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I wonder how many of us take the time to think through every decision we make? In Rubies – Escaping the Curse the two Morley sisters often act before they think and sometimes over-think so much that they fail to act. It often becomes quite a conundrum for them. Katherine goes strictly by how it feels in her “gut” and then behaves accordingly. Stacey is still so young and innocent of the worldly pleasures she has no idea how to react in many situations. Soon Stacey will learn what it means to go with her gut and Katherine will find out that her gut doesn’t always work with her husband. The following excerpt shows us moments in the lives of both girls and how their family upbringing has helped them make decisions that will follow them their entire lives.
Oklahoma, December 1964
Stacey felt her ears pop and she swallowed to release the pressure as the commercial jet liner left Chicago destined for Oklahoma City and Gary Walker.
She reached over to squeeze Katherine’s hand. “Thanks, Katy.”
Katherine raised a brow while suppressing a smile. “I only hope I don’t live to regret it.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Just a gut feeling, I guess. But then us Morleys never do a very good job of listening to our gut when it comes to love.”
Stacey frowned. “What’s a gut feeling?”
“Well, it’s sort of like a sixth sense, I guess. It’s like your stomach telling you one thing while your head is saying something else.”
Stacey’s frown deepened.
“Never mind, kiddo.” Katherine patted Stacey’s hand. “You’ll know it when it happens to you.”
Gary was waiting at the gate when the plane arrived. “Thanks for bringing my girl to see me.” He extended his hand to Katherine.
“I wanted to meet you myself, soldier. My sister’s important to me.”
Gary grinned. “She’s everything to me.” He put his arms around Stacey and kissed her warmly. “I’ve missed you so much, baby.”
Stacey glanced at Katherine to solicit her approval, but Gary intervened. “Hey, I’ve got a two day pass and tickets for the theater tonight. I’ve even lined up one of my buddies to escort your sister.”
Stacey grimaced as she eyed Katherine. “But Katy’s married.”
“Oh, Hank knows that. It’s just a courtesy thing.”
Stacey cast a helpless look at Katherine.
“I certainly hope he has a good sense of humor.” Katherine opened her coat to reveal the maternity dress she was wearing. “He may be in for the surprise of his life.”
Gary tossed back his head, howling in laughter. “I hope you look as good as your sister when you have our baby, Stace.”
Katherine raised her chin as her large brown eyes widened. Her voice was suddenly stilted and sharp.
“Flattery will get you nowhere with me, soldier. I suggest you worry more about seeing Stacey again instead of how she’ll look barefoot and pregnant.”
Gary’s smile faded. He cast a piercing glare at Katherine.
“Please don’t be mad, Katy,” Stacey said. “Gary was just teasing.”
Gary squeezed Stacey and pulled her close to him. “Sure. I would never take my little girl for granted.”
He nodded at Katherine. “Friends?”
Katherine smiled but eyed him cautiously. “How about driving us to the hotel, soldier. My feet are killing me.”
Katherine wiped the sweat from her face and gripped the sides of the toilet, pushing herself up from her knees. She flushed the toilet and watched her lunch disappear in the swirling water. The disgusting spectacle made her instantly queasy again, and she lumbered off toward the bedroom.
Moaning, she threw herself again the bed. “Stace, I’m afraid Gary’s friend will have to find another date tonight. This one’s too busy being punished for her own stupidity.”
Stacey turned from the mirror. “Are you okay, Katy?”
“I’ll be fine tomorrow,” Katherine mumbled. “I don’t know why they call it morning sickness. Mine always comes at night.”
“Then I’ll stay home with you.”
“Look, kiddo, we didn’t pay all this money for you to baby-sit me. You go and have a good time, but come home early.”
Just thinking about Gary brought a sparkle to Stacey’s eyes and a blush to her cheeks.
“Shall I bring something back for you.” She sat on the bed.
“No, Stace. I’ll just watch the tube and drink Seven-up. It’s the only cure.”
“Would that be the Seven-up or the TV?” Stacey teased.
Katherine chuckled. “Okay, I deserved that.”
Stacey kissed Katherine on the cheek and stood up. “I’d better call Gary.”
Katherine watched Stacey walk from the room. A stunningly beautiful young woman who looked much older than her sixteen years had replaced the little girl she remembered. Her bright red hair now curled down to the middle of her back; the freckles that once covered her face had given way to a creamy ivory complexion. Stacey’s two piece black silk dress was tapered to accentuate her tiny waist and its hemline ran slightly above the knee, complimenting her long slim legs. The gold buttons that ran down the front of the dress tastefully matched the gold loops that hung on her ears.
Although Katherine was completely captivated with her sister’s charms, she had many doubts about Gary Walker. She’d already guessed him to be much older than Stacey by ten years at least. Of course, how could she object, Edward was twenty years her senior.
Katherine shook her head and pursed her lips. This was different by far.
She had dated many men before Edward. Stacey had dated only a few boys at school. Now that she’d met Gary Walker, she knew why Stacey wasn’t interested in anyone else. He was smooth. Much too smooth. Much too handsome to be trustworthy. Had Mom noticed his similarity to someone else they knew? Even more important, had Stacey? Surely Stacey couldn’t remember Sonny enough to make a comparison? Or could she?
“I had a wonderful time tonight,” Stacey said as they drove back towards the hotel.
“Hey, the evening isn’t over yet, baby. I thought we’d take a drive.”
“I promised Katy I’d be home early.”
Gary glanced at his watch. “It’s not even midnight yet.” He turned into a wooded driveway that led to a bluff overlooking the city. He shut off the car and turned towards her. “Anyway, I’m sure your sister’s asleep by now.”
Stacey looked at him. “Katy won’t rest until I’m back.”
“She sounds worse than a mother.”
“After Grandpa left, I relied on her more than I did my mother.”
“You’ve never mentioned your grandpa before, Stace.”
Stacey sighed and leaned back on the seat. “Sometimes I forget he ever existed. When Daddy came home from prison, Grandpa went away.”
“Do you ever see him now?”
Stacey shook her head. “Mom said he seemed to fall off the face of the earth.”
Gary lifted her chin with his fingertips. “I can tell by the look in your eyes that you still love him very much.”
“It makes me sad because all I can remember about him is the song he always sang to me at bedtime. I don’t know why it sticks in my mind.”
“Have you ever asked your sister about him?”
“Katy’s so angry at Daddy for leaving us. I couldn’t bear it if she said bad things about Grandpa too.”
“How come you didn’t tell me she was pregnant again?”
“I just found out myself a short time ago. It was another accident.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Katy’s husband is practically an old man. He didn’t even want kids, but she got pregnant so he had to marry her.”
“Don’t you think he loves her?”
Stacey shrugged. “It doesn’t matter as long as he’s rich, I guess. That’s all Katy ever wanted.” For several minutes she stared silently at her hands. “It’s going to be different for me,” she whispered. “I’m going to marry a man I truly love, and I’ll be a virgin on my wedding night.”
Gary’s eyes twinkled. He leaned down and cupped her face in his hands. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.” Tenderly, he placed his lips on hers, kissing her several times before his gentleness was replaced by fierce passion, his lips pressing harder on hers, his warm tongue filling her mouth.
He drew back and looked into her eyes. “You’re so beautiful, Stace, and I love you so much. Someday I’m going to make you my wife.” He bent to kiss her again, his breathing quickening as their lips touched, his body pushing against hers, his lips moving down her neck tasting and savoring her sweetness.
Her heart was pounding as he gently stroked her breast with his fingertips; the sensations filling her body made her feel warm and alive. She shivered when he kissed her again, his hands caressing her body. She felt him unbuttoning her dress.
“No, please don’t, Gary. I want–”
“Ssh, Stace,” he whispered in her ear. “I promise you’ll be a virgin on your wedding night because it’s what I want too.”
She clutched at his hand. “Please stop, Gary. You mustn’t.”
His mouth covered her ear, his tongue encircling it before his lips nibbled light on the lobe. “Stace,” he whispered. “Trust me. I need to touch you. Take your hand away.”
Swallowing hard, she slowly dropped her hand, trembling as he opened her dress. His lips melted down her neck to the soft folds beneath; he slid down the strap on her bra, hungrily placing his mouth over her breast, his tongue flicking across its crest until she began floating in the insurmountable pleasure overtaking her body.
She murmured his name in her ecstasy, her body responding to his touch, his kiss; she was awakened to all the sensual feelings she’d never known.
“Stace, you’re so pure, so untouched, so perfect.” He took her hand in his and carefully guided it down the length of his body.
She stiffened. “No, Gary. I can’t.”
He urged her hand onto himself, then moaning with pleasure, he placed his mouth hard upon hers, her tongue moving with hers, filling her body with tingling warmth.
She was swept up by the force of his passion, on fire with the enjoyment of his body beneath her fingers. His lips burned her skin; his hands flirted with her body, rendering her powerless beneath their touch.
Then his breathing slowed and he whispered, “Now you know what pleasure I can give you. Promise me you’ll never let anyone touch you like this except me, never let anyone make love to you but me.”
“Oh, Gary, don’t stop,” she whimpered. “I want–”
“I know what you want, baby, and someday I’m going to give you pleasure like you’ve never felt before, but not now, not until you’re all mine.”
She was aching inside, aching to feel complete as a woman. “Why did you stop?” Trembling, she couldn’t hold back the frustrated tears of unfulfilled desire.
“Oh, baby, don’t cry. I didn’t mean to upset you, but I had to be sure. I had to know you were untouched, that you belonged only to me.”
They drove back to the hotel in silence, her head resting on his shoulder, his hand brushing against her leg. Her stomach still hadn’t stopped churning and the strange feeling of warmth still flooded her body, flushing her cheeks.
At the hotel room door, Gary kissed her tenderly. “What we shared tonight must stay between you and me. If you remember that, no one will ever separate us.”
As she watched him turn and walk down the hallway, a tight knot gripped her stomach. Was this the gut feeling Katy had talked about? Sinking her teeth into her bottom lip, Stacey shook her head. How could anything that made her feel so wonderful be bad?
Chicago, Winter to Spring 1965
Katherine lifted her head off the pillow and squinted at the clock. It was after five and she could finally call home without reconstructing her entire phone budget. She scowled. This budget thing was ridiculous anyway. Edward had plenty of money, and he never thought twice about calling his dear old mummy.
Her scowl was replaced by a smirk as she dialed Marty’s number in Minneapolis. Before Marty could even answer, Katherine was overcome by nausea. If only men could suffer through one pregnancy, they’d appreciate their wives. Marty had barely answered the phone when Katherine blurted out the reason for her call.
“Why are you allowing Stacey to date that soldier. You don’t have to be around Gary Walker for more than five minutes to figure out that he’s a fake, a real ladies man.”
Marty groaned her reply. “I’d hoped it was my imagination.”
“No such luck, Mom.”
“What are we going to do?”
“You are going to discourage Stacey from getting anymore involved with him. She’s too young to get serious anyway.”
“When your grandmother refused to see any good in Sonny, it pushed me further into his arms,” Marty hedged.
“Well, Grandma Kaja was right. Sonny is no good.”
“He’s still your father, Katy.”
“My father died when he turned his back on us.”
“I wish you weren’t so bitter.”
Katherine exhaled impatiently. “Better bitter than blind like Stacey. She still loves old Sonny. She hasn’t realized all men are bastards!”
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“I’m sure it’s just this pregnancy making you moody. Are you okay otherwise?”
Katherine felt the tears brimming in her eyes. “I have morning sickness every day, but otherwise I feel great. I’m sure I’ll forget all about my misery when I’m ready to have my third child.”
A teardrop rolled down Katherine’s cheek as she hung up the phone. She hoped this was only the baby blues, because God help her she had to make this marriage work.
Edward stood up from his desk and walked into the dining room. He removed his pipe from his mouth and frowned at Katherine.
“Really, darling, must you walk around in that wretched robe all day. It’s almost the dinner hour.”
Katherine was so tired of being proper, tired of play acting in this Victorian mansion with its formal dining room and five fireplaces. She wanted to be a slob for just one day; to sprawl out on the sofa, put her feet up on the coffee table, eat popcorn by the fire and use her jeans to wipe the residue of butter from her fingers.
She shot a sneering glance at Edward and continued to set the table. “You know I’m not well, Edward. Must you smoke in front of me?”
“What does my smoking have to do with that filthy hospital gown you’ve been parading around in for three days?”
“Three days!” She slammed a cup down on the table.
Edward winced. “Careful, that’s Mother’s good china.”
“That’s Mother’s good china,” Katherine mocked. “Don’t you ever tire of living your life to please mummy dear?”
Seemingly undisturbed by her outburst, Edward turned his back and strolled into the living room.
Katherine could feel her face burning and her head was beginning to throb. The smell of his pipe was driving her crazy. She would kill for a cigarette even if they only made her puke.
She followed close on his heels, screaming into his back. “You are nothing but a pompous tyrant, Edward Parkingson!”
Edward turned to face her and calmly snuffed out his pipe. “Well then,” he said, laying the pipe on the table, “perhaps I shall assume the role.”
Swiftly, he swooped down and lifted a startled Katherine into his arms.
“Put me down! What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m taking you upstairs for a nice warm bath, and then you will dress appropriately for dinner.”
Katherine attempted to kick her legs but found them wedged securely under Edward’s arm. Damn, how did he get so strong?
“Do you think I’m just a kid you can push around?” she screamed, pounding her fists on his chest.
Edward kicked the bedroom door with his foot, flinging it open. “I think you are my wife, Katherine dear, and you’ll do as I say.” He plopped her down on the bed.
Katherine crossed her arms and stared at the floor, making no attempt to move from the bed. Edward sat down beside her and took her into his arms.
“Katherine, darling, I know I’ve behaved rather poorly since we discovered you were pregnant, and for that I apologize. But I promise this is the last time you’ll have to endure this laborious condition.”
Katherine looked at him sideways. “What are you talking about?”
“I mean this is the last baby you’ll ever conceive. A simple surgery–”
“No!” Katherine shook her head. “I won’t do it!”
Edward laughed and stroked her cheek with his hand. “Not you, darling – me. I’ve made plans to take care of the matter next week.”
“But we may want more children!”
“I don’t want you to do this!”
“Darling, you don’t have a choice in the matter. I’m just attending to priorities; you on the other hand, have spent the past six months wallowing in self-pity. You haven’t been out of this house since you took your sister to Dallas. Good god, woman. It’s time to put your chin up and make the best of this.”
Katherine’s eyes widened in fury as she swung at him.
Edward grabbed her wrist before her hand reached his face. “I’ll expect you down for dinner in half an hour.” He stood up and walked towards the door.
Katherine bolted from the bed. “Edward!”
He stopped, stock-still, his back to her.
“I want to go home for a visit.”
He spun around, his glaring eyes challenging her. “Out of the question.”
Katherine thought she would strangle swallowing her tears. She stretched out her arms. Edward’s gazed softened and he walked toward her.
She reached for his hand. “Edward, Stacey’s birthday is in May. And I’d like to join the family in Duluth.”
“But, darling, it’s only April and you’ve already used up May’s budget.”
Katherine reached her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest. “Why are you so Scotch when you’ve got so much money?”
“And did you marry me for my money?”
Her bottom lip jutted out. “Please, Edward.”
Edward raised a suspicious eyebrow and brushed his lips over the top of her head. “All right, darling, get dressed and we’ll discuss it over dinner.”
Katherine giggled inside. Aunt Ginny always said one got more flies with honey than with vinegar. As usual, she was right.
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Have a wonderful week and remember if things get crazy and your struggling to make a decision, you can always “go with your gut”.