I somehow skipped part 2 of Chapter 2 when sharing excerpts from my latest work in progress so I posted that part yesterday. Today I am posting the second part of Chapter 3.
For anyone new here, I post a piece of fiction or a serial story I am working on each Friday. The excerpt is a work in progress and will go through various drafts and rewrites before I publish it anywhere in the future.
To catch up with the rest of the story click HERE or find the link at the top of the page. You will also find a link to The Farmer’s Daughter under the “books for sale” tab. Or at least I hope you will because at the time of writing this, I was working on updating my blog header. On the page for The Farmer’s Daughter, you can read an excerpt and find out where to purchase a copy of the full novel.
His dad had given him the morning off, telling him Troy would fill in for him, but Jason hadn’t been able to sleep. His mind was still racing over his “proposal” to Ellie. Which hadn’t been a proposal, but she thought it was a proposal so . . . yeah. It was a proposal. And he was glad. He wanted to marry her, start a family with her, but they needed to start that life together off on the right foot and right now it was standing square on the wrong one.
He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but visions of what might happen when he talked to Ellie swirled in his mind. He pushed those images away by trying to focus on his to-do list for the day but then his mind spun off into a hundred what-ifs about the future of the farm.
At 6:30, he gave up on sleep and headed to the gym in Spencer. After a 30-minute workout it was on to the local Agway in Spencer. He needed some new fencing for the chicken pen and his mom had also asked for some for her garden to keep the deer away from her lettuce and green beans. He’d grab some breakfast at Denny’s Diner on the way back and try to take his mind off on trying to figure out the right time to talk to Ellie.
He nodded at Daniel Stanton on his way out of the Agway. “Mornin’.”
“Hey, Jason. You’re in town early.”
“Yeah, had the morning off from the barn.”
“Troy filling in?”
“Yeah. Hopefully it will still be standing when I get back.”
Daniel laughed, pulling his green John Deere cap further down on his head. “Let’s hope so. Troy is a bit spacy at times. Hey, how’s Alex holding up this morning?”
Jason shrugged, reaching for the fencing from one of the employees, a teenager, probably about 16, but everyone was looking younger and younger to Jason these days. “I don’t know. Haven’t seen him yet today. Why?”
Daniel laughed. “Nothing. Just had his hands full last night when he left Marty’s.”
Jason cocked an eyebrow. “Hands full?”
“Yeah. With Jessie Landry.”
Jason cleared his throat as he lifted the fencing into his truck. “Oh. I don’t know.” He grinned, trying to hide how uncomfortable he was with the idea of Alex bringing someone like Jessie Landry back to their place. “I’ll have to ask him later when I see him.”
Daniel nudged Jason in the arm with his elbow. “He’s probably still trying to recover. She’s a firecracker. See you tomorrow at the gym?”
Jason loaded the last of the fencing. “Unless something more important comes up.”
Like if I have to slap some sense into Alex instead, he thought, slamming the tailgate closed.
When he pulled the truck into the driveway an hour later, after a stop the diner and his parents to drop off the fencing, Alex’s red and black pickup was still parked in front of the house.
Not a good sign.
In fact, it might be a sign he was back to his old ways.
The door to the old farmhouse needed to be painted. It creaked open.
It needs to be oiled too.
Jason didn’t close it quietly. It slammed hard behind him and he took the old wooden stairs beyond the living room two at a time.
He pounded on the bedroom door across from the bathroom with his fist “Alex! Yo! You gettin’ up today?”
A groggy groan emanated from behind the door.
“I’ve already been to the barn and back,” Jason said. “And the gym. And the hardware store. And Denny’s.”
He heard a thud and then . . . more silence.
Then finally, “Yeah. Comin’. Just . . .” Another groan. “I’ll be right down.”
Yep. Alex is definitely back to his old ways.
That meant late nights at the bar, strange women calling his cellphone, and hangovers in the barn that Jason tried to distract his dad from.
Jason made sure to slam cupboard doors and clank a spoon loudly into a bowl downstairs.
Footsteps on the stairs moved slow but steady until Alex slumped into a chair at the table.
Jason tried to remind himself what Alex did with his life wasn’t his business. Still, he hated to see him turn back to a path that had left him vulnerable to be hurt and hurt others. Plus, Jason’s family was personally invested in Alex now, not only as an employee but essentially another member of the family.
Alex nodded. “Sure.”
Jason pushed the cereal toward him and reached for milk in the refrigerator.
“You go out last night?”
Alex poured milk on his cereal without looking up. “Yeah.”
“Daniel Stanton said you left the bar last night with Jessie Landry hanging all over you.”
Alex scowled at his bowl, still not looking up. “If Daniel Stanton already told you I was at the bar, then why did you ask if I went out?”
Jason shrugged, folding his arms across his chest. “So, you ended up back up here?”
“I didn’t see her this morning when I got up. Is she still asleep?”
“Yeah. I mean, no. I – sent her home. Or rather, she left. In a bit of a huff, really.”
“So, you didn’t sleep with her?”
Alex shook his head, shoving a spoonful of cereal into his mouth.
Jason leaned back, reaching for his coffee cup on the counter and sipping from it. He winced. It was cold, which wasn’t surprising since it was four hours old. “Really? Well, that’s new. What happened?”
Alex glared, milk dripping down his chin. He dragged the back of his hand across his mouth.
“What does that mean, Jase? You act like I’m some man-whore or something. It’s not like I’m bedding girls every night.”
Jason laughed and shook his head. “Not every night, no.”
“Actually, if you’ll remember, I haven’t brought a girl back here in almost two years. Maybe even longer.”
Jason rubbed his hand across the stubble on his chin. He probably shouldn’t push the issue any further, but with the way Alex had been acting around Molly, he needed to know if Alex was looking at her as another conquest.
“So, you’re not bringing them back to our place, maybe you’re — ”
“I’m not,” Alex snapped, shoving the last of the cereal into his mouth and gulping the remaining milk down.
“Okay. Okay.” Jason leaned back against the counter, crossed one leg over another. “Don’t be so touchy.”
The chair tipped back as Alex pushed himself back from the table and stood abruptly.
“I’m not the jerk you act like I am, Jason.” His jaw was tight. He turned and walked back toward the stairs. “I’m going to get a shower.
He knew he pushed Alex too far, but he also knew Alex had changed for the better over the last few years and he didn’t want to see all his hard work go down the drain. Alex had told him more than once over the years that he wanted to be a better man. He wanted to drink less and work harder and that’s what he’d been doing up until last night.
Jason rolled his eyes and shook his head, pouring the coffee down the drain. What was he even doing? Considering his own past history of lying he had no right to act like Alex’s moral guide. He’d never developed the drinking the problem Alex had and he definitely hadn’t gone out with as many women as Alex, but he still wasn’t any better than Alex simply because he attended church and Alex didn’t.
He’d tried hard the last few years to forget that period of time in college, especially that one night, to redeem himself, and create a better version of himself by attending church, leading Bible studies, taking care of his family. The Bible said he didn’t need to work for his forgiveness, but he couldn’t shake the feeling he did.
It should matter more to him what God thought, but there was no denying that to him nothing mattered if Ellie didn’t forgive him for what he’d done.
What Ellie would think of him when she found out? Would she understand that Lauren Phillips had meant nothing to him? That his time with Lauren had been a distraction from his hurt, his loneliness, his confusion over why Ellie had wanted a break in their relationship?
He was going to have to find out soon what Ellie thought because he wanted that all on the table before they announced their engagement. There was a good chance when Ellie heard it all she would decide she didn’t want to be engaged anymore anyhow.