An Excerpt from Capture Her Heart
When the men had ridden from the yard, a wave of panic hit Vanessa. If she’d been on the moon she couldn’t have felt more isolated. Never in her life had she been entirely alone. Except for her children, today she was on her own.
To quell her fear, she kept busy. Billy had told her how to shave soap into hot water to wash the dishes. This range didn’t have a reservoir for hot water so she filled a large pan with water and set it on the range to heat.
Jack was a willing helper. “Papa said I’m the man of the house while he’s gone. That’s a big res… res….”
“Responsibility. Yes, it is. I’m pleased you’re here to help me.”
Dorie dried a plate and set it on the table. “I wish Greta was here. I don’t like chores.”
“Did you like living with Hilda?”
Dorie shook her head. “No, we had to be quiet and keep out of the way just like when Father was home ’cept we didn’t have our own rooms and toys.”
“If we weren’t here with your new Papa, we’d be living with someone like Hilda all the time. You’d have to do chores there, too, but you wouldn’t have kitties or a Papa who likes you.”
Jack glared at his sister. “Yeah, quit being a baby. Doing chores isn’t bad so far. We have dogs and kittens and Papa listens to us and makes us laugh.”
“I’m not a baby.” Dorie threw down her towel and raised her hand to strike her brother.
Vanessa grabbed her arm and redirected her. “Now you can hand me the dishes and I’ll put them in the cupboard. Then I believe I’ll set out some of the things Greta packed from our old home. Perhaps you children will help me.”
Dorie brightened. “Papa said you would decorate the house. He said that was something ladies do.”
Jack frowned. “Men don’t have to decorate.”
Vanessa put her arm around him. “I need a strong man to help move things.”
He bent his arm to make a muscle—as much as he was able. “I’m strong, Mother.”
She opened the trunk that had contained the candlesticks. Once Travis had soothed her, she had set the silver candleholders on the mantel. Now she took out family treasures layered between her dresses.
Most of the clothes she owned were completely unsuitable for ranch wear. She needed calico or gingham that could be laundered easily, not silks and satins. With care, she laid each dress across the end of the bed.
When the trunk was empty, she decided it could be used as an occasional table. “Jack, will you help me move this to the living room? We’ll set it under the window.”
Dorie tugged on her sleeve. “What about me, Mother?”
“Can you carry that scarf for me?”
The thrill of deciding what she wanted where in her home took hold and excitement energized Vanessa. She’d moved from a home ruled with an iron hand by her mother to one ruled the same way by her mother-in-law. Never had she been able to move even an ash tray without permission until death claimed the two women and their husbands.
Although she missed the luxury of her former home with expansive rooms and with a full staff or servants of whom she was fond, here she could make choices. If she didn’t like the appearance, she could change things.
Jack said, “That’s a pretty song, Mother. You never used to sing.”
Vanessa froze, realizing he was correct. “I’m pleased we get to move things around the way we want them. When you have your own room, you’ll get to tell me how you want things arranged.”
“I will? Can I have my toys on a shelf instead of putting them all away?”
“That sounds like a good idea. I’ll bet Papa will build you shelves. If he doesn’t have time, perhaps he can suggest an alternative.”
Dorie tugged on her sleeve. “We had to leave most of our toys at home. I mean our old home.”
“Please don’t compare this home to the house where we used to live. This is our home where we’re liked and protected. You have enough toys and you’ll get more for birthdays and Christmas.”