Cassie slipped through the house. It was empty and quiet. Well, not completely empty. Her family was upstairs, still sleeping. She enjoyed early mornings, right before sunrise, when she could get a couple of minutes to gather her thoughts.
She carried the little bound journal her mother had gifted her on her twentieth birthday. It was a thoughtful gift; one that she carried with her whenever she might have a moment to jot down her thoughts.
She sat down on the porch outside and watched as the sun peeked over the horizon. It was a wonder to see the sunrise every morning, witnessing the first rays of light.
The front door creaked, and she turned to see her older brother Liam. His hair was tousled and he looked a bit groggy. Liam was everything she wasn’t and enjoyed everything she despised. Despite their differences, they somehow managed to be good friends and were close to one another.
“You’re up early again.” Liam rubbed his eyes.
“I could say the same about you. What are you doing up? You’re usually the last one out of bed.”
Liam cast her a disgruntled look. “If you must know, I’m meeting someone this morning.”
“Oh.” Cassie turned her gaze forward.
“You sound so disappointed. I don’t understand why you’re so against having friends, being out there, and living life.” Liam shook his head. His expression was one of confusion. He clearly didn’t care about the same things that Cassie valued.
“I have plenty of reasons to not want to be out and about on the town. I just…well, doesn’t it bother you that a lot of your friends are only around you for your money?”
Liam sighed and sat down beside her on the porch steps.
“It’s not my money, first of all. It’s ma and pa’s money. Secondly, I know which of my friends like me for money and which of them are the genuine real thing.” Liam’s eyes filled with understanding for a moment. “I know things have been hard with you and your friends.”
“They weren’t my friends.” Cassie bit back other things she wanted to say. They had seemed like friends, but the things they’d said and done behind her back were unforgivable. She wasn’t like Liam, able to tell which were real and which weren’t, but chances were that none of them ever were.
“One day you’ll find some people who you really fit in around, and you’ll never look back.”
“Thank you.” Cassie offered a weak smile. She was starting to doubt she could ever start over in this town. Half of the people in town talked about how spoiled and entitled she was, while the other half either ignored her or put on friendly facades. to be around her. She began to spend as much time around the house as she could, avoiding the people who lived in the town altogether now.
“Well, I have to get ready and go. We’re meeting to eat breakfast together at the diner. You’re welcome to come if you want.”
“That’s okay.” Cassie waved him off. “Good luck.”
Liam walked out of the yard, leaving her alone on the porch once again. Liam always tried to include her, even though they had completely different taste in people, but she didn’t take him up on his offers. She had done so once before, but it was very uncomfortable.
She stood and went back into the house to prepare for the day. She and her mother were going to church a little later on, and she had to get ready for that as well. She was dreading the embarrassing interactions that would inevitably happen at church.
Cassie looked around the one-room church building. Even though they lived in New York and the church was bigger than it might be in a smaller town, it was still only one room.
There were benches for around fifty to sixty people. Most of the time, it was completely full. Most of the families who lived nearby came to church and a few came from miles away. Cassie leaned back on the bench, trying not to stare at anyone she knew.
Whispered titters came from behind her, making her shoulders tense. She was sure they were talking about her again. They were always talking about her, watching her family, and she felt the constant pressure.
Her parents worked hard so that she and her brother could have everything they needed. But while it started out meeting their needs, as her parents grew their businesses and became wealthier, it spilled into everything else as well. They started giving them everything they wanted, regardless of whether they needed it or not.
It was fun as a child, and she let it get to her head. She was spoiled, and occasionally, even mean. Yet, as she got older, she realized material things did not make connections, or attract real friends. She was always on the outside looking in at tight-knit friend groups, wondering if anyone wanted to be around her at all.
She shook her head. She shouldn’t be thinking about this in church. Ever since she’d cut off the last of her friends, after hearing them talking and laughing about her, they’d treated her like a pariah. So she had made a plan. A plan she was becoming more and more determined to implement it. In fact, she intended to tell her family that very day, after church. And she knew they weren’t going to take it well.
After the sermon was over, Cassie excused herself from her mother and headed outside to wait in the wagon. As she went down the church steps, she paused, listening as the sound of voices carried through the air.
“Did you see her? She thinks she’s better than all of us put together. I’m glad we’re not friends anymore.” The voice sounded like Margaret’s, a girl Cassie used to spend a lot of time with. She was one of the meanest of the group of girls she used to hang around with.
“Yes, I saw her. She thinks just because she has money, she can act however she wants. She’ll learn.” A second girl whose voice was unrecognizable to Cassie joined in on the conversation.
Cassie sighed and continued walking to her family’s wagon, where she climbed in and sat alone to wait. She should be used to the mean things people said, but she wasn’t. It was hard to get used to being put down all the time. She wasn’t sure exactly how to make her skin thicker. If she was having any doubts about her plans before, she certainly didn’t have them anymore. It was time for a change. Her mother came back to the wagon a few minutes later. Sometimes her father and brother went with them to church, but not today.
“Are you okay? You left so quickly,” her mother frowned.
“I’m okay. Let’s go home.”
“Why weren’t you talking with your friends?” Her mother wasn’t going to let this go.
“They’re not my friends anymore, mama.” Cassie had tried to explain this before, but it seemed hard for her mother to accept the situation she’d found herself in. “Mama, I need to talk to you about something.” Cassie intended to tell her whole family together about what she’d been considering, but right now it seemed easier to tell her mother.
“What is it?” her mother got situated and gathered up the horse’s reigns in her hands. She steered the horses out of the little field in front of the church toward the road that would take them home.
“I’ve applied to be a teacher.” Cassie never thought she would get accepted but she’d received the letter two days ago, and now she had to give them an answer of yes or no within a week. She was going to have to answer soon, and her time for making a decision was running out.
“That’s wonderful! You know your father and I will be proud of whatever you choose to do with your life.”
Cassie didn’t have the energy to remind her mother that the statement about supporting them no matter what wasn’t quite truthful, but she held her thoughts back.
“Ma, it’s not a school near here.”
“What do you mean it’s not near here?” her mother frowned.
This was the part Cassie was pretty sure her family would not like.
“The school is out west, in Flatiron, Texas.”
“What? No. You can’t accept that. Flatiron Texas? When would we see you? How would you get there? And the danger…my goodness. You’re not considering it, are you?”
“Yes, ma, I am considering it. I’m so sorry, but I can’t take it here anymore.”
“What on earth are you talking about? You have everything here.” Her mother shook her head, then turned the wagon down the last stretch to reach their home. Cassie sighed. She’d expected her parents to be opposed to her moving out west, but she’d hoped they would at least try to understand. She was starting to see that it was doubtful.
They were pulling up to the house, and Cassie was pretty sure that her father was home. There was no telling if Liam was or not. She got down from the wagon and led the way into the house. It was time to get this out in the open. Her father was sitting in the parlor, reading the paper. The family cook was already preparing lunch. She could smell it wafting through the air.
“Cassie, tell me right now. How could you think going to Texas was acceptable or a good idea.”
“Texas?” her father frowned and looked up from his paper.
“I need a fresh start.” Cassie threw her hands up and stood in the living room with hopelessness creeping up on her. How could she get her family to understand? “Everyone here sees me as the person I was before. I can’t get away from it. People don’t like me for who I am. They just like me for what I can give them. I want to start over, where no one knows me, so they can get to know the real me and respect me for something I am doing, not something that both of you did.”
Her mother flopped down into a chair beside her father.” Cassie, don’t you see? We have worked hard for years to build something up from nothing so you and your brother wouldn’t have to. That kind of life is not a nice one. It’s hard and a constant struggle. I’m not sure it’s something you want to do.”
“I know it seems that way, but I can’t just keep pretending that all the stuff happening around here isn’t affecting me. I could never build a happy life here with the way things are. I want to be a schoolteacher and help someone for once. Isn’t that what I have studied for all these years?”
Cassie’s father folded his newspaper and stared at her over his spectacles.
“Haven’t we given you everything you need to be happy, daughter?”
“Of course you have.” Cassie took a seat, clenching her hands together. “I have everything I need, but I feel like I should work to build something myself, to feel useful. No one in this town respects me. They think everything I have is because of you, not because I know how to do anything, or because I deserve it. And they’re right, so I want to change that.”
Cassie watched as her father reached over and took her mother’s hand. He was always good at calming her and trying to make sense of a difficult situation.
“Cassie, we understand that you might feel a little upset about how some people treat you or talk about you in town, but are you sure you want to go all the way to Texas just to become a teacher? Things out there are a lot harder than they are here. You’re used to things being easy. If you go out there, it will not be easy for you. You will be faced with difficulty at every turn.”
“I really want this, pa. I want to start over–to get to know people in a town where they won’t see me as the daughter of the wealthiest family in town. I would like to know what it is like to just be a young woman who wants to help their town. I want this more than anything.”
Her father sighed. “Listen, why don’t you think about it for a few more days while your mother and I also think about it? Then we’ll talk. Try to make sure this is what you really want.”
Cassie nodded. Perhaps it would be okay to give her parents time to digest what she’d said and get used to the idea. She had sort of sprung this on them. While it was something she was looking into and hoping to do for some time, it was new for them.
“Okay, thank you for listening.” Cassie stood and smoothed her dress, then headed into the other room to play the piano her father had purchased for her when she was fourteen. Playing the piano was something she enjoyed, and it always calmed her nerves. As she ran her fingers up and down the keys, she prayed that her parents would come to accept what she had proposed, because she was getting desperate to leave this suffocating city. She wanted a new chance and a fresh start, and she was determined to get it.
Ethan Burton placed the last bit of stain on the chair he was working on. He was nearly done with the dining set that had been ordered almost two weeks before.
It was late. Sunset was almost an hour before, and here he was working by the light of the lamp. It was harder to do things when he couldn’t see well, and he usually avoided it. But he wanted to finish this as early as possible. His family could use the money.
His parents never asked him to contribute to the finances more than the labor he did around the ranch, but he still tried to give them what he could to make life a bit easier.
They were providing for four children, including himself. It was the least he could do. He put the finished chair with its companions, then stepped out of his shop and locked it up. Tomorrow he would be back before dawn to finish up the set and deliver it to its owner. He loved woodwork. It was relaxing and helped him focus on what was in front of him instead of the multiple problems facing him and his family right now.
Despite that, there were days when it was exhausting to work on it all day long, then go home for a few hours of sleep and start over the next day. He loved Flatiron, Texas, the town where he’d settled with his family along with many other families looking for new opportunities. Uprooting their whole family and moving to a little town in the middle of nowhere came with its challenges. Finances were an issue, and farming the land to keep their homestead was something that kept them there. If they left, or let things fail, they would lose everything.
His parents had purchased a large part of the land, and some of it was given to them on the condition they farmed it. He’d seen the lowest part of life, unlike others who came with a lot of money and resources. Sometimes he pondered the fairness of life and how he and his family could struggle so much with basic needs while others seemed to have everything. He pulled his hat low as he went down the street, ignoring the loud music from the saloon spilling into the street. He avoided the saloon. He didn’t have extra money to spend there, and even if he did, he would steer clear of it. He’d seen what sort of men spent time in the saloon.
They were the type to drink all of their savings away, and get deep into debt with gambling. He’d seen those habits tear families apart.
The walk home took over a half hour, but he didn’t mind. There was something calming about walking under the moon with just his thoughts as company. He enjoyed his early morning and late-night walks. Some people, including his father, often talked about how walking through the woods in the dark was dangerous, due to the possibility of bandits or Indians who could rob or mug him, but Ethan didn’t bother worrying.
He was more focused on what he had to do, and he was always vigilant, keeping his eye open for anything out of the ordinary. He hadn’t been bothered in the last several years when he’d walked that path and didn’t expect to start being bothered by anyone soon. Things were not as dangerous as some people feared.
The little drive that led up to his house was just barely wide enough for a wagon to fit through. He wasn’t sure who had cleared it out, but it was fairly rough. It cut directly through thick woods. The acres of farmland his parents farmed was half woodland. They cut down trees for wood, fences, and anything else they needed to build.
The woods were so thick, it felt like they would never run out of wood, no matter how many trees they chopped down. Even so, his father always insisted they plant new trees in places they weren’t going to farm, for the future.
His father’s ideas were often seen as not very valuable, but Ethan found them quite useful and admirable. The little cabin he shared with his family was like a beacon of light in the dark forest. There was plenty of bright light spilling from all the windows and under the door.
He quickened his pace and stepped through the door. He was immediately greeted by both Cleo and Theo, his younger siblings. Everyone joked they were twins even though they were a year apart.
His mother named Cleo to rhyme with Theo. She said it felt like they were her twin babies just separated by around eleven months. They looked almost identical to one another, with their light brown hair, green eyes, and button noses.
“You’re back late. Mama is getting mad because dinner’s been waiting for you for over half an hour.” Theo fixed him with a fake glare. Most likely upset his dinner was set back.
Cleo shook her head. “We’re all starving. We thought something happened to you.” She held back a little. When she was younger, she would attack him when he came through the door, wanting to play and wrestle. Now that she was turning into a young lady, she was much more reserved.
“Okay, okay. Let’s go eat then. I’m fine and just got held up at work.”
Theo crossed his arms. “How do you get held up at work? Did you have a bunch of people wanting to buy furniture and they wouldn’t let you go home even though the store was closed?”
Ethan tousled his little brother’s hair while Theo protested. He loved his little siblings, though sometimes they were overly demanding. His mother and Harriett were putting dinner on the table. His mother’s smile brightened when he walked into the kitchen.
“I figured it was you the children were making a fuss about. We waited to have dinner with you.”
“Thank you, Ma, though you know you don’t have to.” Ethan washed his hands in the little washbasin.
“You know how mama and papa are about having dinner together.” Harriett laughed softly. She was what his parents would consider the perfect daughter, and he couldn’t blame his parents for thinking of her that way.
Harriett was always helping with meals and was always there when her parents needed help with the younger children. Ethan knew that a lot of young men in town had their eyes on Harriett. She was beautiful and she had a kind and serving spirit. Ethan always kept an eye out for her, because if he had anything to do with it, he was going to make sure she got a good husband, who loved and appreciated her the way they should.
Harriett set out his food, along with everyone else’s, and they all sat down just as their father came in from outside and sat at the table. They bowed their heads while their father said grace. They didn’t have a lot, and sometimes they had just enough to survive, yet Ethan knew that like everyone else at this table, he was grateful for everything they did have.
The kitchen was quiet as everyone dug into their food. It took a few moments for the conversation to pick up.
“I heard that they’re going to hire a new schoolteacher soon,” Harriett said. “You’ll send Theo and Cleo to school this year, won’t you Ma?”
“Of course I will.” His mother smiled, looking at his two youngest siblings. “It’s about time they made some effort to get a schoolteacher for this town. It’s been five years since the last one. Maybe some parents don’t appreciate the value of a schoolteacher, but they should. It’s our children’s future we’re talking about.”
“What do you think she’ll be like? I hear she’s from the city. I’m still not convinced someone from around these parts couldn’t do a better job.” Ethan noticed his father’s frown. His father might not value education as much as his mother, but he would never say no to his wife. It was something that Ethan admired about his parents. They still seemed as in love as a young couple who were infatuated with one another and didn’t know what to do with themselves when they were together. They seemed to hang on to every word the other said and stare at one another with love in their eyes quite often. His father adored his mother, and because he knew how important school was for her, he would support whatever teacher came to the school because he wanted to make Ethan’s mother happy.
“I think they’re bringing someone from the city because they’ve had more studies in book learning areas of education.” His mother’s cheeks blushed bright red. It was a little-known fact, but his mother didn’t know how to read but a few sentences. She didn’t learn as a child, and while Ethan had been trying to teach her little by little, she often grew preoccupied with life and all of the things she had to finish around the farm. She would put her own learning and advancement to the side. She’d always fought for them to have better and to know better by sending them to school when they were children, and by getting books when she could, working with neighbors to teach them, and doing any other little things she could do.
“Well, hopefully, she can teach one of these two a thing or two.”
Ethan nodded in agreement. If there was one thing he’d grown to agree with when it came to his mother’s teachings, it was the importance of education. He enjoyed reading books because of her and was also able to calculate things well in his business. Both of his siblings should get a chance to do the same in their futures if they chose to.
“Will she be nice if she’s from the city?” Cleo’s eyes were wide and almost frightened.
“We can’t guarantee anything,” Ethan joked, earning himself a glare from Harriett.
“Of course, she will be nice. We didn’t always live here either, you know. Whoever comes to be your schoolteacher is going to be wonderful.”
Ethan wasn’t so sure about that. If she was someone specific, perhaps, but a lot of people from the city, especially the studied and educated ones came from wealthy families. Wealth meant other things, like an attitude and an inability to do anything practical.
He’d seen a few wealthy young men and women come through town on occasion before. They were always so clueless about everything going on around them. They were rarely able to help with real issues and felt entitled to have life go smoothly for themselves.
He could be wrong, but he still hoped they might end up choosing someone from a little closer to home. Despite whatever decision the board of education made, his siblings would be going to school. He was going to make sure of that. They were a little behind, and he was no teacher. He’d taught them some of their letters, but that was about it. He was never a letter kind of guy as he more enjoyed numbers.
He sighed as he finished his food.
“Who wants to play a game of checkers?” he asked. He was tired, but he hadn’t seen Cleo and Theo all day long, and this was a sort of a tradition after dinner.
“Me!” they shouted in unison, lifting their arms high above their heads.
“All right then. Whoever gets to the fireplace first gets to play white.”
“Children, leave your dishes by the washbasin first,” his mother chided softly, bringing them back with a bit of a dejected look on their faces. He chuckled and took his time to get to the parlor. He always let them win, and he didn’t mind a bit. After all, that was what being a child was all about, having good experiences, bonding with those around you, and learning from the adults in your life. He was glad that he could be a part of Cleo and Theo’s childhood.
Cassie folded a dress and placed it on top of her second satchel. Her acceptance letter to teach at the school of Flatiron, Texas sat on the bed, stretched out open. She was proud of achieving an acceptance letter to be a teacher out west. She’d heard that lots of teachers were needed, and yet she was still honored they’d chosen her.
She’d thought about it all week, which had been torturous. Everyone kept bringing it up, wondering if she was sure, or if she’d thought about it enough. She had and she told them that, but it was like they didn’t believe her.
She was going to go to Flatiron, Texas, and she was going to show them she would be a great teacher. Then she would have something to back her up. Everyone would know that she wasn’t dependent on her parent’s money for what she did. She needed her family because everyone needed their family, but that was all.
She wanted to make real connections, real friends, and hopefully, her past wouldn’t follow her. She was ready to be her own person.
A knock on her bedroom door made her turn. Liam was standing there, leaning against the doorframe.
“So, you’re really going to do this?” he asked glancing at her satchels.
“Yes. I wish that mama would understand why, but she’s so worried about me leaving, she never hears anything I say about why.”
“I understand.” Liam walked over and sat down on the edge of her bed while she continued to try to pick and choose through her things to decide what to take. “What you were saying the other day, perhaps I’ve been a bit unfair with you. I always assumed it wasn’t as serious as you said, or that it wasn’t true because things haven’t been as bad for me.”
Cassie froze for a moment. She didn’t expect her brother to ever apologize or try to understand her, and having him do it now was surprising, to say the least.
“What’s bringing on this sudden change in understanding?” Cassie asked, picking up her journal, plus an empty notebook for drawing or lesson planning. She wasn’t sure what she would need out west but wanted to come prepared. She would also take some money to purchase whatever else she needed.
“Nothing really, I just wanted you to know I’m proud of you for what you are doing. Sometimes I try to hide behind my friends and what we have because I haven’t accomplished much on my own. I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked at your studies, and how good you are at them. You’ll make a great teacher. You are going out there and doing what you’re passionate about and that’s really important.”
Cassie’s mouth opened, and she had to remind herself to close it. It was so unlike Liam to put his feelings or thoughts out there other than to make a joke or tease her.
“Um, thank you.” Cassie shook her head. “I do wish it was closer. I never wanted to leave here completely. Maybe a town still within a day’s journey would have been nice so that I could come and visit often, but when the school in Texas accepted me…well, it’s what I’ve wanted for a while now. I want to start over. Sometimes I wonder if I’m likable at all since no one likes me here. I feel like this will tell me the truth.”
Liam shook his head. “Even if everyone in this new town hates you, don’t let it bother you. But of course, they won’t hate you. You’re a good person, Cassie, a much better person than I am. You need to understand that. You’ll be better than anyone there. Just be yourself and do your best to be the best teacher you can be. I’m sure you will do fine.”
“I’m not better than anyone. I just want people to see me as one of them. I always feel like people are watching me for the wrong reasons here. I want to do something for myself, show people that I’m capable of being more than a wealthy young girl.”
Her brother nodded with an understanding look in his eyes.
“I am positive you’ll do that and more. Don’t let ma and pa get you down. They’re going to miss you, and I think that’s what’s keeping them from seeing what sort of opportunity this is.”
“Thank you, Liam. It really means a lot to me to hear all of that.” Cassie sat down beside him on the bed. “Do you think they’ll be all right?”
“Change is always hard, but they’ll be okay. It will just take time for them to adjust. Come on, I don’t want you to be late for the train.”
“Okay.” Cassie stood and took her satchels from the bed. Liam took them from her almost as quickly.
“What do you have in this one? Books?”
Cassie shrugged sheepishly.
“Actually, yeah. Books.” She’d filled one of the satchels almost completely with books. Her father had reluctantly agreed for her to take the books she thought would most help her from the library to bring along with her. So far, her father seemed more accepting of this whole endeavor. He was still skeptical, but at least he was trying to pretend to be supportive.
Liam had made it more than clear he was okay with what she’d chosen to do, but her mother was beside herself. Cassie was worried her mother would not come around and would hold this against her forever. She followed Liam back into the parlor. Her father was standing to one side, looking stern. Her mother was sobbing into a handkerchief, looking as if she were at someone’s funeral. A pang of guilt went through Cassie. She hated seeing her mother in pain, and worse, knowing that she was responsible for that pain.
She walked over to her mother and hugged her without a word. Her mother hugged her back, but Cassie could feel the slight separation between them. For the last week, her mother had done everything possible to try to dissuade Cassie from going. She’d tried guilt, bribing with books, and even saying she would find her a job in town if she really thought she needed to do something other than live happily with her family.
Cassie had stuck to her decision. There were moments when she almost gave in and did what her mother wanted. Then she would be reminded of why she wanted to leave in the first place, when she would see one of those women in town who looked at her like she was an outsider.
She was reminded of what she was doing whenever she saw Francis, the young man she thought she had loved. She knew that some of their reactions were completely understandable. She didn’t blame them at all for looking at her like she was superficial and had nothing in her head but money.
When she was younger, she’d allowed everything her parents gave her to go to her head and affect the way she acted and the way she treated others. As an adult, she’d changed, but of course, no one believed that about her.
Her mother pulled back, bringing Cassie back to the moment instead of in her thoughts.
“Are you sure there’s nothing I can say or do to change your mind? Please, Cassie, you don’t have to travel halfway across the world to find what you’re looking for. One of my sisters lives a couple of hours from here. You could live with her for a couple of weeks if that would make you feel better.”
Cassie shook her head. She tried to keep Liam’s words at the front of her mind. She had to do this, and her parents would come to understand and accept this new change.
“Mama, I can’t. It’s going to be okay. After I’ve been there for the school year, perhaps I can come back and visit, or you can come west and visit me. Won’t that be fun? Our own adventure together.”
Her mother shook her head and wiped fresh tears away with her handkerchief. Cassie swallowed back her desire to put a stop to all of this. She wanted this more than anything.
“Please be careful. There are Indians, scoundrels, and men who won’t respect you. Don’t go out after dark and keep your door locked. Don’t talk to strangers. Just go straight to the school and teach and buy your food on the way home. Go to church on Sundays and be safe.”
“I will, Mama. I’ll do all of that.”
“We have to go. The train is going to leave soon. Why don’t both of you come with me to the train station?” Liam interrupted the tension in the room. He looked a bit anxious, and it was sweet to see him so worried about her making it on time. For a moment, Cassie wondered if he was a little too eager for her to go.
“No, no. We’ll stay here. I couldn’t bear for everyone to see me in such a grieved state.” Her mother shook her head and reached for a fresh handkerchief from the little table nearby.
Cassie went to her father.
“Thank you for trying to understand why I am doing this.”
Her father nodded. He was much quieter than her mother was. He had a stoic look on his face, but even so, Cassie could see the emotion hovering there as if he were barely holding back the real things he wanted to say or show. She hugged him and kissed his cheek. She rested her head against his shoulder for a moment. She loved the way it felt to be in her father’s arms. She remembered how he’d carried her to bed many a time when she was younger and fell asleep in the wagon, or how he would read her bedtime stories by the fire when she was a child. Her father was good, always doting, caring, and worrying about her. He didn’t want her to go out west any more than her mother did. She knew that in the depths of her heart.
“All right then, run along. I’ll keep your mother company and try to keep her from falling apart completely. Liam, make sure she arrives at the train station safely.” Her father turned and walked to her mother’s side. Cassie nodded, wiping away a couple of tears herself. Even though he was ready for this, it was hard to say goodbye to her family. She’d never been away from them, not even overnight.
Liam opened the door for her, then led the way out to the wagon and placed her satchels in the back. He hopped up into the driver’s seat of the wagon and grabbed the reins. Cassie joined him and looked back at the house until it was out of sight.
“You seem awfully nervous.” Liam chuckled.
“I am, but I’m ready to go.” Cassie pushed the sadness back. Sadness would only be for a little while as soon she would be on the train headed west to a new life. She wouldn’t have time to be sad or to think about what she’d left behind. She would have students depending on her. Once she got to the West, she would manage to write to her family.
She would try to make things work long distance. Liam pulled the wagon to a stop by the train platform, which was teeming with people.
“Let me get your things to the baggage car, then I’ll be back here to say goodbye.” Liam grinned lazily. He was being extra nice, and she had a feeling it was because they wouldn’t be seeing each other for a while. Otherwise, he would be his normal, teasing, and almost inconsiderate self.
Cassie nodded and waited nervously by the wagon. She kept eyeing all the people who were boarding the huge train. She would be riding west with them. When she got to the town that was right before Flatiron, she would have to take a stagecoach for the last stretch of the journey.
She wasn’t looking forward to that bit. Something having to do with the stories she’d read about stagecoach robberies that always seemed to appear in her father’s newspaper made her feel especially uneasy.
“Ready to go?” Liam’s voice beside her made her jump. She’d been so distracted by the crowd that she hadn’t noticed him coming back.
“Yup. I think so.” Cassie clenched her hands together, trying not to show how truly frightening such a big leap was.
“Make sure you write every week. Ma won’t be able to sleep if you don’t.”
Cassie nodded. “Of course, I’ll write. Thank you for bringing me.” She hesitated for a moment.
He leaned forward and wrapped her in an awkward hug, then pulled back equally as quickly.
“Go on then, or are you too scared now that you’ve seen the train and want to back out?” Liam’s eyes twinkled. Her teasing older brother was back.
“Fine, fine. I’m going. And no, I’m not scared.” Cassie shook her head. “Bye, Liam.”
He waved and made a show of leaning back against the wagon and crossing his arms. Cassie had a small bag with her with some food for the day, a book to read, and some money. Her satchels were with the baggage. She was now wishing she’d taken them with her on the train because that way she’d have something to shield herself from all the people milling around her. She found a seat by the window and was joined by another young woman beside her and an older couple across from her. She stared out the window, finding Liam in the crowd. It didn’t take as long as she thought it would for the train to leave the station, letting out a shrill whistle as it did.
Cassie watched her brother disappear in the distance. She was off, on her way to a new life, to a new start, and hopefully to her second chance.
“The Teachings of True Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Cassie Marsh has been granted her every whim since she was a child, yet now she longs for something more; she yearns for adventure. Determined to get a fresh start and a chance to be something more than just a spoiled rich girl, she applies for a job as a teacher in a small western town. What she did not expect, though, was meeting a man that will make her heart skip a beat, Ethan, who helps her restore the schoolhouse.
Will she be able to prove herself to the town and to this man that has charmed her very soul?
Ethan Burton is a devoted family-man who works as a carpenter in a small and secluded town of the Wild West. When a young and progressive teacher arrives in town he is more than skeptical, but he truly wants his brother and sister to have an education.Yet, as he gets to know Cassie better, he discovers that there is more to her than meets the eye and he is genuinely intrigued by her knowledge and kind heart.
Can he rise above his assumptions and give her a chance to be part of his life?
Cassie and Ethan start to bond but their happiness will be short-lived as not everyone is happy about the new teacher in town and will scheme against her. The two of them must work together to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way and save Cassie’s new life as well as their future together. Will love conquer all, or will their journey end in heartbreak?
“The Teachings of True Love” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.