Authors: Donna Fasano
Tags: #General Fiction
Her smile was soft and sincere. “We’re working on it.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, capturing her hand in both of his and sliding his fingers up her bare arm. “We are working on it, aren’t we?”
There was a measuring in his eyes that made her heart flutter.
“Tyne, I know you wanted to wait. You wanted us to get to know one another again. But I don’t need more time. When I’m with you—” awe intensified his dark eyes as he shook his head “—I feel as if no time has passed at all. I know you, Tyne. I love you.”
Her breath caught, held.
“I know what’s in my heart,” he said. “Just as surely as I know my own name.”
With all he’d come to realize over these past days of their living together in his small ranch house, she understood the depth of meaning in his statement. She trusted him, believed that he meant what he said, and she’d like nothing more than to reveal her feelings for him, as well. But a strong maternal instinct held her back.
She glanced away. “Lucas, I’m worried. This is moving too fast. We have Zach to think of. If we try and fail…” The rest of her thought faded when she saw the firm set of Lucas’s jaw.
“We’re not going to fail. Not again. It just won’t happen.”
“What about my parents?” she asked. “From the looks of it, they haven’t changed much. But, Lucas, I can’t shut them out of my life anymore. As imperfect as they may be, they’re still my parents. I love them.”
“I know you do. I can live with that. I can’t sit here and tell you that I’ll ever feel about them the way you do, or that I’ll be rushing over there every Sunday for a family meal. But I can tell you I’ll do my best to respect your love for them. And I’ll always appreciate them purely for who they are. Shutting them out of our lives would be a mistake.”
She didn’t miss his choice of pronouns.
“We’ve already made all the mistakes, all the bad decisions, we’re going to make.” His thumb smoothed hot, tiny circles on the back of her hand. “In fact, I say we make a pact right now. We promise not to make
decisions without talking things out, you and I. What do you say?”
Tyne studied his gorgeous face, his warm, intense eyes, her heart filling with so much haith>“Weppiness she felt it might split in two. She pressed her palm to the side of his neck, slid it up to his jaw. Then she leaned in and kissed him softly before whispering against his mouth, “I promise.”
“Ah,” he said, “you’ve done it again, Amëwë. Got me right in the heart.”
Her eyes went round. “You remember?”
He slid his arms around her and pulled him up tight against him. “Like I could ever forget.”
• • •
“All rise,” the bailiff
Everyone, Tyne, Zach, Lucas, and the Assistant State’s Attorney, stood as Judge Taylor entered the small courtroom and seated himself. The uniformed officer called the room to order, declared that court was now in session and ordered all of them to sit.
“Folks, because we’re running behind today,” Judge Taylor said, studying the file in front of him, “I’d like to get right down to business. So, Mr. Zachary Whitlock, tell me what’s been happening.”
Zach slid out his chair and stood. Tyne gave him an encouraging smile.
“Well, Your Honor, ah, Judge, ah, Sir,” Zach stammered. He stopped talking, turning bright red in the face.
The judge leaned forward. “It’s okay. Any of those will work.” Without cracking a smile, he added, “But we don’t need all three at once, understood?”
“Yes, sir, Your Honor.” Her son’s eyes widened and he clamped his mouth shut, his cheeks and neck flaming to crimson.
“Relax, son,” Judge Taylor told him. “Now, tell me what’s been going on in your life for the past month. I see from your file that you succeeded in keeping your nose clean, so that’s good.”
“My dad took me to his hometown—Wikweko.”
“Ah, yes.” He peered over top of his reading glasses. “I remember now. And your mother? Did she go along?”
“She did, sir. And I met my family. My dad’s uncle. He’s Lenape. And my mom’s parents. My granddad is the mayor of Oak Mills.”
“Meeting family is good. What’d you spend your time doing?”
“My dad taught me to shoot a bow. And I went camping. My uncle taught me to build a shelter and start a fire to cook the fish we caught. I learned about edible plants. I played the water drum during a pow-wow. I heard all about my Lenape history. I whittled a bird out of pine wood.”
Zach continued his litany of activities until Tyne could see the judge was fighting the desire to glance at his wristwatch.
Finally, her son said, “I learned a lot of things, sir. But the best thing I learned, I think, is that I’m responsible for me.”
Judge Taylor perked up.
“I told you before,” Zach continued, “that I didn’t know those guys I was with the night I got into trouble. And I wasn’t lyin’ to you, sir. I
know them. But when I said it, I have to admit that I was trying to, like, blame them. ’Cause I was scared, and all I wanted was to get out of trouble. But I learned that what happened to me was my fault.”
Her son had the judge’s full attention now, and anxiety squeezed Tyne’s stomach until she felt nauseated.
“I learned from my Uncle Jasper that I should never jeopardize my integrity. That my choices matter.” Zach glanced at Tyne, and then at Lucas. “I learned the same thing from my parents. I figured out that they made some bad choices when they were young.”
Lucas turned questioning eyes on Tyne, and she arched her brows and lifted her shoulders the tiniest fraction.
“They made choices that they regret. And it helped me realize that my uncle was right.” Zach rested hiZacftes fingertips on the tabletop. “I’ve decided that I don’t want to get old like them and regret the choices I made while I was a kid.”
Lucas looked pained, his dark eyes glittering, his lips twitching, as he looked over at Tyne and mouthed, “
” Her cheeks puffed and she clamped her hand over her mouth. The last thing she wanted to do was laugh. Not at a moment like this. When Zach was trying his damnedest to do a good job of explaining himself to the judge. She faced forward and studied the overly-stiff collar on the bailiff’s olive uniform shirt.
“So I’m going to be careful,” Zach said, “about what I say and do, and who I hang with. ’Cause like my Uncle Jasper says, when it comes right down to it, all a man has is his reputation. If he ruins that, he’s got nothing.”
Judge Taylor gazed at Zach for a few drawn-out seconds, nodding. “Excellent.”
Something in the man’s voice made Tyne look his way. An awkward smile cracked a fissure across his marble-like features.
Then the judge murmured, “Wonder if this Uncle Jasper of yours would mind if I sent a few dozen young people his way.” He picked up the forms and typed pages that made up Zach’s file and tapped them smartly on his desk. “I’m satisfied by what I’ve heard.” He directed his attention to the prosecutor. “Is the State satisfied?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” the woman said.
Judge Taylor nodded. “I’m going to file your case on the stet docket. What that means, Zachary, is that if you keep out of trouble for a full year, then these charges will be automaticall
y dropped and expunged from your record. If you get yourself arrested, however, you’ll face whatever charges you’re up against plus these charges. Is that clear?”
“Yes. Sir.” Zach let his hands fall to his sides. “I understand.”
The black-robed man closed the manila file and handed it to the clerk. “I’m feeling good about this one. I don’t think I’ll be seeing you again, Zachary, so you have a good life. That’s all.” He rapped the gavel.
On their way out of the courthouse, Lucas slid his hand in Tyne’s. They paused just outside the door and watched their son descend the concrete steps.
Lucas whispered. “Would you look at him? His head is high, his shoulders are square.” He looked at Tyne. “This feels good.”
She smiled. “It does, doesn’t it? He did a good job in there.” Nothing in the world could beat being proud of her son. Well, almost nothing. Being able to share that proud-parent feeling with Lucas was pretty damn great too.
erfect day for a
wedding,” his uncle said, adjusting his navy tie. “You nervous?”
“Not a bit.” Lucas smoothed his hands down the lapels of his jacket. “If anything, I feel like this has been too long in coming.”
A fresh crispness snapped in the cool spring air. Crocuses and yellow daffodils bobbed their colorful heads in the large planters placed strategically along the street. The two rounded the corner and Lucas’s step slowed when he saw the plain black buggy sitting outside the Oak Mills Courthouse. Jasper lifted his hand in greeting to the woman sitting inside.
“I’m going in to find Zach and Tyne,” his uncle said. “You have plenty of time.”
“Thanks,” Lucas murmured, then veered toward the street.
The horse nickered and bobbed its head when he approached.
“Ruth?” He was too surprised to smile. “Thank you so much for coming. I sent the invitation to let you know what was happening. I have to say, I never expected you to attend.”
“I thoughmy or“Thant of contacting you. I’ve written you half a dozen letters.” Ruth Yoder captured a wayward strand of hair and tucked it neatly under the white band of her pleated cap. “But then I decided a surprise would be better.”
She reached her hand out to him and he took it. The full skirt of her black cotton dress billowed slightly and he glimpsed her sturdy, polished shoes as he helped her down onto the sidewalk.
“Your father?” Lucas asked.
Her mouth went flat. “He went to be with his Maker. Six weeks back.”
“I’m so sorry.” Then an age-old Lenape sentiment came to mind and he murmured, “May your heart find peace.”
Her hazel eyes filled with sad resignation. “He was very ill there at the end.” She took a deep breath and gazed up at the courthouse, swallowing back her grief.
“I brought you something,” she said, turning so Lucas could look into the back of the buggy. A beautiful quilt sat folded on the back seat. “It’s a wedding ring pattern.”
Lucas’s throat constricted. “Thank you so much. Did you make it?”
She lifted calloused hands. “Amazing what these rough old things can do, isn’t it?”
He stepped forward and leaned in, gingerly touching the colorful fabric. “It’s amazing. Tyne will love it.”
“Now,” Ruth began. She tugged at the waistband of her dress. “You said I have a grandson. Will I meet him today?”
“Oh, yes. I’m sure he’s inside. With his mother. And his grandparents. And my uncle.”
“That was your father’s brother?” she asked.
“I hope I get to talk to him today.”
“I’m sure you will. Tyne’s parents have planned a small reception at their house later this afternoon. You’re welcome to come.”
“I’d love to.” She reached inside the buggy and slid something from the floorboard. “I brought this for your son.”
The small, leather-bound album looked worn. Lucas opened it and sucked in his breath when he saw the yellowed newspaper clippings. Unexpected tears sprang to his eyes.
The first was an article that depicted him as a boy of eight. He was holding a certificate and wearing the medallion he’d been awarded in an elementary school science competition. Lucas still remembered the weather display that had won first place in the event.
Another was a group shot that had been taken when he and a group of his friends had raised money to help pay the hospital bill of a local boy who had been injured in a fall. Chase had lingered for weeks, but in the end, he hadn’t survived. The sound of Mrs. Halloway’s heart-wrenching sobs at the funeral were forever emblazoned in Lucas’s mind.
There were several pages of clippings from high school sporting events, football and track. His high school graduation picture made him smirk. His hair had been longer than Tyne’s back then.
“How in the world did you get all of these?” he finally asked his mother.
There was a lovely secretiveness in the twinkle of her blue green eyes. “Father forbade newspapers from the outside to be in the house.” She shrugged. “But a mother has to keep up with her child, doesn’t she?”
She slid her hand up his forearm. “I may not have had the privilege of raising you, Lucas, but I love you. I’ve always loved you.”
With trembling hands, he closed the album and set it on the floorboard of the buggy. Then he turned and wrapped his arms around his mother. She hugged him as if her very life depended on it, as if this were the last human touch she would ever receive.
When they parted, her gaze was so watery, tears trailed down her cheeks. “I never thought that would happen.”
Lucwideivas pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to her. “I’m glad you were wrong.”
She laughed through her tears. “So am I.”
“Listen,” he told her. “I want you to know it’s okay. I understand what happened. I realize your religion made it impossible for you to keep me with you. I don’t hold that against—”
“My religion?” she asked, tilting her head a fraction. “Lucas, I didn’t give you to your father because of my religion.”
Refraining from reacting to this unexpected revelation was nearly impossible.
“I became pregnant with you during my rumspringa.” She paused, moistened her pale, bare lips. “During our seventeenth year, we’re given the freedom to experience the world. It’s a time when we’re released from the church. It’s our belief that only informed adults can truly accept Christ and the church and the Amish way. We can’t reject something we’ve never experienced. So, for a time, we’re not bound to the Ordnung. The rules.” Again, that secretive smile passed her lips. “Much to my father’s complete displeasure, I took full advantage of my months of freedom.
“It was not the first time a young girl found herself carrying a child out of wedlock. Usually, such an occurrence would have resulted in a hasty marriage. But I could not marry your father. That was never a possibility. He was…not one of us. I would have been shunned.” She folded his handkerchief into a perfect square. “Besides, even if it
been an option, I fear your father would not have married me. I loved him, Lucas, but I do not believe Ry Silver Hawk felt the same about me.”
Remembering what his uncle had told him, Lucas found his gaze drifting from his mother’s.
“My father was a hard man. His Ordnung was the death of my mother. The doctor said she died of pneumonia. But I believe she was worn out. She gave up. I was duty bound to stay with him, Lucas. I was his daughter and I was called to honor him and take care of him. He had no one but me.”
Her tone was even, matter-of-fact.
“But I could not allow you to be subjected to that,” she told him. “It almost killed me to hand you over. But I had been to Wikweko. I had witnessed how your community clings together. They take care of one another.” She used the folded handkerchief to wipe an errant tear from the corner of her eye. “I knew you would be happy. And very much loved.”
Lucas stared at Ruth Yoder, her eyes, cheeks, lips devoid of makeup, and thought she was absolutely beautiful.
He cleared the thick emotion from his throat. “I was,” he assured her. “And I thank you for giving me that.”
She smiled and hugged him once again. “I am sure you must have a thousand questions about me. Because I know I have a thousand about you. But we really shouldn’t keep your bride waiting any longer.”
“Yes, it would be a shame if she decided to turn tail and run now.” He laughed. “We moved back to Wikweko, you know. I just opened an office there.”
“That’s wonderful.” Ruth checked that the horse’s reins were secured to the meter post.
“Tyne is thinking of opening a bakery. But she hasn’t decided yet.”
“I am a fairly good baker, myself,” his mother told him. “I may offer her my services. I have lots of free time on my hands these days.”
Arm in arm, they ascended the courthouse steps.
• • •
“Mom.” Zach tapped his
mother’s shoulder, excitement elevating his whisper. “Mom! Here he comes. Who’s that with him?”
She shushed him and promised to answer all his questions later. sti elBut for now, she feasted her eyes on Lucas as he held open the glass door for his mother.
Tyne smiled at Lucas. “I thought you’d changed your mind.”
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Looking at Ruth, Tyne’s smile widened. She leaned forward and kissed the woman’s cheek. “I’m so happy you’re here,” she murmured. “I know Lucas is too.”
Her gaze skipped from Jasper, to her dad, her mom, her son, and finally to Lucas’s mother. Love saturated every nuance of her being when she looked into Lucas’s eyes. “It seems the family is finally all together.”
His soft kiss was swift and sweet. “Seems so.” He kissed her again. “Can we please get in there and make this official? I’ve been waiting long enough.”
Holding tight to Lucas with one hand, her son with the other, Tyne was ready to say
. She was ready to be a family. A whole family. At last.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
I hope you enjoyed my story. Reclaim My Heart is very special to me. I was afraid the book might never see the light of day. You see, my father was diagnosed with cancer while I was writing the story and I became his primary caretaker. It’s difficult to write about love and happily-ever-after when you’re watching someone you love become sicker and sicker, and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it. So I set the book aside.
After giving myself time to grieve, I decided to work on Lucas and Tyne’s story, and I’m so glad I did. I fell in love with these characters, especially Uncle Jasper. I hope you liked them too.
If you found the book entertaining, please consider leaving a review. Good reviews help other readers find books. (And I’m not going to lie, good reviews help me too.)
I hope you’ll look for some of my other titles:
His Wife for a While
Her Fake Romance
Taking Love In Stride
Return of the Runaway Bride
Nanny and the Professor
Take Me, I’m Yours
The Single Daddy Club: Derrick, Book 1
The Single Daddy Club: Jason, Book 2
The Single Daddy Club: Reece, Book 3
Find me on-line! I love to hear from readers.
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Copyright © 2013, Donna J. Fasano
E-book ISBN: 978-1-939000-19-4
All Rights Reserved
This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part (beyond that copying permitted by U.S. Copyright Law, Section 107, “ fair use” in teaching or research, Section 108, certain library copying, or in published medisti elto hear fa by reviewers in limited excerpt), without written permission from the author.