The wooden cross stood at a slant in the dusty earth and Samuel reached out a gloved hand to right it. He had carved the name into the wood himself; wanting the grave to be marked, wanting the name of the man who lay beneath the soil to be known by all who passed through the tiny cemetery.
Ely Watkins - 1811 to 1835
Everyone would see the name, but only he would remember eyes the perfect mix of green and brown smiling into his. Remember the feel of wavy hair the color of molasses and soft lips whose kisses made the world around him melt away until there was just the two of them, together forever.
Their forever had been shorter than either had anticipated. His father had seen to that. The great Richard Forbes would never accept that his only son, his legacy, could love a man. It was an abomination against God and it went against Forbes’ plan for Samuel to continue what he had started and make Forbes one of the best known names in Virginia. He certainly wasn’t going to allow a glorified ranch hand to stand in his way.
Dropping to his knees on the earth, he laid the flowers he held amongst the wild daisies, and let his fingers trace the indents in the wood, flowing over the name slowly. “My love,” he murmured, a tender smile curving his lips even as unbidden tears spilled from beneath his lashes.
Richard Forbes had shown no remorse when he’d pushed Samuel to his knees onto the fresh grave, thirty-four days, three hours and twenty-four minutes ago. No emotion had crossed the weather beaten face as he’d ignored his son’s agony. Nor did he bat an eye when he’d told his son he would marry Eleanor Johnston, the youngest daughter of the wealthiest family in Virginia, as soon as it could be arranged. That Samuel’s brief moment of insanity would never be spoken of again. Ely Watkins was gone; killed by his father’s hand in an act of violence designed to bring Samuel firmly back into line. To show his son what happened when you dared to question the master plan.
Samuel rose to his feet and pulled his Stetson firmly down on his hair, sweat-dampened by the morning sun and sighed. Thirty-four days, three hours and twenty-seven minutes ago, his father had watched his heart break on this very spot; and in three hours and thirty-two minutes, his father would watch him marry Eleanor Johnston.
He gazed down at the grave once more and wondered if the ache in his chest would ever ease; if the broken pieces of his heart would ever come together. When his father had killed Ely, he had unwittingly killed his own dream. Richard thought the master plan was falling into place, but he was wrong. Yes, Samuel would marry Eleanor this afternoon and give his father the standing in the community he so desperately craved, but there would be no heirs.
The Forbes name would die with him.
I hope it whet your appetite for more :)