Not too damn Lucky

January 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

Chapter One

It wasn’t the ghost of Captain Ravenwood or of Miss Lillian that prompted Suzanna Vestal to shake Rosebud out of one of her delicious, twitching dreams, load the (very) mixed breed retriever, along with her own hostility and a bulging ice chest into her vintage Mustang convertible and drive the five lonely hours from Dallas to Galveston more than a hundred years after this haunting couple died. Later, she would say it was a dream, an eerie, recurrent one that had roused her from her warm bed and stirred her to strike out for the languishing island seaport town in the middle of a furious storm, but for now she had to admit it was rage. Just rage. Pure and simple. Rage.

So, at a few minutes past two o’clock in the morning, on a Sunday that would dawn gray and quickly become bleaker than the morning light, Suzanna backed her vintage black Mustang out of her garage and into what Roy would have called the Devil’s Downpour.

Rosebud sprawled herself across both bucket seats and closed her eyes as the two of them sped south through sheets of  rain that made the noise of crazed spirits dancing on the worn convertible top.  As the storm fueled itself with its own anger, Suzanna made her way to Interstate 35 and drove from the sanctity of one overpass to another, all the while feeling as if her life – or what was left of it – would at any moment be swept away by nature’s fury.

“Are you happy now, Lucky?” she screamed at the metal dashboard as tears made it even harder for her to see past the hood of the car. “You took it all away from me! See!” She held up her bare left hand. As Suzanna pounded her bony fist on the heavy white plastic steering wheel, she sucked in short gulps of breath.

Just as her happiness had been sucked out of her when her fiancé of six years had gone to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding and come back married to the younger sister – hell, she was the 19-year-old baby sister- of a woman Suzanna couldn’t stand, so too was her safety being sucked away by the storm. And the hell of it was – she didn’t give a damn. So what if she slid her car into a concrete embankment and died? So what if she didn’t see tomorrow? Who would care?

Now that Roy was dead, not one single soul; that’s who.

“I hate you, Lucky Sampson!” she yelled and pressed the accelerator to the floor. With her last outburst, Rosebud scrambled to her shaky feet and shoved her heavy body between the seats  toward a small opening in the backseat. Suzanna gave the dog’s rump a hefty shove in order to remove the bushy tail from her line of vision and was left to scream at the storm alone.

She remembered the scene with Lucky as if it had happened in the last five minutes, but the whole thing had unfolded one year and three days ago. Oh, Suzanna could remember it all, especially the parts that hurt. Yeah, there was nothing wrong with her memory. At least she had that going for her.

“What do you mean you’re married?” Suzanna saw herself standing in their tiny apartment, looking at the telephone in her hand. She had stayed home in  in Dallas so she could work to make money to pay for their wedding cake. The voice at the other end of the line was Lucky’s, but the words belonged to the devil.

“Sweetheart, don’t take this the wrong way, but I mean just that. I got fuckin’ married. I hate to break it to you like this but my wife and me . . .

“Your wife and you?”

“Yeah, babe. Now, remember, you promised not to take this the wrong way. She’s taking me to Las Vegas. It’s our honeymoon, for god’s sake! A real honest to God honeymoon! And she’s paying! Can you believe that, Sue?”

Lucky sounded like a kid with a new Christmas present and she was sure he was waiting for her to congratulate him. “You and me couldn’t have afforded this trip in a million years!”

But he was wrong. Suzanna had wanted to surprise him when he came home from Hawaii. After Lucky left, the lawyer had called and told her that her grandfather’s estate was settled and that she was getting $250.000 free and clear from Roy. She thought their troubles were over.

And how could she have been so stupid? Lucky was such a hunk that she couldn’t even leave him alone at a bar for the time it took her to go to the bathroom without coming back to find women gathered around him.

Suzanna had composed herself as she felt cool panic wrap it’s fingers around her throat and squeeze. She looked up to see if someone had flipped the lights off in their little bedroom, but the darkness was all inside her head. When she opened her mouth to speak, she was trembling.

She kept any trace of a quiver out of her voice. “And just when do you plan to come home so we can talk about this?” Suzanna demanded. “Drunk or sober right now wouldn’t be too soon.”

“Let go of him, Bitch,” she heard a hoarse, whiskery voice say. “We’re married now so get out of his life.” Muffled kissing sounds followed by a female laugh from Lucky’s end of the line answered her question.

“Can’t do that, babe. We’re at the airport,” Lucky said. ” I’ll call you when we get back tot the states. Maybe you can come to our place for dinner or something.”

With his words charging through her ego, Suzanna clicked “end” and let her phone fall from her hand. “Hawaii is in the states, you idiot,” she whispered.

Suzanna twisted the gold band with its three sparkling white stones off her finger and drifted into the bathroom where she stood watching as it ker-plopped into the toilet. The ring settled there at the bottom of the bowl, shining with promise though the few inches of clear water.

She thought of the thousand dollars she had put down on it herself and wondered what Lucky’s brother would do if he ever found out that she had sent the ring he had helped finance to a foul, watery grave.

The only smart thing to do was reach down and pick it up. Mad or not, the ring was a thing of value and everyone knows not to destroy things of value. In a few minutes it would be too late to save it from the sewer. Grab it, she ordered herself. It was the only thing to do, and she was nothing if not sensible.

Suzanna stepped closer to the tank and dropped to her knees. When she flushed the toilet, the ring made the sound of metal brushing against porcelain. It was nothing really. Just a tiny, clinking sound.


January 9, 2010 - One Response

When Captain August Ravenwood married Miss Lillian Rose in the year 1868 on Galveston Island, it was thought the height of wily seduction on her part. He was a man of the sea, yes, but of a good family, and honorable in the service to his country. … Their love affair haunted the Island long after either of them walked in the flesh and blood upon this earth. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspire me – Chapter 01

January 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

All love affairs don’t last forever. All dreams don’t come true. But sometimes love finds a place for itself, and it lives and grows and becomes more than the mere mortals it surrounds. It becomes a dream. And dreams, like the spirits within them, can live forever – even through the darkness of our final storms.

Beginning with the end

January 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

This book is about more than just the storm that devastated Galveston in 1900. It’s about the storms that sweep into all of our lives blowing us away from the paths we thought we would follow and into the fateful arms of destiny. It is about fighting and letting go. It is about tragedy and triumph. But mostly it is about me. It is about one writer who has heard the word “no” too many times from editors and has decided to let her words live here.

So let the novel begin.