Excerpt for Husband Wanted: Four Historical Romance Novellas by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Husband Wanted: Four Historical Romance Novellas


Vanessa Carvo

Copyright 2017 Quietly Blessed & Loved Press

The Navajo Medicine Woman & The Civil War Vet

The Texas Cowboy’s Muddy Bride

The Widow & Her Baby Meet The Handyman Along The Oregon Trail

Trying For a Third Chance at Love

The Navajo Medicine Woman & The Civil War Vet

Synopsis: The Navajo Medicine Woman & The Civil War Vet - A Navajo woman decides to become the mail order bride of a wounded vet, but she hasn’t told him she’s Navajo and when she arrives at the train station, she has no idea what effect her appearance has on him because he has a severe case of PTSD from the war, and what happened during it.

Frank could hear voices yelling before he opened his eyes. He had learned early on that this was what he needed to do every time he awoke. There was no more waking up, sitting right up, stretching and having a moment or two to wake up. This was a completely new way of life.

He heard some Navajos speaking in what sounded like an angry argument. Why hadn’t he ever learned this language? It might tell him exactly what they were about to do, and whether or not there was going to be any more torture or worse yet, death.

Lately, he began to think that it would be better to die than to be tortured anymore. By the sound of the voices, he could tell they were pretty far away from his location. Whether or not there was a man close by him, he had no idea. He opened his eyes slightly to see who might be close by. There was no one.

What he saw was the empty room that he was in. It looked like he was in a cave somewhere underground and it was dark and damp. He was extremely hot and hated the feeling on his clothing sticking to him. This wasn’t as bad as he thought. If he could just sneak out quietly, he’d have a chance to escape from the captivity that he had been held in for days.

In fact, it could have been weeks, he just didn’t know. Time slipped away when he was in a place with no windows, clocks or any way to tell the time of day. He stood up but was quickly pulled back down. He looked around and saw that his ankle was chained to the wall, not allowing him to go anywhere.

Blood stained his army pants and his white shirt was no longer white. It was stained brown with dirt and in some spots an even deeper color, which he knew was blood. Someone must have heard the chain rustling because the voices stopped and he heard footsteps approaching.

He closed his eyes and hung his head, hoping they’d believe that he was still sleeping. His luck wasn’t so good. Four men came into the bare room and stood directly in front of him. He didn’t need to open his eyes and could feel the men standing in front of him.

Suddenly, he felt the men grab him and pull him up to a standing position. They continued to shout at him in a foreign language, which he couldn’t understand a single word of, despite his best efforts. In the past days, however long he had been there, he had been beaten severely, with his hands tied behind his back.

He would pass out because of the pain and they’d wake him up by splashing cold water on his face and then commence to beat him again when he regained consciousness. They had broken all of his fingers one by one. He had no idea how to stop the torture.

All they kept doing was screaming at him in their foreign language. During the worst pain ever, he’d scream at the men inflicting the pain on him, “I have no idea what you’re saying. How can I give you what you want when I can’t understand what you are telling me.”

No matter how bad things got, he never gave up hope that his group would come through and find him. He didn’t cry or whine, or beg for his life. He knew better because he had training.

About a thousand miles away, there was a twenty-year-old woman named Rebecca who had a completely different lifestyle, but was equally as lonely as Frank.

Rebecca had a great upbringing. Her mother was the main part of her life and was such a good woman. She worked with other Navajo Indian woman, finding the best herbal remedies, and their cures. She was able to cure anything of the common cold and headaches, to major aches and pains and insomnia.

No matter what ailment anybody had, her mother would mix some herbs together and make sure that they felt more pain by the time she was finished. She was never your common doctor, but among the Navajo community, everyone would come to her for their aches and pains.

She was also classified as their midwife. She loved to help women in the last few months of their pregnancy, and she also would help in the birthing process. The use of sagebrush would help the woman during childbirth. Some woman called her a God, especially if she saved someone from a life-threatening situation, such as steak bites, bee stings, or even a severe fever.

Others just called her their doctor. Those who used herbal remedies seemed to live longer than everyone else. There were many different ways to make these herbal medicines. At home, she’d cook with these herbal medicines to prevent the family from getting heartburn and indigestion. Other times she would use them in hot teas, boiled teas, tinctures, using alcohol and water extracts, cold soaking so that they could make the powders into ointments, and salves.

When Rebecca’s mother would make medicine for someone outside of her tribe, she’d make sure that she made her medicines before she went to them. Then she’d place the medicine into her medicine bag and carry that with her wherever she went. She didn’t want others outside of the tribe seeing how she made her herbal medicine and steal her ideas.

The one person her mother did share all of her secrets with was Rebecca. They had a garden in their backyard, and to an untrained eye would just look like flowers, plants, and even weeds; but to a Navajo woman it would look like a medicine cabinet.

At the age of twenty, Rebecca’s father had been killed on a fishing trip with friends. This had been a big blow for her family. She was an only child and the only one who was as close to her mother as he was. After his death, however, her mother didn’t want anyone close to her anymore.

She sank her every waking moment into her plants and finding new cures. Rebecca knew that she needed to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, and fast. A few of the other woman on the reservation had been talking, and they were going to be mail order brides.

When Rebecca had first heard about this, she laughed at the girls. “Who would want to travel far away just to be forced to marry some man who just bought you? Why would anyone sell themselves for marriage? Are you all that desperate,” she asked, astonished.

The women laughed at her. “For one, you never know how far you’re going to travel? Plus, you aren’t forced to marry anyone. If the man you meet isn’t who you want to be with, then you can come home. Most of the time, he’ll be a gentleman and send you home; other times your family will have to send for you.

Worst case, you’ll have to find work to come back home. Lastly, you aren’t selling yourself, nor are the men buying you. They are simply paying for you to travel to them. You don’t have to marry him, especially if either of you don’t like each other.

Women who don’t know the facts are the reason why there’s a bad name for mail order brides,” one of the women told her.

She apologized to the woman, turned around, and went back home. She couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the more she thought about it the more it made sense. When was she ever going to find someone who was like-minded as her, but not necessarily a Navajo like her.

If she stayed here on the reservation, she would have to pick from other Navajo men that also lived here. She never had left the reservation a day in her life. Did she want the rest of her life to be as close-minded as to staying here forever?

She spoke to her mom about her feelings. She expected her mother to tell her she was crazy, and if she did this, she’d be disowned. To her surprise, her mother listened to all of the facts while sitting close to her daughter in their living room.

When Rebecca had finished telling her mother everything, she sat watching her mother’s reaction. She couldn’t read her mother’s feelings; she never could. After a few minutes of silence, her mother finally spoke. “I think you should go for it,” her mother said softly.

“Wh…What,” Rebecca asked, surprised at her mother. She had never expected in her wildest dreams that her mother would approve of her traveling far away to meet a man and marry him, let alone meeting and possibly marrying a man who wasn’t Navajo.

“Just because a man isn’t Navajo doesn’t mean that he’s not a good man for my daughter,” she said, seeing the look on Rebecca’s face turn in confusion.

After about a week of thinking about this situation, she went and found those same girls who she had spoken to. When she told them that she wanted to put her ad in the paper as well, they looked at her as if she had lost her mind.

“I thought girls who were mail order brides were desperate and crazy,” one of the girls mocked her.

“That was before you all taught me what the business was all about. I thought about it, and I don’t want to stay here on the reservation for the rest of my life. I want to see the world and meet new people. Can you help me, or not,” she asked the woman.

They were quiet for a moment and then agreed to help her. She chose to not add into the ad that she was a Navajo female. She wanted a man to like her for who she was, not for what her race was. A few of the woman disagreed with her decision, but it didn’t matter to her. She had already made up her mind.

It was 1870 and since the end of the civil war, the period was still in conflict with the Navajo. Four years before, the Navajos were forced to do their long walk, when they surrendered and were captured by the soldiers. In certain areas, because of the way the Navajos had rebelled on American’s later, caused Americans to hate Navajos.

In turn, this caused Navajos to have a bad name. Some American soldiers hated Navajos because there were some Navajos who took soldiers hostage during the war. Most were never found. Rebecca found this sad, but she was angry at the same time. It wasn’t her fault, or anyone in her family or tribe.

Therefore, why would so many Americans hate her just because of the color of her skin when the Navajo could bring so much good to the American culture?

Against the advice of the other woman, she sent in her application. After she sent it in, she forgot about it and went on with her everyday life. She helped her mother in the garden and learned as much as she could about traditional Navajo herbal remedy medicines.

Frank now lived in Kansas. He was no longer physically held captive, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t held hostage in his mind. During the day, he didn’t leave the house often. He stayed inside, struggling to get through each day. At the end of the day, the struggle was even worse to get through the night.

Not only did he struggle from flashbacks and images in his mind that he wished he could erase, but also he struggled because of his loneliness. His friends would attempt to bring woman around, but he never felt any kind of connection with any of them.

Finally one day, his best friend, a man he called his brother, came over waving an envelope. “Look, buddy, I an answer. I mean, I got a few responses before, but I wrote them back for you and they were crazy. This one, though, this one is the real deal,” he called as he rushed into Franks home without knocking, like usual.

“Whoa man, it smells in here. You need to open up some windows and get some fresh air flowing through here; air out the stink you know.” David stopped dead in his tracks before going any further, wrinkling his nose.

“I don’t need to air it out. I can’t smell anything. Who cares what anyone else thinks,” Frank replied, sounding grumpy as ever.

“Well at least open up the curtains. I can’t see a damn thing, especially through this thick smoke. God, what are you doing in here, smoking a cigar the moment you put one out? Those are going to kill you, you know.”

David was only trying to help, but Frank didn’t want the help. He didn’t want to be bothered at all by anyone. “Frank, listen, don’t be mad, but I did something to help you,” Frank interrupted David in a gruff voice.

“I don’t any help. I want to be left alone,” he growled. “This lifestyle that you’re living isn’t healthy. I know you are lonely, you’ve told me before. What would you say if I told you I found a young woman who is willing to come live here with you?

“She’s willing to cook, clean, God knows you need that, and keep you company.” David held his breath, not knowing what Frank would say back to this proposal. He thought that Frank would either be angry with him and throw him out of his house or be grateful in what he had done, but probably not show it.

Frank was never the kind of man to show his emotions, but when he had come back from the war, he was worse than ever. He was only a twenty-one-year-old man, but he acted as if he was at least fifty by locking himself in his house, never coming out, and having poor hygiene and housekeeping skills.

“You did what,” Frank asked, his voice rising. “I put an ad in the paper for mail order brides. I was receiving letters back from a woman and I would write them back to find out more about them. I know that even if you agreed to do this; you wouldn’t have known the questions to ask these women to find out who was crazy or worthwhile to come and live here with you,” David told Frank.

Frank opened his mouth and closed it again, not knowing exactly what to say.

David took this opportunity to continue speaking to him, telling him what he had done, and what he had found. “So, after many crazy women writing me back…er… should I say writing you back...” He paused and sat down on a couch close to where it looked like David was. It took his eyes a bit to adjust to the dark room, but when they did he could see David’s silhouette sitting alone in a chair.

“I finally found this woman who sounds amazing. Gosh, if you don’t accept her, I will.” David laughed, hoping the old Frank would come out and laugh right along with him. Frank didn’t make a sound. This could be a good thing or a bad thing.

“Her name is Rebecca, and she’s from Kansas. She’s twenty years old. She cooks, cleans, loves to talk and work in her garden. She is really into herbal medicine. I didn’t give much personal information about you, but I did say you have anxiety and depression.

If I didn’t, she would arrive and be in for a shock. She said that was fine; she’d bring her herbal medicine, add it into the food, and have you drink a few teas a day and you’d feel better in about three days.”

David paused, waiting to hear Frank say something, whether it get out or tell him more. He heard nothing. “Come on Frank, tell me something. I did this for you,” David pleaded.

Finally, he heard him reply. “I didn’t ask you to do anything for me,” Frank growled, anger rising in his voice.

“I know you didn’t, and if you’re angry with me I understand. All I ask is that you read these letters. I’ve numbered them one through six. One is the first one I wrote to her and six would be the last one she wrote to me... well you,” David said, as he set the letters down on the table piled high with junk mail and garbage magazines that Frank would never read.

He thought about the location of where he just put these at and realized that if he kept them there, they’d be soon completely lost, never to be seen again. He grabbed the letters again, rubbing his thumb over where she had printed his name and address. He didn’t know why, but he was feeling something strong for her and was afraid that allowing Frank to take over would end up getting her emotionally hurt.

“Where can I put these letters where they won’t be lost? I have been writing her back the same down, or the next day at the most. If you sit on these letters for a month and don’t write her back, she’s going to think you don’t care. She probably has other offers, as amazing as she is, and if you wait you’ll lose her,” David insisted.

Frank became angry. “I don’t write letters. I don’t read letters. I don’t want a wife, and I especially don’t need some out of the country wife, who only wants to come over here so she can become a legal resident.” David cut him off.

“You’re wrong Frank, she lives in Kansas, weren’t you listening to me? I will write her back for you if you’d like, but she wants to come here and meet you face to face. There’s no way I’m going to allow her to come here if you are going to be mean to her, that’s why I came to you.” David was getting angry at the same time.

He had become quite fond of this woman during their correspondence and didn’t want her to get hurt because Frank wanted to have a pity party. David didn’t have to go to war because of personal illness problems, so he had no idea what Frank had gone through during the way, but he didn’t think there was any reason for this.

Frank and he had both been orphans when they were growing up. Neither of them had ever been chosen to be adopted because of their age, so they found family in each other. They schooled together, played together, and got into typical boy mischief together. He was thrilled after four years when he returned from the war. He had missed him and couldn’t wait to show Frank his new home.

He worked hard from the time Frank had left doing construction. He saved up his money and soon he had moved into his own house and was able to pay his bills on time and put some money, saving for his future. The problem was, when Frank came back, he used the money the military had given him and got a modest home of his own and locked himself away inside, refusing to come out and converse with anyone.

Of course, he had no family, but some of his friends from the orphanage wanted to come and say hi but got the door slammed in their face. “So, what do you say, Frank? Be angry at your friend, the man you call your brother if you want.

“If that’s the case, I’ll take these letters, tell her that something came up with you, and I’ll bring her over here and I’ll marry her.” David stood up with the letters in his hands and walked towards the door. He took a deep breath to say something else, but Frank stopped him.

“Leave the letters on the table,” he said in a low voice.

David turned around to face him. “Don’t hurt her. If you don’t want to answer her, tell me by tomorrow so I can write her before someone else sweeps her off of her feet, please,” David insisted. He almost regretted coming over here and talking to his friend. Frank didn’t say another word, so David tossed the letter back on the table full of junk and walked towards the house.

“You know what Frank? You need to realize that there are people here that want to help you and you are pushing them away. If you keep pushing everyone away, one day we are going to leave and never come back,” he called out over his shoulder.

Then, not wanting to hear Frank’s response, he hurried up and walked out, closing the door behind him.

“Who says I want anybody’s help? Maybe I wished you would all get lost and never come back,” Frank mumbled when he was sure David was out of earshot.

After a few minutes, he turned his chair around and reached towards the table, grabbing the letters. He picked them up and began the letter that David had labeled one. As he read, he rolled his eyes. David was telling this woman how he was an injured war vet, that suffered from depression and anxiety and who needed someone with a lot of patience and a big heart.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she told him to get lost,” he chuckled as he finished the letter, folded it back up and found number two. He was shocked to see that nothing he had said scared her. In fact, she thanked him for his honesty and explained that she not only believed in herbal remedies, but she learned everything there was about them from her mother.

She said that no matter where she went in life, she was going to have to plant her secrets in the backyard, and she hoped if he chose her that this wouldn’t be a problem. She talked about losing her father and her mother pushing her away. She told him that she just wanted a new start in a new area and Arkansas sounds like a good place to start.

As he finished the second letter, he folded it and put it back in the envelope. He sat back and closed his eyes. Would he be able to allow someone into his home, into his life, and possibly into his life? He didn’t know if he had it in him.

Rebecca waited for her next letter from Frank. Normally, she would have gotten one by now, but it was only two days past the time she had counted it would have taken him to receive hers and write her back. “Relax honey. Maybe he had a busy week at work and was unable to write you,” her mother tried to comfort.

“He doesn’t work. He’s an injured war vet,” she replied back to her mother. Suddenly her mother stiffened. Maybe you don’t want to find love this way,” her mother started. She stared at her in horror. “Mom, you and I spoke about this! You were okay with everything, don’t you dare back out on me now,” she said, her voice rising with frustration.

“Baby, I’m not backing out on anything. I was just simply saying that maybe if he doesn’t write you, that’s a sign,” her mother stopped. They weren’t a family that constantly spoke about religion, yet they did believe. The Navajo believed in the Almighty, a spiritual force that is a source of life.

There wasn’t one God, a man in the sky, but they believed that it was formless and existed in the universe. The sun was viewed as a power of the Almighty, so if you see a Navajo praying towards the sun, they weren’t praying to the sun, but praying to the Almighty.

The sun was just a symbol for that. There were many gods that worked together to create and continue keeping the universe functioning. She wondered if this would cause an issue between her and the man who chose to accept her.

“Here Rebecca, a letter came for you today,” her mother said as she handed Rebecca a letter. Rebecca took the letter and stopped. The handwriting on the letter looked different. She hurried to her room and grabbed one of her other letters she had saved from him, and held it up to this one.

Sure enough, the handwriting was completely different. Curiosity got the best of her and she opened the letter up and began to read. Frank had been completely honest. He told her how sorry he was, that he had not been the one who originally wrote her. He explained how it was his best friend who was trying to help him out.

He continued to tell her that he had brought him the letters and he really liked what she’d said in them. He really wanted to get to know her. He explained that he had never tried herbal medicines, but if it could help with depression and anxiety, he was willing to try it. He also went on to saying that his housekeeping skills weren’t the best since he had come home from the war. He’d been injured, and they had to remove part of his shoulder and clavicle because he was shot and then got an infection due to poor medical care.

When she finished reading the letter that Frank thought for sure was a deal breaker, she felt closer to him than ever. She wrote him back and asked him if she could please go there and be with him. She explained that she hadn’t really felt anything special for him during the first set of letters, but once she received this last one, she felt something special, like a connection.

She assured him that if he didn’t like her, all he had to do was say the word and she’d leave immediately. It was a huge jump for her, and after she mailed it off, she was so worried that she had gone too fast, and would scare him off.

For weeks, she was worried that he would get scared, and she’d never hear from him again.

He loved the letter. It brought hope into his hopeless world. He responded that he’d love to have to come to his home. He warned her again about how he lived. He explained that he did smoke cigars, although he wanted to stop, and he only had two of every dish, so he wouldn’t ever have piles of dishes if he didn’t feel like, or was hurting too badly to do dishes. He hardly had any food at his home and didn’t have a garden. He had a few friends and neighbors who daily brought him food.

She didn’t care about any of this and promised when she arrived she’d help with the housekeeping chores, and see what she could do about getting some food into the house.

His next step was to set it up for her to come to Arkansas. After she had the train ticket, she sent him one last message telling him that she had the ticket and was on her way. Instead of sending a letter, like they normally did, she sent a telegram so that he’d receive it quicker.

She was going to leave in three days, and she would be traveling for two and a half days total. One day from Kansas to Texas, then she would wait overnight for the next train. From Texas, she would spend another full day on the train heading to Arkansas.

Suddenly, panic sank in as he looked around the house. She was going to step one foot into this house and turn around, running to head back to Kansas. “I’ll be lucky if she gets a full foot inside this house,” he said aloud to himself.

That afternoon, he walked into the bathroom and stopped when he saw his reflection in the mirror. “She’s going to hit the hills running if she sees me looking like this,” he said as he dipped his hands into the basin that he’d filled with water, so he could shave what had grown on his face.

He’d never let his facial hair get so out of control. He would normally stay smooth shaved, but once in a while he’d grow out a mustache. “This is ridiculous,” he said as he lathered the soap onto his face. It took him a few tries using the razor to get all of the hair off his face.

When he was finished, he looked up into the mirror and forced a smile. It looked fake, so he stopped. He looked a lot younger than when he had first walked into the bathroom, but he could still see the dark circles under his eyes and the age he had put on since he first left for the war.

It had been nine years since he had first left to go into the war. Normal people don’t look as old as he did after only nine years. Most people don’t have to see the things that he saw during those four years. Every friend that he had gone in with was gone. Many he watched die before his own eyes.

Some died from wounds, but more died from infections or other illnesses. None of his friends had been kidnaped and held hostage as he had, thankfully. He was walking back to the chair when it happened again. Suddenly, he was now back in that cave, at least he thought it was a cave.

He was on his knees, with his hands behind his back. His ankles were tied, but not to his hands. Still, he couldn’t go anywhere. There were men surrounding him, shouting to him. He gave up days ago trying to figure out what they were saying. He thought to himself that they must think that he understood them and he was just faking not knowing. His fingers throbbed badly.

The day prior they had broken all of his fingers. Not just once, but every knuckle had been broken by, who he assumed, was the leader of this tribe. As he broke each knuckle, he would shout at him and wave a long knife in his face. Frank just shook his head and repeated, “I only speak English. I don’t understand. Please speak English.”

This would irritate the Navajo and he’d just grab the next finger. Now, the same leader held the same knife up to him and was screaming things at him that of course he couldn’t understand.

He learned to force himself to go somewhere else in his mind. He was on the beach, relaxing in the sun…no, the shade. He was too hot to try to imagine himself lying in the sun. This man wouldn’t allow him to go elsewhere in his mind though.

Pain flooded through his body another man came up behind Frank, lifting his head up, forcing him to look at the leader, while the leader pulled his fist back and began punching his face over and over until he blacked out.

“So, you’re sure this is what you want to do? Are you ready to travel all the way to Arkansas and live with a stranger? Have you told him yet that you’re Navajo,” Rebecca’s mother asked, as she stood watching her daughter pack her suitcase two days before she was scheduled to leave?

“Mom, we’ve talked about this. Yes, I am sure this is what I want. If it doesn’t work, we’ve both agreed to stay friends and he’ll help me come back. If it does work, he’ll send for you to come to the wedding. As for the telling him if I’m Navajo, I don’t see why that is such an important thing that I share with him.

“Haven’t you always taught me that someone needs to love you for who you truly are, and if not, they aren’t worth your time,” she quoted her mother’s very words.

How could she tell her daughter that this situation is a bit different?

“The thing is Rebecca, you said he’s an injured war vet... correct,” her mother began.

When Rebecca told her yes, she continued.

“Well, has he told you how he was hurt? I mean, by whom,” she asked Rebecca.

“He was shot. Furthermore, no he didn’t get the name of the man who shot him,” Rebecca tried joking with her mother, hoping to lighten the mood. However, it didn’t work.

Her mother’s eyebrows furrowed and she continued. “In the Civil War, where he was wounded, sometimes the Navajo were the ones who hurt the American soldiers,” she paused, to let that sink into Rebecca’s head, hoping she’d understand.

“Okay,” Rebecca started stubbornly, “I still don’t see what that has to do with me,” she continued.

Her mom just shook her head. “All I’m trying to say is that maybe you should have let him know, so if he was injured by a Navajo Indian and has a fear or hatred of them, he won’t take it out on you when you arrive.”

Rebecca now understood where her mother was coming from and sat thinking about this for a moment.

Finally, she spoke. “Well, you’d think if he did have such a big problem with the Navajo, he’d have mentioned that to make sure that I am not Navajo, right.”

Her mother could hear the uncertainty in her daughter’s voice now and immediately felt bad. She shouldn’t have ruined her excitement. “I’m sure he’s going to love you just the way you are. I’m just doing what every mother does and worry nonstop about you. You’ll be fine, you’ll see,” she said, walking over to Rebecca and holding her tight.

“I love you, baby. Remember, if anything happens and he’s unable to bring you back you let me know immediately and I will get you home.” t

They hugged, and then she helped Rebecca finish packing.

They spent their final days sitting together talking, and sharing her final recipes with her daughter. She made her up a few special medicines to give to him when she got there. On the last day before she left, her mother gave her the greatest gift of all, her very own medicine bag.

Usually, a woman who practices medicine keeps her very first bag until she passes away, and then it’s passed onto her daughter. She felt in her heart that now was the time to pass it on. She was going to need it now, more than ever.

The day finally came.

In Arkansas, Frank had gotten David to help him come and do a quick clean of his house. Even though Rebecca had told him not to worry about it and that she would clean when she got there, he didn’t want their relationship to start by her being his slave.

He wanted the house to be clean and there to be some food in it. Frank had plenty of money. Since he was wounded in the war, his home was paid for, his medical was paid, and he had money being put into his bank every month. He didn’t worry about money. He worried about his mental health. He honestly didn’t know if he was ready to start a relationship.

David was worried that if this didn’t work, he’d lose his friend forever because of blame.

As the men cleaned the house, the woman in Kansas hugged tightly at the train station. Rebecca was both nervous and scared. Outwardly, she showed excitement and those were her true feelings, but would they stay the same when she arrived in Arkansas?

At that moment it was as if Arkansas was a foreign country to her, so far away and filled with the unknown.

After the first day traveling by train, Rebecca had never been more nervous. She arrived in Texas in the middle of the night, got her luggage off of the train, and waited with her medicine bag on her lap until early the next morning when the next train arrived.

She rode the next train all day before finally arriving at layover that kept her stuck in Mississippi for six hours, before finally bringing her to her destination. She was sure by the time that she arrived in Arkansas at eleven o’clock at night, Frank would be nowhere in sight, and she wouldn’t blame him.

To her surprise he was there, waiting for her. He was inside of his buggy stretched out relaxing. When he heard the train breaks screeching to a stop, he sat straight up rubbing the sleep from his eyes. When he realized that his hopefully soon to be bride had arrived, he jumped up.

He sat up and rushed out to the exit of the train station where she would be leaving. He didn’t recognize her right away, but then again she wasn’t anything that he was expecting. He watched the people getting off the train, which was only three men, a Navajo Indian woman, and then a white couple.

There must be some mistake, where was Rebecca? he thought.

“Hello? You must be Frank, correct,” he heard a female voice. How had he missed her? When he turned around, he was shocked to see the Navajo woman staring at him. Now he knew there had to be some mistake. He would never have been able to get along with a Navajo woman.

There’s no way this was the woman who had written all of those amazing letters to him. There would really be no way he could live with this woman. He tried to hide his feelings and put a smile on his face, but suddenly he was angry with David and wished she would go and live with him and let him go back to his dark smoke-filled house.

“I’m not what you expected. I’m sorry; if you’d rather, I can stay here and take the next train that is going to take me back to Kansas.” She had seen the look on his face. What look did she see that made her say that to him; fear, shock, or horror?

He was feeling all of those, but she didn’t think that her looks were that obvious. “No, don’t you be silly. Come on Rebecca, my buggy is over here this way.” He guided her to his buggy. She came with him, but she now carried with her more than luggage. She carried with her worry and pain, knowing that he didn’t like something about her. She could read it all over his face.

The hopeful look that he had as he was waiting to see the beautiful woman he expected coming off of the train was replaced with a look of unhappiness and disapproval.

As they rode back to the house, she attempted to make conversation. “I have brought some of that herbal medicine that I told you about. In fact, my mother made up a very special remedy right before I left and put it in my bag. I’d love it if you’d let me make you some tea when we get to the house,” she offered.

He made a grunting noise, showing that he had listened to her and approved.

She looked out at the Arkansas land while they rode for just over an hour. “Is there something wrong,” she began.

He cut her off. “No, I’m just tired. I know you had a delay that kept you quite a few more hours than expected. That wasn’t your fault. I’ve just been sitting up there for hours, and I’m exhausted. I bet you are exhausted as well,” he assumed.

“I did sleep quite a bit on the train,” she said back to him to assure him she wasn’t exhausted. She was hoping that he’d be willing to stay up for a little bit and talk to her. She was sure if he went straight to bed and left her alone, she’d never be able to sleep. She was sure something was wrong, but just didn’t know what.

Suddenly, he heard the voices again, those horrible screaming Navajo voices. He learned to hear the difference when they were talking, joking, laughing, and most importantly angry. When they were angry, it meant that soon they would be coming into the room where they kept him at and torturing him some more.

He didn’t think he could handle any more. A few days before he had his fingers broken, and just the day before he had been beaten down so violently that he hadn’t yet stood on his own. In fact, there was no reason to even attempt to stand any more.

Every time he tried in this room, he was pulled right back down because he was chained to the wall, and when the men were around they just dragged him everywhere. He had tried to stop fighting so much and just gave up. This didn’t work like he thought it would.

They didn’t enjoy torturing someone who didn’t give any reaction at all. Instead of achieving his goal, which he truly didn’t know what that was, they became angrier and hurt him worse until they achieved what they wanted, which was him scream and crying out in pain.

The screaming was getting closer and closer. He looked around the room and for a place to hide, but then remembered he couldn’t have hidden even if he did find a spot because of the fact that he was chained to the wall. No, instead of everything that he had been doing, he was going to try something new. He needed to remember his training, and finally fight back.

“Frank? Frank...” He shook his head as if to shake away the voices from his head forever. “Yes,” he called back to her. For a moment he forgot where he was, and what he was doing. He looked around for a moment and she could tell that he had gone somewhere in his mind for a moment.

“Do you have a lot of those,” she asked him.

“A lot of what,” he asked, trying to hide the fact that to him he was physically back where he was held hostage a few years prior.

“Do you have flashbacks a lot where you disappear from reality? I saw on your face that you had a lot of pain, and almost terror written all over it.”

“I’m fine,” he replied gruffly.

She felt that she had already stepped over her boundaries and began talking about something he’d rather not talk about. She opened her mouth up again to speak, but shut it quickly. Whatever was bothering him, she wasn’t going to force him to speak about it, but she wanted to instead treat him with her remedies.

Once under treatment, he’d be more calm and able to talk to her about his ailments.

“Well, at least promise me that you’ll drink the tea I brought for you tonight before you go to sleep,” she asked softly.

He looked back at her. She had a genuine smile on her face. From an outsider, it would look like she was really trying to help. He knew better, though. She may be trying to poison him, or to erase his memory. Thinking these thoughts really made his mind begin to race.

What if David was in on it too? Someone could have hired David to pretend to write these letters to some woman and then he fell right into it when he read the letters and responded. She was sent here then to wipe him out, to do what all of those Navajo Indian men couldn’t do; kill him.

He shook his head again as they rode up his driveway. If he was wrong, his paranoid delusions were going to push away a good woman. All he had to do was be careful and not let her know that he knew, or thought he knew what she was about, and what she was there for. He wouldn’t eat or drink anything that she made… wait, what was he thinking?

How long was he going to starve and dehydrate himself just to prove a point? Heck, if they wanted him to die, at least he’d die happy next to a beautiful woman. He thought that she was a very beautiful woman. She had a nice tan complexion, with dark mysterious eyes. She had two long braids that hung down both sides of her body.

While braided, it hung down to her belly button but when she let it out, it went almost to her knees. The last thought he had before stopping in front of his house was that if this was a set up, then at least they’d sent a beautiful woman, not an ugly one.

He chuckled to himself. What was the difference in what she looked like if she was here to kill him?

“Here we are,” then he paused. He had a two bedroom, but he didn’t remember cleaning it out. The second bedroom held all of his war memorabilia, such as his uniform and metals. He didn’t think he’d be able to go in there if he tried because of the memories. He pulled the reins to stop the horse and jumped down. He tied the horse up to the post in front of the house and then reached up toward her in the buggy, to help her down.

“I don’t have the best house in the world, so I hope you like it,” he said gruffly.

“I don’t care about what a house looks like. At the reservation, half of the time I stay outside in a tepee, so anything indoors is luxurious for me,” she said, smiling warmly, hoping he’d loosen up and warm up to her finally.

She could tell by the rough way he helped her down out of the buggy, quickly letting go of her hand, that was going to take a lot more time and patience. She wasn’t used to not being liked. When people began talking to her, they saw what a kind and loving person she was, and they quickly fell in love with her as a person in general.

“Let me get your luggage inside, and then I’m going to sleep, I’m tired. I don’t think I had a chance to clean out the spare bedroom, so you can sleep on the couch for tonight, if that’s okay,” he said, looking up at her to gauge her expression.

Maybe she’d wait until he was fast asleep and just come into his room and slice his throat. He gritted his teeth together. He wouldn’t allow that to happen, even if he never slept again, he thought to himself as he carried the luggage into the house and set it down.

“Please, drink this tea first while we sit and chat. Ten minutes of your time is all I ask. Otherwise, I’ll never be able to sleep in a new house, please,” she begged him as she walked straight over to his stove.

He had a teapot on top of it with water in it and she fired a burner up and began to heat up the water. She kept him talking, not wanting him to fall asleep and not be able to take the tea. She knew that without the tea, he was going to be paranoid and scared of her.

“Listen, I know that this isn’t an easy subject, but I feel like it’s one that we need to have it. I know that you were in the war and I saw the look on your face. My mother warned me before I left Kansas that I should have told you that I was Navajo.

“I don’t agree with what the Navajo did in the Civil war and I’m so sorry if something bad happened to you. I want you to know that I had nothing to do with it, and I want to do everything in my power to help you.”

She poured the steaming hot water into a mug that she had already added the herbs into. Her mother had put the perfect amount of herbs into small bags, which allowed the hot water to seep into and release the medicine into the water. She put a saucer over the top of the mug, allowing the steam to stay contained and the medicine to become more potent.

“If you, at any time, are truly uncomfortable with me and think that I’d want to do any sort of harm to you, or you just aren’t attracted to me, then please tell me and I’ll walk out that door as quickly as I came in,” she finished, bringing him the hot cup.

He had been sitting in his favorite chair, watching her carefully. He wasn’t sure what herbs she was putting in the water and he couldn’t tell if he could trust her or not. He was scared; he knew that.

As she walked towards him, she lifted the cup to her lips and took a sip herself. His shoulders relaxed slightly and then a voice came in his head. “She could be faking it. How do you know she really took a sip? That’s how they get your trust, remember.”

He began to go into another flashback. He panicked. He didn’t want to feel the pain again. “Here, take this, please. It will help you relax and make the flashbacks stop,” she said. She sounded so caring. Nobody truly cared about anyone else without ulterior motives, he thought to himself. He wasn’t sure what made him do it, or why, but he took the mug from her hands and drank the entire cup down in two gulps.

She stared at him, shocked. “Well, I was going to tell you that you had to drink that within ten minutes, but I guess I don’t need to waste my breath,” she laughed, and took the mug from him and returned it to the kitchen.

“There are some sheets in that closet over there and we’ll clean that room out tomorrow. I know how woman need their space and privacy,” he chuckled. He obviously didn’t know her.

“I don’t mind if I stay on the couch. You must have things stored in that room that would be an inconvenience to move. There’s no reason I can’t sleep right here. It’s only a place I’ll spend a few hours every night,” she said to him. Her understanding touched his heart. He tried to quickly cover that up, not wanting to fall for her tricks, and be caught up, but the medicine in the tea was already taking effect, and he felt so calm all of the sudden.

He let his mind drift and for once, the flashbacks didn’t take ahold of him. For the first time, he allowed himself to look at her and look at the real Rebecca, not the Navajo. Frank wanting to stop feeling comfortable and go back to feeling hostile and angry again, because his anger kept him safe.

It kept people away from him and when nobody was near him it meant that he couldn’t get hurt. He laid his head back in the chair. All of these thoughts were exhausting him. So much for not sleeping the entire time she was here, he thought to himself, as he felt his eyes rolling in the back of his head.

“Are you getting tired? Can I help you to bed? Or, you can sleep right there on the couch, I don’t mind, I’ll take the floor or the chair,” she told him. “No, I’m going to take the couch and I want you to take the bedroom. I have a full size bed in there, and you’ll be more comfortable,” he offered.

She put her hand over her heart full of shock that he was offering her the bed, when before he insisted that she sleep on the couch. “No way, I’ll take the couch and that’s final,” she told him, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

Just because the medicine was making him feel good and he was offering up his bed in the moment didn’t mean that he’d feel the same in the morning when he woke up and wondered what she was doing laying in his bed.

She refused to take advantage. He stood up and that was the first time she had seen his arm was injured. This entire time of him bringing her back here, tying the horses up and bringing the luggage inside, she hadn’t noticed that he had been injured.

Now, as he stood up and grabbed her luggage, she noticed that he held his right arm close to his body, and it looked as if it was shorter than the other one. Then she remembered the letters; he did say that he was an injured war vet.

She had just never asked how he was injured, and she hadn’t cared. “May I ask what happened to your arm,” she asked softly.

He looked down, almost as if he had forgotten that he was injured, and a faraway look crossed his face. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked anything. I actually just now noticed. It wasn’t important to me to ask in our letters when you told me that you were injured because I would never let physical injury come in the way of me meeting someone.

“You carry yourself so well that I didn’t notice at all until now, when I was watching you stand up.” She continued to speak softly hoping that her soft tone would keep him calm and he would realize that she meant him no harm.

“No, it’s okay. You meant no harm by asking of my injury. I was actually injured by my own soldiers in the war.”

A look of confusion came across her face.

He set her luggage down in his bedroom beside the bed and lay out on the couch, kicking his feet up. “They weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, they were trying to save my life. Wait, no I’m sorry, that’s wrong. They did save my life.” She sat on the edge of the chair he was sitting in at first. She wanted to sit on the edge to show him that she was willing to go and lie down and leave him alone whenever he was ready. He suddenly wanted to open up and talk though.

“I was kidnapped and held hostage for a long time. I don’t really know how long it was, because I lost track of time after the first week. Just when I gave up hope and prepared myself for death, the door of the cave they held me in was busted down and in came my soldiers.

American soldiers rushing in with guns drawn never looked so good, let me tell you,” he smiled, remembering. This was the first time that he had thought back on his ordeal and not had a flashback that took him away from reality. It was also the first time he thought back and smiled, having a good thought.

He seemed to forget that the entire ordeal may have been brutal and horrible, but it ended victoriously for him. He had been saved. If only he didn’t do what he did before walking out of there…? “I am so glad that you were saved, and you’re here now,” she said looking at him in a completely new light.

The man who everyone saw as a mean angry war vet was actually a very kind, warm-hearted man who only held fear. This fear was what others misinterpreted as anger. She would bring out the real Frank, if only he’d give her the chance. She looked up and saw that he was passed out sleeping soundly.

He had probably never slept so well in years, she imagined.

She took the sheet out of the closet he earlier pointed to and covered him up. She then walked into the room, left the door open, and lay down on the bed. She didn’t bother to change into nightclothes, or even pull the covers back. She wanted to make sure that he knew when he woke up and saw her that he’d know she wasn’t closing doors in his house and hiding anything from him. She lay down, closed her eyes and smiled as the familiar feeling of peace swept over her.

As she drifted off to be with her mother and family back in Kansas in her dreams, Frank didn’t know it but he was having the last flashback he’d have. He dreamt every night that he was being held hostage, he knew he was dreaming and he knew that he had been saved but in her dreams nobody ever came.

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