Read Joline's Redemption Online

Authors: Vickie; McDonough

Joline's Redemption

BOOK: Joline's Redemption
6.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

© 2015 by Vickie McDonough

Print ISBN 978-1-62836-952-6

eBook Editions:

Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-63409-402-3

Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-63409-403-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover Design: Faceout Studio,

Published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.

Printed in the United States of America.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 1
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Territory Late March 1893

rifting back to a different time and place, Joline Jensen hummed the words of a long-forgotten hymn, keeping tune with the peaceful organ music wafting through her window.
Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. Calling for you to come home.
She sucked in a sharp breath when she realized what she was doing and glanced at her open door, hoping none of the other women had overheard. She wasn't in the mood for their teasing today.

“What's a trollop like you doing singing church songs? You ain't gettin' religious on us, are you? God doesn't hear the prayers of the likes of us.”
Jo could hear their taunting in her mind.

Long ago, she'd quit singing church songs. They were for decent women—not ones like her. She'd made her choice when she ran away from her family.

She walked to the window of her second-story bedroom and looked down at the field next door. She wasn't the only one who thought it odd that the traveling preacher had selected that particular spot to raise his tent, especially since the nearest church was only a block away. The man must have thought the “ladies” at the bordello needed to hear his revival messages—or perhaps he thought the presence of his tent would keep customers away for the duration of the revival. She quirked her lips to one side.
Not likely.

The soulful tune haunted her, reminding her of better days—days she'd so easily cast off in the arrogance of youth. If only she could go back …

She instantly squelched that thought. There was no room for dreams or what-ifs in this place.

“You're not listening to that pitiful music, are you?”

Jo stiffened at the sound of Ruby's voice and lowered the window. “Of course not. I'm shutting the window so I don't have to hear it.” Pasting on a smile, she spun. “Besides, it's getting too chilly in here. I don't want Jamie to catch cold.” She crossed to the left side of her bedroom and tugged the small quilt over her son's shoulders. She wanted to tell the other ladies that today was his first birthday, but the less attention drawn to him, the better. Badger would like nothing more than to be rid of him.

“I'm glad to hear that.”

Jo stiffened. “I never had much use for churches or their music.”

Ruby, still dressed in her silk robe even though it was past one in the afternoon, leaned on the door frame. “Me neither.” She snorted and shook her head. “Maybe if'n we had we wouldn't have ended up here.”

Jo wouldn't admit there was truth to her statement. She glided closer to the door and gestured for Ruby to move into the hall, hoping the woman would leave before she woke up Jamie. He fussed when he was tired, and Badger didn't like it when he could hear Jamie downstairs. “Did you need something?”

Ruby narrowed her blue eyes and jerked her head toward the stairs, smirking. “Badger wants to see you.”

Jo's heart jolted. Badger rarely sent for her except in the wee hours of the morning. She nodded, backed into her room, and squirted perfume—the kind Badger preferred—on her neck. He hadn't sent for her for several weeks, so why now? She tiptoed over to Jamie's little bed and checked on him again. He should sleep an hour and a half still, so there was time, but she hated to leave him, even for a short while. He was her lifeline. The only good thing in her life.

“I'll sit with the boy. Gotta stitch up a ripped hem. You go on.”

Ruby seemed coldhearted most of the time, but she had a soft spot for Jamie. Jo nodded and slipped out the door, heart pounding and her blue dress swishing. She used to love blue, because it matched her eyes, but she hated it now. If only she could wear a soft lavender or sunny yellow, but Badger insisted each girl be named for a jewel and that she only wear the color of dresses that matched her jewel name.

She paused outside his door, already smelling the stench of the smoke of his cigar. The first few times he'd kissed her, her mouth had burned as if someone had set it on fire. Shuddering, she sucked in a steadying breath and stepped inside.

Badger lifted his gaze from his desk and caressed her with his steelgray eyes. His lips lifted at one corner. “Have a seat, Sapphire.”

She didn't want a seat. She wanted to run upstairs, snatch her son, and flee this horrible place, but she couldn't. Instead, she glided in, pasted on a smile, and cocked her head. “Ruby said you wanted to see me.”

He leaned back, tugged the half-smoked cigar from his mouth, and blew out a ring of smoke. “I looked over the books, and things seem to be in order.”

Jo nodded. “You know they are. It's why you gave the job of bookkeeping to me.”

He narrowed his gaze, setting Jo's heart to fluttering like the wings of a trapped bird. “I don't reckon you'd cheat me like Topaz did.”

She worked hard to keep her face neutral. Had he found a discrepancy somewhere? She thought she had covered her trail well enough that he wouldn't notice the tiny pittance she'd been pilfering for months. If she ever needed to make a quick getaway, she'd have to have that money. Would he strangle her like he did Topaz, a lovely girl with dark blond hair and hazel eyes? What would happen to Jamie if something happened to her?

Badger chuckled. “You worried about something?”

“Um … no, just wondering if that's all you wanted.”

He hooked one arm over the back of his chair and fiddled with his cigar. “Maybe I'm just lonely for your company.”

“You don't get lonely.” He could have any of the women in the bordello whenever he wanted, but for some reason, he'd singled her out. As much as she hated spending time alone with him, she was grateful that he rarely made her be with the other men who came nightly. For some reason, he considered her his personal belonging. The only time he shared her now was when an especially high-paying client visited. She was grateful and yet the other women disliked her because of it.

“Would you like me to get you some coffee?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Sarah's getting it.”

He stared at her for a long moment then flicked his hand toward a package on the side table. “Open that. I got you a present.”

Jo's stomach clenched as if she'd gulped down sour milk. She didn't want Badger's gifts. They always came with expected payment. But she learned early not to disobey and to pretend compliance. She crossed the small room, opened the package, and curiously fingered the blue calico with tiny pink flowers. Badger had never before allowed such a common dress in his establishment. Why now? She glanced at him, brows lifted. “Calico? What's this for?”

He slowly rose and stepped around his desk. “I've made an appointment for four this afternoon. You're to wear that and take that boy with you.”

She tightened her grip on the fabric. “What? Why?”

He held her gaze but then looked away. “There's a couple wantin' a kid.”

Jo stepped back. She wanted to flee to her room, get Jamie, and leave. “No. I—I can't give him up. You said I could keep him if I did what you wanted.” He was her only joy. The only thing in this wretched place that brought her any happiness.

Badger grabbed her throat. “That noisy brat has customers complaining. I want him gone.”

“No! Please! I'll do anything.”

He shoved her against the table. “You'll get rid of the kid—and you'll still do anything I say. You belong to me.”

“Badger, please. Today is Jamie's birthday. I can't give him up today.”

Badger glared at her, but a shuffling at the door drew his gaze, and his expression softened. “Put it on the desk.”

Jo wiped her eyes and glanced at Sarah. Keeping her head down, the girl slipped in quietly, set the tray on Badger's desk, and then turned to leave. She peeked up at Jo. “Birthday is special day,” she muttered as she fled the room.

Badger frowned and stared at the empty doorway. “Go meet them folks. If they like the boy, you can give 'im to 'em tomorrow.” He swiveled his gaze to her. “Just make sure to arrange a place and time to meet 'em again and hand over that kid. Am I clear?”

Jo nodded and swallowed back her argument. There was no disagreeing with Badger. She would pay dearly if she did, and she wasn't certain that he was above hurting Jamie. Maybe he would be safer away from this place. She slipped from the room, her heart breaking. How could she bear to give away her son? It was an unconscionable thing for Badger to demand. Heartless.

She wouldn't do it.

She couldn't.

As she dragged her numb body up the stairs, she searched for another solution. There had to be something she could do besides handing Jamie over to strangers. She'd tried escaping before and suffered for it. She'd nearly lost Jamie before he'd been born as a result of the beating she'd incurred, and if she hadn't stayed in bed for two months, per doctor's orders, as she recovered, she probably would have.

Oh, why had she ever believed Badger? Believed he had wanted to take her away from the awful situation she'd found herself in when she learned the truth about Mark Hillborne's deception?

BOOK: Joline's Redemption
6.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

All I Want For Christmas by Julie Coffin
Vellum by Hal Duncan
Sabotage by C. G. Cooper
Hand in Glove by Ngaio Marsh
Storm (Devil's Hornets MC) by Kathryn Thomas
Family Farm by Palmer, Fiona
La escriba by Antonio Garrido
The Error World by Simon Garfield