Total Pageviews

Monday, August 15, 2011

Should Night Come. Due out soon! Chapter One

Sherry thinks she has the perfect life, handsome husband, beautiful children, financial security, until one day she gets the call that changes everything. Sherry learns to manage change and to live with danger until danger finally catches up with her too. Should Night Come, a mystery/suspense novel, tells of Sherry’s struggle to save her business, her company and her sense of self. This is the sequel to Night Walks Softly.

Should Night Come,  the second Yellow River novel, available  on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, google books and smashwords.  Here is chapter one.   2.99 at all websites listed.


     “What do you mean you still don’t know where he is?”  Sherry Ross tapped her fingers on the steering wheel with her free hand as she sped down the highway.  She had been driving for an hour and was almost there.
     “I told you Sherry, I can’t get a hold of him.  He did not board the plane.  The rental car is still out.  And as far as I’ve been able to determine, Jason took a later flight and should be landing shortly.”  Gordon VanHorn rubbed his balding head and adjusted his glasses.  How did she expect him to keep track of her husband, or his boss for that matter?  Jason, the Vice President of Sales, always made his flights.  Not Craig Ross.  Who knew where he could be?
     Sherry’s eyes went to the review mirror.  Katie, the baby, was already asleep. Long eyelashes floated over her rosy cheeks like feathers.  On her head a halo of golden fuzz shimmered in the light.  Parker, four years old with sandy hair and dark shiny eyes, was paging through a book with intense interest.
     She relaxed her shoulders and smiled.  Of course Craig hadn’t checked in with Gordon.  Why would he?  “OK Gordon.  Sorry to bother you. If you talk to him, you’ll tell him I left without him?  That I’m planning to meet him there?”
     “Yes, Mrs. Ross.”  He grimaced and glanced at the clock.  Month-end.  He could have been finishing reports in the time he had spent doing phone errands for the president’s wife.
     “Bye, Gordon.  Enjoy the weekend.”  Sherry clicked the cell-phone off.  So Craig was tied up.  When wasn’t he?  The Boat Company was his passion.  He had started it from scratch and made it into a thriving internationally recognized brand name.  He’d be at the lake for the reunion.  After all, it was his family.
     She looked back again at the children.  What perfect kids, she thought.
     The sun was soft now, preparing its descent into the high sturdy corn stretching as far as the eye could see on both sides of the highway.  Green corn, blue sky, flat ground.  August in Indiana.
     She checked her watch.  Seven-thirty.  Twenty more minutes of driving.  Sherry made a mental list of all she had to do.
     There was a lot.  The reunion had been her idea.  “Let’s invite your family for a weekend,” she had said to Craig.  They’ll love the lake, the boats, the atmosphere.  The kids will play with their cousins.  A family thing, she had thought.  Let’s do a family thing.
     They did not see the Ross family much.  Craig’s parents lived in Ohio.  Not far really, but far enough to make a visit seem to Sherry like a grand excursion, especially with the little ones.  Craig’s sister lived in San Francisco where she worked as an attorney, parented two strong-willed pre-adolescent boys and grabbed a moment of free time when she could.  And Craig’s younger brother Wills lived wherever the wind blew him, it seemed.  Now that was Chicago, and his passion was graphic design.
     Wills!  Of course!  Sherry nodded and gripped the steering wheel more securely.  Craig probably drove over to get Wills before heading for the airport.  Wills was entirely too artistic to rent a car.  That explains everything.
     She leaned forward and looked back again at the children.  Parker had fallen asleep too, hair lopped over on one side, book still open.  Sherry turned off on the exit, made two more turns, and pulled up the driveway at their Lake James cottage.
     Cottage was a bit of a misnomer for the Ross’s summer home.  Seven bedrooms, a forty-foot wide great room with cathedral ceiling and floor to ceiling glass, state of the art kitchen and wine cellar, and full walk out basement.  Weekends on Lake James were hardly roughing it.
     Actually, the Ross’ lake cottage was much more elaborate than their home.  Sherry had wanted a home with character, but not ostentatious.  That, she thought, would never do in Yellow River, the town where she had lived all of her life.  So their house was large, on a wide, secluded wooded lot, but it was thirty years old.  Sherry insisted on buying the house that the president of the defunct Indiana Valve company had built for good public relations.  After all, Craig believed in Yellow River.  How fitting he should live there instead of in near-by Fort Wayne.
     “We’re here guys.”  Sherry hated to wake them.  But they needed baths, and stories and a bit of wiggling and playing before bed.  At least they had eaten before leaving.
     She opened the door and put her hand on Parker’s forehead to move his hair aside.  He stirred.
     “I wondered if anyone was coming.”
     Sherry jumped and turned around.  Parker’s eyes opened wide.  “Uncle Wills!”
     “Wills?  Aren’t you with Craig?”  Sherry’s heart pounded in her chest.  She glanced around, no car.  Maybe Craig had dropped him off and gone for groceries?
     Wills’ dark hair was shoulder-length and he had the beginnings of a beard.  He reached out to give a high-five to Parker.  “No,” he frowned, “should I be with Craig?  We didn’t talk about that.”  Wills never knew for sure what his plans were so it was possible he screwed up.  He frowned.
     “How did you get here then?”  Sherry released Parker from his car seat.  She handed Wills two bags to carry in.
     “A friend dropped me by on his way to Detroit.  I have no idea how I’m getting back.  Now why did you think Craig was picking me up?”
     Sherry unstrapped Katie and put her over her shoulder.  “These little ones will sleep anywhere.”  The seven-month-old burrowed her head into her mother’s shoulder.  “I’ll need to wake her for a bit though.”  She was talking to herself, making her list, her plans.
     “Sherry?”  Wills looked down at her and furrowed his brow.
     “Sorry, Wills.  It’s just that I’m so surprised that Craig hasn’t called.  He planned to meet me at home.  We were gong to drive up together.  He was so excited about this weekend.  I can’t believe anything would have come up.”
     They walked together down the curving driveway toward the entry.  The setting sun made the prisms in the leaded glass door sparkle.
     Sherry shifted the baby onto her hip and unzipped her purse, phone still in hand.  She found her keys and handed them to Wills.  “Could you?”
     Wordlessly he opened the door.
     Sherry walked into the kitchen to check the answering machine.  A message.  She pushed the button.
     “Sherry?  Craig?  It’s mom.  We are so thrilled.  Be there tomorrow at noon.  Riley wants you to know she’ll be there around three.  Best flight she could get, I guess.  See you.”
     The tape stopped and rewound.  That was it.
     Sherry walked to the great room, grabbed a quilt off a nearby chair and spread it out on the rug.  She put down the baby.  She noticed the reflection of the setting sun on the break that trailed a lone skier on the lake.  Red, yellow, and pink hit the otherwise silver water.  A hawk glided by on the horizon and landed in a tree near the shoreline.  Otherwise, the lake was quiet, a calm belying the storm of people who would be arriving for the weekend.
     Sherry sighed and put her hands in the back pockets of her jean shorts.  She had just gotten into them, had just lost that final five pounds of baby weight.  She had worn them for Craig.
     “Want me and Parker to unload?”  Wills’ face was clouded with concern.  He hesitated.
     Sherry nodded.  “I’ll make us a glass of wine when you’re done.  I have everything ready really.”
     Wills turned to go back out.  “Come on buddy.”  He patted Parker on the head.
     “It’s just,” Sherry continued, “that I know something is wrong.  I know he would have called.”
     Wills and Parker were already out the door.  Sherry was talking to herself.  She stood still and watched as the night prepared to come down on the lake.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The County Fair

     The county fair begins this week and for those of you who may not be planning to go, I'd reconsider.  I don't really know how county fairs work in states outside the Midwest.  Maybe they are better, bigger, more interesting.  If so, then run don't walk to your county fair, because here in the Midwest, they are great fun!
     First, they are as much a part of summer as fireflies, popsicles, sprinklers and sunscreen.  Just as a barbecue on the patio or a concert in the park mark summer, so does the county fair.
     I love everything about the fair.  The dairy cattle barns with gigantic black and white cows with swishing tails and low strong "moos" to complain about the heat, it being dinner time, or just because.  The horse barns where seeing how the young riders decorate their giant pets' stalls is as entertaining as seeing the horses themselves.  In one barn, a few weeks ago in Indiana, we were amused to see an enormous horse with his head right in front of the oscillating fan, moving his giant velvet muzzle to follow the cool breeze.  He was no dummy!
     I love the chickens and seeing the hens with one or two or three eggs in their pens, and the rabbits in all shapes and sizes, all quiet and cute and wiggling their noses in greeting.  I enjoy the goats, sometimes trying to eat the pen itself, and the hogs.  Although to me they are "pigs" and not "pork bellies" and are infinitely too cute to consider eating.  And smart.  Once while walking through the hog barn, I saw an enormous pig open his pen and escape! Well...
     I love the 4-H projects.  It is amazing to see what kids choose to sew, what they decide to research, and how many different ways they can cook.  Projects called "pocket pets," "laundry," "sewing for others,"  all of these pique my curiosity and leave me wanting to know more.  Could I get a superior ribbon in laundry?
     In the home arts area, I leave humbled.  Pickles, jams, relishes, all perfect.  Cake decorating and table-settings show impressive levels of skill, creativity and care.   I enjoy seeing the knitting, the quilting, the needlework, thinking that if I only had the time, I too could do all that.  And I am quite sure that I probably could not.
     Perhaps most of all, I love the food.  Is there anything that sums up summer more than fair food?   Elephant ears, onion rings--the big, greasy, delicious kind, roasted corn on the cob, funnel cakes, lemonade made with a whole lemon right in the cup?   My favorite?  The 4-H milkshake, served by a team of hard-working young people volunteering for their cause.  Seeing these kids work together and how much they care about a quality product, leaves one thinking that despite what today's newspaper headlines may indicate, there is still something quite right about the world.
     The only thing I do not like about the county fair is that it signals the final days of summer.  With the harvest and the completion of projects and of another year of 4-H, summer is about to fade into fall.
     But I'll think about that another day.  For now, I encourage all of you to attend one of the very best things about the Midwest.  It's inexpensive and will remind you of the connection we all have to the farm and to doing for ourselves.  Visit a county fair.  And eat an elephant ear for me!