Whew! I am barely getting in chapter 18 today. I hope your Monday treated you well. Links to the previous chapters and the amazon link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt.
Where was that cat? I would strangle her scrawny lil’ neck when I found her. No, I wouldn’t. I loved that cat, but I hated when she hid from me. It made me worry that she had somehow gotten outside. The last time she got out she was gone for a whole week and came back beaten and bloody. My bonny kitten had nearly died from her last adventure.
“Ach!” I exclaimed and pulled her out of my cupboard. “How dya get in thar? Yer such a naughty cat, Snowdrop,” I scolded. I lifted her up and buried my face in her silky, white fur. She purred loudly as I stroked her affectionately. My fingers passed over her head and found the remnants of a huge gash that had once crossed her face. I gently adjusted her head so that she fully faced the small mirror over my bureau.
“Not too shabby, my cailin. I can hardly see it no more. Yer face is beautiful again.”My gaze fell to my own reflection. “Me, on the other hand, needs a bit of help, there.” With my free hand I tried to poke escaping pieces of wild and frizzy auburn hair back into my haphazard bun. This attempt was rather futile. I gave up. I knew my eyes were my best quality. They were large and colored an intricate hazel with long, dark lashes. The rest of my face gave me fits. My nose was too big. People said that I had a charming smile and a merry laugh, but I knew my laugh was too loud and my smile mighta been alright except for the tooth that had decided to grow practically sideways. At least I had all of my teeth. That’s more than a lot of folk could say. And then, Lordy! There was those freckles. I knew I spent too much time out of doors and thus I was cursed with freckling. I screwed my face into a wicked pout and stuck my tongue out at my reflection. My eyes traveled to survey the rest of my body. Not too poor, there. Maybe a might too short, though. But my breasts were large, my hips were wide and my waist was slim. Just what them boys found attractive. I had let two of them have me. I had wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. A lot of huffing and puffing on their part if you asked me, but I could tell that there was something more to it if it was done right. My closest friend, Rachel, as it were, insisted that when intercourse was done properly, it was quite heavenly. She called it ‘amour’. She was all fancy now that she lived in France and was dancing ballet over there. She even sprayed her letters to me with perfume. Anyhow, now that I had some experience, I was saving myself for the one that I had my eye on for some time. I was looking for it to be heavenly with that one.
“Meg!… Meghan!” I could hear my father bellowing from downstairs. “Where have you run off to?”
“You stay here.” I directed Snowdrop firmly. “And stay outta trouble.” I practically jumped out the door and closed it carefully behind me. I bolted down the winding staircase from my attic room to the second landing where my parents had their room as well as a few others that were rented out. He lived in one of them. I passed my hand over his door, as was my custom, and flew down the second staircase two steps at a time. I pushed open the creaky, battered door at the foot of the stairs with a bit too much momentum and it slammed against the opposite wall with a resounding bang. I cursed myself silently. This happened many times too often. The entire patronage in the Peppertree Pub instantly paused their eating, drinking, and merry making to gander at me.
“And there she is.” Danny smirked from behind the bar. He chuckled softly, but his brown eyes twinkled madly. The waning sunlight shone on his near white blonde hair making it glow brightly. My heart stopped and I swallowed with difficulty. Saints be praised. He was such a dream.
“Good day, Meg.” “Hullo, Meggy.” “Evening, Meg.” A chorus of friendly voices wished me well.
“Aye! Good day to all ye fine gentlemen…and ladies,” I added upon seeing two females in the crowd. “Who needs a shebeen for thar parched throats?”
Several of the group answered in the affirmative, so I immediately bustled about collecting orders. Da’s face eased out of its stern parental expression and settled back into its usual good natured state. I purposefully ignored Danny as I flitted and flirted amongst my customers. I had to play coy. As I sauntered up to the bar, I tugged at my blouse to show just a bit more cleavage.
“Hullo, Danny. How’s yer day been?”
“Same as usual. What do ya need?” He put down the glass that he had been wiping and rested his elbows on the bar and leaned towards me. “Where have you been? We been busy down here.” He drawled the words making them sound provocative and sensual. My heart fluttered and I had to try real hard to be casual.
“Ach, Snowdrop, mostly. And I had a mending order to finish up. The O’Sullivans be pickin’ it up today.
“Ah, I am suposin’ they’ll be sendin’ that sweet tart Treasa to be pickin’ it up.” He looked off into some place in his mind that I was horrified to observe. Danny and Treasa? I shoulda known. That smarmy wench! My face flushed instantly vivid red. I was so furious that I wanted to spit. Instead, I relayed the drink order with exaggerated clarity. Danny laughed at me.
“Look at you, Meg! Somebody might think she was stealin’ your man! What? You want some of this man, little cailin?” He laughed uproariously and began to pour whiskey.
I was not able to speak because I was so angry. I stomped around to the back of the bar and pushed Danny out of my way. “I’ll get me own drinks!” I hissed viciously. He thought this was even more hilarious.
“Danny, go easy on the girl,” Da reprimanded him cheerfully. Then Da turned to me. “He’s no good for you, Meggy. He’s only trouble. He’s got his eye on every tail in Belfast.” My father helped me put the rest of the drinks on the tray and saw that I had tears in my eyes. “After you give out these drinks, go bring Ma some chowder. Take yerself a wee minute, Meg.”
I delivered the beverages to their thirsty mouths and would not once glance at Danny. I could hear without looking that he had gotten into an animated conversation with a couple of the shipyard regulars. He didn’t even care that he had humiliated me and stepped on me poor heart. Arse. But I still longed for him to hold me. I concentrated on appearing somewhat polite as I finished my business. Most of the people in the pub had known me since I was a wee one playing under the tables and getting into any sort of trouble that I could find. Some of them attempted to start a conversation with me, but I brushed them off today. I wasn’t in the mood. When my deliveries were complete, I headed straight for the small kitchen. I ladled a generous portion of potato corn chowder into a crock. I pulled off a hunk of bread and sliced a triangle of cheese from the cheddar wheel and placed them both on the cleanest plate I could find. Guess I needed to get back here and wash some of them dishes. Da was a first rate cook, but not much for cleaning up. Drat! I had left my tray on the bar ledge. I was not about to go back in there and risk making eye contact with Danny. I bit my lip angrily. I had to figure out how to get that man’s attention. I rummaged around until I located another tray. I brushed it off as best I could and had to peel off some sort of dried something that was stuck to it. I perfunctorily slapped my mother’s supper onto the tray and headed to her room. She had been feeling poorly most of this past year and couldn’t get around too easily. I opened the door quietly, so as not to disturb her if she were sleeping. She was not. She was settled in her favorite chair by the window overlooking the harbor. She had an open letter on her lap and a few more on the small table next to her. I wondered excitedly if there was a letter from Rachel. I just adored hearing about her adventures. Ma had been looking out over the harbor, but turned her head slowly to me as I entered.
“I heard your father raising his voice to you. You know he counts on you to be downstairs before the shipyard lets out.” Her voice was reproachful, but strained by her debilitating illness.
“I know, Ma, but I had to finish up the O’Sullivan’s mending…and Snowdrop…I couldn’t find her again.”
I set the tray on the other chair while I moved the letters to make room for my mother’s meal. I was itchin’ to look through them letters, but I knew that I would be scolded for being nosy.
“Aye, that cat is too much.” My mother sighed. “And I know too much is being asked of you. Takin’ all of me mending jobs now that me hands don’t work right as well as helpin’ Da keep up downstairs. Yer a good daughter, Meg.” She beckoned me to come close so that she could place a kiss on my forehead. I obliged.
“Ma, is there a letter from Rachel?” I arranged her supper on the lace doily that covered the table.
“No, mo chroi. But me thinks she fills yer head with foolish thoughts. I do have letters here from both of your brothers today. Finn has found work at a shipyard in a town called Boston. I am so relieved he has found work. He speaks of difficulties for the Irish finding work over there in America. Muriel is with child again.” Ma clucked her tongue and frowned. “I just don’t know why they needed to go and move so far away.” She picked up the letter on her lap. “This here letter is from Owen. It is typical short. He writes that his ship has docked in India. He sent us a wee bit of spice called…turmeric. It is quite nice.” She held out a small yellow stained parchment for my inspection.
“Meg!” My father was calling me again.
I rolled my eyes and quickly took the letter and spice from her and placed it on the bed with the other letters so that she could eat. I bussed her cheek before grabbing my tray and heading back downstairs.
Da poked his head into the stairwell. “Ya got that there mendin’ Meggie? Them folks are here for it.”
“Ach!” I turned right back around and ran all of the way up to my attic room to retrieve the clothing. I gathered it swiftly and almost closed the door on Snowdrop who was trying to make a break for it. “Ah! No you don’t!” I admonished her and pushed her back into the room with my foot. I shut my door firmly and hurried downstairs. I somehow remembered not to slam the lower door open. As I stepped into the common room, I froze. Treasa O’Sullivan was hanging on the bar and Danny was hanging on her. Their noses couldn’t be but an inch apart. Da looked at me and then looked to see what I was looking at. I found my tongue, but my voice was low and forced.
“Da, can you? I can’t.”
Da sighed in exasperation and took the basket of clothes from my outstretched hand. “Woman-folk,” he muttered as he walked over to give Treasa the basket.
I retreated back into the stairwell and shut the door. I sat on the steps and cried.
Chapter 17 https://blogkelliannesweeneydeardiary.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/chapter-17-the-one-that-got-away/