Saturday, November 3, 2012

White Moon Yellow Leaves

Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey and it is an honor to be a guest author on Storytime Trysts for the month of November. I generally write romantic/comedies but for this special outing we`ll have a straight up contemporary romance. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-one years, my daughter who is sixteen, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, three dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree.

At the end of each issue I`ll link you up to various places where you can purchase my work if you`re so inclined, or just stop in and say howdy! Enough about me now, let`s dive into some romance, shall we?

Enjoy!








White Moon, Yellow Leaves

Chapter One

*~*~*


“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 had to concede.

“I would have said intense maybe,” 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.

“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’ he 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 upmarket, others were kind of dingy, but the natural beauty of the state woods in fall made each 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 Prescott, 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.

“Wait until you walk the grouse path,” Aunt Jo-Jo said, her enthusiasm catching apparently because Leopold began to bark shrilly as we neared our cabin. It was the last one in the line and nearly hidden by tall green pines and crimson oaks. We pulled into a small gravel drive beside the bungalow. Leopold was nearly turned inside-out so great was his need to get out of the car. My son was in a similar state.

“I`m gonna go walk the grouse path right now!” Rhett announced, fumbling to free himself from the seatbelt.

“You don`t even know where the grouse path is,” I laughed, his ebullient mood chipping away at my dour disposition. The doors front and back flew open. Lad and dachshund escaped their confines. “Stay away from the water!” I shouted as I slid from the car with a popping spine.

Aunt Jo-Jo`s cane was already on the ground by the time I got around to helping her from the rear. Her silver head came to my chin when she got her feet under her properly. None of the women in my family are particularly tall. And most tend to be on the round side. Think hobbits in babushkas. I blame that on the Polish cooking. Not being short, being round.  I grew up eating pierogies, halupkies, and kielbasa. My size sixteen ass is a direct result of dough stuffed with mashed potatoes, stuffed cabbage, and spicy sausage - and divorcing a cheating husband. Let`s not forget all those nights spent making love to pints of mint chocolate chip.

“Looks like Andy has gotten the cabins all opened up,” Jo-Jo noted, her eyes roaming over the other smaller homes used for hunting camps. The summer folks wouldn`t be here until Memorial Day weekend of next year. A brisk wind blew over the lake, carrying the smell of rotting leaves and mineral rich water. Aunt Jo-Jo tugged her bright pink sweater under her chin and toddled towards her cabin; her steps muted by the blanket of wet leaves and spent pine needles.

“I thought Andy had fallen down and broke his hip,” I called over the yips of boy and wiener dog racing around tree trunks.

“Maybe one of his kids stepped in,” she shouted to be heard over the ruckus. I nodded and began the chore of toting in a week`s worth of food, clothes, and kid stuff. Knowing Andy Big Deer as I did, he probably gimped down from his house to tend to the cabins as he`s been doing for fifty years. Andy is one stubbornly proud caretaker. Arms filled with duffle bags and suitcases, I turned to look at Hans and Jo-Jo`s retreat. It was a simple home, quite small in comparison to a couple other houses along the lake, but well-loved. The sides of the little bungalow were cedar shake shingles, baked slate grey by years of sun and fog. Many were ragged on the edges. I made a mental note to talk to Andy`s son and see about getting some shingle replacement done next spring. A porch sat waiting for someone to sweep the leaves off the flagstones and knock the cobwebs from the corners of the slightly bowed roof. A tendril of wood smoke wafted past, tickling my nose.

Rhett and Herr Poopbottom tore past me, each with a stick, and then disappeared around the side of the cabin. The standard mother warning about running with sticks bubbled up from behind the mound of crap in my arms. I heard the front door squeaking open and Aunt Jo pattering on about how nice it had been of Joe`s boy to get the wood stove going. Turned sideways to try to force my rump and the mountain of bags through the narrow doorway I paused when I heard Rhett shout. I listened, my biceps straining under the load, to see if a wail of pain would follow or a laugh. What came next was a dachshund kicking up twigs and leaves in his wake with a six year old boy on his whippet of a brown tail.

Rhett tripped over his sneakers, a common occurrence when the lad was nearing mach, and crashed into me. The heavy load teetered precariously. Herr Poopbottom went between my legs like a rocket hound. I danced to avoid stepping on the dog and the entire unstable load and its bearer fell into the cabin. Bags and suitcases tumbled down over me. Rhett stumbled over his mother lying buried and raced to throw his arms around Aunt Jo-Jo`s round waist. I kicked at a Spider-Man duffel bag and caught a pair of big work boots stepping onto the porch. They were worn brown leather and well scuffed on the toes. The boots were exposed up to the ankle where they then gave way to light blue denim that hugged thighs as thick as a New York pine, or so it seemed from the planks of the floor.

I didn`t know if I should look any higher since my ears and nose were beet red already. I decided to roll with it and blew a strand of dirty blonde hair from my face with panache. The jeans climbed up and up and up, the lean waistband hidden behind beech and ironwood freshly split for the stove. All I could see were well-corded forearms the color of sienna. The man stepped over the woman splayed so gracefully on the floor, dropped his armload into the rack by the door then turned to gaze down on me. Plump lips were tugged up in a bemused smile, a white splash of perfect teeth set into a face crafted by the Seneca gods themselves.  High cheek bones set off a nose that was a bit too wide to be considered Hollywood perfect. It was the nose of Andy Big Deer. It fit his face perfectly.

His eyes were obsidian. His hair, black as a ravens breast, was pulled back into a thick ponytail. He folded his arms over a New York Giants XXXL hoodie that was littered with chips of bark, moss, and dirt.

“Andy always says that Dana Prescott makes grand entrances,” he chuckled, one dark eyebrow moving up his smooth brow as he then did the gentlemanly thing by uncrossing his arms and extending a hubcap-sized hand down to me.

“Good Lord, is that really you, Jonah Big Deer?” Jo-Jo exclaimed with a frightened boy`s face still buried in her belly. He pulled me to my feet with ease. His hand was warm and calloused and lingered in mine for a second too long. “I haven`t seen you since your mother came down with Joe. It was that time I ate that bad mushroom and got so sick. Hell, what was that, twenty years ago?”

I slid my suddenly damp palm from Jonah`s and tipped my head back to look at the young man. He smiled widely at my aunt. Something sinful began to sizzle deep inside my stomach.

“Yes, Ma`am, it probably was,” he replied politely, those dark eyes roaming over my child snuggled up to my great-aunt. “I was probably his age, maybe younger.”

“I don`t remember making any grand….you`re only twenty-six?” blathered from me before I could stop it. Jonah glanced back at me.

“Actually, I`m only twenty-five,” he winked. “I best get the rest of that wood in for the other cabins. Sorry about scaring the boy,” Jonah bent to pick up a duffel bag, place it in my hands, and then exit with much more poise than I had displayed.

“He`s twenty-five,” I muttered, a duffel bag dangling from my fingers absently. Well, so much for that hot flapjack of attraction on the griddle of love I decided. “Who wants pancakes for dinner?”


To be continued….


*~*~*

If you`re interested in my novels, you can find the first in my trilogy 'Of Gods & Goats' in print here at my website -

http://www.essentialwebcomics.com/writersguild/

For you eReader fans 'Of Gods & Goats' is also available at Smashwords--

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/149838

And if you`re hungry for a zombie apocalypse romantic comedy with  M/M action, keep an eye peeled over at Torquere Press, where my story will be among those offered in the anthology He loves me for my brainssss in early 2013-

https://www.torquerepress.com/index.html

You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

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