Faith Blum

I Love Thee

He’s loved her for years, but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship

 Cole Baxter suddenly becomes the character of his two nieces and two nephews all under the age of eight. After a month of chaos, Cole is desperate and decides he needs a wife.

Rhoda Giles has loved Cole for years, but never says anything because she is afraid to ruin the easy friendship they have. She tries to help with the children as much as she can. The thought of Cole marrying a mail order bride nearly stabs her through the heart.

Will Rhoda say something before it is too late or will Cole marry a woman he’s never met?

A companion novella to Amazing Grace.


Chapter 1

The words on the light yellow paper blurred together as he processed what he had read. Cole raked his fingers through his hair. The birds chirping in the distance seemed out of place, as did the bright sunlight shining on the flat prairie land. Wasn’t it supposed to be raining and gloomy on days like this? Cole blinked his eyes to stop the sudden watering as he tried to take a deep breath, but the nine simple words on the light yellow paper had sucked all the air right out of his lungs.

Ma and Pa dead STOP Please come STOP Gage

As Cole read the words for the third time since sending a reply back with the delivery boy, he snapped his head up, blinked his eyes against the sunlight, and rushed through the still open door, startling his housekeeper as she swept the entryway. “I’m needed in Topeka.” He paused. “I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Cara and Isaac are dead.” His Adam’s apple bobbed. “I’ll be bringing the children home with me.”

Caroline Gundacker stared at him as his words sank in. “I’m so sorry.” She reached out and tried to comfort him, but he skirted past her, knowing he had to push his feelings aside, get packed, and leave. He couldn’t risk his nieces’ and nephews’ safety. His beloved sister was dead. How? When? Why? What would he do with four children on the ranch? How would he survive? How would they react? Where were they right now? Would the neighbors take care of them? Would the telegraph operator in Topeka know where to bring the telegram he’d sent? Each question was important, but none had any answers. He would have to work out some of the answers on his way to Topeka.

Half an hour later, Cole had his horse saddled and his few necessary belongings packed in saddlebags. He would have to buy a wagon in Topeka. He had one here, but they would probably need at least one more with the new additions anyway. And if they needed more room, he could always wire Caroline and Zack and have them send one of the men to Topeka. Cara and Isaac’s farm lay only a few hours’ ride away from Leavenworth.

As he rode west, he kept an eye out for Zack, his foreman. Seeing him in the distance, Cole spurred his horse to catch up with the large, older man.

Zack rode toward him when he saw his boss. “Somethin’ wrong, Boss?”

“I’ll be in Topeka a couple days. Maybe more. Cara and Isaac are dead and I need to get things taken care of and bring the children back here.”

“I’ll keep things runnin’, Cole. Does Caroline know?”

“Yeah. Your wife was in the house when I got the telegram and came in to pack.” Cole looked up. “I hate to run off like this, but I need to go if I’m gonna make it to Topeka before the sun sets.”

Zack nodded. “Okay, Boss. Have a safe trip and let us know if we can do anything for you.”

Cole waved his thanks and urged his horse into a gallop. Maybe a brisk ride in the cool air would clear his mind.