THIS PAGE WILL BE DEDICATED TO SHORT STORIES, BOOK CHAPTERS AND IDLE RAMBLINGS! AS THE TITLE SAYS, IT’S JUST FOR FUN!!!
As I’ve said before, some people knit and crochet, we write. Writing was our hobby long before we ever got the idea to try to publish something together. Mary also quilts and travels and works for her husband, but she always has a book in her head that she’s working on in her “spare” time. I amuse myself in my retirement by writing short stories. Many of them I’ve been writing and rewriting over again for years now.
We’ve decided to feature some of our favorite chapters from our books. Hope you enjoy them and if you do, you might want go to Amazon and get the entire book.
With the publication of our fifteenth novel, I thought we would go back to the beginning. So here is Chapter Two of our first novel, Magee was the original title, but now it’s “Beautiful Disaster”. Enjoy and just a reminder all of our books are available of Amazon.
BEAUTIFUL DISASTER – CHAPTER TWO
There would be rich and famous people there, bejeweled and fabulous, Julia had promised. Magee had promised Julia that she wouldn’t drool or gawk or cause a scene. She checked her reflection in the mirror by the front door as she plucked her car keys off the hook: no lipstick on her teeth, sexy dress, and she had practiced walking in her heels, just to be safe. Magee could feel her heart racing along with the engine of the Z as she headed down I-95.
She was only ten miles from Manhattan when a silver Porsche flew up behind her, passed her on the left, and then cut back across two lanes to make the exit ramp to Riverdale. Magee caught her breath and jammed her foot on the brake. She was okay but the older green van in the right lane didn’t have a chance. It flew off the side of the road and landed on its side, wheels spinning futilely in the air. Magee pulled over as fast as she could and put the Z into reverse. No one else had stopped and she couldn’t see anyone moving in the van or trying to get out.
She grabbed her cell and dialed 911. As she ran along the side of the road and down the bank to the overturned vehicle, she said a prayer for protection, prepared to do what she needed to do.
She saw a man’s boot kick the driver’s side door open and its dazed and bloody owner climbed out. Magee wasn’t even sure he could see her as he started screaming for help.
She touched his arm. “Are you okay? Can you hear me?”
He looked at her, tried to focus, then nodded. “My wife, the baby. Help me!”
“Okay. Okay. Try to open the sliding door.”
He pulled on the handle until the latch finally gave way. He leaned in and Magee saw his wife unconscious against the far door with the car seat beside her. It was very quiet.
Magee clambered in, turned off the ignition, then scrambled through the gap between the front seats, sending the vehicle rocking.
“Now listen,” she yelled. “What’s your name?”
“John,” he mumbled.
“Okay, John, I need you to be strong here. I’ll unbuckle the car seat and hand it up to you.”
He started to sob.
“John, you can do this,” she said firmly.
The woman started to moan softly and Magee turned toward her. “Can you hear me? Don’t move. Hear me? Don’t move. You’re okay. Help is coming.”
Magee wedged herself into the back seat and handed the car seat to the man. “John, look at me. Take the car seat and put it in the grass. Good job. Now get in here and talk to your wife. You have to keep her calm until help gets here.”
She climbed out and watched with relief as he climbed inside and focused on his wife. She needed a moment with the toddler whose pale face and shallow breathing told her she couldn’t wait for the paramedics. Magee saw blood dripping into the blonde curls. She heard sirens in the distance.
As she threw up another protection and her brain registered what she was about to do, it threw out its own deterrent in the form of images of those she had not helped enough in the past. The cruelest was her tiny premature baby as she cradled her and placed just a single finger on the delicate chest, willing the baby to breathe with every fiber of her being. Magee shook her head and overrode her instinct to ignore her ability and wait for the paramedics like anyone else could.
She placed both hands on the child’s head. Stabbing pain shot up her arms and her head exploded in agony. She closed her eyes and concentrated on staying conscious, drawing the injury and pain out of the small body and into her own. After another minute, as the pain started to dissipate and she could breathe again, she opened her eyes to see clear blue ones, much like her own, looking up at her.
Her child’s eyes might have been like these eyes. Her child might even have had the Witherspoon power and been able to do what Magee had just done.
Maybe half a dozen people in the world knew Magee’s full name was Magee Witherspoon O’Connor—and what that meant.
Since colonial days when those naïve unfortunates who had practiced the healing arts, and who had found themselves with rope-burn necklaces as a result, the Witherspoon women had retained varying degrees of psychic sensitivity and healing power. Each generation had inherited diminishing abilities until it had become a crap shoot for Magee and her Witherspoon cousins. The three of them had agreed that it was frustrating to try to combine the desire to help with the reality that you might or might not be able to help enough. Your own disappointment was hardly a match to that of the person counting on you to make it better. People tended to think you were either Merlin or Jesus—or a fake. History had shown them that it didn’t pay to advertise. They had agreed to do their best to live normal lives, but it seemed as if Fate couldn’t resist putting them into a situation now and then that reminded them of who and what they were and how little control they really had over their lives. Sometimes it just wasn’t possible to walk away.
The sirens were closer now, and as the ambulance pulled up, John stuck his head out of the van and started waving them over to his wife.
Magee stood up, retrieved her shoes from the grass, and started back to her car. One of the paramedics called out to her and she turned around.
“Hey, the guy back there said you really helped. Are you okay?”
Magee managed to smile at the cute paramedic. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Well, thanks for your help. It makes all the difference if they just don’t panic.”
“I just did what anyone else would have done,” she lied.
“Actually, probably not. Most people won’t even stop at a scene anymore. They’ll call it in but keep on going. You did a great thing here tonight.” He flashed her a grin.
“No problem, but I’m late for a … an appointment. If you don’t need me for anything, I’ll get going.”
“Right. Take care.” He reached into his pocket. “Here.” He handed her a card with his name and number on it. The card indicated that he moonlighted as a disc jockey; there was a surprise. “Call me anytime.”
Considering what she thought she must look like, Magee was flattered and laughed out loud, until she caught a glimpse of her hair in the rearview mirror.
She arrived at The Plaza and immediately headed for the ladies room. Her lovely two-inch heels were never going to be the same. She washed up as best she could, pulled out her compact, and freshened her lipstick. She wet her unruly curls and put the cloisonné combs back in place. Not bad, considering.
“You clean up pretty good,” Magee told her image in the mirrored elevator walls.
She had chosen this simple, classic blue cocktail dress because it made her feel like Audrey Hepburn. Its off-the-shoulder neckline showed off her slender white neck and smooth shoulders, and the bell skirt fell to just above her knees. A band of lace around the bottom drew attention to her long legs, and with the heels adding inches, made her legs look endless. The color was perfect for her blue eyes and red hair. In her navy blue two-inch heels, now mostly devoid of mud and grass, she stood tall at about five feet ten. She took a deep breath and stepped into the suite, trying to regain her composure—Audrey making her entrance.
Except nobody seemed to notice. So she headed for the bar in the corner.
As she made her way through the crowd, Julia appeared in front of her and they looked each other up and down. Julia, in strapless emerald satin, her makeup invisibly perfect, her blonde hair cascading artfully over her shoulders, looked like a model whose career had taken off, which was as it should be. Magee, in her silk cocktail dress and heels, with her corkscrew curls pinned up into a loose chignon, looked far different than she did in her usual jeans and T-shirt.
“You look remarkably…presentable, sugar.” Julia purred the words with a slight grin that showed perfect teeth.
“Gee, thanks, I’m underwhelmed. And you look absolutely stunning, as usual.” Magee paused one beat. “Okay, so much for polite small talk. Jules, this party is not exactly—”
“Oh, hush.” Julia flipped a manicured hand at her. “Do not move, I’m going to find Michael.” She squeezed Magee’s arm. “I think he’s The One. I swear. Can’t wait for you to meet.”
After securing her first cosmo from the adorable Italian bartender, Nino, according to his nametag, Magee retreated to a corner bench half-concealed by a ficus tree. At least she could see the losers coming and dart away if necessary while she waited to meet Julia’s new guy. Julia had, as usual, said whatever it took to get Magee where she wanted her. This wasn’t exactly the glittering and fabulous party at The Plaza she had been promised. It was more like a convention of balding executives with over-processed and surgically-enhanced twigs on their arms. Whatever, she was here now. She took a sip and relaxed.
“There you are. I should’ve known you’d find someplace to hide!” Julia hauled her to her feet. “Michael, this is Magee. I worked with her at the law firm before my modeling took off. She’s my best friend.” She turned toward Magee. “This is Michael. He’s in charge of security for The Rick Ryder Band.”
Magee found herself looking up at a guy who had to be at least six feet five, with curly blond hair and a tolerant smile. He looked remarkably normal and Magee cringed inside. There had to be something wrong with him; there always was. Julia had worse taste in men than Magee herself and that was saying something. It made the process so much simpler if the gorgeous underwear-model hunk drooled, or the strapping carpenter’s eyes were unfocused.
Aware of Julia watching them anxiously, Magee swallowed a sigh, returned the smile, and stuck out her hand. “Hey, Mike, nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
His easy smile suddenly froze and his tan faded before her eyes as he paled. Without a word, he turned and bolted through the crowd. Magee pulled back her hand and downed the rest of her drink. Aha, so Julia’s latest was a mental case. Mystery solved.
She grinned at Julia. “I think that went well, don’t you?”
Julia, a frown wrinkling the perfect forehead, stalked off after him.
With some relief, Magee headed back to the bar for a refill. There was no way Julia could blame her for that and Magee was off the hook from spending more time with this guy. It was all good. She checked her watch—half an hour had passed. It only felt longer. No matter. She had splurged on the cocktail dress and matching heels and spent over an hour learning to walk in the damned things. She demanded satisfaction. Julia had better hope that Rick Ryder, the second most famous rock singer in the world after Springsteen, showed up.
Suddenly, she was almost shoved off her heels.
“How ya doin?” She guessed the slurred voice would belong to the owner of the elbow that was stuck in her ribs. Magee looked down onto the white flattop haircut of a very short man in a very white suit that he must have bought 20 years and 30 pounds ago. Julia’s voice in her head reminded her – no scenes – so she forced a plastic smile.
“I’m good. Magee O’Connor. And you are?”
“Arthur Fields, you probly heard a me.”
Thanks to Ellerie and her current partner, Victoria, the name actually did ring a bell—more of a warning buzzer, actually. Arthur Fields, record producer. Recently sued for sexual harassment. Oh, shit.
“Uh, I’m sure I have, but you’ll have to forgive me. I’m not in the business.”
He looked down at her legs then up to her chest. “I could probly forgive you a lot, honey.”
Magee stepped back to remove his face from her cleavage. “Excuse me.”
She fled to the other end of the bar and retrieved her fresh drink from Chad, the other surfer-dude-cute bartender. They started chatting and flirting casually, which passed the time nicely. When the background noise dropped off sharply, she patted his hand and turned toward the elevator.
Let it please be him. Oh, dear God, it must be him. It must be him. Oh, no, she was caught in the song game she and Ellerie played. There was no point in fighting it or she would be stuck all night. Magee concentrated. It had to be from the ’60s. Picture the hair, the face, hear the voice. Vicki Carr! Thank you. Now she could focus on her close encounter with Rick Ryder.
She could see him move through the crowd by casually and subtly tilting her head back and forth. Tall, shiny dark hair pulled back into a low ponytail. Aha, the famous tilted yellow-green cat’s eyes, wearing a white shirt and trademark long black leather jacket over jeans. Her heart started racing; wait ’til she told Ellerie! There was Julia’s guy, the psycho, with a grim look on his face, glued to Rick’s elbow. They made their way across the room, the star stopping to murmur to a few chosen ones, exchanging handshakes and air kisses. He turned and said something to Mike who nodded abruptly and stepped away.
She took a sip of her drink, pretending not to be watching his every move. Hold the phone—he was coming her way. Do not make a spectacle of yourself. Be cool. Be Audrey. At that moment, Magee felt a hand grab her ass and squeeze.
She spun around. Arthur Fields was grinning up at her, wiggling his shaggy white eyebrows. She threw what was left of her cosmo in his face and said, “How dare you, you little creep. Keep your frigging hands to yourself.”
Fields’ face had gone the color of his suit, or what used to be the color of his suit before her pink drink started running down the front of the jacket. Magee gave him a look of contempt and turned her back on him to find herself facing the famous glittering eyes and a dimpled grin. The damp, empty glass in her hands felt awkward so she twisted to set it carefully on the bar behind her. Excellent. As she straightened up again, her heel caught in the plush carpet and she heard a snap. She reached down, pulled the heel free from the carpet, and jammed it back onto the shoe in a single movement. A warm hand caught her elbow for support. She suddenly realized she had just given Rick Ryder a birds-eye view of her cleavage. Every eye in the room was on the three of them. Several people approached Fields with napkins and the bartender came out with a towel. Dignity at all costs, that was the ticket here.
She straightened her dress, nodded regally, and said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I don’t believe we’ve met. Rick Ryder.”
It hadn’t occurred to Magee to set up any protections before coming to the party; record industry people and the occasional rock star hardly posed a threat to her Witherspoon sensitivities. Now his touch felt like a cattle prod, sending waves of pain rolling up her arm and reverberating like a toothache on the entire right side of her body. She steeled herself to withstand it; she had promised Julia no scenes and she was already one up. She resisted the urge to double over, focusing all her energy on absorbing the blow and staying on her feet. As her eyes flickered back to the man in front of her, his aura exploded into the air around him. It was one of the darkest she had ever seen, a bruise of dark blue and brown swirls. Magee went on autopilot, separating her public appearance from her inner turmoil, and responded to his introduction.
“Pleasure. Can I get you another drink? You seem to have finished that one.” A raised eyebrow joined the killer grin.
Magee was racing through a prayer for protection while gently removing her arm from his grip, forcing her heart rate back down. The reaction began to wane; she could breathe easily again. Without her consent, her pale skin reacted to the amusement in his voice and she felt the flush that she could never control creeping up her neck.
Not daring to look at him, she muttered. “No, thank you. I’ve had enough, I believe.”
On her left, she caught sight of Julia’s green dress moving determinedly toward them. It was time to go. Ordinarily, she would have rested for a few minutes after absorbing such an inward blow, but she simply didn’t have the stamina for one of Julia’s tongue-lashings right now, especially in front of him.
“I really should go. Sorry about …” She tilted her head toward the small group surrounding Fields, still murmuring consolation.
He leaned toward her and she resisted the urge to step back. “Don’t give it a thought. The man’s a pig.” His voice caressed her ear and he smelled great.
Magee sighed. “Thanks. I’d appreciate it if you’d tell Julia that. Good night.” She flashed him a quick smile, threw Julia a cheeky wave then feinted to the left, and veered to her right, head down like a football player headed for the goal line. She moved with determination but not great speed, since she was pushing down with every other step to keep the heel on her shoe. When the elevator doors finally closed, she saw her pink face in the mirrored walls, she breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Shifting her weight sent the heel flying off.
“So much for my brush with greatness,” she muttered to the disheveled redhead with a broken shoe in her hand. “You ain’t no Audrey Hepburn.”