Rick Johnson (Hero in Her Heart’s Desire) Begins to Realize He’s Being Set Up

All this time, we’ve been talking about Isaac and Emily (and esp. Dave) in Isaac’s Decision.  I am happy to say things have smoothed out with that book.  Whew!  Sometimes I worry if my characters can pull it off.  But they did.  I hope to finish the first draft to Isaac’s Decision next week.  *fingers crossed*

Tonight, I thought I’d give an update on Her Heart’s Desire.  For a quick refresher, Rick is interested in Ethel Mae, but Ethel Mae isn’t interested in him.  It turns out, however, that Sally is interested in Rick, so she and Ethel Mae (along with Ethel Mae’s little sister) are plotting a way to get Rick interested in Sally.  Falling for their ploy, he thinks he’ll make Ethel Mae jealous if he goes out to Sally’s house for supper.  Well, he did and this is the scene that follows….

Chapter Six

Rick waited until Wednesday before going to Ethel Mae’s house. He didn’t rush to see her for a couple of reasons. One was simply because he didn’t want to seem too eager to see her again, but the second reason puzzled him. Ever since Saturday when he’d spent the evening with Sally and her family, he ended up thinking of her far more than he should. It bothered him that he should dwell on her the way he was. She was being nice to him by helping him attract Ethel Mae. Surely, the pleasant conversation they shared after supper wasn’t meant to lead to something more.

With a sigh, he adjusted his tie and examined his reflection in the mirror at his room in the boarding house. Taking a deep breath, he decided Ethel Mae was surely done with supper by now and headed out of the boarding house. The sun wouldn’t be setting quite yet, but he wondered if he might talk Ethel Mae into watching it with him tonight. He missed the opportunity last time.

I also missed the opportunity with Sally.

Criticizing himself for thinking such a thing, he focused on the houses in front of him. Sally meant to discuss her friend. That’s why she offered for him to stay longer, but at the time, he hadn’t been in the mood to talk about her friend which was why he declined. He sighed. This was ridiculous. He couldn’t keep going in circles, thinking of Sally all the time. He wanted to be with her friend. The first time he saw Ethel Mae in the mercantile with her mother and little sister, he decided she’d be his wife one day. The plan was simple really. All he needed to do was stick with it.

He reached Ethel Mae’s house and climbed the porch steps. To his surprise, Vivian came running out the front door and almost ran into him. “Whoa! Watch where you’re going,” he teased as he stopped her from plowing into him.

She took a step back and laughed. “Sorry, Mr. Johnson. I was on my way to give my friend a letter.” She held the neatly folded piece of paper up. “It’s important.”

“Oh, I don’t want to interfere with something important.” Grinning, he stepped aside, but to his surprise, she didn’t go down the steps. “Is something wrong?”

“Are you here to see my sister?”

“As a matter of fact, I am.”

“I’ll tell her you’re here.”

He blinked when she spun on her heel and bolted back into the house. What a strange girl, but she was strange in a good way. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he waited for her to come back out to invite him inside. However, when she returned, she shut the door behind her, signaling that such an invite wouldn’t be happening unless her sister allowed it.

“Mr. Johnson,” she began in a hushed tone, “I want you to know that my sister is getting ready. She had on one of her old shirts but is putting on something better.” With a wink, she added, “She’s also fixing her hair. She didn’t do that for the other man interested in her.  I suppose what you and Sally are doing is working.”

“Oh well, that’s good,” he replied.

“Go on and sit on the porch swing. I have a feeling my sister will want to sit with you tonight.”

As he was about to sit on the porch swing, he recalled it wasn’t just one man interested in Ethel Mae. “You said two men are interested in your sister.”

“Oh yes, but she’s only interested in Samuel. Well, that is until you went out to Sally’s. Now she’s been talking about you all the time.”

“Does Samuel know about me?”

“No. But then he isn’t as interested in her as you are, so why would he care?”

Something about this whole thing wasn’t adding up. Vivian was talking a little too fast, and she was twirling her hair around her fingers while avoiding eye contact with him. “What is Samuel’s last name?” he asked.

Her jaw dropped. “What?”

Just as he thought. She was definitely nervous. He’d been too anxious about seeing her sister last week to notice, but now that his enthusiasm for coming here had waned a bit since Saturday, he was beginning to notice details he missed before. “I’m assuming he has a last name. I mean, everyone has a last name, unless they don’t exist.”

Vivian let out an uneasy laugh. “He’s real. My sister doesn’t make people up. Samuel is real, and he has a last name. It’s…um…” She tapped her lips with her finger. “Let me see…”

Furrowing his eyebrows, he waited for her to think of a suitable last name to a man he was beginning to believe really didn’t exist after all.

“Dixon! That’s a good one. His name is Samuel Dixon.”

That confirmed his suspicions.

Giving another nervous giggle, Vivian said, “I have to go.”

He watched her as she bounded down the steps, with her letter still in hand, and wondered why Ethel Mae, Vivian and Sally would make up a man named Samuel. And if Samuel was made up, it was safe to guess that they made up Larry, too. But the question was why. Why would they go to such lengths to make up different men who wanted to court Ethel Mae? What could they have possibly had to gain by such a ploy?

He sat down on the swing and debated his options. He could pretend that he hadn’t figured out what they were doing, and the truth was, he didn’t know exactly why they decided to lie about Larry and Samuel. Drumming his fingers on the arm of the swing, he stared off into the evening sky, not particularly seeing the pinks and yellows forming on the horizon but taking note of the sunset.

What was his best course of action? Did he tell Ethel Mae he caught onto what she was doing? Did he play along? What, exactly, did this mean?

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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