Chapter Two of The Rebel’s Hero

Dear Reader,

Remember, my goal for ROW80 was pretty simple: write 750 words a week. I like achievable goals. They make me happy. Here we have the second chapter of The Rebel’s Hero, something that I wrote three times because each time I wasn’t hitting the right tone. Read the first draft of chapter one.

What do you think about this chapter? Is the characterization over the top? Is Tempest unbelievable, given that she’s a tomboy during the Civil War?

After they finished their silent dinner, Tempest followed Howard and Sophronia to the parlor. Still stinging from Howard’s remark of her “wildness,” Tempest made sure to float across the room and sink into her chair with no more noise than a soft sigh. She kept her posture rigid, her eyes narrowed, and her hands clenched in her lap.

Howard paid no attention, which meant she was giving herself a headache for nothing. Sophronia lounged on a chaise in a dark corner, a handkerchief laid across her eyes. There would be no help from that corner, of that Tempest was certain.

Tempest’s mind raced. Howard had been serious at dinner, she knew he had been serious. And her mother had sat there, sipping her soup because Howard had instructed her to. Tempest worked her jaw in an effort to fight the telltale growing pressure of impending tears.

Of all people, why Walter?

Fifteen minutes passed as the three of them listened to the grandfather clock ticking from the hallway. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Tempest cursed her heart for the way it continued to beat, keeping time with the clock, as if the world had not just ended. Tick. Tock. Everything slowed and Tempest just knew if she did not leave at that instant, she would scream. At the chime of the quarter hour, Tempest jumped to her feet.

“Pardon me, I have a headache,” she said in stiff tones. She held her chin high and refused to look at either Howard or Sophronia as she sailed from the room, her wide skirts swaying with the speed of her escape.

She walked to the front porch of the house and stared out at their farmland. No doubt this was why Walter was agreeing to marry her. It was always about land with these stupid men. Tempest shook her head. She would never understand it. How could a man marry a woman he knew didn’t love him, didn’t even like him, would prefer to spit on the ground than speak to him, just for some dirt?

Howard is hiding something.

Tempest sat on the swing that hung from the rafters of the porch and with smooth, practiced motions, lifted her skirts high, and dropped the hoop skirt then and there for all the world to see. Not that anyone could or would see, it was just her and the slaves and the farm and the black sky. Not even the stars dared shine tonight, not under the threat of Tempest’s furious frown.

Freed of her hoops, Tempest crouched easily to remove her shoes and stockings, discarding them where Howard would be able to see them when he came out for his evening smoke. Might as well. He already thought she was wild, and one evening of perfect behavior wouldn’t change his mind. Tempest tucked the hem of her skirt into her waistband so she could do what she had been wanting to do since hearing Howard’s awful news. Run.

Why now? she thought, knowing she would get a stitch in her side if she ran as hard as she wanted to, thanks to the stupid corset she was forced to wear. I’ve been of age for two years, why now? And why Walter?

Leaping from the front porch, Tempest ran. She ran from the house in her bare feet with sure strides that belied the way her stomach sloshed with every step. The tears she refused to show to Howard now flowed freely, hanging in the air like rain drops as she sped to her tree by the creek.

Walter. The name sent shivers down her back even though the air was thick with hot humidity. Her hair curled at her temples at at the back of her neck. Her arms became slick with sweat. Walter the Breaker, she had once heard him called on a bright morning before Sunday church. Breaker of spirits, horse and human. Another shiver.

It’s because I’ve been asking questions.

Tempest’s toughened feet paid no mind to the grass, twigs, and bugs they crushed. Tempest was the very embodiment of her name, dust flying, birds squawking, as she reached her tree. She caught a low-hanging branch without bothering to slow down. She swung around and kicked off the side of the tree trunk to jettison upwards. She caught another branch, and another, scrambling up the tree with the speed of a squirrel. She stopped when she was high enough to see the farmhouse.

Plopping onto a branch that was thick enough to hold her weight, Tempest leaned back against the tree trunk and crossed her arms over her panting chest as she wheezed.

Things had not been right since her father’s death. Everyone said Reginald Granville died via an unfortunate accident with the drink, but Tempest knew better. Reginald had never had problems with drinking. Even Tempest, at eight years old, had known that her father wasn’t a drinker, that he couldn’t have smashed his head into the cellar floor because he had tripped over his own feet. But that was what Howard had insisted, with tears in his eyes.

Tempest scraped the back of her hand against her traitorous tears. She should have known better than to ask Sophronia about Reginald’s death the other day. She should have known her questions would send Sophronia into ten years of latent hysterics, and Howard would come running. Tempest hadn’t expected to trigger Sophronia’s bad habit of sleepwalking to the cellar, though. No doubt that was why Howard was trying to get rid of her. To silence her questions and stop causing her mother’s hysterics and sleepwalking. Things could be peaceful at the farmhouse, if only Tempest wasn’t around.

Her chin jutted out. If Howard wanted to get rid of her, he didn’t have to marry her off.

A plan began to form. Hadn’t Sophronia received a letter not too long ago? They so rarely received letters these days. Tempest had been surprised at how dismissive her mother had been about it. If only she could find that letter. Someone knew they existed, even though as a principle, the family refused to leave the farm for anything but church.

Maybe, just maybe, Tempest could find that letter, and find the writer of it, and get some of the answers her family refused to reveal. No doubt this person had a history with Sophronia, one that went longer than the last ten years, and lived far enough away to not know how she had changed.

Everyone in the village knew Sophronia was not of this world any longer. She floated through it, suffered it, paid no mind. Someone knew her before Reginald’s death, and cared enough to write. Whoever this person was, whoever it was that cared about her mother, this was Tempest’s best option.

“One of these days, Howard,” Tempest muttered as she climbed down the tree, “you’re going to regret pushing Reginald Granville’s family around.”

All the best,

Belinda

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This is part of the ROW80 Bloghop

6 thoughts on “Chapter Two of The Rebel’s Hero

  1. I should imagine there must have been some undisciplined girls around then, always have been I would think, great courage tho and great slackness on adults part. It sounds good. Easy on the eye, do you know what happens or is she a character with a mind of her own leading you onwards?!!

    Good goals there and lifts the pressure not having large word counts to try and acheive. Best of luck next week

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    1. I agree! Undisciplined girls are the ones that make things happen, anyway, if you ask me.

      I do know what happens, I have the major plot points figured out, now I just have to fill in the details. Though, while writing the next chapter I was surprised to find out that two of my characters are sisters… and I didn't plan for that. Funny how that happens!

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  2. One of Jane Austen's characters (Catherine Moorland in "Northanger Abbey") was described as having been a tomboy as a child, who played sports with the boys. So I think if you handle it right, you can make it fly. 🙂

    I'm liking the heroine more – she seems a more sympathetic character now. 🙂 And I like the way more plot threads are starting to come through. Throwing in her thoughts a little at a time as she runs works well. 🙂

    I think you need make it clearer WHY she thinks this letter is so important, though. To me it seems just a little random. Maybe more emphasis on her mother NEVER getting letters? Perhaps Howard has been deliberately isolating her. He seems the sort to do that. 😀

    I do like the way it's coming together, though. And I think you're incredibly brave to post your first drafts! I haven't even let my Mum see mine! 😀

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    1. Ruth, thank you for reminding me about that! I completely forgot that Catherine was supposed to be tomboyish. I'll have to go back and re-read the sections describing her, just to see how Miss Austen approached the subject.

      Thanks for the critique! That's a great point. I was wondering if I needed to go into more detail about the letter, and you answered my question.

      This is why I've been posting these first drafts. I need to get out of my head and hear what concerns readers have! Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it.

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  3. Oh man, thanks Shari! You're right, Tempest is very no-nonsense. I mean, I can't say I realized that until you said it, but now that you've said it, you're totally right. That's definitely something I'll have to keep in mind as I go forward with the story. Thanks so much for pointing out I had lost the tone of the moment.

    Yeah… it wouldn't make sense for Tempest to have a heaving bosom… she's practically flat up there hahaha.

    Huh. I guess I didn't see posting the excerpt as something scary… I figured the people who would care to comment would be constructive. It's worked out so far! 🙂

    In terms of the romance… I'm beginning to realize, and come to terms with the fact, that I write young adult historical romance. My romances are too chaste to be considered adult, I think. If they are adult romances, they are definitely "sweet" adult romances. So that said, you might like my books. They're pretty light on physical romance, focusing on the relationship instead.

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