Eden peeked out the window of her shop. She was expecting Isa at any moment now and wanted to be ready when she came. It was Isa’s birthday today, and she’d been working on something special for her for the last couple of months. The little bell rang above her shop as a customer came in.
Her little shop had been doing quite well ever since she’d officially opened a little more than two years ago. The word spread about the things she made, and just like Adam said they would, people liked what she made. They loved her bonnets and her handkerchiefs and ties. Eden loved selling her things, and she loved to see people enjoying them. Some people came all the way from the city or other towns just to buy from her. It was the attention that Eden thought at first she would never get, and more than that, that she didn’t deserve, but Adam, Isa, and everyone else in his family constantly told her otherwise.
The woman who came into the shop was an older woman and someone that Eden didn’t recognize.
“Eden Barber?” the woman asked.
Eden smiled and nodded. She still enjoyed hearing her married name. It was nice to hear it and know that she was truly a part of the Barber family now. They hadn’t treated her any differently when she hadn’t been married to Adam, but even so, it was nice to officially be a part of the family that had changed her life.
“Do you happen to have any bonnets? My sister purchased one from your shop a few weeks ago, and she wouldn’t stop talking about it. I’ve been traveling all the way from New York City and had to stop here to see your beautiful creations. My sister is Mrs. White. You might know her?”
Eden’s smile grew. She did know Mrs. White. She had recently moved to their town with her husband and two young children.
“I do know her. I made some bonnets for her twin girls a few weeks back as well. I have a few bonnets made, or I can make one with colors you request.” Eden was flattered that this woman knew about her and had come all the way from New York City. That might be the furthest place that anyone had ever come from before to purchase something from her. She led the woman over to a long table where she displayed all of the finished projects she had ready to sell. Her chest filled with pride as she showed off the different pieces. She loved her work, and she loved it even more when others felt the same way about it.
“Do you see something you like?” Eden asked.
“Actually, yes.” The woman picked up a bonnet that was embroidered with white and blue flowers. It was one of the bonnets that Eden had taken especially long making and was one of her favorites. “This one is perfect. How much?”
Eden listed her price. Whenever she told people how much she wanted for a bonnet or one of her pieces of work, she always worried that they would think it was too much, but so far, no one seemed to complain. Just like customers in the past, this woman did not complain either. Instead, she pulled out her purse and the exact change to pay for the bonnet.
“Thank you so much. Rest assured, when I get back to New York, everyone is going to be jealous of me. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start getting more customers from there on my recommendation.”
“Thank you,” Eden smiled at the kind praise. It was moments like these that reminded her how far she’d come from where she started. She still remembered those long days in the workshop in her uncle’s home. Back then, she had dreaded the stitching and the creating and the cutting. She had hated every single second that she spent making these projects. Now that she did it for herself, she could easily finish the quantity that she needed within a few hours of work. Especially on the days that Isa came, it was very enjoyable. If she ever needed a break or needed to be reminded of how much she had here in Texas, she just walked through the little door that led into Adam’s woodshop.
His work was also growing in popularity. People loved his furniture. He had such a knack for it, and the things he made were beautiful. Eden loved the rocking chair he’d gifted her on her birthday, as well as the other various furniture pieces that decorated their small cabin home.
“I should get going, but you have a lovely day, and thank you once again.” The woman’s voice brought Eden back to the present. She watched the woman leave the shop, and Isa rushed through the door moments later.
Isa was out of breath, and her cheeks were bright pink. “I’m so sorry I’m late. I got delayed talking with some people I know, and…well, there is no good excuse.”
“Were you talking to that boy you met at school again?” Eden raised her eyebrows. She knew that Isa had an interest in a young man who she shared classes with. She’d kept her observations to herself because she was certain that even though Isa was now sixteen, the protective side of Adam would not be happy about the idea of her being interested in anyone just yet.
“I might have run into him, and he might have wished me a happy birthday.” Isa shrugged, looking quite mischievous.
“Well, I have been waiting for you to arrive. I have something for you.” Eden pulled out the gift she’d been working on and set it in front of Isa. She’d taken the time to wrap it in brown paper and tie it up with twine. “Go ahead, open it.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Of course I did. I know it isn’t perfect, or that fancy, but I hope you will like it. I made it from the bottom of my heart, and I hope it shows a bit of how much you mean to me. I love you like a sister, Isa, and that love has only grown over the years. I hope you know how important you are.”
Isa blushed under her words. “Thank you, Eden.” She stepped over a pile of scrap cloth and wrapped her arms around Eden’s waist.
“You haven’t even seen what it is yet.” Eden nodded at the package. “Open it.”
Isa tore at the brown paper, revealing a rather large case. Most of it was made from a wicker basket, but Eden had spent painstaking hours sewing fabric and cushions over the sides and the top of the basket, covering it with different patterns of embroidery. It had Isa’s name on the top, which was surrounded by flowers, birds, and other little things.
“Oh, it is wonderful, it is so…beautiful.” Isa drew in a sharp breath as she ran her hands over the embroidered stitches. “You really didn’t have to do all of this for me, Eden.”
Eden shook her head. “I am glad I did. You help me so much around here. It was about time you had your own place to keep your sewing things. I want you to feel as if you own a part of this shop because, in a way, you do. I wouldn’t be able to make nearly as much as I do here without you. Speaking of which, your pay from this month is inside along with a few other things.”
Eden smiled as she watched Isa go through the basket with bright eyes. Eden had used the catalog at the mercantile to order everything she would have wanted in such a basket at Isa’s age. There were scissors, needles, ribbons, and everything else. Isa came over and gave her a second hug.
“Thank you so much. I absolutely love it!” The door opened just as she finished saying the words, and Adam stepped into the shop.
“Ah, there is the birthday girl. I have something for you too, but I’m not sure that it will top Eden’s gift.” Adam came over and wrapped his arm around Eden’s shoulders. “Come, let’s go into the shop.”
Isa looked longingly back at the basket, then stepped through the little door leading to the woodshop. Eden and Adam followed along behind her. Even though Isa wasn’t that young anymore, Eden sort of saw her like a daughter, as well as a younger sister. She and Adam had not been able to have children yet. They were hopeful that sometime in the future, they would have a baby of their own, but in the meantime, they had discussed perhaps adopting a child who needed a home, like Eden had when she lost her parents.
Eden wondered if it would be the same as having a child of her own, but when she was around Isa, she was convinced that it would be. She loved Isa every bit as much as she would have loved a sister who was born to her to the same parents, she was certain of it. Adam stopped in front of a large wooden hope chest. Eden had watched him work on it in every extra minute he had during the past few months.
“I know that you are getting older, and soon, you might even want to start a family of your own. I thought it was important for you to have a chest to keep your things in that you prepare for your future.” Adam stepped out of the way so Isa could see what he’d made her. Eden looked on lovingly. She adored the relationship that Adam had with his little sister. She could tell that Isa would always hold a special place in her brother’s heart. Eden thought about her own family, or what was left of it.
She’d heard that her uncle was out of jail. From the rumors, she knew he’d gone back to Chicago to try and start up some of his old life once again. Eden knew that he wouldn’t dare come after her again. There was no way that he would risk that, especially now that she was married, and if he tried to come after her again, he would have to go back to jail for even longer. She still felt sad sometimes thinking about what happened with Uncle Charlie, and she still wondered if she had done the right thing by handling things the way she had.
However, whenever she saw Adam and any of the Barbers, she knew that there had never been a different option than leaving. If she hadn’t left, she never would have found the happiness that was now her home.
Adam pulled Eden aside and left Isa to fawn over the gift he’d created for her. He had hoped she would like it, and now any doubts he’d had were washed away. She seemed to adore it. He’d seen the gift that Eden made for her, and he knew that she had to have liked it as well.
“How are you?” he asked Eden. “You’re not working yourself too hard, are you?”
“No, though it is hard not to. With Easter just around the corner, there is so much to prepare. Your mother was telling me that one of the orphan trains from the city is going to be coming through around Easter, and Isa and I were thinking…maybe it would be nice to make a bonnet for all of the little girls and give it to them. They won’t have any family to spend Easter with and probably won’t even be home for the day.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea if you have the time to do it.” Adam looked concerned. “I don’t want you to be too stressed this year.”
Eden laughed softly. “I don’t think anything could be as stressful as the Easter we had two years ago. It’s strange to think it has been so much time already.”
“It really is. But I know that no matter how stressful that Easter was, I am glad that it happened because if it hadn’t, I might not have you here with me now.”
“That’s nice of you.” Eden leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “We should get back to work, but I’ll see you a bit later?”
Adam nodded and watched her leave the shop. She walked with energy that filled the place with her presence. Isa stopped for a moment and gave him a quick hug.
“Thank you for the chest, Adam. I don’t think that I am planning on getting married anytime soon, but when I do, it will be the first thing I take with me.”
“You had better not be planning on getting married any time soon.” Adam chuckled. He always gave his sister a hard time about the fact that she was reaching the age when young men would be interested. Even though he often dealt with the topic in a joking manner, the truth was it was hard to watch his little sister grow up. He still saw her as the child who he enjoyed playing tag with and liked to carry around on his shoulders. He was very protective of her and wanted to make sure that when she did get married, she found a marriage that would make her happy.
The sound of the front door opening had him looking up. Ernie was standing there with a smile on his face. A few months ago, he’d made a deal with Ernie. Ernie had started finding new clients and managed to send some of the furniture Adam made to different towns and clients. They worked well together, and Adam had offered to give him a portion of the business. The money that he earned he was using to purchase a piece of the ranch from their father. Ernie was very happy about his progress, and Adam was expecting him to announce a marriage coming up anytime now.
“There you are. How did the delivery go?”
“Very well, It’s on the train, headed to Dallas as we speak. I’m surprised you managed to get all of that furniture done in time. Our uncle must be mighty proud of what you have done here.”
Adam nodded. “He is. He told me so himself. He says he might even come to visit in a couple of months.” Adam liked the idea of his uncle visiting. He wanted to show his uncle everything that he’d accomplished with the knowledge that he had given so freely. He looked around the shop. He had three people who came and worked for him, helping him to finish the easier processes of making the furniture. With Ernie handling the sales, their business was becoming quite a success.
“How are things going with Eden?” Ernie asked. “I’ve noticed the number of customers she’s been getting lately.”
Adam nodded in agreement. Even though Eden always reassured him that she could keep up with the business. Sometimes he worried that she was taking on too much. He often reminded her that her business was so that she could do what she wanted, and if it was too much, she shouldn’t feel bad for taking a step back and taking a break every once and again. She didn’t need to always have what everyone wanted.
“I think it is overwhelming on occasion, but she’s handling it well. I’ve been trying to convince her to find someone else to start helping her with it, so she can produce more without always doing it herself, but I am waiting to see what she wants to do.”
Ernie nodded. “She really has come a long way from the day you brought her to Texas. I have to say that back then, I wondered if it was a good idea, but it seems God had a plan for all of us. I am glad you are happy together.”
Adam smiled. “We really are happy together, and I owe a lot of that to you. You really gave me a lot of good advice and helped me get her back when I thought I would lose her.”
“That’s what brothers are for, Adam.” Ernie grinned. “I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye on things, and we aren’t as close as I might have liked to be, but I hope you know that Ralph and I are always here for you, no matter what. That is what family is all about. Now that Eden is a part of our family, we are here for her too.”
Adam clapped his brother on the shoulder. “Thank you, Ernie. The same goes for me. There is nothing like having family and people you love around you.”
Ernie shook his head. “No, there isn’t. Thank God we have been blessed with both, and he’s allowed us to give others that very thing.”
Adam stood there for a moment, appreciating the moment he was sharing with his brother.
Ernie cleared his throat, seeming suddenly embarrassed. “So, do you have that other order ready for me to deliver? I wouldn’t want to be late.”
“Sure thing,” Adam chuckled. Their moment of talking about feelings and the like had passed, but that was all right. Adam knew that he and his brothers loved each other and cared for one another more than anyone could tell, well, anyone who didn’t have a family. Family was all about the sacrifices and the support and the being there for one another no matter what. He had learned that with his brothers. He led the way to the room where he had the next order of furniture ready to go. He sent a quick glance toward the door that separated his shop from Eden’s. He had his own family now, and one day in the future, perhaps that family would grow, and there would be even more love to go around.