Thursday, July 04, 2019

Poplar Mountain by Dellani Oakes Part 10


The next morning, Lucius' brother, Samuel, asks Dollie if she's seen his father around the school. He left home, during the night, and hasn't been back.

"We don't think your pa had anything to do with that fire. Your brothers spoke to Sheriff Squires last night."
Samuel nodded, shuffling his feet under the table. He leaned close, whispering. "I'm skeered, Miss Dollie. Pa's not right. He's real mad about somethin'. Ain't just Will and Luke. There's somethin' on his mind."
"Do you know what?"
"No notion. He won't say, and honest, I don't much wanna get in his way long enough to ask him. He's in a fightin' mood." He rubbed his chin as if he'd already experienced Big Earl's wrath.
"I'm sure he'll turn up, Sam. Don't worry about it." She patted his hand, squeezing his fingers.
Sam's ears turned red. He wasn't immune to Dollie's beauty anymore than his brother was. However, Luke had staked his claim. Not only that, Dollie was several years older, and treated him like a child. It was no end of bother to Samuel, who thought there wasn't a woman around as pretty as Miss Dollie.
"I'll ask Mr. Bertram about your pa. I'll see what I can find out. You come by the office this afternoon and we'll talk."
"Thanks, Miss Dollie." He touched his brow as if tipping a hat and dashed for the door.
She was finishing her second cup of coffee when two tall men walked into the dining hall. One headed toward the kitchen, the other let his gaze travel the room until he spotted her. Smiling, Lucius walked over and sat across from her at the long table. One of the girls brought him coffee. He thanked her with a nod.
"You look mighty pretty today, Miss Dollie."
Dollie simpered, casting her eyes downward as she blushed a delicate pink. Her coffee colored hair was tied back with a pink ribbon. Her top was a matching pink, scattered with pastel flowers. Her skirt was a darker shade of the same pink. It was an outfit she'd made herself and this was the first time she'd worn it.
"Don't believe I've seen that there before. Pink suits you, Miss Dollie."
"Why, thank you, Mr. Henry."
Lucius chuckled. "I done it again. You look lovely, Dollie." He took her hand across the table.
Completely wrapped up in one another, they didn't notice that sounds in the kitchen and dining room had changed. People watched them expectantly, waiting. Lucius held Dollie's hand a moment longer before picking it up and kissing it. A collective sigh went up from the women, but the couple were completely unaware of anything but one another.
Patty watched from the kitchen doorway. She grabbed Will's arm, hopping up and down excitedly. He grinned at his brother. They'd had a long talk on the way in from town this morning. It seemed his advice had taken root. Lucius was making progress. Will squeezed Patty's fingers. Neither wanted to speak for fear they'd break the spell between their siblings.
"Dollie, I'd be pleased if you'd go to the moving picture show with me this evening," Lucius said carefully, just as Will had coached him. "There's a film I thought you might like to see. I remember you said how much you liked books by the Bronte sisters...." He was extemporizing now. On shakier ground, he hesitated.
Dollie's eyes glowed excitedly. "You don't mean that Wuthering Heights is finally here?"
He grinned broadly. "I do indeed. I recollect you said how much you'd like to see it. I'd be mighty proud if you'd go with me."
"Oh, Lucius! I'd love to go! Thank you!" She kissed him on the cheek. Suddenly realizing they had an audience, she jumped away like she'd been shocked.
Leaving her tray on the table, she scurried from the room to the sanctity of her office. Lucius sat at the table, stunned. Had it gone badly? Had it gone well? He didn't know. Dumbfounded, he stared at his coffee cup, wondering.
Willem slid onto the bench across from him. "So, she's going?"
"Yeah, I reckon. She said yes, give me a kiss and run off like Old Scratch was on her tail."
Will chuckled. "You're dumber than dumb. Course she did. She kissed you—in public."
"Should I go talk to her?"
"Patty's going. She's got to get on to work anyhow. You done good, little brother. Keep talking like that, you'll be a married man in no time."
Lucius wasn't sure what to think. He wanted to marry Dollie. He loved her with a passion he didn't know existed. But he wasn't sure he could live through the courtship. If she took off like that every time they kissed, he'd spend all his spare time chasing her down.
"Did I do something wrong to make her take off like that?"
"From what I saw, you did everything just right. Some women are more skittish than others. Now Patty, she'd have kissed me smack on the mouth and marched out proud as a peacock with its tail spread. Miss Dollie, she's more shy-like."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes Dellani Oakes, 


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