Excerpt from a book I plan to finish someday.
The massive door slammed. “Hey, Plum!”
“Hey yourself, Plum!” His uncle and aunt had been making up nonsense greetings for as long as he could remember. Never with others, just between them. Fruits meant happy, good news, his uncle’s wide smile and his aunt blushing.
“Where’s my princess? Or did she get promoted to empress by now?” Bets giggled as she ducked behind Momma’s chair. Betsy squealed as Quentin gave her hair a tug over Beth’s shoulder.
“What are you hearing?” His uncle sat behind him and looked over his shoulder toward the trees.
“Just the wind.”
“Saying anything I oughta hear?”
“Nah.” He was always a little embarrassed when his uncle asked about the things he heard. Not because he was mocking, but because he wasn’t.
“Alright, then. Keep me posted, eh?”
“Sure.” He couldn’t help smiling. His uncle was the biggest man he knew and yet he seemed small. No, not small, quiet. Young. Something like that. To look at him you’d expect a bear or a bull, but he was more like a cat, a big friendly cat.
He’d said he’d leave his old life, settle down, marry her. She wanted to believe him, wanted to be his wife.
It had taken time. He’d said it over and over. As they walked in the meadow at the edge of town. As they sat by the fire at Mrs. Wilson’s cafe on damp days. As he’d walked her almost all the way home.
She’d finally believed that he’d changed, that she could marry him and be happy.
Her pa was another matter.
“Men like him don’t change, Lacey.”
“You did.” She didn’t make it a habit to challenge him, but since her mother’s death she’d grown bolder. Her pa pretended not to notice, just went on as if she hadn’t changed.
“I was never like him. And you’ll never marry him, I’ll see to that.”
She had wondered why her pa could change but wouldn’t allow it in another man.
And now, standing at the front of the little church where the town nearly spilled into the meadow, she wondered where he was; where they both were.
# # #
Meanwhile deep in the woods, two men stood, guns drawn, in a level place at the edge of the stream.
Their guns were not aimed at each other.