Popping in and out with a sample from SAVE THE DATE. Aside from his brother and what transpired, you don’t know anything about Guy’s family. Today I’m sharing a glimpse into his background. This scene takes place before his move to Baymoor.
THIS EXCERPT BELOW IS UNEDITED, COPYRIGHTED, AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ©D. A. YOUNG 2022
Guy snaked his truck through the hills and hollows of the mountains patiently. Normally his journey was a three-hour trip from Whiskey Row, but the roads were still slick from last night’s rain. Combined with the occasional hairpin curves, such conditions made for precarious driving. He cranked his radio up, tapping the beats from a country-blue-grass station out on his steering wheel as he drove. Guy didn’t mind the holdup. The delay gave him more time to appreciate the splendor of his surroundings. Fall was his favorite time of the year and with two days before Thanksgiving, Mother Nature was serving up some remarkable scenery. The trees were ablaze with leaves in variegated shades of fall and the sun was beginning to break through the obscure, bluish haze floating over them.
Guy’s grandmother insisted the mist was the Creator’s breath protecting their people from evil spirits for they knew firsthand how mystical this place truly was and the spiritual connection that tethered them to it. He was inclined to belive her. Guy had lived in the Smoky Mountains his entire life and couldn’t have asked for a greater adventure, nor did he take his experiences for granted. His childhood memories consisted of playing at watering holes, setting traps for rabbits in hollowed-out tree trunks and hunting wild turkeys in the long grassed meadows to slipping into the woods to explore with his best friends and cousins. Guy quietly exhaled and rubbed at his chest, soothing the sentimental ache that was starting to build there. There was no turning back now. A great deal was riding on his recent decision. Besides, he couldn’t even if he wanted to. He’d chosen to follow his heart and it presently resided in Baymoor, Maryland.
Thirty minutes later he reached his destination.
Sparrow Ridge Boundary.
This was the autonomous land his people lived on right outside of the national park. The land that he and Miguel had taken their rites of passage into manhood on. The guard on duty recognized his vehicle. He nodded a greeting and Guy returned the gesture. He cruised by, heading down a tree-lined road and up the hill at the end of it. He topped the angle and kept going until a spacious log cabin came into view. This home was reserved for the most highly respected and revered member who presided over the community, The Elder. The property stretched for days in front of him and featured livestock grazing in the fenced pasture near the woods. Despite the early morning hour, gray tendrils already floated from the cabin’s rock chimney.
Guy hopped out of the truck. A sudden burst of wind rushed him, whipping his black hair around his shoulders. The chill carried the combined scents of woodsmoke, crisp pine, and lingering rain. He shivered and turned into the gust, ducking his chin into the wool scarf wrapped around his neck. Shoving his hands deep into the front pockets of his jeans, he started on the well-worn path to the cabin. Leaves crunched and pine needles snapped beneath his boots, echoing loudly in the morning’s silence. The laurel thickets ahead, past the homestead on the right, rustled loudly at his approach. Birdcalls spliced the air in warning of an unseen threat. Guy smiled, unconcerned that he was being watched. He raised a hand in greeting and received a low rumble in return. It was a sound too deep for anything that walked on two legs but neither a black bear nor a mountain lion which were indigenous to these parts. Yet those apex predators had never dared to venture anywhere near the boundary for the creatures instinctively sensed what Guy’s people had always known.
Sparrow Ridge was unique…special.
There was a living, breathing spirit of perseverance that resided over this territory, its inhabitants, and their descendants, seeping through their skin at birth and catching fire in their blood. It was the very reason they’d fiercely defended the boundary, fighting and spilling blood on both sides to protect the land and keep it.
Suddenly, the cabin door swung open and the residing elder stood in the entrance. He felt the weight of Bellamy Grace’s, or Birdie as she preferred to be called, all-seeing stare. Wise obsidian eyes that were an exact replica of his, simultaneously brightened with jubilation and softened with love. Seeing his grandmother’s reaction caused a boyish smile to curve Guy’s lips. She held his entire heart in her tiny hands. Even if he hadn’t been raised to respect tradition, culture, and family, he’d do absolutely anything in the world for Birdie. She never had to ask or lift a finger with him around and he always made sure she was good.
“There’s the prettiest girl I know!” he greeted her, flinging his arms wide open in invitation.
Birdie wagged a finger at him, smiling. “Pfft! You and that silver tongue of yours! I swear it gets slicker everytime I see you, young Guiles.”
Her moccasins made no sound crossing over the threshold but the carved walking stick in her hand thumped loudly on the porch floorboards as she beelined toward him. He enfolded her petite frame in his arms with a belly laugh, gently rocking her side to side. Comforted by her warmth and familiarity, Guy peered down, carefully studying her face. Traces of their ancestors were evident in Birdie’s fiercely beautiful features and at the young age of eighty-nine, her mostly unlined amber skin gleamed with good health. She was slender, bordering on frail, and her body appeared to be swallowed by the white, flower-sack nightgown she wore and the quilted, fire-star shawl she’d wrapped over it. Her bone-straight tresses, were braided in two plaits that hung down her back. Its two-toned color of white with black streaked through it reminded Guy of the threaded bark on a birch wood tree. She barely came to the center of his chest but what she lacked in size, his grandmother made up in formidability, standing proudly, that powerful gaze of hers burning straight into one’s soul, and making them think thrice about crossing her. Birdie’s no-nonsense voice added to her already intimidating package.
“I thought I sensed a change in the air when I woke up this morning. You’re up early. What gives?” she questioned, angling the side of her face toward him.
Guy smiled at her forthrightness and dropped a kiss on her soft cheek.
“I had some important news, Birdie. The kind that really can’t keep,” he elaborated. “I thought it best to come share with you in person.”
His grandmother stepped back slowly and placed both hands on the top of her cane. Deep insets of concern settled on her brow and the sides of her mouth as she regarded Guy gravely, taking stock of his unusually serious demeanor. Finally, she gave a brisk nod.
“I suspected as much. When I spoke to your mama yesterday, Franny said you’d been actin’ up. Well, I reckon we should get to it then instead of standin’ around, waitin’ for our feet to grow roots.”
Annoyance sparked Guy’s temper and he experienced the beginnings of a headache at the base of his skull. Damn it. His lovable but overbearing mama was interfering in matters that did not concern her again. If there was one thing Franny was continuously guilty of, it would be meddling in his business. With Miguel gone, she was laser focused on Guy, particuarly his love life. To say that she’d been livid upon discovering where his interest had landed was the understatement of the century.
Fern was defintely not his mother’s favorite person.
Well, that all for now! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Stay safe and in good spirits ❤
D. A. Young