Authors: Susan X Meagher
THE RIGHT TIME
© 2015 BY SUSAN X MEAGHER
THIS TRADE PAPERBACK ORIGINAL IS PUBLISHED BY BRISK PRESS, BRIELLE, NJ 08730.
COVER DESIGN AND LAYOUT BY: CAROLYN NORMAN
EDITED BY: LYNDA SANDOVAL
FIRST PRINTING: SEPTEMBER 2015
THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. NAMES, CHARACTERS, PLACES, AND INCIDENTS ARE THE PRODUCT OF THE AUTHOR’S IMAGINATION OR ARE USED FICTITIOUSLY. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD, BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS, EVENTS, OR LOCALES IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.
THIS BOOK, OR PARTS THEREOF, MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WITHOUT PERMISSION.
All That Matters
Girl Meets Girl
The Lies That Bind
How To Wrangle a Woman
Out of Whack
The Right Time
I Found My Heart In San Francisco
Awakenings: Book One
Beginnings: Book Two
Coalescence: Book Three
Disclosures: Book Four
Entwined: Book Five
Fidelity: Book Six
Getaway: Book Seven
Honesty: Book Eight
Intentions: Book Nine
Journeys: Book Ten
Karma: Book Eleven
Lifeline: Book Twelve
Monogamy: Book Thirteen
Nurture: Book Fourteen
Osmosis: Book Fifteen
Paradigm: Book Sixteen
Quandary: Book Seventeen
Renewal: Book Eighteen
Synchronicity: Book Nineteen
Many years ago, I wrote a short story for an Academy of Bards writing challenge. Eventually, I turned that short story into a full-length novel that I posted online. Over the years I’ve tried to polish it up, but each attempt wasn’t quite right.
Last year I reached out to some friends who steered me in the direction of Lynda Sandoval. They said she was the best at what I needed—someone to help me tear the book apart and restructure the whole thing. It took months of work on both of our parts, but I’m finally pleased with the result. I wouldn’t have been able to do the work without Lynda’s help, and I want to thank her for her patient, astute, and most of all, supportive feedback.
To my wife Carrie, for all of the sacrifices she makes that allow me to do what gives me joy.
The way to love a woman is to think first of her happiness.
“Hennessy? You ’bout ready,
“All set, Daddy.” She hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and started down from the second floor, careful to stay to the left side of the sloping staircase. One of the boards had started to cup, sending her ass-over-teakettle a couple of days earlier. She’d wanted to fix it herself, but Grandaddy insisted he’d get to it, and she hated to jump in when he had his mind set on something.
After walking into the kitchen, she wrapped her arms around a woman rumored to have once been as tall as Hennessy, now slightly stooped from work and worry. Her hair was still mostly black, her skin unlined and smooth. Even so, most people thought she was far older than her years. From the few pictures Hennessy had seen, Gramma had always looked old, even as a girl. Today she wore the pink nightgown she’d owned for Hennessy’s entire life. When it was going to be seriously hot she waited until the last second to put on regular clothes. “I’m ready to go, Gramma,” she said, kissing her cheek. “I’ll try to find a way to come visit at least once.”
“Don’t you worry ’bout us. Your granddaddy and me just want you to enjoy yourself. Don’t give us a tiny little thought.”
“I’ll think of you every day, and you know it.” Hennessy held on for a few extra seconds, always a little reluctant to leave home. “Tell Granddaddy I love him.”
“I will, baby girl. You take care and make your gramma proud.”
“I’ll do my best. See you in August.”
Her father’s voice called from the living room. “We’re gonna be late.”
“Coming, Daddy.” She dashed out the front door, her bag banging against her hip.
Father and daughter climbed into the battered, aged pick-up truck, holding their collective breaths. Hennessy prayed the temperamental engine would cooperate this time, while going down a list of people they could borrow a car from if need be. With a belching grumble, the truck fluttered to life, and Dawayne Boudreaux settled back and exhaled. Hennessy held her own breath as long as possible, always needing a few moments to acclimate to the malodorous truck. She’d intentionally placed her bag in the bed, hoping the wide variety of offensive smells in the cabin wouldn’t infuse both her and her luggage.
Dawayne twitched his head in the direction of the bed. “That all you’re takin’?”
“We all wear uniforms, so I don’t need much.”
“Well, I guess you’d know the drill by now. This your fourth year?”
“Uh-huh. First one I’ve been a house leader for, though.”
“That means what?”
“I’m the senior person in the cabin. I’m not really in charge, but I’m supposed to be the eyes and ears for the counselors.”
He gave her a quick look. “I thought you were teachin’.”
“Not quite,” she said, trying to think of how to put her job in terms he’d be familiar with. “I’m leading a writing group, but not teaching it. It’s more like helping a group of girls with their homework.”
“Huh.” His eyes narrowed as he thought. “Those girls that spoiled?”
“They can be,” she admitted, laughing a little. “But most of them are nice kids. If anything, a lot of them work too hard.”
“You gettin’ paid?”
“How much you fixin’ t’get?”
“Not much.” She shrugged. “You know how it is.” In reality she was making a lot. The money she was going to receive to be a house leader and a writing coach had stunned her. But she was loath to reveal that to her father. Dawayne was a proud man, and learning that his child was going to earn as much as he would over the summer was not the type of thing she wanted to share.
They drove on in silence—or in as much silence as a truck with two hundred ten thousand hard miles and a muffler full of holes could provide.
“Thanks for the ride, Daddy,” Hennessy said as they pulled into the drive. “I’ll see you in August, if not before.”
“Take care of yourself,” he said, offering a rare show of affection—a rough squeeze of her shoulder.
“I will. Good luck this summer. Full nets, cold beer, and hot gumbo, right?”
“That’s it, baby.” He gave her a shy, boyish smile, and she gazed at him for as long as was polite, trying to memorize his expression to keep it close to her heart.
Hennessy headed for Sandpiper,
cabin. Learning she’d been made cabin leader had made her so darned proud of herself, she’d wanted to ramble on about it, but going on about your accomplishments wasn’t something her family appreciated. Even though she knew they loved her to death, they were always on the lookout for braggarts.
The moment she reached the spacious, well-appointed cabin she stripped off her clothes, then put every stitch in the washer, along with everything from her bag, including the bag. Then she got in the shower and scrubbed herself roughly, trying to get the smell of fish off her body and hair.
The campers were due at three. Hennessy checked her watch, the one she’d had to buy for her first year at camp. It was simple, plastic, and cheap, but it still ran just fine. She might have been the only high school student in the country with a watch she had to wind but she also didn’t have to buy a new battery for it every year. She started for the administration cabin, hoping to check in and say hello before the campers started to arrive. A few would show up hours early, many of them with bags full of medications for their anxiety.