Monday, December 10, 2012

Ransomed Hope

Welcome, Deborah! Haven't seen you here in quite some time! But thank you so much for stopping by with your Christmas story! What a heartbreaker this one is. I'll be the first to admit I needed a few tissues through this one! And I love a good story that can do that to me!


Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

Seventeen years ago, Ashley Turner lost her father as well as Manuel Vega, the man she loved. Since then, she’s been trying to make the best of a bad situation. Now a widow, burdened with the alcoholic brother who bankrupted the family ranch, and days from foreclosure, she’s beyond hoping for her situation to improve. Ashley knows God allows adversity for a reason, but she can’t begin to comprehend the purpose in her troubles.

“…But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When Manuel makes good on his promise to return after having been harshly turned out so many years ago, Ashley dares to hope that all is not lost. His intention is not to rescue her, however, but to pursue revenge for past wrongs. He soon discovers that his hardened heart is no match for her renewed hope.


Ashley opened her eyes as the gravel-crunching sound of an approaching truck silenced the cooing doves. She fixed her gaze on the deserted limestone house in the distance—her favorite place. The house her great, great grandfather had built a hundred and thirty some odd years ago, still stood nestled among sprawling live oaks that were even older than the house. Two stone chimneys buttressed either end, while a rusted tin roof covered the rest. It was a testament to the pioneers in her lineage who made their way west with the whole wide world in front of them.

She had always hoped her father would give the old place to her. Instead, he’d given the limestone house, along with the original hundred acres of the Ransom Oaks Ranch, to Manuel. It was just as well. Someday they’d fix up the place together and make it their home.

The truck chewing up the road slowed to a stop, and Manuel stepped out and came to stand beside her, his warmth drawing her into the comfort of his arms like a magnet.

“You OK?”

She nodded and burrowed into his embrace, grief diminishing slightly. “Better than yesterday. Mr. Cole said something that helped a little.”

“What did he say?” The vibration of his quiet voice deep in his chest was a comfort.

“He said that nothing would ever be the same again.” She turned her head so she was looking at the house in the distance. “Like after Mama died. Life can never go back to the way it was before. But he said we would work through the grief and find a new normal.”

She closed her eyes and let the idea settle into her heart, wondering what life might look like this time next year. She peered again at the old house. Maybe they would be married by then, and that would be their home. Daddy had wanted them to wait until she was twenty. But with him gone, what would be the point?

Manuel’s chest swelled with a deep breath of the crisp air. “I have to go.”


“Ashley.” The weight of his tone made her look up at him. “I’m leaving.”

She took a step back, cold rushing between them and chilling her in a way that nearly stole her breath. “What?”

“Brandon is sending me away.”

“Brandon can’t send you away.”

“He can. He did. And I’m leaving.”

Her mind reeled as with a blow. He couldn’t leave. Where would he go? What about all their plans? What would she do without him? “When?” The word came out on a whisper as her voice failed.

“Now. My truck is packed, and I’m headed out.”

“Manuel, no. You can’t. We need you. I need you. Come back to the house with me and we’ll sort this out. We’ll talk to Mr. Cole. There has to be something—”

His hopeless, anxious expression silenced her. He shook his head and looked away, teeth bearing down on his bottom lip as he swallowed hard.

She reached out and pulled him close again. “You could stay there.” She turned to the house in the distance. “That place is yours.”

He cleared his throat. “That place over there?” A gentle smile emerged. “With the rusted out roof? And the skunks under the porch? You want me to live there?”

“We can fix it.”

He shook his head. “Ash, I don’t have a job. And Brandon isn’t going to give me an allowance to live on. And he’s not gonna let me work or live here anymore, either.”

“You can get a job in town, and I’ll help you with the house…” She let her voice trail off. Making that house livable would take far more money than any job in town would offer. But the thought of him leaving frightened her in a way she’d never experienced. What if he never returned? Something in her chest squeezed tight at the thought. “Manuel, please don’t go.”

“It’s not up to me.” He raised a hand and brushed a lock of hair away from her face. “I’m going into town tonight. I have a little saved up. I’ll stay there for a while, regroup. Make a little money. Then I’ll be back.”


He shook his head. “I don’t know. Soon.” He kissed her softly. “But I’ll be back. OK? I’ll be back.”


Just how long do you cling to well meant promises - even from the ones you love? This story of love and pride plucks strongly at the heartstrings! I loved it even as it tore at my heart.

Well done!

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  1. Thanks for sharing - I love a good cowboy love story!

  2. LOVED this story! Cowboys and Christmas...whew! It's just lovely. Thank you for the spotlight, Donna, and congratulations, Deborah!!!

  3. Thanks for the spotlight, Donna, and the great review! I sure am glad you enjoyed the story.