Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Letter from Lucy

Dear Santa,

I am writing you this letter in case you don't know that I'm now at the Flying W near Cordial, Texas. My Aunt Holly drove the wagon over all the way from Kansas and we were nearly eaten by wolves but Mr. Winters, he and Joe shot them before they could eat Jack and Bennie. I am glad about that.

But Santa, I really want to make this Christmas special. I all ready have all I want. I have Holly, Mr. Winters, Joe, Abilene and Esmeralda. So you take my presents back. I'd like for you give my new friends something instead.

Chow Ming, who is the cook, like me he hasn't seen a Christmas.He's from China so maybe a nice tea cup. I will warn you not to bring him anything sharp. He had all ready got a meat clever that he waves around like a rolled up piece of paper ready to swat flies.

Joe, he could use a new pair of riding gloves. I saw a hold in the finger of his yesterday when he showed me how Star had taken to Abilene. Oh, Abilene is the orphan cow they found. They are gonna let me raise it. Star is a good momma now that she has two babies. She is very proud of them both.

Santa, if you could, I want you to bring Mr. Winters a new heart. His got broken when his first wife died. I heard him and Holly talking. I think my uncle Nicholas had something to do with it, but they grow all tight lipped when I come round. But, if Mr. Winters got a new heart, he could love my Aunt Holly, then we would not have to leave.

You see, I do not want to leave. I do not want to go any where else for Christmas or after. I love it here on the Flying W. I love everything. The funny way Red chews tobacco. How he can spit and hit the can from four feet away. Mr. Winters made me a Cowgirl in Training and I can't wait to learn how to ride and rope good enough to be just a plain old cowgirl.

So, that is my wish Santa. Please, let Holly and Mr. Winters fall in love. Then everything will be just right as rain. Give your reindeer and hug for me.

Love,
Lucy Watson


To read the story of A Cordial Christmas and see if Lucy gets her wish, please follow the links below for this timeless story at the low cost of $0.99

http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Cordial-Christmas?keyword=A+Cordial+Christmas&store=ebook

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Follow the holiday post link


Enjoy...
Copy this in your browser and watch.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yudgy30Dd68

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

De-stress with todays fun

Please enjoy the link today... De-stress from the holidays

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P99p6l8v0FQ


Happy Holidays from me to you all this week with fun snippets of life in America

Nancy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Highlander for the Holidays. By Janet Chapman


Okay, I was unsure when I began if I was gonna like this story. But I can tell you that there is an unusual magic in between the pages of this book. I can't explain it, nor do I want to but I have my suspicions that Rodger AuClair de Keagle had a hand in dictating this book himself. Any woman, worth her weight in salt would enjoy this story. The characters, the craft is spot on and well worth the time and effort to read. Effort- I'm laughing at my own words because this book reads like sitting down with old friends before a roaring fire. Aye, lass, no effort at all. Think of it as Miracle on 42cd Street for adults. I think I've found a wonderful new author.


PUT THIS HIGH UP ON YOUR TO BE READ PILE

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Welcome Author L K Hunsaker



Hello Nancy and Nancy’s readers! It’s great to be here to talk with you about my latest release, Moondrops & Thistles!

Can you tell us a bit about your novel?




I’d love to! Daws, Sgt Fred Dawson, US Army, is a vampire... no, wait. Sorry. He isn’t. My daughter thinks he would make a good one, though.

What he really is: A stalwart soldier entrenched in his work. Strong and steady. Not easily flustered. Determined and capable and highly decorated. He has a subtle sense of humor he doesn’t often show. And he’s really pretty sexy with his large shoulders and cropped hair and Army-fit body.

Deanna is a fiery spirit on a mission. Independent and career-oriented. Prone to sarcasm. Artsy and intelligent and sensitive. She loves music that makes her move and movies that make her laugh. And her natural wavy deep red hair is an attention-getter even if she doesn’t think much about it.

Moondrops & Thistles is a story of the crash and merge of two strong spirits who are fine on their own but can’t help appreciating nightly talks to compare their days. It’s a story of society and relationships and cultural clashes and family history and love and understanding. It’s a story of sacrifice and healing. It’s part literary and fully romantic.


Will there be any sequels to this book?

In a way, Moondrops is a sequel to my 2009 release, Off The Moon. Except it’s set 9 years before even though it was written after, so it’s also a prequel of sorts. I tend to suggest readers start with Off The Moon and then move on (or back) to Moondrops & Thistles, if they want the whole experience. It’s not necessary. They each stand alone, and Off The Moon is the more intense of the two. So start with Moondrops and if the characters pull you enough, move along to Off The Moon! These characters will appear again in another story, although not a sequel exactly.


What sparks the heroine's interest in the hero?

Great question! When Deanna runs into Daws, she’s decided she’s fed up with men. She’s tired of lies and secrets and wants to find real straight-forward honesty. Daws is from NYC but stationed at Fort Drum, NY. When he gets sent home on leave after a couple of major incidents have him on edge, he wants something to make him feel alive again. Deanna sees his need for rescue, his vulnerability behind plenty of strength, his well-taught military bearing, and his humility. It all grabs her. Of course his looks don’t hurt anything.


When you are writing do you have any sort of quirks such as a certain type of music you listen to?

You know it depends on the day. My biggest constant is that in the morning, I always have a cup of coffee at my desk. In the afternoon and evening, I still have coffee, but it’s joined by a glass of ice water. And chocolate. I usually have some kind of dark chocolate on hand. Recently it’s Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses.

I often write in silence, but at times I have to put music on in order to help hold my focus. At times, it’s instrumental. I love David Garrett’s rock violin and Celtic music, and soundtracks such as the Pirates CDs, or classical such as Mozart, Tchaikovsky, or Spanish acoustic guitar. At other times, I’ll turn on the radio in another room to a pop station so I have the “company” of it without the lyrics close enough to interfere.


What is your favorite part of this story?

Oh, I’d have to say when they meet. That actually started as a free read short story to go along with Off The Moon, but I enjoyed their interaction enough I started to think there might be more to share. It has to be one of my favorite scenes I’ve written yet.


What do you have planned for the year 2012 in terms of writing?

I’m back to obsessively working on the third, fourth, and fifth book of the Rehearsal series and plan to get at least the 3rd one out in 2012. I’m also already working on the sequel for the series. Along with that, I’ve started a YA based on my main character in Finishing Touches, my first novel, with Jenna as a young girl finding and exploring her passion for art. I hope to have that one out before the end of the year, as well. There are a few other stories in progress and I never know when I’ll jump over to work on those, but my guess is some of them will get some attention through the next year.


Last where can readers find you?

All over the internet by searching LK Hunsaker! They can start here:

Website: http://www.lkhunsaker.com
Blog: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com
Moondrops on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoondropsAndThistles
Facebook Author page: http://www.facebook.com/author.lkhunsaker

I’m also on Goodreads where I do reviews and have a group for reader questions, on Myspace, Library Thing, and a dozen other spots. You can find them listed on my website.


Nancy, thanks so much for having me here! I’d love to give one commenter on this post the shorter, spicier ebook edition of Moondrops & Thistles. And be sure to stop by my blog for a chance to win a personally signed copy of the full version, plus a transforming mug with the wraparound cover, plus a Support Our Troops bracelet!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A letter to Miranda

Cordial, Texas December 1873


My dearest Miranda,

The chill of winter has descended over Cordial once more. I rode into the hills that look over our empty home and thought about you. I wondered if there are feelings in heaven, for if there are, you must surely know just how much I miss you.


Sam Russell suggested that I write this letter. He says I'm brooding too much, keeping myself on the ranch only going into town when we need supplies. However, who wishes such dire reminders, my love. Who would want to ride past the cold ground that covers your body and that of our child? Oh, for one more minute to hold you in my arms. To feel the warmth from your body against mine and to see the face of the child that died beneath your heart on that cold and fate filled Christmas Eve.


I confess, the idea of celebrating such a holiday settles upon my soul with such coldness that I fear I shall never be warm. I dread the shortening of days, the long lonely nights of winter. I hear the cry of the wind against the panes of our windows and it echo's my soul. If only I could block out that holiday, make it cease to exist, then perhaps I might continue on. Never the less it comes. Each and every year it comes and with it my hurt deepens. I fear nothing can save my soul, dearest Miranda. The only thing I look forward to is laying my tired body next to yours. You were my love of my life, my reason for living, with you gone, there is only a bleak future. How could a loving God, take you from me? I search my soul, but there is no answer.

Your loving husband,
Dobson Winters


A Cordial Christmas available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords

Dobson Winters is a miserable man. After his wife's death, he shut himself off from the rest of the world, but a deathbed ultimatum changes that. Now, he must find Holly Watson and marry her to save his soul. Redemption comes in an unexpected package and it takes the gift of a child's unconditional love to change a man heart.



To purchase your copy for $0.99 please follow the links below


http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Cordial-Christmas?keyword=A+Cordial+Christmas&store=ebook

To check out other great $0.99 reads, follow the postings on http://ebooks99cents.wordpress.com/

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Check out Rachael Johns Blog....

I'm headed down under today on Rachael John's blog talking about my holiday story A Cordial Christmas. Won't you join me and stop by to wish our friends in Australia Happy Holidays...

http://www.rachaeljohns.blogspot.com/



Dobson Winters is a miserable man. After his wife's death, he shut himself off from the rest of the world, but a deathbed ultimatum changes that. Now, he must find Holly Watson and marry her to save his soul. Redemption comes in an unexpected package and it takes the gift of a child's unconditional love to change a man heart.

To purchase your copy of A Cordial Christmas for $0.99 please use the links below.

http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Cordial-Christmas?keyword=A+Cordial+Christmas&store=ebook

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Searching for that just right novel.

Okay, you've got your hands on the nook, the fire, the iPod. You've been bombarded with commercials telling you what a great device this is and HOW you are REALLY gonna love it. You've even gone through the effort of registering your device - in my case, sigh had to call some one. So your fingers are hungry to find those "bargain books" and download.

I will recommend two sites because I know most of the artist and people who run the sites. They are writers themselves and have decided to make it a bit easier on the reader to find books tailored for their taste.

The first loop is done by Markee Anderson on her Sweet Tale book site. Yes, like the name implies, books are sweet meaning a chaste kiss to closing the door on those sexual scenes. Many of her books have an inspirational theme. You can find her over at: www.sweettalebooks.com Go under the Christmas book shelf for the list and click on the title and author to go directly to the book site. Markee has done an outstanding job setting her site up as a magazine type event. Lots to read about and do.

The second site was put together by Mona Risk. She gathered a group of published authors and each day presents a $0.99 book with an excerpt for you to read and links to buy. Check her group out at: http://ebooks99cents.wordpress.com/ Mona carries not only holiday stories but other genre's and heat levels as well.

So if you are in the market for a good solid read at a fair price, browse these sites and enjoy your e readers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Cordial Christmas


Enjoy the magic of the season and find romance....

Cordial, Texas is a small town founded by Dobson Winters and his wife Miranda. When fate deals Dobson with a bitter hand, his heart grows cold until Curtis Watson on his death bed demands him to listen or be condemned for all eternity...

Read an excerpt here...

The doctor placed a guiding hand on his shoulder and together they moved to the room where his patient lay. Dobson pulled his hat from his head as they entered. The small room contained a single bed pushed the wall from beneath the covers, a frail old man lay quiet. The only sign of life, a ragged breath with a deep rattle that echoed in the stillness. His eyes stared at some unseen point in the ceiling.
The cold fingers of death crawled up Dobson's spine. He watched the face, with its sunken eyes turn as Doc stepped up and spoke. "Curtis. Curtis, can you hear me?"
"I can."
The two words spoken seemed to take great effort. Dobson wondered if this was a mistake. It was clear, old man Watson needed to conserve his strength.
"Dobson Winters is here."
The corner of the man's mouth curled with satisfaction. His gaze moved from the doctor to stare straight at him. He couldn't turn away. The frail hand lifted from the blanket it clutched. A gnarled finger curled, beckoning him forward. His boots shuffled against the wood as he made his way to the bedside. "Hello, Watson," he said.
A flicker of amusement flashed in the old man's eyes. "Bet you wonder why I want you to hear my last confession."
He admired a man who went straight to the point. "It crossed my mind."
Curtis Watson drew a heavy breath. "As it should. There are a lot of things betwixt us. Some that should be aired afford I go."
"You are too mean to die, Watson. Like me, you know the good Lord only takes the best."
The old man's eyes moved back to his face and for a moment. There was a unique clarity in his eyes. "You are so right. Draw up a chair and listen to what I have to say."
Stunned, Dobson turned and found a chair shoved to the back of his knees by the Doc's hands. Lowing himself down, he leaned closer. "All right, I'm here."
"You and me, we're a lot alike," the old man began. "We both lost the love of our life. But, me, I tried to rise above. I tried to make something of me and mine that was left. Not you."
"Hey now," He sat back. "I didn't come here to have you throw it back in my -"
"Hush," came the command followed by a wheeze. "I don't have much time." The old man's eyes narrowed on him. "Maybe you don't either. Hate is something' that eats at a man. It leaves his soul blacker than the darkest night. A soul like that is damned forever. Now, my life ain't been no bed of roses, but I did my best. My boy went wrong and you were in your right to send him away, even though it killed my Mary. I might have forgiven you, however, she lost her heart and no amount of coaxing brought her back.
I watched you and your Miranda. Every day I prayed the good Lord would hurt you just like you hurt me. Then when they died, I watched you suffer. I thought, good, an eye for an eye, since you took my boy, my wife," he swallowed. "But there twernt no satisfaction in it only thing it did was make the hole bigger."
As he listened to the words, Dobson felt the wash of cold water washed over him. Anger made his body tremble with rage. He should get up and leave. He should let the door slam as he walked out. Yet, he couldn't.
"I watched you, a strong man, curl and wither like a crop with blight. Now, the only thing I got for you is pity. You've become a bitter excuse for a man, Dobson Winters and I thought more of you than that."
He tried to find words to say, yet what Curtis said was closer to the truth than any man wanted to admit.
"Now, I'm dying. There won't be no more tomorrows, no spring sunshine, or marvels of first snow. I ain't got much to leave, but I got me a pearl of great worth. Somethin' few men have and I'm gonna leave it to you."
"I don't need your parting gifts," he snapped.
Curtis Watson had the audacity to chuckle. "No damn you, you don't, but I'm gonna give you a choice." In a flash, his hand snaked out. Cold fingers akin to the grim reaper grabbed his.

To buy your copy of A Cordial Christmas follow these links...

http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Cordial-Christmas?keyword=A+Cordial+Christmas&store=ebook

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Cordial Christmas




Dobson Winters is a miserable man. After his wife's death, he shut himself off from the rest of the world, but a deathbed ultimatum changes that. Now, he must find Holly Watson and marry her to save his soul. Redemption comes in an unexpected package and it takes the gift of a child's unconditional love to change a man heart.

When a man thinks he has nothing to live for, life has a way of coming full circle...


Excerpt...

Lucy tugged on Holly's arm. She turned and looked down to her concerned face. Lucy bent a finger and begged her to bend down. Holly tilted her body closer. Her niece glanced over at Dobson, then cupped a hand against her mouth. "He's very grumpy."

Holly's mouth twitched, but she had to agree. The child was right. Dobson Winters cornered the market on being less than civil. Odd considering he was the founder of the town of Cordial. She supposed he had a right. A quick glance to her left and she could see the firm set of his strong jaw. He certainly appeared angry.

She looked back at the trail. The grade evened out in the past hour. Shortly, they would hit the big meadow. Holly recalled racing across the flat lands hoping to best her brother, Michael, just once. That had never happened. The big meadow had also been where they caught him changing brands. Even then, she knew rustling had been a hanging offense. Winters had stepped in and kept the drovers from taking the law into their own hands. Yes, her brother had gone to prison, but it had all been legal.

"We'll be at the house in an hour."

Holly glanced over at him.

"You can have a hot bath and rest. I'll get Joe to ride ahead and have cook prepare you a hot meal."

Lucy's ears must have perked up. Holly felt her lean over and give him the child's equivalent of an evil eye. "I like apple pie."

"Lucy," Holly quieted her.

The harsh tone of Dobson's voice faded. "I do too."

Lucy's brows arched and she glanced at Holly. "Humph," she replied as if she didn't quite believe him.

"Lucy Watson, you apologize this instant."

A pout formed on Lucy's bottom lip. It jutted out, forming a shadow on her chin.

"Lucy." Holly's voice sent a quiet command

The child cut her eyes to the woman on her right then looked back at him. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to offend you."

"None taken," he answered.

"You can crawl in the back and wrap up in those blankets," Holly ordered.

Lucy gave him one last uncertain glance. With Holly's hands to steady her, she slipped through the opening and into the back, behind the canvas. Holly took hold of her shawl and pulled it upon her shoulders. Felling the need to echo her niece's apology, she plastered a pleasant smile upon her lips and turned to the man sitting beside her. "I'm sorry. Lucy can be a bit forward."

"Am not," came a voice from the back of the wagon. "You said I was pre- precocious."

Holly's cheeks filled with heat. Mortified she turned to see Dobson's cheek twitching with laughter.

"You certainly are," he called back to her.

Holly shook her head. She caught his glance and stared at his eyes. They were a deep shade of green, the same color of grass as it broke through the ground in early spring. It made Holly yearn for the turn of the season so she could compare the two.

"Nothing wrong with being honest."

Holly wondered if he was reminded of her brother's indiscretion. "No," she agreed.
"There isn't." She focused her eyes on the trail ahead and tried not to think about the man sitting so close to her. A wheel hit a rut; she lost her grip, and fell forward. It happened so quick, Holly had little time to do anything, but gasp. Dobson's fingers grabbed her arm and held on tight.

"You all right?" he questioned, dividing his glance between the trail and her regaining her seat.

Her head bobbed. "Fine."

He removed his hand and a part of her seemed disappointed. She caught his glance to the drover. Holly watched him lift a finger and the cowboy loped up.

"Yes sir?"

"Joe, go tell Chow Ming we have company. Have him get the kettles boiling for the tub and freshen the guest rooms."

"Will do, boss."

"Oh!"

The cowboy waited.

"Have him warm up that apple pie. I've a hankering for a slice."

"Yes, sir," Joe nodded and raced off.

For a few moments, silence surrounded them. She was well aware of the man sitting beside her. His very presence seemed to fill space between them, using up all the air until Holly felt light headed. She took a deep breath and his scent surrounded her. The smell of warm leather and woods left her senses sharpened.


To purchase your copy of A Cordial Christmas for $0.99 follow the links below.

http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/A-Cordial-Christmas?keyword=A+Cordial+Christmas&store=ebook

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are you thinking PINK?

Its October and with the change of leaves comes the reminder for the women in your family to check their tattas. Yes, October is Pink for the Susan G. Komen for the cure.

As you are moving through the day, on the bus, commuter train, or even driving in your car, look at the women around you. How many do you see? Probably more than you thought. Now couple it with the statistic that One in Six of all those women you see will at some point in their life hear those horrible words, "It's cancer."

Nothing stops a heart more or creates more anxiety for those that love you. October is Breast Cancer Month. (Yes, I've said it more than once) Grab a sticky note. Write these words down. GET A MAMMOGRAM. See your doctor for that physical we all dread. Let's stop cancer in its tracks.

On October 24th, I'll be over at Donna Alward's blog talking about how Breast Cancer effects family members. Won't you join me. Help stand up for the Cure. If not for you, for someone you love.

Remember October 24th www.donnaalward.blogspot.com . One lucky commenter will win a copy of Stormy Weather.



Nancy

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Readers


Those who went to Amazon and purchased a copy of A Cordial Christmas.. I thank you. I didn't know it was live until someone called me. Thank you I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I loved writing it.. MUCHA!!

Nan

http://www.amazon.com/A-Cordial-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005POOES0/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

Monday, September 26, 2011

Putting my toes in the water...



I did it. I stuck my toes in the water and tried this self publishing idea or indie. I did agonize and worry my friends to death over the grammar, story lines, and characters. In fact, I still am. Its the thought of standing there alone sharing a story that you feel so strongly for.

A Cordial Christmas is that kind of story. I think of it as Scrooge meets Bonanza sprinkled with Its A Wonderful Life. In this story Dobson Winters is as cold as his name implies. He lost his wife around the holidays and refuses to celebrate the holidays. But, in comes Curtis Watson and with his dying breath he tells Dob that the only way he can save his black soul is to find his daughter and get her to marry him.

Little Lucy and her antics with his Chinese cook steal the show for me. However its her adoration of Dobson that begins to thaw the ranchers frozen heart. I hope you'll zip over to Smashwords and soon to Amazon to pick up a copy of this novella.

Here's an excerpt below.

Chow Ming pushed the sweet dough out with the rolling pin. He paused and eyed the little girl standing on the wooden shoebox across from him, her apron covered in the same flour that kept the dough from sticking to his work surface of the small table in the center of the kitchen. She glanced up, her blue eyes twinkling and shimmering with delight. Lucy eyed his efforts with a smile.
"Yes, yes just thick enough," she said with a nod.
"So why we bake cookies again?" Chow Ming asked.
"Cause," Lucy began, dipping her biscuit cutter in flour before pressing it into the dough. "On Christmas Eve, Santa will come down the chimney and expect to find them."
"Why dis man not use front door?"
"Cause you aren't supposed to see him."
A rash of Chinese followed. "Sound like fat man in red suit a thief. Chow Ming take care of him." He reached behind and pulled his meat clever, brandishing it in the air.
Lucy's hands went to her hips. "Now see here Chow Ming, you do something like that and he won't leave you anything in your stocking."
"He take clothes too! Chow Ming think Christmas not good time of year. Prefer Chinese New Year. Then only contend with dragon."

Follow the links on my books webpage or copy this link for your browser.
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91873

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Six sentence Sunday....



What would you do, If the love you wanted seemed so unattainable? Born on the wrong side of two races, Charity has made her way to the top of the parlor ladies at Sweetbrier Academy only to find rejection...

From Giving in to Charity

“And Washington?”
“I can’t take you there. Charity, what we have here is real, it’s now. It’s a treasured memory I can take back,” Aaron pleaded. His right hand closed over hers, drawing her against his front, while his left encircled her waist, holding her close. “Let me come upstairs with you one last time before I have to go back to that hell hole of the nation’s capital?”
The heaviness of his erection nudged against her skirts, and his fingers dug into her corset, undoubtedly branding her skin. Torn between Hell and Heaven, Charity closed her eyes and tried to will her mind to control her heart.


Check my website and click on the book cover for information on how to purchase this book.
www.nancyoberry.com

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I was not cast off the island

I did survive the big blow. I have to tell you that I love writing about historical settings, but being thrust into the 18th century in such a cruel was was not fun. I spent the better part of the week before preparing for the arrival of Irene.

I took all the vegetables that we'd frozen over to my daughters big chest freezer. I cooked the meat in the freezer and we dined well. I bought some cans of ravioli, beefaroni, even the dreaded potted meat. I filled up the small pool for flushing. I was ready. Then came the storm. Not a mere 6 to 8 hours but all in all a total of 26 hours of wind and rain.

Our power went off at 10:30 Saturday morning just when things were beginning to wind up. I should have known something was wrong because they had predicted no loss of power until 3 p.m. So we armed ourselves with the weather band and moved to the garage to watch the storm's fury. The rain lashed the pine trees out front and each pine cone that feel was like its own guided missile. I believe we cringed as each one fell on the roof banging, thumping, and creating mischief. In my mind I pictured a creature similar to Pan sitting in the boughs of the tree gleefully laughing as he lobbed each one toward the house.

As night fell it did get dark. Our home is surrounded by trees blocking the setting sun - had there been one. Storms at night have their own terror. The inky darkness cloaks them, taking away your ability to create a defense. Armed with only a flashlight, you do feel like that gothic heroine poised to open the door and be confronted by the boogie man. But by noon the next day, the clouds were finally lifting, leaving behind the mist of humidity so thick it hung in low level clouds just above our heads.

But we were all alive, no damage to the house, and all safe. By the afternoon, the children ventured on the roof to help with clean up. Here is where things got interesting. My dear son who shall for the sake of his life remain nameless swept off the roof. Not bad you say. Oh, I agree, however he swept all the dirt and the oily residue from the roof into the pool I'd filled for flushing. My once clear water was now loaded with dark black sludge, rotting pine needles, and other gunk. The trash floating would stop up the commodes. I tried not to get angry. I really just took a deep sigh and walked away.

Instead of enjoying the peace and writing, sigh... I made two trips a day to get water from my daughter in order to flush the commode twice a day. Those of you with male children understand the plight. Rarely do they flush anyway but without water they do love to remind you every five minutes, you should do something about that mom, its gonna smell. Well, duh.

Finally on Monday afternoon, I went to my daughters to hide. I showered. Blessed water. I washed clothes and cooked a hot meal. Best of all I heard another woman's voice. I thought about all those women on the plains, the endless days of loneliness while their men folk were rounding cattle, following the trail up to the rail heads and back. Doing all the work plus tending to their children. Then in the lamplight, with only the comfort of their bible, they waited.

I understand them better now. I can hear their voices calling to me telling me how lucky I am that it was only 40 long hours not months and months of darkness. I marvel at how they held body and soul together and did not kill their young. I am humbled from my beginnings and I do love a flushable commode.

Nan

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

AURGH..gust



Tis August and the dog days are upon us. It's a time when expectations of the new school year run high and we try to clean up all that we were supposed to do over those long hazy days of June and July.

I hope you all will take some time to spend with families and watch a sunset. So with that said a new post will be coming soon.

Happy August.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Luck of the Irish...



This story is a work of fiction. Any references to real people, living or dead, or to any real events or places is coincidental. All rights to this story are reserved. No part of this story can be transferred, transmitted or reproduced without the written permission of the author.

Further notes all trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, and registered service marks are property of their respective owners and are used here for identification purposes only




Luck of the Irish



by Nancy O'Berry © 2011


Maeve pulled the rough wool shawl across her shoulders and cast a cautionary glance to make sure the McKenna boys hadn't stirred from their quilted wrapped cocoons. She placed her hand against the wood of the door jam and pulled it open just enough to slip her slender frame through. In the dark of the night the soft sounds of the Dakota wind whispering through the small grove of trees near the house brought her comfort. From the darkness an old dog arose and fell in behind her footsteps as she moved toward the smokehouse. Bending down, she opened the door and felt a cold nose press against her forearm.
"Sh," she whispered to the hound. Reaching inside, she pulled a gray rucksack from the floor. Then, dropping to one knee she stroked the silken ears of the animal and looked into the warm brown eyes. "Now Odin, you'll be a good dog and stay here."
The dog's head tilted and thumped its tail upon the ground, before resting its paw upon her knee Maeve smiled. "No, you'll stay and keep them thugs that's called me brothers from following me," she whispered in a deep throaty bough reminiscent of her ancestors from County Cork.
The animal turned his head to listen, then whimpered in response. "Here now, I'll be safe." She rose, with one gentler stroke, and headed toward the path that wound through the trees along the creek to the Master's ranch. If the McKenna luck held, she'd be back by early morn and none of her brother's the wiser. Her soft leather moccasins made no sound. The sliver of silver moonlight her guide as she broke free of the tree line and skipped across the rocks that formed a natural bridge to the other side of the pasture. Maeve lifted the plain brown of her skirts and felt the brush of the grasses against her limbs.
Those cursed grasses were what brought her to Master's meadow in the dead of night, an uninvited guest to be sure. At the fence she stood and glazed at the top of the hill and wondered if it was still there. Her hands grasped the wood of the rail and she stared. They'd come to this country with all the hope and promise of streets lined with gold. Instead, they'd found the same hatred and bigotry that lived in Ireland. Only here the cruelty was match with words that said "No Irish wanted".
But, they survived. Moving west, saving what they could to put down roots in this land, hoping against hope that for once, they might succeed. Determination lined her face as she crawled through the space and yanked her sack against her. She had to go on. Higher and higher she climbed, the damp of the night's dew soaking the hem of her clothing, but not deterring her footsteps. As she reached the top of the rise, Maeve paused, her heart racing. The breeze rustled the grasses exposing a ring exposing a ring of dark stones.
Hands trembling, she put down the sack and walked to each stone pushing back the grass, to trace the image of the white crosses glimmering in the moonlight. Fairy stones! Perhaps there was still a chance. A chance to turn their luck in the right way!
Rushing back to the sack, her fingers trembling, she drew back the rope and shook out the contents. Sorting through, she rescued the leather bound book and flipped through the pages of her gram's diary to the place marked with the single red ribbon. "An untouched maid, who dances her way among the fairy stones, may break the spell upon what unhappiness dwells and bring good luck to all." Maeve glanced around the field, and then looked to the candles. This was her chance, the courage of three generations of McKenna seekers coursed through her veins. The skin along her arms pricked. There was no turning back, not now, not ever. The curse must be broken.

Part 2
Running a ten thousand acre ranch never ran smooth. But, just once, Clay Roberts sure wished it might. He slammed the ledger closed and wrapped his hand around the empty tumbler on his right. Forty more head had gone missing in the past two weeks. While it didn't round to a lot in a ranch who measured cattle in the thousands, small time rustling like this could nickel and dime him to death.
He heaved a deep sigh and pushed himself away from the desk and walked across the oriental carpet that covered the wide planked floors and made his way to the sideboard. Pausing, he poured himself a good two fingers of whiskey and slammed it back. The burn of the alcohol pressed tears against the back of his eyelids. Off in the distance, the chime of the regulator clock echoed from the darken hallway. Sadly, it brought him no comfort.
"Big man," he whispered, denoting the venom that dripped from his own mouth. "You've got the world by the tail or does it have you?"
Hand on the bottle, Clay thought about another drink. The fine cut crystal felt as cold as Penny's refusal. Nothing had gone right, not since that crazed red-headed witch had come to town. Everywhere he went, he saw those green eyes following him. She was a brazen fool. What possessed her to seek him out in the General Store and proclaim some cock and bull story about love, destiny being written in the stars. He lifted his hand. Another good measure of whiskey poured into the glass.
"Why?"
He might as well be arguing with the wind. He took a deep breath and turned. The glass moved to an inch of his open lips. He stopped. Across the room, something in the long double windows caught his eye.
"What the devil," he murmured.
His glass found the sideboard and his footsteps drew him to the image of his land. Eyes narrowed. He must be mistaken. Then, he caught it again. Like a tell-tale breath of some mystical beast, the orange glow took shape and gathered strength.
"Fire."
The word flew from his lips as he rushed from the room. Clay paused long enough to snag his jacket. Flinging the door open, he slid the coat on and rushed down the front steps toward the barn below. Banging on the bunkhouse door, his harsh commands brought the small group of cowboys inside to life.
"Fire!" he bellowed. "Fire in the west meadow!"
Racing toward the barn, he quickly tacked his gelding and led him from the stall. Outside, the yard now filled with men working furiously to load barrels into wagons and fill them with water. Their shouts made the horses nervous, adding to the reign of confusion. One man rushed past him carrying tow-sacks. Clay reached out for one slinging it across his saddle.
"Submerge them in the barrels," he ordered, as two wranglers rushed past trying to get control of a team to hitch between the traces. "Chip, Hank, saddle up and follow me as soon as the wagon's ready."
Wheeling his mount around, Clay leaped into the saddle, and sank his feet against the animal's sides as they raced into the night. Hooves thundered beneath him as he leaned against the horse's neck riding fast and low. They'd had no rain in three weeks, the grass was dry tender and one lone spark could set not only the hills, but the entire valley below aflame.
How?
He racked his brain. Leaning to the left, he took the winding trail that led up to the hills. No dry storms. No pilgrims crossing the trail and leaving hot ash to be blown by the winds. It made no sense. Yet, as he galloped closer, the smell of smoke filled his nostrils telling him it was true.
At the crest of the hill, he reined in his horse and peered down toward the growing flames. A dark shadow darted back and forth daring the fire to move forward.
"Damn, fool," he hissed through clenched teeth and raced down to help.
***
Mother of God, this wasn't supposed to happen. Maeve swung her shawl toward the greedy orange flames licking at the dry grass as if it were a piece of penny candy from the General Store. One candle had tipped as she tried to light it. She'd snuffed out the flame or so she'd thought. Yet, as she turned her back and repeated the words from gram's book in Gaelic, the damaged had been done. She raised her hand to ward off the heat as the fire's hungry fingers reached for her.
Over the crackle of the flames, she heard the thunder of horse's hooves race toward her. The animal gave a frantic neigh, and then, came the familiar sound of spurs and boots hitting the ground. A curse followed as the steps rushed forward. A hand grabbed her arm and bit deep into her skin, before swinging her around. Light from the flames illuminated the mask of deep seated anger.
"You!" Clay Roberts roared over the crackling of the flames.
Maeve yanked her arm free and stepped back. "Don't stand there, man, with your pride hanging out. Help me keep the flames from spreadin'."
Clearly caught between wanting to kill her and needing to know why, he grabbed for her again this time hauling her against his rock hard body. "We'll talk after this is out."
Maeve felt his shove push her away. Tripping over her own two feet, she stumbled back and pulled her hair from her soot-filled face. Her heart hammered against her chest, but it wasn't from fighting the fire - unless you counted the one raging beneath her skin. Her hand found her middle. She pressed back hoping to keep her stomach from falling to her feet. She took another step back and added a deep breath. Gathering her wits, she rushed back, swinging her shawl, praying this was yet another bad dream.


Part 3

The roar of the flames filled his ears as Clay waded into battle. Left hand up over his brow for protection, he used his discarded jacket to beat back the ever advancing fire. The hot breath of the blaze spread across the dry grass consuming an ever bigger portion of the range. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her rushing dangerously close to the burning grasses only to be beaten back by the heat.
"Stay back. My men will be here soon," he ordered. Even as the words left his mouth, he knew she would not heed them. Together they danced, dodging the hot ash.
Soon shouts of other men and the roll of wagons filled the air as his wranglers joined in the fight. The men of the Rocking R converged on the growing fire. "Throw me a wet sack," Clay shouted to the man standing behind the barrels, tossing the burlap to the others. He dropped his smoldering jacket as a sack flew into the air sending a shower of cool water to douse his heated skin.
Rushing forward, he joined his men in a line of defense. Moving together, slinging water, and beating out the flames they began to turn the tide of the orange sea. Advancing, retreating, they continued the macabre dance, uttering a hailstorm of oaths strong enough to make a minister blush. Concentrating on saving his grazing land, Clay forgot all about Maeve Campbell until he heard her frightened screams.
Clay paused. The scream came again from the right. He turned his head and his heart dropped to his boots. Her arms flailing, Maeve rushed away from the smoke and flames, the hem of her skirt consumed by orange. The more she ran, the faster the fire grew.
"Stand still!" he yelled. Turning to the man next to him, he snatched the wet bag from the wrangler's hand and rushed toward her.
"Stop running," he ordered.
Her screams grew louder. She turned, trying desperately to get away from the heat. Opening the wet rough cloth, he captured her in his arms and they fell to the ground, his body covering hers to further smother the flames. In order to silence her, Clay pressed his mouth to hers. As the heat melted away from his legs, suffocated by the wet burlap, another type of heat, one more consuming settled in his groin.
For a mad woman, Maeve McKenna tasted just sort of heavenly. Her cries lessened, turning into soft moans. Instead of beating his chest, her fist gathered the loose cloth of his shirt and she clung to him. Unconsciously, his lips moved over the fullness of her bottom lip, capturing it for the merest of seconds before he let it go. His chest heaving, Clay broke the kiss and pulled away.
The light from the flames danced across her face as she stared at him in wonder, her lips full from his kisses. His body hard from want, he drew his brow together and knew he should not be there, should not be doing this. Steeling his mind from desire, he turned his attention to her skirts.
Slowly, he eased his body away and sat back. He lifted the wet burlap away from her, revealing the burnt edges of her skirt and petticoat. As his heart ceased to hammer against his chest, he could hear Maeve's own rapid breaths. His eyes rolled up her frame. The sodden blanket not only smothered the flames but it transferred its dampness to her clothing, making the muslin blouse nearly transparent.
Clay closed his eyes to count to ten and swore under his breath. "Are you hurt," he asked, looking at her again.
She shook her head. A soft breeze whisked away the remaining body heat and he watched her nipples pebble. The sight sent a molten finger of desire spiraling through his body to make itself at home in his stones.
Clay glanced away and spied the blackened shawl on the ground. Leaning to the left, he snatched it up and tossed it over her upper body. "Cover yourself," he growled. Scrambling to stand, Clay helped her to sit up and draw the blackened material around her shoulders. He moved to the side and slid his arm beneath her knees. "Hold on to my neck," he commanded and drew her to his chest, then stood.
Maeve's arms held tight around him as they moved toward the wagon. He could feel the weight of her cheek against his shoulder. Even though the scent of smoke was strong, a whiff of something clean, something almost flowery washed over him. Using utmost care, Clay placed her on the back of the wagon, next to the barrels of water. Loosening his kerchief, he held it up to the wrangler staring at them. "Soak it, "he snapped.
While he waited, he looked down at the angry red mark on her ankle. "You're burned." He glanced up, their eyes met.
***
Maeve held her breath. The straight line of his mouth betrayed the anger Clay was trying to mask. She knew he'd be madder than a wet hen when she told him how the fire started. His hand came up and she shrank back.
"Here you go, boss."
She watched as he took the sodden cloth from the wrangler's hands and placed it gently against the tingling flesh. She could feel her skin quiver even though his touch was gentle.
"This is gonna hurt, but it's the best we can do till we can get you to the doctor. You are not to touch it. Not to get up. Just sit here. Do you understand?"
She could feel the rush of tears in her eyes. Instead of answering, Maeve shook her head.
"Bag," he barked.
The wrangler thrust another soaked burlap sack into his hands and he turned and walked away.
"This wasn't the way it was to turn out," she whispered at his departing figure.

Part 4

As dawn broke over the meadow, the pale yellow light revealed the damage. As far as Maeve could see, the lush green grassland had been reduced to smoldering ruins of gray ash. Dark shapes materialized over the slope, mixing with the rising trails of smoke, moving toward her like the Titans rising from the gates of Hades to rule the earth. She pulled her tattered shawl tighter about her shoulders and shivered.
They drew closer, becoming more men than beasts, and dropped their scared bags at the foot of the wagon before forming a line at her water barrel. She grabbed cup after tin cup, dipping it inside and handing it to the blackened fingers of the men. Their faces streaked with ash and dirt showed no emotion. A simple nod of a head in gratitude for her service and they moved on. She alone, knew the cause. With each wretched look cast her way, she felt her sin weigh heavily upon her shoulders.
Weary, the men stood in clusters, waiting. Their gazes drifted toward the rise and she followed them, her eyes searching for one familiar figure. The air around them filled with tension. The heavy pounding of her heart filled her ears as the seconds went by. Just when she thought she might go mad, the top of his head broke the surface of the horizon. Like a god, he began to emerge. His wide shoulders slumped forward in exhaustion; yet, he somehow managed to balance the mantle of being Lord of the Manor, demanding their respect.
She should advert her eyes. Instead, Maeve gripped the rim of the barrel for support. Her eyes widened. Even in the distance, she knew his glare focused upon her. "Saints preserve us," she muttered beneath her breath and watched as his footsteps stopped at her barrel. Head tipped back she looked up at the tall giant of a man before her.
In the dawn, his eyes looked more like the smoke rising from the earth than that of the clear blue sky. Without breaking contact, her hand reached out and grasped a tin cup. Then giving herself a mental shake, she tore her gaze away and watched as the cup dipped below the water line. The cup rose from the water, the droplets plopping back into the barrel as he spoke.
"I thought I told you to sit still."
She glanced back up. Their eyes met. She could read the anger lying just below the surface. Clay Roberts was a man who did not take kindly to having his orders disobeyed. "You-your men needed water." Her voice no more than a whispered answered him back. Then remembering what was in her hand, Maeve offered it to him. His eyes didn't release her as he took the cup. His fingers brushed hers and heat surged up her cheeks, the warmth sending a shock through her body and causing a small gasp to slip from her lips.
His eyes widened and in the distance, the cry of a hawk registered in her ears. Like that bird of prey, Clay Roberts was about to swoop in and capture her heart. His eyes bore into hers, refusing to let go as he brought the cup to his lips and drank. Spellbound, she watched the rise and fall of his Adam's apple against the blue bandana he wore knotted against his neck. Her mouth went dry. Her gaze crawled up to his strong jaw, partially hidden by the scruff of his whiskers. Her fingers twitched to wipe the drop of water that zigged and zagged through the stubble toward his chin. She gazed further, back to his eyes and watched them harden. She blinked and found the cup pushed back into her hands. Using it as a talisman, Maeve brought it to her chest as protection against his fury.
"Thank you." His voice sounded hoarse from the smoke and flames and he moved toward his men. "Tonight, your actions saved the Rocking R from the loss of its pasture. Joe will pick five men to ride the perimeter for a few hours so the rest of you can get some hot food and sleep. For the next two days we'll keep an eye out for hot spots."
Maeve watched Clay turn around and walk back toward her. She put down the cup and waited.
"How's your ankle?"
"Fine," she croaked finding her voice.
One dark brow arched in surprise. "Clint?"
"Sir?" Behind her, the wrangler hopped down from the wagon and hurried up.
"Grab yourself a horse and go for the doctor. Miss McKenna needs that ankle looked at."
Maeve took a deep breath but one fiery glance put out her desire to speak.
"Yes, sir," the drover replied.
She heard his footsteps fade away. "Me ankle's fine," she said, once again finding her voice and giving her chin a lift of defiance.
"Walk to me."
Her eyes rounded in surprise. "I'll do no such thing."
He held out his hand. "Walk to me."
Maeve dampened her lips with the edge of her tongue acutely aware of the heat that gathered along her right leg. Yet, instinct dictated she show this man no fear. Breathing harder, she turned her right foot toward him. The blistered skin protested. She took a small hobbled step, determined not to show pain, then, another. A fine sheen of perspiration began to layer her skin. Her brow knotted together and she fought against her body's refusal to obey her command.
The distance between them grew. She clenched her teeth. Just one more step, she told herself. Placing her weight on her injured ankle to move her left foot, Maeve felt the muscle tear and her ankle rolled giving way. She gasped and fell forward straight into the arms of Clay Roberts.
Ear against his chest, she could detect his heart skip a beat as he lifted her into his arms. "Madam, you will see a doctor."
Marching over to his horse, he helped her scramble into the saddle. Gathering the reins, he looked up and said. "Lean to the other side, so I can mount."
She grabbed the horn and shifted. His foot brushed hers and he swung up behind her. One hand gathered the reins. The other hand pressed a palm against her middle scooting her back against his body. Maeve's heart raced.
"Just lean against me," he murmured into her ear as the horse began to make his way back to the house on the hill that overlooked the meadow.
***
Maeve's ankle burned with an unholy fire as they pulled to a stop before the brick house. She clung to the saddle horn as Clay slipped to the ground.
"Slide down easy," he whispered.
She glanced to the left and stared into his outstretched arms. Letting go of the horn, she gave herself into the pain of dismounting and buried her face into the crook of his neck. Her skin felt as if the flames were still licking at her heels. A soft moan slipped from her lips before she could bite it back.
"Easy," he answered as he climbed the steps.
She heard the front door open and turning her head to the right, peeked from beneath the stream of red hair that lay limp against her skin.
"Heard you come up, Clay," the tall cowboy greeted them with a white apron tied about his waist.
"Get some cool water, some butter, and meet me in the guest room, Gene. Doc's on his way, but she needs some relief."
"Gotcha,"
Maeve said nothing, she caught a glimpse of the entry way and the portraits that lined the wall as he took the stairs toward the second floor.
"Where are you tak'in me?"
"To the guest room," Clay answered.
Pausing at the door, he turned so that his fingers might open the door, then pushing it back, carried her over the threshold to a room that took her breath away.
"Now, you lie still," he ordered as he put her down on the softest mattress this side of heaven.
She ran her hand over the lavender satin coverlet and thought to herself, So, this is how the other half lives. He slammed a door and she glanced up to see him moving toward her with a white gown in hand. Maeve's eyes rounded.
"Here now, I'm not that kind of girl," she protested.
Clay's footsteps stopped. "I'm not after you woman, but you can't have those nasty sooty clothes on my mother's bed or creating infection in that leg." He tossed the gown toward her and she caught it. "Change. I'm stepping out of the room."
She stared as he moved toward the door.
"Oh," he said, turning to face her. "Don't try to steal anything. I know the contents of this room."
"Steal," she said with a gasp and glared at him.
"You, Irish, are a shifty lot."
Her mouth gaped.
"You got three minutes," he ordered. She could see the fire in his eyes had returned and pulled the gown before her as protection. "Or I'll do it for you."
With that, he opened the door and left. The wood banged, rattling the pictures on the wall, next to the opening. Maeve stared down at the white cotton gown. Her chin trembled. "Mother Mary, what is he gonna think when he finds out the truth."
A shudder went through her body as she laid the gown beside her and struggled to remove her own rough clothing before he returned.

Part 5

Clay sat at his desk, to tired and exhausted to move. One thought ran through his muddled brain was why. Why had Maeve McKenna been at the fire when he showed up? Why was she on his property when he'd specifically told her not to set foot anywhere near him or it? Why? With a deep sigh, he scrubbed his face with the palm of his left hand. He needed sleep, but what he would like even more, were answers.
"S'cuse me, Mr. Roberts."
He glanced to find the cook standing in the doorway. "Thought you might need a cup of coffee."
Finally, someone with an ounce of sanity. "Thanks."
The cook crossed the room and placed the cup before him on the desk. Clay leaned to the right to open the bottom drawer.
"No need," Gene told him.
Clay glanced up to see him wiping his hands on the corner of the apron. "I all ready took the liberty seeing how you were out all night and come home with a female. Two finger's worth as always."
Keeping an eye on his cook, Clay brought the cup to his lips. The hot, black hickory brew cut the smoke and ash from his throat as it slipped his tonsils leaving behind the heady wood taste of Kentucky bourbon.
"I got the table set for breakfast," Gene continued. "I reckon the Doc will be down presently, so I set an extra place."
Listening to the cook, Clay leaned back and took another sip, this time closing his eyes letting the warmth of the liquid seep into his bones. "Good."
"You know boss, there is just one little thing that bugs me."
Clay opened one eye. "Is that so?" He couldn't stop the sarcasm that tinged his words. Gene ignored it.
"How come, you come back to the house with a woman? To be more specific, that woman. Lord knows, she cost you a heap of trouble in the past."
Both eyes opened. Clay brought his gaze around to stare at the cook.
"Now, nothing wrong with bringing home a lady, but I ain't never heard of invites to a fire."
"I did not invite, that woman."
"Then it is even more curious. Sure gonna' make some tongues waggle in town. Bound to get out you know." With that statement, Gene exited the room.
"Even my own cook," Clay grumbled. Rising from his chair, he moved from the office back toward the dining room, cup in hand. Yet, the food on his plate didn't interest him. Instead of eating, he pushed the contents around with his fork, while his thoughts swirled on a certain redhead upstairs.
"Now, you don't tell me I need to examine you, too?"
He glanced up as Doc Pritchard came into the room laying his hat and bag on a small sitting chair by the arch.
"Howdy, Doc," he half rose and gestured toward the empty seat next to him. "Come sit down and get a bite to eat. How's our patient?"
Doc Pritchard crossed to the chair he was offered. "Do not mind if I do," he replied and sat down. Pulling his napkin in his lap, he glanced to Clay. "She's in no danger. I expect in about two days she will be right as rain."
"Rain we can use," Clay grunted as he filled the doctor's cup with coffee from the pot the cook left on the table.
"It's a nasty little burn. I gave her some suave to put on it," he said, scooping eggs onto his plate. "I told her to keep it clean and come see me at the end of the week." He speared a cut of ham. "I suggested she bathe completely."
"I'll get Gene to heat some water and take the tub upstairs."
"So," the doctor gave a dramatic pause, "Just how did this fire start?"
"I have no clue."
Doc Pritchard paused. An eyebrow slowly curved toward the snow-white locks on his forehead as he chewed. "You do not know?"
Clay shifted in his chair, chaffing under the look of surprise on the older man's face. In defeat, he lifted his hand, "I saw it out the window. Called the men and rode out, where I found that Irish devil beating the flames with her shawl."
In the quiet of the room, he heard the doctor put down his fork.
"So, the girl was there when you arrived?"
"I just said that," Clay snapped.
"So you did."
He watched the doctor chew on the food in his mouth and wrinkle his forehead deep in thought. "And, did she see anything?" he asked.
Clay bristled. "According to her, no."
"Hum," Pritchard sat back. "Well, young man, you certainly have quite a mystery on your hands."
"Quite," Clay agreed sullenly.
Again, the room grew silent as the doctor completed his meal. Clay waited until he cleaned the crumbs from his face with the napkin. "When can I send her home?"
"The girl?"
"Yes," he fumed. "The girl."
Doc Pritchard chuckled. Rising from his chair, he swept back to retrieve his hat and bag. "Well, in my learned opinion, tomorrow."
"Why not today?"
Clay watched the older man's mouth twitch and grew even angrier. Damn, he was laughing at him.
"Cause she's asleep." Doc Pritchard replied. "I doubt she'll wake up till nightfall. It won't hurt to have someone else go with you to take her back either."
"Take her back," he harrumphed. "She came by way of the fence line; she can go back the same."
"Oh, yes, let those three burley McKenna brothers chew on that one," the doctor added.
Clay looked up.
"If I were you, I would have another person, like the preacher or the sheriff ride back with you. It might save you a beating."
"Beating?" Clay glanced up to the ceiling where the woman slept unaware.
"Have a good day," The doctor called cheerfully. Turning toward the opening, paused to allow Joe to enter.
Clay looked with interest as his foreman held up a grey rucksack singed and burned.
"Boss, you might want 'a see this." Joe hefted the bag so he could get a good look.
Anger rose and twisted Clay's face. Pushing back his chair, he strode to the other end of the table and met Joe as he dumped the bag on the polished wood. Something thunked. Licking his dry lips, he reached in while the foreman watched and pulled a blackened leather covered book. "Where?" His voice cracked as he turned the book over in his hands.
"About middle way of the burn, along with these."
Clay watched as he dropped two pods of melted wax on the bag. It wasn't hard to conclude what happened. Joe formed the words.
"Someone lit a candle in the meadow. The grass was so dry; it only took a small spark." He glanced up, "Looks like we got ourselves a case of arson."
A dull knot formed in the pit of his stomach as Clay placed the leather bound book on the table. "Hand me that cloth," he pointed to the napkin the doctor had left beside the plate.
Joe stepped over to grab it.
"Dip it the edge in the water glass."
"Sure."
Joe followed the directions and brought it back, handing it to Clay. the leather appeared cracked from the heat of the flames but if he was lucky perhaps some title might be found. Pressing one hand to the surface, he looked to his foreman. "Here goes." He brought the cloth over the leather journal and pressed the moisture into the leather. A something began to emerge beneath the soot. He wiped again. A few letters began to appear. "Wet this again," he told Joe and waited for the cloth. On the third swipe, three letters stamped in gold appeared. There was no mistaking the M, small c, and capital K.
"Something else you ought a know, boss. Ten head of cattle went on a midnight waltz last night."
Clay looked up. "You searched?"
"Every where possible."
Clay stared down at the letters on the book. "What are you thinking?"
"Diversion," Joe said. "We were all at the fire. What better time to take cattle."
Rage boiled up inside him. The pieces were coming together. His arms shaking, his anger so intense he wanted to put his fist through the wall. Instead, Clay replied. "Go get the sheriff."
***
It was late when Maeve awoke. It took her a few moments to realize where she was. Rocking R, yes, lord she remembered. She'd gone to the meadow to ask the wee folk for help. However, the candle turned over and set the meadow aflame. She glanced down at the bandage around her ankle. How was she going to explain the fire and her part in the affair?
"Mother Mary, I never make it easy," she whispered.
Tossing back the covers, she climbed from the mahogany bed. With the utmost care, she placed weight upon the ankle. Stiff and sore, she was surprised she could hobble about. With no robe, Maeve pulled the colorful quilt about her shoulders. In slow measured steps, she moved toward the doorway. Her hand turned the brass knob and she peered out.
The hallway on the second floor appeared empty. One hand on the wall, steadied her progress. The other kept the quilt tightly clutched at her chest. The closer she came to the stairway, the louder the voice below. She stopped to listen, their tone unmistakably angry. Fear clutched at her heart. She stopped at the landing.
"You mean to say, you think the McKenna's are behind the missing cattle around here?"
Maeve's eyes opened wide. The sheriff! Her hand let go of the wall to clutch the rail of the banister. She leaned closer, straining to hear their words.
"We found these in the center of the burn." Clay's voice rose.
Found! What did they find? Her heart flipped and sank to her feet. The rucksack, it had to be.
"We figure the girl set the fire to distract us while her brothers cut out the cattle."
Her heart pounded in her chest as she listened to the accusations being branded about down below.
"Look, right now, you got no proof." The sheriff replied.
"I got all the proof I need." Clay's voice was harsh as it echoed in the empty stairwell. "If you don't arrest them, I will take matters into my own hands."
"Is that a threat, Mr. Roberts?" Sheriff Masters asked.
"No, sheriff that is a promise."
The anger in Clay's voice cut Maeve's heart like a knife. Her mind whirled as the sounds of boots scraped the hardwood floors. Through a cloud of tears, she watched the sheriff emerge with Clay and his foreman at his flank. She should do something. Her foot slipped and she gasped as the pain rippled up her leg. Three faces turned to look at her. Caught, dead to right, Maeve had no choice.
"I did it," Her voice shook as she spoke. "I lit the candles. They fell over. I started the fire. But, it is not what cha are thinking. "
Clay's eyes turned to steel. "Sheriff, I want that woman arrested."

To be continued...


If you would like to read more of Maeve's adventures, please be sure to sign up for my newsletter and get the rest of the installments. To follow the Viorey Linger Reading Trail please copy and follow this link : http://www.voireylinger.com/index.php?p=1_27

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary


I have a dear friend who emailed this morning, wishing me happy anniversary. You see, it's not my wedding anniversary, nor the day I became engaged, but it is the 75th anniversary of a film that defines every southern girl's inheritance, Gone With the Wind.

When you are born, people look at you in two categories, Melanie, the steadfast woman of simple beauty whose heart belonged to only one man, Ashley Wilkes, or
Scarlett, a self centered, stunning beauty that no man could resist who was determined to have the man who didn't want her at the cost of all.

Both of these women are hard role models to emulate. Yet, in my humble opinion, they are the mirrored image of what all women are, like two halves of a whole. The teenager, the free spirit before marriage is Scarlett, the composed woman with the grace of a wife and mother is Melanie. It is an ironic black and white portrait of emotions.


I can remember being introduced to someone and immediately upon speaking my accent gives me away. The gentleman laughed and remarked, "A Scarlett I presume." In all honesty, I was insulted. I consider myself more of a Melanie and yet, the more I thought about it, how exciting it would have been to be the "bell of the ball" just once. Of course, the image that popped into my mind was that of Scarlett at the ball after her husband died of measles, dancing behind the booth until Rhett pulled her out and they turned Atlanta on its ear by having a widow dance.

Hum... come to think of it. I'm always doing something wrong, turning things on its ear. Perhaps, I'm more Scarlett than I realize. One thing I have come to know. A man wants a woman like Melanie to raise his children, but in his bed, he demands Scarlett a woman who lust for life and takes what she wants damn the consequences. As a romance writer, it is the essential part of being a woman and writing those emotions.

I'll leave you today with my favorite picture. Happy Anniversary to Gone With the Wind fans everywhere.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day Dreaming




I must tell you, we've had some wonderful weather this week. Temperatures in the upper 70's, low humidity - just delightful. But, this is the south and soon that will change. Tomorrow's call is for the 90's and increased humidity. For those beyond the Mason Dixon Line it means there is no good hair day.

So a friend of mine asked where would I go what would I do otherwise. Hum? I closed my eyes and thought about it. The vision appeared ( along with Zac Brown's song Toes in the Water ). Champagne shores... so those white crystal beaches, palm trees for shade across a wide deck and there I'd sit in one of those brightly Caribbean painted Adirondack chairs possible a Turquoise blue. I'd definitely be forty pounds lighter. My emerald green bandeau bathing suit would be covered by a print gauze cloth of off white sprinkled with salmon colored Hibiscus flowers. A soft warm breeze would disturb the brim of my straw hat.

On my right, a tall glass of ice tea. You can see that tea glass covered with condensation, the rim lined with a dab of raw sugar, wedge of lemon, and a washed sprig of mint resting sideways, leaning against the glass for support so it wouldn't slip beneath the liquid. My eyes are closed as the waves gently roll to shore.

Ahh yes... toes in the water... bottom in the sand... not a worry in the world... ice tea at my hand - Life is good today... life is good today... sigh................

Have a great end of the week and love your special father this weekend.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nature strikes again...

I really don't like snakes. I know there are great for keeping rodents and other pests down - sigh- but I really hate snakes. As long as they are out doing their job, in the back field where I can't see them, I'm fine. HOWEVER, when they step outside those bounds and decide to come closer to visit the human in the house, I call out the reinforcements.

Yep, you guessed it, the other night, I had to call for back up.

It was your typical day. Hot, Humid, Hazy - those of you in the south know exactly what I'm talking about. Even ants break a sweat in those types of days. So after supper when it was a bit cooler, I thought I'd go out and rescue my baked laundry on the line. Basket firmly attached to my hip, I opened the back door and stepped onto the deck. I stepped maybe two feet from the door when something jerked me to a stop.

I suppose its that flight or fight lizard part of my brain that recoiled when it noticed it. Cause truly, I wasn't looking. But fear bolted my feet to the deck and the hair on the back of my neck rose. Mouth dry, I craned my neck and looked around to try and figure out what sounded the alarm. Sure enough, there by the doggies pool lay a huge black hose.

Yeah, it wasn't a hose. But it lay coiled past the pool for about three feet. Heart hammering, I did what every red blooded woman would do. I dropped the basket and ran back to the house. Flinging (Yes, in the south, we fling things) the door open, I cried out. "KILL IT!" And bless them, the men came to my defense.

My son who works in construction had just gotten out of the shower. Decked out in his blue camo boxers, no shirt, his Roy Rodgers cowboy boots, and John Deere hat came running from his room with his forty five in his hand. Ah Dirty Harry you would have been proud. Then husband appeared armed with a shotgun, bare-footed, jean shorts and a white t shirt. Ah no hat, it bothers his solar collector on his head.

Anyway, I now have Doc Holiday and the Outlaw Josey Wales on the deck going, "Yeah, that's a big snake."
"Man do you see it's head?"
"Naw, just cut it across the middle and get it to raise up."
All the while the dog is going toward the pool curious to all the shouting and smelling something not right. Me? Oh, I'm cowering behind the two big brave men and then they tell me to get the dog.

I go down the steps calling the dog who notices the son, Doc Holiday, climbing on the rail of the deck and turning his hat backwards to get a good shot. Tail between his legs, the dog slinks to me and we go in the garage to sit on the back steps. Moments later, its Saturday night in Tombstone. Shrieks of, "I got 'em!" "No, I got 'em!" ring across the yard. I let the dog go and he high tails it to the garden as far away as he can get from the smoke of the deadly shootout.

The six foot snake is dead and I am now safe. Doc Holiday has another notch on his gun and Josey can retreat to his inner sanctum. Me, I'm cutting the grass as low as it can go so Mr. No shoulders will find another spot to hide.

Yeah man, all in the life of living on the farm.

RIP Mr. No Shoulders

Friday, June 3, 2011

Goodbye to another hero of the range....

Growing up, you could always count on two things, Friday night was meatloaf and on Monday night the world stopped revolving in the twentieth century because at 8 p.m. Gunsmoke was on. As a child, I watched it but not with the intent scrutiny of my parents. My dad watched it probably for Miss Kitty. My mom watched it for James Arness.

He wasn't a strikingly handsome actor like Clark Gable or Montgomery Cliff but his well worn face and honest expressions reminded us of our own humanity. He had a commanding impression on our small black and white T.V. and gave a good delivery of his lines that made us all believe in everything he said. I think everyone practiced the fast draw that was on the opening five seconds of the show. In fact, it was that opening scene that attracted so many of the ladies that lived in our little horseshoe. Yes, those paragons of virtue would sit around and wait for it. His pants legs first, as he moved down the street to meet the bad guys. Slowly he filled the screen. You waited while he removed the safety. His fingers spread out, wide just beyond the handle of his .45 and you held your breath as the music swelled. All the while praying that just once the heavy would lay down his weapon and go peacefully. Yeah, that's what WE thought we saw.

I think I was in my twenties with babies on the way and we were watching an episode of How the West was Won when my mother came clean. Yes, all those years I thought she was sitting peacefully beside my dad, indulging his fantasy and mine of winning the west, only to find out, the ladies were watching how round Matt Dillion's rear end was. Come Tuesday morning, when they all got together for coffee, they would lower their voices and chuckle over how it excited them. I couldn't help but laugh when she told me. The image of all those ladies fanning themselves, drinking coffee, indulging on cinnamon coffee cake discussing another man's buns still makes me laugh.

So today, when I heard of Mr. Arness' passing, I thought about those ladies I grew up with. Only two are left, but I have to wonder when they get together on Tuesday, will they discuss those days of yester- year when they watched television on Monday night's to get an eyeful of one cowboys trouser seats.

Mr. Arness, you will be missed. I think Toby Keith said it best in the lyrics of his song, I should've been a Cowboy,

"I bet you've never heard ole Marshall Dillion say
Miss Kitty have you ever thought of running away
Settling down will you marry me
If I asked you twice and begged you pretty please
She'd of said Yes in a New York minute
They never tied the knot
His heart wasn't in it
He stole a kiss as he road away
He never hung his hat up at Kitty's place"


The range you ride now, sir, is different. You may not have hung your hat up in Kitty's place, but you will be forever remembered as the sheriff of Dodge City. Thank you for 20 memorable years and a lifetime of dreams.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Musings...




I'm not a big coffee drinker. Love to sit in Starbucks but I can't drink the stuff. It smells wonderful but when I put coffee in my mouth, my throat closes up refusing to let it down. Perhaps its my glasses. I've heard it said.. if you drink coffee your ears will fall off and I'd have no way to keep them on my head. What ever the reason, I am a tea drinker.

Winter or summer my day begins with a glass of ice tea garnished with lemon. I maybe bleary-eyed and grumpy till the taste of Mr. J. Lipton hits the back of my throat and cuts the dust from the back of my mouth. I savor it. Holding in for a few moments, letting the fresh citrus tingle wake my taste bugs before it cools my throat as it careens over the falls toward my gullet. There is nothing as pleasant as that.

By afternoon, the stress of the day has taken its told and I'm up for another cold glass. The day of course will end with a warm cup of tea in the quiet of my living room when the men folks have skedaddled to their beds. So, no surprise, I'm making my pitcher of tea this morning ready to head out to the deck to plan a disaster for my hero and heroine when I pause to read the back of the tea bag paper.

"Your small cup can make a big difference"... really? Well it sure flushes my kidney's ... let's read on.... "Now , when you drink a cup of Lipton tea, you are not only taking care of yourself..." Ah see the subliminal message letting me know its okay to continue to drink... "but, you a re doing a bit more to support tea growers and the environment."



Okay, my family has always drank J. Lipton. When I was little I suppose I thought he was part of the family because the box with his likeness sat on the counter watching me eat Captain Crunch every morning. If my buying a box of tea supports tea growers then lets look at how much I have contributed to the well being of the world. I am double nickles. Uh, yeah that is 55. I've been drinking tea religiously since I was at least 5 years old. At 3 glasses a day, that 1095 glasses a year so for 50 years... that's 54,750 glasses give or take a few. We buy 2, 100 bag boxes of tea every two weeks, so that's 52 boxes a year. Average cost about three bucks a box.. so in a years time that's about... $156.00 worth of J. Lipton. Now, for 50 years that means I've contributed..nearly 7,800 dollars to save the worlds tea growers, not counting tax.

Say, I think this Tea hero needs another glass.. pardon me while I pour some over the ice and sit on my back porch to ponder my next adventure. Won't you join me? Cheers!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day.. pause to remember...


Its Memorial Day weekend. When you pass a cemetery today and noticed those flags waiving in the breeze?Think of it as those who are waving at you to enjoy your trip and in the quiet of the evening to say a prayer of thanks. Day is done, Gone the sun... but their spirits remain. Thank you Veterans for all you do, all you did, and my chance to make it right tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

As Mothers....

We are the gatekeepers to all that is holy. The first card with that strained effort to control the crayon as it traced the hand upon paper to every report card, gift to the tooth fairy, and of course those heart to heart talks about why so and so doesn't like me. We touched our children's lives by giving them a piece of our hearts and letting them explore.

I'm writing this today because of a bit of nostalgia that came and went yesterday. Somewhere in the late 1970's we bought a huge chest type freezer from Monkey Wards. Those of you who like me, are as old as dirt understand that I am talking about Montgomery Wards. Those of you younger think a rival of Sears or Target. So for 40 some years this freezer kept summer vegetables saved for winter feast. It kept our frozen pop-cycles on hand for reducing fever. When we had our fill of Halloween or Easter candy it would keep those containers out of sight - out of mind until we were ready to eat them again and laugh over the costumes. Well, long story short, the freezer died.

So armed with winter gloves and jackets, we pulled the trashcans in the garage and began to unload it. Cherries labeled 1991, tossed. Turkey sausage when we tried a new diet. Yeah, that didn't work either. Frozen pumpkin left over from 1998's Christmas pie extravaganza. It made a unique thump. And there, tucked away under the jalapeno peppers, he sat. Still preserved in his Walmart plastic bag, a treasured friend from 1991.



My children were four, seven and eleven and it was the last time they took an interest in snowmen. Oh,it wasn't the best of snowfalls. More ice than fluffy wet snow but here in the south it was white, frozen, and earned them a day off of school.
So out there in the wet, the rolled three balls of various size. Each child took the portion they were most cut out for. The smallest did the head, middle son the body and older daughter the base. Someone broke some pine twigs for limbs, and dug down in the driveway to get stones for eyes, nose, and a mouth. He was christened Buddy Holiday.

Buddy stayed out all night but the next day temps warmed and they became alarmed that Buddy would be like Frosty and dance away. Plotting at the kitchen table over supper, they came up with the idea to place what was left of Buddy in the chest freezer. Over the years, they'd run to the freezer, open the lid, and call out the weather to their cold hearted friend. They planned calendars. Threatened to bring him out on those horrid hot, humid, days in August or even let him celebrate the Fourth of July with sparklers.



But, as the years went by, they forgot about Buddy or brought him up only sparingly. My children are now 24, 27, and nearing 31. However when I picked up the phone and called them to ask what do they think I found, the first thing out of their mouth was Buddy Holiday. You could hear them revert to their younger self. The laughter in their voice, the awe that a mother would allow a snowman to live inside their freezer. And for one last time, they were again my babies.

I put Buddy Holiday on my well and watched him begin to slowly vanish. They called and begged me to take pictures and send to them. Which of course a proud mother did. As the sun sank in the west and night fell softly, we went inside to give Buddy his privacy.

My daughter showed her son the picture and he asked why a snowman was in his Nana's yard in May. She told him the story. Someday, there will be another fine snow and she will make a snowman with her children. If they are lucky, they'll talk her into putting their frozen creation into the freezer. And in the dark of the night, when I am no longer here, they'll laugh and smile remembering what fun we had when snow fell in the south and a snowman was born.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring has finally setting in to Virginia

After weeks of Mother Nature wavering between the return of winter and full blown summer, she has settled into a soft pattern that has laid lawns and fields in sparkling emerald green. I think it must have been the color that has inspired my new short story, Luck of the Irish.

So today I'm introducing my story to my blog readers. I hope you will enjoy it. If you haven't joined my newsletter group, please do they will be getting the newest chapter next week sometime.

For all those mothers, old and new, Happy Mother's Day.

Luck of the Irish

© Nancy O'Berry 2011


Maeve pulled the rough wool shawl across her shoulders and cast a cautionary glance to make sure the McKenna boys hadn't stirred from their quilted wrapped cocoons. She placed her hand against the wood of the door jam and pulled it open just enough to slip her slender frame through. In the dark of the night the soft sounds of the Dakota wind whispering through the small grove of trees near the house brought her comfort. From the darkness an old dog arose and fell in behind her footsteps as she moved toward the smokehouse. Bending down, she opened the door and felt a cold nose press against her forearm.

"Sh," she whispered to the hound. Reaching inside, she pulled a gray rucksack from the floor. Then, dropping to one knee she stroked the silken ears of the animal and looked into the warm brown eyes. "Now Odin, you'll be a good dog and stay here."
The dog's head tilted and thumped its tail upon the ground, before resting its paw upon her knee Maeve smiled. "No, you'll stay and keep them thugs that's called me brothers from following me," she whispered in a deep throaty bough reminiscent of her ancestors from County Cork.

The animal turned his head to listen, then whimpered in response.

"Here now, I'll be safe." She rose, with one gentler stroke, and headed toward the path that wound through the trees along the creek to the Master's ranch. If the McKenna luck held, she'd be back by early morn and none of her brother's the wiser. Her soft leather moccasins made no sound. The sliver of silver moonlight her guide as she broke free of the tree line and skipped across the rocks that formed a natural bridge to the other side of the pasture. Maeve lifted the plain brown of her skirts and felt the brush of the grasses against her limbs.

Those cursed grasses were what brought her to Master's meadow in the dead of night, an uninvited guest to be sure. At the fence she stood and glazed at the top of the hill and wondered if it was still there. Her hands grasped the wood of the rail and she stared. They'd come to this country with all the hope and promise of streets lined with gold. Instead, they'd found the same hatred and bigotry that lived in Ireland. Only here the cruelty was match with words that said "No Irish wanted".

But, they survived. Moving west, saving what they could to put down roots in this land, hoping against hope that for once, they might succeed. Determination lined her face as she crawled through the space and yanked her sack against her. She had to go on. Higher and higher she climbed, the damp of the night's dew soaking the hem of her clothing, but not deterring her footsteps. As she reached the top of the rise, Maeve paused, her heart racing. The breeze rustled the grasses exposing a ring exposing a ring of dark stones.

Hands trembling, she put down the sack and walked to each stone pushing back the grass, to trace the image of the white crosses glimmering in the moonlight. Fairy stones! Perhaps there was still a chance. A chance to turn their luck in the right way!

Rushing back to the sack, her fingers trembling, she drew back the rope and shook out the contents. Sorting through, she rescued the leather bound book and flipped through the pages of her gran's diary to the place marked with the single red ribbon. "An untouched maid, who dances her way among the fairy stones, may break the spell upon what unhappiness dwells and bring good luck to all." Maeve glanced around the field, and then looked to the candles. This was her chance, the courage of three generations of McKenna seekers coursed through her veins. The skin along her arms pricked. There was no turning back, not now, not ever. The curse must be broken.

Happy Reading,

Nancy
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