Authors: Sarah Loudin Thomas
Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC042000, #FIC026000, #Domestic fiction
© 2015 by Sarah Loudin Thomas
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Kathleen Lynch/Black Kat Design
Author is represented by Books & Such Literary Agency
To Mom and Dad,
thanks for loving me—
Let both grow together until the harvest.
on his plate and savored the rich meatiness of it. Mom always cooked his favorites when he came home from college, and this Christmas break was no different. He’d been enjoying being home so much he almost decided against broaching the subject of his music for fear Mom and Dad would launch into their usual speech about his education coming first, but he was itching to share the latest news.
“Mort Jeffries asked me to come play at the Screen Door down on High Street. Guess I must’ve sounded pretty good.”
His father raised one reddish eyebrow shot through with gray and chewed a bite of potato. “Oh?”
That was all the encouragement Henry needed. “Yeah, he heard me fooling around with my fiddle on campus one afternoon and said I should come sit in with the band. Guess he thought I was good enough to play a night or two. Even got some tip money out of it. Man, those guys can play.” He put down his fork and used his hands to illustrate. “Mort gets that
guitar going, and Benny plays the mandolin like he was born with it in his hands—almost as good as you. Sure wish you could come hear us.”
His mother smiled and gave his father an inscrutable look.
“Son, you know we don’t want you to let music distract you from your studies.” His dad buttered a roll and took a bite. “You’re talented in more ways than one, and getting an education should be your priority right now.”
Henry tried not to roll his eyes. “I guessed you might say that, but somehow I thought—maybe this time—you’d see it’s not just dreaming. I actually made some money. And Mort said if I’d commit to playing with them regular, he might be able to work out something steady.”
Dad sighed. “We’ve been over this before—”
“Yeah, I know, and it’s always the same. School, school, school. Maybe you don’t think I’m good enough.”
Mom reached over and squeezed his arm. Henry wanted to jerk away but knew it wouldn’t help his case.
“I thought you were enjoying school.” Dad leaned back in his chair and studied Henry. He had a way of looking at him that made Henry feel like he was reading his very soul.
“Yeah, I do like it. It’s just . . .” He spread his hands wide, as though reaching for something. “I feel so connected when I play. It’s almost spiritual or something, and the music flies out all around me, and . . . and I feel great.”
Dad smiled. “I guess I know what you mean. Might be I should dust off my mandolin and see if we can’t make some music together after supper.” He glanced at Mom. “I know your mother would enjoy that.”
“Does that mean it’s okay if I play more regular? I know I can do it and keep up with classes.” Henry tried not to sound too eager.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I know how you
feel, and I know how hard it will be to put this dream on hold until you finish your degree.” Dad folded his napkin and laid it beside his plate. “Music is one of the purest things this world has to offer, but I’ve never let it get in the way of my responsibilities. I know you won’t, either.”
Henry swallowed hard and pushed away his half-eaten steak. If his dad really understood, he’d know it was possible to get an education and play the fiddle at night. But he respected him too much to argue any more.
“Yeah, I understand.”
Dad smiled. “Good, now go get your fiddle, and let’s serenade your mother.”
“Maybe tomorrow. It’s New Year’s Eve, and I promised the guys I’d go out with them tonight.”
His mother frowned. “Which guys?”
“Oh, just some fellows from high school. Most of ’em are home from college like me.”
“You be careful. Some of those boys drink.”
“Mom, you know I don’t drink.”
His dad caught his eye and winked at him. “Our son’s a good man, Perla. We can trust him.”
She looked from her husband to her son as she smiled and stood to begin gathering dishes. “Casewell, you always did have a knack for thinking the best of folks, especially the ones you love.”
He caught her wrist and tugged her closer, wrapping an arm around her waist. “Not always, my love, but I learned my lesson.” He kissed her elbow and released her.
Henry was sometimes embarrassed at how affectionate his parents were, but he guessed it might be worse. Some of his buddies’ parents were divorced, and some didn’t even talk to each other. He stood to go find the keys to his dad’s old truck. Yeah, his parents weren’t perfect, but it sure could be worse.
And maybe they didn’t have to know about it every time he played at the Screen Door.
Henry woke the next morning with an abruptness that frightened him. Was that a sound? Had someone spoken? He shivered, even though he was snug under two layers of quilts. The sun had begun to color the sky outside his window. He shoved up on one elbow and listened. The house was quiet—too quiet. And too cold. He shivered again, but this time it was the chill air slipping around his shoulders. Dad should be making noise by now, turning up the furnace from its nighttime setting, chatting with his mother while she started breakfast. Maybe they were sleeping in.
Henry swung his bare legs over the side of the bed and pulled on a pair of dungarees, shaking in the cold. He tried to credit his uneasiness to the late night ringing in the New Year—it was 1976 now—and the nip or two of moonshine he’d sampled. He didn’t much like alcohol, but it would have been unsociable to abstain completely.
He grabbed a sweatshirt with the name of his school emblazoned across it—West Virginia University. He’d need to head back in the next day or two. He’d begin the second half of his junior year on the seventh, but he had until the final day of break to turn in his paper on Soil Genesis and Classification. Man, who wouldn’t prefer playing the fiddle to that? Just thinking about it made him want to crawl back under the covers, but the silence of the house was too much. He finished dressing and headed for the kitchen.
Mom sat at the table, her robe wrapped around her, bare feet tucked under her chair. Her feet looked almost blue. Confused, Henry laid a hand on her shoulder. She jumped up, sending her chair clattering to the floor. For a moment, Henry thought she was going to hit him.