I got a request to give a sample from the hero’s point of view, so I decided to do that instead of make a post on what inspired this book. The reason it took so long for me to post was because I was only halfway through with chapter 3 and wanted to finish it before I posted it here.
This is in Chapter 3 and I introduce him here:
Pete had no idea what his brother was up to. He stood in the parlor, his gaze going from his brother to the preacher who held a book in his hands. With a glance out the window, he scanned his brother’s wagon. His brother always came out with some items, be they food staples, clothes, paints, or something else Pete needed. But it didn’t look like he brought anything with him today except the preacher. And the last time the preacher came out to the house, it was to bury their mother. He couldn’t think of why the preacher should be here now.
His brother patted him on the shoulder, so he turned his attention back to him. While his brother opened his mouth in a way that told Pete he was trying to communicate with him, Pete focused on the wide smile on his face and way he clasped his hands. Assured that the preacher was here for a good reason, Pete relaxed.
Pete’s brother turned toward the doorway in the parlor and Pete followed his gaze. Two women entered the room, one he recognized as the woman who often came out here with him, along with their boy. That boy was currently playing outside with a frog. But he didn’t recognize the dark-haired beauty standing next to his brother’s woman. Interest piqued, he took a moment to inspect the stranger whose face flushed a pleasing shade of pink as she made eye contact with him. He liked the way she looked. Her eyes were a lovely shade of green, complimenting the dress she wore. Her rosy lips were turned slightly into a smile, indicating that she was nervous about something. Her skin was fair and smooth, not at all like his skin which was tan from all his time working outdoors. Then there was the rest of her, and a man had to be blind not to appreciate the curve of her breasts and hips.
He tried to memorize her in hopes he’d be able to paint her in the future. Often, he liked to paint the land, but he could painting her for hours and losing himself to the simply joy of it. None of the trees, lakes, rivers, or prairie lands he’d painted came even close to her.
His brother waved her forward and she stepped toward him, his brother’s woman close behind. Feeling self-conscious, he ran his fingers through his light blond hair and straightened the collar of his plaid shirt. If he’d known she was coming by, he would have paid more attention to how he looked.
His brother took his hand and placed it in the dark-haired beauty’s. Eyebrows furrowed, he studied his brother’s face to figure out what was going on. His brother moved his mouth as he pointed to the woman holding his hand. Ignoring his brother’s mouth, his gaze went to the woman and then to their hands, wondering what it meant. Usually, he could figure out what people wanted, but in this case, he couldn’t.
His brother gestured to the preacher so he looked at the older man who proceeded to open his book. Pete glanced at the woman. Did she know what was going on? She seemed focused on what the preacher was doing. He knew that when people moved their mouths, other people understood something he didn’t. So she probably knew what was happening.
His brother nudged him in the side and nodded. It took Pete a moment to realize that his brother wanted him to nod to the preacher so he did. The preacher and his brother seemed satisfied. That was good.
The preacher turned to her and after a minute of watching him move his mouth, she nodded and moved her mouth, too. Pete wondered what this whole thing was about. The hand holding, the nodding… Then his brother separated his hand from hers, something he didn’t particularly care for since he had enjoyed the physical contact. It seemed that besides his brother and his parents, no one had touched him.
He’d seen his brother, his woman and their boy touch each other and often thought it’d nice to have that kind of familiarity with someone. And there was no denying that when his brother and his woman touched, there was something special about it. They belonged together. For the past year, Pete struggled with the uncomfortable feeling of jealousy whenever he saw them together. He had wanted something like what they had.
As his brother and his woman turned their attention to the dark-haired beauty, he wondered if she was for him, if maybe his brother had noticed that all the paintings in the world hadn’t eased the loneliness that had become his companion. He hoped so. He’d like to have his own woman, and this one pleased him immensely.
His brother turned back to him then pointed to the woman and him. The woman moved her mouth and smiled in a way that indicated she was happy. He returned her smile, feeling both hesitant but thrilled at that same time. He was sure this woman was his woman, his dark-haired beauty.
His brother’s woman hugged his dark-haired beauty then moved her mouth before she turned to him and moved her mouth as well. He nodded because he knew it would tell her that he agreed with her, even though he didn’t know exactly what she was trying to tell him but knew it was something good by the way she was relaxed and smiling.
When his brother, his woman, and the preacher began heading for the door, he watched his dark-haired beauty to make sure she’d remain with him and breathed a sigh of relief when she did. Good. So she did realize she was his brother’s gift to him. Since he knew she wasn’t going to leave, he felt safe in taking her hand and leading her to the door.
He let go of her hand and ran across the yard to meet up with his brother who was halfway to the wagon. His brother stopped, a question in his eyes, but then Pete hugged him to express his gratitude. His brother hugged him back. When he let go of his brother, he stepped away from him and noticed the boy. He ruffled the boy’s hair, a gesture he often used to say hello and good-bye. The boy moved his mouth and pointed to the spot he’d been playing, so Pete surmised the boy was telling him something about the frog he’d been playing with.
Without enough gestures, Pete never could tell what someone wanted him to know and since his brother’s woman waved for the boy to get into the wagon, Pete figured it didn’t matter. He waved to them and waited until they were on the wagon before he headed back to the house. The dark-haired beauty’s gaze went to the wagon, so he glanced over his shoulder and saw his brother’s woman moving her mouth. He paused, his gaze going between the two, wondering what the exchange meant.
Disappointed since there was no way he was going to find out, he continued on his way to the house. Though it sometimes frustrated him that he couldn’t understand some things that others said or get them to understand him, there wasn’t anything he could do about it. It’d been that way ever since he could remember and would likely continue to be that way for the rest of his life. But he’d really like to know what his dark-haired beauty was thinking.
He walked up the porch steps and studied her. She stood in the doorway of the house, an apprehensive expression on her pretty face, and she twirled a stray strand of her hair around two fingers. She was nervous. Well, that was silly. She had no need to be nervous around him. Deciding she might feel better if he helped her get more acquainted to her new home, he stepped toward her and offered her his hand.
She glanced from his hand to his eyes, her eyebrows furrowed, as if she was trying to figure something out. He gave her what he hoped was a comforting smile and motioned for her to join him. After a moment’s hesitation, she nodded and took his hand. She moved her mouth, but it was the curious expression on her face that got his attention.
She wanted to know something. He shrugged, wondering if she’d give him more information to discern what she had a question about. She paused, shook her head, and then moved her mouth again. When she stopped and looked at him expectantly, he settled for squeezing her hand to let her know everything would be alright. She had to be scared. He knew he’d be scared if he settled into an unfamiliar place.
Though he couldn’t figure out why, she seemed intent on staring at him, as if she was trying to figure him out. Well, there was only one way she was going to learn more about him and that was to see what he did. Since he couldn’t tell her, he’d show her. He led her down the porch steps and across the yard.
They reached the barn and showed her everything that was in it, including the stray two cats and the milking cow he had in a stall. Feeling inspired, he decided to show her how he milked the cow. When he was done, he held the pail out to her, and he was pleased to see that she seemed delighted to see fresh milk.
Since he’d already shown her everything in the barn, he held the pail with one hand and used his other to guide her to the chicken coop. After that he took her to his garden. In addition to a few fruit trees he had, he was proud of the rows of food that were doing well. Potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, lettuce, broccoli, and tomatoes were each divided up in their respective rows. They wouldn’t be ready for a while yet and he had no way of telling her what they were but in time, they’d grow out of the ground and she’d know.
Letting go of her hand, he pulled out a weed by one of the potato plants and scanned the rest of the gardens to make sure no other weeds were coming through. So far, so good. Everything was as it should be.
He took her hand again so he could lead her to the fenced pasture where his cattle were grazing the grass. Then in another fenced area, he showed her his sheep and in another was a horse. With nothing else to show her for the outside of his house, he took her back inside. She might like to sample some milk, so they went to the kitchen where he strained the milk, noting the way she carefully watched the process.
When he was done, he dipped a cup into the pail and held it out to her. She accepted it from him and took a tentative sip. Her eyes lit up and a wide smile crossed her face before she drank the rest of it. Pleased, he offered to fill the cup again. She bit her lower lip and glanced at the cup then nodded and held it out to him. More than happy to oblige her, he gave her another cup. Then time she didn’t drink it so fast.
He wondered how long she’d been thirsty. He then wondered if she was hungry. Without knowing where she came from or how long it’d been since she ate or drank, he had to guess. He glanced at the clock on the wall and saw the long and short hands at the location they usually were when it was two hours away from supper. But if she was hungry, he couldn’t show her the house until she ate.
Pulling a chair out from the table, he motioned for her to sit. Still holding the cup, she went to the chair and sat down, looking surprised. He gathered a skillet and some eggs he’d gathered that morning. Eggs were a good, quick meal, and he’d only make two so they wouldn’t spoil her appetite for supper. He had the eggs ready in short time and placed them on a plate. Digging out a fork from the utensil drawer, he gave her the meal.
He wasn’t sure what the expression was on her face but knew she was struggling to figure something out. If only he knew what she needed to know, he’d tell her. But all he could do was sit across from her and watch as she ate her eggs.
When she was done, she finished her milk and rose to her feet, ready to carry the dishes to the sink, but he stopped her so he could do it for her. He’d never had anyone in his house that he could do something for. In the past, everyone had done it all for him. He was glad his dark-haired beauty was willing to let him take care of her for a change.
After he took care of the dishes, he held his hand out to her. She accepted it. Holding her hand was already becoming familiar to him and he liked that. Now he knew why his brother liked holding his woman’s hand so much. He stood at the bottom of the stairs. She’d already been in the parlor and kitchen. While he was sure she hadn’t seen the mudroom, it wasn’t the most interesting room in the house.
But he figured he better do it now so she could be assured he wouldn’t be making their home a mess. His mother had seemed happier when the house was clean, so his father had learned to do what he could to make sure he got all the dirt and grime off of him in the mudroom before entering the house. From that, he learned that women preferred things clean and did what he could to make the house presentable in case he ever got a woman of his own, and as luck had it, he finally got her today.
Decision made, he led her to the back of the house where the mudroom separated the main house from the outside. He showed her the sink and bucket of water, the mat for his work boots, and everything else he thought she might be interested in. At one point, he glanced at her to see if she was pleased, and she smiled at him so he knew she was as happy as his mother had been about the mudroom.
Done with the mudroom, he led her back into the house and up the stairs. He led her into the room where he hung some of his paintings. He had more but had saved them in some trunks which were in the attic, and he had a feeling that she wouldn’t care to go up there. Ever since he was twelve, he made it a habit of painting every day when he got the chance. Painting was his way of recording what he saw, and those that were his favorites, he made frames for.
His dark-haired beauty tapped him on the arm, and when he looked at her, she laughed despite the uncertain expression on her face then moved her mouth and gestured the paintings along the wall. She continued moving her mouth, but it was the way her face lit up with excitement and she pointed to his work that drew his attention.
He wished he knew what she was saying because whatever it was, it had to be good. He had a suspicion that she liked his paintings, and that made him feel like he was ten feet tall. He continued watching her, wishing more than ever that he knew what she was trying to tell him. But at least she was smiling and, better yet, she was smiling at him.
When she was at the portraits he’d done of everyone he knew, he reached for her arm to get her attention. She stopped moving her mouth and focused on him. He touched her cheek, admiring how soft her skin was. Her hands weren’t so soft, telling him that she’d been used to working with her hands. But he guessed it was mostly work around the house where she used to live since they were similar to his mother’s.
Suddenly feeling shy about touching her, he stepped back, his face warm. Her eyebrows were furrowed once again, her eyes searching something in his, once again trying to figure something out, something that hadn’t been answered while they’d been in the kitchen.
Despite his curiosity, he turned from her so he could retrieve a blank canvas made from an off-white linen material and showed it to her. He touched her cheek again, allowing his fingers the pleasure of feeling her soft skin for a couple seconds before he touched the canvas. Then he pointed to the portraits he had lining the wall and retrieved his paint set from his brother’s old dresser. He waited for her response, wondering if she’d let him paint her.
Her eyes grew wide as she gestured between the canvas and her face. A flattering shade of pink rose in her cheeks and she pressed her hand to her chest, a questioning look on her face.
Figuring she was making sure he intended to paint her, he nodded. Then, to get her to fully understand what he wanted, he set the canvas and paints on the dresser, got a chair from his bedroom and set the chair next to her. He sat her down and placed his canvas on the easel he kept in the corner of the room. After he took the paints and paintbrush, he pretended to paint on the canvas and pointed the brush at her.
Her smile widened and shook her head, moving her mouth. The shaking of a person’s head usually meant no, but in this case, he picked up on the pleased expression on her face and the way she tucked a stray piece of dark hair behind her ear. So while she might be shaking her head, she was also very happy he wanted to paint her. Since he had some time before he had to make supper then check on the animals, he decided he’d start the portrait right away. This was going to be the most pleasant thing he’d ever get to paint. He motioned for her to wait for him to return before he hurried to get water.