Suzanna’s eyes narrowed and her lips tightened. “I did not come to this god forsaken valley to live in a cave,” she snapped. The toddler on her hip started fussing but Suzanna only shifted impatiently and continued to glare at her husband on the other side of the room. “You promised me glass windows. You also said you wanted to farm, that you were finished with trapping.”
Gerald gestured at the beaver pelts lying just inside the cabin door. “I was finding the means to buy glass,” he said mildly.
Suzanna turned away. “The money will just go to something else.” Alma fussed again and Suzanna bent to place her on the floor. “The mule will go lame or cougars will take down a couple more calves.”
“Don’t you ‘sweet’ me!” She straightened, hands on her hips. “I will not be sweet-talked out of this! You can’t expect me to live in a cabin with just shutters at the windows, sitting in the dark whenever it rains!”
“We have lamps.”
“It’s not the same and you know it!”
Alma had toddled to her father. She clung to his leg, looking up at him. “Papa stay home?” she asked. “Mama ang’y.” She shook her dark curly head. “Me don’ like Mama ang’y.”
Gerald and Suzanna stared at each other for a long moment. Then Gerald scooped Alma into his arms and Suzanna threw her hands in the air helplessly and crossed the room. She leaned her head against his shoulder. “I had no idea when you would return,” she said into his sleeve.
Copyright ©2016 Loretta Miles Tollefson
NOTE: This is a prequel to my novel No Secret Too Small
The newest book in my Old New Mexico series went live this morning! Please help me welcome No Secret Too Small! This novel is set in New Mexico in the late 1830s, during what is popularly known as the Chimayó Revolt. If you’ve seen my historical blog posts in the last couple months (start here), you know a little about that event.
The story is from the perspective of Alma Locke, the eight-year-old daughter of Gerald and Suzanna. Gerald and Suzanna have been married almost ten years. In that time, he’s never told her that his grandmother was a runaway slave.
When Gerald’s father shows up in the valley, the truth comes out. Suzanna is furious. She leaves the family’s New Mexico mountain home and takes Alma and six-year-old Andrew with her. As she and the children reach Santa Fe, revolt breaks out and Alma and Andrew are exposed to sights no child should ever have to experience.
This trauma and the prejudice they experience because of their heritage makes Alma long for home.
But even if her mother can forgive past secrets, the way back to the valley is now blocked by winter weather and entrenched rebels. Will Alma’s family ever be reunited?
Early readers agree that this is a heart-breaking yet ultimately triumphant story about secrets, prejudice, love, and the impact of adult conflict on our children.
I hope you’ll think so, too! Here’s the link for the ebook. I’ll post the ones for the paperback as soon as they’re available.
As Suzanna rounded the cabin from the garden, she saw Gerald in the yard loading his pistol. Both of the children stood beside him, watching intently.
“What are you doing?” Suzanna asked.
“We’re learning to shoot!” Andrew said gleefully.
Suzanna frowned. “We?” she asked. She looked at Gerald. “Andrew’s one thing, but Alma doesn’t need–”
“But I’m the oldest,” Alma said.
“She’s unfeminine enough,” Suzanna said to Gerald. “Always out fishing when she should be inside with her needlework.”
A smile flitted across his face. “Out here, everyone should know how to shoot,” he said mildly. “For safety’s sake.”
“More reason to move someplace civilized.” She turned and stalked toward the house.
“Can I load it, Papa?” Alma asked.
“Me, too!” Andrew said.
Gerald crouched down to show them again how it was done.
Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson
“How old is Old Pete, anyhow?” Suzanna asked as she perched herself on a large granite rock and looked down at the valley with its long grass and meandering streams. She glanced at Gerald. “He doesn’t look much older than you.”
Gerald chuckled. “He’s been Old Pete as long as I’ve known him. They say Old Bill Williams started calling him that in ’26 when they were trapping with St. Vrain and his bunch north of the Gila. Pete was kinda harrassing Bill, wanting to know just how old he was. Finally, Old Bill got aggravated and started callin’ Pete ‘Old Pete.’” He grinned, plucked a piece of grass, and looked it over carefully. “And that’s what he’s been ever since.” Gerald put the grass stem in his mouth, bit down appreciatively, and chuckled again as he gazed at the green landscape below.
“Those mountain men are quite something,” Suzanna said.
“That they are,” he answered. “That they are.”
Copyright © 2016 Loretta Miles Tollefson