Sunday, March 10, 2013

Continuation from western challenge - a story

 
As reported in an earlier post, I like to hang out at the western forum at Amazon. One of our members likes to issue writing challenges where we have to include a list of words she's given us. I missed the challenge in February so this example includes February's words along with those she just issued. My story is a continuation from December and January.

Since this is a writing exercize, it's unedited. Also, there isn't a lot of extra flavor that a more fleshed out story might have but I'm thinking this just might be a good beginning to another novel. Time will tell. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy.

But before you read the contination to the story, you might want to refresh your memory to the beginning of the story. You can find it here.

Here's the list of new words?  From February:  Fort, Colt, Widow, Buggy, Love
From March:  Ranch foreman, August, Arizona, Scar, Coffee

A knock summoned her to the front door again. He continued to stare at the painting until raised voices averted his attention. Backtracking through the parlor, he rounded the corner and stood just behind Tuesday.
“I came for an answer and I mean to have it today.” A gruff man who looked old enough to be Tuesday’s father and mean enough to pose a threat to any who stood in his way pointed a gnarled finger in her face. At least the finger wasn’t attached to the Colt he had holstered at his hip. “I even rented a damn buggy to see you properly escorted to town for our wedding tomorrow.”
“I done told you already, I got me another fianc√© so I’m not free to marry you, Mr. Love.” She tossed a glance at Cheyenne as he tried to back away from the scene. Unfortunately, he hadn’t made his escape in time. She reached back behind her and grabbed his hand, yanking him to stand beside her. “Meet Mr. Meeks. It’s him I plan to wed on a fine August day.”
“I thought you were funnin’ me.” Mr. Love puffed out like a bloated hog. “Your daddy and me had an understanding.”
“Exactly. Your understanding was with my pappy and now he’s dead. I, on the other hand, made no such agreement with you. Now then, if you want to attend my wedding as a guest and not the groom, meet us at the church tomorrow.”
“I’ll meet you in court first, young lady.” He jammed on his hat and stalked to his rented buggy. “You can expect a visit from the sheriff this very afternoon.”
A cloud of dry dust followed the conveyance’s hurried exit and Cheyenne wondered anew just what he’d gotten involved in. A woman wanting a hurried wedding did so for several reasons; she needed a father for an unexpected baby, a groom to satisfy some sort of stipulation in a will, or maybe a rich husband to save the family homestead. He couldn’t picture any of these reasons forcing the spitfire before him to marry a complete stranger.
Cheyenne leaned against the flowery papered wall and folded his arms across his chest. “Think it might be best we got down to why you need to wed.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“It’s not because you’re trying to weasel out of another offer, is it?”
“Partially but no.” She heaved a sigh and marched past him to the parlor once more. Curiosity made him follow.
“Sit,” she ordered and took a seat opposite him when he did as directed. “I believe in plain speak. I got myself in a fix and yes, I need you to bail me out.”
“I’m listening.”
“Well, that’s right kind of you.” She nervously twirled a finger about a stained doily resting crooked on the arm of the chair. “I got saddled with a farm, two kids, and a mortgage. I can handle the responsibility. I love them kids like they was my own, but I reckon I need a man willin’ to take on the same responsibility. See – he’ll be a widower within the year. I had more faith in God choosing me a fine specimen than my father. Clarence Love just won’t do. You, however, will do right nicely I think.”
“Back up. What do you mean I’ll be a widower?”
“Never you mind the particulars. I’ve made my peace with the good Lord, but now you can see why I need a husband. I checked up on all the applicants as best I could and deemed you the worthiest of the lot.”
“My lucky day.” How in the hell had he landed on this prime cattle land with a readymade family and debts to be paid? He’d have been better served to follow his brother, Cherokee, to Arizona where a job awaited him as a ranch foreman. Instead, he’d had a hankering to settle in Texas. While he couldn’t deny wanting the land, the little ones were another matter. As for the debt, the land could probably pay for itself with the right management. But even as these thoughts formed, he felt lower than a grub burrowing under a root. How could he benefit from another’s death and live with his conscience?
Her features softened. “I know I ain’t much of a catch. Truth is, I never learnt how to be a lady like my sister, Beth. I’d sure be right proud if’n you accept my offer.”
He studied the scarred coffee table, the mismatched chairs and the cracked globe on the lantern. “I think I’m ready to be shown a room now. After a bit of rest and some grub, we’ll discuss the upcoming nuptials.” If ever a family needed help, it was this one. And darn if he wasn’t about to marry Tuesday Henshaw.  It was, after all, the chivalrous thing to do.

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