Authors: The Quarryman's Bride
© 2013 by Tracie Peterson
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Brand Navigation
lyne Knox tried to suck in air but found it impossible to breathe. Her throat constricted, and air couldn’t seem to get past her mouth and into her lungs. Blackness edged her vision.
She reached out and gripped Tavin MacLachlan’s hand, not caring if anyone thought it inappropriate. They were, after all, engaged to be married in less than two months. His presence strengthened her, and at last she found she could draw in a shuddering breath.
“Let us pray,” Reverend Campbell announced in sober tones. “Father, we commit these bodies to the ground and these spirits to you. May your comfort be upon those who have suffered these losses. Amen.”
“Amen,” Emmalyne whispered along with the rest. She looked up to meet Tavin’s sorrowful expression.
“Are you all right?” he asked softly.
“As well as I can be.” She looked to her left, where her mother, clad in black, stood pale-faced and rigid. Rowena Knox’s eyes were dry at the moment but swollen from long
hours of weeping. Emmalyne’s young brother, Angus, stood on the other side of their mother. Barely twelve years old, he favored his mother in appearance with his dark brown hair and green eyes. Their mother’s Scottish and Welsh ancestry made her a handsome, albeit petite woman, while Angus already stood inches taller than Emmalyne. He would surely soon surpass even his father.
Luthias Knox might have been short of stature, but there was no doubt that he was a man of strength. Even now, Emmalyne’s father showed no emotion. His ancestry, beginning with his origins in the highlands of Scotland, was proven in his red hair and fierce blue eyes. His brogue and hesitancy to spare a coin for anything even remotely frivolous left no doubt.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Emmalyne heard Tavin’s mother say softly, coming up to them with her hand outstretched. Emmalyne nodded, seeing Tavin’s younger brother, Gillam, and sister, Fenella, standing just behind their mother. Fenella and Emmalyne were the best of friends.
Emmalyne looked into the warm gaze of the woman she would soon call mother-in-law. “I can scarcely believe they’re gone.” She let her glance return to the two open graves where her younger sisters, Doreen and Lorna, had just been laid to rest.
“The tornado took so many lives,” Morna MacLachlan said, nodding her sympathy.
It hadn’t yet been a week since a massive storm ripped through St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids. The devastation had taken lives in both cities, but Sauk Rapids had borne far more of its destruction. Emmalyne’s family was just one of hundreds that had suffered the tornado’s wrath. The house they had lived in was now merely a pile of wood.
her father had said with an angry fist raised to the heavens. The memory made Emmalyne shudder even now.
“Dory was just fourteen,” Emmalyne murmured, forcing her thoughts away from her father’s near blasphemous anger. “Lorna only ten. How can they be . . . gone forever?” Her eyes welled with new tears.
Morna embraced Emmalyne. “’Tis a hard truth to bear. I dinnae see your older sisters. Were they unable to come?”
Emmalyne nodded, returning the embrace. “They live too far away and couldn’t afford the trip. They have their own families to worry about now, so Mother didn’t really expect they would come.”
“Still, they would have offered her comfort,” Morna replied.
Fenella stepped closer to join in the hug. “Oh, Emmy, I’m so very sorry. You know I loved them so.” She, too, began to cry.
“I know you loved them,” Emmalyne whispered. “They loved you, too.” She relaxed in the warmth of the three-way embrace, relishing their comfort and support.
“At least I needn’t bear this pain alone,” Emmalyne said, finally pulling back. “You have been so good to my family. Mother said she would never have made it through those first few nights without your kind intercession and invitation into your home.”
“Letting you stay with us was the least we could do,” Morna replied. “You’re soon to be family in every way, and there was no need to delay welcoming you into our numbers.”
“And I have always wanted a sister,” Fenella assured her. “Soon that very wish shall come true.” She smiled, but the sorrow of the occasion kept it from lasting too long.
“Yes, but I know that our presence in your home hasn’t
been easy. My father . . .” Emmalyne let the words trail off as she cast a quick glance to see if he’d overheard. But he was busy scowling at something the pastor was telling him.
“He can be most difficult.” Emmalyne let out a long breath, as if the truth had been pent up inside her for quite a while.
“He’s grieving the loss of his children, Emmalyne. You’ll need to be patient with him. Come, Fenella. We must offer our condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Knox.”
Morna’s excuse for Emmalyne’s father was gracious, but Emmalyne knew there was no good reason for her father’s unyielding temper and harsh words. She’d never witnessed or received gentleness or kindness from her father, and she seriously doubted he was capable of either. Emmalyne had grown up to fear and venerate him, to never question his decisions or commands. Perhaps that was why she always cherished Tavin’s tenderness toward her.
Emmalyne felt a gentle squeeze on her shoulder and turned to find Tavin there, his green eyes showing concern. She felt a rush of comfort from the love she found there. “I’d best speak my condolences, as well,” he told her. “I wouldn’t want your father to think me rude.”
“Father won’t think anything,” Emmalyne muttered, “except how much this is costing him.” She was glad Morna had already moved away to speak with her mother.
“Try not to fret, love,” Tavin said close to her ear. “’Tis but a few short weeks, and you’ll no longer have to worry about what he thinks.” He drew her along with him and walked over to her father and mother.
Extending his hand, Tavin met Mr. Knox’s hard-fixed stare. “May the peace of God be upon you. I’m heartily sorry for your loss, sir.”
Father refused to take Tavin’s hand, and Emmalyne’s heart sunk at the sight. Her father could at least receive the sympathies of others without being uncivil. Tavin appeared unconcerned, however, and moved to give Emmalyne’s mother a hug.
“Mother Knox, you have my deepest sympathy. I was very fond of Doreen and Lorna.”
Mother nodded, her expression one of disbelief and shock. She had cried herself out in the previous days and now seemed at a loss as to what she should say or do. She looked down and shook her head. “I . . . I . . .” There were no words.
Tavin patted her arm, then turned to speak to his own mother. “I’m going to walk Emmalyne back to the house.”
“Nay.” Emmalyne’s father suddenly interrupted the conversation. “Ye’ll not be doin’ that.”
Shocked expressions fixed upon Luthias Knox. Emmalyne couldn’t imagine what had gotten into him, but from the look on his face, she knew it didn’t bode well for any of them.
“If you need us to stay, Father . . .” she began, but her words quickly trailed off.
By now the few attendees of the funeral were making their way back to their carriages, as the grave diggers began shoveling dirt atop the small caskets they’d recently lowered into the ground. Emmalyne hated the sound of the dirt hitting the wooden lids.
“Ye and Rabbie have been most good to us,” Father finally said, looking with a grim nod to Robert MacLachlan, Tavin’s father. “I’m sorry to say I cannae stay and repay ye just now.”
“There’s nothing to repay,” Robert MacLachlan declared. “You would’ve done the same for me and mine.”
Father nodded once, and Emmalyne thought she saw just
a hint of softening in his expression. He fixed her with a gaze just then that almost seemed regretful, something she’d never witnessed in her father’s countenance before.
“We’re movin’ to Minneapolis,” Father declared in his abrupt manner.
“But surely nae until after the wedding,” Morna interjected. “’Tis but a few weeks away—”
“There will be no weddin’.”
Emmalyne’s heart began to pound, and her jaw dropped open. She held her breath and thought to do the unthinkable and contradict her father.
Tavin spoke up. “What are you saying, sir?”
“I’m sayin’ the weddin’ is off. Emmalyne has a responsibility to her own family. With her younger sisters dead and her older sisters married, it falls to her to remain and care for her mother and me.”
An icy chill settled over Emmalyne.
She’d forgotten all about it. Having been the third oldest and far from the last daughter in the Knox family line, she had seldom given the tradition much thought. Now, however, she was the youngest daughter, and in the Knox family lineage that made her responsible to give up a life of her own to care for her aging parents. It had been done that way for generations.
“You gave your blessing. The wedding has been planned,” Tavin protested.
Emmalyne looked at her father. His ire was up, and there was fire in his eyes. “Ye’d do well not to question me, boy. The wedding is nae gonna take place, and that’s ma final word.”
Father waved Robert off. “We have our way of doin’ things, Rabbie. You know that as well as any man.”
“For sure I do, but—”
“There’s nothing more to discuss. I’ve just buried two of ma daughters, and we have a long trip ahead of us.”
“Surely you can stay one more day,” Morna argued.
“Please, Luthias. I don’t feel at all well,” Mother inserted, seeming to wilt before their eyes.
Emmalyne watched her father wrestle with the moment. He finally took hold of his wife’s arm. “I suppose ye’ll just be faintin’ on the way if I try to see ma plans through. We’ll stay one more night, but on the morrow we take our leave.”
Emmalyne fought back a wave of nausea as everything she’d planned for crumbled to dust around her. The tornado had not only taken the lives of her sisters and destroyed their home; it had cost Emmalyne her future.
Sleep refused to come that night. Tavin’s sister, Fenella, tossed just as restlessly as Emmalyne, and given the narrow bed, when one moved, they both did.
“I can’t sleep,” Fenella finally declared, turning over once more, this time onto her back. “I can’t believe your father is doing this, Emmalyne. You must not allow it.”
Emmalyne stared into the darkness. “What choice do I have, Fenella? I must respect his wishes. The Bible makes clear that I owe him honor and obedience.”
“But you love Tavin.”
“Aye. I do love him.”
Fenella leaned up on one elbow. “And he loves you. You cannot go and leave him like this.”
Emmalyne wished with all her heart there might be another way. “I don’t
to leave him. You know I don’t.”
“Then don’t. Go to him. Elope tonight.” Fenella got up from the bed. “I’ll go get him right now. You two can leave before anyone wakes up.”
“I know you mean well,” Emmalyne whispered through trembling lips. “But, no. I cannot. It would be a dishonor, and my father and mother would never speak to me again.”
Fenella was already pulling on her robe. “Just talk to Tavin about it. Maybe he’ll have some idea of how to make it all work. Your mother and father won’t reject you. You’ll see.” She hurried to the door, pulled it open, and gave a little shriek.
Emmalyne sat straight up in bed. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Tavin,” Fenella said, stepping back. “He must’ve had the same idea.”
Tavin stepped into the room and stopped at the foot of the bed. “I won’t lose you, Emmalyne. You’re to be my wife.”
“Tavin, you can’t ask me to go against my father and mother,” she said, clutching the blankets around her. “It wouldn’t be right. I love you, but we must give them time. Perhaps Father will see the pain he’s causing and change his mind. I plan to speak with him in the morning.”
“Let’s just leave tonight and be married,” he begged. “Once it’s done . . .”
“That’s what I suggested,” Fenella put in as she lit a candle.
The warm glow barely punctured the darkness of the small room, but it was still enough to see the desperation on Tavin’s face. Emmalyne wished she could offer him some comfort, but she needed it herself. She knew her father’s mind was set, and she had never known him to back down once he had determined his course of action.