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Authors: K. M. Daughters

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Reunion for the First Time

BOOK: Reunion for the First Time
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Table of Contents

Excerpt

Praise for K.M. Daughters

Reunion for the First Time

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

A word about the author…

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Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

He shook her hand,

just skimming her knuckles with his fingers, a pleasant connection. So this is the famous Lizzie, now he was sorry for not meshing.

Beguiling smile, tender eyes, legs even better close up. On the skinny side, but appealing curves where it counts. Plus she obviously cares about Charlie and that means a great deal.

“Oh. Jack finally.” She brushed her bangs out of her eyes. “Mari told me so much about you. Nice to meet you.”

She bent her head and surveyed the floor.

“Looking for your dog?” He turned toward the back of the house joining in the search.

“Ah, yes. Marty. Marty!” she blasted.

His ears vibrated. The dog tore from behind him toward Lizzie with jubilant owner worship yips. Lizzie scooped up the little dog and let her lick the side of her cheek unhindered. Made Jack want to be a Boston terrier.

Praise for K.M. Daughters

“What a marvelous story.”

~Coffee Time Romance and More

Reviewer’s award

(5 Cups)

~*~

“Compelling, page turner. Put your worries aside for a few hours and enjoy what this story has to offer.”

~RT Book Reviews

Reunion for the First Time

by

K.M. Daughters

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Reunion for the First Time

COPYRIGHT © 2016 by K.M. Daughters

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Kim Mendoza

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2016

Print ISBN 978-1-5092-0749-7

Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0750-3

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

For Mom and Daddy,

the K and M in K.M. Daughters

Chapter One

Lizzie Moran approached Charlie’s brownstone, unlatched the metal gate and bounded up the steps leading to mahogany double doors, her Boston terrier trotting beside her. Above her head, gleamed a gorgeous stained glass window. Beautiful butterflies—
mariposas
in flight—crowned the doors.

“Oh, Mari, I miss you so. Please help me. Help me help him. He’s breaking my heart,” she whispered.

Wrestling with her own ever-present grief, she took a deep breath to steel her resolve and make another attempt to help Charlie Clark fashion a life without his beloved Mari.

She repositioned the bakery bag in the crook of the same arm that held a two-cup coffee carrier, hitched up the strap on her right shoulder to swing her art portfolio behind her, used the key Mari had given her and opened the door.

As she let go of the leash, the dog rushed into the dim foyer before her, and then sat—intent on her mistress’ face—at the base of the central staircase. Thin rays of morning sunlight came through the stained glass window and spotted the butter colored walls and scuffed wood floors with rainbows.

Lizzie stooped to undo Marty’s leash, setting the coffee cups on the floor. She dipped a hand into the bag, broke off a piece of scone and offered it to the dog, the bribe of buttery pastry the only way to get her little pet to walk the distance to Charlie’s house in Lincoln Park from Lizzie’s condo building in River North.

Picking up the coffee carrier, she stuffed the bag under her arm and grabbed the handle of the portfolio with her free hand. “Hey Charlie!”

No answer. She walked further down the hall and first entered the living room, then the dining room flinging open the drapes, leaning the portfolio against the sills temporarily at each of the windows.

“Charlie! Where are you?”

He wouldn’t answer her. She dropped in as often as she could since Mari’s funeral, sometimes daily if she wasn’t out of town on assignment. He never welcomed her, although she couldn’t allow that to deter her. He obviously needed the love and caring of good friends even if he was too dispirited to acknowledge it.

Heading toward the great room at the rear of the house, Lizzie entered the kitchen area. She deposited the coffees and pastries on the counter, her usual treats to try to get a smile out of him, slipped the strap off her shoulder and laid the portfolio flat on the kitchen table. Pulling a large manila envelope out of it, she walked into the adjoining family room where Charlie slumped in a chair.

He was unshaven and unkempt. His greasy black hair needed a comb. Little wisps of gray spiked around his crown and stuck to sides of his face. Dressed in his habitual dull brown bathrobe over navy blue sweat pants, his face smudgy with whiskers, he presented a heart-sinking challenge.

Lizzie placed the envelope on the coffee table and sat on the sofa across from him.

“Hi, Charlie.”

“Yeah, hi.”

She wished he’d at least look at her. “Smells funny in here, Charlie. Want me to freshen the place up while you have a shower?”

“No.”

“How about some coffee?”

No answer.

She rose and got him a cup, walked over and handed it to him, refusing to let her hopeful intentions be dashed by the wave of dismay that threatened to overwhelm her.

He took the coffee, sipped and sat there.

“Well.” Lizzie moved back to her seat on the sofa. She touched the envelope and noticed her hand shook.

He’s making me a nervous wreck.

“I brought you something special today that I think you’ll be really excited about.”

The last thing he looked was excited. Dull-eyed, slack-jawed, Charlie looked like he was suffering from some fatal disease.

Like Mari. Oh Charlie, giving up won’t bring her back.

Lizzie inhaled deeply and soldiered on. “Over the years, I’ve taken some just-for-fun shots of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever seen.”

She paused hoping for a response. None came. Frustrated, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“But they’re so much more than just buildings, Charlie. They’re like giant sculptures that people live and work in. Beautiful art, really. I think they have coffee table book written all over them. You’ve always wanted to publish a collection of my work. Well, I realize…”

“No.” His tone held no warmth, none of its remembered sweetness.

She leaned forward for emphasis, still hopeful that she could get through his depression. “Charlie, I think this is a viable project. It’s a complete departure for me to photograph anything other than people. This is perfect for you, and you can get back to work again.”

“I’m not going back to work.”

She reached over the coffee table and cupped his knee with her hand. “What do you mean you’re not going back to work?”

She squeezed his knee. “Charlie, look at me. Please.”

He faced her instead of looking at the floor. “I don’t want to go back to work.”

His obstinate glare depressed her, made her feel helpless. “But they need you, Charlie, to run the company.”

“The company’s fine without me.”

“But…”

“No.”

Beyond frustrated Lizzie declared, “I’m so sick of this, Charlie. Life goes on. You
have
to live. Mari would be railing at you in untranslatable Spanish. You’re lucky you don’t have to face what she’d have to say about your smelly bathrobe and the mess in her house.”

“Don’t.” The word growled out of him, drawing her dog’s attention.

The pup scampered over to Charlie’s chair and hoisted up on her hind legs, front paws against his thighs, nub tail shimmying back and forth. He held a flat palm toward the dog’s lolling tongue, and she lapped it across his hand. He grimaced.

“Marty, get down,” Lizzie commanded. The dog obeyed and trotted over to her. Lizzie rewarded her with a loving stroke from the top of the head to her tail while she stared at Charlie.

He had drawn an imaginary line on the floor between them that he wouldn’t permit her to cross. More than anger shimmered in his eyes. She gazed into an impenetrable glaze of pain.

Lizzie couldn’t deal with her own emotions facing off with his. Bereft, aching for him and near tears missing her sister-of-the heart, Mari, she had nothing left to dig him out of his wife’s grave; the book idea was her last attempt.

This whole thing is a big failure
.

“Fine.” Her tone sounded more aggravated than she wanted. “Sorry to bother you. Gee, don’t get up. I’ll let myself out.”

Lizzie scooped up Marty and held the dog against her hip. A light snow of pastry crumbs littered a trail behind them as Lizzie strode to the table and snatched up her portfolio, slinging the strap over her shoulder. She wanted him to jump up, stop her and tell her to cool down. Even if he used his anger to yell at her, it would be an improvement.

“Okay. Bye,” he mumbled, depriving her of any encouraging reaction.

She rushed through the hallway to the foyer, heaved the door open and then pulled up short, her pup snuggled warm against her, licking the back of her hand.

She set the dog down on the floor. “Go give Uncle Charlie another kiss. You can play with him for a while.” She petted the dog’s back, smiling into those crazy “Marty Feldman” eyes.

“Go ahead, Marty. Go see Charlie. Maybe he has more scone for you.”

The dog trotted away. Lizzie left Charlie’s house jumping down the steps in twos, still upset about him but optimistic that Marty’s hero worship would soothe him.

Dashing through the gate, she veered right toward Lincoln Park. She’d let Marty try to pry a smile out of the man while she walked off her frustration near the lake.

****

Jack Clark walked into the Starbucks. The blast of air conditioning was a welcome relief from the humid heat. With his damp T-shirt sticking to his chest and back, it was great to be super-cooled for a while.

Even though he considered it mild insanity on such a day, he bought two coffees because Charlie loved the stuff hot and frothy. Pushing the shop door open with his back, he ventured out into the ninety-degree steam bath. Armed with the drinks as a social excuse to get in the door, he went to do battle.

Determination pushed him the few blocks to Charlie’s house to bring his beloved, albeit hardheaded, older brother back to the land of the living. Six months was long enough to allow his only sibling to remain inert in grief. He’d be damned if he’d sit by and watch Charlie take after their old man.

The brisk, early morning traffic slowed Jack down at intersections. Nearing the outskirts of Lincoln Park, he waited for the line of cars to clear on the corner before Charlie’s block. A movement ahead caught his eye.

A woman tore down Charlie’s front steps, rounded the gate and headed away from Jack. Snug shorts exposed a nice set of shapely tanned legs. A long brunette ponytail bobbed behind her. If the face matched the rear view, he would have liked the time to catch up with her.

Jack paused in front of the brownstone. For the past few years, it seemed more like home than his condo. Mari had filled it with her special touch and unbridled love. The sister-in-law, and in many ways the mother he’d never had, Mari had welcomed Jack here and melded him into her wide circle of loved ones.

Always a good sport, Mari laughed when he made fun of her accent—you can take the girl out of Guatemala, but you can’t take Guatemala out of the girl. She wanted the best for him, which had him evading her incessant matchmaking attempts like a diplomat. He missed her every day.

The glittering collage of butterflies in stained glass over the door drew his attention and he sent a silent prayer to Mariposa to help him snap Charlie back.

Pushing the buzzer with his elbow, he tapped an impatient rhythm with his foot, a coffee cup in each hand.

BOOK: Reunion for the First Time
13.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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