To kick off the New Year, I decided to do something different. For those who have read or are reading my Weston Family Series, I always wondered why Emily Weston drastically changed from loving mother to disowning her children. There had to be more to her story than just a pampered socialite from Boston, and who better to know the truth than Leon Weston, patriarch of the Weston clan. Today at Cowboy Kisses step back in time and discover some of Leon and Emily’s secrets in Leon’s Story, Part One. Part Two will be released in February.
Wooded Acres Ranch, CO
Christmas Eve Morning 1876
The wind howled from the north, nearly robbing Leon Weston of breath as he trudged through the heavy snow, his old bones groaning in protest. In his younger days, he’d made the short trek from the house to the family cemetery without complaint. This morning the walk felt akin to ten, long miles. Even the hinges on the wrought iron squeaked in complaint as he pushed open the gate and stepped toward the lone headstone.
Removing his Stetson and bowing his head, Leon inwardly recited the Lord’s Prayer then returned his hat to his head, pulled his scarf tighter around his neck. Opening his eyes, he noted the several inches of snow coating the top of the marble and the frost covering the inscription.
“Good morning, Emily,” he crooned to the stone representing his wife who’d passed twenty three ago. “Merry Christmas Eve to you.”
He shoved his gloved hands deep into his coat pockets, looked around for a place to sit. What he’d come to say to Emily today would take a while, but the bench he’d positioned near the towering pine was hidden beneath the snow, and hunkering down or squatting in the knee-deep powder caused his bones to shiver. So he stood, his fingers grasping the lining of his pockets.
“Cade brought home a bride last Christmas. The Christmas before Tess married James.” He spoke of his grandchildren. “I like that James. He’s a hard worker and takes good care of Tess. Lucas wouldn’t have allowed his daughter to marry some lazy riff-raff.” Leon smiled fondly in remembrance of the ill expression on his eldest son’s face when he’d given Tess away in marriage, which was probably why Lucas spent a lot of time at Tess’ homestead, that is, when he wasn’t pestering his sister-in-law, Racy, for a sweet treat.
A gust of wind pelted Leon’s back and he sobered as the face of his second son flashed across his mind. “Don’t think Royce will walk quietly alongside Tabitha and hand her over to another man like Lucas did with Tess.” Leon cleared his throat with a cough. “Then again, Royce has a few years before our other granddaughter sets her sights on someone. Now, Creel,” he paused and turned his gaze in the direction of the snow clouds shrouding the mountains.
“Creel’s our baby, Emily.” He returned his attention to the gravestone. “His wife is near a babe herself. Racy told me she wants a passel of children. Her first one’s due to come into this world next month. Creel doesn’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, so long as Racy and the babe are healthy. And Rachael’s little girl turns two tonight.”
A shiver moved through Leon’s weathered body, not so much from the cold as from his prattling. He was stalling, revealing tidbits he’d already told Emily while trying to find the words he’d come to say. The words he’d come to ask. The words he couldn’t bring himself to voice until now.
Emily had died in a riding accident. She’d been galloping across the meadow when her mare had spooked and thrown her across a log. A sharp branch jutting out from the wood had pierced her chest.
“Why?” he croaked painfully. “Why did you leave home that day? Why didn’t you stay at the house? I told you nothing good would come if you went back to Boston, no matter how much you willed it. Why didn’t you believe me?”
Unbidden, heated arguments from the past filled his ears. Spats from behind the barn, squabbles from behind closed doors; their children had overheard him and Emily feuding and had suffered greatly. Rachael had run away, and had stayed away for twenty-two years. Royce had distrusted women for several years before his wife set him straight. The same had held true for Lucas. Creel had been young when Emily had passed. He didn’t cotton to his brothers’ and sister’s speculations over Emily’s hunger for Boston until years later. Sadly, the four believed their ma had favored the comforts and riches of the big city over them. Truth be told his children were wrong…
The series begins with Royce in Luck of the Draw.
Lucas follows with Lady Luck.