Archive for February, 2023

Gray Lace, Part 56


Our three gentlemen, Trevor, Ross, and Jacob are on their way from the Stafford Hotel in Charleston to join their ladies, currently hiding in the synagogue basement.

Two are eager. One is hesitant.

Our ladies, Catherine, Joann, and Ruth are cleaning the basement kitchen after the weekly food ministry meals.

Two are eager and one is hesitant while waiting for the gentlemen to return.

“So, tell us, Ruth. Why do you think Jacob hates you? What’s your story?” Catherine’s red elbows were still soapy from the depths of hot rinse water. Her hands looked like prunes, but her heart felt full. With the help of the volunteers, they had fed over one hundred fifty needy souls, either lunch or dinner and some came for both. “Come on, Ruth, humor me. It’ll make cleaning up move along faster. I’m imagining that tiny cot in our room, and it has transformed into a four poster with satin covers that feel like dream clouds.”

“Oh, all right! Your friendly interfering is wearing me down.” She hung three more wet towels on a crowded wooden drying rack standing beside Catherine’s deep porcelain sink.

Catherine playfully ginned down at a metal serving ladle. “Ah, she speaks!” She flung some soapsuds off the ladle toward Ruth who promptly ducked out of the way, allowing the flying suds to give Joann an unexpected facial.

It was their laughter that greeted the gentlemen. Ross hugged Joann from behind and buried his face in her neck. Her gleeful surprise had her turning in his arms and they appeared to plan on staying that way. Catherine’s laughter took on a different tenor. Trevor had pushed the hugging couple out of the way, walked past a frozen Ruth, and mischievously smiled at Catherine. She met him halfway with a furious hug. He countered with a kiss that checkmated her strength.

Ruth quietly slipped past the passionate couple, out of the kitchen, and into the hall.

Needing air Catherine turned around in Trevor’s arms, intending to introduce their new friend. “She’s gone. We’ve embarrassed her.” Taking his hand, they found her sobbing in a dark corner.

They barely heard her explain, “I can’t seem to find my room.”

Catherine slipped her arm around her shaking shoulders. “Walking with tears in the dark, well, I’ve always found that to be difficult. Come back with us to the kitchen. We all need introductions, refreshments, and a massive strategy session.”

Jacob had settled on a stool by the time the others had assembled in the kitchen. He kept his head down as he concentrated on the old dents and scratches in the wood table. His hands were clasped together on the tabletop.

Catherine handled the introductions, “I’m sorry to say we know little about our Miss Ruth other than she’s a friendly and helpful worker in this kitchen. However, we also know very little about your afternoon activities, gentlemen. Shall we begin with you, Ross?”

“Not much to report until just a short while ago when these two decided to finally show up at the hotel. Before that I could describe the patterns in the rugs or the designs in the ceilings.” Throughout his sarcastic commentary, Ross didn’t stop hugging Joann.

“A bit concerned were you?” She smiled up at him.

“A bit,” he kissed her cheek and moved her closer.

Trevor continued, “Jacob and I started out with an interesting lunch, but before we go on, welcome Ruth. You’ll make a fine companion to our gang.”

“She’s not a companion!” Jacob pounded the table and started to leave.

Joann surprised them all with her own brand of soft fierceness, “She is now, if we’re to go on.”

Enough! (until later)

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Gray Lace, Part 55


Trevor Coffman and Jacob Newsome have successfully retrieved Catherine Randolph’s trust fund documents from the First Bank of Charleston. Now, as they race through the city cemetery, they need to plan their next move. This step proves difficult since they are not together. They need their friends, Joann, Ross, and Catherine. The problems are love and money or is the difficulty because of love and money. Both?

Chapter 10, page 111

“Wait”, Trevor hesitates, “Can’t we check on Catherine first?”

Jacob stalls, “Best not to. Today’s Tuesday.”

“Excuse me? Where are they anyway?”

“They’re safe. There’s an empty room in the basement, the place where we ate when we first arrived. Today’s free meal will bring in a crowd and knowing your ladies, I’m sure they are volunteering in the kitchen. If we go in there now, we’ll bring unnecessary attention to them. Let’s go back to the hotel first and pack up. Ross will come with us tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow!” Trevor’s whiney complaint fell on Jacob’s back. He’d already crossed Madison and had headed for the narrow allies behind the hotels on Meeting Street. He caught up with him and forced a face-to-face. “Jacob, our friends from the bank will be searching for us soon as our theft is discovered.”

“Which won’t be for some time,” he interrupted. “We didn’t take the obvious cash.”

Trevor snapped, “More importantly, I’m concerned about Catherine and Joann. I know Ross must be, too.” He hesitated long enough to study his friend. “Just what are you not telling me?”

Jacob jerked away, “Nothing. Come on then. Let’s get Ross.” His anger irritated a bit, but not enough to change his willingness to hold Catherine.

They found Ross pacing the confines of their expensive suite of rooms. “Well, God Bless America! Where the devil have you two been? That was one long fancy lunch with Pettigrew,” he tilted his head to search behind them, “and where’s my Joann?” He goose-stepped in obvious anger toward Jacob, who had the good sense to back up.

“Hold steady, good friend,” Trevor jumped between them. “The ladies are safe.”

“Who says? The Jew!”

The walls barely held the silence and tension, but the hurt, embarrassment, and pain grew with a deafening roar.

“Lord, man,” Ross let out a breath, “I’m sorry, Jacob.” He turned to the windows, locked his elbows to allow his arms to support his weight on the sills, and hung his head in shame and worry. “I’m overwrought about her.” He turned to face them and added, This city is slimy with fear and meanness and she’s not a city-girl. But Jacob, I had no idea my own fear for her would fire out at you. I’m so sorry. You’re a good man and you didn’t deserve that.” He slowly walked to the center of the room. “Please take me to her.”

“Of course, I will,” Jacob’s soft and forgiving response startled Trevor. He watched him meet Ross in the middle of the room and he offered his hand in friendship. “You, too, are a good man. We all have hatreds for a vast variety of reasons.” They shook hands and added a brief hug. “Someday, we should discuss them, but not just now.”

Trevor breathed a sigh of thankfulness, “Good. Gentlemen, our bags?”

“Done,” Ross grabbed the handles and handed off two bags to each man. “We’ll need to use the servants’ stairs. Our Mr. McBride’s on duty and he’s already been here one time this afternoon with a statement of services, his term, not mine.” He pointed to several papers on the table.

“Good idea. We don’t have the money right now to keep him happy. Did you leave the fancy clothes? Those might help to pay part of the bill.”

“Yeah, I left them, especially those damn neck ties, or cravats, and cuff links.” They headed out the door and down the hall, away from the hotel’s elaborate main staircase, decorated lobby, and crowd of elite, always found in the formal dinning room.

Enough! (until later)

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