The following is a snippet from my book “An Orphan’s Heart.” It is the second in the Okatibbee Creek Series and is the true story of Ellen Rodgers, an orphan who grows up in search of the only thing that matters to her…love.
Set up: 1884 Texas. While Ellen visits her brother Willie in Texas, she meets and falls in love with his brother-in-law, Sam Meek. They have been staying at Sam’s house for weeks following the death of his mother, but now it’s time to go back to Willie’s, which is nine days away by wagon, and she is sadly forced to leave Sam behind.
While the sun rises, I help Mollie pack the rest of the girls’ belongings into the wagon. When I return to the house for my bag, I stand in the middle of the parlor, looking around for the last time. This is a beautiful home, and strangely, I will miss this place more than any other I have known.
When Sam enters the back door, everything stops. I stare down at the floor and will myself not to cry. This is not my first loss. I am a big girl. I will get over it. I will get over him.
I look up and see in his face the same pain I feel in my heart. I can’t bear it. I want to pull him to me and take away his sorrow, but that will only cause us both more pain, so I simply say, “Thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Meek. I hope to see you again.” I nod and turn to walk out the front door. I climb up onto the wagon and tell Willie I’m ready to go. The girls start chatting excitedly, and the horses pull away.
With every mile, my resolve is crumbling into little pieces. I reach up and hold the golden heart around my neck. I have finally found the love I was looking for, and with every moment, I’m getting farther away from it. My chest is aching. I take a deep breath and vow that I will never care about anyone ever again—not that I could. When you love someone as much as I love that man, no other love can ever fill your heart.
After an hour of staring at the horizon, I swear my body is going to fall apart from the pain. I don’t know how I’ll get through the rest of the day, much less the rest of my life. I think I hear someone call my name, but over the horses’ clomping, the wagon’s creaking, and the chattering of the girls, I know I’m just hearing things.
A few moments later, however, a black stallion gallops past us and cuts off our horses. Willie yells, “Whoa!” and yanks back on the reins as we narrowly avoid a collision with the stallion and its rider.
He jumps down from the steed, apologizes for stopping us, and runs around to my side of the wagon.
“Ellen! I can’t let you go. Please don’t leave.”
I burst into tears.
Willie stands up in his driver’s seat. “Sam, you know it’s not acceptable for her to stay with you. She is a proper woman and you are a single man.”
“Then I shall fix that.” He backs up a couple steps and kneels down on one knee. He removes his hat and places it over his heart. “Ellen, will you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?”