Yesterday I talked about how sometimes when your manuscript gets in front of your editor big sections get cut. So I’m sharing the original first chapter of Home for Good. If you missed the first chunk just press here. Part three will go live on Friday.
Original Chapter One – Home for Good – Part Two
Jericho Freed’s gut clenched. Even from the distance of the bleachers, the sight of little Ali Silver made his heart stampede like a fired up bull. Guess she wasn’t so little anymore. Eight years. He did the math as he passed his hand over his jaw. Well, twenty-seven sure looked good on her. From where he watched, the pink long-sleeved button-down brought out the summer blush of her cheeks, and those leg-huggin’ jeans verified she wasn’t a girl anymore. Fully woman. The woman he’d come home for.
“Why, if it isn’t young Mr. Freed.” Jericho’s sophomore year science teacher, Mrs. Casey, tapped his shoulder. She still wore the purple framed glasses around her neck with a string. “I didn’t think you lived in these parts anymore.”
He touched the front of his hat. “Well, Ma’am, I’ve been away awhile but I’m home now. For good.”
“I was so sorry to hear about your father. How is Abram doing?”
“Thanks for that, Mrs. Casey. He’s just down the road at Valley View Estates. They’re telling me the stroke left Pop without the use of his right side. Got in last night myself so I haven’t made time to see him yet.” Not that he was in any spit-storm rush to go see his father, but Mrs. Casey didn’t need to know that.
Jericho shifted on the bleacher, scanning the stands for Ali. Down the way, he spotted her kid sister Kate sitting with a cute little boy, but no Ali. He pulled off his straw hat, crushed it in his calloused hands then watched as the straw popped back into shape, like a sponge.
Had she seen him? Was she avoiding him? Could he blame her? Nope.
“Is that what brought you home, son?” Mrs. Casey slipped on her glasses and peered at him from over the top of them.
Jericho squirmed. He felt like a fifteen year old again, struggling to remember the chemical formula for salt. “For Pop? Sure. And I completed my tour of duty. And there’s some other…stuff.” A lump formed in the back of his throat as Ali climbed the steps and sauntered towards Kate and the child. She ruffed the boy’s hair. Jericho swallowed hard.
Mrs. Casey raised her eyebrows. “Whatever happened with you and her?”
“Me and Ali?” He rubbed his clammy palms on the thighs of his jeans.
“In school, why, you two were a matched set. I don’t remember ever seeing one of you without the other around town neither. Then I heard…. Well, listen to me go on about other people’s business.”
“Matched set?” He mumbled more to himself than to her.
“Well, whatever you’re here for, I wish you luck, Jericho.”
He lifted his chin. “Thanks. I’ll need a good dose of luck.”
She patted his shoulder again. “You’ll be fine. If I remember right, there isn’t an ounce of quit in your bones.”
Ha. If only Mrs. Casey knew. ‘Cause there was a pretty lady with hair like bottled fire on the other end of the stands that would say ‘quit’ was his middle name.
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