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The Legend of Molly Langtrye

By JeryLyn Harrington All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Romance

Blurb

Patrice’s encounter with the current owner of the ranch brings surprise. She is almost the physical, mirror image of her grandmother and the owner of the ranch feels compelled to have the real life woman to the cold, oil paint of an old portrait of her grandmother and, at first, has trouble separating the real from the fantasy concerning her. They both find that they have to compromise to sate each other’s needs and to from a real life partnership.

Chapter One

Patrice Langtrye watched with pride as the moving men unloaded the antique woman’s bedroom secretary from the truck. This piece of furniture had belonged to her great, great, great, great grandmother. A smile touched her full lips as she studied the intricate designs on the wood. The desk passed down the family line for all those generations. She knew where she wanted it placed in her small home when her mother told her the story about how it passed down her grandmother’s family line before her mother decided that she would pass it to her.

Patrice was twenty-six and single with no plans to be otherwise until she finished her master’s degree and receive a full archaeological professorship at the college where she taught in Dallas. She considered herself to be a small woman, only five foot, five inches in height. Her weight was just over one hundred twenty pounds and, for her height, the weight well proportioned. The long, curly, uncontrollable, dark auburn hair was in beautiful contrast to the emerald green eyes showing her Scot-Irish ancestry. Her skin was a creamy dark rose color that blended her face making the use of make-up almost unneeded. She took advantage of this and usual only wore eye make-up. Her lips were full with well-defined edges. Most people she knew agreed, if provoked, her Irish temper was the controlling factor until it was fully expressed.

Patrice intimidated almost all the men she met since her arrival at her new job and found herself, at twenty-six, not ready to commit to any long-term relationship. She doubted that she would marry or even consider marriage until she was well into her thirties. She wanted children, but that part of her life could wait.

Patrice walked through the house followed by the moving men. When they reached the bedroom, she told them to place the secretary on the wall space between the two large windows just off the end of the bed. The piece of furniture blended well with the antique, four-poster bedroom set that had accompanied her through several moves on her own. Once the moving men left, she stood looking at the secretary desk with the pride her ownership now gave to it.

Patrice was in her summer break at the college and she was taking the time to do her thesis for her degree on her family tree. She had to go back several generations and that had prompted the trip to her family’s home in Buffalo, New York for the required information. While she had been there, her mother had decided it was time for her and her three brothers to have what would come to them from their parents.

It was when her mother explained how each of the male members of the Langtrye family, who inherited the desk from the previous generation, gave it to their wives for their personal use. Since Patrice’s oldest brother’s wife didn’t want the desk, it was given to her with her father’s approval.

Patrice walked over to the secretary running her hand over the carved, fold-down, wooden front panel. She frowned when she felt the gritty dirt starting to collect on her fingers. She had no doubts that the ornate carvings would need a thorough cleaning to bring back the beauty of the wood. Her brows rose in anticipation of the task, but she hesitated with her thought and took a small, frustrated breath knowing she should go over the information concerning her family tree that her thesis required. A frown creased her brow and her desire to clean the desk outweighed her need to work on her thesis so she cleaned the desk instead.

Patrice didn’t know if she had any wood cleaner left from her previous cleaning of the bedroom furniture. When she entered the pantry of the laundry room, she found more than enough of the cleaning compound along with some lemon oil. She collected all the cleaning supplies and a small step stool from the pantry and returned to the bedroom.

She stepped up on the stool and started the task of cleaning the wood from the top to the bottom. When she finished with one side, she started on the other side. As she raised the cloth, she noticed a piece of the carving on the top section was loose and needed to be repaired. She frowned with concern thinking that it must have been damaged in the move from New York. When she touched the small, carved bird, her eyes opened wide in even more concern as the carving fell forward. Her surprise turned to a pleased smile when she saw the small brass pull on the front of a small drawer that lay hidden behind the carving.

Patrice’s uncontrollable imagination took hold. Was she the first to find the hidden drawer? Her mind played a full chorus of different emotions, mostly expectation, with all the questions that finding the hidden drawer produced. With trembling fingers and with even more anticipation pulling at her thoughts, she pulled the small drawer from its hiding place. She didn’t know, but hoped to find some long lost family treasure from her family’s past. As she descended the few steps of the small step stool, she cradled the drawer, carefully, in the crook of her arm. She opened the front panels of the secretary desk laying the drawer on its surface. She reached over and pulled the chair from the corner up to the desk and sat down.

She smiled with pleasure when she found that the drawer had, apparently, not been disturbed over the years. The contents of the small drawer included a diary wrapped with a leather cover. There was a birth certificate for her great, great, great grandfather, Bradford LeRoy Langtrye, junior, born July 11, 1835. Her eyes narrowed with curiosity at the parent’s blocks on the certificate. The mother was Molly Jean McIntrye and, to her astonishment, the father was Bradford LeRoy Langtrye with the father’s occupation listed as a rancher. Her eyes narrowed farther with her curiosity when she noticed the city on the bottom of the father’s block. It was Amarillo, Texas.

Patrice hadn’t known her grandmother Molly had lived in Texas, or, for that matter, that any of her family had ever been to Texas. She bit at her lower lip as her puzzlement grew. She thought about the information she had found in Buffalo and her puzzlement grew, even more. Not one paper she had gathered in Buffalo gave any indication that Molly McIntrye had ever lived outside New York State. All her family had come from the North and that included her great grandfather, Bradford Langtrye. She thought she was a Yankee, tried and true, but, sometime back in the past; her grandmother had married a southern man and had given birth to his son.

Inside the front cover of the diary was an old train ticket that was dated November 3, 1834 for passage from Fort Worth, Texas to Albany, New York. This encounter with the diary was turning into a very interesting and surprising side trip to all the information that Patrice gathered concerning her family tree. She placed the ticket on the desk top and flipped the diary open to the first page and, when she relaxed into the comfort of the chairs arched back, she started to read and the story in the diary began to unfold.

’The young woman walked towards her father’s office and stopped at the double doors looking through the glass windows at the two men who stood talking at the desk. She smiled through the glass at the older man as he turned and then he motioned for her to enter the office. Her attention, immediately, fixated on the younger man’s face that stood beside her father. He was, apparently, just as interested in her and stared back without the dignity or respect of lowering his eyes.

Molly McIntrye saw a man in his early thirties with the darkest of brown eyes, almost black. This dark color was even more pronounced in his hair. It was so black it had a blue sheen when the light touched it. His mustache was lighter than his hair, but gave his face the appearance of age. His height was intimidating, 6foot 2inches. His physical stature was powerful, muscular in build with broad shoulders tapering into a narrow waist and hips. His face wore the weathered experience of many hours of work in the sun and his features carried the masculine, rogue appearance that would make any woman turn her head to look at him and her surmise was that they did.

Molly entered the doors staring back into the arrogant dark eyes and face that seemed to examine her from head-to-toe. Her eyes never wavered as she walked up to the two men. With her full attention still focused on the tall stranger, she smiled as her father watched with practiced patience as his daughter inspected the younger man. After Molly’s inspection, her father introduced her. She found the name her father gave as powerful as the man, Bradford LeRoy Langtrye.

Bradford smiled when Molly’s head tilted sideways in recognition of him and he lowered his head in recognition of her. He was almost mesmerized as he looked into the greenest eyes that were surrounded by the darkest of lashes. He swallowed as he stared into the eyes that were the color of emeralds and sparkled with the same brilliance.

After his inspection and, with his final pleased smile, he was quick to take note of the rebellion in Molly’s smile. She would take gentle handling like any thoroughbred mare he had ever broken to obey him.

He surmised that her hair, although pinned under the hat she wore, was the color of the darkest red auburn. When freed from the pins, it would, he had no doubt, fall to the middle of her back or lower.

Molly turned from his sight and, as she laid her hooded cape over the back of the chair she, lightly, kissed her father’s cheek. She then turned her full attention back to Bradford Langtrye who smiled his approval. He turned to her father and, rather than asking her permission to dine out with him later in the evening, he asked her father.

Molly’s smile disappeared as the anger leaped, unmercifully, from her eyes flashing with green fire. She, readily, informed him she could accept her own invitations and that she would clear them through her father. The older man’s eyes carried the long battle of dealing with a willful daughter as he glanced away from Molly over to Bradford, gently, shaking his head in agreement with his daughter’s statement.’

When Patrice finished the last page, ready to turn to the next, her fingers, first touched, and then felt a cool metal surface in the middle pages of the diary. She flipped the pages to the metal object and discovered there were two metal plates lodged in the pages. As her eyes narrowed with curious pleasure on the discovery, her curiosity caused her to question why the metal plates had been placed there. Her eyes opened wide in surprised excitement as she stared down seeing the pictures imprinted on their surfaces. She laid the diary on the desk’s top pulling the tintype photographs from its center and, all she could do, was stare down in amazement.

The first tin photograph was of a young woman and, although the photograph was dark with age, she could see that her facial features mimicked those of the photograph. She ran her finger down the metal surface taking note of the facial features and, with her eyes tearing, realized the picture could be no one but her grandmother Molly. She had never seen any portraits or photographs of her grandmother at such an early age and she always seen the paintings of Molly as an older, more elegant, woman and knew that she had carried her genes, but, as she took a slow, deep breath, she realized she could be looking at a picture of herself.

The second tin photograph was just as dark as the first, but she could see that it was of a small, three or four-year-old boy. Her smile appeared. The boy possessed the Langtrye genes. Her smile widened. It had to be a very early picture of her great, great, great grandfather.

She laid the tin photographs on the desk’s top running her finger under her eyes to remove the moisture before reaching down to touch the surface of Molly’s photo. She took another calming breath and picked up the diary and started to read where she had left off.

’Molly found Bradford’s attention to her more than attentive over the next couple of weeks. He escorted her to various places around the Buffalo area and, if his intent had been to put everyone, but himself, out of her life, he succeeded. Every male caller who came to court her was so intimidated by Bradford’s presence to the point of not coming back to see her. Although very stubborn and willful, she would, without realizing it, do as Bradford requested of her. She found not having to make decisions, but having them made for her, to be a very pleasant and agreeable thing, especially, when he ask her father for her hand in marriage.

She didn’t know if she wanted to marry him or finish her college courses. But Bradford, being Bradford, persuaded her Texas had several good universities with one located near to the ranch at Amarillo. If she wanted, she could finish her schooling there. With all of her doubts about school and marriage countered by Bradford’s arguments, Molly agreed to his marriage proposal. She found herself married to him the following week. Without time to even catch her breath or brag to her friends about her new marriage, she was on her way to Amarillo, Texas to his ranch the week after the marriage.

Molly found her first three months on the ranch which turned out to be immense very enjoyable and educational. The ranching life with its many and varied aspects was very new to her experience, but, although Bradford disliked the idea when she requested that he teach her, she learned the mechanics of ranch operations and the day-to-day office routine associated with the operations.

She was quick to learn that Bradford would indulge her every whim and she found this to be endearing of him. Her love grew, more and more, as she learned the power behind the man. There was one thing she sensed in him with some trepidation and, although she didn’t understand this trait, over the several months she had known him, she found him to be, extremely, possessive with the things or people he considered under his authority.

At one of the parties in Amarillo she and Bradford attended, she met a young and talented artist. She decided she would commission this artist to paint a portrait of her for Bradford’s coming birthday. She knew Bradford would be absent from the ranch in about a month’s time to conduct his cattle business in Fort Worth at the stockyards. With this absence, it would give her the best opportunity to have the portrait painted. She made several trips back to Amarillo to see the artist. She commissioned him and set the time for the portrait to be painted upon Bradford’s absence from the ranch.

Bradford left the ranch as scheduled and her mother-in-law, whom she came to respect and love, was told about the commissioning of the portrait before the artist arrived. Her mother-in-law agreed the surprise would be a wonderful gift for Bradford’s birthday. Molly arranged to have the artist brought to the ranch and posed daily, for long hours, until the portrait was finished.

It was during this time when the portrait was being painted that she became aware and found out with certainty that she was pregnant with Bradford’s child. She wanted to wait and let Bradford be the first to know that she was pregnant, but decided to let her mother-in-law know first.

When Bradford returned from Fort Worth, he was shocked to learn of her pregnancy and swore revenge on her infidelity to him with the young artist. She tried to tell him that what he suspected wasn’t true, but he refused to even listen to her, much less, see the portrait. While Bradford was in Amarillo to confront the artist, Molly’s mother-in-law made plans to send her to Fort Worth. From there, she could board the train for New York. She left Fort Worth, and, several days later, arrived at her family’s home in Buffalo.’

Patrice flipped through the diary reading the last entry, but found the rest of the pages to be blank. Her grandmother Molly must have written the entries and hid the diary in the desk so someone in a later generation would find the diary and read it. She re-read the very last entry as tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks. She could sense Molly’s inter turmoil and fear.

‘I have done nothing wrong. I do not understand my husband’s anger with me. I know I did nothing wrong, and this child is his and his son will bear his name.’

Patrice’s thoughts hardened in resolve to her grandmother’s plight related in the diary. Her thesis required her to trace her family’s origin back five generations, and, if her hunch proved correct, she could clear her grandmother Molly’s name, as well. Her eyes darkened in green anger as a question raced through her thoughts; what had Bradford LeRoy Langtrye’s family done with her grandmother’s reputation all these generations?

Patrice rose from the desk looking at it with loving eyes. She spoke to herself and made a pledge and swore, “I’ll help you, Grandmother Molly and help myself, also. I’m sure I would have loved you if I had known you.”

Patrice walked over to the closet pulling her suitcases from its interior. Her first thought as she opened the suitcase was would the Langtrye family still be in the Amarillo area for her to find. If not, she could only hope they could be traced to wherever they had moved. Her anger with the other side of the Langtrye family produced another conclusion. There was always the possibility that this other branch could have died out.

Patrice felt angry, but hid the anger as she thought about her grandmother’s story from the diary. A smile crossed her full lips and, even though the anger was still to be seen in her eyes and came out in her thoughts; perhaps that branch of the family had ended. She continued to walk back and forth from the chest-of-drawers to the suitcases packing them for the planned journey to Amarillo. For whatever reason, her angry thoughts wouldn’t allow her to release themselves from the demise of that branch of the Langtrye family.

She walked over to the secretary picking up the old tin photographs and the birth certificate. If the Langtrye family was still in the Amarillo area, she prayed that they would have a photograph or portrait of Bradford LeRoy Langtrye. The child in the photograph was old enough for the family characteristics too, definitely, show that the child was a Langtrye.

With her packing almost complete, she checked the clock on the bedside table. It wasn’t late, and she needed to let her department head, Dennis Thomas, know what she was planning if something happened on her trip. She wanted to leave for Amarillo the first thing in the morning and, she decided to call Dennis to inform him of her plans. As the phone started to ring on his end, she smiled with her thought about him.

Dennis had become one of her very good friends. He was one of the first people she met in Dallas when she first arrived to take over her new job at the university. She felt comfortable with him from the first and that ease with him remained. He tried, at first, to become more than just her friend, but she hadn’t felt the emotional stirrings inside that he told her he felt.

Dennis was nine years her senior, and, although, she respected him and his accomplishments, she didn’t consider him to be the type of man she would marry. He was a passive-type man and very easy going. He was so well organized, so well planned out in his life that it drove her crazy. She was impulsive and people told her so. This spur of the moment tendency of hers, apparently, drove him crazy, as well, about her.

“Hello.” Patrice smiled at the sleepy sound behind the word.

“Hello, yourself; sleepy head,” said Patrice. Her voice didn’t hide her humor with the situation, but every word she spoke was edged in it.

“Hi, what’s up?” responded Dennis.

Her smile widened as his voice awakened when he recognized her voice. “I’ve found some very interesting material about my family. I’m going to drive to Amarillo tomorrow to check it out for my thesis.” She smiled even wider when she heard the deep sigh on the other end. “I just wanted you to know what I was planning. I’m asking, nicely, if you’ll watch my house and collect my mail for the couple of days I’ll be away.” There was a short silence, and she waited for his reply smiling knowing that he would give in to her demands.

“OK. I know there’s no reason to argue with you. I’d lose anyway. Be careful. Have a safe trip. See you when you get back.” Dennis’ voice was patient, indulgent.

Patrice hung up the receiver almost laughing with his conciliatory manner. Her needs had been met by a man that seriously liked her and her request had been granted much easier than she thought it would be.

Common sense took over as she inspected the opened suitcases on the bed. She would need all the rest she could get before she started. Even though, she wasn’t as familiar with the road to Amarillo, she knew that it would be a very long and very tiring trip. Her bed was inviting, but she took the time to finish with the suitcases and to set the alarm for six the following morning. She checked all her final preparations and left the bedroom for a quick shower.

When she returned and lay down, the bed felt good. She stretched her legs down the length of the bed feeling the familiar comfort of the mattress and the cool sheets as they pressed against her skin. She laid her head back on the pillow pushing into its softness. She lay thinking that she would never get to sleep as her thoughts about her grandmother and the trip to find the Langtrye family plagued her. Several minutes later, her eyes closed and sleep took her.

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