Lawfully Loved (Texas Lawkeeper Romance)(8)

By: Jenna Brandt


She focused on serving her family to keep her mind from pondering her reaction. She wasn’t sure what just happened, but she was certain from Jake’s look on his face, he felt it too.

A few moments later, Jake stated, “I didn’t think anything could top your chicken, but this cake is incredible.”

Her heart jumped at Jake’s praise. She could get used to his compliments.

“Thank you,” she said with a smile.

After everyone finished their dessert, Jake stood from the table. “I appreciate the wonderful meal and terrific company. Mr. Caldwell, it was kind of you to open your home to me.”

“You’re most welcome, Deputy,” Rebecca’s father stated.

“I’ve had a long day and need to be getting back to the saloon for some rest,” he explained.

Rebecca pushed back from the table and jumped to her feet. “Let me walk you to the door.”

With a nod, they both moved towards the front of the house where he took his coat and hat from the rack. Once there, Jake opened the door and stepped through the threshold and onto the porch. He turned to face her, saying, “I had a lovely time, Rebecca. I want to thank you again for inviting me. I haven’t had this good an evening in a long time.” He glanced away, looking off into the distance.

The final comment intrigued Rebecca. She wanted to know why his evenings were lacking in merriment but refrained. From his demeanor, she could tell he wouldn’t want to discuss it. Instead, she asked, “Why don’t you come by tomorrow for breakfast?”

“You don’t have to keep inviting me over,” Jake pointed out.

“I know. I want to.” The moment the words slipped from her mouth, she knew they were revealing.

“In that case, I think I’ll accept.” He tipped the edge of his hat to her. “Until tomorrow, Rebecca.”

“Goodnight, Jake.”





Four





As Jake approached the Caldwell property, he heard loud neighing. He went around the structure to see what was going on. He found Mr. Caldwell working with a colt inside a corral.

“Good morning, Mr. Caldwell. You’re up early.”

“With the town’s Founder’s Day celebration, I needed to get Moses’ training in this morning before the day got away from me.”

Jake put his boot up on the edge of the corral and leaned against it. “That’s a mighty fine piece of horseflesh, Mr. Caldwell.”

“He is. Comes from a good, strong American bloodline.”

“Really? Which one?”

Mr. Caldwell chuckled. “Mine. I breed horses, Deputy. I usually have several at different ages and stages in their training, but other than Moses here, the rest have sold or are being rented at the moment.”

“In another year, he’ll be ready to sell.”

“Indeed,” Mr. Caldwell stated as he opened the gate to the corral and led the horse into his stall, Jake following after them. As he secured Moses, Mr. Caldwell asked candidly, “What are your intentions with my daughter?”

Taken aback by his direct inquiry, Jake stuttered out, “Mr. Caldwell, I’m not sure to what you’re referring.”

“I know you’ve barely met, but she’s my oldest daughter,” he stated as he closed the stall door and walked to the edge of the livery. He stopped and turned to face Jake. “As her father, it’s my duty to ensure her well-being. You didn’t have to come back this morning when she invited you. Also, I saw the way you looked at her last night and the compliments you paid her. I was once young; I know what it means.”

“Let me assure you, Mr. Caldwell, I’ll respect your daughter at all times.”

“That wasn’t what I asked—although I’m grateful for your pledge—what I’m wanting to know is if you’re interested in courting my daughter?”

Jake was shocked by the blunt question and part of him felt guilty for being enticed by Rebecca’s honeysuckle scent and soft golden hair. Since his wife died, Jake hadn’t even looked at another woman, let alone allowed one to enter his thoughts. Yet, even though he should stay away from someone so tempting, he had found his feet taking him to her home just as he promised.