Boondock Ramblings

Fiction Friday: Harvesting Hope (formerly The Farmers’ Sons) Chapter 13

I almost didn’t post this chapter this week because it will probably be changed, maybe even gutted, before the final publication later this summer. I knew if I didn’t post today, though, I would lose my consecutive posting streak. Today makes eight days straight of posting. Amazing, right? No, it isn’t. I know. My life is sad. *wink*

Seriously, though, it is possible this chapter will change quite a bit before publication. If you would like to catch up and read the previous chapters I have posted here, you can click HERE.

For those who are new here, I post a chapter from a fiction story I am working on every Friday and somewhere down the road I publish the chapters as a full novel on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and sometimes other digital services).

You can catch the first book in this series on Amazon.


Chapter 13

“Come on, Ells Bells.” Judi’s tone was mocking “You can’t be angry at me forever.”

Ellie’s hands tightened on the steering wheel and her jaw tightened. Why did her sister have to be such an immature jerk all the time?

Judi pulled her hair into a ponytail. “I’m going with you to help Dad milk cows. At 4 a.m. This makes up for me not being at the hospital, right? You can lighten up now.”

And you can be quiet now, Judi.

She chose not to respond out loud, instead pushing her foot down on the accelerator to make the trip go faster. She was too tired to deal with Judi.

Fortunately, Judi popped her earbuds in for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately, she sang along to her music loudly and off-key.

There wasn’t any time to talk to Judi once they arrived at the farm and Ellie was grateful for that. Their dad was already in the barn and Jason’s truck was in the driveway. She sent Judi to prepare the feed for the calves. That should keep her busy. And quiet even longer.

Jason had been coming every morning and afternoon since the accident, even though her dad had told him he and Patrick could handle it. As far as she understood from her dad, he was helping with the milking at their farm and then heading back to his farm to help Molly and Alex, putting in a full day on both Tanner’s farms and the farm store, and also going on some calls with the fire department.

Watching him lift a back of feed supplement, his biceps bulging like a body builder’s, she wondered when he found time to sleep. Uttering the words, “we need a break” had been easy on the surface but now, at the sight of his back muscles rippling his T-shirt, she couldn’t deny how hard it was to ignore the physical attraction she’d always had for him. That attraction wasn’t easily severed, no matter the status of their relationship. She turned away quickly, focusing on cleaning the udders of the cows. Her dad followed her, hooking up the milking machines.

She spent the rest of the morning doing her best to avoid Jason. When he brushed past her on his way to the back of the barn to retrieve the scraper for clearing out the stalls, she felt that familiar surge of butterflies in her stomach. Trying her best to ignore it, she kept working and didn’t look up. She couldn’t risk her attraction to him making her forget what he’d done.

A trip to the birthing stalls in the back of the barn should distract her until the milking and stall cleaning was done.

The tiny calf next to its’ mother was still wet in the first stall when she turned the corner.

“Well, hey there Sunflower. Looks like Dad was right. You dropped today, huh?”

She stepped into the stall and the cow rose from her laying position. A quick look at the space between its legs confirmed it was a heifer calf.

“Hey, there, little girl. Guess you’ll be staying with us. Hope you’re a good milker like your mama.”

When Ellie turned, she noticed a tremble in the mother’s legs. She touched the cow’s side, sliding her hand across her stomach and neck. The tremble was spreading. When she touched the cow’s ears and felt how cold they were, she knew the cow was in trouble.

 “Hey, girl. It’s okay. We’ll get you some help.”

She stepped out of the stall and called across to the other section of the barn. “Dad, do you still keep the CMPK in the back room?”

Tom leaned over a stall. “Yeah. Whose got milk fever?”

“Sunflower.”

She heard a quiet sigh. “I’ll be back to help.”

Jason’s voice came from somewhere behind her. “I got it, Tom.” She flinched and turned to see him walking toward her, rubbing dirt off his hands onto his jeans. She’d always wondered how he looked so amazing even covered in dirt and cow manure. Today was no different.

She didn’t really want his help, but this was a two-person job. As she ran the bottle of calcium under warm water, she thought about how hard it would have been for her dad to help her get the IV into the cow with his ribs wrapped up. While she would have preferred Jason wasn’t there, she was glad he was now that Sunflower needed treatment.

Jason was waiting with Sunflower, rubbing her neck, when Ellie came back with the bottle of calcium and mineral mixture.

“You want to hold her head or put the IV in?” he asked.

Bumping her hip against Sunflower’s rump to encourage her to enter the recovery stall, she handed Jason the bottle and tubing at the same time. “I’ve got her head.”

“Sure you can hold her?”

Her scowl was his answer.

He shrugged. “Okay then.”

Ellie climbed over the metal fencing, stroked Sunflower’s head for a few seconds. Then she threaded the rope attached to the cow’s harness through the fence slats, winding the rope around the top bar and pulling tight until Sunflower’s head was pulled up and to the side, exposing her neck.

“Got it?” Jason had already knelt down, the needle in his hand, ready to insert it.

She nodded and he tapped along the cow’s neck with a finger, searching for the main vein.

Sunflower jerked her head when he tried to put it in. The needle grazed her neck. Blood hit the floor and Jason’s shoes.

“She didn’t like that.” He grimaced. “Tighten that rope so she stays still.”

Ellie’s jaw tightened. “It is tight.”

“Not tight enough.” Jason’s voice was about as tight as her jaw. “She’s going to jerk that head back and I’m going to hit the wrong vein. If you can’t handle it then you can put the needle in, and I’ll hold her head.”

“I can handle it, Jason,” she snapped. “I’ve done it plenty times before, you know that.”

Jason held a hand up. “Okay. Sorry.” His words had softened, but his tone hadn’t. “Calm down. Let’s just get this taken care of. She’s looking more unsteady by the moment. I don’t want to risk her dropping down.”

Ellie jerked the rope against the top rail of the fence, pulling the cows head even higher. Reaching around she patted the cow’s head. She didn’t want to take her frustration with Jason out on the cow, who already wasn’t feeling well.

The needle punctured the neck and Jason straightened. “Got it.” He lifted the bottle and tubing up to let the liquid drip down. “She should be feeling better soon. Keep the rope tight.”

“Yes, sir, bossman,” Ellie hissed through clench teeth.

Jason raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“Nothing.”

Jason looked at her over the extended arm as he held the bottle. “I’m just trying to help here, El. I’m here for your dad, not you, so you can check the attitude.”

His words clipped out at her fast and tight. Not even her anger at him could distract her from the flecks of brown in his green irises. She  clenched her jaw again, her lips pressed in a thin line as she held the rope tight and turned her head away, keeping her eyes focused on the sun rising above the horizon.

Five minutes later the bottle was empty, and Jason slid the IV out. “Done.” He glared at Ellie, wrapping the IV hose around the empty bottle. “You’re free to go, my lady.”

She glared back but when he lifted his shirt to wipe the sweat off his brow, she saw the skin just above the edge of his jeans and an involuntary rush of delight coursed through her. Goosebumps slid across her skin and her heartrate increased.

When he walked past her, she smelled the musky scent of his aftershave and her stomach flip-flopped. Why couldn’t her brain remind the rest of her body she was angry at him?

 “Tom, if you don’t need anything else from me, I’m going to head out.”

Tom leaned back against the wall by the barn door, one arm wrapped around his middle. Ellie wondered when he’d last taken his painkillers.

“No problem, Jason. You’ve been a great help. The girls can finish up.”

Jason nodded, glancing at Ellie. “I’m sure they can. I can head over this afternoon for the milking if you like.”

Didn’t he have an entire farming enterprise to help run? Why did he keep volunteering to help her dad?

“I’ll be here,” she said. “We should be fine.”

Jason tipped his head and kept walking. “Alright then.” His tone was cold.

Ellie walked to the doorway and watched him pull away, emotions jockeying for position. In the end, sadness won over and clutched at her throat, squeezing tight. It’s not like she could blame Jason for being angry. Even she knew she wasn’t exactly being fair about all this. He’d apologized repeatedly, asked to sit down and talk to her, and when she’d repelled all his efforts, he’d given her space. Was it his fault that now she was interpreting his accommodating her as indifference to what he’d done and how it had affected her?

A high-pitched whistle sounded in the barn behind her. “Daaaang, El. You could have cut the tension in here with a knife.” Judi’s laugh grated on her nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. “The only question is if it was angry tension or,” Judi lowered her eyelids and voice seductively. “Sexual tension.”

Tom cleared his throat. “That’s enough, Judi. Did you finishing feeding the calves?”

Judi folded her arms across her chest and rolled her eyes. “Almost but I have eight more. Come on, El. Help your little sister out. Melanie’s taking me to a restaurant in Kirkwood for lunch and I need to hurry up and get this done so I can get a shower.”

Help her out? Sure, why not? It wasn’t like Ellie hadn’t already done most of the work anyhow while Judi complained about the feed not mixing and the mud oozing around her boots. Anyone who didn’t know Judi would have thought she hadn’t grown up on a farm.

“Fine.” Ellie stomped through the barn door and turned toward the calf enclosures. “Let’s add another thing to my list of chores since you’re morning has been full of such arduous effort.”

Judi made a face as she followed her sister. “There you go with the big words again. Making sure you let us all know you’re the smartest one in the room. Or should I say the barn.”

Ellie ignored her sister’s jab. She didn’t have the mental energy for it after her verbal sparing with Jason. Judi followed her, though, and wouldn’t let up. She was like a dog with a bone now, or like that vindictive swan who had followed Ellie around the pond, screeching and flapping its wings after Ellie accidentally disturbed it while it was nesting.

“Seriously, El. What’s with you and Jason anyhow? If looks could kill he’d be six feet under by now.”

Ellie picked up a feeding bottle and tuned Judi out. As if she was going to tell her sister what had actually happened, how she felt betrayed because Jason had given to someone else what Ellie had always wanted for herself — his first sexual experience. Even saying it to herself sounded ridiculous. What kind of never-ending mocking would she endure from Judi if she admitted it out loud?

 Judi didn’t subscribe to the same values Ellie did. She marched to the beat of her own drummer and though they’d never discussed it, Ellie guessed by comments Judi had made in the past that saving herself for marriage wasn’t on Judi’s list of priorities.

“Okay.” Judi tightened the band holding her ponytail in place. “Don’t tell me. If you want to be a childless spinster for the rest of your life, what do I care?”

Ellie’s stomach tightened, a wave of nausea overtaking her. Why couldn’t Judi leave well enough alone? Why did she have to bring children into it? She had a knack for finding Ellie’s vulnerable spot and thrusting comments at her like daggers, clearly thirsty for the fatal blow.

Ellie looked up from the calf she was feeding, eyes flashing. “What are you doing here, Judi?”

Judi smirked, picking up a bottle. “Whatever do you mean, dear sister? I’m feeding calves. Helping our father. Being responsible. Making you happy.”

Her snarky responses weren’t soothing Ellie’s already bristling attitude.

“No.” Ellie snapped the word out, looking over her shoulder. “Why are you here? Back in Spencer again? Shouldn’t you be in the city eating at fancy restaurants, club hopping, and pretending your life is better than everyone else’s?”

Judi averted her gaze but kept the smirk in place. “What? You don’t like having your baby sister here in person for you to look down on? Would you prefer I leave so you can have all the attention like normal and abhor me from a distance instead?”

The bottle made a loud sucking noise as Ellie yanked the nipple from the calf’s mouth, preparing to face Judi and offer her a retort. Milk dripped down the calf’s chin, though, and she bawled out a pathetic cry until Ellie popped the nipple back in.

“Yeah, like I’m the one always craving for attention.” Ellie kept her back to Judi. “I don’t know why I even bother talking to you. All you ever do is blame me for your inability to function as an actual adult. Grab that other bottle and start feeding the calves on the other side or we’ll never get done.”

Judi snatched up the other bottle and snorted a derisive laugh. “You know all about blaming, don’t you, El-bell? Like how you’re blaming Jason for your breakup when it’s probably something you did — like refusing to put out unless he proposed.”

Ellie dropped the bottle. The sting of the slap startled her as much as it did Judi.  Judi gasped in a sharp breath, her expression emanating shock for a split second before it morphed into amusement.

Ellie looked at her hand as if it was a part of someone else’s body. The mark on Judi’s cheek blazed bright red. The tears that streaked her face didn’t come from pain but laughter.

“Wow.” She looked proud of herself. She could barely speak between the laughter. “Pushed the right button that time, didn’t I? Looks like Elizabeth Alexandria isn’t so perfect after all.”

Ellie clenched her burning hand tight at her side and pivoted quickly, stomping back toward the house, heart pounding. Judi’s mocking laugh haunted her the entire way.

“Are you girls done?” her mom called from the kitchen. “I made you pancakes and bacon and those muffins you —”

Ellie slammed the bathroom door closed, drowning out her mother’s perky greeting. She slid down the door, and dropped her head in her hands, her body shaking with sobs.

Stupid Judi. Why had she let her get to her like that? She’d been trying to pick a fight with Ellie since she’d arrived two weeks ago, and she had just given her what she wanted.

Confrontation and fights thrilled Judi, made her feel alive, sent adrenaline rushing through her veins like a skydiver every time they opened the door of the plane and jumped into open air. Judi was addicted to drama the same way she was addicted to avoiding being an adult. Ellie had just given her the drug. There was no way it was going to satiate her, either. She’d be back for more, at Ellie’s expense, there was no doubt about that.

Randomly Thinking: Long movies, tickling the reward center of my brain, and dirty songs from the 60s

Welcome to my Randomly Thinking post where I share random thoughts from my week or the past two weeks. Read at your own risk.

***



I am happy to be posting a Randomly Thinking post today. Partially because these post are usually more fun than some of my others and also because this post is another shot to the reward center in my brain. To explain, a few days ago I received a notification from WordPress that I had a streak of posting three days in a row (gasp!) and they were proud of me.

*sniff* Proud of me? I was touched.

Well, I just wondered how proud they’d be if I posted the next day. So, I did. Another notification congratulating me. Oooh.

And then I kept posting and now I have posted seven whole days in a row. Crazy right?

I’m so awesome.

Please take note that you should read the previous sentences with a lot of sarcasm. I don’t know if I’m awesome or sad, but I am leaning toward sad.

Today is my seventh day in a row of posting to my blog.

I am a blogging god. Ahem.

Moving on before you spit your coffee out your nose.

***

A couple of weeks ago my kids and I took a trip to our old stomping grounds, which I mentioned in a Sunday Bookends post. My son wanted to ride his bike around town while I picked up a Wal-Mart order. My husband mentioned some concern that my son wanted to ride his bike in a town where there has been increased drug activity and arrests. I assured him I wouldn’t be far away from my son and away we went. While there my daughter asked to go play on one of the playgrounds we used to go to a lot when we lived in town (it’s down the street from our old house). I met my son at the playground and while waiting in the van for my daughter to finish playing, I took a pumpkin seed oil gel capsule, which I have been taking lately to support bladder health (bet you’re glad I told you that part).

My son says, “Oh my gosh. Mom! Seriously? After Dad said there is increased drug arrests up here and you’re going to take that right out here where everyone can see you popping it?”

I looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “It’s a natural supplement. Calm down. It’s not like I pulled a syringe out.”

Also, there was only one other car there and I probably shouldn’t say this but guessing by the appearance of the one guy in the car, I don’t think my taking a natural supplement would have bothered him one bit. Had he seen me he might have even asked me for a few, thinking it was something else.

(On a more serious note, I really hope that above statement about the man wasn’t true because he was there with a little girl about two and I don’t like thinking her daddy might be an addict. I pray he isn’t and was instead just tired from a long day at work.)

***

The Boy and I were looking for a movie to watch the other night and my husband suggested Master and Commander Blah, Blah, Blah Long Movie Name.

We were honestly very confused by the movie and it seemed to never end. We were ready for bed and paused it to see how much longer we had. We had an hour and eighteen minutes left but we could have sworn we’d already watched two hours.

The Boy: “I don’t even know what is happening except he keeps destroying this ship and killing people trying to beat this other ship. Everyone is begging him to turn around and go home but he’s ignoring him. I guess that’s the plot.”

Me: “Same. All I’m seeing is wind, rushing waves, a lot of screaming and stabbing and people falling overboard. I’m not sure about the plot at all.”


Needless to say, we haven’t yet picked the movie back up again and when we do, we might need some cliff notes.

***

My daughter absolutely loves the book There Is A Monster At the End of this Book with Grover from Sesame Street. She loves it so much I read it to her some 20 times in two days. She’s now memorized it and reads it to her dad and our dog. Our dog looks with sad eyes as if saying, “Please….make her stop.” But Little Miss is having so much fun, I don’t make her stop. I love to see her reading.

***                                                                                          

I tried a movie with Renee Zellweger one night this week. It was awful. Probably because I can’t stand Renee Zellweger. I remember that horrible time when she was in every movie and in every movie she played the same person – Renee Zellweger. She doesn’t really have a lot of range.

Out of place blond ditz used to wearing heels and short skirts and doesn’t understand – well, anything at all. That’s her range.

Anyhow, I reiterate. I am not a Renee Zellweger fan. The movie didn’t help by making people from Minnesota complete and total morons who don’t understand, well, anything. They were total yokels. Typical Hollywood stereotypes.

***
My neighbors held a yard sale last week and I noticed a red lamp on the porch during the same. I sent my son over to buy it, saying I could use it in the living room.  He’d looked out the window at it before he left, and had decided he’d like it for himself for his room. When he came back with it, though, it wasn’t red at all but hot pink. It had belonged to the neighbor’s daughter.

I asked The Boy if he would be okay with a pink lamp. I was sort of hoping he would say ‘no’ so I could keep it, but instead he said, deepening his voice first, “I’m secure enough in my manhood to have a pink lamp.”

***

My daughter and I have decided we prefer cooler weather to warmer weather. We had a sample of summer two weeks ago and since then it’s been pretty mild temperature-wise and actually cold some nights. We like the colder weather because it means we can snuggle each other and our dog more. Neither of us are looking forward to the heat. I especially have issues with high humidity and can barely function in it.

If we lived closer to a swimming pool we might enjoy it a little more. Sadly, the one public pool we used to go to shut the pool down for anyone other than guests of their campground. Maybe we will have to rent one of their cabins and camp there this summer so we can go to their pool.

***

My son plays a video game that features old music. Both of us are fans of 60s music, but then we listened to some of the lyrics.

Oh my. Some of those lyrics aren’t as clean as they seem on the surface.

Take for example The Wanderer.

“Oh well I’m the type of guy who will never settle down
Where pretty girls are well, you know that I’m around
I kiss ’em and I love ’em ’cause to me they’re all the same
I hug ’em and I squeeze ’em they don’t even know my name
They call me the wanderer, yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around.”

Uh…..My son is the one who pointed out that this man sounds like a womanizer with some serious issues. The song only gets worse.

“Oh well there’s Flo on my left and there’s Mary on my right
And Janie is the girl with that I’ll be with tonight
And when she asks me which one I love the best
I tear open my shirt I got Rosie on my chest
‘Cause I’m the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around”

My son is guessing this man later died from STDs and I have to agree.

***

So those are some of my random thoughts for this week. How about you? Share some of your random thoughts in the comments.

Socially Thinking: Breaking the hold of the media can be life-changing

I thought I should give an update on my No News May Challenge that I set for myself in the early days of May. I had decided I would only look at about an hour a week of any news sites and break that down into about five minutes or so a day. The quick update is that I stuck to my plan fairly well, with there being only a few days where I got caught up in the news-induced drama. On those days the anxiety was higher, I felt angry over the smallest inconveniences, and I felt as if the world was a hate-filled, dreary place that I didn’t want to be a part of.


When I didn’t look at any news sites, I was more engaged with the world around me and found more time for writing and reading.


What I have learned this past month of news consumption reduction is that once you start to cut back looking at the news, they start to lose their grip on you. By “they” I mean “the media” (social, news, etc.), news companies, and politicians. They control us through our fears and, man, have they succeeded this year.


I still look at news sites and get upset, but much, much less than I did. The number of days when something I read on the news or a social media site changes how I feel during the day is shrinking. My fear is shrinking. The thought that I have to be outraged and afraid all the time is shrinking. The idea that I have to be on alert at all times, wary of what politicians are doing to do next is shrinking.
I look at sites like The Daily Wire, NPR, The Atlantic, CNN, The Daily Beast, The New Yorker, and Fox News and I see people desperate for us to be in a constant state of panic or outrage. Without those two emotions, they don’t make money. The need to keep us angry and afraid because when we are in those mindsets, we will just keep scrolling and scrolling and sucking all those negative headlines up in a cycle of horror, as if we think that if we keep scrolling something positive will pop up and make all the horror worth it. Nothing positive is going to pop up and if it does, the writer of the article will find a way to make it negative.


Do we need to be informed? Yes, but right now I don’t see information, I see indoctrination from both “sides.” The fact I have to say that there are sides of media is weird for me. No longer is news objective. It’s either Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal information being pushed at us. These days, whether or not we believe a story depends on what party we are a part of and what “news” source is giving us the information. If a particular news source usually supports and promotes the idea of the party or value system opposite of ours, we dismiss that information without checking to see if there could be some truth to it. It’s sad but true. We all know it. We all do it, some of us without even realizing we are.


While I didn’t succeed in breaking the hold the media had on me, I would say I put a significant, fatal dent in it. If the media wants to get me back under their control then they’ll have to bring in the aliens and the threat of nuclear war from China. Oh, look at that, “they” are already on top of those subjects. Unfortunately for them, I’ve already learned their tactics, that they aren’t to be trusted and I’ve also picked up a few good books I’d rather read instead.

May in Review in a few words and a few more photos

The month of May wasn’t super busy for us but we did seem to have a lot of various doctors appointments and other activities going on, unlike previous months.

We also wrapped up our school year this month (last week in fact).

Our kitten had some interesting adventures in May involving climbing trees and falling out of one and finally jumping out of the other one. She is now down to seven lives but doesn’t seem to mind.

In the middle of the month we briefly visited the The Wall That Heals display, which is a traveling Vietnam Wall. It was set up at a school near us. It was emotional since my dad served during Vietnam and even though he wasn’t deployed he had friends who were. One of those friends was a man in our neighborhood who couldn’t take the flashbacks anymore and finally killed himself in the woods behind his house several years ago.

On a happier subject, I wrote a lot of The Farmers’ Sons in May and changed the name to Harvesting Hope, setting a publishing date of around August 5.

As for my No More News May Challenge, I did manage to stick to only an hour a week, broke up by a few minutes a day for almost the entire month, with the exception of a couple of days and wow did I feel more relaxed. I had no idea what to be angry about or afraid of. What an awesome feeling. I am continuing it for June.

The weather was very mild, cold even, for most of the month, and I didn’t mind that because it meant more time to stay inside and write and read books, as well as cuddle with the kids and pets. We did have a week stretch of humid temperatures and Little Miss was able to spend some time in the sprinkler on those days.

Here are some photos from our month, some many of you have already seen.

How was your May? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Love Happens at Sweetheart Farm

Book: Love Happens At Sweetheart Farm: A Pacific Northwest Romance

Author: Dalyn Weller

Genre: Christian Fiction (Romance)

Goodreads Description:

What if your pursuit of happiness robs someone you love of theirs?

Ian MacTavish is a disillusioned wealth manager for his family’s firm in Seattle. He’s desperate for change but chasing happiness instead of wealth will cost him more than mere money. When he jilts the firm’s wealthiest client and hides out at Sweetheart Farm, his inheritance and the family’s legacy are at stake.

Lexi Taylor is the overworked owner of Sweetheart Farm B&B, a romantic getaway and wedding venue. Too bad she’s never had a sweetheart of her own. She’s convinced she’s better off without one. Love is only a recipe for more loss in her experience.

But then Ian MacTavish shows up looking for an escape and winds up helping her make the farm profitable again. Lexi never knew she was lonely until she met Ian.

As they work together, Lexi’s resolve melts and Ian’s bruised ego begins to mend. Life in the country is just what the city boy needed. Lexi and her Grandmother remind Ian what he’s been missing sitting behind a desk in the business district.

But Ian never imagined he’d have to chase pigs, fight bears, and mend fences to repair his bruised ego and find love. With one reckless act, he restores his confidence and wins the admiration of the women who come to matter most.

It seems so until Ian’s troubles follow him to the farm with Lexi’s riding shotgun.

My Review:

Love Happens At Sweetheart Farm: A Pacific Northwest Romance is a book of redemption, forgiveness, and embracing joy.

This book is what I would describe as a comfort read and that is a very good thing.

I fell madly in love with this book’s characters within only a couple of chapters. Grandma Isobel, Lexi, Grandpa Ewan, and of course, the dashing Ian McTavish are so well fleshed out, full-rounded characters, which is something you don’t always find in modern books. I even loved the non-human characters of Bijou, Brodie, and Wanda.

Ian McTavish.

Sigh. Just his name is dreamy.

Ian is the heartthrob hero who, by the middle of the book anyhow, puts the only Ian I ever knew in my life to shame. In fact, that Ian should read about this Ian, wherever he is, and take some notes.

Ian starts out a little less than dreamy and under a lot of stress, but give him a few weeks working with his hands on Sweetheart Farm and you’ve got a swoon-worthy main character on your hands who you won’t be able to wait to learn more about.

Lexi, sitting on her beautiful farm turned bed and breakfast with her grandmother, has put up walls around herself to protect her from sadness and loneliness left from childhood tragedies and her younger brother’s personal struggles. She helps to run a farm and a bed and breakfast catering to lovers but she is unwilling to open her own heart to love. Even when she starts to fall for the dashing Ian who visits the bed and breakfast to run away from his family’s multi-million dollar business.

Lexi frustrated me at times, but only because I saw so much of me in her. The stubbornness, the mood swings, the unwillingness to open herself up to chance for fear of being hurt again. Me. Me. And Me. And she didn’t frustrate me for long because soon I was in love with her as I was everyone in her world.

And just when you think this book couldn’t have any more loveable characters, in walks Ewan McTavish, Ian’s grandfather who plays his own integral role in Lexi and her Grandmother’s life later on.

I read this book mainly in the evenings, before bed, and now that I’ve finished, I feel a sense of sadness and will be looking for more books from this author to help fill that void.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“He had a job he didn’t want. He had an office he didn’t ask for. And now he had a fiancée he didn’t even like.”

“Grandmother went on, “Forgiving doesn’t mean you must pretend the wrong never happened, but that you  abandon the offense. Having boundaries would have saved me some grief, that’s true, but unforgiveness would  cost me more than my life savings.”

 He opened them again and pushed out his breath until there was  nothing left in his lungs, nothing left in his heart, and nothing left in his soul. Where was God when he needed  him?

Grandmother took a step back. “You can’t live with what-ifs. The Bible says, taste and see that the Lord is good!  You must overcome your distrust and fear, or you will never experience all that God has for you, chéri.”

“The thought of letting my heart go wild is kind of like jumping out of a plane and hoping the parachute opens.  Scary.” “Thrilling.” The look in Grandmother’s eyes was a challenge.

You can pick up a copy of the book where books are sold.

Sunday Bookends: Gardening, writing like a crazy person, and school’s out for summer (almost)

 Welcome to my weekly post where I recap my week by writing about what I’ve been reading, watching, writing, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

This week I decided to try to start planting my garden even though we do not have the fence up around it yet to keep the deer out.

I don’t have a huge garden space, so I don’t have tons to plant. Little Miss and I decided on beans, beets (which neither of us eat but we’re going to try), yellow squash, cucumbers, kale, sweet red peppers, and tomatoes. My dad picked up topsoil for me about two weeks ago. I should have raked it more after it was dumped into the beds (raised garden beds that my dad and son made for me last year), which I realized when my dad corrected how I had installed the poles for the beans to climb up and also noticed the topsoil issue.

“This dirt could be broken up more,” he said.

Oops.

He also said, “These bean poles should be positioned this way.”

And then he changed my entire set up for the better because he’s been gardening for like 50 years and I haven’t.

I had also planted the bean seeds in the wrong place, so he helped me correct that as well.

The bean poles were his idea since he had extra long bean seeds left from last year. In fact, he had seeds for a variety of vegetables left over from last year that he gave me, which meant I didn’t have to buy any seeds this year.

The seeds are in the ground, but I won’t plant the plants until we have the fencing up because again — the blasted deer.

We also finished homeschooling this week, for the most part. The Boy still has to write a book report on To Kill A Mockingbird and I have a meeting with our homeschool evaluator on Wednesday. Once she signs off on us, and we submit our paperwork to the local school district, our school year will be officially complete and The Boy will be a high schooler (hold me, Jesus!) and Little Miss will be a first grader.

What I’m Reading

I haven’t had as much time for reading as I’ve wanted because I’ve been trying to hit a deadline for Harvesting Hope (formerly The Farmers’ Sons).

I did finish Love Happens at Sweetheart Farm by Dalyn Waller and am almost finished with my Longmire book, Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson. (I love Henry. That is all.).

Two books I really want to start this week is Amanda by Sarah Monzon and Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks.

Before I can start them, though, I also have to finish Rooms by James Rubart, which is a very interesting mind-bender.

Little Miss and I are reading On the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder and boy do I have some thoughts on this one. Hopefully I’ll find some time to share those thoughts this week in a separate blog post. Pa Ingalls, seriously, dude — what were you thinking?

What I’m Watching

I am continuing to watch Jonathan Creek through Acorn on Amazon or maybe it’s Britbox. I forget, but it’s on one of those and I watch it through Amazon.

We also watched Galaxy Quest this week, which I think I watched once years ago.

The Boy and I started Master and Commander Blah Blah Blah. I wrote blah, blah, blah because the movie has a really long title to match it’s really long and convoluted storyline. I’m too lazy to look up the full title for this blog post.

We had to stop watching it to go to bed the other night and haven’t returned to it yet. We watched an hour of it and still don’t know what is actually happening other than the ship keeps getting attacked and the captain is keeping them out at sea while more and more people die and he gets more and more arrogant about trying not to be attacked. I don’t know. It’s very confusing.

I also watched episode 5 of The Chosen and loved it. I’ve heard there was some controversy over it, but I haven’t had time to listen to the director talk about what the controversy is about so I will figure it out later. I liked it. That’s all I know.

You can watch the episode on the app, which is very easy to download to your phone (Android or Apple).

What I’m Writing

As I mentioned, I am working on the first draft of Harvesting Hope and plan to have it completed at the end of this week. I’ve been writing anywhere from 500 to 2000 words a day this past week and half of that may be eviscerated during the second draft. We’ll see.

This week I shared two chapters from what I’ve already written, one Friday and one Saturday.

I think I also decided on a book cover — If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been going back and forth on what I want it to look like.

Earlier in the week, I shared some flash fiction I wrote as part of a writing group on MeWe (a social media site).

I forgot to finish my Randomly Thinking post for Thursday (I’m seriously having focus issues), so I hope to have that ready to go this week.

What I’m Listening To

If he hadn’t gotten himself in trouble with a drunken comment, I’d never heard of  Morgan Wallen, most likely. This week my husband tried his album to see what the fuss was all about, so I tried it as well. We both were surprised. We liked it, so I listened to that this week.

For old times sake, I listened to The Civil Wars. I miss them.

I’m leaving you samples of both, so you know who I’m talking about.

So that’s my week in review. How was your week last week? Read any good books? Listen to any new-to-you music or watch anything cool? Let me know in the comments.

Special Fiction Saturday: The Farmers Sons (Harvesting Hope) Chapter 12

For anyone who is new here, this is a continuing story. It is a semi-first draft that I edit more later through a few more drafts before it hits as a self-published ebook and paperback sometime in the future.

If you’d like to catch up on the rest of the story, feel free to click HERE.

I posted Chapter 11 yesterday for Fiction Friday. Today’s chapter is a little rough around the edges. It will get a serious working over before final publication.

If you like what you’ve read here, let me know in the comments. You can catch the first book in this series, The Farmer’s Daughter, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and get an excerpt here.

****


Chapter 12

“You be good to the land and the land will be good to you.”

Ned’s words echoed in Robert’s mind. Then he remembered with a laugh how Ned had added, “That’s what some farmers say anyhow. Sadly, I’ve learned that’s all a bunch of garbage.”

Ned had laughed and taken a long swig of his coffee. “The land doesn’t care about you one little bit, Robert. Remember that. It’s got a mind of its own and only cares about itself. It would sooner eat you up and spit you out than be good to you. So, remember this instead, when the world isn’t good to you, it doesn’t matter, because God always is, even when we think he isn’t.”

Robert certainly hadn’t felt like God was good when Ned had gotten sick and passed away so quickly. He eased himself down on the bench of the picnic table outside the barn. Reminding himself that God was good, “all the time” had become a daily practice even when he didn’t feel it. There were days he couldn’t see the good of God, but he knew He was working all things to His glory. One day Robert would see it all, the other side of the picture and what it looked like once complete.

He dragged the back of his hand across his forehead to wipe away the sweat. It was the first official week of spring. What was with the high temperatures? It was like they had skipped spring and jumped head long into summer.

Maybe he was simply perceiving the temperatures as high because he was so wiped out from lifting himself up and down while he tried to repair the mower. He missed being able to easily push himself up from the ground, without the pain in his leg and hips. The loss of simple mobility had been harder to accept than the loss of time while he’d been in the hospital. As much as he missed the ease of which he’d been able to move before, though, he missed his father even more.

Dust curled up around the truck barreled up the road and Robert leaned back on his elbow, considering making himself look useful but deciding he was too tired to care if the visitor thought was lazy or not. When the truck came closer, and he recognized it, he no longer cared about appearances. His nephew Brad knew about the accident and Robert’s struggle to recover, even though he’d been away at the time, spreading his wings, trying to decide if farming was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Brad parked his truck next to the barn and himself next to Robert on the bench. “Is it the leg?”

Robert shrugged. “Yeah. Not the best today.”

“Taking the painkillers?”

Robert scowled. “We’re Tanner men. We don’t need no painkillers, boy.”

Brad laughed, leaning back on his elbows on the top of the table. “Very true.” He stretched his legs out in front of him. The brim of his hat cast a shadow across his face, but Robert could still see Walt’s smile and green eyes reflected in the face of his nephew. “I’m headed out to Mansfield to pick up some supplies. Dad wanted me to ask if you need anything.”

Robert looked toward the backyard, his eyebrows furrowing. “Well, yeah, I could use a load of potting soil for Annie’s garden. She’s determined to grow strawberries this year.”

Brad scoffed. “Good luck with that. Either the weather or the deer will get them before she can ever harvest them.”

“Hey, Dad?”

Robert was being summoned. Probably for another menial task Jason was asking him to do so he didn’t feel useless.

When he saw Brad, Jason’s questioning expression faded into a more neutral one, tinged with annoyance. The change in demeanor wasn’t lost on Robert who looked between the two young men, confused by the tension in the air.

Brad flicked his hand up in a quick wave, still leaning back on the picnic table. “Hey, Jase.”

Jason nodded curtly at his cousin. “Brad.”

The two men looked at each other for a few seconds of awkward silence before Robert interrupted the stand off. “Whatchya need, Jason? I was just giving the leg a break.”

Jason pulled his gaze from Brad’s. “Um, yeah. It’s the feeder lever. It’s stuck again and I didn’t know where you put the new box of Shell we ordered.”

Brad twisted so he could see Jason. “Dad and I’ve been using Mystik JT-6 and it’s been working great. If you want to try some, I’ve got a can in the car.”

Jason stiffened, took a step back and turned toward the barn. “No. Shell’s is what we use.”

Brad shrugged a shoulder. “Whatever works.”

Robert cleared his throat pushed himself up from the table. “I think I stacked the box in the workroom. Let me see if I can find it.” After Jason was inside the barn he turned back toward Brad, leaning closer and lowering his voice. “What’s up with you two anyhow?”

Brad pulled his cap lower on his head. “Just a misunderstanding.” He sighed and stood. “I guess we’d better work it out before it gets out of hand.”

****

JASON TOOK THE container of grease from his dad and headed toward the feed room, doing his best to ignore Brad following closely behind.

It was hard to ignore Brad tapping on the inside wall of the feed room, though. “Knock, knock, cousin. We need to talk.”

Spreading the grease on, Jason tried his best to concentrate on his work and not on the man behind him, the man related by blood who had gone out with his ex-fiance while he was away at college.

“Do we?”

Brad leaned back against the wall of the barn, folding his arms across his chest. He was almost as tall as Jason, less muscular, but still built strong and lean like most of the Tanner men. Wearing a pair of faded jeans, brown work boots, and a white t-shirt, he was also wearing what most of the Tanner men wore. As far as Jason was concerned, physical appearances were where the similarities ended. Brad had taken a few years away from the farm to, as he said, “figure out if farming is what I really want to do.”

To Jason he’d shown he didn’t have the passion for the business that the rest of the family did. Jason hadn’t needed two years away from farming to know farming was in his blood and what he wanted to do.

Brad propped the bottom of his foot against the wall behind him. “Yeah, we do. You’re blowing this whole thing with Ellie completely out of proportion. I took her out on two dates, six or seven years ago. That’s it.” Brad shrugged a shoulder. “I wouldn’t even call them dates. We went to a movie once and lunch at Bettie’s Diner another time. We ended up talking more about you than anything else. She probably went out with me to be nice. That’s how she is. You know that.”

The lever still wouldn’t move. Jason scowled at it and walked past Brad to find a wrench.

Brad pushed himself off the wall, hands on his hips, watching Jason walk back into the room with the wrench.

“It’s true, Jason. Besides, why are you angry at me? It’s not like you and I were dating. Your relationship was with Ellie. She’s the one who didn’t tell you. You should be mad at her.”

The wrench wasn’t loosening anything. In fact, it was the wrong size for the bolt. In a burst of frustration Jason tossed the wrench against the wooden planked wall, denting the wood. The wrench flew back and struck the metal of the feeding pipe with an ear piercing clank.

“I know, Brad! I know! I am mad at her, okay?”

He dragged his hand through his hair and let out a low guttural growl. “I know we were in a relationship. I get it. She didn’t feel she could be open with me, I wasn’t open with her. It’s a mess. I know. Just —” He let out a breath, propped his hands at his waist and shook his head. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be taking this out on you. You didn’t know she hadn’t told me. None of this is your fault. I’m just — It’s just — I screwed stuff up with Ellie and I’m on edge about anything to do with her.”

Brad’s eyebrows raised and he held his hands up, palms out. “Whoa! That’s more than I bargained for.” He laughed softly. “Seriously, Jase. I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened between you two, but I’m sure you and Ellie will work through it. She loves you and you love her, or you wouldn’t be so upset.”

Jason shook his head, retrieved the wrench from the ground behind a bag of feed mixture. “I don’t know if we’re going to work it out. She’s not very interested in that at this point.”

Brad laughed, slapping Jason on the back. “Well, then, there is plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. You’re a good looking guy. I mean, how couldn’t you be? You’re a Tanner. I’m sure you’ll find someone new.”

Jason looked up from the lever, scowling. “Really, Brad?”

Brad shrugged. “You know me. I’ve never been good at comforting people in their times of need.” He patted Jason’s shoulder. “Really, though. You and Ellie are going to make it. You’re the golden couple. Everyone wishes they could be like you two. Chin up, bud. It’s all going to work out.”

Jason kneeled back by the lever, working at the bolt again. He wanted to believe Brad but his faith that he and Ellie would be able to patch things up was fading the longer she wouldn’t talk to him.

***

HE’D LIED to Jason.

Brad knew it was wrong, but there was no way he was going to tell his 6’ 2” tall, overly muscular cousin how much he’d enjoyed going out seven years ago with the girl who was now the man’s ex-fiance.

He turned his truck onto the dirt road, headed toward home.

Sure, it was true that Ellie had spent most of her time talking about Jason on the three dates they’d gone on, but it didn’t stop Brad from noticing how beautiful and sweet she was and wishing she’d been talking about him instead.

Three dates.

Oh, that’s right. He told Jason it had only been two.

What Jason didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. Apparently Ellie hadn’t told him the right number either. There must be a reason for that.

Jason didn’t need to know how many dates they’d actually gone out or the fact that his break-up with Ellie had been the icing on Brad’s welcome home cake.

He probably still didn’t have a chance with Ellie, but her view of Jason had changed for the worse. Maybe, if he could find time alone with her again, her view of him would change for the better.

Fiction Friday: Harvesting Hope Chapter 11

I have been trying to hit my self-imposed deadline of Monday to have the first draft of this book finished, but I don’t believe I am going to hit it so I’ve extended the deadline another two weeks. I may not need that extension, however, after kicking out 2500 words for a very exciting section later in the story yesterday. The section was so exciting and stressful for me, I had to take several breaks, during which my son made fun of me for being upset over the people in my head, because he thinks he’s funny. More on that another day. And know that he was just teasing.

For now the tentative release date for this book August 5, but it could very well be pushed to the end of August.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the story so far.

To read the other chapters from this story, click HERE.

———-

Chapter 10

“Two cracked ribs and a wound that luckily looked worse than it was. The horn scraped less than an inch below the surface and hit a small artery, which is why it bled so much.”

She’d given the update with her eyes focused on Alex instead of Jason and then she’d left to go back to her dad.

When she’d turned away, Jason had felt the familiar heaviness in his chest, the one that had been there since the day she’d told him she needed a break. A break from him. The heaviness stayed there on the drive home and Alex could see it.

“You okay?”

Jason shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah. Worried about Tom. That’s all.”

“He’s going to be fine. You heard Ellie.”

Jason nodded, shifted the truck into a lower gear and jammed his foot on the accelerator, pulling into the left lane to pass another car. “Yeah. I heard her tell you he’d be fine.”

Alex cleared his throat. “You noticed that too, huh?”

“She probably blames me.” Jason lifted his foot off the accelerator and glided the truck back into the right lane. “Like she’s blaming me for everything else these days.”

“You don’t know that. She said she didn’t. She’s probably just tired, worried about her dad.” Alex shook his head, looking out the window. “Things are going to work out between you two. They have to. I can’t imagine one of you without the other.”

Jason let out a breath, trying to keep himself from driving too fast, knowing he only wanted to get back to the farm so he could throw himself into work and forget about it all.

“Thanks, Alex. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better.”

He appreciated it, but it wasn’t necessarily helping. All he’d really wanted to do in that hospital waiting room was pull Ellie against him, wrap his arms around her, and make sure she knew he’d be there for her no matter what. At this point, he needed to start accepting he might never be able to do that again.

“WHERE WERE YOU?” Ellie couldn’t hide the anger in her voice, standing across from her sister in her parent’s living room. She hissed the question out between clenched teeth, her arms folded tightly across her chest.

“I was at Melanie’s.” Judi shrugged and flopped across the couch, propping her foot on the arm of it. She waved her hand dismissively. “Chill out. Dad’s fine. They didn’t even keep him overnight.”

“We could have used your help getting him home, but as usual, you were unreachable.”

Judi made a face. “As usual? What’s that supposed to mean? And what’s so hard about getting him home? Put him in the car and drive him here. Big deal.”

“There was medicine to pick up at the pharmacy, there was helping him to his room and getting his pillows, there was —”

Judi sighed, loudly and flung her arms in the air. “Oh my gosh, Ellie. You handled it fine. Stop being so dramatic. You’re better at all that stuff anyhow.”

Ellie slammed her purse into a chair and propped her hands on her hips, glowering at her younger sister. “I’m better at that stuff because I’ve always had to do it since you were always off playing around.”

Judi stood and walked toward the kitchen. “You could have played around too, El, but you were always too busy trying to be the good little church girl and mom and dad’s favorite.”

Following her sister, Ellie tried to lower her voice, not sure how much their voices might carry up the stairs to her parents’ bedroom. “Someone had to help on this farm. Someone had to be responsible.”

Judi poured a glass of milk and reached for the chocolate syrup in the door of the fridge. She stood with her back to her sister, one leg cocked to the side, dirty blond hair swishing as she stirred the chocolate into the milk.

“Someone had to be responsible,” she said in a mocking tone as she stirred. “Someone has to be an adult. Someone has to be so uptight they could poop out diamonds.”

She turned, leaned back against the counter and smirked. “You know, this is probably why Jason and you aren’t together anymore. Who wants an uptight, bossy, closed off shrew as a girlfriend?”

The insult stung but Ellie wasn’t about to let Judi know. She tightened her jaw and clenched her fingers around the back of a kitchen chair. “I’m not the issue here, Judi. You are. You are the one who is never around when your family needs you and if it makes you feel better to insult me then go ahead, but it’s not going to change the fact that all you’ve ever cared about is yourself.”

Judi’s slurp let Ellie know that nothing she said was going to matter. Judi would never feel an ounce of guilt for her behavior.

Ellie turned abruptly, shaking her head as she headed up the stairs to see if her parents needed anything. Once they assured her they were fine, she told them she was going for a drive and would be back to help with dinner.

In the car, though, she didn’t know where to drive. She had nowhere to go. In the past when she was overwhelmed or ready to scream in frustration she went to Jason’s or at least the Tanners. Both of those options were out of the question this time and she didn’t know how to feel about that. She turned her steering wheel to the right, pressed her foot on the brake and pulled her car over to the side of the road, pressing her forehead against the steering wheel. She jerked the car into park and let the tears flow.

Stupid Judi anyhow. Why did she have to say that about Jason?

They weren’t together anymore because Jason hadn’t been open with her. It wasn’t because she was too uptight and closed off.

Right?

Maybe Jason had never told her about what had happened in college because she was all of those things. Was she such a horrible person he didn’t even feel he could be honest with her? Was she really such a perfectionist that he was afraid telling her about his mistakes would shatter her so-called perfect world? Yes, he probably was.

Tears soaked her face and she brushed them away quickly. She didn’t have time for crying. If Jason had felt she was too closed off and would be too uptight about what he’d done in college then it was a good thing they weren’t together anymore. Who knew what else he had decided was wrong with her over the years.

She took a deep breath, held it, and swallowed hard. When she let her breath out, she shook her head a little to try to shake off the negativity pressing around her. The setting sun cast a red-brown glow on the dirt of the road in front of the car. Her gaze drifted toward a small, cozy-looking farmhouse further down, across a newly planted field on the right. The farmhouse, white, with red shutters, was flanked by two maple trees. She couldn’t see it from where she was parked, but she knew there was a small chicken coup and a tire swing hooked to a tree limb behind it.

Franny Tanner’s. Jason’s grandmother and the Tanner family matriarch. The woman Ellie considered her third grandmother, the one living closest to her since one of her grandmothers now lived out of the area and the other had passed away when she was a child. She hadn’t seen Franny since she’d broke it off with Jason almost six months ago and it broke her heart. She hadn’t known how to explain it all to the woman who had had such a wonderful marriage of 55 years before Ned passed away almost two years ago. Their love had been something to strive for, to look up to, not just for Ellie and Jason but anyone who met them.

She still remembered holding Franny’s hand at the funeral. She was on one side of her, Molly on the other. Franny didn’t cry the entire funeral. The only time the tears came was when the casket was carried out. Jason, Robert, Walter, Brad, and Alex had all been pallbearers.

“There goes my heart,” Franny had whispered, standing next to the pew, grasping Ellie and Molly’s hands for support.

Even now the memory brought tears to Ellie’s eyes. Now her tears came not only for the woman who’d lost her soulmate and best friend but because Ellie had once imagined she’d have what Franny and Ned had.

With Jason. Now, she didn’t know if she’d ever  experience a love as true as Franny and Ned’s had been.

She dabbed a tissue to the corner of her eyes, soaked up the moisture, and crumpled the tissue into her hand. She couldn’t stay out here all night. It was getting late, and she’d offered to make her parents dinner. Yes, once again she had chosen to be the responsible one. All she wanted to do was go home and fall asleep reading a book but instead, as usual, she would be the adult while Judi was the childish one having all the fun.

Flash Fiction Fun in 60 words. No more. No Less.

I’ve joined a new “social media” site, which is more social than other “social media” sites. It is not as active, but it is friendlier. My dad calls Facebook a social discord site, rather than a social site. I agree with that. So I have joined MeWe, which seems a lot calmer in many ways. (Full disclosure, I have a FB account again for a few writing groups but I am not interacting on a personal basis there and log off after I look at my writer’s or reader’s groups.)

On MeWe, I joined a couple of writers and readers groups and in one of them the administrator (Kelly) is challenging us to write 60 words of fiction from a word prompt.

I thought I would share a few of the flash fiction pieces I have been sharing there here on the blog today, including the words used as the prompts.

Buggy

“This what you’re taking me to the church in?”

Emily felt like she’d been transported a hundred years into the past. Or into the Amish community down the road.

Her dad grinned, gestured at it. “I thought it’d be unique.”

“It is. I don’t know any other modern bride who was driven to her wedding in a horse and buggy.”

Market

The smells and sounds of the market overwhelmed her. She lost sight of her mother long ago and now she was alone among the bustling crowd, panicking.

That’s when she saw him. Again. The man with the piercing blue eyes and the scar above his right eye.

She should have been afraid but instead, a strange peace settled over her.                      

Washline

The paint-chipped back porch was old and falling apart. As an adult she had weird nightmares about it where someone was always falling off it. As a child, though, it wasn’t a scary place. It was where the cats slept in the winter and where her mom hung clothes from the washline, which hung between the porch and chicken coup.

Mules

He climbed in the odd looking vehicle and looked at her skeptically.

“And what is this vehicle called?”

She grinned at his rural naivety. “It’s called a mule.”

He cocked an eyebrow and smirked. “Seriously?”

“Seriously, Liam Finnely. We ride a new kind of mules on dairy farms these days.”

He shook his head. “I Learn something new every day.”

Tractor

He’d been plowing the ground an hour when he saw her standing along the edge of the field, a hand on her hip. She was grinning and the wind had caught her reddish-brown curls, sending them out behind her like a veil.
“Hey,” he said when he reached the end of the row. “You think my tractor is sexy?”

English

“This what you’re taking me to the church in?”

Emily felt like she’d been transported a hundred years into the past. Or into the Amish community down the road.

Her dad grinned, gestured at it. “I thought it’d be unique.”

“It is. I don’t know any other modern bride who was driven to her wedding in a horse and #buggy.”

Market

The smells and sounds of the #market overwhelmed her. She lost sight of her mother long ago and now she was alone among the bustling crowd, panicking.

That’s when she saw him. Again. The man with the piercing blue eyes and the scar above his right eye.

She should have been afraid but instead, a strange peace settled over her.                      

Washline

The paint-chipped back porch was old and falling apart. As an adult she had weird nightmares about it where someone was always falling off it. As a child, though, it wasn’t a scary place. It was where the cats slept in the winter and where her mom hung clothes from the #washline, which hung between the porch and chicken coup.

Mules

He climbed in the odd looking vehicle and looked at her skeptically.

“And what is this vehicle called?”

She grinned at his rural naivety. “It’s called a mule.”

He cocked an eyebrow and smirked. “Seriously?”

“Seriously, Liam Finnely. We ride a new kind of #mules on dairy farms these days.”

He shook his head. “I Learn something new every day.”

Tractors

He’d been plowing the ground an hour when he saw her standing along the edge of the field, a hand on her hip. She was grinning and the wind had caught her reddish-brown curls, sending them out behind her like a veil.
“Hey,” he said when he reached the end of the row. “You think my #tractor is sexy?”

English

“You know why I’m here. I’m here to meet your good looking cousin. So, where is he?”

Cecilia jerked her head toward the back door. “In the house making tea.”

“Making tea?” Emily raised an eyebrow. “Like iced tea?”

Cecilia rolled her eyes. “No, like tea and crumpets. He’s #English, remember?”

Emily’s mouth formed an ‘o’ shape. “Oh. That English.”