Tonight, I thought I’d post an excerpt from Isaac’s Decision, and maybe tomorrow (fingers crossed), I’ll get to interview Isaac about it. I might bring in Dave since he’s the one trying to pair his son up with Eva Connealy.
Eva Connealy is the youngest daughter born to Joseph and Margaret. (Joseph and Margaret were in A Husband for Margaret.) Of course, we all know Isaac ends up marrying Emily instead of Eva, but I wanted to bring Eva into the story because I plan to write her romance once of these days. Eva is interested in Isaac, which you can probably tell from the excerpt, and yes, her heart will be broken when she learns he eloped with Emily. But she’s really not the right one for him. He’s better suited for Emily, which is why I pair him up with Emily instead. However, I think Eva does take life a little too seriously and needs to learn to “let her hair down” and have fun. But she needs the man who’ll make that happen. I don’t know who that is yet.
Anyway, in this excerpt, you will get a look into Isaac’s family life. I love Jacob. He’s got a lot of his uncle Joel in him, and I love writing about Joel, especially when Tom’s around. And there’s a mention of a Mrs. Ritter who I’d like to pair up with one of Isaac’s friends named Wiley who I introduce in this book. So everything connects up in one way or another, but it’s hard to see how it does until I write more Nebraska series books. I expect to end up with at least 20 more Nebraska books, by the way. The stories keep popping in my head, and I can’t slow them down.
BTW, Jacob is the one who owns the merctantile in Bride of Second Chances, so he ends up taking over the mercantile when Ralph Lindon dies. (I know, it’s sad to see Ralph go, but the man can’t live forever.)
Oh, before I forget: I was going to give Mary and Dave eight children, but after getting into this book, I decided it’ll be seven.
A quick rundown on the ages in Isaac’s Decision: Isaac is 17, Rachel is almost 14, Adam is almost 11, Jacob is 8, and Rose and Harriett (twins) are 3. The last child isn’t born yet.
Now for the excerpt:
During supper, Isaac refused to look at Jacob who sat on his right. Jacob had an annoying habit of tapping Isaac’s leg whenever Eva spoke, and when he looked over at his little brother, Jacob would give him a knowing smirk. So Isaac stopped looking at him altogether. To Isaac’s left sat Eva, which was an obvious attempt by his father to pair them up. Why couldn’t his father be more subtle about things? If Isaac wanted to court Eva, it would’ve been embarrassing enough, but since he had no such desire, the situation was getting on his nerves.
The only saving grace was his mother’s insistence that he take Adam and Rachel with him to pick up Eva because the two needed to get out of the house. Isaac knew what his mother was doing and appreciated it. Had his father been in the house at the time the arrangement was made, he would have insisted that Isaac go alone.
As he forced down the pot roast in his mouth, he glanced at his father who sat at the head of the table, looking as happy as could be as Eva discussed the type of lessons she was encouraged to teach the students. Across from Isaac, Rachel, Adam, and Harriett quietly ate. His mother, who sat across from his father, helped Rose cut up her potato, and Rose sat next to Eva.
“The purpose of education is to give students the knowledge they’ll need in their future jobs,” Eva said. “I don’t believe a single school hour should go to waste.”
“That’s commendable, Eva,” Dave replied with a nod. “I can see why the school board asked you to fill in for the year before Mr. Loften returns.”
“It was an honor to be approached for the job.” She took a sip of milk and smiled. “However, I don’t wish to do this indefinitely. The school board puts some stringent rules on what is proper for a teacher to do or not do, and I’m afraid I can’t abide by all of them forever.”
“What kind of rules?” Jacob called out.
“Jacob,” his father softly warned.
“Oh, it’s quite alright, Mr. Larson.” Eva put her glass down on the table and leaned forward so she could look at Jacob. “A teacher is held in high esteem. While the rules are important because they make sure teachers are worthy of being role models in a polite society, I wish to marry and have children. I can’t do that if I wish to remain a teacher.”
“Mr. Loften is married.”
“True, he is, but he is also a man. The rules are different for male and female teachers.”
“That’s not fair,” Jacob replied.
Rachel waved her fork in her brother’s direction. “Women have babies. They can’t be going out to work if they get in the family way.”
“Nah ah,” Jacob said. “Mrs. Ritter is expecting and works at a factory.”
“That’s because her husband died. She wouldn’t be working otherwise,” Rachel replied.
“The ideal is for a woman to stay home,” Dave inserted as he buttered his roll. “A man needs to make enough to support his family. Mrs. Ritter’s case is tragic.” His gaze met Mary’s. “We should consider doing something for her.”
“We had a collection for her at the church I go to last Sunday,” Eva said once she swallowed her food. “She is a good woman. Losing her husband the way she did is most horrible.”
“How did he die?” Adam asked.
“He went up on the roof to fix a hole and lost his balance,” Eva quietly answered. “He was only twenty. He was an apprentice at the paper where my father works.”
Everyone grew silent for a moment before Mary said, “We’ll keep Mrs. Ritter in our prayers.”
The others nodded and returned to eating their meal, but Isaac noted the mood was somber compared to the cheerfulness that had gone before it. Toward the end of supper, Dave resumed his questions to Eva, this time focusing on her family.
“Your parents are friends of my brother’s Tom’s family,” he began. “If I remember right, your mother has been friends with Jessica since they were children.”
“You are correct,” Eva said. “In fact, Daisy and I are good friends.”
At the mention of Tom and Jessica’s youngest daughter’s name, Dave’s eyes lit up. “You are? I wonder why Tom never mentioned it.”
“He probably didn’t think about it,” Mary filled in. “How often do you tell people Isaac, Clayton, and Wiley are friends?”
“I see your point,” Dave conceded. “But all the same, it’s nice to hear that you’re friends with my niece.”
Eva shrugged and pushed her glasses up her nose. “The bond that links us together is our mutual appreciation of literature and art. We adore the library.”
As she rambled on, Isaac ate the rest of his pot roast. He couldn’t imagine why going to a library was, as Eva put it, stimulating. It sounded like a boring way to spend a pleasant afternoon, but he supposed that was why she agreed to be a teacher. She enjoyed that kind of thing.
He glanced at his father and noticed how attentive Dave was to every word Eva spoke. Looking at his mother, he saw that she focused on the twins and helping them when they needed it. Currently, she was buttering one of their rolls. Across from him Rachel chewed on her potato and Adam rolled a carrot around on his plate, appearing as bored as Isaac felt. Isaac couldn’t imagine doing this for the rest of his life. Not that he’d have dinner at his parents’ every night, but he’d be stuck with Eva and would have to participate in the conversation.
From beside him, Jacob lightly kicked him and snickered. Knowing he was going to regret it, Isaac’s gaze shifted to his brother who pursed his lips as if he was going to kiss someone. With a roll of his eyes, Isaac went back to ignoring him. He was not going to kiss Eva. Ever. There was no way he could do it. He wasn’t attracted to her at all. If only she was Emily…
Isaac swallowed the last bite of his food and drank the rest of the milk in his glass. He watched as his father nodded and smiled as Eva went on and on about the artwork she and Daisy had seen. Since when did artwork interest his pa? Ever since Eva showed an interest in it. What was more frustrating than anything else was knowing that if it had been Emily sitting next to him, his father wouldn’t have showed the slightest interest in what she said. And all because of something that happened before he was born?
His mother stood up and went to the kitchen to get the pies she made for the occasion. One thing Isaac looked forward to was her apple pie. If nothing else, it made the rest of the meal bearable. Afterwards, it was time for Isaac to take Eva home, and he was relieved when Mary insisted that Rachel and Adam go along.
“Isaac can take her by himself,” Dave argued as Mary collected the dishes from the table. “Rachel should stay and help you while Jacob and Adam help me in the barn.”
“It wouldn’t be right for Isaac to take Eva back to town without someone with him. People might talk on things that didn’t happen,” she gently reminded him.
Isaac breathed a silent prayer of thanks for her quick thinking. Thankfully, Rachel and Adam could talk plenty during the ride.
“What about me?” Jacob asked, looking upset. “Why can’t I go?”
“Because someone needs to stay here and help your pa in the barn,” Mary said.
Jacob’s shoulders slumped but he didn’t protest.
Unable to resist the opportunity to bug his little brother, Isaac nudged him and smirked.
Jacob narrowed his eyes at him and shook his head.
Relieved the supper was finally over, Isaac went to get the sleigh ready for the trip into town. Once he pulled the sleigh up to the house, he helped Rachel, Adam and Eva into it, noting that his father looked way too happy about the whole thing. If he thought he was going to have a rough time before convincing his father that Eva wasn’t the right one for him, the task seemed impossible now. If he knew the magic words that would make his father understand his position, he’d gladly use them. Reluctant, he waved to his pa and got into the sleigh.
During the ride into town, Isaac couldn’t think of anything to say, which probably worked to his advantage since he didn’t want to mistakenly encourage Eva. His pa had done a fine enough job of that already. He could only hope Eva didn’t think Isaac was going to ask to court her because of this.
When he reached the Connealy residence, he got out and assisted Eva as she stepped out. He only had to speak to Eva on the way to the front door. As long as he kept it light and pleasant, everything should be alright.
“I had a lovely time,” Eva said with a smile that made him nervous. “Your parents are most kind.”
“Yes.” He cleared his throat and dug his hands into his pockets. “They enjoy having company over.” There. Hopefully, she would assume that having young ladies over for supper was a common thing at his house.
But she didn’t seem the slightest bit disturbed. Instead, she chuckled and said, “I can tell by the way your mother decorated the dining room. I’m rather flattered she used her fine china just because I was there. My mother rarely sets out hers.”
The reason his ma did that was because his pa insisted on it. Dave claimed it was a special event because they might be entertaining their future daughter-in-law. Just remembering their conversation made Isaac cringe.
“Is something wrong?” Eva asked.
Clearing his throat, he said, “Oh, um, the wind. I think it’s picking up a bit.”
“Really? I don’t think it’s any different from earlier.”
Finally! They reached the porch steps. As they went up the stairs, he said, “Maybe I’m imagining it.”
“Perhaps it’s cooler out than before. The temperature can drop at a moment’s notice in Nebraska.”
“Perhaps.” Good. They reached the top of the steps. Almost there. “It’s hard to predict what the weather will be like.” Fine. So he was restating what she said, but it filled in the time to the door and that counted for something.
“I’d invite you in to talk to my parents, but I don’t want the foot warmer to lose its affect.”
It took him a moment to understand she meant the foot warmer in the sleigh, and when he did, he nodded. “Oh, right. Yes. I should check on the coal to see if I should add more or not.”
She opened the front door and waved to Rachel and Adam who returned the gesture. “Thank you, and be sure to thank your family for their kindness.”
Before he could hurry out of there, Eva’s father walked up to the door and called out a greeting to him.
“Good evening, sir,” Isaac replied, tipping his hat.
“Would you like to come in and warm up by the fire before you head back?” her father asked.
“He can’t,” Eva answered for Isaac. “Rachel and Adam are waiting in the sleigh.”
“You can bring them in. We still have some games from when our children were younger,” he told Isaac.
With an uneasy smile, Isaac shook his head. “We can’t, Mr. Connealy. We need to get back home and help with the chores. But thank you for the invitation.”
“The offer stands next time you come then.”
Isaac nearly blanched at the thought of going through another supper with Eva, but he managed to hold his smile. As long as he didn’t agree to anything, no one could accuse him of making her or her father believe something was going to happen when it wasn’t.
Eva entered the house and her father wished him a good evening before shutting the door. Breathing a sigh of relief, Isaac turned to the steps and hurried back to the sleigh.