Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.
Part 5 can be found here.
Part 6 can be found here.
Part 7 can be found here.
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Caleb moved quickly to untie the ropes that bound her to the barn.
“What is your name?”
The girl looked at him for a second, then answered, “Beth.”
“Hello Beth. My name is Caleb.”
He got the knots undone and watched as she cautiously moved about, trying to ease cramped arms and legs.
“How old are you Beth?”
Caleb felt the bile rise in his throat again and was glad when Jesse called from the doorway. Caleb stood and walked toward his foreman, taking the blanket and carrying it back to wrap Beth in it.
She stiffened when he bent down to lift her, but when she realized there was no threat in his movements, she relaxed into his arms.
Caleb heard Jesse’s indrawn gasp of surprise when he carried Beth into view and glanced at him with hard eyes.
“Jesse, could you please get these horses hooked to the wagon and get it ready to go?”
“Sure thing, Caleb.”
When he stepped into the sun with the girl in his arms, he heard the collective gasps of all three men standing in the yard, and Lana’s cry as she hurried toward him.
Roy’s urgent call had her swinging toward him so swiftly, he recoiled at the rage evident in her features. Her right fist connected with his nose, bringing forth a string of verbal abuse that flowed as swiftly as the blood that gushed down his chin. If not for Tom’s hand on his arm, he would have lunged at her.
Lana hurried toward Caleb, mindless of the look of pure venom that followed her across the space.
“Oh, honey, what has he done to you?”
Lana knew the answer to that question even before it formed in her mind, the evidence was right in front of her. Long years of Roy’s abuse made abundantly clear what this poor girl had suffered.
“Lana, she needs something to wear, do you think any of Emmi’s clothes will fit her?”
Lana ran her eyes over the tiny frame and nodded. Beth was only slightly bigger than Emily. She turned and led Caleb into the cabin.
Caleb looked up and met his daughter’s eyes for the first time in years. He read the confusion in hers, the questions that she was too afraid to ask. He clamped his mouth shut on all that he wanted to say to her. He turned to Lana as she spoke over her shoulder.
“Emily, come here sweetheart.” Their daughter moved to stand between them, staring at Beth, who still lay in Caleb’s arms.
She raised her eyes to her mother and asked, “Did Daddy hurt her too?”
Lana hesitated, then nodded.
“I’m afraid so. Em, she needs some clothes to wear.”
Emily went into the room that she had come out of and returned a few seconds later with a pile of clothing in her arms.
“Thank you honey.”
Caleb followed Lana into the other bedroom and set Beth on the bed. He went out and stood at the door, watching as Jesse brought the wagon to the steps.
When the three females re-emerged from the bedroom, Beth looked much improved. Emily’s dress was only a little tight, and with her hair brushed and braided, she looked like any other young girl – if you could get past the bruised, pain-filled eyes.
Lana walked over to Caleb. “What do we do about her?” she whispered to him.
“I don’t know. Tom will have to see if he can find her family.”
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Part 9 can be found here.
Part 10 can be found here.
Part 11 can be found here.
Part 12 can be found here.
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© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012