This is a novel I have spent the ast 4 years on. Hopefully it's going to get published in early '06 but until then I kinda wanted to get an opinion of it and see if anyone actually LIKES it. If so-...
Ethan rode again around the cornfield. He didn't realize he
was muttering to himself until one of the slaves stopped hoeing and
asked, "Mist' Hart, you looking for Vince?"
"I sure am. Have you seen him?" Ethan moved his black horse
closer and leaned over a bit, his long black hair falling over his
shoulder and reaching almost all the way to his elbow.
Only the White Moon slaves would have the courage to be so
direct as to address their master in the way Poke just had, but they
knew their master was a half-breed and he could never place himself
as high above them as did some of the Caucasian slave owners in the
south. They spoke frankly even teasingly with their master and his
children but never in public
"Well, sir, he left here 'bout an hour ago. Moving pretty
fast too. Course if I had been a' chasing what he was, I woulda been
a movin' pretty fast myself." The older man chuckled.
"What...er...who was he chasing?" Ethan asked, almost knowing the
"Real purty white woman on a yeller horse." Poke smiled up at
Ethan who sighed and settled back into the saddle.
"Vivian." Ethan said, "Did you see which way they went?"
"That a-away." Poke pointed with the handle of his hoe
towards a tree line to the North. Ethan thanked the man and rode
towards the barn cursing his baby brother.
He knew Vince had gone to the old moon shiner's shack on the
back of the Macabe's plantation down in the swampland. He cursed
silently more as he searched for Chubby the water boy--he had to get
word to Vince to get home. He found the boy and his father, Sam,
pouring small buckets of water into a larger barrel to be hauled
around to the slaves in a few minutes.
"Chubby!" Ethan called to the boy who raced over and stood
looking up at him; he barely reached the horses shoulder.
"Yes sir?" he smiled.
"Grab a mule and ride as fast as you can over to Goodluck
Manor and get Vince. He's in the moonshine's shack down in the swamp
and don't tell me you don't know where it is or, I'll tell your Pa
how you and Davey were skinny dipping down there last Saturday,"
Ethan said and the urgency in his voice combined with the threat sent
the youngster scrambling for the mule and the woods. Ethan watched
him go in a mix of fear and relief until he disappeared behind the
trees and, in his haste he had failed to see his father riding out to
the field to check on their progress. He had overheard every thing
and was fast on his way to the same location. He knew a shortcut.
Ethan returned to his work, hoping Vince would hurry. He knew
his father reviled Vince and he could not understand why his younger
sibling insisted on causing as much trouble as possible, not only for
himself as well as the family.
"Why," Ethan wondered silently, " Why could he not just
wait 'till nightfall to have his little rendezvous with her? Wait
till the chores were done, then sneak away with his lover?"
Well, lovers were more appropriate, for Vince had more than
one at any given moment. He just seemed to be paying a bit more
attention to Vivian Macabe; which lead Ethan to believe that his
brother was planning marriage.
A noise from the other side of the field drew his mind from
his thought, several of the field hands were standing in a circle
squawking and apparently gossiping. But when Ethan got closer, he
realized that they were surrounding a frightened Chubby who was
retelling his story with much gusto.
"And he said if I didn't get back here right away he was a-
gonna sell me south." Chubby whimpered to the sympathetic adults.
"Who said they'd sell you South?" Ethan demanded.
"Your Pa, Mist' Hart. He told me if I tried to get to Vince
before him and if I didn't get back here or if I even told anyone
what he said that he was gonna sell me to a cane farmer in New
Orleans." The child was clearly terrified.
"Damn it. Take him to the quarters and calm him," Ethan
ordered, kicking the black gelding he rode into a gallop and making a
beeline for the shack, praying that he wasn't too late.
The moonshiner shack could not be mistaken for anything else
but a hovel. Inside, it had a fireplace, a bed, and a washstand; it
was used mainly in the winter by white liquor makers who stayed there
watching the stills that were hidden in the brush around the cabin.
In the off-seasons of spring and summer it housed John Macabe and his
various lover's-- some of who were his own slave's-- in their
clandestine affairs that were kept away from his wife, Julie. Vivian
was John and Julie's oldest daughter; she had her mother's eyes of
honey and her father's dark hair and roving eye. She was no virgin,
even at the young age of seventeen; in fact, her former lover had
been Devon Parrish, Vince's best friend. When Devon had begun
courting another young girl from town named Jessica, Vince had merely
to fix her with those dazzling eyes of his and she was his.
Vivian lay now against the rickety headboard and watched the
muscles in Vince's back as he pulled on his tan breeches. His
attention seemed solely on his redressing and that was more than she
could bear; she needed to be center attention-- his attention. She
rose to her knees, allowing the sheet to fall off her and exposing
her naked body to Vince whose sharp intake of breath told her he
liked what he saw.
"Tired of me already? Had your fun and now the new's wore off
the toy?" she pouted.
"You know better than that, Viv. You're the best lover I ever had."
He smiled tracing his finger along her chin.
"So, I'm not the only one?" She pouted more settling back on
her heel and folding her arms across her chest.
"And I'm not your first either, missy." Vince teasingly
pulled her close and inhaled her sweet flower water scented hair.
"Well, that's cause I didn't meet you first." Vivian looked
up at with sultry honeyed eyes and then pressed her sweetened lips to
his. Vince did not resist, even if he knew he should be getting back
before he was missed. He knew his father would be furious that he had
once again shirked his responsibilities and went on his flight of
fancy with Vivian. And he knew he would rant and rave for hours most
likely. Maybe like so many times before he would become violent, but
rather than allowing himself to worry about it, he shoved Vivian back
onto the creaky bed and pressed his weight onto her and into the
mattress as he trailed a hand up her creamy thigh. Dark hair spread
out behind her on the dingy sheets; Vivian's hands busied themselves
with undoing the button fly of Vince's pants and neither of them saw
the peering eyes of Vivian's baby sister, Audrey.
Audrey was fifteen and equally as beautiful as her older sister, but
Vince could look at her as no more than a baby sister or sister- in-
law to be. Knowing Audrey fancied herself in love with Vince, Vivian
had teased her baby sister to tears with innuendo's about their
affair. It had driven the girl to follow her and spy on her sister's
secret trysts with her lover. Audrey coveted Vince openly and without
shame, and lived for the day he would take her into his arms and make
love to her as he did her sister and the idea that he may never feel
that way about her just didn't enter her mind. Her eyes were
devouring Vince now, tanned sweat slick flesh and long blonde hair
recklessly thrown over one shoulder as he plunged himself ruthlessly
in and out between Vivian's creamy thighs, his lips moving along her
neck, making her scream and claw at his bare shoulders, leaving light
pink marks in their wake.
Hoof beats caught the younger girl's attention and she looked around,
to be caught here would mean horrible repercussions. So, with heart
pounding, she mounted her small horse and galloped for home through
the woods, not minding her billowing skirts.
Inside, the cries of pleasure had faded and Vince was helping
Vivian tie her corset in back and then pulling on his own shirt and
tucking it in unbuttoned.
"Wish we could stay; but you know I have to get ready for my
fathers party tonight." Vivian smiled and kissed Vince again before
fastening her dress in front.
"Well, we'll see each other there. And you're gonna dance
with me aren't you?" He smiled down at her, pushing the damp tendrils
of her hair back.
"Why, every single dance!" she giggled, "and anything else you want."
"Tempting." He kissed her again.
Theodore had seen the two horses tied out front and
immediately recognized his son's prized stallion he had named Jasper,
and Vivian's palomino mare. He entered the shack with the all the
grace of a charging bull and nearly took the rotten door from its
"What the-" Vince's question hung in silence and a sudden
thick tension. Vivian's eyes went wide and a blush crept up her face.
"Well, isn't this cozy? Not exactly eloquent--but cozy. I
guess it doesn't matter where one lies down as long as it's a soft
mattress and a warm body next to him." Theodore raked his eyes over
the rumpled sheets and over Vivian as well. The tale of illicit love
could be read in those unmade sheets and in the musk of lust that
hung in the air.
"Go home, Viv. Go!" Vince gave her a gentle push. And with no
further encouragement, she dove out the door past Theodore and out of
range of the shack. Vince didn't want her to witness one of his
father's famous tantrums, and he could see it coming in his eyes like
the building of a storm on the horizon in summer.
"So, is she the only woman who shares your bed in this county
or are there more?" Theodore laughed, but it was without mirth. Vince
said nothing and hoped the man would just finish throwing his threats
and go away, but he didn't; he continued to bait Vince,
"Answer me boy! There's no shame in a man taking a whore to
his bed. Look at your mother and me. And what about the man who took
her to his and sired you eighteen years ago? Oh, he must have had
exquisite taste and I don't blame him at all I just wish he had not
been so generous with his seed and left you behind for your mother to
remind me of her infidelity."
"How dare you call my mother and Vivian whores!" Vince's fist
clenched at his side and relaxed. He had seen the leather riding whip
his father carried around his right wrist and he knew he was looking
for a good excuse to swing it.
"What are you gonna do about it?" his father baited him once
more, and Vince was steaming inside, just aching to batter his fist
into that sneering face that dared suggest his mother and lover
were... oh, it was horrible. Too horrible for words.
Ethan was sure he was too late when he arrived at the shack
and found his father's horse tied alongside Vince's, and heard the
loud voices coming from inside. He raced in and didn't bother to tie
his horse; Smoky wouldn't move he knew. He took a deep breath and
plowed into the half open door with a fake smile.
"Pa! There you are. We were looking all over for you-- we
wanted to know what time to call in the hands so we could get ready
for the party over at the Macabe place." he lied.
"Well, I think we should do it now so Vince can have plenty
of time to get ready. I'm sure he's dying to see Vivian again aren't
you, son?" The older man scoffed as he made his way to his horse.
Ethan watched him go and turned to Vince, who was buttoning his shirt
and reaching for his coat.
"So you were with Vivian?" Ethan leaned on the wall.
"Observant little thing aren't you?" Vince pulled his coat
around him; it always embarrassed him that Ethan was always saving
him from his father's wrath even now that they were grown. "Guess you
want me to thank you for saving me again. Thank You."
"Thank me? Vince, I was worried when I sent Chubby out to
find you." Ethan snapped, not yet ready to admit it was he who had
lead their father to him by his own carelessness. Stung by pride,
Vince pushed past his brother and went to his stallion.
"And so you happened on another chance to be my hero, eh?" He
said swinging up into the saddle.
"Oh good greif, Vince, you're making something out of
nothing." Ethan sighed, mounting his own horse.
"Oh, so it's nothing? Ethan, we both know you're the old
man's pet, and if you hadn't rode in when you did...well, we both
know. You know if you keep being a good boy he might leave you White
Moon in a couple years." Sarcasm was thick in Vince's voice.
Ethan cursed silently the big stallion his brother rode. He
was far out in front and his modestly built gelding was doing all he
could to just keep up. Ahead he saw Vince duck a branch that he could
pass clean under, and he wished he would slow that cursed beast down.
"I'm tired of trying to keep the peace with you two," Ethan
said. "And what's more..."
"Spare me the speech, I have heard it all before." Vince
stopped Jasper to give Ethan and his horse a chance to catch up, then
moved off slower. " I know he hates me because he thinks mother was
unfaithful and for all we know she was. God knows she had every
"Vince! How can you say that? You know our mother wouldn't do
that, and anyways, he wasn't like this till--"
"Till I was born. Say it, Ethan! I ruined you and my mother
and Alessandra's lives!" Vince snapped.
"I wasn't gonna say that..." Ethan tried but that had been
exactly what he was about to say, and it had been true he just didn't
want Vince to know that. Too late, he already did.
Trying to call attention away from the subject, Ethan
continued, "Where is your loyalty?"
Vince laughter rang out in the forest. "Loyalty! My God,
loyalty. How dare you sit there and talk to me about loyalty. Let me
tell you something about loyalty in the South, here it means to
pretend to be something you are not and never will be just to keep
your reputation and to keep others from talking about you. It means
you do things you'd rather die than do and stay with spouses you hate
just to protect your family and your reputation! There's a fine line
between hypocrisy and loyalty, but here in the South it is used
interchangeably! And brother, we live in the worse kind of hypocrisy."
"What on earth are you talking about?" Ethan asked, glad the
horse had slowed; even his mount snorted in relief.
"We are no more Italian than the horses we ride. You know it,
and so do I. But, we can't tell. It would ruin us, ruin mother, and
ruin Pa. Ruin Alessandra's chances of ever marrying a wealthy name.
Our mother can't even use her own name or visit her people. She can't
even practice the religion she was brought up to worship all because
of her loyalty to our Pa, the man who called her a whore before every
one in this town. The man who pretty well stripped everything she had
away from her." Vince turned quickly away from Ethan before he saw
the angry hot tears coming to his eyes. Ethan sighed; he had seen
them and he knew that Vince hated his father more now than ever and
"Vince, she came of her own free will. She loved our father,"
Ethan said quietly.
"And he loved her until I was born." Vince's voice was close
to cracking; he gouged the stallion so hard he nearly shot out from
under him in his haste. Ethan had to struggle to keep up for the
remainder of the trip home.
Like many wealthy white children of the day, the boy's had a
personal valet about their age to assist them and usually follow them
around everywhere. Vince's valet was a young African named Lush, and
his brother Ezra was the personal valet of Ethan. Lush was a lot like
Vince, and he coveted the balls and parties that the family attended
that he was forbidden to simply because of the color of his skin.
Vince had never understood that and never would. But Lush and Ezra
would be waiting up when the family arrived home eagerly awaiting the
stories, gossip, and the liquor Vince would sneak back in his flask.
As Vince fussed over just what he would wear, his father was
downstairs in his study sipping absinthe, French liquor that was
illegal in the South, and had to be bootlegged in. Made from wormwood
and anise, La Faye Verte, as it was called, was so potent it had to
be diluted before drinking. He poured water over a sugar lump to
dilute the strong alcohol, and contemplated the bad news he had
received just hours ago from his doctor. The latest episode with his
heart was more than indigestion; his heart was weakening and wasn't
going to hold out much longer. This saddened him deeply; for J.P. had
much guilt about the way he had treated his wife and children. He had
always thought there would be plenty of time. Plenty of time after he
was through in the fields. After he retired and slowed down, and his
kids would forgive him and his wife and he would rekindle their
flame, but now the hour had arrived and he had precious little time
for such amends. Not that death itself scared him; it was the fact
that when he was gone no one would care, indeed, would most likely be
glad to be rid of him; and what was worse was that when they did
recall him it would not be with misty eyes and reverence, but with
disgust and hate and especially his youngest son.
Oh, he knew Vince was his son. He knew it in his heart of
hearts every time he looked into those dark eyes and saw the lust for
life and the way he lived with a vengeance, and never let anyone
dictate to him what was proper and decent.
The way he just loved to live. Just the way J.P. had lived
before-- before life had made him hard and his own stupidity had
ruined his last chance at real love. He rubbed his temples and
finished the last drop of the Green Fairy in his glass just as his
valet Roscoe was entering the room to tell him that the family was
waiting in the wagon for him.
When he arrived at the wagon he found Vince on his liver
chestnut stallion that was dancing alongside the wagon, his blonde
mane as golden as his rider's, and his spirit just as strong. His
wife had never looked more beautiful sitting up there along with his
daughter and his mirror image, Ethan. He was indeed a proud father.
He drove the wagon himself and Vince danced alongside it on Jasper.
He could not bear the thought of being trapped in the wagon for drive
to the Goodluck Manor. He needed to be able to get away when his
father started throwing his venom his way. But for now Ethan was
teasing his sister about her latest beau, Leif Tucker.
"Oh, Ethan stop it." she giggled helplessly.
"Oh, no. I think Vince and I should ask poor Leif just what
his intentions are with our sister," Ethan said, trying to look
serious. Alessandra's eyes went wide,
"Oh, no you mustn't, I'll die of the shame! And besides, I
don't think he is seriously considering me as a wife," she said,
smoothing her skirt down.
"Really? He's not?" Ethan shot Vince a wink, " Now I KNOW we
are gonna ask him just what he's up to. Can't have my baby sister
losing her reputation ya know."
"That's right." Vince moved his coat back to show off the
silver pearl handled revolver he carried, " And he better have the
"No! You two are going to make it so no man will ever speak
to me again!" Alessandra cried, taking their play just a bit too
"That's not such a bad thing. And what are brothers for?"
"Well, why would you wanna talk to another man when Leif is
following you around like some love starved puppy?" Ethan
chuckled. "Oh come on Alessandra, he is of a good family and if you
don't take someone your gonna be an old maid like Missy Kearns."
"That's enough out of you!" Alessandra swatted her brother
with a parasol and squealed, "I don't see you asking for Miss
Elissa's hand in marriage and God knows she follows you around all
"She's fifteen, and I'm just waiting on her to grow up."
Elissa was the oldest daughter of Charlie Rudd, owner of the
Salvation Plantation and his wife Gillian, a tutor for the richest
families in Carolina. Truth was, Ethan intended to marry the blue-
eyed beauty in spring with or without her family's blessing. He loved
her with all his heart, but they had not even shared a kiss.
Actually, Ethan had not shared more than a kiss with any woman, and
he knew Vince knew it too by the way he was sneering at him now.
Ethan glared at his younger brother until Vince laughed, and even
Jasper let out a whinny.
Great, Ethan mused, even the damn horse was mocking him.
Well, Jasper was like his owner, and every spring the plantation was
filled up with mares giving life to the next generation of Jasper's
foals, whether anyone on the farm knew it or even intended it.
"Like Vince," Ethan thought, "just like his golden haired,
half wild owner."
"Get that animal away from me!" Alessandra protested as
Jasper politely snorted on her, "He's gonna get me all dirty."
"So when are you gonna make an honest woman of Vivian
Macabe?" J.P. asked from the front of the wagon, never looking back
at his sons. Vince's stomach tightened.
"Vivian?" Alessandra gasped. She had no idea that her brother
was courting Vivian Macabe!
"Why Alessandra, you didn't know that your brother has found
a new love interest?" J.P. said with a venomous undertone.
Ethan sighed, "Why couldn't he just let them have one night
"I, uh, haven't even thought about marriage."Vince admitted.
And it was true, he hadn't. He wasn't even sure what he felt for
Vivian; he had not applied the word love to anything that was between
them and felt no compulsion to start labeling those feelings now. He
was content to keep things as they were and keep them simple without
complicating them with such things as marriage and commitment, and
besides he had seen what marriage did to people. He had only to look
at his mother and father for proof of that.
"I bet you haven't,"came the smug reply from the front of the
wagon, but Mary's bony finger jabbing into his side silenced J.P. for
the rest of the ride but Vince had heard. He kicked Jasper hard, and
the horse shot forward with such force he spooked the team but he was
too far ahead to even care. All he could think of now was getting to
this party and too Vivian as quick as possible.
It was dark when he arrived at the plantation and for that he
was grateful. His parent's wagon was already in front of the house
because he had taken a shortcut and gotten nearly lost. He was glad
for the darkness of the stable as well as he lead Jasper in and tied
him near the back of the barn, it would hide the myriad of emotions
that played on his face ranging from fear to hate to love for the
various people in his life. A drink from the silver flask in his
inside coat pocket settled those feelings like dust on a prairie
trail and with a half smile he made his way into the foyer. Mister
and Mrs. Macabe were in there welcoming the guests and the wall
behind them was stacked high with presents for Mr. Macabe, and Vince
endured a kiss from Julie, Vivian's mother and a handshake from her
father even though that made him more than a little nervous. He could
not bring himself to meet either of them directly in the eyes for
fear they would read him like a book and the old man would know--
somehow-- that he Vincent Hart had defiled his eldest daughter, pride
of his heart and joy of his life.
"I need another drink," Vince thought making his way to the
punch bowl on the far side of the room. Along the way he saw
Francesca Randall talking to Charlotte Johnson by the fireplace.
Vince had hoped that she wouldn't be able to come tonight because the
last thing he needed was one of her jealous rages flung in his face
as well as his father's tantrums. He wanted to forget that he had
ever known her and wished more she would find someone else; instead
of showing up everywhere he did like some sort of stalker.
When he at last saw Vivian coming down the steps in her
lavender dress with her hair upswept elegantly in strands of pearls,
with only a few tendrils of hair falling against her smooth olive
skin, Vince was speechless. He could not believe she was anything but
an angel at that moment, and a sense of pride was welling up in him
as he watched every man in the room look at her with hot eyes. But
she was his- his angel. And he needed her right now more than ever.
But, even she knew better than too rush to his arms no matter how bad
she ached to be there.
By now J.P. and his spitefulness may have spread it all over
the town about her and his youngest son and to run to Vince now would
only confirm it. Besides, Francesca was sidling closer to him and
Vivian refused to give the tramp a chance to mock her for being
jealous; even if that was exactly what she was and it tore at her
heart like razors to see her so close to Vince.
"Well, Vince you certainly look good tonight but then you
always have." Francesca was purring in his ear seductively. She only
needed a second she told herself and then she could change his mind
about Vivian forever, too bad for her that Vince was not in the mood.
"You look nice yourself." Vince was being stoic with her, he
hadn't even taken a second glance at her and that was not lost on
Francesca. At that moment Vince had fallen deeply in love with
Vivian; any other woman in the room had become just part of the
woodwork and invisible to him.
"I need to talk to you, Vince." Francesca whispered to him
urgently, smiling at Vivian who was watching secretly across the room
near J.P., another thing that was making Vince all the more anxious
to get over there to her and away from Francesca Randall. He was sure
that whatever she had to say was as unimportant as the wind blowing
outside and he turned to her with out any _expression in his eyes,
"Francesca, it will have to wait and if this is one of your
plots to get me alone in the barn so you can tempt me with your
charms again- I warn you I am taken. What we shared was fun while it
lasted but it is over and now you are free to go enjoy other avenues
of interest but I am not one of them."
His tone was curt and short and Francesca knew it well. It
was the way he spoke just before all holy hell broke loose. She
"Very well then, suit yourself."
"I will." Vince made his way through the crowd again to
Vivian, but not before he saw his father reach around her and pour
himself another drink.
"So Miss Vivian, I'll bet your just dying to see Vince again
isn't you?" J.P. said with a halfhearted smile.
A blush crept up Vivian's face and her thick lashes
fluttered; she was immensely glad for Vince's timely arrival and
J.P.'s quick departure. The older man wished to avoid a confrontation
with his son here in such a public place.
Vince, glaring at his father, offered his arm to Vivian and
escorted her to the front veranda. She sat on the wicker chair and
stared up at him and in turn he intently gazed at her; at that moment
he was fighting an internal battle like none other in his life. He
was fighting an urge to ask Vivian to marry him. He suddenly wanted
to, no he didn't. But yes he did. And it was all to confusing to him.
He who liked to keep things simple was suddenly finding his feelings
for Vivian very muddled; and rather it was the flower water, or his
fathers smugness, or if it was simply the dress she was wearing
tonight and the way the rouge pinkend her cheeks and lips, he was not
quite sure but he did know that it was terribly bewildering how fast
these feelings had come upon him as he gazed at her coming down those
"Vince are you ok? You keep staring at me and your gonna make
me nervous." She teased with a lilting laugh in her voice. He ran a
hand through his hair and drew a ragged breath.
"I am so sorry, Viv, you are the most beautiful creature I
have ever seen." He grinned and turned away from her before she saw
the blush rising.
"Even more so than that horse of yours?" Vivian smiled
"Well, yeah but don't tell him I said that ok?" He kissed her
hand. "Besides he doesn't kiss as good as you."
"You kiss your horse?" Vivian raised and eyebrow, she
wondered what was wrong with Vince, he was usually so cocky and self-
assured and full of witty comebacks; but tonight that was not the
Vince who was kneeling before her on the veranda smiling foolishly up
"Huh? Oh! Oh no, gracious no I didn't mean it that way at
all." He stammered and cursed himself for making an absolute fool of
himself. Vivian touched his silky locks that fell way past his
shoulders and tonight where lying across his shoulder gently waving
in the breeze.
"Why don't you meet me in fifteen minutes in the stable where
that prized beast of yours is, and we'll see about who kisses better.
I'll even show you a few other things I'll bet he doesn't know
either." Her voice was low and raspy with need and Vince felt it, it
tingled all the way to his toes, making his head spin like the
champagne he had drank inside. He nodded,
"I'll go first and you go back inside and come out to the
barn later." He placed a kiss on her forehead and walked for the barn
looking as inconspicuous as he could. But the very wrongest person
noticed him and that was Audrey, she had been waiting all night for
this chance and now that she had it she wasn't going to give it up.
She made her way to the barn by way of the back door and if she
recalled correctly from the last few parties; she would have about
ten minutes alone with Vince to seduce him and convince him that she
and not her sister was the one who loved him more than her very life.
The thought that he wasn't going to be as receptive to her as she had
hoped once again never entered her mind, the only possibility was
that he would fall to his knees and beg her hand in marriage. And if
he didn't-- well her revenge would ruin him and her sister forever,
for if she couldn't have him no one would.
"Viv?" Vince asked when the door rattled and opened.
"No. Its me," Audrey said softly. Vince wrinkled his brow,
had Viv sent her to tell him she couldn't come?
"Well, hello. What are you up too out here all alone?" Vince
stepped to the door of the stall he had Jasper in. Audrey did not
speak instead she stood in front of him looking like a miniature of
her older sister but for the strawberry hair, she even smelled like
her. The bodice of her dress was open shamefully low for a girl her
age and her lips were heavily rouged along with her cheeks and Vince
wondered if Mr. And Mrs. Macabe knew she was dressed like this for it
surely wasn't appropriate; she looked absurd, he thought, but he
remained polite to her. But suddenly, she jumped into his arms and
pinned him to the wall of the stable with surprising strength.
"Audrey what are you doing?" Vince demanded as she looked up
at him standing on her tiptoes panting in a way she thought was
seductive, but to Vince looked ridiculous and like she was out of
"I want to tell you a secret." She whispered pressing her
chest against him so hard Vince could feel them through his shirt.
"Wh-what?" Vince asked not sure if he should have, and
suddenly she kissed him vehemently. Her mouth worked on his and he
froze in utter shock and repulsion at her sudden forward behavior. It
had not yet dawned on the girl that Vince was not kissing back, so
she did just as she had seen Vivian do and that was slide her hands
up his back to toy with the longest strands of hair that hung in the
center. Then she stopped kissing him, but her nimble fingers had
unbuttoned three of his shirt buttons and now her lips were touching
"Stop! What are you doing?" he said holding her away from
him, trance broken by the betrayal of his body that was reacting to
the feel of her velvety lips on his skin.
"Why? Don't you like me?" she pouted, wriggling free of him.
"What? No! Not like that! I can't even pretend this is right-
what about your sister?" He wiped his mouth and tried to pull his
shirt back together. But suddenly, she was in his arms again, trying
to kiss his neck this time, and he pushed her backwards. He only
pushed her lightly, but she had latched onto the front of his shirt
and the buttons popped loose and hit the wooden floor with a loud
"So you are in love with my sister? You would rather bed that
tramp than me, a pure virgin never touched and never seen by any
man!" Audrey screamed.
"You are crazy! You are hysterical!" Vince cried but he was
not the only one who heard Audrey's little tantrum, so did Peter
He had been searching for Audrey around the property for a
few minutes. He wanted to marry her and she knew it, But, her eyes
were only for Vince and he knew that; it had caused much tension
between them as well as between Vince and Peter, but until now Vince
had not known why. Peter threw the barn door wide and stumbled into
the alley way his shock of brown hair disheveled and his round face
flushed with a bit too much liquor.
"What have you done to her?" He knelt by the limp fainted
body of Audrey as the vilest of thoughts raced inside his skull and
he became livid.
"Me to her? She tried to maul me!" Vince protested sensing a
"Audrey would never--"
"She did, I tell you! She tried to throw herself on me like
some whore!" Vince immediately regretted his choice of words, but had
no time to retract them before Peter had punched him in the face so
hard he tasted blood in his mouth.
"You bastard, how dare you insinuate that Audrey is a whore!"
"I am not insinuating anything and how dare you call me a
bastard." Vince was getting angry, and Vivian saw it as soon as she
rounded the corner of the stall door. However, she had little time to
wonder about it before Vince had taken Peter to the ground.
"Vince!" Vivian threw herself into the fray and pushed Vince
away from Peter.
"Stop it. Just stop it you two! It's all my fault! I'm sorry.
Audrey has been sweet on Vince for a long time and I never told him.
I never thought--" She began to sob wildly on Vince's shoulder.
"But, she's in love with me." Peter protested.
"Your both delusional!" Vivian was screaming at Peter now,
and even Audrey had backed up a step or two.
"It is you who is delusional if you think I'll believe
anything other than this cad tried to do anything but brutalize my
fiancÃ©e." Peter's fist connected with Vince's jaw again, and blood
dripped from his lip. Enraged by now, Vince grabbed the other man and
slammed him hard against the door of the stable, Jasper jumped to the
side and snorted.
One of the stable hands had raced into the house yelling for
help when he saw the fight. Everyone inside left their sentences and
drinks in mid air, and raced out to see the brawl. A mob of onlookers
filled the aisle of the barn until J.P. and James Macabe had to shove
their way through the crowd to get to their kids. Vince was wiping
blood off his lip with the back of his hand and Peter was struggling
to get up.
"What is the meaning of this?" James yelled above the din.
"Oh, Father! It was Peter, he's drunk and looking for
trouble," Vivian said quickly, the lie sliding off her silky lips
"Not true!" Peter held onto the wall to prevent falling, " He
was mauling Audrey."
"Are you so drunk you don 't understand English? I said she
threw herself at me. And you came barreling in here and started
throwing punches before you had heard the entire story." Vince
"You threw yourself at Vince?" James eyed his daughter
suspiciously, long suspicious of her intent for the youngest Hart
"No! He-he.." Audrey fainted as she did when there was
something she didn't wish to deal with.
"I hope you have a damned good reason for humiliating this
family in front of the whole county!" J.P. was livid and Vince opened
his mouth to say something, but was cut short by Peter yet again.
"He assaulted her! Look at her cheeks." The drunken man was
fanning his fainted fiancÃ©e wildly as she lay half in her mothers lap.
"That's paint, you imbecile! Have you never seen a woman with
face paint on? Don't they use it at those two-dollar whorehouses you
visit so frequently? " Vince had forgotten his manners and felt
guilty when he heard the nearby ladies gasp in horror that he had
spoken about such things in their presence. He sighed, the look on
his father's face silenced him, and it was useless.
"Then explain your shirt." Peter pointed at the torn buttons,
walking closer to Vince suddenly emboldened by J.P. and James'
"She tried to kiss me and I shoved her off me, that is all,"
Vince said with a heavy sigh.
"See he admits to hitting her!" Peter turned to the crowd of
people, hair flopping in his face absurdly.
"You drunken idiot! I said I shoved her- not hit her!" Vince
was yelling now, all control he had on his temper now lost.
"Well then is you are so pure, tell us why you and Vivian
were meeting here at this hour alone." Peter smirked. He knew as
well as Vince he had so satisfactory answer; his eyes went to Vivian
who was still sobbing into her hands now.
"Well isn't it obvious?" Vince heard Francesca call as she
flounced her way to the front of the crowd, the hot light of revenge
burning hotly in her blue eyes. She had finally found a way to get
even with Vince and Vivian for the wrong she imagined they had done
"Come Vince tell us why you were meeting her here! Could it
be like all those afternoons at the moon shiners shack?" She smiled
in triumph when Julie Macabe fainted.
"Lie!" James looked at his daughter in disbelief.
"How dare you call my daughter a liar when this whole scandal
revolves around your two daughters!" It was Judd Randall who stepped
to his daughter's side. He knew the secret she and Vince shared and
he was willing to protect it as well as her with his life.
"Oh, Judd, I think you have had too much to drink! Don't you
here the wild accusation's your daughter is throwing around so
casually? How would she know? Even if it were true- which I doubt."
James raised an eyebrow.
"Because he used to meet me there as well!" Francesca cried out, much
to her father's chagrin.
Rabid whispers ran through the stunned crowd and Vivian
looked pale and sick. Vince, no longer caring what anyone thought or
saw; put both arms around her protectively, the urge to save her from
this mob strong in his pounding heart. He knew he would have to marry
her now, ready or not. It was not as he'd planned, but he had always
known he'd end up married to Vivian. He eye's found his mother's and
she smiled at him; an island of love in a wild crowd ready to lynch
him on the spot, he thought as he nodded back at her with a weak
Ethan sighed and looked at Elissa, hoping this did not change
her mind about marrying him; but her smile told him those thoughts
need not have plagued him. However not everyone was so calm, in fact
just the opposite. Vince's fast reputation had not just soiled the
names of Francesca and Vivian---but of every other girl Vince had
courted in the last two years and the parents and husbands of these
girls were near hysteria with worry that Vince may have defiled them
as well. And in some cases their fears were well founded.