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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.

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

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.

Teaser Tuesday: Tainted

This will probably be the final teaser from Stained Blood. At least until I’m making the final edits to it. I’ll have it polished and hopefully sent to betas by the end of this week. My CP also said she should have Flames of Renewal(Flames #2) back to me sometime this week. So, I’ll be working on edits for that shortly. but, one more piece of Barrett & Deryn’s story.

Barrett sank into a chair, unsure how much of the truth he should include. He kept his words clipped, even though he feared it would alert the sheriff. He couldn’t force himself to keep up his usual garrulous image. “He’s got a poster with Deryn’s likeness. Says her name is Adara Monihan. She’s his sister-in-law.” His jaw tightened, and he opened and closed his fists a couple times until he forced himself to relax it. “What he’s accusing her of…I won’t say she’s innocent, but it’s not what he makes it out to be.”
The sheriff’s face hardened. “What’s she accused of, Kline? I don’t want to be harboring an outlaw in my town.”
Barrett let out a brief snort. “Outlaw? You’ve looked at her, right? Does she look like an outlaw to you, Carl? Would you have called Leah one if she’d managed to bash one of her captors over the head and escape before we got to her?” He didn’t want to tell Deryn’s truth, whatever it was. But, he did want to get his point across.
Now, the man’s face paled a little. “Of course not, Barrett. She would have done what she had to to survive.”
He gave a short nod. “As did Deryn. If you hand her over to him, I fear she wouldn’t even make it to the railroad.”
Carl laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back in his chair. “It’s no secret in this town you’ve started courting her, Kline. How do I know you are not trying to cover for her.”
Barrett pushed to his feet. “You would ask that of me?”
“Well, your own father did help cover up nearly half a dozen killings. Could say it runs through the blood.”
Flames consumed him as he stood there staring at the sheriff. He grew so hot, the edge of his vision became a red haze. “You would ask that of me?” he questioned again. “Didn’t I do whatever it took to find Leah when my own brother would have had you railroad an innocent man? Didn’t I testify to everything I knew and suspected my own blood had done? Yet, still you believe mine is tainted.”

Teaser Tuesday: “He’s Dead”

I have another teaser from Stained Blood for you today. I will probably have one more before this goes off to beta readers. Then, I’m hoping I’ll also have Flames of Renewal back from my critique partner by then, so I can start sharing from that. Or In the Moonlight if I get started editing that. We’ll have to see how things go.

Anyway, for today here’s a bit from Chapter 8 and a glimpse of Deryn’s back story.

Once Barrett left, Aileen turned toward Deryn, raising one eyebrow. “What was that about?”
“Nothing.” Deryn dropped her gaze to the floor. “Where do you want me to put this?” she asked, reaching for the satchel Barrett set beside the door.
Aileen waved her hand. “Leave it for now. I made some tea. I’d love for you to join me for some.”
Deryn stared at her for a moment. “Don’t you want me to do anything?”
“Yes. Join me for tea.”
Deryn laughed softly, even though her stomach swam. “This job will be easy if that is what is expected of me.” Much better than what her husband and his brother had expected her to do. That thought made her sick, so she pushed it away.
“For today anyway. If you ask my husband, he may tell you I am not always so easy to get along with.”
“Will I be meeting him?”
“He’ll be here for dinner tonight. You’ll be taking your meals here, so of course you’ll meet him.” Deryn followed her into the parlor where a pot and two steaming cups sat. “I do not know how you take your tea.”
Deryn sat on the couch and dropped a cube of sugar in her cup and lifted it to her lips. They sipped tea in silence for a few minutes before Aileen asked, “What of you? I noticed Barrett called you Mrs. Glas. So, there’s a Mr. Glas.”
She bobbled the cup of tea but managed to set it back on the saucer and onto the table without spilling any on herself. “No,” she said, a little breathless. “My husband, he’s dead.”
“I’m so sorry, dear.” Aileen’s face softened. “How did it happen? Was he ill?”
Deryn shook her head. “He…fell.” After she’d swung the cast iron lantern at his head. “He injured his head,” she added when Aileen kept looking at her. “I had to leave. I didn’t have anyone to turn to.”

Teaser Tuesday: “Protect Her”

I’m back with another Teaser Tuesday post for Stained Blood. I should be finishing up the rewrites for it this week. Then, I have to comb through for all the crutch words I tend to use, and other weaknesses. And then I can send it on to beta readers. I have one lined up(as she’s read the first two books in the series), and I may send it back to my CP as well since I’ve made quite a few changes. So, I’m hoping for a summer release.

He didn’t even know where to find the man. But if he was staying in town, he knew one person who would know. The livery stable was the only place to board his horse. So, unless he kept him hitched to a rail along the street, he’d be there. And Jacob would likely know where to find him.
He hadn’t spoken to Jacob since the day he’d found him in the stable with Matthew. Barrett was still sure he hadn’t seen what his mind told him he had. There had to be another explanation. But, he couldn’t get it from Jacob if the other man never spoke to him again.
When he stepped into the stable, he only saw Al standing there. “Is Jacob around?” he asked the older man.
The hostler shook his head. “He ain’t been home for a couple days. You know how he is. He’ll show up sooner or later.”
Except Jacob had said he was going to stick around town now. So he’d have a better image for the election. That didn’t seem to have lasted long, though. Was it because Barrett had seen him here with Matthew? Was there more going on there? He shook off that thought and turned away.
“Was there something I could help you with, Barrett?” Al asked.
He hesitated. Al might have the information he was looking for. “You seen that new man in town?” he asked. “Hector Monihan. He’s posing as a deputy sheriff.”
“Seen him,” Al said, spitting on the ground between them.
“You know where he’s staying?”
Al shook his head. “And I’d suggest you stay far away from him. He’s made his feelings on you and you protecting that woman well known. Be careful.”
“That woman’s my wife now, Al. And I’ll do what I need to protect her. If you hear anything, let me know.”
But, he was pretty sure it would be best if he got Deryn out of town for a couple days at least.

Teaser Tuesday: Surprise

I’m back with another Teaser Tuesday from Stained Blood. This comes from another new scene I’ve added into the story. Barrett’s about to learn something new about his friend, though he’s not quite ready to process it yet.

Matthew reclined back against a mound of hay, his hair was mussed, his cheeks flushed a bright red. And his lips looked swollen. A couple buttons were undone on his shirt, the material gaping where others were in the wrong holes. Barrett knew that look. Barrett had sported that look often enough himself.
Then, he turned his head and stared at Jacob. His dark hair was mussed as well, sticking up at angles as if it had been pulled that way. Where Matthew’s face was flushed, his was pale. Only one button of his shirt was buttoned, the rest gaping open, and that certainly looked like a bite right below his collarbone.
Barrett shook his head as his mind tried to put the pieces together. He took a step back, his head still shaking from one side to the other. No. He hadn’t seen what his eyes told him he had. Only one thing made one look like that. And there was no woman in sight.
“Barrett, where are you going?” Jacob asked. Even his lips looked like the color had drained from them.
“Out. I need to get out of here.” He couldn’t even think about this right now. Not at all.
“You aren’t…you’re not going to tell anyone. Are you?” His voice quivered as if he feared the answer to that.
“What would I tell them, Jacob?” he asked. “I don’t know a damn thing.”

Just what was going on before Barrett arrived? What will Barrett do with this information? How will Jacob act around him now? All things I’m trying to work into the following scenes(since this wasn’t in the first version…Jacob didn’t really start talking to me until I’d finished it).

Teaser Tuesday: Change Coming

I’m back with another teaser from Stained Blood. This one comes right after last week’s.

Carl was scowling now as Jacob continued to talk. His gaze shifted to his son then back to the man challenging him. “You can’t really mean to do this,” he finally said.
“I do,” Jacob insisted. “You’ve had your chance with this town. Now, I think it’s time for something different.”
“You’ll never convince this town you have its best interests in mind. You’re nothing but a shiftless rambler. Everyone knows it. You have to stick around town to be able to protect it.”
Barrett watched every muscle in Jacob’s neck and face tighten. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me, sheriff, if that’s what you really believe. And there’s a lot more to keeping the people in this town safe than just pinning a badge on your chest and kicking your feet up on the desk in there.”
Carl’s face went red at that, and Barrett jumped in. “That’s great, Jacob. I’m glad you took my advice and decided to run in this race.” He turned to look at the sheriff. “After all, what kind of race would it be if you were running all by yourself?”
Carl turned his scowl on Barrett, but it seemed to disarm him at the same time. The red faded from his face and his breathing settled, his fists finally unclenching. “I can’t stop you,” he spit into the dirt at Jacob’s feet. “But don’t think it will be so easy to best me.”

So, is change going to come to this town? Or will everything end up staying the same?

Teaser Tuesday: Secrets

Back with another teaser from Stained Blood. I’ve been making progress on adding words to the next draft. A little more than 3000 words this month. I’m hoping to have this done by the end of March then off to beta readers. For today, I have some words I just wrote this morning.

He stepped down into the street and headed toward the stable. Maybe he just needed to get out of town for a little while. It wouldn’t solve any of his problems, but maybe he could think if he didn’t feel like everyone was watching him so carefully. Like they were just waiting for him to turn into his father or older brother.
How long would it take for them to believe he wasn’t like them? How long would it take for him to believe it?
He shook away that thought. He knew he wasn’t them. But, that fear lingered. He couldn’t drown it even with bottles and bottles of whiskey. He’d certainly tried over the last several months.
No more. He had to find a better way of dealing with the rioting storm inside him. Even if that meant galloping his horse across the hills until they were both worn down. He’d saddle up now and not return until the sun was setting if that was what it took.
Barrett stepped into the stable and saw Jacob first. Only a moment later he noticed the other figure standing there. And another moment before he recognized Matthew Johnson, the sheriff’s oldest son and only one from his first marriage. A woman he’d lost around the same time Barrett’s father had moved them to the territory.
Matthew hadn’t been around town for a while. There were stories of where he might be, as there usually were. Barrett wasn’t going to try to guess which ones were true. He always figured it would be easier to just ask. “Matthew,” he greeted. “I wasn’t aware you were in town.”
“Just arrived on this morning’s stage,” he said, not quite meeting his eyes. Neither did Jacob. Which was quite odd indeed. “I should be going, Jacob. See if my father is up to a visit with me.”
There was some strain there, but Barrett was unaware of what had caused it. And it wasn’t his issue to worry about. Jacob nodded and patted the other’s man’s arm as he stepped away. “Where has he been?” Barrett asked when it was only the two of them again.
“He was writing for a paper over in Lincoln. He’s been in Caspar the last few weeks, though. I don’t know how long he plans to stay in town. It may depend on how his father receives him.”
There was something in Jacob’s voice that Barrett just couldn’t place. And he wasn’t going to strain to figure it out. Not his business, he reminded himself. Jacob was a friend, but if he didn’t want to confide in Barrett there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
“I was going to take my horse out,” he told the other man.
“I’ll get him for you.”
“I can take care of it.” He knew it might be part of Jacob’s job, but he was perfectly capable of doing this himself.
“I know you can. But, I wished to speak to you anyway.”

Just what secrets are being kept around here? And what’s up with Matthew? I’ll let you know…when I find out. 😉 He just showed up during this draft. I know some of what’s going on but as usual my characters like to keep some things from me until they’re good and ready to let me know. 🙂

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