Welcome to another edition of Tuesday Tales!
I have to tell you, last week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. We had wrapped up Laco Law. What I`m working on now, Final Shifts, book six for my Wildcat series, is chock full of juicy secrets I didn`t dare share at the risk of divulging something huge. Everything else in my files has been contracted (I am not complaining, mind you!) so I couldn`t share any of those tales, either.
I was pretty well stumped. What to do, what to do? I dug into my archives, hoping to locate something to share. Imagine my joy when I found this romance! It had been written nearly two years ago, and I had rather forgotten about it.
White Moon, Yellow Leaves, a M/F contemporary romance, started out as a four-part mini for the Thanksgiving holiday season. Well, that wasn`t quite enough, so I then penned a Christmas special. Nope. I still couldn`t leave this couple. So, I then added a much longer serialized story for them. We`ll start off with the first story, tidied up as well as I can tidy, and broken into excerpts of one thousand words or thereabout per week. I think it will be a lovely read for the Tuesday Tale family to enjoy. As always, all comments are greatly appreciated.
Make sure to check out all the Tuesday Tales author`s wonderful contributions.
White Moon, Yellow Leaves
“Mom, if great-uncle Hans is in heaven, and Aunt Jo-Jo misses him and wants to visit his spirit, does that mean that Mud Puppy Lake is heaven?”
I glanced over at the six year old on my right. He was looking at me with his father`s eyes: deep blue with flecks of gold framed by dark lashes. Those blue eyes were bubbling with curiosity. I opened my mouth to reply but Aunt Jo-Jo in the backseat chimed up to answer the lad’s question of the moment.
“Sometimes I think Mud Puppy Lake is heaven,” she said, peeling a chunk off a pecan nut-roll she had purchased at the church before we left Pittsburgh. Her dachshund, Leopold G. Poopbottom, ingested the snippet whole, his whip-like tail beating the backseat soundly. “But no, it`s just one lake out of a thousand. It is a special lake though.” She leaned back to continue eating her nut-roll. “Hans and I used to come up here every year, to get away from your great-grandmother.”
“Aunt Jo, can we not dig into grandma right off?” I asked, peeking into the rearview to catch the devil shining in the woman`s hazel eyes. She waved an age-spotted hand around her head to indicate that she would behave…for now. “Thanks. So, would you like to know how Mud Puppy Lake got its name?” I asked Rhett. He nodded vigorously.
“When I was about your age, I started coming up here with Aunt Jo and Uncle Hans for Thanksgiving and spring break. Great-grandma Helen gets a bit—”
“Asinine?” the backseat, nut-roll eater offered. Five seconds. That`s longer than usual for the firecracker in the back to be good.
“I would have said intense.” I gave my grandmother`s sister, one of five, a warning glower, which she promptly ignored. “Grandma Helen tends to get really involved in holidays. She likes everything to be perfect.”
“Like I said, asinine.” Jo-Jo spoke to her dog. Leopold yipped merrily. Rhett giggled at the bad word. I blew out a breath and drove through a spinning vortex of gold, scarlet, and bronze leaves dancing across the road. The ride upstate at this time of year was always breathtaking.
“Anyway,” I interrupted keeping a lookout for our little turn off road, “Back when I was a kid, we came up here twice a year, one week around Easter and then for a week in the fall. ‘The summer is for the fishing and fall is for the hunting’ Uncle Hans would tell me. The first summer I visited Uncle Hans and Aunt Jo he and I went fishing every morning. Well,” I glanced down at my boy. He was hanging onto every word. “While Uncle Hans was fishing, I was playing in the mud. Lakes have the best mud for modeling.”
“When we get there I`m gonna model mud too,” Rhett announced. Aunt Jo-Jo leaned forward to tap the horn at a trucker rolling past in the opposite direction. He tooted back. She cackled in glee. My ears turned red.
“Aunt Jo, this isn`t Clairton,” I cautioned as she guffawed and starting nibbling nut-roll again. “You can`t toot or wave your bare leg at every trucker that passes.”
“I can if I want to,” the woman who was creeping up on eighty-five replied. “That killjoy attitude is Helen coming out of you,” she warned, as if sounding like my grandmother was a reprehensible thing. Okay, sometimes it was, I admit it.
“Can I shake my leg at a trucker?” Rhett asked, nearly climbing out of his seat to watch the spinning leaves exploding off the front of the semi behind us.
“No, only old women who want to piss off their sisters do that,” I said. A very naughty chuckle came from the backseat. “So, back to the story?” I asked. Rhett nodded. “After a long time spent fishing Uncle Hans came back to me, showed me his two bass, and asked what I was making in the mud. I showed him my dogs. They were really terrible looking mud dogs.” I smiled in recollection, turning slowly onto the dirt road that would lead us back to one of many small, unnamed lakes in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.
The lane was littered with discarded oak, beech, and sumac leaves. Clouds more were fluttering down in the cold air, the trees along the dirt road growing barer with each gust of wind. The memories of Rhick and I coming here seven years ago engulfed me. My fingers tightened on the Cavalier`s steering wheel.
“Your mother`s dogs weren`t really nothing but red clay balls with sticks for legs, but she was proud as a beaver with a new dam over them,” Aunt Jo neatly stepped in. “Hans said when he told her he had never seen dogs of such kind she told him that they were special mud puppies found only at this lake. Right full of shit and vinegar she was! Hans decided that if the lake could make such fine mud puppies then it should be called such. And that is how Mud Puppy Lake got its name. Leopold, stop chewing on your ass! Here, have another bite of nut-roll.”
We rolled over a rise in a diversion ditch and the eastern shore of the lake came into view. I heard Rhett inhale in awe. Creeping along the road that circles the three mile wide lake, I too had to admit it was stunning, and I had been coming up here nearly yearly for as long as I could recall. The water lay in a semi-circle, clear as a diamond from the springs that fed it year round. Hunting camps and summer homes lined the shore. Some were quite up-market, others were kind of dingy, but the natural beauty of the state woods in fall made each look like a mansion.
“Do you see that one with the big bench by the water?” Jo-Jo asked, her scratchy voice rising in excitement. Rhett mumbled that he did. “That`s our cabin!”
“This place is awesome,” my son whispered. I knew he would be stunned. The child had never been out of Pittsburgh before. My wages at ‘Tomes a ‘Plenty’ book store didn`t leave much extra cash for vacations. The child support I got from Rhick went for clothes, food, and school supplies. I bet the new wife isn`t struggling to pay the electric bill. I winced at the bitter thought. Far be it for me, Dana Waters, to condemn the woman for being a twenty-year old Swedish model.
I refused to look down at my thirty-five year old, mother-of-one breasts. You`d think that a year would be long enough to get over being tossed aside for a svelte Swedish model. I needed more time I guess. Well, I needed something, although what that something was I didn`t know.
Copyright 2012 ©by V.L. Locey
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