Another portion of my first novel The Crooked Path

Buddy leaned back against the oak tree, and Ruthie lay with her head on his lap. He was feeding her grapes when he said, “Now this, baby, is what I would call spoiling someone.” Ruthie closed her eyes and smiled as she replied, “Remember, you told me I haven’t seen nothing yet.” Buddy ran his fingers through her soft brown hair and felt his heart melt. As he looked at her soft ivory skin, he thought, What I have done to be so blessed by God? He knew that she was a gift from the Almighty, and he planned to cherish her for the rest of his living days. Buddy began to wonder what her daddy and mama were like. He knew they had to be special to create someone as beautiful as her. “Tell me about your folks.”
Ruthie wasn’t quick to answer as she felt her heart go back in time. For a brief moment, she thought she could hear her daddy telling her a bedtime story, but she knew it was only a faint memory. She opened her eyes and looked into the eyes of Buddy as she spoke about her daddy. “Daddy was one of the strongest men I’ve ever known, yet he was so very gentle. I remember him working very hard out in the woods, cutting trees, and hauling the timber to the saw mill. From time to time, Mama and I would show up at his job and surprise him with a hot lunch. I can remember the smell of the fresh cut trees as we sat in the woods, enjoying our lunch. After we would eat, he would show me the big stack of timber he and his coworkers had cut that morning. I would always be so fascinated by his big saw. He use to always tell me I was his little tomboy.”
Buddy smiled and said, “I can’t imagine you being a tomboy.” He touched the tip of her nose and whispered, “Go on.”
“But at night, I became his little princess. After he washed up for the evening, he would sit me on his lap, and I would sing every Sunday school song I knew to him. And then we would have family devotions and prayer. My daddy would pray for every person in our family, church, and town. Sometimes, I would fall asleep during prayer. At bedtime, he and Mama would take me to my room and tell me a bedtime story, tuck me in, and give me a kiss good-night on the cheek. But one day, he went to work and got bitten by a deadly spider. I think the doctor said it was a brown recluse spider. He only lived for three weeks after the bite.” She could feel tears running down her cheek and felt her breath catch in her throat as she said, “I miss Daddy, so much.”
Buddy wiped her tears with his calloused hands and said, “I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean for ya to cry.”
“Oh, no, it’s okay . . . It’s a good cry. Mama always said it was the good Lord’s time to take him home, but I think she was only trying to convince herself. After Daddy’s death, Mama slipped into her own world for a while. She somehow managed to take care of me, but she wasn’t the same. It was like a part of her died with him, but one bright sunny spring morning, she came out of her bedroom with a big smile on her face and said, ‘Ruthie come on honey, we’re going fishing.’ I ran into her arms, and she held me tight for what seemed to be forever. Sometimes, I can still feel her hugs.”
“You miss her, don’t ya?”
Ruthie was silent for a bit before she replied, “Yes, I miss her, but I understand her more now than ever. I now understand how she could love Daddy so deeply.” Ruthie looked deep into Buddy’s sea green eyes and could see love radiate from his heart. He continued to run his fingers through her hair as he looked into her heart, and oh, how he wanted to tell her that he loved her. But he just couldn’t seem to open his mouth, so he allowed his eyes to say everything he desired to say. “Tell me more about her.” He knew he was stepping into a territory that would be difficult for him because his pop lived such a hypocritical life.
“My mama is like a beautiful rose. It’s almost like she’s perfect. Oh, I know she must have some hidden flaws, but she never lets me see them. I use to think she was hard on me, but I know now she was only trying to look out for me. In my opinion, she is the world’s best preacher. I can only hope that one day, you will get to hear her preach. I know she would love you. She use to say, ‘Now, Ruthie, you don’t have to go chasing after love. It will come knocking at your hearts door in the good Lord’s timing.’ Which is exactly what happened. You came knocking at my heart one cool fall evening.”
Oh, how Buddy wanted to kiss her, but instead, he traced her lips with his fingers and whispered, “Tell me more about her.”
Ruthie longed to be kissed by Buddy. Yes, her body craved his touch like a child craved the touch of a mama. She thought his skin to be flawless, his eyes to be exotic, and his body to be perfect. Thank You, God, for giving me this man, she prayed silently. Ruthie spoke just above a whisper, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. There you have it. That pretty much describes my mama. I only hope she finds true love again. You know, like we have. I think I know of a man that goes to Mama’s church that has his eye on her. His name is David Fisher, and I believe he would be real good for Mama. She deserves happiness. After all, she is only thirty-seven. That’s still pretty young, and my mama is a very beautiful woman.”
“If she looks anything like her daughter, I’m sure she is very beautiful. That sounds like a Bible verse you quoted.”
“It is.”
“Which one?”
“1 Corinthians 13:4-7, also known as the love chapter.”
“Wow, I’m impressed that you know it by memory.”
“Why? I mean, my mama is after all a woman of God. We studied the Bible together often, and when I was a child, my parents would reward me for every Bible verse I memorized.”
“So your mama really is a true woman of God, isn’t she?”
“Yes, she is a true woman of God. She walks the walk and talks the talk. In fact, she was teaching a ladies’ Bible study on the exact verses I quoted to you when I left. I’m sure she’s completed it by now. I love her with all my heart, but not the same way I love you.” There was complete silence for a long while, and then Ruthie said, “So tell me about your folks.”
Buddy sat up a little straighter and deeply breathed in as he felt his heart rate speed up. He didn’t want to travel down memory lane, but he knew it was time to talk to her about his family. “There’s not really much to tell, I mean, my childhood doesn’t even come close to compare to yours.”
Ruthie replied, “I’m not trying to compare our childhood. I just want to know more about you, I mean, if I’m going to be living near your folks, I would at least like to know more about them.” Ruthie could tell that talking about his family was difficult for him, and it broke her heart to see him struggle, so she went on to say, “We can always wait until another time for you to tell me about your folks . . . if you want.”
He took her hand in his and spoke from the very depths of his heart, “No, baby, I want ya to know everything about me.” He thought, I’ll start with Mox and then tell her as little as possible about Pop.
“I have called my mom mox for as long as I can remember. My mox said I was not even two when I gave her the nickname Mox. She is one of the most beautiful women in the world.” He brushed his hand across Ruthie’s face and said, “Notice I said one of the most beautiful women . . . You are the most beautiful woman on the face of this earth.” She blushed and whispered, “Thank you, kind gentleman.”
“She pretty much raised me by herself, and I never once heard her complain. She’s a strong Christian woman and raised me in church. She read the Bible to me every night and said bedtime prayers with me until I felt I was too old for that sort of stuff. She never raised her voice at me, nor did she speak a harsh word. She taught good moral values and that God had a perfect plan for me. She never judged my friends and was known for feedin’ them good home-cooked meals. She would give her last dime to a person in need. She worked two jobs to make sure I had a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my back. She loves me unconditionally, and I know she prays for me daily. She put up with Pop until the day he walked out on us, and she refused to file for a divorce. As far as I know, they are still married, and he’s been gone for more years than I can remember. She’s Uncle Joe’s little sister, and they use to be real close until Pop came into the equation. Pop moved her to St. Louis before I was born, and I guess she decided to stay because of her jobs. I know she will love you. In fact, I can see the two of you becomin’ very close which makes me feel proud . . . in a good sort of way. She keeps a clean house and is the world’s greatest cook.”
“Wow, she sounds a lot like Mama.” Ruthie said.
“Ya think?”
“Yes, I do, and I’m sure they will get along . . . when they finally meet.” Ruthie replied.
“Yeah, right, I’m sure they will.” Buddy whispered.
“I felt certain you were raised in a Christian home,” Ruthie said.
“How could ya tell?”
“I don’t really know for sure. I guess I could see it in your eyes and feel it radiate from your heart,” Ruthie said just above a whisper
“You’re sweet . . . Have I told that lately?” Buddy replied.
“No.”
“Well, you are.”
Ruthie squeezed his hand and replied, “Thank you. Now tell me more about your pop. Please.”
“Well, there’s not really much to tell other than the fact that he’s the world’s biggest hypocrite.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“What I mean is, he called himself a preacher, but I watched him live a lie. He treated Moxs awful and deceived a whole lot of people. He couldn’t deceive me. I saw right through the ol’ guy. He would use the offerings to buy his booze and ran around with the piano player. He’s the reason why Mox had to work at that sweat sewing factor. She claims she’s been there for too many years to quit. I don’t know, I keep tryin’ to convince her that I would take care of her. I send her money every time I get paid. Knowin’ her, she’s probably saving every penny, so she can give it all back to me when I move back home, or should I say when we move home.”
Calling St. Louis home didn’t set well for Ruthie. After all, Williamsville had always been her home. I guess I need to get use to calling St. Louis home . . . at least I’ll be with Buddy and out of dodge, but what about Mama. “If you would rather not talk about your pop, we don’t have to.” Ruthie said.
“I really don’t have anything else to say. I mean, I don’t know the man, and I sure don’t have any good childhood memories about him.”
Ruthie set up and sat as close as she could to Buddy, and he instinctively put his arm around her. She whispered in his ear, “Tell about Eleanor.”
Buddy laughed out loud and replied, “She’s a joke.”
“Come on, Buddy, what happened between her and Uncle Joe?”
“She used my uncle and robbed him of everything he had. Most of all, she broke his heart into thousands of pieces. The poor guy hasn’t been the same since she ran off on him. She most likely ran off with another man. Trust me, she didn’t leave all of her personal belongings because she wanted to. She most likely didn’t have room to put it all in the car she stole from my uncle. I guess maybe the Lord knew you would need those clothes.” He rubbed the side of her arm, and she giggled as she spoke, “I guess so.” She reached over and picked a wild flower and smelled it. He looked at her and said, “You’re my little wild flower, and God picked you just for me.”
She started pulling each petal off as she softly spoke, “He loves me, he loves me not.” Buddy watched her get to the very last petal. “He—”
Buddy stopped her by saying; “Ruthie, I love you.” He pulled her unto his lap and said it over and over again before he softly kissed her cheek. He heard her breath catch in her throat as he slowly kissed the corner of her mouth. She moaned, and he could feel his heart slam against his chest and everything within him was crying out for more of her. He wanted all of her. He could feel her arms tighten around him, and she ran her fingers up and down his back and then through his hair. He lightly brushed his lips across hers and then allowed their hearts to intertwine as he deepened the kiss, and oh, how she responded by kissing back with so much love and passion. The passion was growing so strong between them that he knew he had to pull away. He didn’t want to go too far. He wanted to wait until their wedding night before taking all of her. Even though his body was in pain for more of her, he forced himself to have self-control. He looked deep unto her eyes, and what he saw only made him love her that much more if that were possible. His Ruthie was crying tears of love, and she spoke with a shaky voice, “Why are you stopping? Wasn’t I kissing right?”
Buddy softly laughed and said, “Oh, baby, you were kissin’ me just right which is why I had to stop. I plan for our relationship to be right in the eyes of God.” She gave him a puzzled look and asked, “What do you mean?” He smiled and said, “What I mean is we will wait until our wedding night before giving ourselves completely to each other. That’s if you will marry me?”
“Why Buddy Nelson, is that a proposal?”
He smiled and said, “Ruthie Cox, will you do me the honors of becoming my bride and taking my name until death do us part?”
She let out a loud squeal and replied, “Yes, yes, I will become your bride and be proud to take your name until death do us part.”
He kissed her again and said, “I have an idea, why don’t we go back and freshen up, and then come back here this evening to lay under the stars for a while? We can leave the blanket here. I’ll get the cooler so I can restock it with some sodas and fruit. I might feed ya some grapes while we lay under the stars.” He wiggled his eyebrows and smiled at her, and she willing took his hand. They both walked hand in hand back to the house in a comfortable silence

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