Shot Through the Heart by Mercy Celeste

Shot Through the Heart by Mercy Celeste

Author:Mercy Celeste [Celeste, Mercy]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: MJC Press
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

* * * * *

Mildred Jeter was a surprise in that she was young and healthy. Incredibly healthy, Alayne sulked, especially in the chest department. She'd been expecting an older woman much like Martha but she hid her dismay behind a calm face, inwardly seething. This Mildred person probably didn't know anything about the stage passengers at all. Probably hadn't even been here last year, she thought maliciously, wondering if they should just skip this station and make camp somewhere along the way to the next station.

But Garth had other plans. Dismounting, he met the lady on the porch of her home politely making introductions while Alayne stewed in her own jealous juices on Honey's back.

"Come on in," pretty blond Mildred said in that slow drawl Alayne had become used to hearing since she came west and subconsciously affected upon occasion herself, after all the time she spent with Garth. "David will be back directly, he's down at the creek checking on the cattle. One of 'em is having a difficult time birthing, and we can't afford the loss of either mama or baby," she said, leading them into the old swing station that now served as the couple's home.

"You say you're searchin' for your brother?" Mildred said kindly, once Alayne crossed the threshold. Alayne felt shame wash over her after her unkind thoughts, but she put it aside and pulled out her ruined photo, retelling her story and watching for signs of recognition but expecting none.

This time was different as the woman's face went very pale before Alayne had finished her spiel. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck bristle. Without a doubt, Alayne knew her quest for Kilean would end here and her heart dropped to her stomach as dread and fear crawled along her spine to sap the strength in her knees. Mildred returned the photo to Alayne sorrow and pity filling her eyes and Alayne felt as if her weak knees would buckle at the slightest provocation. "Your brother is here." Mildred said, softly turning toward the back door. "Follow me."

With her heart in her throat, Alayne followed forcing her shaking knees to move. She placed one foot in front of the other, following the woman outside. They walked seemingly forever through high dry grass and scraggly trees until they came to an impossibly green meadow where a small family cemetery baked in the hot Texas sun.

"They put him off here. He was so ill, so feverish." Mildred said, the sorrow in her brown eyes growing greater as she spoke. "I cared for him nearly a week but I couldn't help him." She continued, her voice choked with pain as she stopped in front of a grave marked with a wooden cross bearing Kilean her brother’s first name, nothing more, not even the date.

"What was it?" Alayne asked, unable to tear her eyes away from the grave as all the fear and pain she suppressed over the year converged on her, making her want to scream her anger her pain to the heavens.


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