Get Your FREE Copy of this Popular Family Saga
In our last excerpt of Rubies – Escaping the Curse we saw a new life begin for Marty, Stacey and Katherine.
Marty is free from the burden of poverty but is still continuing to bury her head in the sand with regard to Gary Walker. Katherine is beginning to doubt her decision to marry Edward but is still determined to make a success of her marriage. Her eyes are open wide when it comes to Gary Walker and the stunt he pulls in our excerpt today only proves that she is right about him.
Stacey has longed to see her grandfather for many years since he left their home when she was a small child of four years old. Now Gary gives her a wonderful surprise but it is not one without consequences for the Morley family.
Robbinsdale, Christmas 1965
Christmas arrived with six new inches of snow, but no one seemed to mind the cold anymore. Marty insisted Stacey learn to drive, and they bought a family car, enabling Marty to Christmas shop for the first time in ten years. She was like a kid with a new toy, reaching in her purse for her billfold and seeing a stack of twenty-dollar bills.
Gary called almost every day, and promised Stacey he would try to get a three-day pass to come home for Christmas. Marty was so caught up in her new world, she was oblivious to Stacey’s growing relationship with Gary.
Ginny’s growing problems with arthritis forced her to spend the winters in Phoenix but nothing would keep her away for this special occasion. She arrived on Christmas day just moments after Katherine and her two boys. Marty was anxious to give Ginny a tour of the house, and Stacey was glad to have a few moments alone with Katherine.
“Does Mom have anything to drink around here?” Katherine asked.
“You mean liquor?”
“No, I mean milk.” Katherine laughed, shaking her head as she walked
towards the kitchen.
“We can’t have Christmas dinner without some wine. Now that you’re coming up in the world, you have to live like it, Stace.”
“But I’m happy just as I am.”
Katherine came back in the living room, throwing her sister a look of sheer disbelief. “Can you watch the boys. I have some last minute shopping.”
Stacey stood at the front window watching Katherine jump in Marty’s silver Ford Thunderbird and speed out of the driveway. Katherine hadn’t even mentioned Edward’s name since she’d arrived. Perhaps his spending every Christmas in Boston was getting a little old.
At seven they sat down to a feast of turkey with all the trimmings. Marty had set the large oak veneer table with her new china and brought out the goblets for the bottle of wine Katherine purchased during her shopping trip.
Marty raised her glass. “I’d like to make a toast, my first ever.” Everyone laughed in unison.
“I’d like to remember my brother, William, the man responsible for all this, and Momma— Marty’s voice broke. “God rest both their souls, and to all those we love who cannot be here with us tonight.”
Stacey fidgeted with her glass and glanced at the faces of those sitting around the table. She knew Ginny was thinking of Al, and she knew Momma was thinking of Grandpa and maybe even Ronny. But she shuddered from the twinge in her stomach when she looked at Katherine’s solemn face as she quickly slugged down her wine. Stacey swallowed the lump of sympathy caught in her throat.
If only Edward would spend one Christmas with Katy. She wondered why Gary hadn’t called. Was he on his way to Nam?
When the door-bell rang, Stacey jumped from her chair and rushed to the door. Teardrops glistened in her eyes when she saw Gary standing on the step. In minutes they were in each other’s arms.
“Merry Christmas, baby.”
“Oh, Gary, I thought something terrible had happened.”
“Ssh, baby,” he said, smothering her face with kisses. “I’ve missed you.”
“Why didn’t you call?”
“I’m sorry, but I was detained picking up the — a Christmas surprise for all of you. Bring your family into the living room, and I’ll get it from the car.”
“But can’t it wait. We’re having dinner.”
He kissed her forehead. “Trust me, baby. This gift can’t wait one minute longer. But I promise it’ll be worth it.”
Stacey gave him a questioning stare, but shrugged her shoulders and returned to the dining room to retrieve the family.
They arrived in the living room as Gary opened the door.
He turned around and waved. “Come on in. They’re all waiting.”
His silver hair had all but vanished; his large frame unable to conceal his emaciated body as he limped through the doorway.
Marty inhaled sharply, tears flooding her eyes. “Daddy?”
Christian Johnson stared at his daughter, his glassy eyes searching for acceptance; nodding his affirmation, he stretched out his hand.
Marty fell into his arms, clinging to him and weeping.
Stacey’s heart was pounding in her ears. She knew she should recognize him. But he wasn’t the Grandpa she loved and remembered. Her Grandpa was strong and proud, not old and crippled.
She reached for Gary’s hand, whispering, “How did you find him?”
“It wasn’t easy, but I’ve had someone working on it every since we talked about it last Christmas.”
Marty linked her arm in Christian’s and guided him over to Stacey’s side.
With tear filled eyes, Christian looked at his granddaughter as if he was seeing her for the first time. “Little one, you have grown to be so beautiful.”
Stacey searched desperately within her soul for the memories of the little girl so lost without her grandpa. A teardrop rolled down her cheek. “Oh, Gramp, why did you leave me?”
Christian’s hands began to tremble; shaking his head, he touched her cheek with his fingertips.
“I cannot explain it to you, little one, but I am here now because this young man said you needed me to come home.”
A look of astonishment flashed in Stacey’s eyes as she glanced at Gary.
Smiling, he gave her a nodding gesture of encouragement.
“I always thought you left because you didn’t love me anymore, Gramp.”
“Forgive me, little one, but you I have loved for all these years.”
Sobbing Stacey fell into his open arms. Marty folded her arms around them both and the three embraced.
Ginny and Chris smiled at the heartfelt reunion, but Katherine stood sullen by the door.
Gary quietly slipped over to her side. “Aren’t you even glad to see your grandfather?”
Katherine crossed her arms. “I should have known you’d find a way to win, soldier.”
Gary scowled. “It’s not about winning. It’s about making Stacey happy.”
Katherine’s brown eyes snapped. “Maybe so, but I’ll bet my mother won’t object to anything you want from now on. Don’t you agree, soldier?”
Gary’s wry smile touted his triumph as he gazed at Stacey, his eyes gleaming with satisfaction.
Robbinsdale, Spring 1966
Marty put the last of the dishes in the cupboard and wiped the kitchen counter one more time. Sighing, she ran her fingers over the oak cabinets and down onto the Formica counter. She was proud to share her new home with her father, pleased he had agreed to come and live with them. She was curious why Gary had done such a wonderful thing, but then again she didn’t care.
Stacey seemed like a little girl with a new daddy; she was so happy to have her grandfather back again. Of course, Katy was still furious over the entire incident, insisting it was only a ploy to get in Marty’s good graces.
Marty walked to the living room doorway and gazed at Stacey curled up on Christian’s lap in the corner of the sofa. His arms were wrapped around her, and her head was on his chest; both of them were sound asleep.
She tiptoed over to the sofa and tapped Christian’s shoulder. “Daddy, I think you two better try to sleep upstairs, don’t you think?”
Christian’s eyes slowly opened and he looked down at Stacey. “It is just like before I went away. If only I did not hurt her so much.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Daddy. I’m the one who forced you to go.”
Christian’s face grew solemn. “My Kaja was a good woman, but I think she did not do right by asking me to leave you.”
Marty shook her head. “No, she was right. She knew Sonny would betray me again and he did. The worst part is that Stacey got to know and love him, and it broke her heart when he left.”
“And you, Martha?”
Marty turned her face to hide her teary eyes. “I think the Sonny I loved existed only in my mind.”
Christian reached for her hand. “And your son?”
“You know about Ronny?”
“Katy told what he did to my little one. I knew the boy had a bad temper but never would have thought–” Christian’s eyes flooded with tears and he was unable to continue.
“Oh, Daddy, I was so caught up in my own problems, I couldn’t see what was happening before my eyes.” She choked back a sob. “I’ll never forgive myself for not realizing it sooner.”
“We must be happy for today, Martha.”
“You know, now that I have money, I’d like to see Ron sometime, but I don’t want to hurt Stacey.”
“I do not think the child even remembers it all, but—He brushed the top of Stacey’s head with his hand. “I think she will understand because she knows what it’s like to miss the one you love.”
“It’s a beautiful day, Mom. It’s so warm I think the lilacs are going to bud before my birthday.” Stacey poured herself a large glass of orange juice and sat down at the table.
“It is warm for April,” Marty replied. “Winter seemed to whisk by us.”
“That’s because we were warm,” Chris chimed in unexpectedly.
Marty and Stacey joined in a chorus of laughter.
“Isn’t Gramp coming down to breakfast,” Stacey said. “I know we were awake late last night recalling memories of our life with Grandma Kaja.”
“I heard him get up several times last night.” Marty quickly finished wrapping the sandwich she had prepared for Chris and laid it in his lunch box. “I think his sore foot is bothering him again.”
“What’s wrong with his foot?” Stacey said, glancing out the window. Before Marty could answer, she turned to Chris. “Looks like rain, Chris, you’d better take an umbrella.”
“Aw, those are for girls,” Chris said with a wave of his hand. He quickly grabbed his lunch box and headed for the door. “Can you pick me up after school, sis? I have chess club until five.”
Stacey nodded. “I’ll be there right at five so don’t hang out with your friends too long.”
Marty smiled as Chris came back and gave her a peck on the cheek before heading out the door. It was not only his red hair that continued to remind her of William, but his warm and caring ways. He was the only good thing to come out of her last reunion with Sonny; almost the only justification, if there could be, for her disobedience.
She was pleased they had money for Chris to participate in school activities. Chris had a stocky build like Hans Berglund and had already made the football team for next fall. Marty was sure he would be a star player.
“Mother, you never answered my question about Gramp’s foot.”
Stacey stood impatiently biting at the side of her mouth.
Marty was so deep in her thoughts she had forgotten Stacey was in the room. “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t think it’s anything serious. Just some bunions.”
“I’ve never heard of bunions keeping someone awake all night.”
Marty brow furrowed in an uncertain frown. Stacey was right. “Don’t worry, honey. I promise to talk to him about it. You’d best be off to school.”
The lilacs were still in bloom by Stacey’s eighteen birthday, a day with her grandfather she would cherish forever.
Marty wrinkled up her nose. “I can’t believe the two of you are eating chocolate cake topped with raspberry ice cream.”
“Now, now, Martha,” said Christian. “I remember a little girl who covered her face with her birthday cake instead of eating it.”
Laughing, Marty shrugged him off with a wave of her hand. “Yes, Daddy, but at least Momma didn’t approve of my diabolical behavior.”
Stacey just smiled at their lighthearted bickering and shoved a spoonful of the delightful concoction into her mouth. “Yum, huh Gramp?”
Christian nodded in agreement and sliced another piece of cake.
The following morning, Marty went upstairs to wake Christian when he didn’t come down for breakfast.
“Daddy, are you going to sleep all day?” Marty opened the blinds and turned to stare in shock at the blood stained towel on the nightstand.
Moaning, Christian raised his arm.
Marty rushed to his side and pulled back the covers. “Daddy, your foot!”
Christian had wrapped his right foot in another towel to soak up the blood that had started to ooze from it during the night.
Marty carefully un-wrapped the towel. “Daddy,” she cried in horror, “your foot is black!”
Too weak to sit, Christian fell back on the pillow. “Get my pills, Martha.”
Marty grabbed the bottle on the nightstand. “Daddy, these–these are for diabetes. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Christian’s words were slurred. “It is nothing to worry over.”
“You can’t let a sore like this go unattended when you have diabetes. We have to get you to a doctor!”
“No hospital! Kaja died in the hospital.”
Marty ignored his protest and called a taxi to take them to North Clinic.
She sat stunned when the doctor spoke. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Morley, but your father’s foot is infected with gangrene. We have to remove it before the gangrene spreads.”
“Auch, and be a cripple!” Christian stubbornly folded his arms across his chest. “First I would die!”
Will Stacey lose her grandfather when she has just found him again? Find out in our next excerpt.
If you haven’t gotten your FREE copy of Rubies – Escaping the Curse – The Beginning, you can still sign up below with your email and I’ll send it quickly in your direction. Until then, enjoy the Easter season and beautiful springtime weather. Remember to tell you family and friends that you love them every day. It is a gift that never stops giving.