My novel Willow Pond is going to be free this coming Sunday, Monday and Tuesday June 24, 25 and 26. This will be the fourth time I've offered my book for free. Willow Pond was published around the same time KDP Select started and I was one of the first authors to use it. To me it's still and experiment and I question whether it's a good thing for authors or not.

Chapter Two  

Phillip was never on time for anything. Laura had learned, over their two and a half years of marriage, that he actually believed no one else had anything to do that was more important than what he was doing.

By one o’clock the next afternoon, Todd was packed and ready to go. She hated the whole idea of his leaving and kept hoping the phone would ring, that Phillip would offer some lame excuse as to why he couldn’t take Todd. Whatever the excuse was, Laura would have been happy to accept it.

It was nearly two-thirty by the time she saw the white Rolls Royce pull up in front of her building. She stared with disgust at the ostentatious car, knowing Phillip had used both it and his chauffeur to show off in front of her neighbors. It made her even angrier at him than she already was. Her neighbors had no idea she had been married to a movie star, and she liked things that way. Now they’d all want to know who had been driving the Rolls Royce.

When she opened the door, Phillip looked so annoyed she wanted to slap him. He strode into the apartment and glared down at Todd as if he were nothing more than a piece of property he owned. Todd blinked guilelessly up at him. It was past his naptime, and he had grown cranky. He tried to comfort himself by sucking his thumb.

“I thought we agreed that was a nasty habit, and you were going to break him of it,” Phillip said. “Do you want him to grow up with buck teeth?”

“Oh, please,” Laura said. “He’s tired. You were supposed to be here an hour and a half ago. Where were you?”

Phillip shifted from one foot to the other. “We got stuck in traffic.”

“I don’t believe you,” she said, narrowing her eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t let you take him. I doubt you’re going to spend much time with him anyway. Is your new starlet at Willow Pond?”

He lifted his chin. “I don’t have to tell you anything. After all, how do I know what goes on here?”

Ignoring her, Phillip walked over and picked Todd up. The little boy looked up at his father and sighed, then turned away from him. Seeing this, Laura became even less comfortable about letting Phillip take him, but she had no choice.

“I wish you’d brought Mrs. Nickerson with you. She’d know how to get him to sleep on the ride back.” Laura removed a bottle of apple juice from the ice box and handed it to Phillip. “This might help. Give it to him if he starts to cry.”

Phillip stared at the small ice box, incredulous. “My God, I never realized you had one of those … things. Why don’t you order a full sized refrigerator and send me the bill? I won’t have my son living this way.”

“No thanks. And your son is just fine. Better than ever, actually.”

Laura watched them walk down the steps, climb into the car, and drive away. When they were out of sight, she wandered gloomily back into the kitchen, wondering how she was manage the rest of the day. The phone rang, providing a welcome distraction.

“Did Phillip pick up Todd?” Virginia asked.

“Yes, unfortunately. And he was late as usual. He’s going to have a rough time with Todd and he deserves it. Thank God Mrs. Nickerson’s there.”

“I have a feeling Phillip’s going to grow tired of these visits. They’ll cramp his style. Do you have anything planned for this evening?”

Laura took a deep breath. “Not really.”

“Why don’t you come over and have dinner with me? It’ll help get your mind off Todd.”

Laura hesitated, craving solitude, but battling loneliness now that the apartment was so quiet. She accepted, and Virginia was delighted. She told her she’d put a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator to chill.

“What are we celebrating?” Laura asked.

“The fact that you’re coming for dinner. The chef prepared Osso Buco, and I didn’t want to eat it alone.”

An hour later the taxicab pulled up in front of Virginia’s West 77th Street brownstone and Laura stepped out. Whenever she went to her aunt’s home she was struck by how opulent and yet homey it was, all at the same time. Somehow, despite her lifestyle, Virginia had managed to create a real home out of the four-story, fifteen room brownstone.

Virginia embraced her when she opened the door, then ushered her into the living room, which had been decorated in the Art Deco style. During a trip to Paris last year, Virginia had discovered Art Deco was all the rage over there. When she returned, she redecorated the living room and dining room to reflect that style.

“This room looks great,” Laura said. “Is it the way you want it to be?”

“Pretty much, though you know I’m never completely satisfied with anything. I suppose you’d call that a character flaw. We could do the same in your—”

Laura held up her hand. “No, Virginia. Please let me live my own life and make my own decisions.”

“Of course. I just want the best for you. But you’re a very intelligent young woman. I know you’ll do what’s best for you and Todd. It’s just hard for me to let go sometimes, you know?”

Laura leaned over and kissed her aunt’s cheek. “I wish Phillip understood and felt that same way. He treats me like I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Virginia snorted, waving her hand dismissively. “Does it really matter what he thinks?”

It took a moment before Laura finished pondering what Virginia had said. “I know what you’re saying is right,” she said slowly. “It isn’t that I care what he thinks, but the reality is we are still connected through Todd. I don’t want Todd to grow up thinking less of me because Phillip does.”

“Believe me, Phillip knows how much that little boy loves you. He’s jealous because Todd doesn’t feel the same way about him.”

Laura giggled as champagne bubbles tickled her nose. “You always make me feel better about myself. How can I thank you?”

“You can do that by being happy. That’s all I want for you and Todd. Oh, and for you to remember that I’ll always be here for you.”

“Look at that,” Laura said, pointing at the tears that had filled her aunt’s eyes. “What would Dutch Schultz or Al Capone say if they could see you now?”

Virginia threw back her head and laughed, sniffing away the telltale tears. “I think they’d probably say I was an imposter, and the real Virginia Kingsley was dead. Whatever you do, make sure this never gets out. I have a reputation to maintain.”

Laura placed her finger against her lips. “Not a word.”

“So tell me. What you’ve been doing lately?”

Laura told her about the article she’d written, and the novel she was starting to put together. “I have no idea whether I’m ever going to finish it, but it’s something I’ve thought about doing for several years.”

“When you were a little girl you used to write short stories. After your mother and father died I found them in a box in your mother’s closet.”

Laura flicked an interested eyebrow. “Do you still have them?”

“Come with me.”

They climbed two flights of stairs, and when they stopped they stood in a part of the house which was obviously in the middle of being redecorated. The walls were partially painted and the floor was crowded with painting supplies, drop cloths and piles of lumber.

“What’s going on up here?” Laura asked.

“You know how much I always hated these four fussy little rooms. Well, I’m having them done over into two large rooms. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to use them for, but I’ll do that when they’re finished.” She took Laura’s hand. “Come with me.”

Virginia led her into the smallest of the four rooms. Inside was an old rolltop desk that Laura immediately recognized as having belonged to her father. She ran her hand over the top of the desk, imagining him sitting at it. He had died so many years before she felt only curiosity, not grief. Virginia left her to her memories, then climbed onto a chair and slid a box from the top shelf. She placed it on top of the desk then opened it and pulled out a sheath of papers.

“I remember this,” Laura said, grinning. “I must have been around seven when I wrote this one about the two fairies. Have you read any of them?”

“Of course. I’ve read all of them. Your mother and father thought they were wonderful. They loved your imagination.”

“They did?” For just a moment, Laura was a child again. She touched the papers lightly, as if she were afraid they’d crumble into dust. “Can I have them? For Todd.”





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