But Belle is starting to remember. As Belle disappears, Josie Marie Beckett emerges, and Caleb knows he must back away to allow Josie to complete her healing. As they get closer to finding the person who tried to kill her, she recalls more of her past — including her fiancé.
Loyalty to his job means he must let her go. Loyalty to his heart means he wants to keep her close....
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WHO AM I?
What's my name?
The sharp probing questions jabbed at Belle Doe with the power of a professional boxer, but her mind fended them off like a pro as it did every day. Her memory was blank as a newborn's, yet she wasn't a baby waiting for a mind to develop. She was a grown woman struggling to remember her life.
Who am I? Why can't I remember? Her therapist, Dr. Karen Oliver, said not to force herself, but at times she felt so frustrated and confused. Her memory loomed in front of her like a wall she couldn't get through or over. Dr. Oliver said this was normal, a protective instinct for post-traumatic stress-disorder victims who'd survived horrific events. Eventually she would become stronger and allow the memories of her past to break through.
Sitting in the window seat at the home of Ms. Gertrude Parker, Belle slowly counted to ten to ease her frustration. She looked out at the beautiful spring day. A clear blue sky beckoned and suddenly a red robin landed on a hibiscus bush outside the window. The sight calmed her even more. She took note of lilies blooming, the lush live oaks, the brilliant new green of the St. Augustine grass that Wendell, the gardener, tended.
It had been over a year, that was as close as the authorities could figure the timeline, since she'd been rescued from a cult in the Texas Hill Country. Over a year since the doctors had found the bullet in her head. She had no name, no memory. She'd spent four months in the hospital and she'd now been with Ms. Gertie for almost eight. The authorities were unsure how long she'd been in Austin before the cult had found her. The cult members had found her walking the streets of Austin and had taken her in, named her Jezebel, made her a slave and beat her regularly. She was saved from that nightmare by a Texas Ranger, and another ranger helped her to face her fears and live again. Her Texas Ranger. That's how she thought of Caleb McCain.
The FBI, the Texas Rangers, doctors and therapists tried to piece together what had happened to her. Seeing that she cringed when anyone called her Jezebel, Caleb insisted they rename her Belle and had the hospital records changed to Belle Doe. That was the first time she became aware of him. He cared. The others were doing a job, but Caleb actually cared about her. He was the first person she'd come to trust after her nightmare ended, and he'd been there for her ever since.
As she slowly began to recover from the physical violence, she was faced with being moved from the hospital to a mental institution until her memory returned. The doctors didn't have a choice and had to abide by hospital rules. With no memory she knew the institution would be as bad as the cult — only in a different way.
Caleb spoke with the doctors and they agreed it would be best for Belle to live outside the hospital and establish the necessary framework for a normal, healthy lifestyle so she could function in the present. This would, hopefully, facilitate her memory's return. But they didn't have the resources to find someone to take her in. It was Caleb who went the extra mile.
He'd found her a job as a companion to Ms. Gertrude Parker, a widow who hadn't remarried after the love of her life died in WWII. Living with Ms. Gertie had been a blessing. She was truly an angel in disguise and she and Belle had formed a bond that would never be broken. Dr. Oliver had said that the relationships Belle formed now would build a strong foundation of trust and deep roots, which would help strengthen an inner connection within herself. But the doctor also warned that once her memory returned, those foundations wouldn't be as strong. Her old life, the person she used to be, would take precedence.
Belle lived cautiously, taking each day as it came, and was grateful for the kind people who now filled her world. Gertie was a wealthy eccentric of undeterminate age, but Belle guessed she was somewhere in her eighties. The woman had wrecked four cars in one year; her lawyer deemed it unsafe for her to drive. Ms. Gertie had resisted her loss of independence, firing chauffeur after chauffeur. Gertie was a cousin of Caleb's stepfather and when Caleb heard about the problem, he thought Belle would be a perfect companion and helper.
And Belle desperately needed a home. Caleb had arranged for her to get a driver's license and Gertie hired her at their first meeting. Now she had a home and she'd found a measure of peace in Ms. Gertie's colorful world.
Gertrude's Victorian home had been in her family for years. It was equipped with a pool and tennis courts, and filled with priceless antiques and artworks. She lived in the big house with two cats, Prissy and Prudy, and a Jack Russell terrier named Harry. Belle was sure she'd never lived in such opulence before. Despite the comforts of her present life, everything felt foreign to her, and she lived with this unsettled feeling every day.
She ran her hands through her long dark hair, then reached for the colorful band and tied it into a ponytail, then looped it again to make a knot so it wouldn't bounce around. The action was natural, as if she'd done it many times before. This was an implicit memory, behavioral knowledge without conscious recall, as Dr. Oliver called it, just as Belle knew how to read and write but she couldn't remember how she'd learned those skills.
From what she'd learned about her condition, parts of her memory should have returned by now. After a year, there was less chance of it returning at all. She feared she'd be in this limbo forever.
Sighing, she glanced at her watch — just after twelve. Gertie was resting as she did every day unless she had an appointment. This was the time Belle used to practice the exercises the doctors had taught her to help regain her memory.
Taking a deep breath, she asked out loud, "What's my name?"
There was no answer, just a numbness of her mind and her spirit.
The sky darkened to almost black and Belle watched a thunderstorm roll in, chasing away the spring day. Crazy Texas weather. She didn't know much, but she knew about the unpredictable weather in Texas, another implicit memory. Thunder echoed loudly and lightning zigzagged across the sky. Wendell, who'd been fertilizing the yard, hurried to the garages just as the skies opened up.
The rain made a drumming noise against the windows and lightning zipped across the grass with dangerous flashes of lights and spine-tingling sounds. Belle knew she should move, but something was happening in her mind. She could feel it.
In her sessions with Dr. Oliver she'd learned a current event or experience could trigger long-forgotten memories. Sounds, smells or other stimuli such as the weather had the capabilities of sparking her mind. And the memories could return bit by bit or all at once or not at all.
Thunder rumbled through her as continual flashes of the lightning streaked the sky. She shivered, watching the storm and waiting for a miracle. Rain poured down the windows in trails and she was mesmerized by the movement. She could almost feel it reaching into her — washing away. Washing away. She grabbed her head as it began to throb. Thunder blasted like a gun and memories, beautiful forgotten memories, floated to the surface.
"Tell Daddy your name." The words were clear almost as if her mother was standing beside her.
"I scared. Don't like rain. It's too noisy."
"There's nothing to be afraid of. Mommy and Daddy are right here. Tell Daddy your name."
"Yes, you do. We practiced all day. Tell Daddy your name."
"My name is Joscelyn Marie." She said it proudly and loudly.
"Yes. Yes, it is. Now what's your last name?"
"Beckett. My name is Joscelyn Marie Beckett."
Her mother clapped. "Isn't that wonderful for a two-year-old?"
Belle could feel her father's arms as he held her and she could smell Old Spice, his favorite cologne. "My girl is getting big. What does Daddy call you?"
"Josie Marie. Josie Marie. Josie Marie."
The storm ended and so did the memories. "No. No. No," she cried. "Please let me remember more. Please." But the blankness returned and all she was left with was a name. A name! After all this time, she knew her name.
Josie Marie Beckett.
She jumped from the window seat, eager to call Caleb. She should call Dr. Oliver, but she had to tell Caleb first. Hurrying toward the phone, she stopped in her tracks. Ms. Gertie came into the sunroom with a large hat on her head. That wasn't unusual as Gertie was known for her hats. But in the midst of the bright flowers and feathers on the hat was a small birdcage with a live yellow canary inside. Prissy and Prudy trailed behind her, looking at the hat as if it might be their dinner.
"What do you think, Belle, darlin'?"
Gertie, a tall, big-boned woman, moved with an inherent grace. Her white hair was coiled neatly at her nape and she wore a purple suit to match the purple in the hat. As always there were pearls around her neck. But Belle kept looking at the little bird.
"Ms. Gertie, there's a live bird on your head." Pointing this out seemed unnecessary, but she didn't know what else to say.
"Of course, darlin'. We're going to auction off this hat at the charity ball. They just delivered it and I think it's a wonderful idea. A definite attention grabber."
She'd been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she hadn't even heard the doorbell. Josie Marie. She had a name.
"Wendell has a cage for the canary and before we go to the ball tomorrow night, Wendell will put him in the hat-cage again. The highest bidder will get the cage, the hat and all the food the little thing will need for a year." Ms. Gertie made a face. "I just hate the thought of a bird pooping on my head. But I'll do anything for charity — at least once."
"Whose idea was this?" Belle asked, trying to keep her thoughts on the conversation.
"Mine, of course. No one else is that brilliant."
"Of course not," Belle agreed. One of the things she loved about living with Gertie was that she laughed a lot. And she needed that.
Prissy reared up on Gertie's skirt, her eyes on the bird. Prudy, fearing Prissy might get the prize, joined her.
"Look at this." Gertie sighed. "You'd think they were never fed. Get down, you spoiled cats."
Prissy and Prudy crept to a corner, their feelings hurt. "Oh, my babies. I didn't mean it." Gertie tried to soothe the cats. "You'll get a special treat tonight."
Harry raced into the room, barking at the hat. Just then the doorbell rang.
Gertie straightened the hat and her suit as if she knew who was at the door. Martha, the housekeeper, showed Caleb into the sunroom. Dressed in dark slacks, a white shirt and cowboy boots with his Texas Ranger badge proudly displayed over his left pocket, he smiled a welcome. Belle's heart rate kicked up a notch as it always did when she saw him.
He was without his gun and white hat. He usually left those in the car when he was visiting. Tall and lanky, he had soft dark eyes and dark hair. He had to be the most handsome, kindest and caring man she'd ever met. Of course, she remembered nothing of other men she'd known. She suddenly wondered if there were many.
Shaking the thought away, she wondered instead what Caleb was doing here. His office was in a town outside of Austin, but he stopped by sometimes when he was in the city. Maybe this was one of those days. Or maybe he sensed that she needed him. In a way they had an uncanny connection.
"Caleb," Gertie said. "Have a seat. I've been expecting you."
She sagged at the revelation of Gertie's words. Gertie had called him.
Caleb just stared at the hat on Gertie's head. "Ms. Gertie, there's a bird on your head," he said in his deep voice that wrapped around Belle like warm sunshine.
"Yes, Caleb, there is. Tomorrow evening this hat and bird will be auctioned off at a charity ball and Belle and I need an escort. Are you free?"
"Yes, ma'am. It would be a pleasure."
"Good. Be here at six and a limo will pick us up. Now I have to see if I can get this thing off my head. Martha," she called, walking gingerly from the room, her animals following her.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Belle Doe cannot remember who she is until the moment her Texas Ranger Caleb McCain found her. He knows someone wants her dead so the dedicated law enforcement official plans to stay diligent in keeping Belle safe. However, he also finds himself attracted to his ward though he knows once she recovers from her amnesia she will go home assuming it is safe to do so.------------ As Belle begins to remember that she is Josie Marie Beckett, she realizes she has a fiancé Eric who she must return to, but also concludes she will miss her caring dedicated Ranger. Still she does not remember why someone wants her dead so Caleb remains at her side until they can stop the unknown culprit.-------------- SON OF TEXAS is a delightful romantic suspense thriller that emphasizes the changes to Belle Doe as she slowly regains her memory. The story line is focused on Belle whose life dramatically has altered over the past year as she recovers from amnesia and falls in love. Readers will like Caleb and feel for Eric (needs his tale told) as Linda Warren provides a strong character study of a deciding just who she is, Belle Doe or Josie Marie Beckett.------------- Harriet Klausner
It has been over a year since Belle Doe was picked up off the streets by a recently defunct cult. She withstood their abuse and was rescued, but has no clue who she is. Since her rescue by Texas Ranger Caleb McCain, her physical injures have healed and a bullet removed from her skull. She has spent the past several months as the companion for an eccentric widow (a friend of Caleb's stepfather), in therapy to uncover her past, and waiting for the visits from her hero Caleb. Then a rainstorm triggers a memory of her past and reveals her real name, Josie Bennett. Caleb search for her name reveals facts that Josie soon also remembers: She is a cop, her parents are dead, and she last lived in the town named for her father's powerful ranching family - Bennett, TX. Not only that, but there is no missing person¿s file for her. With Caleb, Belle, now Josie, returns to Bennett to be reunited with her mother¿s second mother Lencha, who you could call a witch of sorts. She has been worrying about Josie, and has believed that the Bennetts were the ones to kill her. Lencha filed a missing persons report only days after Josie went missing. And Eric, her fiancé, is worried about her. Josie really doesn¿t remember a lot about Eric. The Bennetts are not what you would call a normal family. Josie¿s uncle Marcus probably sleeps with anything that moves, so you don¿t know how many children the bachelor has. Josie¿s father¿s first wife still lives on the family ranch. Lorna is a very bitter woman who hates Josie because her father had left her when she was four months pregnant. An then there is Boone, who is the powerhouse in Bennett and thinks he can buy anything off, and everything goes his way¿ well¿ because he wants it to go his way. But Boone isn¿t completely a hard headed. He also filed a missing person¿s report on Josie. The only likeable one in the bunch is Ashley, Josie¿s half sister. The 32 year old is rather sheltered and ordered around. Since her parents died and before she disappeared, Josie had been battling against Boone over where her father should be buried. Boone wants him on the ranch without his wife. Josie refuses to move him because she wants her parents to be together. Would Boone kill to have his son buried in the family plot? Caleb discovers that the missing person¿s report filed with the sheriff¿s office was dropped by Marcus¿s request. Could Marcus be the shooter? Lorna just hates Josie for what she represents. Could she be the one? As clues are found about the night Josie disappeared from Bennett, TX, and as Josie¿s memory returns, Caleb knows that there is no denying the attraction and attachment that they have for each other, but she doesn¿t belong with him. She belongs with Eric, a fellow cop. And Josie feels that there is something more with Caleb than him just being her protector. Son of Texas is the third book in Linda¿s MacCain Brother¿s series. This is a story of two people wanting acceptance. Caleb wants acceptance from his father, but will never get it. Josie wants acceptance for who she is from Boone and the other Bennets, and she wants to accept the merge of the person of who she was into who she now is. Her path to discovery will shake the town to what happened the February night she disappeared.