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Saturday, April 9, 2011


Today is the second installment of the prequel to "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights". I hope you like this "story before the book". Please leave a comment. I love feedback. Thank you for coming.


            Sunny awoke to find her mother wearing her reading glasses, poring over the newspaper.
            “Can  I have the want ads?” She asked.
            Her mom handed her part of the paper. Sunny picked up a pen and began to search the section under the heading “Teachers Wanted” for a position teaching art, now she had her Masters degree. The young artist didn’t fight her mother’s suggestion she find a job teaching, but she refused to change her major to education, preferring to continue with her fine arts degree.
Linda relented, knowing how strong the pull for an artist to create. Her late husband, Alex Davis, was a very talented artist.
            Linda fell in love with Alex in college. He spotted her in the quad and drew a quick sketch. Crowned homecoming queen two weeks before, she was quite stunning and admired by most of the guys on campus. Alex, being painfully shy, dropped his sketch on the grass in front of her as his way of introduction.  Linda picked it up, looked at it then at him. He got so flustered he dropped his sketchpad, pencils and chalks in the grass in front of her. She laughed as she helped him gather everything up.
            His hand touched hers when she handed him back his sketch pad and their eyes met. His shy smile grew bigger and his blue eyes danced when they met hers. She was captivated by him.
He invited her to sit for him and published his drawing in the school magazine, which brought her invitations for dates from a dozen guys, much to Alex’s distress.
            Alex didn’t have much money but he was loaded with charm and ingenuity. He took her on the most interesting dates, picnics in the woods, bird watching, late night skinny dipping in an off campus lake where Linda succumbed to his desire for her, giving up her virginity in the throes of her passion for this amazing man.  They became inseparable. While some of the girls wondered what Linda saw in the shy artist with the uncertain future, others saw the sweet man inside who was so desperately in love with Linda he would do anything for her.
            Graduation came and Linda received her nursing degree. Unwilling to be separated, they eloped, since her parents didn’t approve of her marrying a “starving” artist.  They moved to New York City where Linda found work and Alex painted. He continued to do portraits of his lady love and they lived on love in a tiny apartment.
            After a few years of struggling, it became apparent Alex would have to take a job. Their lack of money put a strain on their life together. He found a job teaching for a few years and the couple’s deep love continued to burn. City funding for school arts programs dried up and Alex was out of a job. He then began his string of unfulfilling jobs, mostly sales, which he hated but worked at anyway, desperate to keep his homecoming queen happy and well fed.
            While work days were stressful, nighttime was passionate. Linda’s respect for Alex’s talent grew as he continued to create. Sometimes he would paint or draw into the wee hours of the morning on weekends. Artwork filled their house, hung on walls and stacked in closets.
            Desperate to make money from his artwork, Alex and Linda attended every gallery showing and opening they could. After six months, Alex got his turn. One painting in one gallery made them hopeful. It sold and the gallery requested more of his work.
            It wasn’t long before Alex’s work was hanging in a few galleries in Soho and Greenwich Village. But sales were bumpy. Some weeks he would sell a painting then four weeks would go by with nothing. The extra money was always needed as Alex kept losing jobs or quitting because he couldn’t force himself into the regular work mold. Linda dreaded those days when she came home to find him sitting with a glass of wine, staring out the window. He was always sorry but it didn’t help.
            Then it happened. Linda became pregnant and the stress in their lives doubled instantly. Linda worried how they would live if she couldn’t work. Alex was thrilled. Fatherhood came easily to him. The prospect of having his own child as a playmate lifted his heart. He took jobs working in stores, two jobs a day, to have enough put aside for Linda to take a few months off.
            When Sunny was born, Linda insisted on giving her a beautiful, dignified name, Caroline, but Alex slipped “Sunshine” in as her middle name. He always called her “Sunny” insisting she brought sunlight into his life. The first few months were heaven as Linda, Alex and Sunny cocooned together, going for walks, playing, laughing and loving. Passion returned to Alex and Linda when they weren’t up at night with the baby.
            When Linda returned to work, she created a schedule where she would work at night while Alex minded the baby and he would work during the day. Time for painting and time for making love was reduced to a minimum. Still, they managed to make ends meet and stay together. As Sunny grew, Alex found steady work word processing for a law firm. The work paid well even though he hated it. When Sunny became four, Linda found the cabin in The Birches. It was cheap, so she and Alex bought it. Linda went there for the summer with Sunny while Alex stayed behind to work and paint in the city, joining them on weekends.
            Alex’s work sold in galleries, providing the money for upkeep on the house. But his work found its most loving audience in the country. People in Pine Grove, though they couldn’t afford City prices, scooped up all the work Alex chose to sell up there. When Sunny was five, Alex presented her with her first box of serious colored pencils. She took a small sketchpad and joined her father on weekend jaunts to paint or draw the beautiful scenery.
            Linda had no idea her daughter’s love for her father was an outgrowth of the artistic talent she shared with him. It wasn’t long before Alex hung Sunny’s work up in their cottage alongside his. The little girl and her father were inseparable. Alex found time on weekends to rekindle his passion with Linda. They occasionally slipped down to the lake at midnight for skinny-dipping which always ended up in passionate lovemaking.
            Those weekends together reminded Linda why she loved Alex so much, why she married him, instead of one of the wealthier boys at college who wanted her. The small family laughed and cooked together, enjoyed being part of the community and then separating themselves for their own quiet times. It was idyllic and they had never been happier.
            Heavy rain on and off for two days drenched the countryside, by the time Alex boarded the bus for Pine Grove, some roads and streets were flooded. Water cascaded over the highway obscuring the bus driver’s view, limiting his ability to judge how deep the water was when he hit a puddle going too fast. The bus accident killed eight people. Alex Davis didn’t survive.
When the news arrived at Pine Grove, something inside Linda died with him. A portion of her heart sealed over, never to be touched by another man. Sunny was hysterical for days, waking up every morning to remember her beloved father was gone.
            The serious struggles for money began when Alex died. He left no life insurance, having no expectation of death so young. Linda worked as hard as she could while Sunny went to school, but they watched every dime, stretching every dollar to make it do for two. The stress of being only one step ahead of poverty further hardened Linda. Second-hand clothes, scholarship to college, all the pressures of living for two on a small salary became Linda’s preoccupation. Without her beloved Alex, she changed, fun and frolicking were snuffed out as she determined to find a better life for her daughter.
            “So, no teaching jobs?” Linda asked Sunny.
            She shook her head.
            “I found something.”
            Sunny looked at her mother and cocked an eyebrow.
            “Look here. A listing of the charity functions,” Linda pointed out.
            “You think we should be the recipients of charity? Things aren’t that bad.”
            “A perfect place to socialize, mingle with the rich.”
            Sunny grabbed the paper and read the listings.
            “Five hundred dollars a ticket! You’re kidding. Where would we get that kind of money to toss away on a dinner?”
            “Some are less. Some are less. Here’s one that is $150 a plate. We can squeeze out $300. I’ve put a little bit aside. Kind of like a dowry, since you will be getting married someday.”
            “Don’t hold your breath, Mom. Prince Charming isn’t exactly beating down my door.”
            “Not yet, but he will. Look at you, Caroline. You’re beautiful. We’re going. I’ll go with you so you don’t have to worry about being shy.”
            “Just pin a sign on my back, ‘Daughter for Sale’,” Caroline said, refilling her coffee.
            “Hush! That’s a terrible thing to say. Is it a crime for a mother to want her daughter…well fixed?”
            “That depends, Mom…”
            “I’m going to the fabric store today. You need a suitable dress,” Linda said, folding up the newspaper.
            “I’m late for work,” her daughter said, looking at her watch.
            “Perhaps it won’t be long before you leave your job at Macy’s behind for a life of luxury, my dear,” Linda said, giving Sunny a kiss.
“Keep dreamin’, Mom."

A few words about the book:

Caroline Davis White is a well-known artist married to a philandering multi-millionaire. She has everything any woman could wish for except love. Brad refuses to give her the divorce she so desperately wants.  With no money, family, or friends, she flees to the small community in Catskill Mountains where she spent her summers as a child.
Mike Foster, Caroline’s childhood crush grown up, achieved success and made more money than he could ever have dreamed, but it destroyed his marriage and cost him his son.  He is wary of women who find his wallet more attractive than his good looks.
Caroline reconnects with the life she had and friends from long ago. Mike steps out of her teenage dreams into her life again, looking more handsome and tempting than ever. She knew who he was then…but who is he now?

Buy links:
(multiple formats)
Barnes & Noble:


An Open Book said...

Great excerpt Jean- Can't believe I wasn't already following your blog- Now I also tweeted the page for you *hugs*

Elaine Cantrell said...

Thanks for the prequel, Jean.