Read Rebecca's Heart Online

Authors: Lisa Harris

Rebecca's Heart

ISBN 1-59310-945-8

REBECCA’S HEART

Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Harris. All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the permission of Truly Yours, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683.

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events is purely coincidental.

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
.

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

prologue

Cranton, Massachusetts, 1883

“Rebecca Ann Johnson, I’m about to make you the happiest girl in the world.” Jake Markham pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to her.

“I thought I already was the happiest girl in the world.” Rebecca clutched the envelope between her fingers and laughed. “I’m marrying you tomorrow, aren’t I?”

Jake leaned across the blue cushioned sofa and stole a kiss. Her heart fluttered at the intimate gesture as she studied his familiar profile. Curly fair hair framed his smooth face. Square jaw, clear blue eyes. A solid, muscular form from helping his father work the Markham farm.

Mrs. Jake Markham
.

Tomorrow she’d become his wife and someday, she prayed, the mother of his children. Heat rose to her cheeks, and she turned back to the gift.

“What is it?” Rebecca didn’t try to hold back her enthusiasm as she drew two slips of paper out of the offered envelope. “Train tickets?”

“They’re your wedding present. I planned to give them to you tomorrow after the ceremony, but I couldn’t wait.”

“I don’t understand.” Rebecca’s brows scrunched together. She scanned the details on the train tickets, her excitement over the gift quickly waning. “These are one-way tickets to Portland, Oregon.”

“Exactly. It’s what we’ve always dreamed about, Rebecca.” Jake leaned forward and grasped her hands. “There’s plenty of land. We can settle somewhere along the coast if you’d like, or maybe in the Willamette Valley. It’s supposed to be beautiful. Snowcapped mountains, forests of thick evergreen trees—”

“Wait a minute.” Her mind spun with the implications of the tickets she held. “I know we’ve talked about the possibility of settling out west someday, but I never thought you were considering leaving now. These tickets are for next month.”

“I know.” Jake’s face erupted with a smile. “My father gave us three hundred dollars for a wedding gift. We don’t have to wait any longer.”

Rebecca stood and walked to the large front window of her parents’ gray-shingled farmhouse and took a steadying breath. Cranton, nestled in the lush Connecticut Valley of western Massachusetts, had been her home for all of her nineteen years. One day she dreamed of seeing more of the world, but right now she wanted to enjoy being married before she had to take on the responsibilities of settling somewhere else.

He didn’t even ask me what I thought
.

Her fingers touched the windowpane as she stared out across the lush acres of farmland bordered with stone fences. Tall elm trees and stately pines rose from the rich soil. Mayflowers dotted the apple orchards to the south. The white blossoms of the hydrangea bushes were beginning to fade but for now still held their beauty. This was her home. Jake crossed the room and stood beside her. “What’s the matter, Rebecca? I thought you’d be excited.”

Tears welled in her eyes. “You actually believed I’d be thrilled, despite the fact you never asked me what I thought before buying the tickets? I don’t know if I’m ready to leave my family yet—”

“You’re just nervous about tomorrow and not thinking clearly.” Jake took another step toward her and ran his hand down the sleeve of her lavender day dress, but Rebecca pulled away. “We’ve talked about moving west—”

“You talked about it, and while I’m not against the idea, it was always something for us to consider for the future. Not now.”

Unexpected anger seared through her like a hot iron. Her resentment didn’t come from the fact he wanted to move away. She was hurt because he’d never asked her what she thought about leaving so soon after they were married.

Her hands curled into fists at her sides. “What in the world were you thinking, Jake Markham? Buying these tickets without even discussing the matter with me?”

“I thought you’d be happy.”

The confused look that crossed his face didn’t quell her anger. “What about my family and your father?” Rebecca paced across the hardwood floor to the other side of the room, pausing at the large stone fireplace. “Did you even stop to consider what they might think about this sudden move?”

“I’ve discussed it with my father, and he’s excited for us. Told me if he were twenty years younger, he’d consider coming along.” Jake raked his fingers through his hair. “If my mother were still alive, I know she’d feel the same way. As for your parents, I’m sure they’ll be delighted you’re getting such an opportunity.”

“You’ve already told your father?” Folding her arms across her chest, Rebecca stomped her foot. “Is this how you see our marriage? You make all the decisions without even asking me what I think? Jake, I don’t know if I can—”

He bridged the gap between them, and Rebecca felt his arms wrap around her. His lips pressed firmly against hers. For a moment she forgot why she was so angry as she yielded to his kiss. She loved Jake Markham and planned to spend the rest of her life with him. He was the one she’d dreamed of growing old with.

But he never considered asking me what I thought about the entire matter, Lord!

Rebecca pulled away from him, still feeling the pressure of his lips against hers. She touched her fingers to her mouth, the sweetness of his kiss slowly replaced by a swell of uneasiness in her heart.

“I thought this was what you wanted, Rebecca.” His eyes pleaded with her to understand. “I just want to make you happy.”

“No, Jake.” She looked up at him and shook her head. “This is what you want. You don’t know me at all.”

And I don’t know you either
.

An hour later Rebecca smoothed her fingers across the silky white fabric of her wedding dress. She’d promised Jake she’d consider his decision, but today’s experience had showed her something she now realized had been a part of their relationship all along.

She wanted a marriage like her parents’. Things hadn’t always been easy for her father and stepmother. Both had lost their spouses years ago, and when they married each other, they brought seven children into the union. Still, despite the difficulties they’d faced, with God as the center of their relationship, they’d worked things out together.

That was the kind of marriage Rebecca wanted. Looking back, she realized this wasn’t the first time Jake had made a decision concerning them both without consulting her first. Usually they were small incidences, but even when it came to the details of their wedding, Jake had made a number of decisions without her input.

He had been the one to set their wedding date and decide the minister from Springfield should perform the ceremony, not their well-loved preacher from Cranton. At the time it hadn’t seemed to matter, but he always told her, never asked. It wasn’t that she didn’t respect God’s roles for a husband and a wife, but could she live the rest of her life with a man who didn’t respect her feelings?

Rebecca threw the dress on her bed and sat in front of her mirrored dresser. Undoing the French knot twisted at the back of her head, she began to brush out her long, dark hair. She’d allowed herself to get so caught up in the notion of being in love and taking care of wedding plans that she hadn’t even noticed Jake’s lack of concern over how she felt about matters. This time, though, he’d gone too far.

Suddenly everything was clear. If she married Jake Markham, she knew she’d be making the biggest mistake of her life. Her stomach clenched at the reality of what her decision meant. Come tomorrow, Jake would expect to see his bride walking down the aisle. Instead Rebecca planned on being as far away from that altar as the train could take her.

one

Eight months later

Rebecca held up the tailored slipcover for a closer inspection. Why couldn’t her own life look as neat and orderly as the tiny, meticulous stitches in which she prided herself? She felt more like one of the jumbled spools of thread in her younger sister Sarah’s sewing box. Twisted and tangled. Out of control.

She ran her fingers across the downy texture of the linen-and-cotton-blend fabric, fighting the all-too-familiar sense of restlessness. The indigo-on-white pattern of the lily blossom would work perfectly with Scarlet Bridge’s padded chairs and sofa.
That
wasn’t the source of her frustration. Already the material was beginning to take the shape of a stylish slipcover—one of Boston’s fashion rages.

Rebecca finished the last few stitches of the chair cover and whispered a prayer of thankfulness that the front showroom of Macintosh Furniture and Upholstery was finally without customers. Despite their location on the outskirts of Boston, the store brought in a considerable number of wealthy clients from the city.

Letting out a deep sigh, she leaned back in her wooden chair and glanced around the showroom. Fine-quality chests of drawers made from imported wood, mahogany highboys, and dainty tea tables filled the room, along with a large assortment of bedsteads and dining tables. While many of the products the store sold were ready-made furniture, some, like the walnut dresser with its glossy marble top, were custom-made in the workroom in back of the store by Philip Macintosh and his four employees.

It wasn’t as though she didn’t enjoy working for her stepmother’s best friend, Caroline Macintosh. Quite the contrary. She’d always found pleasure in taking a plain strip of fabric and turning it into something useful. Before she left home she’d been the one to sew the red gingham curtains that framed the large living room windows and the colorful slipcover that hid the faded sofa beneath it. Her father had always told her she had a knack for decorating, and she was thrilled she could finally put her talents to good use.

But for some reason even the enjoyment of working with Caroline to fill the numerous orders for slipcovers wasn’t enough to squelch the edginess she felt inside.

Eight months ago she never would have imagined that she’d be sitting in Boston, surrounded by yards of brightly printed cottons and linens. At the time the invitation from Philip and Caroline had seemed like the perfect solution. Once everyone had recovered from the shock of her calling off the wedding, Jake used his train ticket and left for Portland. Four weeks later she arrived in Boston.

Clipping a loose thread with a pair of scissors, Rebecca shook her head. Shouldn’t she at least have a twinge of guilt over breaking Jake’s heart? She still felt certain that marrying him would not have been God’s will for her life, but she had yet to discover His plan for her. Marriage and children had always been her dream, and she thought she’d found what she was looking for with Jake. That is, until he presented her with those train tickets without one thought as to how she might feel. How could she have been so wrong about someone?

The back door to the workroom opened, pulling Rebecca out of her somber deliberations. Caroline, with her swollen abdomen and ever-pleasant smile, bustled into the room.

“Morning, Rebecca.”

Rebecca set down the slipcover and forced a smile. “You’re sure in high spirits today.”

“I should be happy.” Caroline hurried past a row of mahogany side chairs then stopped to catch her breath at the tailor’s bench where Rebecca worked. “I’m married to the most wonderful man in the world, I’m going to be a mother in five weeks, and”—she dropped a copy of the
Boston Herald
on the table—“look at this.”

“What is it?”

Caroline sank into a padded chair across from Rebecca. “Our first advertisement.”

Rebecca picked up the newspaper, scanning the page until she found the small ad halfway down.

S
TYLISH
S
LIPCOVERS
!
Looking to update your parlor without spending a fortune?
Go to Macintosh Furniture and Upholstery Co
.
Here you will find samples of our stylish slipcovers
.
Tailor made from brightly printed cottons
,
these covers are a necessity for all households
.
Remember—Macintosh Furniture and Upholstery Co
.
is the only place you need to go
.
C. Macintosh & R. Johnson

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