In this fall season, I thought it would be fitting to post a scene that takes place in the autumn from my latest novel, In a Grove of Maples. In this display set up on my buffet, you’ll notice that I have a lit candle next to the book. It’s a specially made candle, by From the Page candles, to match my novel!! How cool is that? It contains hints of amber, leaves, smoke, and maple syrup, and it smells divine!!!
FROM CHAPTER SIX:
Early September 1897 About six months prior
…The first frost had come, and the corn was starting to dry. Beryl walked around the edge of the corn field. She ran her hand along the jagged edge of the flame-orange sumac clustered at the start of the woods. The bright color of the leaves contrasted with the robin’s-egg blue of the sky perfectly, as if they had ben flung directly off a color-wheel.
Edward had talked about how he wanted to build a small hunting shack in the woods, complete with a small, potbellied stove. Beryl did like the taste of venison but the thought of eating the quiet, shy animals turned her stomach.
A rustling made her stop and listen. It unnerved her.
Maybe I should have brought Buster with me. But he might’ve run off into the woods.
Beryl looked around. A crow cawed nearby, and the wind whistled through the birch and poplars skirting the thicker, dense tree growth in the middle of their wooded property. She looked back over her shoulder and saw a doe chewing on an exposed cob of drying corn. Suddenly, the deer froze. Beryl sensed the wind had changed. The doe’s ears flicked back, her white tail flagged up, and she bounded away into the underbrush of the woods with hardly a sound.
Beryl turned toward the sound of chopping; it rung like an echo in the crisp air. She’d come out to give Edward his lunch. He most likely had a mind to work clear through the midday meal, so she’d decided to bring it to him. He was stubborn that way. He had told her that he wanted to finish chopping up the dead trees around their property for firewood in preparation for winter. They would need the wood for heating fuel.
She left the cornfield and sumac behind, stepping into the woods. A glimpse of Edward’s red, plaid flannel shirt caught her attention. She walked toward the color. Nearing her husband, she entered a small clearing of felled trees in various stages of dismemberment. Benny waited patiently tethered to a tree while Edward stacked the split wood in the back of the wagon.
She stepped closer to her husband and held out the basket she carried. “Making progress I see.”
He turned, set his axe down, and out of his back pocket pulled his handkerchief, to wipe his red face. He looked tired to her.
She brushed off a stump nearby and spread out the canned meat and cheese sandwiches and apples that she’d brought for their lunch on a flour-sack towel. “Come, sit with me.”
She opened a jar of coffee, which she had wrapped in a towel to keep warm, and poured some into a tin cup. She passed it to Edward. He stuffed his hankie back in his pocket and nodded, thanks evident in his face. A smile lit his lips as he took the cup and tipped back a drink.
“That hits the spot,” he said when he’d downed the contents.
He handed it back to her. Beryl took it and picked up a sandwich.
She sat and patted a spot next to her on the trunk of a horizontal tree. “Sit down and rest your weary feet.”
He obeyed her and heaved a sigh as he stretched out his denim-clad legs in front of him. She passed him the sandwich. Edward took it and bit off a large portion.
Beryl picked up the other sandwich and took a dainty bite. “Will you work until dark?”
She missed his presence when his day was fully occupied with chores.
“I’ve a mind to.” He bit off another piece of bread, meat, butter, and cheese.
“Let me help. I can set the chunks of wood on the chopping block for you and stack them in the wagon. We might finish early that way.”
Beryl hoped he would say yes.
“Well . . .” His face twisted up in a half grimace, as he scratched the back of his head. His cap slouched down over his forehead with the effort. “Some help would make the workday shorter.” He looked her in the eye, his blue eyes questioning. “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” Beryl grinned and took a larger bite of her sandwich.
Edward flicked his eyes to her middle. “I don’t want you lifting anything too heavy.”
He polished his sandwich off in one more bite.
“Of course not,” Beryl said through a full mouthful.
“Well, all right then.” He picked up one of the yellowish-
green apples, which Nola had told her were Summer Rambos, an early yielding variety. He opened wide and bit in with a loud crunch. “Tart, but juicy.”
“Nola said they make good sauce.”
“We get them from her and Paul?” Edward took off another chunk of whitish flesh.
“No. Found them on one of the apple trees near the maples. I wonder if Mr. Johnson planted it.”
Edward used his shirt sleeve to wipe away some juice from his chin. “Ever hear from Miss Johnson?”
Beryl turned to him with excitement. “Yes. Don’t you remember I told you we are invited for afternoon tea on Sunday?”
She yearned to know more about her new acquaintance, Olivia Johnson. She had been thrilled to receive an invitation in the mail a few days ago.
“Tea?” A worried look puckered Edward’s brows. “Won’t that be a fancy lady’s gathering?”
Beryl tucked the last crumbs of her sandwich into her mouth. “I hardly think so. She mentioned her grandfather eagerly awaits our visit. I think he’s interested in hearing about the farm.”
“Oh, well. Guess we can go.” Edward chucked his apple core off to the side with a long pitch. It sailed out of sight. “We should stop and see Cedric while we’re in town too.”
“Good idea. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet.” Beryl hopped off the log. She decided to save her apple for
later. She downed the last portion of coffee before packing the jar, cup, and towels back in the basket.
Edward gave her an unconvinced look and chuckled. “Better wait and see till after you meet Cedric to call it a pleasure.” He winked, rose, and dusted off a few bits of wood and crumbs. “You ready to get started?”
His statement made Beryl wonder what Edward’s cousin was really like. She shook her head and put it out of her mind. “Ready!”
Beryl felt excitement. Her heart hammered in her chest with happiness to be working alongside her husband. Working together unified them, and they needed more of that. She feared a growing gap between them.
Why did everything feel so easy months ago? Recently, she wondered what she might do or say next to irritate him.
They worked well together for the next couple of hours. Beryl placed the chunks of wood on the chopping block, and Edward brought the axe down to split the chunks. He usually managed this in one swift move. Occasionally, a piece needed an extra strike to split. Sometimes, he used a steel spike wedged in the block to force a split with the blunt end of his axe.
Edward took a break now and then and helped her pick up the split wood to stack in the wagon. Soon, they had cleared up most of the dead trees that Edward had chopped down or which had already fallen.
He snapped a leather sheath over the axe head and set it in the wagon. “Time to head back.”
He untied Benny and hitched him back up. Beryl got in and sat in the seat.
Edward plopped down next to her. “I appreciated your help today.”
His blue eyes were saying something Beryl had been wanting to hear—Edward needed her.
She reached out and touched the growing hair on his jaw. He had decided to let his beard grow over the cold months. He placed his hand over hers, and turning it slowly over, he kissed her wrist.
The sensation of his lips on her skin made Beryl’s knees feel weak. Good thing I’m sitting.
Her eyes fluttered closed for a moment. Next, Edward’s lips touched hers, feather light at first. She kissed him back. It took only seconds for them to kiss each other with a hunger that spoke of more than nourishment. Beryl’s heart raced as Edward peeled back her collar and unbuttoned the first few buttons of her shirtwaist. She sat there with her eyes closed in a trance as his lips touched the hollow of her neck. All sound vanished except the beating of her heart in her ears…
Thanks so much for reading!
What kind of fall candle is your favorite?