The temperate breeze that ran through the valley and battered past the flaking white paint of the farmhouse was something Melanie felt incredibly grateful to have been spared from as she stood in the kitchen. Outside the winds were high, but not as high as the temperature; a volatile mix that she couldn’t imagine would be easy to work in.
Melanie Lyndon worked quickly to wash up the various items in the kitchen, knowing that there were a lot of other jobs that demanded to be completed before she could rest for the day.
She brushed back the loose strands of her brown curls that had fallen down from the practical way they had been put up. Melanie had always preferred the practicalities of things like that, rather than how they appealed to the eye.
“Melanie!” A familiar voice called to her and jolted her from her work. Melanie would know that voice anywhere, and the girl who entered the house only confirmed her first thoughts.
“Isabella, it’s so good to see you.” Melanie beamed as she stopped what she had been doing and dried her hands before embracing her best friend.
“I thought that I would stop by on my way home, I’ve just been looking at the kind of flowers that I would like for the marriage ceremony.”
“How exciting,” Melanie smiled and could only hope that the bitterness in her voice was slightly numbed by the smile on her face. When her friend had first broken the news to her, of course Melanie had been glad to hear about it; however, she couldn’t deny the burning envy inside of her. She had never understood how Isabella had been so good around the men of the town, or how she was always able to get her way and meet people that seemed interesting.
Melanie had no such luck. She found herself a dithering, awkward mess whenever they went into town together, and could never seem to find anyone that wanted to talk to her.
“Any progress on your front?”
Melanie tried to ignore the question; it wasn’t something that she wanted to talk about.
“Oh, come on, Melanie. You know that one day you’ll find the right man to marry.” Isabella’s tone was practically dripping with unwanted sympathy.
“I know, but I just wished that it didn’t have to feel so forced. It seems like everyone is going on at me until I find a husband.”
Isabella brushed back her dark hair that matched her features; Melanie had always admired her friend’s beauty, it was incredible, and she could see why there were always a couple of men at least that wanted to talk to her. It was a look that appeared almost…exotic.
“If you wanted to do it the organic way, you should have tried harder every time that we went to the saloon,” Isabella chuckled. “I just mean that you’ve left it a bit late to still want to be doing this naturally.”
“I know, but there’s still time, right?” Melanie asked hopefully as Isabella leaned back against the table. “I’m only 22, there’s still plenty of time.”
“If you say so,” Isabella was amused. “You’re the only girl in the house,though, and I’m sure your father will want it to be happening soon so that he can focus on Nathaniel’s future.”
Melanie knew that her friend was right, even if she didn’t want to admit it. Her younger brother had always seemed as though he had a more important future. After all, he was the one who was destined to inherit the family farm – Melanie’s job was to try and find the man who had the most money and would take her off her father’s hands.
“I know,” Melanie groaned and closed her eyes.
Her father was constantly suggesting the idea of marriage to her; he often spoke about how it would be a good idea for her to find a husband sooner than later.
“Anyway, have you had a good day?”
“Busy.” Melanie nodded. “I’ve been cleaning through pretty much the entire house,” she explained with a nonchalant shrug.
“That does sound rather busy,” Isabella said, although she turned her nose up at the thought of housework. That was an area where the two of them disagreed; Melanie wanted nothing more than to look after the home and its occupants, whereas Isabella was more focused on the prospect of going out and socializing with people in the town.
“Hello Isabella,” Nathaniel nodded as he walked into the kitchen. The thud of his boots echoed around the entire house, but as soon as Melanie saw the mud on her brother’s boots, her expression darkened.
“Nathaniel! I’ve just finished cleaning in here. What have I told you about taking those off before you enter the house?”
Nathaniel was her younger brother, and he huffed whenever she told him what to do. He rolled his eyes and kicked the boots off before he walked any further into the kitchen; however, the damage had already been done.
Melanie looked at the floor with pursed lips. It was a job that could wait for the next day, and she managed to suppress her anger.
“Younger brothers, huh?” she spoke with a scoff.
“He’s not that bad.” Isabella tried to defend him once he had left the room and gone upstairs.
“Believe me; he’s worse when it’s just our family around.” Melanie grimaced at the thought.
“Has he said anything about helping you find a husband?”
“Yes, he likes to remind me all of the time that most people around my age have at least found someone that they could see themselves with, or are even married.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mel, it’s not that big of a deal. It will just suddenly happen, and when it does, you’ll feel incredibly silly for worrying so much about it.”
“Tell that to my father and brother.”
Melanie had been the only woman in the household since their mother died when she gave birth to Nathaniel. It had been difficult growing up without that motherly guidance, and Melanie was sure that was why she had never had any luck with men. She was around two of them for the majority of her time, and her brother always put her off from being with a man. They are just so…dirty, she thought to herself with a grimace.
“Well, did you still want to go into town tomorrow morning?”
“Sure, that sounds like a good idea,” Melanie smiled at her friend. “I’ve got some things that I need to get.”
“Great, me too.” Isabella appeared incredibly giddy once more. “You know, things for the wedding. There are also some errands that Hugh wants me to run.”
“All right, well I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
After waving goodbye to her friend, Melanie quickly got to work at cleaning the floor where Nathaniel had tracked mud into the wood. Although she had planned to wait until the morning as the afternoon grew later, however, she simply couldn’t think of leaving it like that. Melanie knew that it would bother her overnight if she didn’t get rid of it now.
“Still working? Don’t you ever stop around here?” Nathaniel remarked as he walked down the stairs.
“No, because funnily enough, I don’t have Father to help when I’ve had enough for the day.”
“Is he still out there?” Nathaniel’s eyes widened as he looked out of the window to see their father still hunched over in the field.
“I guess that’s what you call a real man,” Melanie remarked with a slight smirk. She knew that would annoy her brother, but the way his expression darkened told her that another sibling argument was most definitely imminent.
“You don’t have to be so mean,” he grumbled and moved on into another room.
Melanie let out a long sigh before returning her attention to the task at hand; there was still a lot to be done before she could even think about rest.
“I heard what Isabella was saying to you, by the way,” Nathaniel added as he walked back into the kitchen.
“Oh, so now you listen in on my conversations?”
“You know that this house doesn’t drown out noise very easily.” Nathaniel shrugged and chuckled.
“So what? We were just talking.” Melanie tried to play it off.
“But don’t you think that it’s time to find someone?” Nathaniel approached the subject carefully.
However, Melanie really wasn’t in the mood to get that kind of talk from her younger brother.
“I do, but I’m just going to take each day as it comes.”
“All right,” Nathaniel held his hands up. “I know that Father really wants you to get onto it soon.”
“I will, I’m just…”
“You’re what? Waiting for the right person to come along?”
“Exactly.” Melanie pursed her lips. She had no idea if the right person would ever come along.
“All right, I just know that he wants to get you married off before he can focus on my marriage options.”
“Oh, and you think that you’re going to have much of a say in your marriage?” Melanie fired back at him.
“If I choose right there won’t be any need for conflict, Melanie.”
She knew that her father wouldn’t settle for just some normal woman for his son. Not when he had quite a lot of land that he would be inheriting – he didn’t want them connected to just any ordinary family.
“But what if someone who Father doesn’t like is your first choice?”
Nathaniel shook his head and shrugged as though it meant nothing to him.
“You know that the farm has to come first.”
“Not before your happiness,” Melanie was quick to fire back. She didn’t believe in the old traditions; she felt as though it was a right to find happiness.
“In some cases, you have to be much tougher than that.” Nathaniel sighed.
Melanie knew that there was no point in arguing, that it wouldn’t amount to much at all. All it would prove was that they both had opposing ideas that occasionally clashed. The door suddenly opened, and her father took off his boots before entering.
If there was one thing that Melanie had learned, it was that one did not argue with the will of Curtis Lyndon. It was simply something that you would try to avoid unless it was something that you felt incredibly passionate about.
“What were you both talking about?” He frowned as the silence made it clear that he had burst into the thick of a conversation.
“Oh, nothing,” Melanie shrugged as she finished cleaning up the mud and got to her feet to continue on with what she had been doing in the kitchen.
“Right.” Curtis narrowed his eyes, appearing as though he wasn’t convinced. “So, what did Isabella have to say?”
“Just that she’s excited about the wedding, and we’re going into town tomorrow morning.” Melanie shrugged it off, although she wished that she didn’t have to talk about the subject of marriage with him.
“Ah yes, she’s done quite well for herself, that girl.” Curtis’s smile was rather thin.
“I guess so,” Melanie agreed slowly.
She kept her head down as her father crossed the room and continued up the stairs to his room. However, Melanie could feel the gaze of Nathaniel still on her.
“Everything all right?”
“Yes, I just think that he’s going to tell you soon that you need to sort out finding a husband. At least show him that you’re going to actually bother trying to look.”
“I shouldn’t have to look,” Melanie groaned. “You said it yourself; your marriage is the one that’s more important. Why can’t he just skip me and focus on you?”
“Because that’s not how this is going to work.” Nathaniel chuckled and shook his head.
Later that evening, Melanie lay awake in her bed and listened to the silence of the night. She knew that it was inevitable that she was going to have to do something about her situation. Her days as a single woman were numbered, and it was now simply a question of whether she would be finding a husband herself, or put through an arranged type of marriage.
She grimaced even at the thought of the latter, but it was clear to her that she was going to have to take action and do something seriously soon.
The concept of going into the town and trying to find a man was both daunting and something that Melanie could simply never see herself doing. There weren’t many other options though, and she knew that she was running out of time to be able to make a decision for herself. That night, her dreams were filled with the worst-case scenarios of what could lie ahead of her. It was difficult to consider it a decent night of sleep by the time that the sun began to rise.
Melanie kept her mouth shut on the subject of marriage for the next few days. She didn’t want to speak of it, as though it were some kind of forbidden sin that should never be brought up. Even when she was with Isabella, she didn’t want to bring up the subject at all.
For a while, she had beginning to think that she had managed to dodge being confronted about it. She had thought that she might be able to get away with the prospect of not having to find a husband at all until she felt ready.
However, that night at dinner, the conversation turned sour. Melanie kept her head down and ate silently as her father spoke with her brother for a while. It was a long time before they decided to include her in their conversation.
“So, Melanie, you have been going into town with Isabella a lot this week?” Curtis asked her, causing her to look up slightly startled. The two men had been talking about things related to the farm, and she had managed to block out the noise of their conversation with ease until that moment.
“Uh, yes. Well, there were just some extra spices and things that I wanted to get to try and create some new flavors in my cooking. Did you notice?”
“Ah, yes. It tastes delicious, by the way.”
Melanie could only nod weakly.
“So, I think it’s time that we start to properly think about you finding a husband.” Curtis began with no apology or awkwardness in his tone. However, Melanie found herself trying to shrink away from the conversation.
“Really? I uh…I didn’t think it was that much of a pressing matter?”
“It is, unfortunately,” Curtis sighed, his appearance slightly weary. “I thought that by now, there would at least be someone that might appeal to you in the town. An option, at least.”
Melanie kept her head down as she knew that there was no such thing in her life. She felt rather ridiculous at that moment, and her cheeks reddened to let both her father and brother know just how she felt about it all.
“I think what Father’s trying to say is that we don’t think you understand the situation that we’re actually in,” Nathaniel cut in.
“What do you mean?” Melanie kept her eyes down on her plate.
“We’re talking about the success of the farm. It’s not been as easy as you probably think it has been. Our finances have gone down significantly.”
Melanie found her eyes widening as the news was broken to her.
“So that means that we’re in trouble?”
“Not yet,” Curtis explained with a worried sigh. “But things aren’t looking good. You see, there’s so much competition in the area, and our crops simply didn’t do as well as those on the other farms this year. You see, we really need t fewer mouths to feed…anything at this point.”
“Really?” Melanie asked with wide eyes. She hadn’t ever paid much attention to the success of the farm; she had simply thought that it was a given that they would be okay. However, this was a real harsh reality that she wasn’t looking forward to facing. Melanie knew what it meant for her – that she simply wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.
“Darling, we have tried to be delicate with the subject. It’s not a nice thought, I know, but it’s the situation that we are in that is going to demand a bit of sacrifice.”
“A bit of sacrifice?” Melanie’s mouth hung open. She saw this as a huge sacrifice on her part, not something that should be downplayed in that way.
“I know, I know. Look, I’m not going to dance around this anymore; we are in a situation that is only getting worse by the day. I need you to find a husband very soon, darling, for the sake of the farm.”
Melanie had never worked on anything to do with the farm. Her role had always been in the house where she could contribute to the household, not working outside on the farm. She knew that there would come a day where she would be needed to help out with things on the farm instead of the house. However, she hadn’t expected that thing to be marrying her off for the sake of financial reasons.
“I just…I don’t know if I can go through with it,” Melanie admitted in a small voice. She didn’t know how to stop the inevitable from happening.
“You can and you will – you want us to stay in a stable situation, right? Without a marriage, we could fall into poverty,” her father continued to explain.
“Really?” Melanie thought about them as a poor family and her insides twisted.
“Mel, look, it’s not an easy decision, I know. But it might not be as bad as you think,” Nathaniel offered his advice. “We will find you someone that you both deserve and who will take care of you.”
Melanie still couldn’t shift the upset that she felt over the situation; it was a shock that had lodged itself like a stone in her gut.
“I just…I can’t.”
“I’m sorry, darling,” Curtis let out another sigh. “But you will.”
“How? How am I supposed to find a husband at such short notice?” Melanie asked with a scoff.
“I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve had an idea. What about becoming a mail-order bride?”
Melanie felt her stomach turn at the thought. Her eyes bulged out, and she was sure that if she had eaten any more before the conversation had begun, she would have been sick at the thought.
“It will give you less worry and stress about finding someone. It will be easier to find someone that is looking for marriage.”
“No!” Melanie had an opinion about women who did that, but she had never thought in a million years that she would become one herself.
“I can’t do that! You can’t make me do that.” Melanie frowned in horror at the thought of becoming a mail-order bride.
“Melanie, I thought you understood from what we just said that there really is no choice in the matter.” Her father was pleading with her. “I’m sorry, but there is no other way.”
Without saying another word, Melanie rose from the table and began to walk up the stairs. She didn’t want her father and brother to see her cry so she quickly retired to her room, promising herself to clean up dinner after the others were in their rooms.
As soon as the door shut, Melanie allowed the tears to stream from her eyes and run down her cheeks. Her chest shook and she could feel the anxiety building up inside of her. She felt ashamed of the thought of having to resort to something like becoming a mail-order bride; it would be something that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Not having a say in who her husband was going to be was a thought that crushed her heart harder than any man could break it.
“Melanie?” her father called.
“Leave her,” Nathaniel’s hushed voice joined his on the other side of the door. “She’ll come around to it eventually, but just leave her for now.”
Melanie was glad that their footsteps returned back downstairs and that she was left alone to wallow in her own self-pity and shame. She pressed her lips together and tried to get ahold of herself, as she wracked her brain through the many men of the town that she knew of.
Surely there was somebody there that would want to marry her, someone that she at least vaguely knew of. She thought about the wealthier families that resided on the other side of town, and if they would have any sons that would be willing to marry a farmer’s daughter.
That night, she tossed and turned, but knew that sleep would evade her with so much worry clouding her thoughts. It didn’t bode well for how she was going to handle the process; however, Melanie knew that she would reject it for as long as she possibly could.
“Love Written In The Stars” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Melanie had always enjoyed working at her family’s farm and never dreamt of marrying. Her world turns upside down when her father forces her to find a suitable husband in order to help with the financial burden that hangs over the farm. Melanie‘s only concern is her family’s well being, so she’s left with no choice but to accept the offer of a strange man. On the train to meet her husband-to-be, her life is about to change forever when she meets Alexander; a man who will save her life and put her in a painful dilemma making her doubt her own decisions. Will she give up her father’s plan to follow her heart?
Alexander, the son of one of the richest ranchers in Merton, is running from a difficult past that will inevitably catch up with him. He meets Melanie in a traumatic way when he bravely helps her escape a train robbery. Determined to protect her, he offers to travel with her and the journey that will bind them forever begins… Even though they don’t reveal their true colors at first, they will get to know each other and Alexander’s heart will shiver for the first time. Will her secret keep him from claiming her heart? Or will he find the courage to trust her?
After spending some time on the road together they will know for certain that fate meant for them to find one other. While her plan to help her family falls into pieces, well-kept secrets will surface as they confront each other. Could Alexander be the salvation Melanie was looking for? Or will the conflict between them be too much to overcome?
“Love Written In The Stars” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.