Jake pushed through the huge door of the house he shared with his parents and his twin sister. He had asked his father what the point was of such a huge house, but like most times, his father refused to answer.
His father was Mr. Oakley, mayor of the town and owner of several banks. Of course, he couldn’t live in a normal-sized house like everyone else.
Jake gave a wry smile. He often called his father Mr. Oakley because that was something that drove him crazy.
He paused in the parlor to find it empty. His parents seemed to be gone more often than not these days.
He turned and walked down the long hall, through the dining room and nearly ran into June coming out of the kitchen.
“Jake! You’re home.” Her face lit up.
“Yes. I got home a little early. Where are Ma and Pa?”
“Mother and father are still out,” June said. She rolled her eyes in a playful way and emphasized the way she called their parents.
“You know you don’t have to call them that when father isn’t around,” Jake said, wrinkling his nose in distaste. Jake took the fresh apple that June held out to him and sat down in one of the chairs by the dining room table.
June walked over across from him and slid into one of the chairs.
“I wonder if they were always like they are now,” she said with a wistful look in her eye.
“There’s nothing really wrong with Ma, you know,” Jake shrugged. For some reason, June didn’t get along as well with their mother as he did. “She tries.”
“Yes. I know she tries, but she could stand up to Pa once in a while.” June looked annoyed.
Jake understood why. They were nineteen now and his father already had various opinions on who June should marry. Thankfully, she was fairly adamant that she would be making her own match when it came to romance.
“Has Pa been giving you a hard time about marrying Leonard’s son again?” Leonard was one of his father’s partners and easily as rich as he was, but he was ten years older than his sister.
“Yes. Yesterday he cornered me in the parlor. Said that I needed to think about my future before I became an old maid. I am only nineteen and he is way too old for my taste. I still have time to fall in love.” June shook her head, her blue eyes troubled.
“Hey, don’t listen to him. You definitely have time to fall in love and you shouldn’t marry for any other reason.”
“That’s easy for you to say. Pa isn’t trying to get you to marry the first rich girl that he comes across.”
“Maybe not, but he is trying to get me to become just like him.”
June took a bite out of her own apple. “You could never be like Pa, even if you wanted to.”
Jake chuckled, “I’m not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult.”
“It was quite obviously a compliment. Do you want to go riding with me?”
“No. I would like to, but Pa said he needed to talk to me in his study this afternoon. I am sure it is something very interesting.” Jake made sure to communicate that it was going to be anything but interesting.
“Suit yourself. You know you can just ignore what he wants, right?”
Jake smiled fondly at June. He loved her spirit and her determination not to be controlled by politics and what was assumed to be correct.
“I know, but both of us can’t disappear. We would never hear the end of it.”
Jake watched as June hurried out of the house. He knew that one of her favorite activities was riding through the hillsides on her horse. There were days when he enjoyed a good ride with her too.
Less than half an hour after she had gone, the sound of his parents arriving home made him groan internally. He had hoped for at least a couple more hours of peace. The fact was, the place was stressful when his father was around. He knew that his mother didn’t approve of a lot of the things that his father did or said, but she rarely stood up to him, just as June had accused her of. She wanted peace too, he guessed.
“I’m glad you’re home, son. I’ll see you in my study shortly,” Mr. Oakley said to him as soon as he stepped through the door.
Jake watched him go up the long staircase without a word then turned to his mother.
“How was your day? What did you and Pa do in town?”
“Nothing much. He went to check on some of the new processes at the bank. I went to visit a friend while I waited.”
“Which friend?” Jake was curious. It seemed like his mother went out a lot and always to visit a friend, and yet most of his friends always mentioned that they hadn’t seen her in the longest time.
“Amelia, from the seamstress shop.” His mother’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Where is your sister?”
“She’s out riding. She didn’t exactly want to be here when you guys got back. She said something about not wanting to be reminded of marrying Leonard’s son.”
His mother shook her head. “I’ve told your father that June doesn’t want to marry that man, but he just won’t leave it alone.”
“I know. Maybe he will believe all of us when she marries someone else.”
“Maybe.” His mother didn’t look convinced. “Your father likes getting his way,”
“I know that probably better than most.” Jake shook his head. “Do you know why he wants to talk?”
“No. He wouldn’t tell me. He kept it all secretive. You’ll have to go and see.”
Jake nodded and walked slowly up the stairs. He dreaded these sorts of meetings with his father in his study. It was usually about something that Jake didn’t want anything to do with.
He knocked sharply on the study door. “Come in,” his father called a second later.
Jake stepped into the office warily. He didn’t want to be there, but he didn’t have much choice since he was still living with his parents. He had started his job down at the blacksmith shop nearly a year and a half ago and was saving his money little by little to get a place of his own. He didn’t plan on depending on his father forever.
Especially since the conditions that came with living with his father were often unpleasant.
He had a feeling that when he did manage to save enough to be on his own, his father wouldn’t be happy about it. It would not be a good look for the mayor to have his son move out without taking on the family trade.
But Jake didn’t care. The sooner he could get away from his father, the better.
“Have a seat, son.”
“What is this about, Mr. Oakley?”
“Don’t call me that. You know I don’t like it.” His father’s eyes narrowed with suppressed frustration.
“Come on, Father, don’t get angry. Tell me why we are here.”
“I need to talk to you about taking over management in the bank here in Clinton. If you are going to be ready to take over, you need to start working there now.”
“I don’t want to work in a stuffy bank. That’s not my sort of job. I enjoy what I do and one day, I will be a deputy or a sheriff.”
“Sheriff? Anyone can be a sheriff. The opportunity that I am offering you is once in a lifetime. You can’t make any real money at a sheriff’s office.”
“It can be in someone else’s lifetime. Offer it to Leonard’s son since you like him so much.”
His father sighed. “I see you have been talking to June.”
“Yes. I have. Shouldn’t you let her marry whoever she loves?”
“No, I shouldn’t. Love only lasts so long and by marrying someone like Leonard’s son she could actually have everything she needs and wants for the rest of her life.”
“Father,” Jake leaned forward a bit, resting his elbows on the counter, “I want to leave this clear. I don’t want to take over the bank. I don’t want to be a banker, or a mayor. I am not you. If you tried to understand that, I think we would get along better.”
His father shook his head. “I’m going to set things up for you to start in two months. Hopefully you’ll change your mind by then. Don’t be ungrateful, son. I am trying to help you here.”
Jake stood, pushing back his chair.
“Thank you, father. But if you want to save yourself some time, just know that I won’t be changing my mind. You should look for someone else.”
Jake left his father’s study, feeling angry with himself for not being more firm earlier on. It seemed like no matter what sort of argument he made with his father he could never have the upper hand. He would never be able to change his father’s mind.
He had a plan for his life. He’d already spoken with the sheriff in town several times and had lined things up for himself. He didn’t need his father to plan his life, or to give him opportunities. He had no problem getting the things he wanted in life himself.
He sighed. If only things were simpler, or if only his father didn’t care so much about things that didn’t really matter.
Even though they lived in one of the larger towns in the state of Texas, it was nothing like the big cities in Chicago or in New York. He knew that his father wished he could be mayor of one of those cities and he translated that into his work there in Clinton, even though it was far from the biggest town in Texas.
One day, Jake hoped he would see what he was doing to his family in the process.
Lizzy brushed her hands over her apron. The apron that barely fit her anymore now that she was going to give birth any day now. She checked the table to make sure that everything was perfect for lunch.
Clyde hated it when she didn’t have his meal ready for him when he came home for a break.
A knock on the door made her jump a little. She wasn’t expecting him home so early.
When she hurried over to the door and opened it, she was relieved to see that it was her mother.
“What are you doing here?” Lizzy asked. She didn’t exactly get along with either of her parents particularly well, but at least she knew her mother actually cared about her.
“I just came to check on you. How are you feeling?” Her mother looked concerned.
Lizzy placed her hand on her swollen stomach. “I feel as well as I can, I suppose. I will be relieved when I finally have this baby.”
“The last couple weeks are the worst.” Her mother shook her head. “With you I thought it would never end.”
Lizzy smiled softly. It seemed that pregnancy was one of the only things her mother and her could agree on.
“Have you talked with your father lately?” Her mother looked away, as if she knew that Lizzy didn’t want to talk about her father.
“No. I haven’t. You know that I have nothing to talk to him about.”
“He’s your father, Lizzy. When are you going to forgive him?”
“I don’t know, probably never. He knew what kind of a man Clyde was. I was seventeen and you both didn’t give me a choice. How do you want me to feel about that?”
“We want you to understand. We were just trying to do the best thing we could for you.”
“I do understand. You did the best thing for you. You never asked me what I wanted and when I told you, you didn’t listen. Is this what you actually came to talk to me about?” Lizzy hardened her gaze.
“Your father is upset. He has hardly spoken to you since you were married. His first grandchild is about to be born.” Her mother glanced down at her stomach.
“I don’t care. You were not there for me when I needed you. When I begged you not to make me get married you both ignored my pleas. But here we are. I did not choose this life, or Clyde.”
Lizzy glanced outside the front window, Clyde was riding up. She tuned out her mother’s words as she watched him dismount his horse and take it into the barn.
When Clyde stepped into the house, her shoulders stiffened.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Cassidy. I didn’t expect to see you here today,” Clyde stated looking between Lizzy and her mother with questions in his eyes.
“I’m sorry if I am intruding. I just came to see how Lizzy was feeling.” Her mother reached out and touched Lizzy’s shoulder.
Lizzy wanted to move out of her reach, but forced herself to stay put. Deep down, she loved her mother, but she couldn’t stand the fact that her mother seemed to always stand with her father, no matter how wrong he was.
“How are you, my dear? Is our son all right?” Clyde gave her as close to a warm smile as she had ever seen from him.
She nodded. “Just fine,” she forced herself to say. She knew that their baby was a girl. She didn’t know how she knew, but it was a feeling deep in her chest. In every dream she’d had, their child was a girl.
But telling Clyde would only make him angry. They would have to wait until it was born for him to be convinced.
“Shall we eat?” Lizzy led the way to the dining table and served her mother and Clyde. Very little had changed since she got pregnant, except for the exhaustion and the constant hunger she seemed to suffer from.
She sighed. Soon, her baby would be born, and she wouldn’t feel so alone. The thought made her smile. Having a child with Clyde was not something she was happy about most days, but the idea of not being alone was more than welcome.
Lizzy glanced over at Clyde. She only wished that she could have a marriage that she was happy in. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel so miserable.
“Why were you so unwelcoming to your mother?” Clyde asked, nearly as soon as Lizzy’s mother had ridden away.
“I wasn’t. I was as welcoming to her as I always am.” Lizzy knew that defending herself against the accusation was risky and possibly dangerous. But she did not need Clyde getting mixed up in the relationship she had with her parents.
“Are you saying that I am imagining things?” Clyde’s tone turned angry and Lizzy held in a sigh. She had a feeling it was going to be a long afternoon. The only thing she had to console herself was that Clyde had to go back to work for most of the day.
If he didn’t work most of the day, Lizzy wasn’t sure how she would get through it.
“I’m sorry. I have just been really tired lately.”
“Maybe, but that is no excuse. We can talk about this later,” he said, standing up abruptly and slamming his cup down on the table.
Lizzy nodded and watched him hurry out the door and back down the street. She didn’t feel bad that he was going, but instead felt relieved. She enjoyed working about the house alone. She gathered up all the dishes and washed them, then set about preparing the house for the evening.
She made sure to dust everything and wipe it down. If there was one thing that Clyde couldn’t stand, it was a messy house.
Once that was done, she went outside and pulled a few weeds from her garden that was planted beside the house. She took some feed out to the small chicken coop that housed their hens and scattered it, watching the birds enjoy it.
She smiled. They had such a simple life, living with no worries. Someone always came to feed them, put them up for the night and take them out in the morning. Lizzy loved to see the simplicity that animals lived in. Maybe it was because she envied that same blissful simplicity.
When everything was tucked away and taken care of for the night, she slipped back inside and had some leftovers from lunch for dinner. She made sure to leave something prepared on the stove for Clyde. He often would come home very late but sometimes not at all.
She hurried back to the room, got changed for bed and laid down. Most of the time, it felt as if she lived alone, but she didn’t mind.
Peace and quiet and the ability to go through her day as she pleased were things that she loved, and they were the simple things of the life that she now called her own.
She could still remember the carefree girl she’d been at seventeen. She had been so full of hopes and dreams, thinking that when she turned eighteen she would find a man that she loved to marry and start a family with.
But her family had made her marry Clyde, because of his money and his status and the future they thought would be best for her. It didn’t matter that he was a lot older than her. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t wanted to marry a man she barely knew.
Now at eighteen, she was about to give birth to her first child. She sighed. This was the tale that she had dreamed for her life, and yet it was so twisted and even wrong. She hated to think that she was going to live like this forever.
Who knew? Maybe she would fall in love with Clyde or him with her. It hadn’t happened in the last ten months, but that didn’t mean things couldn’t change.
But Lizzy knew that she was changing. The person she had been who had found the positive side to every situation was fading. She could no longer forget the problems or look the other way when they presented themselves.
Her relationship with her husband was shaky. He was hard to please and became angry easily. Sometimes he was explosively angry.
She was starting to think it was time to accept hopelessness for what it was. She didn’t want to always think negatively, but when she tried to think positively, the realities of life started pressing in around her.
She sighed and shook her head. It was getting late. One of the dogs from a neighboring house was barking and a child was crying in the distance. She wondered what was happening out in the world and wondered if it was as bad as what was happening in her own little world.
“When Love Shows the Way” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
At the age of seventeen, Lizzy Cassidy’s parents forcibly marry her off to a wealthy, yet despicable man, to improve their family’s status. Fate has another trial in store for her, though, when her infuriated husband violently separates her from her daughter, who she is determined to track down no matter the consequences. As she follows her trail, she ends up in Clinton, where she meets Jake, who proves to be a valuable companion on her quest. She knows that from the first time she looked into his eyes, her heart skipped a beat and her traumas started healing, but will she manage to turn a new page in her life or will she have to sacrifice a piece of herself to move on?
Jake Oakley, son of the mayor of Clinton, seems to have a perfect life, until he messes it all up by stumbling on a terrible family secret. When he thoughtlessly exposes it to the wrong people, there are unforeseen consequences that force him to leave town in order to fix his mistakes. However, an alarming letter about his mother’s health postpones his plans, leading him disappointed back to Clinton. Upon his arrival, a beautiful young lady shows up as a gift from heaven, as she finds a unique way to drive his guilt away and clear his mind. After all this time, his lonely heart will be warmed once again and his future won’t feel so lonely anymore. Could she be the salvation he has been looking for all along?
Jake and Lizzy unite with a common goal, when their seemingly unrelated paths suddenly cross and change their lives forever. Lizzy has a hard time trusting people and Jake is determined to make things right. Just when things start looking up for them, an old threat will swoop in and risk ripping them apart. Will the powerful light of their romance dissipate the dangers that lurk in the shadows?
“When Love Shows the Way” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.