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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The "Real" Road the Testament (Day 2)

The first time I went to the real Decker Ranch, I was taken with what Sharon Decker called "the cottage" out back and up the hill. A converted barn, this now two-bedroom two-bath comfort zone had been Sharon's place of refuge after her mother's passing.
I could easily see why.
Sharon has a good eye when it comes to decorating, and--as The Cottage soon became my own hideout and writing haunt--I didn't want to lose the home-effects she'd created when making it a character in my book, The Road to Testament.

Remembering how I felt the first time I saw her, I wrote the following:

I’d found it. My new home. There’d be no turning back now saying I couldn’t find it.
Heaven help me.
I made a hard left off the asphalt road into the rutted narrow driveway, which disappeared under a canopy of skinny-trunked, green leafy trees. My car rocked back and forth as it tilted upward, upward, past deep ravines on both sides. I crossed a manmade stone bridge built over a lazy stream flowing atop glossy river rocks. Just as I despaired my car would simply topple backward and I’d be found upside down in the little creek, the landscape cleared. A sloping yard led to a white-brick house on one side and a shimmering blue swimming pool and pool house on the other.
I followed the driveway to the back of the U-shaped house, stopping beside a classic Jeep, an Acura, and a rather decrepit looking Dodge truck.
“Wow,” I said. I felt a brow arch. A two-story unpainted cottage stood farther up the hill and at the end of the drive. Sky-blue Adirondack chairs, a settee and footrests had been arranged on one side and oversized planters spilling over with flowers on the other. The entire setting was both grand and primitive. “Wow,” I said again.

Have you ever found a place like "The Cottage"? Somewhere you found comfort, as if the house or place itself were giving you all that you needed to get through? 

Tell me about it! 
And stay tuned ... I'm going to offer a contest soon, and you'll want to be a part of it (I hope).

Monday, April 28, 2014

The "REAL" Road to Testament

In my book, The Road to Testament, the make-believe town of Testament, North Carolina becomes a character in and of itself, full of Southern-style streets, shops, and people.

Spindazzle and The Spinning Bean, Spindale, NC

"Testament" is a composite of Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forest City, and Tryon, North Carolina.

Over the next few days, I'd like to share with you some of the real places that, and people who inspired the book.

Spindazzle is a fun shop full of goodies in Spindale, North Carolina. Right next door is the Spindale Drug Company, and next door to that,  is The Spinning Bean, where you can get great food and the most delicious cup of coffee! During one trip to research and write the book, I became downright addicted to one of their flavored coffees! If you go there, I bet you will too!


When Ashlynne first comes to "Testament" she notes the charming look of the small Southern town from the driver's seat of her Jag (This is also the first time she sees William Decker). Here's what she observes: 


Brick storefront facades ran tall and short on both sides of the road, offering old-world appeal. Many of the stores had been renovated, converted to shops and restaurants. Wrought iron and wood benches separated by large pots of multihued flowers stretched between the doorways. The few people who meandered the sidewalks wore walking shorts, tee shirts and colorful flip flops. They tended to stay close to the shade afforded by scalloped awnings. Two children, who walked ahead of adults I assumed to be their parents, wrapped their cherub lips around ice cream stacked high in sugar cones. I ran my tongue over my bottom lip, wondering where they had purchased such delight. I contemplated rolling down the window and asking.
A glance at the traffic signal showed the light had yet to turn green. I lowered my window to see if I might find an ice cream shop. Just as I did, the driver’s door of a parked and battered pickup flew open. I cocked a brow at the cowboy-wannabe who jumped out, scuffed boots landing firmly on the asphalt. In spite of the heat, he wore jeans I’d bet hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in weeks, a crisp short-sleeved denim shirt, and—I’m not kidding—a cowboy hat wrapped with a sweat ring. He caught me staring—or perhaps it was the other way around. His eyes pierced through to mine—screaming as if he knew I were some intruder stepping on his hallowed ground.
Or as if he knew me … and we were arch enemies.
I powered my window up. The light turned green. Feeling awkward for reasons I couldn’t understand, I pushed the gas a little too hard. My car jerked but I managed to gain control before I’d caused an accident. A peek at my side mirror confirmed my fear; Mr. Cowboy had taken it all in. He pulled on the rim of his hat and turned away.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Abduction of Becky Potter (Chapter 68, Epilogue)

Copyright Eva Marie Everson 2014
To read Chapters 11-Epilogue, see post below
To read Chapters 1-10, email Eva Marie at PenNhnd@aol.com

Chapter 68

          For Amanda the next few hours were a blur. An ambulance ride, emergency room doctors and nurses, being lifted onto a gurney and raced toward the operating room; Overhead florescent lights…one…two… three…whew…whew…whew….
          “How many fingers am I holding up, Mrs. Rogers?”
          “We’re going to give you something for pain, Mrs. Rogers…”
          “Are you still with us, Mrs. Rogers?”
          Days of pain and unknown, distorted faces looming over her, “Mrs. Rogers?  We’re changing your dressing now.” 
“Mrs. Rogers, I need to take your blood pressure.” 
          “Mrs. Rogers?”

Amanda opened her eyes, blinking through the sleep. She lay in a hospital bed. There were machines around her. Tubes. A television hummed on the opposite wall.
She turned her head. The muscles pulled and she prayed it wouldn’t fall off. Mark slept in a chair next to her.  “Mark?” she whispered. Her throat was parched and her voice barely audible.  “Mark?”
          Mark’s eyes opened. He sprang out of the chair.  “Honey?  Amanda?”
He leaned over the chrome railing of the hospital bed.  “Hold on, baby.  Let me call the nurse.”
          Mark reached for the call button as Amanda whispered, “Thirsty.”
          A nurse walked in and Mark turned to her.  “She’s thirsty,” he exclaimed. Tears welled in his eyes.
          “Well, then, let’s get her some ice chips to start with, shall we?”  The nurse walked over to the bedside table, retrieved the Styrofoam pitcher and then briskly walked out of the room.
          “Don’t try to talk yet, honey,” Mark said as he brushed Amanda’s hair from her face.
          “Becky?” Amanda mouthed.
          “Hold on, honey.”  The nurse returned. After placing the pitcher on the bedside table, she pulled out a piece of ice and rubbed it along Amanda’s mouth, then slipped it between her lips.
          “Mmmm,” Amanda moaned.
          “Take this,” the nurse said to Mark. “Keep doing this while I call your wife’s doctor.” She offered a smile. “Looks like she’s finally back with us.”
          Mark lowered the railing and sat on the bed next to his wife. A few ice chips later, Amanda swallowed and said, “Becky?”
          “She’s fine.”
          “Does she know?”
          “Yes.  Her mother and Matt told her.”
          “The day after…my gosh, Amanda.  I could have lost you.”
          Amanda shook her head.  “How is she?”
           “She’s having a difficult time with all this, but her mother—Patty—is going to get her some counseling.  Patty didn’t know, Amanda. She never had a clue that her daughter had been stolen.”
          “But Bob knew.”
          “Where is he?”
          “He and that woman, Gabrielle Cibrianne, were arrested for attempted murder as well as a host of other charges.  They’ve both posted bail and as far as I know they’re staying at her apartment in Atlanta.”
          Mark smiled.  “Tough as nails.  A few cuts and bruises, but she’ll be fine. She says she’s more damaged from you throwing her on the floor than what Madison did to her.” He winked. “She is worried about you, though.”
          Amanda closed her eyes. “Madison?”
          Mark leaned over and kissed her forehead.  “Madison is dead.”
          Amanda let the fullness of what her husband had just told her settle in. Over. All of it. Over. But that means … “Celeste?”
          “Taking it very hard.  But the church and her friends will be there for her.”
          Amanda began to shake.  Mark pulled the blanket up around Amanda’s chin.  “It’s okay, honey.”
          Amanda shook her head as a tear slipped down her cheek.  “No, you don’t understand…”
          “What is it?”
          She shook her head again.  “I’m so sorry…Will God forgive me?”
          “For what, Amanda?  Tell me.”       
          “I can’t help it….” The tears were coming more rapidly.
          “I’m glad…glad that Harold Madison is dead.” 

A week later Amanda sat in the padded recliner of her hospital room, gazing around.  Floral arrangements filled every table, shelf, and the top of the air-conditioning unit.  Several of the arrangements sent to her had been “donated” to other patients and to the nurse’s section of each ward.  Get Well cards—some store bought and others hand-made--made a train around the wall of the room.  A poster made by Brittany and Ryan dominated the back of the door.

 Get Well Soon, Mom!!
We love you and are so proud of you!
Brittany and Ryan.

          Amanda read it for the umpteenth time and smiled as a faint knock came to the door.
          “Come in,” Amanda called out, much stronger than she had been a week earlier.
          The door opened slowly.  Amanda saw the arrangement of two-dozen pink roses before she saw the gift-bearer.
          “How beautiful,” she whispered.
          “Where should I put them?” her guest asked.
          Amanda pointed to a small table with a potted plant on it.  “Move the plant to the floor and place them there.”  
          “How are you?” the woman asked, turning from the table.
          “Better.  Much better. I…I don’t know what to call you.”
          “I’m most comfortable with Dori.  I hope that’s okay.”
          Amanda smiled back and nodded.  “Of course it is.”
          Dori walked to the bed and sat on its edge.  “They should have more chairs in these rooms.”
          Amanda laughed.  “Especially mine.  I’ve had so many visitors.”
          Dori looked down, but only briefly.  “I can imagine…being the pastor’s wife and all.  You’re something of a celebrity in this town right now.”
          Amanda took a deep breath.  “I’m sorry. Dori.”
          Dori stood again, walked over to the window and looked out.  She waved to someone, then turned back to Amanda. “Matt,” she said.  “He’s out there. In the parking lot. I asked him if I could come up alone.  I wanted to see you…to ask you a question…or two.  To talk.”
          Amanda braced herself.  “You want to know how I could have let all this happen.”
          “All what?”
          “The kidnapping…Harold Madison’s death…”
          Dori grimaced. “No, of course not.  We were only children.”
          “Do you remember? Any of it?”
          “Not really.  Just little things.”
          Dori began to pace as she wrapped her arms around herself.  “An oak tree—”
          “Where you were counting.”
          “We were playing Hide and Seek.”
          “Oh, yes.  I heard all about that, but I don’t remember it.”
          Amanda nodded.  “What else?”
          Dori stopped and tilted her head as she shook it.  “A locket?”
          Amanda brought her hands together. “Yes. I still have it.”
          “Was it mine?”
          Dori nodded.  “That’s really all I remember.  My doctor says I’m not ready to remember the actual kidnapping. Matt has sent away for copies of the police reports and, when I’m ready, my doctor and I will read over them.”
          Amanda was silent for a minute.  “Do you remember your mother and father?”
          “I see.”
          “They know about me, though.  The police notified them and they’re flying in tomorrow.”
          “They haven’t come yet?”
          Dori shook her head.  “I’ve asked them to wait.  I need time to…to process all this. I’m a little nervous,” she added. 
          “You’ll do all right,” Amanda said.
          Dori walked over to the chair, knelt down before Amanda and gathered her hands in her own.  “Be with me?” she asked, her voice trembling.
          Amanda squeezed Dori’s hands. “Was that the question you wanted to ask?”
“Oh, Becky,” she began to weep. “I’ll never let you go again.  Never.”
Dori reached up, wiped the tears from Amanda’s face, and then those that cascaded down her own.  “There’s something else I wanted to tell you.”
Amanda nodded in answer.  She was ready to hear anything.
“It’s kind of a funny thing—“
“Will it make me laugh?”
Dori grinned.  “Maybe.  It will definitely make you smile.”
“I’m ready.”
“I found out the day of…the day you were shot and … all that …”
“Found out what?”
“Isn’t life funny?  Guess what. I’m going to be a mother.”



          Celeste Madison answered the phone in the library on the third ring.  Before lifting the receiver she glanced at the caller ID; the call came from Hillside Hospital in Nashville.
          "Hello, Teresa," she answered matter-of-factly.
          "Kaci had a little boy about a half hour ago.  Seven pounds, fourteen ounces."
          Celeste smiled.  "Perfect. Everything all right?"
          "Oh, yes.  Ten fingers.  Ten toes.  A perfect baby boy.  There were no complications."
          Celeste sat in the chair that had belonged to her husband.  He had conducted all the business here and now it was her turn. She ran the slender fingers of her right hand along the shiny patina of his desk. "I'll notify his new parents and call you soon with an update as to the meeting with them."
          There was a break of silence.  Then: "I haven't told Kaci…about Mr. Madison."
          Celeste's mouth formed a thin line.  "Why don't you take Kaci on a special vacation…say to Jamaica?  If she should catch the news on cable or in the papers…"
          "I'll take care of it."
          "Very good.  Just send me the receipts."  Celeste stood, smoothed the faint wrinkles from her linen slacks.
          "Mrs. Madison, may I ask---"
          "Don't worry, Teresa," Celeste interrupted, knowing full well where the question was heading.  "As far as anyone's concerned, I'm the grieving and shocked widow.  Not only is my husband dead, he was running a black market adoption agency that I was completely oblivious to.  I've supplied the FBI with the old files that were kept in the office and a few from the house.  Everything else is as it always has been.  Mr. Green's clients are safe and so are you.  Understood?"
          "Yes, ma'am."
          "Good.  No looking back, then.  Business as usual."
          "Yes, ma'am.  Business as usual."

Did you enjoy The Abduction of Becky Potter? You can read more of Eva Marie's work by clicking on the photo of her book's covers to the right.