Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Daughter Chapter 21

I started to post Chapter 21 last night to schedule for this morning and then realized I hadn’t actually finished Chapter 21. Oops. So I finished it this morning. I’d written most of it in my head already anyhow, which is probably why I thought I had finished it.

Anyhow, as regular readers know, my fiction Thursday and Fridays are usually novellas or novels in progress, which means there will be changes before I publish it in the future as an ebook or paperback. One change I have a feeling is going to come when I rework The Farmer’s Daughter is moving Jason and Ellie’s story into a separate novella in between The Farmer’s Daughter, book one of the Spencer Chronicles, and The Librarian, book two of the Spence Chronicles. That novella will most likely be called . . . The Farmer’s Son because I am oh so original. *wink*

With that being said, I don’t want to leave my blog readers hanging so I’ll still try to keep Jason and Ellie’s story in the chapters I share here. My thought is that if I break this off into a novella in the future, I can flush out Jason and Ellie’s characters more without bogging down Alex and Molly and Franny’s story in this book.

Sometimes I think it’s silly I share these books as I write them, but then I think “well, life is short. Just have fun with it.” Plus I like the feedback from my few readers because it helps me decide and craft the remainder of the story (and sometimes it helps me decide to chop off chapters all together).

Thanks for sticking around this long (if you did). I’ll be quiet now and get on with the story.

Chapter 21

“How much trouble is the farm in, Robert?”

Franny’s question sent Robert’s eyes up to the ceiling in frustration. He was grateful his back was to his mother the same way it had been when his sister had cornered him a few weeks ago. How did the Tanner women have such a sixth sense about the bad news of life? He poured himself a cup of coffee and carried it with his mother’s tea to her kitchen table.

“Hannah been talking to you?”

Franny sipped the tea, reached across the table and spooned a heaping spoonful into her cup. “She’s been hinting, but not exactly talking. You know how she is.”

Robert definitely knew how she was. He sat on the chair across from his mother and sipped his coffee once, twice, three times before he spoke. He sat the cup down, cupping his hands around it, looking at it instead of his mother.

“We’re in a tough spot, Mom.”

“We’ve been in tough spots before.”

“This may be the toughest. I don’t know how much longer we can hang on, to be honest.”

Franny stirred a spoonful of honey into her tea and sipped it, waiting for her son to continue. She knew he would. He always did. Like Ned, he was thoughtful, contemplating the words before he said them.

“What I don’t get is why I can’t keep this farm running the same way Dad did.” Robert looked up at his Mom. “I took out a loan. Dad would never have done that. He only spent what he had or what he saved up for.”

When Robert fell into silence again, looking out the kitchen window into the field across the road, the same field his father had farmed for years and his father before him, Franny decided she needed to offer her son the encouragement she’d been unable to offer since she’d lost Ned. She had been a wife, yes, but she was still a mother and she needed to start acting like one, even if her children were fully grown.

“This isn’t the same farm your dad had, Robert. You’ve added more property, other farmers and farmland. You and your dad and brother did the right thing trying to diversify the business. How were you to know that milk prices would fall even further than they did in 1985? None of this is your fault. It’s circumstances out of your control.”

“No, your dad never took loans out. But milk prices were better back then. Other expenses were lower. He could manage to save up. You don’t have that luxury anymore.” Franny leaned over and laid her hand on Robert’s. “You’re doing the best you can, son. I know that. Farming runs in your blood. You’ll figure this out.”

Robert’s eyes stung with tears and he looked away quickly.

His voice broke when he spoke. “Thank you, Mom.”

“Don’t be afraid to cry, Robert. There’s nothing wrong with crying.”

Robert nodded but he still couldn’t look at her. If he saw her eyes, the compassionate eyes of the woman who raised him and his sister and  brother, who held the family and the farm together for his while life and who had suffered so much over the last few years, he might completely break down and he wasn’t about to do that. Instead he laid his hand over hers, swallowed hard, focused his attention on the field and nodded again.

“You’re a good boy, Robert.”

“Thank you, Mama,” he managed finally through the tears.


Alex’s head was pounding. His mouth was dry. He felt like his eyes had been glued shut.

Squinting against the sunlight pouring in from his bedroom window he recognized the feeling, which he hadn’t had in years.

He definitely had a hangover.

“Alex! You ever getting up?”

Jason’s voice outside his bedroom door was loud.

Too loud.

“I’ve already been to the barn and back.”

“Yeah. Comin’. Just . . .” Alex rubbed his hands across his face and forced himself to sit up. The pain in his head throbbed now, a steady pulse of pain that felt as if his brain would push out through his forehead. “Yeah. Be right down.”

Jason banged cupboard doors and loudly clanked spoons into bowls when he reached the kitchen. Alex winced against the noise, each clank another pain shooting through his head.


“Yeah. Sure.”

Jason leaned back against the counter and watched his friend sleepily pour cereal from the box to the bowl. Alex’s hair was pushed up in several different directions, dark circles creased the skin under his eyes, and he was moving slower than a zombie in a cheap b-movie.

“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.”

“If Daniel Stanton already told you I was at the bar, then why did you ask if I went out?”

Jason shrugged, folding his massive arms across his massive chest. Alex wasn’t always pleased at how massive his friend was, especially when he wasn’t sure where a conversation was going and how his massive friend might choose to end it.

“So, you ended up back up here?”

Alex kept his eyes on the cereal. “Yeah.”

“I didn’t see her this morning when I got up.”

“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. “Really? Well, that’s new. What happened?”

Alex glared, milk dripping down his chin.

“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.”

“So, you’re not taking 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 looked quizzically at Alex, folding his arms across his chest again. One leg was casually crossed of the other one. “What’s up with you anyhow? You’re touchy this morning.”

Alex wiped the milk off his chin with the back of his hand.

“I’m just not the jerk you act like I am,” he grumbled, walking toward the backstairs that led to the upstairs bathroom. “I’m going to get a shower and head up to the farm to help your dad.”

Standing in the shower, the hot water kicking up steam around him and pouring over his bare skin, Alex cursed under his breath, knowing his best friend knew better than anyone what a pig he’d been much of his life; how he’d distracted himself from the hard moments in his life with the company of a cold beer or a warm, sexually aroused woman more times than he cared to admit.

He leaned his hands against the wall of the shower and let the water pour over his head and back, wishing the hot streams making paths across his body could wash away the shame the same way it was washing away the sweat from the night before.

After drying off and pulling on his usual faded blue jeans and a t-shirt he felt more alert and moved quickly downstairs, guzzling a glass of orange juice before reaching for his keys.

Jason was still in the driveway when he walked outside, checking under the hood of his truck.

Alex stood by the truck, sliding his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. He cleared his throat. “Hey, sorry I was so sharp earlier.”

Jason looked up from where he had leaned over the truck with a wrench and shook his head slightly. “Actually, I’m sorry I harassed you about your night out. It’s none of my business.”

The sun was brighter than Alex had realized when he first stepped outside. He winched and reached in his front shirt pocket for his sunglasses, sliding them on. “Everything go okay with Ellie last night?”

Jason sighed, which was a weird sound coming from such a masculine figure. “Yeah. Sort of.” He glanced at Alex while he loosened a bolt on the engine. “She thinks I proposed.”

Alex lifted an eyebrow. “Thinks you proposed? Um, I might need a little more of an explanation on this one. Usually a guy proposes or he doens’t.”

 “Well, I was going to propose but I needed to talk to her about something first and then she brought it up and then she just thought . . . you know what? It’s too confusing to explain.”

“So, you’re engaged. That’s great. Why don’t you look happier? Don’t men usually look happier when they get engaged?”

Jason used a rag to wipe grease off his hands as talked. “It is. I guess. It’s just . . .”

“You’re nervous about getting married?”

“A little but it’s not that. It’s just, I’ve never told Ellie about what happened in college.”

Alex spoke through a yawn, his expression clueless. “What happened in college?”

Jason starred at him for a few moments with first furrowed eyebrows then raised ones. Alex continued to look blank for a full minute then his eyes widened in realization. “Wait. You mean what happened with Emily Barker? You never told Ellie about that?”

Jason shook his head and tossed the dirty rag into the front seat of his truck. “I was really embarrassed, man. That experience was a low point for me and it wasn’t even —ugh, just never mind. The point is that I never told Ellie because I was embarrassed and because I didn’t know how she would feel about it.”

“But you guys weren’t even dating then.”

“I know but it still was wrong, Alex. That’s not how I wanted my first time to be. I wanted it to be with someone I loved. Someone I planned to spend my whole life with. And yeah, I know it sounds lame, but I wanted it to be with someone I was married to.”

Alex shrugged one shoulder and smiled. “Yeah, it sounds a little lame, but it also sounds really sweet and romantic.” He made a face and shuddered. “Yuck. Dude, I think you’re rubbing off on me with all your sentimental crud. Next Thing I know we’ll be watching chick flicks together.”

“Sleepless in Seattle isn’t bad.”

Alex held up his hands. “Jase, I am not watching chick flicks with you. Calm down.”

He grinned and then realized even grinning made his head hurt. He let the grin fade, partially because of the headache and partially because Jason was leaning back against the front of the truck now, one arm propped up on the metal frame, looking at the ground, thinking.

“Jason, you know Ellie loves you. She’s going to understand, okay? Just talk to her.”

Jason nodded, but didn’t look up from the dirt. “Yeah, I hope she does.” He lifted his gaze to look at Alex, his eyes glistening. “Because if she doesn’t . . .” He shook his head, swallowed hard and looked out at the fields across from the house. “I don’t know if I’m going to make it without her.”

14 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Daughter Chapter 21

  1. Wow you are gifted and after fully reading this post I’m hooked!!
    I’m gonna have to go to chapter 1 and start from the beginning ❤️…and yes like your other readers said now I’m curious about not only the farm’s future but Jason and Ellie too!!


  2. I still haven’t gotten caught up yet…but I refuse to let that stop me, lol. I am back on the reading bandwagon (I hope so anyways!). Keep writing! Some people will like it, some won’t 🙂 But as long as you are enjoying the process, then that is what matters! God Bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Sunday Bookends: cat routines, cat stories, and ‘chick shows’ – Boondock Ramblings

  4. I agree with Kat and Bettie. I need to know what’s going on with Jason and Ellie, too! And I feel so bad for Jason. I want to hug his fears away! And I’m still hanging on with worry about the farm…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, looks like I need to finish Jason and Ellie’s story during this installment then! 🙂 I just worry that I have too many chapters, but then I know I’ll be editing and tightening and even making chapters a little longer for the final book. I try to make them more bite sized for the blog. Thanks for the input and I’ll get working some more on their story. I have a lot of it in my head but not down on paper yet. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I read Kat’s comment here, and I totally agree! I need to know what is happening with Jason and Elle. Lol. Seriously though, I wanted to tell you that your stories are so engaging. Start to Finish. I am reading another set of stories, now, and I get so frustrated with the story-lines and just want to jump to the end and find out how it all wraps up. But not with your stories–you make the whole story something I want to read, slowly, and enjoy getting to know the characters. I know that’s a lot to say here, but I wanted to encourage you to keep writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Bettie! Your comment really touched me because last night I was sitting up thinking how silly I feel sometimes just writing these for my blog. I often feel like they aren’t very good, are rambling or boring. I like taking my time and developing characters because those are the books I like to read, but I don’t know if others will like that. Then I remind myself that everyone has different tastes so some people might like my books and some not. That’s life.

      I don’t have a traditional publishing deal, not sure I want one, can’t really afford editors or promoting. All that bothers me and makes me think I’m not a real “author.” Last night I was like “Lord, is this just stupid or is it okay just to have fun? What do you think?” I think God said “Stop overthnking and go to bed…” 😉

      I always like reading serial stories but don’t find them very often in the blog world.

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      • Lol, I have heard Him say similar things when I am in an overthinking mood! But I know that I am being blessed by your stories, so they are not just only for you! And I think many others are blessed also. We need good stories in this crazy world, words that lift our hearts up to see that God still loves people!! So thank you for sharing your heart of stories with us.


  6. When you mentioned giving Jason and Ellie their own novella, I panicked a little. I really, really, really need to know what happens with them! So I’m glad you’ll still be including their story here, but completely understand their’s is a little too much for the current story. Still, I really like how it’s all tangled together. Personally, I love multiple story lines in one book, but it really is easier to follow them when they’re separate. Dying to know how it goes when Jason finally tells Ellie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like books with a lot of storylines myself, but I know it can get confusing so I’m trying to decide how much do I add or delete from one book? I still haven’t made a final decision. I like the connections between the characters, though and it’s hard not to tell everyone’s story all at once but I have to stop somewhere. My challenge now is how to carry some of the stories over to book two.

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      • That’s a tough one to solve. I know some authors have gone with doing sequels going back over the same events, but from the other perspective and others have had so much overlap it’s almost not worth it. And then there are some where the series was planned out completely, but that only meant so many stories were stretched too far out. Good luck figuring it out! I’m sure you’ll hit on something that will make sense.

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