Mail Order Misfit (Brides of Beckham)

BOOK: Mail Order Misfit (Brides of Beckham)
3.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Mail Order Misfit


Book Eleven in the Brides of Beckham


By Kirsten Osbourne


Copyright 2014 Kirsten Osbourne


Kindle Edition, License Notes


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Elaine had spent over half of her life walking with a cane and being treated as if she were made of glass. When she sees no other option, she sneaks out and goes to see the owner of the mail order bride agency in Beckham. She picks out a man who seems perfect for her, and travels to Kansas City to be his bride.
Colin goes to lunch at the restaurant in town to consider sending off for a mail order bride when he notices a beautiful woman limp into the establishment. During his unashamed eavesdropping, he hears that she's a mail order bride who is being rejected by the man she's come to marry. He jumps up immediately and asks the beautiful girl to be his bride. Will they be able to make things work? Or will her insecurities keep them from ever being truly happy?

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Chapter One


Elaine sat at the kitchen table peeling potatoes, talking happily with her family's cook, Mrs. Jenkins.  "I'm so glad Mother left for the afternoon.  If I have to spend one more afternoon embroidering, I'm going to lose my mind!"

Mrs. Jenkins sighed.  "She's just trying to do what's best for you.  I don't know why she can't see that you're as capable as anyone else is."

Elaine frowned at the potato in her hand.  "It's because she doesn't let me do anything, so she can't see it.  She never gives me a chance."  She finished the one she was working on, and picked up the next.  Whenever she could get away with it  she helped out in the kitchen.  She truly enjoyed cooking, although she'd always had to sit to do things most stood to do. 

"Your mother was very afraid you'd never walk again when you fell out of that tree.  You really can't blame her for being so careful with you."  Mrs. Jenkins had been the cook in her family since before Elaine was born.
  "Of course, after twelve years, it might be time for her to allow you to return to normal activities."

"I may never be able to dance at a ball, but I can certainly go for walks outside.  I can't walk for long, but I'm not a complete invalid."
  And she was more than a little sick of being treated like one.  Even though the doctor had said it was safe for her to do anything she felt up to doing, he mother still expected her to stay inside and do nothing.

"I know that, and you know that.  I don't think your mother will ever believe it."

When Elaine was ten years old, she'd been a normal, rambunctious girl with a penchant for climbing trees.  She'd fallen when the branch she was sitting on cracked, and fallen wrong, landing on her leg.  The doctors had mended it as best they could, but her leg had stopped growing, leaving one leg several inches longer than the other.  She'd walked with a severe limp ever since, and her mother had treated her as if she were made of glass.

Elaine sighed heavily.  "I need to get out of Beckham and away from my mother.  I want to marry and have children, to do everything everyone else in the world does."
  Even though her leg was short, her mind was the same as always, and she wanted to be treated as an adult, not a child.

Mrs. Jenkins turned from the stove.  "You should.  Your mother is never going to let you out of the house long enough to even meet a young man, though.  How can you possibly marry?"

Elaine shrugged wishing she had an answer to that.  "I don't know.  I'll figure it out, though.  I have to."  Getting out from beneath her mother's thumb was the first order of business.  She just hoped it was easier to do than she thought it would be.

The kitchen door flew open, and Elaine's mother, Cassandra Phillips, walked into the room scowling at Elaine.  "I told you to stay in the parlor while I was gone.  Why must you always defy me?"  She turned to Mrs. Jenkins.  "I would appreciate it if you would stop giving my daughter kitchen tasks. She's too delicate for hard work."  Cassandra picked up Elaine's cane from where it rested against the wall and handed it to her daughter.  "Come along."

Elaine wanted to scream at her mother that she was fine, but she knew better.  It was a battle she'd fought for years, but there had been no point.  She needed to do as her mother said, or she would be even more limited in what she could do.  At twenty-two, she had every right to go out and spend time with other young people, but her mother would never hear of it.

Elaine took the cane and casting one last longing look at the work she was leaving behind, she followed her mother into the parlor.




The following morning, while
her mother was taking her younger sister, Alice, to her dance lesson, Mrs. Jenkins went into the parlor where Elaine was sitting.  "I have an idea for you," she said, sitting beside the younger woman on the sofa where she was embroidering.

"What do you mean?"
  Elaine was surprised to see Mrs. Jenkins sitting on the sofa in the parlor.  Usually the older woman thought of the family areas of the house as places she didn't belong.  She set down her embroidery, happy to have someone to talk to.  Even with two sisters in the house, and two married sisters that constantly visited, she felt like she never had the chance to talk to anyone.  Her sisters were all so involved in dancing and school that she was always alone.

"I was looking over the newspaper last night after my husband finished with it, and I saw something that might interest you."  Mrs. Jenkins held out a clipping from the newspaper. 

Elaine took it, reading over it quickly.  "A mail order bride?  Are you serious?"  The advertisement read, "Mail Order Bride agency needs women who are looking for the adventure of their lives.  Men out West need women to marry.  Reply in person at 300 Rock Creek Road.  See Miss Elizabeth Miller."

Mrs. Jenkins nodded.  "You should go see Miss Miller.  Your mother will be gone for the next few hours, and Rock Creek Road is just the next street over.  It's certainly not too far for you to walk."

Elaine stared at the advertisement, thinking about what Mrs. Jenkins was suggesting.  Could she really do that?  Just walk away from everything she knew and go marry a man she'd never met?  Was there any other way for her to meet a man and marry?  "I'm going to go right now," she said, getting to her feet.  She took her cane from against the wall, and leaned on it.  She really only needed it for long walks, and not around the house, but her mother insisted she use it at all times. 

Mrs. Jenkins smiled.  "Good for you.  I think it's the smartest thing you could possibly do."

Elaine left the house, breathing in the thick autumn air.  She loved autumn in New England and couldn't imagine life anywhere else.  As she walked, she wondered where she would end up.  Where was there a man who would accept a woman who was broken?  Truly, she could do anything any other woman could, but men didn't tend to believe that once they saw her limp.

When she reached the house in question, she knocked once on the door, waiting for it to be opened.  A tall man in his twenties came to the door, opening it wide for her.  "May I help you?" he asked.

"I'm here to see Elizabeth Miller."  She was surprised by how calm her voice sounded.  How could she sound calm when she was doing something that would change her life forever?

He nodded once.  "Come in."  He led her down a hallway and into an office.  "Your name please?"

"It's Elaine Phillips."  He hadn't even asked why she was there.  Did people come in all the time to see about being mail order brides?  Was she just one in a thousand?  Did it really matter?  She was doing the thing that was right for her.

"I'll let Miss Miller know that you're here."  He waved toward the sofa.  "Have a seat."

Elaine slowly lowered herself onto the sofa, resting her cane beside her.  She massaged her leg near the knee where she'd broken it.  It always ached after a walk, but it was a good ache, because it meant she'd done something.  She wished she could spend more time outdoors as she had when she was younger.

After a minute, a pretty young blonde came into the room and sat down in front of the desk.  "How may I help you, Miss Phillips?"

"Oh, please call me Elaine."  Elaine hadn't met Elizabeth Miller before, which was surprising with how close together they lived.  Maybe Elizabeth hadn't lived there for long.  "I want to be a mail order bride."  She saw no point in beating around the bush.  She was there for a purpose after all, and she was ready to get down to business.

"I think I can help you with that."  Elizabeth picked up a thick pile of papers from her desk.  "Tel
l me why you want to be a bride and a little bit about yourself, and I'll see if I can find someone to match you up with."

"I honestly need to get away from Beckham and my mother."  Elaine shook her head, realizing how rude that sounded.  "When I was ten, I fell from a tree and broke my leg, but it never grew right after that.  So one leg is significantly shorter than the other.  Ever since my accident, my mother won't allow me to leave the house, or walk around or do anything.  I'm twenty-two years old, and I refuse to turn twenty-three living in that house."

Elizabeth peered over the papers at Elaine, her eyes going to the cane beside her.  "Most of the men who want brides expect their wives to be able to cook, clean, and sometimes help out on the farm.  Can you do all those things?"

Elaine nodded.  "I only need the cane if I'm going for a walk.  I can cook as well as any other woman, and I enjoy being able to move around.  My mother would like to tie me up and put me in a glass case, and I would like to have the freedom to move around and
something."  She knew her voice sounded desperate, but she felt desperate.  She had to do something soon, or she would go insane.

"I understand perfectly."  Flipping through the letters, she pulled one out of the middle.  "I think that John might be good for you."

Elaine took the letter and read through it eagerly.  "Dear potential bride, It's hard to know what to write in this letter.  I'm a tall man with dark hair and a mustache.  I own a ranch outside Kansas City, and I need a wife.  My spread isn't a big one, but I definitely have enough to support a wife and family.  My biggest requirement in a woman is that she knows how to work.  I need someone willing to cook, clean and do general ranch work, while I see to the bulk of the ranching.  If you think you're up to the challenge of living on the prairie and helping me raise cattle and babies, then you're the wife for me.  I hope to hear back from you soon.  Sincerely, John Black."

Elaine looked up at Elizabeth and nodded with a smile.  "He sounds like just what I need.  What now?"

Elizabeth handed her pen, ink and a sheet of paper.  "Now you write to him, and I'll take it from there."

Elaine was thrilled as she wrote her letter to John.  "Dear John, You sound like exactly what I'm looking for in a husband.  I want to have a place to work hard.  I enjoy cooking and cleaning, and would not mind helping around the ranch at all.  I have blond hair and
blue eyes, and I would love to move to Kansas and help you raise cattle and babies.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Yours, Elaine Phillips."

She handed the letter to Elizabeth who folded it without reading it.  "I'll send this to him and take it from here."  The butler came into the room then, carrying a tray of tea and cookies.  "Would you like to stay and have some tea and cookies with me?  We can get to know each other a little better."

Elaine nodded, loving the idea of having someone to actually talk to.  She was so tired of being alone.  "Did you grow up in Beckham?" she asked.  "I've never seen you before."

"I grew up just outside Beckham.  I went to the country school."

Elaine frowned.  "How did you end up here then?  In this beautiful house?"

Elizabeth smiled and told the story of her sister answering an advertisement to be a mail order bride a few years before.




When Elaine arrived home an hour later, she went in through the kitchen door, worried her mother had arrived home and realized she was missing.  "Is Mother here?" she asked.

Mrs. Jenkins turned around, her face showing her relief.  "No.  I'm so glad you got home before she did."  Elaine sank into a chair at the small table there in the kitchen.  "Let me go fetch your embroidery so your mother can't scold you for working, and you can tell me what happened."

Elaine waited, and took the embroidery when Mrs. Jenkins got back.  "Thank you."

"Well?  How did it go?"

Elaine grinned.  "Elizabeth Miller was very sweet, and she had a letter from a man she thought would suit me very well.  His name is John Black."
  She could just envision the man who went with such a name.  He'd be tall, dark, and handsome.  And he'd be thrilled to have her for a wife.  He'd take one look at her and fall in love.  She almost laughed out loud as she realized how silly she was being.

BOOK: Mail Order Misfit (Brides of Beckham)
3.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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