Thursday, August 29, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 26 by Dellani Oakes


Finding that their aunt is also engaged, Luke and Dollie decide not to tell anyone about their engagement yet.

"Explain the ring," Patty challenged.
"Maid of Honor gift from you and Will," Dollie supplied, having all ready considered that problem. "I can wear it on my right hand. Only we four know different."
They nodded agreement. Lucius changed the ring over to her other hand.
"You don't mind, do you?" Dollie asked.
"So long as we know, that's all that's important."
All too soon, they arrived at the girls' dorm. Lucius and Dollie got out, giving Will and Patty the privacy of the truck. They found a secluded spot near the door that couldn't be seen from the road or windows. The worn grass there gave testimony to the fact that more than one couple had used that spot to say goodnight.
Lucius put his arms around Dollie pulling her close. It was chilly and she didn't have a jacket. Dollie laid her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat. For the moment, both were content. Soon, the compulsion to kiss her became too strong for Lucius to ignore. Dollie knew the moment his thoughts turned, his embrace changed and he shifted his stance. She raised her face as he lowered his.
"I love you Dorothea Belloit," he whispered. "I can't wait to make you my wife."
"I love you too, Lucius. I wanna marry you more than anything."
He stilled any further words with his kiss. There was one thing he wanted more than being married, but Dollie wasn't the type of girl he could say that to. She'd think he was being fresh. The fact that they were now engaged might or might not change her mind. She was not her sister and the idea of going to bed with a man, even her fiancé, was scandalous. Unlike his brother, he had no private place to take her and Dollie wasn't a truck seat kind of girl.
"What are you thinking about?" Dollie asked.
Startled by the end of the kiss, he didn't answer right away.
"Penny for your thoughts?" she tried again.
"I's thinkin' how much I love you." It made a more or less convincing lie—or not?
"Liar," she jabbed his ribs, laughing. "You had more on your mind."
"I can't ever tell you tales," he said with a sigh. "You see right through me."
"So, what were you really thinking?"
"Thoughts natural to a man. I don't want to upset you, Dollie."
"You were thinking of taking me to your bed."
He nodded, unwilling to deny it. "It's a natural step in a man's mind." He tried to laugh it off. "We're engaged now, Dollie. Practically married."
"I see. And did you propose just so I'd do that?"
Her biting question wounded him. "Dollie, no! I've done everything I know to prove that I love you. If you can't see it, maybe you aren't the woman I think you are. I don't plan to ravage you, Miss Belloit, but a man has certain needs and expectations from a relationship. I'm not any worse than any other man. And the fact you've still got your damn clothes on proves I'm better 'n some."
He shoved away from her and took off, running blindly. His feet led him once more to the grove of trees behind the chapel. Unfortunately, this time, the place afforded no comfort. He paced the clearing, kicking loose rocks and twigs, cursing under his breath. He picked up a rock, hurling it into the brush.
"Yowch!" his brother's voice caught him by surprise.
"Will? You all right?"
"Reckon so. You clipped me." He walked into the clearing, dusting himself off. "What's got you so riled?"
Lucius explained, leaving no details out. Will nodded, smiling. He chuckled, putting a hand on his brother's arm.
"Brother mine, your problem is you ain't never had a woman tell you no. You're so used to them falling on their backs for you, you can't understand one with—morals." He laughed louder.
"Yeah, laugh at my pain. Like you ever had a girl say no."
"I have plenty. Maybe more said no than yes, for a while there. I never had your looks or your brains. Girls see me and you together, four of the five go talk to my baby brother. The fifth one's only staying with me cause she figgers she's got a better chance of some undivided attention if she does. But her eyes wander to the blond, blue eyed god her friends are fawning over. Can't tell you how many women wanted you instead of me. Trouble is, little brother, you don't know your own appeal. You got what you wanted from them other gals cause you're the best lookin' thing on two legs them girls ever seen. Miss Dollie's from the city."
"So?"
"Well, so—not only has she seen some Dapper Dans in her life, she got her some strong religious convictions."
"Her sister doesn't seem to have the same qualms. Nothin' against Patty...."
"Maybe cause on her end, she's been on the rejected side of the four outta five. Patty's a pretty girl, no doubt about it. Dollie's a beauty. And like you, ain't the least aware of her own appeal."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 25 by Dellani Oakes


When they get back to the house, they find out that their Aunt Virginia has also gotten engaged.

"We'll have us one soon too," Will countered, putting his arm around Patty.
The three couples exchanged congratulations quietly. Lucius and Dollie gazed at one another. The question in his eyes as to whether they should announce their engagement, met with a small shake of her head. There was time to wait. Let the others have their attention.
Will led them into the front room with his arm around Patty. Clearing his throat, he got their attention."I know we're all here because of a tragedy. I hope what I have to say won't be thought of as disrespectful. Despite the problems my daddy and me had, I hope he'll smile on the news. As y'all know, I promised Miss Patricia Belloit two things—a ring on her finger and a roof over her head. The house is finished and Patty has accepted my proposal. We're getting' married first weekend in August."
The room filled with startled gasps. Lucius started clapping and cheering. Patrick joined in. Soon the cabin filled with applause and cat calls. Folks crowded in from outside to hear the news. Once they settled down, Virginia dragged Patrick forward.
"We got some news too," he said shyly. "As y'all know, I been after Ginny to marry me for neigh on three year since her Clyde passed—rest him. I been lonely since Mariah died an' I was always right fond of Ginny. Took me a long time to convince her, but not ten minutes ago, she agreed to be my wife. So y'all are invited to our wedding too—early September, I reckon."
The cheering and clapping erupted once more. It died down when Rachel stood up. She hugged and kissed her sister first, then her son, followed by Patrick and Patty.
"I been after her and after her to take you on, Pat. She's a stubborn girl, always was. I'm real happy for you. And son, all I can say is I want a passel of grand babies."
Patty blushed, giggling like a little girl. Dollie hugged her. Lucius hugged his brother and aunt. He shook Patrick's hand.
"You got a fine woman there, Pat."
"I do indeed, Luke."
"You take good care of my favorite aunt." The subtle threat was implicit.
Patrick's smile wavered. "They ain't no other way to care, Lucius. I love her with all my heart."
"Good answer, Uncle Pat." He hugged the man, laughing.
Rachel hugged and kissed them all. "Mama used to say, From great sorrow comes great joy. Reckon today proves she was right. She also used to say that mourning the dead was a gall darn waste of time. She was right about that too. Earl wouldn't want me to sit her bawlin' like a baby. What say we take this here outside and have us a party to remember him?"
The idea met with surprise, but soon everyone got in the spirit of it. They took chairs outside and made tables with sawhorses and boards from the barn. A few of the men had harmonicas in their pockets. Samuel got the wooden bucket and banged on it with a couple spoons. The improvised band was very good. All of them sang the familiar songs, their voices joined in harmony. The singing led to dancing and they enjoyed their party until around 9:00 when one of the babies let out a plaintive wail.
"Guess that's time for us to go," his father said.
"Before we go," Lucius said, stepping forward. "I'd like to remember Daddy with a ballad he always loved. Y'all join in when you know it."
Closing his eyes, he lifted his chin, singing to the stars. His baritone echoed from the hills. The others joined in, finding harmony by long habit if singing without accompaniment. As Lucius sang, memories of his childhood, with a very different Earl, filled his mind—flashing before him. He sang with greater love and enthusiasm as the anger and hurt washed away.
"The water is wide, I can not get o'er and neither have I wings to fly. Get me a boat that will carry two and both shall cross, my love and I."
Dollie's lilting soprano soared above the rest in a sweet descant. She, Will and Patty carried four part harmony, the other voices supporting them. When the song was over, they stood in silence a few moments, thinking of Earl. All of them had their good memories of him. Those who knew him as a young man, untouched by the War, wept most for his passing.
The infant's cry split the silence once more. Everyone sprang to action, putting food away and clearing the yard. When everything was cleaned up, they said their farewells. They kept it brief, knowing they would see one another for the funeral in a few days.
"If you need anything, you send for us," Patty said. "We're family now."
Rachel clung to her. "I always hoped he'd find a woman like you. I wished good women for all my boys."
They finally parted, leaving Jane to care for their mother. Will was staying over the next few nights, but he and Lucius saw the girls back to the girls' dorm. They didn't talk of Big Earl, funerals or death. Instead, Dollie and Patty talked more about wedding plans.
"Why didn't you say something?" Patty asked.
"Figgered Ma ain't ready for another engagement. Me and Dollie hardly courted. She'd be shocked."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 24 by Dellani Oakes


Luke proposes, giving Dollie a beautiful ring which Will made. She says yes.

Their kiss was longer this time. It wasn't until they heard a shout down the mountain, that they turned around. Will and Patty were headed their way. Will helped her over the rugged terrain. They arrived with Patty slightly flushed and panting a little.
"So?" she asked excitedly, reaching for her sister.
"I said yes!" Dollie squealed.
Will shook his brother's hand, pulling him into a half hug. Dollie and Patty giggled and squealed as they hopped up and down happily. Patty admired Dollie's ring and Dollie admired Patty's. She'd seen the ring a dozen times since her sister got it, but she still liked to look at the intricate, detailed work of the band. Hers was just as lovely. She made sure to thank Will for it.
"The idea was Patty's. She said how much you love dragonflies. I got the basic design from an old lamp Mr. Prentice has in his back room. It's from around 1895 or so. The brass base and the glass hood have dragonflies all over them."
"I'm so proud of you for learning the jeweler's trade," Patty said, squeezing his arm.
"It's a great talent," Dollie said, her dark eyes sparkling.
Lucius felt a little left out of the conversation. He was good with is hands as far as fixing things. He was an excellent carpenter and mechanic. When it came to being artistic, he wasn't—at least not with that kind of thing. He had designed Will's house and had a plan in mind for his own. He could look at bricks, boards and land and visualize a finished home. As a result, any carpentry work they needed at the school, Lucius did it.
"Have you set a date yet?" Patty asked her sister.
"No. We want your wedding time to be special," Dollie said. "I bet Mama and Papa could get away in a few months for another wedding."
"I know they would," Patty said. "You could rush about and get married at the same time we do." She sounded half hopeful that Dollie would say no.
"I don't think so," Dollie said, not really wanting to anyway. "We both want our own spotlight. Not only that, people will surely talk if we marry so soon after our first date. They'll think there's some sort of scandal."
"Not gonna put Dollie in that position," Lucius said. "Y'all two been dating awhile now. Me and Dollie ain't. They'll think your daddy poked a shotgun under my nose." He blushed slightly. "Ain't gonna have a repeat of the Betty Mae incident. That's the most embarrassed I ever was in my life."
Will clapped him on the shoulder, nodding. He'd had a scare or two in his time, but none as public as Betty Mae.
"Thing is, it was only the once. Girl was flat crazy, scared the bejeezus outta me. Then to have her come at me with that story. Lord have mercy!"
"No wonder her daddy tried so hard to marry you two off. She was probably making him crazy too," Will supplied with a laugh. "Let's go on back down. Mama's askin' after you both."
"I hope she doesn't think it's inappropriate, us engaged...." Dollie said in a worried tone.
"I 'spect Mama will be pleased," Will said, though he had to admit he wasn't sure. "Ain't every day her two sons tell her they're getting' hitched."
"You haven't told her yet?" Dollie was stunned.
"Only been a couple days. Ain't had the chance to come up and chat. Besides you two, don't no one else know."
Patty and Dollie exchanged a look. They'd told plenty of people, thinking Will had already discussed it with his parents. The ring on Patty's finger had needed explanation.
"That's not entirely true, Will-Billy." She explained.
"Well, that's all right," he said with a smile. "So long as they're happy for us."
The four young people walked down to the house, holding hands. The girls chattered about wedding plans. The men listened, grinning proudly, content that their goals had been achieved.
Lucius couldn't help wondering what his mother would think. She was very old fashioned in some ways. The idea of him getting engaged to a girl he'd barely courted might upset her. He'd had the dance and one date with Dollie. All ready, she was wearing his ring. He'd considered waiting, but his father's death had made one thing clear—life was short and uncertain. He wanted Dollie to know beyond doubt how much he loved her.
They walked up to the back door of the cabin, startling Aunt Virginia, who was talking earnestly with Patrick Kennedy. They stood close together, whispering. Virginia stepped back, blushing.
"Didn't hear you young'uns," she said with a nervous laugh.
"Had us a walk," Will replied. "Good to see you, Auntie. You too, Pat." He shook hands with the other man.
"Y'all look real chummy," Virginia said, noticing they were holding hands.
"Might say the same," Lucius replied, frowning a question at his boss.
Patrick actually looked flustered. "Me and Ginny got us some good news," he drawled.
"No kidding?" Will crossed his arms. "And?"
"Nothing formal yet," Virginia interjected. "But reckon we'll have us a celebration in a couple months."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 23 by Dellani Oakes


The brothers head back to the school with the new pump. Afterward, they go up to the house to find that their family has arrived to grieve with their mother.

Rachel's watery smile faltered when she saw Lucius. "Did you talk to Willem?"
"Yes, ma'am. He'll be up here soon."
She nodded. Samuel hugged his mother, then went out to chat with his cousins.
Aunt Virginia, Rachel's younger sister, brought Lucius a plate of food. "You eat, Luke. Been a long day, sugar."
"Yes, ma'am. Gonna be longer here shortly when the crops come in. Don't know what I'll do then."
"Lloyd already got that sussed. Him and he menfolks will be here to help. Don't worry none about it."
"Reckon I got time off comin' anyhow. 'Spect I'll take it then."
"If you don't have time, I'll give Patrick Michael Kennedy a piece o' my mind!"
Lucius chuckled. Pat Kennedy had tried to court Aunt Virginia since her husband died. She'd never said yes, but she hadn't said no either. He kissed his aunt in the cheek and took his plate outside. He sat on the front step balancing the plate on his knees. He had just finished his food and pulled out his Zippo, when the grumble of a truck in low gear, met his ears. He stood and walked to the edge of the porch.
"It's Will!" Samuel called. "An' he's got company!"
The truck stopped at the base of the yard. Joshua got to it first, opening the driver's door. Willem swung his brother up to ride piggyback. Sam opened the passenger door. Dollie and Patty, dressed in subdued dresses, climbed out. Samuel went to the back for something and lifted a crate from the bed. He carried it to the house with Will and Patty.
Dollie stopped to talk to Lucius. "So sorry for your loss, Mr. Henry."
Lucius took her hand, kissing it. "Who's being formal now, Miss Belloit?" His blue eyes twinkled.
She smiled, melting his heart. "My great-grandmother called her husband Mr. Belloit their entire marriage."
"How inconvenient. What'd he call her?"
"Sookie. It was a nickname."
"I should hope so. Sookie Belloit sounds like a disease pigs get."
Dollie didn't mean to laugh so loudly. The men and children looked at her, mildly appalled. Dollie blushed. "You get me in trouble, Lucius."
"Very sorry—Sookie."
She elbowed him in the belly. Lucius felt his gut tighten when she was that near. He wanted to touch her, kiss her—
"Walk with me," he said, steering her away from the house.
"Your mama—"
"Can wait a bit. Got so many round about, she won't notice. I wanna show you something."
They walked about a quarter mile, slightly uphill, to a level piece of ground with a weathered shed and an old, battered pump.
"Papaw used to have sheep up here. That's the birthing shed. Had the pump laid in cause lambing is a messy business. I's thinkin'—it's got a mighty pretty view and good, level ground. The pump is still good, even if it's banged up some." He paused. "What I'm trying to say—to ask you...." He dropped to one knee, taking her hand. "I ain't an educated man, Dollie, but I love to learn. You've already taught me so much. And I love you so hard, it hurts. Dorothea Belloit, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"Oh, Lucius!" Dollie dropped to her knees beside him. "Yes! Oh, yes!"
He stood, helping her rise. "Would you live up here with me? I'd build you a fine house with a real flush commode...."
"Lucius, I'd camp in the woods with a hole in the ground and a campfire, as long as you were with me."
His strong arms circled her and he kissed her deeply. Her scent surrounded him, making him giddy. Her taste excited him. He wanted to sweep her in his arms, carry her in the shed and make love to her. It was a ridiculous notion, but love and lust aren't logical. He didn't act on his impulse, but couldn't deny that it was there.
"I got you something," he said eventually.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the blue cloth bag Will had given him. Inside was the dragonfly ring. Lucius presented her with the ring. Dollie burst into tears as he placed it on her finger.
"It's official. Now I can kiss you all I want," he mumbled in her ear.
Dollie tilted her head up, presenting her lips. "Why, Mr. Henry, are you being fresh?"
"Yes, Sookie, I believe I am."
"Good...."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 22 by Dellani Oakes


Lucius volunteers to go to town to pick up a new pump for the pool. While there, he goes to see his brother.

"Don't know, Will. All I know's he ended up face down in the creek. Me and Dollie—saw him."
"Lordy, Lucius! When Squires come knockin' last night, I thought for sure Daddy'd kilt ya. I can't say I'm sorry the old bastard is gone, but I'm sure sorry for Mama."
"Me too. I got some business here in town, then I need to get back up to the school. You take me?"
Will glanced at his boss, who nodded. "Thanks, Mr. Prentice. Yeah, let me know when you're done. I got lunch comin' soon. You stay for that?"
"Reckon I can. Meet you back here at twelve."
"I got something for you." Smiling, he waved to his brother.
Lucius wandered around town for about twenty minutes, window shopping. He bought some pretty pink flowers for Dollie. It was a potted plant for the window of her office. She preferred live plants to cut flowers. He bought some hard candy for his mother. He knew they were going to have a lot of company over the next few days. He wanted something special for her to set out and knew the hard candy would keep well.
He wanted to get a few things for the children, but couldn't decide. He got an assortment of penny candy figuring they'd enjoy that. All his purchases in hand, he went back to Will's truck and tucked them inside. His brother came out a few minutes later and helped him load up the pump. They walked down the street to the same diner where he and Dollie had bought their pie and coffee.
"Was it just last night?" Lucius asked absently, rubbing his eyes.
"You mean Daddy?"
Lucius shook his head. "Me and Dollie at the movies. Seems a whole lifetime passed between then and now."
Willem nodded. "How's Mama?"
"Coping."
"Young'uns?"
"Hit the babies hard. Sally can't stop crying. Jacob...." He shrugged. "I think Sam's relieved. Hard to tell with the girls. I will say they done their work this morning 'thowt a fuss. Pitched in like troopers. How long that'll last, who knows?"
Will nodded, fiddling with his coffee cup. "Do you need me to come back and help out?"
"Don't know yet. Sure will when the crops come in. For now, I hope to work half the day at the school, t'other half up at the farm. I was hoping to buy a truck, lighten the load a mite. That ain't gonna happen on half salary. And I wanted to buy Dollie a ring...."
"You asked her?"
Lucius chuckled, remembering his abortive proposal. "More like demanded." He explained. "Lord, what that girl does to me without even trying. Swear to God, I'm gonna bust if I can't have her soon."
"Maybe once she's got that ring?" He winked at his brother.
Lucius shrugged. "Dollie ain't like Patty, relaxed in her attitude. She's wound so tight, she's like to snap."
"Needs some lovin'," Will said with a knowing glimmer in his eyes.
"Hell, she ain't the only one. Startin' to feel a pinch." He shifted uncomfortably. "But I can't afford a ring anymore than I can a truck."
"I can't do jack diddly about a truck," Wil said. "But the ring I got sussed." He pulled a small cloth bag from his pocket. It was dark blue velvet with a shiny string drawing it closed. Will laid it in his brother's hand.
Lucius opened the bag, tipping it into his hand. Inside was a beautiful silver ring. It was similar to the one Will had made for Patty, only this one was covered in dragon flies, their iridescent wings sparkling in the sunlight.
"Mr. Prentice showed me how to make the enamel like that. Ain't it pretty?"
"It's beautiful! She'll love this! I can't pay you for this right now, Will."
"It's a wedding present. That, and my time building on your house."
Lucius thanked his brother. "You don't know what this means to me, Will."
"I do. Means your life's finally on track. Now you got the ring, you improve on that proposal."
The brothers drove back to the school. Will helped unload the pump and drove back to town. Lucius and Patrick replaced the pump, taking most of the afternoon.
Somehow, Lucius managed to get through the rest of his day. He graciously accepted condolences he didn't feel he deserved. He wasn't mourning, but his family was. Part of him felt guilty even acknowledging the kindly meant words. When school was over, Lucius rounded up his siblings and walked them up the narrow dirt track to their home. The yard was full of young children, horses, mules and rattletrap trucks. The clan had descended.
The girls and Joshua ran to greet them. Samuel and Lucius headed right to the barn to do the evening chores. Jane came and joined them a few minutes later. They worked without talking until everything was done. A short dousing at the outdoor pump refreshed them a little before going inside.
Their mother was surrounded by all the women in the clan. Sally huddled beside her. Jane took her outside to play with the other children. She protested slightly, but Jane was firm. A flash of her dark eyes at her mother, was full of reprimand.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tirgearr Tuesday: So Much It Hurts By Dellani Oakes

Tirgearr Tuesday: So Much It Hurts By Dellani Oakes: ISBN: 9781370737581 ASIN: B075KN2CZZ Kindle US ,  Kindle UK Smashwords Apple ,  Kobo ,  Nook Tirgearr Publishing Blurb: Alon...

Poplar Mountain Part 21 by Dellani Oakes


Luke's friend, Albert, tells him that he understands about his problems with his father. He offers to listen if Luke ever needs to talk about it.

It took a few moments for them to realize that adults and students alike stopped what they were doing and cheered them on. The sound eventually penetrated their little bubble of joy. Boys especially clapped, cheered and wolf whistled. Lucius set her down, mortified. Dollie took one look at him and completely lost her embarrassment. Instead of blushing, she held Lucius' hand and took a bow. Encouraging him to do the same, she took another bow. After her third, he finally joined her, laughing at his own mistake.
"Reckon I'll have to marry you now, Miss Dollie," he said with a laugh. "Folks will talk."
"I don't care one whit. I love you and I don't care who knows it."
"I'm thinking of your reputation, Dollie," Lucius said quietly.
"Lucius, you and I know, love's all that matters." She tugged on his hand until he met her eyes. "How's your mama?"
"She'll manage. 'Spect it'll be hard for a while. Young'uns didn't take it as bad as I thought, 'cept Sally. Samuel—well, he took a few licks hisself over the years."
"How about Jacob?"
Lucius took his head. "He's still too young. Daddy didn't cuff me till I was eight or nine. Jake ain't barely that. Mostly me and Sam protected him. The only good to come of this is my baby brother will never have to learn to hide from his daddy." He shoved his hands in his pockets, digging his toe into the dirt. "Dollie, I got to thinking."
"Oh?" She started walking downhill.
Lucius walked with her. She took his arm as they made their way down the dirt path.
"Am I gonna be a mean old bastard like my daddy? What if I raise my hand to our children?"
"You won't." She hugged his arm, bringing him close. "You'd never hit a child or me. You're not that kind of man. Only time you'd raise a hand would be against someone who deserved it."
"How do you know that, Dollie? What if I'm as bad a man as he was?"
She turned to face him, hands on her hips. "Lucius, do you drink?"
"Once in a blue moon, Dollie. You know that."
"Then you're already twice the man your daddy was. I believe the only time you'd hit someone is if they drove you to it. And they'd have to back you into a corner or threaten your life for you to do it."
"Not just my own," he said quietly, taking her hands. "If anyone came against you, I'd shore tear him apart with my bare hands."
Dollie sniffled, blinking back tears. Lucius wanted to kiss her again. She looked so beautiful and vulnerable. He didn't dare repeat his earlier performance. He'd hear about it from his mama when he got home, sure she'd already know about it.
Unable to pull himself away, he walked her to her office. As there was no one else around, he risked another kiss. Feeling slightly better, he set out to find Patrick so he knew what his job was for the day. He found his boss squatting by the swimming pool, examining the electric pump.
"Damn thing is plumb tuckered," Patrick said, rocking back on his heels. "I can't kick no more life into it."
"Want me to look at it?" Lucius offered.
"Don't see how it'll do no good," Patrick replied. "Best go see Mr. McDowell in Harlan. Told me last time I was there he had a rebuilt one he'd sell us cheap."
"Sure. I'll take Will's truck. He needs it back anyhow."
"Then how'll you get back?" Patrick asked him, a twinkle in his eyes.
"Will can bring me. Reckon he'd like to be up here anyhow."
"True. All right. You go on and do that and I'll yank this 'un here out."
"You got it, boss."
Lucius stopped by the office to let Dollie know he was heading into town.
"Does Will know?"
"I hope the sheriff told him. If not, reckon I'll tell him."
"Do you want me to go?"
He shook his head. "You got things to do. I'll be fine, Dollie. Don't worry none."
"But I do worry, Luke. Can't love someone without a worry or two."
He chuckled, kissing her hands. "I'll be back in a couple hours, I reckon. I'll try to stop by."
"I'll come up to the house later. I want to pay my respects to your mama."
"That'd be grand," he replied. Wanting to kiss her, he forced himself to leave.
The drive to Harlan provided him with the opportunity to yell and vent his anger like Albert suggested. He didn't cry. He knew eventually he'd shed tears for his father's passing—if not for the man himself—in time.
Will wasn't home, so Lucius tracked him down at work. His brother worked at the jeweler next to Mr. McDowell's shop. Lucius stepped in to speak to the mechanic before going in to find his brother. When Will saw his younger brother, he stopped talking to the man next to him and ran to Lucius' side. He grabbed his brother in a bone crushing hug.
"Thank God you're all right," he said with a happy sigh. "Tell me what happened."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes



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