Authors: The Outer Banks House (v5)
“Your daddy brought me here. He and a black Lab.”
He shook his head from side to side and laughed. “I knew he was up to something. He’s getting squirrelly in his old age.”
“He loves you, Ben.” I put my hands on his scruffy face and gazed at him as the curious seagull finally took flight over us. Ben was covered in mosquito bites, some of which looked to have been scratched at stubbornly. But his eyes were just as blue as they had ever been.
“And what about you, Abby?” he whispered. “After all that’s happened, everything I did.”
I couldn’t speak just then. I took his hand and looked to the house in front of us. I could barely see the images, shrouded in salt mist. Two people, at ease on the porch, laughing and talking and reading the days away. A little red boat, sailing back and forth to Roanoke Island, to a schoolhouse for freedmen. A family in Edenton, forgetting their plans for an eldest daughter, looking at themselves instead.
He beamed as he looked at the little cottage with me. “This cottage is much better than your daddy’s—none of that bad blood in it. It’s fresh,” he said. “Authentic Nags Head live oak. Won’t do to keep secrets in this kind of a house.” He asked, “Do you like it? Is it good enough for you to forgive me for all the hurt I caused you?”
“Yes,” I said simply. With my hands still on his dirty face, I kissed him for a long time.
Once more I looked up through the trees to the sky, so vastly blue. It would cloud over someday soon. Rain would slant sideways on the innocent little Outer Banks house, and thunder would shake its pilings.
Sooner rather than later, the ocean would roar to life again and go to work on the Edenton pine. In the blink of the ocean’s eye, Daddy’s frontier claim would be as good as driftwood.
On the other side of the Banks, the great piles of sand would continue
their march into the old forests, swallowing whole trees as easily as a red horse grazing cordgrass. Eventually the sand would move on, freeing the roots from their oppression, and with any luck, they would go about their growing again.
That was the risk, and the beauty, of living.
I would like to thank my agent, Byrd Leavell, for taking an interest in the first few pages of an incomplete manuscript. Without him the novel would never have found its way home to my unbelievable editors, Lindsay Orman and Heather Lazare. Thank you, Lindsay, for loving the novel as much as I do, and for treating it with such respect. And thank you, Heather, for running the manuscript to the finish line. I consider myself doubly blessed to have two talented editors. I am also deeply indebted to the people at Crown for recognizing the novel’s potential and for helping it along to its fruition.
I would also like to thank my husband, Sean, and my two brilliant children, Dorsey and Katherine, for encouraging me in my writing and for giving me the time and space in which to realize my dream.
Thank you also to my father, Norman Schnell, and to my late mother, Patricia Schnell, for having the foresight, creativity, and wherewithal to build a family beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was here that my love for the barrier islands grew, and here that my ideas of unconditional love were reinforced.
Thank you to my family and friends for cheering me on throughout the entire writing process, namely my sister and brother-in-law, Suzanne and Jeff Gore, and my good friend Eliza Bosworth. By
suffering through those rough early drafts and still managing to profess enthusiasm, you served as the platform from which I dove into uncharted waters. Thank you to my historian and friend, Mary Eberline, for your treasure trove of Civil War–era letters and my glove-free access. Thank you as well to the members of the Richmond writing community, especially the organizers and participants of the annual James River Writers Conference.
Numerous books were valuable in developing the cultural and historical background for the novel:
The Waterman’s Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina
by David S. Cecelski (2001);
Seasoned by Salt: A Historical Album of the Outer Banks
by Rodney Barfield (1995);
Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony, 1862–1867
by Patricia C. Click (2001);
The Outer Banks of North Carolina: 1584–1958
by David Stick (1958);
An Outer Banks Reader
, edited by David Stick (1998);
by Susan Byrum Rountree (2001);
Nag’s Head: or, Two Months Among “The Bankers.” A Story of Sea-Shore Life and Manners
by George Higby Throop (1850);
White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction
by Allen W. Trelease (1979);
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriet Jacobs (1861);
Green Leaf and Gold: Tobacco in North Carolina
by Jerome Brooks (1975),
Agriculture in North Carolina Before the Civil War
by Cornelius O. Cathey (1966); and
North Carolina During Reconstruction
by Richard L. Zuber (1969).
Last but not least, thank you to the following musicians: Blue Merle, The Bees, Doves, Indigo Girls, Coldplay, Colin Hay, and Bryan Adams. The love story of Ben and Abby evolved as their music played in the background of my mind.
DIANN DUCHARME was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write
The Outer Banks House
Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novel.
She has two beach-loving children, Dorsey and Katherine, as well as a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the Outer Banks shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Diann Ducharme
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Crown and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Outer Banks house : a novel / Diann Ducharme.—1st ed.
1. Plantation owners—Fiction. 2. Fishers—North Carolina—
Outer Banks—Fiction. 3. Social classes—North Carolina—Outer Banks—
Fiction. 4. Outer Banks (N.C.)—Race relations—Fiction. 5. Ku Klux Klan
(1915–)—North Carolina—Fiction. I. Title.
An Outer Banks Reader
by David Stick. Copyright © 1998 by the University of North Carolina Press.
Used by permission of the publisher.