Fiction: Purity

Buck sat tucked back in bed, trying to read his small Bible while swatting gnats. William, with the occasional sideways glance at his roommate, smoked cigarette after crummy cigarette, wondering how things had gone so wrong. How had Thankful ever loved him? And how had he not seen it?

Soon the doctor strode in, leading a sobbing Thankful to her brother. Thankful sat at the edge of his bed, wringing her hanky. “Oh, Buck! I’ve already failed the lieutenant! I’ve upset him—I’m so afraid!”

Buck took a quick glance into his Bible, hoping to catch a bit of inspiration, before turning to the doctor.

“Miss Crenshaw collapsed,” the doctor explained. “It’s all so shocking for her—don’t be so hard on yourself, dear. You’ll get used to everything.”

“I don’t want to! I’m not able for it!” Thankful admitted and sobbed some more. “How will I care for Mr. Fahy and a baby? I couldn’t even look at the catheter!”

“Sis, you can do anything. We can do anything …” Buck quickly flipped through his Bible and found what he was looking for. “Here, this is what I read yesterday … um, wait—oh, yes, here it is.” He glanced up at Thankful, sheepishly. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

“Yes, yes, very good, Buck. You were always good at memorizing …” Thankful wiped her eyes.

“Sis, I promise—I’ll be by your side come what may,” Buck said.

“When the lieutenant needed my assurance, I gave him my weakness,” Thankful said. “He thinks I find him repulsive. He told me to leave and was so hurt. I’m a terrible failure. Why did I ever come here? Everything has gone wrong!”

“You came here because you wanted to be away from Mama and Father, but a girl shouldn’t be on her own. Fahy led you astray—you see that don’t you? I know you think you love him.”

“How dare you! I do love him and why shouldn’t I?”

“First off, he’s a thief.”

William turned on his side, straining to hear Buck over Thankful’s sobs. If Buck had one weakness that William understood, it was his reticence, his timidity of voice, but now Buck’s raspy voice was full of emotion and power. William remembered listening to Buck and Fred mechanically recite scripture in church. He’d always been envious and impressed, but Buck’s words now were his own set free.

“Mr. Fahy is struggling to live,” Thankful said. “He’ll never walk, and you bring up petty crimes.”

“Stealing from destitute people and sullying the army’s reputation is hardly petty, and I hope you took no part in it,” Buck said.

“Destitute people?”

“The Apaches. William accused the lieutenant of fixing the scales for the Indian annuities, and he didn’t deny it. He’s charging them for condemned military clothing against orders—Seth says.”

“Seth? For heaven’s sake, who’s Seth?” Thankful asked.

“Mr. Kenyon, to the rest of us,” answered William.

“Pierce said William was under Mr. Kenyon’s spell, but you, Buck? What’s happened to you? Maybe it’s your injuries …”

William laughed with a roll of the eyes. “Nope, Thankful, he’s been saved by Kenyon.”

“Sakes alive, what’s going on?” Thankful asked.

“It’s only that I’ve put my life in God’s hands,” Buck said with an unnerving giddiness. “I don’t understand why it bothers you, Willy.”

“It bothers me because it’s fake and I don’t think you should trick Seth—I mean Mr. Kenyon.”

“Oh, so you’re worried about Seth now, are you?” Buck croaked.

“Boys!” Thankful cried. “Mr. Fahy, my future husband, is more important than Mr. Kenyon. Why would anyone accuse the lieutenant of stealing? He’d never hurt poor people!”

“But what about your ring?” Buck asked.

“It was a mistake—everybody says so. And the small things from the quartermaster’s—well, everyone does things like that.”

“What have you ever stolen?” Buck asked.

“Father’s money!” Thankful cried.

“Hmm, that’s right, I forgot,” Buck said. “Well, we all make mistakes.”

William sniggered at Buck’s attempt at support.

“And the lieutenant too, I guess,” Buck continued. “I shouldn’t be so quick to point out his flaws when I’ve more than enough of my own. Thankful, I know what it’s like to be taken down the wrong road, and I think Fahy is wrong for you.”

“Well, your advice is too late now, isn’t it?” Thankful said, still wringing her handkerchief.

“I only wish you hadn’t let Fahy poke you,” Buck said.

“Miss Peckham was right!” Thankful cried. “There’s no equality between the sexes!”

“Who’s Miss Peckham?” Buck asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” Thankful said with an impatient toss of her head, “but you men do as you like!”

“You took no part in your condition, sis?” Buck asked.

“No, I … well, the lieutenant wanted it so badly, and I couldn’t stand to see him angry. Anyway, it’s not as if you couldn’t have the same trouble.”

Buck said, “Our father is a bastard. I don’t want that for my children.”

Thankful laughed. “And please tell me how you’ve prevented that so far.”

Buck’s face went red as he glanced over at William. “I’ve saved myself.”

“What?” Thankful exclaimed in disbelief. “But Fred always said …”

“Fred never was with me spooning. Father once told me it was the worst mistake of his life, marrying Mama because she was pregnant with Fred and me, so I don’t have anything to be ashamed of in that one regard.”

“So you were a lily-white Christian boy underneath it all?” William said.

Buck coughed, keeping his attention on his sister. “I guess I thought it would be nice if it meant something. I hope it meant something special for you, Thankful.”

She began to cry again. “No! I only did it to make him keep me! Just like Mama!”

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Fiction: Escape to Marriage

Working for the captain’s wife is no longer the lark it once was.

Thankful marched back into the Markhams’ finding Miss Peckham, dressed in one of Mrs. Markham’s plain visiting dresses and brushing out the matron’s long, mousy hair.

“Be a dear, Thankful, and do up the egg—fried—while Miss Peckham shows me the latest style.”

Miss Peckham stopped a minute appraising Thankful’s dark curls. “I could show you how they wear their hair in New York these days, Miss Crenshaw.”

“I know how they do hair in New York! I like to wear my hair my way!” Thankful responded storming to the kitchen.

By the time Mrs. Markham joined her, Thankful was in tears again. “Thankful, why are you so upset?”

Thankful shook her head. “I don’t care for Willy any more than a friend, but he’s from home, is all. That’s all it is, but Miss Peckham—I just hate her, and I’m sorry, but I can’t have her in my room. I work for that space, and it’s unfair that I should have to share.”

“Thankful Crenshaw, that is a very unchristian way to be, and I’m surprised.”

“Why should I have to be her slave?” Thankful asked rolling her sleeves.

Mrs. Markham laughed. “Don’t be so naughty. When you’re married, it won’t do to start fires with other women. Some army wives are just as—difficult as Miss Peckham.”

“I didn’t start anything! And I’ve never met anyone in the army as horrid as Miss Peckham!” Thankful said just above a whisper.

“Hold your tongue, Thankful. Miss Peckham’s a guest, and I hate to make mention of it, but your work here includes cooking.”

“Ordinarily I don’t mind that a bit. You know that!”

“You must never mind it when I have a guest,” Mrs. Markham said.

“But she got up late . . .” Thankful tried with no success.

Mrs. Markham folded her arms, but was distracted by Fahy’s knock at the door. Miss Peckham led him into the hallway.

“Morning ladies, I didn’t see Miss Crenshaw out on the grounds. I was wondering if she’s still unwell.”

Mrs. Markham met Fahy in the dining room. “Thankful is fine but busy making breakfast for our guest. I’ll tell her you inquired.”

Miss Peckham smoothed her hair back and grabbed her hat from the table. “Oh, Mr. Fahy, would you to show me around the place?”

“For Miss Peckham’s research . . .” Mrs. Markham added.

“Well, I suppose I could,” Fahy hesitated. “I’m free now for about an hour, if you’d like . . .”

Thankful jumped out from the kitchen. “Miss Peckham, here’s your breakfast!”

Fahy tried to greet Thankful, but the other ladies were in the way.

“Oh, Miss Crenshaw, dear, set it aside for me,” Miss Peckham said. “I’ll be back for it later.”

Thankful walked back into the kitchen and slammed the fine china plate against the counter, chipping it. She glanced behind her, found the chipped fragment and hid it in Miss Peckham’s burnt egg. After covering the plate with a cloth, Thankful untied her kitchen apron and pinned on the prettier one she’d made for walks with the children and hurried into the dining room just as Lieutenant Fahy escorted Miss Peckham out the front door.

“Thankful, dear, I’ve decided that today I’d like a stroll with the children,” Mrs. Markham said. “My nerves are shattered with still no word from the captain. But there’s a small bit of baby’s soiled things that need washing. Miss Peckham mentioned that she was highly sensitive to smells. You don’t mind, do you?”

“No, of course not. I love cleaning diapers,” Thankful said.

“Get used to it,” Mrs. Markham said with a smile. “Mr. Fahy wants plenty of children.”

“Well, I guess he’ll have them with someone else. I’ve told him I’d only like one, maybe. I’ve been sent off with my father to rescue babies from breech birth and all. I don’t want any of that!” Thankful declared.

“One baby?” Mrs. Markham laughed. “What’s the point of one? Immigrant families are having upwards of nine or ten.”

“It’s not my job to populate the world!” Thankful complained. “You and my mother are doing a fine job of that.”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Thankful! Next you’ll be like our visitor discussing suffrage for women,” Mrs. Markham said tapping her closed fan once before opening it and using it to shoo the children out the door.

“I’m nothing like her! What has the vote got to do with anything in my life? I only don’t want so many little ones—is that a crime? And I don’t know why Mr. Fahy would discuss his plans with you, not me!”

“Mr. Fahy is a fine man, but he’s a Catholic and they don’t believe in . . .” Mrs. Markham whispered, “and with the Comstock laws . . .”

“My father is a doctor. I know all about how to prevent babies. I don’t want to hear any more about the lieutenant being Catholic! My mother is extremely upset over it–as if she is so damned religious!” Thankful bawled.

“Thankful, when you’re finished with the laundry, wet a rag and go to your room for a rest—you are over excited today.”

“I’m the same as I ever am! Why didn’t you send Miss Peckham to my room when she spoke her mind? I’m not your child to send to bed!” Thankful cried.

“Well, you’re behaving like a spoilt one. I’m appalled. I feel great affection for you, but you’re acting disrespectful,” Mrs. Markham said, pulling her bonnet ties tight.

“As you hinted over the cooking,” Thankful said, “I’m just your hired help. I should have realized it sooner before considering you to be a real friend. I won’t make that assumption again.”

“You’re breaking my heart, young lady. I didn’t realize how you resented your work here! I was doing you a favor!” Mrs. Markham said.

Thankful sobbed. “And I haven’t done you a favor? Watching the children and cooking and cleaning while you lounge drinking nice lemonade! But I never minded. I’ve been very grateful to you until this minute. You’ve humiliated me in front of the lieutenant and Miss Peckham. Why did I have to get her that egg? Toast was fine for the rest of us!”

“To lose your temper over a ridiculous egg confounds reason!” Mrs. Markham said. “I have my own more important troubles. I shouldn’t have to keep you and Miss Peckham from each other’s throats! I do love you dearly, but you are a shallow and insensitive girl at times. Miss Peckham shall be treated as a guest—and that is my final word on it.”

Thankful wiped angry tears from her eyes and turned to the laundry basket. She fed the stove and hauled water to be heated. She scraped and cleaned diapers made messy from the disagreeable diet and water of Arizona in the sandy backyard.

“I cannot wait to be married and able to do what I want for once,” she mumbled, filling the basin in the yard with the hot water.

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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.”

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Fiction: Thankful Crenshaw Misses a Step

“William, I’m so ashamed of myself—truly—you must forgive me. I’m just so annoyed over Miss Peckham.”

“Why? Because you need to be the center of the universe at all times? Come to your senses,” William said as he pulled a bottle of whiskey from under the tablecloth and filled a large glass to the rim. “You’re a pretty girl, but not the prettiest or smartest or anything. And no, I don’t have to forgive you—and I don’t. Look, the dance is over; better be off to your fiancé before you’re upstaged by Miss Peckham.”

“I hate you, William.”

“It’s Bill,” he muttered, gulped back his drink and poured another.

Miss Peckham raced up, yanked the bottle from his hand and said, “Mr. Weldon, I need you for a dance.”

“I don’t dance.”

Miss Peckham grabbed his hands. “Come on! I know you’d like to. I can see it in your eyes!”

“That’s the drink, I’m afraid,” William joked.

“Don’t be afraid, Mr. Weldon. . . .”

“I’m not!”

“Mr. Weldon, aside from Lieutenant Fahy and me, there’s no talented dancers. It’s just following steps.”

William laughed. Miss Peckham pulled him out, even as he protested, to a circle of dancers with a spot reserved for them by Lieutenant Fahy. The officer had a smug look on his face. William knew he had been set up—yet again—for humiliation. Thankful saw what Fahy was up to and stood stiff and angry with both men. Mrs. Markham and the aged quartermaster sergeant made the third pair and two other second lieutenants rounded out the circle.

“Mr. Weldon, by gosh, take a breath—I’ll get you through this with flying colors!” Miss Peckham whispered.

William nodded staring at his feet, and the music began.

“Three steps forward and back—and again, Mr. Weldon,” Miss Peckham coached.

William concentrated on his teacher. He found that he could follow and not too awkwardly. Turning the opposite partner went all right, but the small sashay got sticky.

Miss Peckham dragged him along as if she were made for the job. When the final twirl of the opposite partner came up, William found himself left hanging in the center, but it was Fahy and Thankful who had missed a step and Thankful belatedly trotted out. “Sorry, my mistake,” she said icily to William.

“So, Mr. Weldon, you seemed to enjoy yourself,” Miss Peckham said as they drank punch between dances.

He laughed. “Thanks.”

“No need to thank me, sir. You could have done it all by yourself.”

“But I wouldn’t have,” William said.

Miss Peckham shook her head. “Well, that’s a sad state of affairs–to wait for others before doing for yourself.”

William took a long drink and said nothing.

The hops lasted until the last dancers went to bed and tonight Miss Peckham and William were amongst the group that kept the musicians awake. Thankful went home early with a headache. Fahy grew tired of watching Bill Weldon make a fool of himself. When Miss Peckham stopped at the front gate of the Markham quarters to say good night to William, Thankful hid by the window to listen. “Call me Gertie, Bill; all of my best chums do,” Miss Peckham whispered.

Thankful’s blood boiled, but she got into bed. Mrs. Markham had put down cool cotton bedding and a nice feather pillow on a cot next to Thankful’s bed, but Thankful pulled an itchy wool blanket out and spread it over the cot after hiding the cotton under her pillow and tucking the feather pillow beneath her bed. She listened as Miss Peckham entered the dark room with a sigh and got into bed. “I hope you’re comfortable, Miss Peckham.”

“Oh, Miss Crenshaw, you’re awake. Thank you for asking. Truth is I could sleep on broken glass and it wouldn’t bother me. I’m so bone tired.”

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.”

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Fiction: Taken By An Officer

Thankful meets Lieutenant Fahy.

A lamp flickered low in the window at headquarters. A soldier stood outside smoking.

“Land sakes, the soldiers I’ve seen so far are barely handsome at all,” Thankful whispered.

“What did you expect?”

“I suppose more like how I imagine your father when he was young—like you, sort of—well, when you were home—not now, I mean . . .”

The smoking soldier stepped forward from beneath the porch and the moon lit him.

“Lieutenant Fahy, is Captain Markham in, sir?” William asked.

Fahy stepped closer and bowed to Thankful. Her eyes lit up, and she giggled at the sight of him.

William’s stomach burned. “This is my cousin, Miss Crenshaw, sir.”

“Very pleased to meet you, Miss Crenshaw.”

“And you! You’re from Dublin, aren’t you?” Thankful asked.

The lieutenant grinned. “Why, yes, how did you guess? I’ve tried right hard to lose the sound of Ireland.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t! My father has a doctor friend from Dublin and he’s smart—not a shanty Irish type . . . my goodness I should just stop now, sir—I think your accent is charming.”

“Where have you hid this girl, Weldon?” Fahy asked.

“She’s run away from home and is going back to her father in the morning, sir. She’s very young . . .”

“I am not, Willy!”

Fahy took a drag from his pipe, his head tilted in amusement.

“I’m eighteen!” Thankful said, swishing her skirts slightly.

Fahy gave her the once over. “My sisters and brother and I came to America when we were young like yourself. You’ve got a great country here.”

“Oh, yes, of course it is,” Thankful said. “And how many sisters do you have, Mr. Fahy?”

“Just buckets of them and brothers, too. I’m a twin, in fact, but my brother joined the navy for a lark.”

“By golly, I’m a twin. How very coincidental.”

They laughed.

“Thankful, we need to talk to the captain,” William reminded her.

“Thankful? What an unusual name,” Fahy gushed.

“It sounds nice the way you say it, sir.”

“Come along now, COUSIN, I have to get back, you know,” William said, taking her arm.

Fahy sighed. “Bill Weldon, you should try to enjoy life a little.” He turned to Thankful. “Your cousin is a good fellow, but always so serious.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his 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.”

 

 

Fiction: Pretend We’re Cousins

William agrees to take Thankful to Fort Grant

“Call me Bill at the post,” William coached. “Lieutenant Bourke is the only one to hold to my childhood name, and it gives too much a laugh to the others.”

“Maybe it’s not your name they’re laughing at,” Thankful said, poking his side with her thin, gloved finger.

“What are you saying?”

“I just mean that maybe they have their own concerns and aren’t as against you as you think.”

“I know well enough if I’m being played the fool,” William said, but his stomach pained him. He wasn’t sure of anyone’s motives.

At the stables, Thankful laughed at William’s pony. “The Friesians at home could swallow that little thing. Are you sure he’ll hold me too and with the carbine?”

William pat the horse’s rump. “You shouldn’t go making fun of Sophie. She’s a good girl.”

“Sophie? What a name for a horse.”

“I like it. Maybe I had a dog or something named Sophie. You’ll have to ride Indian style. I had to sell her saddle.”

“No one will see that I care about,” Thankful said with a blush as she straddled the horse exposing her striped pink stockings.

William steadied her and pretended not to notice her shapely legs. Thankful was tall like her mother and father and solidly built. The sunlight streaming through the stable window played up her deep blue eyes.

“Thankful, I have to drive her. You’ll have to hang off back if you don’t mind.”

“I can ride quite well, Mr. Bill Weldon!” Thankful said, but slid off to let William on first.

“Maybe so, but you’re your mother’s daughter.” William swung his leg over the horse with a shy smile.

Thankful followed and wrapped her arms around William’s middle. He felt flustered again. But this was crazy. She’d be gone tomorrow.

Although his parents tried to keep him from horses after his accident, William always found a way to ride. He enjoyed this one good thing about himself and liked showing off to Thankful.

They cantered out on the desert path and rode for hours.

“William, have you missed me?” Thankful asked in his ear.

“I . . . I guess I miss the folks at home sometimes—you being one of them—so yes . . . I guess so,” William said.

Thankful stayed quiet until the fort came into view at twilight. “I’m so excited!” she said.

The guard’s ears pricked at the sound of Thankful’s voice.

“Bill Weldon, who do you have there?” the guard asked.

Thankful slid from the horse. “I’m Bill’s cousin from home with no place to sleep tonight—will the army put me up? I’ll pay.” She held out her hand, confident in the effect her looks had on men.

The man sported a big yellow grin. “Bill, you’ve got cousins? How many?” he asked, looking Thankful over. “I don’t know for certain, young lady, but I think the officers could find you something. Your cousin’s got special privileges.” He smacked William’s back. “Nice to see you, young fellow. We’ve missed you.”

The guard led them to the sergeant of the guard who gawked with pleasure at the girl with high cheekbones.

“Miss Crenshaw, Bill will show you in—he knows the way,” the sergeant said and whispered to William, “I guess we owe you now—bringing in such a beaut—she’s not spoken for is she? Has she got sisters?”

“A twin,” William let slip.

The man’s eyes lit. “The officers get this one, I guess, but send for the other and give us non-commissioned men a chance at happiness.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his 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.”

 

 

Fiction:Taking Chances on Lost Men (2)

William Weldon sobers at the prospect of Thankful Crenshaw spending the night after her SURPRISE VISIT

“I’ll just wash my face at least,” Thankful said, moving toward the wash basin in William’s filthy room above the saloon.

“Let me go fetch fresh water.” William grabbed the basin before she could see the contents. He took a while to scrub it clean in the yard near the water barrel. The saloon keeper had pity on him so William brought back a lemonade drink, on credit, for Thankful and found her sifting through the drawings and maps he had hidden.

“Thankful, those are nothing. Please, take this drink.”

She glanced up at William with her big eyes but wasn’t listening. “Willy, when did you get so good at people?”

“Thankful, you’ve come all this way to snoop? Let me have those back. The colors are off. My paints aren’t very good.”

“They’re wonderful. Will you sell them?”

William tried to pry them away from her. “I do sell some to magazines. Now let me have them.”

“So why were they crumpled behind a table? Aren’t you afraid of ruining them? And look at this lovely map—what’s it for?”

“Oh, that was just something Captain Bourke wanted from me, but it’s too late now.”

“You mean the officer who invited you here asked for something and you didn’t deliver it?” Thankful shook her head and clicked her tongue at him with deep concern. “What will that say about you?”

“Hey, I don’t give a damn what it says about me! And what business is it of yours? Are you sure my parents didn’t send you?”

“No one sends me anywhere, Mr. William Weldon. I’m surprised at you. Drinking in the morning and leaving promises undone. That’s not the Willy I know.”

“First off, it’s almost 12 o’clock and a man can drink when he wants to.”

“A man finishes his work first.”

“I have finished my work! It’s not a regular thing . . .”

“Maybe it would be if you gave in your assignments on time.”

William scratched his head again, trying to hold his temper. “You’re not my teacher! That stupid map took me weeks and it was never right—and I thought—I should check the place names again and well, it just didn’t get done. The army has its own cartographers, anyhow.”

“You’re all rough around the edges now, William, but I know you’re just afraid Mr. Bourke won’t like it much. I’ll take it to him.”

William pulled it from Thankful with force this time. “Bourke isn’t here at the moment, and he’s less than happy with me over some foolish things.”

“Oh, so you were thrown from the army like your poor father?”

“My father wasn’t thrown from the army—though he should have been. I was NEVER in the army, you remember. Only for a visit. No one wanted to know me so . . . say, what are you smiling about?”

“You paint yourself as a right and true martyr. It tickles me.”

William glared at her. “How long have you been here? It feels like years and I’ve got— “

“A headache, I know. I know you better than you think, Willy,” Thankful laughed in adorable smugness.

“It’s Bill, I told you,” William said admiring her.

Thankful shook her head and went back to perusing the drawings and came upon a landscape. It was the prairie after a storm in late summer.

“I did that on the way out—for my father.”

“Why didn’t you send it? I don’t know much about real art, but it’s lovely and melancholy all the same.”

“So you think of it as real art?” William asked.

“Why, of course! Not like those awful paintings of bowls of peaches Mama buys up. Sometimes I feel I’ve grown up in a rotten fruit market.”

William nodded with a grin, remembering how his father used to make fun of the still life paintings at the Crenshaw home, but then his father knew nothing of art.

“Willy, your father would love this, I bet.”

“No, it’s too sad, and he likes to be happy all the time now,” William said, mocking his father’s tone.

“Is that a bad thing?” Thankful continued to admire the drawings until she found the nude prostitutes in acrobatic positions.

“William Weldon, so this is why you move to town? To frolic with filthy whores? I am so ashamed of you! What would everyone at home say? You’ve turned so bad. And why would you let me see these horrible drawings?”

“I didn’t! You took them. You Crenshaws try to run other people’s lives. I thought I had escaped that. How did you find me anyway?”

“Your father, he told me when I asked.

“He knew you were coming?”

“No, of course not, you scalawag. I told him I’d write you now and again so you wouldn’t be lonely.”

“I’m not lonely. I have friends enough,” William replied rubbing his scruffy chin.

“You just told me that no one liked you—unless you consider low women with their legs spread . . .”

“Thankful, don’t talk like that!”

She laughed. “I’ve had brothers to educate me. I’ve seen a woman’s body—I have one, you know.”

William pulled the papers away from her and tore them apart. “I don’t want to hear this. This whole day has me on nerve’s end.”

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his 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.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

PART ELEVEN HERE

PART TWELVE HERE

PART THIRTEEN HERE

PART FOURTEEN HERE

PART FIFTEEN HERE

PART SIXTEEN HERE

PART SEVENTEEN HERE

PART EIGHTEEN HERE

PART NINETEEN HERE

PART TWENTY HERE

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

***Featured image from Pinterest.com