Thursday, March 25, 2010

“But I don’t want to go to Virginia.” Jared Stuart’s jaw clenched and he looked at his dinner plate, ignoring the creep of his spectacles down the bridge of his nose. His stomach churned, but not because of the food in front of his blurred gaze. It was his rebellious words that made him ill. He knew his parents planned for him to attend William and Mary, the school where Pa had studied law thirty years ago.

Jared’s words seemed to echo from wall to wall of the well-appointed dining room. He felt a cold hand steal into his own beneath the cover of Great-Aunt Dolly’s imported tablecloth. Victoria, the sister who was only a year his senior, knew of his wish to attend East Tennessee University in Knoxville. She had been his sympathetic confidante, her tender heart torn between supporting his desire to attend a small school and their parents’ stated plan to send him to William and Mary.

“I don’t understand why you don’t want to go there.” Adam Stuart’s voice was not loud, but Jared could feel the frustration behind each word. “You know it’s the alma mater of many of our country’s founding fathers. Your own family has a history there. Your mother and I have all the connections it would take to ensure your success—”

“That’s just it, Pa.” Jared looked up from his plate. He could see the flecks of green in his father’s brown eyes, a sign of banked anger. Resentment rose up and pressed against his throat. “I want to succeed on my own merits, not because I’m your son or Grandpa Landon’s grandson.”
“Going to William and Mary won’t prohibit that.”

“Adam.” Iris Stuart’s voice was barely a whisper. She shook her head slightly at her husband, and a curl sprang from her coiffure. She brushed it back with one finger. “Not now. We can talk about this later.”

Great-Aunt Dolly, imperious in her black bombazine dress and her position at the head of the table, cleared her throat. “Well, I don’t see what all of the rumpus is about.” She lifted a wrinkled hand to her mouth and coughed for a moment before continuing. “Young people will always insist on their own ways in things.” She pointed an arthritic finger at his ma. “Why I remember when the boy’s grandma and I went all the way to New Orleans in the middle of a war just so she could see your pa. Didn’t take Rebekah long to convince her parents to let her have her way.”

“That’s a different matter,” Adam Stuart protested.

Great-Aunt Dolly shrugged a shoulder and looked at Jared. “You’re a grown man now and you have a good head on your shoulders. Doesn’t matter to me if you want to go to school in Williamsburg, Knoxville, or even Schenectady. All you have to do is say so. I’ll make sure you have the money.”

Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for a chance to win The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver!


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