Chapter 5

The breeze felt soothing on Victoria's sun-burnt face and arms. She'd spent the day with George and Elias reseeding the North Field in hopes that there would be a mild weathered harvest season. They were cutting it close, looking toward a harvest time that would be accompanied with colder nights and chiller mornings. It was worth it though, she had a feeling they could make some money off of this and bring some hope back in to the town. Even Giff offered to help harvest, still feeling guilty for his role in the destruction of her last crop.

The sun was not quite touching the horizon and she leaned forward into the soft glow streaming toward her beneath the porch eaves. She rested her forearms on crossed knees and closed her eyes. It had been a week and a half since Elias started walking and 9 days since George's official marriage proposal. It'd been a wonderful nine days. She'd woken up every morning tangled up in him, his arms holding her close and keeping her safe and warm. She sighed, imagining the same comfortable night ahead of her.

She heard the truck, it was barreling toward the house, black fumes rising out of the makeshift stacks atop it. She stood, a worried feeling washing over her as he slammed on the breaks and jumped out, not bothering to stop the engine.

Elias came out onto the porch behind her, awoken from a dead sleep on the couch.

George strolled over, much more casual a feeling to his movements and he fought the grin that was threatening every face muscle. "Hello, Victoria."

She couldn't help but smirk as she rested her thigh against the rail and cross her arms. "What are you up to? Oh, and that's a damn waste of fuel!" She pointed at the truck and laughed at his sheepish smile.

He turned and hurried back to the truck, killing the engine as he did. Than he returned with the same mock swagger. He pulled a tattered envelope from his pocket and winked forcing her to roll her eyes.

"George…"

"I opened, your mail." He said with a smug smile.

"Oh?" Now she was curious.

He set his foot halfway up the ramp and leaned into the stance as he lowered his glasses to see the fine print. He read over it silently and grinned as he heard her move to lean over the rail toward him.

From the Fremont Bank, Morley, Peter J.

Mrs. Victoria E. Riddler. She read the first line before he jerked it away.

"Hey, hey! You'll ruin the moment!" He than leaned up to give her a quick kiss on the cheek and laughed again at her frustration.

"Well than get on with it before I ruin more than that!"

Elias was laughing in the background as he came up behind them and slipped an arm around his mother.

"Alright! Mrs. Victoria E." He intentionally stressed the middle initial and watched her eye roll. "What's the E for?"

"Elizabeth, come on."

He laughed. "I think I knew that. Riddler. At the receipt of your final payment on property and parcel 11340 10-square acres deeded on December, 13, 1979 and sub properties 11341 and 11342 8 and 13-acres apiece deeded on October 30, 1980, we are pleased to inform you that all delinquent status' on the properties and the accounts have been lifted. The contracts have met fully the obligation of the client, Victoria E. Riddler…."

She didn't hear the rest, but was aware George was still rambling. She turned to look at Elias who had a huge smile on his face. She hugged him and kissed his forehead hard. Than she stepped the three quick moves down the ramp to the ground and threw her arms around George's neck. "Thank you." She whispered.

He laid the letter down on the deck and wrapped his own arms around her waist. "My pleasure, Ma'am." He leaned her over romantically and kissed her, eliciting a small giggle.

She let the tears start falling as she held herself tight against his chest, his hands securely around her, holding her lower beck and just behind her shoulders.

"I should have known you'd get all gushy on me." He whispered into her hair. "I'm just glad it's all over for you."

She squeezed tighter and bit her lip as she lifted her chin enough for her eyes to look up into his. "So am I."


"And do you, Victoria Riddler, take George Brenner to be your husband?"

The words hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity as she attempted to speak. It wasn't hesitancy that held her back. Tears started down her cheeks as she just simply nodded.

He had a few tears himself as he smiled at her, holding her smaller hands tightly in his.

The preacher, who'd known Victoria her entire life, and baptized her as a small child in a nearby river leaned close to her. "Try and say it, Victoria, it'll taste sweet."

She giggled and found just enough of her voice to manage it. "I do."

Their friends cheered as he pulled her against him, his hands tangled in the back of her simple white dress as he kissed her softly. He pulled back a second so he could see her grinning. "I love you, Mrs. Brenner"

"I love you to, George." She kissed him again before Elias cut in.

"My turn." He grinned at George as he pulled his mother into a warm hug. "I love you, Mom."


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