Click on image to enlarge.
by Arline Chase
Description: Leanna and Jamie married for convenience's sake. Now he's showing signs of restlessness, while she wonders how to tell him she is pregnant. Leanna is no stranger to a May-December marriage, after all she first met Jamie when he did chores for the older husband she had married right out of school. Later, Jamie left town under something of a cloud and by the time they met again, she was several years a widow. Now it's another May-December marriage, only this time Leanna is the older partner. Will they be able to work out their differences? Or will secrets from the past destroy their relationship?
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net, 1883
eBookwise Release Date: October 2005
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [86 KB]
Reading time: 55-77 min.
Joy surged through Leanna, lighting her wide gray eyes, as Dr. Englander said, "Your tests are conclusive, Leanna. I'm sure you're delighted with the news." He gave her a congratulatory smile across the desk, his weathered and wrinkled face looking benign. "I know how much you've always wanted a baby."
Then Leanna hesitated. She and Jamie had never discussed having children. It was only one of their taboo subjects.
"You seem a little overwhelmed, with the good news. Relax, and I'll ask Sue Ellen to bring you a cup of herb tea."
Nodding, Leanna pushed shiny dark curls away from her face and took a deep breath. She hadn't expected it so soon. In all the years she had lived with Malcolm Boyd, she had become pregnant only once. Leanna winced and turned her thoughts instead to her present husband. Jamie. This, above all, they should have discussed. But, at twenty-nine, Leanna had felt time was running out. How could she expect Jamie, at 23, to understand her need for a child?
"Not having the tummy-flutters already?" Blonde, blue-eyed Sue Ellen Graves, with whom she'd gone to high school, gave Leanna a conspiratory smile. "Or is it Mr. Mallory, who's on your mind? Don't you worry, he'll be tickled to right death when he hears the news. You watch, by next week he'll be strutting around acting like the only rooster in the henhouse, just like the rest of them."
Sue Ellen handed her the teacup. Leanna smiled back at the former head cheer-leader, mother of five, and physician's assistant, and tried to act as if there were nothing to cloud her happiness. That was the trouble with living in a small town. Everybody knew everything about you. And what they didn't know, they guessed, then called it fact. Did they guess why Jamie had married her? They'd had plenty to say about why she had married Malcolm Boyd ten years ago. For his money. That wasn't true. Though security had been one reason for her decision, loneliness had played a much larger role.
Leanna sighed and sipped her tea, knowing that Sue Ellen hadn't been able to keep a secret since she was nine years old. News of her pregnancy would be all over town within days. She had to tell Jamie, and quickly, or someone else would.
Jamie. Given his reasons for marrying her, what would his reaction be? From the beginning, he had never been predictable. A smile played about Leanna's lips as she remembered the first time she had seen him. * * * *
On that long-ago bright June day, she had been the young wife of a middle-aged man, pedaling her bike joyfully along the tree-lined streets of Port LeClare. The sleepy Alabama coastal town where she had been born and raised, had seemed familiar and comforting as Leanna skimmed beneath towering oaks, bearded with Spanish moss.
Turning into the drive of a huge brick Victorian set back from the street, she leaped off the bike and pushed it toward the roomy garage at the rear of the house. Leanna didn't notice the boy sprawled on the wooden steps of the side porch, a paperback book in his hand. Even at fifteen he had been tall, his body muscular, but thin almost to the point of emaciation. His hair was shoulder length, an amber cascade streaked by the sun.
"Hi! I'm Jamie Mallory. Mr. Boyd sent me."
"Hi!" Leanna waved, still somewhat breathless from her ride. Malcolm had said something about getting someone to cut grass and paint the peeling trim on the house.
Leanna studied the boy carefully, for never in all her life had she seen anyone like him. He wore scuffed Reeboks, jeans, and no shirt. The sun had bronzed the skin of his hairless chest. One ear was pierced and had a gold skull and cross-bones bobbing under it. Leanna wondered what on earth she could say to this--this punk rocker. Nobody wore their hair that long anymore.
"Excuse, me. I'm looking for Mrs. Boyd." The boy's voice, already fully mature, had a strange 'round' quality, as if each word held rich highs and lows that other voices could never catch. He leaped to his feet with the effortless grace and boundless energy that would later make his stage performances almost as beautiful to see as to hear, and shoved the paperback into the back pocket of his jeans.
Catching a glimpse of the title, Leanna said, "I don't believe it! Shakespeare? In summer?"
Jamie shrugged. "I read everything I can get my hands on. People either like it or they don't. You a reader..." Uh, sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Leanna." She pulled off her scarf, released her curls from the rubber band that had confined them, and shook them out, then met his gaze for the first time. The impact of his glance made her knees feel weak, not only because of the strange color of his eyes--a cross between topaz and amber--or because they held a latent sexual invitation even then, but because the mature expression in them was far too old for his face.
"Mr. Boyd hired me to do chores. I'll be working here all summer. Do you know where I can find his wife? Is she your mother?"
"No." Leanna tried to muster a smile. "That is, I--I'm Mrs. Boyd."
Jamie had looked at her a long time then, a strange expression in his coppery eyes. "Mrs. Malcolm Boyd?"
"Jeeze." Jamie walked toward the garage, lean hips moving gracefully in jeans so threadbare there had been white-furred holes in them.