Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chapter 23

I was back in my overalls and carrying the dress back to the attic as fast as I could. I'd managed to go through a few things up there but I'd made the mistake in keeping a couple of what I had thought were Gram's prettier dresses out to use just in case. The dresses were still pretty in my mind but they'd have to show their prettiness while packed in cedar chips and lavender from here on out. Making a fool out of myself once was once too many.

Dressed more appropriately I continued my chores and fixed supper. The boys were both tired out from having extra play time with their cousins. They were also a little shocked to find out that there would be no school the next day and starting Monday they'd be homeschooled. Internally they warred with themselves trying to decide whether they were happy they'd never have to answer to those teachers again or upset that they wouldn't see the other boys. I planned on them staying busy enough that they wouldn't notice either one too much.

The boys headed off to bed a little early and Sloan and Dan headed to the office. Sloan still hadn't said a word to me. Of course I hadn't said a word to him either. I'm not sure it was a battle of the wills to try and get the other to bow or just both of us being hard headed and being determined to be right regardless of what the other did. Pride was wound up in there too I'm sure. I can claim I had inherited my hard headedness but that is still no excuse. Maybe if I had expressed my anger - and yes jealousy - better but I'd never felt jealous before; at least not like that. But as jealous as I was I was also angry ... and it wasn't at Sloan but at myself. I felt ten kinds of fool and not just over the way I had dressed.

None of those papers had said anything about Sloan having to have any fidelity towards me as far as sex went ... financially yes, and a few other things but not where sex was concerned. I had to be to him - which wasn't a strain regardless of what people have thought - because frankly I simply haven't considered anything else possible. I made a bargain and I intend to keep it to the bitter end. To me breaking that would not just be immoral but completely gross and disgusting.

I was angry because I had - despite swearing that I never would - built up some kind of fantasy where Sloan and I were concerned. I didn't call it love, I wasn't daydreaming enough for that. But I had thought there was something there ... something more, even if I couldn't put a name to what the more was. Yet my first time off the farm in years and all I saw was just how unlikely that was. I'd been painting a pretty picture in my head and ignoring the facts. Me who prided myself on being practical and nothing else. It wasn't Sloan admiring a woman that bothered me ... Hattie was a beautiful specimen and on top of that held similar business interests as Sloan, was someone he could talk to. It was the fact that I had allowed myself to believe in a fantasy.

As was the habit of the household I put a pitcher of tea together and took it to the office. I was turning to leave when Dan stopped me. "Teaghan, I didn't get a chance to ask but are you OK? You ... seem a little quiet. Those men ..."

"Oh that. I'm fine. It was Sloan that almost got hurt when they slammed into his side of the truck. He's a good driver and tricked them into going into that speed trap thingy the Highway Patrol has."

"How did you know about that?"

"I just figured. I've heard you and Sloan telling the men not to get in trouble and to watch out for certain places. Then I heard Sloan telling one of the Patrolmen that he'd been hoping they were there since he'd seen them in the area a couple of times. I don't know ... two and two I guess. Did I get it wrong?"

"No," he said with a smile. Then he glanced at Sloan from the corner of his eye. I guess Dan figured something was going on and was trying to figure out what. He asked me, "What's your take on what happened?"

"What do you mean my take?"

"What do you think they were after?"

"I don't know," I told him thinking he was asking a weird question. "It's not like there was anything valuable in the truck besides Sloan's wallet."


"No. I mean I guess they could have recognized his truck and thought he was carrying something. I know they were yelling something about sharing. Did you have trouble last time you went to the market?"

Dan turned full to look at Sloan who was looking at me like I'd lost my mind or something. "Well," I told him not liking being thought a fool. "How am I supposed to know? It's the only thing I can think of to account for what they were yelling. What surprised me was the way Mr. Burdock was acting. Of course maybe he was surprised they'd behave that way since they were the sons of some men he obviously knows. I know he wasn't happy that's for sure."

Sloan finally spoke, his voice cracking. "Why do you say that?"

"I guess you didn't hear but as he was walking away to get back in the car so his driver could take him wherever next, he told those two other men - the fathers of some of the young men there - that what they had been doing was ill advised ... like maybe they had already been given advice not to act like a donkey's back end ... and that he wanted a full accounting of all of the other warrants out for those men from the places outside the county. That was what he seemed surprised at the most ... that they'd gotten in enough trouble in other places to have warrants ... and what he seemed most angry about ... the not knowing about that part of it." I shook my head. "Do you understand what I'm trying to say? It just seemed ... off ... in a way I'm not sure how to explain."

They both just kind of looked at me so I shrugged and told them if they needed anything to push the buzzer ... a handy dandy little set up that Sloan rigged up because he got tired of bellowing or hunting all over when he was looking for me. Sloan said it was like an old time pager and worked through the comm waves. He could push some numbers on his phone which had full comm capabilities, and I had this little key pad that would buzz when it got the signal. I could then push a number on the key pad and it would let him know where I was. And where I was going to be was the basement putting away the stuff that Sloan had bought that day.

I hadn't been down there long when I heard Dan and Sloan up in the kitchen and they were arguing. "What the hell Sloan? Don't tell me that's not what you were doing. I've seen you do it a million times to make a deal."

"I wasn't making a deal. I was gathering information."

"Yeah, and I've seen you do that to."

"You gonna tell me it doesn't work and that I shouldn't do it?"

"Hell no, that's your business. But in front of Teaghan?! She's your wife man. Why do you think Sally and I got a divorce? She said she was tired of wondering and getting her face shoved in it all the time."

"I thought you told me you didn't do anything."

"I didn't. But after three years I've finally managed to cool down enough to see it from her side ... at least some of it. Look, I'm the last one to be giving marital advice and we both know it but at least listen to what I'm saying. You take her off the farm for the first time since God knows when, you do it because you say you want to give her a treat, you nearly get killed by those idiots - and you are going to have to explain a few things to her before too much longer and you know it. And then instead of using sense and coming back here you go on ahead and keep going 'cause you had a plan and wanted to get some research time in and use Teaghan as a distraction."

"That sure worked didn't it?" Sloan said sarcastically. "The woman knows absolutely nothing about shopping."

Dan laughed though I didn't see anything funny about it. "You mean she just didn't shop the way you expected her to, all giddy like a kid in a toy store. You know, you gotta get it out of your head. Teaghan isn't Tinsley and she isn't Chaundra ... and she isn't some kind of crossbreed of the two either so you need to stop expecting her to act like either one of them ever did. And as for that, did you even ask her to help or were you just going to use her?"

"I just wanted her to have a good time."

"That sure worked didn't it?" he asked throwing Sloan's words back in his face.

"I didn't mean for those idiots to get things into their heads and chase us!"

"I wasn't talking about them. I'm talking about you used that poor kid as an excuse to stop at that strip center to make it seem like you were there doing family shopping so you could do your research without the stores' security getting wind of it."

"I got the boys new belts."

"Uh huh ... and what did you get Teaghan?"

"I tried dammit but all she wanted was lemon drops."

"Did you get 'em for her?"

"Shut up."

"Yep, that's what I thought. You got busy doing your thing and she got hung out to dry."

"What the hell man? I thought you'd be on my side."

"I'll tell you what the hell. You claim you're taking Teaghan out as a treat but we both know it's just an excuse and you're lying to her right off the bat. In the process you nearly get run off the road. Teaghan is clueless about why. All she sees is that 'you're a good driver' and she seems to be satisfied with that. She doesn't pitch a fit like most people - man or woman - would under those circumstances. You blew it off 'cause you figured that was a good thing, if she doesn't understand all the easier on you. You went on and used her to do your research because it was more convenient. Then as icing on the cake you flirted with a woman in front of your wife you jackass and she hasn't had a hissy about that either. And all you can be is pissed off at her because she doesn't know how to shop? Get your head out of your back end Sloan and look at it for what it is. You screwed up ... six ways from Sunday you screwed up. What all progress you've made is gone. Even I can tell her walls are back up. Oh she's polite and everything else but it's back to like there's nobody home on the inside ... she's just playing at being a real person but she's back to being a robot. Maybe one that's had some practice but there's no life to it. You telling me that's what you want?"

"She'll get over it."

"Dumb ass. She's barely more than a kid although I suspect her head is screwed on a lot better than we think it is. She picks up on things so damn fast I don't know whether to be furious at her family or admire them for being able to actually keep her out of it as long as they did. When she gets a little older she's going to be a damn fine woman ... assuming you don't destroy her."

"I have never ..."

"Aw shut up Sloan. I might work for you but we're friends first and I'm telling you ... as a friend ... fix this because I do not want to see you as unhappy as you are going to wind up being if you do not. I had my doubts about this working out ... serious doubts ... until I got to know the girl. You got a bargain Sloan ... sure she's a diamond in the rough and she will never be what you seem to think you need, but she's still a diamond. Instead of appreciating her for who she is and how little trouble she causes you you're mad because you keep finding out how much she's worth and it looks like you're worth less to her in the process ... like that hemp deal you have going. You could have saved us some work if she'd been in on the planning."

"I already tried to tell her today that she was welcome to sit in with us."

"I didn't see her do it. I didn't see you offer or remind her either. You were too busy being pissy. And if you're gonna start feeling sorry for yourself let me help you along with something else for you to think on. She could have kept this farm and run it if she'd had some help with the labor. She knows it inside and out. She'd have had to lose some innocence along the way but that's gonna happen one way or the other. Winds up it doesn't look like she really needed you for that. She had enough cash to keep the farm going which she turned over to you without a squeak and without being asked ... I don't know anyone else living that would have done that, I sure as hell wouldn't have. And what's more she ain't in love with you either boy so get over yourself and deal with it. You can't work her and charm her ... not unless she lets you."

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about. You know how hard it is to get her to warm up? Damn. I've never had so much trouble in my life. She acts likes she's never ..."

He stopped and Dan gave a nasty snicker. "Dumb ain't the word for you Sloan. Of course she's gonna act like she's never. My guess - and you don't even have to tell me - is that her Dad and brothers kept her locked up so tight St. Peter himself would have had to provide certified credentials from God before he got near her. You think she'd still be this clueless of what is going on in town if they hadn't completely isolated her out here?"

Sloan sighed. "Yeah. Yeah she'd never ... until our wedding night. But she ain't exactly ..." Whatever he was going to say he didn't. I still wish he had. I'm still curious.

Dan snorted. "Wake up man. You've had it too easy with women. You need to come join the rest of us that actually have to put some effort into getting what we want. I know this isn't what you're used to but I haven't exactly seen you try all that hard to get her to feel something for you either. You probably put more effort into flirting with that candy woman than you ever have with Teaghan. You married her, like it was some huge sacrifice, and now you just expect her to be all you want. How about you turn it and look at it from her side. You know how I see it? I see she compromised because she looked at her choices and you just happened to be the best one of the lot but I bet if she'd had a little more time that maybe she would have come up with a different option for herself and been able to tell Burdock where he could shove it. And hah! I can see you don't like that idea one bit. You thought she'd come to think of you as her knight in shining armor ... and it turns out the last thing that Teaghan wants is a fairy tale."

"I don't need this hassle Dan. I got a lot of damn important things on my plate right now."

"Have it your way man but don't say I didn't warn you. But if I was in your shoes ... because I have been and screwed it up and wish I hadn't ... I'd put a little more thought into what your wife sees when she looks at you and what you're doing. And I'd knock off flirting with the customers when she's around. Good way to find yourself sleeping on the sofa. Where's she at anyway?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"Did that glass of JD go to your head already? The buzzer man ... give her a call. Check on her. Let her think you care."

"Hell no .. no chance. She's probably just outside hanging out with the animals."

"Better hope she ain't thinking about hanging out with the men. There's a few of 'em that wouldn't say no."

"What?! Teaghan wouldn't do that. She has to make herself be around any of them."

Dan gave a frustrated sigh. "Sloan I say this as a friend ... you're an idiot. Let's go find your wife so you can stay out of trouble."


  1. Yeah Sloan needs to brighten up.

  2. I agree, Sloan needs a kick in the pants. I really enjoy the pictures you are putting at the top of the chapters. Thank You.

  3. Im glad his friend told him how things are. Hes too much of a blockhead to listen right now, but hopefully that will change. Or who knows.. maybe she will find someone better. Someone that doesn't flirt with other women =/

  4. Kathy thanks for more of this great story, Sloan is being a fool, I take it he doesn't have a clue how important a good woman is to happy and successful life.

  5. Damn...men are so clueless some times!