From the first whack of the axe, the blade gouged the short log, leaving a crease that the slight young woman wanted to mimic in a certain head of dark curls.

"Who does he think he is, standin' stand me up?" she huffed, rocking the handle back and forth to release the head of the heavy axe from the unyielding wood and try again.

This was supposed to be her wedding day and instead, here she was, venting her rage on a pile of golden oak.

Her penny-toned waves, so carefully wrapped in rags the night before, now fell around her face in sweaty tendrils and Hazel's hazel eyes swam with tears.

"Denver Lotus Garnes," she snarled, imagining his sneaky smile in the top of the log she was about to split, "I hope I never see you again!"

The sharp honk of the horn caused her to jump and drop the axe from her slender, freckled hands. She turned to see the rusty old black truck heaving toward her, bringing dust from the next holler, along with the sneaky smile.

"Hazel, honey, what're ya doin'?" Denver asked in his deep voice, made raspy by his two pack-a-day cigarette habit. He leaned against the truck and lit the last one from his first pack, surveying his red-haired gal with a look of confusion and some amusement.

"Where've you been?" she asked, her heart hurrying ahead of her to the man it loved, as she stalked to stand in front of him. "You was s'posed ta be here two hours ago so we could go to Charleston and get married." Her voice betrayed the anxiousness she always felt around him, not believing that he loved her when she was a little older than he was and he could have anybody in the county.

He lowered his head to catch the full impact of her enticing fury, thinking again how he couldn't wait to hold her delicacy to him.

"I'm sorry, Doll Baby," he crooned, cupping his hand against the side of her face, "I couldn't get away earlier. Do you still wanna marry me?"

Hazel Gay dropped her eyes and her copper lashes fell on her high cheekbones. "Yes."

Denver sighed. This was the woman he wanted. Her little sister might be fun, with her higher color and bawdy voice, but this was the one he wanted to look at for the rest of his life, kiss the pursed lips that matched her hair, and fight any enemy to protect her.

He opened the passenger door of the truck and easily picked her up to place her in the seat. "Then let's go."

Should she give him another chance, she asked herself as she watched him walk around the front of the truck and climb in next to her. He flicked his cigarette out the window and claimed her hand, again with the sneaky smile. Yes, she answered herself.

Their life wouldn't always be easy. He would fight in the second World War while she cared for their three little ones and missed him terribly. He would have an indiscretion with the younger sister when they were all older and should know better. He would die before her, in his mind, breaking his promise to take care of her for the rest of her life.

But after her death, a cache of postcards, written in awkward pencil, would be found by a granddaughter. From its simple statements, saved for over sixty years, she would know the great love between the couple from adjoining West Virginia hollers. MawMaw never regretted giving PawPaw another chance.