Today we begin another chapter in Rubies – Escaping the Curse – The Widening Road. In our last except we saw Katherine doing everything she could (including outright lying) to get what she wanted. Today we see the outcome of her subterfuge.
Stacey misses her sister terribly and dreams of the day she will return home. In our story we today we discover that Katherine will never return home for a very long time.
Duluth, Fall 1962
“Wonderful dinner, Katherine.” Edward yawned and leaned back on his black leather sofa. “Come and sit beside me.”
The tutoring relationship was in full swing again with the start of the fall semester, but they both knew it was just a pretext for the feelings swelling inside them. After the incident at Ginny’s, Katherine knew she had to tell Edward the truth about her family and risk losing him. She’d prepared Ginny’s special lasagna and arrived at his apartment for dinner.
Smiling coyly, Katherine poured two glasses of Chablis, handing one to Edward as she sat beside him on the sofa.
“To friendship and honesty,” she said, gesturing with her raised glass.
Edward’s brows furrowed, but he returned her gesture. “To my beautiful Katherine. May we continue to deepen our friendship and share ourselves with one another.”
It was a strange toast, but then again Edward was different from all the other men she’d known. She shrugged. “Edward, I need to speak to you about my father.”
He only silently stared at her just as he had that first night in his classroom. But this time he patiently waited for her to continue.
Katherine swallowed the hard lump forming in her throat. “I –ah, he isn’t actually sick.”
Edward placed his wine on the coffee table in front of them and removed the glass from her hand. Placing it on the table beside his, he gently took her hands in his.
“I know all about your father, Katherine.”
She could feel herself flushing from what she thought was embarrassment but soon realized was fury. “You know?”
Katherine began to squirm. “When?”
Edward tightened his grip on her hands. “From the beginning.”
“You mean that first night in the classroom you–” She was stopped by his finger on her lips.
“My dear Katherine, knowing me as you do now, do you think I would offer a student free tutoring unless I had done a complete background check on them?”
The flush in her cheeks now brightened to a deep crimson. Her brown eyes widened. The creep! How could he? Trembling from anger, she bolted from the sofa.
“You’re despicable, Edward Parkingson!”
Edward calmly stood and walked towards her.
Crossing her arms, she backed up. “Don’t touch me!”
Edward brushed his hand over his mouth, attempting to restrain the smile spilling over its corners. “Katherine, my dear, be sensible. Who, in actuality, was dishonest with whom?”
“You–you deliberately baited me!” Her voice was squeaking with disbelief. “You let me squirm that day at Aunt Ginny’s. You wanted–”
She stopped abruptly when a wide grin appeared on his face, a grin so wide that only his teeth seemed visible. Before she could speak again, he pulled her into his arms and began kissing her passionately. His warm lips melded to hers, and he didn’t stop with one kiss. His gentle hands caressed her body, and as she responded to his touch, her anger soon turned to desire.
He made love to her that night and every night thereafter that they spent together. It didn’t matter to him that she wasn’t a virgin. Nothing mattered except their love for one another. He wanted her, yearned to be with her, made her feel deep within herself, the way she’d never felt before.
Duluth, August 1963
Katherine snuggled closer to Edward and squeezed her eyes shut. She finally had her degree, and she had a wealthy man who cared about her. But she was pregnant: unmarried, poor, and pregnant.
She sighed, frustrated that Edward had fallen asleep as she lay in his arms. How could he have fallen asleep at a time like this, just when she planned to tell him about the baby? But what if he didn’t love her? Now was a fine time to think about it.
Edward moaned and tightened his arms around her. His soft amber eyes opened and were instantly filled with passion as he looked down at her. “I’m sorry, darling. I must have dozed off on you.”
Katherine rolled over and kissed his cheek. “That’s okay. I needed some time to think anyway.”
She braced herself on her elbow and circled her finger along the edge of his bottom lip. “Do you love me, Edward?”
There was silence as his eyes traced the curves of her body and returned to gaze into hers. “Love is an over rated word, Katherine. So few use it wisely, so few really comprehend its meaning. Soon it becomes redundant and old. Then it dies.”
Katherine flung herself back on the bed and blew out a long breath. Why does he turn every discussion into a lecture?
He leaned over her. “What is it, darling?”
Her patience had died during the lecture. “Edward, I’m pregnant.”
His face went blank for a moment, then he sat up and reached for his pipe from the night stand.
Wrapping herself in the sheet, Katherine sat up next to him, anxiously awaiting his response.
Carefully filling and lighting his pipe, Edward took several puffs, then leaned back. “We’ll get married on the weekend, I think. That way I can call Mother first and lesson the shock a bit.”
What about her shock? Didn’t she even get a say in this deal? Katherine clenched her jaw, wanting to scream at him, wanting to say something; instead she closed her eyes in resignation, realizing her jaw had locked tightly shut.
They eloped the following weekend and returned Sunday evening to Ginny’s. Katherine’s long black hair had been cut to a pageboy length. She was wearing a gray tailored suit with matching pumps.
Stacey’s face paled when she saw her sister. “How come you cut your hair, Katy? I don’t like it.”
Katherine smiled. Stacey’s honesty would get her in trouble one day.
“Edward likes it this way.” She reached for Edward’s hand.
Marty flushed as she stared at her new son-in-law. “I don’t understand why you eloped?”
“Trust me, Mom. Edward is the man for me. We’ll be very happy.”
“Mrs. Morley, I know this is sudden, but I promise to take the utmost care of your daughter,” Edward added.
Katherine could see Marty’s frustration mounting by the perplexed look on her face.
“Come upstairs with me, Mom. We can talk while I pack.” Noticing Stacey was close behind, Katherine quipped, “Hey, kiddo, I’ve just taken the wind out of Mom’s sails. Will you give me a few minutes alone with her to calm the waters?”
Stacey quickly turned to hide the tears in her eyes and was met by Ginny’s arms.
“Come on, honey. Help me entertain the newest member of the family.”
“Professor Parkingson, won’t you have a chair in the living room?”
“Call me Edward, please,” he said, pulling out his pipe. “Excuse me. Mind if I smoke?”
“Make yourself at home,” Ginny replied before sitting across from him. “I’d like to give a small reception for you and Katy.”
“Katherine,” he said, clearing his throat to accentuate her name. “Katherine and I would be pleased.”
Ginny eyed Stacey and noticed her smirk was close to full-blown laughter.
“Stacey, why don’t you make us a pitcher of ice tea while Edward and I get acquainted.”
Upstairs, Marty sat on the bed, her face ashen. She rubbed her temples with her fingers. “How far along are you?”
“I’ve only missed one period, but I’ve been tested at St. Mary’s.”
“What are we going to tell your sister?”
“How about the truth?”
Marty sighed. “I guess so. She is fifteen now. Maybe it will help her not to make the same mistake.”
Katherine rolled her eyes. “God, Mother, it’s not the end of the world, you know. Granted, Edward is a lot older than me, but he’s rich — filthy rich. He’s never been married, and the only family he has is his mother who lives in Boston. His Dad died when Edward was a young boy so he knows what it’s like to grow up without a father.”
“But not without food to eat,” Marty said.
“No. You’re right about that but I’ll never want for anything as long as I’m married to Edward. I’ll even have money to help you.”
“But do you love him, Katy?”
“Of course. Why else would I marry him.”
Stacey sat on a large boulder edging the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. She dangled her legs over the side of the rock, the tips of her toes nibbling at the cool water below. Deep in thought, she tossed a tiny pebble into the lake and watched it disappear beneath the rolling waves.
She squinted up at the sun and looked down at her fair skin. She poured more lotion into her hand and smeared it across her face and arms. She knew that too much sun would bring back the ugly freckles she hated so much. Next month would be her first year of high school. She wanted to look her best, even though she wasn’t allowed to date until she was sixteen. Lucky thing Momma never discovered the ride on Skyline drive that summer.
It had been a week since Katherine’s wedding reception in Ginny’s garden. The place where they had once spent hours laughing and working was decorated with pink and red roses, and their petals scattered along the cobblestone path that led around the garden and down to Lake Superior.
Katherine had worn a white satin suit, and Stacey said she looked like Jackie Kennedy herself with the matching pillbox hat that adorned her hair. When Katherine left, the two sisters had held each other tightly, sobbing and laughing all at the same time.
Stacey pulled up her legs and leaned forward cupping her face in her hands. Katy promised to call once a week, but it didn’t matter. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Stacey blinked back the tears that had formed in her eyes and stared out at the beach. Her eyes soon focused on a soldier standing by the shore and gazing intently out into the lake. He took off his hat and raked his fingers through his short flaxen hair. In spite of his short haircut, his curls shimmered in the sunlight.
He must have been out of boot camp for a while to have such nice hair.
The soldier turned and his eyes met her inquisitive stare. Stacey felt her face flush and she looked away. Then she heard his footsteps grating on the stones as he walked towards her. Her stomach fluttered with rippling spasms as each step brought him closer and closer to her stony perch. She squeezed her eyes shut. Her heart was pounding in her ears. Did he notice how she stared at him? What would she do if he sat by her side?
The footsteps stopped.
Stacey’s mouth went dry and her palms began to sweat. Cautiously, she opened her eyes and peered over her shoulder. She was surprised to see the soldier standing directly behind her, his arms linked together with a short stout woman whose blond hair was dulled by sprinkles of gray. Stacey listened to them talking and laughing, puzzled by her own odd sense of disappointment. Shrugging her shoulders, she pulled on her shoes and hastened towards the road.
She’d almost reached the road when a voice called out, “Say, miss, you forgot your lotion.”
Stacey turned to face the soldier, her face flushing with embarrassment. “Thanks. I–I guess I was in a hurry.”
He smiled broadly and handed her the lotion. His teeth sparkled against his olive skin almost like the dewdrops in the morning sun. She thought it was the most beautiful smile she’d ever seen.
Speechless, she whisked the bottle from his hand and ran up the hill. She had to get home and tell Katy. Then her lip quivered and she swallowed her tears. Katy, her dear Katy was gone.
So Stacey is left bewildered and frustrated that her sister has chosen to marry and leave home. Soon Stacey will find herself in the same position and she too will make the wrong choice.
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