Friday, May 12, 2006

Kin to the Saboteur - Ch. 8

The next few days involved the same activities that the first day had and soon Adam’s sore muscles were a thing of the past. By the end of the second week, his body felt stronger than it ever had before and his skin had taken on a light buttery bronze color. If it wasn’t for his silky reddish-brown hair and freckles, people would have surely guessed at the other part of his heritage by now. However, since some of the all-white field hands were even darker than him from sun exposure, Adam’s secret was still safely hidden.

But Adam would not think of his own secrets right now. Right now he would focus on why Halona constantly sat by herself at mealtimes when everyone else congregated in groups of three or more under the strategically placed shade trees. Not too many days past she’d been so carefree and sociable with the orphans in town.

For the last few days the only people she actually sought out socially were Marilu and Jether Bridges. But those had been very brief encounters since Halona appeared constantly distracted with her harvest. Plus, the Bridges had to report back to her homestead to take care of things there.

Deciding to be sociable with his boss, despite what others were doing, Adam took his food and beverage over to where Halona was. His strides were those of a man confident in what he was about to do. Soon Adam was at Halona’s usual mealtime spot located where several large rocks sat under a big hackberry tree. His smile was bright, despite the overcast day.

“What do you want?!” Halona snapped. Her defenses were fully erect as Adam approached her. The red-haired man had been smiling at her far too much in the fields for her liking. He’d been visiting Halona far too often in her dreams for her to behave overly friendly towards him.

Adam smiled in understanding and took no offense to Halona’s current behavior. He understood her wariness. He’d carried the same wariness upon him since he was a boy after learning how different he was from others. Adam could only imagine how further complicated Halona’s life became when she discovered she was wealthy and saw how phony people could act towards her because of that wealth.

“I wanted a bit of fellowship,” Adam finally replied. Looking intently into Halona’s eyes, he couldn’t help but wonder if she battled with loneliness as well. If, like him, she sought to relieve that loneliness on occasion by engaging in intimate rendezvous with the opposite sex.

The country heiress certainly didn’t seem like the type, but then again, one never knew with the quiet ones. Was Halona one of those respectable women who discreetly relaxed their morals in order to satisfy their flesh from time to time?

“There was plenty of that where you just came from,” Halona said flatly. She’d seen some of the single women going up to Adam in almost assembly line fashion on their breaks. Each woman had seemed determined to try to make some lasting impression on him. So far it didn’t appear that any had.

Adam nodded again. “Right you are, ma’am, but it was your fellowship that I required.”

Halona’s brows rose. “Oh. And why is that?” Inwardly she couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t told him to scat by now. Any other man she would have shooed away immediately. Correction, what other men?

Although Halona took those etiquette classes as promised, she was still repelling the opposite sex with her peculiar behavior. In fact, she hadn’t put any of what she’d learned in those etiquette classes to good use yet. Furthermore, she seemed no more likely to catch a husband now than before.

The only thing Halona had put to use from those etiquette classes was her musical ability, which according to Mrs. Cable was the mark of a refined woman among other things like cooking and needlepoint skills. Halona could also make quilts with her eyes closed and even purchased a machine to get her heavy sewing in.

Cooking was the one thing she couldn’t seem to master. In fact, one time Halona fed an omelet soufflĂ© that she cooked to the family dogs and to her dismay, they immediately started licking their butts in order to get the taste out of their mouths. And she’s used her best Farmers Union sweetened cream in that recipe, too.

“I wish to know how you think my employment is going so far,” Adam replied. He took the liberty of sitting down on the large rock opposite her even though she had not invited him to as of yet. However, with only forty-five minutes to eat before returning to backbreaking work in record humidity, Adam needed to do two things at once – provide subsistence to his body and information to his mind.

“If you’re not fired, then it must be going well.” Halona chuckled in spite of herself. She had no idea Mr. Thorpe was a man of ego. Well, he wouldn’t find too much ego stroking from her. Let him find some other filly for that. Even still the thought of Adam doing so sent tingles of jealousy along the surfaces of Halona’s nerves. And she really hated that. She didn’t want to be affected by this man at all.

Adam felt his heart surge at the sound of her laugh. It was smooth and musical and made him wonder if she could sing. “Well, I’m mighty glad to hear that, Miss Halona. By the way, what does Halona mean?” he replied, expertly switching the subject as he began to chow down on the sandwiches on his plate.

“I…” Halona blinked several times in surprise. She hadn’t expected him to ask her that. In fact, no man had ever inquired about the Indian side of her. Whenever the subject came up before, starting from grade school on up to now, it was usually in a negative context. And the fact that Adam seemed genuinely interested in knowing the answer to his question compelled Halona to answer him.

Clearing her throat, Halona obliged the inquiring man. “It means fortunate.” She lifted the silver cup in her right hand to her lips and took a drink. The sweet lemonade went down easily and relieved some of the nervous constriction in her throat.

“Fortunate. I like it. Do you have another Indian name?” Adam asked, even though he knew full well she did. His research of Miss Ackerman had been thorough. Very thorough. Yet even still he hadn’t known what her names meant.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. It’s Sakari. It means sweet.” This was the first time Halona ever discussed her middle name with anyone, particularly when that middle name was so opposite of how she saw herself. Opposite of how everyone else saw her, too, with the exception of her father and Marilu. The fact that Halona was discussing her middle name with someone she barely knew was yet another first for her. She just didn’t understand herself around this man.

“Sa-ka-ri,” Adam recited slowly, trying to get a good taste of it just like the thick ham sandwiches he’d just paused from eating. “I like it. I have three names, too. Yet I only like two of them. One because it’s the same as the very first man on the planet. The other because it belongs to my mother and not my father since she’s the one that wanted me and not him.”

Adam couldn’t understand himself very much right now, either. He’d had no intention of disclosing that little tidbit about his life, yet he’d felt compelled to. However, Adam did at least hold back the fact that his middle name was the name that belonged to his mother and not the new last name his father assigned to him fifteen years ago.

Seeing a flash of pain appear in his honey-brown eyes, Halona nodded in understanding this time. She sympathized with the rejection Adam must have endured as an illegitimate child. Although her parents were married before she was born, Halona still knew what rejection felt like. She’d gotten more than the average dose of it in her lifetime.

For the rest of that meal break, Halona and Adam ate and drink in reflective silence as a comfortable peace settled between the two acquaintances of rejection.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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