|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Alene Adele Roy
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Alene Roy
All rights reserved.
"Rachael, I just saw a pond ghost!" called Christian Anderson from his secret hiding place somewhere in Magnolia Gardens, which surround Dragonfly Pond. Growth had become dense. Plants, trees, and shrubs overcrowded each other, creating a perfect haven or habitat for wildlife or explorers. Yet, the occupants felt that it needed work.
"Are you sure about that? We didn't see anything," his skeptical caregiver asked from her comfortable, shaded wicker chair under the back porch awning. Instantly, she stared wide-eyed at her boyfriend. She and her business partner, Ed Turner, had been sipping lemonade until this announcement came, unexpectedly. "You thought this after school supervising plan would be a good business venture for the two of us, since lots of students need a place to thrive until their parents return home from work. Do you still think so?"
A new school year had begun. Autumn had arrived. Yet, to everyone's delight the weather remained pleasantly warm throughout Twelve Ponds Territory and in The Village for this Halloween season. A new venture for a young couple, soon-to-be-wed, also existed. It was Rachael's Sanctuary, a place where students could rest, study, relax, explore, have a snack, get rehydrated, or just visit with other classmates. Whatever the students' needs were, Rachael and Eddie would be there to provide them at Rachael's ancestral home, with her mother in attendance for back up, if needed. Mrs. Hathaway was an artist who worked at home. Currently, there were six students to supervise.
"Yes, I do, Rachael. It's going to be a great learning experience and practice for when we have children of our own. Let's try it for this school year, anyway."
"Okay." She smiled at the very thought of it being practice for when they had children, although those plans were sometime in the future. First, they had to break the engagement news to their parents, set a date, and plan their perfect wedding day.
Christian had a 'yes' for her, too. "Yes, and I just fell. Oh."
Instantly, the young supervisor sat forward in her chair searching the gardens for his location. "Are you hurt?" she wanted to know, while tightly squeezing the plastic glass in her right hand and waiting for his answer.
"Yes. My leg is bleeding."
That's all it took and she was off and running. "Oh, no! Stay there, honey! I'll get the first aid kit!"
"I'm with you, Miss Ghost Chaser. I'll get the ghost trap," Ed teased, laughing, as he grabbed the nearby pond fish net.
"It's no laughing matter, Eddie. One of our kids is hurt. This is our first injury. I hadn't planned on this." His girlfriend was deeply concerned about the young man's welfare as she grabbed the well-stocked first aid kit on the run. It was always the table centerpiece during their afternoons of student supervision. For weeks, all had been calm, until now. "It had better be the last injury, too."
"I know, honey. But at least he's talking. That's a good sign." Ed tried to reassure his fiancé, while they made their way through the dense garden, which was graced with a few unwanted blackberry bushes and some tall, purple-blossomed thistles.
"I'm over here. I rolled into a hollow or something," Christian explained to his rescuers in a somewhat weakened voice as he waved from his nearly hidden position among the grasses, vines, and weeds. "Let's call this area Blackberry Hollow."
Moving quickly toward him, Ed and Rachael chuckled quietly to themselves. This pupil did have a keen sense of humor. In fact, they all did – Amanda, Don, Donna, Fern, Forest, and Christian. Many times the two supervisors had discussed how lucky they were to have these six in attendance. It was a great opportunity to get to know these teenaged students and keep up with events at the school they missed so much since their graduation two years ago. Hopefully, they would be able to reunite with some of their classmates and friends at the Halloween Harvest Hosting costume party and dinner at the school, later this autumn.
"We'll be right there, honey. But I think we should have brought the pruning shears to clip these blackberries back, Eddie." Rachael followed close behind him, proud that he was expertly creating a new trail for them in the overgrown section of her parents' garden wilderness. "We need to hire someone to cut this underbrush, I think," she declared, sighing. "I'm already scratched."
"I'm your man." He turned and glanced at her with a bright grin. "I know."
Soon they knelt beside the injured boy, along with his girlfriend, Amanda Johnson, who had made her way there from another direction.
"Are you okay, Christian? I found some ripe blackberries for you. They're juicy. Here." Amanda held out her hand to him, hoping he would enjoy them.
"I can't eat them right now, Amanda. I'll get some later. Thank you, though. I wondered where you were."
"I was in the Princess Palace. What a view there is over there. It's something you need to see, Christian. It's nearly out of the Middle Ages."
"I can hardly wait. Is there a knight's shield over there, too?" he asked, teasing her a little.
"No, but we can make one out of cardboard, can't we? Or, you like metal shop, too, don't you, and I like art? I'll decorate it after you create it. Our work could become a masterpiece for the science fair," she teased him back.
"That's an idea," Christian agreed, not wishing to talk much. "There's one inside, Christian," Rachael declared, hoping her
announcement would boost his spirits and bring about a happy smile. It did.
"What? You don't mean that there is really a knight's shield in your house, do you, Rachael? I can't believe that."
Amanda instantly agreed. "I can't either. That would almost be like a miracle." She was excited by the thought of it.
"Yes, there certainly is a shield. It's hanging in the library. Ask Eddie?" Rachael spoke matter-of-factly, thrilled to divulge this information about one of their family heirlooms. She hoped the thought of the shield would cheer Christian.
He and Amanda stared at her in wonder. Their minds readily filled with visions of knights and horses, castles and spires, kings and queens, shields and dragons.
Rachael now took command at this point. She pulled on the rubber gloves from inside the kit, as she had been taught to do in first aid class. They fit rather snugly. "Can I see your wound please? Does it hurt?"
"It does." Trying to be brave, he still had to admit to the burning pain. Yet, he wanted to reassure all of them. "Nothing's broken."
Ed heaved a sigh of relief. "That's good."
Rachael and her partner knew that he was trying to make light of it, although they noticed that his pant leg was ripped. This they couldn't understand. What object had caused all of this damage? Just then, a rain of a few dry, colorful leaves swirled onto the ground around them in a typical show of autumn, causing them all to smile.
Christian rolled up his pant leg. "Hey, Amanda, we could get a collection of leaves to dry for our science project right here."
"Good," she told her friend. "But let's get you well, first."
Ed and Rachael exchanged glances. He winked at her and tried to reassure both of them in a calm voice. "It will be alright. He will be well by dinnertime. Won't you, buddy?"
"Yes," was all that the injured boy could manage to say.
"He will," Amanda added, shaking her head positively.
"I take vitamins," the student was pleased to inform them.
"Good, we all need them," Rachael agreed.
"It doesn't hurt now," the young man attested. "I can walk fine. I'm ready for a porch break and food, anyway." His lips were dry from his exploring exertions. So, his mind naturally went to a large glass of water and one of the nutritious snacks created by Rachael, her mother, and sometimes Eddie or the girls.
The other three attending him laughed at his stab at humor and remembrance of the porch break fun and food they'd shared. At once, they heard the other students assembling on the porch, ready for a break, too. Their voices were cheerful, since they all loved being here together. Very soon, some began calling for Amanda and Christian.
"We're out here! We'll be right there!" Rachael informed them.
Amanda took a clear, plastic bag from her pocket and carefully let the berries she'd collected roll into it. "There's more where these came from, Rachael and Eddie. There's a sheltered, partly sunny area over there protecting them. We'll have to do some serious blackberry picking soon."
"That sounds like a good idea," Rachael confirmed. "We'll make a pie."
"Unlike most years, we've had no frost yet," Eddie reminded the others.
Rachael agreed with a nod, while pulling antiseptic and gauze from the first aid kit. "But we've had plenty of migrating birds visiting. I'm surprised that they haven't found the berries for their supper."
"Rachael, where are you? You have a telephone call!" her mother called from the back door.
"We're out here, Mother. Christian fell."
"Oh, no! Is he alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine, Mrs. Hathaway. Ow! That stings!"
By now Rachael was trying to quell the bleeding with a sterile wipe. "We'll be right there, Mom."
Eddie then had a suggestion Christian could agree with. "Rachael, honey, why don't you let me put a couple of those large bandages on that wound for him. You go take your phone call." He turned to Christian. "Is that okay with you, Chris? That is a long scratch, so we probably should cover it."
The teenager's answer was, "Sure."
"Okay, if you insist, I'll go. But I wanted to bandage him," was Rachael's disappointed answer, although she knew Eddie was quite capable of tending him. She struggled to remove the tight gloves.
"Us men can handle this, love," was Ed's reassuring comment.
Christian and Amanda chuckled. Suddenly, their classmates surrounded them, having made their way through the magnolia wilderness to locate the pair. They watched quietly as Ed removed the backs from a bandage.
"The Grand Group will be our witnesses and staff. Why don't you go check to see if that's your Dad calling, honey? I want to speak with him later tonight, remember?" He grinned at the thought of their engagement disclosure plan they had discussed for this evening for their parents.
"Alright, I'll meet you on the porch with snacks." She became happy with the thought of their betrothal, too. There were wedding dresses to think of, flowers and veils, food and music. So many decisions needed to be made. She tossed the gloves near the first aid kit and headed toward the house.
At this time, Christian decided to sit upon a rock for the wound dressing. He found one nearby. "I'm glad you guys are here. I'm sorry I'm detaining the snacks."
"I think we should take him to the doctor, Rachael, just to be safe. Here, I think it's your old boyfriend. After you finish your call I'll call and check with Christian's mother. We'll let her decide." Mrs. Hathaway handed her daughter the phone and made a slight face, while stifling laughter. She was hoping they would not get back together.
Rachael rolled her eyes and silently mouthed that she didn't want to speak with him. "Hello. Well, I'm very busy working right now, Jeff." She spoke in her sweetest, most patient tone. Calm self-control came to mind, since she wished to remain friends with him. He was nice, just not for her. Their families were longtime friends, however.
He asked her on a date. "I'd like to take you out, anywhere you wish to go."
"I really can't talk right now. We need to make a phone call and I'm seeing someone else, anyway. Thank you for the invitation, though." She hung up the phone before he could protest. Turning to her mother, she stated, "I tried to be polite."
By now the group had come in to gather around the dining room table. To the students' delight, Rachael and Eddie served tropical punch and small tortillas, along with driver's manuals, which caused a lot of discussion. "Haven't you heard? Eddie and I are hosting The Great Pumpkin Race on Halloween," their hostess informed them.
"Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun," Forest replied. Yet, he wasn't too convincing.
"It will be. Just you wait," Eddie declared.
"There's a big trophy in it for the winner," added Rachael.
Eddie then announced the most pertinent detail of the contest. "But you have to read your driver's manual, pass the test, and at least have a driving permit to enter."
"Why is that?" Christian wanted to know.
Rachael answered, "That's because you'll be driving your pumpkin to the finish line in a car. I'll accompany the girls and Eddie will accompany the guys."
"Oh," was the reply from the puzzled students.
Yet, before they could ask further questions, word came from Rachael's mother that Mrs. Anderson wanted Christian to be seen in his doctor's office instead of in the emergency room today. "She is going to call to see if they can get an appointment this afternoon. If so, she'll call to let me know and meet us there. Otherwise, she'll get the appointment for in the morning." She then went back to the kitchen.
The injured student shook his head negatively.
"Your mother naturally has concern about your injury, Christian. So, let's wait to see in her next phone call if she gets an appointment for today," Rachael suggested.
"It's no longer bleeding and I'm not in much pain. I'd rather hunt for that pond ghost. I know it's out there."
"What did it look like?" Ed Turner wanted to know.
"It looked like a ghost."
No one laughed. Instead, all eyes turned toward the window, with everyone certain he had seen something. Then the phone rang. The appointment was confirmed for as soon as they could get there. Eddie offered to drive. Rachael felt a responsibility to attend, also. So, her mother said she'd tend the girls, Amanda Johnson, Donna Dewitt, and Fern Green, since they wanted to learn to sew. Christian's buddies, Forest Green and Don Dewitt wanted to ride with him for moral support. He was glad of it.
Unfortunately, in the car, Eddie asked the question that Rachael had hoped he wouldn't ask. "Who was on the phone?"
The young woman stalled for a moment. She turned to glance at the school parking lot as they passed it, knowing his car would be there. "It was Jeff."
"Are you going out with him again?"
"No, of course not, Eddie. He asked me. But, we're engaged, aren't we, or almost?" she whispered, leaning toward him.
"Yes. But why are you searching for his car, then?" He tried not to sound jealous, yet, he was.
"I want to be certain where he is. I don't want him showing up at my house tonight and spoiling things, or following us to the doctor today," she explained.
"Good. Would he do that?" The driver kept his eyes on the road, his hands on the steering wheel, but his mind was on Rachael.
"No. He doesn't know who I'm dating. I told him I was seeing someone, though. He's nice. We just didn't agree on too many things."
"What didn't you agree on?"
"I didn't like his attitude."
"Good. You're marrying someone else, anyway. We agree on everything, or else we work it out. I like that. We're going to write up the engagement announcement for the newspaper tonight, aren't we?"
"Yes," she told him with a sweet smile. "This is a very special time in my life."
"It's a special time in our lives. I am going to ask your father for your hand tonight, too. That's why I wanted you to take that phone call. I wanted to know for certain that he was going to be home for dinner, without a meeting somewhere else to go to."
"He's always home for dinner, just like you will be after we marry," she chided him.
From the back seat the three male students glanced out the windows toward their school and spotted something. Silently, Don placed his finger to his lips to prevent the others from speaking about it. Forest pointed. All three nodded in agreement at something spectacular they had seen for the first time. Two of them also waved at fellow classmates standing on the corner waiting for the light to change so they could cross Dogwood Lane.
Don rolled down the window. "Christian's hurt. We're taking him to the doctor," he called to their friends.
Excerpted from Pond Ghost by Alene Adele Roy. Copyright © 2016 Alene Roy. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.