I’ve spent so much time on the Culpeppers lately, I’ve grown a little weary of them. I’ve been writing a four-book series since August, which is itching to become a five-book series. Sigh. I need something a little different. I thought I’d bring back an old story this week. An Orphan’s Heart was a finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Awards. I’m so glad someone else thought it was a good story besides me. 🙂
Our heroine, Ellen, is a young woman in post-civil-war Mississippi, the only female traveling on a wagon train, and I’m sure she’s not used to being treated so harshly. It’s a good thing handsome Luke is somewhat of a hero, because piss-drunk Floyd has grabbed Ellen by the wrist.
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“Hey!” Floyd hollers at us as we pull away.
“That’s enough, Floyd!” Buck yells, appearing from the woods behind us.
Floyd turns toward Buck, and moves faster than his inebriated body should be able to. As Floyd loosens his hold on me, Luke yanks me toward the wagon and shoves me in. Buck grabs Floyd by his outstretched arm, spins him around, and puts the knife up to Floyd’s throat. Floyd curses, demanding Buck let him go. I assume Buck refused, for they’re soon having an all-out brawl. I hear the whiskey jug hit the ground, but I don’t know if Floyd threw it or dropped it. I also hear fists making contact with flesh. I can’t imagine Floyd is in any shape to fight off a man like Buck.
I jump when I hear a gunshot. Everything is abruptly silent. Even the bullfrogs stop croaking, and it seems as if time is standing still. I look wide-eyed at Luke, wondering if Floyd has been shot.
“It’s all right,” he says, shaking his head in answer to my unspoken question.
“Are you sure?” I whisper.
He nods. “Yes. I’m sorry. We were hoping Floyd would stay sober, especially with a lady around.”
I hear Buck order Floyd to lie down right where he is and sleep it off, and I breathe a sigh of relief that Floyd is still alive. I don’t hear another word from either man, so I assume Floyd did as he was told.
Luke leaves the back of the wagon. I don’t move. After a few minutes that seem like an hour, he comes back and says, “Floyd has passed out by the fire. You’re safe now.”
“Thank you. I didn’t know I wasn’t safe before,” I mumble to him.