The Writer's Corner
Chapter 25 - Learning to Live Again
Written by Michelle Palmer
Emily McCain looked straight ahead as Dr. Jason Livingston
gently rubbed more ointment on her healing cuts. “They are
healing nicely.” His soothing voice smiled as he spoke. Emily
tried to focus on his face, but she couldn’t quite force herself
to do so. The announcement Dr. Livingston had made earlier in
the day still haunted her.
“You can go home today.”
She didn’t want to go home. She felt safe here with her family
around her and Dr. Livingston in the other room all the time.
He’d hardly left her side since she was brought in almost two
weeks ago. The doctor’s voice had soothed her like the ointment
soothed her wounds. He had talked softly and tenderly to her
about anything and everything…except what she had refused to
face. Up to this point, she hadn’t talked about what had
happened to her during that terrifying time two weeks ago. When
someone mentioned anything about it, she simply clammed up and
pretended to be tired and wanted to sleep..
“Now then…” Jason sat back in the chair and folded his hands.
“Are you excited about going home?” Emily turned her head away,
unable to answer. “I know it’s scary. But you have to face what
happened, and as long as you’re here at the clinic…I’m afraid
that won’t happen.”
Emily slowly stood up and walked to the window without saying a
word. She stared across the street at the jail. A shiver ran up
her spine. She’d heard her brothers talking outside the door.
She knew that monster was over there, and she wanted to burst
into tears. But the tears would only bring back the memories
that she wanted to forget. So Emily told herself she wouldn’t
think about it anymore. “I feel safe here,” Emily whispered
without even thinking.
“I know.” Jason walked up to stand behind her. “But you need to
feel safe in your own home again.”
“No.” Emily slowly shook her head. “I…I can’t.” She swallowed
hard as she wrapped her arms around herself. “I just…I can’t.”
“Emily…” Jason said her name softly. But Emily shook her head.
“Your family’s out there waiting for you. You must go with
“They know, don’t they? They know what happened to me.” Emily
didn’t want to talk about this, but she found herself asking the
“Julie does, but I don’t think she’s told anyone else.” Jason
“I can’t imagine what they’re thinking…” Emily’s voice died as
her face warmed and she continued to stare out the window.
“They love you, Emily, and know that you have been very hurt.
This man…this monster…he…”
But Emily’s bitter voice interrupted him. “Why did you have to
“Because she is your family. In medical school, we’re taught
that, as physicians, we let the one person closest know so they
can help you through this. When too many people know, it puts a
terrible burden on the person and can impede their recovery.”
Silence followed. “Emily, they are worried about you. You
shouldn’t feel ashamed. You shouldn’t…”
“Have you ever been through what I’ve been through, doctor?
Ashamed! That man…I wanted to die!” Emily’s words came out
bitterly as she spun around and glared at him. But when she saw
the hurt look on his face, she turned back around as she wiped
at the hot tears that suddenly escaped from her eyes. “I won’t
be sorry…” She whispered. “I’m usually not like this…I…I just
don’t feel like me anymore. I feel like a different person.”
Emily lowered her head. “I just wish they didn’t know.”
“They don’t, but Doctor Stevens had to tell someone.”
“I’m not going!” Emily suddenly turned. Her eyes filled with
tears. “I can’t! I just can’t! Please…Please don’t make me go!”
Jason reached out to touch her, but she pulled away as if he
were a bolt of lightning. He sighed and lowered his hand. Though
he’d been the only one who could calm her, his touch still made
her flinch. “I guess it will take some time…” Jason nodded.
“Alright. We’ll see about getting you a room here at the hotel.”
“ALONE???” Emily shuddered at the thought. “I want to stay
Jason sighed and slowly walked out of the room. When he
returned, he found Emily laying on the cot with her legs drawn
up to her chest. “I talked to your family.” Emily nodded without
turning towards him. The next words Jason spoke were quite firm.
“Sit up here and look at me.” Emily slowly sat up and turned to
look at him. “I’ve a condition on your staying. First of all,
you’ll take a room at the boarding house.”
“No!” Emily shook her head. “I…I can’t!”
“You must. I will not allow you to withdraw and stay in this
shell. As your doctor, I’m ordering it. No arguments. Second of
all, you talk to someone.”
“You. I’ll talk to you.”
Jason smiled. “You can talk to me, but I think a woman would…”
“I don’t want to talk about that…EVER!” Emily cried. “I can’t…”
“You…know the judge will be here Monday.” Emily looked away.
“Are you going to be ready?”
Emily had heard pieces of conversation as her family spoke
outside her door. The man was wanted on additional crimes in
other places, but because he had committed a brutal crime in
Enid, and it involved a young woman the judge had managed to
change his schedule and have the man tried in Enid for his most
recent crime. If he remained alive after the sentence, he would
be transported back to Arkansas for his crimes there. But she’d
heard her brothers declare that he would be killed after the
trial…one way or another…for what he’d done to her.
Now, Emily shuddered at the mere thought of facing that man
again. “He won’t be in the courtroom when I’m there will he?”
Jason waited until she turned and looked at him. “He’ll have to
be for a moment. You have to identify him, Emily.”
“Will you be there, Jason?” Jason lifted his head as he studied
her. “I want you there with me.”
“Emily…” Jason sighed. As a doctor, he didn’t care for going to
trials of this nature, but when he saw how much his presence
meant to Emily, he couldn’t deny her. Finally, he nodded.
“Alright. I’ll be there with you. Monday morning I’ll go to the
courthouse with you. But you need to talk about what happened to
you. You’ve got to tell a woman…you can’t tell me these things.”
“NO!” Emily shook her head. “I…I don’t want to talk about it.
.Not now and…not ever!”
“I can’t force you to, but I think you should.” Emily turned
away. “Alright. Let’s go.” Jason stood up.
“To the boarding house. We’ll see if you can work there for your
room and board.”
Jason nodded. “You can’t just sit in your room all day. You have
to start living again.”
“I don’t feel like living, Jason. I…” Emily closed her eyes and
put her face in her hands. “I feel…dead inside.”
“I know. And that’s exactly why you need to start living again.”
Jason gently put his hand to her elbow and led her from the
room. Emily bit her lip as he opened the door. She hadn’t been
outside since it had happened. She hesitated at the entrance and
shook her head. “I’m right here, Emily.”
Emily stepped out onto the porch. Jason reached out for her arm,
but again she pulled away from him as if his hand was on fire.
Jason knew she had so much bottled up inside her. He knew that
it was fermenting, and when the cork blew…
He stayed close beside her as she slowly walked down the street.
She looked over her shoulders and all around every step she
took. She was terrified of every noise. Slowly, she made her way
inside. He told her to sit while he went to talk to Mrs. Smith
who owned the boarding house. Then he came to sit back down
beside her. “Did my family go home?”
Jason nodded. “It was your brother, Peter and his wife. They
were upset that you didn’t want to go; but I explained to them
you needed time.”
“They’re mad at me?”
“No.” Jason toyed with his hat as he answered. “They are
worried.” He paused before adding, “…so am I.”
“Oh Jason…I don’t want to think...I don’t want to feel…I wish I
could stay on the medicine forever and just sleep the rest of my
life. I feel so…dead inside.”
“If you let it out, you’d feel better,” Jason mumbled. “If you
talk about it…just a little at a time.”
Emily turned and looked at him. She opened her mouth to speak
but then shook her head. “Is my room ready?”
“Yes. Peter said he’d bring in some clothes for you tomorrow.
Mrs. Smith said you can help clean the bedrooms and cook the
meals.” Emily lifted her head and looked at him. “She was going
to let you stay here for free without work; but I insisted she
make you work for your room and board. It’s my prescription.”
Emily nodded as Jason escorted her to her room. He stayed
outside the door and nodded to her. “I have to go now. You’ll
start work in the morning.”
“Will you join me for supper?” Emily asked in a shaky voice.
Jason nodded. “Yes.”
Jason made his way back toward his office. He wasn’t surprised
when he walked inside to see Abe sitting there. Jason sighed as
he sat his hat down and sat down himself. “What’s wrong with
her?” Abe asked accusingly. “Why doesn’t she want to come
“Mr. McCain, your sister has been through a traumatic
experience. She’s lost something that was precious to her, and
that’s the focus of her thoughts right now. She’s afraid to go
home…to return to the place where she was taken from.”
“But she’s our sister! We can help her!”
Jason sighed. “I wish it were that easy. If it were, it would
make my job a lot easier. Abe…I won’t lie to you. I’ve seen
woman commit suicide after what your sister went through. It
tears at their very soul.” Abe started to speak, but Jason held
up a hand. “She knows she’s surrounded by people who love her
and she’s strong. But right now she feels like she died. Dr.
Stevens examined her that night. He said that she was hurt
badly. But I think she was hurt worse inside.”
“What do we do then?”
“Give her space. For some reason, she’s taken to me. It’s odd
because women recovering from this kind of trauma usually steer
clear of men. She won’t allow me to even touch her arm. She
cringes when I had to doctor her wounds. But for some reason,
she’s put her trust in me. I’ve told her she needs to talk to a
woman; but she’s not ready.” Jason leaned forward and put a hand
on Abe’s shoulder. “Mr. McCain, I ordered Mrs. Smith to put her
to work. I think she needs to start living again. In the
meantime, give her a lot of space and time. Come visit her, but
keep the visits short. And for now, neither you nor your
brothers should pressure her into telling what happened. Leave
that for Julie.”
“What about the trial Monday?”
“She’ll be there. She wants me to be there with her and I’ll go.
I’m not going to lie to you, Mr. McCain. Her seeing that man
again can do her a lot of harm. But there’s not much we can do
Abe nodded. He stood and shook Jason’s hand then walked out.
Jason did take Emily to the lunch room that night to eat. They
talked quietly about their families, but little more was said.
The next day, Jason arrived early and escorted her to the
kitchen where she would assist with the morning meal. He watched
Mrs. Smith get her started then slipped out. Jason returned for
the noon and evening meals. She sat with him while they ate
together. But still, even with all the work she was doing, there
was no life in her eyes.
He didn’t sleep Sunday night. He was worried about the trial;
but more so, he found himself worrying about Emily. The bruises
on her face had faded to almost nothing and only a few sores
remained. He knew one sore wouldn’t heal; and she’d forever have
a scar that ran down her right cheek. But he knew the scars
inside were much deeper. He wished he knew how to reach her.
Jason sighed as he turned over and looked at the clock on his
bedside table. It was six o’clock. The trial was scheduled for
At the other end of the street, Emily went to the window and
looked down on the street. She was shaking with fear at the task
she had to perform in mere hours. She was glad Jason would be
there, but she wondered what her reaction would be when she came
face-to-face with him. She knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep
By the time Jason arrived at the boarding house, Emily was
scurrying around the kitchen fixing breakfast. But her actions
were exaggerated. He saw the fear in her eyes and watched how
her hands shook as she held a plate. Jason was beside her in two
steps. He took the plate from her hand and reached out for her.
He was surprised when he grabbed her hand and she didn’t pull
away. In fact, she seemed to relax a bit at his touch. “You’ll
be okay. Just remember that I’m right there beside you. I won’t
leave your side,” he spoke softly to her.
Emily grew more nervous as she looked at the clock and saw that
it was now 8:30. The door opened and Tiffany and Em hurried
inside. They came to sit beside her. Emily didn’t want to talk.
She wouldn’t let Jason leave her side as her sisters spoke to
her. Jason finally took her arm and led her from the boarding
Emily sat down in the front of the room. She turned to see her
entire family there, less the children and Julie, who were no
doubt being watched by Mrs. Pritchard. Emily turned and saw the
judge come in and sit at his desk. She looked at Jason who sat
right beside her. Then she waited.
“May this court come to order.” The room was filled with the
loud clang as the gavel hit the desk. “This trial is being held
in Enid because the only surviving victim…Emily McCain…is here.
This man has been accused of numerous murders, rapes, and
kidnappings. He has waived his right to a jury trial.” Judge
Reynolds cleared his throat. “Emily McCain, can you come
Emily turned and looked at Jason. He nodded his head as she
slowly stood up. Her feet wobbled so badly she could hardly
walk. Tiffany rushed forward and took her arm as Jason held her
other arm. Together, they walked her up and stood her on the
bench. Emily’s hand shook as she placed it on the Bible and
swore to tell the truth. Then she sat down.
“Your doctor…has requested that I not ask you a lot of
questions, Miss. McCain. And I agree that we don’t need your
testimony on what this man did as much as we need you to
identify that he’s the man that hurt you. I’ve received reports
from both doctors as well as from physicians from the other
victims. But Miss McCain, I do need to ask you a few questions.
It’s important that you answer them. Okay?” Emily nodded as her
hand shook. Tiffany took her hand and squeezed it while Jason
patted her other hand.
“Before I bring this man in, I want to know if the man who
kidnapped you threatened to kill you at any time.”
Emily began shaking even harder as she nodded her head. Judge
Reynolds cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. You’ll have to answer
“Did this man beat you?”
“Did he hurt you in any other way?”
“Yes.” Emily began crying. Her hands shook as she lifted it to
her cheek and wiped at her tears. “Yes…yes…yes…” She cried as
her voice grew louder.
“Okay…” Tiffany patted her shoulder as she bent down beside her.
Emily quieted as Judge Reynolds nodded to the deputy. “Alright.
We’re bringing the prisoner in now.”
Emily turned her face away. She buried her head in Tiffany’s
shoulder as the door opened. She heard shuffling and wicked
chuckling. The voice alone was enough to assure her it was the
man. “Miss McCain, is this the man who hurt you?”
Emily slowly lifted her head and turned it around. She allowed
her eyes to focus on the prisoner. “Yes…Yes…Yes…Oh God please
don’t let him hurt me!” Emily bolted from the chair and ran to
the corner of the room. “Get him away! Get him away! Oh please
don’t hurt me. No….NO….NOOOOOOOO!” Emily fell to the ground and
screamed as if he were attacking her all over again.
Her brothers and Em ran to her. The entire family huddled around
her. “He raped me! HE RAPED ME!!!!!!” Emily screamed as loud as
“Get him out of here!” Abe demanded angrily. “Get him out! So
help me God, if he doesn’t swing I’ll KILL HIM!”
Judge Reynolds banged his gavel. “Order! Order in this court!”
He cleared his throat as silence came over. Emily’s muffled
cries could be heard as she remained huddled in the corner with
her family surrounding her. “Mr. Bridges, do you have anything
to say before I pass judgment?” Only silence answered him. “Do
you deny any of the crimes that you’ve been accused of…not only
by this victim, but from others?”
“I did it!” Bridges answered proudly. “I did it all! You best
swing me or I’ll come back and get everyone of ya!!!!”
“Very well. Earl Bridges, by the authority vested in me by the
territory of Oklahoma, I hereby sentence you to be hanged by the
neck until dead. The sentence shall be carried out at dawn
tomorrow morning. I’m giving you that long to make peace with
your maker. May God have mercy on your soul!”
“Ain’t no God!” He laughed a vile laugh, “Hey pretty thing, one
more time, for old times sake. Haa, Haa, Haa!” Bridges yelled as
the deputies struggled to haul him out of the courthouse.
Abe bolted forward. “Why you…” he started. He would have made it
to Earl and choked him if Marshal Williams and Hal Dodd hadn’t
suddenly jumped up and grabbed him to hold him back. “Let me go!
I’m going to KILL HIM!” Abe shouted.
“He’s going to hang!” Hal shouted back. “Abe, he’s going to
Emily stayed on her knees and sobbed. As Jason and Tiffany
helped her to her feet. She gasped and suddenly bolted from the
huddle of family. She ran out the back door and raced away from
the courthouse as fast as her shaky legs would allow her to. She
cried out as she fell to the ground. “Emily!”
Emily began crying so hard that her whole body shook. Again, her
whole family gathered around her. Jason slipped away to give the
family privacy, but to also get a sedative. “Emily?” Abe
whispered softly as he brushed her hair back. “Emily, talk to
“I can’t!” Emily screamed as she put her hands to her ears as if
she were blocking out the noises. “I can’t!”
“You have to, Emily!” Em cried out. “You have to tell us what
you’re feeling…Tell us what happened!” Emily shook her head
violently. “Emily, get it out!” Em begged.
“He raped me!” Emily screamed again. “What more do you want to
know? How I wanted to die? How vile he smelled? How he laughed
and grunted? Oh, why didn’t you just let me die?!” Emily began
shaking violently as her eyes widened with fear.
The family waited for a long time in silence. Nobody knew how to
help her. Emily began crying hysterically. She grabbed her
stomach and doubled over as sobs racked her body. Doctor
Livingston returned to the huddled family and slowly
administered the shot to Emily. In time, she slowed her
breathing and her sobs grew quiet. She relaxed against her
Jason picked her up and carried her back to the boarding house,
followed by the family. After laying her on the bed, Jason
ordered all the men out of the room; but in seeing the look in
Abe’s face, he agreed Abe could stay. He ordered, however, that
abe had to stay in the corner.
Emily woke and saw only Tiffany and Em in the room. She stayed
silent for only a few moments before she spoke in a calm voice.
“I had sent Laura in to clean Ruthie’s bedroom when there was a
knock at the door. He…he asked me if I had a horse to sell him
and I told him that…” Emily shook her head. “Oh, I was so stupid
in telling him my brother was gone and wouldn’t be back for two
days. Then he took this gun and held it to my head. He…” Emily
shook her head again. “I was so scared! I was afraid for Laura
and told her to run. She didn’t want to at first. She wanted to
help me…but I begged her to get out. Then he…he forced me up on
his horse and we rode away.
“We rode for a long time. He rode so fast and branches scratched
my face. Then I fell from the horse. He got mad and he kicked me
hard. Then he tied my hands and dragged me behind the horse. I
tried to leave signs. I hoped the boys would find them…” Emily
stopped as she took some deep breaths. She put her hands to her
face. “Oh why…why did he do this???”
She had made her speech as rapidly as she could. Every word that
escaped her lips told those present the horror and terror she
had gone through, and was still going through. They hated that
her words were hurting her so badly, but at least now she was
talking. Now she was admitting to what that man had done to her.
Jason stood next to Abe and his expression told Abe to keep
quiet or else he would be sent from the room.
“It’s okay, honey. You’re doing okay!” Tiffany and Em each sat
beside her smoothing her hair. Their jaws clinched as they
listened to her speak. “Can you go on?”
Emily hiccupped as sobs escaped again. “It was getting dark and
I was so tired. I cried and begged him to stop. He got angry and
slapped me so hard that I…I fell to the ground! My dress ripped
and something inside him…snapped!” Emily shook her head. “He
took me to a shack. He laid me on a cot and demanded I stay
there. I…” Emily stopped as she put her face in her hands again.
“I begged God to help me! I pleaded!” Emily sniffed. “He started
slapping me because I was fighting him. He tore my clothes and I
kept fighting.” Suddenly, Emily’s eyes filled with terror. “No!
No please don’t do this! Please!!!” Emily screamed as she
relived the experience. “Oh Please just kill me!”
“Honey, calm down…” Abe whispered as he jumped up and bent down
in front of her. “You’re safe. You’re safe.” He didn’t care
anymore what the doctor thought. His own eyes dared the doctor
to throw him out of the room.
Emily eye’s held horror as she realized what her brother heard,
she bit her lip and cried. She forced herself to go on. “Oh Abe!
He kept touching me all over. His lips and his hands…” Emily
spoke in disgust as she shuddred. “Then he…he…”
“He raped you.” Em said these words matter-of factly. “Say them,
honey. Say the words.”
“He…he…” Emily choked on her sobs. “He…raped me. He raped me…he
raped me…Oh GOD help me!” She clung to Tiffany and sobbed harder
than she had sobbed before.
“It’s over now, Emily. He can’t hurt you anymore. You’re okay
now. We all love you.” Abe continued to speak to her softly as
he climbed onto the bed and pulled her into his embrace..
“I passed out at some point. Then when I woke up, he was near me
again. I fought him with everything I had. I screamed for him to
go away and finally…finally, he hit me so hard that I passed
out. Oh why didn’t he just kill me?!”
“Because God wanted you to be the one to see that he was brought
to justice. Sis, you have a life to live, that’s why you’re
“I don’t want to be. I want to be as dead as I feel on the
inside!” Emily cried.
“No, you just think you do. Our family will see you thought
this,” Tiffany stated.
“How did you get away?” Em asked.
“I guess he thought he’d killed me.” Emily shook her head. “The
next thing I remember…I was waking up in the doctor’s office.”
Emily suddenly looked around. “Jason! Where’s Jason?”
“I’m here, Emily.” He stood outside the group. “I’m right here.
How do you feel?”
“Can I go home now?”
“You’re ready?” Tiffany asked as she smiled.
“No.” Emily shook her head. “I mean to the boarding house.”
“Oh. You’re AT the boarding house, honey,” Tiffany said softly.
“You’re in your room.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize…I just need…time…I…” Emily started.
“No.” Abe shook his head. “Don’t be sorry, honey. If you feel
safe here at the Boarding House, then you stay here. Just
remember that you’re a McCain. You’ll survive.”
“Abe…I..I want to be there tomorrow.”
Abe froze and stared at her. “What?”
“I want to be at the hanging.”
Abe shook his head. “No. Absolutely not!”
“I MUST be there, Abe! I must! I have to see it!” Emily pleaded.
“NO! It’s no place for a woman.”
“Abe…this is something I have to do! I must!” Emily declared.
Jason suddenly cleared his throat. “Abe, can I see you men for a
Abe followed Jason out the door where they were met by Jeremiah
and Peter. Jason spoke to them softly for a few moments.
Finally, Abe turned and nodded his head and re-entered the room.
“Alright. You can be there,” he told Emily. But I don’t want
you to watch. I’ve heard talk of enough hangings to know it’s
not something you want to see.”
Emily nodded. She focused her eyes on Jason. “Will you…be
Jason shook his head. “I heal people. I don’t much like watching
“I need you there.”
“Emily…” Jason sighed. “We’ll talk about it later.”
Emily allowed Jason to leave while she spent some time with her
family. Finally, they left, knowing she needed to get some rest.
But she couldn’t rest, so she went to the dining room and sat
down. As she sat drinking coffee, Jason came in. He hesitated
going to her. She depended on him way too much for her security.
But as he turned to leave, Emily turned and saw him. She
motioned for him to come over then smiled as he sat down.
“Well…so, that’s what it looks like,” Jason declared as he
smiled at her.
“What looks like?”
“Your smile.” Jason’s eyes crinkled as he spoke. “I saw it.”
“You did?” Emily smiled again. She took a few sips of her
coffee. “I’m sorry if I’m a nuisance.”
Jason shook his head. “You aren’t.”
Emily nodded. “I am. But somehow…the pressure seems less now. I
don’t know why, but I don’t hurt as badly inside anymore.”
Jason smiled at her as he filled his coffee cup. “Then I’ll have
the pleasure of seeing you smile again. And every day, you’ll
smile a little more.”
“I…haven’t seen Dr. Stevens around much.”
“He’s around. He’s just really busy. He’s glad to leave the
office to me now so he can visit the sick more. That’s why he
“Oh.” Emily sat down her coffee cup. “Dr. Livingston…”
“Emily…Call me Jason.” Jason found himself staring at her. The
smile had done something to him. He’s not sure what that
something was, but he liked it…a lot.
“I’m a bit…embarrassed to ask you this but…for some reason I
need to know.”
“What is it?”
“When I was brought in that night…I mean after it all
happened…Did you…I mean…”
Jason chuckled softly in spite of the seriousness of the
conversation. “No. Dr. Stevens did the initial exam.”
“Oh. So you didn’t…” Emily felt her face grow warm.
“No. I didn’t.”
They both averted their eyes from the other. “I’m sorry.”
“No.” Jason shook his head. “Don’t be. I understand.”
“And I’m sorry I’ve taken up so much of your time. I think I’m
feeling a bit safer now so…you don’t have to eat with me
“Oh.” Jason leaned back in his chair and cocked his head to one
side. “That’s disappointing. I don’t like to eat alone.” Emily
lifted her eyes to look at him. “I would like to continue eating
Emily smiled. “Thank you.” She ordered her food. Jason placed
his order as well. “So will you go with me tomorrow?”
Jason sighed. “Why do you need me there? You’ll have your
Emily chewed on her lip while she thought on this. “Jason…when I
woke up, my sisters were there. But as I remembered what
happened to me, I focused on this face in front of me. You
weren’t like my brothers. There was something so soft in those
eyes…something that drew me to you. The only thing I could
picture in my mind at the moment…and even now…is that man coming
toward me. His eyes were hard and evil. I felt like I was
staring at the devil himself. But then my eyes focused on you.
You were everything opposite of this other man. I can’t explain
it…in the midst of my pain you were there.” Emily bit her lip.
“I love my brothers, but they smother me. You give me room. You
let me breathe. You let me have my space, and right now I need a
lot of that.” She smiled. “And in a way, you’ve protected me
from my family. Does that sound strange?”
Jason smiled. “No. Because I know how much your family loves
you. I know they have your best interest, yet I know that it’s
hard for them to watch you go through this.” Jason paused as the
waitress gave them their food. After she walked away, he turned
back to Emily. “I have two younger sisters. Throughout my whole
life, I did everything I could to protect them. Then one day…my
sister was attacked. She wasn’t injured to the extent you
were…not even close. But the fact that the attack even happened
was enough to send my blood boiling. I did everything to protect
her. I smothered her with questions and with love when all she
really needed was space.” Jason paused in buttering his bread to
look at Emily. “I suppose I saw that in you that first day. I
drove a wedge between my sister and me; and I guess in you I saw
the opportunity to do things right. That’s why I’ve been so
protective of you these past weeks.”
“Oh.” Emily took a bite of her stew. “And I thank you for all
you’ve done to help me. You really HAVE protected me. I…hope we
can stay friends.”
“So do I.” They kept the remainder of their conversation light
as they ate. In time, Jason walked Emily back to her room and
said goodnight. He promised to meet her in the dining room for
Emily turned from the stove and jumped when she saw Jason
standing in the doorway. She let out a loud gasp and pressed a
hand to her chest. “You startled me!”
Jason chuckled as he took the plate of pancakes from her hands.
“It’s about time to go.”
“Oh…” Emily turned away and looked out the window.
Jason slowly walked up behind her. “We don’t have to, you know.
If you’ve changed your mind…”
“No.” Emily shook her head as she slowly turned around. “No. I
have to do this.” She bit her lip and turned as she took off
her apron. Jason cautiously held out his arm to her. He was
surprised when she took it. He was even more surprised at the
feeling it produced in him. “I haven’t even eaten yet. I’ve been
so busy feeding everyone else.”
“That’s good.” Jason paused as he looked down at her. “It’s best
to do this on an empty stomach.” Emily felt her heart start to
beat harder as they walked down the street. Peter saw her and
hurried forward. He took her arm from Jason and led her over to
Abraham, Jeremiah, and Scott who had also came to watch. Jason
stood right behind her.
“I don’t like you being here, Emily,” Abe mumbled from beside
“I know. I don’t exactly want to be here either. But…I must be
so I’ll know in my heart that’s it’s really over.” Emily lowered
her head, suddenly feeling ashamed. “I’m sorry, Abe, that I’m
having such a hard time with this. You just…can’t understand.”
“You’re right. And my wife told me that in a no-nonsense sort of
way last night.”
Suddenly, the crowd grew quiet. Emily turned to see the Marshal
leading Earl Bridges to the gallows. The man held his head high
and walked straight with his hands tied behind his back. A small
grin played on his face. Images, sounds, and smells raced
through Emily’s mind. She threw a hand to her mouth and let out
a cry. She couldn’t stand the sight of this monster, yet she
couldn’t turn away. Jason sensed her mood from behind her and
gently laid a hand on her shoulder. “You can leave at any time,”
he whispered near her ear.
Emily shook her head. She felt her hands suddenly begin shaking
as Peter took one, and Abe the other. Her eyes filled with tears
as the hangman slipped the rope over his neck. The preacher read
some words from his Bible, but the prisoner simply kept a cold
grin on his face. Emily saw his eyes search the crowd, then they
found her. He stared at her as the hangman slipped the bag over
his head. Emily winced as the hangman slowly stepped to the rope
and held up his knife. The crowd began cheering as he started
cutting the rope. Emily suddenly turned away and buried her head
in Jason’s chest. Without realizing, Jason slipped his arms
around her to protect her.
The sound of death sounded and Emily threw her hands to her
ears. “Let’s go.” Jason and her brother quickly hurried her from
the sight. Jason knew she would need to heave, so he hurried
around some buildings to a wooded area and allowed her to drop
to her knees. He held her hair back from behind and allowed her
to relieve her stomach.
Abe and Peter bent down beside her. Jeremiah and Scott also
stood close by. “Are you okay, honey?” Abe asked softly.
Emily lifted her head and looked at her brother. “He’s dead.
He’s really….” Emily turned her head to see two men carrying his
body away. She put her face in her hands and wept bitterly.
The five men gathered around her and locked eyes with each
other. Everyone wanted to ask, and Jeremiah was finally the one
to ask the question. “What are you asking forgiveness for?”
“For hating him…for wishing him dead.” Emily shook her head. “I
shouldn’t have ever wished that.”
“Oh honey…” Abe pushed some hair back behind her ear and smiled
at her. “Any woman who went through what you just went through
would want the same thing. I don’t think God holds it against
“That’s right,” Jason said from behind her. “I live close to the
Good Book, and I’m telling you that you had every right to feel
and think what you did. In fact…I think you are strong for what
you did today. That took a lot of courage.” Emily turned her
head toward Jason. “Now you can start living again.”
“I have been living.”
Jason shook his head. “Not just on the outside, Emily. But on
the inside. I saw a smile on your face yesterday. I’d like to
see more of that…a lot more.”
Abe lifted an eyebrow when he saw his sister blush. He looked up
at Jason and wondered if maybe something special was about to
happen between the two of them. “Uh…Peter…Why don’t you and
Jeremiah escort our sister on back to the hotel? I’d like to
talk to…Dr. Livingston for a few minutes.”
Abe watched them leave. He nodded to Scott as he made his way
down the street. Then Abe slowly turned to look at Jason. “You
care about my sister a lot.”
“Your sister is a beautiful person. She has an inner beauty
inside that I’ve never seen.” Jason answered Abe as he kept his
eyes locked with him.
“Mm hm.” Abe nodded. “You two spend a lot of time together.”
“She took to me after the attack. She said it was my eyes. I
don’t know that I’m any more tender than the next man, but for
some reason she thinks I am.” Abe again raised an eyebrow. Jason
held up his hand. “Now wait just a minute there. I won’t deny
there’s a small bit of attraction there but….”
“A small bit?”
“Okay, okay…Your sister has just been through a traumatic
experience. Her attraction could be because I’m the only man she
can trust right now. I’m not going to play into that attraction
right now. She doesn’t need this. She needs to heal and to
return home…to get back to normal. My intentions toward her are
Abe sighed. “Jason, she may not ever return home. Her life’s
been changed forever and my wife helped me see that last night.
Now, I agree that she needs to heal before perusing any sort of
relationship, but I’ve been in your position. Sometimes it’s the
hard trials that bring a couple together.” Abe held up a hand.
“Now…I’m not going to go into details about my wife, but she had
been through a hard experience and I was there to help her. We
married just two months later and it’s been hard at times
but…she needed me and I needed her.” Abe nodded. “And that’s as
deep in a conversation about ‘love’ I’m going to get!”
Jason smiled. “I’m not going to do anything to hurt her. And I’m
not going to rush anything, Mr. McCain. I…”
“Please…call me Abe.”
Jason smiled. “Gee, I thought for a minute you were going to
“Any other man I would, but I’ve watched you with my sister over
the past two weeks and you are gentle. There’s something there…I
don’t know what it is, but I like it.”
“I was telling Emily last night that I had a sister who was
attacked. I tried to protect her…I smothered her and
sheltered…tried to force her to talk and the results were
disastrous. I guess that when I saw you and your family, I
wanted to prevent you from doing what I did. I got…protective. I
wanted to do for her what I didn’t do for my sister.”
Abe smiled. “And I thank you for that. I know I’m leaving her in
good hands. But just so you know, she has four OLDER brothers.”
“Four?” Jason raised his eyebrows.
“My youngest brother…Luke…He’s at war.”
Jason and Abe made their way back to the boarding house. After
saying goodbye, Emily announced that she wanted to work. Jason
studied her closely, but nodded that working today might be a
good idea; but he’d be back at noon to make sure she ate. And he
All that week, Jason allowed Emily to heal. He continued to dine
with her at each meal to make sure she was eating properly and
getting stronger. He began seeing more smiles on her face and
more life in her eyes. She began talking more about the
kidnapping. By the end of the second week, talking about it
didn’t bring her to tears. He smiled in satisfaction that she
was indeed healing nicely.
On Saturday, Jason took her to the office for one last exam. Dr.
Stevens, at Jason’s request, performed the exam and announced
that she was healing nicely. The bruises on her face were almost
entirely gone. All that was left was a faint scar that ran down
her right cheekbone. Jason knew it would always be there, and he
decided that Emily believed that too. He watched her stare in
the mirror as she stood in his office. He decided to wait on
saying anything…to let her come to terms with the fact on her
Sunday morning, Jason showed up at the hotel to have breakfast
with her before church. Emily was in the kitchen preparing meals
for the boarders when Mrs. Smith hurried in. “He’s here.”
Emily felt her heart race, hoping that ‘he’ was Jason. “Who?”
she forced herself to ask casually.
Mrs. Smith planted a hand on her hip and shook her head. “Oh
now…don’t give me that ‘who’ stuff! You know exactly who I mean,
young lady!” Mrs. Smith wagged a finger at her. “Now, you just
scoot on out there and flash that pretty smile of yours!”
Emily laughed as she took off her apron. She turned and saw Mrs.
Smith leave the kitchen, then studied herself in the mirror. She
smoothed her hair and straightened her dress. But when she
looked at the scar, she shook her head. She wondered why anyone
would be attracted to her with such a scar. “It’s not as big as
you think it is,” she heard from behind her.
Emily turned to see Jason standing there. He smiled. “Mrs.
Smith…” he motioned toward the dining room. “…she told me you
were supposed to be coming out there.”
“Oh.” Emily leaned up against the counter as he took a step
toward her. “I was just about to…”
Jason looked her up and down. “That’s a pretty dress you have
on.” He allowed his eyes to lock on her face. “Have I seen it
“No.” Emily folded her hands in front of her. “This is my Sunday
dress.” She suddenly turned away from him. “I’m a little nervous
about this morning…I don’t know if I’m ready to…”
Jason put a gentle hand on her shoulder and turned her around.
“I don’t want people to stare at me. The people here…they don’t
much care about what happened to me…some don’t even know. But…”
Emily lowered her head.
“Your family will be there. Your sister...Laura. She misses you
so much. Abe brought her into town yesterday and she said she
wanted to see you. I’ll be there with you if you want.”
“I do.” Emily bit her lip. “But what if they…”
Jason lifted his eyebrows and stared into her eyes. “Emily, if
those people at that church are going to judge you for what
happened and treat you any differently than before, then they
shouldn’t be there. I don’t think you’re giving them much
Emily smiled. “You’re right.”
“Let’s get you fed before we go to church.” Emily was quiet as
she and Jason ate breakfast. They were almost done when Peter
and Tiffany walked inside. Jason stood and invited them to sit.
After Tiffany was seated, Jason sat back down.
“How’s the family?” Emily asked.
“Fine.” Tiffany looked at Ruthie who sat on her father’s lap.
“She misses her Aunt Emily.”
“Em and Jeremiah brought the children in for church. Julie’s not
feeling as well today.” Tiffany turned and looked at Jason.
“I…think you or Dr. Stevens should come check on her today.”
Jason nodded. “I believe Dr. Stevens is out delivering a baby.
I’ll come this afternoon.”
Tiffany turned and looked at Peter. Cautiously, she spoke to
Emily. “Perhaps you and Jason can come for Sunday dinner, Emily.
It would be good to…”
Emily abruptly stood up. “I need to get these dishes in the
kitchen.” She started to gather the dishes, but Jason gently
grabbed he wrist to stop her. They locked eyes. She saw his
message loud and clear. Emily shook her head and hurried toward
“I’m sorry.” Tiffany apologized to Jason. “I didn’t mean to push
Jason wiped his mouth with his napkin. “You didn’t. She’s been
heeling so well this week. I think her going to the ranch is a
very good idea.” Jason stood. “Excuse me.”
When he got into the kitchen, he found Emily with her hands
planted on the counter staring into the sink. He walked over to
the counter and leaned on it sideways and he looked at her.
“I’m not ready. I need more time,” Emily said quickly.
“No.” Jason shook his head. “Sunday dinner at home with the
family is just what you need today. Everyone will be there.”
“I can’t. I…” Emily’s voice shook.
“Emily, I’ve watched life come back to you these past two weeks.
You seem so much more alive now than you did last Sunday. I
thought you’ve come to terms with what’s happened to you but…”
“You’re right!” Emily nodded her head rapidly. “I’ve come to
terms with it.”
“Then go have dinner with your family.”
“No.” Emily shook her head. “The dinner crowd is larger on
Sunday. Mrs. Smith will…”
“No, Emily.” Emily turned and looked at him. His blue eyes were
filled with concern. “It’s time.”
“Oh Jason…I don’t know if I…” She turned away.
“I tell you what…” Jason turned her to face him. “Let’s go to
church. We’ll see how that goes then decide. I don’t want to
push you, but I don’t want you to live in fear either.”
Emily nodded. The feelings she felt when she looked at him were
nice. She felt as if he’d given her her life back. She didn’t
understand exactly what was going on, but she felt so drawn to
him. She wanted him with her no matter where she went, and she
wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. “Jason…” Jason paused
before returning to their guests. “…if I do go, will you…”
“I’ve been invited.” Jason nodded.
Emily smiled. Jason smiled back at her and she blushed. They
soon made their way toward the church. Jason sensed Emily’s
nervousness as he walked beside her. He wanted to take her hand
to offer her support, but he decided taking her hand wouldn’t be
a very good idea – for either of them. He couldn’t even think of
courting her until she was completely healed from her attack. He
couldn’t believe he was even thinking about such a thing, seeing
as he’d only known her for a little over a month.
Emily, however, was thinking about similar things. She wished he
would take her hand and offer her comfort. Just being near him
made her shaky and her heart beat faster. She really wasn’t sure
what all this meant. As far as men, she’d never really had much
experience with them. With her plain looks, she wasn’t exactly a
lady that men stood in line to dance with. But now she suddenly
found herself wanting to dance with Jason.
But in truth, Emily wondered if she ever could. She felt very
uncomfortable with the mere thought of Jason ever courting her.
She didn’t know if she could ever kiss a man or…be a wife to a
man after what she’d been through. She wondered how a woman with
her experience could EVER love a man and marry him. Or if a man
were to find out, would he want a woman, such as her? Yet, here
was a man. Her heart longed for something more than just a
friendship. This left her very confused and nervous.
Emily stood at the bottom of the church steps and looked up.
They were running a little late, so there weren’t people
lingering in the church yard. She wondered if Jason had walked
slowly on purpose, knowing she wouldn’t want a lot of people
stopping to ask her questions. She swallowed hard as she looked
up at the open doors. Tiffany turned and looked at Emily. “You
two go on. We’ll be there.”
Jason felt torn. He knew Tiffany wanted to help Emily go into
the church, and he knew that was the proper thing to do. Yet
part of him wanted to be the one to help her with this step.
Emily sensed his apprehension to leave her. She looked up at him
and smiled. “It’s okay. You go on.”
Tiffany took Emily’s hand and helped her as she slowly walked up
the steps. When they walked inside, several heads turned to look
at her. The talking suddenly stopped when they realized Emily
was there. Emily bit her lip and smiled, uncomfortable as she
started walking up the long aisle. Laura stood up with a smile
on her face and looked at Emily. Emily’s heart melted at the
sight of the little girl. She realized in that moment that she
hadn’t seen Laura since…Laura hurried forward and threw her arms
around Emily. Peter stood and hurried forward as Laura started
crying. “I’m sorry…I’m sorry…” Laura said.
Laura had been sternly talked to by Abe and Julie that very
morning that she shouldn’t do what she had just done, but she
didn’t have that much control and couldn’t stand seeing the scar
on her sister’s face. Nor could she stand the fact that Emily
wasn’t close by anymore. Peter took Laura and sat her down.
Emily sat down right beside Laura. Jason took his place behind
the McCain pew and sat beside Scott Gibbs.
Emily had forgotten how much she enjoyed being in church. She
felt herself relax as she began singing the hymns. Jason smiled
when he heard her singing. She had the voice of a songbird, and
he knew he could listen to her sing all day. Emily smiled when
she heard Jason’s own voice singing from behind her. He sang the
songs with such feeling and emotion. She knew he really believed
the words he sung.
Emily settled down as she put an arm around Laura and allowed
Laura to lay her head against her. The preacher spoke of hope
through Jesus. Emily felt herself relax even more.
Jason watched her from behind. He could hardly concentrate on
the sermon. He watched her relax as the preacher spoke. Her
shoulders became less stiff, as she laid her head against Laura.
When they stood for the benediction, Emily stepped from the pew
and went up to bow at the altar. Jason watched Margaret Gibbs
join her. Margaret wept as she prayed over her friend, but when
Emily lifted from the alter; she had a smile on her face. And
this smile lit her face up like a candle on a dark night.
Jason waited until they were outside before stepping up next to
her. “So what do you say about going to have lunch with your
Emily bit her lip. “If you want me to say I have no doubts about
going, I can’t do that. But…” Emily lowered her head then lifted
it. “I’m willing to go if…you are.”
The way she said it sounded a bit fictitious. Jason raised an
eyebrow and questioned her about it. “Well…you may be getting
the worst of the deal. You’ll be stuck with my entire family.”
“Oh.” Jason grinned. They both knew their relationship was
blossoming into something more than friendship. Emily was
terrified of the prospect, but something was pulling her to go
forward with it. Jason, on the other hand, was a bit hesitant on
starting a more ‘personal’ relationship with everything she’d
been through. He was afraid he was more of a crutch than a love
interest. But he decided he’d go along for the ride and watch
her closely to get his answer.
Jason was invited to ride along with Peter and Tiffany. Peter
had a newly purchased double buckboard, and Jason was forced to
sit beside Emily as they rode home. Jason sensed tension come
back into Emily as they rode out of town. “Did he take you this
way?” Jason asked softly.
Emily nodded. “We turned off right there.” She pointed to a path
that led into the woods. “We were racing so fast and…” Emily
stopped as her mouth became dry.
“That beast…” Peter muttered under his breath. “I should have…”
“He’s dead now, Peter. There’s no reason to say those things
anymore.” Jason smiled at Tiffany’s curt matter-of-fact
attitude. He wondered if all the McCain women possessed it. He
wondered what it would be like for Emily to boss him like that.
Then he blushed for even thinking that.
“Jason, I don’t think I can…” Emily suddenly declared as she
reached out and took his hand. She put a hand to her chest and
started breathing hard.
Jason squeezed her hand. “You can do this, Emily.” His voice was
soothing as he kept his eyes focused on hers. “Talk to me. Tell
me what you’re feeling.”
“I’m scared…” Emily suddenly cried out. “Oh Jason, I’m so
“He’s dead, Emily. He can’t hurt you ever again. He’s dead.”
“Oh…Peter, stop!” Emily suddenly cried out.
“No, no…” Jason squeezed her hand even tighter. He touched her
face, ignoring the electricity that flowed through his hand.
“Talk to me, Emily. Tell me what you feel.”
“I can see him. I can feel his hands. He…”
“Go past that, honey. Think about all the times you walked this
path as a schoolgirl…with some gentleman caller…”
Emily suddenly gave him a slight smile. “I’ve never had a
“Never?” He chuckled. “Your brothers chase them all away?”
“No. I guess I just…wasn’t pretty enough.”
“Oh.” Jason smiled as he looked in her eyes. “They are all
fools. Every one of them.”
Emily blushed at the huskiness in his voice. She glanced at
Peter and Tiffany who were both looking at each other smiling.
Jason chuckled. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you, but I think
you’re beautiful. If I had gone to school with you…”
Peter suddenly cleared his throat. “If you’d gone to school
with her, Lucas would have chased you off. No boy from Enid was
ever good enough for our sister, according to Luke.”
Tiffany batted him lightly and told him to keep driving. They
were all happy that Jason’s uncomfortable words were taking
Emily’s mind off of her worries. Jason cleared his throat. “It’s
beautiful country you live in here. It looks like you have quite
Emily gasped as she lifted her head. She didn’t realize they had
arrived. She shot a hand to her chest. Jason stepped down from
the wagon. He put his hands to her waist and swung her down.
“Tell me about Sundays at the McCain’s.”
“I…I…” Emily swallowed. “Right there…” She pointed to the
hitching post. “His horse was right there…I don’t know why I
didn’t see it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He came in and told me he had lost his horse. He needed a
horse, but it was tied up right here and I…I should have seen it
but I…I didn’t.” Emily turned and looked at Jason. “Why didn’t
I? Why didn’t I see it? I offered him all kinds of information
that told him I was alone. I put Laura’s life in danger. I…”
Jason shook his head as he rested a hand on her cheek. “No.
Don’t think about all that now. It’s in the past. You can’t
change it so just don’t fret yourself.” Emily averted his eyes.
“Now…tell me about Sundays at the McCain’s.”
Emily turned and looked at the door to their house. “Well…we all
come here and the men sit around outside and talk about
anything…you know, farming and ranching, the weather,
politics…And the women all cook a big meal. We get it ready
before church and finish when we get home. Then we say a prayer
and eat. About mid-afternoon, we all go our separate ways.”
“Except you. You stay here and clean.”
Emily nodded. “Peter and Tiffany live here with their daughter
and…” Emily looked up at the door. “Well…I used to live here.
But I don’t want to anymore, Jason.”
Jason nodded. “I know. And that’s okay. You don’t have to live
here.” Jason saw Emily hesitate as she stared at the front door.
He gently took her arm and spoke as he slowly led her inside.
“Now, let me tell you about Sundays at the Livingston’s. We
would come home from church to a home-cooked meal. My father was
very strict and didn’t allow us to do anything on Sunday
afternoon. We sat and ate our meal quietly and then we would sit
in our rooms or just around the table quietly. We could read.
Well, one day we grew tired and decided we’d sneak outside while
my folks were sleeping. We went to barn and started swinging on
the rope that was hung from the hayloft when my sister got her
pigtails stuck in the barn roof. I had to hold her up and my
other sister had to scream really loud for my father.”
They were standing inside now. Emily was so interested in his
story that she didn’t even realize where she was. “Well, I’ll
tell you one thing…I didn’t have to worry about sitting down for
a week, because even though there wasn’t supposed to be any work
or noise on Sunday, my Pa tanned our hides and we cried and
hollered for a long time!”
Emily put a hand to her mouth and giggled. Jason smiled at her,
enjoying the sound of her laughter. “Well…” Jason commented as
he stared into her eyes. “I was wondering when I’d get to hear
“Oh.” Emily nodded. “It feels so good to laugh again, Jason.”
“Well…I’m glad I could accommodate.”
Tiffany cleared her throat. “Well…You could give me a hand!”
Tiffany declared from the stove.
Emily suddenly stopped and looked around. Tiffany and Peter had
rearranged the family room. It didn’t even look like the same
house anymore. Emily put a hand to her mouth and shook her head.
Tiffany stood behind Emily. “We thought it would be easier for
Emily smiled. “Thank you.”
Laura bounded inside with the boys right on her tail. Em and
Jeremiah followed close behind. “Aunt Tiffany, is it ready yet?”
“No.” Emily turned and smiled at Laura as she skipped around the
table and hummed. “Now Laura Rose!” Tiffany put a fist on her
hip. “You just bounce right on out that door until I call you
“Laura Rose!” Jeremiah suddenly called from the doorway. Laura
hung her head and hurried outside. Jeremiah gave her backside a
firm pat on her way out.
Emily smiled as she absent-mindedly reached for Jason’s hand.
“Laura’s always felt short-changed. She has four older brothers.
Our youngest brother, Luke, is away fighting in the war right
now. He’s the only one who never gave her a licking and she’ll
tell you she loves him for that. She lives with Abe and Julie
since our mother died. I reckon she gets the lion’s share of
spanking with three brothers always ready to hand them out.”
Jason smiled and shook his head. What had he been so worried
about? She was doing fine – just fine! She was having no trouble
adjusting whatsoever! It was a good idea to bring her around
family again. They could help her forget anything had happened.
Tiffany informed Jason that lunch was still an hour away, so if
he wanted to go check on Julie, he could. Emily straightened up
from setting the table. “Hold up and I’ll go with you.”
“Oh no…” Jason plopped his hat on his head. “You stay here. I…”
Emily untied her apron and smiled. “No. I want to come. I could
“Oh now, go on with you!” Tiffany declared with a smile. “Let
her go. She’ll want to see Julie. And I know Julie could use
some cheering up.”
Jason and Emily made their way to Abe’s house. Laura walked with
them at Emily’s suggestion since she had already been threatened
by her brother, Jeremiah. Abe stood from gathering wood and
smiled. He sat the wood down and came up to hug his sister. “Dr.
Livingston, I’m glad you came.” Abe turned and walked toward the
house. “I’m a bit worried about Julie.”
They went inside. Julie looked up from the bed and smiled when
she saw Emily. Emily sat down and hugged her. “Oh, I heard what
happened. I’m sorry I caused so much trouble.”
“You didn’t cause any trouble at all,” Julie declared. “I’m not
too good at following orders. I pushed myself too hard.” Julie
smiled as she looked Emily up and down. “But I’m better now that
I see you. You look wonderful!”
Emily turned away as she touched the scar on her face. Jason
cleared his throat from behind. “Oh…I’ve never been beautiful
but…” Emily bit her lip. Again, she heard Jason’s warning. She
decided to heed it for now. “Oh Julie…I do hope everything’s
alright!” She stood so Jason could sit down and examine Julie.
Jason made a few unrecognizable noises once in a while, and
Emily and Abe stood back anxiously and watched.
Jason stood and walked out of the room to wash his hands. Abe
and Emily looked at each other. “Well, doctor?” Abe asked.
Jason dried his hands and turned around. “I don’t think she’s
going to hold out much longer, Mr. McCain. She’s dilated some
and I believe the baby’s gotten into position. I…think she may
“How early?” Abe asked.
“Well…” Jason turned and looked at Emily. “It’s nearing the end
of March and you believe she’s due around the beginning of May?”
Abe nodded. “Then I’d guess that she’ll deliver anytime now. She
may be a bit further along they once believed.”
“I see.” Abe nodded. “I…thank you, doctor.”
Jason turned and looked at Emily. Then he turned back toward
Abe. “Could I have a moment of your time?” Abe nodded. Jason
turned to Emily. “Uh…if you like, you could go spend some time
with Julie. I’ll come for you when I’m ready to go.”
It was about thirty minutes before Jason finally knocked on the
door and announced he was ready to go. Emily stood and hurried
from the room after giving Julie a hug. She walked out with
Jason. Jason seemed nervous about something. Emily was surprised
when he sent Laura on ahead of them. She waited to see what he
had to say. Finally, he sat her under a tree and spoke. “Well…”
He stopped to catch his breath.
Emily lifted her eyebrows. She nodded slowly. “Well?” Jason
didn’t say anything. “What did you and Abe talk about?”
Jason turned and looked at her. Then he smiled. “Well now, if I
wanted you to know that, I wouldn’t have sent you away.”
“Oh.” Emily lowered her head and started to stand up, but she
felt electricity shoot through her arm when Jason touched it.
The feeling froze her in place and forced her to sit back down.
“Emily…” Jason mumbled as he put a hand to her cheek to turn her
face around. But Emily brushed his hand away. Jason was a bit
startled at first, but came to realize there had been some
changes in her since the incident like her brother said.
She’d never been self-conscious before, Abe had declared. She’d
never had a boy interested in her, yet that didn’t seem to
bother her. It never bothered her that she was ‘plain’ looking.
But now she seemed so self-conscious. “Is it me?”
“Is what you?” Emily asked.
“Am I the reason you feel so…uncomfortable?”
Emily’s eyes grew wide as she slowly turned and looked at him.
“I have to go.” She stood up. This time Jason didn’t stop her.
But he stood up and hurried up behind her. He gently grabbed her
elbow and turned her. “Just let me go!” Emily suddenly pleaded.
“Talk to me, Emily. Tell me what’s wrong?” Jason sighed. “You
looked so alive at your home earlier. Now you look as if you’re
escaping back into some inner shell inside. You can’t hide,
Emily. You can’t!”
Emily shook her head. “You’re pushing me! You said you wouldn’t
“No, Emily. I’m not pushing you.” Jason looked down at his hat.
“I think I best just go back to town.” Jason turned to leave.
“Jason…” Emily called quietly. Jason turned. “It’s…not you.
It’s…” Emily turned from him and leaned against the tree as she
began sobbing. “It’s me.”
Her sobbing did something to Jason. He slowly walked up behind
her and gently put a hand on her shoulder. Emily’s sobbing
quieted. “I…asked your brother if I could call on you…since I’ve
been doing that the past few days anyhow. He told me I could but
I should take it easy with your heart. I reckon I’ve already
gone against his advice.”
Emily slowly turned. “You…you want to call on me?” Jason nodded.
“But why? I mean…I’m…”
“You’re a beautiful woman,” Jason answered as he smiled at her.
“I can see the beauty in your heart as well as on your face.
What man wouldn’t want to call on you?”
“I’m not worthy, Jason. I…” Emily hung her head.
“Why? Because a man forced himself upon you and stole something
from you? That’s not your fault. Why would I hold that against
“Oh Jason, I…” Emily lowered her head. Without thinking, she
pulled her hair over the scar on her face.
Jason stepped closer to her. He brushed her hair back and looked
at the scar. “It’ll be a constant reminder to you of the dark
time in your life. I’m sorry I couldn’t get rid of that. I
worked so hard on healing your bruises and scars on your
outside. Now I want to try to heal those on your heart.” Emily’s
eyes again filled with tears. “I can’t promise I can remove
every scar, but I want to take as many of them as I can.” Jason
raised his eyebrows. “Will you let me? We’ll take it really
Emily allowed a small smile to play at the corner of her mouth.
She nodded slightly. Then she and Jason turned and walked back
to the house. Jason silently slipped his hand in hers and he
felt some of her tension release.
As March slowly turned into April, Jason and Emily slipped into
a comfortable routine. Emily worked at the boarding house,
helping Mrs. Adams prepare the meals and cleaning the rooms.
When her work was done, she’d quietly slip away and walk by
herself to the lake where she spent so many hours as a little
girl. It was hard at first, but Jason assured her it would get
easier with each passing day. Emily didn’t know it, but Jason
followed her the first few times to make sure no harm came to
her that would set her back.
There were some days when Emily would slip over to the doctor’s
office to assist Jason. Dr. Stevens would smile at her, happy at
the love that was forming between the couple very slowly. Jason
commented to Emily that she was a big help in assisting him with
children who simply didn’t want to sit still for their shots;
and helping him set broken legs and arms. She even went on a few
house calls with him.
Emily and Jason ate practically every meal together. Those meals
they missed together were hard for both of them. Emily would
always watch for him and become a bit saddened when he didn’t
come; but Mrs. Smith reminded her that Jason was a doctor, and
if she was going to marry him someday she’d have to get used to
That ‘M’ word scared Emily more than she wanted to admit. Since
they started courting officially, she really hadn’t given much
thought to actually having to marry him. She wasn’t sure if she
could…And that thought scared her so much that she pressed it
way down deep inside herself.
Two weeks into April, on a Saturday night, Dr. Jason Livingston
stood her from the table at the boarding house and helped her
with her shawl. As they walked outside, Jason led her to a
waiting carriage. Emily smiled at the prospect of the two of
them going on a carriage ride. She smiled even more when they
stopped under the full moon by the lake. Jason turned in the
carriage and looked at her. “How are you?” he asked softly as he
stared into her eyes.
“It’s hard some days,” Emily answered honestly. “I…”
Jason waited, but she didn’t say more. “Talk to me,” he
whispered as he took her hand and squeezed it.
“I enjoy our time together, Jason. And I know you’re working on
healing my heart. I can feel it but…” Emily lowered her head.
Jason put a hand under her chin and lifted her head back up.
“But what?” His voice remained soft and tender.
“But…I can’t understand why you think I’m beautiful when no
other man ever has.”
“Oh.” Jason lifted a finger to touch her scar, but Emily
suddenly pulled away. “Don’t do that, Emmy…” he mumbled softly.
“Don’t pull away.” Emily stared at him. “This scar on your face
is small, Emmy. You want to know why I think you’re beautiful?”
Emily nodded. “Because I’m looking at you with my heart.” Jason
lowered his head, but his hand continued to linger close to her
cheek that held her scar. He raised his head back up to look
into her eyes. “That first day when you opened those eyes…I saw
something in them. You were so dead inside, but your eyes…they
held life. They held the real you and that’s what I saw.”
Emily bit her lip as a tear fell from her eye. Jason moved his
hand closer to the scar, and again she started to pull away. But
Jason put a hand behind her neck to keep her from going too far.
His finger gently touched the scar. “You ARE the most beautiful
woman I’ve ever met, Emmy.” Jason mumbled. “This
imperfection...this scar…it will fade in time – in your eyes….if
you allow it to…If you want it to…”
Emily closed her eyes as Jason traced the scar from top to
bottom. She felt another scab fall away on her heart. There were
more insecurities, and they both knew it, but Jason had promised
he’d take it slow and that was a promise they both agreed to
Jason wanted to kiss her so badly. Everything within him yearned
to press his lips to hers, but he restrained himself as he
simply smiled in her eyes. He could tell she wasn’t ready for
that step. The memories of that horrible night were still too
alive inside her. He had her heart in his hands and it scared
him; but something inside him made him want to hold it for the
rest of his life. “Oh Emmy….” Jason mumbled softly. “You ARE
Emily’s eyes smiled as they stared into his. The moonlight was
doing something to the both of them. Jason allowed his fingers
to leave the scar and touch the corner of her lips.
But suddenly, they heard a rider approaching them. Jason turned
in his seat to see Peter McCain hurry up to the wagon. “It’s
Julie! Hurry!” Peter shouted.
Jason called to the horses. “Hold on tight,” he ordered Emily as
he called the horses to go as fast as they could.
When they arrived, every window in the Abe McCain house was lit
up. Jason jumped down, then turned to help Emily down. He
grabbed his doctor’s bag from under the seat. “Margaret’s in
there with her, but she said it’s bad.”
Jason and Emily hurried into the house. Jason hurried into the
bedroom where Julie was screaming with pains of childbirth.
“Margaret, talk to me!” Jason ordered as he started taking off
his jacket and rolling up his sleeves.
“She’s been in labor for hours, doctor. Julie wanted me to
deliver the baby, but there’s something wrong! I don’t know what
it is. She’s hurting too much.”
Jason nodded as he washed his hands in the basin. “Alright.
Margaret, I want you to get as many lanterns in here as you can.
Emily, I want you to assist me with the exam.” Jason dried his
hands on the towel. He looked up to see Abe standing in the
doorway. His eyes were wide with worry. “Peter, I want you to
get Abe out of here. Take him for a walk. “
“No! I want to stay!” Abe declared. “Doc, she’s my wife.”
“I know, Abe. And I’ll do everything I can. I promise.” Jason
laid a hand on Abe’s shoulder. “But you need to go out. Her
seeing you in here worrying won’t do her any good.”
Peter forced his brother from the room and Jason closed the
door. Jason checked the baby and shook his head. “The baby’s
stuck. I’m going to have to push it up a bit than pull it out.”
“Jason…Julie?” Emily asked suddenly.
Jason sighed as he shook his head. “I’ll do my best, Emily.” He
looked up at Emily. Julie had her hands on the bars of the
headboard as her face was drenched in pain. Margaret came in
with the last lantern. “Okay Margaret, you get on the other side
of her. I’m going in. “ He called to Julie, “Julie, I’m going to
try and get the baby out. You can scream as loud as you want.
It’s going to hurt, but then it’ll be over.”
Julie nodded as she clinched her jaw. She closed her eyes and
reared back on her pillow. Jason locked eyes with Emily. She
gave him a small nod, giving him the confidence he needed. Then
after sending up a silent prayer to God, he went to work.
It took some doing. Julie screamed as loud as she could as he
worked at positioning the baby. He knew this was dangerous for
both mother and baby; and he wished medicine was better equipped
to handle such births. He’s seen many mothers die with less
trouble than this, and he’d lost a few babies in his time. But
everything in him wanted both mother and baby to live. Jason
felt sweat pour down his face. Emily saw it too and, with her
free hand, wiped the sweat from his brow. Jason positioned
himself better than pulled hard.
Julie’s scream was enough to be heard outside. Abe and Peter
looked at each other. Abe rushed toward the house, but Peter
tried to restrain him. After that last scream, everything was
quiet. Abe shoved his brother away and hurried inside. He heard
a baby cry. Abe hurried inside the bedroom to find Margaret
cleaning up the baby. Jason sat on the floor with a hand to his
forehead. He was shaking terribly and crying. Emily sat right
beside him with her hand on his shoulder comforting him.
Alarmed, Abe looked toward the bed, and was happy to see Julie
weakly smiling at him. She lifted her eyes to look at her
husband. “It’s a girl,” she whispered as a small smile played at
her lips. “We have a beautiful little girl.”
“Doc?” Abe breathed his silent, desperate question.
Jason wiped his eyes. Emily helped him stand to his feet. He was
shaky as he walked to Abe. Emily kept an arm on him to steady
him. “She’ll be fine.” Jason nodded. “They’ll both be fine. “ He
walked to the basin and washed his hands. After drying them, he
turned and looked at Emily. “I’ll be back to finish tending to
Julie. I need some air.”
“I’ll go with you?” Emily asked hopefully.
Jason patted her hand and nodded. They walked out onto the
porch. Jason slowly sat down on the steps. “I never saw Dr.
Stevens react like that.”
“I’m sorry…” Jason swallowed hard. “I…reckon I’m still wet
behind the ears myself. It was a hard delivery, and I didn’t
know if I could save them both. When I realized they were both
okay I just felt…relief.” Jason turned and looked at Emily.
“When they brought you in, you were almost dead. Dr. Stevens and
I worked all night trying to keep you alive. I cried when I
realized you were going to live.”
“It shows you have a big heart,” Emily mumbled as she sat next
to him. Jason put an arm around her shoulders and laid her head
on his shoulder. It felt so right to both of them to share this
moment together. Jason could feel the strength returning to his
own body. Finally, he kissed the top of her head. “I should go
finish. You…stay right here.”
“No.” Emily started to stand. “I’m your nurse.”
“Margaret can be my nurse tonight. You stay right here.” Emily
nodded and watched Jason hurry back inside.
By the time Jason was done, it was too late to ride back into
town. Jason was given a cot in Abe’s house while Margaret and
Emily went down to the main house. Jason walked the women down,
then waited until Margaret, who held a big knowing smile on her
face, went inside. Jason, holding more confidence that he could
do so now, again traced the scar on her face as he stood outside
the door. “You were wonderful tonight.”
“I just did as you told me to. I’ve helped with birthing
“Oh.” Jason shook his head. “I wasn’t talking about the nursing.
I was talking about…” Jason grinned as he blushed. “…before
Peter interrupted us. You were allowing me inside your heart a
“Oh.” Emily realized that his touching her scar no longer
bothered her. In fact, she felt it was an intimate gesture
somehow. Jason smiled down at her. “Well…I’ll leave you now. You
get a good night’s sleep.”
Emily nodded. Jason allowed his finger to trail again to the
corner of her lips. Emily opened her mouth as a small gasp
escaped her. Jason grinned as he released her and stepped away.
Emily smiled as she watched him walk away.
Things seemed to suddenly get busy for Jason. Dr. Stevens was
down with the flu, and his advanced age was making his recovery
time rather lengthy. Emily insisted on helping Jason by caring
for Dr. Stevens while Jason took over caring for the health of
Enid, Oklahoma. Their times alone were few and far between for
the remainder of April.
Dr. Stevens was recovering as May entered. Jason still wouldn’t
allow him to do too much doctoring and Dr. Stevens grumbled the
whole time. Finally, on Saturday night in early May, Jason
surprised Emily by coming to the boarding house and knocking on
her door. She opened it. Jason took up the whole, entire
doorframe. “Well, if I’m going to take my girl out tonight, you
should put on something a bit nicer than that!” Jason declared
with a twinkle in his eye.
Emily looked down at her house dress. She blushed. “Well, if my
beau would tell me he was taking me out in advance like a
GENTLEMAN should, he wouldn’t catch me in such a shabby dress!”
She found herself retorting.
“Oh.” Jason leaned against the doorframe and looked her up and
down. “Well…a doctor doesn’t always get the advantage of giving
advanced notice.” He smiled at her as he bent down and picked up
a box. “Put this on, then meet me at the hotel dining room
across the street.”
Emily lifted the lid from the box. “Jason, you…” she lifted her
head, but he was gone.
Jason had requested a small table in the back of the hotel
earlier. He ordered the lemon chicken with baby carrots and
broccoli for both of them, after remembering Emily telling him
it was her favorite meal at the hotel. He waited nervously for
her to arrive.
When he heard the noise in the hotel suddenly decrease, Jason
lifted his head to see Emily standing in the doorway. The pink
dress he had purchased at the dress shop was a perfect fit. It
brought out the beauty of her face perfectly. Jason slowly stood
and whistled as she came closer. He twirled his finger around,
indicating for her to turn around for him. Emily blushed and
shook her head. “I can’t do that!”
“Yes you can. Now come on…show me.” Jason smiled as Emily slowly
turned to let him get the full effect of his good deed. Jason
nodded his approval. He came toward her and rested a hand on her
scarred cheek. “Emily McCain, you are stunning…” he mumbled.
Emily sat down. She gasped when she saw the food in front of her
already. “Why this romantic gesture?” Emily asked as she lifted
a suspicious eyebrow.
“Well…” Jason cleared his throat as he took her hand. “I’ve been
so busy lately and we’ve had such little time to spend together
that…I just felt I owed something to you to make it up.”
Emily shook her head. “You didn’t have to. I understand.”
“Yeah?” Jason pulled his lips out into a mock pout. “I sure
don’t! I’ve wanted to be alone with you now for two weeks!”
Emily blushed at all the attention he was giving her. He bowed
his head and blessed the food before they started eating.
“So…”Emily started as they ate. “You think a meal at the hotel
dining room and a new dress will make up for two weeks of eating
alone and spending my evenings alone and…”
Jason laughed. “No, my dear. After dinner we’re taking the buggy
back down to the lake. Then I have a nice blanket that we can
sit on and look at the stars.”
Emily suddenly averted her eyes from him. The blanket sounded
so…intimate. She blushed at the thought. “Emily?” Emily lifted
her eyes to look at him. “I’m not going to press you, honey. I
promised I’d take things slow. And I will.”
Emily nodded, but remained quiet. Jason allowed her to her
thoughts for only a moment. “Talk to me.”
“That insecurity in your eyes. What’s it all about this time?”
Emily heard the sternness in his voice. She knew she had to tell
“Well I…My heart’s having a battle, I think.”
“Oh?” Jason sat down his fork and took her hand. “Against good
and evil?” Emily nodded. “You’re afraid to fall in love with
me?” Emily blushed. That was his answer. “Why?”
“I…I don’t know…”
“Oh, but I think you do, Emily. I think you know exactly why.”
Jason touched her cheek, forcing her to look at him. “Emily,
only time and patience will help you. And I have my whole
lifetime. I understand what happened to you two months ago was
horrible. I haven’t tried to kiss you yet, have I?”
Emily blushed again as she smiled. “No. And part of my heart’s…”
She stopped, unable to finish her thought.
“…is disappointed?” Jason coaxed. Emily nodded. “But part of
your heart is glad because you remember that night?” Emily
nodded again. “Emmy, when we first started dining together, you
tensed every time I tried to touch you. You’ve let me touch your
scar and you seem to enjoy it now. And that night…when I traced
your lip you…”
“No…” Emily suddenly straightened. “I don’t want to talk about
this! It’s embarrassing.”
Jason held tight to her wrist and pulled her back down so he
could talk to her in private. “Oh Emmy…I wish I could give you a
normal courtship where we didn’t talk about such things…where we
could just silently fall in love and…But we don’t have that
because that man stole something from you. I’m going to help you
get that back, Emmy. I promise you, someday you’re going to have
“But Jason, you can’t…I…”
“Maybe not physically…But emotionally and…In your heart, you
can. I promise you if you’ll just allow me to…I’ll help you get
Emily felt her eyes fill with tears. “Jason…I’ve never met a man
like you before. I never knew they existed.”
“Oh, hopefully there’s only one of me.” Jason chuckled softly.
“I don’t want any competition.”
Emily looked down at her plate. “I don’t think I could eat
another bite. I think I’m ready for that buggy ride now.”
Jason’s eyes sparkled as he stood from the table. He held out
his arm to her. As they walked out, the diners stared at the
beauty the couple suddenly possessed. They found it truly
The couple was quiet as Jason drove the buggy slowly out to the
lake. Unlike two weeks ago, the moon tonight was only a sliver,
which cast a darkness on the couple. A lit lantern swung from
the bar on the buggy which gave just a little light. Jason
turned and looked at Emily as they approached their destination.
“Did I tell you tonight…just how beautiful you look?”
Emily smiled. “I believe you did, but I guess I could stand to
hear it again.”
The buggy stopped. Jason slowly climbed from the buggy and put
his hands around her waist to swing her down. He turned and got
the blanket then took her hand and led her to the water. They
worked together on spreading the blanket out. Jason wasted no
time plopping down, but Emily hesitated, again feeling very
self-conscious. Jason lifted his arm up and grabbed her hand.
“Don’t be shy, beautiful.” He tugged on her hand. Emily slowly
sat down on the blanket. She stared out over the water. “Boy…you
sure are making me work tonight, aren’t you?”
Emily blushed as she lowered her head. Jason sat up beside her
and pushed the hair back from her face. “So…how have you been,
“Okay,” Emily answered with a blush.
“Just okay?” Jason grinned. “Oh right…you’ve been feeling
neglected. Well, I’m here now.” Emily turned and smiled at him.
“How’s your family?”
“They’re all good. Laura’s excited about school being over.
Julie and Abe are adjusting to their daughter, Rachel. They were
in church last Sunday.”
“Oh yeah?” Jason smoothed her hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry I
“Oh, I’m sure important business kept you away…” Emily hinted.
“Yes.” Jason nodded as he grinned at her. “I wouldn’t miss
church unless I had good cause to. I had a call in the town
fifteen miles from here. They don’t have a doctor.”
“You don’t have to tell me. I…” Jason pressed a finger to her
lips to hush her.
They grew quiet as they looked up into the sky. Jason slowly
laid down then tugged at Emily’s hand to lay down beside him.
“The stars…they hold a lot of magic in them.”
“Magic?” Emily asked from beside him. Jason kept his distance
while they laid beside each other. “What kind of magic?”
“I don’t know exactly…You see, they say that if you stare at the
stars long enough you start seeing pictures. And the amazing
thing is that people in China see the same thing….the same
“Hm…” Emily grinned as she turned and looked at him in the
darkness. “My brother said they’re called constellations.”
“Oh.” Jason frowned. “And here I thought I could teach you
Emily sat up. Jason slowly sat up beside her. “You can, Jason.
You’ve taught me so much. You’ve taught me how to believe in
“I’ve still a lot of work to do,” Jason mumbled as he again
traced her scar. Emily lifted her eyes to him. “I’ve something
to tell you, Emily.” Jason hesitated. “Dr. Stevens is retiring.”
Emily gasped. “What?”
“This last bout with the flu has done him in. He’s almost
seventy years old, and he just doesn’t think he has the strength
to keep working at delivering babies and going here and there.
He hired me with the intention to keep working, but…he feels
that he just can’t handle the work anymore. I’m taking over his
“Oh. So you’re going to be pretty busy from here on out I
Jason smiled. “You know, I can’t help but to be happy you’re so
upset about that.” Emily lifted her eyebrows in silent question.
“Well…it does a man’s confidence good to know that…well, that
you will miss me.” Jason cleared his throat. “I’ve been thinking
“Well…I know that…that you’re used to farming and such, but I
was wondering if you ever gave thought to…being a nurse.” Jason
grinned. “I’m being a bit selfish here. I don’t want to go days
without seeing you and I really could use you to help me. It
means Mrs. Smith would have to find someone else to work her
boarding house since you’ll be helping me, I’ll pay for your
room and board.”
“Oh no!” Emily shook her head. “It’s not your…”
“Don’t do that, Emily. You must know by now how I feel about
you. That I…” Jason touched her lips with his fingers. He traced
the lining of them as his voice grew husky. “That I love you.”
“You…” Emily whispered softly. Her eyes grew wide.
“I’ve fallen in love with you, Emily McCain. I’m helplessly in
love with you and can’t stand to think of my life without you.”
“Oh Jason…” Emily breathed. She felt her heart swell, because he
voiced the words she wanted to say. She swallowed hard as her
eyes focused on his mouth. “I…I love you…too.”
“Do you?” Jason asked breathlessly. Emily nodded. Jason wanted
so badly to kiss her, but he wasn’t going to pressure her. He
didn’t need to worry about that, because Emily slowly lifted her
hand and traced his cheek. Then she moved her lips apart and
came towards him. Jason moved his face towards her. Their lips
met in the middle and they shared a soft kiss.
The kiss said everything their lips couldn’t. Their hearts spoke
through that kiss. When their lips parted, Emily whispered, “I…I
need you, Jason. I’ve known it for a long time.”
“And…I need you, Emmy.”
Emily was pleased when Jason came by for her for church the next
morning. He agreed to go with her to her family’s for Sunday
dinner, leaving word in town of where he’d be just in case he
was needed. Jason announced to her family the proposition he’d
made with Emily the day before. The family was excited to see
that Emily was choosing such a path for herself.
Later that day, Jason went to seek Mrs. Smith out and explain
the new arrangement with her. Emily started to argue that she
would pay her own room and board, but Jason was quite adamant on
the way he wanted it to be. He would be paying her for her
nursing duties, and decided he would also buy her some pretty
dresses and such for her to wear. At first, Emily protested, but
Jason told her he loved to see her in them. So in time she gave
in and allowed him to have fun.
As May grew older, Emily and Jason became the talk of the town.
They complimented each other so well, and during the day one
couldn’t be seen without the other. Emily and Jason would eat
breakfast together, unless Jason had an early morning caller,
then she’d stay in the office and work on his records, assisting
him when a patient arrived. During the daytime, she would ride
with him on his rounds unless he feared there was danger lurking
by. In those instances, Emily argued that he shouldn’t go alone.
Jason merely chuckled and told her he would be fine – she
shouldn’t worry about him so much.
They would reserve Saturday nights to their buggy rides.
Throughout June, they kept this routine up. Their hearts began
to swell with the love they had for each other and everyone
wondered when Jason would finally propose to Emily and make her
But Jason could see the restraint in Emily’s eyes. She still
didn’t have back what she needed for their marriage. Jason even
wondered if a mere proposal would send her running far away from
him. He began looking at rings at the jewelers when she wasn’t
around, and one day he finally purchased one, deciding the time
In early-July, Jason drove the buggy again out by the lake. When
they were seated on the blanket, Jason bent and kissed her
softly on the lips. Emily immediately felt the tension in the
Jason swallowed hard as he slowly lifted a box from his pocket.
He knew it was now or never. All day, he’d been staring at his
ugly face in the mirror, trying to get the words he wanted to
say perfect. But as he got on one knee in front of her, his
carefully rehearsed speech was forgotten. “Emily…” He paused as
her questioning eyes clouded. He cleared his throat and again
tried to speak. “Emily, I…” He rolled his eyes. “Oh drat it! I
had a whole speech ready for you. Emily, I can’t tell you the
changes you’ve made in my life. The first day I looked into your
sad eyes, I knew that you were the woman I wanted to spend the
rest of my life with. I…”
Emily started to speak, but Jason held up a hand. “Please…just
let me get this out, Emmy.” Jason cleared his throat. “Honey, I
didn’t think I had a chance with you at first, and I was afraid
that you were leaning on me for all the wrong reasons. But over
the months I’ve come to realize that you are the woman I want to
spend the rest of my days with. And I was thinking that I…Well,
that I had to wait years before I could actually ask you for
such a thing, but I don’t feel that way anymore. Because
together, we can overcome what…”
“JASON!” Emily suddenly stopped him. Jason stopped and stared at
her. “If you’ll stop you’re babbling and just ask the question,
I’ll give you an answer!”
“Will I like your answer?” Jason suddenly wondered.
Emily smiled. “Just ask the question, then you’ll find out.”
“Oh.” Jason opened his hand to reveal the ring. Then he took her
hand. “Emily McCain, will you be my wife?”
Emily stared at the ring he slipped on her finger. Emily started
crying. “Yes, Jason! Yes!” They kissed passionately as they
sealed the promise. Emily pulled away from him. “But Jason,
there’s something you should know. I…”
Jason shook his head. “We’ll take it slow like we have
everything else. I want to marry you, Emily. The rest will come
in your time.” He chuckled. “Hey…it only took something like two
months to get you to kiss me, so the rest can wait.”
“You sure?” Jason nodded. “How soon do you want to marry me?”
“Tomorrow?” Jason asked.
Emily laughed. “Jason Livingston, now if I’m going to be a
doctor’s wife, we’re going to have to have a big wedding! I
mean, I want it all!” Then she put a hand to her mouth. “Only…I
don’t have that much money saved up and I can’t ask my family
“We’ll pay for this wedding on our own!” Jason declared.
“Oh, but tradition…”
Jason laughed. “I think we can throw tradition out the window,
Emmy. What in our courtship has been tradition?”
“Speaking of tradition…Jason…have you…asked Abe?”
“Abe?” Jason chuckled. “Oh my…I reckon I was so concerned about
what you’d say that I didn’t even think…” Jason looked down at
the ring. “Well, I guess I’ll have to take it back for now.”
“Oh no you don’t, Jason Livingston!” Emily declared. “You can
“What about the ring?” Jason asked. “Your brothers see that ring
on your finger and they’ll nail my hide to the barn.”
Emily smiled. “I’ll take the ring off and put it in my pocket,
but the minute you step outside with Abe, I’m putting it back
The next morning, Jason again met Emily and walked her to
church. He reminded her to slip the ring into her pocket before
they got into the churchyard, and she did so without incident.
Emily and Jason sat together. As they sang the songs, their
voices mixed together in a beautiful harmony. The preacher
seemed to preach for a long time, however. But Jason figured
that it just seemed long because he was ready to get the dirty
deed over with.
It wasn’t until after they finished eating, this week with the
Gibbs family there as well, that Emily lifted her eyebrows to
Jason and motioned toward Abraham. Jason cleared his throat in
his fist as he stood up. “Uh…Mr. McCain…I mean…Abe, can I see
Somehow, Emily suspected that Abe had a notion what the
conversation was about, because before she realized what was
happening, Jeremiah and Peter also stood and hurried out. The
women all gathered around Emily and asked her what the
conversation was about. Emily looked toward the Gibbs’ men and
waited for them to walk outside. Then she pulled the ring from
Jason swallowed hard as he stood in front of the three McCain
brothers. He thought he would just have to propose to Abe…not to
all three. He felt worse then a poor man in front of a firing
squad. That was less painful, he was sure. Jason put his hands
in his back pockets as the men all looked at him. “Well?” Abe
asked as he folded his arms.
Jason cleared his throat as he tried to find the best way to ask
the question. He paused in his task and took out a kerchief to
wipe his forehead. “Uh…Mr. McCain…and uh…all…I would like to
Suddenly, squealing came from inside the house. Jason turned as
his eyes grew wide. All three brothers hurried toward the house.
When they got inside, they found Emily holding up her hand as a
jewel sparkled on her finger. Jason groaned. “Oh Emmy! You were
supposed to wait until AFTER I asked him!”
Emily blushed as her brothers glared at her. She felt as If they
all three were about to bend her over their knee. “I’m sorry,
“Now, would you like to ask us?” Abe asked as he turned and gave
Jason a hard stare.
Emily hurried up to her poor beau who looked as if he was about
to croak from embarrassment. “Now Abraham McCain, you stop
that!” Emily laced her arm through Jason’s. “Jason was just
saying last night that nothing about this courtship was normal!
He has helped me overcome a horrid experience, and I…”
“But I still expect him to ask my permission!” Abe declared as
he folded his arms and shook his head.
“Now just a minute, Abraham McCain!” Julie rushed forward with
baby Rachel in her arms. “If you think back to your own
proposal, there was nothing normal about it! You never DID ask
my father for permission!”
“Well yeah, but that was a little different! After all…” Abe
“After all…If Jason asks you, what would you say?” Julie asked
as she stood in front of her husband.
“Oh uh…” Abe turned and looked at Jason. He held out his hand.
“You have my blessing.”
Emily smiled. “Oh Abe…” She kissed her brother’s bearded cheek.
“Abe, he makes me so happy! I just love him so much.”
Jason cleared his throat. “Uh…can I speak to you, sir? Outside?”
Jason looked at Peter and Jeremiah. “Alone?”
Abe chuckled and motioned for Jason to go outside. Emily folded
her arms. “Now what?”
Jason waited until he and Abe were seated comfortable on a bench
in the barn. Jason cleared his throat. “Abe, I love your sister
very much. It’s difficult to explain…to talk about this with her
brother but I’m aware of Emily’s…insecurities.
“Insecurities?” Abe questioned.
“Yes. Uh…” Jason cleared his throat. “I’ve had to move slow with
her…both emotionally and physically. It was only a few weeks ago
that she felt comfortable enough to uh…kiss…”
Abe smiled. “I understand your being uncomfortable. I reckon it
is hard for us men to talk about this stuff.”
“Yes. Especially with her older brother.” Jason cleared his
throat. “Now…I know Emily’s been through a lot, and I just want
you to know that I’m not going to pressure her in any way. She
still has healing to do, and I’m afraid some of the healing will
have to take place…”
Abe nodded. “I understand being intimate will be difficult for
her. And you’re right. It’s something that will have to be
resolved between the two of you after marriage. I trust you
completely with my sister, Jason. She loves you and you love
her. You’ve taken such good care of her. I know she’ll survive.”
“Well…I may need some advice.”
“No you won’t.” Abraham shook his head. “Jason, you are much
more tender with Emily than I ever was with my wife. My wife’s
always accused me of being a little rough and I guess I’m a bit
of a bear. I’ve watched you, and I think you will do just fine.”
Abe shook his hand.
The two men stood and went back to the house to rejoin the
The next two months were a flurry of activity. Jason allowed
Emily to do whatever she wanted with the wedding. His only
request was that they were married in the church. Emily met with
her sisters and Margaret often to decide just how to decorate
the church. Margaret agreed to make the wedding cake. And then
there was the discussion of the dress.
Jason walked into the clinic one day to hear the tail end of the
conversation Emily was having with Julie. “I just don’t think I
can wear white. It…”
And that’s as far as it had gotten. The next thing Emily knew,
Jason had grabbed her arm and dragged her to the back of the
clinic. He sat her firmly down in a chair and sat in front of
her. Then he shook a stern finger at her. “Now see here, young
lady! As far as I’m concerned, you are as pure and innocent as
the day you are born and the next time I hear anything opposite
come out of your mouth, I’ll personally bend you over my knee
and whip you!” And with the tone in his voice, Emily knew he
would do just that.
The date was set for September 17, 1864 at ten o’clock in the
morning. The women worked all week in getting the church ready.
They gave the men strict orders on not only the church
arrangements, but also on decorating the McCain farm for a
reception. Even Samuel Gibbs came to help with the preparations.
All week, Jason watched Emily closely. He had noticed a change
in her the Saturday before, and it seemed to grow as the date
approached. On Thursday night before the wedding, Jason decided
to confront her.
Emily wondered where they were going as Jason took her hand and
led her toward his clinic. When they were inside with the door
closed, Jason sat her down than sat down himself. “Talk to me,
Emily averted her eyes, suddenly feeling uncomfortable with the
conversation. Jason stayed quiet and waited for her to talk.
“I’m scared,” Emily finally admitted.
“Well, I…” Emily sighed as she stood and walked to the window.
“I’m afraid of…of…disappointing you?”
“Are you talking about our marriage bed?” Emily didn’t answer.
“Because if that’s what you’re talking about, it’s not important
“It’s part of a marriage, Jason.”
“Yes.” Jason stepped up behind her and placed his hands on her
shoulders. “You are right, beautiful. It is part of a marriage,
and I guess I do expect it. But I’ve told you already that it
will happen when you’re ready.” Jason heard Emily sniff. “Come
here.” He turned her around and took her in his arms. Holding
her close, he allowed her to cry.
He pulled her away and stared into her eyes. “Emily…this…” Jason
traced the scar on her cheek. “This is the only thing that
remains of what happened to you. I told you that man stole
something precious from you. I shouldn’t have said that because
he didn’t. What you have to give me on the night you’re ready to
give it to me…It’s still there. It’s inside you, and no man can
take that from you. What that man did was hurtful and you’ll
never forget it, but it brought us together. You and I will be
husband and wife. And when we share our love with each other
that first time, you’ll know that…well, that you still have it
to give to me.” Jason sighed. “Oh sweetie...I wish I could
explain it to you better…”
Emily shook her head. “No. You don’t have to. I think I know
what you’re saying.”
Nothing more was said as they shared an intimate kiss.
Emily was nervous that morning as she stared into the mirror and
adjusted her wedding dress. She shed some tears as Julie and
Tiffany hurried in. When Julie asked her what the trouble was,
Emily sniffed. “I wish my mother was here.”
Julie smiled as she held out a necklace to her. “It’s the one I
wore on my wedding day.” Emily proudly put it on.
Tiffany held up her garter and giggled. “And I wore this on my
wedding day.” Emily blushed, but Tiffany shook her head. “No one
will know you have it on.”
Em giggled as she came forward. She reached up and stuck another
comb in Emily’s hair. “And this is from me.”
Julie hugged Emily. “I want you to know that we will all be
there with you in our hearts. I know you have fears about things
that come after the wedding, and I sense that you and Jason have
discussed it. I’ll only say one thing about the wedding night,
Emily. It is what it is…nothing more.”
The door opened. Abe stuck his head in. “They’re ready. Jason’s
wondering what the hang up is. He’s missing a bride!”
“Oh, you men are all alike!” Julie declared as she pushed her
husband out the door and shut it. She turned back to Emily. “You
just take your time. Forget that brother of yours!”
Emily turned and looked at the mirror. Her eyes focused on her
scar. She leaned in to take a better look at it. “He was right.
It did fade…” She mumbled as she smiled.
Emily shook her head. “I think I’m ready.”
As Julie and Em lifted Emily’s long train, Margaret and Tiffany
walked in front of her. The girls smiled as they made their way
to the front. Then the organ sounded the announcement that the
bride was about to come in. “Are you ready, sis?” Abe whispered
in her ear as she wrapped her arm through his.
“I wish Mama and Papa were here to see this,” Emily mumbled.
“I know, honey. So do I.” Abe kissed her cheek. “But you’ll have
to settle with me.”
Emily smiled as they stepped into the church. “That’s not so
bad. You’re a pretty nice guy…for a brother.”
Abe chuckled as the guests stood. Emily felt nervous as Abe led
her up front. She stepped up onto the platform and smiled into
Jason’s eyes. Jason took her hands in his as Margaret took her
bouquet. “Take good care of her.” Jason nodded as Abe went to
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to join this man and this
woman in holy matrimony Who gives this woman away to be
Abe stood. “Her brothers and I do.”
There were some chuckles from the audience. Reverend Gentry
delivered the ceremony without incident. The couple exchanged
rings. Finally, Reverend Gentry announced, “By the powers vested
in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” He paused as Jason
wiped a tear from Emily’s cheek. “You may kiss the bride.”
Jason reached his hand up and traced the scar on her cheek.
“Today, the scar is gone.” He kissed it before moving his lips
to hers. They enjoyed a long kiss as Jason allowed his arms to
slide around her. The guests cheered and stood to their feet,
happy that the couple were man and wife.
Julie and Em lifted Emily’s train and helped her to the waiting
buggy. Rice was thrown as Jason lifted her up into the buggy.
When they were seated, Jason wrapped his arms around Emily and
kissed her again. After parting, Emily threw her bouquet over
her head. She heard a cheer and turned to see Margaret holding
it. “It had to be you!” Emily declared.
“I hope so!” Margaret hollered at her friend. “You know what
they say about always a bridesmaid…”
“If Luke doesn’t come back and marry you, I’ll give him a piece
of my mind!” Emily wrapped her arm through Jason’s as the rode
off toward the clinic.
Jason stopped the buggy and hopped down. He lifted Emily from
the buggy and carried her over the threshold and into their new
home. They would live in the cottage behind the clinic until
they were able to build a bigger home. Neither of them were in
too much of a hurry for that to happen.
Jason sat her down and kissed her again. “Well, Mrs.
Livingston…We have a reception to get to. Then we’ll be leaving
town for a few days.”
“Leaving town?” Emily stared at him. “Where to?”
“That…my beautiful bride…is for me to know and you to find out.”
Jason smiled as he picked her up and carried her toward their
bedroom. “It’s our honeymoon.” After setting her down in the
bedroom, he closed the door and waited outside for her to
change. Then they went to the reception where there was cake,
punch, and lots of dancing.
They would leave for Oklahoma City first thing in the morning.
Emily turned as Jason closed the door to the cottage. She
suddenly felt very nervous as he took her in his arms and kissed
her passionately. He picked her up and carried her to the
bedroom. Jason laid her on the bed as he continued to give her
kisses on her cheeks and lips. Then he stopped. “I told you I
wouldn’t push you, and I won’t. You just tell me when to stop.”
Emily shook as they continued to kiss. She found herself
unbuttoning his shirt as they lay together on top of the bed.
Jason took his shirt off, his lips never leaving hers. Emily
pushed him away a bit and stared at his chest. She lifted a hand
and ran it down his chest. She enjoyed the feel of his strong
muscles under her hands. Jason looked into her eyes. They were
filled with desire. He slowly allowed his lips to travel down
her neck. Emily allowed herself to sigh as he began unbuttoning
her shirt. She took his hands and pushed them away. Jason feared
that was as far as she was willing to go.
But Emily stood beside the bed and slipped her clothes off. “Are
you sure?” Jason whispered as she took his hands and laid them
on her bare skin. Emily nodded as she closed her eyes. Jason
stood and kissed her. Her body pressed against him as she
wrapped her arms around him and ran her hands up and down his
He allowed her to slip down onto the bed and Emily slid under
the covers. Jason finished undressing and joined her. He
caressed her body as they kissed. Jason took his time that
night, not getting into any hurry as their kisses became more
intense, and their hands caressed harder against the other’s
skin. Emily moaned, announcing she was ready to make love to
Jason lifted, but paused when he saw tears on her cheeks.
“Emily?” he questioned as he kissed her tears.
“Oh Jason…” Emily breathed. “It’s not what you think. Jason, I
was so afraid of this moment, but you were right. That man took
nothing from me. I want to give it to you right now. That’s why
I’m crying. I’m so happy that I can…”
She didn’t finish her sentence as he covered her mouth with his.
Soon, they were making love. Emily felt the last scab break away
from her heart as Jason made love to her. In time, they laid on
their side hugging. Jason caressed the scar on her cheek as she
Learning to live again had been on the beginning of her journey,
but it’s one that Jason would do all over again if he had to.
After one more gentle kiss on her cheek, Jason laid back and
The Years Before — Death of
This is a story based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch