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Love, English Style
The first chapter of a manuscript I'm working on. Romance****Adult****Set in East Texas. Opinions?
Love, English Style
Hannah stood under the dripping umbrella as Reverend Marshall said the final prayer over her beloved grandfather. Miserably she gazed over the heads of the many aunts, uncles and cousins huddled around the gravesite where her grandfather would soon join his wife of more than seventy years. The double headstone freshly engraved with the date of his death exactly one month after Hannah’s grandmother succumbed to the cancer that had taken her so suddenly. Hannah sighed and tried to quell the tears that threatened to fall, but they fell anyway. Her grandfather’s long time physician told the family her grandfather had died of heart failure, but when Hannah looked into Dr. Brown’s eyes she knew he was thinking the same thing she was. They both knew her Pa had been dying a little every day since her grandmother’s death and that he had finally died of a broken heart. It had been a heart wrenching thing to watch and even through her grief Hannah couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that his struggle to live without his beloved wife was over. Her heart ached as she remembered the sweetness of the love and the life her grandparents shared.
A movement caught Hannah’s eye as she peered through the trees heavy with Spanish moss. A man was moving silently away from the crowd of mourners. His attire was an all black western cut suit, over which he wore a black duster. In his hand he carried a black Stetson. As though he felt her gaze, he turned and met her eyes and Hannah caught her breath. Even through her veil of grief, Hannah could feel the heat spread through her body. The same reaction she’d always had when that particular male had come within a hundred yard radius of her.
There was no mistaking the piercing look from those narrowed, coal black eyes. Hannah had been seeing those eyes in her dreams since she was a teen. It was Jared English. What was he doing here? Had he come to pay his respects to her grandfather? She didn’t think he’d been at the funeral but she’d been so caught up in her grief there was a possibility she hadn’t noticed him. Hannah realized Rev. Marshall had finished speaking and people were moving toward the family to
offer their condolences. She looked back at Jared who tipped his hat in her direction then walked away.
Hannah’s aunt Melba took her arm as they walked back to the cars parked on the grass outside the little cemetery to make sure Hannah would be coming by her house to help with all the visitors that would gather there shortly. Hannah spent the rest of the afternoon in a daze as she visited with friends and family who’d come a long way for the service. Then exhausted beyond belief she drove home.
A few days later Hannah wandered through the old empty house her grandparents had called home for all of their married life. Everyone in the family affectionately called it the big house. The aroma of her Pa’s pipe tobacco was still strong all through the house and the scent of her Granny’s lilac toilet water still lingered on the sheets Hannah had just smoothed on her bed. She ran her hand down the smooth dark wood of the bannister as she descended the stairs. She couldn’t believe the house was hers. Even though no one in the family wanted to see the house sold, Hannah was the only one who’d truly been willing to take on the responsibility and costs to keep it. She had loved the house as a child and some of her happiest memories were of sitting on the wide wrap around porch shelling peas and listening to her granny tell stories of her own childhood. Hannah recalled that the English family sometimes played a large part in those stories.
The house was also where Hannah had many of her adolescent fantasies. The object of a great many of those fantasies was the man she had glimpsed the week before at the funeral. Jared English. As a teen she played those fantasies in her head over and over. But the man’s identity in those fantasies had always been a blur. A nameless, faceless entity she could feel rather than see. But soon after meeting Jared for the first time he began a starring role in her dreams and they became decidedly more carnal.
Just then Hannah heard someone pull up the drive and lay on the horn. That could only be one person, her cousin Darlene. Hannah smiled and hurried to open the door. She was pleasantly surprised to find not one but two trucks splashing through the potholes in the drive, their windshield
wipers fighting against the rain. Two women emerged from each truck and ran laughing and squealing for the porch where Hannah stood. In addition to Darlene were Hannah’s other cousins Tricia and the twins Tarah and Sarah. There were hugs all around then Hannah asked,” Why are y’all out in this weather?”
“We brought food, Tricia said as she held out the pizza boxes. We figured you probably wouldn’t cook just for yourself.”
“Yeah, and besides we felt the need for some junk food and a little girl talk, relatively speaking,” Darlene piped in. Laughing, they sat on the porch to eat just as they had when they were kids. Hannah was comforted by this small memory and as she looked into the faces around her she knew her cousins felt it too. They sat on the porch watching the rain for hours, reminiscing and laughing.
Finally, Sarah looked to Hannah and said, “So, any new boyfriends to tell us about?” “Nope, Hannah replied, “Between school and Pa’s death and moving here, I haven’t had time to even think about that.” She smiled wistfully, “Someday I’d like to have the kind of love granny and pa had.” Secretly though, Hannah was beginning to think that would never happen for her like it had for her cousins. Hannah looked at her cousins in the growing darkness and caught the sly glances they shared.
“Hey what’s going on here,” Hannah asked suspiciously, hoping they weren’t planning to start match making. Four pairs of eyes looked innocently back at her.
Tarah smiled, “Oh nothing…just that you happen to have a very handsome, very sexy neighbor.”
“Who,” Hannah asked. Her question was answered with an ‘I know something you don’t know’ kind of laughter.
“You’ll be seeing him around here soon I bet,” Tricia answered. “He’s been borrowin’ Pa’s tractor so y’all are bound to run into one another before long.”
Darlene yawned, looked at her watch and said, “Well I think we’d better go. What do you think the chances are our husbands have the kids down for the night? Tarah smiled, “I think my chances are very good. Greg and I have a ‘date’ for later tonight. He’s been working so much overtime lately we’ve barely seen one another these last two weeks and tonight’s our night.” Hannah felt a momentary twinge of envy at the look of anticipation on Tarah’s face. They said their goodbyes and Hannah found herself staring at the trucks’ taillights as they drove away, then she turned to go into the house. But first she stared in the direction of her new mysterious neighbor’s house and wondered who it could be. It must be someone new to the area because if it was someone she knew her cousins surely would have told her. She entered the house, letting the screen door slam behind her.
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