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Joy's Legacy Chapters 21-22

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CHAPTER 21

 

The water was cold and the sound deafening as the rain and hail hit

the lake around Joy. The sky had gone black with the sun nowhere to

be seen, and as she slipped back into the water it was almost as

dark as it had been when she had gotten stuck in the elevator.

 

Joy struggled to go back up for air, her face barely clearing the

surface. “Help!” She yelled as loud as she could. The only response

that she heard was of loud thunder and the roaring rain before the

milfoil that had her trapped pulled her down again.

 

 

Jack looked out the cabin’s window, a look of concern on his face.

Luke and Victoria had both fallen asleep, and he was glad that they

didn’t seem bothered by the storm. The twins woke up and he took

care of them, looking out the window time and time again for Joy.

They were now lying contentedly on his bed, staring at the ceiling.

 

He went out, got some wood and started a fire in the fireplace,

knowing that Joy would be soaked when she returned. He put water on

to heat, hoping that she would be back soon. He pulled a towel from

one of his boxes, and set it near the door, ready to be used when

Joy arrived. He peered expectantly through the window once more, and

was disappointed to not see her coming.

 

Jack looked through the stuff that she had brought, and was happy to

discover that she had packed some tea. At least now she would be

able to have some flavor in the hot water, he thought.

 

He saw another lightning strike through the corner of his eye,

lightning up the sky. Maybe she stayed at the house, Jack hoped. He

knew that it was dangerous to be out on the water in a thunderstorm,

and didn’t want to think of what could happen to her.

 

Jack sighed and put his hands on the counter, lowering his head.

“Lord,” he prayed softly, “please protect her!” His heart was

racing, and his gut told him she was in trouble. He walked over to

the fireplace and poked it, making sure it kept the cabin warm. The

temperature had taken a remarkable drop, but that wasn’t uncommon

for this far up North.

 

He checked on each of the four kids, and made sure that they all had

blankets on them, keeping the chill off. The twins had fallen asleep

on their own with out crying, much to Jack’s amazement and relief.

 

 

Joy kept struggling to get free from the milfoil and get another

breath of air. Her lungs were getting tired as was the rest of her

body, and she felt that she was losing the fight.

 

“Joy.”

 

Joy shook her head and kept struggling in the dark. She recognized

the voice inside her head, as she had heard it many times before.

She refused to listen.

 

“Joy, relax.”

 

No! She wanted to shout. Joy was able to come up just enough to get

some air, but not enough to call out for help again. It seemed that

the time she went underwater was longer than the time she spent

outside, and she was beginning to feel weak.

 

“Joy,” the voice said again, “trust Me. Relax.”

 

I don’t trust you! I can’t! You let Dave die! Joy shook her head

under the water again, determined to win this fight by herself.

 

“You cannot do this without Me, Joy. Relax.”

 

Joy could feel the tears of frustration coming down her cheeks, even

in the water. But I’ll die!

 

“Trust Me,” came back His reply.

 

Joy finally gave in allowing herself to relax, sinking deeper into

the water. At the same time, the milfoil around her released its

grasp. As she realized what was happening, she calmly, but quickly,

took the milfoil off her arms and legs, freeing herself to go back

up for air.

 

As she reached the surface, her lungs received the much-needed air

that she had been deprived of. She looked around for the canoe and

swam to it, careful not to get caught again. She wrapped her arms

around it, glad to have a place to rest, even in the middle of the

storm.

 

Joy allowed herself to float for what seemed to be for hours, when

in fact it was just a few minutes. She cried her heart out to God,

her Maker, her Savior, and Friend. She allowed the tears to run

freely, glad to know that God was indeed on her side. She would

probably never understand why Dave had had to die, but she would

trust that God would use it for His purposes. She determined that

she would also allow Him to use her life for the same thing. What

had Dave prayed for that last time they were together? That above

all, for God to be glorified and for His will to be done in their

lives, whatever that may be. She closed her eyes and as the tears

continued to flow freely, she made Dave’s prayer her own, feeling

the peace of God, the one that passes all understanding, flooding

her heart once more.

 

 

Jack almost jumped when he saw Joy coming. He opened the door and

stepped out onto the porch as she ran through the rain, her clothes

cold against her body. He held out the towel he had prepared for her

and wrapped it around her shoulders.

 

“Are you ok?” He asked, leading her back inside to the warmth of the

fire.

 

“Yes,” she replied quietly, her eyes filled with joy, “I am now.”

 

Jack smiled down at her, relieved that she was ok. “I want to know

what happened, but you need to get out of those clothes, or you’re

going to catch yourself a cold.”

 

“But I didn’t bring any extra, and I’d really rather not go back out

in the rain.” She responded.

 

“Well, I guess you’ll just have to use some of mine. I’m sorry, Joy.

I should have known the storm was coming with the humidity being so

high.” He said as he pulled out a pair of clean sweatpants and a

t-shirt. “Here, put these on. They’ll probably be a little big, but

it’s the best I’ve got”

 

Joy nodded gratefully and took the clothes. She closed the door to

his bedroom behind her and quickly changed into the dry clothes,

appreciating the warmth they brought to her cold body. Joy picked up

all of her clothes and placed them near the fire to dry, except for

her undergarments.

 

Jack handed her a cup of tea and made her sit near the fire, putting

a light blanket around her shoulders. He took a chair and turned it

around, crossing his arms on the back, resting his chin on his

hands. He looked at her expectantly, waiting to hear what she had to

say.

 

“Where are the kids?” Joy asked, taking a sip of the hot tea.

 

Jack nodded towards Luke’s room, and Joy could see them through the

halfway opened door. Luke was sprawled out across the floor and

Victoria was lying on the bed that she had just made that day for

Luke. It almost seemed like a lifetime ago to Joy, and the scene of

her daughter sleeping peacefully made her smile.

 

“I had a fight with God, Jack.” She stated simply.

 

Jack raised his eyebrows and nodded, encouraging her to go on.

 

“He won.” She smiled. “And I’m glad He did, or I’d probably be dead

right now, meeting Him in person, trying to explain why I was

holding such a grudge against Him.”

 

Joy related the events that had happen, going into details about how

she had finally allowed God to enter her life once more. Jack

listened intently, his eyes never leaving her face, not wanting to

miss a word.

 

Tears formed in her eyes again as she retold of her struggle in the

water. “Once I gave in to God and relaxed,” she said, “I remembered

seeing something in the news about a guy drowning because he had

panicked under water. The more he tried to free himself, the more he

got tangled up. They told the viewers that if they were ever in a

similar situation, that they should just relax and calmly take the

milfoil off So I did, and here I am.”

 

Jack let out a deep breath and smiled at her. “Well, I’m so glad you

are ok,” he stated simply.

 

Joy smiled back. “Thanks Jack. And Jack,” she paused, not quite

knowing what to say next.

 

Jack looked at her with the same intensity he had before, wanting

her to know that he was still available to listen.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“For this?” he asked, a little confused. “You would have done the

same for me.”

 

Joy nodded. “Yes, for this,” she said, nodding at the fire. “But

also for being my friend. I treated you so badly the day we met, and

I’ve felt horrible about it since then. Will you forgive me?”

 

Jack smiled at her, making her relax. “Of course I will. I’m sorry

for assuming that you were in trouble. It’s just that that man,

Simon, gives me the creeps.”

 

“I was in trouble,” Joy confessed. “I was just too proud to take any

help. By the way, Simon was at your barn today, while I was there.”

 

“What?” Jack asked surprised. “Why would he be there?”

 

Joy recounted what she had seen, and was surprised at the troubled

look that came over his eyes.

 

“And you say he had a piece of paper?” Jack asked, the sound of his

voice matching his eyes.

 

Joy nodded and stood up, leaving the blanket behind. “You think

about that and I’ll get supper started.” She said, patting his

shoulder as she walked by him.

 

“Are you sure you are ok now?” He asked her, concern still in his

voice.

 

“Positive.” She replied, pulling out what she had prepared the day

before. It was all ready to just put together so that it would still

be fresh.

 

She busied herself preparing the spaghetti and warming the French

bread she had made. She put the salad together and soon the cabin

was filled with the wonderful smell of the tomatoes, together with

all the other spices. She hummed as she worked, oblivious to the

fact that she was doing so.

 

As Joy worked on the meal, Jack helped by setting the table. He

couldn’t help but notice her humming, and was pleasantly surprised

at the sound of her voice. He looked up to watch her, and stood

there almost entranced at her beauty. She was beautiful on the

outside, but the beauty that Jack was witnessing came from deep

within her heart. He worked quietly, not wanting to miss hearing her

voice.

 

Joy washed her hands and came to join him, putting glasses and

silverware on the table. Jack reached to take some of the

silverware, and their hands touched, making Joy blush. She turned

away quickly so that Jack wouldn’t notice, not wanting to think

about the feelings that were arising in her.

 

Soon Luke and Victoria woke up, and joined the adults in the main

room. Then the babies awoke too, and Jack offered to watch the kids

and keep an eye on the meal while she took care of them.

 

Joy took each baby and took care of them, feeling like she was doing

it for the first time. She was still a little week from struggling

in the water, but she felt fresh, like she had a new lease on life.

After she put Victor down, she paused and pulled her hair out of the

braid she had made earlier in the morning, allowing her hair to

cascade down over her shoulders. She figured that this would allow

it some time to dry, and laughed when Grace grabbed hold of a lock

of hair tightly.

 

After Joy was done taking care of the babies, she gave Grace to

Jack, and laid Victor on the bed. She got the food on the table, and

after Jack gave thanks for the meal, she went to pick up Victor, and

they all ate their meal, Jack and Joy with a baby each. The kids

enjoyed slurping the noodles, and Jack and Joy enjoyed laughing at

them.

 

The rain had stopped and the clouds had moved on. The sun was

shinning bright again, and Jack allowed the fire to die. After they

were done with supper, Joy put the babies down for one more nap

before they were put down for the night. Jack and the kids cleared

the table, and as Joy washed the dishes, they enjoyed a game of

Candy Land that Joy had brought over.

 

Joy laughed with the kids as Jack pretended to be in deep sorrow

over loosing the game. The kids asked to play another game, and then

another, until Joy finally said it was time for her and Victoria to

go home.

 

“But I don’t want to go home!” Victoria whined.

 

“Well, we’ll see Luke and Dr. Jack again tomorrow, ok? They are

going to come over to our place to the party that Auntie Bethany is

preparing.” Joy said, gathering some things to take back.

 

“A party? Yeah! Luke, do you want to come over to my house tomorrow

for a party?” She asked excitedly, jumping up and down.

 

Luke nodded, but didn’t exactly mirror her enthusiasm. “Dr. Jack, do

you want to come over too?” She asked, still excited.

 

“I sure do!” He exclaimed.

 

“But, who will take care of the babies then?” She asked, her eyes

clouding over.

 

Jack and Joy laughed, and Jack responded. “Don’t worry. They’ll be

there too!”

 

Joy knelt and gave Luke a hug. “Good night, Luke, I’ll see you

tomorrow.” She said, kissing his cheek lightly. In the few days that

she had really gotten to know him, Joy had grown attached to the

little boy.

 

Luke looked down, a little embarrassed that a girl had kissed him.

“Good night,” he replied quietly.

 

Joy smiled and stood up. “Good night, Jack.”

 

“’Night, Joy.” Jack replied, feeling a little awkward. Should he hug

her too, he wondered?

 

He didn’t wonder for long as Joy reached up and gave him a quick

hug. “Thanks for listening,” she whispered in his ear before turning

to go.

 

He smiled at her and held the door open for them. She was still

wearing his clothes, and had taken all of hers so that she could

wash them once she got home.

 

Jack and Luke watched as Joy and Victoria made their way back to

their home, following them as far as they could with their eyes.

 

Luke turned to look at Jack, and put his little hand in his big one.

“I like her,” he said softly, looking back out the window.

 

“Who, Victoria?” Jack asked, turning to look at him.

 

Luke shook his head. “Miss Joy.”

 

 

Joy and Victoria made their way back to the farmhouse and were met

at the porch by Liz, Bethany and Ann, worried looks on their faces.

 

“Joy! Are you ok? We were worried about you!” Liz said giving her a

hug, and then bending down and giving Victoria one.

 

“We’re fine,” Joy reassured everyone. “I do have a story to tell,

though” she said, her eyes shinning.

 

“Why are you wearing Jack’s clothes?” Bethany asked accusingly.

 

“I’ll tell you all inside,” Joy responded. Not even Bethany could

take away the joy she felt in her heart now.

 

They all went into the house, and Joy allowed Victoria to play in

her room while she and the other adults talked about her experiences

of the day. They were all thankful that she was all right, but Joy

noticed that there was even a deeper satisfaction in Ed’s smile, and

she knew that it was because he was rejoicing in the fact that she

had returned to the Lord.

 

They spent the evening talking and catching up on all the events of

the day. Bethany announced the plans for the next day, and Joy was

happy to hear that it involved some games and outdoor activities, if

the weather cooperated, of course.

 

Joy took another long bath that night, but this time put a towel

over the window. She spent time talking with the Friend that she had

ignored for so long, thanking Him for His hand of protection on her

life.

 

The next day started out a little later than usual, with everyone

sleeping in, even Ed. Soon the hustle and bustle of the activities

started, and Joy and Victoria joined in. Victoria played with her

second cousins outside while Joy helped in the kitchen, getting

breakfast ready and putting in some pies to bake.

 

Jack, Luke and the twins soon joined them, and he came into the

kitchen to see if he could help, only to be told to wait outside

with the rest of the men.

 

They all enjoyed their breakfast outside, after Ed had given thanks.

Joy had not been too excited about the “party day”, but it was

turning out to be a lot of fun. After the dishes were done, she

followed the ladies outside to see what Bethany had planned for

them. They played a bunch of games, some even childish, but they had

a lot of fun. Joy laughed like she hadn’t in a long time, even when

Jack and Bethany’s team won at tug of war, sending her team through

the mud.

 

After lunch Bethany made the announcement that there was going to be

a co-ed game of Tackle Football for whoever was interested. Everyone

decided to join, except for the older and younger crowd, aside from

Linda offering to referee. Bethany assigned teams, trying to make it

fair. Jack and Joy again were on opposite sides, but Joy failed to

see that Bethany made sure that she and Jack were on the same one.

When Bethany came to Joy to let her know what team she was going to

be on, she laughed at her quietly, and then teased her that this

would maybe prove to be to tough of a game for her.

 

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll break a nail?” She asked sinisterly. “It’s

bound to get rough, maybe you shouldn’t play.” Bethany laughed and

glanced at Jack for approval, who was oblivious of what was

happening.

 

Joy tilted her head slightly and raised her eyebrows. “Bring it on!”

she yelled in the best macho voice she could come up with, clenching

her fists near her sides.

 

Bethany went over the rules quickly, making sure that everyone knew

that they had to count to five Mississippi before rushing the

quarterback for each team. Seth was the quarterback for Joy’s team,

and Jack had been assigned as the quarterback for his team.

 

A few minutes into the game, Joy’s team had the ball and they were

close to scoring a touchdown. In the huddle, Seth called a play for

Roger and Joy to go out for a pass. He told them that he expected

they would cover Roger and let Joy go free. “Be ready, Joy,” he

said, “I’m going to look for you first.” When the ball was snapped,

the other team yelled their five Mississippi’s and Seth dropped back

to pass. He saw that Joy was open and threw the ball to her. She was

excited when she caught the ball, only for her face to drop when she

saw Juan and Jack running towards her, followed close behind by

Bethany.

 

She ran for all she was worth, laughing hard as she went. She knew

that the other team was not too far behind and she wanted

desperately to turn and see how far they were, but knew that it was

probably going to cost her. So she kept running, the ball tucked

tightly in her arms. Jack did catch up with her, and tumbled her to

the ground, his body halfway landing on hers.

 

She turned to see who it was, and grinned when she realized it was

Jack. “Fooled ya, didn’t we?”

 

Jack smiled at her, aware of her closeness and the sweet smell of

her perfume. He looked at her eyes intently, wondering why they were

greener today than they had been the other day, and why he had even

noticed. He shook his head, more to clear it than anything, then

stood up and held his hand out to help her up. “You sure did,” he

mumbled as she took his hand “you sure did.”

 

Joy’s team came running and gathered around her. “Joy! You did it!

We got our first touchdown!” Roger held her hand up in triumph. They

cheered, but it would soon prove to be premature. Jack’s team proved

to be too much and too fast, and Joy knew they would probably lose

the game. She was not too competitive, but had gotten in the spirit

of the sport, and really wanted her team to win.

 

Jack’s team had the ball, and they all took their places, getting

ready to make their play. Jack called out the snap count and Juan

hiked the ball to him. Joy’s team started to count loud enough for

all of them to hear.

 

“One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…” Joy joined them, but then at the

last minute changed her mind, skipping the counting and rushing

Jack, taking him by surprise. She wrapped her arms around his waist

and turned him around, finally wrestling him onto the ground before

he was able to throw the ball. Joy stood up quickly and laughed as

Jack struggled to get up, trying to figure out if he had missed

something.

 

Jack realized what had happened, and went after Joy, making her run

for all her might when she saw him coming for her. He was too fast

for her, though, and soon caught up, putting his arms around her

waist from the back and picking her off the ground.

 

“You little cheater,” He laughed, swinging her around in the air.

 

He finally put her down and everyone laughed as she walked around a

little dizzy, trying to find her footing. Jack laughed and held her

steady, hoping that he hadn’t over done it. Everyone soon joined

them, and Bethany declared the game won by her team, due to Joy’s

cheating and the fact that they were five touchdowns ahead. The game

died down, with everyone wanting to get a bit of rest before they

went on to other things.

 

Joy walked back with the others to the porch, where some of the

older crowd was playing dominoes. She was surprised that Mr. Bodaway

was there, playing with them.

 

“Hello, Miss Joy. How are you today?” He asked with a big smile.

 

“Good, Mr. Bodaway, and you?” She answered with a smile of her own.

 

“Good, thank you. I came by to invite all of you to a party the

Reservation is holding tonight, hoping that you aren’t too tired

after all the playing you have done today.”

 

Joy nodded looking at her dad. “Are we going to go?” She wondered.

None of them had been back to the Reservation since the last meeting

they had had there. Joy thought it might be fun, and was excited at

the prospect of going.

 

“Yes, I think so,” Ed replied, much to both Mr. Bodaway and Joy’s

delight.

 

“Good!” Joy said, leaning in to give her dad a kiss. “I’m going to

take the paddle boat and go swimming, ok? Victoria and Luke are

outside, and Aunt Linda is taking care of the babies, so they should

be ok. I’ll be back later to help with supper. Send someone to get

me if I’m taking too long, I promise I won’t go far.”

 

Joy’s started blushing as she realized that she had assumed that

Jack’s kids were her responsibility. She was grateful that the two

men didn’t seem to notice, but Joy caught the look of concern in her

dad’s eyes.

 

“After yesterday? Are you sure, Joy?” He asked her.

 

Joy nodded her head firmly. “Yes. I’m getting back on the horse dad!

I promise to be careful, ok?”

 

“Ok. But I’m sending someone out looking for you from time to time

to make sure you are ok.” He replied, his voice serious.

 

“Ok, Dad. And I will be careful. I promise.”

 

Joy made her way back into her bedroom where she put her swimming

suit on, and pulled a pair of shorts on over it. She made her way

down to the paddleboat, this time putting on a life jacket. She went

into the lake, enjoying the warm breeze, marveling at the difference

in the weather from one day to the next. It had been just yesterday

that Jack had had to have the fire going to keep her warm, and here

she was, swimming again in the lake. This time she was thankful that

she had a lifejacket on, just in case. Joy had seen Allen coming to

check on her while she was out swimming, and had waved to let him

know that she was ok.

 

After she had swam for a while, she went back to the paddleboat and

paddled to the dock. She tied it back onto the dock and left the

life jacket there, taking her towel and shorts with her. She walked

to a small sandy beach, surrounded by the trees and spread out her

towel, lying down on it and enjoying the sun.

 

She was close enough to the others to hear their voices, and yet far

enough to be able to relax. She closed her eyes for a while, glad

that she was able to enjoy some time alone.

 

“Joy? Joy!” Joy heard Allen calling for her.

 

“I’m over here!” She yelled, standing up and picking up her towel.

As she bent over, she heard a noise through the trees and looked up.

Standing there, behind one of the trees was Simon Little. He smiled

at her, not taking his eyes off of her, then turned and walked away.

 

“Allen!” Joy yelled, running to where she had heard Allen’s voice

last.

 

She finally met up with him, her hands shaking. “Are you ok?” Allen

asked her, helping her climb over some bushes.

 

Joy nodded her head, not wanting to worry him. At only fifteen years

old, Allen seemed to be a lot more mature for his age. She had found

him to not only be a fun companion, but a faithful friend as well.

Joy knew that she should probably tell him about the incident, but

he interrupted her thoughts.

 

“Grandpa says that we need to get ready for the party. I’m going to

wear my cowboy hat.” He said proudly.

 

“You brought it?” Joy asked and then laughed as he nodded. “Well, I

think you’ll fit right in, then!”

 

They laughed as they made their way back to the house, arm in arm.

Once there Joy discovered that Jack had gone to Seth’s place to

shower and get ready there, and had taken his kids with him. Part of

her was disappointed, but she focused on getting herself ready for

the party. She took her turn in the shower, glad to see that her

sisters had already showered and were getting ready in Joy’s room.

Liz had given Victoria a bath, and they were helping her get pretty

for the event as well.

 

After they were all ready, they climbed up on a horse drawn wagon

that was normally used for hayrides in the fall. They all sang and

clapped, enjoying each other’s company. Bethany wasn’t with them

either, since she had gone to Seth’s as well, and instead they had

John. He and Allen led the group in singing, laughing along the way

until they got there.

 

Once at the party, Joy heard the sound of music, and saw lights all

around the center of the town. At first she was confused, but then

figured out that they were using generators. The food smelled

wonderful, and the ambiance was very nice. All the men seemed to be

wearing western clothing, while all the women were dressed in pretty

dresses.

 

The music that was playing was mostly country. Joy had never danced

country, or danced much at all, but gave in when Allen pleaded with

her to dance with him. And he sure knew how to dance! He gave her a

few tips before they sat back down, only for him to pull her back up

a few minutes later when they all started line dancing. Most of her

family joined in on this one except Ed and Liz, who where content

sitting back and watching everyone else.

 

 

Seth and those with him finally arrived at the party in time to join

the line dancing. Linda had again offered to baby-sit the twins, but

they had brought them to Mr. Bodaway’s home so that they wouldn’t be

alone at Seth’s. Jack and Luke joined the dancing right away,

followed by Bethany. She made sure she stayed close to Jack, with

the excuse of learning how to dance.

 

Jack felt very uncomfortable. She had sat next to him on the way to

the party, and had about landed on his lap when they went over a

bump. He had moved over to give her some space, but she had slowly

inched herself towards him again. When they got to the party,

instead of taking his hand that he had offered her to get down, she

put her two hands on his shoulders and jumped down, making him

almost loose his balance. She had looked up to him with the same

expectation again in her eyes, but he still couldn’t read what she

was trying to tell him.

 

After the line dancing ended, the crowd dispersed, allowing those

who stayed to dance for the next song to have some space. Joy was

making her way back to the table her family was at when someone

pulled her hand back and jerked her around.

 

Simon gathered Joy into his arms, holding her close for the slow

song. Joy could smell the liquor on his rancid breath and tried

desperately to pull away.

 

“Ah, come on, darlin’! Let’s dance!” He sneered, allowing his hand

to go further down her back.

 

“Knock it off, Simon!” Joy said in a loud voice. “Get your hands off

of me!”

 

Simon lifted his head back and laughed as he danced her further away

from the people, his hands holding her tight.

 

--------------------

 

 

CHAPTER 22

 

 

“I believe the lady said to let her go,” a voice behind Joy said.

Joy looked over her shoulder and was relieved to see Jack standing

there. She didn’t care what he thought of her at this point, she

needed his help!

 

“Jack!” Both Joy and Simon said at the same time, although the tone

of their voice was definitely different.

 

“Look, Jack, I got to her first. You are just going to have to wait

your turn, and that won’t be until my turn is over.” Simon said,

then turned away and spit, still holding on tight to Joy.

 

“Well, it sounds as though she thinks your turn is done, so back

off. If you don’t, I will certainly be glad to make you.” Jack said,

grabbing Joy’s arm gently and one of Simon’s arms not so gently.

 

Simon lifted his hands and backed away, shaking his head. “Now, now,

Jack. Nothin’ to git upset about. Soon we will all be on level

playin’ field, and we’ll see who comes out on top then!”

 

Jack looked at him a little confused, but didn’t let go of Joy’s

arm. “Well you just make sure you stay away from her, do you hear?

If I see you bothering her, or any of the other ladies here, you’ll

have me to answer to.”

 

Simon spat again and looked at Jack with hate-filled eyes. “Don’t

mess with me, Doc. I swear I will have her if it’s the last thing I

do. Mark my words, one way or another, she’ll be mine!”

 

“What’s going on here?” Andrew Atsidi, the chief of police, asked.

“Are you in trouble Ma’am?”

 

“No trouble, Officer. Jack here just couldn’t wait his turn to dance

with the lady. But that’s all right! I have a forgivin’ heart. We’ll

all get our chance soon enough, right?” Simon said as he winked at

Andrew and laughed again, sending chills up and down Joy’s back.

 

“I’m fine, now, thank you,” Joy answered, scowling at Simon as he

walked away.

 

“Alright, then. Jack. Ma’am,” Andrew said, tipping his hat and

making his way back to the dance floor.

 

“Are you really ok, Joy?” Jack asked, his eyes searching her face

for any clues of how she was feeling. He was afraid that she might

get angry with him again for intervening, but was more concerned

about her well being than anything.

 

“Yes, I am. Thank you for helping me, Jack. I won’t be as foolish as

I was the last time and yell at you for helping me. I’m not sure

what he would have done if you hadn’t come along. Now, if you would

be so kind as to let go of my arm, maybe I could get some feeling

back in to it.”

 

Joy grinned at the look on Jack’s face when he realized that he had

not let go of her arm yet. He let go immediately, embarrassed that

he had held on so long.

 

“I’m sorry, Joy,” he said quietly, looking down at his feet. “I

didn’t realize, I hope I didn’t, I mean I…”

 

Joy laughed and locked her arm in his, leading him back to the dance

floor. “Come and teach me how to cowboy dance, Jack.” When he

hesitated, she pulled on his hand with both of her hands, smiling

and batting her eyelashes as big as she could. “Please?” she teased.

 

Jack smiled and gave in, pulling her closer to him to dance. “I

haven’t danced in years,” he admitted to Joy.

 

Joy smiled up at him and responded, but Jack didn’t hear her over

the music. He leaned his head closer to her, waiting for her to

repeat what she has just said.

 

“I said you could have fooled me!” Joy responded and laughed when

she stepped on his foot. “I’m sorry!”

 

Jack laughed too, and tuned her around like a ballerina. “You are a

dangerous woman, Joy. Not sure I’d trust my feet around you!”

 

Joy gave him a playful shove with her hips, laughing when he

overcompensated for it. They continued dancing until the music

stopped, and they waited for the next song to be played. Jack looked

at Joy, wondering if they were done.

 

“Do you want to keep dancing?” Jack asked, wondering if he wanted to

himself. Something about Joy deeply moved him, and yet he refused to

allow himself to look at her as anything other than a friend. The

encounter with Simon had stirred some deep emotions in him that he

hadn’t felt in a long time, and he had to fight himself from wanting

to pound the guy for even looking at her, let alone touching her.

 

Joy looked up at him and nodded eagerly, fully enjoying the dance.

“I’ve never danced this much in my life,” she said excitedly, her

eyes shining in the dark.

 

Jack reached over and put his hand on her waist, noticing her

stunning figure as she drew closer to him when the music started. It

was a slow song, and Joy felt her cheeks growing warm at the touch

of his hands. She turned her face from him as she reached her hand

up to his shoulder, feeling the strength of his arm, and allowed him

to lead her around the dance floor. Jack was quite a bit taller than

she was, and she felt almost powerless in his arms. She was glad

that it hadn’t been him that had threatened her, or she really

wouldn’t have stood a chance.

 

Jack looked down at Joy, disturbed by her beauty. Her eyes were

shining and her hair was gleaming in the lights, making her face the

most beautiful sight he had ever seen. She looked up at him and

smiled, her lips full and tempting, and for a moment, he felt like

it was just the two of them dancing under all the lights and

candles.

 

It was only for a moment, though. Jack’s eyes went past Joy to

someone standing behind her, his face showing a little concern.

 

“Hey, can a girl cut in?” Bethany asked, tapping on Joy’s shoulder.

 

Joy looked back at Bethany and blushed, feeling as though she had

been caught. “Um, yes, of course. That is, if Jack’s okay with it. I

mean he’d be the one doing the dancing.”

 

Joy took a couple of steps back, embarrassed to now be left standing

alone on the dance floor. She looked at the couple as they danced

away, catching Jack’s eye. He shrugged and rolled his eyes, letting

her know that there wasn’t much he could do. Joy smiled at him, more

to reassure herself that she was fine than anything else.

 

Just then a very well dressed man approached Joy, smiling at her and

offering his hand. “Would you care to dance?” he asked. Joy nodded

her head and took his hand, a little uncomfortable with not knowing

who he was. She noted that her family was watching her, so she felt

better about agreeing to dance with him.

 

“You are Ms. Wilson, right? Joy Wilson?” he asked, his mustache

hiding a slight smile. He was an American Indian man in his late

forties, his long black hair pulled back into a braid. He was a good

looking man, and seemed to know exactly what he was doing, at least

on the dance floor. His hands were large, yet soft, not at all like

Jack’s. Joy noticed that Jack’s hands were not only large, but used

to work, and hard work at that.

 

Joy nodded and looked at him a little surprised. “Yes, I am. And you

are?”

 

The man smiled and nodded. “Forgive me. I thought perhaps you would

have remembered. I’m Wamblee Bodaway, the chief of the town,” he

said with obvious pride.

 

“Oh, yes! Now I do remember. I’m sorry,” Joy said apologetically. “I

saw you the first day we got here, at the meeting at your father’s

home.”

 

Wamblee nodded, his eyes full of pride. “I’m sorry I haven’t been

able to come to your new home to see you and your family. We are

glad you are here, that you have decided to stay. I trust you are

settling in okay?”

 

Joy nodded, and smiled. “Yes. And we are very happy and grateful to

be here. I’m not sure what our fate would have been had we not been

able to come and live here. Thank you!”

 

“Well, I’m glad you are doing well. Do you like the town?”

 

“Oh, yes, very much! It has such a warm feeling to it, and it seems

like everyone knows each other and gets along well,” Joy responded,

looking around her.

 

Wamblee nodded and looked around himself. “Yes, most everyone gets

along well. We have some issues, but we are working those out for

the good of the Reservation. Are you aware of what is happening

outside the area?”

 

Joy looked at him in all seriousness and shook her head, expecting

him to continue.

 

“Well, it’s not good. At all. Things are falling apart, especially

in the cities, as if there was no way for the government officials

to control what is going on. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but

it’s all over the country. The Government had to bring more than

half of its troops back from all around the world just to keep order

around here, leaving the countries they were in at the time in a bad

way. Did you know that the Government has gone bankrupt?” Wamblee

asked, amused at how little Joy really knew. After she shook her

head, her eyes wide with fear, he continued.

 

“Yup. I’m not the best at all the foreign policy stuff, but several

countries, including China, decided to collect what they were owed

all at once, throwing the American economy down the hole. It’s a

whole different world out there, Ms. Wilson. A worse one, I’m

afraid. Not many people would make it out there, especially ones

that didn’t know how to defend themselves.”

 

Joy looked at Wamblee, wondering what he was saying. She had been

okay dancing with the man, but was glad that the song was now over

and she could go back to her family. She felt uncomfortable still in

his arms, but he had not let go, and looked like he had no

intentions on doing so.

 

“It’s good you are here, Joy. We are glad to have you. Do you mind

dancing with me again?” Wamblee asked, not waiting for an answer.

Joy looked back at her family, but none of them seemed to notice

that she was uncomfortable. Jack and Bethany had gone back as well,

but neither of them was looking in her direction.

 

“Mr. Bodaway, are you trying to tell me something?” Joy asked, a

little irritated.

 

Wamblee looked at her, surprised by how direct she was. He laughed

and squeezed her hand. “No, no. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you

feel uncomfortable. Not at all. I do think it would be good if you

could learn how to shoot. I guess that is what I was getting at. Are

you familiar with guns?”

 

Joy felt herself relax, glad that he wasn’t kicking her out of the

Reservation. She wasn’t sure why she thought that, but he had made

her feel like she was somehow in trouble. She shook her head to

answer his question.

 

“No, not at all. I’ve never even touched one,” she admitted, feeling

a little foolish.

 

“Well, that will be no problem. There are several men on the

Reservation that would be happy to teach you, and your family of

course, me included. We have things set up in a way that you

shouldn’t have to worry about the outside world for a long, long

time, Ms. Wilson. Not until it’s safe to go out there again, that

is. But it’s always good to be prepared. If we had not listened to

my father about any of this, we would not have been able to provide

this protection, to be this organized in time. Now, although things

are changing in the Reservation, we are in a place where we can rise

from this whole situation and come out on top.

 

“I will have a talk with your father soon, and ask permission to

come and teach you to handle a gun. I don’t think you will take much

time in learning, and you might even come to like it.” He smiled at

the confused look on her face, but wasn’t able to continue.

 

“Ask my father?” Joy asked.

 

Wamblee nodded. “Yes. One of the changes that we are making in the

Reservation is that all the women need to have a man that will be

responsible for them. I know that sounds like we are going back to

the Stone Age, but it could be dangerous for the women, especially

beautiful ones like yourself, even here in this protected

environment. We feel like the best way to protect women is to have

someone that will be responsible for them, and will defend them.”

 

“You don’t think women can defend themselves?” Joy asked

incredulously.

 

“Can you?” Wamblee retorted kindly. “Look, Ms. Wilson, we aren’t

trying to be condescending. But we can’t afford to have single women

in the Reservation to be taken advantage of, or worse. By having a

man with them, well, it would at least give them more protection. We

want to protect the women, and yet be fair to the men in the

Reservation as well. We are still trying to figure all that out, and

I have a feeling it will be a late night for the members of the

committee and I. We will be taking a vote on some suggestions and

passing the laws tonight.”

 

Joy let out a sigh, not knowing what to think. “How,” she stopped to

clear her throat, “how will this affect me and others like me?”

 

“Oh, I’m sure it won’t be anything too bad, Ms. Wilson. It will be

something that we can all live with, I assure you,” Wamblee said in

his most reassuring voice. “How ‘bout we change the subject? I

didn’t mean to put a damper on your evening,” he said, putting his

hand on her chin to raise her face to look at him.

 

Joy looked away, uncomfortable with the way he was looking at her.

It wasn’t like Simon, but she knew that he still enjoyed his hands

on her body.

 

“I’m fine, thank you. But if you don’t mind, I think I’m a little

hungry and would like to get back to our table.” Joy said, letting

go of his hand.

 

Wamblee nodded, and put his arm around her shoulder. “I’ll walk you

back, Ms. Wilson, and then maybe we can practice some shooting

tomorrow after the service, if you’d like.”

 

Joy nodded absentmindedly and walked faster, hoping that his hand

would not follow her. It did. When they got to the table where her

family was, Joy noticed that her parents had already left, and that

it looked as the others were getting ready to leave as well.

 

“We are getting ready to go home,” Ann said when she saw Joy. She

noticed the look on her face right away, and held her hand out to

Joy. Joy took it immediately, pulling away from Wamblee, glad to be

out of his embrace.

 

“Is the Reverend gone?” Wamblee asked Juan and Ann.

 

Juan nodded. “Yes, they left a little a while ago. Did you need

him?”

 

Wamblee shook his head, and tipped his hat. “No, thank you. It can

wait until tomorrow. Juan, ladies.”

 

As Wamblee walked away, Ann put her arm around her baby sister. “Are

you okay?” she asked her in Spanish.

 

“I am now,” Joy answered. “He is a strange man. He told me some

things that I’m not sure what to make of, and I really didn’t like

him hugging me like that.”

 

“I’m sorry, Joy, we were all keeping an eye on you, but you seemed

to be doing fine. Then when Seth and his family left it created

quite a commotion, trying to get everyone back into the wagon they

had come in. Bethany has gone there to stay over night, and they

took Jack and Luke home as well. We thought that it was getting

late, so we should get back too, especially since there is going to

be church tomorrow. Mom and Dad have gone to get the wagon, and

Roger and Marie went with them. Every one else I think is still

dancing, but Juan is going to get them now, right Juan?”

 

Juan smiled back at her and stuck his tongue out at her. “Yeah, I’m

going, I’m going.”

 

Soon they were all on their way back, with Victoria fast asleep in

Joy’s lap. Joy told her family about what Wamblee had said, and they

all discussed at length what they thought it meant.

 

“Well, we will pray about it and trust the Lord,” Ed said, careful

with the words he was choosing. “We have come a long way, and he has

not let us down yet. We’ll take all this one step at a time, and ask

Him to help us cross that bridge when we get there.”

 

Joy smiled at how simple he made it sound. Just trust the Lord. She

realized that they were now in a time that those words would be have

to be practiced often, if not every day. They traveled the rest of

their way home in silence, each into his own thoughts. John had gone

home with his parents, and Joy noticed that she and Allen were the

only ones without a partner.

 

She reached over and patted his leg, smiling up at him. Here he was,

her little nephew, tall and strong. She admired him for how well he

was handling everything, and was glad that they had been able to

remain close through it all. Allen reached over and put his arm

around her arms and gave her a squeeze.

 

“It will be okay,” he whispered in Spanish, his voice calm.

 

Joy nodded and smiled again, glad for his comfort. Once home, Joy

got Victoria ready for bed and then said goodnight to her family.

She got ready for bed herself, tired from the active day they had

had. She climbed into bed quietly, not wanting to disturb Victoria.

She pulled the covers up to her chin and shivered, wishing that she

had put another blanket on the bed. Even though they were in the

middle of summer there was a cold front going through, and Joy was

sure that it was sixty degrees outside or less. She tossed and

turned for a while, trying desperately to fall asleep.

 

It had been a long day for Joy, but she had really enjoyed it. She

almost laughed out loud when she thought about pushing Jack over and

the look of surprise that had crossed his face. He’s such a good

sport, Joy thought and blushed when she remembered his arms around

her while they danced. She pushed the thought far in the back of her

mind, not wanting to think about it. She still missed her husband

terribly, and wished that he could be there now, holding her and

comforting her. She didn’t realize how much she was going to miss

just having a man. She reasoned with herself that that was why she

had enjoyed dancing with Jack so much, having his strong arms

embrace her. It had nothing to do with him personally, she told

herself. It’s just that I miss having a husband. He was turning out

to be a good friend, and she was glad for that.

 

Just as her eyes started to close, she heard someone knocking at the

front door of the farmhouse. Who in the world could it be at this

time of the night? She wondered. The sun had set a long time ago,

and Joy knew that it meant it was late. The knocking turned into

pounding, until she heard her dad yell out “Who is it?” from their

room. There were some loud shouts, and then Joy could hear her dad

heading to the door.

 

“Ouch, ouch,” he whispered as he tripped over something in the dark,

making Joy smile.

 

Ed peered out of the front door. “Yes, can I help you?” Joy heard

him say.

 

“Sure ya can, Preacher man! Now, it is common knowledge that you

have a single girl over the age of 18 living here with ya, ain’t

that right?” A man with a high-pitched voice answered.

 

Joy shot up in bed. She recognized that voice. Simon! What was he

doing here? She shivered even more when she remembered his arms

around her at the dance. If Jack hadn’t shown up when he did, Joy

shivered again, not wanting to think about what had happened.

 

“Yeah,” Ed responded, “what of it?”

 

“Well, there is a law right here that says that she needs to come

with us.” Simon said, triumph in his voice.

 

“What? Why? Did she do something wrong?” Ed sounded confused. Joy

knew his best time wasn’t at night. He was easily confused during

this time, and she knew that lately it had been worse, especially

with everything going on.

 

“No, no, sir,” Simon continued. “She’s fine, mighty fine, actually.”

He paused and looked back at his friends as they laughed at his

joke. “No, she just needs to come with us. Right now. Chief’s

orders, see?” Joy could hear him shuffling papers.

 

“But, but she’s married!” Ed said, skimming the papers before him.

 

“Oh, no she ain’t! I know for a fact that she ain’t. She just lost

her husband a while ago, and that makes her single. Even if she does

have a kid.”

 

Joy’s face started to flush in anger as she realized they were

talking about her. This whole time she thought they were talking

about Marie!

 

She got up and went to the door of her room, thankful that her

sister wasn’t there. She looked through the crack of the edge of the

door and saw that there were more men than just Simon. And they all

had weapons. Ed had just started to learn how to use the one Seth

had given him, but against these many men, he didn’t stand a chance.

 

“Well,” Ed said, “you can come and get her in the morning. I’ll have

her ready for you then.”

 

Joy could see the small man eyeing Ed carefully. “Well, I guess one

more night won’t hurt. I can wait one more night. All right people,

let’s git goin’! The tavern’s awaitin’,” Simon shouted as the men

filed in behind him, his voice cracking in mid sentence. This seemed

to give the men a good laugh, and they all walked away, with Simon

swearing at all of them loudly, making them laugh all the more.

 

Ed closed the door with the paperwork still in his hand and leaned

against it. Joy could see his tired face as he studied the content

of the papers in the dim light of his candle. When Joy was sure the

men were gone, she carefully opened the door.

 

“Dad? What was that all about?” She asked as she came to him and put

her arms around his waist.

 

He put his chin on her head and wrapped his arms around her. “Oh,

Joy,” he said, his voice quivering.

 

“Is everything ok, Ed?” Liz asked as she entered the living room and

spotted the two.

 

Ed shook his head. “Joy, get Allen to go get everyone. We need to

talk.”

 

Joy could hear it in his voice. It was a sense of panic. She had

hardly ever heard it in her life, and she didn’t like the sound of

it at all.

 

Joy got Allen to go get his parents, sister and Marie. Roger came up

from the basement he was sharing with Allen, and then Joy checked on

Victoria. She was still fast asleep. Joy bent to kiss her on the

forehead and then headed back into the living room, after softly

closing the door behind her.

 

Liz had turned the oil lamps on and had sat down, looking at the

papers that had just been delivered. As Joy stu

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