The following excerpt is the beginning of my book, Promises My Love,
my unpublished work. I'm looking for a good home for this historical that faces real life issues.
Shadow Creek, Kentucky
Francis heard the laughter. His grimace was ill placed, he knew. His family was entitled to their fun, even if he wasn’t a part of it. With careful precision, he combed his hair, not bothering to meet his own reflection in the mirror. He never took part in their discussions, never participated in their rowdiness.
He’d finished shaving in the alcove off the kitchen and knew his family couldn’t see him with the curtain drawn. His wife Christine told Jimmy and Crystal about the expected trip to the Douglas farm, Christine’s family home. He slipped on his shirt, carefully buttoned it. Jimmy wanted to take his horse.
“Of course, silly,” Christine’s voice filtered past the drape. “We couldn’t leave Sassy behind. This is a special trip. My whole family will be there for several days. We’ll stay, too.”
“We’re gonna stay at the farm for days?” Jimmy’s voice was full of wonder and excitement.
“Yes! Won’t that be grand?”
Francis grimaced again, not liking her easy answer, knowing it was inevitable they’d stay. He adjusted his tie, taking slow deep breaths, smelling toast. His stomach growled. If only he could slip past the curtain and join his family. Laugh and joke.
He didn’t dare. He might lose control. Damnation would reign down on them again. Best to maintain his distance and enjoy these moments of hearing the happiness of his family. It would have to suffice.
He shrugged into his jacket and stepped past the curtain. His family all turned, each with their own warm smile for him. He swallowed, cleared his throat.
“Daddy all clean,” Crystal sang out, laughing.
He smiled, sort of, grabbed his ledgers and stepped toward the back door. The heat from the stove had warmed the dampness in the room, the rain from last night bringing a bright day beyond the door. Jimmy’s gaze grew hesitant and Francis forced himself to speak. “Are you ready for your piano lessons?”
“Yes, sir!” Jimmy grinned and turned back to the table.
Crystal hollered a bit when she said, “Bye-bye, Daddy.”
His features tightened again knowing he had no way of escaping their morning ritual of telling him farewell. He waved, forcing a smile to his face, knowing if he didn’t acknowledge Crystal’s sweet good-bye she’d wilt in her high-chair with a dejected scrunch to her face. She waved back with vigor.
He didn’t look at his wife, he couldn’t. Her endearing smile would linger in his mind if he did. As usual, she was disheveled, still in her bedclothes and her tumbled down blonde tresses were half in and half out of a braid. She looked about sixteen and so damn beautiful he couldn’t breathe.
She waited on the porch while he saddled his horse. She waited every morning. It was the worst and best part of his day. When he emerged from the barn she smiled, stepping toward the end of the porch where he’d have to pass by in order to leave.
“Your breakfast.” She held out a wrapped package. He had no idea what was in it, but knew it would taste wonderful.
He mounted his horse and stepped up to the railing she leaned against. He took the waxy paper without touching her, his eyes downcast.
His gaze lifted slowly to hers. He wanted to tell her to get back inside and for heaven’s sake find a pair of slippers at least. She shouldn’t be standing there in her flimsy open robe for all the neighbor’s to see. She shouldn’t be so caring. Nor so damn appealing.
Her smile lit up her dark green eyes. “Have a wonderful day, my love.”
He nodded, too tersely, he knew. It was the best he could do. He nudged the horse onward, his breakfast warm in his hand. He wanted to look back at her, but that would only encourage her outrageous behavior of affection. As much as he admired her determination, he feared it more.
Control. He took a deep breath; he simply needed to maintain a level head. Unwrapping the paper, he bit into the sandwich. Ham, fried egg and a slice of cheese, partially melted on the toast. My god, he was in heaven and he wallowed there for a moment in her devotion to him. Restraint kicked in by the time he finished the last bite. His wife would merely smile if she knew the unsettling effect she had on him. He loved that Chistine snuck past his defenses, and he idly wondered what scheme she was contemplating. His muscles relaxed thinking about her.
His thoughts fumbled to a stop. Control. Yes, he had to keep his emotions in check. He didn’t dare drop his guard with his family. It had proven too dangerous in the past.
The mask of decorum settled over his face by the time he entered the bank. He crossed the small lobby to his office, not bothering to close the door. No one approached him. Another day had begun.
Til next time ~
PS: your comments are welcome, plus any ideas of who might be interested in such a story.