Good morning. Happy March. Fourteen days from today will be the official first day of spring! Are you as excited about that as I am?
Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales, the blog where books are born. For the past few months, I’ve been working on a Women’s Fiction/romance entitled Same Time Next Year. This will be my last post from that book as the story is complete. Publication date is a little hazy at the moment, but fingers are crossed as well as everything else that I will have good news soon!
Today’s post picks up where I left off last week and will give you important information about why things fell apart. Hopefully, you’ll all be eager to read the complete, edited novel. Thank you all for your support!
As Ezra walked away, Nessa grinned.
“He’s quite the charmer, isn’t he? If you’ve been given his Aunt Mary’s soup, then you’ve been sick. I’m so sorry to hear that,” she commiserated. “That woman’s recipe should be patented and sold by prescription.” She laughed and shook her head. “Last winter, Frank came down with the flu, poor dear—man cold at its worse—and I swear it’s the only thing that helped.”
Twyla pictured the man she’d met dressed like a baby, lace bonnet, soother, and all.
“I can imagine. Men must all be the same. William was such a wuss when he was sick. So, what have you been doing all these years?” she asked, wanting to bring the conversation back to a point where she could ask about Michael. “Have you always stayed in the area?”
Nessa shook her head.
“The year after you were here, I went to live in Ottawa with my aunt and uncle, so that I could finish high school and have a chance at courses not offered in Elgin. I eventually ended up taking design classes at Algonquin College and had planned to move out west, but it wasn’t meant to be,” she said, sighing deeply.
Twyla frowned but couldn’t hold back her curiosity. “My daughter owns her own interior design firm. Why didn’t you go?”
Nessa pursed her lips and her eyes filled with such sorrow that Twyla’s stomach plummeted. Before she could stop her, the woman spoke.
“I did mention I’d been in an accident. Even after all these years, it’s hard to talk about it. A lot of it’s still a blur.” She swallowed and licked her lips. “I was driving back home after my job interview, convinced that by Christmas I would be soaking up the Vancouver sun, when a drunk fell asleep at the wheel and hit me head on. Convertibles are great cars, but they don’t offer a lot of protection. What wasn’t broken was cut to shreds. It was a miracle I survived. I spent the better part of a year in the hospital having one reconstructive surgery after another. The plastic surgeon did a wonderful job as did all the other doctors who put this Humpty Dumpty together again. A wired jaw and months in bed make an excellent diet plan, but I don’t recommend it to anyone. I met Frank in rehab—he’d broken his leg skiing. We hit it off. When I finally left the hospital, he called. A year later, we were married. He isn’t perfect, but then who is? We stayed in the Ottawa area until we retired and then moved closer to my sister. Things are far less expensive in Smiths Falls. We aren’t rich by any means, but we’re comfortable enough to travel when we want to and live well.”
“Do you have any children?”
Nessa shook her head once more. “Unfortunately, no. There was too much internal damage, but we doted on my sister’s kids. Peter lived with us in Ottawa while he was at university. He’s Elgin’s vet now.”
“I’m so sorry,” Twyla said, her heart aching for the woman who’d suffered so badly. “I just have the one daughter, Billie, but she’s the light of my life. Now, I have an incredible granddaughter, too.” Huffing out a breath, she continued. “Drinking and driving was a real problem back then. So many people killed and injured. At least we’ve gotten smarter about that now.”
“Have we? I certainly hope so, although now it’s not only alcohol that you have to worry about. So many young people are still risking their lives and for what? The cost of cab fare versus one more drink or hit?” She paled, as if she was seeing something too horrible for words. “The guy who hit me died, but he left behind a wife and two kids. At least they weren’t in the car with him.” She shook her head. “I survived, unlike the poor Morrisons.”
“The Morrisons? You mean Michael’s family?” Twyla asked, suddenly dry-mouthed and unable to keep his name inside a second longer. She reached into her pocket searching for a tissue.
“I thought he’d written to you about it,” Nessa said, her forehead creased deeply. “It happened five or six weeks after you left.”
Ezra approached their table and set their drinks down in front of them.
“Will there be anything else?” he asked.
“I think we’re good for now, thanks,” Twyla answered quickly. Had she sounded curt? She hoped not, but right now all she wanted was to learn more about Michael’s family. She’d telephoned the Morrison house six weeks after she’d left. He’d adored his parents, and if he’d lost them suddenly, he would’ve been crushed. Had it been the day she’d phoned? If it had, it could explain why he’d never returned her call.
Ezra nodded, smiled, picked up the tray full of dishes from a serving cabinet, and walked back into the pub.
“The last week of August, Mike had to report to Petawawa for pre-deployment training,” Nessa went on. “His father drove him there and the entire family went along for the ride. He, Mrs. Morrison, and Lydia were on their way back when they were forced off the road just outside of Westport. The car rolled down the embankment. They were there a few hours before the police found them thanks to an anonymous tip.” She snorted. “Anonymous, my ass. Either the drunk or a passenger grew a conscience and called it in. Anyway, Mr. Morrison died instantly. Mrs. M lasted a week longer, but never regained consciousness. Lydia was asleep in the back seat. She was banged up pretty badly—a concussion and broken bones. Come to think of it, that was just a week or so before Mrs. Shaw, one of my mother’s friends who played cards with yours, got a letter from your mother with your wedding announcement inside. Mike came back September tenth—I remember because that’s my birthday. He supervised the packing and signed the sale papers for the house. I never got a chance to tell him how sorry I was.” She sipped her drink. “I haven’t see him or Lydia since.”
Stunned, Twyla swallowed. Her wedding announcement? Mother must’ve published it when they’d been in France. Mavis had mentioned her marriage, but she hadn’t thought to question how the woman had learned of it.
What could have possessed her mother to send that here? No doubt there had been a healthy check in the envelope, too. By then, she would’ve received her first allowance. Perhaps the announcement had been sent as a way to cover the lapse in time between their leaving and payment of a debt.
Licking her lips, hoping her throbbing pulse wasn’t visible, she searched for the right words to say. Poor Michael. He’d lost his parents, his sister was injured, and then he’d discovered she’d gotten married. She’d promised to wait for him until he finished his stint in the army. If he had cared for her, he would’ve seen that as a slap in the face, a lie, just like when she’d promised to come say goodbye, but had been unable to do so, physically hauled out of bed by an angry father, hours sooner than expected.
“Twyla, are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Nessa said, the frown on her face deeper than before.
“I’m fine. I just need to use the facilities. I’ll be right back.”
Jumping to her feat, Twyla raced to the bathroom, locking herself in the stall just in time to lose not only her wine but the chicken soup.
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.