EXCERPTS

EXCERPTS

Book #1 – “The Necklace – The Dusky Club, June 1962”

Prologue

The Sleeping Beauty Castle

The year was 1968 and Susan was sixteen years old. She’d come to Disneyland with her family, but as soon as they’d entered the gates, she waved goodbye to her mother, brother, and grandparents, saying she’d meet up with them later at the ice cream parlor on Main Street. She scurried down the street and across the bridge to the Sleeping Beauty Castle before her mother had a chance to protest. She knew she’d later be in trouble for running off, but she didn’t care; she wanted to be alone and away from her family for at least part of the day.

The entrance to the Sleeping Beauty attraction was an obscure doorway that wasn’t well-marked and the attraction itself was infrequently visited. Inside the doorway, narrow stone steps led upward past the story scenes hidden behind glass windows. Various tunes from the movie played as the stairway ascended, but it was at the very top of the stairs where Susan wanted to be, where she felt was the very best place in all of Disneyland. The small, shadowy room contained a window to the largest and best scene of all, the forest scene where Briar Rose (Princess Aurora) meets her dream prince, Prince Phillip.

For four years now, Susan had been infatuated with a certain someone in a band, in fact, the most famous band of all time, who she’d seen in concert three times. James, one of the band members, had become her dream prince, saving her from her unstable mother’s verbal and physical abuse, and an uncle’s inappropriate and repulsive fondling.

James had become her safe haven, wrapping his arms around her in her dreams and telling her he loved her, that everything was going to be okay, that someday he would come and take her away to be with him forever.

Yes, it was just a dream, but it had become very real to her. When things got bad, she’d run to James, and he was always there for her, the one person she could always count on.

When she reached the top of the stairs in the castle, she sighed as she looked upon the idyllic scene laid out behind the glass, imagining that she was the princess and James was the prince. As had been the case every other time she’d been here, she was completely alone. She began singing along with the music to her favorite Sleeping Beauty song, “Once Upon A Dream.”

“I love you…you danced with me once upon a dream…When I saw you…the sparks in your eyes were so familiar to me…”

She closed her eyes for a moment, thinking of James and savoring the pleasurable and happy feelings coursing through her body, and turned in small circles around the room as she sang. She didn’t notice that someone else had come into the castle and was standing in the shadows at the top of the stairs watching her as she continued to sing and spin, her long, blonde hair flying around behind her.

“So I’m sure it’s true…that first love is rarely what it seems…but now I’m with you… I know what is true…You’ll hold me again…just as you did then…upon a dream…”

“Lovely,” said a voice out of the shadows. It sounded so familiar, it made her come to a sudden halt and freeze in place. “Will you sing it again for me?”

When she spun her head around and saw who was standing there, her eyes grew as big as the tea cup saucers in the Alice In Wonderland attraction. She was speechless and her knees felt as if they might buckle under her.

It was James. The real, live and in person, James.

How or why he was here, she didn’t know. Had she conjured him up from her imagination?

All she did know was that the sight of him took her breath away and made her heart feel as if it would pound out of her chest. She licked her lips thinking she would choke if she tried to say something. She blinked and closed her eyes for a moment, thinking he was just a vision, but when she opened them again, he was still there.

James moved forward out of the shadows, into the small room and smiled at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement, and she could see the amber highlights in them glinting in the half light.

“Cat got your tongue?” he asked teasingly.

All she could do was shake her head, but she finally managed to say, “No…you…you just startled me is all…” Her words were merely a whisper.

“So, will you sing me the song again?” he prodded.

“Oh, no! I can’t sing very well…I…I thought I was alone…and…” she stuttered.

“I thought you sang quite nicely. Please, will you sing it again?”

Susan was glad the room was so dark, as she was blushing crimson all the way from the roots of her golden blonde hair down to her toenails. She could feel the heat in her face.

“Really…no…”

He stepped closer until he was only a couple of feet away. “Please?” he said, raising his eyebrows.

She’d been holding her breath and let out a great exhale. For almost a full minute, she couldn’t think or speak as he continued to look at her imploringly.

“Well…I guess…” she finally managed.

She walked up to the glass and looked in at the scene, turning her back to him. She felt him come up behind her and was shaking at the thought that he might actually touch her. She knew that if he did, she would pass out on the floor right then and there. She took a deep breath and began to sing again.

As her trembling and unsteady voice faded on the last notes, he said, “That was very nice, thank you.”

She turned around to face him. “I’m sure you could sing it better…”

“Do you think so?”

“Well, of course I do!”

“So you know who I am?”

She gulped. “Uh…yeah…how could I not know?”

He laughed. “Well, if I’d left my disguise on, maybe you wouldn’t. That’s why I came here. That mustache and beard thing were getting all itchy. I was told that no one comes here very much.”

She laughed back. “You’re right; not many people know this is even here. That’s one reason I like it.”

“So, are you here alone then?”

“No. I came to Disneyland with my family, but this is my favorite place. I always come here first when we come to Disneyland. I told my mom I’d meet up with everyone later.”

“Do you come to Disneyland often?”

“Once or twice a year…We don’t live very far away.”

“And why is this your favorite place?”

She bit her lip and turned to look at the scene behind the window again. “I’ve just always loved the Sleeping Beauty story, I guess.”

“What do you like most about it?”

“Um…well…the falling in love part when he doesn’t know who she really is and she doesn’t know who he really is…and…and the end where he wakes her up with love’s first kiss…and when they’re dancing at the very end and two of the fairies keep changing her dress from pink to blue…”

“Ah…and what color does it end up being? Pink or blue?”

“Why, pink, of course!’

“I see…your favorite color maybe?”

“Maybe.” She leaned back into the glass window to brace herself because her legs were shaking so bad.

When he reached forward and took a lock of her hair between his fingers, she was sure she would faint. She inhaled sharply, her eyes flying to his and their eyes locked.

“Perhaps you’d be interested in taking a ride on the Monorail with me?” he asked.

“The Monorail?”

“Yes, it goes all around the park, as you probably know, and it even makes a stop at the Disneyland Hotel. We could have a cup of coffee.”

She sucked in her breath. “You mean…leave the park?!”

“Just for a bit. Perhaps I could even sing to you…”

A weak “Oh” was all she could manage.

He let go of her hair, sensing he was making her nervous.

And, he knew full well he was making her nervous; he knew the effect he had on girls. They constantly chased him and just about threw themselves at his feet. Being in a band that was now world famous had its drawbacks, but having beautiful girls pining to be with him, was one of the bonuses.

He assessed the girl standing in front of him, knowing that his closeness was affecting her. Although it was rather dim in the room, he could still see she was one of the loveliest girls he’d ever encountered. She was just a few inches shorter than him, with a very trim yet shapely body. She wore a pink, sleeveless sun dress with a modest neckline, yet there was still a hint of cleavage peeking out at him from the top. Her tanned skin was flawless and her face and hair looked almost like the Sleeping Beauty character behind the glass window. He wanted to touch her skin as he had her soft and silky hair.

It was her eyes, however, that he found captivating. They were a deep emerald green with flecks of blue and gray floating in their depths. His thoughts shocked him for a moment. He was normally not so quickly captivated by a pretty face. Most of the time they all seemed the same to him.

But, he wanted to find out more about this girl for some reason…her name…her age…what she looked like outside the dimness of the room. It was as if the Sleeping Beauty castle had cast some kind of spell over him.

As if she could read his mind, Susan flinched and moved towards the other set of stairs leading down through the rest of the attraction to a second door that led out of the castle. She was more than nervous; she suddenly and unexpectedly felt panicked. Here was her dream prince right in front of her, asking her to leave Disneyland with him, and she was so unnerved and flustered that she could barely breathe.

The thought of spending more time with him, having him touch more than just her hair, sent terrified shivers down her spine.

She had to leave. She had to get out of the castle and away from him. She didn’t know why she was so frightened, but she began to shake uncontrollably before turning on her heel and racing from the room and down the stairs, hair flying behind her, as fast as her unstable legs could carry her.

Right before she reached the bottom, she glanced over through one of the windows and saw the scene with Prince Phillip waking up Princess Aurora with love’s first kiss. She choked on a sob and tears began to pour down her face.

As she passed the final window with the dancing scene and the flashing blue and pink lights changing Sleeping Beauty’s dress color, she heard footsteps behind her and knew it was James.

“Wait!” she heard him yell. “Where are you going?! What’s your name?”

But, by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped out into the bright sunlight, Susan was gone.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 – 46 Years Later

“I forgot when your plane was due in,” Lynn said sheepishly. “I thought you said 11:00, not 10:00.”

“Lynn! How could you have forgotten? It’s a five hour drive from here to our ship, and the ship sails at 5:30! We’re going to be cutting it really close!”

“I know…I know…sorry, honey…”

“You forgot what time I was due in last time too, remember? When I came for the concert?”

“Oh, Susan, don’t remind me of that!”

“Why not?”

“You turned into a basket case, that’s why. I thought you were going to leap off the balcony when James started to sing “All My Kisses.” I really did!”

“How ridiculous! I was not about to leap off the balcony! Why would I do that? I’m not that crazy!”

“Well, I’m not so sure about that when it comes to him…Plus, you told me going to see James made you start thinking about him again. You shouldn’t be thinking of him at all, you know.”

“Yeah, I know…But with Donald all wrapped up in his court cases and everything… Sometimes I don’t even see him for a whole week, other than sleeping in the same bed for a couple of hours a night. And, sometimes he even stays at his office all night so I don’t see him at all. He doesn’t even make time to call me.”

“Susan, he treats you like a princess, and you know it! He adores you. Once this court case is over, you know he’ll sweep you off on a romantic vacation somewhere, just like he always does.”

“Yeah, maybe, but in the meantime, I’ve got James stuck in my head again. I keep thinking of the time I met him in Disneyland…remember when I told you about that?”

“Oh yes! And you were just sixteen! What could he have been thinking wanting to go off with you like that? You would have been underage jail bait! And, what was he doing there anyway? Are you sure you just didn’t imagine it?

“I’m very, very sure! It was definitely him. I keep wishing I hadn’t run away. What do you think would have happened if I hadn’t run away?”

“Something that you would have regretted, I’m sure. You probably wouldn’t have been a virgin when you met Donald for one thing.”

“He just said he wanted to take a ride on the Monorail and go for a cup of coffee.”

“Uh huh…and I’m the Queen of Sheeba. I don’t think so…It creeps me out just thinking about it.”

“Whatever…I’m still going to always wonder. I’m always going to wonder what he’s really like. He seemed so nice up in the Sleeping Beauty Castle… I’d give anything to go back and re-live that time…maybe even decide to go have that cup of coffee with him…”

“You and your thinking he’s so darn perfect. He’s just a made-up dream and you know it. Your real dream is what you already have. You should appreciate Donald more.”

“I do! But it still doesn’t keep me from thinking what it would be like to go back in the past and be with James again in the castle. Or…even better yet…What if I could go back in the past and meet him before the band became famous? Maybe he’d fall in love with me and then…”

Excerpt from Chapter 3 – In the Dusky Club

Suddenly, she froze and squeezed her eyes shut. What had happened? Where was she? She was certainly on the cruise ship, probably in the piano bar, the usual hangout for her and Lynn. But, the smoke…“They don’t smoke this much in the piano bar on the cruise ship!” she thought. “And that scruffy looking guy doesn’t look like he belongs on a cruise ship.”

Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around the room.

Dingy. Smoky. Smelled like stale beer. The walls looked like they were made of brick or stone or a combination of both. They looked dank and dark, kind of like a dungeon. She didn’t see any windows at all in the room. There were tall tables with stools sitting up against the walls. She was at one of them. Smaller tables were scattered in-between. They were all full of people, mostly girls.

She looked down at her lap and then her chest and arms to see what she was wearing. Holy crap! It looked like something out of the fifties…something like June Cleaver would wear on “Leave It to Beaver.” It was a light pink, cotton seersucker dress, with a defined, belted waist and a scoop neckline. It had short sleeves with small bows at the ends. On her feet were dainty little sandals in a color to match the dress. Oh my God! She wondered what her hair looked like or if she had make-up on with silly pink lipstick to match the dress or a headband or bows in her hair. It would have made her laugh if she hadn’t been so appalled.

She pulled her purse onto her lap and fished around for a compact or something that had a mirror in it. Impatiently, she pushed aside a pair of short, white gloves. Gloves!? What in the hell were gloves doing in her purse? When would she wear gloves here? Ah! There was a compact at the bottom of the purse. She took it out. Tentatively, she flipped it open and looked at herself. Thank goodness; no makeup or pink lipstick! She snapped it shut and tossed it back in the purse. She reached up and touched her hair. Thank goodness, no bows, headbands or hairspray. She wiggled her toes and looked down at them. Yes, they were her toes all right. She looked at her hands; yes, they were definitely her hands and thank god, no pink nail polish to match the dorky dress.

Then she felt a shudder go through her and looked toward the front of the room…

And there he was.

Live and in person.

Scruffy, with greasy hair and sweating under the lights.

In leather and a black t-shirt?

Really?

This was James?

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The Wager

Her hotel, as it turned out, was almost eight blocks away, a good ten minute walk. It was a tall building, almost the tallest in town, at ten stories. Built in the early 20’s, it had an old-fashioned elegance and charm. They went into the lobby, stepping onto plush carpet, and Susan turned to go to the elevator, stopping for a moment to tell him good night.

“So, I might see you tomorrow then,” she said.

“Oh, I’ll just walk you up to your room, if that’s okay,” he said, starting towards the elevator.

“Actually, I can find my way to my room just fine, but thanks for asking,” she said, stopping in the middle of the lobby next to some sofas and chairs.

“Are you sure?”

“It’s very gallant of you to ask, Sir James, but a lady never allows a gentleman to escort her to her bedroom…and you are a gentleman, aren’t you?”

She smiled up into his face.

“Sometimes,” he responded, his eyes roving over her.

She shivered. “Well, I appreciate your being a true gentleman tonight then. It was very nice to meet you…and thank you for the coffee…I enjoyed talking to you.”

“And I to you. Promise me you’ll come to the practice tomorrow. Mindy will be there and you can get to know her. She’s a great girl.”

“I don’t really know if I should. If all those girls were to find out…”

“Quit worrying about the other girls. I’m a gentleman; I can protect you, you know.”

His eyes were laughing.

She couldn’t help but laugh herself.

“Okay, okay…so I guess I’ll come to your practice then. Will you sing a song to me?”

“But of course, m’lady. I’ll sing something special for you. Can I kiss you goodnight?’

She looked up into his mesmerizing eyes and thought of everything Sandra had said about him. Oh, the temptation! A girl could drown in those eyes…She was torn between saying “yes” and “no, not yet.” She’d only been here a few hours, and yet here she was in the lobby of a hotel with him wanting to come up to her room, and now wanting a kiss. She thought for a minute as he continued to look at her questioningly with his perfectly arched eyebrows raised.

“You may kiss my hand,” she said impulsively, lifting it up towards his face.

“Are you teasing me?” he asked, the laughter still in his eyes along with something else that wasn’t all that hard to recognize.

It was almost as if she could read his mind. Arrogant guy! He was thinking that it wouldn’t take a whole lot to get her to take him up to her room and “surrender all.” But, for some reason he wasn’t pressuring her. She didn’t know why, but she was very grateful for it. You don’t hop in bed with somebody you only knew a few hours. At least she wouldn’t contemplate such a thing. The thought made her knees feel weak again. Sounded like the girls at the club did it every night. Yikes!

It felt like a stomach punch as he took her hand in both of his and brought it up to his face. His lips lingered over the top of her hand, then kissed the knuckles on each one of her fingers. Very slowly, he turned her hand palm up, kissing each finger again, then softly pressed his lips on her palm as he looked up into her eyes. His lips moved up to kiss the inside of her wrist, while at the same time, he trailed the fingers of his other hand up the inside of her arm to the crook of her elbow. Her legs felt like they were made of jelly and were going to cave under her. Her breath caught and her lips parted in a small gasp. She turned her head away. Her unruly, young hormones were beginning to awaken.

Sensations were shooting through her from the tips of her fingers down to her toes, and she knew when she met his eyes again that he was aware of her response to him.

He gave a triumphant smile and said softly, “I’ll just be walking you up to your room then.” He started to pull her towards the elevator.

She let out a big exhale and stopped, planting her feet on the carpet. “No…oh, no thank you…that’s quite all right…” She was trembling, and she knew he could see and feel it.

He stood staring at her, waiting for her to change her mind, but when no words were forthcoming, he said, “Until tomorrow then, m’lady.” He looked disappointed and even slightly annoyed.

“Certainly, sir,” she whispered as he released her hand and turned to walk away.

She was still looking at him as he got to the lobby door. He turned and gave another small bow before going out the door.

“I think I’m going to faint,” she said to herself as she pushed the elevator button and grasped her necklace, twisting the chain back and forth between her trembling fingers.

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – The Pond

They were both sleepy after drinking the glass of wine and eating a large amount of the baguette, brie, shaved ham and grapes. They both lay back against the tree trunk, empty wine glasses in hand. Their eyes started to close when James said, “Would you like to see the pond?”

Susan’s eyes fluttered open and she said sleepily, “Sure,” and sat up.

James stood up, took her hand and pulled her up. “It’s down the path this way. Chad and I used to swim in it during the summers we stayed here.”

He led her by the hand down a narrow path bordered by ferns, to a small pond surrounded by large boulders. There were overgrown trees on each side. A small waterfall cascaded into the pond between two of the boulders, making the scene idyllic.

“I haven’t been here in ages,” he said gazing around.

“Is the water very cold?” she asked.

“Shouldn’t be this time of year,” he responded. “Go ahead and stick your toe in.”

She slipped off her sandals, set them down on the pebbles by the shore of the pond, and tentatively put one foot into the water. It was chilly, but not uncomfortably cold. On a warm day like this one, it wouldn’t even be too cold to swim in.

The pebbles beneath the water were smooth and somewhat slimy with algae. She stepped in with her other foot, but as she did so, she started to lose her balance and was just about to fall full into the water, when James grabbed her arm and pulled her back. As she spun around, the front of her body thudded against his chest, and within a second, he had wrapped his arms tightly around her and crushed his mouth down on hers.

Her response to his kiss was immediate, all her pent up emotions from the previous night exploding into uncontrollable desire. She returned his kiss with a passion she didn’t even know she had, reaching both arms up to twine around his neck. Her hands moved up to the back of his head and she ran her fingers frantically through his hair, scraping her fingernails on his scalp. He groaned as their kiss became intense and he shot his tongue into her mouth, teasing and probing.

He cupped one of her breasts in his hand and she responded by thrusting her hips into his and rubbing against him. He moved his hands down to her bottom and pulled her even closer. She could feel his pulsing arousal against her stomach and the beginning wetness between her legs. A throbbing need began deep in her belly then slowly moved down to her most private parts, leaving her almost breathless with want.

Her hormones were in a drunken stupor, while her aged and mature mind fled into the depths of the pond.

Their kiss became an erotic play of lips and tongues. Their hearts were beating wildly against each other. He covered her neck with kisses and small bites then took her earlobe between his teeth and tugged gently before swirling his tongue inside her ear, making her almost swoon.

She reached between them down to the front of his trousers and squeezed the pulsating bulge that was begging for release. He reached a hand behind her head, grasping a handful of her hair and pulled her face towards his again, kissing her once more.

James was the first to draw back and look down at her, his lips parted, his eyes smoldering and dark with flickering amber highlights. They were both breathing heavily. Her lips felt swollen from his kisses. His eyes locked onto hers. She knew the next move was up to her. He’d said so when they left for the picnic this morning.

But did she even have a choice? She knew there was no point in fighting against this; she wanted him to possess her, and it was far too late for either of them to call a halt to the inevitable. All rational thoughts fled from her head as he squeezed her bottom, pulling her back into him. She could feel his throbbing manhood, imagining how it would feel inside her, and the last of any rational thoughts flew from her brain.

“Take me back to the cottage and make love to me,” she whispered huskily.

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – Little Dippington

She went back behind the curtain and changed back into her sundress, coming back out with the green silky dress draped over her arm. She walked over to the counter with the dress, opening her purse and saying, “So how much do I owe you?” when James pushed in front of her again and said, “Yes, how much is the dress, then? I’ll be paying for it.”

When the saleslady stated the price, James blanched, but pulled bills out of his pocket the same time Susan pulled some out of her purse.

“No,” said Susan. “I’m paying for this. It’s a dress for me; I have plenty of money and you don’t need to keep paying for everything.”

“But I do, you know,” he said, pushing his money onto the counter.

“No, you don’t,” she insisted, pushing his money back towards him and placing her own on the counter. “You already paid for the cup I broke.”

He pressed his hand down on top of hers as she was pushing her money towards the saleslady.

“I said I was paying for it, which means I’m paying for it and you’re not. Is that not clear or something?”

She suddenly sensed he was angry and looked up at his face. Not clear? What in the hell was that supposed to mean?

And then she saw he was angry. She could see his eyes narrowed as he looked her straight in the face, unblinking. She’d seen that look before; it was when she’d first walked into the practice room after the hand kissing incident.

“But,” she started to say.

“But, nothing. Haven’t you been listening? Haven’t I made myself clear?” His voice was calm, but cold.

Slowly, he lifted his hand off hers and she drew her money back towards her and put it back in her purse. She looked contrite but felt furious inside.

“Well, this is a side of him I wasn’t expecting,” she thought to herself, fuming. Controlling. And, as Lynn would have told him if she’d been here, she wasn’t a person to be controlled or bossed around.

She found her temper begin to rise higher. No man had ever told her what she could or couldn’t do, not even when she was seventeen. In fact, never! She’d always had one of those rebellious natures, and was used to getting her own way. She felt like saying “just never mind!” about the dress and stomping out of the shop.

Without any further words, the saleslady rung up the purchase, folded the dress between tissue paper, placed it in a box and handed it to James. He put it under his arm, took Susan by the elbow and they left the shop.

When they got outside, she spun around to look at him and shook her elbow free, stepping away from him a few feet and planting her hands on her hips.

“And what was that all about?” she asked, sarcasm heavy in her voice.

“It’s not your place to pay for things when you’re with me,” he said. “If you want or need something, you let me know and I’ll take care of it. You’re not to spend your money! Do you understand me?”

“But I have plenty of money, and I know you probably don’t, so why all the fuss?”

“Is that what girls do in America then? Humiliate their guy by paying for everything?”

“Humiliate? What in the hell are you talking about? It’s a simple fact that I have the money to pay for whatever shit I want!” Her voice was raised.

“Well, then you need to learn that’s not the way it’s done here. When you’re with me, I’m the one who pays for everything, including what you may need or want. And quit the swearing! It’s not ladylike. I’m not letting you pay for anything and you better understand that. And, maybe you don’t always get what you want!”

Excerpt from Chapter 14 – Another Night at the Dusky

When she came out of the bathroom five minutes later, James had her suitcase in hand and was ready to walk out the door.

Until he looked at her. He stopped dead in his tracks.

“What’s that stuff all over your face?” he asked.

“Make-up,” she said. “I thought I’d make myself beautiful for you.”

“You look cheap and tawdry. Go wash it off…and hurry…I told you I don’t want to be late.”

Her mouth dropped open and she froze.

“Wash it off? Wash it off!!!” she said indignantly, stung by his words.

“I believe I spoke in English,” he replied. “Yes, wash it off. You look better without it. I think you’re just fine the way you are.”

“Well, you might think so, but maybe I don’t. Maybe other people would think I look nice with makeup. Maybe I want to feel pretty… Maybe…” Her voice rose an octave with each word.

“I don’t care what other people think. Go wash it off!”

Her stubborn streak kicked into high gear. “Make me,” she challenged him in a pouty, little girl voice. As she’d told Mel earlier, no man was ever going to tell her what to do. She defiantly crossed her arms over her chest, her feet planted on the floor.

He set down her suitcase and came up to her, saying softly, “I washed the stuff out of my hair for you, didn’t I? I expect it’s not too much to ask that you wash that mess off your face for me?”

If she hadn’t been so flustered, she would have seen the warning signals in his eyes.

Mess?! He was calling her a mess! She fumed.

“You either go back into the bathroom and wash it off yourself, or I’ll go get a washing cloth and do it for you,” he said quietly.

“Why you arrogant asshole! How dare you order me around!! You’re being an A-number one shithead about this!”

He grabbed her arm above the elbow. “What did you call me?”

“You heard me loud and clear, I think. Do you want me to repeat it?”

“I think you owe me an apology,” he said coldly, squeezing her arm tighter. “And your swearing has got to stop!”

“Ow! You’re hurting me!” she said.

He immediately released her arm, looking at her with eyes blazing. “I said you owe me an apology. And I mean it; quit the damn swearing!!”

She thought back to the incident at the practice where he’d insulted her with the “I’ll Have You” song and how she’d told him to apologize.

“Fine then!” she said as sarcastically as possible. “Fine, fine, fine! I apologize.”

He grabbed her arm again, this time gently but enough to keep her from pulling away.

“Say it like you mean it,” he said firmly, his eyes boring into hers.

She shook herself loose and turned her back to him. She was shaking and suddenly very confused. Was she being really stupid here? He didn’t like the make-up and told her to take it off. What was the big deal? It wasn’t like she had to look at herself. If he liked her looking plain, why was she being so stubborn? And, he had a point; he’d washed the greasy stuff out of his hair for her…

“Because I don’t like being bossed around!!” she said to herself. “Nobody bosses me around!”

“Well?” he said softly behind her. “I’m waiting.”

Suddenly, she wanted to cry. She just couldn’t make her mouth say the words, “I’m sorry.” “What the hell is wrong with me?” she said to herself.

“You want me to leave you here then?” he asked, sounding wounded and disappointed, the anger fading from him as quickly as it had come.

Tears welled up in her eyes and her shoulders started moving up and down as a sob burst from her. The tears poured down her cheeks along with some of the eye shadow and mascara, stinging her eyes.

He moved forward, took her by the shoulders and turned her around. “Is it so hard for you to say you’re sorry?” he asked. “Why? It’s not that difficult you know.”

She reached up to rub her burning eyes.

“Come here,” he said pulling her into the bathroom. “Let me take care of that.”

He took a wash cloth off a shelf, ran cold water over it and started gently wiping her face and eyes. She stood still, arms hanging limply at her sides. When he was done, he leaned in and kissed her softly on the tip of her nose.

She sniffed. “Thank you,” she whispered.

But she didn’t say she was sorry. He didn’t seem to notice.

Excerpt from Chapter 18 – James’s Intentions

She reached up to finger the ballerina shoes hanging on her necklace. She didn’t understand why she felt the way she did. One moment she felt so good being with him, and the next she wanted to run as fast as she could back to the future.

He stopped playing and looked over at her. “A penny for your thoughts,” he said, knowing that she’d been standing silently looking at him.

“I love that song,” she said.

“I wrote it for you, you know.”

She smiled sadly. “I was hoping you’d say that. It’ll be a good memory for me after I’m gone.”

“And for when you come back after your history tour,” he added.

Her eyes looked away from his. He stood up and came over to her. “You are coming back, you know…after the tour and all…you’ll come back here to be with me…”

“But you’ll probably be in London by then making records…”

“Then we can meet in London, right? You are coming back to me…you have to…you know you have to…”

She refused to look at him. She felt tears starting in her eyes yet again. He gently took her chin in his hand and turned her face towards his. “Promise me you’ll be back. Promise me.”

Her eyes met his.

“I promise,” she lied.

Excerpt from Chapter 21 – The Necklace

“James,” Susan said, reaching her hands up around the back of her neck. “Take this to remember me by…please?” She lifted the silver necklace she always wore from around her neck and up over her head. The tiny pair of ballerina toe shoes dangled on the end of the silver chain. She held it out to him.

He took it and cupped it in his hand, looking down at it for a moment. “I’ll look at this and cherish it every moment you’re gone.”

“Which will be a very long time,” she thought to herself. “I wonder if you’ll even remember how you got it after I’m gone…I wonder if it can even stay here with you in the past…”

He bent his head and slipped the necklace over it tucking it under his shirt, then looked back up at her and gently touched her face. “Thank you,” he said softly. “And what would you like of mine to remember me?”

She smiled a wicked grin, got up from the couch and reached for his hand to pull him up. She led him to the stairs then up to his bedroom. “Some memories…” she said softly, pushing him back onto the small, single bed. “Some really, really good memories…”

Excerpt from the Epilogue

It was a Sunday night in February, 1964, and Susan’s grandparents, mother and brother were all in the living room in front of the television. The Ted Flannagan show was about to come on. Her grandparents and mother watched it every week.

The phone rang in the kitchen and Susan ran to answer it. It was Lynn.

“I’ve been trying to call you for over an hour!” Lynn said. “The stupid people on the party line were hogging it up.”

“Yeah, well, they do that a lot. You could have just walked to my house, you know.”

“Yeah, I know, but I wanted to make sure you’re going to watch the Ted Flannagan show. They’re going to be on! I’m so excited!!!”

“I know, I know. I’m going to watch it, but it just seems like a lot of fuss for four guys from England.”

“You saw their pictures in the magazine I brought over a couple of weeks ago. They’re all so cute. I think I like Ian best.”

“So who do you think I should like best?”

“Just go watch and pick one, but you can’t pick Ian; he’s mine. They’re about to come on any minute now. Then, I’ll come down to your house and you can tell me what you think and who you picked to be your favorite.”

“I don’t think I’m going to have a favorite.”

“Just watch, okay? I want to know what you think of Ian. He’s so dreamy…”

“Dreamy? Geez! Okay, okay, I’ll go watch. See you later.”

Susan hung up the phone, went into the living room and sat on the floor, her elbow on the coffee table and a bored look on her face.

Ted Flannagan was talking about four “young gentlemen” from England. He flung his hand to the side and the camera focused on the band. They were dressed in matching suits and had long hair that almost touched their collars.

Susan’s grandfather made a “hrumphhh” sound.

“Beatniks!” her mother said.

Susan ignored them. She watched as three young men slipped guitar straps over their shoulders. Another went to the drums. The girls in the audience were screaming frantically, some of them crying as the camera panned over them.

The one with the guitar pointed to the left stepped up to the microphone.

“One, two, three, four, five!…Close your eyes while I touch you…You know how I love you…Remember me while you’re away…And then while you are gone…I will try to go on…And send all my kisses your way…”

Susan sat up straighter and scooted closer to the t.v. Her mother yelled at her to move back before she hurt her eyes. There was something interesting about the guy on the left, the one with his guitar pointed in what looked like the wrong direction. Her eyes became glued to the t.v. Which one was he? As much as she hated to admit it, he was kinda cute. When the camera closed in on his face, she was suddenly captivated by his eyes and long eyelashes. She fingered the ballerina slippers hanging on the silver necklace she’d just got for her twelfth birthday the month before. Then she thought, “Well, since I have to pick one, I think I’ll pick him… I think his name is James…”

Book #2 – “The Necklace – Back to Brighton, November 1962”

Excerpt from Chapter 1 – The Link Remains

It was November of the same year that Lynn and Susan had taken their girl’s cruise where Susan had traveled back into the past to June, 1962 to the Dusky Club in Brighton, England.  Lynn had followed her when she realized things were getting out of hand, but it had been too late to stop the torrid love affair between Susan and James, the person Susan had gone back to meet, a person she had been obsessed with since she was twelve years old.  The cruise had been in June and five months had passed since their adventure.

Although she had come back from her time travel experience with a new outlook on her present life, Susan couldn’t let go of the memories of being with James or forget all that had happened between them.  She didn’t understand why she felt so unsettled or anxious, or why she kept seeing his face when she closed her eyes at night to go to sleep.  She didn’t want to see his face!  It was unnerving.

When she tried to explain her feelings to Lynn, Lynn became annoyed and scolding.

“You’ve just got to stop this, Suz!” she urged.  “It’s over.  You learned what you needed to learn, and that’s the end of it!  James was not for you; you even admitted that you two would never have gotten along.  Be happy with what you have!  You have the best thing in the world and you know it!”

While Susan agreed with her very best friend outwardly, knowing she was right, her mind just wouldn’t let go of James.  He was like a cancer, eating away at her peace.  When she started to have more and more flashbacks to the seven days she’d spent in the past, she called her other long-time friend, John, for advice, and who she had relayed her time travel adventure to shortly after she and Lynn had returned the previous June.

John and Susan had been good friends since high school, where they’d eaten lunch together just about every day, and had maintained contact through all the years since.  John often came to her house for dinner with her and Susan’s husband, Donald.  They talked frequently on the phone, and John knew just about as much about her as Lynn did.

“John, something is wrong with me,” she wailed.  “I should be over this, but it keeps coming back.  I just don’t know why.  I know I have everything wonderful.  I know we would never have suited, but I just can’t stop myself from thinking about James.  It’s like I have no control!  I feel like I’m trapped in a spider web or something!”

Instinctively, as she’d been doing for the past five months, she reached up to pull on her necklace, but it wasn’t there.  She dropped her hand back into her lap and sighed.  “What should I do John?  Why do you think I feel this way?”

John contemplated her comments and question for a minute then said, “Maybe you need to try and find that Mika lady from Haiti who sent you back.  Maybe she could tell you.  Maybe something went wrong when you came back or she forgot to do something.”

“She told me I would be just a dim memory to him.  But, she didn’t say what I would remember.  I thought she said he’d be a dim memory to me too, but I just can’t stop thinking about him and everything that happened.  And, the really horrible thing is that I don’t remember the bad stuff, just the good stuff.  It’s unnerving!”

“Then I think you need to track her down and ask what’s up.  If anyone would know, it would be her.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.  Her granddaughter, Marta, gave me her e-mail address in Haiti.  I guess I should e-mail her.  Geez!  I just hate this!  I thought going back would cure me of this ‘James thing,’ but I don’t think it did.”

“Well, e-mail Marta and ask.  Let me know what she says.  If you need me to help in any way, just let me know.”

“That’s so nice of you, John.  Lynn doesn’t understand and I don’t blame her.  I was a basket case at that concert last year, when we went to see James, and then she had to come and try rescue me when I went back to the past in June.  I don’t have anyone else to talk to about this.  I’ll let you know right away what Mika or Marta says.”

Susan sent the e-mail to Marta as soon as she hung up the phone after talking with John.  She was grateful for his advice.  She should have thought of contacting Mika or Marta on her own, but sometimes it just took someone else for you to see what was right in front of your face.

***

It was eight days before she got a response from Marta.  It said:

“I explained to Grandmere about your problem, and she is concerned for you.  You should not be having this reaction!  What happened to you in the past should have made you put this James person out of your mind and your life forever.  She remembers that you left a necklace back in the past and wants to know where you left it.  Did you, by chance, leave it on the person of this James?  She thinks you did.  If so, that is the problem.  In fact, if that is what you did and he is still wearing it, you will not be a dim memory to him or others connected to him until he removes it.  She thinks he has not yet removed it and that’s why the past is vibrating into your present.”

Susan gasped as she read the e-mail for the second time.  “He’s still wearing my necklace!” she exclaimed to herself.  “I wouldn’t have thought… I mean, I figured I’d become the dim memory like Marta said I would, and that he’d forget all about me and the necklace.”

She immediately wrote back to Marta asking what she should do.  It was nice that Marta had responded with a possible explanation, but she’d offered no advice as to what to do.  If it was five months later back in the past, the boys were now becoming well-known and on the brink of being world-famous.  They would be recording their second record any minute now.  The thought sent shivers through her.

Then she started wondering… What was James doing?  Did he get back together with Hilary?  Were he and the boys still making wagers, or did they just have to nod their head at any girl and instantly have her fall at their feet?  A pang of jealousy tore through her and she had to shake it off.  What the hell did she care anyway?  She was a mature 62-year-old woman…almost a senior citizen, in fact…She had to get a grip on herself!

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, again reaching up to her chest where the necklace had been since she was twelve years old.

And then she thought, “I want it back.  I should never have left it with him.  If I get it back, this link, or whatever it is, will be broken.  Won’t it?”

***

“Wait!” Susan said suddenly.  “I have a brilliant idea!”

“All your ideas are brilliant,” said John.  “They’re also crazy and insane, but don’t let that stop you.  What do you have in mind?”

“Simple… You go with me.”

“I what?”

“You heard me… You go with me.  I’ll say you’re my brother.  I told him I had a brother, so you can be my brother.”

 Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Back in the Dusky Club

“We pledged our love to each other when she was here before,” James said to John.  He let go of Susan and reached down into the front of his shirt, where he pulled out the ballerina necklace and held the ballerina slippers out to John to show him.  The silver chain was still around his neck.

“See?  She gave me this and I haven’t taken it off since.”

John and Susan’s eyes met silently then John said, “Can I look at it a little closer?”

James took a few steps toward him, the ballerina slippers held in the palm of his hand.

“Susan,” said John.  “Isn’t that the necklace Grandpa gave you on your twelfth birthday?  The one you were crying about and saying you missed so much when we were at… um… at Grandpa’s funeral?”

Susan said nothing, continuing to look at the necklace.

“You missed your necklace?” asked James, looking forlorn again and staring at her.  “If you want it back, I’ll give it to you, you know.”

“God, I hope so!!!” exclaimed John to himself.  “We could be out of here in just a few minutes, just like we’d never even come here.”  He looked at Susan again and raised his eyebrows.

“Well?” he said to her.  “He’s offering to give it back to you.  Isn’t that nice of him?  Then you won’t have to be so sad missing it.”

She still said nothing.

John glared at her.  “Go on, Sister,” he said pointedly.  “Tell him you want it back.”

James reached up around the back of his neck as if he were going to remove the chain.  Susan looked at him.  His eyes were shining with fresh tears.

“No!!!” she screamed.  “No!  Don’t take it off!!!”

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – James and Susan Together Again

As James stepped out into the alley, he checked both ways to make sure there weren’t any girls hanging around waiting for the band.  Lately, there were more and more girls following the boys, and they were getting pretty aggressive.  The yelling and screaming in the club was getting more boisterous.  It was all they could do to avoid being attacked.

James quickly pulled Susan down the alley to his car and opened the passenger door for her.  She promptly hopped in and he hustled around to the other side where he got in and started the engine.

“I usually go back out into the club for a while after we quit playing,” he said.  “So everyone probably doesn’t suspect that I’ve left yet.”  He turned on the headlights and pulled away.

Susan looked over at him, feeling suddenly shy.  “So, are we going to my hotel room then?” she asked, butterflies beating wildly in her stomach as she contemplated what they might do there.  Her hormones were in near ecstasy.

“I’m taking you to see my dad first,” he responded.  “He’s been worried about you, you know.  He’s missed you.”

“Oh no!” she exclaimed.  “We can’t go see him now!!  I won’t know what to say to him!  Besides, it’s almost 1:00 in the morning.  He’s probably asleep!”

“He’s a light sleeper.  He’ll be glad to see you.”

“But, I don’t want to see him yet!” she insisted.

“Well, that’s where we’re going,” he said.

“But, I don’t want to!”

He looked over at her as he came to a stop sign.

“I said he missed you and he’s been worried, so we’ll go there first, then we can go to your hotel room.”

He grinned at her.  “Anxious to be with me again, are you?”  He reached over and slipped his hand up under her dress.  She slapped him away.

“Why you arrogant jerk,” she wanted to say, but said instead, “James, I mean it; I need time to think before I see your dad again.  I don’t want to see him yet!”

“There’s nothing to think about.  We don’t need to stay long, you know.  Just long enough for him to see you again and know you’re back with me.”

“No, James!  I said I don’t want to go!”

“Don’t argue with me, Susan.  We had this straightened out between us before you left, remember?  You’ll do as I say.”

His voice was getting edgy.

She folded her arms over her chest and turned her head away from him to look out the window.

“Do as I say, huh!  You damn well are an arrogant asshole!” she muttered to herself.  She thought about jumping out of the car at the next stop sign or traffic light, but didn’t think that would be a good idea, aside from the fact that it would be childish.  And, she had no idea where they were.

The reality of why they really would never suit each other flashed into her head.  She’d been back, how long?  Just a space of minutes.  And here he was getting all annoying and bossy again already.

***

When James got back home, the lamp next to the couch was on and Mel was still up.  He was smoking his pipe and appeared to be deep in thought as James closed the door behind him.

“Still up, Dad?” James asked.

“Yes.  I wanted to talk to you.”

“How did you know I’d be back?”

“Because Susan said you’d be back.  It was clear she wasn’t ready to just let you have your way with her again… at least not tonight.”

“But she was, you know.  It was her brother that stopped us.  She was dying to be with me again, just like I wanted to be with her.  We love each other, remember?”

“And she just lost her grandfather, James.  Have some respect.  He was like a real father to her.”

“I know that.”

“And if her brother stopped you, good for him.  A brother should protect his sister… especially from the likes of you.”

“How can you say that?  You know how I feel about her!”

Felt about her… as in past tense.  I’m not so sure you still love her.  I can see, though, that she still loves you.  It’s in her eyes.”

“Of course I still love her!  When I saw her in the practice room tonight, I fell apart… I was actually crying, Dad… I do love her! “

“Are you sure?  It didn’t look like it to me, you running around with girls again within days of her leaving…”

James straightened up and looked away from Mel’s penetrating gaze.

“She just vanished, you know.  She didn’t call… she didn’t write.  Everyone, including you, was telling me she wouldn’t be back…”

“And I believe I also told you to try and find her.  You didn’t try very hard did you?  Did you go to her hotel to see if they had her address in America?  Did you make any effort at all to find her?”

James continued to avoid his gaze.  “We were busy… you know that.  We went to London and made a record… and we were working on more songs…”

“And you were bedding any new girl who caught your eye.  Don’t tell me you weren’t.”

“So what if I was.  Girls follow us everywhere now.  We can’t avoid them.”

“You could have avoided them if you wanted to.  You would have tried to find Susan if you really loved her.  You didn’t.”

James was beginning to look ashamed, but he was also starting to feel angry.  His dad didn’t understand.  He didn’t understand at all.  He didn’t remember what it was like to be young.  He didn’t know what it was like to have pretty girls throw themselves at you at every turn.  It was like having a bottomless candy dish to dip into.

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – Jealousy and Regret

Susan was lying on her side facing James, one leg hooked over his under the sheet that was pulled up to their waists.  Her fingers trailed across his bare chest and her head was tucked into the crook of his arm.  Their heartbeats had slowed and they were both languid.  Her hand brushed up against the necklace lying on his chest.

“You kept this on the whole time I was gone?” she asked touching it gingerly.

“Mmmm…” he said sleepily.  “Yes, I did.  I thought of you all the time.”

They said nothing for a few minutes and were on the brink of falling asleep when she said, “So you were true to me all this time?”

“What do you mean?” he responded nonchalantly.

Her hand froze.  He’d turned on his back and was staring at the ceiling.

She rolled her head up to look at him.  “I think you know very well what I mean. “

He made no response.

“Did you go to bed with any other girls while I was gone?”

He continued staring at the ceiling.  “Well… a guy has needs you know… and we’re getting so popular, you know how it is… the opportunity is there all the time now… pretty girls all around…”

He heard her sharp intake of breath as she suddenly disentangled herself from him and sat up, clutching the sheet up over her bare breasts.”

He continued, “Surely, you didn’t expect me to be… to be… what’s the term you would use… monk-like… I mean, what’s your fancy word… celly-bit…?”

For a moment she felt utterly speechless.

“Oh!  But I did, I did!!!” she screamed to herself, knowing somewhere inside she was being totally unrealistic but unable to stop herself.  She hadn’t planned on coming back.  What was she supposed to expect?  Her common sense, however, flew away like leaves blown in the wind.

A jealous pain, like none she had ever felt before, gripped her stomach while at the same time sheer rage enveloped her.  She leaped out of bed, pulling the sheet after her and wrapping it around herself.  She was shaking with hurt anger.

“Why, you bastard!” she screamed at him.  “You fucking bastard!!!”  Her eyes were blazing while at the same time, tears were brimming behind her uncontrollable rage.

He stood up on the other side of the bed, quickly pulling on his boxer shorts and came around so swiftly that he caught her off guard.  He grabbed her shoulders, moving his face close in towards hers.

“Your foul language is disgusting.  I’ve told you that before and I’m sick and tired of telling you.  Do you understand me??!!”

He was as angry as her, if not more.

She shook herself free.  “Don’t you touch me!” she yelled.  “Don’t you ever touch me with your filthy hands again!!  I hate you!!!  Do you hear me??  I hate you!!”

She couldn’t stop the horrible words from coming out of her mouth.  She was totally out of control, and even though she knew she was being unreasonable, she was unable to halt her anger.

“So what was I supposed to think after you left?” he screamed back.  “You just vanished.  You never called.  You never wrote.  I had no idea where you lived or how to get in touch with you.  What was I supposed to think?  Well?  Tell me!!”

“Just leave me alone!  I told you… I hate you… and, and… I never want to see you again!  You’ve been a torment on my life… my whole life you’ve been a misery and torture to me!  Get out!  Just get out!!!”

She turned her back on him, shaking.

“That’s just fine with me,” he responded in a dangerously quiet tone of voice.

She could hear him pulling on his trousers, and when she glanced over her shoulder a minute later, she could see him sitting on the bottom of the bed tying his shoes.  He stood up and retrieved his wallet and keys from the dresser by the door.

She heard the door slam behind her and sank down onto the floor, her head in her hands.  Suddenly, she heard the door open again.  Something flew through the air over her head and hit the wall.  She saw a glint of a shiny object as it fell to the carpet.

It was the necklace.

The door slammed again.

She had the necklace back.

She burst into uncontrollable tears, crawling over on her hands and knees to where it lay on the carpet.  She reached out and clutched it in her hand.  It was still warm from lying against his chest.  She screamed in agony, feeling as if her heart had been ripped in two then flung herself face down onto the carpet, the necklace held in her curled fist, where she continued to cry until she had no tears left.  Her hormones were utterly silent.  They had nothing to say.

She was bereft of all feeling.

She felt helpless against the pain.

And she knew she had been so, so wrong to be so out-of-control angry.  What did she expect after being gone for five months?  She never imagined she’d be coming back.  He most likely assumed she’d never be coming back.  He was right in saying that she had just vanished.  Into thin air, actually.

But, he had kept the necklace.  Despite her vanishing act, he had kept the necklace around his neck all that time.

She pounded her fists on the floor as she watched her tears soak into the carpet.  She was desolate and hated herself for being so stupid.  Where in the hell was her 62-year-old brain when she needed it?

***

“Mel,” she said, her voice quivering.  “He cheated on me… he… he… went to bed with other girls… he made love to other girls while I was gone… Did you know?  Did you?”

Mel looked down at his lap.  “I suspected,” was all he said.

“Why didn’t you tell me last night then?” she asked.  “I would never have let him be with me again like I did this morning… Oh, Mel!  I’m so ashamed!!!”

She pushed her face into the front of his sweater and started crying again.  She felt as if her mind as well as her body was age seventeen.  “I want to go home, Mel… I want to go home…”

Mel was becoming more and more angry at James and couldn’t think of any consoling words for Susan when the front door opened and James stormed in.  His face was screwed up in anger and the door slammed behind him.

“Damn the whole band!” he yelled at no one in particular.  “Idiots, all of them!!!”

Then he froze as he saw Mel holding Susan in his arms on the couch.  Mel looked up at him, his eyes blazing.

“I suggest you leave and come back later,” he said.

James tossed his head.  “I’m not leaving my own house for the likes of her!” he remarked scathingly.  “She told me she hates me and never wants to see me again.  That she did… and to keep my… how did she phrase it… to keep my filthy hands off of her!!”

Susan pulled away from Mel and glared up at James.  “Yes!  I did say all that!  And… and I meant every word!”

“Good for you, Miss Hoity-Toity!  So, did you tell my dad how you were waiting for me in your hotel room, all naked and panting for me?  Did you?!!  Did you tell him how…”

“Shut up!” she screamed, jumping up and running over to him.

Before he could stop her, she’d slapped him full across the face, snapping his head sideways with the force of her blow.

He grabbed her wrists painfully, then moved his hands to her shoulders and shook her several times before Mel leaped up and forcefully separated them.

“Stop this now, both of you!!!” he yelled.  “What’s come over you??!!  This is no way to act!!”

Susan bent over, clutching her stomach and gasping for air.  James put his hand up to his cheek where Susan had struck him.

Susan straightened up and they looked at each other, their eyes locked together.  Both of them were breathing heavily, as if they’d just run a race.

Mel stood by helplessly.

James’s shoulders sunk and he tilted his head back, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before looking back at Susan.  More tears were coursing down her cheeks uncontrollably.  She didn’t know it was even possible to cry so much or to shed so many tears.

“Oh, Susan…” James moaned, opening his arms and reaching out for her.

Without a word, she fell helplessly into him as Mel watched, a bewildered and despairing expression on his face.

James buried his face in Susan’s hair and ran his hands up and down her back as she tightly clutched the front of his shirt in her hands.  She was completely out of tears.  All she could do was shake and suck in deep, short breaths.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” thought Mel silently to himself.  “She’s forgiving him, just as he said she would.  She loves him too much for her own good… but there’s nothing I can do about it… Foolish, foolish girl…”

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – Back to the Cottage

There was only one light on in the cottage when they went in the door and closed it behind them.  Susan dropped her purse onto an end table by the couch.  The cottage was warm from the heaters that Auntie Annabelle had left on for them before she left.

Susan was tired, but a sense of anticipation at being alone with James again raced through her body from her head to her toes.  Her hormones were doing pirouettes.  “Just stop it!” she mumbled at them.

“What is it?” asked James, coming up behind her and nuzzling her neck with his nose.

She shivered in delight and turned around to face him, kicking off her shoes at the same time.  She lifted her face up to him, the pupils of her eyes large.

“Besame,” she whispered to him huskily.  She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck and gazed into his beautiful eyes.  “Besame mucho…”

“Gladly…” he said, grasping the back of her head, twining his fingers in her hair and pulling her face into his.  His kiss was warm and lingering as he tasted her sweetness and explored her mouth with his tongue.  Her response was immediate and she pressed her breasts into his chest invitingly.  Her hips pressed into his and she rubbed against him provocatively.

He inhaled sharply before grabbing her hand and pulling her into the bedroom.

Buttons jumped off the bed as he gently pushed Susan down onto her back and covered her body with his.  She reached down, trying to feel his arousal through his trousers, but he stopped her, pinning her arms above her head.

“Oh no you don’t!” he whispered against her throat then her ear, as he trailed kisses up her neck.  “It’s my turn to pleasure you now, you brazen hussy… Sometimes you’re far too aggressive…  I think I’ll have it my way…”

She squirmed and thrust her hips up at him, but he held her tight as his mouth came down on hers in a kiss that almost sent her over the edge.

“Okay, fine, have it your way then,” she said between kisses.

“I intend to,” was his reply as he kissed her once again…and again.

Excerpt from Chapter 11 – Perfume

She got out of the tub, pulled the plug and wrapped a towel around her before stepping in front of the mirror.  She looked at herself critically.  Her face was flushed from the hot bath.  She wondered what the other girls he’d been with looked like.  Did they have pretty faces?  Long hair?  Big boobs?  A pang of jealousy shot through her.  Damn!  Why did she have to think of things like that anyway?  It wasn’t as if she really cared, and it sure wouldn’t matter when she was gone again.  Quickly, she toweled herself off and slipped on the underwear and dress she’d brought with her into the bathroom.

Then she spotted a tiny basket sitting on a small shelf right below the mirror above the sink.  It had a bunch of perfume samples in it.  Auntie Annabelle had probably got them from Emily, her friend who owned the shop in Little Dippington.

“Hmmmm…” she thought.  “Maybe I should try one of these and make myself smell all good…”

She read the labels on a few.  “Paradise, Fresh Roses, Blushing Lilacs, Smoldering Passion, Indian Mist…”

“I think I’ll try ‘Smoldering Passion.’  It sounds quite apt.”  She giggled as she opened the small tube and liberally applied it on her neck, in her hair, on her wrists and even on her chest and upper thighs.  Then she winked at herself in the mirror as she opened the door and went out into the main room.

James was facing away from her, intent on the piano.  He was picking out what she thought was probably a new tune, but she didn’t recognize it.  Well, maybe everything he tried never turned out to be a song that got recorded.  She found it quite fascinating.

She came and stood behind him, but didn’t want to interrupt.  A few seconds later, however, he turned around, sniffing the air.  “What is that smell?” he asked.  “Did you put on some perfume or something?”

“Yes,” she replied.  “Do you like it?  It’s called ‘Smoldering Passion.  I thought we could…”

But before she could say anything else, he snapped, “You smell like a German whorehouse.  Go wash it off.”

Her mouth dropped open into a big ‘O.’

For a moment, she was speechless but quickly found her voice.  “Wash it off??!!  I just took a bath before I put it on…and what do you mean I smell like a German whorehouse??!  What would you know about a German whorehouse?”

“That’s none of your concern…  Now, go wash that stink off you.”

“None of my…”  She was fuming.  “Stink??  Why you… you…   And, no!!  I will not wash it off!”

He stood up and looked at her straight in the eye.  “Yes, you will.  I said it stinks!”

“I don’t care!  I will not wash it off!”

“Didn’t we go through this once before?” he asked.  “When you were here the last time and painted your face up like a strumpet?”

She was near speechless.  Her 62-year-old brain melted away.  “A strumpet?!  Are you calling me a strumpet?”

“I didn’t say you were a strumpet.  I said you painted up your face to look like one.  And, now you smell like one.  Go wash off… it’s over-powering.  You smell just fine by yourself or just from the bathing soap.  In fact, I like the way you smell.”

When she didn’t move, he got up and went into the bathroom.  She heard the tap being turned on in the tub.  How dare he?!!!  She was damned if she was going to take another bath just because he didn’t like the perfume she’d put on.  It would wear off after a while anyway.  She wandered into the kitchen for another cup of coffee and to start breakfast.

When he didn’t come back out of the bathroom for five minutes, she wondered what in the hell he was doing.  Then she heard the tap being turned off.  The tub must be full.

“No, no, no!” she screamed to herself.  He wouldn’t dare!

He appeared at the bathroom door and looked at her, his eyebrows raised in a question.  “Well?” he said.

“Well, what?” she said snippily, crossing her arms over her chest and turning her back on him.

He took the gesture as a challenge and marched purposefully towards her.  Before she could say another word, he’d scooped her up in his arms, carried her into the bathroom and dumped her unceremoniously into the tub, dress and all.

Chapter 13 – Little Dippington Again

When Susan came out of the bedroom in the dress, James smiled approvingly at her. He wasn’t sure why he was being so insistent on her wearing dresses.  He thought that maybe he didn’t want her to be like the other girls who dressed in trousers and looked like boys.  He also didn’t want her to wear short skirts or revealing tops.  He hated it when other guys gawked at her, undressing her with their eyes.  And he also didn’t like her putting on make-up or perfume.  It reminded him of the “easy” girls at the club or the whores he’d had a few brief encounters with when he was in Germany.

James wanted her to be a model of femininity, especially as innocent as she had been when he first met her.  He wanted to keep her that way.  And, he wanted her just for him.  Was that unfair of him?  He didn’t see it that way.

***

When Susan and James got to Simon’s studio, James excitedly brought Simon up to date on the band’s mounting popularity and told them of the record they’d made and of a new one they were going to be making later in the week.  He mentioned the possibility of an album of songs.  Simon became very excited, asking if James had considered an art design for the cover.

“I’ll just wander around the shops if you don’t mind,” said Susan after a few minutes.  It was obvious that James and Simon were going to be involved in a long discussion regarding the art for the album cover, and although she was somewhat interested, she already knew that the cover was just going to be a photograph of the band and nothing else “artsy-fartsy.”  At least for their first album.

James turned to look at her.  “Sure, go ahead,” he said, then added, “But remember you are not to buy anything, okay?  You recall you’re not to be spending your own money.  If you see something you fancy, we’ll go look at it after I’m done here.”

Susan rolled her eyes.

“I mean it,” James said sternly.  “I really do.  Do you understand?  You buy nothing without my permission.”

Her face turned pink, not only from embarrassment at him saying all this in front of Simon but also because it made her angry.  She wanted to stomp her foot but realized it would be childish.  She had a purse full of money, and to be dictated to like this was more than aggravating.  She bristled again.  His outdated, old-fashioned ideas were concerning women were annoying.

“So, what will you do exactly if I buy something without your damn permission?” she fumed silently to herself.  She didn’t think it would be a good thing to say out loud, especially after their little altercation over what she was to wear that day and the perfume incident of the previous day.  Thinking back on both of the incidents made her grit her teeth.

James was looking at her sternly, his eyes dark and his mouth set in a straight line.  “I asked you if you understand, Susan.  Answer me.”

“Sure, sure…” she said flippantly, spinning on her heel and leaving Simon’s shop.  “We’ll see if I understand or not, Mr. Control Freak,” she muttered under her breath so no one could hear.  “We’ll see…”

***

When she came out of the dressing room, Thisbe gasped.  Wow!  This little American girl could be a model for her dresses.  She looked lovely.

Susan turned in circles, the skirt of the dress flaring out around her.  When she stopped, it wrapped around her thighs before swirling slowly the other way then settling down to just above her knees.

Thisbe raised her eyebrows inquiringly at Susan.

All thoughts of James and his “orders” flew out of her head.  “I’ll take it!!” Susan exclaimed, running her hands down the sides of the dress.  “I just love it!!”

Thisbe nodded approvingly as Susan went back into the dressing room and changed into her other dress.  She came out with the new one draped over her arm and said slyly to Thisbe, “Um… you know James has this idea stuck in his head that I’m not supposed to be paying for anything, but I have plenty of my own money and I know he’s still struggling somewhat financially.  Can you… um… can we just keep this a secret?  I mean, keep it a secret that I bought this?”  She took money out of her purse and laid it on the counter, looking over her shoulder at the shop door to make sure James wasn’t there.

Thisbe gave her a knowing grin.  “But of course, lovey.  Men are odd ones sometimes, aren’t they?  So, what will you say when you put this on then?  Where will you say it came from?”

“Oh, that’s a piece of cake!” responded Susan.  “I’ll just slip it into my suitcase or hang it in the closet as if I’ve had it all along or brought it with me.  He’ll never suspect.”

Excerpt from Chapter 14 – Consequences

He grasped her chin in one hand and forced her to look straight at his face.

“I recall asking you once before if you’d learned your lesson to heed me, and you assured me you had.  You were obviously lying.  I won’t have it!  Do you understand me?!”

She tried to twist away from his gaze, but he held her chin firmly, squeezing her cheeks with his fingers.

“My dad keeps asking me if I’m going to do the right thing by you, and I told him ‘yes.’  But, I won’t be making any commitments to a foul-mouthed, disobedient, selfish girl.  Is that clear?”

Commitment?  Doing the right thing???  Oh, no, not that again!

Her thoughts were in turmoil.  How had she gotten herself into this mess?  She’d come back to get the necklace and instead all this craziness was happening.  She looked at James’s neck and could see part of the silver chain by the collar of his shirt.  What was it about him that captivated her so?  And what was it that made her want to challenge him at every turn, to see how far she could push him, to see what she could get away with?

Being with him was like a roller coaster.  When it was good, she didn’t want it to stop, and when it was bad, she wanted to throw up.

***

“Susan, don’t be cross with me,” he began.  “I’m doing this for your own good, you know.  I don’t know what it is with you, but you’re too wild in your ways.  You need a guiding hand, and I’m going to be that guiding hand.  If we’re to last, you need to come to your senses and do as I say.  I’m a man…I know what’s best for us, you see.”

***

Ten minutes later, Susan was back out in the kitchen and James was asleep in the bedroom.

“Damn him!” she muttered to herself, feeling a wet spot on the back of her dress as she washed her hands in the kitchen sink then sat down at the table to finish trimming the green beans.  “Damn him to hell!”

Playing along with this submissive crap was one thing, but being manipulated with kisses and touches was another.  It just wasn’t fair that her body responded to him like it did.

Damn him!

Excerpt from Chapter 16 – Another Practice Session

“Oh, okay then…” she said kicking off her shoes and reaching behind her to unzip her dress.  “I guess we have time.”

He smiled wickedly as he advanced towards her, turned her around and finished unzipping the dress.  He planted small kisses across her back as the dress slid to the floor.  He unhooked her bra and slid the straps over her shoulders before cupping her breasts in his hands and rubbing his thumbs across her nipples.  She shivered as they hardened.  He bit her neck teasingly.

“Ready for me?” he whispered.

“I’m always ready for you…” she responded.

***

John was angry.  Susan had never seen him angry.  He was also frustrated.  He ran his fingers through his hair irritably.

“You don’t belong here.  You don’t belong with him!  He’s all in love with you and everything.  Have you thought how he’s going to feel when you leave again?  Plus, you’re acting like a… like a… dare I say it?  Slut!”

She blanched at the word.  A slut?  He was calling her a slut?!  She didn’t even think he had the word in his vocabulary.

“Susan, think! You’re also being selfish!  There!  I said it!  You’re only thinking about yourself!  You keep saying you love him, but if you really did, you wouldn’t be leading him on like you are!”

Tears sprung into her eyes and she turned to face the wall so James wouldn’t see.  James had said the same thing about her when she’d been here the last time and he’d called her selfish just the day before when they got into their hideous argument.  Was she selfish?  She didn’t mean to be.  She really didn’t mean to be.

“I’m sorry,” she muttered miserably.  “I don’t mean to be… and I… I… don’t mean to be slutty either.  It’s just that I can’t stop myself… My brain’s just not working too well when I’m with him.”

“Well, you need to switch it on then.  This is getting out of control.  What were you planning on doing tomorrow when we get to London and he starts asking about our grandfather’s sister who doesn’t exist?  Have you thought about that?”

“Actually, I was going to ask you about how we should handle that…”

“You’re expecting me to make up lies?”

“Well, you were pretty good at it when we first got here…”

“You know, Susan, once you start lying, it’s inevitable that you’ll get caught at it.  Then what?  Have you thought about that?”

Excerpt from Chapter 17 – James Approaches John

“You would offer to marry her?!” he asked in a stunned tone of voice.

“Yes, of course!  It’s the right thing to do!  I love her, you know!  And, now after what happened last night and all, I realized she really is the one for me.  I feel like I know her now… and I want to be with her… wake up with her next to me in the morning… guide her, protect her, keep her safe… I guess, what I’m saying is that I’d like your blessing before I ask her…”

John was shocked.  If he was expecting anything, it certainly wasn’t this!  James’s dad had talked about having James “do the right thing” by Susan, but he hadn’t really thought James himself would feel the same way.

This was a disaster!  Not only was it impossible, but now he suddenly realized how much James really cared for Susan, whether he liked him or not.  James was going to be crushed when they left.  How had this happened?  What could he say?  He wanted to strangle Susan for letting things get this far.

James looked at him anxiously, waiting for his response.  He looked so hopeful, just waiting for John to say the words that he wanted so badly to hear.  When John didn’t respond, his face fell.

“You don’t think I’m good enough for her, do you?”

John just stared at him.

James continued.  “You think I’m just one of thousands of musicians who are hoping for a break, but who will fail in the end.  You don’t think I can provide for her well enough…”

“No!” exclaimed John.  “It’s not that… it’s not that at all…”

But James was on a negative bent now.  “You don’t think we’re talented enough to make it in the big time, but I believe we are.  Susan believes we are.  She’ll stick by me.  I know she will.  And if she were to find out she’s going to have a baby, I could quit the band and get a real job…There’s plenty of jobs available working on the docks, you know…”

John was even more stunned, just thinking of what the real future held for James… the brilliance… the incredible talent… all these thoughts being aside from the fact that he still didn’t like the guy.  What could he say?  Was Susan aware that James’s thoughts were leading in this direction?  Probably not.

“I just don’t know what to say to you,” John finally said.  “I appreciate your intentions, but I don’t know that Susan is ready to settle down yet.  She’s got kind of a wild streak in her, you know…”  His voice trailed off lamely.

“I can handle that,” responded James.  “And you gave me a great tip last night in regard to using persuasion.  I made a vow to myself, after what happened, to do everything I can to curb my temper.  I know I can do it.  And, I love her so very, very much.  I don’t think I could live without her.  I want her to be the mother of my children.  My dad loves her too, and so does Auntie Annabelle and Auntie Ginny…”

John put his head in his hands and then ran his fingers through is hair again.

“I am… well, just a bit stunned to hear about this,” he muttered.  “You sure you don’t want to think this over more?  My sister isn’t all that easy to get along with.  She’s impulsive and stubborn and selfish, and she has a pretty bad temper of her own…”

“I know.  And I’m willing to accept that,” James responded confidently.  “We’ll work things out.  I know we can… I’ll be patient.  I’ll do everything I can to make her the happiest girl alive.  So, will you give me your blessing then?  Please?”

John saw that James had tears in his eyes.  He was nonplused.

“Um… well… I… I guess I can give you my blessing…”  John had to choke the words out, adding more to the parcel of lies that was growing as fast as Pinocchio’s nose.

Excerpt from Chapter 18 – Another Night at the Club

John turned to Susan, saying, “Did he write that song for you?  Did he?”  He looked angry.

“I don’t think so but…Maybe…Probably!!  Isn’t it cool?”

“No!  It’s not cool!  Not at all!  Did you hear the words saying ‘Don’t ever leave him or his heart would be broken and torn in two’??!  I need to say something to you right now!”

“What?  What is it?”  She looked puzzled.

“You’re not paying attention, Susan!  Can’t you see what you’re doing to him?  He’s crazy in love with you!”

She smirked.  “Well, yeah, I know that.  Isn’t it rather fabulous?  What a great memory for me to take back!”

“Don’t you care what you’re doing to him?  What’s going to happen when you have to leave again?  Did you tell him you’re going to have to leave again?”

“Well, no…I’m just going to be a dim memory, remember?”

“But what if you aren’t a dim enough memory?  Have you thought about how he’s going to feel?  And, how about his dad and the rest of his family that likes you so much?  Have you thought of them?”

She made a pouty face.  “I’ll probably be dim to them too.  Besides, the band is going to be all famous and everything.  In fact, they already are.  It’ll be a whirlwind for all of them, including James.  He’ll forget me in a flash…But for now, I’m enjoying this…and…and, I’m making him happy…real, real happy…” A knowing little smile crossed her face and John knew she was referring to the time she spent with James in the bedroom.

“You’re nothing but selfish!” he said in disgust,

Excerpt from Chapter 19 – London

James came out of the bathroom, a scowl on his face along with small bits of toilet paper clinging to several spots on his cheeks and chin.  He looked at Susan accusingly.

“Did you use my razor to shave your legs?” he asked.

“Well, yes…” she replied.  “Mine was packed in my suitcase and yours was laying by the sink this morning, so…”

“Just look at my face!” he exclaimed, “It’s all cut up, and we’re going to be on stage and the telly right after the recording.”

“You still look pretty enough,” insisted Susan.  “Besides, when I wrap my legs around you, I don’t like scratching your naked back with my stubbly legs, and…”

Before she could utter another word, James was in front of her, covering her mouth with his hand.

“Susan!!!” he exclaimed.  “You don’t talk about those kind of things in front of company.”

John rolled his eyes and turned his back on everyone.  Kiyoko blushed.  Derek and Mindy burst out laughing.  Blue just shrugged his shoulders.

Susan pushed James’s hand off her mouth.  “Geez!  It’s not like it’s a secret what we’ve been doing, you know…”

James face was flushed as he grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side of the room.  With his face close to hers he quietly spit out, “You behave yourself, understand me?”

She frowned petulantly then started to giggle.

“I mean it Susan.  If you don’t learn how to behave yourself, someday I’ll have to take you over my knee…”

She tried her hardest to suppress a smile.  “That might be fun…” she said teasingly.  “Kinky, you know…”

“Susan!” he said sternly, his eyes boring into hers.

“Oh, okay, okay…” she said with a heavy sigh.

Excerpt from Chapter 20 – Lies

James was standing next to John as he pushed the “up” button on the elevator panel and nudged John in the side.  When John looked over at him, James nodded his head slightly and John knew that the moment James was going to propose was about to happen.  There was a sudden tightness in his stomach and he looked over at Kiyoko worriedly.  He didn’t have any idea what Susan would do, but there was something that didn’t feel right.  He felt it so intensely that he wished he could get Susan alone and warn her.  He thought to himself that he should have done so before.  There had been plenty of opportunity all day, but the short skirt incident, along with the concert and radio interview, had distracted him and now it was too late.

As they all got out of the elevator, James grasped Susan’s hand, his shoulders squared and head held high.  He was slightly nervous, but had no doubt she would accept him.

He opened their hotel room door and followed her inside before closing it with the “Do Not Disturb” sign swinging on the handle outside.  He turned for just a moment and winked at John and Kiyoko before the door clicked shut. John heard the lock turn.

John was frozen to the spot in the hallway, and as Kiyoko started to head down to their rooms, he stopped her, asking that she wait for just a few minutes.  He didn’t know why, but his uneasiness had increased perceptibly.  Kiyoko came back and stood next to him, a question on her face, but John was immovable.

***

The hotel room door closed behind Susan and she heard James turn the lock.  She spun around to look at him.

“Locking us in, are you?” She smiled at him.

“Yes,” he said, looking at her in an almost shy way.

She tilted her head to the side with a query in her eyes.

“Go there,” he said, pointing to the middle of the room.  “And close your eyes for a minute.”

She looked at him questioningly but moved forward a few feet then closed her eyes.  “What’s this all about?” she wondered.

She heard him go to the side of the room and fuss around for a few minutes then drag something towards her.

He had removed the table cloth that was covering the items on the desk and lit the candles.

“Okay,” he said.  “You can open your eyes now.”

When she opened them, she saw there was a chair in front of her that he’d moved over from the desk under the window.  Her eyebrows raised as she spotted the lit candles along with the glasses, champagne bottle and a bowl of strawberries on the desk.

“Go ahead and sit down,” he instructed.

“Okay,” she responded, slowly lowering herself into the chair.  She was more than puzzled until he suddenly went down on his knees in front of her.  She sucked in her breath and her eyes widened, terrified at what he was about to say.

He looked up at her adoringly and with so much love in his eyes that it hurt her to look at him.  The pupils of his gorgeous hazel eyes were dark and she could see the beginning of tears forming in the corners.  The amber highlights sparkled.  His lips were trembling.  He looked down for a moment as he reached into his trouser pocket, drawing out a small box.  His eyes were downcast as he lifted the lid.

“I know this isn’t much… but it was all I could afford…” he whispered.  “When we’re famous, I’ll get you a bigger one…”  His voice trailed off.  He looked up into her face.  She could see tears glistening on his long lashes.

“I love you so much, Susan…Will you be mine forever?” he asked.  “Will you marry me?”

She stood up so fast, the chair toppled to the carpeted floor behind her.  She covered her face with both hands and turned away from him.

What, oh what, had she done?  Why hadn’t she been paying attention?  How had things got to this?!!!

Then she remembered the song he had sung to her before dinner.

Oh my God!!!!