Monday, August 19, 2013

Second Draft/First Rewrite: Excerpts from Chapters 18 and 19

Hey everyone,

I've been working like mad on the second draft of this first book.  It's been an interesting and very humbling experience.  The interesting is how much more the characters and situations have developed during this first rewrite and how I've also found it necessary to sometimes combine maybe two chapters into one or change a chapter into an interlude because I think it would serve the story better that way.  So its been interesting seeing the story develop even further and get to know the characters on an even more personal level.

The humbling part has been coming across errors that were previously unnoticed and sometimes I think my brain leaves my head.

The second draft is almost complete and after that, I plan to print it out and set it aside for a month or two before I do the third draft.  This is something I've learned from not only more seasoned novelists I know but also from Stephen King's book "On Writing."  And yes, they (including Stephen King) do say print it out when you set it aside so that when you go back to do the new draft, you can actually mark the areas you want to make adjustments to making it easier when you go to do the final draft.  While it will be difficult for me to leave the characters and their world for a month or so, it will be nice to come back and look at it with new eyes and see the story really come to life.  Plus, I'll be working a little more on Book 2.

I will say that the entire Bloodlines turned out much differently than it was when I wrote the first outline and I'll be posting a blog entry on the writing process from the time I started this a year ago (yes, a year ago).

But now, onto these excerpts and I'll be posting Chapter 33 of the first draft this week after I make sure there are no absolutely atrocious errors.

These are excerpts from Chapters 18 and 19.  Because the story has expanded a little in the second draft, Chapters 16 and 17 are now 18 and 19.  The first excerpt from Chapter 18 is Matthew's dilemma of allowing Dorothy to grow up which was only glossed over a little in the first draft.  I do feel this is a very important passage for the Blake family which is why I'm sharing it.
The second excerpt is from Chapter 19 and I'm sharing it because I do love Reginald and Gail as a couple :)

So, without further ado, here are the excerpts from the second draft and stay tuned for Chapter 33 from draft 1 coming this week :)


CHAPTER 18 (Excerpt Only)

Dorothy’s freefall came to an end as a cold draft encompassed her and she lay floating in the black void with nothing beneath her.  For a second, she remembered laying this way when she, Linda, and Gail tried the game, Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board.  And that was exactly how she felt at now.  Light as a Feather and Stiff as a Board.
Try as she might, Dorothy was unable to move her limbs.  Calling out also proved to be futile, as though a pair of hands were closed around her throat preventing her from uttering out even a croaked whisper.  Nothing but cold, dark, silence.  She felt restless and then that restlessness rose to panic.
What’s going on?  Where am I? 
Dorothy felt another cold draft cross her body and she noticed something wet at the top of her head.  She tried to move her arm again in order to bring her hand up to identify what it was, but her body remained stiff and immobile. 
Dorothy summoned up every ounce of strength she had to use whatever senses she could.  All she could see was darkness, so she listened.  Listened for any indication of where she was and what was happening.  She could smell the fragrance of burning sage and she was able to hear voices.  Voices that were distant but familiar.
“She’ll be just fine,” the voice said.  “She just needs to rest and no more shenanigans this evening.”
Dr. Ramsay?
“Well, we do appreciate both of you looking after her,” another voice said.
Dad!
Relief began to set in and Dorothy was slowly regaining her mobility.  She then realized that her eyes were shut and pried them open.  Everything around her was a blur but her vision quickly cleared.  Dorothy recognized not only where she was but also was able to indentify why she felt so cold.  Where the draft she felt had been coming from.  She was lying on her bed in the middle of her bedroom and the window at the foot of the bed was open, letting in the cool, October nightbreeze in.  The powder blue and cream curtains ballooned up as the breeze entered the room.  Dorothy turned her eyes toward her desk, closet, and packed to capacity bookshelf.  In her peripheral, she could see her nightstand to the right side of her bed with her alarm clock and radio.  Next to the radio burned a sage candle her father had gotten from one of his Native relatives.  Dorothy also discovered that a cool, wet washcloth was on her forehead.
Dorothy let out a deep sigh and rose to prop herself on her elbows.  She willed the lingering grogginess to leave her and removed the washcloth from her head.  She turned to look at the clock.  The hands on the clockface revealed the time to be 12:47am.
How long have I been out for?
Through a small opening in the curtains, Dorothy could see the moon still hanging in the night sky.  The curtains rose again as another breeze came in through the window.  The fresh air felt amazing to breathe in, especially after the mustiness inside the corridors on the Fleming property.
The Fleming Property!
The events of the evening began coming back to her, but her thoughts were thwarted when her bedroom door opened to reveal Dr. Ramsay tentatively stepping into the room followed by her mother and father.  Carl was behind her father and Dorothy saw a genuine concern in her boyfriend’s eyes.
“Well!  She’s awake!” Dr. Ramsay said with great enthusiasm.
Dorothy gave everyone a small, sheepish smile as they all entered the room.  Having just come from the Halloween party at the Millers’ residence, Matthew and Liz Blake were still in their formal evening wear and held the masks they wore in their hands.  Dorothy noticed her father’s dark gray wolf mask and her mother’s white one.
“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” Matthew asked his daughter as he sat down to face her at the end of her bed.
“I’m alright,” Dorothy said as memory of the gray, hazy forest began leaving her.  She struggled to keep where she had been in the front of her mind while also wondering how much of the evening her parents knew.
Dorothy looked at Carl, who stood quietly by the doorway with his hands in his pockets.  His concerned expression had shifted to guilt.
“What happened?” Dorothy asked, looking cautiously from Carl, to her parents, and then to Dr. Ramsay.
“According to Carl and your other friends,” Dr. Ramsay said, “you all were out cruising around and ended up on the Fleming Property.  You all were walking around outside, checking out the buildings until passed out and gave everyone a scare.”
Dorothy turned her gaze to Carl who looked down at the floor.  She then looked back over to her window as she tried to remember everything that had taken place up on the Fleming property.  Dorothy swallowed and nodded in response as she anticipated being able to talk to Carl alone and have him jog her memory. 
The doctor continued, “Your friends brought you back here and that was when your boyfriend phoned your parents and then me.  The rest of your friends stayed until we arrived.”
Dorothy nodded again, still trying to place the events of the night while being grateful for Carl and her friends.  She looked back over at Carl who peered back up at her. 
“You really think she’ll be alright?”  Liz asked, sitting on the bed and taking her daughter’s hand.
“I think so,” Dr. Ramsay said. “This likely was nothing more than a case of fatigue or dehydration.  Her vitals are all working and she seems perfectly fine albeit a little groggy.  But of course, should anything change, don’t hesitate to give me a ring.  I’ll phone in the morning for an update on her.”
Matthew and Liz thanked the doctor before offering to see him to the door.  Carl also gave him a small smile and thank you.
Dorothy and Carl stared at one another, neither one of them moving, as Dr. Ramsay left the room with Matthew and Liz.  They could hear Dorothy’s parents saying goodnight to Dr. Ramsay, thanking him once again, before shutting the front door.  As the doctor’s car could be heard driving away from the Blakes’ house, Carl opened his mouth to speak.  He was interrupted by Matthew and Liz re-entering the room.
“Are you feeling any better, dear?” Liz asked sitting by Dorothy on the bed and putting an arm around her daughter’s shoulders.
“Yes, mom,” Dorothy answered, still feeling very distant.
“Well, Dr. Ramsay said that you are to rest for the remainder of the night,” Matthew added.
“Sure,” Dorothy said and looked again at Carl.
Matthew and Liz followed her gaze.
“And you,” Matthew said to Carl.
“Yes, Mr. Blake?”
Dorothy could see immediate fear in her boyfriend’s eyes in reaction to her father’s stern tone and glare.
“I’ll never understand for the life of me what you all find so fascinating about that Fleming property that you had to go up there late tonight,” Matthew continued. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?  God only know who or what those buildings and woods could be hiding.  Of all the places you all could have gone!”
Carl seemed to shrink under Matthew’s gaze.  “I’m sorry, Mr. Blake,” he uttered out.
Dorothy couldn’t stand it anymore.  “Dad, please don’t be angry with Carl,” she said.  “Going up there was just as much my idea as it was his.  As it was all of ours.  It’s Halloween and we were just looking to have some fun.  That’s all!”
Matthew turned to his daughter and said, “Alright, Dorothy.  But your mother and I thought that you all were going to George Kolinski’s party.  What happened with that?”
“We did,” Dorothy answered, “and then we went to Chuck’s Diner and that’s where we all came up with the idea of going exploring up there.”
Matthew sighed and closed his eyes.  Liz gave her daugher’s shoulder a light squeeze.  They both worried about Dorothy.  She was their only child and they had been unable to have anymore.  Liz had had three other pregnancies that had all resulted in miscarriages.  The first two had occurred before Dorothy and the last one happened when Dorothy was three years old.
As Dorothy grew up, Matthew and Liz shared the struggle of refraining from being too overprotective of their daughter.  She had been a quiet, reserved child and they had taken joy in seeing her come out from her shell during her senior year of high school.  They wanted to see their daughter happy and they they had initial concerns of Dorothy going with Carl, Matthew and Liz had—in the end—found him to be a very nice boy.  But there was still a shadow that followed Matthew and Liz.  One that had been present since the night they bolted into a seven-year-old Dorothy’s bedroom following the sounds of her bloodcurdling shrieks.  They still never knew the details of what had terrified their daughter so on that night ten years ago, but it had been something that was much more than a simple childhood bad dream. 
Matthew opened his eyes, seeing the dreamcatcher that still hung from the ceiling over the headboard of Dorothy’s bed.  The Blakes were Irish Catholics but still held close much of their Native American heritage brought on by Kimimela’s family.  The dreamcatcher played a prominent role in the traditions of the Ojibwe and several tribes within the Sioux.  Kimimela’s grandmother had been the one to really insist on it’s use for their children and grandchildren.  After that, every one of the descendents of Jonathan and Kimimela would receive a child’s dream catcher at birth and an adult one on their thirteenth birthday.  The child’s dreamcatcher wasn’t very strongly made as it was meant to fall apart as the child began to make the entrance into adulthood.  The adult’s dream catcher was sturdier as it was supposed to be with an individual from the beginning of adulthood up until old age.  Matthew still had his that hung over the bed of him and Liz.  The dream catcher was said to be a representation of the life cycle and that in life, good and bad forces would be trying to influence one’s steps and that one must choose their paths wisely.  It was also said that the night is filled with activity, both light and dark.  Both would be trying to make their way to an unsuspecting, sleeping individual.  The good is meant to pass through the webs and trickle down to the individual and give them pleasant dreams that will guide their steps in fulfilling their own dreams and destiny in life.  The dark and negative iss meant to stay caught inside of the web. 
The morning after the nightmare that had left their seven-year-old daughter so shaken that Liz had to call Dorothy in sick at school, Matthew had taken off from work that day to take a two hour trainride to Northeastern PA near the small town of Mountaintop and deep into the woods of the Appalachain Mountains.  A grandson of Kimimela’s twin brother, Sunkwa, resided there inside a small but sturdy house.  The man’s name was Tahatan.  He was full-blooded American Indian and possessed many of the healing and spiritual gifts of his and Matthew’s great grandfather Howahkan.  Tahatan had noticed a loose thread in Dorothy’s dream catcher when Matthew had presented it to him.  Tahatan had tightened it and even observed that it was still a little too soon for Dorothy’s child dream catcher to begin falling apart.  Tahatan then recited a prayer and blessing over it so that it may bring the little girl comfort and happiness as she slept.  Matthew had ended up staying overnight as there was much that Tahatan needed to tell him (Dorothy slept with her mother in Matthew and Liz’s bed that night).
The two men had spent the late afternoon walking the woodland trails as Tahatan reiterated the legend behind the origins of the dream catcher.  He then proceeded to tell Matthew of visions that Howahkan and all of his children, including Kimimela, had had. Visions of blood and death.
“I wish I had better news to give you, Brother,” Tahatan said with regret filling his voice.
Matthew stood beside his cousin, the grandson of his great uncle Sunkwa.  The Appalachian woods surrounded them.  The air was crisp as the season cycle had just made its transition from summer into autumn.  It was peaceful and Matthew could understand why Tahatan chose to live there instead of in a busier suburban or urban setting.  Matthew had also noticed a shift in the atmosphere as he drove up here, though he couldn’t quite place how or why. 
“Every area on this great Earth is alive,” Tahatan said as though he were able to read Matthew’s thoughts, “even the areas that don’t appear to have any activity.  In fact, sometimes those tend to be the most active.”
Matthew looked at Tahatan and then turned his gaze up toward the tops of the trees.  “Why does this have to have anything to do with my family?  With my daughter?  Dorothy is my and Liz’s only child as we have been unable to have anymore.”
Tahatan nodded.  “I understand your frustration.”
“Oh that is an understatement,” Matthew said. “Frustration doesn’t even begin to cover it.”
“If it can provide any comfort, being aware of such things can be the first step to fighting it,” Tahatan said. “Unfortunately, the visions of our great grandfather, your grandmother, my grandfather, and their other two siblings seem to point to the descendents of Jonathan and Kimimela.”
Matthew turned his eyes downward.  For a second, he thought of his colleagues at work and what their reaction may be if they knew exactly what he was doing when he had taken off from work.  Of course, they would dismiss much of what Tahatan was telling Matthew as hogwash.  ‘Dorothy had a bad dream.  It happens with kids,’ they would say.  But this just wasn’t a bad dream.  This was much more.
He and Liz had run into the room to find Dorothy backed up against her headboard, staring with wide, horrified eyes at a corner in her room by the closet.  The look in Dorothy’s eyes at that moment was an image that was burned into Matthew’s mind.  Even after Dorothy had calmed down, she still refused to sleep in her room alone and with the light off.  What was even more puzzling was how terrified Dorothy was, yet she was unable to recall any details of her dream.  This wasn’t just a case of a child having a bad dream and the intuition that Matthew had inherited from Kimimela told him that.
“Do you know what it is?” Matthew asked.
Tahatan sighed.  “Not exactly.  But I keep getting the feeling that it is selective.  Meaning, it will only affect certain individuals of the family.”
“Well, what does it want?  Where does it come from?”
“I can’t say I know for certain.  Many of these are forces have no beginning or end.  They can show up at any time and for any number of reasons.  Why it’s coming to the houses of Jonathan and Kimimela, can be for a reason as far back as something an early ancestor may have done when they were alive.  If that’s the case, a bloodline can go for many generations without having any incidents only to have a force suddenly descend upon their house.  Usually to collect a debt owed to them.”
Matthew was silent.  It all seemed much more complicated than he thought he could handle.  But then, a thought occurred to him.  “Wasn’t one of my grandmother’s visions involving some young girl cutting her hand in some kind of blood oath?”
Tahatan looked at him and slowly nodded.  “That is correct, yes.  She and Jonathan had just discovered that she was carrying their eldest son, Chaska, at that time.”
“But the girl wasn’t related to either of my grandparents,” Matthew said.
“No,” Tahatan confirmed. “Kimimela’s spirit was taken across the ocean when she had the dream.  But, there was a reason she was meant to see it.  And that is when the visions of Howahkan became stronger and my grandfather began having them as well.”
Matthew thought for a moment before he said, “Well, since we don’t know all the details, what can I do in the meantime for Dorothy?”
“Keep a close watch on her, especially at this time.  Whatever it was that gave her such a fright can return.  That I can tell you for certain.”  Tahatan paused as though he were getting a signal of some kind before he continued.  “Also, make sure Ronald watches his youngest.”
“Why? Is whatever this is after Cletus as well?” Matthew asked.  His older brother Ronald’s son, Cletus, was six-years-old at the time and a year younger than Dorothy.
“That’s just the vibration I’m getting,” Tahatan said, “of course, I will write to Ronald myself.  But it will help if both of us can tell him.”
“Good luck with Eunice, though,” Matthew said of his sister-in-law. 
Tahatan smiled.  “I think we’ve gotten her a little more warmed up.”
Ronald’s wife, Eunice, had come from the Farnon family who, like the Blakes, were a Catholic, Black Irish family.  The Farnons, including Eunice, were very devout in their faith and it did take Eunice a little while to warm up to the fact that Ronald and his other siblings still kept some of the Lakota-Sioux/Ojibwe traditions along with the Catholic practices.  She was initially put off by giving her and Ronald’s two eldest sons, Chayton and Raymond, dream catchers at birth.  But Eunice was more welcoming of the tradition by the time Cletus was born and she found that some of the Native traditions didn’t really clash all that much with her Catholic faith.  The Blakes had found a way to intermingle the two rather nicely. 
It was a light-hearted moment before Tahatan grew serious again.  “But I mean it.  Watch Dorothy.  And make sure Ronald watches Cletus.  Your family is also Catholic.  Get as much to protect you as you can and be careful to not leave any loopholes open.”
“Like the one you just fixed in Dorothy’s dream catcher,” Matthew said.
“Yes,” Tahatan said, “And you do remember how to smudge?”
Matthew nodded.
“Good,” Tahatan said.  “But remember, in any protection you may have…make sure that there isn’t a way for the darkness to find its way in.”

Matthew stood in his daughter’s room, staring at the dream catcher and recalling Tahatan’s words from a decade ago.  Ever since then he and Liz had been very protective of Dorothy.  It wasn’t until a year ago that they brought themselves to acknowledge that they couldn’t keep Dorothy from growing up and living her own life.
For the most part, Matthew and Liz were fine with Dorothy wanting to go out with her friends and Matthew had even warmed up to Carl quicker than he thought he would.  But Dorothy going up to the Fleming Orphanage bothered him greatly.  Of course he wasn’t the only one in Plains whose skin crawled at the site of the property, but to Matthew there was something more to that place, though he couldn’t place it.  And for some reason, that feeling he had heightened after Dorothy’s night terror.
Perhaps I will phone Tahatan in the morning, he thought.  For that time being, Matthew decided to keep his focus on the fact that Dorothy was home and safe.  The rest he would worry about in the morning.
Matthew turned back to Carl and said, “I apologize for snapping at you.  Liz and I do appreciate your looking after Dorothy and phoning us about what happened.”
Carl’s eyebrows rose.  “No, it’s okay.  I understand why you’d be upset,” he stammered.
Matthew gave Carl a small smile.
Liz watched her husband and daughter’s boyfriend before saying, “Carl, why don’t you go get Dorothy some water.  There’s also a bottle of aspirin in the medicine cabinent in our bathroom.”
“Sure,” Carl said.
“Mom, I’m fine,” Dorothy protested.
“Just to have by your bedside in case you need it,” Liz said.
Dorothy relented.  “Alright.”
Carl disappeared into the hall and Matthew came to stand at the foot of the bed, running his hand along the red Maplewood footboard.
“Well, I suppose we’re calling it a night,” Matthew said.
“What?  Why?” Dorothy asked sounding more abrupt than she meant to.  She had been looking forward to an evening alone with Carl and still wanted to have it despite not feeling well.
“Honey, we got a phone call saying that our daughter was passed out and the doctor was being called,” Liz answered. “We’re not going to return to the party and leave you here alone.”
“Carl’s here,” Dorothy said with caution.
Matthew and Liz exchanged glances.  Dorothy figured they wouldn’t be comfortable with her being in the house alone with Carl even if they did like him.
“Mom, Dad.  I’m almost eighteen and Carl is a gentleman,” Dorothy said.
“I know,” Matthew said, “but being alone in the house with him…I can’t say I approve of that and I know your mother feels the same way.”
“Other girls in my class get to be alone with their boyfriends,” Dorothy said, “and they’re all fine.”
There a small pang of regret that Dorothy felt saying those words and she hoped her parents wouldn’t ask for names.  She wasn’t about to snitch on Gail and Linda.  To Dorothy’s relief, Matthew and Liz didn’t question her further with that.
“We’re not those other girls’ parents, though,” Matthew simply stated.
Dorothy decided to try another angle.  “But now I’m going to feel guilty because I’m spoiling your evening at the party.”
“Dear, don’t feel that way,” Liz said.  “You’re our daughter and your well-being is more important than any party.”
“But this was a night for you two to be out with your friends, especially after you and dad both work so hard durning the week.  You deserve a night out.  Besides, don’t you two trust me?”
“Of course we do,” Matthew said.  “You know we do.  You’ve never given us reason not to.”
“And you know Carl isn’t a cad,” Dorothy said. “Has he ever given you any reason to think so?”
“No honey,” Matthew said. “You know your mother and I like Carl.”
“Well like I said,” Dorothy said, “I’m almost eighteen, Carl isn’t a cad, and I don’t want to be the one to spoil your evening.  I’ll feel terribly guilty if I do.  I’m fine.  Dr. Ramsay even said so.  And I promise if anything happens, Carl or I will phone you and Dr. Ramsay if needed.”
Matthew and Liz were silent as they considered what their daughter was saying. 
“I’m not a little girl,” Dorothy said. “You have to let me live my life.  Especially since I’ll be graduating high school in the summer.  Linda’s my age and she’s planning her wedding.  So are some other girls in my class.  I’m old enough to be getting married and in some cultures, girls even younger than me are courting and getting ready to be married.”
Matthew sighed and looked at his daughter’s eyes.  She was right and he knew that although he couldn’t say he approved of her being alone in the house with Carl.  And having once been Carl’s age himself, Matthew knew all too well what was on the mind of an eighteen-year-old boy.  Any father would be concerned about his daughter being alone with a boy whether he was a nice one or not.
Matthew could tell that Carl did care for Dorothy and that Carl also meant a lot to her.  While it warmed his heart to see Dorothy happy, he felt rather melancholy at the thought of losing her.  To him, she was still that scared seven-year-old little girl.
But she isn’t…she’s almost a woman.
There was also something about tonight’s air that Matthew could sense.  Something that didn’t sit well with him.  At that moment, he wished he could just keep his daughter safely in the house.  It wasn’t uncommon for Matthew and other fathers to jokingly threaten to lock their daughters in their rooms as the little girls grew.  But in doing that, they all knew that doing so would not be doing them or their daughters good at all.  Some things had changed with the Roaring Twenties with both young women and men equally seeking out “free love”.  After the stock market crashed and the Depression hit most of the United States, many families were encouraging their daughters to go to any lengths at finding a husband, thus continuing the “free love” trend.  If they couldn’t afford a wedding or marriage license, the young couple would simply move in together and live as though they were a married couple.  Matthew knew that even his friends, Howard and Eva Parker, didn’t seem at all concerned about Linda being alone with Jimmy.
“I’ve already given my blessing on them getting married,” Howard had told him.  “As long as he has her back by the curfew I allod them they can paint New York City red three times for all I care.  I know Jimmy looks after my princess.”
There were still times when Matthew thought Howard and Eva were a little too loose with Linda and even sometimes seemed relieved to have Jimmy take her off their hands.  But Matthew knew it wasn’t any of his business or his place to comment.  Perhaps it was his predominatly Irish Catholic upbringing, but there were still some things Matthew thought should be kept sacred that seemed to be starting to slip through the morality cracks.
Times have certainly changed, Matthew thought, remembering a time when such things would have been enough to austrocize someone from their community.  In some ways, such actions still would, though people seemed more lenient than they were when Matthew was younger.  He recalled how Cyril and Alice Whitman had kept him at an arm’s length when he began a courtship with their daughter.  It wasn’t until after he and Liz married that the Whitmans finally warmed up to him.
Talk about a trying time, Matthew thought and had always swore he would never be that frigid with any suitor Dorothy would bring home.
He walked over to the window, peering out as he felt his daughter’s anxious eyes on him.  Dorothy had grown into a very intelligent, responsible, level-headed, and beautiful young lady.  He knew that Dorothy wouldn’t make any decisions concerning Carl or any other boy frivolously.
Matthew sighed as he came to a difficult decision.  He turned his head to look at Liz who returned his gaze while subtly turning a corner of her mouth up into a faint half smile.  They were at a place in their marriage where they were able to communicate without speaking.  Sometimes just a simple look could say everything and Liz understood.  Matthew then looked back at his daughter who sat staring at him with wide eyes.
“Dorothy,” he began and paused before continuing. “If we leave you here with Carl, I want you to promise to give us a call exactly one hour after we leave.  The phone number to the Millers’ is by the telephone in the sitting room.”
Dorothy nodded with enthusiasm.  “Yes!  Yes, I promise.  Thank you!”
“And I want to make it known that your father and I would prefer it if Carl didn’t stay over,” Liz said. “But if he does, we want to come home to find him sleeping either on the couch or in the guest room down the hall.”
“Absolutely,” Dorothy said.
At that moment, Carl slowly entered the doorway holding a glass of water and a bottle of aspirin.  “Am I okay to come in?” he asked with a nervous smile.
“Sure Carl,” Matthew said.
Carl entered the room and placed the water and aspirin bottle on Dorothy’s nightstand.
“Are you feeling any better?” Carl asked Dorothy.
Dorothy smiled at him and nodded.
“Carl, can I speak with you for a moment?” Matthew asked.
“Sure,” Carl said.
Matthew led Carl down into the sitting room leaving Liz and Dorothy in the bedroom.  After they entered the sitting room, Matthew sat down in the armchair and motioned for Carl to sit across from him on the couch.  The two of them sat this way and made small talk when Carl had come to take Dorothy out for the first time.  But now they were going to be having a more serious talk.  They sat in silence for a few seconds before Matthew cleared his throat to speak.
“Carl,” he began, “first I want to apologize again for coming down hard on you upstairs.  My wife and I do appreciate you looking after Dorothy and taking the initiative to call us and Dr. Ramsay.  I also appreciate you not trying to cover up where you all were tonight.  I’m not crazy about the idea of Dorothy being in a place like the Fleming property, especially this late at night.  Ever since she was a little girl I never allowed her up there.  I do think you all could have been a little more responsible in the decision making as far as that went.”
“We were in a group, Mr. Blake,” Carl said. “I would never have taken Dorothy up there alone.  Honest.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know that Dorothy wasn’t allowed up there.”
“I understand,” Matthew said. “I guess I also wouldn’t expect Dorothy to tell you such a thing especially around her friends, knowing how kids your age think.  But that property has empty buildings that haven’t been tended to in decades and thick brush.  It’s dangerous enough in the day.  Anyone or anything could be hiding out up there.  I realize that Dorothy isn’t a little girl anymore and that I can’t monitor her every move.  That is when I expect her as well as you to make decisions responsibly.”
There was also more to Matthew’s concerns, but he wasn’t sure if or how he should delve into the Blake family history with Carl.  He knew that one day he would have to if Carl and Dorothy came to a place in their relationship where they would start planning a future together.
Especially if they planned on having children.
Matthew decided that the best approach would likely be taking Carl up to visit with Tahatan.
He could explain things better than I ever could, Matthew thought.  Perhaps I’ll phone Tahatan tomorrow and bring that up with him.
“I know,” Carl said, “I’m sorry.  Really I am.  It was just a bunch of kids looking for some Halloween laughs.  That’s all.  I would never do anything to hurt Dorothy.”
“I can see that,” Matthew said. “Plus you all are still young and I would be lying if I said I never made an irresponsible move when I was the age you, Dorothy, and your friends are at.  But I did want you to know how I felt about you taking Dorothy up there.”
Carl swallowed as he felt guilty all over again.  As usual, he had gotten caught up in the moment when Jimmy dared him to go find a werewolf in the woods that surrounded the buildings on the Fleming property.  That’s something that always happened with Carl when he was presented with a dare or a less than conventional activity.  But being up on that property was enough for Carl to see that perhaps the place possessed more of a danger than fodder for some folklore.  And because of that, he couldn’t blame Matthew for being less than thrilled at the thought of his taking Dorothy up there. 
“I understand,” Carl said, “and I promise you that won’t happen again.”
“Good,” Matthew said.  “Now, onto another thing I wanted to speak to you about.”
“Okay,” Carl said.
“Dorothy has made it pretty clear that she wants to spend more time with you tonight,” Matthew said.
Carl tried to keep his gaze on Matthew as every one of his nerve endings felt as though they were on fire.  All he could do was nod his head in response.
Matthew paused, shifting eyes to the side and then back at Carl before continuing.  “If her mother and I allow that to happen, I want to set some ground rules.  I know you and Dorothy are practically adults and will be graduating high school, but until she’s off married, I’m still her father and I have a full say in how things are with my daughter.”
“Of course,” Carl said, trying to keep his voice from shaking.
“Well, Liz and I told Dorothy that if we leave you two here…alone…that I want either you or her to call us at the Millers’ exactly one hour after we leave.  And I’m going to be honest and say that we would prefer for you not to stay overnight.  But we also don’t want Dorothy to be left alone due to what happened with her tonight.  So if you stay, there is either the couch in this room or there is the guest room down the hall from Dorothy’s room.”  Matthew paused, leaned into Carl, and emphasized his words as he spoke, “We do not want to come home to you asleep with Dorothy in her room.  Or any room for that matter.”
“Yes sir,” Carl said.
Matthew let out a rather shakey breath.  “Alright.  Well, now that we’re clear on all that, Liz and I were planning on coming home at around 4 or 4:30am originally and I suppose we’ll be sticking to that.  It’s a little after one o’ clock now.”
“Sounds good,” Carl said as the two of them rose to standing.
“But Carl,” Matthew said, “really, Liz and I do appreciate you looking after Dorothy.  And we are trusting you both to be responsible.  I’m only doing this because I trust you and Dorothy.  Don’t ruin that.”
“I won’t,” Carl promised.
“Good,” Matthew said.
Carl followed Matthew back up the stairs to Dorothy’s room where Liz and Dorothy were.  Dorothy was taking a sip of water as her father and boyfriend entered the room. Carl noticed that Dorothy’s bedroom window was now shut and assumed that Liz was the one who had closed it.  Dorothy quickly looked up and placed the water on her nightstand next to the sage candle that still burned as her father and boyfriend entered the room, trying to read their expressions.
“Well,” Matthew began, “Liz, if you want to we can return to the party and come back here at the time we initially planned to.”
Dorothy immediately brightened.  “Thanks, Dad!”
“But you both have to abide by the conditions we have set,” Matthew said.  “You phone us at the Millers’ exactly an hour after we leave.  And Carl sleeps either in the guest room or on the sitting room couch.”
“Yes, of course,” Dorothy said.
She could see a hint of reluctance in her father’s eyes, but she could also tell that her father knew that time had come to treat her as a responsible adult.  She knew this was a giant step for him.  Dorothy thought about Gail and Linda and how their parents had loosened the strings on them when they had entered their second year of high school.  Sure, they still made certain that their daughters were home at a reasonable hour, but the curfew that Gail and Linda had was an hour later than what Matthew and Liz set for Dorothy.  Only this passed summer had Matthew and Liz relented and raised Dorothy’s curfew to match that of her friends. 

Before they left Dorothy’s bedroom, Matthew and Liz both reiterated that they were trusting Carl and Dorothy to behave responsibly.  Then, Dorothy got a hug from both of her parents before Carl walked with them to the front door.  She could hear Carl and her parents saying goodnight to one another as she sat staring out her window at the moon.  Dorothy felt her heartrate pick up as she Carl shut the door and lock it, signaling that the two of them were now alone in the house.  She looked back to the doorway as she heard Carl’s quick footsteps ascending the stairs.


CHAPTER 19 (Excerpt Only)

Gail sat with her bare feet up on the couch in the sitting room at Reginald’s house as she waited for someone at the Blake house to pick up the phone.  Reginald sat across from her in a chair, watching with the same amount of anticipation that Gail felt.  Gail and Reginald had begun an attempt at taking advantage of both of their parents being gone for the night, but they both knew that any attempts at romance would be futile until they could be assured that Dorothy was alright.  Finally, someone picked up the phone on the other end.
“Blake residence.”
Gail breathed a sigh of relief at the sound of Carl’s voice.  “Carl!  It’s Gail.  Sorry to bother you but Reg and I were worried about Dorothy.  How is she doing?”
“Oh, hi Gail.  Dorothy’s doing well.  She woke up not too long ago and her parents just left to go back to the Millers’.  Dr. Ramsay said she’s going to be fine and she just needs to rest tonight.”
Gail nodded to Reginald, signaling that all was well with Dorothy.  Reginald responded with a small, relieved smile.
“Oh good,” Gail said, “I mean, we knew she would be okay, but Reg and I just wanted to be sure.”
“Well, I appreciate it and I’m sure Dorothy will too.  I’ll tell her you called,” Carl said.
“Great!” Gail said. “Well, I won’t keep you.  Especially since Mr. and Mrs. Blake returned to the party.  You must have really won them over!”
“I hope so,” Carl said.
“Well, have a good night, you two.  Give Dorothy our love,” Gail said.
“I’m sure Carl will be giving her plenty,” Reginald said with a teasing grin.
“I heard that,” Carl replied.
Gail laughed.  “Alright, well I’ll let you and Dorothy get back to whatever it was you were doing.”
“Sounds good,” Carl said.  “Hey!  Maybe we can all do something tomorrow afternoon.  I think Linda also still has the souveniers we took from the Fleming place in her bag.”
“I’m sure Reginald and I will be up for that,” Gail said. “You haven’t spoken to Jimmy or Linda, have you?”
“Nope.  But I think it’s safe to say that they are occupied right now.”
“True,” Gail said. “Well, I’m sure we’ll talk to them tomorrow if nothing else and I’m sure they’ll be up for going out somewhere.  Not to the Fleming property, of course.”
“Yeah I think even I had enough of that place,” Carl said as he remembered a still shaken Dorothy up in the bedroom alone.  At that moment, he felt an urgent need to get back up to her.  “Listen Gail, I have to run.  Tell Reg I said hi and I’m sure we’ll talk tomorrow.”
“Sounds good,” Gail said.  “We’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Have fun, you two,” Carl said before hanging up the phone.
Gail set the receiver back into the cradle as Reginald came over to the couch, sitting beside Gail and taking her feet into his lap.
“So Dorothy’s alright?” Reginald asked.
Gail nodded, lying back on the couch, stretching her legs over Reginald’s lap.  “Yeah.  Which is fortunate.  The scary thing is that I don’t think she would have been if I hadn’t caught her in time.  She came really close to cracking her head on the sink.” 
 It would have ended up being a completely different night, that’s for sure.
“Well the important thing is that she’s alright,” Reginald said.  “How about we forget the Fleming Orphanage?  So much negative vibes up there.”
“Yeah, I’m all for that,” Gail said, “and I’m sure Carl will take good care of Dorothy.  Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Blake trust him enough to knowingly allow him to be alone in the house with her.” 
Gail recalled the talk she had had with Dorothy about Carl in the washroom and couldn’t keep the smile that spread across her dark red lips away.
“And what are you so happy about all of a sudden?” Reginald asked.
“Nothing.  Just a talk Dorothy and I had earlier,” Gail said. “About her and Carl.  You know.  Girl stuff.”
Reginald nodded and said, “Well, I think I might have an idea of what you two talked about because Carl and I also had quite a talk as we tried to drown out part 2 of the End of Summer.”
“Let me take a wild guess,” Gail said.  “Jimmy and Linda.”
“Yep.  Even up there they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.  And if memory serves me correctly, neither could a certain attractive brunette.  She was a wild one.”
Gail threw a couch pillow at Reginald.  “Hey!  I don’t know what the hell that was up there.”  Gail paused growing more serious.  “It was as though something else was in me.  Both in the master bedroom and Maxine’s dormroom when I told Linda off.  I still feel really bad about that.”
“I know,” Reginald said, “but you and Linda made up.”
“Yeah,” Gail said, “it just bothers me that it even happened in the first place.”
“Hey, I thought we were going to forget the Fleming property,” Reginald said.  “Besides, what are you saying?  You wouldn’t have kissed me that hard unless something made you?”
Gail playfully narrowed her eyes at Reginald.  “Mmm, I don’t know…that depends…”
“Keep that attitude up and I just may have to take you over my knee and give you a good spanking,” Reginald replied stroking the arch of Gail’s foot.
“Not if I get to your behind first,” Gail said.
Reginald chuckled and set Gail’s feet aside before heading over to the radio at the other end of the room.  Gail sat up, bringing her feet to the floor as Reginald turned the dials until he found a station where Rudy Vallee was crooning out one of the year’s newest songs.  Gail rolled her eyes and laughed as Reginald sang along, doing his own exaggerated version of Vallee’s “As Time Goes By.”  He extended a hand to Gail and asked, “May I have the pleasure of this dance?”
Gail smiled, “Absolutely.”
She took Reginald’s hand as he brought her to her feet and close to him.  As they swayed to the music, Reginald leaned in and kissed Gail’s lips.  Gail returned the kiss and then held Reginald shoulders with both arms.  Reginald also brought his other arm down to meet the other one at her waist.  The intensity of their embrace deepened as Vallee’s voice filled the room.  And this time, that intensity was brought on by Reginald and Gail alone.

Chapter 33 of Draft 1 comes this week :)

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