Caleb's Mate - Becca Jameson


June 25, 1964

Dear Mabel,

This is the third letter I’ve written you in six weeks. I don’t understand why you’re being so stubborn. I got a letter from Mama yesterday. She tells me you’re angry right now, and I should be patient. The problem is that I’m not a patient person. You’re my sister. My identical twin. My best friend. I miss you.

I wish you would read my letters instead of returning them. I won’t stop writing to you. I want you to know that I’m happy. Canyon Springs is a beautiful town. The people here are so nice. Josiah is the kindest man I’ve ever met. I know you don’t approve of him, but we don’t always choose who we fall in love with. It just happens sometimes.

I wish you would come visit me. I can even send you the money for the bus ticket. I already got a teaching job here in town. I start this fall.

There is a hole in my heart from missing you. I won’t choose between you and Josiah. I want both of you in my life.

Please write back.

Love, Marge

Chapter 1

Present day…

Elena was holding the piece of certified mail in her hand, wondering what could be in it, when her cell rang. She smiled as she saw Layla’s name on the screen and answered. “Hey. Long time no talk,” she teased. “I was starting to wonder about you. I know you’re busy down in sunny southern California auditioning for the next Oscar-winning film, but it’s been like two weeks.”

Layla groaned. “See? This is why I don’t call you. You don’t even say hello before you start bitching at me. And besides, if you took time off from writing the next masterpiece for the Chicago Tribune, you could call me too.”

Elena sat at her small, rickety kitchen table and sighed, dropping the piece of mail on the table. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be snippy. What’s up?” Layla rarely called for no reason. In the two years since they’d graduated from college and moved to opposite ends of the universe, they had called each other less and less often.

To be fair, Layla was right. Elena hadn’t been the best at keeping in touch either. She had no excuse. She was nothing but a floundering reporter, determined to get her big break. Any day now would be great.

“Did you get a certified letter from Canyon Springs, Colorado?” Layla asked.

Elena glanced down at the envelope on her table and frowned. “Yes. I haven’t opened it yet. Why do we have the same certified mail? Hell, why do we have certified mail at all?”

“Yeah, so, remember that great aunt we have who Grandma Mabel loathed so badly that she didn’t speak to her for fifty years?”

“How could I forget. Aunt Marge.” Neither Elena nor Layla had ever met Marge. She was their grandmother’s identical twin sister. Marge and Mabel should have been close. And they had been…for the first twenty-two years. Same as me and Layla… How far did those similarities stretch? Sometimes Elena worried that she and Layla had gone their separate ways at the exact same age.

“Well, apparently she died, and… You really should open the envelope. I’ll wait.”

Elena ripped the tab across the top of the cardboard and then reached in and pulled out a bound file of several pages and a cover letter. It was from an attorney: Larosa and Tanner Law Offices. She skimmed down the single page, taking in the regret to inform her that her great aunt had passed away and then moving down the page to the part that made her stop breathing. “Are they serious?”

“Looks like it.”

“Let me get this straight. Our grandmother’s estranged twin sister died last week, and she left everything she owns to you and me?”

“Now you’re all caught up,” Layla stated. “The question is what are we going to do about it?”

Elena speed-read the rest. “Jeez,” she muttered. “Looks like they want us to go there and deal with the estate.”

“Yeah, and I’m kinda busy at work right now.”

“Me too. I can’t just take off for nowhere Colorado.” I can’t afford to take off for anywhere, let alone Colorado. But Layla didn’t know that. A lump formed in Elena’s throat as she reminded herself how different the two of them were. While Layla was off in Los Angeles making a name for herself, doing what she loved—acting—Elena was in Chicago failing miserably. She was too embarrassed to admit to her sister that she was nothing more than