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Authors: Shirley Martin

Forbidden Love

BOOK: Forbidden Love
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Forbidden Love

 

By

 

Shirley Martin

 

ISBN: 978-1-927111-85-7

 

PUBLISHED BY:

 

http://bookswelove.net

 

Books We Love

192
Lakeside
Greens Drive

Chestermere
,
Alberta
,
T1X 1C2

Canada

 

Copyright 2012 by Shirley Martin

Cover art by
Michelle
Lee Copyright 2012

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Pittsburgh
, 1891

 

At the Homestead Steel Works, the steam crane lifted a ladle of molten steel from the topping level of the furnace.

"So far, so good," Owen Cardiff muttered as the crane carried the ladle overhead to an ingot platform. Below, a pouring crew waited to fill the molds.

 
For over eight hours today he'd toiled at this job, the mill temperature approaching 130 degrees. The noise blasted his eardrums; the constant vibrations challenged his sanity. He coughed, the steel dust settling in his throat. He reminded himself to concentrate on his job.

He tensed, a flood of worries bombarding him. Here at the open hearth furnaces, they'd gone for a long time without accidents. How much longer would their luck hold out?

From his position on a high platform, Owen looked down sideways at the process, his stomach knotting as he viewed Ryerson and Hobart by the molds. He wished he had a permanent replacement for the third man--the cinder pit man--needed to complete the pouring crew.
Sturdivant
, his former cinder pit man, still languished in the workhouse for beating his wife. Owen resolved to replace
Sturdivant
with a competent worker and get rid of the good-for-nothing, Callahan.

 
Lacking a competent crew worried him. Hell, only look at Ryerson now, hazy with a hangover when he should be paying attention to the ladle. Owen clenched his hands. He'd have to replace the whole damn crew.

Accidents happen because people don’t pay attention
. How many times had he heard that admonition? One of these days . . . He shook his head, fearful of dwelling on possible disasters.

"Almost done," he yelled to Hobart and Ryerson, giving them the thumbs-up sign. As a boss
melter
, Owen supervised five furnaces. At open-hearth #2, he sighed with relief, waiting for the whistle to announce the shift's end.

Perspiration drenched his sleeveless shirt and corduroy pants. He wiped a handkerchief across his damp forehead and down his face, the cotton coming away soaked. Burn holes dotted his shirt and pants, a constant reminder of the hazards and discomforts of the job. Peering at all the workers around him, he saw faces reddened by the glare of the fire and hot steel; muscles standing out in knots and bands on bare arms; clothing frayed with usage and begrimed by machinery. None of us is dressed for courting the ladies, he thought on a note of self-mockery.

Soon, he could go home, and--Jesus Christ, no! His stomach lurched. The ladle--it was tipping too soon! Ryerson!

Oh God, oh God, oh God
! Owen raced down the metal cat-ladder, shouting and pointing. The mill din muffled his voice. With only seconds to spare, he jerked Ryerson back. The scorching, hissing scarlet stream of molten steel spilled from the ladle and splashed onto the platform, then spewed into the air several yards away. Racing against time, all three men bolted toward the steps.

Owen slumped against the ladder railing, his heart pounding. His breath came in quick gasps. He glanced at Hobart and Ryerson, their faces white with shock. Jesus! Ryerson could have burned alive.

Sick to his stomach, Owen turned away.

 

 

* * *

 

A few weeks after her father’s funeral, Lisa sat with her mother in the comfortable parlor of their roomy house in Shadyside. Her mother sported new gold ear drops, a terrible extravagance in these straitened times. Resolved to contain her temper, Lisa looked out the parlor window and tapped her fingers on the arm of the rosewood chair.

She returned her attention to her mother. “Don’t you understand, Mother? We can’t continue to spend money as we did when Father was alive. You and I must watch every cent and not buy whatever we desire, like those ear drops you’re wearing, or that black dress you bought at Kaufmann’s Department Store last week.”

“The ear rings were quite inexpensive, and I bought a black dress for
mourning
.” Lisa’s mother sat ramrod straight, her slender figure encased in a tight corset. A few gray hairs mingled with the brown locks on top of her head, but aside from that, she showed little indication of her forty-four years.

“You already have two black wool dresses and your gray silk. That should be enough.

Lisa sighed. “I don’t know what more I can say. As it is, I fear we may have to let some of the servants go, much as I hate to for their sakes . . . Higgins, for example. We don’t need a carriage. We can take a trolley whenever we go shopping or to church.”

“A public conveyance, really!”

“Just one example.
I can think of many ways we can save money.” She took a deep breath. “I can obtain a position if I must. I’ve been reading the classified advertisements lately, by the way. Or since I do such fine needlework, I can open my own shop, sell doilies and such.”

Amelia drew back. “Lisa, how can you even think of such a thing?”

Lisa spoke with measured calmness. “I’m trying to show you how precarious our financial situation is.” She ran her fingers along the frayed brocade covering of the chair, frowning as her finger caught in a tear. Her gaze flew to the velvet draperies,
whose
once burgundy had faded to a dull pink, their
camphory
smell borne by the cold air that seeped through the wide bay window. She studied a cigar burn on the parlor table, aware they could never afford new furniture. At least the étagère in the corner that held her mother’s prized crystal and porcelain added charm to the room, but the rest of the parlor looked so drab. If only they could fix it up a little, with new tables and new draperies, even new chairs.

Her mother drew her shawl closer about her shoulders. “It’s become so cold in this room. Why hasn’t
Zora
come to stir up the fire?”

Lisa sprang to her feet to stir the dying embers in the fireplace, and then returned to her chair. “
Zora’s
had to assume laundry duties since the laundress quit last week.” Because she hasn’t been paid in ages, she wanted to say, but wisely kept silent. She looked out the bay window to see the elm trees thrash in the fierce wind. Across the street, young children bundled in their warmest clothing were making a snowman.

“If you married, Lisa, it would be an answer to our prayers.”

Lisa brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. “Let’s not discuss marriage so soon after Father passed away.” Her voice broke, and she turned away to press a hand to her aching head.

Amelia spoke, her voice trembling. “I miss your father, too, but we must do something about money.” She twisted a handkerchief in her lap. “Dear, you’re twenty-one. Time you married, after a decent period of mourning, of course. How else can we manage?” she asked, her voice rising.

“Look at me, Mother.
Nothing special about me–brown hair, brown eyes, neither tall nor petite.
Good heavens, it’s not as if I’ve had dozens of beaux.” She brushed a finger across her cheek.
“And my freckles!”

“But you’ve such a lovely smile, dear.” She looked at her daughter closely. “Besides, your hair isn’t just brown. It has beautiful golden tints. I realize you can’t attend any social activities now, but I wish you’d try to meet proper gentlemen, later, of course. Heaven knows,
there’s
enough eligible men here in Shadyside,” she said with an airy gesture. “Now take that literary club you belong to–“

”Literary club?
What has that to do with anything?”

“How can you meet young men there? You’ve told me it’s composed of older men and women.” Her face assumed a pensive expression. “William
Enright
used to call on you before your dear father passed away. Perhaps he’ll resume his courtship in time.”

“Perhaps.”
Desperate thoughts raced through Lisa’s mind. What if she had to sell the house? But no, she couldn’t do that to her mother. Her father had built this house for his young bride years ago. She ignored her mother’s inquisitive expression while she sifted so many possibilities through her mind. She could manage well on her own, but always her mother’s happiness and security plagued her.

William entered her thoughts again. He appeared to be a fine man, capable and dependable, and as a stockbroker, he had a responsible position. She wanted a home and children as much as the next woman. Could she learn to love William? She wondered. He had many appealing qualities. Yes, she could learn to love him, she felt sure.

She met her mother’s contemplative look. “Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? William doesn’t even love me, or at least, he hasn’t said so.” Recently, she’d found herself thinking of him more and more. She knew she’d developed a fondness for him, an emotion that could certainly become love, if she really tried. But–“He’s given no indication that he cares for me.”

Her mother waved her hand.
“Oh, pshaw.
Men never talk about their feelings. But he does care for you; I can tell it by the way he looks at you.”

“We’ll see. If William proposes, then I’ll accept. But since we’re still in mourning, we must wait awhile. Even then, it must be a small wedding, with only family and close friends.”

“The answer to our prayers, dear Lisa.”

 

* * *

 

Owen Cardiff forced his eyes open, his alarm clock jolting him from a sound sleep. He flipped his arm across the bed to turn the clock off, then lay still for several minutes as he resisted the urge to go back to sleep.

Drowsily, he glanced at the clock on his bedside table to see it was only mid-morning. Since he’d gotten home from the night shift at the steel mill a few hours ago, he should have been able to sleep as long as he wanted, but no such luck today. He had to go to Shadyside to make a payment on land he’d recently bought, a task he’d put off far too long. After that, he had to meet the national president of the steelworkers union to discuss looming trouble between the Amalgamated and the Carnegie Steel Company. Hell that could take the rest of the day.

BOOK: Forbidden Love
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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