“Can you find time to read this through for me, Dad?” Callie asked as soon as her dad came in the front door. She had been writing up a piece about children growing up in New York, comparing the rich ones to the poor ones.
“Love to, sweetheart,” he said and kissed the top of her head, “but I have to write this up while it’s fresh in my mind and before the police department calls to find out what I know.”
He went off to his study and she smiled at the closed door. Callie loved what her dad did for a living, although it took him into some dangerous situations.
“A reporter in New York,” she said to her mother, who was sitting with some embroidery work. “I wish I could be that one day.”
“Your dad thinks it’s too dangerous for a woman,” she told Callie and stopped sewing. “What are you writing about this time?”
“Children in New York. The poor ones seem to have no chance of success at all.”
“You could turn that sort of thing into writing stories instead of news reporting. It might be more successful for you.”
“I’ve thought about trying to publish stories and saying that I’m a man. Women are just told to go and get married.”
“It’s safer for a woman to have the protection of a husband,” her mother answered. “But finding the right one is the problem. Your dad is often threatened by the people he writes about. People will do anything to cover up their secrets. It would be much worse for a woman in that situation.”
“But I love words, and I always have. I wish I could go to college and learn more about it. Brian doesn’t enjoy writing like I do but he’s gone to Boston to study.”
“I know that, my sweetheart, but it’s what we women have to accept. Your brother would probably be happier doing something else than writing and studying. I’m quite contented at home with my sewing and cooking, but you will have to find a way to write and still run a home.”
“If I ever find anyone to marry me.” Callie sighed as she said it.
“There have been plenty of young men,” her mother pointed out.
“But they’re so young and full of what a great time they have in New York.” She thought for a moment. “Maybe I could move somewhere rural and start a small newspaper of my own.”
Her dad came in from his study and heard the last sentence.
“That would make sense if you had someone from the right place who would marry a woman who thinks about nothing but writing.”
“I think about other things,” she protested. “Then I write about them.”
She had the grace to laugh at herself and handed over her writing for her father to read through. Then she went off to do one of her other great loves. She was reading a very good book that described the awful working conditions in factories. After a while, her dad brought her back from the author’s disturbing depiction.
“That is excellent writing. Be quite certain that what people tell you is the truth. If you’re not certain, make sure you say that you were told it was so.”
“Thanks,” she said and asked him what he had been working on. He shook his head.
“I cannot believe the depths to which people can sink when they see big money.”
He changed the subject by asking if she was still enjoying her gardening, and she told him she was going out to do some work on it.
“The gardener keeps it tidy enough, but I love to sit outside and enjoy the colors and the scents of flowers. Perhaps I will cut some for the house.”
“And you’re still writing poems and descriptions of the garden? That might be a way for you to be published. Build up a good collection.”
She kissed her dad on the cheek and thanked him. She knew he wanted her to succeed in her writing, and she told him so.
“Just not like the investigations, I do myself. That work is too dangerous for a woman.”
Callie went outside, picking up her gardening gloves and pinafore on her way through the kitchen. The little garden was surrounded by a white fence, and she had added shrubs over the last three years since she’d asked if she could use the space. The bushes now gave shelter and protection to the plants and also offered privacy to the gardener.
Walking around, Callie checked everything that was growing and found a kneeler to get down on her hands and knees to pull out the weeds. When a female voice called out to her, she straightened up with a smile.
“I didn’t go to the house. I knew you would be out here,” her friend Gabriella said as she came through the gate. She sat on one of the garden seats and waved a bag in the air. “Raspberry buns.”
Callie pulled off the gardening gloves as she stood up and accepted a bun. She sat beside her best friend and asked why Gabriella was so cheerful.
“Don’t tell me that Robbie has popped the question?”
Gabriella nodded enthusiastically and waved her left hand in the air. “Your friend is actually engaged to be married.”
“Oh, Gabriella, that’s just wonderful. He’s a lovely man. Congratulations.”
“And now we have to find someone for you, Callie. You cannot be a spinster who loves her garden and nothing more.”
“I wish I could find someone who understands my need to write. I have to write something every day or I go crazy.”
Gabriella unfolded a news journal. It wasn’t the one Callie’s Dad wrote for but one that offered lighter stories and adverts instead of bad news all the time.
“Every week, there are adverts about men who are desperate to find a woman to help them carve out a new life. If you read them every week, I am sure someone suitable will turn up.”
Callie didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand but read through some of the adverts.
“I like reading just about anything, so I’ll keep looking at what these men say. Thanks, Gabriella. Now, tell me your plans for the wedding.”
The two girls chattered away and eventually went inside to tell Callie’s mother. When Gabriella left, Callie took the journal to her bedroom and read it thoroughly. She was a quick reader, faster than most other people. She couldn’t remember a time when she couldn’t read, and her thirst for more and more words was insatiable.
For three weeks, she did as her friend suggested and read through the adverts. Finally, one stood out from the page and she read it several times over.
The man lived in a small country town that was growing steadily, and he had a good job as a horse trainer and breeder.
“He doesn’t work for himself,” she said aloud, “but it’s clear that he loves his job and the horses he breeds. He would like it if any woman that was interested would like to come to the town and see if they found each other good company.”
Callie never had any trouble finding words to write. It was what she did best. She replied to the advert with a long letter explaining who she was, where she lived, and what she would like to do with her life.
Then, she walked down to the mail office and sent it away, wondering if he would write back.
For two weeks, she heard nothing in reply and wondered if her words had not appealed to the man. She spent the time doing what her father had suggested by compiling a folio of poems and descriptions of her own garden, plants in general, and how the flowers made her feel.
Then, a letter arrived, and she noted as she saw her own name and address that the writing was very much like her own. She felt her heart quicken as she slit open the envelope and read what he had written.
“Oh, Lordy, he sounds lovely,” she murmured and hurried away to her bedroom to read it all over again.
In his letter, Nate told her that although his name was Nathan, everyone called him Nate. He was almost six feet tall and loved his work with the horses. He said she would have to excuse the simple things in his house as he was a man who lived alone. He added that company would be wonderful and there was a small garden that was never used for anything.
She went to show the letter to her mother.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“The question is, do you want to go and meet him?” her mother asked in return. Callie nodded.
“He sounds really pleasant. I can stay in the hotel and if it doesn’t work out, I can come back home again.”
Her dad came in and joined the conversation and they decided she could go and meet the man called Nate.
“I did ask him if there was a newspaper there and he said that there’s nothing like that. I could start a little newsletter and give it away to see how people react.”
Her dad thought for a moment and then he took her hands.
“I know you wanted to go to college and you have a talent for words. To make it up to you, I will give you a small printing press and you can try the newsletter idea out.”
“Oh, Dad. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” She flung her arms around his neck and he laughed at her enthusiasm. Then, Callie sat down and wrote another letter to Nate to tell him that she would arrive in about two weeks, and was there space for a small printing press?
She grabbed a coat and after delivering the letter to the post office, she headed for Gabriella’s house to tell her about the decision. Life had suddenly taken on some excitement, and she wondered what Nate would be like in real life.
Nathan Macormack was reading the letter from Callie over again as he drank his coffee and took a break from schooling the bay stallion that was his current focus.
“She sounds interesting,” he murmured to himself. “She has a sense of humor, joking about having curly red hair and hoping I won’t mind.”
He read on and she made him smile several times more before he took up pen and paper and started a letter back to her. It was interrupted by a knock at the door and the woman he worked for stepped inside.
“Hi,” Nate said and put down his pen. “Did you see the bay stallion in the corral there? He’s doing well and will make a good profit when he’s sold on.”
“I saw you had him saddled,” she said and took a seat at his kitchen table.
Elizabeth Waite was a pretty older woman who had money from her late husband. She always wore a lot of jewelry and she was dressed in a satin dress with a lot of decoration even though it was mid-morning and she was visiting her business premises.
Nate straightened up and offered to put the bay through its paces so she could see their progress. She agreed and followed him out to the corral. As they walked across, Nate asked if he could renew some of the tack that was wearing thin.
“I’m guessing that you’ll have your mother take care of that,” Elizabeth answered.
He nodded and gave her a smile as he put his foot in the stirrup and swung himself into the saddle. Nate Macormack was an easy-going man, and his slow smile worked on his boss. She told him to renew whatever he needed.
He rode the bay around to give Elizabeth a brief demonstration, then came back to the fence.
“Another two weeks, I think, and we have a buyer waiting for him.” Nate unsaddled the horse and let him move away. He put the saddle over the fence and came out of the gate. “You happy with all of that?”
Horse breeding was the only business that Elizabeth had retained from her late husband, and Nate knew full well that she liked what he did. He also knew she had a very fancy house in town that contained beautiful furnishings, but he kept a formal distance between himself and the owner.
When she put a hand on his arm, he was reminded of why he was keeping that distance.
“Have you a busy day?” he asked.
“I have lunch with the mayor to discuss making the school bigger.”
“I did notice that you were dressed up,” he said and gave a grin. “Enjoy yourself.”
He watched her walk away, then followed in her footsteps to his mother’s tack business, which was between himself and the nearby town.
“Mom,” he called, and Maeve Macormack came out with a glass of lemonade in her hand.
“Come on in and have a drink,” she told her son and they went through the tack shop and into the house.
“Smells good,” he said as he sat down.
“Fresh bread,” she said. “You can take some with you.”
“Elizabeth says I can renew the leatherwork that needs replacing. I can pay you from the funds in the house if you give me proper billing.”
They talked about what he needed and then he hesitated. His mother waited, always patient. After so many years, she knew Nate would take his time if he wanted to tell her something.
“In reply to my advert, I got a letter back from a woman called Callie. She seems like someone that I could like and wondered what you thought.”
He handed over the letter and watched as his mother read it through.
“I like her,” she said and passed it back to him. “She says that she enjoys horse riding, and I would say that is essential. I like the idea of her writing and loving flowers. She seems like she would be good to talk to.”
“She does love her writing and wonders if I would mind if she did some writing every day.”
“I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Maeve answered. “What will you do?”
“We will write a few more letters and I will ask if she wants to come here and see how we get along.”
Maeve stood up and handed him a fresh loaf of bread. “Come and choose what you need from the store.”
He took the reins and other things that he needed, balanced the loaf of bread, and went back to the horses. Then, he finished his letter to Callie.
He went into town and sent it away, stopping to collect some things he needed for the house.
Back at the stables, he took out a pretty mare called Bella that was his horse, not Elizabeth’s. They had an arrangement that allowed Nate to run his own horses along with hers.
“Come on Bella, let’s take you for a little light exercise.” The mare was in foal and he had stopped riding her because she was near to her time. He walked her on a long rein in a circle and then ran his hands over her body. “Not long now,” he told her and let her out into the corral with another gentle mare to keep her company.
Three days later, he was watching Bella give birth when a letter arrived back from Callie. He read it straightaway and, as the mare was managing well, he went inside and wrote back to her immediately.
Would you like to come and stay in town for a while to see how we get along? There would be no wedding if we feel that it would not work. It would be lovely to meet you in person.
After confirming Bella was fine, he hurried back into town to send off his reply.
His time was taken with the arrival of Bella’s foal and he forgot about the letter as the joy he always found in a new Morgan baby was what gave him the most pleasure in life. This one was black like his mother and staggered determinedly to his feet.
Nate leaned on the stall and watched the colt take his first drink as he found his mother.
He wrote another letter to Callie enthusing about the new foal and sent that one off, as well. On his way back, he ran into his sister, who was headed home from her job at the lodging house. She came with him to see the new baby and was the first of many visitors.
“She is just beautiful,” Laura told him. “Will you keep him?”
“I’m quite tempted,” he said, leaning on the fence.
“Have you heard from Callie again?” his sister wanted to know, and he took his time in answering.
“She seems to be a lovely woman and has interests in all sorts of things. She writes a great letter and likes riding horses.”
“So, you’re going to ask her to come here?”
Laura laughed. “She can stay with Mom and me until you get to know each other. You need company and help around the place, and if she likes gardening, riding, and writing, she’ll be fun to have around.”
“Thanks, Laura. I have already asked her if she would like to come and see if we get on together.”
“I think Mom has steak pie made. I will tell her that soon, she’ll have an extra mouth to feed.”
With one last look at Jet, as he had decided to name the youngster, Nate realized his life suddenly seemed a little bit more exciting. Nate Macormack had a spring in his step.
Callie was wildly excited about her upcoming journey and the possible start of what could be her new life.
“Dad, the printing press has arrived,” she called out to her father as he came in from work.
He came and gave her a quick hug.
“Leave it packaged up and I’ll have it sent to Nate’s address. It will travel better if it’s left in a secure package.” He looked at her face. “I know you want to rip it open and try it out, but contain yourself for once.”
She did a little jig of frustration on the spot but managed to smile at the same time.
“I’m leaving tomorrow. I might get there before the printing press.”
“Have you everything you need? We will take you to the train station and I will send off this parcel at the same time. I think it will be the stagecoach part of the journey that holds up the parcel.”
“Yes, I think so. And thanks for the money, as well,” Callie told him.
“Keep the money safe. When you’re married, Nate will look after it. There is a telegraph office as well, if you need me urgently.”
“I appreciate you looking out for me,” she said and kissed his cheek. With a lingering look at the parcel, Callie hurried off to finish packing.
Gabriella paid a visit to tell her to write lots of letters and to come back for her wedding to Robbie.
“I would not miss it for anything,” Callie assured her.
When she finished the preparations, Callie went to bed knowing that she wouldn’t sleep well. Then, it was morning, and the day had finally arrived. Her dad put all of her bags in the carriage and the printing press was loaded in the back. Her mother came along to the depot as her dad negotiated the busy streets of New York.
“I will be glad to be away from the noise and bustle of the city,” Callie said to her mom. “A smaller town seems attractive.”
“I will miss your noise and bustle around the house,” her mother answered. “The place will be very quiet.”
Callie squeezed her mom’s hand and promised that she would write lots of letters.
The railroad depot was as busy as usual with several engines huffing and hissing as men in overalls climbed all over them and filled up the tanks with water. The ticket office checked her tickets and they found a man to help load her bags.
“I’ll take this and send it off as cargo,” her dad said and wheeled away the printing press once the bags were unloaded from the trolley.
“Are you sure I’m on the right train?” Callie asked anxiously.
“Just find a good seat and we will watch as it departs,” her dad told her and she hugged both of her parents and climbed inside.
She found a seat beside her pile of bags and her stomach lurched with both excitement and a touch of worry as the wheels rolled and the whistle blew. Callie waved and knew her parents were watching the train chug out of sight.
She looked around at the well-dressed folk traveling alongside her and pulled out a book to read, settling in for the long journey. When she finished reading, she found her journal and a pencil and described the carriage and the people in great detail.
Over two days of being in the carriage, she did a lot of writing and had conversations with other travelers. Some of them left the carriage at certain stops and new people came on board. It was an ideal situation for taking note of what she saw.
There was a girl of about ten years old sitting across from her, and after a while, she noticed the girl was shuffling about in her seat. Callie looked up, chewed the pencil end, and then smiled at the girl.
“What are you writing?” the youngster asked boldly, and Callie laughed.
“I am jotting down whatever I see because I like writing—people and their bags in the carriage, and the view from the windows as well. Maybe I’ll put it all into a story one day.”
“Am I in your book?”
“Yes, you are. Would you like to see what I have written about you?”
“Don’t be a nuisance, Mary Jane,” the girl’s mother warned.
“I don’t mind,” Callie said and held out her hand to Mary Jane. “I’m Callie. Come and sit beside me and read what I have written down.”
The girl came and sat on the next seat and whispered that she wasn’t a very good reader.
“Do you not learn to read in school?” Callie asked.
“I had to leave school because we had to live somewhere else.”
“Well, let me read this out to you. I will do it very quietly,” she told Mary Jane and read out that she was sitting opposite a pretty girl with lovely long blonde hair and gray eyes. She described the clothes that Mary Jane was wearing and added that she thought the youngster was wishing for something to do.
“I was wishing for something to do. These train journeys are long and boring.”
Callie looked at the girl’s mother and asked if it was fine to give Mary Jane a pencil and some paper.
“Oh, yes, please do. I haven’t anything to use, myself.”
They found Mary Jane something on which to rest the paper and she stayed beside Callie. The mother closed her eyes.
“What will you write?” Callie asked.
“I would rather draw a picture,” Mary Jane said and proceeded to sketch some flowers and leaves.
“I like those,” Callie told her and found some more paper. She wrote about the girl beside her whose head was bent forward in concentration. Her blonde hair was falling over the sketch and the drawings were very good for someone so young.
When they reached the next stop on the line, it turned out that Mary Jane and her mom were leaving the train at the same time as Callie. Noting that they didn’t have much luggage, she found a porter to help with her pile of bags. The porter pulled the trolley to the stagecoach office and left her there with her pile of luggage. When she looked around for Mary Jane to wave goodbye, there was no sign of the mother and daughter.
The stage people were helpful and said she could leave her bags with them if she was going to have a meal at the hotel. The thought of properly cooked food instead of snacks at railroad stops was welcome and she was eager to take advantage of it.
Callie used the facilities at the hotel and headed for the stagecoach. To her great delight, the printing press package was there and she asked them to load it along with her luggage. Then she heard voices from the office and saw Mary Jane and her mother.
“Sorry,” the man was telling them. “You are short fifty cents.”
“Oh no, I must have dropped some.” The mother was distressed as she hunted through her bag for the extra money. Callie pulled out her purse and put fifty cents on the counter.
“Here’s the money that you dropped,” she said. The woman gazed at her and Callie saw the tears start to form. “We can sort it out later. Come and climb on board.”
After another passenger boarded, an older gentleman, they were ready to start the last leg of the journey.
“Have you had anything to eat?” Callie asked.
“I’m hungry,” Mary Jane told her, and Callie asked the coach to just wait until she bought some food.
They were obliging and Callie arrived back with food from the vendor on the platform. She thanked the driver and they set off with Mary Jane and her mother eating the bread and cheese with enthusiasm. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do in a bumpy, shaking stagecoach, but they managed.
Callie could sense there was a story behind this pair who were so penniless, but she contained the urge to ask questions and instead asked if they were going to Myrtle Tops.
“Yes, we are,” Janet, the girl’s mother, answered. “I’m hoping to find a job there.”
“I’m going there as well,” Callie told them.
There was little conversation as they held on to straps in the carriage. The stage tossed them all about and the other passenger tried hard to keep his eyes closed and sleep the time away. By the time they reached Myrtle Tops, everyone was covered in dust and trying to drink some water. It was with great relief that they all staggered out onto firm ground.
As Callie looked around and patted at her dusty clothes, she saw a man standing slightly to one side. He had told her what he looked like and she knew straightaway that this was Nate Macormack. The man was tall and had long dark hair tied back with a leather cord. He looked serious, quiet, and strong. He wore the clothes of someone who worked with livestock and had a clean checked shirt with a vest over it. His trousers came down over leather riding boots.
When he stepped forward, Callie felt something in her chest that she had never felt before. Telling herself that it was excitement, she took his offered hand to shake. The feeling she had felt when she looked at him was given another boost when she touched his hand.
“You must be Callie,” he said quietly. “I recognized the ginger hair.”
“Following her Heart’s Call” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Callie Roth has a dream—to follow in her famous father’s footsteps and become a journalist. When she is encouraged to do so as a married woman, she takes a leap of faith and begins writing to a kind man named Nate. Little does she know, their union will not only bring about a newfound freedom and excitement, but also a deep bond…
In the face of betrayal, can she keep her dreams alive before they are shattered forever?
Nate Macormack is a horse breeder with a passion for his work, but the day Callie enters his life, he finds himself in a completely different world. Their shared love of horses brings him unexpected feelings, until Callie’s antics draw the ire of his boss and his life is thrown into chaos. In an effort to save his home and job, Nate finds himself in a painful dilemma…
Will he be able to turn things around and ensure he doesn’t lose the love of his life?
As Callie’s newspaper becomes a hit in town, revealing secrets of the powerful folk in the area, their lives are thrown into danger. With tensions rising, the couple must face the wrath of their adversaries, all while trying to keep their love alive. Will their marriage survive the danger and heartache that lies ahead, or will their dreams be dashed forever?
“Following her Heart’s Call” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.