AN: Thought I was done, didn't you!
I just had to close with this little bit...just to be extra-special sure everything ended well : ).
It was unseasonably cold for Thanksgiving; there was a sharp bite in the air and a crisp, clean smell that suspiciously felt like snow. Patrick jammed his hands further into his coat pockets and tried to shrug his shoulders up to help keep his neck warm as he briskly walked along the winding path home. His eyes scanned out across the empty fields of the family farm, looking at the dried out and husked remnants of the harvest; it had been a good year.
The sixteen-year-old stared down at his feet and smiled at the fact that the hem of his pants were already starting to be too short- again. He'd hit a huge growth spurt over the past two summers and he was now standing a bit over six feet tall, though unfortunately he hadn't filled out at the same rate. He looked like a "tow-headed string bean" as his Uncle Howard had been nice enough to point out.
But his Aunts had been just as quick to tell him that his father James had been as tall and thin as a teenager, and by the time he passed away at twenty three he was as built strong as an ox. Then again his Auntie Bridget would do anything to make him feel better.
That is unless he didn't make dinner on time.
Holiday dinners were a big deal in the Bondurant family. Attendance was mandatory, unless you wanted to deal with the wrath of the hell cat side of his Aunt's temper…and that usually brought out the bear in his Uncle Forrest. The man was the toughest son-of-a-bitch he'd ever seen, but he melted like butter on a hot skillet for her every time.
He recalled a particular Easter three years ago where his Aunt Katie had gone into Labor the night before and sure enough the entire family trouped down to the hospital to have dinner the next day crammed in the small hospital room, much to the irritation of Doctor Mills. But when the man was handed his own heaping plate of food and a huge wedge of pie, his mood changed.
It was funny; the first seven years of his life he could count his family on one hand. Now he was getting ready for dinner with thirteen people. Howard and Linnie had four girls, Jack and Katie had two boys with another child on the way, and then there was Bridget, Forrest and him.
Patrick picked up the pace and started to jog, it couldn't hurt to be there early.
"There you are!" Katie huffed at him as he bounded into the door and took off his coat. "For the love of God, she's starting to look around with those crazy eyes like she wants to yell at someone, and I am starving."
Patrick smiled as his tiny Aunt rubbed her round belly; he leaned down for a quick kiss on the cheek. "Trust me, I ain't pushin' my luck."
"So how was Lizzie Ann?" Jack piped up with a knowing grin as he walked by, somehow carrying his boys on his back like a totem pole.
"She was fine." He mumbled, not really wanting to get into it.
Jack was just about to open his mouth for another remark when Bridget's voice saved him, loudly calling everyone to the table.
No one could make a holiday spread like his Aunts. Bridget ran the kitchen like clockwork and Linnie was always right next to her managing to keep up. Thanks to Katie's huge belly she was more of a hamper than a help and this time she had been relegated to corralling errant children and husbands away from the food before it was time.
Once everyone was seated it was Howard who stood up and raised his glass, toasting to the year that had passed and the one to come; giving heartfelt thanks to "poorly maintained County roads" and "the army pocket knife", in reference to how the three brothers had managed to snag their respective wives.
A chorus of laughter went around the table at his remarks and everyone dug into the pile of food.
Hours later the four men sat comfortably as they digested their huge meal. Forrest was really enjoying his favorite bottle of brandy that only made its appearance at the holidays; in fact it was the furthest gone Patrick had ever seen him. For famous moonshiners the three brothers didn't drink all that much these days.
Linnie and Katie had just wrangled the children to bed and disappeared themselves, leaving Jack and Howard free to light up a cigar and kick back for the night.
"So, I can't believe you're still sniffin' 'round the preacher's daughter." Jack laughed as he leaned forward with a smirk. "You're gonna get it."
Patrick rolled his eyes, looking very similar to Katie when he did it. "First off, I ain't sniffin' around Lizzie. I plan on askin' her to go to the barn dance with me come Christmastime, and I'm gonna get her Daddy's permission before that. Second, I ain't the one who had a gun pointed me for sniffin' 'round a girl."
Jack's face went red as his brothers laughed at him.
"Yeah, well, you stand up to your damn Aunt, ain't a small thing to do."
"Dancin's always a good plan." Howard added with a laugh. "No better way to land a woman than twirl her around a bit."
Patrick nodded, "That was the plan. Old Mary Lou used to be fond of sayin' somethin' like that. What was it she said to you that night, Forrest? You know the one where you were starin' at Auntie instead of dancin' with her."
Even half-drunk Forrest's face got red at the mention of the old woman and the memory of gawking across a dance floor at his wife, and being too proud and foolish to go and grab her.
"Somethin' about women likin' that 'cause it shows the way you move." Patrick finished with a cheeky smile.
"Aww, gee," Jack pointed at his older brother with a laugh. "You know he's got some moves."
"Come on give us a little dance, Forrest." Howard joined in. "Let's see 'em."
Forrest furrowed his brow and shook his head, "I ain't dancin' for you jackasses." His head turned to look at Patrick and he lifted an unsteady finger to point at his face, "And I used to like your smart ass."
He rocked unsteadily up onto his feet, much to the amusement of the crowd around him.
"Oh, wait!" Howard needled. "Here he goes."
Forrest waived them off and shuffled out to the door, "I'm gonna get some air."
"Yeah, walk it off!" Jack shouted out as he stumbled down the stairs and out into the driveway.
Bridget was walking out of the kitchen when she felt a bitterly cold breeze on her face. She looked over to see that Patrick, Howard and Jack were all smoking and laughing and that her husband's chair was empty. He wasn't exactly prone to taking late night strolls, and he'd had a bit more brandy than usual, so she wasn't sure what had gotten into him.
She grabbed a sweater from the door and wrapped it around herself as she stepped out onto the porch, her eyes scanning the darkness until she saw him walking off towards the woods. With a laugh at his foolishness she quickly followed him, crossing the dirt of the driveway and into the fallen leaves that littered the cold ground.
He was absently staring up at the clear star filled sky as he walked, not paying any attention to his steps or where he was going. She reached out and grabbed his elbow just as he was about to walk over to the shore of the small, iced over fishing pond.
"Forrest?" She said as she pulled him back towards her. "What are you doing?"
He turned to her as slow, lazy smile tugged at his full lips, "Just walkin'. It's a nice night."
Bridget shook her head, "You were fixin' to walk into the pond."
Forrest frowned, "Was not."
"You sure were." She smiled as she slid her arms around his chest to hug him close. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't catch your death tonight honey; I don't want to be sleepin' alone for the rest of my life."
His glazed grey eyes looked down at her as he answered her with a noticeable slur in his husky voice, "I'll try'n keep that in mind."
"Listen to you, I do think you are drunk, Mr. Bondurant." She teased playfully.
"Three sheets to the fuckin' wind, Mrs. Bondurant." He replied matter-of-factly as his hands came up to palm her backside. Well, one grabbed her anyway; she felt the bottle of brandy in the other one.
Bridget rolled her eyes and kissed him gently on the lips. He was going to be as pleasant as a bear in the morning. "Come on, let's get you inside." She reached back and grabbed his hand, pulling him back towards the house, trying to anticipate where his unsteady feet were going to take them.
Forrest stopped suddenly and pulled her back to his body. Bridget gave him a puzzled look as he stared down into her blue eyes.
"Dance with me."
She shook her head with a happy sigh and a tiny bit of irritation in her voice as the wind picked up and a gentle rain of snowflakes began to fall all around them. "Now? After all this time, you ask me to dance in the cold with no music."
"Yeah," He answered as he tossed the bottle of brandy to the ground and pulled her tight to his body. His mouth leaned down to hover over hers and he spoke in a whisper, "Right now in the goddamn snow I wanna dance with my wife with no music and no nosy ass crowd lookin' on."
Bridget laughed as he began to sway back and forth, weaving in a smooth manner that actually belied his drunken state. She held him tight and pulled his lips down to meet hers in a sweet, long kiss as they moved together in the moonlight.
There...NOW I'm done.