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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chapter 23

“Peter, it really isn’t appropriate to yell that kind of thing,” a man sighed. 

Roman and I had left quietly by the back door to come around front to see who all was there. 

“You know what the punk and the slut are doing.  You consider that appropriate?” 

Roman looked like he was about to explode.  I was in the mood for a fight so I opened the dance.  “Watch out, your morals are showing.”  The two men jumped and spun around.  “All Roman and I were discussing was the arrangement your brother Andrew there seems so insistent on.  Obviously he should turn his preaching on you instead.” 

Andrew surprised me by smiling and saying, “It hasn’t done much good up to this point.  How do you do Narcissa?” 

I looked at Roman who scowled and said, “She prefers to be called Thorn.” 

“Oh but Narcissa is so much nicer.”  He must have gotten a good look at my face because he added, “Child that life is over for you.  You can be something fresh and new.” 

“Well I can’t be Narcissa, that girl is gone for good, but if you don’t like Thorn pick something else.  Just don’t make it Dinah or Tamar.  Some things I don’t want to be known for.” 

Andrew paled and swallowed.  Guess he must have thought the rumors about my parents being missionaries were false.  “I’ll … endeavor to find a few names for you to consider.” 

Peter looked suspicious and snapped, “What are you going on about?” 

It was Andrew who said, “Nothing.  Let us finish our business and …” 

“Nothing doing.  I want to know what she …” 

I looked at Peter and told him, “Read your Bible.  And do like your brother said and get to your business.” 

Peter looked ready to argue some more but Roman asked me, “You ok?” 

“May I sit down?  Bean is bouncing around.” 

“Yeah.  And you shouldn’t be out with no coat.  I’ll get …” 

“No.  I’m fine.  I just want to sit down.” 

“Peter set up that other stump so I can set this cross piece across them.”  When it was done he said, “Now you sit down.  You got that funny color again.” 

I wasn’t playacting Bean.  It seems fighting takes more energy than it used to.  Or maybe you just don’t like it or something.  Either way I wasn’t feeling too good. 

Roman looked at his brothers and said, “State your business, it’s getting late and she needs to go back inside.” 

Peter said, “You’re turning into a frisky little peckerwood aren’t you?” 

Roman got angry and Andrew muttered, “Peter, enough.” 

I stopped Roman who looked like he was ready to bust Peter a good one.  I told him, “It’s me.  You and him might not always get along but he still doesn’t want to see his baby brother hooked up with a dock whore.” 

“Dammit, that wasn’t your choice.  You were only ten when you were stolen and then Alex had you locked up and watched and sometimes forgot to feed you!” 

“Roman this isn’t going to work if you pay me in pity instead of us being partners.  I agreed that we’d try not and fuss so much but you feeling sorry for me is just going to make me ornery and fight more.” 

Roman was stiff and ground his teeth before bending down beside where I sat.  “I don’t feel sorry for you.  I’m sorry that it happened to you.  And … I can’t … I can’t forgive him for … for betraying what the family is supposed to stand for.  And then lying about it and all the rest of it.” 

Taking a chance I put my hand on his balled up fist.  “You can’t change the past.  All you can do is not repeat it.  I’ve already told you I’m not ever going back that way.  No one can make me.  But don’t make me live with the pain of breaking up your family either.  I can almost remember what having a real family is like.  I know what it is supposed to feel like.  And I haven’t known you long or much but I know that it’s seeing things you’d rather not see in your family that is hurting you the most.  Just let it go.” 

“There’s things I can’t let go.  Things you shouldn’t just pass on.” 

“Ok, then start by letting some things go.  I am.  And if I can then you can.” 

Roman growled and then plunked down on the temporary bench he sat me on and turned to his brothers who were eyeing us like we were little green men and said, “Who wants what?” 

Quietly Andrew answered, “The Council wants to know if the situation has been handled.” 

Roman looked at me and asked, “Is it handled?” 

I asked, “Are we partners?” 

He nodded.  I stuck my hand out and we shook on it.  Then I turned to the brothers and said, “It’s handled.”