He is a lost sheep ready to start anew. She needs a marriage of convenience to escape her past and follow her dream. Will they find love with God’s guidance on their side?
“He was grateful to God for bringing her into his life”
Rebecca is a god-fearing woman, forced into an unloving marriage by her uncle’s ambition. Her true love is medicine, a dream she can’t follow. When she spots a hurt man on the street, she rushes to help him and realizes that it is part of God’s plan for her life. Will a marriage of convenience with a stranger work to save herself?
Timothy made the wrong decisions in his life but believes in the power of redemption and is determined to make amends. He returns to his hometown to help his sick aunt, but she’ll only accept him if he marries a decent woman. When the beautiful Rebecca saves his life, he knows God works in mysterious ways for him. Will he manage to make a real marriage and find the family he always wanted?
As two lost souls searching for a way out of their pasts, Rebecca and Timothy’s love and faith may be the key to protecting the ones they love. Are their love and faith enough to find happiness?
Pueblo, Colorado Territory–1872
Rebecca Marlow clutched her father’s hand tightly as they prayed together in the front parlor of their home. Her father’s voice was strong and confident as he spoke the prayers aloud.
“Dear Lord, we ask for your blessings upon our family. Watch over our loved ones, both here and in heaven. Guide us on our path and give us the strength to face whatever challenges may come our way.”
Rebecca closed her eyes, focusing on the words of the prayer and the warmth of her father’s hand. She silently added her own prayers, asking for guidance in pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in humility, asking for your guidance and strength in my life. I am grateful for the love and support of my father, and I remember with fondness my mother who left us too soon. I pray for wisdom and courage as I pursue my dreams of becoming a doctor. I want to help those in need, to heal the sick and to make a positive impact in this world. I ask that you grant me the strength and determination to overcome any obstacles that may stand in my way. Lord, I am a mere mortal, but with your guidance, I know that I can accomplish great—
Before she could finish her prayer, the sound of a breaking window shattered the peacefulness of the room.
“Rebecca, hide behind the chairs!” her father yelled, his voice full of fear. “And keep praying.”
Trembling, she did as she was told, clutching her father’s old Bible tightly in her hands. Tears streamed down her face as she realized the danger her father was in. She silently prayed for him, begging God to keep him safe.
The sound of heavy footsteps filled the room, and she could hear raised voices as the intruders barged in. She strained to listen, trying to make out what was being said, but the words were muffled and indistinct.
Her body was in overdrive and her mind raced as she tried to process what was happening. She could feel the cold sweat beading on her forehead, the metallic taste of fear in her mouth. The smell of musty leather from the chair and burning cedar from the fireplace mixed with the scent of fear and adrenaline.
She tried to still her breathing, but her chest rose and fell rapidly, giving away her hiding spot. Her hand shook as she clutched the bible tighter, silently adding her own prayers to her father’s. She closed her eyes, trying to block out the sounds of the scuffling feet and raised voices. The scuffling continued, and she heard what she thought were blows being exchanged. She felt powerless and scared, not knowing what to do or how to help.
Her father’s voice rang out, steady and strong. “Who are you and what do you want?”
Rebecca held her breath and waited for a response that never came. Instead, she heard the sound of a gunshot, followed by a thud. Rebecca’s scream echoed through the large house, and her heart shattered as she realized what had just happened. She was alone now, with no one to protect her. Tears streamed down her face as she remained frozen under the table, praying for a miracle.
The intruders, alerted to her presence by her scream, shouted, “Get her!”
Rebecca jumped from her hiding place and didn’t look at the spot where her father lay.
“Come back here!” one of them bellowed.
Rebecca’s heart raced as she sprinted down the hallway, avoiding furniture and dodging the reach of the men. She caught a glimpse of them and saw their faces hidden behind bandanas. But she knew she would never forget the sound of their voices. Her father’s murder had permanently seared them into her mind.
“She’s seen us! Don’t let her get away!” the taller of the two men yelled.
Rebecca wrenched open the door and ran as fast as she could. Her breaths came in gasps. She could hear the men’s heavy footsteps pounding on the ground as they drew closer and closer. She knew she had to get away from the house and into the brush in order to escape these men. She ran toward the trees and her legs pumped beneath her as her strides grew longer.
“Stop, you little brat!” one of the men shouted.
Rebecca didn’t stop. She didn’t even look back. She ran faster, dodging pinyon trees and jumping over fallen branches. But then, just as she has put some distance between herself and the bandits, her foot caught on a branch. She tried to catch herself but as she did, her leg twisted beneath her, and she plummeted to the ground. Her left hand landed on a rock and a sharp pain shot up her leg.
She bit her lip to keep from crying out. Desperate to keep the men from knowing where she was, Rebecca tried to get up despite the pain that threatened to overwhelm her. Her vision blurred around the edges as she tried to stand. Her leg gave out beneath her, and she fell to the ground once more. A rock skittered nearby, alerting her to the men’s presence. Holding her breath and sending up a silent prayer for help, Rebecca crawled behind a cedar tree in order to hide from them. Ignoring the pain, she pulled her legs close and made herself as small as possible. In the dim twilight, she could be mistaken for part of the tree.
“Where’d she go?” one of them said, his voice gravelly and harsh.
“I don’t know. Let’s get back to the horses. The boy was looking like he was ready to bolt with them.” The second man’s voice was muffled behind his bandana, but it carried a hint of a southern accent. Rebecca committed it to memory.
Beads of sweat popped on her upper lip and a shiver of fear danced across the nape of her neck as their footsteps came closer. She closed her eyes and said a prayer, her mind filled with fear that they would find her and kill her like they did her father.
Dear God, please protect me. Please keep me safe and help me escape these men. She opened her eyes and forced herself to stay still. The intruders’ voices grew louder as they crashed through the sagebrush nearby, searching for her. She could hear them shouting and cursing and their words echoed in her ears.
“Where did she go?” one of them yelled. “We need to find her before someone comes to help her.”
Rebecca’s mind was a jumbled mess as she waited for them to find her. Her leg hurt too badly to run again. She slowed her breathing and hoped they couldn’t hear her heart thumping loudly in her chest. Their footsteps grew fainter and their voices more distant as they moved away from where she hid. Not even daring to look, Rebecca remained there in the darkness, with only God and the stars above to watch over her.
Rebecca walked toward the main house of the ranch as the sun beat down on her face. The smell of dust and manure wafted in the air. She had been working hard on the ranch for three years now, ever since her father was killed. She missed him every day, but she had to keep going. Her uncle, Frederick, was now in charge of the ranch, but it no longer felt like home to her.
Her mind wandered back to the day when Uncle Frederick arrived three years ago. She could still remember the dust that had covered his suit as he stepped off the stagecoach and the cold look in his eyes as he surveyed the homestead. She had heard that he was coming, but she didn’t know why.
She only knew that he was her father’s brother, and that he had never been a part of her life before. She soon learned that he was the heir to the ranch, and she was relegated to little more than a servant.
She stepped off the porch as Frederick alighted from the stagecoach, a stern look on his face. He was a tall man, with a sharp jawline and piercing eyes. He looked around the property with a critical eye, taking in the house, the corral, and the fields beyond.
“So this is it,” he said, his voice lacking any hint of emotion. “My brother Finn’s little ranch.”
Rebecca’s heart sank at his words. She had lost her father only a few months prior, and the wound was still fresh. He had been a kind and loving man, who had taught her everything she knew about life. The thought of anyone speaking ill of him was too much to bear.
“It was home,” she said, her voice tight.
Frederick turned his gaze on her, and she felt a shiver run down her spine. He didn’t smile, didn’t show any hint of warmth or empathy. “It’s a pitiful excuse for a ranch,” he said. “Your father was a dreamer, but he was never cut out for this life. He was always too soft.”
Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes, and she looked away, not wanting her uncle to see her pain. He may have been her father’s brother, but he was a stranger to her, and she didn’t trust him.
“I’m here now,” Frederick continued, his voice hard. “And I’m going to turn this place around. I’ve already sent for a crew of men to help me, and I expect you to do your part, too.”
Rebecca looked up at him as blood pounded in her ears from fear and anger. She didn’t want to stay here with him or be part of his plans. But she had nowhere else to go.
“I’ll do what I can,” she said, her voice small.
Frederick nodded, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips. “Good.”
Now, as she approached the house, she saw a man standing next to Uncle Frederick. Rebecca took a deep breath and tried to calm the nerves that flared the moment she saw the two men. She had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, a feeling that had become all too familiar since her uncle arrived after her father’s death.
As she got closer, she noticed that the man was dressed in a fine suit, looking out of place amidst the dust and dirt of the ranch. She recognized him as John Pickett, a wealthy businessman who had recently moved to Pueblo. He was tall, with broad shoulders and an imposing presence.
His hair was dark and neatly styled, and his cold blue eyes seemed to look right through her. He was dressed in a black suit, with a white shirt and a silver tie, which made him look like a businessman, not a rancher. She guessed that he was in his early thirties, and significantly older than her.
“John, I want to thank you for all your support,” Uncle Frederick said, shaking John’s hand. “Without your backing, I wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“Happy to give it, Frederick.”
Her uncle spotted her approaching and beckoned her forward. “Rebecca, this is John Pickett. He’s helping me with my campaign to become mayor of Pueblo,” he said, sounding more excited than ever.
Another stuffy businessman to help him win his campaign. Rebecca forced a smile onto her face. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Pickett.”
“Let’s all go inside, shall we? Rebecca, bring us some lemonade,” Uncle Frederick said, though his broad smile didn’t reach his eyes.
The kitchen was Rebecca’s domain. It was a large, airy room with a large stone fireplace and a cooking hearth. There was a large wooden table in the center of the room, surrounded by several straight-backed chairs. A large metal pot hung over the fire, always simmering with a stew or soup. The walls were lined with shelves, which were filled with jars of preserved fruits and vegetables, sacks of flour and sugar, and other necessities.
A large window let in the warm sunshine, and a door led out to the vegetable and herb garden. Rebecca felt comfort in the familiar surroundings, but the nervous flutters in her stomach wouldn’t abate. She busied herself with preparing the lemonade, squeezing fresh lemons into a pitcher, and adding sugar and water.
She tried to ignore the voices of her uncle and John as they spoke in the front parlor, but their deep baritones filled the house and made it impossible for her to tune them out. She listened closely, as if her life depended on it. They were talking about Uncle Frederick’s campaign to become mayor of Pueblo, and Rebecca heard the excitement in John’s voice as he spoke of his plans for the town and his acquisition of ranches in the area.
“So, Frederick, what do you think about my plans for your mayoralty campaign?” John asked, noisily taking a sip of his coffee.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea, John,” Uncle Frederick replied, a hint of admiration in his voice. “With your influence in the town, it’s a sure win.”
“And what about the girl?” John asked. “Will she be a problem?”
Rebecca’s hand stilled as she sliced the lemons. A sudden, tight band squeezed the breath from her lungs. She felt a wave of anger and betrayal as she realized that they were talking about her.
“Not at all,” Uncle Frederick replied. “She’s just a simple girl, and she’ll do as she’s told.”
Rebecca’s jaw tightened at her uncle’s dismissive words. A spark of rebellion ignited within her, and she knew that she couldn’t just stand by and let this happen. She had her own dreams and aspirations, and she wasn’t going to let anyone, especially not her uncle and this stranger, dictate her future.
With a deep breath, Rebecca steeled herself and stepped into the parlor, tray in hand. The parlor, which was the most formal room in the house, had a plush sofa and two high-backed chairs facing each other in the center of the room. A fireplace was on the far wall, surrounded by a mantel carved from dark, polished wood. On the mantel sat a vase of freshly cut wildflowers, adding a pop of color to the otherwise neutral room. The walls were covered with green and cream-colored paper with hints of gold and adorned with paintings of family members long gone.
“Lemonade, gentlemen?” she said with a forced smile, determined to hide her emotions.
“Excellent. Thank you, Rebecca,” Uncle Frederick said. Rebecca turned to leave, but before she could, her uncle stopped her. “Please have a seat. There’s something I need to tell you.”
A chill ran down her spine as she slowly turned to face her uncle. She noticed John’s gaze on her, but she quickly looked away, uncomfortable under his scrutiny. She sat down on the edge of the chair, a knot forming in her stomach.
Uncle Frederick cleared his throat before speaking. “Rebecca, I have arranged a marriage for you. You’ll be marrying John here.”
Rebecca’s mouth fell open in shock. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “M-marriage? But I-I don’t know you,” she stammered.
John spoke up, his voice deep and smooth. “I understand your hesitation, Rebecca. But I can provide for you, give you a comfortable life. And with my connections and money, you’ll never want for anything.”
Rebecca’s thoughts were a tangled mess. She didn’t know what to say, how to react. She had never even thought about getting married, let alone to a man she had just met. And the idea of being married off to someone for their connections and money made her sick to her stomach.
Uncle Frederick continued, “You’ll be married in two days’ time. I’ve already taken care of all the arrangements.”
Rebecca felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. She couldn’t marry John. She didn’t even know him. And the thought of being tied down to someone she didn’t love or even like was suffocating.
“I-I can’t do this,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Uncle Frederick’s expression turned stern. “You don’t have a choice, Rebecca. This is for your own good. You need a husband to take care of you, and John can provide that for you.”
Tears pricked the corners of Rebecca’s eyes. She didn’t want to be married off like some sort of possession. She wanted to make her own choices, have control over her own life.
John’s voice jolted her out of her thoughts, interrupting her mounting panic. “Rebecca, I understand this is a lot to take in. But I promise you, I will take care of you. And who knows, perhaps in time, we may even grow to love each other.”
Rebecca looked up at him and tried to hide the revulsion she felt. His words were smooth and polished, but she couldn’t ignore the coldness in his eyes. He looked at her like she was a prize to be won and not a person with thoughts and feelings. As she studied him, she noticed the way he held himself, his posture stiff and rigid. His expression was blank, but his eyes were shrewd. He seemed to be weighing his words, calculating his next move.
A shiver ran down her spine. This was a man who was used to getting what he wanted, no matter the cost. “I appreciate your offer, Mr. Pickett,” she said, trying to keep her voice steady, “but I need some time to think.”
John’s lips thinned into a tight smile, but his eyes remained cold. “Take all the time you need, Rebecca. But remember, there are not many options available to a young woman like yourself.”
Rebecca couldn’t imagine ever loving this man. She felt trapped, like there was no way out. And the thought of spending the rest of her life with John, feeling like a prisoner in her own life, was unbearable.
“Rebecca, it’s happening whether you like it or not,” Uncle Frederick said, his tone firm and unyielding. “John is a good man, and he will take care of you. You’ll want for nothing. He can do far more for you than your parents did. This ranch was in a shambles before I took it over.”
Rebecca’s hope that this was just a nightmare plummeted. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She opened her mouth to protest, but her uncle held up his hand to stop her.
“Now, now, I have work to do. John and I have much to discuss. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow,” he said, rising from his seat.
John stood up as well, and both men headed toward the door. Rebecca watched them go, feeling helpless and alone. She couldn’t imagine being married to a stranger, especially one so much older than her. She needed to find a way out of this, but she didn’t know how.
“Goodbye, Rebecca,” John said, giving her a wolfish smile as he closed the door behind him.
Rebecca was left alone in the parlor, her mind racing with thoughts of what was to come. She left the parlor and walked up the stairs, each step heavy with dread. This house no longer felt like home. Not since Uncle Frederick had arrived, anyway. She entered her small bedroom and closed the door behind her.
The room was simple, with a narrow bed pushed against one wall and a small dresser against the other. A portrait of her parents hung on the wall above the bed. Rebecca went to the dresser and pulled out her father’s old, worn Bible. She ran her fingers over the soft leather cover, finding a sense of comfort in the familiar feel of it. She had found solace in its pages before, and she was hoping for the same now.
She sat down on the bed and opened the book to a random page, scanning the words for something, anything, that could give her hope. She was searching for a way to escape this forced marriage, but she was starting to feel hopeless. She clutched the Bible to her chest and closed her eyes, letting out a deep sigh.
She couldn’t marry John, not when she had always dreamed of becoming a doctor and helping others. She couldn’t give up on her dreams now, not when she was so close to achieving them. But what could she do? She was just a nineteen-year-old girl with no real power or authority. She was trapped, and she didn’t know how to break free.
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Anxiously awaiting the full book!
Thank you so much, Barbara! Can’t wait for your opinion! God bless you!🙏
Looks good and intriguing
Thank you so much, Gwen!!!God bless you!🙏
I love the book already, and can’t wait to see how Rebecca gets out of her predicament and on to becoming a doctor.
Thank you so much Rita! God bless you!🙏
I want to read the extended epilogue. Not reviewing until I have it.
Hey Patricia! Did you have the chance to read it? Here’s the link https://oliviahaywood.com/book30-extended-ty ! Can’t wait to read your thoughts! ❤️🙏