun. She messed up
on a few moves but everyone was helpful and easily
overlooked her errors. Despite her irritation at having watched
Trevor become popular, she did enjoy herself.
“Now all the ladies go to the square on your left,” the
caller instructed. “It s time to give another man a chance to
dance with you.”
Her next partner was a black haired twenty-one year old
male named Clark Howard. He towered over her 5’2″ frame.
He must be 6’2” or
taller. She felt awkward dancing next to him
but he was in good spirits and had a friendly smile. After Clark,
she danced with Mr. Gallows. Then her partner was sixteen
year old Tom Peters. Finally, she found herself being
partnered, against her will, with Trevor.
“Might as well make the best of it.”
She frowned. He liked everyone but her and it annoyed
her. “Great idea,” she sarcastically replied.
hat she wouldn t like
touching him. It was insane
that she would enjoy his closeness. She couldn t stand him
and he couldn t stand her. She was relieved when the dance
ended because it meant she could get away from him.
Finally, the night came to an end and she went back to
her room, feeling more alone than she had in her entire life.
She wondered if she would ever talk to her mother again. Her
mother took a big risk in rescuing her from a marriage to Mr.
Why didn’t my father
love me enough to let me make
my own decision about my future? Depressed, she cried
herself to sleep.
That night, Trevor fell into bed with a mixture of feelings.
He had thoroughly enjoyed himself at the potluck dinner and
dance. He was flattered and thrilled that everyone seemed to
like his play called Mistaken Identity about two reindeer that
mistook a regular deer for the missing reindeer that was to go
along with Santa C laus on the Christmas run. The only person
who wasn t even remotely interested in his work was Adrienne.
She made it a point to ignore him as she cleaned up the tables.
He continued to read the comedy, but it stung that she
dismissed his work so easily. Ever since she made light of his
ruined work, it seemed that she was determined to show him
how little she thought of him.
He hated to admit that she impressed him with her
cooking. She was willing to help out Mrs. Gallows around the
inn and do most of the cleaning after the potluck was over too.
She wasn t as spoiled as he originally thought. In fact, she
seemed to like helping others. She had won the hearts of the
people in town despite her quiet and shy nature. And she was
What could turn a woman so attractive and talented
from men? He noticed all the available men who sought her
out, but she was either oblivious to them or ignored the intent
they came to her with. Though she was polite, she had a wall
safely built around her that no man could penetrate. This
should have turned him off completely from her, but he was
intrigued by it. She was an interesting character that was
multidimensional. She was exactly the kind of character who
should be in his play. If he could figure her out, then he could
make the woman in his romantic comedy come alive.
He recalled her words in the buggy on the night when
Mr. Gallows took them from the train station to the town. She
said that she was running from her father who wanted to drag
her back to California so she would have to marry a man she
didn t love.
She didn t
Trevor sighed and rolled over in his bed.
want to be with a man who wanted to use her. That was
understandable. She was eager to escape her past and start a
new future where she was in control of her destiny. That was
her character. Her strength was her determination to do
whatever it took to fit into this new world despite how different it
was from her rich background. And though he initially saw
someone who was selfish and spoiled, she didn t turn out t
that way after all. Her weakness was that she was scared of
marriage. She wanted to control her own destiny, and in so
doing, she would rob herself of the joys of having a loving
husband and children of her own.
Everyone wants to love and be loved. Perhaps, that
was the very essence of romance. It gave him something to
consider as he contemplated rewriting the romantic comedy he
was working on…for the third time.
His first attempt was a total flop. After talking to his
mother, he wrote his second version of the play. Since that
version was all torn up, he had begun his third draft. He
sighed. He knew he would have to start a fourth draft.
Adrienne was the perfect female lead role for his play. He
would start her out as a snooty rich young
who really wasn t
what she first appeared to be. There was some humor to be
had in the set up. Any audience would sympathize with her
But how would she fall in love? That was the purpose
a romantic comedy. It wasn t enough to bring hum
or into the
play. He had to introduce the man who would break through
her wall and make her fall in love with him. Obviously,
someone like him would never win her heart. She had shut him
he wouldn t ever consider
out. Bronson was too eager, so s
him. Maybe Clark would work. He was sincere and likeable.
He wouldn t come on too str
ong and he was patient.
Maybe Trevor could arrange it so that the two would be
forced to meet. She did dance with him at the square dance.
She even seemed to have a good time. She had a good time
with everyone but me. He told himself the only reason the
realization hurt him was because he never had any problems
getting along with people before. It was better than the truth.
So how am I going to get Adrienne and Clark together?
he wondered, forcing his thoughts back to his play.
He didn t
have long to make his plan work. He would be gone in a
month. He wondered if he could talk her into going out to the
Howard farm. It would be nice if she could get Bonnie and
Trudy off his back for a day. They were unbearable with their
constant attention and hinting with him that he should marry
one of them and take her with him to New York. He gagged.
Like that will ever happen.
He went to sleep before he came up with an idea to get
Adrienne to go to the Howard farm with him. When he woke
up, an idea occurred to him. Bonnie and Trudy wanted to
impress him. If he took Adrienne out there to teach them how
to cook, perhaps she would spend some time with Clark during
wasn t sure how he was going to talk her into it,
so he decided he would go with the conversation at the
breakfast table and work his way into the topic.
He dressed in typical farm clothes: a plaid dark blue and
green shirt, brown slacks, and brown boots. He would wear his
hat once he was outside. Entering the dining room, he greeted
“The women will be
in a minute,”
bringing breakfast out
the old man informed him. “Adrienne wanted to learn how to
make waffles. She s quite amazing. It s like she can t learn
how to cook recipes fast enough. I don t know how she keeps
all the foods straight in her mind. She must have an excellent
“She is an
cook,” he admitted. He didn t
particularly enjoy complimenting someone who intentionally put
down his work but he had to give credit where credit was due.
“Mrs. Gallows and I just learned that our oldest
daughter is expecting her first child in a couple of weeks.
I bet you re excited.”
“We can t w
ait. This will be our first grandchild
Mrs. Gallows and Adrienne came out of the kitchen
carrying a plate full of fresh waffles and sausage. He noted
that Adrienne looked especially nice in the purple dress with
small white polka dots on it and her hair pulled back into a
ponytail. Clark will be pleased.
“Adrienne, we re going to miss your fine cooking
,” Mr. Gallows told her.
Adrienne blushed. “Thank you,” she smiled as she sat
down. “You and your wife have been most kind to me.”
He marveled that she could be pleasant to other people.
As long as they’re not me, she’s nice.
“Will you be working at the restaurant today?” Mrs.
Gallows asked her.
“No,” she replied. “Mr. Owen only wants me there
during the weekdays when the customers come into town to
Perfect. Trevor sat up straight and cleared his throat.
“Do you remember Bonnie and Trudy Howard?”
Adrienne s eyes
grew wide in surprise. Apparently, she
hadn t expected him to speak to her.
“I introduced her to them,” Mrs. Gallows
“Well, they want to learn how to cook, and I can t think
of a better person to teach them than Adrienne. What do you
think, Adrienne? Are you up for the challenge?”
She looked uneasy. “I don t know. They don t seem
naturally get along with.”
like the kind of women I
“But you re a great cook. They need a lot of help.”
“What a wonderful compliment,” Mrs. Gallows said. “I
work through your lover s quarrel after
do believe you two may
He sighed. No matter how many times he tried to make
it clear to the Gallows that he and Adrienne were never
romantically involved, they refused to listen. “What do you
say? Will you join me for a day at the Howard farm so you can
help those poor women out?”
“Why are you so interested in me all of the
He couldn t tell her that he was interested in her
because he was basing one of his characters on her, so he had
to come up with another reason. “Bonnie and Trudy can t cook
well. I have to eat what they make when I go out there six days
k. I m not interested in you. I m interested in my taste
“Oh go ahead,” Mrs. Gallows urged. “I ve tasted their
cooking and he s right. It s de
cent enough but not as good as
Again, she seemed pleased by the compliment. “I
e I could. Are they expecting me?”
“No, but that won t be a problem. I ll explain things to
them when we get out there.” He knew they were eager to
make a good impression for him so they would do whatever he
asked them to do. He should have been pleased by such
knowledge but he only found it annoying. They only wanted a
husband. They weren t necessarily interested in him.
“You sure do a lot of good around here,” Mrs. Gallows
He noticed her smile widen. Every woman likes to be
complimented, but it has to be a sincere compliment. Ma was
right. Women want to be appreciated. That made perfect
sense. Didn t everyone like to be appreciated? It would be
nice if she showed some interest in his writing. Women
apparently weren t the only ones
who wanted to be
After breakfast, Mr. Gallows led Trevor and Adrienne to
the stable to get their horses.
“Oh, a horse.” She halted in her tracks.
They turned to look at her.
“I never rode a horse before,” she softly explained. “I
thought we would walk.”
“It s too far of a trip to walk,” Mr. Gallows said.
“Can we take a buggy?”
“I m sorry but the path is too rough. You have to cut
through a lot of trees and a hill. The Howard farm is far out of
“It s no problem. She can ride with me,” he said. He
wasn t going to let something as unpleasant as riding with her
deter him from his work. Sometimes a writer had to suffer for
She cringed. “I don t know. Maybe Bonnie and Trudy
an come to the inn.”
He forced himself not to roll his eyes. Was the thought
of touching him
disturbing to her? It wasn t enough that she
ridiculed his writing but she was also critical of him as a man?
“They don t get a chance to come into town much,”
Gallows told her. “That s why they haven t found a husband
yet. Men don t go out there.”
they’re on me like bees on flowers
felt a little better knowing this. He really wanted to get them
away from him for the day and he wanted to watch her with
Clark, so he decided to compliment her, though it pained him to
of him. “You are
do so after she showed such blatant repulsion
the best cook I ve ever met. I have to endure those women s
cooking for the next month. A month can be a long time to a
man s stomach.”
She eyed him warily.
He sighed. “I m being honest, alright? I wouldn t tell
you I liked something about you if I didn t mean it.”
Her expression softened. “I m sorry. I guess I didn t
expect it coming from you.”
He felt better. It was the first civil word she spoke to
him. He nodded and put the saddle on the horse
. “Willow is a
good mare,” he told her. “She s gentle and calm. You don t
have to worry about her bucking you off.”
“What do you mean by „bucking ?” she as
“She won t throw you off.”
She hesitated as she stared at the horse. “I didn t know
horses did such things.”
Despite himself, he grinned at her apprehension. “Don t
worry. She s a good animal.”
“I see you two are beginning to get
” Mr. Gallows smiled. “It s nice to see you
argument you had.
two getting along again. Perhaps that wedding will happen
after all.” He left before they could say anything.
“Are you telling people that we are courting?” she asked
He couldn t tell if
she was curious or mad.
not. They assume we re together
because you dragged me off
“That was an accident.”
“I know. If you were going to
, you would have picked someone you liked.”
someone with you
He finished getting the horse ready and hopped up on the
animal. “Take my hand, put your foot in the stirrup and hop on.
You can sit sideways in front of me. I ll hold you.”
She took a deep breath and did as instructed.
He was surprised that she got up on her first try. He
I’m doing this for
tried to ignore how good she felt in his arms.
the play. I have no interest in her at all. He cleared his throat
as he urged the horse forward.
She gasped and wrapped her arms around his waist.
He hid his irritation at the thought that it felt even better
with her pressing as close against him as she was. He was
aware of how nice her body felt against him. Maybe this is a
Before he could talk her into staying behind, she spoke.
“I didn t expect the ride to be so bumpy. Am I hurting you?”
He smiled at her concern. “No. You re fine.”
“I am sorry about knocking you off the train, and I m
sorry about destroying your play.”
His jaw dropped. He hadn t expected this.
“I was trying to get off the train by myself.”
He suddenly realized that she needed someone to talk
to about what happened. Feeling much better now that she
had apologized, he was willing to listen to her. “What
happened to make you want to run off the train in the middle of
Willow trotted out of the town and onto the path in the
forest that would take them to the Howard farm.
almost two weeks ago my father arranged for me
to marry a forty-eight year old bachelor who wanted someone
to bear his children. I begged my father to let me work, even if
it meant I would be a spinster. I didn t
want to marry Mr.
y father wouldn t change his mind so my mother
Parker, but m
arranged for me to leave for New York on the train. I was
supposed to meet my aunt who would introduce me to Mrs.
Rochester who needs a nanny. After the thieves took our
money, I saw my father on the train coming for me, so I ran
from him. I didn t see you in front of the train door. I bumped
into you by accident and tripped on the step. I reached out for
something to steady my balance, and it turned out that I
grabbed you. So when I fell off
the train, you went with me.”
“I hope you don t mind my saying that the way we
ou think about it.”
ended up falling out of the train was funny, if y
She softly giggled.
“I m sure the image of yo
flying everywhere was
just as humorous.”
“Most likely, it was.” He did see how it might appeal to
an audience. Turning serious, he said, “For what it s worth, I
don t think what your father did was right. No woman sho
have to marry someone she doesn t want to be with. I know I
wouldn t want to be stuck with a woman who only wanted me
so she could have kids. What kind of life would that be?”
He felt her relax against him. “I hadn t considered that
neither men nor
women want to be used.”
“Perhaps men and women aren t so different after all.
Sure, we have some things that are different but if you think
about it, all people want to love and be loved for who they are.”
“You re right.”
She tightened her grip and gasped as Willow leapt over
the stream in the path.
“Don t worry. You re safe with me.”
“This is a whole new world to me. I must admit that I
like it here. For the first time in my life, people are being kind to
me because they want to be kind. In San Francisco, people
were nice to me to get something from me since I was wealthy.
I notice that a lot of men are after a wife for various reasons.
Some want to leave behind children to carry on their name,
some want someone to cook and clean for them and some
“You forgot the other kind.”
“What s that?”
“There are men who want a companion who will walk
with them through life, to share the good and bad times.
Remember what God said about Adam in the Garden of Eden:
He said it wasn t good fo
r man to be alone so He made Eve to
be his friend and lover.” He would have to incorporate that into
his romantic comedy. Turning his attention back to her, he
asked, “Is that why you re opposed to marriage, because you
mething from you?”
think every man around you wants so
“I would rather be alone than be in a loveless marriage.”
“I can see your point.” He paused to express what was
deep in his heart but decided to, even if she laughed at him. “I
hope I get married. I don t want to live my life alone.
I m glad
God made wo
man. I ve seen two of my siblings
married and want the same for myself. It gets lonely in the
room at the inn. I grew up surrounded by siblings. There was
always something fun to do with someone. I want a companion
an share everything in my life with.”
“You shouldn t have any trouble with that. You have
plenty of admirers in this town already. I m sure you ll win a lot
of women over in New York too.”
“She can t be just any
one. I have to be selective, just
like you have to be selective, if you ever decide to give
marriage a try.”
“Oh, I m not interested in marriage. I m happy to be
where I m at.”
“I didn t think a woman wouldn t want marriage to the
right kind of man. Don t you want to marry a good man and
“I could live without those things just fine as long as I m
the one making those decisions for myself.”
“I don t think I could be happy
unless I did marry and
“So you re one of those men who want children to leave
behind a l
He frowned. He thought they were having a good
conversation but he didn t like the direction her thoughts were
going. “Children aren t just a legacy. They are a blessing from
the Lord. I love my nephew and niece. I hope to have more of
them. But sometimes I get jealous when I hear them call out
„Pa to my brother or brother
-in-law. I want a whole bunch of
n up to me and call me „Pa .”
kids to ru
“Just how many is a „bunch ?”
Was she offended? He stiffened. “I always thought a
large household is a happy household. The more kids, the
better. If my wife and I can t have kids, then that s God s will,
but I do hope that God intends for me and her to have about
eight or so kids.”
“Well sure. Then we can play lots of games together.
would like them to be closer in age than my siblings were so
they can actually grow up together.”
wife going to be a baby producer
“Of course not,” he snapped. “I don t know where
you re getting your ideas from. Didn t you hear m
e tell you I
want a companion?”
“Whose sole purpose is to pop out your babies.”
He shook his head, greatly annoyed. “You re amazing,
you know that. Most women would be thrilled to have a man
who wants a woman to be his friend and lover, whom he will be
ppy every time she announces she s pregnant again.
There are men out there that consider children to be a burden.
Would you rather have one of those?”
“I wouldn t want either. I don t intend to marry
Trudy and Bonnie told me that they will be very happy to give
you lots of children
He gagged. They were nice enough but he had no
such attraction for them. “They re just eager to get married to
“It sounds like you are too.”
“Give me a break. Didn t you hear me say that I plan to
“Are we at the farm yet?”
She struggled to move away
from him, but considering the saddle and horse s pace, she
“Almost. We ll have to bear with one another for the
time being,” he grumbled. He was usually a good
with her around, he wasn t pleasant at all.
They rode the rest of the way in silence. By the time
they got off the horse, he breathed a sigh of relief. How could
she be so insensitive? He poured his heart out to her and she
rejected him. It was worse than when she rejected his writing
because now she was rejecting him. He couldn t stand her.
He hoped she would end up with some miserable old coot who
would use her.
He reluctantly helped Adrienne down from the mare,
refusing to make eye contact with her. He groaned when
Bonnie and Trudy ran out of the house to greet him.
“Oh, good morning, Adrienne,” Trudy slowly said. “I
thought you said that you and Trevor weren t together.”
“We re not,” he quickly replied. “Where s Clark?”
Adrienne shot him a startled look.
“I work with him in the barn,” he snapped at her.
“You d better mean that,” she hissed back. “I don t
need anyone fixing me up with anyone.”
“You and Clark?” Bonnie asked, laughing.
“What s so funny?” she demanded.
“It s hard to imagi
ne you with any man. You clearly
don t like them.”
“If you went through what I did, you would understand.
But no one knows what it s like to be wanted for what I can
provide instead of who I am.”
“You re not exactly a peach to be with, sweetheart,” he
“I hate you,” she spat. “You constantly criticize me and
make me out to be a horrible person.”
“I am here to teach you two how to cook,” she told
Trudy and Bonnie. “He said that your meals are mediocre.”
They looked shocked.
“That was just a ploy to get you out here,” he quickly
covered his tracks. “I want them to teach you how to be a nice
woman for a change.”
They snickered at her.
“You are a sorry excuse for a man,” she huffed before
she stormed into the house.
“No wonder you ended your engagement with her,”
Bonnie replied. “She is absolutely dreadful.”
“And did you see the way
she walks? She s completely
unfeminine,” Trudy added. “We ll see what we can do, Trevor.”
They followed her into the house. He could hear her
banging pots and pans on the counter in the kitchen as he
walked past the open window so he could take Willow to the
No, she’s not completely unfeminine.
He had watched
her enter the house and hated the fact that he was intrigued by
such a simple action. The Howard sisters were nowhere as
attractive as she was, and that greatly irritated him.
Adrienne spent the morning trying to teach Bonnie and
Trudy how to make fried chicken. Their mother was actually
interested and paid close attention but her daughters only half-
listened. They actually took Trevor seriously and figured they
needed to make her appear more feminine. As if she hadn t
spent a good portion of her schooling learning how to act all
dainty and gentle.
Finally, she had enough of their continual snickering
when their mother wasn t in hearing range
. She decided it was
time to show them exactly who they were messing with, so she
set up the fine china for the meal. She was shocked that they
even owned such a nice dish set but Mrs. Howard told her it
was a wedding gift and hadn t been used yet. This made
sense since the girls were obviously brutish. Then she put on
her “I m at an important dinner and must be a lady” act
set the utensils out in proper order, prepared a salad, a soup,
the main course and dessert. She took out a beautiful
tablecloth that had been stored in the closet for years and set it
out. Next, she put out four candles and lit them.
She pulled the drapes closed so the lighting was dim
but relaxing. She even took the time to lightly spray some
perfume throughout the kitchen to set the mood for a romantic
their meal,” she
call in the gentlemen for
Bonnie and Trudy were too shocked by her sudden
actions to protest. Mrs. Howard looked delighted to see the
kitchen looking so wonderful. “I m finally going to use my china
set!” she exclaimed as she went to call the men in.
Adrienne was satisfied.
Just wait, Trevor. You don’t
know who you’re
messing with. She forced herself not to laugh
when she saw the stunned expressions on the men s faces.
Trevor s eyes widened, as if not believing what he was seeing.
“Gentlemen, thank you for attending this lunch,” she
demurely smiled. “Please have a
seat. We will start with the
“Why is it so dark?” seven year old Alex asked.
She lowered her eyelashes and kept her voice soft.
“Trevor wanted Bonnie and Trudy to teach me how to be a
proper young lady, so this lunch is the result of my morning
“I know my girls didn t do this but it s nice for you to give
them credit,” Mr. Howard replied.
“You did a fantastic job,” Clark stated, obviously
impressed. “I hardly recognize this place.”
,” Adrienne replied. “Will you
gentlemen please have a seat? As you can see, we have
everything set out and ready to eat
She noticed that no one sat down, so she took the first
seat. Clark quickly sat next to her. Trevor glared at her and
sat across from her. Bonnie and Trudy sat on either side of
him. As soon as he noticed it, he rolled his eyes. She hid her
laughter. Serves you right, you buffoon. Alex sat on her other
side and thirteen year old Max sat on Clark s left. Mr. and Mrs.
Howard sat at the opposite ends of the long table.
“Who will lead us in saying grace?” she asked and
looked around. “It would be appropriate to have a handsome,
strong man lead
“I ll be happy to volunteer,” Clark eagerly stated.
She smiled at him. “That would be
lovely. Thank you.
She was pleased to note Trevor
Clark prayed over the meal. “Thank you, Lord, for this
fine food that Adrienne and my sisters and mother worked so
hard to prepare. We are very glad Adrienne could come out
today and hope she will bless us wit
h her presence again.”
“That was a lovely prayer,” she replied. Turning to the
others, she instructed, “We start with the salad, so we need to
take this fork.” She lifted the fork sitting furthest away from the
plate. “It is proper at lunch parties to s
tart with the utensil
furthest out and work your way in.”
“Really? In my house, we
Trevor shifted in his chair.
eat whatever we feel like, with whatever we feel like, in
whatever order we feel like.
I m a man who s been working
outdoors, and I m hungry. I m starting with the chicken.”
She lightly gasped and quickly reached for a neatly
folded napkin so she could wipe the fake tears from her eyes.
“I am sorry to have displeased you so.”
I insist that you
house you re in.
We will eat this meal the
She smiled at Clark. “You are very kind.”
d and shrugged. “You worked hard to fix
“We should go along with her order,” Mr. Howard
agreed. “She put a lot of time and effort into this meal.”
“I must say, this is a wonderful change of pace,” Mrs.
Howard added. “I feel beautiful in the candlelight.”
“You are beautiful, my dear,” her husband smiled at her.
She giggled. “You haven t called me „
He shrugged. “Something about this room suddenly
makes me feel romantic.”
Trevor picked up his fork and ate the salad.
“We helped,” Bonnie said. “We wanted to make the
lunch nice for everyone too.” She looked over at Trevor as she
Adrienne chuckled to herself as she realized that Trevor
didn t like the attention Bonnie and Trudy were giving him.
They disgusted him just as Mr. Parker disgusted her. At least
no one was forcing him to marry either one of them.
She turned her attention back to
the meal. “After we
finish the salad, we eat the soup. We use this spoon for that.”
Trevor rolled his eyes as he followed along with
By the time they were eating the fried chicken and
mashed potatoes, everyone was complimenting her on her
cooking and the romantic atmosphere.
up. “While we are discussing romantic
atmospheres, I would like to know what everyone here thinks
romance is. I am writing a romantic comedy and I need help
knowing what is romantic, especially since I
experience in that area.” He pointedly looked at Adrienne.
“I can help you with that,” Trudy immediately offered.
“I could too,” Bonnie gushed.
“I hardly believe Adrienne has a problem with romance,”
Clark said. He turned to her and smi
led. “She did arrange this
Realizing that smiling at Clark bothered Trevor, she
returned Clark s smile. “It is nice to finally be appreciated.”
“Bonnie and Trudy, I look forward to your opinions,”
Trevor told the sisters. “What do you
“I like dancing,” Bonnie said. “Last night was lovely.”
“Dancing is a lot of fun,” he agreed.
“I like flowers,” Trudy added.
“Flowers are typical of romance,” Mr. Howard nodded.
“I think all women like flowers.”
“I enjoy them,” his wife supported. “Candy is a nice
addition to flowers.”
“What about music?” Clark asked. “I play the fiddle and
it doesn t always have to
be used for square dancing. It can
play something like Mozart or Bach.”
“You play classical music?” Adrienne w
impressed a farmer would engage in such pursuits.
“I practice once in awhile.”
“I would love to hear you play so
mething. I miss
listening to Bach
“So you find music romantic?” Trevor interrupted before
Clark could respond.
“I like to listen
to it. True romance is being appreciated
for who one is. None of the other things, like flowers or
dancing, matter if love doesn t factor into the equation.”
“I seriously doubt you have the capacity for love since
you can t even appreciate it when
someone is being honest
“When honesty is coated in manipulation, then it s
hardly worth noting.”
“All you want is someone to give you children.”
“What s wrong with that? Children are delightful,”
dchildren,” Mrs. Howard said. “Is
ld like gran
“There s nothing wrong with having children,” Adrienne
clarified. “But it should not be the only reason someone gets
“Who said that was my intention?” Trevor snapped.
“Just because you had that experience with one man, it doesn t
mean that all men are like that. Let s take Clark here. He s a
hard working, honest man. Clark, do you want to marry a
woman for the sole purpose of having babies?”
Children are a natural result
ut there s more to marriage than sex.
of marital relations, b
There is companionship. It certainly is nice for a man to come
home after a long day in the field to a warm smile and a big hug
from a caring woman who he can talk to and share his life
“That s beautiful,” Adrienne
I told her the same thing earlier today
but she accused me o
“You did not say it the way he did,” she told Trevor.
He rolled his eyes. “You re impossible.”
everyone else, he asked, “So
does anyone else have thoughts
on what s romantic?”
“I think kissing and hugging are romantic,” thirteen year
old Max said.
“What about just smiling at the girl?” Alex added.
“Those are great points,” Trevor told the kids. “I always
appreciate the views of younger peoples. I think adults tend to
overlook their importance. It s amazing how little some women
“I value children,” Adrienne said.
“So do I,” Bonnie and Trudy added in perfect unison.
would like to have a wife that cooks as well as you do,
Miss Adrienne,” Max interrupted. “This is the best fried chicken
I ever had. I wish I had tried it last night but I got sidetracked
with Melissa Peters turkey.”
“Melissa Peters is Tom s sister,” Trevor recalled. “She s
about your age, isn t she Clark?”
“I believe so,” Clark responded.
would be your age too. You and Clark are only
one year apart in age,” Adrienne stated.
“And here I didn t think you cared to notice any detail
life,” Trevor remarked.
“If I recall, the Peters are some pretty good folk,” Mr.
Howard thoughtfully stated. “They have a twenty
-five year old
son who is looking for a wife. He just came back from college.
I believe he got a degree in agriculture. Do you girls remember
“Hank Peters was at the dance last night,” Mrs. Howard
nodded. “He was the tall blond with a goatee.”
“He s a lousy dancer but a good
poet. He has a romantic side to him. He might be your type,
Bonnie. You mentioned how you enjoy poetry. I heard one of
his poems and have to admit that I was impressed.”
“You take time for literature after all then?” Trevor threw
his napkin on the table and stood up. “I can t stomach this
fancy meal anymore. I ll be out in
the fields working.” He
stomped out of the room and slammed the door.
“What s his problem?” Clark wondered.
Adrienne shook her head.
“Who knows? He s so
unpredictable. One minute he s nice and the next
thing I know,
he flies off the handle.”
that why you two
aren t engaged anymore?”
“We were never engaged. I don t know why everyone
thinks we were.”
“Then you must have
Howard remarked. “He was probably ready to propose when
you had your falling out.”
She shrugged. “You got him all riled up. A man doesn t
act the way he does unless he finds something interesting in a
“Well, I don t find anything interesting in him. I only
came out here today to help with lunch. I didn t have
to work at
the restaurant and it was nice to have a diversion from sitting
around by myself at
“We re glad you came,” Clark said
“Thank you. It s nice someone appreciates me.” She
turned her attention back to the meal. “Who wants dessert? I
made Mrs. Harper s famous brownies. She gave the recipe to
with great success.”
Mrs. Gallows and we tried them out
“You remember all those recipes in your head?” Mrs.
“Yes. I just need to see it one time on paper and it s
stored up here.
” She pointed to her right temple.
“How fortunate for you.” Trudy sighed. “I struggle w
in a cup and I ve been helping
recalling how many ounces are
make meals for a couple years now.”
“Oh Trudy, you did just fine. You don t have to have
anything memorized if you know where to find the information
you need. Besides, I heard you singing under your breath and
you have the voice of a songbird. You should sing at one of
Trudy s eyes lit up. “You really think I have a good
“I ve been telling you we should do a duet sometime,”
Clark confirmed. “If I play the fiddle and
you sing the words,
we d make a good pair.”
“That s a wonderful idea!” Adrienne clapped her hands,
forgetting her demure act. “Bonnie, you mentioned that you
as a trio?”
play the flute. Do you all ever do a song
. “No, we haven t. But i
t would be fun to
sometime, wouldn t it?”
ard grinned. “Adrienne, you have
lovely thought. We should entertain a few people here. We ll
“I d love to do some more cooking,” Adrienne offered.
“Don t you ever take a break from your hard work?”
“Actually, I don t consider cooking to be work. I have a
lot of fun with it.”
“You are an exceptional woman. I wond
er why Trevor
let you go.”
She chose not to respond. Instead, she finished up her
dessert and helped the other women clean up after the men
went back to the fields. Now that the awkwardness between
her, Bonnie and Trudy had been eliminated during the lunch,
she found that she was having a good time with them. She
spent the rest of the day listening to Bonnie play the flute and
Trudy singing her favorite songs.
“Clark was right,” Trudy told her. “You
law. Don t say
It would be nice if you became our sister-in-
anything but I think Clark is sweet on you.”
“He did look smitten during lunch,” Bonnie agreed.
“You really aren t as stuck up as Trevor said you were.”
She stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Trevor would
be saying all ki
nds of mean things about her to anyone who d
listen. “I would rather not talk about him, if that is alright with
“Oh, we understand. Do you mind if
he courts one of
“Why should I mind? He doesn t belong to me.”
They breathed a sigh of
relief. “We didn t want our
newfound friendship to be ruined because of him,” Trudy said.
“We like you now that we got a chance to know you. We also
like him. We ve already decided that whoever he picks, the
other will gracefully back out.”
to you both then. I don t think he s worth the
but that s just my opinion.”
time or effort,
“I think he s good looking and fun to be around. He
loves being surrounded by people. I like the way he took turns
teaching all the kids how to dance. It s re
freshing to see a man
children,” Trudy recalled.
have such a tender heart for
“I love his writings,” Bonnie said. “I have his book and
read it last night. He has a great sense of humor, but he is
right about not knowing how to be romantic. He had a great
chance to make a romantic part in his Christmas play but he
missed it. The male and female deer should have fallen in
Adrienne didn t under
stand their fascination with Trevor.
Not that it mattered. In a month, she wouldn t have to see him
ever again. And as far as she was concerned,
that couldn t
happen soon enough.
When it was time for her to go back to the inn, Adrienne
found Trevor leaving without her.
“What are you doing?” she yelled at h
im as Willow was
walking toward the path in the forest. She ran up to the horse
and stopped in front of it.
“Get out of my
He pulled back the reigns, glaring at her.
“No. You promised me that you would take me back
after I taught Bonnie and Trudy how to cook. I fulfilled my part
of the deal.”
You spent the whole lunch hour mocking me
“And you were a perfect gentleman,” she sarcastically
He shook his head and pulled the reigns to the left so
that Willow walked around her.
you don t, Trevor Elewis! I need a ride home!”
She grabbed the horse s bridle. When the horse neighed at
her, she quickly released it.
“What did you call me?” His tone was sharp.
“I just said your name.”
“Did you call me Elewis?”
“That s your last name.”
“No, it s not. It s Lewis. L
-E-W-I-S. Do you know
Clark s last name?”
“Sure. It s Howard.”
“I am constantly amazed at your
His face was red.
ability to nicely recall things about anyone who is not me. I
can t believe you. I stood up for you in front of a robber but
show absolutely no gratitude.”
“Gratitude? You go around telling other people how
stuck up I am and you act like I m beneath you just because
I ve enjoyed a life of comfort while growing up.”
“I m out of here,” he coldly stated.
She stomped the gr
ound with her foot. “You can t just
leave me here!”
“Can t I?”
She picked up a rock and threw it at him. Her aim was
off so she hit the horse on the rear end. The horse bucked
back but Trevor regained control of the animal. She snatched
up another rock.
“Adrienne?” Clark called out
. He rode his horse over to
her. “Is he giving you trouble?”
“Yes,” she replied. “He promised
to take me back to the
inn but he won t do it.”
“Trevor, I really don t appreciate the way you ve been
I m sure that whatever happened between
treating her today.
you two is still bothering you, but why did you bring her out
if you had no intention of taking her back?”
“She s constantly putting me down.”
Clark sighed. “I don t wish to get ca
ught in the middle of
. I ll tell you what, Adrienne. I ll take you home.”
“Thank you, Clark,” she gratefully replied. She
accepted his hand and got up into the saddle and sat sideways
in front of him.
He put an arm around her waist to hold her steady on
“Fine. I ll take her back,” Trevor griped.
“I got it,” Clark replied. “I m letting you off the hook.”
“I haven t ridden a horse before today,” she told Clark.
“So forgive me if I hold on to you a little tight.”
She wound her
arms around his waist to brace herself for the bumpy ride
“Oh, I don t mind that at all, Adrienne. You hold on as
tightly as you need to.”
. “I want
ed to be rid of a
woman who s
opposed to marriage anyway. Good luck, Clark.
She s made it perfectly clear that she thinks all men are evil.”
He urged Willow forward and let the horse gallop into the
“Is that true? Do you think that?” Clark asked her.
“Of course not,” she said. “I don t think all men ar
Some are just better than others.
elaxed. “Try not to let him get to you. I ll do what
I can to protect you.”
She suddenly realized that Clark might be getting the
wrong idea about her. She wasn t inter
ested in marrying him.
She wanted to enjoy her life of spinsterhood. She held onto
him as he urged his horse forward. Clark was a nice man, but
she had no attraction for him. He was too tall, and he wasn t
No man is my type. I’m not interes
ted in romance.
All it leads to is a life of being used and unappreciated.
On the way back, Clark talked about farming and his
fiddle. She tried to pay attention but her thoughts drifted back
to Trevor s book. Was his writing as good as everyone
it. I shouldn’t let my
claimed? Perhaps I was hasty in judging
opinion of the author get in the way of his work. Mr. Gallows
kept a few copies of the book at the inn. She decided she
would borrow it and read it. She was interested to see what
Bonnie meant when she said he missed the possible romance
between the two reindeer in one of his plays. It would soothe
wasn t as good as others said he was
her ego to find out he
Then she could be justified for not reading or listening to his
work in the future.
Why do I even care? It was ridiculous that thoughts of
him consumed her. He was as egotistical as any other man
she had met. All men were after something. Weren t they?
But Clark actually seemed sincere. Maybe she was being too
ey couldn t all be bad.
hard on men. Surely, th
By the time she and Clark arrived at the inn, Trevor was
talking to Melissa Peters by the entrance. She narrowed her
eyes. What is he up to? If he thought she was going to get
jealous of him and Melissa, he had another thing coming.
Clark led the horse over to the front door and helped
her get off the stallion after he hopped to the ground.
“Thank you for the ride back, Clark,” she sai
to Melissa, she continued
, “Clark was kind enough to take me
anded me at the Howard farm.”
home after Trevor str
“You did what?” Melissa gasped.
Trevor s cheeks turned red. “It wasn t like that at all.
Clark insisted on bringing her back.”
“Don t mind them, Miss Peters,” Clark politely greeted
her. “He used to court her, things didn t work out, and now they
bicker all the time.”
“So you real
ly did plan to leave her behind?
“Oh, I was not. I just wanted to mess with her a bit.
After she insulted my writing, I thought I would teach her a
lesson. It was no big deal. Shoot, she even threw a rock at
“You did that?” Clark asked her.
“To stop the horse,” Adrienne defended herself. “He
made it clear that he was leaving me behind. I seriously doubt
he would have brought me home.”
I do is wrong,” Trevor compl
ined. “There s
“I hope you will not let his rude behavior scare you away
from other men,” Clark told her. “I assure you that there are
some men around who will treat you right.”
She realized what he was telling her, and it was
She smiled. “Thank you, Clark
bothering Trevor to no end.
will consider it.”
“I should go home,” Melissa stiffly told Trevor. “Good
he nodded to Adrienne and Clark as she walked away.
Trevor crossed his arms and watched them.
“Don t you have somewhere to go?” she asked him.
She rolled her eyes. “I better help Mrs. Gallows with
” she told Clark.
“I look forward to
seeing you again next week. I d
willing to come by and pick you up.”
“Oh, that s alright,” Trevor interrupted
I can take her
out with me. I promise.”
Why was Trevor insistent on taking her everywhere all
of the sudden? She had heard that women were moody but
she wasn t as unpredictable as he was.
Maybe that’s the way
“If you need anything, I ll do
what I can to help,” Clark
. “I have to head back so I can help with the evening
chores. Good evening, Adrienne. Trevor.” He got back on his
horse and rode out of town.
“You just ruined a perfectly good match,” Trevor told
“I don t think
so. I kind of like him. He s sincere.”
“You have got to be kidding me! I said the same things
“Maybe, but you don t like me.”
“That is not true. I was trying to be nice to you on the
way to the farm.”
“Oh right. You
said it was wrong for me to want to be
single for the rest of my life.”
“I didn t say that.”
“Really? I recall you saying that there was something
wrong with me since I didn t want to marry a man who wanted a
“I never said that. You re putting words in my mouth.”
“Who cares anyway? All of this arguing is pointless. I
have no intention of marrying you and you have no intention of
marrying me so it really doesn t matter what the other person
thinks.” She walked into the inn. Sh
e was irritated that he
“So now you are considering marriage?”
She shrugged. “I don t know,” she lied
actually a nice man.”
He jumped in front of her, startling her so she stopped.
“I don t understand you at all. I can usually figure people out
you are impossible.”
“It doesn t matter what we think of each other.” She tried
to walk around him but he blocked her. “What do you want?”
nice to everyone but me. Why is that? Am I
really that bad
“What do you care?”
Mrs. Gallows rounded the corner, wringing her hands.
A worried expression clouded her usual sunny disposition.
thought I heard someone talki
Adrienne immediately cooled down.
“Is something wrong?”
“Last night we had that terrible thunderstorm, an
was a leak in the roof of the Harper cabin, so they have to
I m getting things ready for her family to stay here
until their roof is fixed.
Adrienne sighed. “That s terrible
I ll help you prepare
“I should run over the
re and see if they need someone
to help them with the roo
f,” Trevor said, his anger gone. “I
helped someone fix the roof on my family s barn a couple
He raced out of the inn.
Adrienne turned to help Mrs. Gallows get ready for the
Harpers, glad Trevor was gone.
She didn t want to think about Trevor Lewis anymore
but as she passed by the table in the lobby after supper, she
saw two copies of his book. She reluctantly picked one up and
went to her room before anyone saw her with it. She sat on her
bed and flipped open the cover. There were three plays and
five short stories. Did she really want to read what he wrote
when he obviously detested her? She took a deep breath and
proceeded to read it.
read. She hadn t
To her surprise, the book was a quick
expected to finish it in one night. She grudgingly admitted that
he had talent. He mostly wrote about things he knew but he
could do fiction too. He was excellent with drama, action and
comedy. But Bonnie is right. H
e doesn’t know anything about
romance. How did he expect to write a romantic comedy if he
couldn t grasp the essence of romance?
I bet he never fell in
love before. He had great potential for love but had been so
wrapped up in his own world of writing that he never actually
pursued a courtship. She wondered about his current play.
She wondered if he would let her read what he rewrote up to
ot. He can’t stand me.
He didn t even
that point. Probably n
like Bonnie or Trudy.
Did he ever take the time to seriously consider
marriage? He talked about it as if it was something he
anticipated but she didn t see him doing an
ything to make it
happen. Does he think his future wife is going to land in his
lap? Then it occurred to her that he might have taken an
interest in Melissa Peters. After all, he had been talking to her
when she and Clark showed up at the inn. Perhaps, Melissa
had caught his attention.
So I destroyed his play when we fell off the train. Now
I’ll make up for it by helping him discover what romance is.
wasn t good enough for him to ask questions about it. He had
to experience it. And who better to teach him than Melissa
Peters? She felt much better as she began forming a plan in
her mind. It wasn t her style to play matchmaker, but she
would do what she could to get him and Melissa together.
Exhausted, Trevor fell into bed that night. Working on
the roof was hard work, especially after a full day at the farm,
but it took his mind off of Adrienne, so he didn t mind it. Onc
he took a bath, he went to bed and closed his eyes. Why did
he care what Adrienne thought of him? She made it perfectly
clear that he wasn t worth her time or effort.
I’m only interested
in her for the sake of the play I’m writing. She’s a character
and that’s it.
His plan had worked, hadn t it? He wanted to see
what would make someone like Adrienne consider love, and he
was trying to fix her up with Clark. It seemed that Clark had
warmed her icy exterior by simply paying her compliments and
He rolled over in aggravation. He never met anyone
who didn t immediately like him. He got along grea
everyone, so the fact that she couldn t stand him had no
bearing on him as a person. Something is seriously wrong with
her. How did Clark change her mind so quickly about
marriage? What is his secret? Why do I care?
He finally fell asleep and woke up in a better mood. He
loved the feel of the cool spring morning air as it blew into his
Tom Peters old dark blue suit, which
small room. He put on
was practically brand new since Tom grew so fast he had only
worn it for a month.
He looked at his reflection. What is so repulsive about
me? Sure, I’m not tall with dark hair and bulging muscles like
but I’m handsome too. It’s just a different kind of
handsome. He sighed and went to eat breakfast.
Adrienne was dressed in a well worn but pretty light
pink dress with white lace trim. She had her hair pulled back in
another pink bow. He pushed aside his pleasure at the sight of
her and got ready to sit down in his usual spot.
“Trevor, can I talk to you about your book?” she asked.
He couldn t believe she was being civil to him, and of all
things, she wanted to discuss his book. He hesitated. Did he
really want her to tell him how poorly she thought of his work?
“Breakfast won t be ready for anoth
er half hour
Trevor shrugged. “Alright.”
dn t be
She probably woul
harsh with him if Mr. Gallows was listening.
“Actually, I was wondering if we could talk in the
He frowned. Was her review going to be that bad?
“It s a nice morning. Maybe you d prefer to talk on the
porch swing and enjoy the cool breeze,” the old man
“Besides, those Harper kids will be running
through here at any moment and might interrupt your
“That s a good idea. What do you think?” she asked
Is this the same person I talked to yesterday? Why was
she so cordial this morning? Was it because they were in front
of Mr. Gallows or because it was before church and she didn t
want to attend the service with a guilty conscience?
He sighed. “Alright.
We ll sit on the porch swing.”
Maybe if someone walked by, she would have to be
nice to him. He followed her to the porch, trying not to enjoy
the way she walked. She was so uniquely feminine. He sat as
close to the edge o
f the swing as possible. He didn t feel like
of the swing. “I know you
She sat on the other side
don t like me but I thought I should take the time to read your
book since other people seem to like it so much.”
He crossed his arms and stared straight ahead at the
businesses that were closed for the day. Only the church and
inn were open. A few people walked around, and two boys
kicked a ball back and forth in the street.
She cleared her throat. She had her legs crossed and
her hands in her lap. She nervously tapped her right foot on
the ground. “So, I read it last night after dinner. Usually, I don t
finish a book in one night but I did enjoy it and had a hard time
putting it down.”
He immediately relaxed and looked over at her.
“I hate to admit it but you do have a real talent. I can
see why you published a book at such a young age, and I
understand why Mr. Adams is interested in hiring you as a
playwright at his theater.”
Considering her outward dislike for him, he knew that it
was hard for her to tell him this, and he appreciated the fact
that she was willing to overlook her personal opinion of him in
order to give an honest critique of his work. She really is
beautiful. Her wavy hair falls gently around her shoulders and
her light blue eyes are large and trusting, like the eyes of a
young doe. I bet her lips are soft. Has she ever been kissed?
He shook his head. What was he doing? She gave him one
good word and he was ready to kiss her?
She cleared her throat again before she continued.
e most of your plays
based on actual events?”
He nodded. “It s easiest to write about things that I
“I thought that was the case.” She sighed. “I m sorry
that I was hard on you yesterday. I had no idea you lost your
sister or that your brother and his wife went through pregnancy
losses. I assumed that anytime a man talked about having lots
of children, it was simply to carry on his genes. I suppose you
and Clark aren t like that.”
He frowned. Did she really have to put Clark in that
“Anyway, you have a lot of depth to you,” she
continued. “It s a wonder that
going through as many
difficulties as you have, you haven t let it affect your view on
life. Though some of your plays were sad, there was always an
nderlying ray of optimism in them.”
“Long ago, I figured that I could either let my
experiences make me bitter or better. Besides, there s no
sense in being miserable about stuff I
can t do anything about.”
“That s why you re able to joke around and lau
much as you do around here.” She chuckled. “I did get a good
laugh out of some of the plays. I had no idea Rocky Mountain
oysters were bull testicles. I m glad I know in case someone
tries to give me one in the future.”
He grinned at the memory of messing with his brother-
law. “Oh, my brothers and I would never put a woman
through that. Well, unless she was our sister. Sue always
knew how to take care of us though. She would either cook us
one of her bad meals or tie us up in the barn. She
mess around when she s angry.”
“So what was
“She was the opposite of Sue. She was a peacemaker.
She went out of her way to make people feel special and didn t
like to make a fuss about anything. She seemed more fragile
so we were always a little more protective of her. We never
would have pulled the stunts on her that we pulled on Sue.
Sue has a good heart and is nice too, but she can hold her own
so we don t worry about her. It s amazing how
sisters can be
so different. Both of them are equally wonderful but for
“I m sorry you had to go through losing Emma. I never
had any brothers or sisters so I can t understand what you went
meant to you.”
through, but anyone can tell how much she
“You re a lot like her, though when you threw that rock
at me, you had a touch of Sue in you.”
She laughed. “You made me so mad.” She looked at
him. “Would you really have taken me home?”
he softly confessed. “I guess it wasn t
pretend I was going to leave you. I apologize for that. It s jus
that I felt like you were criticizing me for wanting to have kids.
“I understand why you did it, and I m sorry I made you
feel that way. I suppose I let my experiences with Mr. Parker
and Eddie blind me to the fact that a man could be sincere
about wanting a companion for a wife.”
“What happened with Eddie?” He didn t recall her
mentioning him before.
Lyon was ready to court me when my father
announced my engagement to Mr. Parker. I barely knew Eddie
but knew he would make a better husband than Mr. Parker so I
went to him and asked him if he would consider marrying me.
He said that he coul
dn t because he didn t want to lose his
inheritance. He then told me he was going to court one of my
He winced. No wonder she thinks so little of men. He
took a deep breath and reached out to touch her hand. “I
wouldn t have done that. My family nearly went bankrupt two
years ago, but one thing we do know is that there are things
that money can t buy and love is one of them.”
She squeezed his hand. “I m going to help you discover
what romance is. It s the only thing that you haven t
experience it, you ll make that
experienced. I think once you
romantic comedy yo
u re working on a big hit. You already have
the comedy part down.”
His cheeks grew hot. Maybe I should go ahead and
kiss her. She does care about me after all. Just as he was
about to act on his impulse, she let go of his hand and stood
“I promised Mrs. Gallows I wouldn t be too long from the
kitchen,” she said. “She s teaching
me how to make cheese
and tomato omelets
He stood up. “You really are a good cook. I can t think
of anyone who does a better job than you.”
She blushed. “Thank you.
Coming from you, that s a
He happily followed her back into the inn.
Once Trevor understood that Adrienne did appreciate
him and his work, he allowed himself to admit what he had
been holding back since the moment he saw her on the train.
He had thought she was pretty and was trying to think of a way
to introduce himself to her when the thieves appeared. When
she didn t say anything
after the robbery, that didn t
bother him. He figured she was mute but reasoned that if she
could navigate her way through train stations, she could read
and they could communicate through writing. But as soon as
she ridiculed his work, he lost complete interest in her.
Now that she had taken time to read his book and
showed enthusiasm for it, he was thrilled to pursue her
romantically. At least, she was no longer adamantly opposed
to marriage, so he could thank Clark for that. From the way
she squeezed his hand on the porch swing and told him that
she was going to show him what romance was, he knew that
she preferred him over Clark. After all, she made no such
intimate moves toward Clark.
He felt much better about being stranded in the town
since he knew what she thought of him. He did wonder if she
would be willing to go to New York with him. She was
beginning to grow attached to the people in town, but he
figured it was because she was hiding from her father who had
tried to force her into the marriage she dreaded. Surely if she
d to him, she wouldn t have a need to hide from her
father anymore and could continue on her way to New York.
He sat next to her at church and invited the youngest
Peters boy, five year old Jack, to sit on his other side so that
he had to sit close to her. He wanted to hold her hand but
settled for their arms touching during the service. He looked
over at her a couple of times and smiled when she looked
You’d better get used to a lot of
back. She seemed startled.
affection and praise, sweetheart, because I intend to shower
you with both.
After the service ended, she excused herself so she
could mingle with some of the other people. He watched her
walk over to Melissa Peters. He frowned when he noticed
Hank Peters smile at her. She was like a magnet to men.
Maybe it was easier when she was resisting marriage. As soon
as he saw her focus her attention specifically on Melissa, he
felt much better.
Before he knew it, a group of children surrounded him
and asked him if he would give them piggy back rides. He
couldn t say no to them, so they
went outside. The people
grinned at the sight of him and the kids who were laughing and
yelling for their turn to ride on his back.
“He s really good with children,” he heard Adrienne tell
Melissa as they walked out of the church.
He was pleased by her comment. He wanted her to be
glad that he would be the father of her children.
When it was time to go home, Mrs. Gallows, at
Adrienne s request,
invited the Peters family to join them and
the Harpers for supper. He wondered why Adrienne would
want them over but figured that she wanted to talk to Melissa
since they were close in age. She probably missed her friends
from back home. He could understand her feelings. He
missed his family. He decided it was time to write them a letter
that day, even though it wouldn t be picked up until Tuesday.
He was glad he could assure them that he was alright, even if
sn t in New York yet. More
importantly however, he was
anxious to tell them about Adrienne. He hadn t
much she meant to him so soon. He saw her with other people
and knew she had a good heart. She would make a wonderful
wife and mother.
He considered it might be too soon to ask her to marry
e knew that a long courtship wasn t necessa
ry for a
It’s not like I have a lot of time to waste. I have
to make it to New York in a little under two months, and I don’t
want to leave without her, nor do I want to leave without being
married to her.
It wouldn t be appropriate to tr
I just hope I don’t
unaccompanied with a single young lady.
scare her off. She might be open to the idea of marriage and a
romance with him, but those decisions were very recent.
Once the kids went home with their parents, he walked
over to Adrienn
e who was still talking to Melissa. “Can I walk
you back to the inn?” he asked her.
Adrienne looked startled by his question.
She’s easily spooked. I better take it easy in how I
“Oh, Melissa just invited me to her house to visit until I
help Mrs. Gallows get supper ready
,” Adrienne replied. “In fact,
Melissa offered to help make the supper, so you can try her
“I m not sure it will be as good as yours,” Melissa said.
“You have a gift for it.”
“I tasted your potato salad on
Friday. You do a fine job of cooking too.”
Trevor smiled. She knows how to build people up. No
wonder she is winning so many friends in this town. It was nice
to finally be included in that list of people she chose to be
“I m looking forward to learning some new cooking tips
from you,” Melissa told her.
Adrienne looked over at Trevor. “I hope you don t think
I m too forward but I was telling Melissa that you
very entertaining plays. I was hoping to show her The Path to
. It was my favorite one.”
His heart flipped at her confession. “You are welcom
to show her any of the plays
that you want to.”
“He s writing a romantic comedy fo
r a theater owner in
New York,” Adrienne continued to tell Melissa. “Have you ever
been to New York?”
“No, I haven t,” Melissa said. “I haven t been outside
this town but Hank has been to Richmond for college.”
“Would you like to go to New York?”
ed. “I hadn t thought of it. I like life here but
I suppose it would be a nice place to visit at least once.”
Adrienne frowned. “Oh. Well, I grew up in San
Francisco and can assure you that a big city is filled with a lot
n t get bored.”
of fun and excitement. You wo
He wondered why she felt it necessary to highlight the
benefits of being in a big city to Melissa.
“I kind of like the farm life,” Melissa said. “I grew up on
a farm and hoped to marry a farmer
He knew that she and Clark were a good match. He
would have to pair them up. “Did you know that Clark plays the
“No, I didn t. I don t get a chance to see the
very much. They live
out of town and rarely come in.”
“I am the temporary farmhand out there. They re
a little party out there on Saturday. We should all go.”
“What a great idea, Trevor!” Adrienne agreed.
She was smiling but he suspected it wasn t because
she thought Melissa would be a good match for Clark. He was
used to picking out details and she seemed a little too eager for
the trip, didn t she?
“Adrienne, will you be coming?” Melissa wondered.
“Oh, I plan to.”
“That sounds like fun. We should arrange something
then,” Melissa agreed. “Will you be coming with me to my
house now, Adrienne
“Trevor, would you like to join us?” Adrienne asked him.
“Actually, I was hoping to make girl talk,” Melissa
“With so many brothers, I don t get much of a
chance to talk to another woman.”
He noticed how disappointed Adrienne was and felt
pleased that she was eager to spend more time with him. She
does care about me.
“It s alright, Adrienne. I should work on
my play. I have some new ideas I can incorporate into it and
I m anxious to develop the plot and characters. You were right
at this version is better than the one that got destroyed.”
Adrienne nodded. “Alright. We ll get to see you at
“Of course. I wouldn t miss one of your homemade
meals for anything.”
She smiled. “And you can try out Melissa s pudding.”
He shrugged. “That sounds fun too.”
“We ll see you then.”
As he watched them leave, he smiled at how wonderful
Adrienne looked when she walked. It was nice to enjoy the
view instead of resisting how great she looked for a change.
Supper that night was good but he hardly noticed any of
the dishes except what Adrienne made and even then he had a
hard time keeping his eyes off of her. She and Melissa
seemed to get along very well, for they were talking as if no
one else was in the room. He, in turn, spent time talking to
Jack Peters and the Harper kids. Jack reminded him of his
nephew. Several times, he talked with Hank and Tom as well.
Tom, though four years his junior, was taller and built stronger
than him. He hadn t noticed how sle
nder his frame was before
he came to this town. He was able to do his chores on the
farm, but he wasn t built for the stronger tasks. He was much
better off holding a pencil. He wondered if women were more
attracted to the stronger type.
Hank and Tom were a lot alike. And it seemed that
both of them were attracted to Adrienne, though Tom
understood she would not consider someone as young as him.
Hank kept asking him questions about Adrienne, which
bothered him more and more as the meal progressed.
“Is it true that she just learned to cook?” he asked
between bites of the meatloaf Adrienne
made. “This is the best
meatloaf I ever had.”
Anything Adrienne made tasted like a gourmet meal.
“Yes, she didn t cook anything before she came here,” Trevor
“It s amazing how quickly she picks stuff up.”
“She s a quick learner, alright.”
“Now, you two aren t together, are you? I heard you
were going to be engaged but broke it off due to some personal
Word gets around fast. He should be used to it since
he had lived in a small town, but it annoyed him that so many
his business. “Actually, we got back
Hank frowned. “Oh.” He quickly smiled again. “My
apologies. I had entertained the possibility of courting her but
now that I know the situation, I won t interfere.”
He was relieved to hear this. “I plan to propose to her
soon but wish to court her a little while first.” He sat up. “You
know, Bonnie Howard enjoys poetry. She s looking for
someone to settle down
with. Why don t you join us out there
when Melissa, Adrienne and I go out for the party that the
Howards are going to host on Saturday? Bonnie plays the
“Bonnie Howard, huh? I hadn t considered her. I rarely
see the Howard girls. How old is s
“She s of marrying age. You say, she likes poetry?”
“I will c
ome out to their farm.
He breathed a sigh of relief. Adrienne was naturally
attracting single men. The sooner they knew she belonged to
him, the sooner they would leave her alone. He had every
intention of letting them know she was going to be his wife.
He grinned at Adrienne when she glanced over at him.
She seemed confused that he would smile at her.
After the supper, Adrienne brought Melissa over to him.
thought you two might like a chance to talk. Melissa grew up
on a farm and so did you. She likes to read. You like to write.
She makes good food. You like to eat good food. Anyway,
those are just a couple of things you have in common. I m sure
ll discover more as you talk. Oh, let me get a copy of your
book so you can read The Path to Christmas to her. Melissa, it
truly is a beautiful Christmas play. Just imagine what it will be
like if you two have children and they acted it
He stared dumbly after her as she left the room to go to
the lobby where his books were on display. He slowly turned to
Oh no. Adrienne isn’t trying to do what
Melissa, his eyes wide.
I think she is. The stunned
look in Melissa s eyes assured him
that Adrienne was indeed trying to fix them up together. All that
talk earlier about showing him romance was really about her
pairing him up with Melissa so she could show him what
romance was like.
Adrienne doesn’t care for me
. Well, she does in a way
but not the way I want her to.
“I thought you wanted me to talk to Clark Howard,”
Melissa whispered as her shock wore off.
“So what is Adrienne doing?”
“Trying to show me
what romance is and, apparently,
she thinks we make a good match.”
“„Oh is right.”
Adrienne returned with his book. She looked pleased
with herself as she gave it to Melissa. “The parlor would be a
good place to read it. It s nice and quiet in there. I m going to
help the women
He watched in disbelief as she ran off.
“I suppose she means well,” Melissa said. “When she
saw us talking yesterday, she must have assumed you were
interested in me.”
He looked back at Melissa who was a couple inches
taller than him. Couldn t Adrienne tell just by looking at them
that they would make a horrible match? Melissa was perfect
for Clark. “Well, we might as well make the
best of it,” he
. “You will come out to the Howard farm when they have
their party, won t you?”
“Certainly. I did find Clark to be quite agreeable
saw him yesterday. I hadn t realized he grew into such a fine,
handsome man. He really fills out a shirt well.”
“Yes, all that heavy lifting made him strong.” Did
Adrienne prefer that type of man too? Strong, tall and dark?
“I do feel better k
nowing we agree that we are bad idea.
Not that you re not a good catch.”
“I understand. New York isn t for everyone.” That was
his nice way of putting it.
“I suppose we should read the story. I did enjoy the one
you read Friday night.”
That made him feel better. He would rather read it to
Adrienne though. He shrugged and went to the parlor with
Melissa. There has to be a way to win Adrienne over. If there
was one thing he learned from losing his play during the train
fiasco, it was that there was more than one way to write a play.
As soon as the guests go home, I’m going to make a list of
ways to pursue Adrienne. She was right about one thing. She
told him she was going to show him what romance was, and he
was going to let her. Well, sweetheart, let the lessons in
When Adrienne woke up the next morning, she got
dressed and opened the door. She gasped when she saw
Trevor leaning against the wall across from her door, wearing a
plaid brown, white and black shirt with black pants. He had on
a pair of brown boots and he was wearing a brown hat. His
blond hair was neatly combed and he was clean shaven. His
green eyes sparkled and his smile lit up the hallway. She was
struck by the fact that he was so good looking.
“Howdy, ma am. You are looking especially beautiful
this morning,” he greeted in a low voice that made her pulse
quicken. “Can I walk you to the kitchen?”
She didn t know what to say
, so she remained quiet.
“Now, don t be shy, sweetheart.” He took her hand and
led her down the hall. “I like the feel of your hand. Your skin is
Her feet were unsteady as she followed him.
don t understand.”
“You said you were going to show me
what I need to
know about romance, rig
“Well, yes,” she admitted. She could hardly concentrate
on anything but how good his hand felt around hers.
“What is your first lesson?”
He stopped and turned to her. “What do you have
planned for me? What would be best for my
She didn t know what to say. She thought he and
Melissa seemed to get along well the night before, so it wasn t
appropriate for her to think of him in such romantic terms. But
it’s not like he’s courting her.
All he did was read to her.
Two of the Harper kids saw them and giggled as they
hurried to the dining room.
Trevor turned back to her.
“Well, when you come up
with your first lesson, just let me know. I d like to get the most
out of it. I try to be a studious observer so I can write more
He took a step toward her.
She subconsciously took a step back. He smells clean
and masculine. A memory of summer days on the beach,
watching the waves crashing along the shores, came to her
mind. He was as thrilling as the ocean.
His voice brought her mind back to the present.
notice small details. Take your eyes as an example. When the
sunlight reflects off of them just right, you have specks of gold
throughout their hazel tint. A man could get used to a woman
with such a lovely eye color.
Her cheeks warmed.
“You do have a way with words. I
guess it s because you write so much.”
“Thank you for the compliment. So, what are you
making for breakfast this morning?”
“I don t know. I let Mrs. Gallows decide.”
going to the restaurant today?
“Can I walk you there? I li
ke to be in the presence of
beauty and grace.”
She shook her head. “Shouldn t you be saying this to
All I did was read a play to her
.” He paused.
“Oh, you weren
t trying to get something going between me and
her, were you?”
“I…” How did he figure that out? Was she that obvious?
“I hadn t considered her for a romantic lesson. Perhaps
I should. That wouldn t bother you, would it?”
She shrugged. “Of course not,” she lied. Why did it
suddenly bother her? “You can be with whoever you want.”
“Great! I ll be sure to keep that in mind. So, can I walk
you to the restaurant?”
“That would be nice.”
He kissed her hand.
No one had ever spoken to her or treated her in such an
intimate way, and she found that she liked it coming from him.
She enjoyed his touch.
“Someday, I would like to kiss you on the lips. I never
kissed a woman before and could use the experience,” he
ered. “But I ll settle for holding
hand for now.”
Her heart skipped a beat at the promise. He gently led
her to the dining room and told her he would think of her while
she made another delicious meal. She slowly entered the
“Good morning, Adrienne,” Mrs. Gallows
thought we would try making blueberry muffins with blueberry
pancakes. I have lots of blueberries
She nodded and put the apron around her waist.
The old woman stopped mixing the pancake batter and
stared at her. “Are you feeling alright?”
I feel fine.” Her heart was still beating fast in her
“Are you and Trevor getting along?”
She nodded again. What am I doing? Am I really
lightheaded over Trevor Lewis? She never lost her head over
any man before.
“How wonderful!” Mrs. Gallows cheered. “I like you two
together. I was hoping that you would work things out.
Perhaps that wedding will happen after all.”
She didn t plan to marry anyone, at least not yet.
Trevor’s only practicing on me so he knows what to write in his
comedy. There’s nothing more to it than that.
During the morning, she thought about Trevor. She
tried not to but it was hard. When he walked her to the
restaurant, he walked unusually close to her. He leaned
toward her and told her he would think of her while he was at
the farm, and the way his breath caressed her ear made her
knees weak. How silly was it for her to think of him! So they
didn t hate each other anymore. That didn t mean they
suddenly became romantic. They might be friends, but that
was all there was to it. She offered to help him learn romance
He’s doing a
and he was taking her up on that offer.
surprisingly good job of it. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he
was being sincere.
When it came time for lunch, she and Mrs. Harper got
ready for the busy time of the day.
Mrs. Harper smiled at her.
“Trevor did a good job with
the roof. My husband was having trouble getting it fixed, but
Trevor s slender
so he was able to move around the roof
without falling in. Anyone bigger than him would have caused
sn t cut
more damage. My husband is a husky, tall man, so he i
out for that job.”
Trevor’s built just right. He’s not too tall. He’s slender
with broad shoulders and narrow hips. She shook her head.
She really needed to get her head out of the clouds. She didn t
want to settle down with anyone at the moment.
“Anyway,” Mrs. Harper continued, “as nice as it s been
at the inn, I m looking forward to moving back home
“It s good that there
wasn t too much repair work,”
Adrienne agreed, her mind still on Trevor. She hardly even
noticed anyone else at breakfast since Trevor sat next to her.
“Will you take these plates out to table five
Mrs. Harper asked, motioning to the plate of ham and potatoes.
“I have my hands covered with meat.”
She nodded and collected the plates. She groaned as
soon as she realized the dishes were for the same three men
who had stopped by last week.
She wasn t looking forward to
seeing them again. She would rather be at the inn handing
Trevor a meal she made, even if he was just a friend. At least
he was interested in her.
“Good afternoon, Miss Dayton,” the brunette with the
beard greeted her. “Do you remember my name?”
“Sure. You re Tristan Donaldso
n. You told me so at the
dance on Friday.” She handed him his plate.
“Do you recall who the rest of us are?” the blond with
the mustache wondered.
“You are Bob Anderson, and your friend,” she motioned
to the balding twenty-six year old as she handed Bob his plate,
“is Dan Martin.”
Dan whistled. “That is impressive. You danc
ed with so
, I m surprised you remember a couple of fellows like
“I don t know how impressive it is. I was born with a
good memory.” S
he handed him his plate.
“You are creating quite a buzz around town. Word is
that you are not only a good cook but also a nice person.
You re winning people over left and right.”
“He s right. You
on this place,” Bob
made an impact
agreed. “A good woman s reputation
can do wonders for a
There he goes again with wanting his trophy wife.
really concern yourself with what others think of you, don t you,
He shrugged. “I suppose I do. I hadn t thought of it
before but a good name is important. A man s reputation
She considered his words. “I believe Miss Marianne
Gold is a fine young lady. She has mastered her Scripture
es and helps a lot of widows in town.”
He thought for a moment. “You are right. Miss Gold
does do a lot of good in this town. I should pay her a visit
“I think she would like that. It would be a shame for
such a lovely woman to spend her life doing good deeds
without an honorable man at her side.”
“It sure would.” He nodded thoughtfully.
“It sure would.”
Now he won’t be
She breathed a sigh of relief.
breathing down my neck every lunch hour. Encouraged by the
idea, she turned her attention to Dan who wanted children.
“You turned twenty
six last month, didn t you, Mr.
“Yes, I did
. You really do have an amazing
“Thank you. I was just recalling Miss Pamela Harris
who loves her nieces and nephews. She was bragging on
but I didn t see her dance with anyone. The
them Friday night
poor thing is afraid she s getting up in years. She ju
st had her
and hasn t had a single offer at
courtship. It would be a shame for a woman so in love with
not be able to have any of her own.”
He thought over her analysis. “You know what, Miss
Dayton. You re right. Why didn t any of us ask that wonderful
woman to dance? She does have the most beautiful button
nose and the cutest smile. Perhaps I ll see
how she s doing
next time I see her
“She would like that.” Finally, it was Tristan s turn.
“Tristan, you recently graduated from school, did you not?”
“I did. I began working at the lumber yard a few weeks
ago but my passion is farming.”
met Trudy Howard? She is seventeen. She
sings with the voice of an angel, and I ve been teaching her
some of my cooking secrets. I think she would be happy with a
man who would like to help out with her family s farm. Trevor
won t be working ther
e for long. He will go to New York, so the
Howards could use an extra hand out there.”
“Trudy Howard? I don t remember the face.”
“Well, if you re interested, I could introduce you to her.
Why don t you come out with me and some others this
Saturday? They re having a small party out at the farm.”
“I ll take you up on your offer. But if it doesn t work out
with her, perhaps we might have an enjoyable trip out there
It’d better work out between you and Trudy.
get back to the kitchen.
I can t leave Mrs. Harper alone for the
entire lunch hour. Please excuse me, gentlemen.”
She felt much better. Tristan Donaldson might still be
interested in her, but there was a good possibility that he might
like Trudy. She walked toward the kitchen.
“Miss?” a familiar gruff voice called out to her.
She stopped, her heart hammering in her chest. She
would never forget that voice for as long as she lived.
“Miss?” the man called out again. “I need some coffee!”
Steadying her feet, she managed to grab the coffee pot
so she could pour the hot liquid into his cup. Approaching his
table, she glanced at the hand of his companion. The
birthmark in the shape of a boot confirmed her suspicions. The
two men in front of her were the train robbers.
Taking a deep breath, she forced her face not to show
emotion as she gave them more coffee.
“You feeling alright, Miss?” the man with the birthmark
Gulping the lump in her throat, she nodded. Both men
looked as if they hadn t had a decent bath in
figured they were in their late thirties or early forties. The one
with the gruff voice was as skinny as a rail and had a bald head
with a new brown beard. His friend, the one with the birthmark,
had uncombed light blond hair and a beard as well.
the blond repeated.
“Oh, yes. I m just a bit tired from working in the hot
kitchen.” Her voice sounded far away.
The bald man frowned at her.
“I hope you two enjoy your lunch.” She forced a merry
tone as she turned to put the coffee pot back on the counter.
Once she returned to the safety of the kitchen, her
hands shook. “Mrs. Harper, may I go to the sheriff?”
The woman didn t hide her surprise. “What s wrong?”
Wringing her hands, Adrienne went over to her so she
two men who robbed me and Trevor are
. I need to tell the sheriff they re here
at table number three
before they leave town.”
“Oh, go on ahead!” The woman s eyes widened and she
motioned for her to leave through the back entrance.
Adrienne rushed out the backdoor and convinced the
sheriff to come to the restaurant, but the men were gone by the
time he got there. After she gave him a description of the men,
she returned to work.
Mrs. Harper smiled sympathetically at her. “Maybe the
wanted posters the sheriff promised to make will aid in their
Adrienne sighed. “I hope so. I hate the thought that
they re running around stealing from other people.” H
gone through it herself, she knew how scary being robbed was.
“I m sure they left town
, and if they see their faces on
the posters, they won t be coming back.”
“I just hope they re put in jail.”
The woman nodded her agreement before turning her
attention to the customer orders.
Once the lunch rush was over, they had more time to
With the way things have improved between you and
dding soon.” Mrs.
Trevor, I have a feeling there will be a we
Harper dried a plate and put it on a shelf with the other clean
plates. Before Adrienne could protest that she and Trevor
weren t getting married, the woman continued, “I would like to
spend Friday evening with Mr. Harper. I was wondering if you
would watch my children for the evening? Trevor seems to get
along with the children. Perhaps he would be willing to help
you watch the five youngsters
for four hours?”
“I think he likes to have any excuse to be around
children. He says he wants a whole bunch of them.”
“Mr. Harper is the same way. It s refreshing to have a
man with a heart for children.”
Maybe it is
if Trevor doesn t want to
, I will.”
“I think Trevor would like any excuse he can get to
spend time with you. I saw the way he was looking at you
when he walked you over here.” Mrs. Harper patted her hand.
“That boy is in love with you.”
She sighed. Why did people keep assuming that about
him? She shrugged. Perhaps he got into his research. She
did promise to show him romance, and maybe this was proof
that it was working. But she figured that it would be better if he
was learning more from Melissa than from her. She would
have to plan for him and Melissa to spend time together on
Saturday, even if it meant she had to spend more time with
Clark than she wanted to. Clark was nice, but she couldn t
seem to connect with him. She shrugged again. I can think of
how to get Trevor and Melissa to spend time alone later on.
Right now I need to cook.
To Adrienne s surprise, Clark stopped by the inn with
Trevor that evening. She was about to enter the building when
they approached the front entrance.
“Good evening, Miss Dayton,” Clark greeted.
“Good evening,” she replied. “What brings you here?”
“You left your bow behind when you came out on
Saturday, and I thought I would return it.”
Trevor sighed. “I told him I could do it but he insisted.”
He didn t look pleased but remained polite.
all I know, you would have thrown
it away,” Clark
She noted the tension between the two men.
“Well, thank you,” she told Clark as he handed it to her.
“I forgot I took it off after lunch.”
“A pretty woman like you doesn t need a bow in her hair
She felt awkward as she looked up at Clark. She hadn t
noted his height before. He is too tall. I nearly break my neck
looking at his face
. She cleared her throat. “Th
at is nice of you
He continued to smile at her.
“I guess I ll see you tomorrow then,” Trevor told Clark.
“Oh, that reminds me,” she quickly said before she
forgot Tristan. “I met a young man at the restaurant who is
looking for a wife and thought he and Trudy might be a good
match. I was hoping to bring him out to the farm on Saturday
for the party. Are you familiar with Tristan Donaldson?”
Clark thought for a moment. “Yes, I ve met him. He s
agreeable. He is strong and would do well for lifting heavy
things on the farm. Trevor seems to have trouble with some of
the heavier items.”
He huffed. “Sorry but my strength is in my fingers. I m
a writer, not a farmer.”
“Yes, it is obvious.”
She wondered if they had a bad day together
not all men are meant to be farmers. Everyone has their own
talent. I suppose yours is farming. You are built for it. But
s only helping with
Trevor does a fine job with entertaining. He
until he can go to New York, so it doesn t matter how
his farming is. Anyway, you both have your own strengths.
You are both very kind and would treat a woman very well if
you married her.”
They seemed to relax.
. She didn t want to get in the middle of a
She was glad
“I hope you don t mind if
Melissa and Hank Peters come
out as well,” Trevor finally said. “I think they would enjoy a
good time on the farm. Melissa is a true farmer s daughter and
would make a wonderful wife. Hank might be good for Bonnie
since she likes poetry and he writes i
Adrienne breathed a sigh of relief. So he does find
Melissa interesting. If anyone could show him romance, it was
Mrs. Gallows came up to the entrance, carrying some
groceries. “Greetings, everyone,” she cheerfully stated.
“Can I help you with that bag, ma am?” Clark asked her.
“I would greatly appreciate the help. How thoughtful of
“I do what I can to assist charming women.”
“Clark Howard, you have a way with words. You should
be settling down soon.”
“Perhaps.” He glanced a
t Adrienne and smiled.
Adrienne forced a smile back.
“Tonight I thought we d make
woman told Adrienne.
“How delightful! I haven t had that dish in months. It s
one of my favorites.”
“Well, then it s a good thing I thought of
it. Will you be
staying for supper, Clark? The hour is late and by the time you
return, you ll be starving if you don t get something to eat first.”
“I ll be happy to. I can t wait to try more of Adrienne s
then,” the woman told
Trevor stopped Adrienne before she followed Mrs.
Gallows and Clark into the inn. “I missed you today,” he said.
“Did you miss me?”
She chuckled. “Aren t you taking this romance thing a
little too far? You don t have to be so pleasant all th
e time. I
know you don t care for me.”
He frowned. “That s not true. Sure, we started off on
the wrong foot, but I m realizing that there s a good heart in
you. Can t a man miss his friend?”
Her eyes widened. “You actually consider me to be a
“I certainly do. You took the time to read my book and
told me what was good about it and what I need to improve on.
I know I need help in the romance area. When I work on my
romantic comedy, the comedy part is easy but it s harder to get
to the romance. I need to know what a woman finds romantic,
and you re the only one who seems to be sincere about
showing me that. Don t tell anyone but a lot of single women in
this town seem to think I m going to take them with me to New
York. So how do I know whether or not they are telling me
what I really need to know? I could sneeze on them, get snot
all over them and they d probably say that was romantic just so
they wouldn t hurt my feelings.”
She cringed. “You have a way with imagery. And that s
“Not romantic at all, is it?”
He smiled at her. “So you see? I can rely
on you to tell
me the truth
He moved closer to her and kissed her cheek. “
hope to be your friend
“Friendship would be nice.”
“But you will help me with my play, right?”
“Oh, of course.”
“Good because I need all the help I can get.”
“Well, Saturday sh
ould be a good day for romance.
You ll get to spend some time with Melissa.”
“A party is a fun place for love.”
The way he smiled at her made her knees feel weak.
He’s for Melissa. Don’t interfere with their blossoming
“Mrs. Harper asked me if I would watch all five of her
children for four hours on Friday evening. You are good with
kids. Will you help me watch them? I am not used to being
“I ll be tickled pink to watch them.”
“You know what I say, „the more, the merrier. It will be
nice to spend the evening surrounded by people.”
“You really don t like to be alone, do you?”
“I grew up surrounded by people. I like to sneak off and
grab an hour to do my writing but after that, I like to be around
people again. The night can seem long when I m trying to write
in my room and there s no one to talk to.”
“I suppose companionship is nice. I didn t realize men
got lonely too.”
“We re human, aren t we?”
She nodded. “I m learning a lot about you.”
“Do you like what you re learning?”
“I do,” she softly admitted.
He touched her hand. “I like what I m l
you too. You re not stuck up. You re just lonely and scared,
and you hide behind your wall so you won t get hurt.”
She didn t know if she liked being exposed like that.
She instinctively wrapped her arms around herself. “You are a
little scary with the way you figure people out
“I didn t mean to scare you off. I m sorry.” He rubbed
his hand up and down her back. “For what it s worth, I m glad
you had the courage to leave California. If you hadn t, we
never would have met.”
“Thank you, Trevor. You re probably the first man to
pay me a sincere compliment.”
He winked at her. “There s more you ll be receiving.”
Mrs. Gallows appeared from the door. “I see that you
two are working things out. How wonderful! I told Bronson to
leave you alone, Adrienne. He had his eye out to court you but
I had a feeling that you and Trevor would resolve your
differences. You two are meant to be
She grew uneasy. Clearly, the woman was
misunderstanding the situation.
“Yes, Mrs. Gallows.
We ve worked things out,” Trevor
quickly replied. “We re good friends.”
She relaxed. At least he said it for her.
“Are you ready to make dinner?” the woman asked her.
“Yes, I am.” As she followed her into the inn, she was
aware that Trevor was close behind her.
It’s hard to
concentrate when he’s near me
. She was grateful that she
would be in the kitchen so she could cook with a clear head.
Trevor had been biting his tongue around Clark all day,
and the knowledge that he was staying for supper only served
to irritate him even more. Clark made it clear that he intended
to court Adrienne, and Adrienne s comment that she was
actually considering being with Clark and would see him again
didn t sit well with him. He didn t need Clark s
smooth talking to interfere with what he was trying to do.
Adrienne was going to be his wife, not Clark s.
Trevor went to the dining room and waited for the meal.
Clark sat on the other side of the table. Trevor
wasn t sure
what to say to him. He took a deep breath and looked around
the room. The problem was that Clark was actually a nice man
who would treat Adrienne well. But I would treat her well too.
So it was up to her.
Clark had picked up a copy of his book and was flipping
“If you re in the mood for a comedy, I recommend the
,” he said.
Rocky Mountain Oysters play
Clark glanced up at him. “I figured I should do some
reading while we wait for supper
He shrugged. “I don t mind.” What he really wanted to
do was join Adrienne in the kitchen and offer to help her, but he
knew that she and Mrs. Gallows had everything under control.
He remained quiet while Clark read through a couple stories.
Clark chuckled. “Your brother
law didn t realize what
Rocky Mountain oysters were?”
Trevor grinned. “He had no clue. It was priceless to
watch the expression on his face when Luke told him what it
was. But to Jake s credit, he
ate all of them without flinching
“I guess rich people wouldn t know that.”
“Did you know Adrienne came from a wealthy
background? Her father arranged a marriage for her that she
didn t want so she ran away. She s got nothing now.”
“The poor girl must
be scared. It was a good thing she
had you to get her through it. Did you come from a wealthy
“Hardly. My family did alright but we were up to our
eyeballs in debt until Jake came along and helped us out.
Since then though, we ve been car
eful with our money. I guess
it was a bad move on my part when I took all my money on the
I don t have a dime to my name anymore.”
“I heard about th
e robbery. I wonder where the robbers
“They re probably long gone.”
“What an ordeal to go
.” He paused. “I hope you
don t mind my asking what happened between you and
Adrienne. I mean, you seem like a nice enough man.”
Trevor appreciated the compliment. “We didn t really
know each other. People seem to think we did, but we didn t.
She bumped into me on her way off the train.”
“Oh. I didn t realize that.”
“Whenever we try to explain it, people just hear what
they want to hear instead of what we re actually saying.”
“So, do you two get along or not?”
“We did manage to get over o
“I admit that I do like her. She s a good woman.”
Trevor nodded. “Yes, she is.”
Clark sighed. “I guess we are both trying to court her.”
“That s clear to me too.”
“Well, as they say, „Let the best man win. ”
Trevor nodded. Once he threw Melissa into the mix, it
would be easier to fend Clark off.
The women came out with the meal and Mr. Gallows
entered the room.
Adrienne set the large plate of Swedish meatballs next
to the rice and peas that Mrs. Gallows set down.
Adrienne looked at Clark and Trevor. There was an
empty seat next to both of them.
“You may sit next to me,” Clark offered.
She glanced at Trevor, shrugged and sat next to Clark.
Trevor hid his annoyance with a smile.
She’ll be sitting with me for
the rest of our lives. She’s only
He wasn t going to let one minor
sitting next to him tonight.
setback deter him from his goal.
For a moment, he thought of his family. His
homesickness came and went but mealtime was hard since
they always gathered together at the table to talk about their
day and share some laughs. He didn t relish another night in
his room, though it gave him time to write.
“Trevor, you look thoughtful tonight,” Mrs. Gallows
“Oh, I was just thinking of my family,” he
a letter to send out tomorrow so they ll know where I m
“That s right,” Mr. Gallows nodded. “The post office is
open from ten to two. I will take your letter in since
you ll be at
“Thank you, sir.
I also got one for Mr. Adams.
“Do you miss your family, Adrienne?” Clark suddenly
“It s a long story but yes,” she replied.
“I heard you come from California.”
Mrs. Gallows gave a gasp. “That reminds me.
Adrienne, I heard you saw the crooks who robbed the train
while you were working today.”
Trevor s ears perked up at this turn of events.
“I did,” she replied. “But when I got the sheriff, the men
were already gone. The sheriff said he ll make some wanted
“I doubt that they would stick around,” Clark
commented. “If they re on the run, they ll want to be
Trevor cleared his throat. “How did you recognize
them? They wore masks.”
“Oh, that was easy. One had the gruff voice and the
other had a birthmark on his hand.”
feeling uneasy. “Did they realize you
“No, I don t think so.”
“You should probably be around other people at all
times, just to be on the safe side.”
“I couldn t agree more,” Clark added. “We don t want
you to risk gettin
Trevor grumbled under his breath. The only saving
grace he had was residing in the inn with her. If Clark lived in
town, Trevor might never get a chance to be alone with her.
“Well, let s hope the sheriff catches them soon,” Mrs.
The group nodded.
After a couple of moments, Mr. Gallows spoke up.
Clark, I was wondering how things are going on your
Clark looked up at t
he old man. “The farm is great.”
As Clark rambled on, Trevor imagined what it would be
like to come home every night and be alone with Adrienne. He
caught himself smiling, looking off to nowhere in particular,
when Mrs. Gallows asked him about the play he was working
on. He turned his attention back to the table and answered her
Trevor spent the rest of the week complimenting
Adrienne and lightly touching her hand whenever he could. He
was relieved when Clark didn t come into town. He really didn t
need that kind of competition. The more he got to know
Adrienne, the deeper he
fell in love with her, and he didn t want
Clark to come in between them. After all, he had his future kids
to think about. They wouldn t exist if Clark got her.
On Friday evening after dinner, he went to the Harper
house with Adrienne. The cool evening was clear so it would
be a good night for viewing stars, which was something he
figured the kids would enjoy.
“I must admit that you continue to amaze me,” he told
her on their way there.
“Really? How?” she wondered.
He took her hand and held it. He was happy when she
didn t pull it away. She was getting use to
have a big heart for people. I heard you made some pre-made
dinners for Elijah and Patty Baker. It will be nice for them to be
able to focus on their newborn.”
“I like to cook. It wasn t a big deal
to do that for them.”
He grinned at her. “You re a humble and graceful
woman. Any man would be lucky to be in your presence.”
She blushed. “You really are doing well with romance,
Trevor. I think Melissa will be glad to see you tomorrow. I tell
her how wonderful you are.”
He forced aside his annoyance. She had been hinting
about how good he and Melissa were for each other, but now
she was coming right out and saying it. He stopped and turned
Surprised, she also
stopped. “Is something wrong?”
It was time to take things to the next level before Clark
. “I am at the part of my play
got a hold of her the next day
where the main characters kiss. I haven t kissed a woman
before, so I was wondering if I could kiss you and see what the
experience is like so I can best write about it.”
She seemed startled, though she was shyly smiling.
“Perhaps Melissa would be best suited for that.”
“But I intend to write the scene tonight.”
“Well, there are people walking around us.”
“We re only a few feet from the Harper house. We re
practically out of sight of everyone with all the trees
surrounding us. I do need help with being romantic.”
He took off his hat and wrapped his arms around her,
making sure he
didn t hold her too tightly. “If you don t want to,
idn t find me offensive.”
that is fine. I hope you d
“There s not
about you, Trevor.” Though
she didn t hug him back, he did
note that her hands rested on
his arms. “You are pleasant to be with.”
He winked at her. “You do find a way into a man s
heart. If you would rather wait for the kiss, I d understand.”
As he was about to pull away from her, she stopped
him. “I suppose one kiss wouldn t do any
harm. I mean, it
would be for your play, and you do have a deadline to meet.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“I haven t kiss
a man yet, so I don t know how good
I ll be at teaching you how to kiss.”
“Then we ll have to learn together.” He leaned toward
her and gave her a light kiss. His heart raced with excitement.
“What did you think? Did I do alright?”
She nodded. “You did just fine.”
He was pleased that she seemed to enjoy it as much as
he did. “Perhaps, it would be more romantic if the kiss lasted
ybe, it should be like this…”
He kissed her again, but this time he tightened his hold
on her and deepened the kiss. He felt her arms go around his
neck as she leaned into him. When the kiss ended, he could
hardly concentrate on anything but how wonderful she felt.
“Yes, that s the kiss to go with,” she whispered.
Oh Adrienne, just wait until we’re married. I’m going to
kiss you like that all the time. He forced himself to back away
from her. Placing his hat back on his head, he smiled and took
her hand so they could continue their walk to the Harper house.
“Thank you,” he said. “That was the perfect kiss.”
She didn t say anything as he led her along with him.
I’ve startled her, but in a good way.
He knew enough
from watching people to know that she was in love with him,
though she was determined not to admit it. Once she did admit
it though, he had no doubt that she would be a passionate wife.
He couldn t wait for them to get married.
When they reached the Harper house, the kids ran out
to meet them. He let go of her hand so he could toss each kid
in the air. She giggled at the scene. He winked at her. You
just wait, sweetheart. Someday, these w ill be our kids I’ll be
The time passed by quickly for him. He was impressed
with the way she handled the children. They made sure to
behave with her. She didn t tolerate much fighting between the
siblings. “We are here to have a nice and pleasant evening,”
she told three of the kids who had been hitting each other.
grew up an only child and things got boring most of the time.
Be glad you have one another. Someday, you ll grow up to be
“Yes, ma am.”
The three children nodded.
He grinned at the troublemakers. “You listen to
Adrienne now. She kno
ws what she s talking about.”
They nodded and played nicely after that.
He went over to her and kissed her on the cheek. “You
do a wonderful job with children. Why do you insist on not
having some of your own someday?”
She blinked. I spooked her again. The poor thing
“I never thought
needs to get over her fear of marriage.
children were a bad thing,” she said. “I just want there to be
more to marriage than having them, that s all.”
“You re so
great. A man would be foolish not to
appreciate you for who you are. You have a lot more to offer
than having children.”
“Thank you for saying that, Trevor. I do like to think
there s more to marriage than all of that. I was an only child
because my mother got sick after I was born, and the illness
er barren. It s possible that I wouldn t be able to have
“Even if that happens, you and your husband can
always adopt a whole bunch of youngsters
“I didn t think a man would consider adopting kids. My
father never did.”
“Children are a blessing no matter how
they come into the family.”
“You are an incredible man. Melissa is lucky.”
He frowned as she turned her attention back to the kids.
Alright. This has got to stop. I’m going to marry you,
sweetheart, even if I have to drag you to the altar.
The next day, Melissa and Hank showed up bright and
early at the inn. Trevor noticed that she wore pants and a shirt.
She is a farm girl, alright. Clark will like her. I think
Clark too. Trevor saw that Adrienne wore another dress and
had her hair pulled back in a bow.
She’s so pretty, but she’s a
city girl. She’s meant for New York
He tipped his hat to her as she came out of the inn.
“Good morning, Adrienne.”
“Good morning, Trevor,” she replied
She seemed to be happy to see him, which was a good
“You are a pre
tty sight first thing in the morning
said. “Will you be riding with me out to the farm?”
But you will bring me back this tim
e, won t
you?” she teased
She joined him on the horse.
He smiled. He liked being close to her and feeling her
hold him around the waist.
“Don t worry, Melissa,” she told her friend. “I m only
riding with him because I don t know how to
ride a horse by
He rolled his eyes.
Tristan came trotting up on his horse. He frowned. “I
see you already found an escort,” he told Adrienne.
“I told you I wanted to introduce you to Trudy,” she
He nodded. “That you did.”
is very enthusiastic about life,” Trevor said. “I
think she ll be a good wife.”
Tristan looked happier though Trevor noted that
Could she be jealous? Trevor grinned at the thought
that she cared enough about him to worry that he might find
Trudy attractive. No one is as attractive as you, sweetheart.
They rode out to the farm and Bonnie immediately ran
up to him. He sighed. Bonnie was relentless in her pursuit of
“Good morning, Trevor,” she gushed. “I ve been
practicing my f
lute playing. I hope you ll find it to your liking.”
“I m sure I will,” he politely replied. He turned her to
Hank who was dismounting from his horse. “Say, are you
familiar with Hank Peters? He just returned from college.”
Bonnie smiled at him. “Ha
nk? I hardly recognized you.
You really matured in college.”
He grinned at her. “You ve matured too
You re not a little girl anymore. In fact, you ve grown into a
beautiful young woman.”
She looked very pleased by his comment.
Trevor breathed a sigh of relief. Now Bonnie could
concentrate on Hank instead of him.
Trudy and Clark came out to meet them.
“I didn t realize so many people would be here today,”
Trudy said. “I hope I made enough pies for the party.”
“You made pies?” Tristan as
She nodded. “I made apple, blueberry and rhubarb
“She makes wonderful pies,” Bonnie added. “They
don t last long around here.”
Trevor marveled that the family ate so much and
“I can t wait to try a slice,” Tristan widely smiled. “I m a
sucker for a good pie.”
“Oh, then I ll make sure to save you a slice of your
favorite kind. What do you like best?” Trudy asked.
“I m partial to rhubarb, but I like all kinds of them.”
So far, it looked like everyone was pairing off nicely.
Trevor got off the horse and helped Adrienne down so he could
put his horse in the stable with the other horses for the day.
Adrienne looked excited. “I hope that they get
together,” she whispered to him. “They do go well together.”
“Yes, they do.”
And so do we, sweetheart.
Clark walked over to Adrienne. “I m glad you could
make it out here today.”
Trevor quickly motioned to Melissa. “Melissa Peters
made the trip out here too,” he introduced. “She s great on the
to know about farm life.”
farm. She knows all there is
Melissa walked over to them and smiled at him.
Melissa looked much better with Clark than Adrienne
did. Not only was Melissa taller but she went better with the
ould get started on
the lunch,” Adrienne said.
hope you ll save a dance for me,” Clark told her.
Trevor frowned. He shouldn t be ignoring Melissa like
“Oh, I suppose everyone will have a chance to dance
with each other,” Adrienne replied.
“Let me walk you back to the house,” Clark said.
Trevor gritted his teeth as Adrienne accepted his offer.
She can’t be seriously considering him!
He glanced at Melissa
This won’t do at all. Just because
who looked forlorn.
Adrienne intends to fix me up with Melissa, it doesn’t give her
Didn t her kiss with him the previous
free reign to pursue Clark.
night mean anything to her?
“Come with me, Melissa,” Trevor
softly said. Turning to
“We ll take your horses to the
Hank and Tristan, he called out,
arn.” They were too busy talking to Bonnie and Trudy to
At least that part of the plan was a success.
As he and Melissa walked to the barn, he noted that
Adrienne was watching them. Is she happy about this? It was
hard to tell from the distance between them. He had trouble
reading people unless he was close to them.
,” Melissa remarked.
“That s just because he doesn t know what he s giving
up,” he sourly stated. “You re much better for him than she is.
What can a city girl offer a farm boy?”
“Well, you grew up on the farm.
You re also in love with
“But I m heading to New York to write plays. I m going
to be a city boy soon enough, and it s best for me to have a city
She sighed. “I don t know. Maybe I m not pretty
He looked at her. She was a tomboy. As they put the
horses in the stalls, he turned to her in interest.
“You need to
. Then he ll notice you re a
get into a dress and fix up your hair
She touched her ponytail self-
consciously. “Do you
think this is why no man has come by to
“Well, my ol
dest sister was thirty-three when she got
married. She didn t wear pants all the time but she wore her
hair up in a bun and never fixed herself up nice. Once she got
married, she looked like a whole new person. I hardly
recognized her. I wonder if Bonnie and Trudy would be willing
to help the cause now that they have men interested in them.”
“The cause.” She chuckled. “It sounds funny when you
put it that way.”
He grinned. “You have a great sense of humor. Clark s
you. Let s go
got to see that once he spends some time with
with Bonnie and Trudy.”
have a quick talk
Clark was sitting close to Adrienne on the porch swing
when they returned to the house. She looks uncomfortable,
He couldn t tell for sure. His jealousy was getting
in the way of his usual clarity in reading people.
Bonnie and Trudy were still talking to Hank and Tristan.
It’s like being on Noah’s ark, except two cou
“Bonnie, Trudy, can I talk to you for a moment?” he
asked the sisters.
They seemed reluctant to leave the men.
“I won t keep you long,” he added.
They nodded and walked a couple meters from the
porch so no one would hear them while they talked to him and
Melissa. “Alright. I m going to be honest with you two, but I
need your promise to keep quiet about this plan of mine or it
will blow up in all of our faces. Got it?”
Bonnie looked confused but nodded.
“How would you two like to have Melissa her
e for a
law?” he asked.
“It would be fine,”
“She would be better out here on the farm than
Adrienne would,” Bonnie agreed. “Adrienne is nice and all but I
don t think she could survive out here.”
“Those are my thoughts on it too.”
He was relieved they
. “Melissa and I were talking and we think if Clark
were to see her dressed up, then he would see what a prize
he s overlooking.”
“A makeover? How exciting!” Trudy exclaimed.
“You are the same height and size as us,” B
Melissa. “You have such a lovely face. Yes, Clark would
definitely notice you if you fixed up your hair and wore a dress.”
“It would be fun to include Hank and Tristan
don t you think?”
Trudy asked her sister.
“Have them focus on Ad
rienne so Clark has to spend
time with Melissa
“You read my mind.”
Trevor was impressed with their quick thinking. This
would be perfect in a play. After they had a chance to talk to
Hank and Tristan, who reluctantly agreed to the plan after
Bonnie and Trudy promised to reserve a kiss for each of them,
he joined Adrienne and Clark on the porch. Love is in the air.
All they needed was Valentine s Day and the afternoon would
be complete. He snapped his fingers. He would title his play
While Bonnie and Trudy took Melissa into their bedroom
to make her a new woman, Tristan and Hank fought Clark for
attention. She looked baffled by their attention.
“I must start making lunch,” she
finally said as she stood
up from the porch swing.
“Let me help you, Adrienne,” Tristan offered. “Delicate
hands like yours shouldn t have to lift those heavy pots. I ll do
that for you.”
“I can reach for things that are high up on the shelf,”
“We don t want you to push yourself too hard in there.”
“You re much too precious and sweet for that.”
“What about Bonnie and Trudy?” she anxiously asked.
“Where are they anyway?” Clark, who looked
“Who cares?” Hank shrugged. “We only came out here
to be with Adrienne.”
“No. That s not supposed to happen,” she protested.
“But we can t help how we feel about you.”
“She s going to be mine, so back off, Hank,” Tristan
“No, she ll be mine.”
“I ll be cooking.
I m sure Mrs. Howard can help me.”
She quickly ran into the house and shut the door behind her.
“You both need to back off,” Clark snapped. “She was
warming up to me until you two butted in. Why aren t you with
would be where?” Hank looked around.
Clark shook his head. “Fine. Hey, Trevor, why don t
you show Hank and Tristan the farm? They might be
interested to know what they can expect if they marry my
Trevor waved to them to follow him. He waited until
they were out of Clark s hearing before speaking. “You re
doing a great job. I almost believe you actually want her.”
“As long as Bonnie and Trudy understand it s all an act,
we can keep it up,” Hank said. “But I
am hoping I can dance
“I ll see what I can do about arranging something.”
They mounted their horses and he gave them a tour of
the farm. It took a good half hour and by the time they returned
to the barn, he saw Clark talking to Adrienne by the bull pen.
How did Clark get her outside? Clark leaned over and
whispered something in her ear. She laughed.
his teeth. This wasn t something he figured
“Uh oh. Looks like he s going to steal her away,”
Tristan noted as his horse stood next to his.
Trevor shook his head. “She ll be my wife by this time
tomorrow.” An idea came to him. “Anybody got a slingshot?”
d. “I sure do. It keeps unsavory animals
away from our sheep at home. I even have a few pebbles.
What are you going t
o do? Hit Clark in the head?” He handed
him the slingshot and pebbles.
“I m going to do better than that. Adrienne s never been
dirty a day in her life, and I m going to get her away from Clark
and get you two to spend some time with your women all in the
“Now this, I have to see,” Hank told Tristan.
They watched as Trevor took the slingshot and aimed
e bull s rear end. “Here we go.”
the pebble at th
He released the pebble, and it flew through the air and
landed right on the bull s behind
. The bull snorted and raced to
the fence. Adrienne was safe on the other side but she
wouldn t realize the bull couldn t harm her until it was too late.
Sure enough, as soon as she saw the bull charging at her, she
backed up, tripped over the tree branch behind her feet and fell
into the muddy puddle the rainstorm from the night before had
left. The three men laughed as Clark struggled to help her
stand up. She was covered in mud.
She looked up and Trevor sobered. Uh oh.
“You did this on purpose!” s
he yelled at him.
“Just when I thought you were a decent man, you go
and pull this stunt! I hate you!” She ignored Clark s hand as
she stormed back to the house.
“We should ve hid,” Hank reflected.
“I hope we didn t just ruin your chances,” Tristan added.
“Nah. She ll still marry me. I got my plan in place. She
might be sore with me, but she ll be more than happy to marry
me in order to avoid being hounded by a gazillion suitors. You
She ll have
saw how anxious she was to get rid of you two.
more men to fend off before the day is over.”
It had cost him a
week s wages but he had paid a couple of men to stop by t
inn later that day to talk to Adrienne.
“You seem awfully sure of yourself.”
“I am. It s the only way the
play can go if it s to keep it
The two men looked at each other and shrugged.
As he handed Tristan the slingshot back, he thanked
him and returned his horse to the stall.
Adrienne, you’ll thank
me for all of this when you’re holding
little Trevor or Adrienne in
Adrienne was furious with Trevor for irritating the bull so
that it nearly ran into her. She took a bath and cleaned off the
mud as best as she could. Afterwards, Bonnie offered to let
her borrow one of her dresses but the dress was too tight in the
bosom and so long it reached past her ankles.
“I m sorry, Adrienne,” Bonnie said when she saw her. “I
can see that the buttons in the bust line are ready to pop.
Would you like to wear a sweat
er over the dress?”
“Yes.” Though it was too hot for a sweater, she
accepted the green sweater and threw it over to the orange
dress. She felt frumpy.
When she went into the kitchen to serve lunch, the men
all stared at her. She rolled her eyes. She knew she looked
“Sit next to me,” Hank offered.
“No, sit next to me,” Tristan argued.
She decided to sit between the Howard boys. At least
Alex and Max were safe. Trevor sat across from her and
smiled, but she refused to look at him. It was his fault that she
looked so horrible. Clark finally had his attention on Melissa
who looked stunning now that she was dressed as a woman
instead of a farmhand. So much for Melissa showing Trevor
. Melissa shouldn’t be with Clark, but it’s
what romance is
to have him leave me alone. She shook her head. What did
she care if Trevor missed his chance at love? He arranged it
so that she fell in the mud.
After lunch, she sat on the couch next to Max and Alex
while Clark, Bonnie and Trudy performed for them. They
sounded good together as Clark played his fiddle, Bonnie
played her flute and Trudy sang. Adrienne had to admit that
they were talented.
Hank and Tristan asked her to dance but she refused.
“I ll trip all over the place in this dress.” They
insisted on sitting
at her feet and looked at her once in awhile and smiled
adoringly at her.
This is ridiculous! When will all these men leave me
alone? Surprisingly, only Trevor left her alone. She rolled her
eyes. Why did she care? Hank and Tristan obviously weren t
interested in the Howard sisters.
I shouldn’t care if Trevor
wants one of them. She was mad at him anyway. He had no
er fall in the mud. She hadn t done anything to
right to make h
deserve such foul treatment.
Finally, Clark told Bonnie and Trudy to dance so he
could continue playing the fiddle. They ran over to Trevor who
said he didn t like dancing but finally gave in and
dancing with them. Tristan and Hank pulled away from
Adrienne long enough for a dance with the sisters, only to
quickly return to her when the song was over.
It shouldn’t bother me that Trevor is ignoring me. I have
no romantic interest in him at all.
We’ve only been romantic
because I’m trying to teach him what romance is.
She was relieved when it was time to leave. She didn t
think she could take Tristan and Hank s constant attention
much longer. Hank and Tristan offered to take her home on
their horses. Clark was too busy talking to Melissa to notice
that she was leaving, which was the only good thing that had
happened that day.
“Trevor promised to take me back,” she told them as
she walked out the door, holding the long dress up so she
t trip on it again.
“But you can
go with one of us,” Hank argued.
We won t bite,” Tristan urged
She shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other
while Trevor rode his horse toward
them. “I promised him I d
go back with him.”
“Even after h
e made you land
in the mud?”
e are staying at the inn. It s just easier this
Bonnie and Trudy came running up to Trevor and
tugged at his pants until he slipped off the horse. Adrienne
scowled at the scene.
“We were hoping we d see you before you left,” Trudy
. “I made this bag of candy especially for you.”
“And I wrote a poem you might want to
inspiration for a play
,” Bonnie said.
They shoved their gifts at him.
Was Trevor pleased by their attention? Why do I care?
“I ll take you home, Adrienne,” he said when he noticed
her looking at him. “Sorry, ladies. But we got to go back.”
I’m just glad to be going
Adrienne rushed over to him.
to the inn. I’m not happy to be with him.
“We can t wait
to see you tomorrow after
“Yes,” Trudy agreed. “We plan to spend the
“Well, I was hoping to work on my play,” he replied
“We can help!”
“We would love to see more of your work,” Bonnie
“Oh…” He glanced at Adrienne. “We
might as well tell
Her eyes grew wide. What was he talking about?
“Tell us what?”
Bonnie asked, glancing from Trevor to
“Adrienne and I just worked things out. We re courting
“What? When did you work things out?
she hated you after the mud incident.”
“And she told us that you were free to
court one of us last time she was
“Well, we talked it over and decided it
would be romantic to court.
“I had no idea.” Bon
nie sadly sighed. She gave
Adrienne a dirty look. “Some honesty in the future would be
“Don t lead us to believe a lie,” Trudy hissed at her.
Adrienne gasped, appalled that they would act that way
The two sisters took back their gifts and stomped back
to the house.
“We d better comfort them,” Hank told Tristan. He
turned to Adrienne. “Really, if you had your eyes set on Trevor,
why didn t you just tell us? We would have left you alone.”
She watched, dumbfounded as they followed the
Howard sisters into the house.
Trevor breathed an audible sigh of relief. “Thank
goodness that is over.”
Adrienne glared at him and crossed her arms.
There s no need to look like you re going to kill
hounds off my back. I ll never get any
me. I just wanted those
work done with them stopping by the inn. As it is, I hardly get
any farming done during the week.”
“You had no right to say all of that.
We re not courting.”
She refused to acknowledge that she was pleased he really
wasn t interested in Bonnie or Trudy after all.
her. “How many single
men have been
you since you got here?”
Startled by his sudden question, she thought it over.
“More than I care to admit.”
“The same is happening with me and
the women. Look,
I haven t been able to write much since I got here because
every time I sit down in the room, there s someone coming by
for a visit, so I spend a lot of time in the parlor. I need to finish
this play before I meet Mr. Adams. It took me a month to write
ruined. I can t afford to lose any
the one that got
So, do you want men to keep coming around to see you or
would you really like to be left alone?”
“You know the answer to tha
t. I want to be left alone
“Then I have a de
al for you. We both agree that we
don t want to marry any of the people here. Let s
pretend we re
“That doesn t make any sense.”
And I’m not as excited
by the prospect as I seem.
“It makes perfect sense. With the two of us together,
others will leave us alone.”
She recalled all the men who made it clear that they
would be willing to court her. If she went with Trevor s crazy
scheme, she could survive the next month or two in peace, and
it wouldn t be that bad to be with him. “Alrig
ht. You got
yourself a deal.”
“Good. I was really getting tired of fending those
women off.” He got up on the horse. “I ll take you home.”
She accepted his hand and let him help pull her up.
She got in front him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
,” she said as he urged
thought you were interested in Melissa
the horse forward. Her grip tightened
. “Why are you
pretending to court me instead of her
“To be honest,
I think Clark will be better for Melissa.
I m heading for New York, and she wouldn t be happ
It s best that they re
“You re probably right.”
She was secretly relieved he felt
that way. “But is it right to lie to people about courting?”
“It s only for a short while
Then I ll go to New York
you can stay here if you want. That is, of course, unless you
would like to marry me. Then we can go together.
“Oh, well, we re just pretending to be more than
Sometimes what starts as pretend can become the real
She struggled to maintain her balance. She finally gave
up and leaned against him so she wouldn t have to fight for
control over the horse.
I’m not enjoying being this close to him.
He’s not that exciting.
Why did you irritate the bull so he came
“I thought if I could separate you from Clark, then he
would pay attention to Melissa.”
“Why didn t you just ask me to
stay away from him? I
think they go well together.”
“You tried to get away but he wouldn t leave you alone.
he d follow you into the bathroom.”
I knew there was no way
She admitted that he had a point. Clark had been stuck
to her like glue.
“Do you forgive me?” he asked, his breath warm against
“I guess so, but next time, just tell me
what you want
instead of getting me
“It s a deal.”
They reached the stable and he helped her off the
horse. Her body tingled as he held her for a moment before
letting her go.
She couldn t be sure, but it seemed as if he
wanted to kiss her. Disappointed, she followed him to the inn.
Suddenly, she giggled.
“What s so funny?” he wondered, looking at her. “Do I
“No. It s just that w
atching Bonnie and Trudy fawn all
over you was fun.”
“You enjoyed that, did you?”
She shrugged. “A little.” Since she knew he wasn t
interested in them, she could see the humor in it.
To her surprise, Bronson came out of the entrance once
widely at Adrienne. “Good
they reached the inn. He smiled
afternoon to you, my fair Miss Dayton. I hoped I would see
She glanced uneasily at him, unsure of how to handle
Three other single men came up to her.
“I was wondering if you would allow me the honor of
courting you?” Bronson asked. “I think you might find staying
here to your liking, and I sure do like a woman who knows her
way around the kitchen.”
“I want someone who can give me lots of children,”
another man told her. “You look like you have nice birthing
“When you re not hideously dressed, you make a
beautiful ornament,” an older man said. “I can put yo
display for all my friends to admire.”
“No, no, no,” the final one protested. “She ll make a
on all those cold, lonely nights.”
perfect bed partner
“Wait a minute there, gentlemen,” Trevor interrupted.
“We ve got something to settle. I m courting
“But she s not married,” Bronson stated. “Courtships
aren t final.”
“Yep,” another man
agreed. “Unless you re married
fully intended to come by with tokens of our affections.”
Adrienne stared at the four men in wonder. Were they
serious? Perhaps it was time to move things up a notch.
“Aren t you going to tell them?” she
Trevor raised his eyebrows. “Tell them what?”
“About your proposal?”
The men frowned.
“Does she mean a marriage proposal?” Bronson
usted his hat and grinned. “Sorry to break
your hearts, men, but she s right. I did ask her to marry me.
She didn t give me an answer though.”
Looking at her, he
, “Should I take this as a yes?”
It’s only pretend.
She knew that he was helping her out,
just as she was helping him, but the idea of an actual proposal
thrilled her. Though why it did, she couldn t understand. She
had no intention of marrying, did she?
Taking a deep breath, she nodded. “Yes.” So it
fake proposal and a fake yes, but her heart was beating
furiously in her chest.
“I had no idea. I apologize to both of you,” Bronson
replied, looking glum.
After the grumbling men left so they could be alone,
“Marriage is romantic, don t you think?”
“It s not like we re really getting married.”
He hesitated for a moment as he glanced at the sky.
“Maybe we should get married.
What do you think?
“Are you serious or are we pretending?”
Taking her in his arms, he whispered,
y do you find
it hard to believe I honestly want to be with you?”
The question caught her off guard. Struggling to come
up with a proper answer, she said,
Because no man has
wanted to be with me unless they wanted something from me.
are someone worth being appreciated and loved.
Don t I treat you better than the other men?” He gently kissed
She pulled him closer as he deepened the kiss. He felt
so wonderful. Her pulse quickened.
He gently pulled away from her when the kiss ended.
your history with men, it s understandable
that you feel
the way you do. I want you to know that I do care about you.
“You are a won
derful man, Trevor. I do enjoy being
“I m glad to hear that.” He kissed her again.
She let him take her hand.
Before they entered the inn, Mrs. Gallows burst through
, excitement written all over her face. “Is it true? Have
you reconciled and plan on marrying?”
Adrienne didn t hide her surprise. When did Bronson
have time to spread the news?
put his arm around Adrienne s shoulders and
pulled her close to him. “It is. We realized that our petty
differences shouldn t drive us from the love we share. After all,
marriage is hard work, but it s worthwhile work.”
“I m s
o thrilled! I can tell when two people love each
other. I ll arrange for the preacher to marry you after the
church service. It won t be anything fancy.”
Her eyes widened. Tomorrow?
“As long as I have the love of my life in my arms, I don t
ind of ceremony it is.” He grinned at her.
care what k
“Adrienne, since you re the bride, you re not allowed to
cook,” Mrs. Gallows said. “You have to enjoy being with the
He squeezed her shoulders. “You heard it straight from
Mrs. Gallows. You have to en
Mrs. Gallows ran back into the inn.
“We re going to have a lot of fun together.” He winked at
“Stay here. I want to get you something.”
Before she could ask him what he was getting, he ran
into the inn. While she waited, wondering if they were still
pretending or not, someone hit her on the head and she went
Adrienne s head pounded as she became
aware of her
surroundings. She sat on a wooden chair, and her hands were
tied behind her back and her legs were tied to the chair so she
couldn t go anywhere. Opening her eyes, she noticed that
was in a small, dusty cabin. The only pieces of furniture in the
place were a couple of wood chairs and a wobbly table. Two
full sacks rested on the floor in the corner of the room. Most
likely, they contained a sizable bounty.
“I can t believe you brought her here,” a man with a gruff
voice said. “We were supposed to be on our way west.”
She recognized the speaker as one of the train robbers.
They were talking outside the cabin.
“This is why she s here.” The other man, most likely the
one with the birthmark, replied. “Her father is
rich, and he s
reward for anyone who brings her to him. I ve already
d him that we found her. I m sure he ll reply and then
we ll go to San Francisco to dr
op her off. Then we continue to
“It s risky to stay in this area. We re wanted men.”
“You saw those jewels she came with. Can you
her father is worth?”
imagine how much
The other man loudly sighed. “We have to stay hidden
here. Don t go into town unless you re in disguise…and only
go to check for a letter from her father.”
“That s my plan.”
She closed her eyes. Her father would want to get her
back. She tested the ropes on her hands and legs that held
her firmly in place. She wasn t going anywhere unless they
wanted her to. Glancing at the table, she noticed the paper
with a drawing of her on it. She shook her head to get her hair
out of her eyes. Frowning, she remembered that she had
back with one of Bonnie s barrettes. App
pulled her hair
it fell off when the men abducted her.
Her chair scraped against the old wood floor as she
moved it closer to the table to read the paper. She stilled as
soon as she realized the men stopped talking. The door
opened and the two robbers came into the cabin. She
glimpsed the evening sky behind the filthy men.
“Hello, Miss Dayton,” the one with the birthmark said. “I
turns out you re worth a pretty penny. I bet you re hungry. I got
some jerky. Want some?”
“Mark, don t talk to
the prisoner,” his companion
“Oh come on, Lenny. It s going to take at least a week
before we hear from her pa. We should feed her.”
Her stomach grew queasy at the prospect of spending a
week or more with these men.
“Now, don t worry, Miss,” Mark told her. “We won t hurt
you. We re only after your pa s reward. He misses you
She blinked back the tears from her eyes. Neither
being with these men nor returning to Mr. Parker appealed to
“That s enough, Mark. Let her be.” Lenny checked on
her ropes to make sure she was secure. “Alright. Let s get
some water for her. The river isn t far from here. I got a
container on my horse.”
After they left, she broke down and cried. The daylight
faded into night. At least, they weren t going to hurt her. She
should be grateful for that much. She would never see Trevor
or Mr. and Mrs. Gallows or Mrs. Harper again. Her brief stay in
Virginia would soon be a memory, and a life of a loveless
marriage loomed before her.
Sometime after Mark and Lenny returned with food and
jerky for her, they went back outside to their tent, leaving her
with a single candle for light. The shadows spooked her,
though she was determined not to show her fear and scream
for someone to keep her company. She was better off alone
with her imagination than with them.
It was in the middle of the night when she heard a loud
disturbance from outside the cabin. Her senses alert, she
listened for what the sounds might mean. Some shouting and
a series of gunshots jerked her up in her seat. When someone
threw open the door, she shrieked, first in fear and then in
relief. It was the sheriff!
“Don t worry, Miss Dayton,”
he told her as he untied her
hands and legs. “We got the crooks. They ll be safely behind
Her body was stiff from hours of being bound to one
“Fortunately, that Lewis boy found the barrette you were
wearing or else we wouldn t have tracke
d you down as soon as
we did. Are you hurt?”
“No.” She rubbed her wrists, grateful to be free. “Is
Trevor here?” Her heart leapt in hopes of seeing him.
“He was but Jim had to ride him back to town. One of
the crooks shot him.”
“What? Is he…?” She couldn t say the word „dead .
uldn t even think it. Her heart
pounded anxiously in her
still alive. The doctor will remove his bullet, but
t s too soon to tell
if he ll make it.”
“I have to go see him.”
“We don t have a doctor in t
own so Richie had to go to
the next town over for one.”
Would the fact that they had to wait for the doctor put
Trevor s life in danger? Irritated that she wasted this mu
talking to the sheriff, she insisted that he take her to the inn
“Deputy Harvey will take you
. I have to take the two
men in once I find the money they stole.”
“Over there, in the corner.”
She quickly pointed to the
two sacks before she ran to find Harvey who had tied the two
so they couldn t escape. “Deputy, please
men to the horses
take me back to the inn right away!”
He nodded and did as she requested.
When Adrienne entered Trevor s room at the inn, the
middle-aged doctor was beside Trevor who lay on the bed,
groaning and clutching his bleeding chest. The doctor set his
medical bag on the nightstand.
“Is she alrigh
t? Did they get her out of the
Trevor weakly asked, sweat covering his body as he gasped for
She marveled that he could think of her at a time like
“Trevor, you need to conserve your energy,” the doctor
gently reprimanded him. “I was told that she s fine.”
“I m here,” she spoke up.
The group of five people turned to her. She noted the
look of relief on Trevor s face.
Mrs. Gallows shouted with glee and ran to hug her.
“Thank goodness, you re safe! We feared the worst when
Trevor said you were missing.
You ve got yourself a hero. He
insisted on joining the sheriff and his men in finding you.”
“There you go,” the doctor told his
“She s fine. Now, we have to get you well.” He glanced at the
Mr. Gallows, get me some alcohol to help deaden
the pain and sterile my instruments, and I ll need a couple of
He ll most likely fight me
strong men to hold him down.
remove the bullet. Mrs. Gallows and
Miss,” he looked at
Adrienne, “get me lots of fresh towels and several bowls of
water. We re going to have to move quickly.”
She numbly moved forward, her mind mechanically
the doctor s instructions.
Was Trevor really that close
She hadn t seen anyone who d been shot before.
She and Mrs. Gallows grabbed clean towels and poured water
into a couple of clean bowls. Returning to the room, they set
them near the doctor who was using a washcloth to rub some
alcohol on his scalpel. She quickly left to get three more small
bowls of water. She didn t know how much to get but when she
returned and set them on the nightstand, she figured there
She cringed at the sight of Trevor squirming on the bed.
She hadn t had such a clear view of him before. She couldn t
tell exactly where the bullet was, but it looked dangerously
close to his left lung. He groaned and gripped the sheets, his
face contorted in pain. She backed to the side of the room.
She was aware that three strong men were with Mr. Gallows by
the bed, ready to hold Trevor to the bed.
Mrs. Gallows came over to her. “We should go to the
r. There s no sense in being
Adrienne couldn t move. Though she wanted to
away, she couldn t.
he doctor nodded at the men. “Mr. Gallows, put this
belt in his mouth so he can clamp down on it as I remove the
bullet. The rest of you, hold him down. I need him to be as still
as possible. I don t want to make a mistake.”
The men grabbed Trevor who fought against them.
The doctor gla
nced at the women. “I need
one of you to
give me the bandages over there when I m done. I ll need
another one of you to tear off the tape.”
Glad to be doing something, Adrienne hastened to grab
“The doctor said the bullet missed his lungs and heart,”
Mrs. Gallows whispered. “It looks worse than it is.”
She closed her eyes and said a brief prayer of thanks.
“Everyone ready?” the doctor asked.
The men nodded.
“Alright. Trevor, try to stay still. This is going to hurt.”
She wasn t prepared for Trevor s screams when the
doctor made the incision. Despite the fact that he tried to get
away from the scalpel, the men held him firmly in place. She
had to look away. It was hard to see him in that much pain.
She heard the doctor throw the bullet in the bowl but she
couldn t look at it. As long as she kept her focus on the clock in
the corner of the room, she wouldn t feel faint.
Suddenly, Trevor stopped screaming and moving. She
gasped and looked over at him.
“He s unconscious but alive,” Mrs. Gallows gently
Thank You, God. He’s
She breathed a sigh of relief.
The doctor closed up his wound with stitches and she
handed him the bandages when he asked for them. Then Mrs.
Gallows gave him the tape. She helped Mrs. Gallows clean up
the blood, which wasn t as much as she thought there would
The doctor handed Adrienne a bottle of pil
ls. “Have him
take two pills every four to six hours for the pain for the first two
days. After that, he can go to every eight to twelve hours until
the bottle is empty. He should feel fine in five to seven days,
but he won t be carrying
you over the threshold. Give him time
to heal from his wound.
She nodded. It felt strange to be responsible for taking
People think we’re engaged
care of him. I should expect it.
She glanced at him. He was still asleep. When he wakes up,
he’ll be in a lot of pain
. She made a mental note to get a glass
of water to help him swallow the pills.
her shoulder. “I ll
Mrs. Gallows patted
bring in a cot for
you to sleep on. I m sure he ll want you here when he wakes
“Thank you, Mrs. Gallows.” Her head was still spinning
but she was certainly in better shape than Trevor was. She sat
in the chair next to his bed as everyone left the room.
Everything happened so fast. Earlier that day, Trevor was
shooting a bull with a pebble to get Clark away from her, then
she got abducted by the criminals, and now he was asleep on
his bed after surgery. She didn t know what to think, but she
realized she almost lost him and she did
n t like that
The first thought Trevor had when he woke up was that
the sunlight was hitting his eyes again. The second thought
was that he felt pain radiating from the lower left side of chest.
He willed the pain away but it only intensified. When he
opened his eyes, he squinted in the bright sunlight. What
happened to him? He tried to sit up but the sharp stab of pain
made him lay back down. He groaned and rubbed his eyes.
What happened last night?
He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. It did little to
ease the pain. The memories of the previous night filtered
through his thoughts. A doctor had been in his room. One
minute the doctor was cutting into him, and then everything
went black and his pain went away. Only, the pain is still here,
though not nearly as bad. Adrienne had been there in the
room, so she was safe. He had never been as scared as he
was when he realized she was missing. But she made it. She
was right here.
He reached for the source of pain and felt a large
bandage over it. He groaned and tried to sit up. He doubled
Why can’t I move without
over in pain and laid back down.
hurting? He was determined to sit up, so he held his hand over
his wound and took his time sitting up. When he was finally
sitting up in his bed, he noticed a glass of water and two pills
stand. He didn t bother to consider if it was for him.
on his night
He assumed the doctor had left them there for him to take
when he woke up. He gratefully took the pills and swallowed
them. He almost gagged on the water. He
didn t feel like
eating or drinking anything. He put the glass back down and
sat still for a few minutes. The pain was still intense but he
didn t want to further aggravate it by moving.
I got shot. No won
der I’m in so much pain this morning.
I went through surgery without any medication. But she was
alright so it was worth it. Adrienne. Where is she? He took a
moment to will his mild headache away before he opened his
eyes and looked around his room. When he did, he almost
wished he hadn t. Adrienne was sitting across the room by the
dresser. Her hands were holding his play which was half done.
He almost smiled but realized she was fuming. Uh oh. This
isn’t going to be good.
She tapped her feet on the floor and crossed her arms.
Her eyes pierced him with enough intensity that he had to look
away. “I read what you wrote so far in your play,” she finally
said in an irritated voice.
He winced. His headache suddenly seemed to get
worse. He brought his hand up to his forehead and rubbed it
where the pain shot through him. His chest felt better now that
he was sitting still, but that was little consolation.
“It s interesting to see what you really think of me,” she
continued. “I had no idea I was so snobby and cold.”
“Can we talk about this later?” he weakly asked. He
wasn t in any shape to explain his comedy to her at the
“I want to talk about it now.” Sh
e uncrossed her arms
and motioned to his unfinished play
. “Let s start at the
ginning. I notice my name has been changed, but there s no
denying it s me. You called me Iris Frigid. As in „I am frigid.
Apparently, your character is likeable, though a bit clumsy. But
there s nothing likeable about me at all. I dread contact with
any man and need to be tamed. It s almost like getting me to
think well of the opposite sex is a game to you.”
“It s supposed to be a comedy,” he replied despite the
throbbing pain in his head. When was the pain medicine going
“I don t find i
t very humorous. Here I am in the first act,
laughing as your play got destroyed because I just ran away
from a slobbering old fool I was supposed to marry. Then
when we get to the remote village, you are forced to marry me
against your will in order to avoid marrying the village spinster
who looks atrocious. Of course, since I have vowed to never
let a man near me, I am a hard woman to get along with. I
even dress in your clothes in order to look unattractive.”
“It s a work of fiction. You re not like that character.”
“Oh really? She sure sounds a lot like me. She came
from a wealthy family so she detests any thought of housework
couldn t handle getting dirty when she had to wash the
He grinned. “She got all tangled up in the wa
sh and fell
into the river. It was funny.”
“Funny for you maybe, but I don t find is particularly
“If you saw it on stage, it would be a riot.”
She tensed. “And she s a lousy cook. She almost
burns the house down, and the very smell of her food makes
“Now, you can clearly see that she s
She flipped through the pages he had written. “She is
impossible to get along with. There is no likeable quality in her
“I haven t
written the turning point in her character yet.
Give me time and you ll see where I m going with it.”
“I don t think that will happen. I have already decided
that I won t read anything else you write.”
He sighed. “Did you notice what my character is like?
I m a country bumpkin
n t speak proper English
. I also
bump into everything.”
“Including her. They end up falling into a pile of leaves
ere they kiss and she melts in
his arms.” He smiled.
“I like that part. It s the first time she softens up.”
. “I don t like any of this. You are
She bolted to her feet
going to present this to a theatre owner in New York with the
hopes everyone will see this acted out on stage?”
He didn t know what to say. Whatever he said, she
would take it the wrong way.
“I ought to tear this garbage up,” she snapped.
“No!” He tried to s
tand up but the pain in his lower chest
brought him back to his sitting position. “Please, don t destroy
it again. I need to have something to hand in to Mr. Adams or
I ll lose my job.”
She yelled in aggravation as she threw the papers into
the air so they fell at random all over the floor. “I knew it! You
never cared about me. I was nothing but a subject for your
“Adrienne, that s not true. I want to marry you.”
“So you can have a happ
“Sure. It s the only way a romantic comedy can end.”
“Well, this is real life. I m not Iris. I m not going to follow
your script. As far as I m concerned, we have nothing else to
say to one another.”
His eyes grew wide. She couldn t be s
forced himself to stand up despite the pain. “Adrie
nne, I may
use some reality in my work, but the play is a piece of fiction. I
don t see you the way I see Iris. You re just scared and alone.
Iris is bitter and resentful.”
red and alo
ne? So I m someone
you need to feel
. I don t know what is worse:
being a nag or
“You re neither. I love you. I think you re wonderful.
You ve just had some bad experiences.”
“Which I m sure you ll incorporate into your precio
He tried to stop her as she walked to the door but he
winced as the pain stabbed him
. “Please don t go. Let s talk
She angrily left the room and slammed the door.
He was too weak to follow her.
She quickly opened the door. “Ta
ke two pills every four
to six hours. Don t lift anyt
and don t eat anything
that s hard on the digestive system. The bottle of pills is on the
dresser.” She slammed the door again.
He groaned. He wanted to run after her and stop her
but he fell to the floor, exhausted and in pain. He should have
been relieved that she didn t tear up his work, but he would
rather have her in his arms. He leaned against the bed and
closed his eyes. He was in no shape to do anything at the
moment. How am I going to get her back?
Later that day after Trevor fell asleep due to the
medication, someone knocked on his door. He had just
finished dressing for the day, so he opened the door. He had
hoped it was Adrienne but he hid his disappointment when he
saw the kind, old woman.
“Good morning, Mrs. Gallows,” he said.
“I thought you should know Adrienne s
father came for
her. She didn t want to go with him but he insisted so they
went to the train station with Mr. Gallows.”
Her father is going to take her to marry Mr. Parker.
“What time did they leave?” he asked.
“Just a few minutes ago. Trevor, she looked so sad but
she willingly went with him.”
He closed his eyes so he wouldn t scream in
aggravation. Even if she never spoke to him again, he couldn
let her marry someone who only valued her for her ability to
have children. “Can I take a horse to the train station?”
“I hoped you would want to bring her back. You can
He grabbed his pain pills and wallet and left the room.
didn t waste time
. Though his chest was still tender, the
medicine did help him feel better. He rode Willow hard to the
train station. When he got there, the train had just pulled out.
He gritted his teeth. There she was, the love of his life,
heading back west to marry another man. He was in no shape
to ride a horse to the next train station. As it was, his pain was
growing intense due to being bounced around on the horse.
He forced Willow to remain still while he waited for the pain to
subside so it was only mild again. He took two more pills.
llows walked up to him. “I ll send a request for
the next train to stop here. They went to San Francisco. I got
their address. Come along. You are in no shape to stay on a
horse right now.”
He knew the man was right so he gingerly got off of
Willow. He limped to the platform of the train station and sat
down. Mr. Gallows took Willow and tied her up. Trevor took a
deep breath and willed himself to calm down. He was angry.
Why hadn t he ridden Willow faster?
Because it nearly killed
me to ride her as hard as I did. If he had gone faster, he would
have doubled over in pain and fell off the animal. He never felt
so helpless in his entire life. Why did she have to read the play
before I finished it? If they had married, then her father
wouldn t have been able to take her
back. He didn t want to
cry. He was in danger of losing her for good. He anxiously
brushed the tears from his eyes. Being a writer made him
more sensitive to emotions than he cared to admit.
Mr. Gallows handed him a small loaf of bread, a train
ticket to San Francisco and some money. “I don t want to see
her with Mr. Parker either. You ll catch the afternoon train.
Hopefully, a couple of hours won t make that much of a
“Thank you, sir,” he said.
Mr. Gallows nodded and went back to the platform.
He thanked the Lord for Mr. Gallows generosity.
if she doesn’t want to marry me, please let me stop
from insisting on her marriage to Mr. Parker.
When the train came at two, he got on it and sat down
in his seat. He looked at the seat across from him which was
vacant. He recalled how she looked when he first saw her.
She reminded him so much of Emma, except Emma had blond
hair and green eyes.
soft and delicate with a mixture of
He tried not to imagine things that weren t likely to
ever be, but the train ride was a long one. As he dozed off to
sleep, he dreamt that they had married that day and he was
sitting next to her on the train heading for New York. When he
woke up, he looked over, expecting to see her sitting next to
him. But the empty seat only reminded him of how things
hadn t gone as planned.
Nothing went as planned from the moment he said
good-bye to his family. He had fully anticipated arriving in New
York with his finished play in hand. He would attend the
writer s class
and bide his time until he was due to hand in his
play to Mr. Adams for review. Then he would begin his career
as a playwright. Everything was in order and carefully planned
out. But the robbers came on the train, stole his money,
Adrienne threw him off the train in her efforts to avoid her father
and he ended up staying in a small town and fell in love. I
won’t let you marry Mr. Parker, Adrienne. I promise you that I
will do everything I can to save you from what you fought so
hard to avoid. Then I’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want.
Adrienne decided she wouldn t fight her destiny
anymore. She would follow along with her father s
arrangement and marry Mr. Parker so she could have his
children. She would just close her eyes and pray she would
get pregnant right away. Maybe after she had a couple of
children, he would leave her alone. She tried not to think of
. She missed him, even though she didn t want to. The
train ride back to California was long and exhausting. She
refused to talk to her father who spent his entire time next to
her so she couldn t escape again.
When she got off the train, her mother apologized to her
and gave her a long hug. She cried and hugged her mother
back. She had missed her mother. After her father went to
arrange a wedding that evening between her and Mr. Parker,
she and her mother had a long talk.
“I m sorry, dear,” her mother cried. “I didn t tell him what
I did but he went to the train station and found out which train
you went on, where you were headed and rode a horse until he
caught up with you. He searched all the towns in the area
where you jumped off the train until he found you. I pleaded
with him to let you go your own way, but he is convinced that
his way is best.”
“It s alright, Mother. I ve been running all this time but I
have to give up at some point. I can t hide forever. I mig
well accept my life with Mr. Parker.”
“I had wished it would be different for you. You should
get the chance to marry for love or not marry at all.”
A new wave of tears fell from her eyes. Trevor didn t
love her. He was only interested in his stupid play. Everything
he did and said was for the play
. Wasn t being with Mr. Parker
and knowing he didn t care for her and she didn t care for him
better than living under the hope that Trevor might find her
interesting enough to keep for life?
“I won t argue with Father anymore,” she finally told her
“I wish it could be different.”
wasn t meant to be.
She nodded. She did too, but it
She replayed her adventure in Virginia and the people she met.
She recalled the way Trevor smiled at her, the conversations
they had shared, and how he kissed her. Didn t he care for
her, even a little? Maybe if she pretended he had, then it would
get her through the rest of her life to believe someone had
valued her for who she was instead of what she could give him.
Mr. Parker didn t come by for a visit, nor was she
anxious for him to. They would be married that evening, and
that was too soon to see him. She didn t relish her role but
numbly went along with it. She would have gladly traded all the
money in the world to be in a marriage with a Trevor who
honestly loved her.
She went through the motions as if in a dream. She
bathed, put on perfume and makeup. She let Mr. Parker s two
female servants dress her in a beautiful gown and fix her hair
so that it fell in gentle waves around her shoulders. Though
they were laughing and marveling at how wonderful she
looked, she stared at the wall in front of her. She forced all
thoughts of anyone or anything from her mind. She stood up
when it was time to go to the church at eight. She followed her
o the carriage but didn t
listen to their conversation.
At one point, her father turned to her. “One day, you ll
You re only eighteen. You don t know what s best
be good to you.”
for you. Mr. Parker will
Trevor w ould have been better. She forced the thought
from her mind. Trevor was in Virginia, a long way from her. It
didn t matter if he was sincere or not. She belonged to Mr.
Parker. She closed her eyes, willing her tears to not fall from
her eyes so she wouldn t ruin her make
When they arrived at the church, she waited in the
bridal chamber with her friends Annabelle and Bianca, but she
didn t pay attention to what they were saying.
knocked on the door to announce that the groom was ready.
She sighed. Mr. Parker is ready. I better do what he wants.
He’s in control now.
She took a deep breath and followed
Annabelle and Bianca out of the room. Bianca was her maid of
honor. Annabelle was her bridesmaid.
She stood behind them and waited for her turn to walk
down the aisle. When her father reached his arm out to her,
she refused to look at him. The people rose from their pews as
the wedding march started, and she dragged her feet in line
with her father s footstep
s. She was barely aware that people
commented on how beautiful she looked. Instead, she allowed
herself to imagine, just for the moment, that Trevor was waiting
for her at the front of the church.
Her father handed her over to Mr. Parker. She couldn t
look at him as she took his hand. She cringed at his touch. I
hope sex doesn’t last long.
As the preacher began to speak,
someone called out, “Stop the wedding! I love you, Adrienne!”
She blinked. Was she imagining things? When Mr.
Parker let go of her hand and glanced over his shoulder, she
allowed herself to imagine that Trevor was there to rescue her.
She slowly turned and cried with relief when she saw that
Trevor was indeed running down the aisle toward her. He was
sorely out of place in his farm clothes that hadn t been changed
for a few days, but she never saw a more handsome sight.
He was out of breath by the time he reached her.
can t go through with this. Don t you k
now that I
want to spend the rest of my life with you?”
Despite the murmurs around her and Mr. Parker s
stunned expression, she hugged him tightly. “I love you too,
Trevor. I don t want to marry Mr. Parker.”
He hugged her back. “Then don t, sweetheart,” he
“Come to New York with me. I ll be a playwright
and you can be my beautiful and wonderful wife.”
“I d go anywhere with you, Trevor.”
“What do you think you re doing?” her father hissed.
She pulled away from Trevor so she could look at her
father. “I can t marry Mr. Parker. I m going to New York with
Trevor. I want to be with him
And he wants to be with me! He
does love me after all!
“Let her go with him,” her mother softly told her father.
He loves her so much he came all the way to San Francisco to
get her back. Don t you want her to be as happy as we ve
“I was only going to marry her as a favor to you,” Mr.
Parker confessed to her father. “I would rather be with Ashley.”
“I had no idea…” Her father looked bewildered. “I m
sorry to both of you,” he told Adrienne and Mr. Parker.
“Clearly, I was wrong.”
She breathed a sigh of relief and hugged him. “Thank
He hugged her back.
Trevor smiled widely at her. “Will you marry me,
“Just try to stop me,” she replied.
“I ll take that as a yes.”
“Miss Constance, will you marry me?” Mr. Parker asked
the woman from the back of the church.
Everyone turned to look at her. She stood up and
Trevor. “I d be
Mr. Parker turned to Adrienne and
willing to make this a double wedding. It d be a shame for a
young man to come all this way and not get to marry the
woman he loves.”
“Thank you, Mr. Parker,” Adrienne said.
He smiled at her. “I m glad it worked out for everyone.”
“What do you say, Trevor? Care to marry me here?”
“Sweetie, I d marry you anywhere, and here is as good
a place as any.” He held her hand and winked. “And we got to
think of our children. The sooner we get married, the sooner
we can start having them.”
She laughed. Having children with him seemed very
pleasing to her.
Miss Constance and Mr. Parker looked thrilled to be
marrying each other.
Trevor grinned at her and squeezed her hand while the
preacher began to speak. “I ll love you every day
for the rest of
my life,” he whispered.
“And I ll love you.” She smiled, and f
or once, marriage
seemed like the most lovely institution in the world.