Sons of Pemberley, Out-Take

This is one of the ideas I had for Rebecca Wickham and I ended up not using it because it did not work with the other plans in the book. However, sometimes I wish I could use it… and I do think it a fitting end for her. This would have come immediately after Rebecca telling Rachel that little George cannot visit her any more. Rachel’s conversation with George ends a little differently.

********************

…She opened the back door and pulled him in, unable to resist crushing him to her in a tight hug.

“You dear boy. What are you doing here? Did your mother say you could come?”

“She told me I wasn’t to come visit you anymore. Why would she say that?”

Her heart ached and she took a deep breath to steady herself. “And I you, dear boy. But I don’t want you to get into trouble.” He stared at the floor as she ran her hand through his unruly curls. “Do you understand?”

“I do.”

She nodded and rubbed his back and he winced, pulling away from her.

“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked with concern. He looked away and scuffed one foot against the table leg. “George? What is it?”

He refused to answer her, so she slowly turned him around until his back was facing her. She lifted his shirt, expecting to see a bruise where he had fallen out of a tree or been hit by a ball, but instead, she saw a large swath of blue and black along his lower back, ugly and swollen. She inhaled sharply.

“Georgie! What happened? Who did this to you?”

He sucked in his lips, refusing to meet her eyes. She grabbed his chin and turned him to face her. “Answer me, Georgie.”

“Mother,” he whispered.

Rachel dropped her hand and staggered back, her eyes wide and her voice caught in her throat. “No,” she breathed. “No. It can’t be.”

“I’m all right,” he said in a rush, finally looking up at her. “It was just a bit of the strap. It takes a little time to heal, but then everything is well again.”

“This has happened before?”

He swallowed and looked away. “Mother doesn’t like it when I disagree with her.”

“Is that what happened this time? You disagreed about something?”

“I didn’t understand why I couldn’t see you anymore. She wouldn’t tell me, and when I told her I loved you and wanted to see you, she gave me the strap.”

Rachel covered her mouth in horror, her eyes filling with tears. “Georgie, I need you to do something for me.”

“Yes, Aunt,” he said, sounding dejected.

“I need you to go into the bedroom and stay there until I tell you to come out. No matter who comes to the door. Even if it is your mother, you pretend you’re not here, all right? You stay in there, out of sight. Can you close the curtains?”

“Yes.”

He looked at her quizzically and she shooed him off, then sat at the writing desk to pen a missive. She hurried across the yard to the orphanage and gave the man-of-all-work the note and told him to deliver it to Samuel Wickham, no one else.

An hour later, Samuel was pounding on her door. She opened it quickly and ushered him inside.

“What is going on, Rachel?”

“Mr. Wickham,” she emphasized his name, “your son is in danger. From your wife.”

Wickham’s eyes bulged. “What?”

“She has been beating him when he misbehaves. Did you know of it?”

“I knew he sometimes got the strap, as all children do. But it was nothing extreme.”

“You are mistaken on that score.”

She stood and went to her room, entering softly. She came back with George. Samuel seemed surprised to see him, but before he could say anything, Rachel told George to turn around and lift his shirt. He looked frightened, but she told him all would be well and he did as she asked. She held up the shirt and turned George’s back to the light, his bruises almost iridescent.

Samuel gasped. “Mother of—”

“Exactly,” said Rachel succinctly. “You may go back to my room, George. There is a new book on the table in the corner. Why do you not read it and tell me if it is good enough for me to read to the children, hmm?”

 He nodded warily and left the room, closing the door softly behind him.

“Did you truly not know?” Rachel asked.

Samuel ran a hand over his face. “I had no idea.” He dropped his head back and exhaled loudly. “I cannot believe I missed it.”

“It is easy to miss things when a man avoids him home and his wife.”

Samuel snapped his head in her direction, a flush creeping up his neck. “I suppose I deserved that.”

She only nodded. “Something must be done.”

“I know. But what?”

“If you tell her to stop, she will only do something worse when you are not there.”

“I know.”

“You are too often from home to adequately protect the boy.”

“I know.”

“This cannot be allowed to continue. He cannot stay with her.”

“I know.”

“Then what are you going to do?” she demanded.

“I do not know! I have only just found out my slag of a wife has been beating my son. I have not moved on to formulating plans yet.”

She looked at him with a glimmer of sympathy, but only a glimmer. “You could send him to one of your brothers. Surely Gabriel or Michael would let him stay for a while.”

He scoffed. “That is hardly a permanent solution.”

“No, it likely would not work permanently, but it would give you time to sort something else out. Gabriel’s boy is only a little older than George and has only sisters. Offer your brother compensation for taking him in. Tell everyone it is so the boys can be together. He will be safe there and you can still see him often.”

“He is nearly all day at Pemberley as it is,” said Samuel absently.

“Obviously not often enough. Send him to your brother’s with strict instructions not to go back home under any circumstances, and tell Gabriel not to let Rebecca near him. He knows what she is, he will understand. His wife is a good woman—she will be kind to George.”

Samuel nodded, his mind still reeling. “It is a good plan. I will ask Gabe to take George in. We can say it is so he can attend school in the village more easily. He can stay through the festive season, at least. I will have to figure something out for after that.”

“Very well. I have to get to the orphanage. George can come with me today. You sort things out with your brother and go back to the cottage and pack up his things. Say nothing to Rebecca.”

Samuel nodded woodenly, then stood and went to the bedroom where George was curled in a chair in the corner, looking absently out the window. Samuel knelt before him and whispered something Rachel could not hear, then pulled the boy close and held him tightly, being careful to keep his arms near George’s shoulders. Rachel saw a few tears squeeze out of George’s eyes, and she turned away to give them their privacy.

~

Samuel walked up the stone path to the cottage, burning with rage. When he had received Rachel’s note alluding to danger to his son, he had been confused and alarmed. Then when he heard her account, he had been appalled and shocked. He had felt guilt and shame when he hugged his ten-year-old son and felt how fragile his thin shoulders were, how weak his tiny body in comparison to a full-grown woman wielding a strap. By the time he was halfway home, a black rage had descended over him, blinding his reason and filling him with hate.

Was it not enough that Rebecca had ruined his life? Had taken from him the chance to choose his own fate? Was it not enough that she had betrayed her own flesh and blood? Now she was turning on her own son. Had the woman no scruples? Had she not a shred of human decency in her slatternly body?

Not wanting to see her at all, he entered the house quietly and went straight upstairs to George’s room. He had everything in a bag in short order and was nearly out the door when he heard Rebecca crying out. He paused and listened for a moment, hearing the unmistakable sounds of intimate congress coming from her bedroom. He scoffed and shook his head. George’s room was directly above hers; there was no way she had not heard him walking above them. She had been perfectly quiet when he arrived. This show of ecstasy was for his benefit. Well, he would not satisfy her need for a dramatic show. He walked out the door and closed it quietly behind him, not giving her the satisfaction of a slam.

He was done with letting Rebecca take things from him. She would not take his dignity. Not anymore.

~

By the end of the day, George was installed at his uncle’s house, Samuel had given his brother money for his son’s keep, against great protest, and Samuel had asked Mr. Darcy if there was somewhere else he could stay for a while, for he did not wish to share a roof with his wife. Mr. Darcy had offered sympathy and asked no questions, then put Samuel in a suite of rooms on the main floor, generally reserved for an upper servant but currently vacant. Samuel said it would be of short duration, but they both suspected he would be there longer than currently planned.

By the end of the next day, Samuel had visited every shop in Lambton and settled all his wife’s accounts, then closed them, saying that any bills sent to him would not be paid. If she wished to purchase something, she would have to use ready money. The shopkeepers asked no questions, and more than one was glad to see a little fire in the eyes of the man they had known his entire life.

By the third day, Wickham had begun repairs on a small cottage at the back of the Pemberley property. Mr. Darcy had said he was welcome to it, as it had been empty nearly a decade. It had been little more than a hunting cabin when it was in use. It was backed by a dense forest and surrounded by a small yard. There was a chicken coop in the back and Samuel saw it stocked well, along with a large dog to protect the chickens.

Within a fortnight, the roof on the cabin was sound, the door had a new lock, and the kitchen, such as it was, had a working stove and was supplied with necessities. Pleased with his work, Samuel went to collect Rebecca.

She was surprised to see him, as was the youngest Smith brother, a bumbling youth who had more enthusiasm than skill. He threw the man’s clothes at him as he shoved him out the door and told Rebecca she had ten minutes to pack what she would, then he expected her outside. She was shocked by his behavior, for Samuel had never been very forceful and certainly never violent, but she did as she was bid. She wondered if they were going away somewhere. Perhaps something had happened, or perhaps he was jealous of her lovers and wanted her all to himself for a time. She smiled, thinking of how she would have him tied in knots by the end of the week, and a new gown in the closet shortly after, and packed her things quickly.

She was surprised to see a wagon outside instead of the carriage they usually used when they went on excursions. Still, so sure of her husband’s docility was she that she did not question it overmuch. She climbed up beside him on the bench and smiled for all the world as if he had not just thrown another man out of their house.

Samuel breathed deeply and gritted his teeth until his jaw ached. He had known she was impudent, but to be so even now—he would never again underestimate the impudence of an impudent woman. Soon enough they were at the cabin a few miles away.

“Where are we?”

“This is the northern border of Pemberley lands. A quarter mile through those woods is the boundary to Craven Hall.”

He said no more and jumped down from the wagon, making no move to help her alight. He took her bags from the back and marched through the front door. He set them in the small bedroom and came back into the main room, a parlor and dining room combined. Rebecca was standing in the doorway, looking about with wide eyes.

“The bedroom is through here. It is small, but I know you don’t mind being close with your guests, so it shouldn’t be a problem. There is a kitchen through there.”

She peeked into the door he pointed at and saw a stove and a work counter and some pots hanging from the ceiling. Overall, the cabin was less than a third of the size of their family cottage.

“Samuel, what is this? What is going on?”

“This,” he gestured to the cabin around them, “is your new home, where you will live alone, or I should say without any of your family. And what is going on is that you are a terrible wife and a worse mother, which is saying something. You have lost rights to both your son and your husband. Good evening.”

He left the cabin and climbed onto the wagon seat. He was turning around when Rebecca came screeching out of the cabin. “You cannot do this to me! I am your wife! You cannot leave me here!”

“You are hardly a prisoner. You are on Pemberley lands, surrounded by men who will be happy to service you, and provided with everything you need to continue your depraved existence. The key is on the table and your allowance will be deliver quarterly. Goodbye, Miss Appleby.”

He snapped the reins and pulled away, ignoring her cries and the sound of her feet running behind him. He should have done it years ago and perhaps much of her damage could have been avoided. But it was done now and done for the best. 

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Green Card Audio Book Released!!!

It’s here! The audio version of Green Card is available on Audible and iTunes. The narration is STELLAR and I am in awe of Elizabeth’s ability to imitate a man’s voice. Seriously, it’s so good it’s shocking.

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Meet the narrator, Elizabeth Grace:

Originally from the East Midlands in the UK, Elizabeth now lives in South London (via two years in Amsterdam). She is a full time actor, voice over artist and narrator. 

​She began her professional performing career a little later in life and has been studying at Identity School of Acting in London since 2019. Prior to that, she had a career in Marketing which explains her penchant for client services and project management.

​Since 2019, she has been growing her professional portfolio on top of the amateur theatre work she began with in her formative years. She has now been a part of many projects from short films and web series to audio dramas and audiobook narration – and is loving every minute of it!

Find out more or contact her at  www.elizabethgraceofficial.com.

Excerpt from Something New

Here’s a snippet from something I’ve been working on. Coming soon!

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It was unlikely I would ever see Mr. Darcy again, and I was certain of nothing more than the belief that he would not seek me out. I was doing well in my plan to forget him and our tumultuous past, until my aunt suggested we visit Pemberley.

Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley. Perfect Pemberley. The estate I-might-have-been-mistress-of Pemberley. I realized she would not be dissuaded and so I came along, if not entirely willingly, at least civilly. At least he was from home. It would be mortifying to be caught touring his estate four months after I spurned him so furiously.

“I never had a cross word from him, and I’ve known him since he was four years old.” Mrs. Reynolds was speaking about her master again, and I tried to cover my surprise. I believe I was successful, for she continued on without remarking on my incredulity.

But incredulous I was. Mr. Darcy, a pleasant man! Mr. Darcy, kind and generous? The best brother, the best master, the best landlord. Could it be true?

Mrs. Reynolds was intelligent, observant, and competent. I could not discount her word without proving myself to be without those qualities.

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I thought about what she said, about what I knew of the dark man from Derbyshire. He was intelligent. In fact, he made most men seem silly by comparison. Much like my father. As I considered our interactions in Hertfordshire, without the lens of prejudice I had so gleefully donned last autumn, I began to think he was not always bad. He had made witty comments (admire us better from his seat by the fire, indeed!) and argued intelligently. Had he been arguing? Or had he been debating, as my father was wont to do when in need of mental stimulation? I have often thought my father would have done better as a professor at Cambridge or Oxford, but his lot was to be born first and inherit an estate, as was Mr. Darcy’s.

Was it possible Mr. Darcy had not been arguing with me but had in fact been seeking intelligent discourse? Mr. Bingley did not like disputes; he would certainly never willingly argue with his friend. Mr. Hurst seemed as unlikely a candidate as his wife and her many bracelets. Caroline Bingley had the necessary intelligence, but with her constant agreement with everything any rich gentleman said, she would not make a willing debate partner, nor an exciting one.

I stopped in the middle of the room in shock. Did Mr. Darcy admire my mind? Is that why he was constantly engaging me in arguments? And why he believed himself in love with me? I felt my skin heat and tingle as the blood rushed up my neck. I do believe I was rather flattered. Oh, dear.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek! Expect an announcement soon. 😉

New Book!!!

I have a new Book Baby! You can find Ship to Shore on Amazon, available in e-book and on Kindle Unlimited. Paperback is coming soon!

Here’s the blurb and a little excerpt.

Dodging and weaving her mother’s attempts to get her married off and producing grandbabies as soon as possible, Maggie focuses on teaching and doing fun projects with her students—like sending a box of cards to anonymous soldiers for the holidays. She’s more than a little surprised when the receiving naval officer writes a proper thank-you letter. ShiptoShore_frontcover

The magic ensues when Maggie writes back. She sees her new pen pal as an innocent diversion—until he isn’t.

Lt. Commander F. Hawkins thinks he’s writing to a sweet little old woman. Little does he know that the woman sending him baked goods is going to capture his heart. 

In a culture of online dating and hook-ups, Maggie and Hawkins find themselves transported through the old-fashioned act of letter-writing. His steadfast earnestness can’t help but appeal. Her charm and vivacity can’t fail to captivate.

They never stood a chance.

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

“Yes, Mom, I’ll be there in time.” Maggie stepped out of her warm Toyota and into the brisk November air. She pulled her scarf tighter around her neck and opened the rear door to retrieve a box, balancing the phone between her ear and shoulder. “Yes, I will bring a pecan pie. I said I would! And a Dutch apple, of course. I’ll make the cream when I get there.” She nodded and mouthed thank you to the man who held the door open for her. “Yes, Sarah is making two pumpkin pies, from scratch. We’re going to the farmer’s market tomorrow.” After checking the label on her package, she stood at the back of the line in the thankfully warm but stuffy post office.

“Yes… Yes, I’m bringing a dress… I always look nice!” Maggie made an apologetic face to the woman in front of her. “I’m at the post office. I can’t really talk right now.” The line moved forward and she was only two people back now. “People go to the post office! It’s a perfectly normal thing to do… Yes, it is… Because I don’t have a social secretary!” She sighed and dropped her head as her mother continued talking. “No, please don’t invite Brad! We only went on three dates, there was no chemistry… It matters to me!”

“Next!”

“Mom, I gotta go. I’ll call you back.” Maggie quickly hung up the phone and put it in her coat pocket. It began vibrating a minute later, but she ignored it.

“I have a box for the Letters of Love campaign. It’s letters and a few dozen cookies.”

“Want to send it express? It’s eight dollars more.”

“Sure. The cookies will be better fresh.”

The man behind the counter was clearly uninterested in the contents of her box, as long as there were no flammable materials, weapons, or liquids in it. He told her it would be x-rayed before being sent, as part of procedure, and slapped an express label on it.

“Thank you,” she said with a smile. “And happy Thanksgiving!”

He nodded and called for the next customer, and Maggie left the building, happy that her obligations for the day were through. She popped into her favorite Chinese place for takeout and double checked that her sister had remembered to get wine and chocolate. She was nearly home when her phone rang again.

“Hello, Mother,” she said tiredly. “I am happy to hear from you. It’s just been a long day. No, I did not get fired! Why would you think that?” She rolled her eyes and focused on traffic as her mother continued to extol the virtues of the most recent man she’d decided would be her son-in-law. “Mom, I really appreciate that you’re looking out for me, but I am not looking for a husband or a boyfriend right now… Because I’m just not! Why do I need a reason? I’m happy with my life as it is… I’m focusing on my career.” She knew she’d made a mistake as soon as she’d said it. Now she would have to listen to her mother telling her how Sarah has a career. Something that requires a doctorate is a career. Teaching snotty children is not a career.

They’re not that snotty, she thought acerbically.

“Yes, Mother, I know. Sarah is practically perfect in every way.”

Her mother continued on, saying Sarah had just been an example, and there was no need to get nasty. Why was she being so sensitive?

“Mom, traffic’s picking up and I need to focus. I’ll be there Wednesday evening, on time, and I’ll bring the blue dress. I promise… Bye. Love you, too.”

She hung up with another sigh and drove the last five minutes in silence, taking deep breaths and telling herself it was just Thanksgiving. It was only two nights with the whole family. She could handle that.

“Hey, little sister,” Sarah called when Maggie walked into the kitchen and plopped her bag on the counter.

“Hey, big sister.” Maggie began unpacking the food and set plates and cutlery on the counter.

“I’ve got wine and chocolate in the living room, the fire is on, and the TV is ready. What do you want to watch?”

“Something with costumes, please.”

Sarah raised a brow. “Rough day?”

“Actually, no. Great day. But Mom called.”

Sarah winced. “Sorry. I guess I shouldn’t ask how that went.”

“It was exactly what you think. She wants me to come early and get my hair done by her girl. Apparently, she’s a whiz with difficult hair like mine.” She made a face and Sarah smiled sympathetically. “She’s also inviting Brad Whitaker to dinner, even though I practically begged her not to.”

“Seriously? You guys didn’t even like each other. Zero chemistry.”

“Thank you! That’s what I said! But as per usual, I was overruled.”

Sarah smiled and gave her a hug, squeezing extra tight. “Some things never change!”

“Yeah, at least we have something to rely on.”

Her sister laughed lightly and led the way into the living room where they sank into the sofa and tried to decide what to watch.

“You said your day was great before. Do anything fun?”

“Yes, actually. I got my class and a few others at school to participate in the Letters of Love campaign. The kids traced their hands on construction paper and cut them out to make turkeys, and they wrote something about a soldier on the front. A soldier is kind, a soldier is brave, things like that.”

“I’ll bet some of those were pretty funny.”

“Yeah, my favorite was ‘A soldier has superpowers.’”

Sarah chuckled. “Sounds lovely. Did you get to do the baking project?”

“Yes! I was so relieved. I thought the cafeteria manager was going to be difficult about it, but she let us take over the kitchen for an hour and the kids had a great time. A few moms came to help, and one told me afterward that it was the most fun she’s had at a school event.”

“Wow! That’s some praise.”

“Yeah,” Maggie said softly.

Sarah squeezed her arm. “You’re a great teacher, Mags, don’t let anybody tell you differently. Those little third graders are seriously lucky.”

“Thanks, Sarah.”

“Now let’s watch something with top hats and corsets. I need to unwind,” she said with a mischievous smile.

“Deal.”

Chapter 1

So It Begins

November 30, 20__

Dear Ms. Stone,

 Thank you for the kind card and the cookies. The men and I greatly enjoyed them. Please pass on our appreciation for your thoughtfulness to your class. The turkey-cards were a welcome diversion and some were quite funny. The cookies were all devoured within an hour. I did not act quickly enough to have one myself, but I have been assured they were excellent.

 My men and I would like to wish you and your class a happy holiday season.

 With Utmost Gratitude,

Lt. Commander F. Hawkins

 Maggie looked at the letter and chewed her lip in thought. So formal… Other classes had sent cards, but to her knowledge, none had received a reply.

She looked at the envelope. There was a confusing return address, complete with number-letter combinations she couldn’t begin to understand, and the name of a ship: the USS Wentworth. So it had gone to the Navy; she felt a little silly about the ‘soldier is’ statements she’d had the children write on their turkeys. People in the Navy were called sailors, she thought. Maybe they could also be called soldiers in the general sense?

Intrigued, she immediately wrote a reply.

Dec. 10, 20__

Dear Lt. Commander Hawkins,

Thank you for your letter. None of the other classes have received one, so my students are feeling rather special right now. They seem to think it was the cookies that did the trick. 

I am about to begin a period of history with my students that features the Navy heavily. I was wondering if there was a man in your squad (platoon? section? I’m afraid I don’t know what to call your men (sailors?) and Google is not being very forthcoming), or even yourself, who might be willing to be a pen-pal of sorts with the children. Someone to tell them a few amusing anecdotes and give a description of daily life aboard a ship or submarine or wherever it is you are.

I would greatly appreciate it and I know the children would love it. To help you decide, here is a collection of my favorite Christmas treats. The double chocolate fudge is my favorite. Might I suggest hiding it to ensure you get your share?

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a festive holiday season to you.

Sincerely,

Margaret Stone

She sat back and tapped her lips with the end of her pen, an old habit from her school days. She thought she’d struck the right tone. She didn’t think she was asking too much, but he might find the request annoying and a waste of time. After all, they were in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the middle of an ocean, and she was sitting pretty in her North Carolina school.

Deciding to stop overthinking it, she addressed the envelope and sent it on its way. The result was out of her hands.

December 20, 20__

Dear Ms. Stone,

Thank you for the box of treats. I held back the fudge for myself and am happily eating it now while the men fight over the cookies. The peanut butter ones seem to be quite popular.

I have passed on your request to Lt. Jacob Davis. He is a verbose, friendly sort of fellow and I believe he would be ideal for your project with your students. He’s good with children, at least when I’ve seen him near them, and has agreed to correspond with your class.

You were correct, my men are called sailors, as is everyone in the Navy.

Thank you again for your kindness. It has been some time since I’ve had baked goods sent to me.

Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Lt. Commander F. Hawkins

Maggie read this letter with a wide smile. It worked! There was a second letter with the name Davis in the corner. She quickly scanned that one and couldn’t help but be amused at how the writer was talking directly to the children, not the teacher. He used words they would know, and his descriptions were vivid and lifelike. She would read it to the children tomorrow and see how they responded. She could already tell this was going to be fun.

As for Lt. Commander Hawkins, she was filled with curiosity. Why had it been so long since anyone had sent him baked goods? Did he not have any family? No wife or girlfriend? Was she just a terrible baker? Did his family send other things? One of the fifth-grade teachers’ husbands was deployed, and she was constantly sending him things. She remembered a girl from college who had a boyfriend in the Marines, and she’d sent him a care package every month.

As she sat looking at Hawkins’s letter, she decided to begin her own correspondence with Lt. Commander F. Hawkins. What was the worst that could happen? He wouldn’t want to write to her and she would have the same relationship with him then as she had now.

January 3, 20__

Dear Lt. Commander Hawkins,

Thank you so much for passing on Lt. Davis. His letter arrived just before Christmas break and the children were thrilled with his enthusiastic description of a carrier. Who knew the beds were so small?

They were so excited that I decided to forgo our Christmas craft in favor of writing a group letter back to Lt. Davis. The boys turned our reading corner into a set of ‘racks’ and every time someone needed to go to the bathroom, they asked if they could use the ‘head’! I was thoroughly amused and cannot thank you enough for your choice of correspondent.

I do wonder if you have any correspondents yourself and if you would mind another one? I would be happy to have someone to write to—it’s all very intriguing and mysterious, you know—and forgive me if I am overstepping here, but I imagine a sailor on a ship far away (and you never did tell me where you are) might like to hear about things back home once in a while.

If you’d rather not, I understand.

Thank you again and God Bless.

Margaret Stone

Hawkins looked at the letter on his desk and smiled slightly to himself. He liked this Ms. Stone. She was probably pushing sixty and lonely, sitting in a house full of cats that she threw birthday parties for, but he found her sense of humor amusing and her letters were a welcome relief from his more serious duties. And the good thing was, he did not know her. She was miles away from anyone who knew him and besides, it was all very innocent and friendly. Why not?

January 13, 20__

Dear Ms. Stone,

I am pleased that Davis is proving as entertaining to the children as he is to the men here. He is well liked and seems to get along with everyone, which is why I chose him for your project.

I would be happy to correspond with you. You are right—it’s nice to hear about home, even if our homes are very different places. I would be happy to read anything you care to write me. If you wish to send more of the delicious fudge, that would be welcome as well.

Sincerely,

Lt. Commander F. Hawkins

P.S. At this moment, I am in the Pacific Ocean.

Maggie smiled to herself as she read the latest letter. Subtle, wasn’t he? She decided to run to the store for the ingredients for fudge before writing back.

January 22, 20__

Dear Hawkins,

The Lt. Commander bit is entirely too long to write all the time. Doesn’t your hand get tired? I’ll have to call you Hawkins, unless you’d rather I call you F? What does the F stand for, anyway? And you can call me Maggie. Only my students call me Ms. Stone and since I’m guessing you are well past the third grade, I give you permission to use my first name.

I asked my friend Nancy (she teaches fifth grade here and has a husband deployed in the Army right now) what sort of things she writes about in her letters. She told me she chronicles the everyday things and tries to find humor in the mundane and pass it along. Since I do that anyway, I should easily be able to write it down for you.

The children have been back in school for 2 weeks now. The weather has been awful and they are restless. It has rained or sleeted every day and they haven’t been able to go outside. Obviously, their little legs are jumpy and they can hardly sit in their seats. So today, in a moment of sheer desperation, I pushed all the desks against the wall and handed out copies of a small play about a family of goats in the Alps. We spent the afternoon acting it out on the carpet and afterward, I thought it was one of the best ideas I’d ever had. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? Probably because I haven’t been teaching for very long and am still developing my bag of tricks.

I have to visit my parents next weekend. I just saw them at Christmas, but my mother insists that I drive back up to help her organize a yard sale—that she’s planning for March! She has decided to clean out her old crafting room (that I don’t think she’s ever made anything in) and turn it into a playroom.

For her grandchildren.

This would be fine and even nice if she HAD grandchildren! But alas, she does not. But that’s my mother. Always looking ahead.

Anyway, she wants to make sure she doesn’t throw anything out that we might want later. I have a feeling I will be leaving with a trunk full of childhood memories that she “couldn’t possibly store anymore” because there simply “isn’t any room” in their 5,000 sq. ft. house. And that doesn’t even include the basement or the enormous attic. I plan to start cleaning out my closets tonight to make room.

I hope I haven’t bored you too terribly. Enjoy your fudge. I made extra in case you feel like sharing.

Sincerely,

Maggie Stone

 

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! Check out the full novel, plus the bonus short story Swap Meet, on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Paperback coming soon!

 

 

Leigh Dreyer Launches the Release of “The Flight Path Less Traveled: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Continuation” — Just Jane 1813

This is a reblog from Just Jane 1813.  I enjoyed the first book by this author / in this series (though I’ve heard this one can stand on its own), but I’ll admit that I have REALLY been looking forward to this one because they are officially done with all P&P canon events and now it’s all original. I’m hearing good things and I can’t wait to read it! – EA

 

by Leigh Dryer Happy Sunday!! I hope wherever you are, you’ve enjoyed some warmer and sunnier weather and getting ready to launch into a great spring season. Speaking of great launches, I’m excited to support the launch of this modern Pride & Prejudice variation by kicking off the blog tour for this book’s sequel. Please…

via Leigh Dreyer Launches the Release of “The Flight Path Less Traveled: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Continuation” — Just Jane 1813