Midnight SinsBy: Lora Leigh
Cambria at thirteen
It would have been amusing, if it hadn’t had the potential to be so dangerous.
Jaymi Flannigan Kramer watched as her younger sister, Cami, sneaked another shy look at Rafer Callahan, one of Corbin County’s three bad boys and the man Jaymi’s deceased husband had claimed as a blood brother.
He was also the man she was sleeping with, but that wasn’t as important as the fact that he was her best friend. And he knew, just as well as she did, that sleeping with him was her attempt to stay close to the husband who was forever gone. He had been Tye’s best friend, his blood brother, and the only man she knew who even came close to her soul mate.
She turned her gaze away from Cami and Rafe and let it sweep over the crowd attending the Saturday night social.
Jaymi loved the name of the county’s weekly street party and dance that had become a tradition of almost-required attendance. The mayor and city officials pushed the weekend socials the way some towns pushed voting, sports arenas, and political agendas. Wholeheartedly.
Corbin County and its seat, Sweetrock, promoted their drug awareness and “Children First” agenda with the same passion and strength. They had adopted the slogan more than a generation before and made certain everyone knew they meant it.
Friday after school the community center opened and any child enrolled in school from Head Start to college was welcome. BYOSB—Bring Your Own Sleeping Bag—was the rule. But there were so many donated bags that it really wasn’t necessary.
City officials, employees, and any and all teachers, from tenured to substitute, were required to give one weekend per month to chaperone the social as well as the community center.
Families donated the food and drinks that were prepared in the community center’s kitchen, and parents who didn’t stay around to help chaperone were forced to sign a legal release stating that if they left their children, at any time, in the care of the county’s volunteers, the parents rescinded all rights or legal abilities to sue in the event of accident.
However all manner of ills could befall anyone who chose not to participate. Permits could get lost or delayed, mail could be misplaced, utility workers could move at a much slower pace, and just forget getting out of that speeding ticket. And that was nothing compared to what local business owners could do.
City Hall had begun the socials, and their commitment to providing something entertaining and supervised for the county’s youth had been sustained for over twenty years. It had grown to the point that if that commitment lapsed in any way, then newspapers and radio stations found the phenomenon strange enough to report it.
Corbin County had found that the key to keeping their youth away from delinquency or drugs was to give them something to do. And it was still working.
Parents and teens mingled in the dance area, while the younger children played games or watched supervised videos.
Parents took the few hours’ break to dance, socialize, and build not just friendships but also those all-important ties that sustained a community.
But there were undercurrents. Undercurrents existed in any town. It wasn’t all sweetness and light. For Corbin County, those undercurrents seemed to swirl most viciously around Rafer Callahan and his cousins, Logan and Crowe. The three disowned grandchildren of Corbin County’s founding and most influential families.
Crowe, Logan, and Rafer Callahan were each the son of a reigning princess of one of those founding families and the Callahan brother she had married.
Many said those three union s were born of the murders of the brothers’ parents. The couples had died in a suspicious accident on a mountain road. Within days of their deaths the Rafferty, Corbin, and Roberts patriarchs had arrived at the court house with a bill of sale and proof of purchase of the extensive Callahan lands bought by the three men. When their sons Samuel, David, and Benjamin returned from the military to a pittance amount for prime land, they turned their attention to the daughters of these families.
The Callahan brothers had acquired more than they had ever lost when they married those daughters. At least for a few years. Until a freak blizzard had swept through the Colorado mountains. The storm had surprised the three couples who were returning from Denver that night. Slick roads, high winds, and near-zero visibility had sent their SUV careening over a mountain cliff, killing them, as well as a single infant daughter, instantly.