A Proper Marriage

A Proper Marriage by Dorothy Love Read Free Book Online

Book: A Proper Marriage by Dorothy Love Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy Love
Tags: Ebook
had grown leaner, the planes of his face more pronounced, giving him the look of a holy man, or a scholar.
    “Maybe your sketchbooks will be all right once they finish drying out. The pages might be a little moldy, though.”
    “Luke, I’m worried. Even if Samuel finds a wagon and horse for hire, how will we pay for it?”
    “Samuel said he’d make us a loan.”
    “Enough to buy the land in Laurel Grove too?”
    ”We’ve got enough for the first payment. I’m relying on cousin Micah’s willingness to wait for the rest until the first crops come in. He says the peach orchard should start producing this year. There’re a few acres of good bottomland for growin’ cotton. Between the two, we should own the land free and clear in a couple of years.”
    “That’s all well and good, but how can you possibly plant and harvest with a broken leg?”
    “It’ll heal eventually. And I’ll have you to help me.”
    She gaped at him. She expected to cook and clean, of course, to do the washing and tend a vegetable garden. But field work had not been a part of the bargain. “Me? Can’t your cousin help?”
    “He’s got his hands full looking after his own place.” Luke’s expression hardened. “You won’t be the first woman to plow a field. My grandmother and yours, too, probably . . . managed.”
    “My grandmother never plowed a field in her life. She was a lady.”
    When Luke only looked at her, she blushed. “I know what you must think of me.”
    “Do you? I wonder.” He shifted in his chair and massaged the top of his thigh. “After you left Blue Gap for school, I must have written you at least a hundred letters.”
    “You did?” She stared at him, surprised and oddly pleased. “I never received a single one of them.”
    He grinned and shook his head. “I didn’t actually send them.”
    “Why not?”
    “You were off learning French and studying great literature. I was afraid you’d think they were silly.”
    It was her turn to smile. “I have thought many things about you, Luke Mackenzie, but never that you were silly. What were your letters about?”
    “Nothing earth-shattering. Mostly I wrote about what was going on in Blue Gap, things that you were missing. Like the time Mr. Jenkins shot a bear up near the Coulters’ place, and the time the whole town shut down to hear the governor make a speech. And the time Mary Frank Harpeth got caught kissing Harvey Phillips out behind her daddy’s smokehouse.”
    She laughed, grateful for this newfound easiness between them. “Really? I always thought Mary Frank was sweet on you.”
    He shrugged. “Maybe.”
    “I wasn’t completely isolated in Virginia, you know. I heard rumors that you two were sweethearts.”
    “I liked her all right, but she was sweet on someone else.”
    “Harvey Phillips?”
    “No.” A shadow moved across his face, breaking the spell. He struggled to his feet and balanced on his crutch. “I’m tired, Olivia. I want to lie down for a while.”
    “I’ll help you to the bed.”
    “I can manage.” He pivoted on his good leg. “Maybe you could get some dinner started. Surprise Delia and them.”
    “I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a very good surprise. I’m not much of a cook.”
    “Then it’s time you learned.”
    He disappeared into the bedroom. She heard the scrape of his crutch against the wooden floor and the rustling of the mattress as he settled onto the bed. She went to the door and peered down the lonely road, fighting tears. Suddenly she missed her mother, who had been the one to insist that Olivia go away to school where she could receive a first-rate education.
    Her father had been dead set against it, not only because of the expense, but because once Olivia was married, a knowledge of literature and art would be useless. But after her mother left he’d seemed eager to be rid of his eldest daughter, too, so off she’d gone to Miss Pritchard’s. Now it seemed her father had been right after all. Who would have

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