This is the third, unedited, chapter in the upcoming third book of the Stoney Creek Story series. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment! I will update weekly with chapters from two of my WIP’s.
Cassidy Jane awoke late the next morning to the familiar noise of Beulah in the kitchen. She pulled her quilt up under her chin, willing the moment to last a little longer. She heard her Papa in the yard below whistling for Old Jack. She arose from her bed and swiftly lifted her window. She leaned out and called to her father below.
“You best get some vittles, C.J., if you want to come fishing with me and Jack!” Papa called out and disappeared onto the porch below.
Cassidy Jane dressed quickly and plaited her hair. Fishing with Papa would be a treat and she might get him to confide in her regarding Maybelle. She laid out her riding habit on the bed as she planned to ride Sadie in the afternoon.
The aroma from the kitchen beckoned her when she opened her bedroom door. She stopped again, wishing to preserve every moment in the Dunn household in her heart. Life was taking them all along different paths and part of her wanted life to slow down.
She met Myra in the dining room and they entered the kitchen together to find Papa and Beulah in a serious mood.
“Beulah May, you know I have always encouraged you to pursue your talents. I need some time to get used to the idea that you won’t be here. All my girls are grown up and flying from the nest. I can’t help but think of your mama…” his voice broke and he rose to leave the room.
Cassidy Jane rushed into his arms, blocking his path. “Papa, I know just how you feel!” She hugged him tight, her tears surprising her.
“There now, little bit, don’t cry. Your old Papa is being sentimental, is all,” he said as he patted her back. Cassidy Jane dried her tears but held onto him.
Myra dabbed her eyes a bit and Beulah had turned, her hands still on the kitchen counter. “I love you all so much, and I promised your mother I would see you grown and happy. Looks like I kept my promise.” Papa held his arms out and the two remaining daughters rushed over to join the circle.
“Breakfast is waiting,” Beulah said as she was the first to break the circle. She turned her head away quickly, hoping her sisters did not see her tears. Leaving Stoney Creek was her wish but it would prove harder to convince her heart.
* * *
Papa and Cassidy Jane carried their fishing gear to their favorite spot along the creek with Old Jack following behind. He barked once, at the sight of a rabbit, but he was getting too old to go chasing through the brush. Cassidy Jane sighed as the autumn sun warmed her face.
She watched the creek flowing by and thought how much of life was like those crystal waters that never stood still. She sat on the bank and baited her hook absently, years of practice guiding her hands. She and Papa sat in companionable silence with Old Jack already fast asleep between them.
“Papa,” Cassidy Jane said, her voice low so as not to disturb their prospects, “do you reckon you and Mrs. Rivers might get the itch to marry one of these days?”
Papa startled, making his line jump on its own. He fought down a guffaw at his youngest daughter’s honesty. “Land sakes, C.J. don’t beat around the bush, now!”
Cassidy Jane felt her cheeks redden at Papa’s words. “Well, now, reckon I come by it honest.” Papa laughed at her then, unable to stay quiet as a fish jumped in the creek.
Old Jack opened his eyes and let out a low bark, joining his master in the merriment. “Hush, boy!” Cassidy Jane called as she patted his head. “Go on back to sleep old dog!”
Papa quietened down and held Cassidy Jane’s gaze. “I believe Maybelle and I have become more than friends. I thought to ask her hand in marriage once you girls are settled.” He took a pale strand of long grass from the creek bank and placed it in his mouth.
Cassidy Jane remained quiet for a time before she picked up their conversation. A fish pulled on Papa’s line and he pulled it in quick. A large rainbow trout landed on the bank, its gold and rose scales sparkling in the sun.
Old Jack raised a ruckus as the fish flopped around and Cassidy Jane grabbed him by the scruff to keep him from under Papa’s feet. As funny as it might be to see Papa land on his rear in the creek, she decided she needed him to catch a few more fish first. When Papa finished with the trout, Cassidy Jane spoke again.
“I had always wondered what kept you from marrying again through the years. I reckon it was the three of us?” Cassidy Jane turned her gaze to the sky, hoping to appear less anxious than she was.
“Reckon you girls was a part of it, for sure. But, I loved your mother long after she passed, I still do. It’s different now. Our girls are grown,” at this his lips trembled and he swiped at his eyes as if dust had blown by, “and my promises to her are all made good. I reckon she’d want me to have someone to care for me now.”
“Oh, Papa!” Cassidy Jane put down her pole and leaned against his broad shoulder, hushing up Old Jack when he set to barking over being squeezed between them.