Authors: Destiny Lewis,BWWM Crew
They took the next day off and soon it was Friday. Keeara drove the rental car into town and was surprised to see a slick black limo sitting outside The Gazette. Who in the hell was in a limo in Maryville. She walked up the few steps to the front door and opened it. Craig stood there with an older man in a dark expensive looking suit. Next to him stood a woman in a dark blue dress that came to mid-thigh. She had long brown hair that laid in one long shiny sheet down her back to her waist. Keeara suddenly felt frumpy in her dress pants and shirt. Craig stepped forward and grabbed her hand as he escorted her to the people. He had a brilliant smile on his face as they walked.
“Keeara, I would like for you to meet my parents. This is my father Cole and my mother Deanna.”
Keeara stood up taller. “Hello, it's nice to meet you.”
“Oh don’t be silly dear. After everything I have heard about you…” The woman’s smile made her seem even more radiant as she gathered Keeara into her arms. “It's so good to finally meet you. Craig here has told us all about you.”
She smiled at the woman and instantly felt at ease. She was nothing like you would think by her appearance. She heard a loud laugh as she turned to the man.
“Come on, D, you're going to scare the poor girl. Please excuse my wife, she gets a little excited you would say at times.” He quickly hugged her as well and looked to his son. “So what happened with the cars? Carter called me himself and said something needed to be done.”
“You know Uncle Carter?”
“Why yes, my dear. Just because I don’t live here doesn’t mean I don’t keep track of the stupidity of my family. My son is here.” Keeara watched Craig roll his eyes then look sheepishly as his mother made a sound at him.
“Both our cars were vandalized. They think I'm a traitor. I don’t get it. Some stupid feud has been controlling two families for so long. They let it control their every move. I refuse to live like that.”
“I know, son, but we will fix it. Now I need to stow this monster of a vehicle away for a couple days and get ready for this big festival on Saturday. That looks like the best place to sort all of this out. We just need to make sure both families come to the damn thing. That‘s it. Money! That is the one thing that the Jenkins will come for. How about a contest like shooting or something for a prize. And a substantial one. I can pull money out of the account tomorrow.”
The four of them sat down at the table and devised a plan to get both families together.
It was Thursday and Craig had asked Keeara if they could go back to her favorite place by the river for some alone time. Not wanting to disappoint, she readily agreed. Craig admitted he needed to get a horse even though he loved the huge black stallion her father let him use.
They were lying on the blanket looking up at the sky. He was drawing lazy circles on her bare belly as she squealed.
She sat up quickly. “What?” She was looking at him like he had grown three heads.
He sat up and looked at her. “You heard me. Marry me. Look, we apparently are good together and I love your family. Why spend life alone when we are so happy together?”
“Because Craig. You are supposed to love the person you are married to. And you know your family will tear us apart.”
“Don’t start with that damn feud thing again. Who gives a shit about what other people think. I adore your son and although I know I can never replace your husband in either of your lives, I can be here for the both of you and make you and him both happy. Don’t you want that?”
“Well yes. But…”
He grabbed both her hands in his. “We can have a small wedding, maybe at your parent’s place or at the church, I really don’t care. I just want you next to me every morning. I want to be able to take Lewis to baseball games and play ball with him. I want to feel your body next to mine every night.” Just then they heard a loud rumbling in the skies. The clouds started moving faster as it started to get darker.
“Shit. Come on. We need to get back before it starts raining.”
He stood and turned her to face him. “No. Not until you answer me.”
“Can’t we do this later?” He shook his head and a large streak of lightning fell from the sky behind them. They turned in time to see the horses rear up and gallop away. “Damn it.” She looked around, looking for cover. The only place she saw was up ahead in the mountains. Maybe they could make it to a cave or something.
Craig grabbed her hand and they started running just as large rain drops started to crash down on them. He steered them towards the caves and they crossed a small grave site on their way with a large headstone. He stopped and looked down at the name engraved on the front of it. Beth Ann Murray. He looked at her questioningly, but she took his hand and started for the caves.
“My grandmother!” She had to yell above the noise of the rain now pouring down around them and the thunder in the distance.
They finally made it to a small opening in the mountain and Craig pulled his phone from his pocket to check to see if it still worked. He sighed with relief when he saw that it turned on. Handing it to her, she quickly called and finally got her father on the phone, explaining what happened. They decided they would have to wait out the storm.
Walking into the cave she saw that it was dark. Craig walked to the side of the cave and found what he was looking for. Piling up the dried twigs and brush, he sat down to start scraping rocks together. After about twenty minutes he finally had a spark going. The cave lit up as they looked around. They quickly removed their clothing and held it out to the fire that was soon flaring. They sat there in silence neither saying a word.
He stood and looked around. Just then there was a loud boom outside the cave. They both turned to see a large tree fall. Craig walked to the entrance and looked out. A large tree blocked him from going any further. The bristly branches scraped against him as he tried to heave the large trunk away from the tiny opening. Keeara walked over and helped him try to push it away but it was no use. The tree wouldn’t move.
With a sigh of exasperation, Craig dropped to the ground. He looked up at the frightened look on Keeara’s face. Holding his arms out, she quickly sat down on his lap and curled up into his embrace. They sat that way for what seemed like forever until he finally kissed her forehead.
“How are we going anywhere? We are trapped in here.”
“Yeah. Might as well see where this cave leads. It might have another opening.” He ripped his shirt, tearing it in strips. Thankfully the thing was just about completely dry but the fire was going out quickly. He looked over to see Keeara trying to rip her own shirt in half. Looking around they found multiple large sticks and wrapped the pieces of shirts around them. Tucking the side in, he stuck one down to the flame that was slowly extinguishing. They both breathed a sigh of relief when the first shirt lit. He handed the torch to her and hefted the others in his arms. He didn’t know how long the cave was or when they were going to need another torch. They would use one at a time until the stick burned down.
Craig held her freehand as they slowly walked down through the caves. Keeara could hear the animals scamper about and knew there were probably bats above them that she could see if she raised the torch up high enough, but she didn’t dare do that.
They kept walking through the cave. There was only one way to walk. Keeara started to panic when their third stick burned out and they quickly lit the last one. She handed it to Craig to carry. Her arm was just about dead. His thumb ran circles on her hand in a comforting way. When she was about to give up and start crying, they came to an open space. Craig walked over to the side of the cave wall to see drawings of what seemed to be bears and stick figures. He looked around and heard Keeara squeal when he held up an old lantern. Hopefully if they were lucky it would light.
Craig quickly lowered the lantern and tried lighting it with the handmade torch. Suddenly the whole room burst with light. Keeara, mindful of what could be there, walked over to the wall on the left side. Carved into the cave was an engraving that said L& L. She looked back at Craig with wide eyes.
“Do you think?”
“Lewis Murray and Lisa Jenkins. I do. They had to have somewhere to run to. Look at this.” He gestured her over to where he was. There was a large chest that held multiple parchment papers. Keeara picked one up and started to read.
My Dearest Lisa,
It has been too long since I have seen your beautiful smiling face. I don’t know how to go on without you. You were my world and our son still cries at night for you. I hold him tight and tell him stories of you. Of your beauty and how much he is so like you. He has a loving heart like you. I know I will see you soon but the waiting is agony. I am here for our son for I don’t want to see him left without either of us, but know you are my heart and it feels as if someone has ripped it out. I love you, my sweet.
With all my Love,
Keeara sat back on her heels. She couldn’t believe it. They found more letters that her great grandfather had apparently written after his wife’s death. There were also other letters that were apparently written when they were alive. Some were from him and some were from Lisa. It was apparent that they had loved each other very much. It didn’t make sense that she would have killed herself. There was a hand carved chess game and their names were engraved in the side of it.
Keeara reached in to pull out the last letter in the stack. Tears filled her eyes as she read it.
My Dearest Lisa,
I fear this will be my last letter to you. It seems that these old bones will not carry me down this path of the caves anymore. That is ok with me though because that means that I am that much closer to seeing you. I had a visitor today. Your uncle Jack confirmed my suspicions of your murder. I am sad to find out that your grandfather could be so cruel to his own grandchildren. I am so sorry my love. You deserved better than you got. I should have protected you. I should have been there when they came. I failed you and I will never forgive myself for letting you down. They won, my love. They had the last laugh for they took the most important thing from me. You. I know our love will outlast all their hate however and hopefully one day the stupid feud that has run all of our lives will just be history. Good luck to our children after us. I fear they will need it.
With all my Love,
Keeara looked up at Craig with tears in her eyes. He smoothed the tears from her cheeks gently. She laid the letter back in the chest and quickly went into his arms.
Craig kissed her deeply. There were no words and he removed their clothes and spread their pants down for her to lie on. He kissed her body and caressed every inch of her. He told her without words what she meant to him and nipped at her playfully. She opened her legs as he positioned himself between them. Slowly he entered her. She looked up into the bright blue eyes of the man that she knew she had fallen in love with. There was no way she would ever be able to turn away from him now. He kissed her softly as he began to move inside her. They both yelled their release and he lay beside her, holding her in his arms.
“Yes.” She whispered it so softly he had to look down at her to make sure he heard her speak. She smiled up at him. “My answer is yes.”
He finally registered what she was saying and kissed her again. He smiled at her and they quickly rose and got dressed.
Looking around they saw many things that they hadn’t seen before. Underneath the initials from before was the year 1937. To think that this stuff had been sitting there for 80 years or more. There were more oil lanterns sitting around and what looked to have been an area where what used to be blankets laid. There was no way to carry out the huge chest and so they had to leave it.
“I think this is a place that your grandfather used to come to alone.”
With new tears in her eyes, Keeara quickly nodded, not able to speak. She took his hand as they each held a lantern up high and circled the room. There was an old wooden statue on top of another chest. Opening it, Keeara gasped at the sight in front of her. There was a stack of legal documents. She pulled them out to look closer at them.
There was a big wooden sign that said Fort Craig on it. The documents they found were dated for July 11, 1795. She looked through until they came across a name that she knew. Steven Murray’s signature was signed on a document. It gave legal right to a piece of land. When they flipped it over it showed the land that her family had owned for centuries. They also found Patrick Jenkins and many other names that they did not know. On the back of each was a picture of the land that was given to them by the man known as John Craig. It was the start of the city Maryville.
Keeara bounded with joy at the history they had recovered. There were many different parchments that held different names of men who had become owners of the land around the town. She looked up to see Craig smiling down at her. They found the proof they needed to put an end to the feud that had troubled both of their families for many years.