Thanks for tuning in for another adventure of Rubies – Escaping the Curse. We are now into Book Two – The Widening Road. The story concentrates on the relationship between the two Morley sisters, Katherine and Stacey. We see Katherine depart for college and Stacey is heartbroken to lose her sister. In today’s episode we watch Katherine as she refuses to travel the same road as her mother and decides early in her college years that she will marry a rich man and that will certainly bring her true happiness. She has little time for college boys and soon sets her sights on Professor Edward Parkingson.
Minneapolis to Duluth 1959
Marty sat scanning the paper, desperate for a way to help Katherine expand her wardrobe in preparation for the Duluth winter. It had been a pleasant surprise when Katherine decided to attend UMD; now that the University of Minnesota had a campus in Duluth, at least Katherine could live with Ginny while she attended college.
The longer Marty stared at the sale ads the more frustrated she became. Since they’d been living on welfare, the only place they could afford to shop was Atlantic Mills. Marty cringed each time she thought about the rows of tables heaping with factory seconds and remnants too undesirable to be put in the retail stores. Surely, she couldn’t buy her daughter a new coat at that dump.
As she flipped the page, her eyes were instantly drawn to a small article on the left column of the newspaper. She could feel her eyes brimming with angry tears, and she fought the urge to pound her fist on the table.
“What are you reading, Mom?” Stacey’s voice came over her shoulder.
“Oh, it’s an article about a medical convention they’re holding in Rochester next week. A very well known cardiologist is the main speaker.”
Stacey scowled. “Sounds boring.”
Marty smiled. “I guess you’re right.”
She didn’t have the heart to tell her daughter that her Aunt Sophia’s husband was the main attraction. Marty breathed a deep sigh. He had certainly made a name for himself since Momma’s death. If only they knew then what they know now, perhaps Momma would still be alive. Sophia was probably very rich with all the money her famous husband had made. And then there was William’s money. Even though he had left it to Kaja, the will had been contested by Sophia. If only Kaja had fought for what was hers.
Marty slammed the paper shut and stood up. “I feel like taking a nice long walk. Stacey, will you watch Chris? He’s playing outside.”
“Sure, Mom. Take your time.”
Stacey watched her mother walk slowly out the door and wondered if she was feeling sad about Katy leaving home. Stacey knew she was feeling sick inside and Katy wouldn’t be leaving for another three weeks. It seemed Katy was awfully young to be going away to college. Who would share her secrets and be her best friend?
Stacey folded up the newspaper and placed it on the kitchen counter. She supposed there was always Patty Graham next door, but she only wanted to take Stacey to church. It was boring to be so good all the time.
Chris was rolling around on the grass with Charlie the neighbor boy. Stacey watched them from the window for several minutes, then shrugged her shoulders. Sometimes she wished she could be young again, but those days were over for her now. She was eleven and would soon begin baby-sitting. She was going to hate it. Unlike her sister, Stacey was afraid to stay alone at night. Every sound made her skin crawl. Just the thoughts of it made Stacey tremble. Thoughtfully, she chewed on her bottom lip. She mustn’t tell Katy how she felt. It would spoil her dream. Besides, they would still have their summers together, and when Katy finished college, she’d come home forever.
Duluth, Minnesota 1961
Katherine was in her third year of college when she met her prince. He wasn’t what she had imagined or even wanted, but he was wealthy – very wealthy.
“Miss Morley, would you stay after class for a moment?”
Katherine smiled and nodded at Professor Parkingson.
Edward Parkingson was not very tall, perhaps five-feet-eight at the most. His dark straight hair didn’t terribly enhance his looks and, parted on one side, it only accentuated his long straight nose and square jaw. He did, however, have an incredible smile, wide and full of teeth. His golden brown eyes glittered like soft amber, and even behind his wire-rimmed glasses Katherine could see they were drawn in her direction.
He had arrived mid-quarter when Professor Lundgren had had a tragic stroke, causing irreversible damage to his speech. It was rumored the new professor was from Chicago and actually partially retired himself. Independently wealthy, Edward Parkingson lectured at various colleges, and had now agreed to fill in for his friend and colleague, at least until the end of the year.
Katherine guessed him to be in his early forties, and was shocked when she heard he was single. In fact, he had never been married. It seemed only logical that Edward Parkingson had been dropped in her lap. After all, God knew what she had wanted for a very long time.
Katherine’s grades had begun slipping soon after the new professor arrived, and if things didn’t get better she might even require a tutor.
“I’d like to discuss your last exam if you don’t mind, Miss Morley.”
“I know it wasn’t my best,” Katherine hedged.
“Miss Morley,” he said, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. “It was positively baffling to be exact.”
Katherine could feel her heart pounding. Guess he’s not easily fooled. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, Professor.”
“Sit down, Miss Morley,” he said, pointing to the chair directly on the side of his desk.
Hesitating, Katherine walked slowly to the chair. “I don’t have much time.”
“Please sit. You’ll make the time.”
Katherine blistered at the abrupt tone in his voice, but sat in the chair folding her hands on her lap.
He reached into his top drawer and upon removing a manila folder, he picked up his glasses from the desk. “I’ve thoroughly reviewed your file and the previous notes of Professor Lundgren. You were one of his most brilliant students, yet your grades have fallen drastically since he was taken ill. Frankly, Miss Morley, I’m somewhat miffed that you’ve chosen to perform so poorly in my class.”
Was he on to her so soon? Katherine squirmed in her chair as a trickle of sweat rolled down her back. She stared at him wide eyed; for several moments, a loss for words.
He removed his glasses again and leaned back in his chair. “I’m waiting, Miss Morley.”
Smiling thinly, Katherine moistened her lips. “My–my father hasn’t been well, sir.”
“Yes, well–you see, I guess I’ve been so worried about his health and everything that I’ve just neglected my studies.”
Professor Parkingson leaned forward and placed his hands on the desk. “If one is to succeed in this life, Miss Morley, then one’s personal problems must be put aside for the things which are expedient.”
Katherine groaned inwardly. It was a cinch, this guy was no soft soap, but at least he could speak English. She put on her most charming smile. “I understand completely, Professor. I’ll do anything to get my work up to your standards.”
To her surprise, his eyes twinkled and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “As Professor Lundgren is one of my closest personal friends as well as my colleague, I am willing to provide you with some outside tutoring.”
Katherine felt a giggle pinching at the pit of her stomach, and she strained to keep a sober face. “I’m afraid with Daddy ill the money would–”
Professor Parkingson interrupted with his raised hand. “No money, Miss Morley, just dedication. That’s all I ask.”
“Oh I’m always dedicated when it comes to something I really want, Professor.” Katherine extended her hand. “I’d be honored for your help.”
Duluth, Spring 1962
Spring came quickly that year, and Katherine began her search for a new job. When she’d begun her tutoring with Edward Parkingson her grades improved within three months, but her college classmates treated her with indifference. She knew she couldn’t face working at the drive in again during the summer.
It was not only Katherine’s scholastic ability that improved but also her state of mind. Many evenings after a long session, the professor would buy her coffee, and they’d sit for hours talking and laughing about everything and nothing. Katherine skillfully managed to keep the subject of her family out of the conversation.
One Saturday in early May, Katherine opened Ginny’s door to find Edward standing on the step. Her brown eyes widened while she smiled to disguise her gaping mouth.
“Good morning, Katherine, may I come in for a moment?”
“Ah–of course, Edward.” Katherine bubbled with pride while escorting him into Ginny’s exquisite home. She prayed Aunt Ginny wouldn’t come home while Edward was there.
“I’ve been making arrangements to go back to Chicago and–”
Katherine’s gasp stopped him short.
“Are you all right, my dear?”
Katherine paled. She couldn’t just let him walk out of her life! She cleared her throat. “I didn’t know you were planning to return to Chicago.”
A Cheshire grin blanketed his face. “Oh you misunderstood. It’s only for the summer break. I’ll be returning in the fall.”
Katherine blew out a sigh of relief. “Then you stopped to say good-bye?”
“Actually, I spoke with a colleague of mine about you, and he might have a position for you correcting papers for the summer session.”
Without thinking, Katherine flung her arms around his neck. “My God, you’re terrific!” Then noticing the stunned look on his face, she stepped back. “I’m sorry, Edward. Sometimes I’m a little impulsive. I didn’t mean-”
Before she could finish her sentence, he pulled her into his arms. His lips crushed against hers. Just as quickly, he released her. His face was flushed.
“Forgive me, Katherine, but I–I’ve wanted to kiss you for so very long.”
Katherine reached to touch his face. “Don’t apologize, Edward. You have no idea of how long I’ve wanted to be in your arms.” Her thumb caressed his cheek.
She quickly dropped her hand when the front door opened.
Ginny burst into the room, grinning from ear to ear. “Katy, wait until you see the smashing sundress I bought for you.”
Katherine cringed when she saw Edward’s sour faced reaction to her nickname.
“Aunt Ginny, we have company.”
Ginny stopped, grimacing at Katherine. “Well, why don’t you introduce your friend, honey?”
“He’s not my friend. He’s– I mean this is Professor Parkingson.”
“Ah the great Professor.” Ginny extended her hand.
Katherine quickly interrupted. “Professor Parkingson was kind enough to help me find a job for the summer.”
Ginny smiled. “I can’t tell you how much Katy’s mother appreciated your tutoring her daughter this year.”
Edward nodded and returned the smile. “I was pleased to be of service. And how is Katherine’s father feeling these days?”
“Katherine’s father?” Ginny crossed her arms and tilted her head towards Katherine.
Katherine felt her cheeks burning.
“His health?” Edward said. “I hope his health has improved.”
Katherine thought she was going to wet her pants when she saw the dumbfounded look on Ginny’s face.
Ginny thoughtfully touched her finger to her lips. “Mr. Morley is, ah– he’s been ill for such a long time. Of course, we’re all hoping things will change soon, and he’ll get what he deserves from life.”
Edward cast a tight smile at Katherine. “Well, good.” He cleared his throat. “I’d best be going. So nice to meet you, Mrs–”
“Aunt Ginny. Everyone calls me Aunt Ginny.”
“Ah yes,” he said with a nod, “Aunt Ginny.”
Katherine escorted Edward to the foyer. As the door closed behind him, she buried her face in her hands.
“Do you want to tell me what that was all about?” Ginny said, placing her hands on her hips.
Katherine shook her head. “Not now.”
She reached to put her arms around Ginny’s waist. “Thanks, Aunt Ginny. You’re one hell’va dame.”
We can see Katherine beginning her adult life using her feminine wiles to get what she wants in life. In our next segment, we will find Katherine has put herself in a very precarious position.
If you haven’t already gotten your free summary copy of Book One – The Beginning, you can send me your email below and a free copy will be sent to you. Until then, have a beautiful week and remember to tell someone you love them.