George Pettigrew and his papa must leave the California rancho they’d lived on since his birth. They end up in New York City, where Papa marries and George gets a new beloved mama. George also meets Frank and Bart who become fast friends, and in Bart’s case, even more.
The start of the Civil War leaves George the man of the family, but although he’s found a job, it’s difficult to pay the ever-increasing rent. Then Papa dies at Appomattox and Mama falls ill.
After Mama dies, her father takes George’s siblings. When George learns his younger sister is being abused, he rescues the three children. But will dressing his sisters as boys and himself as a woman be enough of a disguise to keep them safe until they can reach the valley he’s dreamed of? Will Bart leave behind his own family and go with the man he loves?
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George knew a number of boys at the academy he attended, boys he’d say hello to or smile at, but none that he was interested in pursuing a friendship with.
He’d talked to Papa about it.
“They’re acquaintances, Georgie, and that’s fine. Don’t let it worry you.”
Papa ruffled George’s hair. “Your Uncle Guillermo was the first man I liked enough to call friend, and I was…” His gaze became unfocused as he considered it. “I was twenty-five when we first met. It nearly tore out my heart when he died.” He looked almost as sad as when he thought about Mama—George’s first mama.
“Are you sorry you became friends with him?”
“No. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. He was the sort of man you wanted at your back when you knew trouble was brewing. The sort of man I want you to grow up to become.” Papa smiled. “So you’ve got plenty of time to find a friend or two.”
Because Papa had said so, George was content to wait.
And Papa was always right, because now George had two friends, Frank Thompson and Bart Hall.
George liked Frank. They worked together grooming the horses, and George helped Frank with his riding lessons. Frank helped him with his schoolwork, because while Papa was a smart man and knew many things, he wasn’t very good at teaching book learning to George.
“You’re not stupid, George,” Frank told him. “You can do this.” And he set to work teaching George how to do his sums.
They were close friends.
But George was fascinated by Bart, Mrs. Hall’s oldest son, who worked as a carpenter’s apprentice.
He first met Bart when he came around the side of the cottage while George was in the paddock exercising Nightfall.
Papa and Mr. Thompson had set up a schedule for Frank to come and help with the horses. Today wasn’t one of the days he’d come over… he’d had to go to the lawyer’s office, where he clerked.
They had three horses now, and in another five months, the number would rise to four. The beautiful palomino mare was in foal. Mama couldn’t ride, mostly because she was expecting a baby too, but that was okay. Papa worked with Bella Dama, calming her down, since not only had her last owner taken a whip to her, but so had the one before that, according to the old scars on her flanks.
That day, George had only put her through mild exercises; horses were big animals, but they could abort easily. She’d been out in the paddock earlier with Sunrise, but now she was resting in her box stall.
George had set up a few low jumps, and he rode Nightfall in a circle around the paddock before setting him at the first jump. The gelding took it easily and went on to the second jump and then the third. When they finished the course, George turned Nightfall, and that was when he saw the tall, broad-shouldered boy standing there.
For a second he couldn’t catch his breath. Hair so dark a brown it appeared black was tied back at the nape of his neck. His eyes were also a dark brown. A toolbox hung from his shoulder.
“Can…” George swallowed. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Bart Hall. I come by to walk my Ma home. I was going to the servants’ door, but then I saw you and I had to watch.” He said the last words almost defiantly.
“We don’t have a servants’ door, Bart Hall. Hello, I’m George Pettigrew.”
Bart’s brows met above his nose in a scowl. George figured he was about fourteen, three years older than him, but that expression made him seem older. Bart opened his mouth, and George smiled and wondered what he was going to say.
Bart’s scowl was replaced with a reluctant smile of his own, and George felt his heart give an unexpected thump. “Hello, George. Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I get snappy when I’m hungry.”
Did he think what he’d said was snappy? George wanted to grin at him, but he wasn’t sure how Bart would take it, so he didn’t. But he couldn’t resist a saucy smile
“Go on into the kitchen. Your mama’s putting the finishing touches on dinner. You can have some.”
“No, I can’t. I’m just a carpenter.”
“You’re a carpenter—that’s an honest profession, and there’s no just about it. I have to put Nightfall up. Go in, and I’ll join you in a minute. The side door opens into the kitchen.” George started to lean down to open the gate, but Bart bounded forward and unlatched it for him. “Thanks.” George nodded at Bart and nudged Nightfall through. “Close it, please?” He felt Bart’s gaze on him as he rode into the stable, and a quick glance over his shoulder proved him right. He sent a small salute Bart’s way, and Bart grinned at him and saluted back.
George kicked free of the stirrups, swung his leg over Nightfall’s neck, and slid to the stable floor. “What did you think of him?” he asked the gelding as he removed the saddle. “I’ve never seen anyone like him before.”
He couldn’t understand what was happening. Papa had told him about wet dreams, and he hadn’t panicked the next time his prick had grown hard and he’d climaxed, shooting white liquid over his groin and chest. Not that it happened frequently, since Papa had also told him about masturbating, an act George had taken to with relish.
But this was the first time his prick had hardened just from looking at another person.
He worried his lower lip. He’d heard the boys at the academy making fun of one of the smaller students. They’d called him nellie and even tried to beat him up. George wouldn’t have stood for that—Papa had raised him better. Papa had also taught him some tricks for when you were fighting more than one opponent, but the boy’s papa must have taught him the same tricks, because while the boy had a torn shirt and a knot on his cheekbone, the bigger boys had black eyes and bloody noses, and they’d run away crying.
“Nice work,” George had said, and the kid grinned at him and flinched when the knot pulled.
“I’m small, but I’m tough.” He fingered the tear in his shirt. “Pa’s not going to be happy about this.”
George wanted to ask the kid why they’d called him Nellie, obviously a girl’s name, but he was afraid he’d come across as ignorant if he did, so he didn’t. He decided to wait until he had a chance to talk to Papa.
And that had been an eye-opening conversation.
“I’m glad you were willing to stick up for that boy,” Papa had said.
“Why did they call him nellie?”
“They were bullies, and they did that to make themselves feel big. Men do that also. When you’re faced with a situation like that, you do whatever it takes to let them know you won’t put up with it.”
“Yes, but I still don’t understand…”
Papa sighed. “You know how a man and a woman sleep in the same bed to make a baby? Well, there are some men who like to sleep in the same bed with other men.”
“Oh. I understand.” But he really didn’t. A man couldn’t make a baby with another man.
Papa looked relieved, so George let the subject drop.
Only now, George thought he did understand.
About the Author
Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.
It was with the advent of the family’s second computer – the first intimidated everyone – that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.
While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.
A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3 named Baby Jane.
Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.
She can be contacted at:
Live Journal: http://tinnean.livejournal.com/
Books can be found at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tinnean?Nrpp=20&page=2
If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/fl5/tinnssinns/Welcome1.html