Here’s another post originally intended for the long-gone Sweet Saturday Samples bloghop, which I wanted to move out of my drafts folder already. Originally scheduled for 8 September 2012, it differs somewhat from the published version.
This week’s excerpt is the point where I’ll be ending my excerpts from Little Ragdoll, since if I went much further, it would give too much away. In the future, I may feature some excerpts from earlier in the book, or some future excerpts that don’t give anything vital away.
In Chapter 52, “Unexpected Neighbors,” Justine says she notices the next door neighbors finally pulled into their driveway last night. As she and Adicia are wondering who their neighbors on the end of the cul-de-sac might be, the doorbell rings, and everyone gets a shock in more ways than one.
Thank you all so much for your kind, encouraging comments on Little Ragdoll and its characters! I’m so glad I finally went back to this long-hiatused story from scratch and memory 16.5 years later. The way it ultimately turned out was a story I couldn’t have written at 13-14, when I was working on the (beyond-awful) discontinued original first draft.
Adicia opens the door and takes several steps back in astonishment. Allen, a very pregnant Lenore, and their two daughters are standing right in front of her, all of them looking just as stunned.
“What in the world!” Allen says. “What in the world are you doing in the house next door to us?”
“We didn’t even know you’d come up here!” Lenore agrees. “Did you come by while we were on vacation at Lake George?”
Justine hears their familiar voices and rushes over. “You live in our new neighborhood?”
Lenore hugs both of them. “However you came to be here, I’m so glad to see you’re safe and sound. And you came in time for my baby to be born. It’s due in September.”
Allen turns around and looks at the dark red Super Beetle in the driveway. “Adicia, when did you learn to drive, and where did you get the money to buy or lease a car?”
“I haven’t learnt to drive yet. I’ve been waiting to find a teacher who’ll come to the house, or for you or Lucine to come back from vacation so I can start learning.”
“So then how and why did you get a car? Am I about to hear something that’ll make me very upset? And how did you know Lucine’s on vacation? Did you run into her and she never told us in the few days our vacations overlapped?”
“How did you get such a nice house?” Lenore asks. “Are you renting a room here? Don’t tell me you took up squatting.”
“The house is paid for in full, as is the car,” Adicia says.
“Where in the world did that kinda money come from?” Allen asks. “Boy, I never expected to come back from my summer vacation at the lake to find my youngest sisters moved into the house next door. Is this legit money you used to pay for all this? This furniture I’m seeing just in the living room doesn’t look cheap either.”
“I have enough money in my bank account to afford to live comfortably for awhile to come. There’s plenty of money in there for Justine too.”
“Since when did you get a bank account? And how in the world did you already manage to stash so much dough in there that you’d be able to support yourselves long-term? Who gave you that kinda money? Is this clean money? Who’s your sugar daddy?”
“I don’t have a sugar daddy. I’m not that kinda girl.”
“Why don’t we sit down so we can catch up?” Lenore asks. “We came over here to meet the new neighbors, and even if we already know them, we can still have a proper visit.”
“Would you like something to eat or drink?”
“No, we’re fine.” Lenore sits down on the overstuffed brown leather davenport. “Nice furniture. I wish we had leather upholstery.”
Irene crawls onto Adicia’s lap and smiles up at her aunt. “We missed you. You missed my fifth birthday last month, but you won’t miss my first day of school.”
Amelia is captivated by the sparkly sapphire on her aunt’s left hand and pulls her hand closer to her face. “Your ring is pretty.”
“Do you like my other ring too, the one with the flowers?” Adicia asks.
Allen stares at Adicia’s rings and grabs her hand away from Amelia so he can examine the rings himself. “Who’s been giving you this kinda expensive jewelry, Adicia? I have a sick feeling in my stomach that this has something to do with that rich boy Warrick, and if you tell me he’s the one who’s been plying you with money, houses, cars, jewelry, and other expensive presents, you’ll have a hell of a time convincing me not to go give him a piece of my mind for using you like that. You’re a respectable girl from a poor and working-class community, not some kept woman to be kept in a gilded cage for the entertainment of some limousine liberal who was born with a diamond-encrusted silver spoon in his mouth.”
“You can’t do or say anything to Ricky right now, since he left on Thursday morning for boot camp. They drafted him, and he’s being forced to go to Vietnam. His number was eighty-eight, and since he withdrew from Columbia, he lost his student deferment.” Adicia looks down, overcome by sorrow at having lost her husband so soon.
“Wait, that guy was living with you? And Justine was here in the house too? Please do not tell me you did anything with him.”
“He was drafted?” Lenore asks. “Come over here and sit by me, sweetie.”
Adicia gently pulls Irene off her lap and goes over to Lenore, leaning against her as Lenore puts her arm around her and gives Allen a dirty look.