Read Beneath the Honeysuckle Vine Online

Authors: Marcia Lynn McClure

Beneath the Honeysuckle Vine

Copyright
©
2009,
2012

Beneath the Honeysuckle Vine
by Marcia Lynn McClure

www.marcialynnmcclure.com

 

All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976, the contents of this book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or distributed in any part or by any means without the prior written consent of the author and/or publisher.

 

Published by Distractions Ink

P.O. Box
15971
 

Rio
Rancho
,
NM
 
87174

 

Published by Distractions Ink

©Copyright
2009,
2012 by M. Meyers
A.K.A. Marcia Lynn McClure
Cover Photography by ©
Daveallenphoto
/Dreamstime.com
,

©
Rick Sargeant/Dreamstime.com and
©
Roywylam/Dreamstime.com

Cover Design
and Interior Graphics
by
Sandy Ann Allred/Timeless Allure

 

First Printed Edition:  December 2009

Second
Printed Edition: 
October
2012

 

All character names and personalities in this work of fiction are entirely fictional,

created solely in the imagination of the author.

Any resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental.

 

McClure, Marcia Lynn, 1965—

Beneath the Honeysuckle Vine
: a novel/by Marcia Lynn McClure.

 

ISBN:  978-0-9884276-7-9

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 
2012954131

 

Printed in the
United States of America

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Debra
,

 

For true and everlasting friendship
.

You
are the rarest sort of treasure found on earth!

 

 

P
ROLOGUE

Leaving

 

Vivianna stood next to Mrs. Turner—tried to ignore the bitter sting of hot tears brimming in her eyes.
She must be brave—or at least appear brave
r
than she had been months before when Samuel and Augustus left to enlist.
She had been too weak then
,
wildly sobbing with heartache at watching her dear brothers ride off to war.
She knew now her weakness and sobbing had made leaving all the more difficult for Sam and Augie—more difficult for her mother to remain poised and courageous in the face of sending her sons to battle—more difficult for her father to stay behind and watch them go.
So she would compose herself now
in this moment of further heartache—of near heartbreak.
She would keep her tears from streaming over her cheeks for as long as she was able.
Even when they did escape—and she knew they would—she would not sob.
Rather, she would weep genteel
,
the way Savannah Tu
r
ner now wept as her two elder sons embraced her.

Yet as a balmy breeze brushed her face—as the scent of autumn in Alabama caressed her tender senses—Vivianna Bartholomew thought of all that was
,
sorely missing all that had been.
Where were the hot, airless days of sun
,
when lingering under a tree to share its shade brought hours of stillness and tranquility of mind?
Where were the warm nights fragrant with honeysuckle and gardenia
,
sweet with the calming melody of bug
noises to gently sway a body to sleep on dreamy waves of contentment?
Were they lost forever to the worries and heartache
,
the pain and suffering of war?

What happy, carefree days Vivianna had known as a child!
In the company of her elder brothers and their friends the Turner boys, Vivianna had played, laughed, and lived a life of sweet joy and innocent satisfaction.
She closed her violet-blue eyes a moment and remembered the pollywogs in the pond not so many summers past—the summer before her brothers had gone.
She remembered sitting on the pond

s bank
,
slipping bare feet into the cool mud
,
giggling as the pollywogs playing in the shallow water darted back and forth, tickling her ankles as they frolicked and her brothers and the Turner boys fished
,
lazily basking in the sun
,
careless of their poles.

But the vision vanished as she opened her eyes
,
for there stood Caleb Turner—her beloved Caleb
. T
here he stood
,
embracing his weeping mother.
In a moment more, he would mount his horse and ride away—just as Sam had
,
just as Augie had.
Vivianna was grateful Caleb did not yet don a uniform.
She could not have borne it—the sight of him dressed for war.
Tears were filling her eyes in profusion as she glanced then to Justin.

As Caleb embraced their mother—whispered soothing words of assurance—Justin looked on
,
his brow puckered with worry
,
the corners of his usually smiling mouth downturned.
Vivianna had hoped to look to Justin and stay her own tears
. Y
et the sight of him only spurred more to gathering, and she could not hold them back.
As tears spilled over her cheeks, Caleb released his mother, dropping to one knee before his two younger brothers.
Vivianna brushed the tears from her face as she watched Caleb embrace first Nathaniel
and
then William.
Silently she offered a prayer of thanksgiving
,
grateful that Nate and Willy were only six and five
,
too young to go to war.
She knew the younger Turner boys would offer great comfort to their mother while Caleb and Justin were away.
Both small boys sniffled
,
angrily wiping at the tears on their cheeks with the backs of their small, grubby hands.


Now, you two take care of Mama,

Caleb told his sniffling siblings.

You hear?

Nate nodded and said,

Yes, sir,

and Willy sniffled.


And you take care of Viv for me too,

Caleb added.
He smiled and tousled the boys

hair.

You keep them Adder boys away from her.
I wouldn

t want one of them to steal her heart while I was away.


We

ll give them Adder boys a fit of fists and feet if

n they try, Caleb,

Nate promised.

Caleb chuckled and tousled their hair again.


Bye, Mama,

Justin said.

Vivianna brushed the tears from her cheeks as she watched Justin embrace his mother.


You be careful, my baby,

Savannah Turner said.
Her voice broke with restrained emotion
,
and Vivianna winced at her grimace of heartache as she hugged her son.

You come back to me.
Do you hear me, Justin?
You and your brother come back to your mama.


I will, Mama,

Justin said.

Try not to worry.
Caleb and me…we

ll be fine.

Savannah released her son—dabbed at the moisture on her cheeks with a linen handkerchief.

And you two be careful travelin

to Huntsville,

Savannah warned as Caleb stood and Justin hunkered down to say his own good-byes to his little brothers.

Do you hear me, Caleb Turner?
Just because you say north Alabama is full of Southern Unionists…well, it still doesn

t mean it

s safe for two southern boys travelin

on to enlist with the Yankees.


We

ll be fine, Mama,

Caleb told her.

And besides…Justin and me can lick anybody who fists up a hand in our direction.
Ain

t that right, Justin?

Justin nodded as he hugged Willy.

That

s right.
There ain

t nothin

to worry about, Mama.


The Maggee boys made it fine,

Caleb explained.

Didn

t they, Mama?
And you know me and Justin are better men than them.

Caleb shook his head.

I swear…I can

t even imagine Boy Maggee sittin

a horse with the Alabama
First
Cavalry.

Justin shook his head as well.

I can better imagine Boy Maggee fightin

with the
First
better than I can his brother, Floydie.
Now that

s a sight I

m plain itchin

to see!


And you

ll write to me,

Savannah demanded, wagging a forefinger at her sons.

Every week!
I need a letter from each of you every week.
You hear me?

Caleb smiled and nodded.

Yes, Mama.

His attention turned to Vivianna then, and she thought she might die from the pain tearing her heart into pieces.
How she loved him!
Oh, how she loved Caleb Turner!
Vivianna had loved Caleb nearly as far back as she could remember
.
And what girl wouldn

t?
Tall, broad-shouldered
,
and more handsome than any boy or man she

d ever seen, Caleb owned Vivianna Bartholomew

s full heart
.
Furthermore—though she had thought for years it never could be—she owned his!
At times, she still could not quite believe he loved her.
Yet he

d told her so often
,
especially in recent months.
He

d even talked of marriage—just the very night before.

Caleb had come over to call on Vivianna, and Vivianna

s daddy had allowed them to take a short walk together—alone!
What a wonderful night it had been!
A fragrant breeze cooled the air just enough to make it necessary for Caleb to place his arm around Vivianna

s slight shoulders in offering warmth
,
and she silently swore to herself she would never forget the feel of the tender kiss he

d placed on her lips before they had returned to the house.


You

re finally sixteen, Viv,

Caleb had said.

I

m plenty old enough now at twenty
. A
nd if I wasn

t about to be a soldier…I

d sure enough ask your daddy if we could get married.

Caleb

s words echoed through her mind as she watched him approach.
The smile he

d forced for his mother

s sake had faded—his gaze intent upon her—his beautiful blue eyes misted with emotion.

In the next moment, she was in his arms!
She heard Mrs. Turner toss a slight scolding at him
,
but he didn

t mind it—just continued to hold her.

Vivianna

s tears poured over her cheeks as Caleb held her—as she held him.
She inhaled the scent of his shirt—of his skin—of his hair!
She pressed her cheek to his and vowed never to forget the sense of his skin against hers—the feel of being in his arms.


I love you!

she whispered
,
her lips pressed softly to his ear.


I love you,

he whispered in return.

He kissed her then—in front of his mother, his brothers
,
and all of Alabama!
Vivianna felt goose pimples race over her arms—held her breath as their lips lingered in shared affection for long moments.
She wondered if this would be the last kiss she ever shared with Caleb
.
So many local boys had been killed in the war—so many!
She feared for Caleb
yet reminded herself of his strength and determination.
The Turner boys were tougher than old leather
. I
t seemed nothing could lick them
,
and she held to the knowledge like some unseen talisman of hope.

His lips left hers
,
and Vivianna fancied she felt suddenly cold and alone—even for the fact he still held her against him.


I

ll be back, Viv,

Caleb said.

I promise.

He wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of one hand.
She reached up, smoothing the soft dark hair at his temple.


I know,

she breathed.

He released her—stepped back as Justin approached.

Vivianna

s gaze met Justin

s
,
sending fresh tears streaming over her cheeks.

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