Maureen Saxon sat on the train as she and her mother Julia went to Stockton. Julia often liked to sing in different people in the South, but this was the first time that Julia had allowed Maureen to accompany her during her school's Fall Break.
Maureen loved her mother, but she wasn't sure who her father was, even though her mother was married to him at one time. Maureen was only a wide-eyed thirteen-year-old with black hair and bright blue eyes. She didn't look anything like her mother.
Her mother had ash-blonde hair and gray eyes. Her mother was beautiful, more so than Maureen who felt she was plain and homely. Maureen's thoughts turned to her clothes. Maureen was wearing a creme cloth shirtwaist and a brownish-pink skirt. Her long black hair was pinned back and fell in cascades down her back. It looked like a brook of black satin.
"Stockton! Stockton! Next stop Stockton!" The conductor yelled through the train.
Maureen stood up to help her mother get the bags down. The train stopped in the depot. To Maureen's alarm a crowd of people stood there in the depot. Maureen's heart tightened with a clench as everyone stared hatefully at her mother.
Maureen gripped her mother's free hand and her face was expressionless as she and Julia walked down the train, holding each other's hand tightly. Maureen felt slightly warm as the California sun pelted her face and back.
"Get out of here, you Delilah! And take your sin with you!" A red-faced woman yelled.
Maureen tensed and her face turned red with embarrassment. She was "The Sin." Even though her parents were married a lot of people, even in the South, said she was a sin and that God wouldn't let her into Heaven because she didn't know her father and he had divorced her mother.
Maureen's pale blue eyes looked terrified as two men stood in their path. Maureen pushed a stray wisp of black hair behind her ear and swallowed any fear she felt.
"Please let us through," Maureen asked in a thin, clear voice.
"I'm Ross Parker and this is my brother Ward. Matt Parker was our brother," Ross said.
Julia's breath hitched and she squeezed her daughter's hand hard. Maureen looked at her mother puzzled. "Mom, who's Matt Parker?" Maureen asked.
"You mean she never told you, Brat?" Ward asked, shocked.
"No. I don't even know who my father is," Maureen said.
"Please let us through," Julia said.
The two men blocked their way again. "They have a right to be here!" Sheriff Fred Madden said, coming to their rescue.
Maureen wilted with relief as the man with the badge showed up.
"Thank you," Julia said.
Maureen and Julia continued to walk down the sidewalk. After a man refused to let them on his wagon, Maureen and Julia had to walk in the now-sweltering sun.
A trickle of sweat ran down Maureen's forehead and she wiped it with her sleeve. As Maureen looked to the right she saw a man looking at her and Julia through his window. She read the name on the window: JARROD BARKLEY: COUNSELOR-AT-LAW. A Lawyer. But it didn't explain why he was looking at her and her mother. It was like they'd grown two heads.
Julia and Maureen stopped in front of the concert hall. Julia gestured to her daughter and Maureen started to knock. Repeatedly. The crowd that was gathered started to snigger as no one answered.
Jarrod was in his office watching the mayhem on the street. Julia and the girl had gotten to Stockton safely. He just didn't know if they'd leave safely. Jarrod looked at the girl knock on the door. Her black hair was shiny with sweat and cascaded down her back, almost to her waist. The girl didn't look like Julia, but the way she held her hand showed they were close.
Jarrod sat back down at his desk when his sister Audra came in. Audra went to the window.
"I can't believe that woman has the nerve to show her face in Stockton after what she did," Audra said.
"Where would you like to eat, young lady?" Jarrod asked.
And she also has to bring that illegitimate daughter with her. Matt Parker's brothers have said that she has no clue that her father is," Audra said, not even hearing Jarrod's question.
"How old is she?" Jarrod asked.
"About 12 or 13 at the very least. She looks a lot like you," Audra said.
Jarrod froze. Was it possible that Julia was pregnant with his child when he divorced her? If that was true did the girl know about him? Did she know that her father lived in Stockton?
Jarrod stuck his pen back into its inkwell. "Well, I suppose you won't join me for lunch?" Jarrod said with false cheer.
"What makes you think that?" Audra asked.
"I'll join you in a minute Honey, if you wait outside," Jarrod said, pulling out a sheet of paper.
Jarrod read over the words briskly. Dear Jarrod, I'm coming to Stockton. I have a child with me, Love Julia.
Could Julia have been trying to tell him that the child was his child? The girl would have been the right age if that were true. I wonder what her name is, Jarrod thought as he stood up and joined Audra
Maureen just shoved a case of petticoats and undergarments under her bed. Maureen's forehead was shiny with sweat and she wiped her forehead with her sleeve. Julia had on a strapless sequined black dress and was brushing her ash-blonde hair.
"Mom, you look great," Maureen said.
"Thank you, my dear. Will you be all right by yourself?" Julia asked.
"Of course, Mom. I can take care of myself. I'm not 3 years old, you know," Maureen said.
"I know you're not. Take care of the room and don't open the door to strangers," Julia said strictly.
"What if you get in trouble, Mom? The people in this town hate you," Maureen said, her fear reflected in her pale blue eyes.
"If I get in trouble don't leave the hotel unless it's with the sheriff or a man named Jarrod Barkley," Julia said.
"Jarrod Barkley? I saw that name on a building in town and some man looking at us when we arrived. Is he a lawyer?" Maureen asked.
"Yes. I met your father and I met Jarrod during the Civil War 14 years ago," Julia said.
"Mom, did he know my dad?" Maureen asked.
"No. Your dad was a Union soldier from Connecticut, while Jarrod worked in the War Department office in Washington D.C." Julia lied.
"Mom, I love you. And knock 'em dead," Maureen said, kissing her mother's cheek.
"I love you too, my little angel-baby," Julia said.
"Mooom!!" Maureen yelped, blushing a deep red.
Julia laughed at her daughter's chagrin and kissed her forehead lightly. "Good night, Sweetheart," Julia said.
That night at the Barkley dinner table Julia and Maureen Saxon were the object of the discussion.
Victoria looked at Jarrod the whole time. She was the only one who knew that Jarrod had married Julia and the girl might have been his daughter.
"Does the girl have a name?" Heath Barkley asked, bringing the attention back to Maureen.
"I don't know. I think I heard someone call her Maureen. I read the hotel register and it was under Julia Saxon's name," Audra said.
"You don't know what Julia Saxon did Heath to make people hate her," Nick said.
"It was during the war. People should just forget about it like I did Carterson," Heath said.
"The people of Stockton are not willing to forget what Julia Saxon did to the North or Matt Parker," Audra said.
"But a lot of people defected on both sides during the war!" Heath protested.
"But she was not Southern! She was born in the North!" Audra said.
"What is the girl like?" Heath asked.
"Jarrod and myself only saw her briefly. She has black hair and is tall for her age. She's probably 13 or 14 at least. She would have been born in 1863 or 1864," Audra said.
"What about the girl's father?" Heath asked.
"The girl doesn't even know who her father is. People think she's illegitimate," Audra said.
"With no father around I could see where people could think that," Nick said.
"Nick, that child didn't ask that she never know who her father is and also, maybe, she's like me. She might be like her father, whoever he might be," Heath said.
Victoria smiled at Heath. Since Heath was born of her husband and another woman he had a soft spot for children born in the same situation.
Victoria turned her gaze to Jarrod. His eyes were sad as the family talked. He was the only one not talking. Obviously Jarrod felt that the girl might be his.
"Jarrod, you haven't said a word," Heath said.
Jarrod stood up. "I have to go back to the office," Jarrod said.
"At night?" Audra queried.
"I'll be back later," Jarrod said, kissing the top of Victoria's head.
"What's wrong with him?" Heath asked after Jarrod left.
"He hates Julia Saxon more than anyone. Matt Parker was his best friend," Nick said.
"Apparently you two have already strung her up," Victoria said looking at Nick and Audra, trying to change the subject. If Jarrod went to town that wasn't her business. Victoria had the strangest feeling that Jarrod would be bringing Julia and Victoria's unknown Barkley granddaughter to the ranch. After dinner Victoria would go up to straighten two rooms for them.
Maureen was trying to read some metaphysical poetry in her room without any success. Since school had broken for Fall Break Maureen had submerged herself in anything for the Renaissance and Shakespeare. Besides poetry Maureen loved to sing. She was always singing Bach, Schubert, and Handel.
Tonight was different though. Mom was down at the music hall. The men and women in the town were hotheads and would have killed Mom. This was one night that Maureen wished she could see Mom sing.
Maybe I still can, Maureen thought.
She closed her book with a clap and hopped off the bed, straightening her brown skirt and buttoning the sleeves of her red shirtwaist.
Maureen locked the door and ran all the way to the concert hall. The hall was packed. Maureen stood next to a gentleman with dark hair. Julia came out. She looked around the room. Maureen grinned faintly as her mother's eyes met hers.
Julia started to sing. To Maureen Julia had an angel voice that she always loved. Maureen looked at the man next to her and tugged at his coat sleeve.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Maureen asked.
Jarrod looked into a matching pair of his blue eyes and nodded.
"Where's my manners? My name's Maureen Saxon. Julia Saxon is my mother," Maureen said.
"Jarrod Barkley," Jarrod said, wishing that Maureen would go away.
"Mom said that she and my father met you in Washington," Maureen said.
Jarrod looked back at her again. Jarrod's stomach nearly turned over. This WAS his daughter! She had her father's hair coloring and blue eyes. Her skin coloring was an olive-colored tan and she had his smile. Right now his daughter was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. By then Julia had stopped singing.
"Way to go, Mom!" Maureen yelled in a triumphant smug voice.
Everyone turned to her. Jarrod knew now that Maureen had no clue who he was. That he WAS her father. If Maureen had known then she would have been angry or refused to talk.
Jarrod looked up at Julia. She smiled slightly at their daughter.
"I know a thirteen-year-old that has a voice like an angel. Would you like to hear her sing?" Julia asked.
"Mom, I only sing Bach, Schubert, and Handel!" Maureen protested.
'Then come up here and sing Bach, Schubert, and Handel," Julia said.
"No! I don't want people to hiss or boo at me!" Maureen said.
Jarrod resisted the urge to hug his daughter. Right now it would not do to have Maureen learn who he was. He would build the relationship with her slowly until he felt she was ready to know.
"At least the kid is smarter than her terrible mother!" A shrewish voice yelled.
"My mom is not terrible! How dare you say that about her!!" Maureen said angrily, her face turning bright red.
Maureen started to go to the person who said it when Jarrod grabbed her arm in a vice-like grip.
Jarrod scooped her up into his arms and carried her to his office. Maureen tried to claw his back with her sharp fingernails. When Jarrod put her down, he looked into her anger-filled blue eyes. His blue eyes.
"Stay here," Jarrod ordered sharply in a tone Maureen knew not to argue with.
It was almost as if Jarrod was her father, but Maureen found that thought depressing. Her father was not someone she liked to think about too often.
Maureen paced Jarrod's office, as he appeared to be gone a long time. Why did he bring her here? What was happening to Julia? The idea of someone killing Julia made Maureen shiver from head to foot.
The door opened abruptly and Jarrod entered the office. Following him was Julia! Maureen nearly melted with relief at seeing her mother alive and all right. Julia was wearing Jarrod's coat and had a red mark on her face.
"Mom, are you all right? What happened to your face?" Maureen asked.
"Yes I'm all right and someone hit me with an apple core, Angel-baby," Julia said.
"Mooom! Not in front of strangers!" Maureen looked at Jarrod, her face turning red.
Jarrod grinned inwardly at the term of endearment that Julia used on their daughter. The name fit her. Jarrod stored the name in his mind to use later on her.
"I'm going to tell the sheriff that you are going to stay at the ranch," Jarrod said.
"I don't know Jarrod. The people in this town are bloodthirsty," Julia said.
"Mom, what did you do? Tell me please. And who's Matt Parker?" Maureen asked.
"Maureen, you are too young to understand what I did during the Civil War," Julia said.
"Mom, I'll be fourteen in five months. I have to know," Maureen said.
"They are things that will hurt you and I swore when you were born never to hurt you," Julia said.
"Mom, the people of Stockton don't like us because of something you did. Tell me," Maureen said.
Julia looked into Maureen's piercing blue eyes. Julia looked at Jarrod. Maureen WAS her father's daughter all right. Julia couldn't lie to her daughter. That was the reason Jarrod had left her to begin with.
"I was not born in the South. I defected to the Southern cause 4 years before I ever met your father," Julia said.
"So you betrayed the North?" Maureen asked.
"I also became a spy. When your father found out I was a spy he annulled the marriage. Then I found out I was going to have a baby. I couldn't bring myself to tell your father about you," Julia said.
"What could he have done if he knew?" Maureen asked.
Jarrod grinned. His daughter had no clue that she could have come to Stockton to see him or he could have paid for her schooling.
"I was afraid your father would hate you because of me. Or he could have taken you from me. Now I don't think your father would have done that," Julia looked at Jarrod when she said that.
"Mom, who's Matt Parker?" Maureen asked.
"I'll tell you later. Jarrod, thank you for getting her out of that concert hall. I don't want to see her get hurt or killed," Julia said.
"I think I understand, Julia," Jarrod said.
Jarrod did truly understand. If anyone did hurt his new daughter he would have felt the same way that Julia did. Jarrod felt this strong parental love for this child that was new and different. It didn't matter if Julia was Maureen's mother. As long as Jarrod was alive Maureen would be his daughter and a Barkley. She would have a permanent place in the family and the San Joachin Valley.
The ground was shrouded in fog as Jarrod drove the wagon back to the Barkley ranch. Maureen sat next to him and Julia sat besides her. The weather was wet and damp. Maureen could smell the rich damp earth. It was a rotting wood smell, but it was also a new fall smell.
Maureen exhaled a soft sigh. "What's the matter?" Jarrod asked.
"It smells good out here, Mr. Barkley," Maureen said.
"Maureen that smells like rot" Julia said, taking a deep smell.
"That's the smell, Mom. I love that smell," Maureen said.
Jarrod stopped the wagon before a small graveyard. "What are we doing here?" Julia asked.
Jarrod stopped at an iron fence. The moon came out to reveal the name on the headstone Jarrod was reading. Matt Parker.
Julia and Maureen joined him at the fence. Julia looked down at her daughter. Jarrod gently covered his daughter's small hand with his large hand as she stood there.
"I never meant to hurt you and Matt, Jarrod," Julia said.
"It didn't matter with me, but you did hurt Matt. He loved you," Jarrod said bitterly.
"Mr. Barkley, how did he die?" Maureen asked.
"He was accused of being a traitor and was hanged," Jarrod said.
Maureen's blue-eyed stare turned into shock. “Mom you killed that poor man, didn’t you?” Maureen asked.
"No! If he died because of me it was an accident," Julia said.
"Mom, how do you accidentally kill a man? Did you kill Dad too?" Maureen asked.
"No! I loved your dad," Julia was shocked that her daughter doubted her when it came to Jarrod.
Jarrod wasn't shocked however. Maureen was finding things out. If Maureen doubted her mother's honesty maybe then he could tell her the truth. Right now she couldn't handle the truth.
Jarrod, holding his daughter's tanned hand, led Maureen and Julia back to the wagon.
Nick and Heath were playing checkers when Jarrod entered the house with Julia and Maureen.
"A little late coming home aren't you Pappy?" The tall dark-haired man said.
"These are my brothers, Nick and Heath," Jarrod said.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Julia said, shaking their hands.
"This is my-Julia's daughter, Maureen. And this is Julia Saxon," Jarrod said.
Nick's face turned hard with hate and a smug expression entered his eyes. "Mom, this is a bad idea," Maureen said.
Julia stepped on Maureen's foot to shut her up. "Why'd you bring them here?" Nick asked.
"There was a problem in town. It would be safer if they stayed here," Jarrod said.
"Well they are truly welcome here," Victoria said behind them. The men, Julia, and Maureen turned to face her.
"Julia, Maureen this is my mother, Victoria Barkley. Mother, this is Julia Saxon and her daughter Maureen," Jarrod said.
"Welcome to the ranch, Miss Saxon," Victoria said to Julia.
"Thank you for having us, Mrs. Barkley. This is my daughter Maureen," Julia said.
Victoria looked at the young girl cowering shyly behind Julia. She had jet-black hair and the brightest pair of blue eyes. Victoria's mind reeled at this. Correction, she had Jarrod's hair color and Jarrod's eyes. This was his daughter. Her hunch had been correct.
Victoria felt sorry for this girl. She was terrified of her father's family. Victoria grabbed Maureen by the arm and pulled her out past Julia. Her dark hair, eyes, nose, and ears screamed out that she was Jarrod's. "What a beautiful girl," Victoria said.
"Mrs. Barkley, I'm not pretty," Maureen said.
"You don't think you are?" Victoria asked.
"Nope. My mom, now she's pretty. I'm just very plain," Maureen said.
Victoria smiled and laid a hand on her thin cheek. "I don't think you're ugly," Victoria said.
"I'm the ugliest girl in the world!" Maureen exclaimed. She then yawned loudly.
"This girl is worn out! I'm going to take her upstairs," Victoria said. Victoria wrapped an arm around her granddaughter's thin shoulder and helped her upstairs.
Jarrod looked at his daughter as she went upstairs. His daughter was going to sleep for the first time under his roof. He was going to ask Julia if Maureen could stay with him for the rest of the week. It was time Maureen knew who her father was and his people.
Maureen woke up early the next morning. Victoria had put her in a lavish bedroom with a pastel-colored quilt on the bed. Maureen wore a yellow silk nightgown with her long hair braided.
Maureen swung out of her bed and changed into her red shirtwaist and rumpled brown skirt. Since Maureen and Julia had left town last night they didn't take any extra clothes with them.
Maureen unbraided her hair and brushed it out. Her black hair glimmered like a mirror as the sun sparkled on it. Maureen opened the door to her room. And went down the stairs to the dining room.
The sounds in the dining room were less than pleasant. Nick and Jarrod were upset at someone. That someone had to be Julia.
"So why did you hide her from me?" Jarrod's voice raged.
"Jarrod, you said you no longer wished to be married to me! I didn't want Maureen to start asking questions why her rich, lawyer father didn't want to live with her. It was bad enough when she was five and she cried when kids made fun of her for not having a daddy," Julia said.
""But you hid her from her father!" Nick's voice rumbled.
"I had no choice! Jarrod, you said that you wanted nothing else to do with me! I thought that our baby was no different! And I also thought you'd take her from me," Julia said.
"What? Jarrod Barkley IS my father?" Maureen asked in shock after hearing this exchange.
That would explain why Jarrod looked at her in a fatherly way and tried to protect her last night. But why did Julia lie to her about Jarrod? And did Jarrod know about her before? Maureen pushed open the door to the dining room.
Julia was seated next to Victoria and Audra. Jarrod was next to his brothers.
"Good morning, Angel-baby. I hope you slept well," Julia said.
"Mom, how many times do I have to tell you I hate that name?" Maureen's voice was sharp and raw with pain.
"Maureen Victoria Saxon, watch your tone of voice when you’re talking to me. I'm still your mama, Missy," Julia said, sternly.
Maureen looked at Jarrod. He was looking at her with love and kindness in his blue eyes.
"I heard your conversation," Maureen said flatly.
Jarrod started at this announcement. Maureen had heard this conversation! So much for keeping his identity a secret from her!
Jarrod stood up and walked over to her. He pushed her face up so he could talk to her. "Maureen, I'm sorry you had to find out this way. I wanted to get to know you before I told you," Jarrod said.
"I don't care," Maureen said blandly.
"Maureen, you don't mean that!" Jarrod said shocked.
"If you are my father you never cared about me!" Maureen said, her voice splintered with tears and anger.
"Maureen, I never knew you existed. That was not my fault!" Jarrod said.
"I don't know who else to be mad at!" Maureen said.
"You could be mad at me, Sweetheart. I hid you from your father. It was the cruelest thing I could have done to the both of you," Julia said.
Jarrod turned his daughter's face back to meet his eyes. "Maureen, I want to love you. Will you give me a chance to be your father?" Jarrod asked.
Maureen lowered her eyes and shook her head "no". "I think you are too late, Mr. Barkley," Maureen said.
Jarrod felt a brief flash of pain enter his heart. His daughter wanted nothing to do with him. "Maureen, I love you," Jarrod said, trying to sway his daughter's mind.
"I don't know you. And you don't even know me," Maureen said.
"I want to. Will you let me?" Jarrod asked, leveling his eyes with hers.
"I'll be leaving in a week," Maureen said.
Julia said you are on Fall Break for school. Where do you go to school?" Jarrod asked.
"Butterfield in Sacramento, California," Maureen said.
"Well you can visit me then. Sacramento is not far from Stockton and you can come here for Christmas," Jarrod said.
"Do I have a choice?" Maureen asked.
"No you don't Honey," Jarrod said.
"Okay, but this doesn't mean I like you," Maureen said.
"May I be allowed to hug you?" Jarrod asked.
"I guess that's okay, Mr. Barkley," Maureen said.
Jarrod pulled his daughter into his arms. Maureen's face buried itself into her father's shoulder. Jarrod's hands rubbed her back and soft, thick hair. While Jarrod hugged her she took a deep smell of his shoulder. A pleasant, rich smell filled her nose. It smelled like cologne, cigars, and aftershave mixed together. It was like a summer breeze.
Jarrod was driving toward Stockton with Julia and Maureen. Maureen looked at her father for the millionth time. Jarrod was handsome, but Maureen still felt angry with him for not knowing that there could have been a baby.
Julia grabbed the reins, nearly causing Maureen to lose what little breakfast she had eaten.
"Mom!" Maureen said exasperated.
"Julia, what is it?" Jarrod asked.
"I know you want me to go back to the South, Jarrod," Julia said.
"I'd think you would be safer there," Jarrod said.
"I can't Jarrod. I have to have money to keep Maureen in school," Julia said. Jarrod looked at his daughter.
Maureen turned her electric-blue eyes away from her father's own electric-blue eyes and clenched her small fists tight on her knees.
"Julia, I could pay the bills for her education. Nothing is holding you here and the people of this town hate you," Jarrod said.
"Like you, Mr. Barkley?" Maureen asked.
"What?" Jarrod asked, shocked.
"You hate Mom, don't you?" Maureen asked.
"Maureen, I don't hate your mother. True, I don't have the love I used to have for her, but that doesn't mean I hate her. And I know that I love you," Jarrod said, reining the horses.
"But if you really love me you would have found out if I existed," Maureen said.
Jarrod couldn't argue with that. His daughter was right. He should have found out if Julia had a baby. If he had he could have arranged visitation rights with his daughter. His daughter could have grown up knowing who her father was.
"Maureen, I made a mistake and I'm sorry. I hope you can forgive me. I would never intentionally abandon any of my children," Jarrod said.
"Jarrod, I can't go back to the South. I have a commitment to the owner of the concert hall, " Julia said.
"Mom, maybe Daddy's right. You should go back to Louisiana and I could go back to school this afternoon," Maureen said, fear reflected in her pale blue eyes.
Julia smiled at her daughter. She knew how hard that was for Maureen to call her father "Daddy." "What did I tell you about promises, Maureen?" Julia asked.
"Always keep them and if you can't make a break for it?" Maureen asked, a cheeky grin on her face.
"I didn't say that, Miss Cheeky!" Julia exclaimed.
Maureen snorted and started to giggle. Jarrod smiled and finally started to laugh as well. His laugh made Maureen giggle more. It was a terrific, incredible laugh and Maureen loved the sound of it. Julia finally had to admit what Maureen said was funny. Julia started to laugh too.
Jarrod was finishing his noon meal when he heard someone knock on the door.
Since Jarrod was the only one home he answered the door. It was Fred Madden.
"Fred," Jarrod greeted his friend.
"Jarrod, this isn't a social call. Mc Pierson’s has been murdered," Fred said bluntly.
"What? How did it happen?" Jarrod asked unbelievingly.
"I've arrested Julia Saxon for the murder," Fred said.
Jarrod's heart slammed into his chest. What about the girl? How is Maureen?" Jarrod asked.
"She's at the jail with her mother. When Julia got arrested she refused to leave her. Jarrod, why are you so concerned about Maureen Saxon? It's not like you're her father," Fred said.
"Fred, I am her father. Maureen Saxon is my daughter," Jarrod said.
"Jarrod, you're that girl's father? Why doesn't she live with you?" Fred asked shocked. It was no wonder that the girl seemed familiar. She was Jarrod's daughter. That explained the black hair and blue eyes.
"Julia hid Maureen from me when Maureen was born. I just found out about her," Jarrod said.
"Jarrod, I'm going to tell you this as a friend. I think you should forget about Julia Saxon. She's not worth your concern," Fred said.
"Does that mean that I ignore my baby girl too?" Jarrod asked.
"Well considering whom her mother is it might be best," Fred said.
Jarrod felt angry. He felt like hitting Fred for saying that. He was told now to pretend that he didn't have a daughter. He couldn't do that to Maureen. She was his daughter and, now that she existed, he would keep her.
Jarrod went to hitch up the buggy and went to town.
Maureen had fallen asleep on the cot in her mother's jail cell. This was the first time she'd ever been in a jail cell and she was scared. She found herself wondering if Jarrod would come to get her out. It would be a totally "Dad" reaction if he did.
Maureen didn't know if she loved Dad or hated Dad. When he asked her to stay at the ranch with him for the rest of the week she'd refused. Daddy's face had nearly collapsed at her blunt refusal. She didn't want to hurt him, but the love she could have for Jarrod Barkley just wasn't there.
Jarrod entered the jail cell after Maureen had fallen asleep. She wore a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and the book of poetry was open beside her.
"Jarrod, I figured you'd come," Julia said.
"How's Maureen, Julia?" Jarrod asked.
"Maureen's trying not to let on she's frightened. Jarrod, you have to protect her at all costs. Maureen is not as strong as you are. If I died Maureen could crumble under it," Julia said.
"Julia, I can take her back to the ranch with me," Jarrod said.
"I was hoping that you would, Jarrod. I don't want her to stay in this jail call indefinitely," Julia said.
"Before I leave, did you kill McPierson?" Jarrod asked.
"You wouldn't believe me anyway. I'm a liar to you, remember?" Julia asked.
Yes. Lying is an art to you," Jarrod snapped.
"Very well then. I killed that man then," Julia said.
Jarrod looked at Julia. She looked smug at her confession, but her eyes revealed everything. "You didn't kill McPierson, Julia. Again you are lying," Jarrod said.
"Yes, but I do know what you think about me, Jarrod," Julia said.
"You did damage Matt Parker's life," Jarrod said.
"I know that too. That's why I love Maureen so much. She's the only thing I have that is not affected by my lies. She's sweet and innocent and has no idea that anyone can suffer pain. She reminds me so much of you. That day when you said that you loved me I realized that I couldn't hurt you so I told you that I was a spy," Julia said.
"Yes. That was when I decided that it would be best to annull our marriage. But Julia, I don't understand why you hid Maureen from me," Jarrod said.
"I couldn't tell you. I ruined your life enough. A baby would have damaged your reputation. But Jarrod, don't blame Maureen for being born. Her being born was not her fault. She didn't ask to be born," Julia said.
"I know and I don't. But Julia I wouldn't have cared if you'd told me about our baby. I would have helped send her to school and you could have let her see me," Jarrod said.
"Jarrod, take her with you now. She can't stay in this jail cell with me. She's a growing girl and needs fresh air and sunshine," Julia said.
Jarrod crouched down next to his daughter and touched her face gently with his uncallused hands. Maureen opened her eyes sleepily.
"Dad. Dad, what are you doing here?" Maureen asked half-awake.
"You're coming back to the ranch with me, Maureen," Jarrod said, removing her glasses.
"What about Mom?" Maureen asked.
"Sweetie, I want to come, but I need to do a concert. You and your daddy will have so much fun. He'll teach you to ride a horse and your aunt will teach you how to knit. You always wanted to learn how to knit," Julia said.
"You know, you aren't a very good liar, Mom," Maureen said, standing up.
"That's not true, Baby. Your father thinks lying is an art to me," Julia said.
"Uh-uh," Maureen said, pulling her books and attache case into her arms. She fumbled with the ancient clasp and pushed her books into it.
Jarrod took his daughter's case and called for Fred. "I love you, Mom," Maureen said.
"I love you too, Baby," Julia said.
Jarrod gripped Maureen's hand and took her outside to Fred's office.
Jarrod was driving the buggy back to the ranch. Maureen sat next to her father. Jarrod's eyes were on the road, but he looked happy. Probably over me, Maureen thought.
"Maureen, do you ever wear anything besides that outfit?" Jarrod asked.
"No Sir. Unless I'm at school I wear this. Mom never complains. Why should you?" Maureen asked.
Because I'm your father. I'm supposed to care how you look or dress. You are a Barkley now. Don't you want to start looking like one?" Jarrod asked.
"Where do I get a dress?" Maureen asked.
"Your aunt Audra was your size when she was about 13. Her clothes should fit you," Jarrod said.
"And what if I chose not to? Wear her clothes, I mean?" Maureen asked, clearly mocking her father's authority.
"Maureen, don't make fun of me. Ever. Those clothes are old," Jarrod said warningly.
"If you don't want me making fun of you then don't tell me what to do," Maureen said.
After that smart remark Maureen made a jump out of the buggy. Maureen tumbled head over heels on a small hill. Maureen stopped tumbling and lay on the ground, feeling slightly nauseous.
"Maureen!" Jarrod yelled. Jarrod jumped out of the buggy and ran to his daughter. Maureen jumped up as her father ran to her. Despite the pain of standing, Maureen ran to a small pond. Jarrod's long legs made it possible for him to keep a short distance behind her. Here I go again, Jarrod thought with deja vu.
3 years before he had brought a 15-year-old girl to the ranch. The girl had played this same scenario by jumping from a wagon.
Jarrod managed to get a second wind and grabbed his daughter by the shoulders, spinning her around to face him.
"Let me go!" Maureen screamed, hitting Jarrod's chest with her fists.
"Listen here, you little wildcat, don't you dare try that again," Jarrod snapped angrily, feeling more deja vu as he had said these words to the girl three years ago.
"I hate you!" Maureen yelled at him.
Jarrod's face nearly collapsed at his daughter's words. She hated him, but he loved her so much. Jarrod could hardly blame her for hating him. He was never there for her as a child. Jarrod pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly.
"I hate you," Maureen said, a little more muffled since her face was in her father's chest.
"I know you do, Honey. But even though you hate me I love you so much. I not asking you to love me or want to love me in return," Jarrod said.
"How could you love me? I'm just your illegitimate daughter," Maureen said.
"Maureen Barkley, I never want to hear those words out of your mouth ever again," Jarrod said sharply.
"Don't tell me what to do. You’re not my father," Maureen said.
Jarrod scooped his daughter up into his arms and carried her back to the buggy. Jarrod put her down.
"Get in," Jarrod ordered.
"Don't order me around," Maureen said.
"Maureen, if we have to wait here all day we will," Jarrod said.
Maureen looked into her father's bright blue eyes. He was serious. He would wait all day if she continued to fight him. Maureen clambered up into the buggy, Jarrod following.
The sounds of conversation came from the Barkley dining room. Jarrod and Maureen walked to it without saying a word. The trip home had been just like that also. Maureen didn't even have the heart to tell him her ankle hurt from her tumble down the hill.
Jarrod and Maureen entered the dining room. All conversation came to a stop as everyone stared at Jarrod and Maureen. "Hello Pretty Lady," Jarrod said, kissing the top of Victoria's head.
"Hello Jarrod. Maureen, what a pleasant surprise! Are you all right?" Victoria said.
"Yes Ma'am," Maureen said quietly.
"How's your mother?" Heath asked.
"Fine, Mr. Barkley. Or as fine as a person can be in jail," Maureen said.
"I thought that you were staying at the jail also," Audra said.
"I had no where else to go and I wasn't about to go begging to you Barkleys for help," Maureen said prideful.
"What do you mean 'You Barkleys?' You're a Barkley too," Jarrod said, his eyes narrowing.
"My name is Maureen Saxon and I'm from Louisiana," Maureen said.
"Maureen please sit down," Jarrod said.
""I'm thirteen years old. I'm not a baby," Maureen said.
"Well you're acting like three," Heath said.
"I am not!" Maureen exclaimed. Maureen caught herself instantly. She was behaving like a three-year-old and she turned bright red with embarrassment.
Jarrod noticed his daughter's discomfort at proving Heath right. Right now her thin cheeks matched her shirtwaist, even though she tried to hide it by covering her face with her hands. Heath's words had provided at least one small, fleeting comfort. If Maureen had been three she might have been more accepting of him as her father.
Jarrod's heart ached. His baby girl was not willing to know who her father was even if her father wanted her to. All Jarrod wanted to do was tell her that he loved her so much and have her say that she loved him. But Maureen would step away from him if he did try to hug her and if he did hug her she wouldn't return the hug. Also the only time Jarrod had kissed her, Maureen's face had flinched at the gesture. Jarrod pulled out a chair for her to sit in. Maureen flashed her father a grateful look and started to eat.
Later that night Maureen sat patiently as her grandmother brushed out her long black hair.
"Grandma does Dad really like the idea that I'm here?" Maureen asked.
"Your father hasn't complained. But Sweetheart, he's really hurt by your coldness," Victoria said.
"I don't know how to talk to him. He's more like a stranger than my father," Maureen said.
"Maureen, you don't have to talk to him. Let him talk to you. If you get to know him you might just realize that you love him," Victoria said.
"I don't know how to love him. I've never had a father figure in my life and Grandma; I'm scared," Maureen said, her voice small and hollow.
"You know, your father's scared too. He has a ward that's sixteen, but he never worried about being a father 24 hours a day 7 days a week. He never had to worry about food, clothes, or raising a daughter," Victoria said.
"What should I do, Grandma?" Maureen asked.
"Well, why don't you go downstairs and tell your father goodnight? He'd love to hear it from you," Victoria said.
"I just don't know. All my life I've wondered who my father was. Why he wasn't there, or why he didn't want me. Now that I have the answers I don't know if I wasn't to ask anymore," Maureen said.
"Your father will answer any question if you ask him. He loves you, even though he just found you," Victoria said.
Maureen wrapped a shawl around her thin shoulders and went downstairs, her heart thudding nervously.
Jarrod was in his office in the study preparing some briefs for a trial the following week. A timid knock on the door caused him to look up.
"Come in," Jarrod said.
Maureen entered the room just as timidly as her knock. She wore a simple cotton nightgown and a plaid shawl over her shoulders. Jarrod felt mildly surprised. His daughter had come to see him! "I thought you were going to bed," Jarrod said.
"I was," Maureen said.
Jarrod calmly waited to see what she wanted. After a few awkward minutes Jarrod finally lost his patience.
"Did you want something?" Jarrod asked.
"I just wanted to say goodnight, Dad," Maureen said softly.
"Good night to you too, Honey," Jarrod said.
Maureen started to walk away. "Maureen?" Jarrod said.
Maureen turned back to her father. "I love you," Jarrod said.
Maureen nodded her head and left the room. Jarrod watched her go, feeling a pain enter his heart. It wasn't love or hate that Maureen felt for her father. It was fear. Fear that he'd take her away from her mother or fear that she might love him more than her mother. Besides the fear it was also exhaustion. Maureen was tired and it was showing in her blue eyes.
Idiot! Maureen literally kicked herself for what just happened. She didn't know why she folded like that. Why was she scared to tell Jarrod goodnight? It wasn't as if her father was a fire-breathing monster that ate thirteen-year olds for breakfast. Why was she so afraid of him? Was she afraid she might love him more than her mother?
Maureen couldn't love him more than Mom. She just couldn't! Maureen went up to her bedroom, locked the door, and cried herself to sleep.