God this town was so tedious, there was absolutely nothing to do here. Belle thought as she walked along the boardwalk. It was so neat and tidy, no, give her McDermott or a town like it over this sleepy little one horse town any day. She hadn't decided exactly what she was going to do to this woman that had the audacity to marry Cade and try to take him away from her. There were so many different ways to kill someone. She had only shot people before, but that would be too quick. No, she would strangle the bitch and just before the light went out in her eyes, Belle would tell her why she was dying. Yes, that's what she would do. With her mind made up, she walked into the store to shop and kill a little time.
Like everything else in this town, the mercantile was neat and tidy with everything in its place, each section as perfect as the next. Belle made her way over to the material and patterns to see if she could find something to make a new dress. Just as she was about to look at a pattern, she heard the girl behind the counter speaking to another customer.
"Remember Faith, I want to see this cradle when you get it all set up."
"I won't forget Sadie. Tell Eli I said hello."
Immediately Belle's eyes shot to the only other female customer in the store. This had to be her, Faith was just not that common of a name. Belle looked at the woman as she walked by. Her eye widened in surprise, she was pregnant! Was she carrying Cade's baby? Is that why he married her? It had to be! She had to have tricked him, Cade would never be so careless. Belle followed the woman outside, dissecting her as she went. There was not one single thing that was special about her, nothing. As long as Cade had a child, he would be tethered to this woman, they simply had to die, both her and the child. Then, Cade would be hers.
Belle, in a blind rage after realizing this was Cade's Faith, saw an opportunity and was unable to control herself. Faith was about to go down the steps from the boardwalk when Belle came up behind her and shoved with all her might. Faith screamed, Steven had his back turned to her as he help load the wagon with the supplies. He turned to her but was not fast enough to catch her before she fell to the ground. Belle realizing what she had done took off running across the street. In her haste to get away she ran right into the path of a wagon. The driver had no time to stop before she was trampled beneath the horses.
Before Cade or anyone else could move, it was all over. It took every ounce of self-control to keep from running over to Faith. Steven was there with Faith as she lay there on the ground. She had managed to turn so she landed mostly on her back, knocking the breath out of her. The driver of the wagon managed to get the team under control and stopped. All of the commotion brought everyone from the stores and into the street. Andy came running past Cade and went to Belle, who was obviously dead, then over to Faith who was now sitting up.
"Faith!" Steven yelled as he knelt down beside her, cursing himself for not being able to catch her. "Oh my God are you all right? What happened?"
She lay there for a moment trying desperately to bring air back into her lungs as tears clouded her vision. Nodding, she sat up with Steven's help. Nothing was broken and she could feel the baby moving. "Help me up please."
"No, why don't you sit here for just another minute and then I'll take you over to Doc Baker's office."
"Thank you. What happened?"
"I was just about to ask you that very question." Andy said as he knelt down beside Faith. "Are you all right?"
"I think so, but Steven is going to take me to Doc Baker's in just a minute. One minute I was standing on the boardwalk and the next I was falling. But Andy, I felt someone push me."
"Did they bump into you or push you."
"She pushed her, I saw it. I forgot to give Faith her flour so I was coming out to catch her before they left. As soon as I opened the door, that woman that got trampled under the wagon pushed Faith in the back then ran." Sadie said as she sat down on the step beside Faith and gave her a hug.
"Did she say anything?" Andy asked.
Faith fought to clear her mind and remember. "Yes, she called me a, a bitch."
"I'm going to go talk to the driver of the wagon, maybe he knows something." Andy stood and walked back to where Belle lay dead in the street. Someone had thrown a blanket over her, thank goodness. It was nasty when someone got trampled.
Cade watched Faith stand with Steven's help, he could see that she and her baby were going to be okay. He was just about to turn and leave when she leaned over and grabbed her stomach and stumbled. Her beautiful face was pale with pain and surprise. He knew she was going to Doc Baker's office so he went back between the buildings and made his way there, keeping to the backs of the buildings.
Faith stood and took one step, then grabbed her stomach and doubled over with a pain that took her breath. She looked down to see a small puddle of water between her feet and could still feel it trickling down her legs. Steven swooped down and scooped her into his arms then walked as fast as he could to Doc Baker's.
Doc had been standing on his porch and saw them coming, he opened the door and ushered them into a room in the back of the house. Steven laid her down as gently as he could on the bed then stood beside her. "All right, you can leave now." Steven nodded and began walking towards the door. "Send for Levi and Hope." He nodded again and closed the door behind him.
Cade listened from outside, grateful the window was open. How could Gilford leave her? If that were his child, there's no way in hell, he would leave. A lump caught in his throat. For the first time in his life, he wanted children. He waited and listened and waited some more. He would leave as soon as he knew she and the baby were okay. It tore at his soul to hear her cry out in pain, knowing there was nothing he could do, he couldn't even hold her hand. So he paced for hours, cringing every time Faith made a noise.
Levi and Hope finally got there and Doc and Steven began to fill them in on what had happened. "Is she going to be all right?" Levi asked. The ride to town had been agonizing, not knowing what was going on.
"I think she's going to be just fine. I'm pretty sure the fall caused her to go into labor."
"What – what about the baby?" Hope asked, her voice choked with emotion.
"Well to be honest, I don't know until she delivers. The baby's heartbeat was strong but it's at least four weeks early. It's going to be small."
"Can I see her?"
"Yes, in fact, if you don't mind, I'd like your help."
Hope smiled. "I would love to help."
The sun set and still Faith had not delivered. According to Doc Baker this was not uncommon for the first baby, especially with this delivery since it was early. Cade listened to every word that was spoken as he continued to pace. Sometime after midnight the cry of a tiny baby split the air. Hearing the cry, Cade stopped pacing and sat down on the ground with his back against the side of the house.
"It's a boy, and he looks just like his papa.!" Doc Baker announced, in a proud voice. "You did good Faith, you did real good."
That could be his son if he hadn't been such a dumb ass. If he had only stayed, he could have had it all, a beautiful wife, a son, a home. He needed to leave, Rusty had been tied up outside of town all day, but he just couldn't bring himself to go, not just yet. It seemed like hours before Levi and Hope went to check into the hotel and Doc turned the light down and shut the door behind him.
Unable to stop himself, Cade climbed through the window and quietly made his way to the edge of the bed. God, she was even more beautiful than the last time he'd seen her. The room was filled with the soft amber glow from the single lamp by the door. He reached over and smoothed her silky soft hair off her forehead. His eyes moved over to the tiny baby nestled in the crook of her arm taking in every little detail. With trembling fingers, he reached out and ran his fingertips across his dark downy soft head then down his plump cheek. "I love you Faith." He whispered then leaned over and placed a soft kiss to her lips.
Her eyelids fluttered open then closed. "I love you too." She whispered.
For a second his heart stopped. Had she been talking to him or did she think he was Gilford? It didn't matter, she was married to Gilford now, and it was time for him to go. With one last look, he slipped out the window as quietly as he came in. He said it before but he meant it this time, he would never come back to Red Valley. The only thing that could have brought him back was someone else's now.
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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...