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A Shot at Love (): A Sound of Rain Novella

A Shot at Love (): A Sound of Rain Novella

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A Shot at Love (): A Sound of Rain Novella

Länge:
153 Seiten
2 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781493413393
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

In Sarah Loudin Thomas's A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.
Freigegeben:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781493413393
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Sarah Loudin Thomas (www.sarahloudinthomas.com) is a fund-raiser for a children's ministry who has time to write because she doesn't have children of her own. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Coastal Carolina University and is the author of the acclaimed novels The Sound of Rain and Miracle in a Dry Season--winner of the 2015 Inspy Award. Sarah has also been a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the Christian Book of the Year Award. She and her husband live near Asheville, NC.


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A Shot at Love () - Sarah Loudin Thomas

NKJV

1

NOVEMBER 1958

BETHEL, WEST VIRGINIA

Fleeta hunkered low, careful not to rattle the crisp fallen leaves all around her. She didn’t want to be seen or heard.

Albert was meant to be coming around the crest of the hill, pushing deer toward the spot where she waited. Fleeta wished her oldest cousin would still hunt with her, but he was too interested in girls these days. Had his eye on that prissy little Rebecca Howard. Fleeta sighed and flexed her right hand, keeping alert and ready. The family needed the meat. Especially if she was going to take Bud Lyons up on his offer to buy out his business. She needed to make sure her family was taken care of, so she could focus on making her dream come true.

She heard leaves crunching off to her right. If it was a deer, it was coming slow and easy. That was good. Best if Albert didn’t scare the deer and send it running. She examined the terrain and the scattering of hardwood trees. The forest was more mature here, offering plenty of room between trunks, another blessing.

Movement caught her eye and she saw a stout buck step out of the shadows. Her breath caught. He was pale, almost white with a spray of brown across his rump, and his rack was immense. Could this be the ghost deer the men spoke about in reverent tones every fall? The one that seemed to escape even the best hunters? He was coming easy, browsing the nearly leafless branches of sassafras and maple trees, one ear cocked in the direction Albert was surely coming.

Fleeta exhaled and lifted her rifle, careful not to attract his attention. She took aim, breathed a prayer of thanksgiving, and applied pressure to the trigger.

Fleeta, Albert—come quick. The shrill voice pierced the perfection of the moment.

Both the deer and Fleeta froze, and then the buck bounded away, his white tail flashing. Fleeta eased off the trigger and hung her head. She saw Albert coming, his posture clearly showing his disgust even at a distance.

Fleeta stood slowly, her knees stiff from crouching for so long. She glanced back toward the dirt road and saw Elnora standing there, one hand shading her eyes against the morning sun, the other waving for them to hurry. Something about the way she stood put Fleeta on alert. Although only three years older than Fleeta’s twenty-two, her cousin had behaved like an adult since she was old enough to speak. She’d done more to raise Fleeta than Aunt Maisie ever had, and that was little enough.

What is it? Fleeta watched Elnora try to pick her shape out from among the trees.

Fleeta, for heaven’s sake come to the house and bring Albert with you. I need you to drive Momma to the hospital—I’m afraid the baby’s coming early.

Elnora refused to learn to drive, while Fleeta had begged her aunt and uncle until they relented and let her learn. Uncle Oscar drove the farm truck to work in the mines most days, leaving a rusty sedan at the house for emergencies.

Fleeta slung her rifle over her shoulder and broke into a jog, knowing Albert would catch up fast. He was nearly thirteen and taller than she was with longer legs. She glanced back to make sure he was coming and saw a bright blue jay hopping from branch to branch after him. Fleeta supposed it was Jack, the bird Albert had half tamed. It often followed him at a distance, hoping for treats and looking for anything interesting to steal. You sure enough didn’t want to lose a button or anything shiny while that bird was around. He’d once stolen the key to the front door, and they hadn’t locked it since.

What’s Elnora yammering about? Albert asked as he caught up. You had that deer, easy. Now we’re stuck with squirrel for supper. Again.

She says Aunt Maisie needs to go to the hospital. Fleeta glanced at Albert without breaking her stride. Did you get a good look at that deer?

Not really, just saw he had a nice rack, but I couldn’t count the points for branches in the way. Albert made a face. Why’s Ma need to go to the hospital? Is it the baby? His eyes slid away from hers. Seems like Papa ought to leave her alone so she’ll stop having babies. He flushed and stumbled over a rocky patch.

What do you know about having babies? Fleeta hoped it wasn’t much.

Enough to know Papa needs to leave her alone. His eyes flicked to Fleeta and away again. Won’t she be too old soon?

Fleeta wasn’t sure if he meant too old for babies or too old for . . . something else, but she decided not to ask. She’s not fifty yet, but I guess she might be too old before long.

Fleeta tried to tuck her hair deeper under her hunting cap as she hurried along. Elnora was already halfway back to the house, nearly running. Her cousin’s urgency frightened Fleeta. Though Aunt Maisie had made light of her unexpected pregnancy, Fleeta had seen how it wore on her. Now, six months along, she’d been resting more and more. Fleeta whispered a prayer that Elnora was fretting over nothing and that the ghost deer hadn’t been a sign of anything bad. There were rumors about him.

2

As she stepped through the front door, Fleeta thought the sprawling farmhouse felt cooler inside than out. Fifteen-year-old Simeon was supposed to keep the fires up in the kitchen and sitting room, but he preferred to read and dream. At the moment, he was nowhere to be seen.

Elnora darted up the stairs to the second floor where it was even colder. Hurry, Fleeta.

Fleeta exchanged a worried look with Albert, handed him her rifle, and scurried after her cousin. At the top of the stairs she met Simeon, who was wide-eyed with his red hair sticking up. He was clearly in a hurry to get away.

There you are—the fires need stoking. She expected a fight, but he just nodded.

Yes’m. I’ll take care of it. He swallowed convulsively. Momma . . . she’s . . . I’ve never seen her cry like that. And there’s blood. . . .

Fleeta suddenly found it hard to swallow too. She gripped Simeon’s arm and gave it a quick squeeze. Don’t worry. I’ll get her to the hospital.

Feeling like her hunting boots were weighted down with concrete, she crept toward her aunt’s bedroom door. Now she could hear the crying—more of a keening really. Rounding the corner, she saw Elnora bent over her mother, a mass of toweling in her hands. The sharp scent of blood hit her, like when they butchered meat. The bedding was stained red, and Aunt Maisie was curled in against herself, as if she were trying to keep from flying apart in pieces.

Elnora looked over her shoulder. It’s too late for the hospital. Send Albert for Dovie and right quick. Momma’s losing the baby.

Fleeta flew down the stairs, flinching when she heard Elnora call out, And hurry right back to help me.

By the time Albert fetched Dovie from the next farm over, Fleeta thought she might collapse. She’d carried water and bloody linens, held Aunt Maisie’s hand, and bathed her face with cool water that seemed unnecessary in the chill room. But still her aunt sweated and groaned. Dovie, who’d likely delivered more babies than the doctor in town, stepped in and soon had the situation in hand.

Aunt Maisie finally quieted, and Dovie’s gentle voice filled the room as she said, It’s a girl. Looks like the cord got in the way.

Aunt Maisie bit her lip and closed her eyes. Can I see her?

Of course you can.

Dovie wrapped the infant in a clean cloth and laid her in her mother’s arms. Aunt Maisie traced a finger along the soft bluish cheek. Would have been nice to have another baby girl after all these boys.

Fleeta struggled against hot tears that made her eyes feel gritty. It wasn’t right—Aunt Maisie suffering so. And for what? An armload of sorrow. Maybe that deer had been a bad omen after all.

Elnora sat on the side of her mother’s bed and pulled the cloth back from the infant’s face. Will you name her?

Marion.

Fleeta stiffened. She choked on the sentiment, telling herself it was only fitting that a dead child be named for her own dead mother. She didn’t suppose her mother wanted to leave her to be raised by her aunt and uncle, but sometimes she felt abandoned all the same. She’d been too young to remember, but the story was that after her father died, her mother soon followed, laid low by grief. Maybe if she’d loved her own, very much alive daughter more . . .

Do you want to see her? Aunt Maisie asked through tears.

Fleeta ran from the room.

3

Later that evening Aunt Maisie lay on the sofa, a quilt she’d stitched with her own two hands tucked up to her chin. She smiled weakly and drew one of those hands from beneath the cover to beckon Fleeta over.

Have any luck hunting today?

Fleeta flicked a glance toward Elnora, who stood in the doorway looking grim. She’d wanted her mother to go on to the hospital, but Aunt Maisie refused.

Saw a nice buck, but he got shut of me. She couldn’t help but feel that the deer and the day’s tragedy were bound up together in some strange way.

Her aunt laughed softly. You mean someone or something spoiled your shot. Once my Fleeta takes aim . . . She grimaced and closed her eyes.

Aunt Maisie, you won’t get pregnant again, will you? Fleeta grasped her aunt’s cold hand, hoping her words weren’t too impetuous.

I hope not. Tears slid down her cheeks. But things like that are best left up to the Lord.

Fleeta wanted to cry out at the sorrow in her aunt’s voice. How could she talk about the will of a God who would let a baby die? Especially since Aunt Maisie had lost so many before. The last one had barely taken root before Aunt Maisie lost it. They didn’t even know if it was a boy or girl—just made a wooden marker that said Baby Brady. Well. She would never let herself be in such a position. After growing up with four boy cousins and her uncle, she’d had her fill of men. She’d take care of herself and never look to a husband for anything.

I’m going to start supper, Mother. Fleeta will sit with you for a while. Elnora spoke softly from the doorway, her own three-year-old son clinging to her skirt.

Fleeta had to confess that her only girl cousin had done tolerably well in the husband department. He was good to her and the sweet little boy they’d named after his grandpa. And as best Fleeta could tell, there wasn’t another baby in the offing yet. Maybe they had more self-control than Uncle Oscar did. Fleeta blushed at the very thought. Another reason to avoid marriage.

Aunt Maisie squeezed her hand. Fleeta, it’s high time I gave you something. How old are you now?

Fleeta raised her chin. Twenty-two.

"That means it’s been twenty years since your sweet mother died of grief after losing your father when

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