"Steven, I'm a big girl, I don't need you to take me to town."
"I know you don't Faith, but I would feel better if you let me." The ride into Red Valley was a pleasant one. The conversation was light and the weather was absolutely beautiful, the sky was a brilliant blue and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower as a gentle breeze blew the new bright green leaves.
"I'm so excited that my package finally came. I was worried it wouldn't get here in time. I shouldn't have splurged, but when I saw it in the catalogue, I just couldn't help myself." Faith turned her head to face Steven, giving him a brilliant smile.
He reached over, taking one of her hands and brought it to his lips for a light kiss. "You deserve it and anything else you want." The rest of the way into town was filled with more light conversation. In a surprisingly short amount of time Steven pulled up at the mercantile and set the brake, jumped down, then walked around to help Faith down. She carefully placed her foot on the step then leaned forward putting both of her hands on his shoulders. Steven slid his hands under her arms and easily lifted her down.
"Thank you." Faith said a little sheepishly. She adjusted her skirts then took Steven's arm and walked into the store. Before she walked through the door, she stopped and looked around. A chill ran down her spine, it almost felt like she was being watched. Faith glanced around again, and seeing nothing, went inside.
"Oh good you're here!" Sadie said as she saw Faith walk through the door.
"I couldn't wait, I simply had to come and pick it up myself."
"You will have to invite me over when you get it all set up. You know, you're the first person that's ever ordered one and I am simply dying to see it!" Sadie said in an excited tone. It's still in the shipping crate. I'll have the boys load it in your wagon. Is it out front?"
"Yes it is, but I need to pick up a few more things before we go."
Cade hid in the shadows watching for Belle when he saw a wagon ride past. It looked like Steven Gilford was driving it and there was a woman with him. That in itself was odd, he'd never seen the man in anything but his buggy. He continued to watch out of curiosity and boredom, Belle usually slept until noon and it was only eleven. The wagon stopped at the mercantile, sure enough Steven Gilford jumped down then went to help the woman. Cade's heart stopped, it was Faith. He had hoped not to see her but there she was, his brow drew tighter, she was wearing a dress, not her buckskins she loved so much. A second later he knew why. She was, she was pregnant! His heart felt like it was being ripped from his chest. She, she was truly lost to him forever. The only woman he'd ever loved had married another man. Not only had she married him but she was expecting Gilford's child! He knew now, without a shadow of doubt that he loved her and he would until the day he died.
He wanted to kill the bastard for laying his hands on Faith. How could life be so cruel? He finally realized, in that instant, that he loved Faith and she was gone. His life was over, there was nothing left to live for. God he wanted to be furious but he couldn't. He was the one that left her, even going so far as to tell her to get an annulment. Memories of the letter he'd sent Gilford came back. He had told the man to take care of the annulment then to marry Faith. She just didn't have to do it so damn fast. There was no one to blame but himself.
A flash of red caught his eye and he looked up to see Belle leaving the hotel. It looked like she was going to the mercantile. He may not be able to have Faith, but he was still going to protect her for as long as he could. Cade looked around to make sure no one saw him then began to make his way closer to the mercantile, careful to stay in the shadows between the buildings.
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Keeping Faith (Book 3 in the Red Valley Series)Historical Fiction
This is book 3 in the Red Valley Series but like the other ones, it can be read by itself. Faith Matthews is a headstrong, independent woman determined to make it on her on in a mans world. She left Charleston to escape the constraints of society...