The Bartender's Mail Order Bride(3)

By: Cindy Caldwell

“Sadie has something to tell you,” Suzanne said, again fascinated with something on her plate.

After a quick cough into her hand, Sadie said, “Sam, I’m afraid it’s not good news. Not good at all.”

Sam stared at her for a moment, his eyes blinking rapidly. He sat back slowly in his chair, his arms folded over his chest.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, of course, you remember the ad that we put into the Groom’s Gazette on your behalf,” Suzanne cut in.

Meg remembered the ad Clara had shown her. She’d thought it sounded wonderful and exciting. Hard-working, responsible bartender seeks wife immediately. Good, kind man with steady income and decent home.

“Yes, I remember,” Sam said slowly, his eyes roaming about the group of ladies.

Sadie continued. “We’ve had several responses, but they were not what we hoped for. It appears that they have all been negative, which is unusual that we received them at all. Normally, I wouldn’t imagine that ladies would send a letter to decline, but they have.”

“Declined?” he said, running his hands back through his hair.

“Now, Sam, from what I see in the letters—and that’s the reason they wrote—it wasn’t personal, by any means. Many said that you sounded like a wonderful man. But there was one common thread…”

Meg hadn’t been in the conversation before, and was quite curious how anyone could possibly turn down such a wonderful offer—for such a handsome, exciting man.

“Did you put a picture of Sam in the ad?” Meg asked, still incredulous—if secretly pleased—that there were no takers.

“No, dear, that’s not commonly done,” Clara said, patting Meg’s hand before she looked away.

“It…they…the ladies seemed to have a concern about your profession,” Sadie said finally, setting the letters back down on the table and casting a sorrowful glance at Sam.

“What? But why? It’s a perfectly honorable profession, and I like it. I get to talk to people all the time, help them have fun or solve a problem. It’s not what they think. I don’t even like alcohol.”

Sadie covered his hand with hers. “But surely you must understand how they might have that perception. Isn’t that exactly the same reason why you don’t want your mother to know you’re a bartender? Because she’d feel the same way these ladies do?”

He sat back in his chair again with a whoosh of breath as he wiped his forehead of its sheen.

“When you put it that way, I suppose I can understand.”

“I think they are utterly wrong, all of them,” Meg said, a little more loudly than she’d anticipated, she realized, when all eyes turned to her. “Well, what I mean is, I believe there are people who wouldn’t feel that way. You just haven’t found her yet.” For the first time, she found herself casting her own eyes down at her plate.

“Thank you,” Sam said, and she felt warmth creep into her cheeks as he turned to her. “I hope you’re right. I don’t have much time left. I still need to sort out a new job before she gets here, as well as get married.”

His head dropped into his hands as he groaned.

The girls all looked at each other once more, before Sadie said, “Don’t worry, Sam. We have a few more days, and I’m sure we’ll get some more responses. Let’s not be too discouraged.”

Sadie’s voice was bright, but as Meg looked at her, her face showed that she was anything but hopeful.

Meg’s heart sunk at Sam’s defeated demeanor and sagging shoulders. “I just don’t want to disappoint my mother. She’s been very good to me, and has been through a great deal lately. And if I remember correctly, it matters very much to her that I have a respectable position, and a nice family. In fact, I wouldn’t be in this mess if I hadn’t flat out told her that it was true.”

Clara sat straight in her chair. “Sam, let’s just give it a little more time. Something will turn up. I mean, someone.”

Sam let out a deep sigh as he said, “I sure hope you’re right.”

Chapter 3

Also By Cindy Caldwell

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