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When God Calls for Their Redemption

God speaks to him and he saves a scarred soiled dove from certain death. She has lost her faith in men to protect her. How can their wounded hearts find peace in God’s mysterious plans?

And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord .Hosea, 1:2. KJV

Leah’s life turns upside down when a tall, muscular man saves her from certain death at the saloon. She struggles to understand the reason this mysterious rancher has come for her, but she can’t deny his protection. However, she can’t understand the reason God has chosen her. Can she follow down His path in this new life or will she return to the soiled life she already knows?

Andrew has stopped believing that the Lord loves him until the day he hears His voice in his head. Like another Hosea, he saves his Gomer, from the hands of violent men. Falling in love with Leah was not in his plans. Neither was her resistance to God’s will. How will he persuade this scarred soul that building a family together is what God wants them to do?

This emotional story, that’s inspired by Hosea and Gomer, will show you just how much dedication and passion lies in following God’s plans!

Written by:

Christian Historical Romance Author

4.5/5

4.5/5 (336 ratings)

Prologue

Salt Lake City, March 1849

“You ain’t takin’ her. Go on if you insist, but the girl stays,” a man’s deep voice pierced through Leah’s slumber, and she sat up, yawning. She blinked at the sunbeams streaming through the dirty window into the small room she shared with her mother. Leah slipped forward and placed her bare feet onto the floor, only to recoil and crawl back under the sheets when the icy cold nipped at her toes.

She grabbed Snook, her tattered one-eyed teddy bear, and pulled the sheet up to her chin, and her eyes fell on a beaten-up, leather suitcase on her mother’s bed.

The door to the large wardrobe stood open. From her position on the bed under the windowsill, she saw that it was empty. All her mother’s pretty dresses were piled in the open suitcase, as was Leah’s little green coat. Were they going on a journey? An adventure, like Ruth and Naomi in the good book?

“Please, Mark. Living above a saloon is no life for a little girl, and you know it. Don’t you want better for your daughter?” her mother’s voice sounded from the other room. “All I need is a little money.”

Leah pushed against the bare wall and stared at the door. Through the gap underneath, she saw shadows move in the next room. She and her mother lived in a small house on the edge of a new settlement not far from her mother’s work. Leah didn’t know what sort of work she did, but she knew that her mother didn’t like it. Leah assumed it was hard because often, her mother would return home and cry.

They shared the little house with other people; most of them stayed just a few days before moving on, but she and her mother hardly ever left. On a few rare occasions, her mother took her to the big settlement so Leah could see the man her mother said was her father. Leah wasn’t quite sure what a father was, but by how the man – a fellow named Mark – treated her, she didn’t think it meant much. He’d holler at her not to touch his things, glare at her when she sang under her breath, and occasionally push her if she tried to peer out of the door of his office.

Leah didn’t like this father very much and was always glad when her mother took her home again. The man had never come to their tiny home… that is, until now, for Leah was almost certain that the man yelling at her mother in the communal kitchen was Mark.

“She ain’t my daughter. She’s nothin’ but another pair of hands I can use at the saloon,” the man hollered.

“She’s six years old, Mark. She needs her mother.”

Leah’s hands clutched the teddy bear tighter and a strange weight pressed on her chest. She knew her father owned a saloon; it was where they went to meet him. He lived upstairs, and whenever they visited, the noise of the patrons drifted up the narrow staircase. The horrible stench of a drink called scamper juice always made Leah’s eyes water. The only part she liked about the visits was looking at the pretty women who worked for her father.

Their colorful dresses and bright red lips always made her stare at them with wide eyes, and she loved the click-clack sound their high-heeled shoes produced when they walked up. And they were nice to her ma, always calling her Nicky, as though they were the best of friends and knew her well.

“She doesn’t need a mother who thinks she’s too good for life as a saloon girl. Do you think you’re better than that?” Mark’s deep voice rumbled. “Go on then. Go on to California, but the child stays here.  I’ll put her to work.”

“Mark, please. No. I want Leah with me. We don’t need much. I just…I just came to you because all we need are a  few coins, and we’ll be on our way,” her mother pleaded. “I’ll pay you b….”

A terrible slapping sound rang through the air, followed by a gasp. Leah slipped to the edge of the bed and placed her feet on the cold ground while her heart raced. She clutched Snook to her chest, inhaling the old bear’s scent.

“Mama?” she whispered, her ear pressed against the wall. Sobs came, and her heart sank. Her mother was crying. But why? Had he hit her? She’d seen Mark hit a woman once at the saloon, and then later, she’d spotted the same woman crying in the street outside. Leah never saw the woman at the saloon again.

“It’s easy, Nicole,” Mark growled. “You wanna quit me? You wanna throw everythin’ I’ve given you in my face? This life ain’t good enough for ya? Go on then. But you ain’t takin’ the girl. I’d see her dead before I let you leave with her.”

“No,” her mother cried. Panic tinged her words. “No… Please… Why? Why can’t you just let me go in peace?”

“Because I scooped you up off the streets when you were nothin’.” The voice was deep and full of anger; it reminded Leah of the time she’d picked up an apple at the market, unaware she had to pay for the fruit. “I put you to work, gave you a purpose. Saved you from starvin’. And this is how you repay me? First, you saddle me with a child, and then you take off?” Heavy footsteps boomed across the floor as Leah sank to her knees, her hand pressed against the wall as if she could touch her mother.

“I invested when I took you in, and you’ve cost me dearly. I’ll recoup my losses somehow.”

“By using a small child for labor?” her mother’s voice was full of sadness and resignation.

“She can scrub a floor, can’t she? I’ll find uses for her; don’t you worry. Now, ain’t you got a train to catch?”

“Mark… I….” she got no further because the horrible slapping came again, and Leah yelped. Her hand flew to her face as though she was the one who’d been hit. Tears bubbled up in Leah’s eyes.

“I’m takin’ the girl now, Nicky. You wanna say your goodbyes?”

Leah stood, and her little body trembled. Saying goodbye? What did he mean? What were they talking about? Fear gripped her as two sets of footsteps faded on the other side of the wall and then grew louder again as they came down the hall. She stared at the door and clutched Snook closer to her chest as she watched the metal doorknob turn and her mother’s face appear.

Like Leah, her mother had curly, blonde hair and blue eyes. Her skin was usually so white and silky that it reminded Leah of milk. However, right now, the right side of her face was bright red, and the outline of a hand was visible. Her normally sparkling eyes were dulled by tears that streamed down her face. She wore one of her best dresses, dark blue with frilly ribbons at the arms and a bonnet on her head that sat slightly askew now.

“Mama?” Leah whispered as her eyes fell on the large, burly man behind her. Mark Denver was a giant of a man. His broad shoulders and small, brown eyes always filled her with fear. Leah wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but this man hurt her mother, and as she looked at him, she felt something other than the usual fear: Anger.

“Leah, darling. Mama has to go, all right?” Her mother said as she squatted in front of her and grasped Leah’s narrow shoulders. “I can’t take you with me, but I promise I… I’ll… I’ll come back and….”

“Don’t be tellin’ the child no taradiddles, Nicole,” Mark said in a mocking tone as Leah’s lips quivered.

“Where are you going, Mama? Why can’t I come?” Her voice came out as a whisper.

Behind them, Mark scoffed, and she saw him roll his eyes as one hand ran through his thick black hair.

“I’m going out west. I want better for you, Leah. A better life. I… You’re going to stay with your father. He’ll look after you. You’ll… You’ll be warm and fed and looked after… Don’t forget to say your prayers at night and remember your stories. Take your books with you. Imagine I’m reading them to you…” Tears fell from her face so rapidly they swallowed her words up.

“No, Mama. I want to come with you. I….” Leah got no further because Mark stepped forward and wrapped one meaty hand around her mother’s thin upper arm. He yanked her up and glared at her.

“That’s enough. Don’t wanna be missin’ your train. Do ya?” he growled. Pushing past Leah, he shut the suitcase., grabbed it with one hand, and hauled it into the hall before pushing Leah’s mother out.

“Mama!” she shouted with all her might and ran after her, but Mark pushed her with his free hand, and she stumbled backward into the room as the door shut.

“Leah, I love you!” her mother’s muffled voice came, and Leah crawled on all fours to the door.

“Mama! Don’t leave me!” she begged as tears bubbled over and ran down her hot cheeks.

“Mama?” Footsteps hurried away, and then the front door opened and closed. Leah sat alone on the cold floor as her body shivered. She was curled into a ball, Snook pressed against her, when the door opened again, and Mark entered. He looked at her, and she noted how his nostrils flared as he shook his head. Her lips quivered and she shivered with fear. Her mother was gone. Gone. Why? Leah didn’t understand. Why had her mother left her? Did she not love her anymore? A mixture of despair and anger spread through her chest as she considered this.

“Pitiful creature,” he hissed and rubbed his chin. Then, he grabbed her by the wrist and hauled her up. “Come on. We’re goin’ home.”

“H…Home?” she mumbled, and he let out a groan.

“I ain’t gonna coddle ya like your ma did, hear? Now, come on,” he pulled her after him, but she yanked her arm free and ran back to the bed. Her stories. She needed her stories. She hurried back to her cot and pulled several small, thin books out. They were the tales of the Lord, stories her mother told her would teach her how to be a good person. She needed them.

“Reading? You ain’t gonna have no use for readin’ when you grow up, child,” he said and laughed in so menacing a way that Leah’s blood turned cold.

She thought he would take the books from her, but he shrugged, took her by the wrist, and dragged her after him. As the door to the little room that had been her home for six years shut, Leah stumbled after him, Snook in one hand and her books pressed under her arm. When her mother held them, they always looked small, as though they fit perfectly in the palm of her hand, but to Leah, they were large, so large they slipped under her  arm. She didn’t know what lay before her, but when the sunbeams shone in her face, drying the tears she’d shed, darkness settled in her heart – and she knew that the life she’d known was now gone forever.

Chapter One

Salt Lake City, May 1862

Leah stepped closer to the window of her tiny bedroom. She squinted at the needle in her left hand, while with her right, she made use of what remained of the daylight to pull the thread through. Then, with a smile on her lips, she retrieved Snook and reattached the button that served as his sole eye. She ran the needle through the rough coat of the teddy as quickly as she could, knowing that she would not have much time before dark.

As she struggled to see, she glanced up at the candle that sat in a silver candle holder on the nightstand beside her bed. She wanted to light it, but it had already burned down to a stub because she’d fallen asleep without blowing it out the previous evening. It was a foolish mistake because it meant she would not be able to read until her father supplied her with another candle.

Candles, like soap and firewood, were rationed. It had been the case since she arrived at her father’s saloon when her mother abandoned her so many years ago. Even the meager supplies her father did provide her with had to be paid for by working in the saloon. As a child, she’d scrubbed the floor and washed dishes. These days, she worked off her debt by cleaning the saloon and his other establishments and helping in the kitchen. How much this debt was, or where it had come from, Leah didn’t know. Whenever she’d dared to ask, her father always rattled off a list of seemingly random things, such as the food he provided for her, the clothing on her back, and the years he’d supported her mother.

Since she still lived in his home and ate his food, Leah wasn’t sure how she was ever supposed to pay anything off.

“Leah!” Her father’s voice boomed long before she even heard his boots thud along the narrow wooden hallway. Leah pushed Snook under her pillow next to her books, aware that her father hated nothing more than to see her with her childhood toy. She knew it was foolish for an almost nineteen-year-old girl to still hold on to a battered teddy bear, but he was all she had left of those simpler, happier days.

She sat on the edge of her bed as the door flew open, and Mark Denver entered. He slammed the door shut behind him and glared at her. Her heart sank, and she swallowed the bile that always pushed up to her throat when she was face to face with him.

“Yes, Mark?” she replied, knowing that to call him father would result in a tongue lashing at best and a real one at worst.

“Get up,” he growled. When she didn’t follow his order quick enough, he grabbed her by the arm and yanked her to her feet. Images of the day he’d taken her away from her former home resurfaced in her mind. The familiar anger at her mother abandoning her pinged in her stomach as she thought back to the day. Who left a child in the hands of a brute like Mark Denver?

“Ah!” she yelped in pain. A heavy whiff of scamper juice mixed with tobacco wafted into her face, and she squeezed her nostrils shut.

“Get your shoes on; you’re movin’,” he announced. Leah’s mouth dropped open.

“Mo… moving?” Dread filled her heart as he let go. The last time she’d been told she was moving was the day her mother had taken off for California. She trembled as she remembered the endless journey from the outskirts of town into the center of what had then been the new settlement of Salt Lake City. She’d known the saloon, The Last Fish Left Alive, the moment she saw it, and the women who worked there, saloon girls and hurdy gurdy girls alike, greeted her in the same sweet way they always did when she arrived.

But that day, she hadn’t marveled at their colorful clothing, their painted faces, and elaborate hairstyles. Too deep had the pain been, too horrible the knowledge that her mother was gone.

She’d cried for her for weeks and months until she understood that she was never coming back. That this was all she had now. A tiny room with nothing more than a single, narrow bed, a dresser, and a chair above a noisy, vice-filled saloon with a man who regularly slapped and screamed at her for any little perceived offense. She’d gotten used to it – the same way people could get used to almost anything. But she’d never forgiven her mother for leaving her like this. And she never would.

“Are ya deaf?” her father growled as he stood before her bed and rolled his eyes. “I’m puttin’ you to work, enough of this loungin’ around. Time you earn your keep.”

Earn her keep? Leah blinked, confused by this statement. She earned her keep. She worked from sunup to sundown. What did he mean?

“But I work.” she protested. Her father scoffed and let out one of his sardonic bursts of laughter that chilled her to the bone. “A coffee boilin,’ namby-pamby girl of no use, that’s what your mother settled me with.” He shook his head and ran a hand through his dark hair.  The years had not been kind to Mark Denver. His black hair now had a healthy sprinkle of gray and his face appeared leathery from the Utah sun. “Well, that’ll change. Come.”

Without waiting for her to put her coat on, he dragged her out of the room, down a narrow hall, and toward the back stairs. The familiar sounds of the packed saloon drifted up as laughter and thunderation mixed with the cheerful tunes of the piano.

“Where are we going?” she asked, shocked. He didn’t answer. Instead, he dragged her down the stairs and out the back door. The setting sun bathed the sky in a beautiful orange and purple light, and if she hadn’t been so overcome by shock, she would have marveled at its beauty.

He pulled her around the back and onto Main Street where working men streamed down the freshly built board sidewalk toward the saloon. The town had changed much in the last few years. New buildings appeared every time Leah was able to go outside. Yellow-pine structures sprung up left and right, and she saw the studding of another budding structure rising into the evening sky.

He pulled her past Clancy’s General Store next to the saloon. Mr. Clancy stood on the sidewalk, his Stetson pulled low as he chewed on a toothpick. He glanced up, acknowledged her father, and then looked clear in the other direction toward the railroad station at the end of Main Street.

“Mark,” Leah called out as she stumbled over her own feet and kicked up sand. Her father marched on and stepped onto the wooden sidewalk beyond Clancy’s to avoid a cart that rumbled down the road, pulled by two bay horses. Then, he stopped at a structure two doors down from the saloon.

“No,” Leah muttered. “Not here. Please.” He could not mean it; surely, he could not, she thought as her heart pounded.

Her father owned many establishments, and The House of Pleasure was one of them. Unlike the saloon girls who entertained the patrons with dancing while eliciting drink orders, the soiled doves who lived and worked in this establishments did a great deal more for the men than just dance.

Sometimes, they came to the saloon to find men willing to pay for these special services. Leah had always felt bad for them and often prayed for the poor women who had to do horrible acts to survive. Never in her life had she imagined that her father would … No…Her mind refused to allow this thought. Surely, he meant for her to clean the establishment. She was his daughter, after all.

Of course, he never claimed this relationship and treated her as he did the other workers at the saloon, but even so…

“Come on, are ya a mule that must be beaten into submission? Your first customer is waiting,” her father shouted and pulled her into the building. The sickly sweet smell of roses entered her nose the moment they stepped inside, and, to her left, she saw three women dressed in white – the color of the fallen women – sitting in a large parlor. One lounged on a red sofa, her body angled in such a way that her cleavage was visible.

Leah’s face burned while another woman, equally lacking in proper attire, sauntered to them.

“Mr. Denver, is this her? Our latest addition?” the woman cooed and took Leah’s chin into her hands, twisting her head one way and then the other. “Pretty. Full lips – men appreciate that,” she said with a wink. “And that porcelain skin, exquisite. Silky, curly hair. My girls would kill for this.”

Leah shuddered as the woman looked at her as though she were a piece of chattel. Usually, when someone complimented her on her curly blonde hair or her bright blue eyes, she appreciated it. When she looked in the mirror, all she ever saw were her dark eyebrows and her too tall and too lanky appearance, so compliments tended to soothe her; not so today. Today, it terrified her.

She let go of Leah’s chin and ran one hand through her hair instead.

“I think you mean my girls, Henrietta,” her father said with an edge in his voice. The woman’s smile faded, and she took a step back.

“Of course, your girls.” Her eyes flashed, her formerly cheerful demeanor all but evaporated.

“Tall and enviable curves she’s got, this one,” she added as she scrutinized Leah. “We’ll need to put her in a nicer dress, of course. But I understand that will have to wait.”

She cocked her head to the side and looked from Leah to her father.

“Indeed, a special friend of mine is waiting for her,” her father said, and Leah’s lips started to quiver.

“I… I… please. I don’t ….”

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  • This girl has had no options and was born into a bad situation, then her mother abruptly leaving has left her stuck in a life where she has no choices. Her future is a mystery and I am anxiously waiting to read the rest of the book!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the preview! I hope you’ll love the entire book just as much. Happy reading!🥰📖

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