Friendship and love during the Civil War.
Summer grinned, to no one in particular, as she watched her best friend Lucas play with her nephew Paul, her brother Daniel’s four year old son. She stood there watching Lucas with the boy, a part of her yearning to see him like that with her children, their children. She had always loved Lucas. She could remember the moment that the realization had hit her, like a ton of bricks, causing her to see her best friend of forever in a new light. They had been only 5 and Lucas had helped Summer sneak into her favorite horses stall to see her new foal. When he held her hand as she pet the horse, she knew. Maybe not in terms of love and forever, but she had known that Lucas was special and it only grew as the days flew by and they were drawn closer together by age, and love.
Lucas covered his eyes in an attempt to count to ten to go and find Paul, but instead felt the little guy plow right into him. He grabbed the boy and threw him into the air, catching him as he came back down and hugging him hard. He looked up to find Summer standing, watching. Lucas felt a twinge in his heart as he realized that he wanted her standing there watching as he played with their children. Lucas had always thought that with time, it would happen, but things weren’t looking so good. The south was rebelling against the north and war was inevitable. Lucas chuckled as Paul squirmed to get down. Lucas set him on the ground and ruffled his hair before the boy went bounding for his twin brother who was sitting on a blanket with his mother. Lucas took the free time to go and talk with Summer.
“Hey there.” He said, walking up to her. Summer smiled.
“You looked like you were having fun.” she commented, trying not to blush as Lucas got closer and closer. She demanded her heart to slow its pace at just being near him, but it didn’t listen and quickened more when he took her hand in his. It was something that he did quite often now, but to Summer, each time felt like the first time.
“He’s a great kid.” Lucas commented.
“Yeah, he is.” Summer fell short, trying to come up with something to say and finding nothing. “So...” Summer tried to start the conversation back up. Lucas looked over at her, finding her golden eyes deep in thought. While Lucas was watching her, Summer was deciding that they needed to talk about what was going on between them. “Lucas...” she started.
“Summer...” he had said at the same time. He laughed and that seemed to ease the tension that had slipped between them. “Go ahead.” he told her.
“We need to talk Luke.” she said.
“I agree. How about after dinner, at our tree?” he suggested.
“Yeah, tonight.” she smiled at him. Tonight she would tell Lucas how she felt. Lucas smiled back, keeping his thoughts hidden from his eyes so she didn’t see what he was thinking.
“Good evening sir.” Lucas greeted Howard Kendall with a firm handshake. Howard Kendall was a powerful man, not to be crossed with, but he had a soft spot for his only daughter, and he had an eye on Lucas, who intended to have her for his own. He shook Lucas’s hand with a powerful shake and let it go. Tough... that was the way to go through this, he thought. Tough and open minded.
“Lucas, what can I do for you?” he asked, ushering the boy into his house with a pat on the back. “You’re here offal early.”
“I’d like to speak privately with you sir, if that’s okay. And I’d rather that Summer and Mrs. Kendall not knew.” Lucas told Howard. Howard nodded, knowing exactly what was coming, and led the boy back to his grand office in the South wing of the plantation that he owned. It had taken him 30 years to get Widowbrook up and running as successful as it was. He had started off with a wife by his side and a dream in his head. He still had his wife and his dream was real. Plus, he had millions in the bank and 5 wonderful children. He motioned for Lucas to sit in his overstuffed chair opposite his big, mahogany desk.
“So, what’s on your mind Lucas?” Howard asked, sitting down in his chair behind the desk.
“Well, sir...” Lucas cleared his throat. He knew why he was here, but getting the words out was proving harder than he would have thought. Lucas looked around the office, trying to come up with what he was going to say to Summer’s father. He wanted Summer to be his wife, he knew that much. But he wasn’t sure how to tell her father that. “Well... I wanted...” Lucas began again, yet again giving up on that way to deliver the news.
“It’s okay son.” Howard smiled to himself. Howard had been anticipating this moment for weeks now. He knew that Lucas was here to ask permission to marry Summer. He also, though apprehensive, knew what his answer would be. Lucas was a good man, from a respectable family, and he loved Summer, that he was sure of. It didn’t hurt that Lucas would one day inherit his father’s plantation Cornerstone. But this nonsense war was going to happen, Howard thought. And this war was proving to be more of a nuisance than anything else. He knew what the South wanted, and he was in agreement with it, but he knew what President Lincoln wanted as well, A United States of America, not the North and the South states of America. He knew that as a southern plantation owner that he should be for the South, but he knew that their cause was weak. He felt pity and sorrow for Summer and Lucas. Their joy would be short lived if war came and Lucas was dragged off to defend his country... wherever that might be. “Maybe we can just talk.” Howard offered, trying to ease the boy’s tension. Tough wasn’t the way to go about this right now. Lucas was nervous, that he could tell, besides, he had a few things to say to the boy before he said yes.
“Yes, sir. Thank you.” Lucas said, relaxing a bit in the chair.
“Lucas, you’re a good kid...” Howard started off.
“Thank you sir.” Lucas answered.
“Can I tell you something Luke?” he asked. Lucas nodded, not knowing what was coming. He knew that Howard Kendall was not a man to be reckoned with, and he knew that whatever advice was given in this room today, Lucas would abide by. “I was your age when I meet my Marriet. She came from a high class society up North, and I was still a poor little southern boy with a dream of a better future in my head. We came from two different worlds, and thirty years ago, we married and Widowbrooke was born. So weren’t Summer, Daniel, Charles, Fredrick, and Samuel. We made it work, despite every obstacle that came our way. We loved each other, and we were willing to compromise. That’s what marriage is about my boy, It’s love, compromise, and a little bit of luck that will get you through it all.” Howard said. Lucas nodded, knowing now that Howard knew exactly why he was here.
“I love your daughter sir.” Lucas said, finding a bit of courage to face her father.
“I know you do Lucas.” Howard answered, waiting.
“I would like to ask your permission and your blessing to marry her.” Lucas said.
“Like I said before, I like you Luke, and I am pleased with my daughter’s judgment of friends, and now of a husband. My answer is yes, Lucas, and I hope that you and Summer have just as much happiness as Marriet and I have had.” Howard said. Lucas sighed deeply and stood up to shake Howard’s hand.
“That makes two of us sir. Thank you very much for your blessing.”
“So, when are you going to ask her?” Howard prompted.
“Tonight sir.” Lucas told him, trying to hold in his excitement. He only had to wait a few more hours and Summer would be his to claim! Lucas headed for the door.
“Good!!! Where are you going?” Howard asked, sitting down at his desk again. “I thought that we were going to talk.”
“I’d like to go and see Summer if that’s okay sir.” Lucas said, his hand on the door as it was thrown open. The door hit him in the head, and Summer timidly popped her head inside.
“OH! Luke, I’m so sorry!” she tried to apologize to him without laughing.
“It’s okay el novio.” Lucas said to her. Summer blushed at the saying. It was something that her Spanish nanny had taught him to call her. It meant “Sweetheart”.
“Mother wanted me to come and tell you that dinner is ready.” Summer said.
“Thank you Summer. Come on Luke, let’s go eat.” Howard steered his future son in law to the dining room. Howard greeted his wife at the table with a quick kiss. He sat at the head of the table and motioned for Lucas to sit next to Summer. “Shall we say grace?” Howard asked, looking around the table to make sure everyone was present. Everyone nodded in unison and bowed their heads. “Thank you Lord for the bountiful meal that you have set before us, Lord. Make us always grateful for what has been put before us. Amen.” Howard ended.
“Amen.” was quietly echoed around the room.
“What were you doing here early?” Summer asked Lucas, as he passed her a piece of turkey.
“I was here talking with your father.” Luke answered the half truth.
“What about?” she prodded.
“View points on the “war”.” Howard interrupted the conversation to help Lucas out. He didn’t want Luke to get in trouble already. He smiled to his wife at the other end of the table. She winked at him, knowing full well that it wasn’t the war that they were discussing.
“What views to you have on it Lucas?” Charles asked.
“Well, in all honesty, I’m with the North on this one. But then again, none of the decisions made by President Lincoln have really affected me personal.” Luke told him. Charles nodded. Summer laughed out loud.
“What?” Lucas got defensive.
“You were not discussing the war.” She told him.
“Well, maybe not directly.” Luke said to her, knowing that he couldn’t lie to her.
“I don’t want to know Luke.” Summer laughed again, digging into her dinner.
The meal was finished rather quickly and Luke excused himself and Summer after the kitchen was clean. Lucas grabbed Summer’s shawl and the walked outside, going to “their” tree.
“So...” Summer started, knowing that it was time to talk, but not knowing where to start.
“Let’s just get it out there.” Luke suggested. Summer nodded. “Would you like to go first, or should I?” Luke asked.
“I think that I have a few things to say to you before anything.” Summer told him, sitting down with her back to the tree.
“Be my guest.” Luke offered, sitting down next to her.
“Luke I’ve noticed a few changes between us in these last couple of months. But I don’t want to say anything, go out on a limb and get hurt.” Summer started with. Lucas nodded, knowing that she needed to talk her way through it. “Do you remember that day that Morsel gave birth to Ginger?” She asked.
“We were like 5 weren’t we?” he asked, thinking back to that day in the stables. He had loved Summer even way back then.
“I think about that day all the time. Something changed for me that day when I was looking at you, and it’s only grown Luke, but I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to get my heart broken.” she told him.
“I would never let that happen el novio.” he whispered.
“I think that now I know that, and that’s what’s changed Luke. I know that you’re going to be there for me. I need you to be there for me.” she said.
“I need you too Summer.” he said quietly.
“I need you to tell me first Luke. I need to hear it from you.” she pleaded with him. Luke knew just what she wanted to hear, and with out a moments hesitation, pulled her into his arms and whispered those three words into her ear.
“I love you.” he said.
“I love you too Luke. Oh, I love you soo much!” Summer laughed, and cried into his arms, knowing that they were holding on to each other forever.
“I have a question for you.” Luke started, pulling the ring box out of his pocket.
“And what question would that be?” Summer laughed, knowing that he was going to ask the obvious.
“Will you marry me?” Luke popped open the ring box. Summer closed her eyes and sighed. He was so right for her. She looked at the ring to find her great grandmother Blake’s wedding band in the box.
“Where did you get that?” she whispered, taking it out of the box.
“A couple of weeks ago, your mother gave it to me. She thought that I might need it soon. She’s a smart woman, your mother.” Lucas laughed. The look on Summer’s face was more than enough for him to live on forever, but he knew that God had blessed him with so much more.
“This is incredible Luke. You have no idea how much this means to me.” Summer told him.
“You still haven’t answered my question.” Luke pointed out, taking the ring from Summer and positioning it on her ring finger.
“Yes, oh yes Luke!” Summer laughed as he pushed the ring all the way on her finger. “I love you.” she whispered, looking up at him.
“I love you too.” Luke said, embracing her again.
“Come on, let’s go tell my family.” she said. Luke nodded and they walked back to the house hand in hand.