Today's Blog Tour Tuesday features
by Danni Roan
About Sadina’s Stocking:
Sadina Riley is not the same woman she was just a few years ago. A broken marriage, a young daughter and a drastic change in lifestyle has left her teetering on the edge. If not for her talent with a needle and thread, she would surely be destitute.
Edward Hampton has known Saddie since they were kids and remembers the lively girl with the bright smile and kind heart, not the woman who hides herself away from the town’s gossip. Set to return to the Montana ranch he has recently inherited Ed hopes to give Saddie and her daughter a new beginning.
Can a second chance and a timeless love overcome the damaged caused by another or will two old friends forever remain strangers under the same roof?
Sadie Riley stepped out of the general store carrying a small package and holding tightly to her daughter’s hand. It had been a while since she’d been able to purchase a licorice whip for Faith, but she had an extra penny and indulged.
She smiled, pleased with her meager purchases. Taking Faith by the shoulder, Sadie moved to the side of the door as two older women walked up the stairs to the shop, their heads bent together.
“There’s that Riley woman,” one of the biddy’s voices drifted across the boardwalk in a hushed tone.
“I hear she didn’t like her wifely duties and that’s why young Riley…” the woman’s voice faded as they drew closer. Her face took on a sour expression as she looked at Sadie and Faith.
“Whatever her shortcomings,” the other woman picked up as if Sadie wasn’t standing right there, “he shouldn’t ‘ave gone off and left that child.”
“Well, Mrs. Riley said...” again the voices began to fade as the women opened the door of the store, “that a man can only be expected to put up with so much.”
Sadie took Faith’s hand and turned to walk down the steps and out onto the street of her small, dusty town. She’d heard it all before.
“Mama?” Faith’s sweet voice queried and Sadie’s heart swelled, “were them woman talking about Gramma?” The blonde-haired little girl turned bright blue eyes up at her.
“Yes darling, they were.”
“We never see Gramma anymore.” The little girl looked confused; Sadie had still never found a way to help the child understand that the older woman had chosen her son over them.
“Well when Papa had to go away,” her face heated as she struggled to keep her voice even, “she had to worry about him so much that she doesn’t have much time for anything else.” Sadie felt she might choke on the words, but managed to say them with a smile.
Faith put the licorice whip back into her mouth as if thinking about the answer.
The truth was too painful to go over again and Sadie had heard it echoed all over town.
“Let’s go home and see what we’ll make today,” she said brightly, hurrying along the Main Street toward the back alley that led to her house.
A deep voice caught Sadie’s ear as she was about to make the final turn toward home.
"Ms. Sadie?" a man's voice carried on the light breeze. It sounded familiar.
"Yes?" Sadie questioned, turning to look into the bright green eyes of a blonde man on horseback.
The cowboy smiled shyly at her tipping his hat. "It’s me, Ed Hampton, don’t you remember?"
"Ed?" Sadie’s eyes grew wide, as she took a step closer and blushed with embarrassment at not recognizing her old school-chum. "Is it really you? It's been ages." It was nice to see a friendly face.
Faith pulled on her mother's dark skirt, looking to her for an explanation. "Faith, I'd like you to meet Mr. Hampton. We went to school together."
"Hello, Mr. Hampton," the little girl spoke politely, twisting a blonde pigtail in her hand.
"Pleased to meet you, Ms. Faith," the man replied, his eyes clear and cheerful as he tried to set the child at ease, but his eyes strayed back to her mother's face once more.
"Miss Sadie, I was wondering if you might both like to join me for a cup of coffee. I'm in town for a while and it would be mighty fine to catch up a bit."
Sadie twisted the edge of lace that ran along her sleeve nervously. Would the gossips in the town find more fodder in her having a cup of coffee with an old friend? She didn't know how much more of the mean-spirited whispers she could take.
"It would surely mean a lot to me if you did," Ed said, his clear hazel eyes steady on hers. Somewhere in the depths of her soul Sadie sensed a quiet urgency in the man’s voice and it tugged at her heart.
"Alright," she finally agreed, flashing him a smile, "a cup of coffee sounds nice."
Ed jumped from his saddle with a wide grin and tossed the reins around a nearby hitching post before stepping up onto the boardwalk next to Sadie and Faith.
"It's a fine day," he offered, turning toward the small restaurant along the main drag.
"Yes, the weather has been lovely this spring," Sadie replied cautiously.
"Do you think we'll have rain soon?' Ed asked. He seemed uncomfortable, yet determined.
It was a relief when they finally entered the front room of the restaurant and found a quiet table toward the back.
"What would you like, Faith?" Ed asked, leaning across the table to look at the little girl. She had her mother's smoky blue eyes and a pert nose.
Sadie studied the man across from her while he talked to her daughter, convincing the little girl she could truly order whatever she wanted from the menu.
Somewhere over the years the gangly boy with the high voice had turned into a handsome man. His dark blonde hair, combed to one side, lay flat against his head from where his hat had rested, but did nothing to distract from his good looks.
His green eyes were clear and bright as he listened to Faith's reluctant replies. Where once he was thin, even spindly, he had now filled out, his broad shoulders and thick chest flaring under his colorful flannel shirt.
"So, hot chocolate and a piece of apple pie," Ed's voice interrupted her thoughts, "and how about your mother? What do you think she'd like?” Those green eyes were now on Sadie.
"Just coffee," she said, feeling suddenly uncomfortable again.
"What, no pie?" Ed teased. "I'm partial to cherry pie myself, how about a tiny slice?" His grin was welcoming, as he indicated how small with his fingers and Sadie felt a little more at ease.
"My favorite’s peach," she confessed.
The waiter came and Ed ordered three slices of pie along with coffee and hot chocolate. After the order had been placed, an awkward silence settled over the little group.
"Did you always live here?" Faith's question caught both adults by surprise as she gazed up at Ed.
"Yes. Your Ma and I went to the same school. We used to eat lunch together." He smiled sweetly at Sadie. "Your Ma used to share her cookies with me."
"Yep, almost every day. Her mama was a good cook and Ms. Sadie knew I didn't have a ma to bake cookies for me." His eyes were kind as he looked at Sadie.
Faith leaned closer as if offering a secret. "Mama makes good cookies, too," she said in a half-whisper.
Ed chuckled as their order arrived and he thanked the waiter.
They'd just picked up their forks when two of the town’s matrons walked by their table.
"She certainly let herself go, didn't she?” one of the women said, her hard-brown eyes falling on Sadie.
"You'd think she'd want to set a better example for her daughter," the other said as they walked away.
Ed's heart twisted in his chest as he watched Sadie’s face flush red while she lowered her fork back to the table.
He longed to reach out and take her hand, to say something that would help, but nothing he did could take away the sting from the two old biddy's barbs.
He doubted she'd believe him if he told her she was still beautiful anyway. He could see the changes in her, but he could also see that girl he'd known, the one with the big heart and kind spirit who shared her cookies.
"Ms. Sadie," he started, his voice steady as his insides roiled, "I'm afraid I didn't really want to share a cup of coffee with you and catch up," he confessed, drawing her eyes to him.
Self-consciously he tugged at his collar, but hurried on. "You see, I inherited my uncle’s horse ranch out in Montana." He paused, not sure how to proceed.
"That's wonderful for you." Sadie’s voice was full of happiness for him.
"Well you see," he tried again, "I'm leaving at the end of the month."
"Oh." Sadie blinked at him for a moment. "It will be sad to see you go, but a new start with a place of your own, that must be wonderful." She knew her heart longed for just that.
"Yes, I'm pleased with the prospect," Ed agreed. "The thing is," he took a deep breath and plunged in, "I don't want to go out there all on my own and not have anyone to sorta’ start out with."
He rushed on, everything coming out at once. "I was wondering if you'd go with me." He blinked at her, fear freezing his throat as he croaked. "As my wife."
Sadie gaped at the man across the table, silence echoing in her ears as all the air seemed to rush out of the restaurant. Had Ed Hampton just asked her to marry him? She couldn't understand, but watched as his lips began to move again.
"...It would just be for convenience of course," his voice was a raspy whisper, "I mean we could be like partners or something." The words finally filtered through.
Ed wanted her to marry him and go west and work a ranch as his wife but not as his wife. It was starting to make sense, in a crazy kind of way.
"Why?" She finally found her voice.
"Well it's kind of far out and I don’t know many people," Ed admitted. "Besides, we've always been friends and I thought you might like a new home." His eyes spoke the words his lips didn't - away from the shame of a broken marriage.
"I'll need time to think," Sadie said, her voice shaky as she rose to her feet and took Faith’s hand. "Thank you for the coffee." She turned to go, then stopped and looked back at her old friend. "I'll let you know in the next few days, if that's alright."
"That'd be fine Sadie," Ed replied, standing to his feet in farewell.
Sadie rearranged the tea set at the little table on her front porch, then turned to pace the short space again. Ed had sent word that he'd be along for her answer this morning. Cold sweat dampened her hands and she wiped them on her starched apron as a horse ambled into the yard.
"Ms. Sadie." Ed's voice was a soft timbre as he swung down.
"Hello Ed. Won't you sit down." She gestured toward the small table by the window. Her house was tiny and she didn't feel it would be appropriate to have the man inside. Heaven only knew what the gossips would make of that.
Ed settled into a battered chair with a nod but didn't speak.
"Tea?" Sadie offered.
With surprisingly steady hands, she poured tea into a small-chipped cup and offered it to her guest with a cookie tucked neatly on the saucer.
Ed took a bite of the cookie and smiled appreciatively, but didn’t speak. He knew Sadie needed time.
He watched as she picked up her own delicate cup and took a sip from the white china that was spider-webbed with fine cracks.
"You know I'm divorced?" Sadie asked, considering the depths of her cup.
"Roger doesn't want anything to do with me, or Faith," she added, anger turning her words to acid on her tongue. "I've got all the legal papers."
"You know I want Faith to come as well, don't you?" Ed said, panic rising in him at the thought that perhaps she hadn't understood. "She's a sweet girl and the love of your life, I know."
His words brought a smile and some of the tension left Sadie's shoulders. "Ed, are you sure you want a woman like me?" she questioned. "I know you've heard the rumors." Her eyes fell as she placed the cup back on the table, afraid she'd break it if she held it a moment longer.
"I don't listen to gossip much," Ed said. "I figured maybe a change of scenery would be welcome to you as well."
"We've been friends a long time, Ed." Sadie tried to think of the best way to say what she needed to. "But it's not just me I have to consider." She closed her eyes.
Ed's heart fell. She was going to say no, but then she continued.
"I have to think of Faith. I can't just uproot her and not have some assurances." Her dark, smoky gaze came to rest on him. "I need to know she'll always have a home, that she won't be tossed out of her house like some sort of baggage..." Sadie paused, struggling with the words.
From his breast pocket, Ed pulled out a packet of papers. "Before you go on, take a look at this," he said, hope making his blood pump in his ears.
Sadie took the papers from his hands and scanned them quickly. "This is the deed to the ranch," she said. "It has my name on it along with yours."
"Yes, whatever I have, Sadie, it belongs to you. I'll not leave you alone and with no way to see to your needs. I said we could be partners."
Sadie handed the papers back to the man across the little table from her, studying his face. She remembered days on the playground at the back of the schoolhouse and long talks about family and friends. He'd always been a quiet boy and seemed to be drawn to her more outgoing nature.
"We'll go," she finally said. "I just hope you won't regret it.
To purchase Sadina’s Stocking, please CLICK HERE.
About author Danni Roan:
Danni Roan, born in rural western Pennsylvania, has always loved the country life. Her first work published under her real name, Paula Liddle-Beem, is a collection of folk essays about childhood in the lush, green mountains of PA.
Being a teacher of English and English as a Second Language for the past twelve years has only inspired Danni's love of writing Western Historical Fiction.
After receiving her Masters of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language she determined to indulge her passion for fiction writing.
Teaching both in the USA and abroad has exposed Danni to a wide range of people from all walks of life and she tries to capture that unique character in her work.