Maureen sat picking at her eggs listlessly. Fall Break would be over tomorrow and she wasn't looking forward to going back to school.
The only difference in going back would be that her father would go with her to explain to the headmistress that her name should change on the school record. Her status had changed from being the daughter of a traitor to the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in California.
2 weeks before she didn't even know who her father was and now she was a part of the Stockton Barkleys. Her father was Jarrod Barkley, a well-known lawyer.
In 1863 Lieutenant Jarrod Barkley had met her mother, fallen in love, and married her. A week after the marriage Julia Saxon had told her husband that she was a spy. Jarrod had been furious and annulled the marriage.
Of course when that had happened Jarrod hadn't known that a baby was going to come. For nearly fourteen years Jarrod didn't know about Julia having his baby until 2 weeks ago.
When Maureen's school in Sacramento went on Fall Break 2 weeks ago Julia had taken her daughter to Stockton. Maureen had no idea that her father lived there or even what his name was.
Maureen looked at Jarrod. Her father was talking to his brother, Nick, and holding her hand at the same time. Her father loved her already. That much was obvious. She just wasn't sure if she loved him yet.
She looked at Jarrod's hand holding her hand. It was so large that her hand fit right inside it and it suddenly hurt having to leave him.
"Have you got your things packed, Maureen?" Victoria asked, during a lull in the conversation.
Jarrod turned his blue eyes to his daughter. In two weeks she had become a vital part to his life. A small ray of sunshine.
"Yes, Grandma. I just wish two weeks weren't so short," Maureen said wistfully, putting the fork down on her plate.
Jarrod smiled slightly. The southern accent in her voice always made him smile. It was funny that the southern drawl would be in his daughter's voice. He’d never thought he'd hear that kind of voice out of his daughter.
"Well, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it," Jarrod said, trying to be optimistic.
If the truth be told he wasn't ready to send her back to school yet either. The house would be too quiet without her around.
Maureen tried to smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Her father wasn't ever going to know how much she hated the school her mother picked.
If she got through this year everything would be all right. Maureen ate her breakfast in silence, praying that what she just thought would be right.
Maureen's stomach rolled queasily as the buggy pulled into the driveway of the school. Butterfield still gave her the creeps every time she looked at it.
It was a huge stone structure that looked as if it came right out of the Middle Ages. It was dark and cold like a dungeon too. Maureen looked at her grandmother, feeling relieved that Victoria had agreed to come.
Apparently her father's whole family had decided to come at the last moment. Victoria, Audra, and Maureen were all in the buggy with Heath driving it.
Jarrod and Nick were beside the buggy on their horses, Coco and Jingo. Maureen was happy to have all of them come to see her go to school.
Maureen bit her lip so as not to tell her father that she hated the place. Her father would think her very brave if she stuck it out instead of complaining.
Maureen's thoughts were broken by a gentle squeeze on her right hand. Victoria's brown eyes bored right into hers. They acted as if they knew what she was thinking and felt sorry for her.
"Maureen, the buggy has stopped," Victoria said gently.
"Yes Ma'am, Grandma," Maureen said, giving Heath her hand so he could help her out of the buggy.
Maureen looked up at the building that the school was in. If this were "Frankenstein" thunder and lightening would have happened at this moment.
"Maureen?" Audra asked, confused by the look in her niece's eyes as she looked at the building. It was a look of fear and total dislike.
"I'm fine, Aunt Audra. I'm fine," Maureen said, wondering who she was trying to convince Audra or herself.
"Maureen go inside the school with your grandmother and aunt. Nick, Heath, and myself will get your baggage," Jarrod ordered kindly, but firmly.
"Yes Dad," Maureen whispered as she picked up her carry-on bag.
Jarrod shook his head slightly. Maureen hated this place, but she wasn't about to tell him that. She just wouldn't complain, but the look of dislike on her face was evidence that she didn't like this school.
Jarrod's ward, Laura Hayden, went to this school. Laura often complained it was like a prison. Up until now he had thought she was being silly, but his daughter had shown the same dislike.
Jarrod, Nick, and Heath got all of Maureen's things out of the back of the buggy and brought them into the school building.
Victoria and Audra were talking to the headmistress, while Maureen looked at the expensive shoes Victoria had given her.
"Counselor Barkley! Welcome!" Violet Mergendoll said, showing a smile that Jarrod had always thought of as not very pleasant.
Violet Mergendoll's smile had the same impression on every parent who came into the school. Fake. Like she wasn't really happy about the wealthy people who brought their daughters to her school.
"Miss Mergendoll," Jarrod said politely, hiding his dislike of the woman.
"Your mother has told me that Maureen Saxon is your daughter," Miss Mergendoll said, the smile fading away.
"Yes Ma'am. Her mother had told me a few weeks ago. I came with my daughter to ask if you could change her name on the school record," Jarrod said, smiling affectionately at his daughter.
Maureen tried to smile back, but she still felt unhappy about being at this school; it didn't reach her eyes.
"Of course, Counselor. I'm going to need a copy of her birth certificate and I'll need your signature along with Maureen's," Miss Mergendoll said.
"Of course," Jarrod said, grabbing Maureen's hand and pulling her into the headmistress's office. The signing wasn't as fast as Maureen thought it would be.
As Maureen walked out of the office she found herself praying that her father might see the panic in her eyes and decides to take her back to Stockton.
Jarrod pulled her into his arms and hugged her tight. "I'll see you in two weeks," Jarrod whispered into her ear, as he gently stroked her hair.
"Yes Sir," Maureen said, forbidding the tears to roll down her face.
Every member of the family hugged and kissed her good-bye and said they'd see her in two weeks. As Jarrod hugged and kissed her good-bye one last time Maureen got a good look at her father's face. It looked just as sad as she felt.
Jarrod turned and walked away, trying to hide the tears that threatened to fall down his face. He wouldn't let his daughter see him cry. Ever. He shut the door to the school, reluctantly.
He wanted to go back inside and take his daughter back to Stockton with him, but as long as she didn't complain about the school Jarrod wouldn't take her home.
Maureen woke up the next morning, wishing she was back at the Barkley ranch. Maureen always hated the first day of school.
Even though she had been at this school awhile, her changed status made her feel like a new girl all over again. Funny thing was she didn't feel much different than she did before she found out who her father was.
She wondered if she could tell Jarrod or her mother that ever. Maureen dressed quickly into a new dress that her grandmother had given her. Jarrod said that she need not wear her favorite red shirtwaist with the long sleeves or her rumpled brown skirt every day.
Maureen loved that outfit, but Jarrod apparently had not. He wanted her to dress as richly as her father's family and that outfit was not.
Maureen slipped on her gold-rimmed glasses and opened the door to her room. The hallway was freezing cold and Maureen felt as if she could feel her lips turn blue.
Maureen walked downstairs when a voice called her name. "Maureen!" Anna Young ran toward her and hugged her tight.
"Anna, when did you get here?" Maureen asked, looking at her friend. Anna's uncle was the President Pro Tempt of the California Senate. Anna sang with Maureen in choir and was the only girl that treated her nicely.
Maureen and Anna walked to the breakfast room together, each relating their adventures over the Fall Break. "And guess what, Anna? I found my father!" Maureen said, after finishing her stories.
"You did? Who is he?" Anna asked, her eyes large.
"Does your uncle know anyone named Jarrod Barkley?" Maureen ventured hesitantly.
"Yeah. Uncle Andrew knows him very well. He says Mr. Barkley's very nice. Is he your father?" Anna asked.
"Yes. We better be quiet now. Miss Mergendoll's opening the door for breakfast," Maureen warned her friend. The two girls silently entered the dining room.
School was back in session and it was time to study until Thanksgiving. Maureen knew she would pass in this school until Christmas. She may not have known her name a few weeks ago, but know she did. She was born to the name Barkley and would be that way all her life.