Excerpts from Lydia: A Sisters of the Silk Veil Prequel
The fragrant waft of wisteria and peonies filled the early summer air. To Lydia, summer constituted the best time of year to live in Port Eastlyn, Washington. Then again, she didn’t have much to compare it with.
The young family’s tan-and-white home sat at the end of the lot. It was one of the nicer ones despite its ability to drop wheels and move across town at the drop of a hat. Still, inside lived all the loves of her life; her high-school sweetheart and their two children. Lydia prided herself in keeping the modest trailer clean, cooking tasty meals, and generally showering her husband and children with love and attention. Living below the federal poverty level was merely a statistical fact for them. She wasn’t about to let it mar their happiness.
Many had bet on the success of the pair when they first graced the halls of John Ricker High together. Jason was a mathematician, and Lydia had a propensity towards science, but then pregnancy at the age of sixteen hit them, wielding a heavy hammer and smashing away their lofty dreams. Jason took a factory job in Seattle an hour’s drive away, and Lydia took a part-time waitressing job at the local diner. Sure, her pay was minuscule, but the tips were decent and she always went home with a wad of one-dollar bills.
College degrees were not on the foreseeable horizon. Completing their high-school degrees while working and caring for a baby proved grueling enough. At times, they even doubted their survival. When Lydia became pregnant a second time, their families were far from sympathetic, but the two were in love and accepted that birth control is never absolutely reliable. At least they had their little community in the trailer park where the women helped one another with babysitting.
That evening, the windows drew in the fresh outdoor scents through their screens and blew out the aroma of Lydia’s roasting beef. The smell was attracting some of the neighborhood dogs. She could hear them sniffing around the trailer.
The gravel crackled as a car approached, and she heard the door clack open and the driver step out. No sirens sounded or lights flashed, so she startled when a uniformed officer appeared at the screened door.
Jewell and Nathanael materialized at her heels, one on either side.
“Mrs. Caldwell? Lydia Caldwell?”
“Yes, what’s wrong? Is it my mother?”
“No, ma’am. It’s not.”
The uniformed man attempted to look past her and her little ones into the trailer. “Are you alone?”
She indicated her two small children.
“My kids are here.”
“May I come in?”
With her heart starting to beat faster, Lydia opened the screened door and stepped aside.
He removed his hat and dangled it against his right thigh. He was a hefty man, appearing even larger in the small space.
“What is it?” Lydia asked. “Why are you here?”
“There’s no good way of saying this, ma’am. It’s your husband, Jason Caldwell.”
“Yes. It wasn’t his fault. He, um, probably didn’t feel a thing. The truck lost control—”
“What? What are you talking about? Why would you come into my home saying something like that? You need to leave.” The blood had rushed from her head, leaving her confused and dizzy.
“Ma’am, I’m so sorry. Do you have someone who can be with you?” He glanced at the boy and girl, their expressions blank. “I knew damn Sumpter should have come too,” he mumbled.
“Who? Who should have come? I don’t understand.”
“Nothing to worry about, ma’am. Can you sit? Can we all sit?”
Lydia placed her right hand on Jewell’s shoulder to guide her into place. She was a petite girl for two, with pale skin and soft blonde curls.
Nathanael looked up at his mother with his dark eyes.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?”
He was only five years old, but with the maturity of a child nearly twice his age.
“Nothing’s wrong,” she said as she coaxed her children to sit with her on the orange-patterned sofa.
The officer sat opposite them in an overstuffed chair. “Did I introduce myself?”
Lydia shook her head.
“I’m Officer Bennett, Craig Bennett. This is the worst part of the job.” He spun his hat between his index fingers. “Your husband, Jason Caldwell, was in an accident. A tractor-trailer jackknifed. The truck crossed the median and hit Jason’s station wagon. He was killed instantly. We found his identification. I’m so sorry.” He handed her Jason’s wallet.
Lydia stared at the thing in her hands. She stroked the warn faux leather, flipping it back and forth, unsure for a moment what she was meant to be doing with it. When she finally made herself open it, a wallet-size photo of Nathanael and Jewell blasted into vision. She held her hand to her mouth, and silent tears streamed from her eyes. She fought to control herself.
What’s that noise?
He jumped up from the bed.
The dark can’t hurt me.
He pressed his hands and forehead to the window. It felt cold. No, not really cold, but definitely not warm.
Is that Mommy? Why does she have a suitcase?
He watched her climb into the cab, and then watched it drive away. He knew what a cab was. They had ridden in one to the grocery store once, when Mommy’s car was broken.
He stood there for a while.
She’ll be right back.
After a while, his legs buckled and he had to go back to bed. A beam of light through the window took away some of the dark. He looked over at his sister’s bed.
She will be cold.
He pulled the sheet up over her shoulders.
Then he got back into bed, turned onto his back, and watched the ceiling.
Excerpt from Book 2: A Spell of Wanderlust
A Windowsill with a Calico Cat
“Who’s this?” Jewell asked through the open window.
Romeo cocked his head. The cat responded to Jewell’s voice by standing, hunching its back for a big stretch, and then jumping to the ground. It stood at the open screened door offering a few indifferent meows.
“Well, what’s your name?”
The cat meowed with more enthusiasm so Jewell picked it up. “Sit Romeo.” He obeyed, all the while keeping watch on the calico.
Jewell stretched her arms to hold the cat in front of her. “I see, you’re a girl. I’ll need to ask Aniela about you.” She fetched a pan of water and set it outside the back door along with the visiting cat.
Jewell practically skipped to the tiny house, down the tree-lined walk, her find streaming behind her like a peacock kite tousled in the breeze.
She hung the costume on a hook outside the closet. This way, it would fill her view with beauty each morning.
She fed the cat and snatched the opportunity to fuss over her. Dinnertime was the one time of day she could count on seeing her capricious new pet.
“Hey, let’s see if you have a name yet.” Jewell fetched her cell phone, sat cross-legged on the bed and scrolled to her post. “Whoa, look at all the responses. The last reply was yesterday so they’re all in,” she said to Romeo and the nameless cat. She read them aloud to see which fit: “Tempest, Gem, Luna, Sophie, Prissy, Misty, Cali, Belle, Juliette, Jasmin, Rascal, Journee', Gypsy, Tabby, Rachel Racoon, Maple, Molly, Cookie, Ellie, Ella, Otter Girl, Gracie, Miss Grace, Elsie, Cindy, Mary, Callie, Rosy, Ruby, Buttercup, Butter Bean, Abbey, Poshie, Sabo, Tabitha, Mystery, Velour, Delilah, Jewel, Cinnamon, Amira, Layla, Blossom, Nikia Myriah Petit, Persia, Scarlet, Mitsi, Kai, Tess, Samantha (Sam), Rahab, Lucy, Callie, Bekah, Penelope, Miss Kitty, Catalina, Tasha, Beall Frost, Grizzaeblla, Precious, Priscilla, Cairo, Harem, Salem, Josie, Sheba, Simba, Challi, Cierra, Omi, Maya, Fifi, Wanderlust, Rings, Soft Kitty, Shimmer, Ralph, Spot, Ruby and Summer.”
“Hmmm.” Jewell tapped her finger on her lips, her gaze turned to the ceiling. “I like Maya or Luna.”
“Come on, Romeo, time for your walk.”