Destined for Love (1000 word story challenge)

Photo courtesy  melodi2,

Lydia stood at the edge of the creek willing herself to look away from the preacher’s bare back, but her gaze remained locked.

Only her older brother’s voice broke the spell.

“Joshua, you get yourself decent, there’s a lady present.” Frank said.
Lydia felt the heat creep up her neck and spread across her cheeks as she whirled around to put the scene behind her.

Frank and Joshua had been friends for as long as Lydia could remember and Lydia had been in love with Joshua for just about as long…though she’d never admitted that to a living soul.
“Just coolin’ off a bit,” laughed Joshua as he made his way to shore in his water logged trousers. He slipped into his shirt and pulled on his boots. “You can turn around now, Miss Lydia. I’m decent.”

Lydia wanted to sink right down into the muddy banks of Carter’s Creek. She, Frank and Joshua and most of the other kids in town had swam together in that creek many times, but that was years ago - before they had grown up. Still, she didn’t want Joshua to know that the sight had bothered her.
She turned around to face the men, flipping her brown curls in the process. “Decent?” she said, “Joshua, you’ve never been decent a day in your life. Not since you chased me down the street with a garter snake when you were 12. You were a scoundrel then and you’re a scoundrel now.” She put both fists on her hips. “Why, I expect you’ll always be a scoundrel and how you got to be a preacher, I’ll never know.”

Joshua chuckled, “Well, I reckon the good Lord gets a kick out of turnin’ scoundrels into saints, just so it’ll confuse people.”
“A saint? A saint? Why Joshua Daws, if you think you’re a saint…”

Frank stepped between his sister and the preacher.

“Will you two never stop bickering?”
“I will if she will,” Joshua grinned.

Lydia raised her chin and squared her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” She said. “If you will excuse us, Parson Daws, my brother and I were on our way to the mercantile to pick up supplies for Mama.” With that she spun on her heels and marched herself toward town. “Are you coming, Frank?” she threw over her shoulder.
Joshua watched the only girl who’d ever caught his eye walk away. He turned and gave Frank a playful slug in the arm. “My friend, that sister of yours gets prettier every day.”

Frank shook his head. “When are you two going to admit you like each other so you can get on with the task of courtin’? You know you’re going to wind up my brother-in-law sooner or later.”
Joshua turned again to look down the path Lydia had taken. “From your lips to God’s ears, my friend,” he said.

--Several months later--

“I reckon I’ll just have to up and marry you, Miss Lydia,” said Joshua, giving the swing another push.
Lydia squealed. “Joshua Daws, you stop this swing right now!”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. Stepping in front of the swing, he grabbed both ropes as Lydia swung toward him. The swing jerked to a stop, throwing the pretty girl right into his arms. He pulled her close. “Will you, Lydia?” His voice softened. “Will you marry me?”

Lydia’s heart pounded in her chest, her face felt flush as tried to push him away. “Let me go, Joshua.”
“Never,” said the preacher, tightening his hold.

Lydia looked over her shoulder at her family and friends, gathered on the church grounds for a late summer picnic.
“Let go,” she said, pushing herself out of his embrace. “Someone will see.”

“Don’t bother me, none,” he shrugged. “They know we’ve been courtin’ for a while. I doubt anyone will be surprised when we get married.”
Lydia narrowed her eyes and did her level best to look perturbed. “And just what makes you think I’ll marry you, Parson Daws?”

Joshua reached out and ran his finger down her cheek. “Well,” he said, “because I’ve known from the first time I ever laid eyes on you that you were the girl for me.”
Lydia’s skin tingled where he’d touched her face. “Joshua, don’t be silly. I was only nine years old when we moved to Carter’s Creek and you and Frank became friends.”

“That’s right, and I’ve waited 10 long years for you to grow up so I could make you my wife. Besides that, you've got to admit…you and me would make the cutest babies this side of the Rockies.”
Lydia felt the heat rush to her face again. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”

He pulled her back into his arms. “Say I’m wrong, sweetheart. Say you don’t love me. Say you don’t want to be my wife and I’ll walk away.”
With that, he dropped down on one knee and shouted loud enough for the whole town to hear, “Lydia Reynolds, will you be my wife?”

“Say yes,” Frank yelled from up on the hill.
“Say yes,” her father shouted from the bench under the oak tree.

“Say yes! Say yes!” came more cries from the crowd.
Joshua looked into her hazel eyes. “Say yes,” he whispered.

Lydia was beat and she knew it. She threw her head back and laughed. “Yes, yes, yes, I will marry you, Parson Daws.”
A cheer rose from the crowd as their friends descended the hill to congratulate them.

Frank got to his sister first and gave her a big hug. “About time,” he said, “What took you so long?”
Lydia gave him a sly grin. “Sometimes you just have to let a feller chase you until you catch him,” she said.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

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