Frienemies Chapter 46 excerpt

While Fawn and Nana talked about furnishings for the new house Angel sat in the office section of the barn at the Browning residence. She was not alone.

The oak chair in which she sat creaked as she sat hunched over her father’s ledgers. The entry that caught her attention was for an account labeled “Jackson Holdings.” The beginning balance figure was astounding. How was it that a poor farmer in a hovel of a house could have such a large sum of money? Was Fawn holding out on her? Either Fawn was very good at keeping things close, or she was not as naive as Angel had always believed, or, and this was probably the truth: the poor ninny had no idea how well off she really was. All the better for Angel. She turned the ledger toward her companion.

Her companion stroked his neatly trimmed beard. “Interesting,” was his only response.

“This explains a few things,” Angel considered. “This is why my father is always giving the Jacksons nice things. It’s their money, not his. I have misconstrued everything. Oh, well. It doesn’t change my plans. Is everything ready?”

Her companion leaned his chair back against a wooden supporting beam. He re-positioned the toothpick in his mouth and spoke around it.

“Just a few loose ends to tie up to avoid complications. Some of that is being done as we speak. Once that’s done, we are set to move. Just don’t try to double cross me. You think you hold all the cards, but I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.”

Angel didn’t blink. She reached across the table, grabbed his wrist, and said, “You think you do. You may think I’m a wild, crazy, brazen harlot, but there’s more to me than that. It is you who had better think twice about stabbing me in the back.” Her next words were spoken through clenched jaws: “I’m not fragile and I don’t break.”

##

A nicer-than-average brougham pulled up in the yard of the Gardner’s house. The driver looked around and noticed the well-kept yard, vegetable garden, and white wrought iron table and chairs. A hand-carved oak plank hung from a tulip tree by two long lengths of rope. He nodded his head in appreciation. But what really caught his eye was Fawn Jackson playing ring-around-the-rosey with two young girls. They were far enough away, and making enough noise they probably had not heard the plodding of the horses nor the wheels of the carriage. He remained where he sat for some moments, considering the report he would take back to Pipestem.

At length he dismounted the conveyance and approached the front door of the neat two-story farm house. His hand was poised to knock when the door was hastily opened from the inside, Jason Gardner nearly running into him.

Jason took a quick step back as he asked, “May I help you?” It took mere seconds for him to notice the sheen of the sleek black slicker, obviously well cared for. The man’s hat sat perfectly atop a thatch of dark brown hair, neatly trimmed in front while long enough to just touch the shirt collar in the back. The back hair curled slightly below the visitor’s ears.

“Begging your pardon, sir. My name is Justin Forbes. I was told that Miss Fawn Jackson is temporarily housed here.” He removed his hat and held it in his two hands in front of him.

“May I ask the nature of your business with Miss Jackson?” Jason wasn’t about to divulge any information without a good reason.

“Mr. Wiley, the minister of our town, sent me with a message for the young lady. I have not read the letter, but was given to understand that the people of the town are ready to accept Miss Jackson as their teacher.”

Nana took one step at a time as she came down the stairs. “I heard voices and Fawn’s name,” she said.

Ellen rose from her seat as did the visitor. “Indeed you did, Nana. This gentleman is Mr. Forbes. He has come with a letter for Fawn. She. . .”

Jason and Fawn came in at that moment. They both stopped in front of Mr. Forbes. Melanie and Sarah Beth were told to stay outside and play. Mr. Forbes handed Fawn the letter. “I am supposed to wait for a reply,” he said.

Fawn opened the letter as Nana, Jason, and Ellen gathered around her. She read in silence, then handed the letter to Nana. “What should I do?”

Nana sat in the rocker behind her. She read slowly while it seemed the other family members held their breaths. A heavy sigh escaped her lips as she handed the letter to Ellen. “What do you think?” she asked her closest friend.

Ellen read the letter and looked at the young man who had brought it. “Excuse us for just a few moments, please. We need to discuss this.”

The two women and Jason exited to the kitchen and sat at the table, the letter face up on that piece of furniture. Nana spoke first.

“Fawn, you need a job. We got ta have money for food and rent. I know ya want to stay here. I know yer worried about leavin’ me. But this would be good for ya, too.”

“But Nana,” Fawn started.

Ellen looked between the two and saw Nana’s set jaw. “Nana, you are most welcome to stay here. . .”

An Integrated Chapter

This is a rewrite of Chapter Six of Frienemies.  Well, actually, it’s an excerpt.  Please remember that everything under the “Works In Progress” is copyrighted, and is not available for sharing on your blog or website.  However, I would love to have your opinions.  Thank you for visiting and have a blessed day.

 

Chapter Six Rewrite

It seemed to be a week for visitors.  Angel Browning came by the following afternoon.  In typical Angel fashion, she galloped nearly all the way to the door before she jerked her horse to a halt and dismounted as if a pack of coyotes was after her.  Fawn was already opening the door for her friend.

“Angel, what a great surprise to see you.”  Fawn stretched both arms forward to clasp Angel’s hands in greeting.  “Come in.”

Angel dashed strands of loose hair from her face.  “You didn’t think I would stay away did you?” She gave Fawn a sisterly hug.  “I just thought you and Nana needed some time to adjust to life without your mom.  May I have a drink of water?”

“Certainly.  The tin cup is hanging on that nail by the rain barrel.  Help yourself and come in.  Nana is sitting in her room with her memories of Dad, Mother, and Gray.  She may not come out today.”

“I’m sorry you two have to go through this.  It’s part of the reason why I came.”  She took a long drink from the cup.  “Do you remember Mr. Bailey?”

Fawn’s brow furrowed.  “I think so.  Doesn’t he live in Sun Valley? If memory serves, he has a little girl.  Dad liked him.”

Angel nodded her head.  “That’s right.  He and your dad were friends.”  She took another sip of water.

“I remember them,” Nana chimed in from her bedroom.  “He was in the war, fought alongside your dad, Fawn.”  Nana’s eyes brightened as her smile widened at the memory. “He had a fine family.  Wouldn’t expect rich folk like that ta be so nice.”  She got off her bed, grabbed one of her canes, and came back to the living room to sit the side of Fawn not occupied by Angel.

Angel leaned toward the couch where Nana and Fawn sat.  “He’s a widower now and looking for a teacher for his little girl, Victoria.  Fawn, you would be perfect for the job.”

Fawn almost dropped her tin cup as her mouth dropped open.  “I can’t go to a stranger! What would happen to Nana? Surely you don’t expect me to leave her here alone after all that has happened!”

“I’ll be alright, Fawn.  You need to go talk to him.”

Fawn ignored Angel as tears of fear pooled in her eyes.  “The only children I’ve ever been around are Jason’s sisters.  They are familiar with me, and they are older than Victoria. She’s what, seven years old now? Melanie is ten and Sarah Beth is…”

“Eight,” Angel finished for her.  “One year older than Victoria.  Come on; you can do this. You were almost finished with school.  I’m sure headmistress Nolan will give you a recommendation.”

Fawn’s palms were sweaty.  Her insides were shaking,  her stomach threatening somersaults.  “What about Nana?” she repeated.  “Someone has to be with her while I am away.”

“Fawn, stop being a ninny,” Angel’s tone was firm.  She checked herself and softened her tone.  “I would be only too happy to stay with Nana during the week and you could come home on the weekends.”

Fear warred with anxiety.  A dark green rim outlined the irises in Fawn’s hazel eyes.  Leave Nana? Would Angel, her reckless and wild best friend, really be able to be still enough to stay with Nana for a week at a time? How would Nana cope with Angel’s restless spirit? There had to be another way.

“Well?” Angel prompted while she tapped her foot on the floor.

“I appreciate you wanting to help, Angel.  I really do, but I just can’t…”

Nana rose from the threadbare couch on shaky legs and leaned on one cane.  “I don’t need a babysitter!”  She turned and hobbled toward her room again.  She spoke without turning her head as she neared the door.  “I kin take care of myself.”  She slammed the door behind her. Fawn heard the muffled weeping as she pictured her dearest relative lying on her bed.  Tears formed in her own eyes.  What was she to do?

##

 

Nana rocked in her chair.  Peace settled on her face as she watched the sky and enjoyed companionable silence for a few moments.  Lord Jesus, thank You for Your many blessings, for kind neighbors, for health, and for what family I have left.  Thank You, too, for this lovely weather. Amen.

Jason watched Nana’s expression.  If only Fawn would ask Jesus to be her Saviour, they could marry and he would be able to take care of her and her grandmother.

The back door slammed shut and the two people on the front porch jumped.  “That you?” Nana called through the open front door.

“Yes, Nana.  The door handle got away from me. I was just pulling weeds in the garden.”

“Come on out here,” Nana called.  “We got comp’ny.”

Fawn noticed the bread, butter, and honey on the table and knew who had brought them.  She quickly tucked loose strands of hair back into their coil and briskly went to the front porch.  She chose a rocker to Jason’s left. Two of the rockers were placed on the left side of the porch, their backs to the east.  The back of Nana’s chair faced west as she sat across from them.

Jason cleared his throat.  “I told you I was going to do some snooping to try to find out what’s been going on in this holler.”  He took a sip of water and drummed his thumb against the tin cup.

“I don’t have any proof of who is behind any of this. What I do know is that more than one person is involved.  It seems that there has been a lot of fracking going on to determine if there is any natural gas in the area.  That may or may not have anything to do with homes being vandalized.”

Nana banged the tip of her crutch on the porch.  “That don’t give nobody the right to start attackin’ folks in their own homes.”  She stomped the crutch again.

“We have to find out if all of this is related, Nana,” Fawn said.

Deputy Dewey Finds More Clues

Dewey came rushing back to the sheriff’s office. He jumped off his horse before it came to a full stop. He slapped his hat against his thigh as he entered the door.

“What’s wrong?” Clyde bolted to his feet and dropped the newspaper he was reading.

“It’s what’s right.” Dewey was grinning. “You won’t believe this. That Hilliard fella was into some shady dealing. Got to hangin’ around somebody named Bobby. Whoever he is, he’s done got up and took off in the middle of the night about ten days ago.”

Clyde rubbed the back of his neck. “You don’t say. Any idea who he was hangin’ with or where he went?”

Dewey sat on the three-legged stool and leaned forward as Clyde sat back down. His forearms rested on his legs, his hands cupping his knees.

“Couldn’t get his last name but some folks lived by him said that young lawyer was lookin’ for him. Maybe this here Bobby character was in some kinda legal trouble.”

“Did you try to find the lawyer?”

“Yeah, but he ain’t been to work in a couple days. His boss ain’t too happy with him but he wouldn’t tell me why.”

Clyde got up and found the container of toothpicks. He had never been a smoker but he was trying to curb his sweet tooth. He found a toothpick and stuck it in his mouth.

“Did you get the young attorney’s address?”

“I asked. His boss just said he lives in the rooming house. I went there and everybody there was pretty tight-lipped.”

Clyde switched the toothpick to the other side of his mouth. “Seems pretty strange. Maybe I ought to go rattle some cages.”

Frienemies: Disappointment

Her brows furowed with worry as Fawn paced the living room.  Deep sighs repeatedly escaped her lips, although she was unaware of them. She crossed and uncrossed her arms across her chest. It had been almost two weeks since her interview and there had been no word since then. Her brow furrowed with worry.

Joel arrived just after lunch. She watched him dismount his horse. There was no smile as he approached the house.

She thrust the screen door open and stepped outside.

“What’s wrong?”

Joel stutter-stepped at the abrupt meeting. He removed his hat, hung his head, and answered while averting his eyes.

“The people in Pipestem heard about your troubles here. They are afraid those troubles will follow you. They have decided not to hire you until the culprit or culprits have been arrested.”

“I knew it. I just knew it.” She wailed. The weight of frustration pressed on her chest, threatening to suffocate her. Rent would soon be due again and how were they to pay with no income? She turned away from Joel, hiding her tears.

#

Michael and Deanna Wiley had been praying for Fawn and her situation daily, pleading for God’s intervention. Now they knelt together beside the green and cream-colored hand-embroidered chair in the library, their throats were raw from the fervent choked back sobs. This was the prayer chair, handed down from Deanna’s mother, given to her on the day she and Michael were wed. It held the tears of two previous generations of prayer warriors. Though the material had become thin in some places as tears dimmed the colors of the scripture verses that had so painstakingly been sewn in, it still served its intended purpose.

The couple held hands as they prayed.

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“Lord Jesus,thank you for bringing this young woman into our lives. Though the community has rejected her as our teacher for now, we are trusting You to work in this situation. You know her needs even better than she knows them herself, Father. Please use her circumstances for Your honor and glory, drawing her to Yourself and snatching her from the enemy’s grasp.”

Deanna took her turn. “Jesus, we thank You and praise You that You know all things, the beginning from the end. You are such a great and mighty God, and You poured out Your own precious blood that we might have a new life, an abundant life, as Your word promises. Thank You for having a purpose and a plan for our lives. Your thoughts toward us are for good, and not of evil, to give us an expected end. Please save Fawn’s precious soul, so that she might find the joy and peace that Your word promises. Help her to see how much You love her. In Your most holy and precious name, amen.”

Annette came tip-toeing into the room and stood silent until the praying stopped. She stepped between her parents and stretched her eight-year-old arms to each of them.

“Why are you crying?” she whispered.

Deanna wiped her tears and hugged her child. She stroked the blond tresses as she replied, “Because Miss Fawn is going through some hard times and we want God to help her.”

The little girl put her hands on each side of Deanna’s face and leaned in close.

“Then shouldn’t I be praying for her too?” Her eyes were pools of concern. “You told me the Bible says where two or more are gathered together Jesus is right in the middle.”

ChapterBuzz

 

 

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Obviously the photo above is not a couple holding hands, but it is a picture of my husband and me. I have no photos of people holding hands and praying so this was the best I could do.