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In our last excerpt of Rubies – Escaping the Curse we watched the two Morley sisters struggling with bad decisions and contemplating new adventures. Stacey’s first experience with sex and romance left her with great expectations. Katherine’s marriage is not all she thought it would be but now her second son has been born and she must accept her life as it is.
Marty is in for a real surprise in our excerpt today as is all of the Morley family. It is an great example of how the past can come back into our lives as swiftly as it left.
After spending the summer in Duluth Marty, Stacey and Chris head back to their merger existence living in their shack and Katherine has solemnly returned to her life with Edward in Chicago.
Late August 1965
The summer was over much too quickly and Marty, Stacey and Chris began the long bus ride back to the little shack in Robbinsdale.
“It was so nice to spend two weeks with Gary this summer. I’m glad you got to know him better.” Stacey put her arm around Marty’s shoulder. “I knew you’d like him if you gave him a chance.”
Marty had watched the two lovers and saw the look of contentment on Stacey’s face, but Gary’s flamboyant personality kept gnawing at her.
“Sometimes Gary reminds me of your father and that frightens me.”
“Gary is nothing like Daddy. He wouldn’t dream of marrying me without your approval so don’t worry.”
“Marry! You’re much too young, Stace.”
“That’s what Katy says, but if I remember correctly you were married at eighteen, weren’t you?”
Stacey’s comment left Marty speechless, and she tried to put Gary Walker out of her mind, at least until he came home on leave for Christmas. Yet there was a knot in her stomach as she watched Stacey doodling on paper, scribbling the same three words over and over – Mrs. Gary Walker.
“Mom, look at all the mail Mrs. Schultz picked up for us.”
Stacey dumped the large sack of mail on the table, then stared dumbstruck at all the yellow stickers.
Marty frowned. “Let me see those.”
They were all notices of registered mail postmarked from North Dakota, the final one arriving three weeks ago. There was only one week left to pick them up at the post office.
Marty sat down at the table, bracing her forehead in her hands. “Oh, God, please don’t let it be Daddy.”
It was easy for Stacey to hear the panic in Marty’s voice. “You think something’s happened to Grandpa?”
Marty shook her head. “I don’t know, but I’ve got to go into town right now. You stay with Chris.” She riffled through her purse for bus change.
“Here, Mom.” Stacey handed her two quarters. “Gary gave me some money before he left so I could call him.”
“Thanks, honey. I’ll get them back to you.”
“That’s okay. Gary will send more if I need it.”
Marty felt her stomach turn, and she swallowed the words threatening to erupt from her mouth. This wasn’t the time to discuss Gary Walker. There was more important news waiting at the post office.
Marty’s legs were beginning to throb, and she thought she might collapse if she didn’t arrive home soon. The walk from the post office was longer that she’d anticipated but she needed time to think. If only she could talk to Momma now, to tell her the news. After all these years to finally get what was really theirs, really Momma’s.
When she reached the shack, Marty paused outside to stare at the crumbling house that had been their home for so many years. She wasn’t sure if the tears streaming down her face were those of joy or sorrow.
Stacey rushed to her side as soon as she walked through the door.
“Mom, I was so worried. What kept you so long? And why are you crying?”
“Forgive me, honey. I walked home.”
“That long way? Didn’t you have enough money for the bus?”
“We’ll never have need of money again, Stace.”
Stacey backed away, fearful that the stress of poverty had finally taken its toll on her mother. “Are you okay, Mom?”
“Sit down, honey. You’re in for a shock.”
Stacey sat down at the table and pulled out a chair for Marty. A pensive look on her face, Marty fell into the chair.
“Your Aunt Sophia passed away in July. I know you never knew her. Actually none of us really knew her at all.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Marty exhaled an exhausted breath. “The last time I saw Sophia was at William’s funeral. He had left a great deal of money to your grandmother, but Sophia was so bitter and angry with Momma, she contested the will. Momma refused to fight for the money.
“For some reason Sophia never touched any of it. Instead she placed all the money in a trust. Upon her death it was to be given to William’s closest living
relative. Sophia never had any children of her own, so the money belongs–belongs to—” Marty stopped to brush the tears from her cheeks.
“It’s all mine, but it’s too late. Momma still had to die in that awful place.”
Stacey reached for Marty’s hand. “Don’t cry, Mom. You can’t change the past.”
Marty sniffed back her tears. “Here’s the kicker, Stace. The money has been invested all these years. It’s now close to a million dollars, a small fortune, and it’s all ours!
We’ve been suffering all these years, and all that money was sitting there waiting — waiting.” Marty sucked in her breath, unable to continue.
Wide eyed, Stacey jumped up from her chair. “You mean we’re rich?”
She twirled around in a circle, clapping her hands and giggling. “No more welfare checks, no more Christmas baskets, no more – oh, my gosh, we have to call Katy!”
Fresh tears rolled down Marty’s cheeks and she jumped up to hug her daughter.
“Oh, Stace, your Uncle William always promised he would take care of me. I should have known he would never break a promise.”
Robbinsdale, November 1965
“Cover your ears, Chris,” Stacey said, as the explosion rumbled, spewing dust into the air, leaving the little green shack a pile of rubble.
With their new home finally livable, the detonation day for the shack had been set. Tomorrow was Thanksgiving and what a Thanksgiving it would be to celebrate the new life William’s money had afforded them. It would be the first time Katherine would bring her family home for the holiday. She said it was Edward’s way of appeasing her so he could spend Christmas in Boston – again.
“I kind of liked that old dump,” Chris said, wrinkling his nose.
“Oh, you goof,” Stacey said with a smirk. “Wait until we finish decorating your new room, you’ll forget all about that old dump.”
Stacey and Chris were chattering like two old hens when they walked through the front door of their new home. Marty was busy dusting the new hardwood floors; the crushed velvet furniture had arrived that afternoon.
Swag draperies of blue silk decorated the large picture window that ran almost the entire length of the living room. A roaring fire was burning in the fireplace; it cracked and popped, but unlike the old oil burner, it gave only warmth and harmony to the beautiful room. An open staircase led up to the bedrooms, one for each of them and an extra room for guests. So unlike the damp musty smell of the tattered shack, the house was filled with the scent of the fresh paint and varnished floors. A twenty-pound turkey was waiting to be stuffed and the smell of sweet potatoes permeated the kitchen.
“Stace,” Marty hollered from the top of the stairs, “will you please start scooping the sweet potatoes into a bowl and wash those new glasses, too. I want to make a good impression on Edward tomorrow.”
Stacey didn’t think she’d ever heard her mother so happy. “Katy and Edward don’t care about a bunch of glasses.”
Marty put her hands on her hips. “That’s not the point, dear. We can’t serve wine for dinner in dirty glasses. Besides, all the new china and silver need washing too.”
Smirking, Stacey gave Chris an eye rolling gesture. “Okay, Mom, I get your point.” She turned to Chris. “Come on, guy, your elected chief wiper.”
Edward and Katherine arrived the following afternoon. Just learning to walk, Jeffrey teetered across the living room while gripping Edward’s finger.
Stacey stared at the puffy circles framing Katherine’s large brown eyes and reached to take five month old Timmy from her arms.
“He’s beautiful, Katy,” she said as Timmy’s fingers wrapped snugly around hers.
“He keeps his mother up all hours of the night, too,” Katherine interjected, plopping herself down on the sofa. She ran her hand across the smooth velvet
finish. “This sure beats the ugly brown frizzy thing we sat on for so many years, doesn’t it, Stace?”
Stacey nodded, turning to Edward. “Mother’s prepared the guest room for you and Katy. She’s so excited about the new house she’s been working night and day to make everything perfect.”
Edward glanced briefly around the room. “Since Katherine never allowed me to visit your previous home, I’m afraid I can’t offer much in the way of opinion. I do think, however, that Katherine needs to rest a few hours before dinner, if that would be satisfactory.”
Katherine jumped up from the sofa. “Edward don’t be so stuffy.”
“Stacey, if you’d be so kind.” Edward gestured towards the stairs.
“Come on, Katy,” Stacey answered with a wave of her hand. “I’ll show you to the guest room.” She began to climb the stairs. “Wait until you see the carpet.”
Edward watched the two of them until they were out of sight, then turned towards Jeffrey. “Well, chap, you and Timothy had better be prepared to share a room with your parents tonight. It doesn’t appear this house is large enough to accommodate a separate nursery.”
“You’ve been awfully tense since you arrived, Katy.” Stacey closed the draperies and pulled back the bedspread. “You can rest here without even one mouse scratching on the walls.”
Katherine laughed. “Well, I should hope so.” She sat down on the bed and fell back on the pillow. “Real nice. Too bad it all came too late.”
“That’s what Mom said the day we got the news, but she was talking about Grandma Kaja. You didn’t mean that did you, Katy?”
Katherine exhaled slowly. “You know, Stace, I bet all this money hasn’t changed Mom one bit has it?”
“Heck no. She still shops all the sales and looks for all the bargains. She did give up the thrift store, however.”
“I bet she buys everything for you and Chris and nothing for herself.”
“How’d you guess?”
“Oh, I just know Momma. Her kids always come first.”
“She feels the same way about you, Katy.”
Katherine seemed to ignore Stacey’s comment but continued talking. “I’m curious why old Aunt Sophia didn’t spend all that money. She must have known putting it in a trust that Momma would get it someday.”
Stacey laughed out loud. “I think deep down inside she knew it wasn’t hers in the first place. She was so angry and bitter that she couldn’t bear to see Momma have it, but she couldn’t rest in peace without making certain it would be returned to its rightful owner.”
“You’re pretty wise for a kid. Almost like the old broad made a reluctant bargain to save her soul.”
“Maybe you could say that. But, I’m not a kid, Katy.”
It was Katherine’s turn to laugh. “No, I guess you’re not, but you’ll always be my baby sis. By the way, are you still seeing that soldier?”
Stacey had never told Katherine about her experience with Gary in Oklahoma. More than anything she wanted to tell the whole story to Katherine. But now wasn’t the time.
“Gary’s been training helicopter pilots.” Stacey’s eyes misted. “They use helicopters in Vietnam.”
Katherine reached for Stacey’s hand. “Come and sit down, kiddo. I know this is tough, but maybe the separation will do you good.”
Stacey yanked her hand away and stood up. “Why can’t you give Gary a chance, Katy. I love him.”
“It’s not easy going back once you’ve made a mistake, Stace.”
“Did you make a mistake, Katy? Would you have married Edward if you knew Momma would have all this money one day?”
“I wouldn’t have my two beautiful sons if I hadn’t married the old guy.”
“That’s not an answer, Katy.”
“I think Edward was right. I do need a little rest before dinner.”
After Stacey closed the door behind her, Katherine sniffed the new clean sheets and lay back in the four poster bed. Why did God wait so long? Why now when it’s all too late?