This is way more difficult that I ever thought. Proof #1 had issues that needed fixing, thus we had proof #2, and it had different issues, all my fault. Now we are on proof #3. I am making no predictions, but I think we are close—but then I have said that before.
Meanwhile, for those patiently waiting for me to get my act together, here is another excerpt from early in the book.
I looked at Rachel, her face not more than three inches from mine as she held my hands to the floor beside my head. Her chest was heaving from the exertion, and there was a look of confusion on her face. “Very well, you have me pinned. What do you intend to do now?”
…I did not rightly know what I was going to do then. I looked at him, and he was smiling at me, so I did the first thing that came to mind. I kissed him right on the lips…
I was more than a little surprised when she kissed me. It was only a peck on the lips, but I was not expecting it. With speed and strength I am sure surprised her, I flipped her off my chest and rolled her onto her back. Before she knew what was happening, I sat astride her with her hands pinned to the floor.
Surprise showed plainly on her face. “So,” I said, “It’s a kiss you want from me. Perhaps you should have a real one.” She looked shocked then.
As I said that, I heard my mother’s footsteps on the stairs. Our roughhousing had brought her to investigate. “Ethan! Brandy!”
“Perhaps some other time,” I said as I stood and pulled Rachel to her feet. I turned to take my medicine just as my mother stepped up to the parlor door. Not knowing what to expect from an angry Analee, Rachel tried to hide behind my back.
“What is going on down here? It sounded like you and Brandy were tussling.”
“You called?” Brandy showed up then, her hair looking a mess. My mother noticed that right off. She gave Brandy a once over, then me, and drew her own conclusions.
“Rachel, you can come from behind Ethan. I know you’re there.” She peeked around me at Analee. Her expression was one of near terror as she stared big-eyed and gape-mouthed at my mother. She looked a mess; her hair was down and hanging in her face, and her blouse was pulled from her skirt. “You too?” said Analee with disgust in her voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” she stuttered. “But we didn’t break anything.”
“Ethan!” exclaimed my mother, and Brandy mimicked her behind her back. Analee spun. “I saw that, Brandy!” That did it! I was absolutely convinced right then she had eyes in the back of her head. Brandy looked contrite and more than a little surprised.
Analee turned her attention back to me. “Ethan, these are two young ladies…”
She paused and looked at them, first Brandy and then Rachel. “Rachel!” Poor Rachel jumped. “Pull your blouse down! Your bosoms are showing!”
That caused me to turn and look. Her blouse was pulled up, but I didn’t see any bosoms, just camisole. Rachel tugged her blouse down as she looked sheepishly at my mother.
Once more my mother turned her attention back to me. Her eyebrow went up and her hands were on her hips. That was a guaranteed, sure sign I was in trouble. “As I started to say, these are two young ladies, and you are a gentleman—or I thought you were. It is not proper for you to be tussling on the floor with them as if they were children. The three of you are a little old for that. And you know I never allow that in the house.”
By then Mammy had shown up with a stern expression on her face. She stood behind Analee and nodded her agreement to every word the mistress of the house said and punctuated the important points with a slap on Brandy’s backside. Brandy squealed, but I’m sure she didn’t feel a thing through all those petticoats.
Analee turned to Brandy. “Now, you get out to the kitchen and help your mother with supper.
“Ethan, you find yourself something to do—outside.”
“Rachel, if you want that gown fitted in time for the party, you best get yourself upstairs and let me help you with it now.”
The queen bee had spoken, and with a flourish, she spun and left the room.