Friday, March 15, 2013

A Vow Fulfilled & Giveaway! (Chapter Five)

Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Two
Read Chapter Three
Read Chapter Four

Don't forget to leave a comment on each chapter for a chance at the big giveaway!

Chapter Five



Leroy Gaskins, a man Celia recognized as the sot fired by William’s father, emerged from the woods. “I don’t think I’d sign that, ya’ll.”

Turner dropped his hand from Celia’s mouth.

After Gaskins wiped his greasy face with a red handkerchief, he tucked the rag into his torn pants-pocket. “Seems I got here just in time.”

Turner’s hand wrapped protectively around Celia’s arm as Gaskins gestured with his gun for William and Mabel to back up closer to Reverend Bachman. “Unlike your gun, Mr. Owens, mine are loaded. Might as well toss yours aside. That was a darned fool idea ya’ll concocted. Makes me wonder what young people get taught these days at university.”

What did he mean? Celia shivered against Turner and he squeezed her arm, reassuring her.

Gaskins’ cheroot glowed as he inhaled on the cigar. “And careless, waggin’ your tongues in an establishment like Poogins. Any waterman on the Ashley or the Cooper rivers could repeat your little plan. Anyone ends up dead here today, they’ll be lookin’ for at least one of your sorry selves—Owens or Cane. Shoulda been called Cane and Abel. Amazin’ to me that your pappy hated your grandpappy Owens so much that he wouldn’t even claim his name, Mr. Cane.”

Celia looked up into Turner’s face, a muscle in his jaw jerking as though in agreement with the filthy man’s words.

Gaskins scratched his scraggly brown beard. Swamp oaks and cypress trees rustled overhead, Spanish moss casting eerie shadows from the torches now planted in the soft swamp earth. Behind them, the freed men shifted weight, seeming to consider their options.

“Once yer daddy got that ring back, me and my Maggie set our plan a’goin’. Invited our niece, Mabel, to Charleston.”

Insects buzzed around them, and tree frogs began their song.

Mabel Holloway backed away, even closer to the minister, bumping into him. The two fell down into the pluff mud, spattering their clothes, and stirring up the sulfurous odor of decomposing saltmarsh.

“Oh! Look what you did. I detest this nasty swamp dirt’s smell.” Her friend’s voice, absent the Southern accent, revealed her Yankee roots. “I never agreed to anything, you horrid man. And I am not your niece!”

Mr. Gaskins tilted his head sideways. “Oh, it’s true all right. ‘Best-looking and most gentlemanly man’ ya’d ever met, were your exact words when I introduced you to William at the store.”

“I said no such thing you addled-brained—!” Mabel kicked her feet from beneath her skirt and blew a tendril of dark red hair out of her eyes.

William assisted Mabel to her feet and brushed some of the mud from her gown. He acted entirely too familiar. Celia would never have allowed her former beau such liberty.

Disappointment coursed through her, sticking in her chest. Her friend had deceived her. “You’re not from Richmond, then, are you? Nor a graduate of Miss Witherspoons’ Academy?”

Mabel laughed but a tic commenced by her right eye. “New York, I’m afraid, but we moved south when Father died. Mother was a maid at Witherspoons’ and I heard a lot. When Aunt Maggie brought us here . . .”

Dizziness threatened to spill Celia into the dank swamp mud, too. So her friend really was this foul man’s relation. Mercy!

Turner released Celia’s arm and gently pressed his fingers against her wrist, his touch as natural as breathing.

Mabel’s eyes bored into William’s, their down-tipped corners pleading forgiveness. “I thought I’d use enough information from those spoiled girls as entree into the right circles when we came to Charleston. But I never asked him to kill anyone. I cannot believe my aunt married this ruffian.”

Nor could Celia.

One corner of Gaskin’s mouth tugged upward. “Seems Miss Mabel didn’t understand another person would inherit part of Mr. Gregory Owens, Jr.’s property. ’Parently neither did Mr. William here, till that ring got returned. His grandpappy set up some stipulations.”
“Is that a Southern tradition?” Mabel held out a fair, ungloved hand toward Celia. “Your cousin told me your own grandfather set up his inheritance so he will inherit all the Sheldon property.” She gestured around and Celia’s breath caught at the movement amongst the swamp oaks’ branches.

Gaskins continued his harping. “Amazin’ how much Owens loved his son. William this and William that. Gets tiresome hearin’ all that prattle ‘bout a spoiled soft-handed man what ain’t done a lick of work in his life.” Wobbling, he raised his gun overhead.

Slithering movement above – must be a snake. Celia shuddered into Turner, his hand circling her wrist—staying her.

William moved a half-step forward. “Seems to me you’ve been imbibin’ a tad too much liquor tonight Mr. Gaskins. Which is why Father released you from your job at our establishment.”

“T’weren’t from my infernal alcohol habit, no sir. T’was from my uncooperative niece.” Gaskins gestured with his pistol toward Mabel.

Celia gasped—as angry as she was with Mabel, she didn’t wish her harm. Turner released his grip.

Mabel wiped back tears then shook her finger at Celia. “Some of this is your fault. If not for your soft Christian heart, befriending me when no one else would, and bringing me around into Charleston society, I’d never have been accepted. All those names and relations I worked so diligently to recall availed little till you took me under your wing, Celia. Except with William. He loved my stories – was so kind to me.”

Celia couldn’t believe William’s broad, affectionate smile for the woman who had deceived them all. “Mabel, darlin’, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I knew all along you weren’t kin to half the people you claimed.”

Her friend tried to step away from him but his hands secured her. “Why not?”

Blue eyes twinkled as he gazed at Celia’s now-former friend. “Because they’re my kinfolk, you silly girl.”

“I am not a girl.”

Celia gave Mabel a hard appraisal. How old was she truly? Behind Turner, something rustled in the undergrowth.

Lord, please, don’t let it be a gator. Those creatures terrified her. She spied some of the greens the slaves’ root doctor liked to gather. Why, she’d never be out in this swamp unless she was with Mama Teensy, looking for special vegetation for healing. Her hands shook and she clasped them together.

“You have to believe me.”

Gaskins rubbed his head, eyes closed tight, face pained. If only someone could knock him aside. He opened his watery eyes and glared at Celia.

Please Lord, send us help!

“I thought it’d be so easy. Mabel’s a true beauty. It had to have been your piety and your fortune, Miss Sheldon, ‘less he prefers those pale washwater looks of your’n.”

Turner bent and whispered in her ear. “The drunken man isn’t able to see well, my beauty.”
“Where’s that ring of your grandpappy’s?” Gaskins lurched forward, toward William. “One wedding means one cousin inherits. I want to be sure it’s the right couple.”
Celia covered her mouth, sure she was going to start screaming any moment now. She swatted at a mosquito. No, she must be calm.

Mabel Holloway’s features hardened. “You could have had any young man in Charleston, Celia Sheldon. But you had to flirt with the one man I fell in love with, didn’t you? How many times had I shared my feelings with you about William?”

Turner squeezed Celia’s hand, his dark hair falling across his forehead as he leaned toward her. “All will be well,” he whispered. “Have faith.”

Mabel’s eyes flashed at Celia. “I hoped you would go after my latest beau. William and I talked about everything. He believed if I accepted Miles’ engagement offer, you were so contrary you’d pursue the one man I had.”

Under no condition would Celia have chased after Miss Holloway’s beau. Heat rose up her neck.

Crossing her arms over her ample chest, Mabel fixed her gaze on William. “Why did you tell me that, then, Mr. Owens, if you intended to marry Miss Sheldon?”

Turner Cane Owens placed a protective arm around Celia. She leaned into his side. The scent of leather, starch, and lemon verbena and the warmth of his hand at her waist, soothed her.

Tears poured down Mabel’s cheeks. “If you had just let things be, Celia. If you’d only ignored him every time we stopped by the shops. If you’d married Jonathan.”

How did she manage to look so pretty even with mud all over her dress, her auburn hair tumbled down, and red splotching her ivory face?

William brought Mabel into his arms and Turner looked down at Celia, his eyebrows raised. The serpent moved lower, closer to its target.

The scent of brackish water strengthened, the tides must be coming in. Soon this area would be ankle deep in water. Celia finally possessed her bearings. The quarters for the outside servants weren’t far from here and they should be coming back from the fields soon. Dear Lord, how could we get there, to protection? She should have been home by now. Surely Daddy would have sent someone looking. Wouldn’t he?
“Well, at least now you’ll cease mangling our Carolina accent, Miss Holloway. Made me wince sometimes.” William laughed then cried out as Mabel brought her foot down hard on his.

Slithering movement resumed in the trees ahead of Celia. Brown variegated pattern against the tan limb suggested a cottonmouth. From behind, whispers soft as a breeze rustled through the cyprus. From the corner of her eye, Celia noted something moving from behind the massive swamp oak.

Turner glanced over her shoulder, eyes widening, before he nodded almost imperceptibly.

Warm wood slid over and forward on her shoulder and rested heavily there. Had Turner not held her, she’d have jerked away. Moving only her eyes to look, first the muzzle then rifle barrel appeared. She took a deep breath inhaling the scent of fatback, lye soap, and coconut oil that only one man she knew rubbed into his dark skin. She exhaled in relief – her prayers had been answered.

Oblivious to the water moccasin dangling above him, Gaskins pulled the cork out of his liquor bottle and took a swig. The freedmen’s eyes grew wide as they stared in Celia’s direction.

“Its ‘Lijah, Missy—don’t you be movin’. You realize you be on your cousins’ land here?” The man’s deep voice was one she’d known all her life.

Celia exhaled in relief.

“This be her swamp, Miss Celia. I got permission to hunt back here. Can shoot nuisance varmints if’n I see ‘em. Sure do see one now—maybe two. Leroy Gaskin be a nuisance and a varmint so I reckon that make him just what I say. But his kin…” The gun lifted from her shoulder. “Cover your ears, Miss Celia, and close your eyes.”


Contributed by Carrie Fancett Pagels, http://CarrieFancettPagels.com

Chapter Six will be hosted by Gina Welborn on www.inkwellinspirations.com
written by Patty Smith Hall.

And the prizes! Don't forget the prizes! 
Comment on each chapter for a separate entry into the big drawing at the end!


101 comments:

  1. Wow, Carrie, I did not see that coming! Great job! So, I am guessing he will shoot the water moccasin..but then again, you ladies have surprised me at every turn. :)

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    1. Haha, you'll have to find out tomorrow, DEBBIE!!! Thanks so much for coming by!!!

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  2. Oh my goodness! Each chapter leaves me hanging all the more!!!!! Can't wait for tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. MICHELLE, Thanks for reading my section! This was such a fun project but it was hard because of the need to leave the reading hanging plus the ante just kept getting upped with each chapter! Blessings!

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  3. So tell me... will you put these all together into an ebook one of these days?

    Carrie - oh my! That was too intense. You had to introduce a snake (or two or three?)

    And please continue to enter me in the drawings. You are all such amazing writers with new books out or on the way. I'm so glad you did this, ladies.

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    1. DEB, The first week or two that I had moved to SC, a classmate had a snake drop out of the trees and into his boat and bite him. ACK!!! He almost died.

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    2. Deb, I love the idea of putting these together in an ebook!

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    3. I agree that these should be in an ebook!!!

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    4. Yes! An ebook would be great. & be sure & let everyone know... I wld like to reread them all w/out having to wait a day in between!

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  4. My, my, my...the plot thickens. :)

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  5. Did not see that coming! Can't wait until tomorrow:)

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  6. One twist after another - keeping us on the edge of our seats Carrie! Wow, you sure can write angel momma! ;)

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  7. Great chapter, Carrie! It was fun working with you on this.

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  8. Even though I've read what happens next, I still can't stop wondering what happens next.

    Love it!

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  9. Still say ... this should have been an actual book ! Truly, by the end of each chapter -- I have NO idea of where this story will be turning next ! Keep it coming, ladies. Looking forward to Chapter 6 ....
    Brenda (brennie7@hotmail.com)

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  10. Brenda, thanks for the compliment about this serial story being an actual book.

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  11. Working with these ladies on this project, I was so surprised how each managed to add her own twist, keep the action going, and just keep the story going, while demonstrating some great writing.

    I got to write the ending. It was really hard to follow these great acts.

    Laurie Alice Eakes

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    1. I was thinking earlier about why on earth would Laurie Alice have agreed to take the end of this serial when that is the absolute hardest part of the entire thing? Especially since this was your idea to write this story, I thought. I can't wait to see how you wrapped it all up! This was a great exercise in writing--thanks for thinking of it!!!

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  12. This is so fun to read! Can't wait to finish the rest!

    booksandbeverages (at) gmail.com

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    1. JAMIE, I am so glad that you enjoyed your read! Just a couple more to go. Blessings!

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  13. Oo-oo-oo. Good job, Carrie. Love the twists and turns. Cringing, waiting for the snake to make its move. Gaskins is a notorious name in South Carolina. Perfect name.

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    1. I had totally forgotten about that, SUSAN! I bet there are many godly Gaskins, too, though! My bro said one of our family names, Wenham, is the surname of the last witch tried in England!

      http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1257743?uid=3739936&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101984231017

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    2. not the last one tried--Jane Wenham was the last witch in England condemned to death.

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  14. Oh, my goodness. Will they get out of this alive? What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. LOL KATHLEEN! Great to see you here!!! This has been a wild ride, hasn't it, and I made it a little wilder!

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  15. CARRIE this is Mah-velous Dah-ling!! Yes, there was a Gaskins here that was a serial killer. Good choice for the name. Can't wait for the next chapter. :)

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    1. Guess it would help if I left my email. :D avonmathews(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    2. TERESA, I wonder if that is how I got that name!!! It just came to me--I bet that is why. Although I shouldn't say that because my character was purely fictional. I know your email btw, hahaha, I'm funny like that! Blessings to our OWG poetess!!!

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    3. CARRIE all I can say is...sleep deprivation. :)

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  16. Just when you think a marriage between two are sealed, someone has to go and disturb everything and now things get a lot more interesting. Reading about the snake moving around made me hold my breath as to what it first was, and then finding out what it really was made me hold my breath more. Will anyone get hurt? I can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter.

    In Christ,
    Tracy

    http://poetics-of-life.blogspot.com/

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    1. I wasn't going to hurt any of our sweet gals or handsome guys, TRACY, but who knows what the next two authors in this series will do!!! Blessings!

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  17. That came out of nowhere! I've almost convinced myself that this story is enough of a prize but I've still got my fingers crossed!

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    1. Glad u r enjoying this MELODY!!! Best wishes on the contest!

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  18. Wow, Carrie. Well done! I hope you all tell us how you all worked together to develop this tale.

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    1. JANET, actually Gina is looking at writing an article about this. It really is a different experience trying to do one semi-cohesive story. Very tricky! Blessings!

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  19. Oh what a tangled web we weave! I don't know if I can take any more revelations! :) I can't wait for the next part.

    amberthereader@juno.com

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    1. HAHA, AMBER! And boy is this one tangled story!!! I pray you will bear up till the very end!!! Blessings!

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  20. Oh, I really can't wait for the next chapter!

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    1. I was, too, cuz I sure hope the next person would work out what I had written in, lol! Blessings!

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  21. Carrie WOW , I did not see this one coming . Great job. I don't care for any kind of snakes. I hope no one gets hurt. Well just have to wait another day..
    Elizabeth
    lizd225(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Haha ELIZABETH I doubt any of the other authors did, either!!! Carrie has her own way of doing things, lol! Glad you enjoyed! Thanks so much!

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  22. Awesome chapter, Carrie!!! How fun this is!!! Only 2 more chapters... I haven't read them yet so I have no idea what's going to happen. Can't wait!

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    1. Thanks, ML. Love that coming from the Queen of Awesomeness herself!Hugs!

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  23. I can't wait until tomorrow!!!!
    southernbelle75@hotmail.com

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    1. Ohmygoodnessgracious--a real Southern Belle read this! Hugs!

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  24. I dislike snakes of any kind. Can't wait to see how the story continues!
    Nancycooks4u@gmail.com

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  25. Okay, now I feel like I missed a whole sequence, yet I've read them all straight through! :( There are a lot of twists going on, and this piece is going differently than I originally thought it would have,... I'm a bit confused with the character who stepped out from the shadows, but what is good, is at least Celia recognised the voice! Keeping tuned to see how it all resolves,...

    inkand-blogaways(at)usa.net
    //Florida

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    1. {ps} I stopped by the CQ after I posted my comment,... noting that I was meant to mention the CQ, as I am a regular RSS follower of Colonial Quills! Not sure if this still counts, but I thought best to add it now! :)

      I realise too, what confuses me,... this installment has more 'backstory', but the other installments were focusing more on 'what was happening in the moment',... so the point of view shifted at a sharp angle...

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    2. JORIE, I am afraid so, but this is what came out when I started writing! And you will be entered for the CQ giveaway. In fact, you might be the only one entered with CQ on there! Thanks for sharing your insights!!!

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    3. JORIE, you won a pack of note cards from CQ, congrats!!! Will email you to get your address. Blessings!

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  26. i agree not a fan of snakes....good story -- need to read the rest!!

    truckredford (at) gmail (dot) com

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  27. Can't wait for the next chapter! :)
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

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  28. That was a great chapter Carrie. Can't wait for the next chapter to see what the next twist to the story is. It keeps you hanging for the next chapter. I wish there was more than 2 chapters left.

    Mary Duff
    missniceguy@hotmail.com

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  29. Great story, each chapter is spellbinding, making me come back to read it a second time. The only problem is that the second time reading it still stops at the same place, not farther in the story.

    Thanks to all for your work.

    Madelyn Neher

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    1. MADELYN, I really appreciate that you realize the amount of work an effort like this takes. And it is an effort of love for readers, so I am glad u r enjoying!!!

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  30. I certainly didn't anticipate the betrayal by Mabel. You are really making things interesting! I look forward to the next chapter.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. PAM, My brain locked up, trying to figure out something that would continue this story. Realize--this was not a brainstorming work it out project--each author was given the previous compendium and had to continue within a certain time frame. I think I had one week!!!

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  31. Talk about a cliffhanger! Looking forward to the last few chapters...

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I don't like cliffhanger books but this will end up all wrapped up, PATTY! Blessings!

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  32. Love it - I had to search for this today, but I am so glad I found it!! Can hardly wait to read the rest!
    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. BETZ, I am sorry u had to search for this, but so glad u found us! Blessings!

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  33. And what will happen next...
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  34. Carrie, Carrie, Carrie - how could you scare us all to death like this? You didn't just leave us hanging, you kept that poor snake dangling as well. Looking forward to the next installment.

    dsks88(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. SANDY, Well that was the point!!! haha! I hope you enjoyed the entire story! Blessings!

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  35. Oh my! How exciting! I love it. Carrie, you brought up a level. I think the snake will get Gaskin and Lijah will get that big bad snake! I also remember the series on CQ. You girls are too good. LOL Love to you all. And, not an ebook, but a Novella. Everyone can read it then, unlike a ebook. How many thought a big ole Alligator was going to get Gaskin? I know one thing. This all will be over before I want it to be, :( But, sure enjoying it now. Enjoyed every chapter. hard to wait for the ext one. Also, I am a follower of CQ Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. I thought I replied to the comments, but I don't see them, so I want to say THANK YOU, MAXIE, for your kind comments! I think Gaskins would have tasted too bad for the alligator to eat, MAXIE!!

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  36. It is hard having to wait a day for the next chapter when you want so badly to just keep reading!
    michums14@gmail.com

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  37. This gets more complicated and more exciting. Am looking forward to tomorrow. rttl@mosquitonet.com

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  38. Oh! Snakes! Ah!
    I love this chapter! This is soooo good. :)

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  39. Snakes, ew! Who else, or what else, will show up next? (mylab1122) at (gmail) dot (com)

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  40. This has been so much fun! I hope you are all having as much fun writing this, as we are reading it.
    Vicki
    vmarney(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  41. This chapter got complicated!! Lol. So many stories to keep straight... can't wait to see what happens next!

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  42. Loving this thank you!! So creative & imaginative.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  43. Sense a different voice writing this chapter or is it the character shift of Mable and the intrusion of this vile man? Anyway, who is going to inflict harm first? The man with the rifle, the snake (cottonmouth), or the vile man who has just come on the scene, or one of the cousins?

    godleyv [at] yahoo(dot)com

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    1. VERA, that is the tricky thing about writing a group serial story--I have a really strong voice! I hope you enjoyed the chapter!

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  44. Gets better and better!!! Blessings! Darlene
    spangldlady[at]gmail[dot]com

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  45. Good grief! I didn't see that coming!
    sarpenner(at)gmail(dot)com

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  46. Surprise, surprise!

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

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  47. I am enjoying this too much. I can't wait till tomorrows chapter 6. What a twisted web is woven into this story...

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  48. I forgot to put CQ on my previous comments!
    dsks88(at)gmail(dot)com

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  49. Wow, this is getting better and better!
    Jasmine A.
    montanamade(at)gmail(dot)com

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  50. A webiste to get Firefox 3 to stop logging me out everytime I close
    the browser?

    My page - Http://paginasamarillas-atl.com/file-a-transvaginal-mesh-lawsuit-to-have-compensation

    ReplyDelete
  51. I can't wait!!!! This story is getting better and better and I hope it continues long after seven chapters!
    Callie

    genuinegagirl(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  52. I am really enjoying this except for the snake, really don't like them.
    This has been so good so far and can't wait to read more.


    wilmamet6(at)gmail(dot)com

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  53. Lady DragonKeeperMarch 18, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    That really threw me off ---had to re-read the chapter. =) Haha, the plot thickens!

    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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  54. That came from left field:-) Great twist!

    Please enter me in the giveaway!

    aizess@christianbookreviewblog.com

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  55. Oh my word...just when i think it can't get more suspenseful....it does. i love it. Thanks for inviting me!

    mitziUNDERSCOREwanhamATyahooDOTcom

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  56. Oh the suspense! :)

    mandyerog(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  57. Another great chapter!!

    mochawithlinda at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete