The Legacy – A Homestead Legacy Story
After returning from the frontline in Europe, all Emmanuel Jackson wants is to find a little peace. Unable to cope with life in New York, he escapes to the homestead his grandfathers left to him in Nebraska. Except, after four years, the sleepy town of Lastford isn’t exactly how he’d left it.
With many of his neighbors forced out by financial hardship, and a ruthless businessman taking full advantage of the fact, Emmanuel finds himself being drawn into matters he’d rather avoid. One of them being Asher Franklin, his childhood tormentor and unfairly handsome officer of the law.
Having to fight his attraction to the man he once hated, as well as defend the community he wants to make his own, is far from the quiet life Emmanuel had envisioned for himself.
But some things are worth fighting for.
And when there’s no fight left in you, love might be the thing that brings you home.
**A standalone story set in the Homestead universe**
Novel – 55k
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Waking with start for no other reason than it was just the way things were now, Emmanuel didn’t recall a bad dream, or dreaming at all, but still his heart was pounding, and he could hardly catch his breath as he rolled onto his back.
It took him a moment, blinking into the darkness, to get his bearings. From the darkness alone it was clear he wasn’t in the family home in New York. His mother had taken to leaving him with a night light, as if he was a child again. Which had been only a little humiliating, but at least her over protectiveness was for reasons even his siblings wouldn’t tease him about. And he knew he definitely wasn’t back in France. The air was too quiet, no sounds of distant guns, or the sniffling whimpers of sleeping soldiers, or the scent of fetid mud underfoot, or the screams from the infirmary that went on and on and on.
It was simply dark, the window pane a gray shape to his left, casting no light yet, although it must have been morning, with the only sounds his own breath stuttering into his chest and the call of birds from the grassland as they hailed the new day.
Being at the homestead again was taking some getting used to, he thought, even though he’d been there less than two whole days. As a child, Emmanuel had loved coming to Nebraska. Being here with his grandparents had been the most he’d ever felt really like himself. His mother would joke that even when he was a babe in arms, as soon as they left the property on the way back to New York, or Scotland, or Canada, or wherever her work would take them, Emmanuel would be inconsolable. Which was probably why, after his grandparents had died, he hadn’t been able to bear the thought of ever stepping back on such hallowed ground, and had fled to another continent to get away from his grief. Which had only made things about a hundred times worse, of course.
Now he was back, waking up disoriented in the dark for the second morning in a row, he still wasn’t sure what he was doing there or if coming back was simply another mistake he would have to live with. But still, he didn’t know a man tough enough to not think fondly of hot coffee and a warm bed in those moments when he’d been faced with ash in the grate and a slice of cold pie at dawn. Which was what he had to look forward to again if he didn’t get his ass out of bed. Digging around under the covers for a minute, he found the thick socks he’d taken to bed with him in the hopes of keeping warm. It wasn’t even winter yet and somehow the chill Nebraskan wind was able to make the autumn mornings feel as if there was a frost on the ground already.
Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he lit the lamp on the small table there before starting to pull on the rest of his clothes. That was something else wolves didn’t need much of—light. Some of the houses in the small town nearby had electric light now, as did a few of the homesteads. But his grandfathers could see perfectly well in the dark and had loathed the idea of having a noisy, unreliable generator on the property. And being that the homestead was his place now and with him not there to say one way or the other, the house had remained exactly as they had left it. Which was dark mostly. At least for his human eyes at five in the morning. But the storm lamp worked just fine—it had done since before he could remember—as he carried it down the creaking stairs to the main room below.
After setting the lamp down on the large table, Emmanuel started to clear the ash from the grate in the fireplace and getting a fire going with the workings he’d left out the night before. It didn’t take long to get the flames crackling and to have a pot of coffee set over them. He went into the kitchen, which was off the main room, to the empty shelves in the bare pantry to get the half loaf of bread that amounted to his entire provisions. His uncles would expect him for breakfast once they were ready for him, and then he could think about going into town to pick up some supplies to tide him over the next few days. At least until he figured out what in the hell he was going to do with his life.
So far, his plan in its entirety had been to go to Nebraska and live in the house his grandfathers had left him. It had made sense at the time but now he was here, he felt more lost than he had done sitting on the ship that had brought him home from Europe after it had docked in the harbor—wanting to go home but terrified to step onto dry land again, suspended in some sort of limbo, a half-place where his life was an abstract concept, almost as if he didn’t exist anymore. In the quiet of the Nebraskan morning, the gray light sketching in the edges of his dead grandfathers’ furniture, eating the dry bread and drinking bad coffee which constituted the last of his provisions, the cold seeping into his bones like trench water, Emmanuel wondered—not for the first time—if he hadn’t died on the battlefield after all and this was simply an illusion.
His mood, or lack of it, hadn’t improved by the time he put on his hat and coat and stepped out into the morning. It would’ve been an overstatement to say things looked better in the daylight, but seeing the familiar place—the wide dirt yard extending beyond the small cottage garden in front of the house out to the barn and the stable, and the path that led down to the corral and, in the opposite direction, to the old forge and the path to his uncles’ house—Emmanuel certainly felt a little more grounded.
It was strange though, the silence of the place. The last time he had been there, the yard had been full of chickens and the odd goose wandering around, noise coming from the pig sty and the stables, the paddock full of horses as well as laughter and sounds of industry, as a normal working day went on. Now, all the buildings and fields were empty. It was just him alone with his thoughts to fill the place. Or at least it appeared that way until he walked beyond the old forge and saw a pall of smoke coming from the cottage that had once belonged to his grandfather’s foreman.
As he approached, the door opened unexpectedly and a familiar smiling face beamed out at him. Without saying a word, Emmanuel almost broke into a jog, meeting his friend halfway on the path, and they threw their arms around each other and held tight for a long time.