“One day I'm going to catch you in a full-blown grin, Mr.Tucker," she said, wagging a finger at him, "and when I do, watch out because I'm going to crow in victory." "We all need goals in life, Miss Richards." J.T. swung two boards up onto his shoulder and peered down at her. "Mine's to get this stuff delivered before the first snow falls. You think I got a chance at making that happen?”
“He unlaced his arms and took a step forward. "You hurt?"
"Not badly." She tried to smile, but her lips only curved on one side. "My main problem is that I'm stuck to a cactus."
"How'd you manage to get tangled up with a cactus?" J.T. crouched beside her and started extricating her from the prickly plant.
"Well, believe it or not, I was on my way to apologize to you when a prairie-dog hole jumped up and grabbed my shoe heel.”
“Jericho? You're smiling." "I am?" He stroked her cheek again. Warm tingles coursed through her, and instinctively, she followed his touch a second time. His smile widened. "I must be happy." (...) "You're quite handsome when you're happy." Jericho trailed one finger under her chin. "I'll make a note of your preference.”
“Jericho, hmm?" Hannah felt an answering grin curve her lips. "I suddenly feel a great fondness for that name."
The two women giggled like young girls scheming behind the schoolhouse. Jericho Tucker had no idea what was coming his way.”
“You got someone else courting you?"
"No." The fork she'd been scrubbing slid from her hand, returning to the murky depths. "But then, I wasn't sure I had you courting me, either. I seem to recall you expressing a number of objections to my suitability in the past.”
“It was amazing how the right words spoken by a man could soothe insecurities.”
“You need not treat me like a child, sir. I am perfectly capable of navigating this staircase on my own."
Her nostrils flared. "I promise not to ask you to catch me again, all right? Now stop scowling."
Of course he did no such thing.”
“Are you sure I can't mend a shirt or darn a sock for you in trade? Anything?"
"You can quit your yammerin' and carry this table downstairs so I can get back to minding my own business instead of messing around in yours.”
“With no sums to keep his conscience at bay, the black book loomed large, creeping into his line of sight.
He scanned the room for something else to do. The harness still needed work. And he'd been meaning to fix that rickety shelf since last month. The pipe on his potbellied stove was dented. The windowsill needed dusting.
J.T. braced his arms on the desk and pressed his forehead into the heels of his hands.”
“Your kite, milady?"
She curtsied and handed it to him. "Why, thank you, Sir Tucker. Take care, though. The fabric is wont to snag.”
“What if she never knows the end of the story? She shudders, and her mind continues to lurch forward into the future, that simple expectation of time passing - another moment, and another moment. It seems impossible that it will abruptly cease. It seems impossible that you will never know what happens next, that the thread you've been following your whole life will just... cut off, like a book with the last pages torn out. That doesn't seem fair, she thinks.”
“What was your secret?"
That brought another smile. "Learn to laugh, otherwise, you'll beat them to death with a hammer first chance”
“When we destroy it." She spoke clearly now, steadily now. "If it comes in a form with a dick, I will personally castrate it".”
“Time's passage through the memory is like molten glass that can be opaque or crystalize at any given moment at will: a thousand days are melted into one conversation, one glance, one hurt, and one hurt can be shattered and sprinkled over a thousand days. It is silent and elusive, refusing to be damned and dripped out day by day; it swirls through the mind while an entire lifetime can ride like foam on the deceptive, transparent waves and get sprayed onto the conciousness at ragged, unexpected intervals. ”
“She spoke loudly in order to be heard above the noise of personal communitainers that were thudding and banging all around them. Some people used earphones, some didn't, clearly believing that as many people as possible should be given the opportunity to appreciate their musical taste. That, combined with the mass leakage from the headsets, created a terrible din and even discreet private conversations had to be conducted at a yell.”
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