Measures of Passion

Measures of Passion

by Elaine Doll

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Overview

Kristina Soderlund is the daughter of an Oklahoma cotton farmer with a passion for music. Although her parents have mapped out a traditional life for her, she has bigger dreams-dreams of music, art, and beauty; of a university education; and of leaving the farm far behind to open a music studio in Oklahoma City. But for a single woman in 1905, those dreams are unlikely to come true. Even so, she is determined that nothing will get in her way.

But when she befriends Pilan' Rousseau, a handsome French-Indian traveler, her resolve weakens. Despite the warnings of her parents and friends, Kristina soon loses her heart to the charming stranger. But fate is not on her side: Pilan' has no plans of staying in Oklahoma City. He's simply passing through on his own journey across America. An accomplished violinist with an intense passion for dance, he dreams of returning to Paris to open his own ballroom dance studio.

Kristina's life has never been easy, but now she faces more challenges than ever. Her hopes of love with Pilan' are crushed when he leaves town. Heartbroken, she leaves Oklahoma and all of its pain behind her and heads to Boston.

Against seemingly impossible circumstances, both Kristina and Pilan' discover that their passions for music and dance are too great to ignore. But fate has torn them apart. Each will pursue their dreams, but will they be satisfied by ambition-or love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781458213730
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication date: 01/30/2014
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

Measures of Passion


By Elaine Doll

Abbott Press

Copyright © 2014 Elaine Doll
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4582-1373-0


CHAPTER 1

Oklahoma City, 1905

"Honestly, Kristina, didn't you see that man watching you?"

Kristina Soderlund was so deep in thought about her plans she'd nearly forgotten her best friend was riding beside her until Doris shouted at her.

"What? No." Why would anyone be watching her? Kristina shrugged it off and kept pedaling. Eyes on the asphalt road, her mind wandered ahead to when she'd leave home and go to college in Boston. After a moment, however, curiosity nagged her. "What man?"

Not that it mattered. She wasn't the least bit interested.

"That man on the library steps was looking you over like a tiger on the prowl, ready to pounce on his prey." All grins, Doris jerked a thumb back over her left shoulder.

Kristina didn't look back.

"That's a stupid thing to say." Doris Langley could be so dramatic at times. No wonder she was always writing mushy poetry and daydreaming about men. She and Doris were closest friends but as different as a pollywog and a rattlesnake.

"He was positively handsome!" Doris swooned so dreamily that she nearly fell off her bicycle.

"You're so funny." Kristina laughed at her friend and shook her head. She didn't care how handsome the fellow was, there was no place or time in her life for a beau. Unlike Doris, whose only dream for her future was marriage and babies, Kristina had more important things to do. Nothing—especially a man—would get in the way of her education and her dream of opening a music studio. "How do you know he wasn't looking at you?"

"Oh no. He was not looking at me." Doris's tone was serious. "I saw him perfectly well. His gaze was locked on you, my friend. The way he gobbled you up with his eyes, you'd think he'd never seen a woman in his life."

Suddenly alarmed, Kristina shuddered. An old, recurring nightmare flashed through her mind. The idea of being prey to anyone, especially a stranger, and being stalked like an animal, frightened her.

Hands shaking, she tightened her grip on the handlebars. Hunched forward, she pedaled faster, her nose pointed straight ahead, as if she were to look back and see the devil chasing her. Never mind that the bumps in the road made her teeth chatter, or that her hair flew in every direction. She couldn't get away from the stranger's view fast enough.

"Hey. Wait!" Her friend's words came out in breathless shouts.

Kristina stopped pedaling and, without looking back, she coasted until Doris caught up to her.

Breathing hard, Doris scowled. "Holy pig feathers! What got into you, anyway?"

"He could be dangerous." Kristina's voice quivered and she fought to control her emotions.

"Oh, good grief." Doris laughed and rolled her eyes. "Why would you think that fellow is dangerous? He looked perfectly normal—and absolutely sublime."

There she went with the dramatics again; Doris thought every handsome man was sublime. Kristina didn't answer.

She realized her sudden fear was irrational, but she didn't want to explain the reason for her alarm, even though she and Doris been best friends for twelve years. It was too personal to talk about.

She resumed pedaling at a steady speed, glad Doris didn't carry on about the stranger.

A few minutes later, when they reached Doris's house at the edge of town, she slowed and waved as usual. "See you tomorrow."

Thunder rumbled in the distance. Kristina pedaled faster, hoping to get home quickly in case a bad storm developed. The man on the library steps all but forgotten, nostalgia set in as her thoughts reverted to college and moving away from home. Oklahoma City was the only place she knew. She was comfortable here, secure on her father's cotton farm, in the church she'd grown up in, and with her friends. All she knew about Boston were historical things she'd learned in school and the stories Mama Leoma and her grandparents had told her.

Kristina's emotions were a mixture of excitement and apprehension, but attending Boston University School of Music was an important part of her well-laid plan. Passionate about her future, she had no doubts about her success. What was it Mama always said when they discussed her goals? "All things are possible for those who believe upon the Lord." Mama was well educated and wise and she knew her Bible well. If Mama said it, Kristina believed it.

She looked forward to her time at the university when she would live with her grandparents. Grandfather Fisk had promised to pay her tuition for two years if she kept up her grades both in high school and college. She was going to do better than that. She'd graduated from high school at the top of her class and she expected to do the same in college.

The asphalt road gave way to dirt and she came to the rough area Papa called the "washboard." Handlebars gripped tightly she pumped hard to keep up her speed. She clamped her jaws together to keep from biting her tongue. Glad when the road smoothed out she breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed her grip. Now that her high school year was finished, she wouldn't miss this ride one bit.

As she neared the lane that led to her house, pounding horse hooves approached from behind. Wondering who it was, she stopped pedaling and glanced over her shoulder to see who was coming in such a hurry. Toby Gallager reined in his old, swaybacked horse so close that he almost knocked her over.

Toby grinned, his yellow, crooked teeth exposed in the afternoon sunshine. "Howdy, Krissy," he said in his long, slow drawl.

"Toby! You nearly knocked me off my bicycle."

"Well, you shouldn't ride that contraption. It ain't safe like my sturdy horse here. Least I got four strong legs under me. I don't know why anyone would ride something with two skinny wheels."

"Humph." She really didn't have anything else to say to the obnoxious coot. He was probably too stupid to learn how to ride a bicycle.

Several times recently, her father had hinted that Toby would make a mighty good husband, but she didn't agree. She'd always had an uncomfortable feeling around him. It wasn't that he was a bad person, or anything she could put her finger on, he simply gave her the jitters. Except for his ugly teeth, he wasn't all that unattractive with his rust-colored hair and interesting green eyes, but he acted strange and talked as though uneducated. Maybe he wouldn't be so bad if he'd keep his mouth shut. She brushed him off like a pesky fly, but he wasn't easily deterred.

If her parents thought they were going to convince her to marry Toby, they were dead wrong. She couldn't imagine why Papa would think such a thing. Maybe it was because Toby was big and strong and a good worker when he helped around the farm. But Papa didn't know what a nuisance he was.

"You just getting home from school, prissy Krissy?"

"Yes." She kept moving, hoping Toby would ride on ahead and leave her alone. He was so annoying. After all, they were both grown up now but he acted like a twelve-year-old.

"You sure do look pretty, Krissy." Toby grinned and wiggled his brows up and down, looking like a clown. "I'd sure as the dickens like to kiss those nice lips of yours."

Oh how dreadful! As far as she was concerned, she'd die of old age before she'd let Toby kiss her. She shuddered and tried to ignore him. It wasn't that she didn't like to be kissed; she had let Orval Bergman kiss her once last year after a school dance, and it was rather nice. But she couldn't imagine letting a varmint like Toby Gallager kiss her.

"I'll let you kiss me when horny toads grow wings and fly!"

Still clopping along beside her, Toby laughed so loud he scared a flock of blackbirds out of a nearby tree. She jumped so hard she almost lost control of the bicycle. What a repulsive half-wit he was.

Thankfully, when she turned onto her lane, Toby rode ahead, probably going to see the new boys up the road. "See ya soon, Krissy," he called.

Never would be too soon.

Riding up the lane toward home, she brushed Toby out of her thoughts, but the sudden fear she'd experienced moments earlier in town returned. Memories of that day in the barn when she was in third grade flashed through her mind. The blindfold, boys, darkness, and pain all rushed back as if it had happened only days ago. Over the years since then she had determined not to allow the childhood experience to ruin her future. But clearly, it still affected her more than she realized.

For a long time, she'd believed the incident was simply a game children played; that's what the boys had told her. "A secret game," they'd said. As she grew to understand what had really happened, it took on a whole new, ugly meaning. The assault in the barn was one thing she'd never discussed with anyone—except God. After a while, she rarely thought about it.

A hole in the lane grabbed Kristina's front tire, jerking her to attention, and she barely dodged a big mud puddle. Sweat trickled down her spine, and she couldn't wait to get home so she could pin her hair up off her neck. It was warmer than usual and humid. The clouds had increased. Glad this was the last day she had to make this long ride, she pushed on, grateful at least, for the bicycle. Mama Leoma had talked Papa into buying it when Kristina began high school, and now it would get handed down to Dyer.

Of course, it wouldn't surprise her if Mama talked Papa into buying Dyer a new bicycle before the next school year. Mama Leoma was really good at talking Papa into almost anything, and Papa seemed to enjoy pleasing her. Like the year he added an extra room onto the house so Mama could have a library and music room for the new piano he'd bought her. Papa worked hard to please his family, and he never complained.

Kristina was six when Papa married Leoma. The stories about how Papa changed his evil, drunken ways when he started to court Mama Leoma were interesting, amusing. Mostly, it was wonderful to hear how he'd changed from a brandy-drinking tyrant to the God-fearing man he was today. She was proud of him, and quite sure there couldn't be a better father in the world. She'd miss her parents something awful when she went to Boston.

The new song she'd learned in music class recently, burst into her mind. She began to sing. Up ahead, seven-year-old Edward Lee pranced around the yard on his stick horse, as if he were astride a great white stallion, and close behind him, nine-year-old Frankie pretended to shoot arrows at his younger brother. Cowboys and Indians seemed to be the only game those two ever played. Roberta Fay, who would be five in the fall, was swinging on the new swing Papa had hung from the big oak tree, her bare feet flying in the air. Dyer was nowhere in sight, but that wasn't unusual. He was probably off with his group of friends, most likely playing church, with him acting as the preacher.

She smiled, her heart filled with love for Dyer. She had no doubt that's exactly what he'd become someday. He'd make a fine reverend. At thirteen, he already had the charisma and speaking ability to carry it off. It wouldn't surprise Kristina if he had half of the boys in town saved and baptized before he graduated from high school. All he needed was some proper training at one of those Bible seminaries her parents talked about.

Kristina drew close to the yard. Brownie trotted down the lane to meet her. His trot was a little slower than it used to be, but the old mutt still had a lot of playfulness and love in him.

"Come on, Brownie," she called. He ran beside her up to the house.

Clean clothes billowed and swayed from the clothesline at the sunny side of the house. On the wide, shady front porch Mama, her belly growing big, and Glenda, Mama's best friend, sat sipping tall, icy drinks, lemonade from the looks of it. They both waved.

She liked Glenda more than all of her mama's friends, even more than Doris's mother, Anna Jo Langley. She remembered the day Glenda came to take part in her father and Leoma's wedding, and Kristina thought she was the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen—after mama. Clearly, Jason Alder had been smitten by Glenda's beauty and sophistication. Mama had said it didn't take him a week to win Glenda's heart and convince her to marry him.

Kristina had fond memories of her parents' wedding day. Papa had been dashing in his dark suit, and Leoma had looked like a queen in her cream-colored, lace and satin dress with pearl trim and her lacy hat with ribbons and flowers.

As Kristina steered the bicycle up to the porch, both women greeted her with broad smiles. Mama asked her usual question. "How was your day at school, dear?"

"Fine." Her routine answer. She stepped off the bicycle, careful not to snag the hem of her long skirt, then she leaned the bicycle against the porch railing and smoothed her skirt into place. Tail wagging, Brownie wiggled and whined until Kristina scratched him behind the ears and patted his back. It was another daily ritual.

"That was a lovely tune you were singing," Glenda said. "It sounded familiar. What's the title?"

"Sweetheart Be Mine."

"Aha. I thought it was something like that." Glenda hummed a measure in her mellow, alto voice.

Mama beamed, pride glowing in her eyes, and smiled. "Kristina will be very successful when she owns her music studio. Isn't that right sweetheart?"

"I expect so. Of course, I have to get through college first."

"You'll do that without a problem," Glenda said. Like Mama, Glenda was always encouraging, and quick to reassure her.

"I hope you're right. It's a little frightening going from our small-town high school to a big uni—"

"Umm. Oh." Mama groaned and bent forward, gasping for breath as she reached behind her, messaging her lower back with both hands.

Kristina stopped petting Brownie, and rushed to her mother's side.

"Are you all right, Mama?" The pain on her mother's face frightened her.

"It's just a little warning that the time is getting near. This baby better not come early. It's not due for another three weeks."

Glenda jumped up, taking Mama by one elbow, helping her off the seat. "I think you better lie down. Kristina and I will bring in the laundry and watch the children. You need to go inside and stretch out on the bed for a while."

Kristina took her mother's other elbow, and helped coax her bulging body up off the bench. "Glenda's right. You better rest a while. And don't worry about the children. I'll keep an eye on them."

The clouds had darkened and accumulated overhead, completely hiding the sun. Thunder rumbled again, closer this time.

"Thank you dear. I appreciate that. Keep a close eye on those clouds, too. Don't wait until it rains to bring the children inside. Bring them in right away if you see lightning."

"I will, Mama. They'll be fine."

With her mother settled on her bed, Kristina returned to the clothesline. Glenda followed her out to help take down the laundry. The wind whipped the clothes, nearly snatching them out of her hands.

"Is Mama going to be all right?" Kristina had noticed that her mother seemed to be in pain more often lately, and she worried that something was wrong. She couldn't imagine what would happen if the baby came early and died, like Mama's first baby girl had done.

Glenda dropped the laundry into the basket and wrapped an arm around Kristina's shoulders. "She'll be fine. I think she's been on her feet too much."

"I hope you're right." Kristina wasn't completely reassured. She didn't think she would ever be ready to go through so much discomfort and pain to bear children. It would be just awful having a huge, bulging stomach, and swollen feet so big she could hardly wear shoes. One thing was certain; she wouldn't give up her dreams the way Mama had.

Oh, she loved Mama Leoma, and never thought of her as anything other than mother. She adored and respected her. But she couldn't understand Leoma putting aside her dream of opening a bookshop to marry Papa and have a bunch of babies.

"Maybe after the children grow up I can open my bookshop," Mama had said on several occasions. But babies kept coming, and Mama looked too tired to do much more than change nasty diapers, cook, and clean. The thought almost sickened Kristina. It definitely wasn't what she wanted—at least not for a long, long time. Thinking about childbirth made her cringe. She unpinned the last pair of dungarees from the line.

Lightning flashed and thunder followed within seconds. "Take the laundry inside. I'll bring in the children," Glenda said.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Measures of Passion by Elaine Doll. Copyright © 2014 Elaine Doll. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Measures of Passion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful characters, good dialog, interesting story with Christian standards. Sequel to Wispers from the Soul...both a must read.