Secrets in the Lowcountry--The River

BOOK: Secrets in the Lowcountry--The River
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Secrets in the Lowcountry—

The River

 

By,

 

Janet Cooper

Copyrighted 2012, by Janet Cooper Kuchler

All rights belong to the author and without her written permission cannot be used by anyone else.

Illustrator: Covers by Cali, [email protected].

DEDICATION:

To Dylan, Andrew, Jared, Luke, Ethan, and Lucas, my six wonderful grandsons:

             
May you always reach your goals and having done so strive for the next.

Lots of love,

Nana

Chapter One

 

Lowcountry, South Carolina:

 

Taylor
Harris
turned the oval shaped brass handle and opened the door
wide
.
The dark,
amber,
heart-
pine walls lining the hallway contrasted strongly with the light g
reen shades of her bedroom. S
he pau
sed a minute for her eyes
to adjust to the muted light
.
She glanced at her gown, her gloves, and the tips of her shoes.
So this is what a proper Southern lady is supposed to look like?
I’d rather be in my jeans.
The previously mut
ed music from the piano
on the patio
echoed up the
curved
stairway and
flowed
down the hall
to her
.
With thoughtful steps, she
placed first one foot and then the other on
the thick red oriental runner that
appeared to race b
efore her.
Normally, she loved this rug
,
one her grandmother had
bought for the house years ago,
but somehow
today
the color caused chills to race up her spine
and she shivered
.
She shook off her disquiet and checked her dress.
Her
wedding
gown
flared
beyond the width of the brightly patterned rug and rubbed against the old heart-pine baseboard.
For a moment, she feared dust might mar the hem of her grandmother’s
off white
gown and just as quickly dismissed the idea.
Miss Mary
, the housekeeper,
would never allow a smidgen of dirt anywhere in “her” house.
Taylor
turned as she
reached the top step, glanced at the landing, and took a deep breath.

Why had she sent her friends ahead?
The doubts, that had plagued her for most of the d
ay,
actually for almost a month,
remained just
as strong.
N
ow, they grew in intensity.
Perhaps if she had shared her apprehension, her friends could have persuaded her that her nervousness was natural
and normal
.
She tried to be logical
and forced herself to push the
negative thoughts aside.
This wasn’t a hasty marriage.
She’d known Rod since middle school.
They’d been engaged for what seemed like forever.
Yet, the uneasiness persisted.
B
elow family and friends waited,
not some mythical monster ready to
attack and destroy her.
Th
e knots in her stomach refused to untangle.
Why?
Was
this wedding
a mistake?
One she’d regret for the rest of the life?

An instant later,
as if sent to cal
m her jitters
,
the
late afternoon
sun
light
bathed the stairwell
, chasing the shadows that had claimed this spot.
She stared
at
the huge
picture
window directly in front her and sighed thinking
of
the old wives’ tale about rain on a wedding day.
The day had cleared
, finally
.
Her gloved hand
grasped
the rounded-banister railing
that so many people had worn smooth over the seven decades
of li
fe
in this house
.
Unused to so much skirt, c
are
fully
,
she placed her
white linen
slipper
on the top riser and be
gan descending the wide pine
stairs.

As s
he crossed the wide landing,
she
hesitated
for a nanosecond
, and then placed her foot on the final set of steps.
For the
first time since she’d left her
bed
room, Taylor lifted her chin and looked ah
ead.
Her father
stood at the bottom of the wide stairway
that opened onto the foyer
.
He looked splendid in his white tux jacket and midnight blue trousers.
His
blonde/white hair puffed out to hide the thinning spots that only someone very tall could normally see.
Martin’s
outstretch
ed
hand welc
omed her, but unshed tears glistened in his eyes betraying
him.
Did he feel as
uncertain as she did?
Were their emotions normal for such an occasion?
Being an only child, she had no siblings to discuss what she was feeling nor had her father played this role before today.
She couldn’t allow him to suspect her own
insecurity or
doubts, nor could she force her lips to move and give him a reassuring smile.
Instead, once the sole
of her white linen shoe touched the heart-pine floor, she stretched out her arm, took his hand in hers and squeezed.

Before she could say or do more, her bridesmaids flocked around her
.
T
heir dresses
,
all
different shades of a
rainbow
,
reminded Taylor of a bouquet
of fresh flowers
.
They
busied themselves
straighten
ing
her veil, smooth
ing
the
hea
vy folds of the dress, and arranging
her train,
finally
her maid of honor
hand
ed her the bride’s bouquet.
These dear friends
reminded her of buzzing
bees
all talking,
no whispering
,
at once.
Taylor couldn’t make out any distinct words nor did she try
very hard to do so
.
She co
uld only hear the piano playing
loudly
i
n the tent just beyond the center-hallway rear door.
As to what song was being sung by the soprano hired to entertain the guests before the wedding, Taylor couldn’t decipher the tune.

Suddenly, the music stopped.
A moment later, t
he activity and the voices
of the bridesmaids slowly ceased
and silence filled the air.
Her friends stared at her
as if expecting an answer
.
She shrugged and shook her head
, careful not to dislodge any of the pins or the small cornet that held the veil firmly to her thick brown hair
.
The
hairstylist had taken what seemed like hours to do the upsweep
,
allowing
the head piece
to
nest safely on her hair
.
The
uneasiness, which she’d finally controlled, returned twelve-fold; she cast a bewildering look at her father.

He frowned then smiled broadly, his eyes twinkling.
“Your Aunt Bertha has probably dropped the sheet music.”
He spoke softly, but his words carried to those surrounding her.
 

Guarded, unsure
, almost embarrassed
giggles escaped her
bridesmaids

lips.
The sound lifted Taylor’s spirits. “You must admit, Aunt Bertha does play well,” she said to her father
, wanting the reason
he gave to be right
.

His eyes twinkled.
“But her repertoire is limited to church music and a few bawdy songs that she on
ly plays after a martini or two,

her father continued and, staring at his daughter while his smile expanded, added,
“And everything she plays is
…”

“Loud,” they said together and chuckled.
The tension melted.
This was one of the many times they’d played this game of completing one another’s sentence.
Aunt Bertha wasn’t the only victim.
With a family as peculiar as theirs, she and her father had many opportunities to make
this and other jokes.
Over the years
, making light of tragedy was
often
the only way the two of them had coped.

The bridesmaids looked bewil
dered at the jesting.
“Let’s line up,”
Taylor said
quietly
to
reassure them, “
I’m sure Aunt Bertha
w
ill
find the piece of music she needs soon.”
With a blur of color, h
er attendants quickly took their positions, checked each other carefully,
smoothing a
wrinkled free
skirt or dabbing at perfectly
quaffed
hair,
before obediently turning toward the closed screen doors.
They had hardly settled themselves when the two seven-foot tall doors leading to the back yard
burst
open then
clattered against the walls.
The sound reverberated in the long hallway, and Taylor thought, probably throughout the house
and the outside area
.
Decorum had certainly fled this wedding.

“He’s not here!” the best man
, Tim Jenkins
yelled, dashing into the house and running up to Taylor.
His disheveled hair, red face, and the beads of sweat on his forehead increased her concern.

“Who’s not here?” her father demanded as he grabbed the sleeve of Tim J
enkins’s
white
tuxedo
jacket
, turning the best man to face him
.

“Rod!”
Tim
took a deep breath and shifted his attention between Taylor and her father
before wiping his brow with several tissues he’d grab from the small table at the foot of the steps
.

“Absurd.

Her father’s no-nonsense tone took charge
.
The one he used when displeased with any situation that he could not or did not control.

Shaking his head in denial, Tim reiterated, “He’s not
here
.
He didn’t
come back
.


Come back
?
Come back
from where?
” she asked
, wondering where Rod would go on his wedding day.
Ideas flashed through her mind, but nothing popped up
.
Before she could say anything else, her father interrupted.

BOOK: Secrets in the Lowcountry--The River
5.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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