First Cassie had lost the homeland that she loved.
Then her father.
And her brothers.
And her mother.
Now her only child’s life was being threatened and his father, her husband was just standing by waiting.
What was a mother to do? One thing she wasn’t going to do was stand around and wait. She knew he was alive, but there was no guarantee of how long he’d stay that way. She turned to the one other person who loved her son almost as much as she did- the man who had taught her the skills to deal with the kidnappers as soon as they found them and they did.
Kelly McGavin came to Farm Acres as a lowly worker, but gave her son a father figure much the opposite of his real father. More important he showed her how to tap her inner strength. He taught her mediation and how to defend herself. Through Kelly Cassie learned that she had rights and talents. None Farmer, as her husband, may have demanded strict obedience from her, he did not own her mind and spirit.
Once she found she had the power to take care of herself, never again was the man she married going to control her. Evil belonged in its place and some day she would put him in that place before he had the chance to taint their son.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.75(d)|
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Love By Whose Definition Cassie
By Ek Cuan
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Ek Cuan
All rights reserved.
Ireland ... .. summer of 1854
The summer's heat tested both thermometers and people's endurance. It was so hot, Cassandra heard her mother say several weeks earlier to a visitor, that it would melt the blue out of your eyes. Cassie made a dash for the little broken mirror that she kept on her box by her cot to check on the amount of endangered color mixed in hers. Opening her eyes wide as possible, she breathed a sigh of deep relief upon discovering no trace of a meltdown. She searched the colored circle finding green and some small flecks of brown, but no blue. Did she once have some and it had melted, victim of the heat? Ma's laughing at her for being silly gave her no consolation or answer to her question.
Cassie didn't consider herself to be a selfish child, but it was her turn. Even Ma had said that. The fair only came once a year and during those days she felt like the forgotten person. All she had was stories from the boys and Dah about what it was like. She, Ma, and little Michael were delegated to stay home and take care of the animals and the house. She witnessed the look in Ma's eyes as the wagon carrying the men folk rumbled off leaving them standing, waving. Even in her younger years Cassie recognized the disappointment, sadness, and maybe longing that her beloved mother tried to cover as she shooed the two younger children back in the house to get started on the chores.
Ma did get her chance to go when what had been a three-day event dwindled down to one. For the last two years, Ma had accompanied Dah, leaving her and Michael home with Andy. The longing had passed from Ma's eyes to hers. This year Dah had unexpectedly given in to her pleas — and Ma's, even though Ma never complained — and he proclaimed they all would go to the fair.
"We'll all go!" he shouted as he looked over his family, his focus on his beloved wife of seventeen years. His grin was ear to ear as he tried to gather his family in a giant hug. He thanked God as he held his treasure in his arms, surveying them from oldest to youngest. His wife Beirra, and Shamus, Garrett, Andrew, Evan, Thomas, Cassie, Michael.
Why did he not see it? He could stand to lose the house and all that surrounded it, but the thought of his family vanishing for any reason tore his heart. If the fair was all it took to make them happy, to the fair they would go. The house and animals would have to manage on their own. Not that there was an overabundance of animals anymore. Drought and old age had taken their toll.
The eight-year-old unsuccessfully tried to control her joy and excitement. It tickled Sham and Garrett to see their sister so happy. They picked her up and passed her around like a ball. She laughed and beat on them as they pretended to drop her and then catch her at the last second. The laughter and joking inside the house made the outside problems slip away at least for the moment.
That had been last week. The big day finally arrived, and this morning Cassie had made a big, foolish, irrational mistake that might cost her life.
It had been almost cool when Ma and Dah, taking Michael with them, left in the pony cart. The smaller cart, overflowing with things to sell at the fair, had scant space for one rider, much less two. Ma, unwilling to leave six year old Mic behind, hollowed out a spot for him. Cassie had been furious at first, not that she let Dah see how angry she had been. Dah would have cuffed her on the side of the head, or worse, forbidden her to go.
Erid glanced at the reflection of his daughter shimmering back at him from the surface of the shiny pan she had angrily tossed into the cart as her last defiant act of helping load. The pan had bounced around until it came to rest on the rim of the basket wedged in the small space on the front seat, affording him the perfect rear view mirror. He regretted leaving her here by herself, but there was no room in the overcrowded wagon. He wiped his forehead. The heat, already unbearable, was destined to get worse. All of the family should be hunting for the coolest place down on the creek bank instead of rushing off here and there, but no cool place still existed, the water had long dried up. His frown turned upward into a slight grin. His daughter, so young and full of life and with such a temper. She hadn't gotten it from him. He slid his hand across the seat to clasp hands with his better half. The temper came from his beloved Bierra. The owner of the same fiery eyes, but much more able to control the volcano that often seethed inside her. Maybe in time Cassie would find that control.
That control had cost Bierra heavily. Now instead of her outburst, she turned the fury inward. If she didn't talk about it, it didn't exist, but Erid knew better.
His touch caused her to turn her attention from clearing a little more seating space for herself to her husband. She smiled as she felt the heat from his hand. He was aging right before her eyes and she lacked the power to stop it or even slow it down. Such a good man who wanted to provide a good life for his family. It wasn't because he hadn't tried. She kissed her fingers and placed her hand on his cheek.
He quickly turned his face away, not in rebuke, but to hide the tears that formed in his eyes. Her hand slid down to his shoulder before she pulled it back to rest in her lap with her other one.
Sensitive to her daughter's irritation, Ma hoped to soften the blow by reminding her how much more fun it would be to ride in the big wagon with the other boys. She gave her the last minute instructions before the cart pulled away.
"You will just be a little bit behind us. Find our stall as soon as you get there. Your dah will need to be relieved. I will need you to help me."
Cassie's heart fell just a little. She didn't want to spend her whole time helping sell what the family brought. She wanted time to look even if she had no money to buy. After all, this was her first time. There were so many pretty things for a young girl to dream about owning.
Michael, with a look, tried to show her that he was sorry she got left behind. He'd gladly let her be the one. He knew how anxious she was. They'd talked about it forever.
Because she did know that Mic would have traded places with her if he could, she bravely waved to them as the cart began its slow, bumpy start. Michael was wedged in the back with the boxes and bags. He certainly didn't look comfortable. The slow mode of transportation would take hours to get them to their destination.
Erid shook his head slowly from side to side. "Why is it," he asked, "that she is so stubborn and willful?"
Beira patted his hand. "You gave her six brothers. Did you really expect her to be meek and docile?'
"Ah," he said with good humor, "now you are blaming her temperament on me."
Normally, the cart would be the fastest way to travel. Marigold, their old horse was way past her prime. It was hot. Her feet were sore. The cart was loaded down with people and goods. Marigold would do well to even make it the fifteen miles to the fair.
The boys had the wagon and the younger horse. Sham would fold up some blankets for her to sit on, trying to make her seat more comfortable. She didn't care about comfort. She'd probably be standing or kneeling anyway. With a little luck they could catch up with the cart, if those boys would hurry and get home.
The wind rippled through Cassie's long reddish brown hair. Despite being just a little past sun rise, the unusually high morning heat already made beads of sweat collect on her forehead; the damp hair around her face kinked and frizzed. The knoll out past the front gate gave her a little height as she scanned the countryside for any sign of her brothers. Shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand, she checked all directions.
"Where are those boys?" she asked in childish irritation. At eight, patience was not one of her virtues. "They promised to be home hours ago."
A frown etched its way across her tanned face. She fought to keep her skirts from billowing up around her. The frown quickly changed to a smile. She absolutely could not stay mad long. The breeze felt so good. She raised her arms out, threw back her head, and let the swirling air fill the material making her look like a fat old lady. Watching the birds fly above, her arms began to move up and down in sync with the wings of her airborne friends. If only she could fly, she would get herself to the fair and not have to wait for those pokey old boys.
How could they be so mean? She made them promise to get done and hurry home. Sham had ruffled her hair backwards like he enjoyed doing even when she told him that it tangled the strands. He looked her in the eye and said they would be back well before the sun got high. She watched them drive away in the early morning light, willing the time to pass quickly.
Cassie maintained her vigil for what to her seemed like hours before she made her decision. The boys apparently ran into trouble at work that delayed them. The day was spinning on without her. It was not that far. Sham always talked about the short cuts he took to get places faster. With a little thinking and figuring, she could come up with a short cut. Short cuts let you go places that horses and carts couldn't. That was what made them short. Stopping herself before she ran off helter-skelter, she darted to the house to put on her best apron, paused a half second to take a long drink of water and grabbed her hat as she passed the peg. The thought of taking a flask of water never crossed her mind.
She squinted into the sun. The wind had died suddenly leaving only the still, suffocating heat. She had been to Potsbey several times with her ma and dah, but they were in the wagon following the road. All she had to do was figure out the direction of Potsbey and head straight for it. By her calculations the town was somewhere between due east and due south. She'd just kind of cut the distance in half. It all sounded pretty simple.
That settled, Cassie slapped her hat tight on her head and looked around one last time to make sure there was no dust ball on the horizon that might signal the boys coming. A tingle of excitement ran up her spine as she turned her back on the house and took her first step. She was headed to the fair. She pictured the surprised look that would be on Ma and Dah's faces when she arrived, by herself, without the boys. A fleeting doubt launched like a sky rocket through her head. She shook it away. They would be proud that she was resourceful enough to get to the fair on her own. They surely would.
She plotted her course by the sun. She jogged the first mile. The second went a little slower. By the end of the third, she wished she had brought the water container. The sun was hot, the terrain rough and her thirst strong. Leaning against a huge rock, she took her hat off and fanned her face. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she had passed up breakfast, planning on eating with her brothers when they got home.
The sun rose higher, making shade harder to find. Her hat provided a circle of shade for her face, but it was not enough. Cassie's legs were getting tired. Her feet tripped over rocks making her stumble and lose her balance. Thanks to her quick shuffling and doing a little dance, she was able to keep upright most of the time. The scratches and bruises began to hurt and itch in the heat. In the next mile her trips to the ground increased as her legs got more wobbly. Her pretty white apron showed the effects of hitting the dirt once too often.
Cassie had been paying so much attention to going forward that she forgot to give a little attention to where she had been. Her head started feeling a little fuzzy and her vision cloudy. Looking behind her toward what she thought was home didn't appear familiar. She brushed aside her panic feelings. All she really needed was a drink of water. Ambrose Creek must be close by. Find the water and she'd have all she wanted to drink and plenty to soak her feet and wash the dirt off her legs. The thought of cool water made her feel better. She began her journey walking east toward Potsbey. Ambrose property was south of their place. She needed to angle more to the west. That was easy to do by turning her left shoulder to the sun. The sun was getting higher and she had trouble getting the sun on a specific part of her body.
Confused as to which direction was what, she paused. When in doubt she did what she had seen her father and brothers do. She wet her index finger and held it up in the air. Not sure what this was to accomplish she stood still for a second.
"What direction am I suppose to go?" she asked.
Responding to her question her finger suddenly bent, twitched, and finally pointed.
Cassie stared at the finger in awe certain she had done nothing to make it move. With the finger still pointing out she flipped her hand over and back several times. The finger only moved when she moved it. She licked the tip and held it above her head. The finger pointed straight up making no other movement.
This episode cleared away some of her heat related confusion, giving her a new burst of energy. She pulled the hand down, curled, and uncurled the finger a couple of times. This wasn't the first time some quirky thing had happened to her. Ma always told her it was the little people playing their games. This wasn't the same. She doubted the little people caused her finger action.
Filled with new vigor, she set off in the pointed direction, trusting it was the way to water. Home wasn't that far away, she reassured herself. She could go back if she wanted. Or she could go ahead and find the fair. Besides, she was probably closer to the fair than home.
Find water ... Find water ... sounded the cadence of her footsteps. Unfortunately no water appeared. Cassie walked until she couldn't take one more step. She dropped to the ground and quickly pulled her apron around so it would give added thickness between her skin and the earth. She pulled her knees up close to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. Now that she had a minute to think she began to question the wisdom of taking matters into her own hands. Not a pretty situation. She was hot. She was thirsty. She was hungry. And, she was probably lost. She was so miserable. This was typical Cassie, acting impulsively, always managing to get herself in a pickle. Ma said she was stubborn. Dah said it was just the red hair ... always seemed to bring out the worst in girls. He always looked at Ma when he said that. That was the point when Ma would take a swing in his direction. The memory of those times made Cassie smile. Come to think of it, Ma always smiled too.
She closed her eyes and imagined bouncing along in the wagon with the boys, all of them laughing and singing on the way to the fair. Why couldn't she have waited?
Maybe the boys would be along in the wagon and pick her up. Her heart sank. Not much hope for that. The boys didn't know where she was. She hadn't left them a note. Probably she was on the wrong path anyhow.
She pushed away the dejected feeling. Letting go of her knees, she stood up. As long as she had an ounce of strength left, she'd keep moving.
"Won't do any good to sit here and cry," she said, realizing that she couldn't cry if she wanted because there was no moisture in her eyes for tears. She sniffed a couple of time to test it out.
After Cassie lost her hat to a sticky bush, the sun beat down with more intensity. She put her hands up on her head for a sun shield. She closed her eyes as she walked, depending on her feet to pick the way. She walked around in circles. What she didn't see, she didn't know. Even if she had been watching, she was beyond comprehending. Finally, her legs gave way and she crumpled to the ground. Her head grazed a jagged rock. A small pool of blood formed near her cheek. Cassie lingered in the smoky haze between daylight of reality and darkness of her mind. She opened her eyes, but her lids were so heavy. With no energy to move she just lay there. During one of the moments when her eyes opened she caught a glimpse of a bright blob of vivid color in the distance before the eyes closed again.
A short time passed before the partially covered wagon came bumping over the rocky soil. A young couple laughed as they bounced around on the seat. It was the woman who spied Cassie from the distance.
"Stop, Romney!" she cried. "There is a person over there on the ground. A child!"
"Crazy, woman!" he yelled. "We are not stopping. Pretend that you see nothing. Whatever it is, it spells trouble for us. We are late already."
"Of course we are stopping, you without a heart. If she is hurt, we will help."
Roshia stood up holding onto the back of the seat for balance.
"I will not stop, you who have lost you mind!" he yelled. "I will protect you from yourself."
"If you won't stop, I will jump!" she yelled back, poised to jump.
"This horse" he hissed, "will continue moving.
As she went over the edge he grabbed for her skirt with one hand. With the other he pulled hard on the reins.
By the time the wagon stopped, she had hit the ground, running toward Cassie.
"Just remember I warned you. I begged you. As you sit behind those bars, just remember it was you who got us into this."
Romney pulled a blanket out of the back of the wagon and ran to Roshia's side.
Excerpted from Love By Whose Definition Cassie by Ek Cuan. Copyright © 2016 Ek Cuan. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Prophecy, 1,
Chapter 2 Starting Anew, 44,
Chapter 3 Putting Her Feet On The Ground, 77,
Chapter 4 The Coal Mines, 96,
Chapter 5 Life Changes Again, 118,
Chapter 6 The End Of The World, 136,
Chapter 7 Laverly House, 154,
Chapter 8 Happy Reunion, 188,
Chapter 9 Proposal Offered, 197,
Chapter 10 Prenuptials And Nuptials, 229,
Chapter 11 Something Old, Something New, 253,
Chapter 12 Farm Acres, 284,
Chapter 13 Welcomed Visitors, 305,
Chapter 14 Changes At Farm Acres, 320,
Chapter 15 Interesting Turn Of Events, 339,
Chapter 16 Jason Grows Up, 352,
Chapter 17 Cassie Revamps, 390,
Chapter 18 Kidnapping, 398,
Chapter 19 Days 1, 2 And 3--- Waiting For News, 418,
Chapter 20 Home, 453,
Chapter 21 1887 Some Hard Truths, 476,
Chapter 22 Joy Found Joy Lost, 498,
Chapter 23 Bad Things Happen To Good People, 546,
Chapter 24 Jason Plays Matchmaker, 576,
Chapter 25 Divine Intervention- 1889, 592,
Chapter 26 The Scales Balance At Last, 632,
Chapter 27 1891 Messages From The Past, 666,
Chapter 28 1896 Jason's Wedding, 696,
Chapter 29 1901 Paying The Piper, 712,
Chapter 30 Fire Cleanses All, 745,
Chapter 31 Cassie Breaks The Ties 1902, 750,