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Authors: SL Harris

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Laughter in the Wind

BOOK: Laughter in the Wind
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Table of Contents


Copyright © 2013 by SL Harris


Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.


First Bella Books Edition 2013

eBook released 2013


Editor: Katherine V. Forrest

Cover Designed by: Linda Callaghan


ISBN: 978-1-59493-354-7



The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

About the Author


SL Harris lives in rural Missouri with her partner of many years. A physical therapist and long-time reader, her vision began to diminish and she lost access to her beloved books. After several surgeries, much of her vision was restored. She began reading again, discovered the world of lesbian fiction and began to write her own stories.
Laughter in the Wind
is her first novel.



I am eternally grateful to all the wonderful people at Bella Books for permitting my dream to become a reality.

Special thanks to Katherine V. Forrest, who patiently guided me through the editing process—I was truly honored to learn from you.

To my friends who encouraged me, thank you all. What an awesome team we are!

Ruth, thank you for believing in me. You complete me.

Finally, I thank God for this life I’ve been given.

Chapter One


At nine-thirty p.m. on Halloween night, a lone car eased through Springtown, down Pine Street, past the churches, the beauty shop and the small general store. The car windows, tinted beyond the legal limit, reflected the lights from the windows of the small homes that lined this center street of town. At the south edge of the sleepy town the car turned down a gravel road, heading west.

The Whitman house was dark as the car slowly idled past. Mrs. Whitman had died two years earlier and all the locals knew Mr. Whitman took his hearing aids out and went to bed at seven-thirty. One-half mile further down the road was Jim and Patsy Wilcox’s house. Their grown children no longer lived at home and Jim and Patsy were in Rockford for dinner and a movie, so their house was dark except for a porch light. Surprisingly, the car did not slow or stop at their drive although it was the final residence on the road. It continued around the next curve in the road to a dilapidated old house, long deserted and beginning to bend with the weight of its age.

The car pulled up in front of the old house, its headlights briefly illuminating the sagging roof of the porch and the broken steps to the entrance. Moments later, the driver’s door opened and a man with a flashlight stepped out. He walked to the left side of the drive and opened an old gate into the overgrown pasture beside the house. He returned to the car then cut the wheels sharply to the left to ease the car down a faintly visible path through the gate and along a grove of trees. The lane was high with weeds and grass which brushed against the bottom of the car and occasional low-hanging limbs overhung the car’s path, screeching painfully along the sides and top and leaving long scratches in the paint. As the car proceeded, the headlight beams picked up a rickety fence, then the looming headstones of an old cemetery.

The driver pulled the car to a stop in front of the gate to the cemetery, which was hanging at an odd angle from only the top hinge. Three car doors opened and the occupants of the car emerged, walking forward into the overlapping twin shafts of light from the high beams the driver had left on when he stopped the car.

The driver, a tall, thin man, opened the cemetery gate cautiously, careful to keep it connected to its lone hinge. “I’ll see if this is the right place,” he told the others as he lifted his large flashlight and stepped closer to the headstones. He carefully inspected several of the markers, stopping finally at a rectangular, upright stone. He stooped closer to read an inscription that was faded by the elements.

“This is it,” he said, as he rose to his full six feet, seven inches of height. “Bring the box and the shovels.”

The passenger who climbed from the front seat was a petite woman, more than a foot shorter than the driver. She disappeared into the rear seat of the car and reappeared seconds later with a wooden box about a foot long and eighteen inches square. She cradled the box to her like a precious work of art and stepped gingerly through the tall grass toward the driver. Their companion, a slightly obese man of medium height, retrieved two shovels from the trunk of the car and was only a step or two behind the woman.

Without another word, the men began to dig directly in front of the stone over the old grave site. Their task was finished in less than thirty minutes. The box was buried three feet deep and only a mound of dirt patted down firmly with their shovels remained as evidence of their efforts.

“It’s done,” the woman said simply. “I pray Mother will forgive us.”

They stood around the pile of dirt for a few seconds in silence, heads bowed, holding hands. Then they quickly brushed the dirt from their clothes, loaded the shovels into the trunk and stepped back into the car. The driver slowly backed the car along the narrow lane, following the same tracks he had made when he approached the cemetery. The headlights highlighted the open gate, still hanging lopsided from the single hinge.

* * *


For Rebecca Wilcox, Halloween morning started like most other Saturdays. When she walked into the kitchen for coffee and breakfast, in that order, her mother was sitting at the table, nose in a newspaper as usual.

“Morning,” Rebecca muttered as she filled a bowl with cereal. “Dammit,” she said under her breath as cereal spilled over the edge of the bowl onto the table and the floor.

“Rebecca, is that really necessary?” her mother’s voice prodded gently.

Rebecca knew she didn’t like her to curse but for some reason, this morning she didn’t care. “Spilling the cereal or ‘dammit?’” she replied smartly then was immediately remorseful. “Sorry, Mom. I guess neither is necessary. I just woke up in a mood.”

The newspaper had dropped unceremoniously onto the table at her sassy remark and the quick spark in her mother’s eyes did not go unnoticed. A long pause followed her apology and she watched her mother’s face, waiting for the response she knew she deserved but hoping her mother would show her some mercy. Rebecca wasn’t sure what to expect, as she seldom spoke back to her mother.

“Bec, what’s wrong? I don’t mean just now, although I wouldn’t have expected to hear you get smart with me. You’ve been upset about something for weeks now and I don’t like to see you in this turmoil. What’s going on?”

As usual, her mother, always supportive of her daughters, didn’t fail to quickly get to the heart of the matter. Rebecca sighed deeply, partly in relief and partly in frustration. She tried to come up with an answer as she swept up the spilled cereal. She poured milk into the bowl then sat down at the table, keeping her eyes carefully averted from her mother. “I don’t know that anything is wrong, Mom. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy adult.” She smiled half-heartedly at her mother.

“Good try, Bec. But you can’t avoid this…this whatever-it-is that’s bothering you. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with it.”

“I don’t know what’s bugging me. Maybe I just miss my friends. Sandy called and I’m going to Rockford with her tonight. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and be back to my old self.” She tried to sound upbeat and positive but knew she failed when she saw the concern still evident in her mother’s expression before she picked up her crumpled paper and shook it back into shape, returning to her reading without another word.

Off the hook for the moment.

This was Rebecca’s first Halloween since graduating high school and she was looking forward to going out with her friends, eating pizza and cruising Rockford. She really wasn’t in the mood for cruising, but pizza and hanging out with her friends sounded good. She hoped the evening would ease her feelings of discontent. She didn’t recognize the sullen person she had become and wished she could be the happy, confident Rebecca again.

* * *


When Sandy pulled up in her driveway at five, Rebecca was waiting at the door. On the thirty-minute drive to Rockford, she listened quietly as Sandy filled her in on Darwin, her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Currently off-again, she wasn’t surprised to learn. Rebecca had warned Sandy about him before she ever started dating him, but the fact that he seemed to have a different girlfriend every other week hadn’t deterred her. Sandy was as headstrong as Rebecca and no one could tell her that she wouldn’t be the one Darwin would finally stick with.

As they neared the edge of town, Rebecca’s patience finally ran out. “Sandy, you’ve always known he’s a jerk. Just move on and forget his two-timing ass.”

Sandy looked over in surprise at her usually quiet, calm friend who was staring straight ahead, a look of disgust on her face. “Damn, what’s gotten into you, Bec? You know, it’s not that easy to just forget about someone you really care about.”

Rebecca could hear the pout in her voice and knew Sandy relied on her to be supportive, not to tell her she was wrong even if it was the truth. “Look, Sandy. I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s gotta be hard to just let go. But at some point you’re gonna have to ask yourself if he’s worth all this shit. You get to be all screwed up over him and he gets to chase after any girl he wants, knowing you’ll be there to catch him if he falls. I guess I just don’t see what’s in it for you.”

“You’ll understand the first time you fall in love, Bec.” Sandy still sounded a little put-out but Rebecca wasn’t in the mood to lie to her and tell her she was right, so she just sat quietly for the few blocks remaining to the pizza place.

Connie and Pam had saved them seats and Rebecca was relieved to see her friends. She quickly realized her relief was premature when the conversation became a competition between her three friends, each trying to one-up the others with how her boyfriend had wronged her. Rebecca sat quietly in the corner thinking about how much more peaceful life seemed to be from her own perspective. Maybe she would be just like her friends if she had a boyfriend. After listening to her friends for a while though, she wasn’t so sure that it would be worth it. Feeling discontented sure beat all this shit, she thought as she smiled to herself.

After filling up on pizza and downing several glasses of cherry Coke, she climbed into the back seat of Pam’s mother’s Escape and they cruised the streets of Rockford. She sat quietly looking out the window as Sandy moved to the middle of the seat to lean forward and look out the windshield with Pam and Connie. They saw few people they recognized and no one they knew well enough that they would stop and talk. Nevertheless, they made the circuit between downtown and McDonald’s a hundred times in Rebecca’s estimation, with Pam, Connie and Sandy honking and waving at every cute guy they saw along the way. Rebecca could see in her mind a picture of the four of them in the car and wondered why she looked so out of place.

BOOK: Laughter in the Wind
11.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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