She was surprised how easy it was to talk to him, and he kissed her again. Nelson & Cora.
June 2, 2013
A VG Serial: Nelson & Cora
Alberdeen, Kentucky, 1866
Cora stood still. She raised her head and looked at the door her brother went through.
Nelson continued to watch her.
He said again, “Good morning, ma’am.”
Cora didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to look at him, but then again, she wanted to see him so badly.
She meant to glance, that was it, a glance. A look in his direction to let him know she heard him, that she wasn’t scared of him.
She looked at him, and Nelson’s face lit up. He smiled at Cora.
“Good morning, sir,” at least she could say that much.
“Nelson,” he said to her.
“What?” Cora said. She continued to stand where Thomas had left her.
“My name is Nelson, Nelson McGinnis,” he said. He motioned to the bench where he was sitting.
“Would you like to sit down?” he asked. He started to stand.
“Please, don’t get up. I will just stand, thank you,” Cora said. She surprised herself with her voice and that she was making sense.
“Miss Ross, is it?” Nelson said. He had made a point of remembering the lawyer’s last name. he thought they were brother and sister from the way they had spoken to each other last night. He hoped that was the case.
“Yes, Mr. McGinnis,” Cora stepped away from the bench where he sat.
“Cora,” Nelson said. He continued to smile at her. “I bet you didn’t think I would remember.”
She smiled at him before she could help herself. Cora dropped her head a bit, hoping that he would not notice how big her smile was from seeing him.
“But, I did. I remembered,” Nelson said.
Cora thought about Thomas saying that she should not encourage him, that whatever attention she gave him was encouragement. She didn’t know what to do. So she stood there and looked back down at the floor.
“I want to apologize for my behavior yesterday,” Nelson said.
She looked him in the eyes.
“I did not mean to offend you. For that, I am truly sorry,” he continued. Nelson stood.
Cora didn’t move. He walked closer to her, but she did not back away.
“Apology accepted, Mr. McGinnis,” she said. She looked him in the eyes when she spoke.
Nelson motioned again for her to sit on the bench. “Won’t you please sit down? I would be much more comfortable if you were comfortable as well. Who knows how long we will be waiting here. If there’s one thing I know, lawyers always take longer than they say they will,” Nelson said.
Cora hesitated and then moved to the bench. She sat down as far away from him as she could without making it conspicuous. She didn’t want anything to be awkward.
She thought of how it would look when Thomas opened the door. She didn’t want to fight with Thomas again.
Nelson sat down in his original spot. He didn’t try to sit closer to her, even though he wanted to.
Cora thought that maybe that was the end of the conversation, maybe they would wait in silence for their brothers.
The silence lasted only a heartbeat.
“Do you live in town, Miss Ross?” Nelson asked.
“Yes. Do you Mr. McGinnis?” She didn’t know why she was asking him where he lived.
Was that forward? She didn’t want him to think she was forward. She wasn’t trying to be.
“Please, call me Nelson. No. I do not live in town. My brother has an apartment here.
He is finishing law school,” Nelson said.
“Cora. Please call me Cora. My brother finished two years ago. Is your brother going into private practice?” Cora’s heart was beating so loudly that she was certain he could hear it.
“Cora. That is a lovely name. Cora. No, my brother thinks he is. But, my father has other plans,” Nelson said. He didn’t know why he told her that. He hadn’t even discussed that with George.
“Will your brother be upset? They go through so much. Studying long hours, training.
What does he say about it?” Cora asked.
She found herself wanting to reach out and grab his hand. She didn’t know why in the world she felt that way. Of course, she thought, she would never allow herself to touch him. She blushed.
“He won’t have much say in it. My father made the decision. That’s how it will be.
George will accept it,” Nelson said. He wanted to pick up her hand and kiss it, like he had last night. But, he didn’t dare do anything that might make her leave. He would do anything to keep her here, talking to him.
“That’s unfortunate,” Cora said. She didn’t know what else to say. If the conversation was dependent on her, she was afraid they were done. She was drawing a blank.
“Yes, but expected,” he said. He couldn’t quit telling her things. Why was he telling her about things he hadn’t discussed with his father or brother?
“What do you do, Cora?” he asked.
“I am finishing my studies at home. I expect I will become a seamstress, as is my mother. But, I enjoy the law so much. I wish things were different. I think in a different lifetime, I might have made a good lawyer,” Cora said. She blushed deeper now. Why had she admitted that to him? Nelson didn’t give her time to be embarrassed.
“I can tell you are smart. You must read a lot. Me, I hate to read,” Nelson said.
“There are all kinds of smart, though, Nelson. Not just book smart. That’s good for some things, but not everything,” Cora said.
She was surprised at how easy it was to talk with him, especially when she thought of how flustered she had been last night when he kissed her hand.
“True, all kinds of smart. I am not book smart. But, there are other things that I know pretty well,” Nelson said. He liked talking to her. It was easy, like talking to George, until he looked at her. When he looked at her, he wanted to quit talking, scoot closer to her, grab her hand and kiss her cheeks and mouth. He didn’t move, though.
“Like what?” Cora asked. She was thankful he was continuing the conversation.
“I am pretty good at farming, figures, things at market and such,” Nelson said. He would answer any question she asked him, as long as it kept her sitting right there beside him, even if it was on a bench in the courthouse.
“McGinnis Plantation?” Cora asked. She already knew the answer. Thinking about the stronghold that it was for the Confederate army and thinking about what her father and brother had said about that place in connection with the people who left there for
Texas, it made Cora want to get up and leave.
“Yes, that is my family’s plantation,” Nelson said. He didn’t know what to add. He knew that she was Union. She knew that he was Confederate. How far would they go with their conversation now?
Silence settled in the hall.
They both looked down at the floor.
“What else are you good at?” Cora asked.
Nelson smiled again. He was thankful for the opportunity to continue talking to her.
“I build rocking chairs,” Nelson said.
“Rocking chairs? That takes a long time, doesn’t it?” Cora asked.
“Yes. The last one I made was the best. It lasted the longest,” Nelson said. “I think it was a roaring success.”
“That’s wonderful. How long did it last?” Cora asked.
“About half an hour,” Nelson said.
Cora laughed. And, Nelson laughed too. His laughter made her laugh more. Their laughter continued to grow until finally, someone around the corner whispered a loud “shush.”
They both quit laughing out loud but continued to grin at each other. Nelson leaned closer to her and whispered, “They don’t know who they are shushing, do they?”
A loud guffaw escaped Cora’s lips. She put her hand over her mouth to try to silence herself, but it only muffled her giggles.
Nelson reached out and took her hand from her mouth.
She should have taken her hand away. He should not have touched her.
But, she held his hand and he squeezed her fingers gently. He put her hand to his lips. Nelson kissed her fingertips and the back of her hand. Cora leaned towards him and touched his cheek.
Chapters of the serial are published on Sunday.
You can learn more about Nelson & Cora on Amazon.