Caleb Cameron appeared in the New Mexico town of Mescal Flats shortly after Jasper Greon did. The difference between the men was Jasper liked to dress flashy and often acted a bit rascally when he proposed what he called larks – dubious adventures he dreamed up, bordering on excitement with a touch of danger.
Tennyson Wells found it heady being part of Jasper’s select little group, perhaps a tad too much so. When steady, constant Caleb came to town shortly after Jasper did, Tennyson asked him to complete their little group whenever Jasper proposed a new lark. She wanted to help people who needed assistance, but she sensed some of Jasper’s larks, which he thought of as fun, turned into pranks instead of frolics. She came to depend on Caleb to champion her and keep her out of potential trouble.
Tennyson reminds me at times of my own childhood. I have a wonderful older brother, my personal hero. I loved to tag after him when I was small, never once giving thought to what his friends, all boys, might think of a little girl ensconcing herself in their group, not just a girl, but one with a hearing disability.
Whatever his friends might have said I’ll never know, but my brother knew; what I observed is from time to time he would ask me to stay back a ways, and some pummeling between boys would result once I moved a safe distance away. Sometimes he would walk me home and ask me to stay there, and a little later he’d return home disheveled, with his shirt tails hanging out, hair mussed, a bruised face, red dripping from a split lip.
I knew the wonderful, safe, feeling of having a champion at my side…so I empathize with my heroine Tennyson’s appreciation of Caleb accompanying them, times she agreed to participate in one of Jasper’s larks.
But how did taciturn Caleb, who never spoke about himself, feel about this situation, protecting a lovely young woman and even removing her from participation when he sensed a planned lark was too shady? How did he feel about Tennyson herself? He never gave any indication of his own feelings until Tennyson’s older sister Mauranie asked him one day:
“I do believe you care for her more than anyone knows.” Mauranie met his gaze with calm eyes. “Am I right?”
“Don’t take offense, Miss Mauranie, but I’ve not said anything to her.”
“You haven’t said anything yet?” Mauranie looked askance. “Caleb. Perhaps not speaking up for yourself is your problem. When she ran off with Jasper, who did she listen to about returning home? You. When Jasper crossed too far on the wild side, who influenced her to pull back and avoid trouble? You. Don’t sell yourself short, Caleb. Tennyson listens to you the way she doesn’t listen to anyone else. You do like her, don’t you?”
“But don’t you see, Caleb? She doesn’t know. You haven’t told her how you feel. Caleb, tell her. Speak up for yourself.”
Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing: Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover By Delores Goodrick Beggs
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