A Gathering of Secrets | Chapter 9 of 38 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: Linda Castillo | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 9133 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER 1

He dressed in his English clothes. Blue jeans. Plain white T-shirt. The cowboy boots he’d laid down a boatload of money for at the Western store in Berlin.

Anticipation sizzled inside him as he left his bedroom and stepped into the darkened hall. He didn’t like this secret thing he’d become. The part of him he barely recognized these days. But there was no stopping it. He’d learned to live with it. Some small part of him had learned to embrace it.

His parents’ bedroom door stood ajar; he could hear his datt snoring from within. The door to the room where his sisters slept was open halfway. He thought he could smell their sweet little-girl scents, and he smiled as he slid past. The door to his other sister’s room was closed. She’d been doing that for about a year now. Growing up, he supposed. Girls kept secrets, too.

He wasn’t unduly worried about getting caught as he started down the stairs. He was on Rumspringa, after all. For the last few months he’d pretty much done as he pleased; his parents pretended not to notice. He’d tasted whiskey for the first time. Bought his first car. Experienced his first hangover. Smoked his first Marlboro. He’d been staying out late and coming home at all hours. Of course, Mamm and Datt didn’t like it, but they held their tongues. They made excuses to his sisters. Your brother’s working a lot, they would say. But they prayed for his soul. It was all part of growing up Amish. Maybe the best part.

Around him, the house was silent and dark, the only light filtering in through the windows in the living room, twin gray rectangles set into infinite blackness. The aromas of lamp oil and the remnants of the fried bologna sandwiches they’d had for dinner mingled with the cool breeze seeping in through the screens. He pulled the note from his pocket as he entered the kitchen. Pausing at the table, he plucked the tiny flashlight from his rear pocket, shined the beam on the paper, and read it for the dozenth time.

Meet me in the barn at midnight. I’ll make it worth your while.

She’d written the words in purple ink. There were hearts over the “i”s and frilly little curlicues on the tails of the “y” and the “g.” The smiley face made him grin. He almost couldn’t believe she’d finally come around. After weeks of cajoling, and a hundred sleepless nights filled with the longing that came often and with unexpected urgency now, he would finally have her.

No time to waste.

He was wishing he’d thought to brush his teeth as he let himself out through the back door. Around him, the night was humid and breezy, the sky lit with a thousand stars. A yellow sliver of moon rested against the treetops to the east. Ahead, he could just make out the hulking silhouette of the barn sixty yards away. His feet crunched over gravel as he traversed the driveway and went up the ramp. The big sliding door stood open about a foot. Datt always closed it to keep the foxes and coyotes away from the chickens. She’s here, he thought, and an electric thrill raced through him with such force that his legs went jittery, his stride faltering.

He went through the door, the smells of horses and fresh-cut hay greeting him. The interior was pitch-black, but he knew every inch of the barn, and though he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, he knew exactly where to find the lantern, on its hook hanging from the overhead beam. He reached for it, felt around, but for some reason it wasn’t there.

“Shit,” he muttered, and pulled the flashlight from his rear pocket, flicked it on. The shadows retreated to the corners, the beam revealing a floating universe of silver dust motes.

“Hello?” he called out. “You there?”

He listened, but there was no reply.

Puzzled, he walked past the wagon mounded with the hay he and Datt had cut last month. Next to it stood the old manure spreader with the broken wheel he’d promised to repair a week ago. In the back of his mind he wondered why the two buggy horses didn’t greet him from their stalls. No matter the hour, they were always ready for a snack and never shy about asking for it. He crossed the dirt floor, reached the step-up to the raised wood decking where they stored the burlap bags of oats and corn and chicken scratch. He stopped, sweeping the beam right and left. A grin spread across his face when he spotted the sliver of light beneath the door of the tack room.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Lowering the beam, he started down the aisle.

At first, he thought it odd that she would choose the tack room. But on second thought the small space was clean, with a hardwood floor that was swept daily, and smelled of leather and saddle soap. It was the place where they stored the horse blankets, halters, and harnesses. More important, the door had a lock. Datt had installed it after a halter, a saddle, and two leather harnesses were stolen a couple months ago. He knew it was the Englischer down the road who’d done it. Probably sold them at horse auction in Millersburg for some quick cash. The guy was a thief and a boozer, to boot.

He hadn’t even laid eyes on her yet, but already he could feel his body responding as he drew closer to the tack room. His datt called it lusht and warned him to beware of its power. But what did an old man remember about lust? What did he remember about being eighteen years old? If God had put it into the hearts of men, how could it be bad?

Reaching the tack room, he twisted the knob and opened the door. Golden light filled the small space. The smells of freshly oiled leather and kerosene and the lingering redolence of her perfume filled the air. Two horse blankets had been spread out on the floor. Atop the old fifty-gallon drum, a candle on a little white dish flickered. She’d even brought a bottle of wine. Two plastic glasses, the kind with stems. His smile grew into a laugh as he stepped inside.

“The only thing missing is the girl,” he said, knowing she was within earshot, listening. “I wonder where she is.”

Keenly aware of his surroundings, knowing she had to be close, he flicked off his flashlight and walked over to the blankets. The wine bottle was already open. Setting the flashlight on the drum, he sat down cross-legged, resting his hands on his knees.

“If she doesn’t show up soon, I’m going to have to drink this wine all by myself,” he said, louder now, expecting her to sweep into the room at any moment, giggling and ready. He’d already gone hard down there, a heated pulse he could no more control than his own breathing. He could imagine the soft warmth of her body against his, the firm rise of her breasts, and he couldn’t believe he would finally have all of her tonight.

Reaching for the bottle, he poured, anticipating the sweet tang of red wine against his tongue. He was thinking about all the things they would do when the tack room door creaked. A quick jump of anticipation, then the door slammed hard enough to jangle the halters hanging on the wall.

Startled, he set down the bottle and rose.

The sound of the lock snicking into place sent him to the door. “What are you doing, babes?” He tried the knob, found it locked.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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