This scene happens right after Neil finds out Emily is interested in Isaac. I didn’t plan for Emily to tell him about Isaac, but as I was writing the story, it slipped out and I had to improvise from there. I didn’t expect Neil to be supportive of the match at first, but after talking to Emily, he decided to see Dave about smoothing things out so Isaac and Emily could be together.
As we know, it doesn’t go well, and this is at chapter 17 in the book. At chapter 19, Isaac and Emily finally elope. I seriously thought they would elope around chapter 10. So I’m not exactly sure how everything will play out, but this is a romance and Dave Larson will make amends and finally forgive Neil.
But I will admit that Dave doesn’t seem like the good guy in this scene. :O
I’ll try to do an interview with Neil and Dave either tomorrow or the day after.
The next day, Neil led his horse up to Dave Larson’s property and noted the way his gut twisted. He hadn’t set foot on this land ever since Dave made it clear that if he did, he ran the risk of being shot at. Given the circumstances, Neil couldn’t blame Dave for making the threat, but that was almost eighteen years ago. Certainly, Dave would understand that given the passage of time, Neil’s request was a reasonable one. And Dave wouldn’t want to stand in the way of his son’s happiness any more than Neil wanted to stand in the way of Emily’s. Dave was a reasonable man. Surely, they could bury the hatchet and do what was best for their children.
All of this ran through his mind as he approached the blue house with white trim. He scanned the yard leading to the barn and wondered if Dave would be out there this time of day. On a Friday and three in the afternoon, he’d most likely be in the house. Neil pulled back on the reins of his horse and slowly exhaled. The good news was he was right in front of Dave’s house and no gunfire had erupted yet.
Sliding off his horse, he walked the stallion over to the post and tied the reins to it. With a quick pat on the animal’s neck, he turned his attention to the front door. This was it. He hadn’t said more than a couple words to Dave since that day at the train station when Dave let him have it for abducting Mary. Not that Neil could blame him. Dave had every right to hate him for what he did. He just hoped by acting rashly in the past, he didn’t make it so that Emily couldn’t be with Isaac.
Straightening his back, Neil headed up the porch steps, careful to stomp the snow off his boots so he wouldn’t track snow on his way to the door. Before he could talk himself out of it, he knocked on the door and forced himself to stand still so he wouldn’t bolt for his horse and get out of there.
The door opened and Mary’s concerned expression came into view. “Is something wrong?” she asked him. “Is Sarah alright?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. Sarah’s fine,” he replied and then cleared his throat. “Actually, I came to speak to your husband. Is Dave here?”
“Yes. Come on in.” She held the storm door open for him and motioned to the parlor. “Dave’s upstairs. Why don’t you have a seat, and I’ll get him.”
He stepped into the parlor and smiled at the twin three-year-old girls who stopped playing with their dolls to look at him. If he hadn’t been so nervous, he would have asked them what they named their dolls. As it was, he was too tense to do anything but remain standing in the middle of the room. He doubted Dave would let him sit on his furniture, let alone be happy to find him standing in his house. Shifting from one foot to the other, he went over the words he planned to say when he saw Dave. The girls continued to stare at him, but he hardly noticed.
From upstairs, he could hear Mary’s soothing voice as she told Dave to give Neil a chance before throwing him out. Neil grimaced. This was turning into a disaster before it even started. He took a deep breath and reminded himself he was doing this for Emily. The footsteps grew louder as Dave and Mary made their way down the stairs, and Neil squared his shoulders back.
Dave entered the parlor first, a scowl on his face. “Get the children out of here,” he told Mary, not taking his eyes off of Neil.
“Let’s get something to eat,” Mary said, holding her hands out to the girls who stood up. “Take your dolls.”
They got their dolls and glanced from their father to Neil. Dave motioned for them to go with their mother, and they hurried to obey.
When they were out of the room, Dave turned his attention to Neil. “You’re not welcome here.”
Neil took another deep breath and chose his words carefully. “I know I’m not, and I don’t blame you for being upset.”
“You’re right, I’m upset. I thought I made it clear to you what would happen if you got near anyone in my family.”
“I’m not here for anyone in your family. I just wanted to talk to you.”
Dave crossed his arms and glared at him, and Neil felt as if they were right back at that train station all over again. “Mary might think I should listen to you, but I don’t have that kind of patience for people like you.”
Despite the surge of irritation Neil felt at the insult, he forced it aside. He was here because of Emily, not to save his pride. “Look, Dave, this isn’t about me. It’s about my daughter. I came here to work out some kind of truce so that our children can be happy.”
Eyebrows furrowed, Dave asked, “What do my children have to do with this?”
“It’s Isaac. Emily and Isaac have fallen in love and—”
“Oh no, he hasn’t. Not my son!”
Neil blinked and stared at Dave for a moment. He knew Dave wouldn’t be happy about the situation, but he didn’t expect him to be so vehemently opposed to it. Clearing his throat, Neil shrugged. “They are. I talked to Emily last night and she said that she and Isaac want to be together.”
“Over my dead body.”
At that, Neil laughed, not sure why he was laughing because it wasn’t funny but his nerves were just about shot from the whole night he’d spent worrying about how today would go—and now things were going as bad as he feared. “Dave, you can’t punish our children for what I did. I apologized at the train station, and I’m apologizing again. I’m sorry. I was wrong to try to take Mary from you. But that has nothing to do with Isaac and Emily. I’m not looking for forgiveness. You have a right to distrust me. We can work something out where we don’t have to be in the same place at once. Isaac and Emily can take turns seeing us on the holidays. We can work something out so they come here for one holiday and then come out to my house the next. Just because they’ll get married, it doesn’t mean I have to be in your life.”
“Married?” Dave shouted, his face bright red.
“I assume that’s where things are headed. Emily hasn’t been interested in any of the young men who’ve been wishing to court her, but she’s taken a liking to Isaac so I think—”
“It doesn’t matter what you think! They aren’t getting married. I don’t know what gives Emily the idea that my son would marry someone like her, but he’s not.”
In an instant, Neil’s mood switched from nervous rambling to being offended. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“You know what it means, Craftsman.”
“No, I don’t.” He brought himself to his full height, which was just a bit taller than Dave, and narrowed his eyes at him. “It sounds like you insulted my daughter, but I know I couldn’t have heard right because she’s innocent in everything I did.”
“You know what they say: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Before Neil had time to think, he drew back his fist and punched Dave in the jaw. Dave staggered back but returned Neil’s punch with one of his own. Neil toppled onto the coffee table which broke in half under his weight. Neil quickly got up and rammed into Dave until they both fell to the floor.
“You can talk to me anyway you want to, Larson, but you have no right to talk about my little girl that way!”
Dave shoved Neil off of him and got to his feet. “You keep that little girl of yours away from my son.”
Mary ran into the room and gasped. “What are you two doing?”
“Get out of my house!” Dave ordered Neil, pointing to the front door.
“You can’t stop two people from being together if they want to be,” Neil said as he stood up, rubbing his cheek.
“What two people?” Mary asked.
“No two people,” Dave quickly replied. “No one’s getting married.”
Her jaw dropped. “Married?”
Dave groaned. “It’s nothing. Neil just came over to create trouble because that’s what he’s good at. Will you please go back to Rose and Harriett while I throw him out of here?”
“There’s no need,” Neil muttered as he stormed by them. “You have a rude awakening coming to you, Larson, and the sooner you deal with it, the better off your son’s going to be.”
Dave’s lips formed a thin line as he headed in Neil’s direction, so Neil strode to the front door and flung it open. Unbelievable. Nothing changed. In eighteen years, nothing changed! Neil shook his head and hurried down the porch steps.
As he untied the reins to the horse, he glanced back at the house. Neither Dave nor Mary were looking out any windows, but judging by the worried look on Mary’s face, he was sure she was asking her husband what was going on. Neil hopped on his horse in time to see Isaac coming out of the barn. Isaac’s gaze went from Neil to the house and then back to Neil.
“Good luck,” Neil told Isaac with another glance at the house. “You’re going to need it.”
Then Neil hurried off the property.