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It is often said that farewells bring only sadness but sometimes they become the start of a new beginning. In today’s excerpt we find Stacey devastated at the loss of her grandfather after her short-lived happiness at his return. Now she must face her life knowing she will never see him again. Marty is consumed by guilt because of the abuse Stacey suffered when Hans left their home so many years ago.Unfortunately, her decision to allow Stacey to build a life with Gary Walker is just another mistake that will cause Stacey unimaginable pain.
Chapter Seventeen Robbinsdale, June 1966
Marty was stunned when she opened the front door to see Gary Walker standing on the step.
“Gary, what a surprise.”
Gary nodded and removed his hat. “Is Stacey home, Mrs. Morley?”
“I’m afraid she’s at the hospital. Did she tell you about her grandfather?”
“Yes, ma’am, she said he had gangrene in his foot.”
“Well, he waited too long for surgery and they had to amputate the entire leg. He’s been in a coma every since, and I’m afraid Stacey is furious with me.”
“Why is that, Mrs. Morley?”
“She blames me for not telling her sooner about the gangrene. But I’d promised her grandfather my silence. Now he may not live through the night.”
“I’m sorry,” Gary said, gazing at the ground.
Marty suddenly realized he was still standing outside. “I didn’t mean to be rude. Please come in.”
Gary put his arm around her shoulder.
“I know you have your doubts about me, but I love your daughter very much.”
Perhaps she’d misjudged him. Perhaps Katy had misjudged him.
“I just want what’s best for Stacey.” Marty stifled a sob. “This is killing her.” .
“I’m afraid my news isn’t going to make her any happier. I’ve been given my orders for Vietnam.”
Marty groaned. “My poor little girl.”
“She’s not a little girl anymore, Mrs. Morley. I want to marry Stacey before I leave. I hope you’ll give us your blessing.”
Stacey rubbed her neck and leaned back, resting her head on the stiff wooden hospital chair. She gazed at Christian and thought how peaceful he looked, as if he were sleeping. She couldn’t stop reliving the previous few weeks and the anger she had manifested towards her mother. . .
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I would have talked Gramp into the surgery!”
“I couldn’t break my promise. Being an invalid would kill Grandpa, anyway.”
“So, you were going to let him die! You aren’t God! How could you make that choice ?”
“I didn’t, Stace. He did.”
Stacey exhaled slowly and leaned across the bed. Tenderly, she placed a kiss on Christian’s cheek. “Please wake up, Gramp. Don’t leave me again.”
She felt a hand on her shoulder. Marty stood by her side. “I’ll sit with Daddy for a while. There’s someone in the hallway to see you.”
Blinking the sleepiness from her eyes, Stacey stood up and stretched.
She stepped into the corridor and exploded into gasping sobs as she fell into Gary’s out stretched arms.
“Oh, Gary, I’m so glad you’re here.” Drawing back from him, she frowned. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t worry about that now, baby. How’s Grandpa doing?”
“He’s been in a coma for two days. He–he doesn’t want to stay with me.”
Gary pulled her close. “Stace, maybe it’s time to let him go.”
“But I just found him,” she sobbed.
“Ssh, baby,” he whispered, stroking her hair and wiping her tears with his fingertips. “Let’s go home for a couple of hours. You need a break.”
They sat on the sofa, her head resting on his shoulder, Gary gently massaging her fingers. “It’s been rough for you, hasn’t it?”
“I guess I thought once he came home, he’d be here forever.”
“Nothing is forever, Stace.” Seeing her stricken look, he added, “Except my love for you.”
“Gary, don’t ever leave me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
His deep sigh invaded the silence between them.
She sat up and looked into his eyes. “What is it? Please tell me.”
He pulled her close to him. “Stace, I’m going to be home for about eight weeks.” He paused, resting his chin on her head. “It’s the time they give you to get your affairs in order before–”
“No!” She struggled free of his arms and bolted up from the sofa.
“I’m sick of God always taking away everyone I love! I won’t let Him take you too! I won’t, I won’t,” she screamed, backing away from him.
She was sobbing and shaking by the time he reached her and pulled her back into his arms. “Stace, don’t do this. We’ve known for a long time that I might have to go to Nam.”
“Please, Gary.” She buried her face in his chest, clinging to him and weeping. “Don’t go away from me now.”
He held her tightly as she wept in his arms. “Baby, I know this is difficult but I want us to be married before I go. I even asked your mother for her blessing.”
He reached into his pocket. “Look, I brought you a belated birthday present.”
Stacey stared at the emerald cut diamond he held before her. A teardrop rolled down her face and splashed onto his hand. “It’s beautiful.”
He slid the ring on her finger and kissed her tenderly. “Will you marry me, Stacey Morley?”
“I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” The minister’s words echoed throughout St. Paul’s churchyard in Mooreton as the small gathering of Christian’s friends and family stood around his graveside.
The family markers were steadily increasing in number in the little country cemetery, and Marty had brought flowers for each of them, including Sophia; she was buried next to her father, the place she always longed to be.
Before they left, Marty knelt at Kaja’s grave, tears of regret still haunting her memory. If only she had listened, Daddy would have had all these past years with Stacey instead of six months.
Katherine stood by and seemed to read Marty’s thoughts. “Come on, Momma, it’s time to stop mourning the past. There’s plenty of life left for the living.”
Urging Marty towards the car, she glanced over at Stacey clinging to Gary’s arm and weeping. How much more of this living could Stacey survive?
Katherine drove the car back to Minneapolis. They all rode in silence, Stacey sleeping peacefully on Gary’s arm. When they finally arrived home, Katherine asked Gary to take Stacey and Chris into the house so she could speak with Marty.
Marty watched them go in the front door, then scowled at Katherine.
“Don’t you think you’re a bit obvious?”
“I’m sorry, Mom, but I had to say my piece before I bust. And I didn’t want to risk Stacey overhearing me.”
Marty’s bottom jutted out, and she crossed her arms. “So spit it out!”
“How can you let Stacey marry that man? He could die over there or come home maimed or something worse!”
“Katy, you already made your position quite clear when we spoke on the phone last week but try to understand. Gary only wants to make Stacey happy.”
“He’s a major con-artist!”
“I mean it, Mother. He has manipulated you since day one. Bringing Grandpa home was his major ploy. He’s just like–”
“That’s enough! Don’t even say it!” Marty opened the car door and stepped from the car.
“Stacey has had nothing but tragedy and pain in her life, and I am going to give her the chance she deserves for happiness.”
The car door slammed in Katherine’s face as Marty bolted towards the house.
“That man will destroy her!” Katherine screamed.
Pounding her fist on the steering wheel, she muttered to herself, “Oh, Stace, why don’t you listen to your gut. It will tell you this is all wrong.”
Katherine stayed in the car until the guestroom lights went out. The last person she wanted to see tonight was Gary. She was almost glad Edward offered to stay in Chicago with the children. Frankly, she needed the space. Since Gary was staying in the guestroom, she’d be sharing a room with Stacey like old times.
Before going upstairs, she poured two glasses of wine, hoping Stacey would still be awake.
Stacey was standing by the window, clutching her arms and gently rocking back and forth. The moonlight cast a satin glow on her hair; her green eyes glistened with tears as she softly hummed an old familiar lullaby.
Placing the wine by the bed, Katherine joined her at the window, slipping her arm around Stacey’s slim waist and resting her cheek against her tear-streaked face. They stood silently, each seeming to know the other’s thoughts.
Then Stacey turned and kissed Katherine’s cheek. “Thanks for not telling me how much you’re against my marriage, Katy.”
Katherine reached back for the wine and handed Stacey a glass. “Let’s drink to happy memories and forever friends.” A teardrop rolled down her cheek as she lifted her glass.
Stacey looked at her strangely. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry, Katy.”
Katherine brushed away the teardrop with her hand and gave Stacey a quick hug. “Little sister, your happiness is worth a million teardrops.”
Will Katherine be right in her judgement of Gary Walker? Is her really just another “Sonny Morley”? Find out in our next excerpt in the continuing saga of Rubies – Escaping the Curse. If you haven’t received your free copy of Book One – The Beginning, the link is right below.
Have a wonderful week and remember to tell your family and friends how special they are. You may not get another chance.