From the Ashes: A Christian Romance Novel [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Carolyn R. Scheidies
eBook Category: Romance/Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Dawn thought she'd witnessed the worst of humankind during the war with the States when she lost her home and most of her family. Mute from the horror of watching her sister defiled and murdered, Dawn, with the aid of her younger brother Caleb, leaves the ashes of their once magnificent plantation home of Fair Greens on a dangerous trek north to find their uncle. Dawn's only positive memories of that last day are those of the tall, broad-shouldered Union lieutenant who eased her sister's last moments. But even in Boston things aren't what they seem and Dawn and her brother are forced to head west to the Kansas plains. How can a loving God allow more horror into their lives? When Dawn discovers her lieutenant, she wonders if even he can save them from what awaits. Lieutenant Austin Andreeson hates the war. All he wants is to return to his Kansas home. Ever with him is the memory of the young woman who died in his arms, asking him to take care of "Dawn." That he was unable to help Dawn then haunts him now. When he finds Dawn in desperate need in his own hometown, he can do nothing less than offer his protection. In the midst of threats, danger, attempted murder, and fire, will Dawn and Austin learn to trust God and each other enough to reveal the secrets of their hearts to find healing . . . and love?
eBook Publisher: Coscom Entertainment/Torn Veil Books, Published: 2010-07-16, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2010
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
- Proverbs 13:12
Wayne Jars glared at his wife who stood beside the deep sink that had seen better days. Her limp ash blond hair escaped from what had begun as a tidy bun. The once white aristocratic hands with their long slender fingers were brown from long hours in the sun and red from scrubbing dishes that never had seen better days.
As for her figure, he thought, the scare crow I put in the field to scare away the pesky birds has more curves.
Anger curled around his gut. Clenching his fist, he forced himself not to smash it onto the rough hewn table. Not one of his better efforts. But then, nothing he put his hands to seemed to turn out right, nothing.
Across the room of the tiny house, his two daughters quietly giggled secrets. Probably about Amity's latest beau, George. He wished the lad would say his piece and take her off his hands. Three girls. Three giggling females who cared little about the land and spent too much time primping, at least to his way of thinking. All his wife's fault, of course. Useless creatures, the lot of them. With the right offer, he'd have the last two off his hands.
He glanced once more at his frail wife. The prairie living sucked the life right out of her. No possibility of any more sons, not now. The woman failed him. All her fault.
Had she spoken to him before? Drat the woman! Always on him about something. Why couldn't she leave him be?
She spoke, "Are you finished?"
She hovered like some scared rabbit. Her timidity irritated him. She hadn't always been so timid. For a moment, the hard line of his mouth softened, remembering her as she swished toward him down the gentle slope of green in her rose silk gown. Her eyes sparkling, she, ever so slightly, pouted raspberry lips. Not one to pass up an opportunity, he kissed her. Though she pulled away all in a fluster, he read pleasure in her eyes as well as confusion. Yes indeed, 'twas a moment to savor. The woman trembling at his side bore little resemblance to that young woman of wealth and privilege.
"Speak up woman," he growled, shoving the plate into her hand. These days, he could scarce tolerate her hesitant touch.
Blanching, she took it from his hands. Not fast enough. Swinging around, Wayne grabbed her arm. The plate clattered to the floor. The giggling stopped abruptly. The sudden hush fueled his fury. Her fault. Hatred for the woman he married churned inside. She avoided him as much as possible. Didn't want him near her, but he made her pay for pushing him away. No use, not any more. His once vigorous wife was but a dry husk.
He needed a son. He needed help working the farm. Sure, he begot Edward, Eddie for short, who'd run off to play war. She gave him one miserable excuse for a son, and daughters. Daughters! The only one with a lick of sense betrayed him by running off with some no account soldier boy with half an arm.
Rotten war. Who cared anyway who won as long as it didn't interfere with his plans. But it did. Plans destroyed because of the north's infernal interference, leaving him with the pitiful creature who'd seduced him with her shining eyes and well-to-do connections. Jaws clenched, he tightened his grip until her arm bruised.
"Wayne, no," she cried.
It only churned the fury within, fury at her. She trapped him into marriage; trapped him in the wilderness; trapped him with no way out. Of course she'd always secretly despised him, a man who worked with his hands. She'd toyed with him, the pampered relative of a wealthy plantation owner. But she got burned and her family . . .
Fire raged inside. He married her; proud she wanted him. He had such plans for them back then, such dreams for their future. After all, he was son-in-law to the cousin of a highly regarded planter.
Except they did not respect him, and his dreams crumbled under their puritan morality. They cut him off, cut off his hopes, his dreams. Hatred for Charlene's family flared. His expression hardened. The very sight of what had once been his beautiful bride, sickened him.
A moment later, he threw her against the wall as his rage spewed forth. Her limp hair cascaded over her shoulders as her head slammed against the wall. Out of control, Jars slammed her again and again. The dazed fright in her eyes drove him to near insanity.
Squeaking like a stuck pig, his youngest daughter Cherry shrunk down into a dark corner of the shanty. Sixteen-year-old Amity, her lips grim, stepped between he and her mother. "Leave her alone."
He made sure she felt the force of his fist. Wiping blood from her lip, she confronted him. "Leave her alone, Pa. She didn't do nothing to you."
"Lot you know." Nonetheless, his fists dropped to his side. Chest heaving he restrained himself with difficulty, lancing the two with the blue of his words until the women winced under his profanity.
Putting her arm around her frail mother, Amity held her up. In his own way, Jars admired the determined courage of his daughter. Too bad her mother hadn't the same sort of backbone.
"If she'd given me sons instead of helpless womenfolk, I'd have made something of this place by now," he grumbled. "If her top-lofty family hadn't taken me in such dislike, we'd be living in Fair Greens instead of suffocating in this forsaken hell hole."
Amity made an effort to calm him. "We've tried to help, Pa. You know we have."
"Baugh! Not worth the effort." Despair washed over him as he clenched and unclenched his fist.
"Amity's right, Pa," Cherry managed, "but nothing we do pleases you." Cherry edged up the wall as though fearing her father's fury might once more erupt.
Amity seemed to sense the storm had passed. "Pa, about help?"
"I ain't about to shell out money fer no hired man. They ask too much."
"In town I read about how they're sending young'uns out from the east to live with folk out west. Orphans and such. People take them in."
Something sparked in Wayne's eyes. "Rightly speakin' now?"
"Yes, Pa. Read there are lots of boys especially sent out. They help out on the farms, like part of the family."
"Umm. Where did you hear tell about this, Girl?"
"Read an article in the paper in town. Sent lots of orphans to Illinois and Indiana and Iowa and such. Why not to Kansas?"
"What's it cost?"
"Don't rightly know, Pa." Amity faced her father.
Jars pulled on his suspenders. "An orphan lad to work the farm. Maybe I oughta look inta that."
Sidling toward her older sister, Cherry touched her mother's face, her large brown eyes bright with tears. "Oh, Mama," she whispered. "I'm sorry."