The Heir Comes Home-Part 6 (Parts 1-5)
by Sandy Kay Slawson
Kyrk Stewart entered his room at the boarding house with a heavy heart. Why had his inclination been to distrust Regina for the second time? A false identity under these circumstances made perfect sense. When Kathleen pulled out the wanted posters and he discovered Regina’s real surname to be Lakeland and not Waters, he ought to have understood the reason she’d been secretive. Instead, he’d acted like a fool with his ridiculous accusations. If she’d left the room and never spoke to him again, he would’ve deserved it.
Despite the hurt in her expression, she trusted them with her story…
“I’d stayed at a town festival with a friend after my parents and little brother went home. After my friend’s family took me home and left, I hesitated before I went inside because I heard strange voices. I went to the window instead. My mother had yet to draw the curtains… and I saw them… two men. My father lay in a pool of blood on the floor. Then one shot my mother, and the other shot my brother, both tied to chairs… helpless. I couldn’t stop myself, I screamed. When they spun and saw me at the window, I ran and hid.”
Kyrk wouldn’t take that trust for granted. His own Da hadn’t. He’d do whatever it took to keep her safe. Kyrk pulled his Colt revolver out of his suitcase along with its holster, loaded it, and set it on his bedside table. He might be out of practice, but he knew how to shoot and he would if it came to that.
Kyrk tossed and turned throughout the night. Worry for Regina’s safety made rest impossible. At last he threw off his covers in the early hours of the morn and dropped to his knees beside the bed without a care for the cold hardwood floor.
“Lord, show me how to help Regina. If these murderers are in the area, please let the marshall catch them before they can hurt her. She’s a brave young woman all alone in the world… an orphan. She needs you. I need you…”
A knock at the door awoke Kyrk, and he pushed back the covers. In the predawn hours, he’d crawled back in his bed and fallen asleep. The sunlight which peeked through the curtains told him he’d gotten at least a couple hours of rest.
“Be right there.” Kyrk grabbed his robe, pulled it on, and clutched it closed as he opened the door.
“Kyrk, why haven’t you come to breakfast?” Kathleen pushed into the room. “You aren’t even dressed… and you look a mess.”
“Why thank you, Dear Sister.” Kyrk tied his robe, then folded his arms and frowned.
“Well, are you coming or not?”
“If you leave me in peace to dress, I will.”
“Hurry, you know I hate to eat alone.”
“Where is everyone else?” Kyrk said as he laid an outfit on his bed.
“They’ve come and gone, except for Regina. I’ve not seen her yet. Perhaps I ought to check on her, too.”
“Good idea. I’ll be there soon.” Kyrk shut and locked the door behind his sister, and a few seconds later heard her knock on Regina’s door down the hall. Though tempted to listen to their conversation, he moved away and focused on his ablutions.
Kyrk pushed his empty plate to the side and folded his arms on the table. “Regina, we want you to come work at the mercantile again. You know the store better than both of us, since we’ve been gone so long. Besides that, we can better watch out for you if you are nearby.”
Regina placed a finger over her lips, and Kyrk grimaced at his indiscretion. He lowered his voice. “Please, I’ll pay you.”
Regina huffed, and then whispered, “I’m not worried about whether you’d pay me, but the marshall may drag me to another town day or night. I might disappear without notice. You cannot depend on me, with circumstances as they are. And… what if those men come into the mercantile after me? I don’t want to put you or Kathleen at risk.”
The stubborn woman appeared to be more concerned for them than for herself. A protectiveness Kyrk never had for anyone but Kathleen engulfed him for this beautiful, brave lady. However, the other emotions which raged inside of him for Regina were anything but brotherly. She’d captured his affections, but after the lout he’d been, it would be a miracle if he won her affection… and dare he say… love, too.
A week went by, and Kyrk raced to hold a ladder Regina stood atop as she placed canned beans on a high shelf. “Regina, you’ll break your neck.”
“Don’t be silly. I’ve done this a hundred times,” Regina said as she placed the last can on the shelf.
The bell on the door jingled, and Kyrk swiveled his attention to the entryway. A squeal warned him, and quick as lightning, he caught Regina before she hit the floor. Face to face, with her in his arms, so close. He didn't want to let her go. The couple inches which separated them made Kyrk long to close the gap and show her how much he’d grown to care, but a discreet cough reminded him they weren’t alone anymore. Kyrk set Regina on her feet, but not before he noted her heightened color and the way she bit her full bottom lip. Maybe she hadn’t been unaffected either.
With great reluctance, Kyrk turned to greet the customer.
To be continued...
The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference was fantastic! Besides the awesome classes by some of the best Christian Authors, and those in the Christian Publishing industry, I had some great meetings. Stay tuned for an upcoming Newsletter where I'll share more details. Also, I had the chance to spend time with some of my new friends from the Christian Novelist Retreat I attended last year (pictured below). Can't wait to put everything I've learned to use in my short stories and novels.
Have a great Monday and a great week! I appreciate you and your support. May the Lord God bless each of you and your families with Faith, Hope, and Love, in Jesus' Name.