Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES
Friday, March 15, 2019 by CYNTHIA ROEMER

 

PLEASE WELCOME

CYNTHIA ROEMER

TO

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

 

EXCERPT FROM UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES

This excerpt from Chapter 4 of Under Prairie Skies takes place at a welcome home party for the main character’s (Charlotte’s) cousin and uncle.

 

The blessing said, Charlotte opened her eyes and edged back, allowing the guests to file in first. As she surveyed the crowd, she found herself inadvertently seeking out a certain sandy-headed stranger. Instead, Norris Pickford’s orange hair flashed at her from across the yard. Though steeped in conversation with Lola Brimmer, he motioned as though trying to catch Charlotte’s eye. She pretended not to notice, allowing her gaze to drift past him. Though a bit rotund, Miss Brimmer had a pleasant personality and, as far as Charlotte knew, was unattached. Perhaps if left to themselves, the young lady might eventually win him over and throw him off Charlotte’s trail.

One could only hope.

By now, the line had depleted enough that she was able to move through to fill her plate. Peals of laughter filled the night air as the band instigated a lively tune. The tables full, Charlotte found a spot at the corner of the cabin to stand and eat. She tapped her foot, smiling as old Doc Pruitt tugged silvery-haired Annabelle to her feet for a dance. Other couples soon followed suit. Charlotte swayed to the music as she nibbled her chicken leg, savoring the first moment of true enjoyment she’d had.

“Hey, Charlotte,” a man’s nasal voice rang out above the music.

She tensed at sight of Norris strolling toward her. Perhaps she could slip around the corner of the cabin and lose herself among the horses and wagons. But, Norris already had her in his sights. Unless she intended on being completely rude, there was no getting around him. Pasting on a smile, she squared her shoulders and turned to greet him.

 “How about a dance, Charlotte?”

She motioned to her plate. “I’m afraid I’m not finished eating.”

Norris’ smile deepened. “Oh, I can wait.”

Charlotte grinned and stifled a chuckle as she focused on what looked to be dandelion greens wedged in his teeth. Glancing at her plate, she pinched off a bite of chicken. Perhaps if she stalled, Norris would lose interest and find another dance partner.

“Mighty fine night for a hog roast.” He leaned in closer, gripping his suspenders.

Yes, it is.” Charlotte veered back, still toying with the sliver of meat between her fingertips. She had a feeling her companion wasn’t going anywhere without a little prompting. She ventured a glance in his direction, then immediately looked away. “I noticed you and Lola Brimmer were enjoying nice conversation. Perhaps she’s finished eating and would like to dance.”

“After a while, maybe. I’m saving my first dance for you.”

Heat rose in Charlotte’s cheeks as he edged still closer. Popping the chicken in her mouth, she chewed faster than necessary. She shifted her weight to the side, and her shoulder knocked against a passerby, throwing her off balance.

A strong hand gripped her forearm, steadying her. “Pardon me.”

Turning, she gave a soft gasp at sight of Mr. Avery standing beside her. No longer clad in buckskin, he wore a loose-fitting white shirt and necktie. He stood a full head taller than she, with firm, broad shoulders. Even in the dim light of evening, his silvery eyes seemed to bore into her.

Releasing his hold, he tipped the brim of his hat, his expression somber. “Miss Stanton.”

Charlotte gave a slow nod. In the flurry of activity, somehow she’d missed his arrival. Had he just come?

Without another word, he turned and sauntered in her father’s direction. Charlotte stared after him, a bit breathless and unable to determine if she were happy to see him or if the pitch in her middle had more to do with her waning appetite. Mr. Avery looked about as enthused to be here as she was. At sight of him, a smile lit her father’s face, and he strolled to meet the newcomer. Mr. Avery’s expression eased slightly as her father directed him to the tables of food.

“Who’s that feller?”

Charlotte broke off her stare and returned her attention to Norris. “What? Oh. Mr. Chad Avery. A new neighbor of ours.”

Norris watched the newcomer with guarded interest. “Seems awful friendly with your pa.” There was an edge in his voice that hadn’t been there before.

Charlotte took a sip of cider and followed his gaze. “They seem to have hit it off.”

Turning to face her, Norris let out a sigh. “If you ain’t gonna eat, we may as well dance.”

Charlotte glanced at her half-full plate. He was right. She had no appetite. And obviously, he wasn’t going to leave without a dance. May as well get it over with. She set her cup and plate on the edge of a table and allowed him to take her hand. As his clammy fingers fastened around hers, she wished more than ever she could persuade him to take up with Lola Brimmer.

The setting sun cast a shadow over the prairie as she and Norris moved to the lively beat. His smile returned, along with the smidgen of green wedged in his teeth. Stifling a grin, Charlotte fixed her gaze over his shoulder. She ran her tongue over her own teeth to ensure she wasn’t displaying a similar distraction.

At the corner of the yard, Pastor Brody, Becky, and Charlotte’s uncle had joined her father and Mr. Avery in conversation. He paused from eating long enough to shake the pastor’s hand. As other prominent members of the community joined the gathering, Charlotte itched to be included. Could she somehow shorten the dance?

A sudden scuff of her partner’s shoe against the toe of her boot gave birth to inspiration. Perhaps she could carelessly allow him to step on her.

No. He would never leave if he thought he’d injured her. It would be more profitable to convince him she’d injured herself.

That was it. The perfect solution. Another twirl about, and she’d have her out.

ABOUT UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES

~ Beyond shattered dreams lie a realm of possibilities ~ Illinois prairie ~1855
 

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he's a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths were destined to cross again.
 

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery's uncanny ability to see through Charlotte's feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad's unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

 

ABOUT CYNTHIA ROEMER

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Book One: Under This Same Sky and Book Two: Under Prairie Skies. She is currently writing Book Three in the series, Under Moonlit Skies due to release in September 2019.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer

 

 

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