A Love for all Ages (Crockett County Trilogy Book 1)

BOOK: A Love for all Ages (Crockett County Trilogy Book 1)
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Book 1 of the Lawmen of Crockett County
Author
Brenda Phillips
This book is dedicated to my best friend and sister
Donna

Iwouldliketogiveaspecialthanksto
DannyMayes
Frontcovermodel
All characters and events in this book are fictional
Copyright 2015
Prologue
ArchibaldandDella

First time she sees him she is eighteen years old.
She
wakes from a deep sleep to see him standing at the foot of her bed.
It surprises her she isn’t scared.
She doesn’t scream and faint, or
call out to her parents.

Thinking the only rational thought, she is dreaming.
She
takes her time looking him over from head to toe, he is transparent
with just a slight bluish shimmer to his skin.
She notices his Union
uniform; faded a pale blue with brass buttons down the front of the
jacket, on the left sleeve is three insignia strips midway down.
His
pants are a darker blue and are tucked inside his knee high army
issued boots.

Studying his face she admits to finding him handsome, with
his coal black hair sticking out from under his cap, his piercing
brown eyes and thick brows, his nose is straight and he has full lips;
the only way to describe his face is strong, with his square jaw.
He
is tall and even in the old uniform she can tell his body is lean and
muscular. She smiles as she watches him stand silently at
attention.

“Who are you?” rising up to lean against the headboard to
her bed.
Not expecting an answer, Della rearranges her pillows
behind her to sit more comfortable.
Smoothing the quilt across
her lap she waits patiently.

He stands frozen in place, afraid to move from the spot as he
drinks in the sight of this lovely young lady speaking to him.
Her
hair a light brown hangs over her shoulder almost to her waist,
bright blue eyes look at him with interest, her nose and mouth tiny,
petite.
He feels as if he could look at her forever and never get
enough.
He has been stuck here in this house since the summer of
1863, people have lived in this house on and off over the years, why
after all these years is it this person who sees him, will she be able
to hear him as well.
“Miss, I am Sargent First Class Archibald
Butterworth.” He continued to stand at the foot of her bed.
Frowning down at her he tries to keep his excitement hidden.
“You can see me; it’s been a long time since I have been spoken to.
I do not understand the reason for this.”
Seeing her jump after his
first spoken word, he knows she can hear him, he just isn’t sure if
this is good or bad.

For generations this house has been home to her family,
passed down from one family member to another.
Having grown
up in this house Della had heard the stories of a Union soldier, a
man unable to move on, a ghost.

The shock of hearing his voice, the deep alto sound, has her
heart racing and her answering without thought.
“My name is
Della Cain.” She continues in a rush.
“And you must be the ghost
that I sensed in our attic.
Why are you here?
Why do you not
move on to where ever ghosts go?
Why are you standing in my
room?
Why can I see and hear you?”
As she asked her questions
Della motions for him to sit on the bed as she tries to calm her
nerves.

Shaking his head no, Archibald begins to pace around her
room.
Rubbing his forehead he starts speaking, almost as if to
himself.
“I do not know why I am here, Miss Della.
And I also do
not understand why you can see me and hear me, I have tried to
speak with others but unfortunately no one has ever responded.
You have to understand I was a good soldier, I was a good man.
I
do not know why God has not allowed me to join my family and
friends.
I do not know why I stay here after my body died by the
pond while fighting beside my men in the Regiment.”

Still frowning he moves closer to her bed.
“Miss Della, I am
a man with great pride, but I am going to put that behind me, I am
begging you to help me. I need your help to understand why I am
still here, unable to leave this place.
I have tried to figure this out
over the last 75 years; I am unable to do this without help.
You are
the only human that has ever seen me.
I have tried over the years
to make contact with the people that lived here, I can make things
move if I concentrate, but not one person has seen or heard me.
Sometimes the family pets would know I was around, but they are
useless to me.” He looks at Miss Della pleading with his eyes for her
to understand his frustration, his feeling of hopelessness.

Seeing him look so sad and lost; her heart breaks for his pain.
Deciding she will help his poor soul, she moved from the bed to
stand in front of him.
“I will do everything in my power to help
you.
We will figure out the why and the how.
But we have to
keep this our secret.
I do not want my family to think I am crazy.
After all, helping a Union ghost is not something a southern lady
would do.”
Della smiles shyly.
Wishing she could touch him, to
offer human contact.
But knowing if she did her hand would pass
through him, she was unable to bring herself to try.

Her smile has Archibald staring at her mouth, the lovely Miss
Della would be shocked if she knew he wishes he could lean closer
and steal a kiss as her lips are very inviting.
Reminding him he
needs her help and he doesn’t want to scare her, he thanks her and
leaves, fading into the background until he is gone.

When Archibald vanishes, Della sits on the edge of her bed
and sighs.
Thinking to herself she has lost her mind.
She just
agreed to help a Union ghost, granted a very sexy Union Ghost.
Covering her mouth with her hands to keep quite she began to
giggle with glee.

Over the next days, weeks, months and years Della and
Archibald became friends, however; neither was able to figure out a
way for him to move on.
Chapter One

Laying with her eyes close she listens to the sounds around
her.
The beeps of the machines, the soft whispers of voices and
even the light footsteps walking close by.
Before she opens her
eyes she realizes she is in a hospital, just the sickly smell of the
antibacterial cleaning supplies verifies what she already knows to be
true.

Slowly, she moves her toes,
alright they work, next she
moves her feet and they work too.
When she lifts her arms she
discovers her left hand and arm is in a cast.
but thanks goodness not on her right hand.
opens her eyes. The overhead lights are dim however she can make
out the objects in the room; the single bed, night stand, bed tray
and several machines close to the left side of her bed monitoring
her vitals.

The fact she is in a private room pleases her. She isn’t a
person who enjoys small talk with strangers. She likes to be alone;
she works alone, lives alone and spends most of her evenings alone.
So what if sometimes she craves someone to discuss the events of
her day.
These feelings always pass.
Since the death of her
brother several months ago, her alone time has become more
frequent, with only brief encounters with strangers.
Loved ones
will always leave; some by choice, others by chance.
She is
learning to accept this reality.

Deciding it is time to move in order to check the extent of
her injuries Stephanie rises up on her elbows; it is at that moment
she sees a man sleeping on a chair at the far end of the room.
Propped up she takes her time studying him.
The fact she doesn’t
know him makes her weary.
He is slumped on the ugly orange
chair, but the length of his jean clad legs spread out in front of him
would make him tall, very tall, at the end of his long legs he wore
brown leather cowboy boots.
His chest is covered by a navy blue
t-shirt, but she can still see he is muscular.
His hair dark brown
The weight is there,
Finally, Stephanie
looks a little long, as if he was due a haircut but hadn’t had time.

As he sleeps Stephanie shifts her attention to the man’s face.
His face is tanned indicating he spends a lot of time outdoors, she
observes his square jaw is firm even in sleep. His eyebrows are
black, straight and thick; his nose has a slight bump hinting it has
been broken several times.
Dropping her eyes she notices his lips
are full but not too big and the only thought that comes to mind is
they are the kind of lips described as kissable.
Each feature
separately isn’t much to write home about but together they make
him a very handsome man.
With his eyes closed Stephanie doesn’t
have a clue of their color.
However, based on his skin tone and
dark hair she will wager his eyes are green.

Needing to check how mobile she is, Stephanie raises up into
a sitting position.
The pain in her chest is her ribs, bandaged;
Stephanie figures cracked at least one maybe two.
bad, guess the pain medicine in the IV is helping.
relief she scoots to the edge of the bed and dangles her legs over
the side.
Using her good hand she pushes herself upward off the
mattress to stand.
Not dizzy, good sign.
Standing feels good, not
sure what day this is Stephanie has no idea how long she has been
in the hospital.
The last thing she remembers before today, she
had been driving to a little town in Kentucky.
A place to start over,
to get a fresh start, to put down roots, a place to stay longer than a
couple of years.

Thinking back, Stephanie lost in her thoughts; she can’t
remember ever staying in one place past two years.
Her Mother,
God rest her soul, was a dreamer.
She wanted the best for her
children, always figured the next town; the next state would be it.
Her Mother would pack up their belongings, what little they had and
tell stories of better opportunities at the next destination.
Once
they reach the new town her Mother would find work, usually as a
waitress working long hours.
Mitch, Stephanie's older brother,
would make sure they would eat, do homework and keep the house
clean. Mitch had been her rock.
Thinking of Mitch still hurts, so
Stephanie cut off her thoughts.

Hearing the chair squeak Stephanie clears her mind, turning
The pain isn’t

Sighing with
she looks in the direction of the sound.
Signing she sees the
stranger is awake and staring at her.

Stretching and flexing his shoulders Chase raises from the
chair to stand.
As Sheriff of Dusten, he knows the basic about the
lady standing by the bed. He also knows this lady is suspicious, he
can tell by the way she squared her shoulders as she turned to face
him.
But face him she did.
She defiantly has a back bone.

"Ms. Tuney, I am glad to see your up and about, you must be
feeling better.
You still have quite a bump on your head", he
smiles as he walks to stand in front of her.
Looking down he
realizes how tiny she is, from her driver's license he knows she is
5'3" tall, weighs 116 pounds, her eyes are blue and she is 26 years
old.
The information on her license is just the facts, the reality of
the lady before him is blow your mind beautiful, even with the huge
bump on her forehead and dressed in the ugly hospital gown.

"Who", clearing her throat Stephanie tries again, "Who are
you?" Realizing he is standing so close, she moves back a step,
stopping when she feels the edge of the bed touch her legs.

His hand raised to touch her cheek finds only empty air.
Dropping his arm to his side, Chase takes a step back away from her,
sensing she needs space as much as answers.
"I apologize, let me
introduce myself; my name is Chase Peterson, I am the Sheriff of
Crockett County, Kentucky.
You are in the hospital in Darrin
County it neighbors the county of Crockett."
Waiting a second he
adds, "How much do you remember about the accident”?

Not much, she admits to herself.
Outwards she shrugs one
slim shoulder.
Lifting her right hand Stephanie feels her forehead,
finding the egg size bump.
Blowing out a breath she becomes
conscious she must look awful then feels silly; it doesn’t matter
what she looks like, Sheriff Peterson isn’t anything to her.
He is
probably married with six children.
Still she is a woman and
therefore, as a woman, needs to be at her best at all times.
This
thought makes her smile; she can actually hear her Mother’s voice
inside her head, saying those exact words.

Pulling the orange chair beside the bed, Chase sits down as
he motions for Stephanie to sit on the bed.
The tubes in her arm
won’t allow her to move much further; he doesn’t want her
standing uncomfortably with no place to go, as they both have
questions.

Sitting on the edge of the bed Stephanie makes eye contact
with Sheriff Peterson.
“I don’t remember much about the
accident.
The other car was dark and it was big, but I don’t know
the make or model.”
Stephanie waits for his criticisms.
Her
brother would tease her making her feel stupid when she had no
clue concerning the car he would be discussing.
Looking down at
the cast, she starts picking at a string on the section by her thumb.

Sensing her nervousness Chase keeps his voice calm and low,
“That’s fine; the witness told me that information.
My question is
do you know why someone would want to deliberately run you off
the road?
Because, Ms. Tuney, believe me I know what I am
saying; this was no accident”.
He knew the exact second she
realized the extent of his words.
Her eyes got huge and he could
almost see her brain trying to process.

“You have to be wrong, I don’t know anyone here”, this
coming out in a whisper, Stephanie keeps staring at Chase needing
him to explain why he assumes her accident was no accident.

Before either can say another word, the door opens and a
young nurse walks in, the nurse looked to be just out of high school,
her blonde hair pulled into a pony tail reaches about her mid back.
She has a light complexion; her eyes are dark blue with light brown
eyebrows arched neatly, a small nose and her lips are thin and
curvy. Her oval face brings all her features together, making her a
beautiful young woman.

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