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The One That Got Away

book cover

Dear Diary,

Have you read my book THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY yet? Here is chapter one for you. On amazon the e-version is available for $9.99, paperback for $10.76 and hardcover for $22.95.  Please enjoy.

Chapter One

Did I ever tell you that I thought you were dead when you were born? I really don’t think that we ever got into that sort of conversation. Your birth was rather surreal to me. Of course, I had nothing to compare it to and they did give me something to calm me down because I was in a full blown panic when the contractions got intense. I think you would agree that this reaction seems quite out of character for me. I really don’t ever remember being in any sort of panic about anything before this incident. You know I’ve had to deal with crisis situations, but I’ve always been able to approach them with a certain detachment. I have thought this very clever and superior of me to be able to do that. So, I was quite surprised at myself when I experienced this burbling, spine tingling, overpowering surge of panic rising from some deep place within me. The initial rush choked me and my ears buzzed violently. A single thought kept searing my mind over and over: “My baby is dead.” I believed that I was merely thinking this gloomy thought, but apparently, I was screaming it. At this point it seemed that every nurse and doctor and any other available person had their hands on me trying to get me to lie down. Some voices were firm, others were kind but I couldn’t distinguish much of the murmurings because of the incessant buzzing. I do remember someone asking about your father. I believe you know that he was out of town on business. You took us all unawares as you were three and a half weeks early. I also remember my doctor asking for some sort of medication for me. And whispers that my baby was fine. I could not believe them. I struggled and wailed frantically and begged them to save my baby. When the sedative began slipping into my bloodstream the vision began. At first, the edges of my sight were studded with fuzzy, gray spots. I tried to blink them out of the way, but this merely changed their location. Then the people in the room began to blur and ooze some sort of colorful mist. Not all of the colors were the same. I was no longer panicking. I was frozen with fascination. I did not dare blink. I felt warm. And then hot. And then terribly hot. The acrid smell of blood and birth filled my nostrils. And dirt and sweat. I was slick with sweat. I couldn’t see anyone anymore. It was so dark. I could sense movement, that I was not alone. I couldn’t see…. Then I realized that there was dim candlelight. Candlelight?

“Ralf,” I heard myself whisper. My mouth was so dry. My spit stuck to my tongue like wallpaper paste.


“No, dear, not yet,” a vague female voice answered. “Soon.”

I felt reassured from her kind voice. She knew what she was doing. I would see Ralf soon and I would tell him how things would be different. How I wanted this baby. His baby. That I was determined to be a good mother. That I would not be selfish. That I loved him so desperately, like he loved me and the baby too and….

A hard, agonizing contraction grappled my body. I knew to push. I pushed hard. To see my baby. To love the baby like I loved Ralf, like Ralf loved me….

I heard the woman cry out. I heard her whisper something to someone else in the room. Her voice caught. Dear God. Something was wrong. My baby. Something…… She was holding the baby. Bloody. Still. Why didn’t she clean him? Why didn’t she wrap him? My nose burned with the smell. I felt vomit rise into my throat. My baby. I looked at the woman’s face. Her face was pinched. Her eyes sparkled with tears that were about to fall. She was holding my baby. Still. No breath. I started screaming. It was my fault. Ralf jerked the door open.

My shrieks abruptly halted. My eyes caressed his disheveled sandy hair in the candlelight. His wolfish gray eyes were dark with concern and fear. His slender jaw was tight with worry.

“Roese,” he choked.

I drank his presence with great thirst. It was so hard to speak.

“Ralf, please forgive me.” I barely breathed the words.

Sudden, stark brightness. I was numb everywhere. And very detached. I watched as the doctor cut your umbilical cord. You looked blue to me. Your eyes were closed. You were still. You were dead. But then you slowly arched your back and wriggled slightly. I gasped and began to cry with jagged gulps. You were not dead. You were alive! The relief was overpowering. The doctor gave you to me. A nurse was trying to hand me the phone to speak to your father. Other hospital staff bustled about importantly. I shook off the lingering dread that hung on me like a damp cloak and concentrated on holding you close. But Roese still hovered in the fringes of my mind.

Strangers’ Angel Chapter Two



Dear Diary,

“Strangers’ Angel”, the sequel to “The One That Got Away”. Last week, chapter one, next week chapter three.


Strangers’ Angel Chapter 2

Walking always cleared Anna’s mind. It seemed to allow ideas and thoughts to blow in and out unhindered by whatever she had to concentrate on. Occasionally, she would grab a thought as it slid by and consider it a bit more closely before setting it free to circulate once again. Sometimes stray thoughts that did not belong to her would enter the mix when she would pass a stranded spirit. These thoughts were usually vague and unobtrusive and would drift right back out as she passed their vicinity. She always felt a touch of sadness for the stranded souls because they were trapped between the two states of being. She knew that this limbo would not last forever, but they all had some repeating thought that they were fussing over. This single traumatic event that occurred at their death would continually loop until somehow they pushed past it and would continue their journey. Sometimes they were aware of her as she entered their area. On those occasions she would make eye contact and nod politely to acknowledge their presence. Most of the time, however, the stranded souls would not notice her and would not interrupt their seemingly endless hand wringing about whatever it was that was agitating to them. Anna did not know why some souls got stuck and some did not. There were all sorts who got stuck- Bright Souls, Dark Souls and in-between ones. It seemed to Anna that it was kind of like swerving off into a ditch on the road of life.

She was coming up to the sorority house where she often sensed a stranded soul. His name was Nicodemus and he was a famous ghost in her college town. The sorority house had long since replaced the modest home that existed in Nicodemus’ day. In the 1850’s 24 East Washington Street was a station for the Underground Railroad. Nicodemus’ story was that he had been an escaping slave that had taken refuge there. Unfortunately for him a group of angry townspeople got wind that the home was a haven for runaway slaves and raided the place. Nicodemus was shot dead while fleeing. Anna’s quick stride faltered as a sudden thought struck her. She hadn’t realized it before, but she now knew that as Ida Spencer she had known Nicodemus briefly. Hazy fragments of memories tugged at the edges of Anna’s mind. Pieces of conversation, a shared meal, obtaining a pair of sturdy boots for him…Nicodemus had stopped off at Ida’s farm during his Underground Railroad journey. A tight jolt of sadness shot through her. Ida hadn’t known that he didn’t make it to freedom. Nicodemus was a spirit that normally did acknowledge Anna’s presence if he was there when she passed. She wondered if this was because he recognized her. Interesting. She might have to risk seeming odd to passersby to try communicating with him more substantially. Anna searched her mind to ascertain whether she felt that she recognized any of the other stranded spirits in town. She did not believe that she did, and she couldn’t think of any of them that appeared to be interested in her either.

The sleepy town of Athens was touted as the most haunted place in Ohio. Anna never had anything to add to the topic if it ever came up in conversation with others. She had learned as a child not to talk about it. She was able to see these spirits as long as she could remember. It did not disturb her. She was used to it and accepted it. She used to try to speak to them, but later discovered that it was not necessary. The communication worked just as well silently. They usually only had that one looping thought anyway and were not particularly interested in conversation. Shortly after her mother’s death she learned that not everyone could see them as she did.

Anna was four years old when her mother died. She was sent to live with her Aunt Leigh, Uncle Jeff and their children Franny and Kate. Aunt Leigh became quite alarmed when her young niece would speak of random stranded souls that she was able to observe. Leigh attributed this oddity as Anna’s attempt to deal with the loss of her mother. She immediately put Anna in counseling. From her experience with counseling Anna learned to keep it all to herself, except for Aunt Sara.

Sara knew. Aunt Sara was a Bright Soul. But Sara wasn’t really her aunt. She was someone that her mother had met shortly before her death. Anna had always felt comfortable with Sara from the moment she walked into her life. At first, Aunt Leigh was hesitant to allow Sara to be involved in Anna’s activities but after a couple of full blown tantrums on Anna’s part, she relented. It soon became apparent that Sara had a calming and positive impact on the young girl who had lost her mother. Over the years, the relationship between the two of them continued and grew. Anna learned that Sara also dreamed of her previous pasts and could see stranded souls as well. But Sara seemed to understand much more about this other reality than Anna did. She would explain some things but had a tendency to be mysterious and talk in riddles. She was fond of saying that it was better to glean information than to be given information. It made the discovery a pure idea and unbound by the possibility that given information was skewed or not complete. She also insisted that she was not privy to the entire picture either.


It was going to be a hot one today. The air was muggy and not a breath of wind stirred the numerous trees lining the brick walk. Anna wiped a trickle of sweat from her brow and glanced over at the sorority house as she passed. She wouldn’t have time to stop there today or she would be late for her breakfast date. Nicodemus was there pressed closely to the side of the house. She silently called a friendly hello. Then, abruptly, she stopped. She seemed to have slammed into a wall of extreme tension and fear. It made her gasp suddenly with the force of it. Anna stared at the man spirit and he stared back at her. His eyes were frightened and his mouth worked wordlessly trying to tell her something. She could not understand specifically, but she could sense that it was some sort of warning. A warning for her. Then he hurriedly turned and ran away as though being pursued by a mob, which was in fact how his story had ended. A jagged wind began to blow.

“Are you okay?” A passing pedestrian stopped to query Anna.

Anna pulled her glance away from the scurrying figure and forced herself to manage her countenance before addressing the girl in front of her. She cleared her throat.

“Yes, thanks for asking.” The wall of anxious dread was subsiding and the wind continued to pick up. It felt good and fresh to her. It was going to thunderstorm.

“Well, okay, then. Bye.” The girl adjusted her backpack on her shoulder and gave Anna a small smile before trudging on her way.

Anna returned her eyes to the house. She couldn’t see or feel him anymore. She looked up at the sky that was becoming rapidly overcast. She had better hurry on to the restaurant before she was poured upon.




Strangers’ Angel Chapter One


Dear Diary,

Some of you are aware that I have promised a sequel to my novel “The One That Got Away”. I worked on it diligently for several months and then got waylaid by real life causing me to get off track with”Strangers’ Angel”. I have recently recommitted myself to getting up at 4am daily to accomplish this goal. It feels good. I am poised to submit the first three chapters to literary agents in the near future. I will share these with you.


Strangers’ Angel Chapter One


The gritty fingers of fear clawed their way up into her throat and clutched unmercifully at her stamina. She coughed only slightly, but felt as though she were choking on it. She willed the paralyzing mass back down to the pit of her violently wrenching stomach. The fact that she and Cora had just walked briskly from her farm further aggravated her breathing condition. The darkness had also caused her to trip on an unfortunately placed gnarled root and her old bones ached and protested the jarring they had received. Ida Spencer had a mission to complete and it was going awry, but panic was not an option. Participating as a station master in the Underground Railroad had always been risky, but as the Presidential election loomed on the horizon tensions between slave holding states and free states had reached a fever pitch. Some southern states were threatening to form their own country if Abraham Lincoln were to be elected President. Ida’s own state of Virginia was in turmoil over which side to be on. Parkersburg, Virginia did tend to be sympathetic to slave freedom, but as of late it seemed to Ida that western Virginia was crawling with slave catchers. She had heard tell that slave catching earned a pretty penny and that even judges were paid more for declaring an apprehended negro a slave. Ida didn’t really care to know all of those details. She was not what they called an ‘abolitionist’. She was not so much concerned about causes per se and certainly wasn’t one to be ranting loudly about them. She was concerned about what was morally correct and was stalwart enough to stick her neck out to help where needed.

Ida could feel the cascading trembling of the woman beside her even though they weren’t actually touching. The two women were crouched low in the sparse, stubby grass hiding behind a haphazard line of overgrown bushes beyond the pasture of Ida’s farm. Ida could tell the slave catchers were coming nearer. She knew that Cora needed to make a dash for the woods immediately. Ida took in a shallow, steadying breath and grabbed Cora’s lovely ebony face between her dirty hands.

“Cora…Cora, look at me,” Ida whispered insistently. “You need to go…” Both women flinched outwardly when the dog barked again. The beast and its owners were definitely closer. Cora pulled away from Ida and strapped her arms around hers knees and began to rock, shivering uncontrollably.

“Cora,” Ida physically turned the woman’s face to her again, “the worst thing is the fear. Bravery is following through with something when you are scared out of your wits. You must gather your wits. You must continue to be brave or it will all be for nothin’. You have made a choice to take your freedom. You have come so far. You cannot stop now.” Ida pointed in the darkness. “Look to the left. Do you see the grove of trees? Go there. There will be a stream. Cross over the stream to hide your scent and then follow it north for about five miles. You will see a small abandoned house. You must hide there until tomorrow night. There will be food in the hamper. A man named John will come for you after dark.” Ida paused and carefully raised her head to peek over the concealing bushes. “I don’t see them yet, but they be coming. Now is the time. Go now!”

Cora stayed frozen. The only movement was her eyes, which were blinking rapidly as tears began to well.

“Cora!” Ida hissed and shook the girl roughly. “Pull yourself together. You must be strong. Now go! Run!”

A small childlike whimper escaped Cora’s lips before she reset her features and pushed herself up off of the ground. Her face visibly shifted and her supple mouth creased into a firm line. There was no time to risk any last thank you or goodbye. She bolted to the woods like her life depended on it, because it did.

Ida watched the fleeing figure become smaller and blend into the shadow of the trees. She sighed jaggedly and tried to quiet her own cantering heart. Now what to do? She crouched there in the fleeting stillness and considered her options. She could continue to hide and hope that they did not find her. In fact, they were not really looking for her, they were looking for Cora. They did suspect, however, that she was aiding runaway slaves, but had no proof, until perhaps today. If they did find her, how would one explain an old widow groveling in the dirt, in her housedress, after midnight, in a field a half a mile from her home? Not very effectively, unless she made up some elaborate story about how she got there. But no, Ida Spencer was not an actress, nor did she have the imagination to spin such a tale. She was a direct and plain sort, driven and stubborn from strongly held moral beliefs. She decided that it would not do to just sit in the dirt awaiting them to come up on her. Surely they would find her if she stayed. They had a dog and all. It made the most sense to get up and walk on home. She would hope for the best. She would face her fate walking. She stood laboriously and winced as she put pressure on her right leg. The last several years had given her body mysterious aches and pains. She tried diligently to pay them no mind and function as efficiently as she was able. There was so much to be done on any given day. She brushed herself off briskly, ignoring her complaining joints. She fussed inwardly that her dress was most likely unsalvageable from the dirt ground into it. Then she stood straight and firm and entered into prayer. She asked the Lord for protection and guidance for herself and for Cora and thanked Him for His goodness. Then she began her walk home. She comforted herself that each step brought her closer to her haven. The dog began to bark again. It was sounding more excited. Ida began counting her steps to distract herself from her perilous situation. Her footsteps sounded so loud to her as she crunched through the underbrush. Perhaps it was God’s will that they find her, not Cora. That girl had her whole life ahead of her. Ida fervently hoped that Cora would find her freedom, especially if Ida paid the price for it. Ida immediately scolded herself for such vain thoughts. It would be as the Lord would have it and that needed to be the only thing that mattered.

Ida could see the silhouettes of the men and the dog coming from the south. She cringed inwardly, but continued her stalwart pace. Ida believed that she recognized her pursuers. She had heard talk that Old Man Peters and his sons had recently taken up slave catching. Peters was a mean and vile sort. Her mouth dried at the thought of having to converse with the man. The men began yelling at her to stop. Ida Spencer wanted to run as fast as her stubby old legs could carry her, but what would be the use? They would certainly loose the dog on her. That would be worse.

Ida halted and turned to face them. As she waited for them to approach she heard them cussing and exclaiming to each other as they recognized who she was. One of the three men shushed the frantically barking dog, although the animal continued to growl as they covered the distance to where she was standing. Old man Peters spoke first.

“Widow Spencer, fancy meeting you here.” His voice dripped with sarcasm and disdain. He paused to spit tobacco juice just inches from Ida’s foot. “Where be that blackie you been hidin’?” he drawled as he fixed her with his probing, beady eyes. Ida was suddenly struck by the fact that she recognized this dark soul from somewhere that she could not put her finger on. Of course she knew him as one of her neighbor’s farmhands, but this was something else, from somewhere else. This happened to her occasionally and she had learned to trust this instinct. These dark souls needed to be thwarted at all costs. There were also bright souls that Ida felt moved to aid in any way. They were like living angels. Sometimes she mused that she herself was an angel in training, but then her practical nature would chide her insisting that was just pure vanity.

“Let me shoot her in the leg, Pa. That’ll make the cow talk. Filthy slave lovin’ whore.” Ida looked closely at Peters’ oldest son and saw him to be a dark soul too. It was never good to find two dark souls together. It magnified their spirit strength. She shifted her gaze to the younger brother. He looked agitated and scared as he nervously tried to control the dog. His soul was not dark.

“Put the rifle down, son,” Peters demanded. “I don’t expect no trouble from Miz Spencer.” He changed his tone to imitate the most polite of gentlemen, although his sneer and malicious eyes quite spoiled the effect. “I’m sorely disappointed to find a woman of your upbringin’ aiding runaway slaves, Miz Spencer. Maybe we can get you off easy this one time if you tell us where she be and promise never to do such a thing again.”

“I will not do that, Mr. Peters.” Ida spoke evenly and her eyes flashed with determination as she stood solidly.

It was then that understanding crept into the grizzled man’s expression. Peters’ face twisted in smoldering rage as he realized that Ida was in fact a Bright Soul.

“Go ahead, son, shoot her in the leg.”

The older son grinned wickedly and aimed swiftly.

“No!” the younger brother shoved at the rifle as the bullet flew out of the barrel. The bullet lodged squarely in the center of Ida’s forehead, forced its way through the back of her skull and then continued its journey to rest under the dry, rain craving soil. Ida collapsed immediately to the ground.


Anna awoke with a start. She instinctively reached to touch her forehead with her long, tapered fingers. She found herself sitting bolt upright in bed and breathing heavily. After a moment, she relaxed her body and slumped back into the comfortable disarray of blankets and pillows. She always preferred a plethora of both. Anna stared up at the ceiling and watched the shifting pattern of shadow that resulted from the early morning sunlight fingering through the tree outside of her window. She adjusted her head on the pillow until the sun shone warmly on her face. She closed her eyes and sighed, releasing the dream.

“I guess that’s how that one ends,” she murmured to herself. Chances were good that Anna wouldn’t be dreaming of Ida again now that she had seen her death. Over the past several months Anna had been sporadically witnessing snatches of the woman’s mostly uneventful life in her dreams. But in reality these dreams were actually scattered memories. Anna Parker had lived as Ida Spencer. It was not unusual for Anna to dream of the people she used to be. It had begun when she was twelve years old and by now she was accustomed to it. However, she thought she would never get used to how exhausted they made her feel. That was annoying. Anna had a busy schedule to keep and it was difficult when she felt like falling asleep in the middle of it. She hoped now that the saga of Ida Spencer was complete she would get a break from the vivid dreams and have some months of normal sleep. She had a feeling, however, this was unlikely. She wondered briefly who she would dream of next.

Anna allowed the sunlight to caress her slender and pointed features and began drifting slowly back to sleep. It was only moments before her alarm clock began chiming an electronic version of the Beatles’ song “Here Comes the Sun”. Kate’s dog, Clarice, immediately began to howl and charged into Anna’s bedroom to protest the ear splitting tones. Clarice licked at Anna nervously until the girl reached over to eradicate the merciless noise. Then the dog began to bark and wag her tail wildly in greeting.

“Sorry, Clarice, I forgot to close the door again.” Anna slid her feet onto the hardwood floor and adjusted her pale blue tank top before reaching down to scratch Clarice’s brown peppered ears. “There. All better now.”

Anna stood and retied the drawstring on her plaid pajama pants while Clarice did a few happy circles. Anna walked carefully to avoid stepping on the animal amid her joyous prancing. She paused by the oval mirror hanging on the wall by the door and wiped at a mascara smudge under her left eye. Did she look like she was two decades old today? It was always a silly thing to be checking, but she did it every year. Nope, she looked the same as yesterday. Age always had a way of sneaking up on you when you were not looking. Anna padded into the living room, yawning and pushing her long chestnut hair out of her face. Clarice bolted ahead to find Kate. Anna noticed that her other roommate, Viv, was dead asleep on the couch. She was still wearing her snazzy date outfit from the night before. Her arm trailed on the floor and her mouth was wide open. She was snoring softly. Even in such a disheveled state she was beautiful. Her skin was the color of a perfect cup of coffee and she had the figure of a Greek goddess with a face to match. Her long corkscrew ebony curls were in an extremely haphazard arrangement at the moment, but were fetching nonetheless. Viv uttered a sudden, guttural snort that startled her. She turned and delved further into the couch. A pillow plopped to the floor. Clarice instantly ran over to inspect it and waited hopefully, tail flailing, to see if Viv was getting up. She was not. Clarice raced back to the kitchen. Anna followed her and poked her head in.

“Got coffee, Kate?”

“Yeah, sure. Hey, happy birthday, Cuz.” Kate was cooking scrambled eggs. “Want some?”

“No thanks. Stephen’s taking me out for breakfast.”

“Oh, yeah.” Kate slid the small frying pan off of the burner and opened the cabinet next to the microwave. “Give him a smoochie for me. I would come too but I have that Art History final today. We will play tonight, okay?” She rummaged through their assorted coffee cup collection.

“Okay, sure.” Anna pulled a corner off of Kate’s nearby toast and popped it into her mouth.

“What are you in the mood for today? Teddy bears, flowers, sarcasm?” Kate triumphantly pulled out a turquoise coffee cup speckled with balloons and emblazoned with large pink letters spelling out the words ‘Birthday Princess’. “Hey! Who knew we had a birthday coffee cup?”

“Must be Viv’s,” the cousins spoke simultaneously and then giggled at the timing.

“I heard that,” came a muffled reply from the living room couch.

“Well, you would be the House Princess, Vivian Starling. Even your name sounds like one. Or maybe it sounds more like an actress name.” Kate pronounced the word ‘actress’ in decidedly British fashion, flipped her shoulder-length carrot colored hair, adjusted her studded cat’s eye glasses and struck a dramatic pose.

Anna smiled. “Kate, you are a nut.” She took the mug from Kate’s extended hand and reached for the coffee pot. Anna’s phone began ringing in her bedroom. She set the cup down and hurried to retrieve it. Clarice yipped excitedly and Anna almost tripped over her as they entered the bedroom. It was her dad. He gave her the typical happy birthday spiel and then asked her about her classes and her summer plans. He expressed an interest in trying to get together over the summer. Anna agreed, participated in farewell pleasantries and then hung up. She sat on her extremely comfortable and welcoming bed and considered whether she had time to snuggle back into it for a few minutes before she needed to get ready to meet her brother for breakfast.

Kate appeared in the doorway holding a steaming cup of balloon decorated coffee. “And here would be your breakfast in bed. You may be the princess for today.”

A sleepy Viv pushed past Kate and flung herself onto Anna’s bed. “Who are you to give away my title?” Viv feigned shock and disapproval before burying her head in Anna’s assorted striped pillows. “Girl, your bed is so comfy.”

“No one told you that you had to sleep on the couch,” Kate retorted and handed Anna the turquoise mug. “That guy must’ve wore you out last night, Viv.”

“Nah. I just drank too much. Remind me never to drink rail liquor ever again. Ugh! My head hurts.” Viv pressed her hands on both temples.

“I must say he was quite the hottie.” Kate nodded her head matter-of-factly.

“Yeah, but he’s not a keeper. He is certainly some eye candy, but he’s about as sharp as a marble.” Viv closed her eyes. She sighed as her fingers traveled to her eyelids. “I got class in an hour. Anna you got class today?”

“No, I just have to work on my final paper for Psych. Too bad you can’t come to breakfast with me and Stephen.” Anna smiled slyly.

“What?” Viv sat straight up. “Stephen’s coming? Oh my God! I can’t let him see me like this. When’s he going to be here?”

“Relax, Viv. I’m going to walk over to Friscos Diner and meet him there. He offered to pick me up, but you know I always prefer to walk.”

“Thank God. Wait, I mean dang! I always love seeing that man. Sorry, Anna, I know he’s your brother and all, but now he’s hot and being an anatomy professor is just too sexy.”

“You’re too young for him, Viv,” Kate teased.

“Hell, no!” Viv exclaimed. “Tell me what thirty three year old man don’t want a gorgeous, glamorous, intelligent twenty two year old college girl? Hey, Kate, he’s coming to your sister’s wedding, right?”

“Yeah, he told me he was, right Anna?”

“Yes, he’s coming.” Anna smiled with amusement and pushed herself up off of the bed. She took a sip of coffee.

“That’s where I will make my play,” Viv plotted, “at Franny’s wedding. And I expect you girls to help me out.”

“I will tell him you said hello, Viv. Now I need to go take a shower.” Anna replied.

“Wait!” Viv started, but then stopped. “I guess I’ll let you have first shower since it’s your birthday. Happy birthday, girl. We’ll go out tonight after I get rid of this headache. Poke me if you see me asleep in your comfy bed when you get out of the shower.”

“Will do.” Anna threw down another swig of coffee and headed for the bathroom.







Final Post from “The One That Got Away” Chapter 22

book cover

Dear Diary,

Chapter 22 is the last excerpt I will be posting from “The One That Got Away”. I hope you have enjoyed your bite of it. More adventure is contained in the remainder of the story, but you will need to get your hands on the book to see what happens! Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt.

Chapter 22

         It was a lovely warm and breezy morning. The kind that I used to love to get lost in. I only allowed myself a small sigh and a quick wistful thought about my desire to traipse off on another aimless jaunt around the harbor area. That was the past. In me younger years I used to think that I had so much work to do. It weren’t nothing compared to the responsibilities I held now. This morning, I was alone in the pub. I had just given the cook instructions on the day’s fare and had sent her off to the market. I placed a daunting pile of paperwork on one of the sturdy wooden tables and crossly pulled a chair out from under it to sit. I sat with a decidedly heavy thump. Figurin’ all of the money gave me a headache. It didn’t come natural to me, but I found that I could manage it if I gave myself to thinking real hard. I needed to get this figured before Jackson woke up and demanded my attention. I began sorting the papers but was interrupted by the heavy front door being flung wide open. I was shocked and surprised to see my brother Owen standing in the doorway with a grin as wide as a horse’s ass.

“Mo chroi!” He threw his arms high and to the sides to beckon me for a hug. If he smiled any bigger it would have split his face. His tawny hair was pointing in all directions just as I remembered it. A pair of hazel eyes on a face with a generous portion of freckles just like mine sparkled at me.

I jumped up and bounded over to my older brother like a foolish little girl. I squealed with delight as he squeezed me in an embrace that nearly cracked my bones. He planted a big wet kiss on my forehead and set me back to the floor.

“Aye, ye are a sight for sore eyes, Meggie! Looky how you’ve grown! Yer not a wee cailin anymore.” His expression sobered suddenly. “It pains me that I weren’t able to get back to lay Ma to rest. She was a fine woman.”

“Aye.” That was all I could answer. I found myself unusually tongue-tied.

“Well,” Owen continued, “I’ve made a decision to put me feet up here in me home town and lend a hand with the pub. I’ve been sailin’ many years too long and I’m starting to be feelin’ it in me knees. The letter that Da sent sounds like he ain’t been able to work much himself.”

I was instantly deeply offended. “Da told you I couldn’t manage it?”

Owen chuckled. “I see you are still a spitfire.  Don’t take it that way, Meggie. Just be glad yer brother’s here to help. Ya got any meat-pie back there?” He craned his neck in the direction of the kitchen. “This big man is hungry.”

My feathers were not the least bit smoothed, but I decided to put off being furious for the time being. It was just too good to see Owen. “I’ll go see what we got,” I offered as he sat himself at the table I had been occupying. He gingerly picked at the paperwork scattered about pretending to show interest. I smacked at his hand playfully. “Don’t worry your pretty little head ‘bout those numbers,” I teased and headed back to the kitchen snickering. I could feel his smile at my back. Lands! It was good to see him.

The day passed very pleasantly. Da was beside himself with joy that his son had returned. Jackson adored him immediately and fell to following him everywhere. Owen seemed quite taken with his nephew as well. Danny and Owen hit it off at once, much to my annoyance. I could tell Owen noticed the resemblance between Jackson and Danny. A couple of times he began to ask me about it but my eyes burned his mouth shut. Many of our regular customers remembered Owen and there was quite the craic atmosphere in the Peppertree Pub that evening. I usually wasn’t one to imbibe while I was working, but this night demanded celebration. I had made my way through several shebeens of bier and was singing raucously with Owen and several of our fine gentlemen when the front door opened quietly to emit a beautiful woman with perfectly coiffed deep auburn hair. Our song ceased instantly. The men ogled at her and nudged each other, but I was trying desperately to remember who she was. She smiled slowly at me and was not the least bit taken aback by my tipsy and disheveled state.

“Meg.” Her eyes danced as she said my name. My cohorts at the table looked at me in amazement. I could tell that they were all itchin’ to know how I knew this lovely creature.

Suddenly, Owen sideswiped her in an affectionate embrace.

“Violet!”  he shouted and lifted her in the air and spun her effortlessly before setting her delicately to the floor. Violet looked flushed, but happy.

“Owen! Impetuous as ever!”

Owen guffawed at this. “I have no idea what you just called me, but I sure am glad to see you. You have grown into a very pretty lady, Violet. Always knew you would.”

“Why, thank you, Owen. You are too kind.” Violet saw Da making his way through the crowd with difficulty. She walked in his direction and everyone in her path parted ways to let her pass.

“Mr. Larkin, how fare you?” Violet asked. She kissed his cheek and looked kindly into his worn face.

“Much better seeing the likes of you, Violet. How lovely you look. You and Owen on the same day! Saints be praised! It makes me heart faint.” Da patted her arm affectionately.

“Owen has just returned today?” she asked glancing over at him. Owen nodded vigorously. “Well, let’s not have your heart faint, Mr. Larkin. How is your wife?”

“Aye, she has passed on, mo chroi,” Da answered sadly.

“Mama has too,” Violet returned. “I am sure they are talking each other’s ears off in heaven. They were such wonderful friends.”

“Aye.” Da smiled though his eyes were shiny with tears that he never would shed.

By this time I had recovered my senses. I pushed my way through the throng to position myself by Da and Violet. I slapped both hands on my hips and cocked my head to complete my saucy pose.

“The Saints be praised! If it isn’t Violet Jessop!” I exclaimed dramatically. Without further ado my long lost friend and I hugged each other gleefully. Then we both began talking at once, asking each other questions.

“Lands!” Da muttered and rubbed his forehead with a gnarled hand. “You girls are just like your mothers!” Da shook his head, but he was smiling as he shuffled back to the bar. “Danny, get some of the best whiskey for our lovely guest.”

“Yes sir.” Danny went to the task immediately. I wanted to smack that charming look right off of his face.

Violet and I talked until the wee hours of the morning. The last time that I had seen her was when we were both around twelve years of age. Our mothers had been the best of friends growing up together in Dublin.  Violet had been raised mostly in Argentina, but had moved to England with her mother after her father died. When Violet was a child, her mother would bring her to visit Belfast as often as she could manage. Sometimes we would meet in Dublin. Violet always had many adventures to share. She was one of those people that adventure followed. After her mother died she worked as a stewardess on luxury ships. She had so many interesting stories to tell. I was quite enamored with the whole idea. In the darkness right before dawn she told me of her upcoming plans. We were the only two people awake in the pub. All of the customers were long shooed away and Owen was face down on the bar snoring loudly. I am sure that Danny would have stuck around to flirt and chat with Violet if she had given him the time of day. She did not. It made my heart swell with satisfaction when she would continually rebuff his advances with cold and sarcastic quips. He finally got the message and left us be. Violet and I were munching on bread and cheese and green apple slices at the cleanest table available.

“I was hoping I would get to see you when I came to town. I mostly came to collect my cousin and her family. Do you remember Jane?” A childish face came to mind with dark hair and green eyes. I nodded. “Have you heard of the Titanic?” Violet waited for my reaction.

“Of course! Why, that thar huge ship was built right here in our harbor. That boat is quite amazing. Biggest one I ever saw.”

“Well,” Violet extended the word dramatically, “I will be sailing on her maiden voyage as a first class stewardess.”


“Yes.” Violet tucked a stray strand of hair into place and smiled smugly as she smoothed it. She looked amazing for having stayed up all night drinking whiskey with me. I did not even want to see the state I had worked myself into. I knew my eyes were wide and my mouth was hanging open like a cod fish.

“Violet! That’s wonderful!”

“Yes,” she said again. “I had to dress matronly to get the position. I’ve had trouble with that before. I have actually been turned away for a position as stewardess because I was too pretty.” Her laugh sounded like a silver bell and it danced among the rafters in the near empty room. “They said it causes problems to have pretty stewardesses. No lie.” She paused and leaned her face close to mine. “I was not going to let that stop me. I made myself look as homely as I possibly could, and I got it.” She sat back in her chair and popped a piece of Butterkase cheese in her mouth and chewed it quickly. “The Titanic will be making other stops on the way, but its’ final destination is New York City, America. You haven’t been there, have you, Meg? I intend to spend some time in New York.”

“Well,” I started slowly, “No, but Finn has moved to America. A place called Boston. I have been achin’ to go there and see what it’s all about. A while back Finn wrote to invite me. Didn’t see how it was possible, though,” I finished wistfully. An idea began to form in my head. I looked at Violet full in the face and I could see the same idea sprouting there. “But…now Owen is here.” I stopped and grimaced. “But I wouldn’t feel right about takin’ money for that.”

“I could probably get you a position as a second class stewardess,” Violet suggested breathlessly. “Last I heard they were still looking for second class. I have connections, you know,” she added proudly. “You wouldn’t have trouble with your looks like I did, either.”

I stared at her speechless for what seemed like an eternity while my mind raced over the possibilities. I almost couldn’t bear to think of it. It was so exciting! I could taste it. I didn’t even care that Violet had just called me homely in a backhanded way. Abruptly, my face fell.

“Jackson,” I said simply. “I cannot leave Jackson.”

“You don’t have to,” Violet continued undeterred. “My cousin and her family are going to be traveling third class on the Titanic to move to America.  She has a bushel of children. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind to throw Jackson in there. You would just need to come up with the money for Jackson’s passage. I know you don’t want to take from the pub money, so pick up some tailoring jobs, Meg. That should cover it. Come on, Meggie…do this! I can’t see you stuck here all of your days. You need more. Owen can handle it. You come with me, cailin. Who knows? Maybe you’ll want to keep on being a stewardess. Imagine you and I sailing the world together! The world had better watch out for Violet and Meg!” She tittered mischievously.

She was speaking to my spirit and my heart in just the right way. I quavered inwardly and knew that I had to do this. I had to make this happen.

“You find me the job and check with Jane about Jackson and I’ll do it. Cheers, my friend.” We extended our smudged whiskey glasses and touched them lightly together. The small, cheery sound echoed in the large room and in my mind. Our eyes were locked in a familiar gaze that always meant adventure would soon follow.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20 & 21

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Chapter 20 & 21 “The One That Got Away”

book cover

Dear Diary,

Here is Chapter 20 & 21 from “The One That Got Away”. I will post one more chapter next Monday, and then if you would like to read further you will need to get your hands on the actual book! Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt.


Chapter 20

         I pulled at the puffiness around my eyes trying to encourage more blood circulation. Then I massaged around them with my fingertips.  It was to no avail. I looked hideous. All of the world would know that I had been crying. But, I suppose it wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t know most of the world that I would be seeing today. I studied my figure one last time in my bureau mirror. Was it obvious? No. Not yet. Right now I just looked padded and plump. I blew out the candle. The sun would be up in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I needed to hurry if I didn’t want anyone to see me take my leave. Snowdrop meowed pitifully in the latched basket as I picked it up.

“Shush!” I hissed anxiously. Surprisingly, she instantly ceased her yowling. Perhaps this was a good omen for my day. I grabbed my satchel, but then had to put it down again to open my bedroom door. It creaked as I pushed it.

“Ach!” I whispered. I hadn’t noticed before how noisy it was. The stairs seemed just as loud as I tiptoed carefully down. As I passed Danny’s door I felt that my heart would burst into pieces. I walked a few paces down the hallway to my parents’ room. I held my breath as I pushed the letter under their closed door. No sound from inside. No sound from my cat. The Saints be praised. If I could get down to the common room without that cat carrying on I would truly be blessed. My stomach twisted as I crept down the last flight of stairs. I would surely miss my parents. I hoped that they managed fine without me. I was supposing they’d have to hire someone. But business was good. The money was there to pay someone to help. I barely breathed until I stood alone in the Peppertree Pub. I surveyed the silent room and found myself staring at the place at the end of the bar that Danny usually occupied. Da was right. Danny was not worth givin’ me heart to. I bit my lip and angry tears formed once again in my eyes. Aye, he had stepped all over me heart. I had made my way to his bed alright. Only thrice, but that was enough to plant a seed in my belly. I knew he was playin’ with other women too, but I was certain that that I could bend him to my side. The fact that I was now with child had derailed my plans and made everything quite complicated. At the present, Danny didn’t want to have anything to do with me or the child growing inside of me. He had been angry when I told him. He insisted that it was not his. How dare he accuse me of sleeping elsewhere! Working with Danny at the pub had become quite unbearable. My parents knew that we were at odds, but did not know the reason behind it. I could not tell them. I needed to take my leave and start fresh. Rachel had offered for me to stay with her in her flat in Paris. She wrote that the theatre she danced at was in need of a good seamstress to fashion costumes. Yes. This is what I needed to do. I squared my shoulders and walked with determination and purpose out into the boreen in front of my family’s pub. I marched out onto the main street and spied a fiacre almost immediately. Another good omen. I waved to the driver. He acknowledged me by tipping his hat and began readying my ride. I counted out the proper amount of coins from my drawstring purse as I approached. I kept my step firm and my face expressionless.


Chapter 21

         I woke up slowly. The cobblestone streets of Belfast seemed to smear and sway. My vision readjusted and the plain white popcorn studded ceiling of my apartment bedroom gradually came into view. Wendy Parker’s reality came washing over me. So, I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tests came back indicating as such. Of course more tests were needed to ascertain the severity and proper treatment. There was no way to get around the fact that ‘brain tumor’ sounded severe. I can’t say that I was surprised, but to hear this phrase spoken in relation to oneself is quite appalling. I had been forbidden to work and assigned to semi bed rest until the next battery of test results were available. I actually didn’t fight the bed resting thing. I really didn’t currently feel capable of doing anything much more strenuous than padding around my apartment. I was almost constantly dizzy now and the headaches were quite severe. I had new medication which helped the symptoms but caused me to feel rather loopy and definitely sleepy. My bed was the best place for me at this point. My apartment was still littered with unpacked boxes. Every day I unpacked a few, but it seemed to completely sap my strength. It just felt so important that I do it. I knew I was grasping at normalcy. Leigh had insisted that under the current circumstances she could get me out of my lease. I still vehemently refused to move into her guest room. She was thoroughly exasperated with my stance but decided to humor me for the time being. She told me that she would finish the unpacking for me so that I would stop doing it. She spent quite a bit of time at my apartment. If she wasn’t there she had Jeff or Jeff’s sister stop in to check on me. I did not protest. Leigh suggested that Anna be enrolled in a preschool program to prepare her for Kindergarten and give her something else do to besides eat snacks and watch TV in my bed. I did not protest. She also broached the subject of alerting you and your father of my situation. I protested loudly and she backed off. I do not want you to feel that you need to speak to me merely because I am perhaps terminally ill. What kind of conversation would that be? Awkward and pointless. I am not looking for pity or forced love and acceptance.

Anna enjoyed preschool. She had a lot to tell me when I was awake enough to listen. I realized that I should have put her in preschool earlier. She has such a sharp mind and was gaining so much from the experience. When she wasn’t in school or with her cousins she would often set up an elaborate play area in my bed. I was constantly knocking various items to the floor as I would change positions. Normally, I would mind the clutter. Recently, however, I just wanted her company. I played more Candy Land in two weeks than I had played in the entire past year.

Sometimes when it was very quiet I could hear piano music coming from Sara’s apartment upstairs. It was beautiful and stirred me in a way that I had not experienced before. Many times it became the background music as I dozed and dreamed of Meg in France. During this phase of dreams it seemed that one blended into another and then blended seamlessly with reality. I was often not aware of exactly when I awoke or fell asleep. It was probably the medicine I was taking. Much as I didn’t want to admit it, it was a good thing that Leigh had arranged to have a responsible adult in my apartment at almost all times. I could tell that she was frantically worried about me, but she would not talk about it. This was unlike her. Of course I did not talk about it either, but that was like me. I really only wanted to hang with Anna, write in my journal and sleep endlessly. I surprised myself at my ability to be listless and unproductive. These were new traits for me. Sometimes it felt like it could go on forever this way, but I knew Leigh was waiting for the next round of test results. She was poised to take action. If it was bad news she would put her foot down and move me into her guest room. I knew it was too much trouble to station people at my apartment if I really needed some serious looking after. It felt so odd to be in this position. I had always been one to find the stamina within to walk onward alone and determined. I couldn’t find it anywhere at present.  But even odder still, is that I found myself not really caring. My dreams seemed more like reality than my actual reality. I found myself confusing them sometimes. This did not phase Anna a bit. She was always able to keep up with my state of mind even if I was not able. It was just like another one of her make believe stories that she acted out with her dolls. Some of these appeared vaguely reminiscent of my dreams. She moved in and out of them and mine with ease.

My dreams during this period were fragmented slices of Meg’s experience in France. It was the bright spot in her life. It appeared that she spent approximately four years there. She spent her days surrounded by theatre life. It made her feel breathless and happy to be involved in the production of such whimsy although she never felt that she truly belonged in this arena. She fancied herself as a hen among swans. She made herself invaluable working long hours creating costumes, props, and sets. Her quirky wit and skill gained her acceptance and many friends. When her son Jackson was born he was well coddled by the entire dance troupe. There never seemed to be a shortage doting aunts and uncles. His early years were filled with the pomp and bustle of backstage existence. Meg’s adventure in France came to a grinding halt when news of her mother’s death reached her. Of course she needed to go home. Her heart was heavy to leave the life she had carved out for herself and her young son, but her strong sense of duty required her to do so. Play time was apparently over. Meg was immediately thrown into managing the pub upon her return. Her father was getting up there in years and the death of his wife seemed to rob him of his spirit. Danny didn’t have the inclination or the gumption to fill in the gap. He seemed to spend more than half of his waking hours drunk. In the time that she been away he had added to his girth and was missing a couple of his teeth. He still acted as though he thought that he was God’s gift to women. Meg was not the least bit interested in him anymore. After her experiences abroad, Danny appeared backward and bordering on pathetic. Jackson was the spitting image of his father with the exception of his mop of curly, tawny hair. Meg did not introduce Danny to Jackson as his father. Danny did not mention it either, but occasionally would make awkward and friendly overtures to his son. Jackson would respond good-naturedly, but other things and people were much more interesting to him.

The Peppertree Pub was in a run-down state when Meg encountered it after her absence. She was quite aghast at its’ condition. With determination she took the matter into her capable hands. She started off by dismissing all of the staff except Danny. She would have loved to oust him too, but knew that her father would not hear of it. She hired two middle aged women and a teenage boy and took to the task of revitalizing the family business. In six months the Peppertree Pub was once again a thriving watering hole. Meg tried not to think about the fact that her spirit was unhappy. Instead, she threw herself into the upkeep of the pub and her son. She believed that this would end up being her existence. Until by chance or fate two people came back into her life on the same day.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

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Chapter 19 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

book cover

Chapter 19 from “The One That Got Away”. Just a tad bit late. Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel on amazon follow the excerpt.

Chapter 19

         I awoke to the sound of Sponge Bob’s laughter. Sunlight was streaming in through the window and onto my face.  My body ached and my head throbbed unmercifully. I could tell I had a fever again. Without thinking, I brushed my hand on the empty space behind me…looking for…who? Not for Anna. She was sitting right in front of me. I quickly yanked my hand from the sheet and pressed both hands to my head. What time was it? I couldn’t seem to get my eyes to focus on the clock.

“He’s your friend, not mine. Don’t know him.” Anna did not look at me, but continued to nosh on a sprinkled, pink Pop-tart. Her eyes were glued to my T.V.  Sponge Bob blared on. Anna chuckled softly at something from the show and pulled my comforter closer around her small frame. I stared at my daughter for a moment, but didn’t say anything. I noticed that she had brought me breakfast too. A Pop-tart, a coffee cup filled with cold water, a spoon and the ancient jar of decaffeinated instant coffee that I kept around in case someone appeared in my house who desired such a thing. Well, it was the thought that counted.

“Who, baby? Who are you talking about?” I queried.

Anna continued to watch her show. “Someone is here sometimes. He is nice, but I don’t know him.”

“A man’s been in the house?” I had a momentary flash of panic and sat up abruptly. I regretted that immediately. My head spun sickeningly and the comforter slid off my unclothed chest. I flopped back down on my pillow and covered myself.

“No, Mama.” Anna rolled her eyes dramatically. “You know…he’s not really here…he’s just kinda here…you know?” She reached over to the foot of the bed and tossed my plaid pajamas onto my lap. “You know, Mama.” She fixed me with an intent and pointed look and then returned her attention to the T.V. program. “Sara brought some chicken soup for us. She said she knew you were sick today. I was going to bring it for breakfast but it was hot and I’d probably spill it and then you’d get mad.”

“Sara was here? Don’t ever open the door for anyone! Why didn’t you wake me up if there was someone at the door?” My own voice was reverberating in my head.

“But, Mama, it was just Sara.”

“How did you know that?” I demanded crossly.

“I just knew it, Mama.”Her voice quavered and her eyes filled with tears. “Don’t be mad, Mama.”

My anger melted instantly. “Come here, baby.” Anna buried her head in the crook of my neck and I hugged her tightly. It looked like I was going to have to call off work again today. I hated doing that. I was asking for too much time off of work lately. First moving and now the sick thing.

“Anna, thank you for breakfast.” I kissed her hair and stroked it out of her face. “Hey, can you get me my phone, my medicine and the Candy Land game?”

Anna’s eyes lit up at the mention of Candy Land. “You will play?” she chirped.

“Well, yes. What else would I want you to bring it for?”

Anna jumped out of bed, spraying Pop-tart crumbs in her wake. She scampered out of the room.

“Anna!” I called after her. “Put some socks on. It’s cold.”

“I hate socks,” came her muffled reply. “Put on your jammies, Mama!” I could hear her giggling about that.

I smirked and followed her directions.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

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Chapter 18 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

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.

Chapter 18

         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 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

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Chapter 19

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