Finding a wife is becoming a problem for Tom Larson, so Jessica Reynolds takes it upon herself to assist him in overcoming his awkwardness and clumsy manners in order to attract women.
September 1868 Omaha, Nebraska
Margaret Williams nudged her friend in the side. "Don't look now but Tom Larson is coming over here."
Jessica Reynolds looked. Of course, she had to look. Whenever someone said, "Don't look," they secretly hoped you would, and Jessica had to oblige her friend. She directed her attention to the lanky blond who asked Daisy to dance.
Daisy shook her head.
His shoulders slumped, he turned toward the next lady in line. He, however, was not a graceful young man for in the next moment he succeeded in toppling into Beth and they both fell onto the barn floor.
People around them chuckled, and yes, Jessica was one of them. She'd never seen a clumsier person in her entire life. Whatever was Tom Larson doing working on his pa's farm? He'd be best suited away from anything sharp.
Tom stood up and offered to help Beth to her feet, but Beth shoved his hand away. "I'll do it myself, thank you very much." Then she got up, dusted the dirt off her skirt and stormed off.
Tom's face was red, but to his credit, he didn't give up. He just proceeded down the line to the next lady who happened to be Rachel.
Margaret grabbed Jessica's arm and dragged her across the barn. "There's no need to stand in line like a sheep waiting for the slaughter," she whispered.
Jessica secretly agreed with her, though she had to admit that she felt sorry for him. At the rate he was going, he'd never find a wife, and everyone knew he was hoping to get married and get his own farm. He was trying too hard, she thought. She shook her head as another lady rejected him. Someone had to teach the poor man how to act around women.
As she stepped forward, Margaret gasped and pulled her back. "What are you doing? He's done with this side of the barn. He won't ask us to dance."
"He needs help." "But not yours."
"Then who's going to help him?" "Who cares? As long as it's not us."
Jessica sighed and put her hands on her hips. "Really, Margaret. Just the other day you were instructing your little sister on manners. Is it good manners to leave this man in the state he's currently in?"
"What will Peter think?"
"He'll think I'm doing Tom and the woman he ends up marrying a great service. Besides, Peter couldn't make it
tonight. What am I supposed to do? Spend my time moping in the corner?"
"Yes. You are engaged to him."
"And this won't change that. Now, go find someone to ask you to dance." She smiled and pointed to Ethan. "He's been staring at you. Go over there. Maybe we can be in the same square dance."
Margaret loudly groaned but made her way past the refreshment table.
Jessica turned around and saw that Tom was walking her way. She glanced down and saw that a napkin was stuck to his boot.
"Hello," he greeted as he ran his hand through his wavy blond hair. "My name is Tom Larson."
"Yes. I know." Everyone knows who you are...and not for a good reason. "You have something stuck to your boot."
He looked down. "Oh. So I do."
When he was ready to touch the sticky candy that was responsible for gluing the napkin to his boot, she stopped him. If he touched that and then her...Well, that would just be gross. "Hold on. I'll get another napkin and wipe that off."
She hurried to the table and glanced back to make sure he wasn't touching his boot. Good. He wasn't. She snatched a cloth napkin and returned to him and scraped the candy and napkin off his boot.
"Oh, well, I could've done that," he said.