Welcome to Fiction Friday, a chance to share excerpts of some of my books with you. While I’m starting with those currently on sale, eventually some may be entirely new. In fact, some may even be excerpts from other people’s books. This is definitely a work in progress.
Last week I introduced you to Nancy, a major character in Wedding Ring, the first book of my Shenandoah Album series. So it’s won’t be any surprise to learn that this week I’m sharing a smidgen of Endless Chain, the second book, which was released in a brand new trade paperback edition in April.
If you read along last week, you were introduced to Helen, through her daughter’s eyes, and Helen is a character in the following scene.
The ladies of the Shenandoah Community Church Wednesday Morning Quilting Bee and Social Gathering are having their weekly bee at the church, and as anyone who’s ever been to a quilting bee can tell you, a little gossip is usually part of the morning events. I love these women, and have plans to write more about them in the not-so-distant future. Do stay tuned.
Sam, who is mentioned here, is one of two major characters in the novel.
Enjoy this excerpt from Endless Chain.
Shenandoah Community Church Wednesday Morning Quilting Bee and Social Gathering–August 6th
The meeting was called to order at 9am in the quilter’s beehive. Helen Henry suggested (once again) that we change the name of our group to SCC Bee and be done with it. She insists that reading the heading of the minutes takes most of our business session. To please Helen, who lacks patience, we agreed to drop “Morning” from the written notes, beginning next week.
Cathy Adams brought a quilt top for show and tell in the Chinese Coin pattern, using oriental prints. (Peony Greenway noted politely that Cathy paid too much for them.) We will begin quilting the top after Labor Day when we hope to be finished with a lap quilt of appliquéd Autumn Leaves which will be a gift for Martha Wisner.
Helen agreed to stay after the bee and help Cathy square up her quilt top so that the finished product won’t look like it was quilted by “drunken sailors.” Please note the quotation marks. I am only the scribe.
Kate Brogan brought her two youngest children as guests. After Rory jumped on Cathy’s quilt top, Chinese Coins will need all the help Helen can give it. The meeting was adjourned soon after and those bag lunches that survived Rory’s karate demonstrations were shared among the quilters who remained.
Dovey K. Lanning, recording secretary
“So . . .” Anna Mayhew looked up from one of her tiny, even stitches and wiggled her eyebrows to signal what was to come. “I hear Chris-tine Flet-cher–”she punched all the syllables–”is coming for the fundraiser tonight. What do you suppose she’ll wear to the party?”
“The heck with what she wears,” Dovey Lanning said, “let’s talk about where she’s going to sleep.”
“There is a child under the quilt frame.” For the life of her Helen Henry couldn’t figure out why she had to remind the others. At the moment little Rory Brogan was banging the floor at her feet with a picture book of talking bunnies that his mother had given him to read. Kate Brogan was nothing, if not an optimist.
“Rory!” Kate, an attractive thirty-something brunette, vacated her chair and dragged her son out from under the frame. “Go outside and play on the slide. Now.”
Rory protested. “I was killing germs. There are a million germs under there!”
“He just learned about germs in preschool camp,” Kate apologized. “Knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
“These were ninja germs!” Rory insisted.
“I believe I saw those very same ninja germs escaping into the play yard,” Anna told him. “And if you don’t stop them there, they might get all the way to the road.”
Rory’s eyes brightened. He had shiny dark hair and eyes that matched. He was a wiry child, one part willfulness, two parts energy, three parts resolve. Today he was wearing a white “gi” and the yellow belt he had earned last week in his Tai Kwon-do class.
Helen didn’t like children, of course. But she had to admit that this one had spunk.
The silence thrummed once Rory had left for his search and destroy mission, and everyone inhaled it gratefully. In the hour since their short business meeting, there had been precious little silence. The “beehive” in the walkout basement was cramped. Once it had been the nursery, before the church’s expanding baby population had been moved into a brand new wing. Several months ago the quilters had commandeered the tiny room for their own use. It was just wide enough for a quilting frame and several comfortable pieces of furniture along the wall, but it was filled with light from windows overlooking a fenced-in play yard and an expansive parking lot. And it was all theirs.
“I could just stay home,” Kate volunteered when they’d all recovered a little. “Until Rory’s in school full time.”
“Don’t you dare.” Cathy Adams patted Kate’s shoulder. She was a warm hearted grandmotherly woman, a former insurance agent who was now reaping the benefits of an excellent 401K. Cathy was the least accomplished quilter among them, but she was learning fast.
Peony Greenway cleared her throat. Peony’s job in the group and in the church in general was to smooth out trouble spots. “Rory adds something to the mixture.” She paused for effect. “And by the way, on that ‘other’ subject, I know for a fact Christine will be sleeping at the Inn at Narrow Passage. She has a room reserved through the weekend.”
“You called to check?” Dovey asked.
“Of course not!” Peony realized Dovey was teasing and relaxed her spine a millimeter. “Reverend Kinkade mentioned it, that’s all. He asked if the inn was a good place for Miss Fletcher to stay.”
“So Sam wanted the word to go out that they aren’t sleeping together, in case any of us have narrow little minds,” Cathy said.
Almost nobody but Peony called the Shenandoah Community Church’s present minister Reverend Kinkade. It was hard to imagine their jeans and T-shirt clad pastor with a title that formal.
“Narrow minds, narrow passage. . .” Dovey inclined her head toward the door, which was propped open so Rory and his younger sister Bridget–who was napping in an overstuffed armchair in the corner–could run in and out at will. “Narrowing window of opportunity for gossip.”
In the fenced-in play yard Rory could be heard screeching. Soon he’d be back inside to make a full report.
“Sam and Christine have been engaged for years,” said Anna, ever the amateur psychologist. “To me, this signals major conflicts in their relationship. Why hasn’t he married her?”
Helen thought Anna’s logic was mostly wishful thinking. Sam was a charismatic charmer who attracted females the way the trumpet vine against her barn attracted hummingbirds. At forty four Anna was at least ten years too old to be a contender, but she still had a crush on the minister. Sometimes Helen wondered if Sam’s “engagement” was merely a tool to keep young women in the congregation at arm’s length.
“He hasn’t married Christine because she doesn’t like the country, and she doesn’t like us.” Dovey leaned over the quilt, stretched taut on a wooden frame, and squinted at a row of stitches.
Satisfied she looked up. “Christine Fletcher is a hothouse gardenia and we’re a wilted bunch of black-eyed Susans. That’s a fact.”