The rest of the day hung like a weight around Thankful’s neck. Poor young Lydia cried and suffered. Captain Markham came home from a few weeks in the field and was informed about Thankful’s surprising inattention to important household duties.
Thankful poured coffee for the couple and it took everything in her not to spill the hot liquid in Mrs. Markham’s lap. The captain listened to his wife with nodding head before turning to Thankful.
“You do know that we have a very sick child and my wife cannot be burdened with menial labor right this moment, Miss Crenshaw. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Nothing, sir. I was dispirited over Mr. Fahy, but it’s no excuse for not having coffee made.” Thankful wanted to rip the captain’s disgusting sideburns from his face and fling him into the fire. Why on earth must they keep such a fire in the desert?
“What’s happened to Fahy?” Markham asked his wife.
“He’s fallen for our Thankful and plans to marry her.”
“Sakes alive! Why didn’t you tell me that straight off? Well, that’s darn good news for you, young lady—and Fahy, too!” Markham scratched his freshly-shaved chin as if pondering the mysteries of the universe. “Don’t worry about this morning’s coffee. I understand it all now, and I’m certain it won’t happen again.”
“Why doesn’t she seem at all happy then?” the captain asked his wife.
Thankful wiped her eyes. “May I be excused?”
Mrs. Markham replied, “Right after you wash up those dishes, dear. Will you see the lieutenant this evening?”
“Yes,” Thankful sobbed and ran to the kitchen.
When Lieutenant Fahy came to call, Thankful lingered upstairs. The few things she had to wear were smoky and wilted in the overheated house. Thankful washed and wondered if Fahy would like her body. She poured a liberal dose of flower water over herself and slipped on her best dress. Her hair needed washing, but she hadn’t any time, so she pulled it tight like a school marm, feeling anything but gay.
When Mrs. Markham called to her a third time, Thankful appeared. Fahy looked dashing in his dressier blouse and trousers. He flashed her a big friendly smile. They let the Markhams believe they were going to the dance tonight. Fahy and Thankful skirted the music and a wave of loneliness crashed over Thankful as the band played the fiddler’s waltz. She pulled on Fahy’s arm. “I’m so very frightened.”
Fahy kissed her, a little impatiently. “Don’t worry, miss.”
Thankful imagined that Fahy would bring her someplace special—a hidden spot—so she grew curious when they circled back behind the Markhams’ house and toward the woodpile. A tattered army blanket and a jug of whiskey lay in the shadows.
“You said that you imagined us under the pines—well, here’s some wood, anyway—pine wood—so it smells sort of the same,” Fahy explained.
“But the woodpile?” Thankful asked in astonishment. “I can practically see into Mrs. Markham’s kitchen. I hear the children! And there’s Mrs. Tremble bringing out the trash. My goodness! They’ll see us here!”
Fahy kissed her. “No one will come back here at this hour. There now, let’s sit.” He dragged Thankful down on to the itchy woolen blanket and kissed her again, handing her the jug of whiskey. “Go ahead. Taste it—it’ll make things easier for you. Go on then. It’s not poison!” Fahy laughed as Thankful sipped and choked.
“Oh, it’s awful!” she cried.
Fahy ran his hand over Thankful’s head. “Sweetheart, this is what adults do, I’m afraid. Don’t you like when I touch you?”
“Yes, but behind the woodpile? There are bugs and things and it’s just not what I expected.”
“Look, we have the stars and the cool evening . . . and each other, darling. Isn’t that enough?” Fahy kissed her more passionately and her body responded. “I love you dearly, Miss Thankful. Do you love me?”
The lieutenant tore Thankful’s shoes and stockings off in a hurry. No fine words, no tickling behind the knees. She had worried all day about her body, but he plunged under her petticoats, pulled himself out of his trousers and pushed his way inside. “How does it feel?” he asked.
“Fine.” It hurt just a little, but then it didn’t. It wasn’t unenjoyable or enjoyable—it was nothing, really, but wrong.
Fahy moaned, kissed her and it was over. He rolled off and gazed at the stars. “So what do you think now, Thankful?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s wrong?” Fahy asked getting up on his elbows, his intense eyes shining in the moonlight. “Didn’t you like it?”
“I think so.” Thankful didn’t want to upset his feelings.
“Think so? You should know!”
“Should I?” Thankful asked.
“You should have had more whiskey,” Fahy said, sitting up. “Damn. So you didn’t enjoy any of it?”
“No. I mean, I did, sort of. Did it make you happy?” Thankful asked.
“Well, yes, but it’s supposed to be for both of us. Want to try again—in a few minutes?”
“No! Someone will come by,” Thankful said, grabbing her stockings and slipping one over her toes.
“No one will come by,” Fahy assured her, taking the stocking off her again. “I’ve got a friend watching out.”
“A friend?” Thankful cried. She tugged the stocking away from him and pulled it on in haste. “How awful! Now everyone will know what we’ve done!”
“No. He’s trustworthy. Thankful, why don’t we marry before your parents come?”
“I want a proper wedding,” Thankful cried. “You’ve already deprived me of a proper wedding night.” She tugged the other stocking on and slipped into her shoes.
“Don’t say that!” Fahy complained. “Our wedding night will be great.”
“Maybe we’ll even get to have a bed,” Thankful said.
“You told me you imagined doing it outdoors. I thought you’d like my idea.” Fahy said, surprised at her emotion.
“I never imagined doing anything behind a bunch of logs in view of Mrs. Tremble’s and the Markhams’ back yard. You said it would be special.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, but you need to relax more,” Fahy offered, running his hand along her hot cheek.
“How many girls have you been with?” Thankful asked.
“Oh, Thankful, let’s not talk about this now. Let’s try again, and I promise you in time you’ll grow fonder of it.”
The horses whinnied in the stables and someone, probably the lookout, whistled a melancholy tune.
“I’m so sad, Mr. Fahy. Were you engaged before, too?”
“No, Thankful. Stop it. You’re the only girl I’ve ever loved.”
“But you slept with girls you never loved?”
“Yes, but . . .” Fahy began, shaking his head.
“But what did you tell them?” Thankful asked, her eyes welling with tears in the moonlight.
“I didn’t have to tell them anything,” Fahy said as if Thankful’s questions insulted his honor. “You’re the only girl I’ve ever had to explain myself to. Please, Thankful, I’m still randy—let’s try again.”
Something changed. Fahy didn’t love her anymore. But now Thankful loved him desperately. “Mr. Fahy, I love you.”
“I’m glad. Will we try again?”
Thankful was his now, and she so wanted to love him. Thankful lay back and this time Fahy was more attentive. “Do you feel anything? How’s this? How about now?”
At first Thankful was honest, but after a while it seemed cruel to keep him trying and not getting anywhere—so she lied and said it was good.
Fahy knew she lied and it upset him, but he kept it to himself, wondering if he had satisfied the other girls or were they just more practiced liars. Fahy brought Thankful home and kissed her good-night with forced passion.
Thankful stood at the gate and watched him go.
PREVIOUS EPISODE: WEARY of RUNNING
Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’s misadventures when you buy the book today!
“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review
“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”