The cover reveal and pre-order link is coming on June 1st for my next full-length novel and the third in the Sheltering Trees series: On Bur Oak Ridge. This is a sneak-peek. I also thought I’d offer an excerpt from the book today.
Interesting fact—I set this novel on the farm my husband and I live on, and the background picture for the cover is one that I took from the top of our ridge, where in fact bur oak trees grow; thus the title.
The story is told in two first person perspectives: Molly’s and Samuel’s. Molly is a woman carrying emotional and physical scars. She thinks love is past her, gone with her husband who abandoned her. Samuel is a man carrying some emotional wounds and grief over something that he contributed to.
The two of them find themselves drawn to each other, recognizing and understanding the deep pain each of them have gone through. A friendship results, but could it ever become something more?
With a low creak the front door opens, and the men walk in. I turn my back to them and move to place the boiled dinner Mabel and I made in the middle of the table. Rashly, I lift up the handle of the cast-iron pot, forgetting it’s hot. I drop the handle and it clunks against the side of the pot.
“Yow!” I can’t help uttering.
I shake my hand, trying to flap away the pain, red marks blooming on the underside of my middle fingers.
Mr. Woodson steps forward and grabs a tea towel to lift the pot to the table.
“Let me,” his low voice rumbles out.
I keep my eyes lowered as I offer him a “Thank you.”
I don’t need to say more.
Mabel holds her hand out to me, motioning with her fingers, demanding my burning hand. “Oh dear. Let me see.” I don’t resist and place my hand, palm-up, in hers.
“Oooh, that might leave a welt.” Mabel drops my hand and
steps toward the icebox. “I’ll chip off some ice to place on it. Sit down at the table.”
I obey. Lincoln steps closer to his wife.
“Should we do the same, Mae? Is supper ready?” he asks, using his pet name for Mabel, concern present in his tone.
“Surely. Take your seats. This won’t take but a minute, and then you can say the blessing,” Mabel says with confidence.
While she chips at some ice with an ice pick, we all sit, looking a bit uncomfortable. Lincoln watches me with what I imagine is genuine care.
Mr. Woodson, Samuel, folds and unfolds his fingers over the top of his plate and clears his throat several times, yet retains his thoughts and his gaze. It gives me the opportunity to study him. He wears his ash-blond hair long, but his face sports no facial hair. His eyes are wide and well-set but not shrunken. Because of his downcast gaze or the candlelight, I cannot decipher what shade they are. The oval shape of his face puts me in mind of more feminine features, but his strong brow and prominent jaw are decisively masculine. Altogether, he presents a pleasing figure.
Mr. Woodson suddenly glances up, as if he can read my thoughts.
I instantly drop my inspection of him and turn my face, so my good side is to him. My neck begins to prick and itch, and I look at Mabel, begging her to hurry up. She gathers the ice shards in a flour-sack towel, folds it several times, and hands it to me.
“There. You rest your hand on that; it should start to feel better soon. After dinner, I can put some balsam of myrrh on the burn.”
I gulp, swallowing the word “burn.”
I know about burns. I’ve lived through them. Almost died from them.
Mabel’s eyes widen, and she holds perfectly still, a fly caught in a word-web. “I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t think…”
Her eyes glisten with the brown, gold-flecked sheen of sand- polished ironstone.
I want to reassure my friend that I’ve put the past behind me and that it no longer has the power to scar me. But I’m unsure. Perhaps it still does.
Thanks for reading!
Do you wonder what Molly’s story is? Why do you think the word “burn” bothers her so much?