Frienemies: Chapter Thirty-Seven

Fawn took Arctic Sun out for a ride. It had been three days, or had it been longer? She had lost track of time. They both needed exercise. Melanie and Sarah Beth had wanted to join her but she really needed to be alone. Two weeks crowded in a house with five other people plus her grandmother while waiting for their house to get finished. Sure they were friends, and they were kind, but the close proximity put her in a position to hear conversations that were none of her business. She felt like an interloper and an eavesdropper. She was a burden, an intruder upon the lives of her friends. The thoughts crowded her mind, pushing against each other, then seemed to race around each other. She leaned forward, clinging to Sun’s neck as he galloped, his mane and forelock flying in the wind.

The late morning air was crisp. The scents of pine, lavender, and wild hyacinths wafted on the breeze. Sun slowed to a canter, then a trot, and finally a walk. Now and again he would stop and munch on the grass and bushes that lined the path between the Gardner place and Pine Trail Road. They rode down Pine Trail Road and turned down River Trail Road toward the Bluestone River.

Once on the River Trail they stopped and Fawn dismounted. She had ridden bareback with not so much as a halter. Now she walked beside him, patting his neck and combing his mane as she talked to him.

“You’re lucky, Sun. Your routine doesn’t change much and you don’t have to feel like you are a burden to other people.”

The horse nickered and bobbed his head.

“You don’t have turmoil around you. No one treats you like a charity case. You are accepted for who and what you are.”

He munched more shrubbery. Nothing seemed to daunt him or give him any cause for concern. Envy filled Fawn.

“I know the Gardners don’t think of us a burden. Neither does Mr. Browning, but that doesn’t change the way I feel. Now we’re getting a new house built that we cannot pay for. And I contribute zero to this world.” She hugged Sun’s neck and jumped back on. With no one around to see her skirts fly up in the air as she straddled his back, there were no opinions to worry about. They took the rest of the trail to the river where Sun could get a fresh drink of water and Fawn could find a rock to sit on and muse.

 

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Bluestone River, Mercer County, WV

Photo by Thomas E. Dye

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Angel sat on a bale of hay in the barn. Joel stood across from her,his blood pressure rising.

“I don’t know what you expect. I’ve done all of your dirty work and nothing is going right. You have the deed, which you already knew about. I am done. I will not forge a legal document. You are not worth my career.”

Her chocolate eyes bored into his blue ones. She leaned back with a beckoning look and reached out her hand. “I told you, Joel. I own you. I know things and I can ruin your career. There is nothing you can do about it.”

He reached out to strike her but drew his arm back. She would relish it. The vixen thrived on conflict and being in control. Yet she was not willing to risk her own pretty neck.

“It is true, you can ruin my career, but not without Daddy Dear finding out what you have been up to. You are as much at risk as I am. If I go down, you go down.” He snapped a twig he had picked up. He wished it was her neck.

Angel smiled as the door opened and Hank came in. “You silly boy. Did you think you were only working for me?”

Joel didn’t get a chance to see who hit him from behind before he was knocked to the ground, dragged out of the barn and tied across his horse. The animal’s reins were loose enough to let him move his head. With a thump on the rear Joel was on his way home.

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Frienemies: Chapter Thirty-Six

A Gloom Reflected

Rain had stopped progress on the Jackson house for three days. The relentless deluge took its toll in a landslide that blocked Route 20 between Lerona and Pipestem. Work on the railroad between Athens and Hinton had come to a screeching halt. Tempers flared and fists flew at the tavern. Joel wasn’t hurt badly. He gave worse than he got, and it had been worth it to get away from Angel. There was nothing in life more irritating than a bored woman. And Angel was bored. She was the reason he went to the tavern in the first place. Well, that, and he was in the mood for some arm wrestling and dart throwing.

Angel paced her room, wearing a track in the braided rug her grandmother had made. Frayed threads poked up between the once neat rows of coiled scrap material. She looked around her room, stopping in mid stride.

The heavy brocade drapes did nothing to elevate her mood. Gloomy clouds and gloomy surroundings created a morose atmosphere. She walked to the window and yanked the drapes open. As the rain pounded the roof and pelted the window bolts of lightning split the sky and stabbed the ground. Two bolts collided and struck the Virginia pine that stood in the center of the six-tree border twenty feet from her window.

The tree split as it smoldered but did not catch fire. She jumped back in shock and stared as the electricity from the strike tingled through her body and made her raven black hair stand straight out. Yet she could not make herself move. Never had she seen a storm like this one.

Conscience pricked her. I deserve to die. God is giving me a warning because I killed my little brother. But I didn’t mean to, God. You know I didn’t.

Yes you did, her soul answered back. You hated him because your mother loved him more than you. Admit it.

Laughter bubbled from somewhere deep within, but it wasn’t funny. Was she a monster? Was God really giving her a warning? She had heard people say that God punishes the wicked, and she knew in her heart the adjective applied to her.

But if my parents loved me I wouldn’t be wicked. I would be sweet and nice. I would not have to find ways to punish myself and hurt others in the process. But I have a right to happiness. I have a right to be loved. But no one has ever loved me. I am too evil to love. So I will do my worst.

She reached up to close the drapes again. A figure stood outside, its back to her, looking up at the sky. The person wore no protective coat or hat; he seemed to be welcoming the storm. Then the figure disappeared. Was it real or was she losing her mind?

She closed the drapes and lit the lantern beside her cherry four-poster canopied bed. She took off her dress and put on her night clothes, then burrowed under the covers and hoped morning would bring sunshine. Another day of this rain may prove to bring huge problems for someone.

Picture 415

Photo by Thomas E. Dye

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.

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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.”

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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.

Frienemies Chapter Thirty

Dewey climbed down from the wagon and pulled the needed tools from its bed. He swiped his forehead with his shirt sleeve and looked up at the sun. It was nearing one-o’-clock he figured. By the time this job was over he might need two baths: one to get the grit and grime off, the other to refresh him. Blast. Every time he’d tried to set up a date with Molly something came up. If he didn’t make it this time, she might give up on him altogether. Well, he’d better hurry up if he had any chance of making this one.

It had taken him two hours of driving to find the old well. There was a spring up the hill and an abandoned shed with the roof falling in. The door on the shed hung lopsided from the hinges. There were no houses nearby, only a square perimeter of rotting logs where a house or cabin had been.

The burial site was easy to find. The grass was too short to have been there very long, and it was sparse. The mound was only about eight inches high, Dewey guessed. He put his shovel at the edge of the mound, placed his foot on its rim next to the handle, and pushed. It sunk into the clay earth about four inches and hit rock.

Dewey swiped his brow with his shirt sleeve and moved the shovel another two inches inward and pushed again. The shovel sunk deeper this time without hitting rock. Now he was digging in earnest. The fourth plunge of the shovel snagged a piece of burlap. The deputy moved the shovel over, moving all the way around the mound.

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Doc Henry took Fawn’s pulse and temperature. Then he listened to her heart and lungs. His smile was weak as he looked at Nana, Ellen, and Jason.

“She’ll be fine. She’s exhausted, dehydrated, and probably very hungry. When she comes to she’ll no doubt want to eat everything in sight. Let her rest until she wakes up on her own. When she does waken, give her plenty of water. She needs broth and liquids for one full day, then gradually let her eat soft foods like boiled potatoes and pudding, nothing too sweet. She may be nauseated for a day or two. If it lasts longer than that or if she throws up blood, send for me. I think she’s going to fine, though.”

He placed his instruments back in his bag and rose to leave. Ellen and Jason followed him down the hallway, Jason out of propriety, Ellen to pay for his services.

Nana stayed by Fawn’s side.

Joel arrived as the doctor was leaving. Jason walked with Doc Henry to his horse. “You’re sure she’s going to be alright?”

An understanding smile spread across the doctor’s unlined sixty-year-old face. His brown eyes twinkled, showing the only creases at their corners.

“Yes, Jason. I will be very surprised if she doesn’t make a full recovery within forty-eight hours.”

Jason shook the doctor’s hand. “Thanks, doc. I really appreciate. . .” He stopped when he saw Joel.

“What are you doing here?” Jason demanded.

Joel smirked, tilted his head to one side and said, “I should think that would be obvious. I came to see Fawn.”

“Well you can. . .”

Doc Henry interrupted. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. She needs complete bed rest for the next two days. No excitement.”

“Why? What’s wrong?” Joel’s stance turned rigid. He looked at the doctor and glared at Jason.

“Nothing you need to know about.” Jason’s tone was even. His lips barely moved.

Joel ignored Jason and continued to look at the doctor.

“Miss Jackson has been malnourished and dehydrated. The best thing you can do for her is let her rest.” He hung his doctor bag on the saddle horn and prepared to mount.

Joel turned on Jason. “Why is she malnourished and dehydrated?” His voice was tense.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

To Sheriff Clyde Bonnell:

There is a dead body buried on Foggy Lane next to the abandoned well. It’s been there a while so it’s liable to stink. Might not be much left of it.

The unsigned note had been tacked to the outside of the door. Deputy Dewey asked the shop owners around town if they had seen who had put it there. They all shook or scratched their heads in wonder and said they had not. It must have been done after dark when the shops were closed. Well, there was nothing he could do but go check it out. He went to the livery, borrowed a shovel from Gus, and hitched his horse to a buckboard.

“Here,” Gus said. “Might need this here burlap sack if’n you’re goin’ after a dead body.” He dusted his right hand on his leg to clean it off a little and handed him an extra kerchief. “Might need this, too.” He grinned around a toothpick.

Dewey climbed into the seat of the wagon and started off.

“Have fun,” Gus laughed, waving him off.

“You can come with,” Dewey said. “Might improve your disposition.” Might ruin both of our days.

The livery was across the road from the sheriff’s office on a nameless road that made a loop off of Hinton Road. He would have to drive a mile and a half back to Pine Grove Road and another mile and a half from there to Foggy Lane. Then he would have to hunt for that abandoned well and start digging. No telling how deep the body was buried. And what if it was a hoax and there was no body? A whole afternoon wasted for nothing. He pushed his hat down hard on his head and snapped the reins. “Get up,” he shouted to the horse.

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Frienemies: Chapter 26

This is a short chapter (I may add more later), but I am only posting an excerpt. Please keep in mind that everything on my website and blog are copyrighted by author unless reblogged. Those posts that are reblogged should only be copied for other usage by express consent and permission from the owner of the post.

Excerpt

Jason rode back to the Jackson residence the next morning. His mother was taking care of Nana, making sure she was comfortable. She sent some freshly made biscuits with a jar of honey and another jar of homemade blackberry jelly from the previous autumn.

He knew where she would be. He knocked on the barn door. No one answered. There was no sound at all, not even a nicker from Sun. He cautiously opened the door which creaked on its hinges. Still no sound. He strolled through the barn, calling Fawn as he went. There was no answer.   …

It was only when he mounted his horse to leave that he noticed three sets of fresh hoof prints, all heading in the same direction. The assumption was Fawn was in the company of Joel and Angel. The hair rose on the back of his neck, a sure sign that something was not as it seemed. Should he follow or leave well enough alone? Lord, what should I do?

 

 

 

 

 

Frienemies: Plot Decisions

I have been struggling with the basic premise of this novel for some time. I’m not sure the motive for Angel’s actions is strong enough. I’m going to try to tighten up the plot and add more suspense. There may even be a family connection between Joel and Angel, thus making him more vulnerable to her demands, kind of like a younger brother idolizing his big sister. Readers, if you have read the novel thus far on ChapterBuzz, tell me what you think.

 

Excerpt: “Frienemies” Chapter Twenty-Five

Fawn was shaking and sobbing. Where were the gods of her ancestors who were supposed to protect her? She had taken her fetish with her. Maybe she should have left it home so it would have done its job. Where was Nana’s white God? If he was so powerful, why did he let this happen? Continue reading “Excerpt: “Frienemies” Chapter Twenty-Five”