Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THE GIRL BACK HOME PREVIEW Chapter One

Digital and Print Copyright R. E. Bradshaw 2010

Chapter One

      On the drive across the state of North Carolina, from Durham to Currituck County, the view was dominated by farmland and forests.  The winding four lanes gave way to two and back to four, passing little towns, most of which were dying because the main road by-passed them years ago.  As the hours passed, on the drive, layers of the modern world began to slip away.  Turning off US highway 64, onto US 17 North, time began to stand still.  The roadway took the driver through counties with names like Bertie, Chowan and Pasquotank, that traced their roots to a time when the land still belonged to the English Crown.  Hertford County had the oldest brick home in North Carolina, the Newbold-White house, within its borders.  The town of Edenton stood as a living history monument, and boasted of having the most intact colonial courthouse in America and houses dating from the early 1700’s. 
      Passing through Pasquotank County and into the homestretch of the three and a half hour journey, the drive turned onto US 158, for the last twenty-two miles of the trip.  Snaking through swamps and forests, the road opened on a view of the Currituck Sound, separating the Outer Banks’ barrier islands and the mainland.  Bearing to the right, onto Caratoke Highway, the sound became lost behind green trees and houses, lining the banks of the water.  The road turned away from the shore line, making a long lazy curve around the high school, which was now the middle school.  The highway would sway through several more languid curves, dividing the long, thin county in half, like a long, gray, striped ribbon, all the way to Point Harbor, where the land met the water. 
      The Carolina blue sky overhead with only wisps of clouds, offered no barrier to the June morning sun.  A black BMW convertible, top down, with Gucci luggage and what looked like an antique, cast iron, floor lamp sticking out of the backseat, approached the elevated bridge crossing the Intracoastal Waterway, at mile marker fifty, in the heart of the little village of Coinjock, North Carolina.  The driver, Jamie Basnight, a forty-two-year-old lawyer, who looked much younger, was coming home, again.  Jamie’s body was hard with an athletic build that took a lot of work to maintain.  Jamie Basnight was an attractive, hot shot lawyer, with the looks to match.  Her shoulder length blonde hair was flapping in the wind, under a Duke ball cap, her baby blue eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses.  She glanced down, from the apex of the bridge, at the tall sailboats cruising down the waterway.  She really didn’t see them.  Jamie hadn’t noticed any of the scenery she passed earlier this morning.  Her mind had been busy replaying her every mistake and continued to take her back to three months ago, when it had all come crashing down around her.
      Each time the replay would begin, the panic of that night crushed her chest again and her breathing became shallow.  Jamie had pulled up in front of the luxurious home, she shared with Mary Ann, her lover of sixteen years, barely able to breathe and thankful Mary Ann’s car was in the garage.  She ran into the house, calling Mary Ann’s name, but got no answer.  Jamie found her out back, by the pool.  Mary Ann’s dark hair hung in curls over her shoulders.  Her striking beauty always took Jamie’s breath, but tonight she couldn’t breathe for different reasons.  
      Mary Ann was dressed in an elegant white suit, sipping the remains of what looked like straight bourbon.  Her back was to Jamie, but when Mary Ann heard Jamie come through the French doors she had slowly turned around.  Her tear streaked face was red and blotchy, her beauty somehow making her look more tragic, but she wasn’t crying anymore.  Mary Ann was livid and turned away quickly, taking another drink.  The dark curls swung around so violently, the ringlets bounced before settling against the expensive fabric of her suit.
      Mary Ann leaned forward, elbows on her knees gripping the tumbler with both hands, as if, she were trying to keep from throwing it, or dropping it, Jamie wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen next.  Mary Ann sat on a bench, built into the deck, that over looked the pool and the perfectly landscaped lawn, with its perfectly placed flower beds.  Jamie never went near any gardening tools.  She was too busy, fucking up her life, as it were.
      Jamie, frozen a few feet behind the woman she slept with for the past sixteen years, was afraid to move or say anything.  What could she say?  She’d been caught.
      The uncertain silence that fell over them was broken by Mary Ann, who said, in her silky manicured drawl, “I hope it was worth it.”
      “Mary Ann, please.  You have to listen to me.”  Jamie pleaded.  Her drawl wasn’t as perceptible as Mary Ann’s was.  Years of polish and practice, in front of juries and colleagues, had taught her only to let the drawl out, when some man, or woman for that matter, mistook her southern charm, for ignorance.
      Jamie’s plea fell on deaf ears.  Mary Ann didn’t raise her voice, in fact quite the opposite.  She became very still, her entire demeanor darkened.  With her clenched jaw muscles, the only signs of her real emotional state, she said, calmly and evenly, “I have no intention of sitting here, listening to you try to reason or lie your way out of this one.”
      Jamie bowed her head.  Her voice weak, when she said the only thing she could think of, “I’m sorry.”  
      The stillness had been the calm before the storm.  Mary Ann sprang up and whirled on Jamie, in a flash of anger.  “Sorry?  What are you sorry for, Jamie?  Sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught?”
      Jamie was so ashamed.  She continued looking at the wooden deck.  “I never wanted this to happen,” she offered, trying for any redemption.
      Mary Ann spit back, “And yet it did.  Now you’re going to have to live with consequences.”
       Jamie at last looked up from the deck.  She pleaded again, “Please, Mary Ann, let me explain.”
      Mary Ann was having none of it.  Mary Ann was beyond livid.  Her voice grew higher and thinner, as the emotion seized her throat.  She said, “Not this time counselor, you can’t explain this away.”
      Jamie reached out to Mary Ann.  She wanted to hold her and explain that this was some anomalous behavior, so out of the realm of possibility that it could never happen again, but that had turned out not to be a smart move.
      Mary Ann slapped Jamie’s hand away.  In a voice full of rage, she said, “Don’t, you dare!  Don’t you dare, touch me.”
      Jamie, shocked by the venom in Mary Ann’s voice, backed away from her.  Jamie looked at the woman she loved and knew she had made a fatal mistake.  “So that’s it, we’re done, just like that?”
      Mary Ann did not hesitate, when she replied, “Oh yes, we’re done.”
      Jamie’s heart sank with those words.  She couldn’t believe this was happening.  “After sixteen years, I fuck up once and we’re done?”
      “Fuck up, what an ironic choice of words, and I’m sure it was more than once,” Mary Ann said, sarcastically and then she asked, “How long has this been going on?”
      Jamie dropped her head again, the shame and guilt were eating her alive.  She whispered, “Four months.”
      Mary Ann sat down, burying her face in her hands.  “That long.  Fuck, I am such an idiot.”
      Jamie knelt down in front of Mary Ann.  Her own tears flowing down her cheeks, she said, “It’s over.  I swear.”
      Mary Ann took her hands away from her face and locked her big dark eyes on Jamie’s.  She had been betrayed and it was written on her expression and dripping from her words, when she said, “And I’m just supposed to forgive you, is that it?”
      Jamie bargained for her life, “How can I fix this?  Just tell me, please.”
      Mary Ann said, softly through quiet tears, “You can’t fix this.  You’ve ruined everything.”  She paused and then stood up.  She looked down at the still kneeling Jamie with pure indignation and said the last thing Jamie wanted to hear, “I will never forgive you.”  The scene ended the same way each time, with Mary Ann walking away from Jamie and their lives together. 
      In the car, Jamie put on the turn signal, turning onto old 158.  She eased around the big curve where the highway turned into Waterlily Road.  On the right, past a few corn fields, several miles of swamp expanded and gave way to the wetlands of Currituck Sound.  On her left, little white houses, beaten down by weather and time, lined the waterway.
      A half a mile down the old narrow road, Jamie pulled into a driveway, on the left, marked by a For Sale sign.  Hung diagonally, over the sign, was the word SOLD, in big bold letters.  The small red house faced the waterway.  The end of the dock, owned by the marina next door, ran in front of the house.  Boats and yachts of all sizes were tied up, along the long dock.  On the left, the marina restaurant filled the air with the aroma of frying seafood.  Trees and thick undergrowth blocked the view of the house on the right.  There were no houses across the road, because that was the edge of the swamp.  The gravel driveway ended in front of a little barn, set off from the house.  The barn was painted red to match the house and joined the white picket fence that lined the walkway, to the backdoor.  Jamie stopped the BMW and exited, stretching her five foot seven frame to its limits.
      She looked around the property and smiled weakly.  This was her new home.  Jamie walked to the end of the driveway and pulled the For Sale sign out of the ground.  She heard the truck coming toward her, and looked up to see the giant blue moving van slowing, as it approached.  Jamie waved at the driver and the big truck miraculously was backed down her driveway.  Let the unpacking begin, Jamie thought.  She made her way to the backdoor of the house, to begin the process of restarting a life, she had single handedly dismantled.  As she turned the key in the lock, she heard a little voice in her head say, “I might survive this, if the guilt and loneliness don’t kill me first.”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sometimes the things you look for all your life are right there at home where you left them.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you ran into your first girl crush?  I'm speaking to you lesbians out there.  Remember the first girl you couldn't get enough of.  You didn't know why, but you just had to be with her.  You had feelings you couldn't explain and you definitely didn't talk about it.  Then something happened and you moved on, grew up and lived your life, but every now and then you think about her.

That's what happens to the main character of my new novel, THE GIRL BACK HOME.  Jamie Basnight, 42, has just moved home after being gone for more than 20 years.  Her sixteen year relationship with the stunningly beautiful Mary Ann has come to an end, because of something Jamie did.  She is devastated, but moving on when she runs into the woman, Sandy, she had a crush on when she was just seventeen. Sandy is married and a grandmother, but the hottest grandmother Jamie has ever seen.  They rekindle their old friendship and what happens next is a complete shock to Jamie. 


Sometimes the things you look for all your life are right there at home where you left them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scary

Sometimes, when I read the news, it scares me.  This Christine O'Donnell chick scares the shit out of me.  She goes way beyond conservative values, into lala land.  And she got elected!  Holy Smokes, Bat Man we're in a heap of trouble now.  You better get up people.  Your civil rights are in jeopardy.

I quote Coretta Scott King,

"Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free to be Me

What a world... what a world... In case you didn't recognize that line, it's the wicked witch when Dorothy throws the water on her. Well I got my bucket full today...What a world.....

Officially, as of today, I am no longer a public school teacher. I resigned and am about to embark on the journey of the rest of my life. The first thing I want to say is, "I am a lesbian and proud of it." Wow! that felt good.

Coming Out from under the repression is liberating.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Preview of Rainey Days by R.E. Bradshaw

Preview Chapter 1 of the new lesbian fiction novel

RAINEY DAYS
by R.E. Bradshaw

Copyright © 2010 by R. E. Bradshaw

CHAPTER ONE


      Rainey heard the key turning in the ancient lock, the bolt finally receding with the familiar clacking sound, after much key jangling. The old front door creaked open and closed again, reaching a higher pitch on the return. She heard the sound of the Open/Closed sign, hanging in the front window, as it flipped over and slapped against the glass. Small feet, in heels, clicked across the concrete slab floor. Rainey continued to lie face down on the old, leather couch, her back turned to the new occupant of the room. Instead of rolling over, she took several deep breaths, taking in the scent of her father’s cologne that still lingered on the worn leather.

     The aroma of fresh brewing coffee roused Rainey from her morning haze. She rolled over, blinking against the morning sun streaming through the east windows, casting rays through the small dust particles dancing in front of her. She groped for the sunglasses she left on the coffee table, in the wee hours of the morning. Once found, the black Ray Bans were hurriedly placed over the area where she was sure her eyes used to be, before the hot stinging coals, located there now, replaced them. Sitting up, she tried to focus her blood shot green eyes on the small gray-haired woman standing by the coffee pot. That was her first mistake of the day, because once eye contact had been made, Rainey became a target.

     “It seems the good Lord did not see fit to delay the sunrise today, so that means the office is open at its regular time,” the older woman drawled. “Of course, if you had gone to sleep in your own bed, in that adorable cottage next door, this would not be a problem. But, since you saw fit to crash on the office couch in your clothes again, it appears you are here and ready to go to work.”
   
     Ernestine Womble had been behind the front desk of the office, as long as Rainey could remember, and showed no signs of retiring anytime soon. Ernie, that is what everyone called her, came to work for Rainey’s father before Rainey even knew who he was. At sixty-seven, Ernie had not lost a step or her looks. Her once free-flowing, blonde hair was now pulled back tightly into a gray bun, but her petite figure had never changed. She dressed that figure immaculately, rain or shine, and her makeup always looked professionally done. Today, she was wearing her favorite lavender power suit with the mood to match. Ernie was one of those women who just got better with age, even though her attitude was a little less than pleasant this morning.

     Rainey only grunted in reply. Her vocal chords were not ready to go to work yet and her head felt like it would burst any minute. She slowly untwined her 5’ 10” lanky body and stood on shaky legs. Standing may not have been the thing to do, because it added to the pounding in her head. She placed her hands on both sides of her skull, pressing hard against her chestnut waves, in case the contents did decide to explode.

     “Good Lord, child. Sit down before you fall down,” Ernie said, placing a hand on Rainey’s elbow and easing her back down on the couch. “I’ll get you some coffee. You just sit there.” Ernie’s heels clicked across the floor while she muttered under her breath, “She’s going to kill herself, if this keeps up. She is a grown woman. If her daddy were alive, he’d straighten her out, no doubt about it...”

     Rainey heard Ernie’s comments, as she was meant to. Ernie was not trying to conceal her disappointment. Rainey had to admit Ernie might be right, because at the moment, she felt as though she might die any second. Too much tequila and not enough sleep were taking their toll on her recently turned forty-year-old body. Rainey felt her stomach roll over as Ernie approached with the coffee. She was up from the couch and out the front door in a flash. She rounded the corner of the building before the contents of her stomach abruptly left her. She bent over, hands on her knees, retching, then the dry heaves set in.

     Rainey did not move when gentle hands pulled her hair back. She had not heard Ernie approach, but knew it must be her. She was startled when the deep voice spoke behind her.

     “Go on, get it out. You'll feel better.”

     “Damn Mackie, you scared the shit out of me,” Rainey said, standing and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

     The extremely large, very dark, black man produced a handkerchief from the front pocket of his Hawaiian print shirt. Mackie had a large collection of Hawaiian shirts that took the place of the ever present black leather trench coat he wore in the cooler months.

     He handed the soft white cloth to Rainey, as he spoke, “I see you had another rough night. You got to get a handle on your demons, Rainey. You can’t go on like this.”

     Rainey retched again then wiped her mouth with the handkerchief and stared up at the large man. She knew he understood demons. He had his own. Miles Cecil McKinney, or Mackie as his friends knew him, had served with her father in Vietnam. His demons came from deep in a far off jungle.
 
     Mackie was a giant of a man. At six feet six inches, he was built like a defensive end, which he had been for the New England Patriots, before he got in a little trouble and had to join the Army. He ended up in Special Forces, where he met Rainey’s father and they became lifelong best friends. Mackie worked with her father until he died a little over a year ago. Her father left Mackie forty-nine percent of the business and he stayed on to help Rainey run the place, as her partner.

     “I don’t need a lecture right now, Mackie,” Rainey said, as she walked past the big man and headed back in to the office.

     Mackie shook his head and followed Rainey. “You are as stubborn as your old man,” he said, as he entered.

     “Amen to that,” Ernie called out from behind her desk.

     “I don’t need you two ganging up on me right now,” Rainey countered. “I need a coke. Are there any cold ones in the fridge?”

     “If you didn’t use them all for mixers last night, there should be,” Ernie replied. Rainey did not bother to tell Ernie she did not chase tequila with coke and went to the back room to find one, but she could still hear Mackie and Ernie talking.
    
     “Mackie, you’ve got to help that girl. She cannot go on like this. It’s been getting worse lately,” Ernie said, with real concern in her voice.
    
     “I’ll talk to her, but you know this is something she’s got to deal with on her own,” Mackie tried to whisper, but his deep voice carried anyway. “She’s got to come to terms with all that’s happened in her own way. It won’t do any good to fuss at her.”

     “Come to terms with it,” Rainey said to herself. She had been trying to do that for a year now and it only seemed to be getting worse. Most of the time she could handle it, but when the nightmares came back recently, she had begun to spiral downward, as she had right after it happened. The drinking kept the dreams away, but left her in her current state, hung-over and dead tired.

     Rainey leaned back on the refrigerator. She was downing her second coke when she heard the front door open and close, cutting off the conversation in the other room. Ernie’s chair scraped the floor as she stood up.

     “Why Representative Wilson, what brings you to this part of the world?” Ernie was using her best Southern drawl, a sign that this was a “somebody.”

     “Good morning, all. It’s just JW to the home folks. I was looking for Rainey. Is she around?”

     Rainey stepped out of the back room to see JW Wilson, a high school friend, who had become a State Representative and was rumored to be moving up the political ladder at rocket speed. JW was always good looking, but Rainey never thought he would grow into such a handsome man. He had the looks and the old money background to make it big and he seemed to be on his way, from what Rainey had read in the papers.

     “Well, JW Wilson, as I live and breathe,” Rainey said, as she crossed to JW with her hand extended in greeting. “It’s been fifteen years, at least, since I last saw you.”

     “Rainey Day, you look as good as ever,” JW said, as he shook her hand.

     “Wow, nobody’s called me that in years. It’s good to see you,” Rainey smiled, even though her head continued to pound.

     “I spoke to your mother last week.” JW continued, “She’s the one who told me you were out of the FBI and had taken over your dad’s business.”

     “I’ve been back here almost a year now,” Rainey said, as she noticed Ernie and Mackie staring at them.

     “I’m sorry; let me introduce you to Ernestine Womble, our office manager and M. C. McKinney or Mackie, my partner and my father’s oldest friend.”

JW went into politician mode right away. Rainey observed him as he shook both of her office mates’ hands vigorously, looking deep into their eyes as he spoke, “It’s so nice to meet you both.”

     The true politician, like Bill Clinton, could always make you think you were the only one in the room. JW had studied at the feet of the masters and was, from all accounts, a very good student. Rainey could see how he was able to woo his public. She smiled at him as he turned back to her.

      “Rainey, is there somewhere we could talk privately?”

      “Absolutely, let’s step in here,” Rainey said, leading JW to the adjoining room.

     Rainey opened the wooden door that divided the rest of the building from the main office. The two old friends entered what Rainey called home base. In the far corner, stood an old, spindle leg, wooden table that served as her desk. All of the furniture looked as old as the building itself. Beside the desk was another smaller wooden table occupied by Rainey’s computer, monitor and printer. In front of the desk were two worn leather chairs that matched the couch in the other room.
     Rainey’s office was on the backside of the building and faced the water. All along the waterfront wall were large screened in windows, with wooden shutters propped open to reveal a boat dock and canal that led out to Jordan Lake. Along the facing wall were wooden shelves, painted an antique pale green and a short, stainless steel topped counter. The counter had been a hold over, from when the building was a bait shop and small grocery. On the shelves, Rainey had placed pictures of her father; some in combat uniforms from his war days, but mostly pictures of Rainey and her father throughout the years, fishing or visiting some far off place.

     Her father’s combat medals and burial flag hung prominently in the center of the wall, over a stained wooden box containing his ashes. Rainey liked to shake the box, to hear the small pieces of shrapnel that still remained in his body from a long ago war. When she did, she heard his voice telling her the old war stories of how each scar made its mark. On the wall, to the left of the door they entered, hung two dry erase boards with pictures of fugitives taped above their information, hand-written underneath in various colors.

     JW looked around the office, stopping to stare at the boards containing the fugitives’ pictures. He turned to Rainey after a few minutes and she offered him one of the old leather chairs.

“Have a seat,” she said, rounding the counter and digging into the old cooler that remained from the bait shop. “Can I offer you a coke or coffee?”

     “Coke’s fine,” JW said, perching on the edge of the seat, in the old leather chair.

     “I was sorry to hear about your father’s murder. Billy Bell was a great man.”

     “Yes, he was,” Rainey, answered quietly. “I’m glad they caught the guy. I understand you had a hand in that.”

     “No, really that was all Mackie. He’s very good at hunting people down and he was extra motivated, because he loved my father,” Rainey said, finally retrieving the cokes and wiping the cans off with a towel.

“So you’ve taken over your father’s bail bondsman business. I guess bounty hunting isn’t too far from what you did at the FBI.”

“The training has been useful, I must admit.” Rainey sat in the other chair and handed him his coke. “When dad died, I was already thinking about leaving the bureau, so opportunity knocked and now I am the proprietor of Billy Bell’s Bail and Bait. We don’t sell much bait, but dad was a great fisherman and always kept the bait box full, so the name stuck.”

     “It looks like business is booming,” JW said, indicating the fugitive pictures. “I thought life would slow down after leaving the Bureau, but I must say we keep pretty busy,” Rainey answered, then took another swig of coke. Her brain was starting to make a comeback from hung-over land. She began to wonder what would bring JW to her door, after all these years.

     “Now, what can I do for you?” Rainey asked. “I know you didn’t come all the way out here for a social call.”

JW shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he answered, “I’m in a delicate situation and I need someone I can trust to handle it.”
     Rainey laughed, “I guess if you can trust me not to go to the papers about some of the crazy, and might I add illegal, things we did in high school, you can trust me with just about anything.”
     “That’s why I came to you,” JW said, laughing along with her. “You’ve kept my secrets all these years.”
 
     They laughed for a moment then JW turned serious, “I have been trying to deal with this on my own, but when your mother told me you were here and what you were doing, I thought it was a God send.”

     Rainey was intrigued, “I hope I can help.”

“I do to,” JW said, looking away at the water before he spoke again. “It’s my wife. Someone is stalking her.”

     “Have you been to the police?” Rainey sat up taller in the chair, becoming more attentive.

     “Yes, we went to the police when it first started. You know they can’t do anything until we know who it is and catch him doing something illegal. So far, he has only sent pictures and notes. I have copies with me, if you’d like to see them.”

     “Yes, I would,” Rainey, said reaching for the envelope JW took out of his breast pocket. She began looking through the envelope, while JW continued his story.

     “This all started six months ago, right after we had the accident and lost the baby.” Rainey looked up from the pictures, “I’m sorry for your loss.” She had said that so many times in the past fifteen years, it had become automatic.

     JW took a deep breath and continued, “Thank you, we had been trying so long, we thought we were finally going to succeed. Anyway, a week after Katie came home from the hospital, that’s my wife’s name, Katie, we received the first picture. The dates are on the back,” he indicated the pictures in Rainey’s hands.

     Rainey flipped the pictures over, examining the dates, then studying the pictures again. “Your wife is very beautiful,” she said, still looking at the woman in the photos. The pictures showed a blonde woman involved in daily activities. Some were close ups, showing her big blue eyes and stunning smile. She was a natural beauty, thin and tanned, the perfect wife for a good-looking politician, Rainey surmised. Rainey looked up from the pictures, “I agree, you do have a problem, one that usually doesn’t go away on its own.”

     JW stood up and began to pace while he spoke, “That’s what worries me. I tried to take steps to keep Katie safe. I hired a bodyguard to pick her up and take her wherever she needed to go. She hated it and refused to cooperate.”

     “Sounds like she doesn’t want to let this guy interrupt her everyday life. Can she take care of herself?” Rainey asked.

      “She thinks she can, but I’m not so sure. There’s no telling what this guy will do,” JW said, pacing even faster.

     Rainey put the photos back in the envelope, as she said, “Well, as long as she’s careful, she should be safe until the stalker makes his move and you can identify him. Then it’s just a matter of follow through with the courts.”

     JW stopped pacing and stared down at her, “I want this guy caught, before he makes his move. I can’t take the chance that he gets to her.”

     Rainey could see he was desperate, “I understand your anxiety, but I’m not sure what it is you want me to do.”

      JW sat down again, “Follow her, stalk her yourself. See who else is following her. Whatever it takes to find this guy.”

     Rainey stood up and crossed behind her desk. “JW, I’m not really set up to handle a full time surveillance job and my plate is a little full right now, but I can recommend a good...”

  JW cut her off, “No, it has to be someone I can trust. This can’t get out to the media.”

     Rainey was surprised, “Why? You’ve done nothing wrong.”

     “I’m a public figure. I am about to run for Senator. If the media gets wind of this, it will be front-page news. It could send the guy over the edge,” JW gushed out.

     “If you went to the police, there’s already a public record,” Rainey said. “Any good reporter could dig this up.”

     JW looked sheepish. “I didn’t exactly go to the police. I had one of the State Troopers, at the capital, run the photos and envelopes for prints, but no prints were found. I can’t go to the local police because I don’t want strangers poking around in our private lives, not during a Senate campaign.”

     Rainey sat down behind the desk, “So, no one is working this case?”

     “No.” JW paused before pleading, “I really need your help Rainey.”

     “I’m a bounty hunter. You need a private investigator,” Rainey explained.

     JW countered, “Then I’ll pay you a bounty for catching this guy. How about twenty thousand dollars plus expenses?”

     She looked across the desk at her old friend. They had been best buddies long ago and kept each other’s childhood secrets. She really wanted to help him, but something told her he was not being completely honest with her. Maybe it was the fact he was a politician that made her not trust him. Whatever it was, he did need help and his wife could be in danger. The money did not hurt either. Rainey sighed and picked up a pad and pencil, handing it across the desk to JW.

     “Okay, I’ll help you. I need you to write down some information.”

      JW visibly relaxed. He took the pad, prepared to write. “What do you need to know?”

      Rainey went immediately into agent mode, “I need Katie’s full name and your home address. Does she work?”

JW shook his head, yes.

     Rainey continued, leaning back in her chair, “Work address and any other places she goes frequently. Also a description of her vehicle and tag number, names of her closest friends and associates, anything you think could be relevant to the investigation.”

     JW began to write vigorously, as Rainey went on, “I’ll need to see the original photos and the envelopes they came in. Didn’t you say there were notes? I didn’t see them in the envelope.”

      JW answered without looking up, “They’re at my office. I’ll get them to you this afternoon.”

     “Will your wife be aware that I’m following her?” Rainey asked.

     JW stopped writing and looked up. “I think it’s best if she doesn’t. She might act differently and tip him off.”

     “Okay, that’s fine. She won’t know I’m there,” Rainey assured him. “You know I have to tell Ernie and Mackie what’s going on, but since I trust them both with my life, you’ll have to trust them too.”

     “Yes, of course. I’m sure you’ll need help anyway. Katie is a very busy person,” JW said, before going back to his writing.

     Rainey stopped asking questions and busied herself behind the desk. She checked her calendar and made notes to give to Mackie later. They had a full board of skippers this week, which was going to mean hiring extra help. Over the years, her father and Mackie had put together a small posse of part-time bondsmen they used when the job called for more work forces. Mackie would definitely need to contact them, because Rainey was not going to be around to help. She knew from experience surveillance jobs can eat up many hours.

     Although she still had her doubts about JW’s full disclosure of the facts, Rainey was glad to have an investigation to occupy her thoughts. Maybe this would keep the dreams away. It had to be better than drinking herself into a stupor every night. That plan was not working out so well. She was brought out of her thoughts by JW’s voice.

     “I put down everything I could think of,” he said, standing and placing the pencil and pad back on the desk.

     Rainey stood up, crossing to stand in front of JW. She handed him one of her business cards, “If you think of anything else, just email it.”

     “Rainey, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I feel better already,” JW, sighed in relief.  “There’s one more thing, though. I want you to call me, not the police, if you identify the person. I’ll know if he’s dangerous or not.”

“What if you don’t know him?” Rainey asked, a little hesitantly.

“Then I’ll leave it up to you as to what to do with the information,” JW answered.

“Okay, I’ll call you first,” Rainey agreed then shook his hand and began leading him to the door. “I’ll get started this afternoon. Do you know where your wife will be around three o’clock?”

     “Katie is an elementary school teacher. She leaves school around four every day. I wrote the address down for you,” JW was saying, as they entered the main office.

     Once through the threshold, Rainey noticed an immediate difference in JW’s persona. He visibly changed into the smiling politician, turning to her and shaking her hand again.

     “Thank you again for visiting with me. We have to stay in touch more often,” JW said, more as a cover for their real conversation than an actual invitation to strike up their old friendship. Before he left, he made sure to speak to Ernie and Mackie, leaving cards with them, should they ever need to discuss legislation.

     Rainey marveled at the transformation he made into Representative Wilson, from the anxious husband to whom she was just speaking. She had to wonder if that was all an act as well. After all, she knew a teenage boy all those years ago, not the grown man who just walked out the door. Something began to nag at her, but she set it aside. Twenty thousand dollars plus expenses was a lot of money. Hopefully, it would be easy money. As soon as that thought crossed her mind, she heard her father’s words echo in her head, “Rainey, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.”

OUT ON THE SOUND preview

Preview of new lesbian fiction novel

OUT ON THE SOUNDBy R. E. Bradshaw

Copyright © 2009 by R. E. Bradshaw
All R.E. Bradshaw books available in the Kindle book store, @ Amazon.com


PART I


Love isn’t something you decide to do, …the heart wants what it wants.


Chapter One


First, there was the touch, not much of a touch, just a simple brush of skin on skin. Decky locked eyes with her, surely seeing the same surprise she felt from the jolt of the touch. She played the afternoon over and over in her mind, but it always came down to that one touch.

It began like all the other tournaments, when the Merle’s Furniture women’s softball team played in the Memorial Day Invitational. They pulled up and piled out of cars, trucks, SUVs and even a few minivans, one belonging to the oldest member of the team, complete with 3 little blondes dressed as bat-girls.

Mother Margie, as she was known, was supervising the girls unloading the van, when Decky walked up. “Don’t forget that new bat in the back girls. I think there’s a hit or two in that one.”

“Good morning, Mother,” Decky said, cracking a smile.

“Well, good mornin’ darlin’.” Margie stopped giving directions long enough to give Decky a quick hug and a peck on the cheek, before she was back on duty.

“And don’t forget my ukulele this time. Last time ya’ll had to run back and get it. I didn’t get it till the fourth inning.”

The girls looked at each other and then caught Decky looking at them. Decky mouthed the words, “Good Job,” to the girls. They giggled and went back to gathering the equipment. Mother Margie was old school. She still wore the same high top black leather cleats she had always worn. Of course, the steal cleats had been replaced with rubber, but still, she had them repaired every year. She also carried that old holey ukulele everywhere. No one had the heart to tell her how irritating the sound could be sometimes, but you had to admit it drove the other teams crazy.

Mother Margie was the heart of the team. She was on the very first roster and had been responsible for keeping a very competitive team together year after year. She raised her own kids and half the county’s young women on these fields. In fact, Mother brought a fourteen-year-old Decky into the competitive world of softball. That was twenty-three years ago.

Decky could still hold her own, although no longer the athlete of her younger days. It took a lot more training to stay in shape, but it was worth it. The thought of retiring from softball was way down the road, but changing to the old lady league crept into her mind on an occasional Sunday morning.

Today she felt young and alive. Who wouldn’t? The sun was coming up on a beautiful Carolina blue sky, which held only a few wispy clouds wafting in from the coast. Decky took in the combining aromas of freshly mown grass and leather. Cleats clicked on pavement all around as the girls of summer began to take the field. I love this, she thought to herself.

Finding a warm-up partner, Decky joined the dozens of women tossing balls back and forth. Decky could hear the snap of the glove as the player behind her caught the ball from her partner. That snap meant the partner was throwing pretty hard. Decky perked up. Having been hit before, she took a quick peek at the pair.

Closest to her was a short, blond, athletically built woman, who at the time was standing with her gloved hand on her hip, obviously about to make a point. The woman’s partner was a teenage girl, who looked like she had just left the farm, all arms, legs and freckles.

“Hey,” the woman called out. “The purpose of this activity is to warm up and stretch the muscles. It is not about showing everybody how hard you can throw.” She tossed the ball back to the teenager with a little zip on it. “Besides, you’ll thank me when you are my age.” She laughed at the girl, “Now go find someone else to pound on. I’m done.”

Decky laughed too, as she watched the woman walk over to a cooler and grab a bottle of water. She didn’t realize she was still watching the woman drink from the water bottle, until a ball came dangerously close to her head. Suddenly aware that she had been staring, she quickly threw the ball to her partner, who was now looking at Decky with that “What are you doing?” look on her face.

Because so many teams wear similar uniforms, it wasn’t until the bottom of the first inning that Decky noticed the blond woman playing centerfield for the other team. This time Decky could see her from the front. Although the distance made it hard to see her features, Decky could tell this was an athlete. From what she had said to the teenage farm girl earlier, she must be closer to my age, Decky thought. Decky had always admired the athletic body in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but she particularly liked to see woman her age with a toned body. Mainly, because she knew how hard it was to stay that way.

The other things she was feeling, that part of her that was attracted to women, she had never explored. She chalked it up to natural urges, but nothing more. She liked men, always had and always would as far as she knew. The two things she loved in life, other than family, were theatre and softball. How could she do either of those things and not be around gay people?

Decky remembered her mother freaking out when she was fourteen. “You lie down with dogs, you get fleas,” her mother had stated emphatically. “You keep playing ball with those dykes and you’ll end up like them.”

“Mom, I play with them because they are the best players, not because of who they choose to sleep with. Everybody that plays softball is not gay.”

“I hear things. I know what goes on, on those trips,” her mother quipped.

“You only know what other people make up.”

“I don’t want a gay daughter!”

“I don’t want to be your gay daughter!”

“Decky, quit day dreaming and grab a bat,” Margie’s voice broke the memory and just in time thought Decky, “You’re on deck.”

Where did that un-enjoyable memory come from? Fortunately, the batter before Decky lined out and the sides changed, so she didn’t have to bat while she felt so distracted. She tried to shake it off and succeeded until the third inning, when Decky let the blond centerfielder back into her mind. Actually she appeared, after turning a line drive to right field into a double, standing sixty feet away from where Decky waited at third base.

“All right Charlie, come see me down here,” the third base coach called out to the woman on second.

Decky could now see clearly that this was a very attractive woman around her own age. She was sneaking a look between each pitch, and when the woman caught her looking, Decky even managed to smile back at her.

Decky, who prided herself in being the most competitive person she knew, could not believe how this woman was invading her mind, but she was.

What in the hell is wrong with me? Concentrate, before you end up wearing a line drive.

The ball came off the bat with a crack. More from instinct than ability, Decky fell to her right and stopped a sure base hit. Hopping up, she looked back the woman on second and let the ball fly to first where the runner was called out. The look back had not worked well, in fact not at all. The blonde left second as soon as Decky let the ball go. The first baseman threw to the shortstop now covering third, but the little blonde was fast, very fast. She slid under the tag with ease.

Cute, athletic, my age, and fast. My kinda girl.

Decky couldn’t believe she had just thought that. Wait, did she say it out loud? The blonde, who was dusting herself off, smiled at Decky.

“Nice slide,” was all Decky could manage as she bent down to recover the woman’s hat.

“I think I have a half acre down my shirt,” the blonde said with a touch of country twang, brushing the front of her shirt off.

Decky handed her the hat and as she did, they brushed fingers ever so slightly. They locked eyes for a second.

“We’re gonna score now, Charlie. Let’s go,” the third base coach saved Decky from saying anything else.

Decky tried to act normal. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher, giving Decky time to recover her wits and somehow manage to make it through the rest of the game without losing her mind. Her team won by a run and proceeded through the winner’s bracket, making it to the Sunday games. Decky did not see the blonde again, Charlie, that was her name, but she thought of her often.

Mother Margie was holding court at the minivan. “We have to play that bunch from the first game at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Let’s get here by 8:30, okay. Darlene, you make sure Brandi gets here on time. I’m holding you responsible, ‘cause lord knows she ain’t.”

Decky was only half listening. As soon as Mother pointed out that they would be playing Charlie’s team again, her heart began to palpitate uncontrollably. She knew her name was Charlie and that was all. What was happening to her? Why was she so excited at the prospect of seeing Charlie and fearing it just the same?

“Hey Deck, you wanna grab a beer?” It was Brandi, a big ol’ gal with a good heart and not much brain, but God, could she hit a softball.

“No, thanks, I think I’ll head home and put this old body to bed.”

“God, I hope I never get old enough to turn down beer,” Decky heard Brandi say to Darlene as they walked away.

“I remember thinking like that too,” Decky said, as she hauled her tired body into the Expedition and turned the key. She caught herself in the rear view mirror and paused there, remembering that second when the electricity shot up her arm straight to her heart.

“What in the hell was that?” she sighed and put the car in gear.



There were good things and bad things about living around the people you grew up with. You could count on folks being there when you needed them and when you didn’t. This was one of those times.

As Decky rolled down the wooded driveway towards sanctuary, her home, she almost relaxed, but then she saw the glint of brake lights through the trees.

“Oh, God! Not tonight.”

The backup lights flashed on briefly, as the still moving car was slammed into park.

“Mom.”

The sound left Decky’s mouth in a sigh. She slowly pulled into the garage, lowered the overhead door and stepped out the side entrance to see Elizabeth Anne Bradshaw, Miss Lizzie to county folk and Lizzie to a precious few, waiting impatiently by her front door.

Thank goodness, she had remembered to lock the door or she would have walked in on her mother cleaning her house, which was never, in her mother’s opinion, clean enough.

“Where have you been? Your daddy has tried to call you. I tried to call you. Your son called and did not even know where you were.”

“Is something wrong?” Decky asked only because that’s what she knew came next.

“Well, no, nothing’s wrong. It could have been and we wouldn’t have known how to get up with you. Where’s your cell phone? I haven’t heard from you in two days.”

“Momma, I called and talked to Daddy yesterday.” Decky stepped past her mother and opened the door. They went into the kitchen, where they were greeted with much ado by Decky’s golden retriever, Dixie.

“That dog ought not to be shut up in the house all day,” Lizzie said as she took off her jacket and plopped down on a stool at the kitchen island.

“She wasn’t shut up all day. The twins come over and let her out twice a day when I’m not here. I’ve told you that.” Decky opened the door to the deck, which Dixie took as her chance to escape. “Coward,” Decky said to the dog, who smiled back over her shoulder, then headed for the steps to the beach.

“I can’t believe you gave those little heathens a key to your house… Rebecca Elizabeth, do you still have on your cleats? Lord, you ruined my floors, now you’ll ruin yours.”

“It’s slate. That’s why I put in slate. Normally, I would have come in from downstairs and taken them off in the mud room, but since you were waiting at my front door, I thought it would be rude.”

Decky sat down opposite her mother with a thud. Deliberately placing her dirty shoe on the stool seat beside her mother, she started taking off her cleats.

“I tried to raise a dainty girl, but no, that wasn’t Decky Bradshaw. Look at you. You are 37 years old and you are still out playing softball.”

Decky dropped her cleat to the floor and said softly, “Your mother played until she was fifty two.”

“I do not want to argue about this again, Decky. Your son called and said if I saw you to tell you to call him. So I am delivering the message.”

Lizzie was in one of the down loops of her bi-polar disorder that she of course denied she had. Therefore, Decky chose not to start a fight, by reminding her mother of the invention of the voice message, and tried to smooth things over.

“I appreciate you going out of your way. Do you want a drink of water or a coke?” Decky moved toward the refrigerator, but Lizzie was already on the go.

“No, your daddy is waiting for me and I’ve been gone awhile. I stopped at Bobbie’s to talk about the Motel before I came over here. Call that sweet boy. I still can’t believe you let a seventeen year old go off to Alaska like that.”

Decky bristled, but did not take the bait. “He’ll be fine, Mom. He’s becoming a man now and he needs his space.”

Lizzie, had by now put her jacket back on and was almost out the door, but she had to say it, “If he would have had a daddy that was worth a damn, he wouldn’t need to go to Alaska to become a man.”

Dixie looked in through the deck curtains and saw the look on Decky’s face. She quickly stepped back into the shadows and tiptoed away.

Decky, contemplating what kind of response would be appropriate, reached up and pulled her ball cap off. Holding the hat in one hand and rubbing the back of her head with the other, she looked down, flashing for just the tiniest second on her moment with Charlie. Looking up at her mother, Decky forgot what Lizzie had said.

“Well, thanks for stopping by. I love you. Give dad a hug,” and with that Decky had skillfully maneuvered her mother out the door.

Lizzie looked back through the door at her daughter with a puzzled look. She waved and walked down the steps, shaking her head from side to side. Decky knew her mother was talking to herself as she watched her get in her car and leave. When she could no longer see the taillights, Decky placed her back against the door and slid to the floor. Dixie came padding over and licked Decky in the face.

“It’s okay, baby girl. The coast is clear.” Decky hugged the big dog to her and whispered in her ear, “Momma had the strangest thing happen today. Let’s start up the hot tub, grab some wine, call your brother and then we’ll talk about it.”



Decky left a message for Zack on his voice mail, then after soaking the soreness out in the hot tub and two glasses of wine, Decky set the alarm and crawled into bed. She had thought long and hard about the woman named Charlie and the effect she was having on her. It made no sense.

She had been around gay women all her life and never felt like this. Of course she had the occasional adolescent crush, but wasn’t that normal? Also, she was jumping to conclusions about Charlie, just like everyone had always jumped to conclusions about Decky herself.

Whatever it was would have to wait until morning. It was after midnight and she had to get up in time to do a good stretching warm up. Maybe she would hit the hot tub again in the morning, if she were still aching. Dixie climbed up on her side of the bed and put her head on the pillow opposite Decky.

“Good night sweet girl. Sweet dreams.”

Decky had just closed her eyes when she thought she heard the doorbell.

“Good Lord, who in the world is that,” Decky said to Dixie, who for some reason, and totally out of character, did not appear to care that someone was ringing the doorbell.

Decky stumbled down the spiral staircase to the foyer. Blinking her eyes several times adjusting to the lights she had sworn were turned off, Decky froze in her tracks. There on the other side of the door was Charlie.

Charlie smiled at Decky and then pantomimed unlocking the door. Decky, still frozen, realized she had been gaping at the woman on the other side of the door for some time, when she snapped out of it and opened the door.

“I’m sorry. Come in. It took me a minute to recognize you.” Decky stepped back allowing Charlie to pass.

“I know it’s late, but I wanted to know if you would be at the game tomorrow. Oh, I’m sorry. You must think I’m crazy. My name is …”

“Charlie. Your name is Charlie. I heard your coach call you that.” Decky was still in a state of shock, recognizing a familiar longing beginning to well up inside.

“Yes, well, I wanted to make sure you would be there, that’s all.” Charlie looked around, “You have a nice house. Can I see it?” She headed for the spiral staircase, “What’s up here?”

Decky thought to herself what an odd time to visit, but if Charlie wanted to see the house, she would show it to her. She wasn’t sure of much, but she knew she didn’t want Charlie to leave.

“It’s the master suite,” she heard herself say, but Charlie was already halfway up the stairs.

By the time Decky reached the top of the stairs, Charlie was already standing between the French doors that led out onto the balcony. She must have opened them Decky noted.

Charlie turned to Decky. She was framed in the moonlight with the white curtains blowing around her. Decky thought she looked like an angel.

“My God, Decky, this is beautiful,” Charlie turned again to look out at the water.

Without knowing, without caring, Decky stepped up behind Charlie and placed her arms around her waist.

“You are beautiful,” Decky whispered in Charlie’s ear.

Slowly, Charlie turned in Decky’s arms until their lips were so close, they could feel each other’s quickening breath.

Decky woke with a start. Dixie was inches from her, breathing right into her face, and the alarm was blaring. She pushed Dixie away, cut off the alarm and swung her legs out of the bed. Sitting on the side of the bed, she nuzzled Dixie.

“Girlfriend, I have never had a dream like that. I do believe I am going over to the dark side.” Laughing, she and Dixie headed down the stairs to start the day.

Sweet Carolina Girls Preview

Sweet Carolina Girls Preview

Copyright © 2010 by R. E. Bradshaw
Available at Amazon.com in the Kindle Book Store

Chapter One

Harper blinked a few times, letting her eyes adjust from the bright winter sunlight to the interior of the Tarr Barr and Grill. It had been a clear, but crisp February day and the golden sunset was pouring in behind her, as she hesitated at the door. When Harper was sure, she could see in front of her, she took a step toward the bar. The old wooden floor creaked beneath her.

Harper read about this bar in a neighborhood magazine she found, in the Welcome basket, on her doorstep. She was a new resident of Kerrville, which was located just outside of Chapman’s Mill, in the research triangle area of North Carolina. She used the local magazine, as a guide, to get around to restaurants, dry cleaners, Wally World, the hardware store, all the essentials for a new homeowner, in a brand new town. Now, after a week of unpacking boxes, Harper was ready for a drink, even if it was alone.

The Tarr Barr and Grill had been around, in one form or another, since the late 1800’s. The ownership passed from generation to generation, of the Tarr family, and was now in the possession of Jane Tarr, a 61-year-old former Business Professor at the University of Carolina at Chapman’s Mill. She took over the business twenty years ago and built the present manifestation of the bar. A microbrewery, out of an old tobacco warehouse and wood from torn down, flue-cured tobacco, barns. “The atmosphere celebrated the cultivating of tobacco, the heart of the North Carolina farming industry for more than four centuries,” the article stated. A picture of Jane accompanied the article, and Harper was sure the plump woman with short blonde hair, smiling and gesturing to her, was the very Jane herself.

Harper stepped over to the woman and accepted her outstretched hand.

“Welcome to the Tarr Barr. My name is Jane. What can I do for you?”

The words drawled out with the southern charm Harper had learned was the accent of the well-educated southerner she interacted with, in her first few days in North Carolina. She had also experienced the less educated southern charm that was sweet and hospitable, and the put on charm of the southern “gentleman” who openly suggested un-charming things. Jane’s charm seemed genuine. Harper found herself relaxing, in the warmth of her welcome.

“Hi, I read this was the place for a good beer and a great burger.”

Jane ushered Harper to a seat at the bar. “Well, I do hope we live up to our press. Have a seat and I’ll step behind the bar and wait on you, myself.”

While Jane crossed behind the bar, Harper looked around. The place was exactly as the article had described. The faint smell of curing tobacco lingered in the air. All around on the walls were the ephemera of what had once been the “World’s Greatest Tobacco Market.” Harper visited her father’s parent’s tobacco farm every summer in Wilson County, North Carolina, until she turned sixteen. She even harvested tobacco for money, when she was old enough to work on the farm. Harper totally understood the pride and heritage of the now reviled tobacco farmer. In addition, she held the same position her grandfather held; the cigarette companies ruined the tobacco farmer. She wished her grandfather was still alive to see this place, but he passed away of lung cancer three years ago, with a cigarette in his lips. Harper never smoked and never would, but she loved the smell of tobacco curing and this place brought back so many fond memories.

“Hey, where did you go?” Jane was speaking to her.

Harper refocused on the present, “The smell, it reminded me of my grandfather. He was a tobacco farmer.”

“I hope it was a pleasant memory,” Jane smiled at her.

“Yes, m’am, it was,” Harper replied softly.

“Do you need a minute to check out the menu?”

Harper was so tired of making decisions from the move; she sighed and looked at Jane. “Why don’t you fix me up with your favorite, I’m sure it will be delicious.”

“A pork barbecue slaw burger with fries and a frosty mug of golden amber beer, we call Brightleaf. Does that sound good to you?”

“It sounds amazing. Thank you,” Harper answered.

Jane poured the beer and disappeared into the kitchen at the end of the bar. Harper sipped from the icy mug and was pleasantly surprised at the full flavor of the home brew. She studied the objects on the back of the bar. Here and there were pictures of a smiling Jane with Michael Jordan, Dean Smith, Roy Williams and other Carolina players. Tar Heel basketball memorabilia filled in around the pictures. Jane was obviously a fan. The top of the bar back was lined with softball trophies and pictures of women’s teams wearing uniforms with “Tarr Barr” across the chest. Harper studied the pictures, as best she could, from her seat at the bar.

The pictures were in frames with the year prominently displayed on the front. They went back fifteen years, starting in 1994. Some of the players appeared to be the same for a few years then fading back as others took their places. Beginning in 2004 there appeared to be a core group of five women who remained with the team up to the most recent picture. Harper was captivated by the women, who genuinely appeared to be having so much fun together. There was a tall, tanned, dark haired, very pretty woman who was always standing with the cute blonde, with a crooked smile and dimples. Another one was a little stocky, with a smile that seemed to be so welcoming. There was a small one that looked like a young Shirley McClain and the last of the five had to be an elementary school teacher; she just had that look. The women looked to be in their early thirties or late twenties and appeared to be great friends.

Harper was lost in the pictures when Jane returned with the steaming sandwich and fries and a fresh mug of beer. Harper loved Carolina Barbecue and this looked and smelled heavenly. She did not realize how hungry she was until she felt her stomach roll over and growl, at the sight before her.

Jane spoke up, “I hope you like my barbecue. It’s an old family recipe.”

Harper took a bite and chewed slowly, relishing the flavors before she swallowed. She smiled at Jane and gave an approving nod.

“That’s really good. Now I know where I’ll be eating my barbecue,” Harper said after swallowing her first bite.

Jane cocked her head and asked, “Are you just passing through or a student at the University? I can hear a familiar accent and I’d bet money you are from Oklahoma, Southeastern Oklahoma to be exact.”

Harper almost choked. She coughed a little and her eyes watered. It took a minute for her to gather her composure, and then she finally gasped out, “How in the world did you know that?”

Jane chuckled, “One of my girlfriends in college was from Durant and you sound just like her.”

“Well, yes m’am, Boomer Sooner born and bred, about fifty miles northeast of Durant, in Antlers, Oklahoma, USA,” Harper said, smiling brightly through her thickest Okie drawl.

“What in the world are you doing all the way out here?” Jane inquired.

“I’m doing research for my doctorate at UC. My grandmother lives in Wilson and she’s the only family I have left, so I thought I’d spend as much time with her as I can. My name is Harper Lynch, by the way.”

“Jane Tarr, it is a pleasure to meet you Harper. Let me guess, your mother loved To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“Right again. She would have named me Scout, but Daddy wouldn’t let her.”

“Are you living here in Kerrville?”

Harper had taken another bite of her sandwich and only nodded yes.

“Well, welcome to the neighborhood Harper Lynch. I must say, you look rather young to be working on a doctorate.”

Having just dispatched with a fry, Harper began the story she had told so many times, it was a memorized speech. If she just flew through it, the emotions would stay where she had put them, way back in a special place that she visited less and less often, as the years passed.

“The summer between my junior and senior year in high school my parents were killed by a drunk driver. I had enough credits in December to graduate, so I did and started taking courses, at Midwestern Oklahoma, that spring. I played softball and went on full scholarship in the fall, after I turned seventeen. I graduated with a B. A. in Biology with an emphasis in Anatomy, at twenty. I graduated last spring with my Masters in Exercise Physiology. I’ll turn twenty-four in June.”

Jane’s eyes showed deep concern as she said, “That’s a lot to pack into a young life. I know athletes have a tough schedule and to complete all that difficult course work in such a short time is amazing.”

Harper simply answered, “I had the money from the accident, so I just stayed at school during all the breaks and took classes. I am an only child. I had no family to go home to.”

“Well enough of that,” Jane must have sensed the mood shifting and tried to lighten it, “I’m glad you’re here with us now, and you play softball; that is a plus in here as you can tell.” Jane pointed at the trophies.

Harper finished off the sandwich and slid the plate away from her. She looked at the trophies Jane indicated.

“I was admiring your brass, while you were making my sandwich. I would love to get in on a league. I play slow pitch or fast, it doesn’t matter. Can you hook me up?”

Harper was hoping Jane could point her in the right direction. She dearly loved softball and had played since she was four. The last two summers she played on a co-ed, slow pitch traveling team, but now she needed to play in a local league considering the amount of time she would be working. What she really wanted was to play on the Tarr Barr team, she wasn’t sure why, but she suddenly wanted to know the women in the picture.

Jane smiled back at Harper mischievously. “What position do you play, where do you hit in the line-up and what’s your batting average?” Spoken like a true scout.

Harper was proud of her career and stats and spit them out matter-of-factly, “Third and shortstop mostly, bat third, fourth or fifth, and my batting average in slow pitch is around .650 to .750 depending on the competition level and .435 in fast pitch.”

Harper could see Jane’s face light up. The wheels were turning, as she looked up at the picture from last year. Jane turned back to Harper, eyes gleaming, “I think you would fit right into our line-up. Our shortstop is pregnant. Would you consider playing on our team? They’re a great bunch of girls. You can meet some of them tonight. We are having a team meeting before the season starts in April. We practice in March a few times a week. Does that sound like something you might be interested in?”

Harper said yes before she even thought about it. She looked at the pictures again and knew she needed these women in her life. She had no one in this new town and the prospect of meeting new people appealed to her. These women looked like fun and she wanted in on it.

Jane refused to take payment from Harper for her meal, “Call it a welcome to the team meal.”

The team was meeting at nine, which was a few hours away, so Harper excused herself to go home and take care of Jasper, her dog. The other reason she needed to go home was to drop off her car and call a taxi. She never drove when she had more than two beers and tonight Harper thought she might have a few more than two. Harper was hoping tonight would be the beginning of her new life here in Chapman’s Mill, North Carolina.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

High School Memories

I recently saw a picture of my high school and early college boyfriend, in a yearbook picture on his facebook page.  He looked so sweet and innocent.  That was before I corrupted him, I guess.  In the end he broke my heart, but I recovered and still love him to  this day.  We had a special bond, but alas as it turns out, we're both gay.  He has been in a great relationship for years and seems so happy.  I am proud of him.  I have been with my partner for 23 years and counting.  I too am very happy.  You couldn't have told me this was how it was going to play out, when he broke my heart.  I mourned him for years.  I even married someone I didn't love to try to erase him from my memory.  I couldn't.  He was my first love and I had a very hard time getting past it.  I had a son, divorced my husband and went back to school.  I focused on me for a change and got my act together.  And then I met this woman and my life was changed forever.  I am so fortunate to have found my missing piece.  Some high school memories can make you thankful for what you have now.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I am excited

I sold some books.  I am so excited.  I tried calling friends to share the news and no one is answering.  I called my son.  He's at work and couldn't talk.  I just wanted to tell someone.  I am stuck here in the house with a fever and cough from hell.  Thanks to the little children who bring their germs to school and then want to hug you or touch your stuff.  Only three weeks into school and I already have my first bug.  But the news of becoming #35 on the best selling lesbian fiction list at the amazon kindle store, has brightened my outlook.  No reviews yet, but I am hopeful.  Now, I have shared my news and the drugs are wearing off.  More Dayquil and a nap should help.   

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What I write about.

I was asked recently, "What do you write about?"  I gave a quick answer and moved on, but since then, I have been thinking about that answer.  I did not have the time to give a thorough answer, as the bell for another class was about to ring.  I would have liked to have said, I write about women and their real lives. 
Oh, and by the way, most of them are lesbians.  Yes, there are some sex scenes.  We all have to sit through the obligatory heterosexual sex scenes in mainstream entertainment and we lezzies like a good sex scene in our entertainment, too. 
Mostly my books are about a main character, who is thrust into a new experience, or is facing old baggage, or has made a mistake and has to right it, etc.  Sound familiar?  Along the way she meets a woman, introducing the complication. 
In general my characters live normal lives.  Some raise children, some teach them, some want to have them.  There are writers, scientist, artists, professors, lawyers, home makers, cops, nurses, doctors, teachers, in other words, real lesbians and straight women who find friendship and love among each other.  They go to work, come home and spend time with their families. 
None of my characters ever worry about money, because shit I lived it and it wasn't all that interesting.  Maybe I'll write about that one day, but not now.  I write about real events sometimes, of course changing names and elaborating, so the innocent will be protected.  I base some aspects of my characters on traits I've seen in myself and others. 
I write about places I've lived or actually been to, because I like books that describe in detail the history and charm of an area.  Mostly based in NC, my home state, the Tar Heel state's rich history and natural beauty surround the characters, as they go about their daily lives.
That's what I wish I could have said, but alas, the bell was clanging overhead and I had to go mold young minds.
  
 

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