The wind blew through the windows of the truck cold and fresh. Adam reached over and patted Hannah on the leg. She sat in the middle right next to him, rather than all the way over in the passenger seat. He smiled down at her as Murphys and their responsibilities faded in the rear view mirror. Hannah was twenty-three years old, and he twenty-seven, yet they lived lives as though they were much older. He remembered the first time he had seen his old highschool friends, as they came home from college for Thanksgiving vacation. They had seemed immature, irresponsible and selfish. It had taken him weeks to realize that they were merely behaving as most eighteen year olds did. The life of a de-facto father had aged him decades in those few months. He sometimes forgot how young he was; how young his bride was.
"We'll get into town and check out this inn, and then after lunch go see about this dumb old harrow. It won't take more than an hour or two. Then we'll do whatever you want." He smiled at her.
"Oh, I don't care what it is." She smiled up at him her eyes bright. "Just as long as it is you and me."
"That I promise you." He said and she reached for his hand, lacing her fingers with his. "You just try and shake me, girl."
"I've been trying since the day I met you." She said grinning so her dimples showed. "Just can't seem to do it."
"Good thing." He said. "That ring I gave you is awfully expensive." He winked at her.
"Listen, I understand what you are thinking, Daniel, but it is a school night. How on earth would the boys get to sleep with a live band in the front room? I know you need to practice, but it seems a little impractical." Brian said.
"No, we'll be out in the barn. Come on man! Listen it isn't our fault the water heater broke! We just need a place to practice. We won't play late. It will just be me and the guys. We really want to do well in that battle of the bands that is coming up in Stockton next month. I need the practice time." Daniel tried not to sound like he was whining.
"Well," Brian hesitated, glancing at Crane, who shrugged his shoulders. "No, practicing past 9:30 p.m. and only in the barn. I'm not feeding anybody, and I don't want a bunch of girls hanging around to "listen" to you guys. If you are going to practice let it be a serious practice."
"No problem, brother! Thanks! Thanks so much!" Daniel sprinted out of the room. "I gotta call the guys."
"I don't know Brian, it seems a waste to say no girls." Crane said with a grin.
"Yeah, but I know Dan'l. He doesn't mean too, but things get out of hand pretty quick with him. We can't bail anyone out of jail and pay for a new harrow." Brian said.
"Look who's talking." Crane said.
"Besides, any girls he'd bring along would be too young for us. I thought you already had a girl, anyway."
"New York is pretty far." Crane said with a sigh. "A once a week phone date, is exactly what I'd call a thriving relationship."
"It is if she's the right girl, I suppose." Brian said with a raised eyebrow. "Is she?"
"Yeah." Crane sighed. "That's the problem. Sometimes I wish she was the wrong girl, you know."
"I guess. I've never had that problem."
"Yet." Crane said. "Just you wait brother."
"Maybe I'm not the settling down kind." Brian said. "You and Adam seem to have that covered."
"No way, man. You are a McFadden. You'll find yourself a girl and that will be the end of it. You can't fight who you are."
"Remember what Dad always said?" Brian asked.
"'Listen boys, one of these days you'll see a girl, and you'll know it. Don't try and fight against it. Trust me. Treat her right and marry her.'" Crane recited.
"And mom said, 'Adam! I don't want these boys getting married while they are still in high school! You boys, don't even bother with girls. They are nothing but trouble!'" They both laughed.
"I wonder what they would say if they could see us all now." Crane said thoughtfully.
"They would be proud." Brian said. "They are proud. I'm trying to imagine a life with both Mom and Hannah. We wouldn't stand a chance." He grinned.
"I miss them." Crane said thoughtfully. " Do you?" He looked at his older brother who was generally stoic expecting him to adopt his tough-guy persona.
"Every damn day." He said blinking back tears. "Come on. We better get to work." He turned suddenly and went out the door before Crane could say anything else.
"Brian taught me to play the harmonica." Guthrie said. "I'm getting pretty good."
"Get out!" Daniel said putting a hand on his little brother's shoulder. "Seriously, Guthrie."
"I can't even stay to listen?" Guthrie whined looking up into Daniel's face.
"No!" Daniel said giving him a gentle push. "Get out!"
"It's my barn too." Guthrie said stubbornly.
"I'm gonna give you three seconds and if you are still standing here, I will tan your hide." Daniel said seriously. "You think I'm kidding, boy?"
Guthrie swallowed and said, "Fine! I'm going. I hope that when you get to that stupid competition they tell you that you could've won, if only you had someone to play the harmonica!" He stormed out of the barn angry. He looked out at the gray sky and sighed. He wasn't about to admit it to any of his brothers, but he really missed Hannah. He felt kind of homesick without her here, and he hated being all by himself. He sat down on the front steps thinking that what he ought to do was his homework, but decided to go look for Evan instead. He had said something about doing some work up by the south pasture.
Hannah McFadden leaned against the counter as Adam negotiated a new harrow.
"We don't need anything fancy." Adam was telling the owner Allen Downs. "You got any second-hand?"
"Yeah, but Adam that's what you bought last time, and that's why you are here now. You need to get a good quality piece of equipment. Then you won't waste precious hours on repairs or replacement."
"And a brand, shiny new harrow doesn't hurt your profit one bit." Hannah said with an innocent grin.
"Who's she?" Allen asked.
"The wife." Adam said with a smile.
"You got married? Oh, that's right. I thought it was just a joke folks were telling." He looked at Hannah. "Did he really drag you all the way out there without mentioning his brothers?"
"Oh, he mentioned them." She said. "He just left out the part where they would be living with us because he was raising them."
"You are awfully pretty." He said. "You should leave him and find a nice rich man without any brothers." Hannah laughed and Adam shook his head.
"Allen." He said.
"I'm just saying. This poor girl probably spends most of her days picking up after those hooligans you call brothers. Those boys are right next door to cavemen." He smiled at Hannah.
"It is a lot for one poor girl." She said stepping closer her face pouty. "That's why it would be so helpful if you could get us a really good deal on a new harrow. I could use the extra money and maybe someday I get a fancy new washing machine." She looked up at Allen innocently.
"Oh, my God!" Allen said. "Did you coach her?" He pointed at Hannah, and smiling Adam shook his head. "Well, listen here, little lady. I'm not falling for it. You are pretty and all, but I'm a businessman first." He looked at her, but she said nothing. He sighed. "Alright, listen. We sold a harrow a month ago to some rich, fancy gentleman farmer who has now decided to become something else. He is returning it. I sent Bruce out to check on it, and he says it looks like maybe it's been used twice. I can cut you a pretty good deal on that."
"That sounds interesting." Adam said. He turned to Hannah. "What do you think?"
"Well, we need it right away. We got cows that will need feed. When can we get it?" She asked.
"He's bringing it in tomorrow afternoon. You could get it then. My boys will help you load it." He studied Hannah.
"Buying a used harrow is taking a chance. You throw in some kind of warranty?"
"One year." He said.
"Two." She countered. Adam leaned back against the counter and watched the two of them.
"Alright." He conceded. He glanced over at Adam. "Stop grinning."
"Let's talk price." Hannah said with a wink at Adam.
"Mrs. McFadden," Allen said. "I hope you don't take this the wrong way and all, but I'm awful sorry he got married." He pointed a thumb in Adam's direction.
"I'll bet you are." She said.
"No Dan'l for dinner." Crane said. "They haven't stopped playing since they got here." He looked around the dinner table. "Where's Evan?"
"Here!" He said coming in the room. "I'm beat! I tell you sending Adam off seemed like a good idea until you realize that someone's gonna have to cover his chores." He walked over to the kitchen sink and washed his hands. "What is that smell?"
"Dinner." Ford said. "Brian tried something new."
"Why didn't you just follow one of Hannah's recipes?" Evan said.
"I can cook. You know I fed you fellas for years before she came along." Brian said pointing a spoon at them offended.
"Yeah, have you ever noticed that not one of us is fat? Besides we hadn't tasted anything else." Evan said.
"Hey, one of you go get Guthrie. I think he's out listening to Daniel." Crane said setting a plate of rolls on the table.
"No, Daniel kicked everyone out." Ford said. "Guthrie was driving him nuts. He kept offering to join the band and play the harmonica." Ford laughed and reached for a roll.
"Hey, don't laugh. He's getting better." Brian said defending his brother.
"That is one McFadden who had better not consider a career in music." Evan said. "I love him, Bri, but he's a little bit tone deaf."
"Little bit?" Ford said.
"That's strange." Crane said. "He hasn't been in the house all afternoon. Any of you fellas know where he went?" They shook their heads. Brian glanced out the window.
"It's getting dark." He said an uneasy feeling settling in the pit of his stomach.
"Maybe we should take a look around." Crane said glancing at Brian.
"Yeah." Brian said turning around and turning the stove off. "Come on fellas."
"He's probably just in the barn watching Daniel. He probably just snuck back in." Evan said.
"Yeah." Crane said, glancing again at the sky. He could see storm clouds gathering in the distance. "I'm sure there's nothing to be worried about."