Authors: Jewell Tweedt
|Faith of the Heart|
|Back to Omaha Adventure |
After four years of waiting for fiancé Cal Davidson to return, Claire Secord relocates to frontier Omaha to start a new life. After all, many men did disappear during the Civil War. Inheriting and running the family mercantile keeps her busy during the day, but at night she dreams of Cal and the hurt, and confusion returns.
Handsome sheriff Tom Maxwell befriends Claire and they enjoy a warm, yet casual romance. When Claire is kidnapped, she must employ all of her faith, skills, and intellect to survive until Tom can locate her. Reuniting, they discover their love for one another and Tom proposes.
Meanwhile Cal has resurfaced with a new identity. Suffering from the trauma of his war injuries, he is not quite sane, yet determined to find Claire and claim her as his. An unexpected rendezvous reunites Cal and Claire. Seeing she is still wearing a heart pendant that meshes with his, Cal is convinced that they belong together and insists she honor the long-ago engagement.
Now Claire must decide between honor and commitment with her first love or a future of passion and excitement with her true love. Will she follow the faith of her heart?
Jewell Tweedt was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting for her first book, Faith of the Heart-A Back to Omaha Adventure. Jewell has written for several magazines and is now at work on the second book in the series. Jewell holds a Masters Degree in Education and teaches American History in Iowa where she lives with her husband and impish Norwich Terrier, Gracie.
Train to Omaha
Somewhere in Iowa,
Claire glanced up from her needlework as the train jerked to a stop. Sighing deeply, she jabbed the needle into the muslin piece
she was working on
and returned the sampler to her small satchel. She peered through the sooty window
wondering what dismal town she was in now.
loaded down with suitcases and hatboxes,
struggled down the narrow aisle
a cranky child clinging to her skirts.
Claire offered assistance
but the woman just glared at her
she’d manage just fine. Shrugging, Claire glanced back to the window but dusk had fallen and she could only
see her own unkempt reflection.
Three days. Three days she’d been on this dirty, noisy, smelly,
pulling her wrap closer as she leaned back on the dusty blue padded seat
avoiding the spot on the floor where some unmannerly gentleman had spit in her direction
ier that afternoon.
tomorrow she’d be in Omaha, Nebraska. Tomorrow she’d be safe in her
unt Gin’s arms and starting a new life. A life she fervently hoped would be better than the one she had just left.
Leaning back, the young woman closed her eyes and thought
over the last few days. The quiet, predictable life she’d been living had disappeared with the arrival of that momentous telegram.
Earlier that Week
“Miss Secord, Miss Secord! A telegram has arrived for you
up from the paper she’d been correcting. A jolt of fear coursed through her body. A telegram only meant bad news. Thanking the elderly housekeeper, she hastily tore open the brown Western Union envelope.
Heart gave out.
Need you in Omaha
Claire read and reread the telegram. Aunt Gin and Uncle Richard ran a small mercantile store in the frontier town of Omaha. Located in the raw new state of Nebraska, Omaha had a reputation as a rough and rowdy jumping off point to the west. The Union Pacific Railroad had just laid down lines through the area on its race to the west coast, meeting up with
the Central Pacific Railroad.
Gin’s store provided supplies for townspeople and the wagon trains that rumbled through every spring and summer. The business would be too much for one elderly woman to handle. She needed Claire.
Jumping to her feet, the
grammar test forgotten, Claire ran up the back staircase to her tiny attic room. Yanking open the bureau drawers, she began tossing her clothing onto the narrow bed.
Gin needs me, she needs me!
A knock on the door startled her and she whirled around
, clutching her hand to her chest.
called in a shaky voice,
smoothing her dress.
, the mistress of the house, sto
an exasperated look on her pudgy face.
She stomped a pointy-toed shoe on the worn rug and shook her finger at Claire.
“My dear Miss Secord! Whatever is going on? Just look at this room. Have you completely lost your mind?”
Claire pulled the telegram from her skirt pocket and handed it to her employer. “
, it’s my aunt. She’s just been widowed and she needs me. I must go to her
leave Gettysburg for Omaha? You’re just a
you can’t survive in that wild place.
” She flung the telegram onto the floor
without even reading it
Besides you have a position here. You are my children’s tutor and I insist you stay. You owe it to me. After all, who took you in when you had no place else to go? Now you want to throw this all away, run off to
who knows where with cowboys and outlaws running around, just waiting to take advantage of young single girls who get the notion to travel west in their heads?
I forbid you!”
The matronly woman glared at Claire and placed her hands on her ample hips
daring Claire to
defy this logic.
Claire took a deep breath, checked her temper and spoke slowly. “Mrs.
, you must know I appreciate how you took me in when my folks were killed during the war
but I have earned my keep teaching your children. I have done my best and the boy
have accomplished a great deal. They have mastered the fundamentals and are
to work in your husband’s business
or any other respectable trade.
I am no longer a girl. I am 21 years
able to care for myself as well as my dear aunt.”
took a long look at the determined young woman in front of her. For perhaps the first time, she saw her not as a plain, serious tutor, but
the lovely woman she’d become. Claire stood
as tall as her
frame would allow
, with shiny br
hair wrapped neatly in a coil at the back of her neck. Her dark green eyes shone with determination and her fists were clenched at her side. Even in her modest navy dress, a curvy, female form was evident.
glared at the girl and retorted, “You may be 21 but you’ll find that you’re still a long way from being an adult. Why
when I was your age I’d been married to Mr.
for four years and given him two sons.
you have been sheltered and protected
your entire life.
hese past few years I’ve provided you with this lovely room and a generous salary to boot. I should have just left you in the cold, but being the God-fearing woman I am
I took you under my wing and shared my home with you.” She raised her pug nose and sniffed righteously.
Claire stared at her in astonishment.
Lovely room and generous salary
She’s got to be kidding. If not for my mother’s quilt I’d have frozen to death
and I was nearly broiled here in the summer. The mattress is lumpy, the rug is in tatters
and the room’s only comforts are the items I made myself from the scraps of my craft basket.
,” Claire started firmly
ou hired me to teach your sons. I did that. I’ve helped with the housework and cooking and the vegetable garden.
It’s time for me to start my own life. A life like you did with Mr.
. I deserve to find my own way. Perhaps that way is in Nebraska with my dear aunt. Surely you understand the
thing to do would be to go to her side.
She could sense Mrs.
begin to reconsider. Claire pressed on.
“Besides, just think of the money you could save by
letting me go.
Not only would you no longer have to pay my salary
but there’d be one less mouth to feed. Your sons no longer require my
. You have done your Christian duty
.” She paused as she saw the woman’s expression soften.
Mrs. Buckley let out a long sigh of resignation.
“My dear, I’ve underestimated you. If your mind is made up, I guess I can’t stop you. When shall you be leaving us?”
“Just as soon as I am able to purchase a train ticket and send a message to my aunt.”
“Very well. I shall notify Mr.
and arrange for your final paycheck.” With that the woman strode out of the room
shutting the door firmly behind her.
Claire sat down on the ladder
back chair and laughed.
The nerve of that woman, insisting I owe her. I’ve
trying to teach those unruly boys. I’ve spent hours grading their papers, trying to raise them to be considerate and intelligent young men. I’ve spent too many years in this tiny room dreaming of what my life should have been, could have been. If only that darn war hadn’t taken my Caleb away.
Then I might be teaching my own boys, or…
what happened to you?
and shaking her head to clear her thoughts,
through her belongings. She knew that she’d need to pack carefully because she was never coming back to Gettysburg, and who really knew what it was like in Omaha? Suddenly she didn’t feel
brave. It was safe here and while her life wa
s predictable, it wasn’t so bad.
he couldn’t allow herself to think that way
Gin needed her, and truth be told
needed Gin. It was time to start
living again. Caleb was only a memory. The War Between the States had claimed him and there was no changing that. After three long years of hearing nothing,
she had to admit that
he must be dead. Her
would have come back to her if he could.
Though a small part of her still held hope that he was somewhere far away, trying as hard as he could to return to her, she knew a
rebel bullet must have found him.
And for Claire,
aving a family, even just an aunt, would be better than living in someone else’s house
, in someone else’s life.
Rummaging in the back of the wardrobe, Claire extracted her old leather
. She then surveyed the small pile of clothing and belongings spread on the bed
her mother’s quilt, one of her only prized possessions.
, she thought,
I never realized how little I really own
She lifted the lid of the old trunk and caught a wisp of lavender. The trunk had belonged to her mother and mother had always used lavender sachets to scent her home. Smiling sadly
Claire tucked her belongings into the trunk, carefully placing the large family bible on top. Not only did it
contain all the doctrine she held so dear
but the family
history as well. Births and deaths were recorded neatly inside the front and back covers. Her parents might have passed on
but she had
of their existence and she cherished the Secord heirloom.