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Story a Day: Day 29 – “Meeting Maribel”

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write the story that you’ve been hungering to write. Nothing was really coming to me. I looked over everything I’ve written this month and while taking a walk, an idea came to me. I already wrote about Arcelia and Maribel, but today I have the moment they met.

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Arcelia glanced at each of the doors along the hallway before finally stopping in front of one. She double-checked the paper in her hand and satisfied she had the right one, pushed the door open. The room was empty, but she saw one of the beds was already made, and there was stuff out on the desk and when she poked her head around the corner, in the closet. She looked back out the door. “Guess I’m taking the left side of the room.”
“You two didn’t already decide that ahead of time?” her older brother, Toby, asked as he carried a couple boxes into the room.
“I didn’t even know how the room was going to be set up. All we did was introduce ourselves.” And even then, they hadn’t shared that many details. So, Arcelia had been looking forward to learn more about her roommate when they actually met. “I do know she’s from Gilbert, too. Though, she just moved up here with her parents a couple years ago.”
“Looks like she’s already been here and gone. An organized soul.”
“You’re a dork, Toby.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her temple. “I love you, too.”
She laughed and shoved against his shoulder. But, she didn’t try to get out of his hold as they waited for their mom and her twin brother, Jonas, to make it to the room. She stared at Jonas for a few long moments. He seemed okay, but something was different. And it wasn’t just that he actually had muscles now after the last twelve weeks of basic training.
There was still a sadness in his eyes. She’d hoped he’d get over Isaac by now. But, it didn’t look like that had happened. And he wasn’t going to be here for long before he had to leave for more training. So, she wasn’t going to ruin any of it by mentioning that jerk to him.
They put the rest of her boxes down on the floor, and she opened the first one to start unpacking while they went back down for the next load. She found her sheets first and made her bed. She was another organized soul, as Toby had called her still mystery of a roommate.
By the time her mom and brothers had made it back to the room, she had two boxes emptied and their previous contents organized to her satisfaction.
“That’s the last of it,” Toby said, setting two more boxes down. “Though I’m still not sure why you’re living on campus, when Mom’s house is only about a ten minute drive away.”
“It’s longer than that. And I want to live on campus. That’s why.” She loved her family, but Jonas was going to be gone. And Toby was always so protective, even though he had his own family now, sometimes she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep breathing.
“Leave her be, Tobias,” their mother said. “Come on. We’ll take you for lunch then come back and help you unpack.”
“I’ll take lunch, but I think I can handle unpacking myself. I know right where I want to put stuff.”
“Always so independent,” Toby said.
She dug her fingers into his side, and he jumped away from her. “Damn. You always were vicious when it came to tickling.”
“Some things don’t change just because I’m grown up.”
“Keep telling yourself that’s the case. You’re always going to be my baby sister.”
***
Arcelia hugged Jonas tight, not sure when she’d get to see him again. He’d be leaving for Texas soon, and she didn’t even know where to after that. “Stay safe,” she whispered.
“I’ll be fine,” he told her, but he squeezed her just as tight. “Don’t let any of those college boys take advantage of you. Or girls,” he added after a moment.
She snorted. She had no desire for that. No matter who it was. She waved as her family drove away then turned and headed back up to her room.
She would miss them, but she could go home whenever she needed. She’d at least be able to see Toby and her nephew and new niece.
When she made it back up to the room, she heard someone humming inside. That must be the roommate. Arcelia didn’t understand this quickening in her chest. She never got like this. And they’d only exchanged a total of two emails. She shook that off and stepped inside.
The other girl turned her head and grinned. “You must be Arcelia. I see you brought your stuff up already. Where’s your family? Did they come with you?”
Arcelia smiled at the way her questions almost seemed to run together. “So, you’re Maribel then. And they were here. My mom and brothers.” Her half-sister hadn’t, but that wasn’t a big surprise. Tereza never had a whole lot to do with them. “They took me to lunch then headed back home.”
“Mine did, too. Both of my parents and my big brother. My sister’s still in New Mexico. No reason for her to come just to move me into the dorm.”
They hadn’t exchanged too many details about their families in their emails. “So, you’ve got a big brother as well? I’ve got two. Well, technically one is my twin brother, and he was only born a couple minutes before me.”
The other girl laughed at that. “I always thought I wanted a twin. Allison’s like three years older than me, and she always had her own thing going. And Patrick’s like fourteen years older than me. He was practically out of the house when I came along.”
“I never thought we’d have so much in common. Toby’s about that much older than me. When Dad died, he stepped in, though. So, we’ve always had a unique relationship.”
“I’m sorry,” Maribel said.
Arcelia shook her head. “Don’t be. It was a long time ago.” Nearly a dozen years. Something caught her attention over Maribel’s desk, and she took a step closer. “How come you have a picture of Jason and Connie up on your wall?”
“You know them?” Maribel asked, stepping closer.
“My brother works with Connie’s brother. We know them pretty well.”
“Well, Jason used to be married to my brother’s half-brother’s half-sister.” Her mouth twitched, then she added, “Well, technically Patrick’s my half-brother, too. I know it’s confusing. There’s a lot of halves. Allison’s my full sister, though.”
“And I thought my family was confusing. Toby’s my half-brother, and I have an older half-sister. But, my mom abandoned her when she was little, and she still holds a grudge for that, so we don’t see her much. She spends more time with the couple who adopted her when she was a teenager. And they just adopted my brother’s boyfriend, too. They’d been his foster parents for a couple years before that. And he’s actually Jonas’ ex now. The stupid jerk.”
“Your brother or the boyfriend?”
“Ex-boyfriend,” Arcelia reminded her. “He dumped Jonas at graduation, in front of our whole class. And I’d always liked him, too.”
“Well, he sounds like a fool, then. Is your brother going to school here, too?”
Arcelia shook her head. “He joined the army. He’s a stupid jerk, too. Making me worry about him.”
Maribel laughed and gave Arcelia a quick hug. And there went her heart again. What was wrong with her? It was just a hug. But, if her body was going to keep shorting out on her, this was going to be a long semester. Maybe by the time it was over, she’d have this under control. Or she could find a new roommate.

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Story a Day: Day 14 – Arcelia

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write 1 of 4 different types of stories: Milieu, Intrigue/Idea, Character, or Event. Most of my stories are dominantly character stories, and that’s what I wrote here. If you follow my WiPPet Wednesday posts, you’ve met Jonas, and through him, his twin sister, Arcelia. She’s at least being less demanding than Jonas(& Isaac) have been, but I’ve had some sparks of ideas.

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“What is wrong with you? That boy is hot, and you haven’t given him a second glance.”
Arcelia nearly cringed away at the question. She was sure Maribel didn’t mean anything bad by it, but she’d been asked that so many times since she was a teenager. “I suppose he’s physically appealing,” she admitted.
Maribel just looked over at her. “Physically appealing? That’s all you’ve got?”
“Hey, if you like him, you go talk to him.”
Mari blew out a breath. “I’ve tried. Your dad’s my boss. That’s all I ever get from him. Anyway, he’s always looking at you.”
“Because I present a challenge.” She was used to guys thinking of her that way. Like if they were charming enough, she’d realize she was actually attracted to one of them. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. “He’s a nice guy, but there’s just nothing there. There never is.”
It was the first time she’d admitted that to anyone but her twin brother. And to her surprise, it felt good. Especially when Maribel nudged her with her elbow, and Arcelia looked over to see her friend smiling at her.
“That’s okay, you know. Not everyone has to be completed by some love of their life. It’s okay if that’s not what you want. Being asexual or aromantic doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.”
“Or both?” Arcelia asked, even though she knew the answer. Jonas had said it enough times when they’d discussed this. But, it was hard to accept when the rest of society insisted she must be missing out on something.
“Or both,” Maribel confirmed. Then, she tugged on Arcelia’s arm. “Come on. Let’s get some air. I can only handle watching him so long before I feel like I’m going to combust.”

Fiction Friday: “Serious Conversation”

“I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you!” Maddix said, gripping his head with one hand.

“And I’m trying to subtly avoid you,” Arcelia said, picking her camera up again.

He stared at her then burst out laughing. “You’re impossible, you know that?”

She grinned behind the camera then it was flashing right in his face. “Yep,” she answered. “Trust me, I have two brothers to tell me that all the time. You’re not needed.”

The comment was flippant, as most of hers toward him were. But, it dug deep. Yeah, he was really starting to feel that way.

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Awww, poor Maddix. He’ll figure out his feelings toward Arcelia…eventually. And, no, they won’t end up together. She doesn’t have those feelings.

 

Fiction Friday: “You’re Drunk”

“I think you’re beautiful.”

“You’re drunk and not going to like you said that in the morning.”

“I’m not that drunk,” Maddix said, though he was careful to make sure his words didn’t come out slurred. “And it’s true every time of day.”

Arcelia rolled her eyes and leaned back against the counter. “You’re being ridiculous. Just like always.”

“Like never. Why do you always have to argue with me?”

Arcelia tossed her head back and laughed. She really was beautiful. Why did she always think he was lying about that? “Because it’s so much fun,” she said. She looked beyond him and a smile spread over her face. “Oh, here comes Maribel. I think she’s the one you really want to call beautiful.”

The pleasant buzzing in his blood turned to something else. He couldn’t turn around, though. He’d likely make a fool of himself if he did. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

As her soft voice drifted toward them, he was pretty sure it wouldn’t be the last.

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A really short one this time. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going to happen between these characters, but I think it’s going to be fun.

Story a Day: Day 30 – “Your Call”

“Yes, Lucas, I will marry you.”

Lucas brought Arcelia’s hand to his lips, pressing them softly to her skin. Then, he rose back to his feet and drew her to her feet. He found he did not want to let her go. Not yet, maybe not ever. But, he needed to. He’d already informed her parents and older brother of his intentions. Now to tell them she had accepted.

They’d always accepted him and as more than just another ranch hand. They hadn’t denied his request to ask for her hand, even though he imagined they’d have someone else in mind for her. Another Mexican rancher perhaps. Not the son of Irish immigrants who had fled before they’d starved. But, they’d left it up to her to choose. And she had chosen him.

He finally released her and stepped back. But, she grabbed onto his hand again. Maybe she did not want to let him go yet either. Well, they could go spread the news together.

But, as they headed out of the parlor, there was a commotion near the front door. Lucas moved so Arcelia was behind him. He didn’t know just what was going on, but he’d protect her from whatever it was.

Then, he recognized the voice that shouted, “You cannot just keep me from seeing her.”

“Varick,” he muttered. That man had become such a thorn in his side. He knew Arcelia had tried to gently turn him away. But, the man never stayed gone.

“I do not wish to see him,” she said.

Without looking back, he reached for her hand and squeezed it. “Then, I will make sure he leaves. Just wait here.”

He stepped away from Arcelia and moved toward the front door. Both Diego and his father blocked the entrance to the house. He put a hand on Diego’s arm, and he shifted so Lucas could step through.

“I think it’s been made clear that you are not welcome here,” he told Varick.

The man sneered at him. “It is not your home. You only work here. You cannot tell me to go or stay. If Arcelia wants to see me-”

“She doesn’t,” Lucas informed him.

“That is not your call to make.”

“You are right. It’s not. It is Arcelia’s, and she has said she does not wish to see you. Right after she agreed to marry me.”

The other man’s body went rigid at that, his face turning dark as thunderclouds seemed to build in his eyes. “She did not. She is mine.”

“That is not the choice she made,” Lucas said, keeping his voice calm even as everything in him wanted to throw him at Varick and put a final stop to this.

“She will. Once you are dead, she will come right to me.”

Lucas rested a hand on the butt of one of his pistols. Even when going courting, he couldn’t risk leaving them behind. Not when Varick was in town. Or when someone else would decide to call him out and try to take his name as a gunfighter. It was a name he’d never wanted, but he had it now and couldn’t just get rid of it.

“That will not happen, Mr. Steinwehr,” Arcelia said from behind him, nearly making his heart stop. She should have stayed back where it was safe. But, she continued speaking and moving up beside him. “I have already asked you to leave me be. I would ask it again and for you to remain gone this time.”

“You will regret this,” Varick said, his eyes still burning like an icy fire. “I swear it.”

Lucas stood there until Varick had turned and walked away. He knew this wasn’t over. That man wouldn’t let it be until he had what he wanted. Diego swung the door shut then turned to him.

“You must go,” he said. “It won’t be safe for the two of you here any longer.”

“I won’t leave Arcelia behind. We’re getting married. Once that is done, we can find a place of our own. Somewhere she will be safe. Until then, I will not run.”

“I would not put it past that man to shoot you in the back rather than face you. Would you leave my sister with that grief?”

“I can’t just go,” he said, his voice raw. “I can’t leave her behind.”

Diego glanced at his parents then Arcelia, and getting nods from them as if they understood what he was thinking, he looked back to Lucas. “Then, you’ll marry now and take her with you. I’d rather my sister be away with you than dead or in his hands.”

Lucas looked over at Arcelia. “This is what you want?” he asked.

She reached out and took his hand. “I want to live a life with you. That is all. If this is the way it must be done, then it makes me happy.”

Lucas’ face softened and his shoulders dropped. he studied her face, making sure what she said was true. he could see no sign of her lying, though. So he nodded and turned to Diego. “Call for the priest then. We’ll have it done.”

He still didn’t like the idea of running from a problem. But, if it meant keeping Arcelia safe, that was just what he would do. he only hoped the trouble wouldn’t follow him to wherever they chose to make their new life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story with the Hansel and Gretel structure, with the life-changing moment at the beginning and everything following from that. This is some back story for a western I’m working on. It’s actually one I wrote years ago(I don’t think I have that version any longer & it’s probably just as well) and have recently re-plotted. I’ve had some trouble with it, but hoping it’s finally coming together for me.

Story a Day: Day 26 – Letters Home

Mother and Father,

I hope you will not worry for me. I could not sit aside any longer while our country is torn apart. I will return once the war has been won.

Your loving son,

Lucas

***

Mother and Father,

I have not received a response to my last letter home. I hope that to mean it has just not found its way to me. Three years of fighting, and I’m ready to come home. They say this war should be over soon. But they have been saying that since the first shots of this senseless war. Still, I hope to be home soon.

Your weary son,

Lucas

***

Mother and Father,

I am coming home. The war is done, and the Union secure. I do not know why you have still not responded, or if your letter had just been lost on its way to me. I pray that is the answer, but this war has left me little easiness where those I care for are concerned.  

I got word Joseph fell at Gettysburg. No one has had word of Benjamin since I joined  up. I hope he is well and will be returning home to you as well, and that you were able to keep Aaron from joining the war effort. I saw Peter at one of the battles and held his hand in the field hospital after as he faded away. Two brothers gone, and that isn’t the worst of the war.

I am sorry if this letter brings you sorrow. I feel it’s all I’m left with some days. I am just ready to be home. I hope to find the rest of you well.

Your hopeful son,

Lucas

***

Benjamin,

This letter will likely never find you, still I will post it, even not knowing where you are now. You are the only one I can write to with this news. You are my only living brother, if you do indeed still live. Mother and father are dead. They perished in a house fire more than a year ago. Aaron and Bridget went with them.

Abigail is married to our old neighbor, Elijah. I am sure you remember him, you were of an age. He treats her and their three children well from all I could see. Joseph and Peter fell during the war. I hope the same fate did not come to you. But, I do not know how I will ever know.

I cannot stay here any longer. There is nothing left for me here. I do not know where I will go, but I hope to find my place out there. Perhaps I will even find you while I’m about it.

Your searching brother,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

I hope this letter finds you well. I got your last before leaving Mayfield. The country is still torn to pieces. I do hope it can start being put back to rights soon.

I have a new nephew, you say. Elijah must be so proud. I miss the children. I wish I’d felt I could stay as you offered, but it didn’t feel right. I’m keeping on the move now. No place feels more like home than another. I do plan to stay here for a time, so hopefully your next letter will catch me as well.

I hope you, Elijah, and the children all remain well. Maybe in time I will see you again.

Your wandering brother,

Lucas

***

Elijah,

I killed a man. I can barely stand to put those words to paper. He was not the first, but the others were all during war. This was different. I did not wish to kill him, but he was stealing my horse, my only means of travel. I only meant to stop him, not kill him.

Please do not relay this news to my sister. I do not wish her to know what I am becoming. His friends tracked me down. I didn’t have a choice, Elijah. If I had not killed them, they would have killed me. But, it is weighing down my soul.

I do not know how long I will be here in this town. The marshal assured me I am in no trouble for defending my own life, but those men may have more friends. I will do what is necessary to stay alive, but I do not wish to take more lives.

Take care of my sister and nephews,

Your disquieted brother-in-law,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

I have met a woman. I know I have been silent for a while. I did not want you to know what my life has become. If Elijah has not told you, tell him he may. I am changing it, or at least making my best effort to return to the man I’d hoped to be.

But, I do not wish you to worry about that. I have signed on with a cattle outfit in Texas now and only use my guns as needed. We have just delivered a herd of cattle to New Mexico Territory, which is where I met her. Arcelia Rodriguez. I do not know how to put to paper all I feel for her. The rest of the outfit is heading back to Texas in the morning. I have taken my wages and will be returning to Arcelia.

I may have no future here with her, either. But, it is something I hope to find out.

Your loving brother,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

Your baby brother is now a married man. I can barely write the words without laughing and shaking my head. Arcelia accepted when I asked for her hand, and the rest feels like a whirlwind. I have never been so happy as the day we were bound together.

It is not all light and joy, though. There was another man who wanted Arcelia’s hand. When she chose me, he swore we’d regret it. As much as I have enjoyed working for Arcelia’s family, there is no way we could stay there and be safe. I won’t risk her, especially not now when she is carrying my child.

Yes, I am to be a father. Can you believe that? I’ve built on some land on the other side of the territory from her family. It’s nearly a week ride between, but her brother, Diego, has promised to visit when he can. And to keep watch on the situation there. If it is ever resolved, we may be able to return.

I remain safe for now. And I hope you and your family are as well.

Your settled brother,

Lucas

***

Diego,

I am glad to hear that Varick Steinwehr no longer appears to be a problem on that side of the territory. Since you say it is safe, I will bring Arcelia and Alejandro for a visit. I do not yet know about moving back. As you know, I have started a small ranch of my own out here. I am not sure I am ready to just start over.

But, we will visit. Arcelia misses you and the rest of the family. And I would like Alejandro to meet his grandparents before he can remember a time of not knowing them. I have to see to some things here, then we shall leave. In two weeks’ time, we should be there.

Your grateful brother-in-law,

Lucas

***

Diego,

We made it home. I will keep this short as I still tire easily and am not feeling well. The wounds from Varick’s bullets are healing, but I still wake with nightmares. As does Arcelia. Alejandro seems to be none the worse for his ordeal, but I suppose only time will tell.

I want to think Varick’s son’s threats were empty, but I cannot take that risk. It would be better if people start to hear I am dead. I’m afraid he will never stop coming for me otherwise. With Arcelia’s condition, I will not put my growing family to chance. This will be the last you hear from me until you can make your way here.

Your despairing brother-in-law,

Luke

***

Luke Tierney sat back after sealing the final letter he’d send to his brother-in-law. He closed his eyes, but that didn’t stop that day from playing out in his mind. A hand came down on his shoulder, gentle as it always was. “Are you finished?” his wife asked. “You should come to bed.”

“No,” he said quietly. “I have one more thing to do.”

He stood up from the chair, taking a moment until his body stopped protesting, then unbuckled the gun belt from around his waist. He walked to the bedroom and knelt in front of the chest at the end of their bed. Once he’d tucked the guns inside, he sat back on his heels.

“You do not have to do that,” Arcelia said. “You can still protect us with them.”

Luke shook his head. “All they have brought me is destruction. I’m not Lucas Tierney, the gunfighter. From now on, I’m only Luke Tierny, a simple rancher. That’s all I want, this place, you, and our family. None of the trouble those have always brought me.”

He could only hope laying them down would be enough.

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Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story using a series of letters. I wasn’t going to add that last bit, as it isn’t in the form of a letter. But, I decided to anyway. And Luke’s going to learn it won’t be quite that easy after all.

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