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First pages

October 1865

 

A misty haze encircled the harbor, sending a shiver up my spine despite the wool coat wound tightly around my body. It was nearly 11:00 pm.  He would be leaving the tavern soon and returning to the ship.  And if I failed to see him this time, it would be my last hope. I reaffirmed my resolve, quieted my desperation and vowed I would not let that happen.

 

Chapter One

 

My toes were numb. My right hip throbbed.  The scab forming on my knee bled every time I shifted my weight, and the only thing keeping my eyes open and my head from nodding over was an occasional waft of dead fish rising from the crevices below.  How did I get myself into this again? I wondered, watching with one eye open as the boys I’d been spying on from the granite seawall at the park lifted yet another empty soda can from a freshly dug sandpit. So far, their search profited nothing but a slew of old Coke cans, a metal gas container, a girl’s hair barrette and a backache for me.

I yawned, fingering the coin necklace I kept on a chain around my neck. My grandfather, Mo, bought it in Savannah from a collector who claimed it came from the notorious Captain Flint of Treasure Island fame. We turned it into a necklace, and I had never taken it off.  I guess you could say it was my love for coin collecting that got me into this mess tonight.

You see, it started quite innocently earlier in the day when I found myself in a strange house, hiding in a strange bedroom, after agreeing to play hide-and-seek with my strange seven-year-old neighbor Mitzy, whom I had just met.  I had just stumbled into an empty bedroom, and hidden underneath an unmade bed next to a pair of smelly socks, when Mitzy’s brother returned, reclaiming his room, and trapping me inside for over an hour.

As I lay there quietly eavesdropping, staring at his bare feet while he devoured a bag of pretzels, I heard him talking on the phone about taking a metal detector to search for treasure. Coins, to be exact. The kind, I thought with growing interest, someone like an ordinary thief, bank robber or possibly even a pirate hid in hopes of recovering. When I heard him whisper words like illegal, dangerous, and highly secretive, I never thought twice about spying on their adventure that night.  Why would I?  The fact it would all take place a mere half-mile down the beach from my bedroom window. What else could I ask for?

Did I mention how bored I’ve been lately?

You see, after a series of unfortunate events, I found myself living in the care of my great Aunt Meri.  And let's just say, in the few short weeks we’ve been together, I’ve found creative - if not unorthodox - ways to escape her presence, even if it meant playing hide-and-seek with my seven-year-old neighbor. 

My life before had been anything but dull.  Raised by my Grandfather Mo, we collected kites from around the world, rode horses on the beach, and played cards on the back porch at night while he recounted the greatest pirate stories ever told.  My favorites were about Blackbeard and his glowing headless corpse.  Mo was a history teacher by day, but at night he hosted historical ghost tours on the island.  Everything in my almost twelve years of life had been perfect, until the early onset of Alzheimer's ruined it all.  Now, Mo barely remembers my name on good days, or his own, for that matter.  So every time I see him, I make it my mission to at least try to make him remember things we did together. Tomorrow, I figure, I will tell him about tonight’s impromptu adventure --leaving out the time of day, of course, which I guessed to be around 1:00 am.

Every night, after taking her nightly dose of medicine, my aunt went to bed like clockwork at 10:00.  My fifteen-year-old cousin Ian, visiting from Scotland for the summer, fell asleep on the floor watching European soccer reruns.  As for me, after an hour of restless spying produced nothing but boredom, all I wanted to do was go home before anyone discovered I was missing.  However, before I could unwind my tired, achy body from the seawall and climb down, the boys chose to take a break on a piece of driftwood so close to my hiding spot, I could smell their sweaty bodies and hear them complain about sore backs.

I recognized David immediately. He had the same oval face as his sister Mitzy, with a pointier nose, dishwater brown hair, and a severe case of acne on his lower chin. He was the guy who always drove an old Ford pickup with a smoky exhaust pipe in the neighborhood.

The other boy, Mack, meatier and taller by a few inches, wore a black tank top over his cut off blue jeans. His gel-spiked hair resembled a military cut, and he kept a constant snarl on his face- except when spitting out black tobacco juice from his unshaven lip. They are not exactly the type you want to meet in a dark alley or to spy on behind a rocky seawall, for that matter. But with nowhere else to go at the moment, I leaned in and listened as the whirl of the metal detector shut off and David grabbed a drink from their cooler.

“I swear if I find one more soda can, I’ll…”

“You’ll what?” Mack scoffed, sinking the sharp point of the shovel into the sand with ease. “Complain to the authorities?” 

“Yeah, right,” David said. “Sorry officer, but we found these items while illegally digging at the park. And by the way, your recycling program stinks.”

“You can explain it on your way to jail,” Mack laughed, spewing liquid out of his mouth, and onto his shorts. 

“How much more should we do tonight? David asked. “Billy Webber will be on nightly patrol soon,” he said, wiping the caked sweat off his brow with his shirt.

Mack lifted his arm in my direction, making my heart skip a beat in my chest.

“We should finish to the seawall,"

“Seawall?”  David groaned. “We’ve found nothing but junk so far; you think it matters?”

“Sure, it matters,” Mack shot back. “Bergin claims the old guy could have buried those coins anywhere.  According to him, this area is important because of some old letters the guy wrote. He wants it checked out before he bulldozes the house down.”

“Oh, that’s right.  The historical society is in an uproar about his aunt’s house being torn down.  You think he’s serious about it?“

“Sure he serious.  The coins exist; and he’s going to do whatever it takes to find them.” Mack said, spitting a wad of tobacco juice onto the sand at his feet.

“Do you think they do?  David asked.

“Yeah, I’ve seen one,” Mack smirked.

“Really?” 

“I’ll show you as long as you keep that big trap of yours shut.” Mack said, his face lighting up like a Cheshire cat in the moonlight.  Digging into the front pocket of his shorts, he pulled out a brown leather pouch, untied the string and slid out a large gold coin into the palm of his hand.  I could see its sheen in the moonlight, and my heart sprang into my throat.

“Wow. That’s a beauty.  Where’d you find it?”  David asked.

“Bergin had me move things out of the office, and I found it rolled inside a rug. Unfortunately, it was the only one I could find. And believe me, I looked.”

“Does he know you found it?”

“Not yet.”  Mack’s jaw tightened.  “My dad and I are keeping it secret till we find out what it’s worth.  And, just in case Bergin doesn’t pay what he owes. There are hundreds more of these little beauties just waiting to be discovered, so I’m not in a hurry.”

“What’s scratched on the surface?”  David said, leaning in for a closer look.

“Initials,” Mack replied.  “Apparently, the old guy marked the coins before he went mad.  Rumor is, he thought they were “cursed” and that's why he buried them.

“That’s creepy man.” David pulled his hand away.

“Creepy all the way to the bank, then who cares, right?”

“Yeah, true,” David said, finishing off the last swig of his can, and tossing it behind him in the sand.  “Let’s get this done. Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and find something other than a soda can.”  

 

Before the boys got back to work, my jaw dropped in amazement.  Instead of stuffing the coin pouch into his front pocket, Mack hung it on the branch next to the oil lantern they were using for light. I could see its round shape swaying in the breeze, and my mouth went dry with envy, wishing with every breath that I could show it to my grandfather.  I imagined him saying, “It’s a beauty all right, Rai,” his dimpled grin and blue eyes smiling at me through his bifocals. He’d know what it’s worth too, I thought with pride.  He’d teach those boys a thing or two about the value of coins.

I lingered on those thoughts a few more moments before my toes got numb, my right hip ached, and the blood crusting on my knee cracked into a wet stream again.  Making matters worse, David hummed his way toward the seawall with the metal detector, and I had to shift my weight sideways and pray my navy hood didn’t blow off and reveal my blond ponytail.

Barely breathing, I forced every part of my body to stiffen into the rocky crevice when the metal detector engine shut off over my head making me cover my mouth to keep quiet. Trying not to move a muscle, I realized with growing horror that I could hear David’s labored breathing over my head. Then, the worst possible words came out of his lips.

“Mack, I think I see someone.”

Dear God! I whispered, closing my eyes tightly, tensing my body in preparation for him to yank me from my hiding place by my hoodie. Tears began forming in my eyes as I readied myself to plead for mercy and forgiveness.

“Look, over there!” he said, his voice moving away, leaving me stunned and confused.

I had to pry my eyes open and strain my head slowly over the rock to see where he had gone.

“It’s a kid!” Mack whispered, stepping out of one of the freshly dug holes and tossing his shovel into a palmetto bush.

“What’s a kid doing out at this hour?”

“I don’t know but we need to stop him. Hide the metal detector behind the driftwood,” Mack ordered.

Overwhelmed with curiosity, I craned my neck as far as I could see over the rocks, and to my utter horror, the person approaching in the moonlight sent shockwaves up my spine.  It was none other than my cousin Ian.

 

 

 

 

 

October 1865

 

Hunger gnawed at my stomach all evening because my last meal consisted of a stale piece of bread and a cup of water. The long gray overcoat I wore hid the fact my clothes were ill fitted, and my shoes barely held my feet inside. Still, I convinced myself if I could see him for one moment, it would be worth it all.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Every part of my body wanted me to jump up and scream, “Stop, Ian! Stop!” But I could only watch in horrified silence as my cousin headed unwittingly into their path.

“Let’s scare him before he gets any closer,” David said twitching with nervous energy.

“I’ll handle it,” Mack said. “We don't need him suspicious about what we’re doing.”

I watched helplessly from the rocks, as the two boys I’d been spying on for the last hour made their way towards my clueless cousin, who appeared to be more interested in picking sand burrs from his jeans than anything else.

“Hey, you lost or something?” Mack yelled, causing Ian’s head to spin up so fast, he nearly fell over sideways.

“Uhhhh, no,” Ian coughed, unable to clear his throat properly. “I was looking for my coosin.”

I cringed at the odd way his accent sounded and knew the word “coosin” would not go unnoticed.  And I was right, laughter followed.

“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you, mate?”  Mack said.  What makes you think your ‘coosin’ is here?”

“Uh, I - I found her flip-flops,” Ian stammered nervously. “She sneaks out sometimes.”

“Sorry mate, but there’s no one here but us,” Mack said, pointing his meaty finger back in the direction Ian came, “And if ya know what’s good for ya, you’ll head that way before the Island Patrol finds you out after curfew.  They like to haul you in first, then ask questions later.”

“They ain’t too forgiving neither, ” David added with a snicker.

“Oh? I see.” Ian nodded without argument, his feet shifting back and forth like a pendulum, going nowhere.

“Is there a problem?” Mack said, taking another step closer.

“Well, ya see,” Ian, explained. “The beach is out of sand with high tide and all. So, I need to use the stairs.” He pointed to the set of community stairs just beyond the digging area.

“Ah, too bad, mate,” Mack shook his head, showing no signs of mercy. “Those stairs are out of the question tonight.  I’m afraid you’ll need to go down the seawall here.” Mack flexed his biceps in full view of Ian’s face, making sure he understood his demands.

I could hear confusion leave and fear creep into Ian’s voice.  If he told me once, he told me a thousand times; he hated seawalls and every creepy crawly thing hiding underneath. I held my breath and watched as Ian took a defiant step back, showing his first real act of courage.

“No.”  He shook his head.  “I hate seawalls.”

“Ah, getting down’s easy, mate, just one little rock at a time,” Mack said, putting his meaty hand on Ian’s shoulder, guiding him steadily towards the rocky ledge with one firm push.

“Of course, if you need me to, I can help you go faster,” David added, standing behind so he couldn’t flee.

Ian’s body stiffened as he looked over into the dark abyss below.

“Here’s a tip,” Mack said, pounding Ian’s back hard enough to make him stumble forward.

“Keep your feet out of the holes - and you’ll keep all your toes.”

“That’s not funny.” Ian pushed away, never taking his eyes off the seawall. Knowing he was no match for the two bullies, Ian turned around slowly and made his way down, one rock at a time on all fours.  He reminded me of a toddler learning to go down stairs for the first time.

“Don’t forget to stay on the top,” Mack yelled when Ian slipped and let out a yelp.

To my relief, I could finally see Ian’s silhouetted figure make it to the ocean’s edge, then splash past me through the rising tide. Relieved, on the one hand, I realized a new problem awaited me when I got home. That is if I ever made it home.  I was beginning to worry, that would not be so easy.

As I sat there pondering my dilemma on how to unwind my body and escape, a bright pair of headlights swerved into the park, piercing the blackness of the treetops around me.

Confused, I ducked my head into the rocks, trying to figure what was happening when I heard Mack yell out;

“Beach Patrol.”

Beach Patrol?  I gasped, watching in amazement as the two bullies who just forced Ian down the seawall, took off like a couple of scared rats with the exterminator on their tail.  In an instant, they seem to disappear into the darkness without a sound or trace. 

My eyes flew towards the park entrance, where a white security truck sat at the closed gate with its engine idling and headlights blazing.  In between us, lay mounds of evidence in plain view of any flashlight: shovels, fast food trash, drink cans, metal detector, flip-flops, and mounds and mounds of displaced sand. In the middle of everything hung a single black lantern swaying in the ocean breeze, whispering my name.

Illuminated in the soft glow was the brown leather pouch with the gold coin inside. My heart skipped a beat in my chest.  In the boys’ desperate attempt to flee the Beach Patrol, Mack forgot about his treasure, which hung abandoned on a piece of driftwood, a mere twenty feet from my hiding spot. My mouth went dry and the uncontrollable urge to leap out of my hiding place and grab it overwhelmed my senses.  I looked back to the place I had last seen the boys, and they were nowhere in sight. Gone. Vanished into the night. Afraid to return meant only one thing....

Justifications came easy.

Technically, the coin didn’t belong to Mack; I reminded myself.  He said he took it from some old ladies home, which is stealing right? 

Then the question became, would I be stealing if I took it, or merely reclaiming it from two thieves?  Of course, with the coin in my possession, I could show it to my grandfather.  Mo could tell me what to do with it, and even better, what it’s worth.  And maybe, he would remember other things as well.

I had pretty much convinced myself of my plan when the long squeak of a car door jolted my attention back to the immediate problem. Beach Patrol.

From the streetlight above, I could see a stout looking figure of an officer step out of the driver’s side door and move toward the front gate to unlock it with his keys.

Panic ensued, and my heart felt like it might jump out of my chest.

Do something, Rai!  I told myself. Take the coin or go home, but do something.

Fueled by fear and pent-up adrenaline, I ignored the intense tingling in my legs and crawled out of the granite crevice on all fours, inching my way towards the driftwood. I could feel the dried blood crack open on my knee, and the bruise on my hip scream with pain with each step forward, but I kept moving, keeping my eyes on the coin, the prize waiting for me on that driftwood.

As the park gate began to open, I could see the officer move behind his vehicle and look inside his truck bed.

A rifle?  Did he suspect something and need to use it?  Would he shoot to kill?  Fear threatened to paralyze my progress, but somehow my feet kept moving toward the coin like a magnet to iron.  It didn’t take long before I’d gone too far to turn back.   As I reached the driftwood, mere inches from the lantern, something heavy dropped on the bed of the truck, causing a loud clanking noise to explode into the quiet night. My hand accidentally brushed the lamp, making it sway back and forth in the darkness before I could stop its movement. The disruption caught the officer's attention, and I could feel the suspicious blaze of his eyes search the area.

“Hey!  Who's there?” He yelled, his hand reaching towards his hip, sending a jolt of panic into my heart.  Keeping my eyes on him, I groped blindly for the coin pouch, grasped it between my fingers, and then ripped it from the driftwood with all the strength I could find.

“Hey! Stop right now!” the guard yelled, moving around his truck with long strides. That’s when my legs found the strength to carry me back to the seawall, gaining speed with each slippery step through the sand. I could feel the heat of his flashlight penetrate my windbreaker like a laser beam on my back, praying with each step my hoodie would hold tight and keep my hair beneath its edges.

Unlike my cousin, I spent countless hours climbing up and down the sea walls. I flew over the top with confidence, sliding down the rough inclines with speed and adrenaline, numbing myself to the pain of my knees. I could hear the officer's boots thumping through the sand behind me, hesitating at the top long enough to begin his descent down the granite rocks.  I never once looked over my shoulder. Given his stout appearance, I knew I could win this race.

The only thought I had fueling each step, was to take the coin to Mo and have him remember me once more. The rest I’d worry about later.

 

October 1865

 

One week ago today, I turned twenty-four, although, four years of war, had left me feeling like I’d aged over thirty.  From the first day General Grant signed the peace treaty, I found myself with no job, no money, and little hope of change. Then a simple telegraph from home sparked enough courage for me to hop an empty freight train and head to New York.

 

Chapter Three

 

As soon as my feet hit the water, salty waves encircled my legs, stinging every raw nerve within its foamy reach.  Problem one - though I had a good lead on the security guard, he continued his unrelenting pursuit down the seawall. Problem two - I could see my cousin ahead on the beach, totally unaware of the crisis brewing behind us.  And problem three - when I finally did get within hearing distance, he chose to ignore me, apparently holding a grudge.

“Ian!” I yelled a third time, nearly spilling on top of him when a wave hit me from behind.

“I’m not talking to you, Rainey,” he yelled, yanking his arm free from my grasp. “I’m telling Aunt Meri as soon as we...”

“Listen...!” I choked, pulling strands of windblown hair out of my mouth so I could speak.  “I need to tell you something....”

“No. I’m not protecting you,” he shot back, pausing only long enough to follow my erratic hand motions pointing down the beach.   His brief moment of confusion allowed me to blurt the three most important words I could think of to get through his thick skull. 

“Beach Patrol! Run!” I yanked his arm one last time before taking off and letting him discover the truth for himself. You could see the security guard’s flashlight bobbing up and down in the darkness as he made his way to the bottom of the seawall. It only took a few seconds for things to register before Ian sped past me, and beat me to the wooden stairs and backyard by a full minute.

When I finally dragged myself up the walkway panting and out of breath, I found Ian in the middle of the yard, bent over and coughing. He stayed in that position until I grabbed his elbow and led him blindly toward my bedroom window, still left open from my departure.

“Get in, hurry,” I whispered, hastily pushing his long, lanky legs inside as he kicked sand in my face. “Drop down, quick!” I panicked, looking towards the stairs for signs of the security guard.  I knew he couldn’t be far.

As soon as I heard Ian crash to the floor, I climbed through behind him, ignoring the stinging pain in my knees, and slammed the window shut, yanking the shade down in one swift movement. Then slowly and exhaustedly, I slid down my bedroom wall into a tired, wet heap. My clothes drenched, my feet caked with sand, and my blond hair lay in a mass of tangles across my shoulders.  So much for that darn hoodie!

In spite of it all, nervous energy pulsed through my veins, and my heart felt like it might explode in my chest. Everything happened so fast I couldn’t get my head to stop spinning. The boys disappearing into the night, the gold coin hanging temptingly within my reach, and the security guard with a flashlight and gun chasing me down the seawall. What happens next? I wondered nervously, reaching for the coin in my back pocket.  A solid reminder I wasn’t just dreaming. Does this make me a thief now too?  Could I go to jail?  The only thing I knew for sure at the moment was that I had to see my grandfather as soon as possible to find out what to do.  The rest I’d worry about later. 

I glanced at my cousin who sat hunched on the floor beside me, still trying to catch his breath.  Nothing about him looked relieved at the moment.  

“You okay?”  I whispered.  “You're breathing louder than Aunt Meri snores.”

My attempt at humor fell flat.

“Shut...up...Rai,” he replied through ragged breath, not bothering to lift his head.

“I think we made it,” I spouted reassuringly.

“We...did nothing...” He said, gasping when he saw me stretching up the wall to peek under the shade.

“What are you doing?’”

“Just looking,” I replied, unable to sit still any longer.   But before I could pull up the corner of the shade, a thump hit the windowpane, spilling me back onto Ian’s foot.

“Ouch!” he hissed in my ear.

“Sorry.”

“What was that?”

“I-I-I don’t know.”

Then a half second later a familiar sound hit our ears, explaining it all.

Meow.

“Balfour?”  I looked at Ian worriedly.

Balfour, Aunt Meri’s gray, and white Siamese cat, never left the house unless the rare door, or in this case, a window was left open. If anything happened to that cat, well, it would be worse than the security guard finding me and putting me in jail. I could hear Balfour rubbing his fur against the windowpane, wanting inside.

“Do something!” Ian snapped.

“I can’t... what if... you know... he’s out there?”  I nodded towards the window.

“I’m not taking the blame for this; I swear,” Ian whispered, his voice in panic mode.

Before either of us could blink, a flashlight beam hit the shade, silhouetting the shadowy figure of Balfour licking his paw in the window.

We huddled on the floor in horrified silence watching Balfour lazily stretch his back in the spotlight. It felt like a horror movie when the boogeyman is about to strike, but you can’t take your eyes off the screen. We held our breath and waited for what felt like an eternity before the flashlight beam left and Balfour jumped down from the window ledge.  However, before we could breathe a sigh of relief, we heard a radio squawk making us realize how very close we were to the security guard.

“You see ‘em anywhere?” Beep.

“No, they’ve disappeared into the neighborhood. Over.”

“What do you want to do?” Beep.

“I’m heading back to the park now. I’ll meet you there. Over.”

“He’s leaving!” I whispered in relief. A few seconds later, I peeked underneath the corner of the shade and watched the officer disappear down the stairs toward the beach. A flood of relief came over me.

“Ian.  He’s gone.  We’re okay now.” I announced, a bit too cheerily for his mood, making him snap back into his irritable self.

“Okay?  Okay doesn’t get chased down a beach in the middle of the night.”

“We made it, didn’t we?” I said, standing shakily to my feet.

“What were ya doing out there Rainey?” Ian said, backing me into the corner of my room before I could get my full balance.  Ian was fifteen, at least a foot taller than me, with dark auburn hair, and piercing green eyes, which did not look happy right now.  Celtics football was about the only thing he ever cared about.

“Nothing. I go outside and look at stars,” I shrugged guiltily, looking for ways to squeeze around him until I came to an abrupt halt in the corner of my room.

“It’s 2:00 in the morning, Rai. What were ya doing?” Ian leaned in so close; I could still smell pizza on his shirt from earlier. “Tell me, or I’ll spill every detail to Uncle Gerry tomorrow.”

Oh, crud.  I had nearly forgotten - or wished I could have forgotten about Gerry’s visit. The thought of seeing my biological father, whom I barely knew, made my stomach turn somersaults.

“You wouldn’t,” I spat.

“Oh yeah? Just try me,” Ian said.

 

After a few minutes of explaining why I hid in the shadows of the seawall, hoping to watch buried treasure being discovered by two complete strangers, while exaggerating the fact that it could have been planted there by none other than Blackbeard the pirate, Ian rudely interrupted me.

“Are you completely daft? Normal girls don’t do things like that!”

I stared open-mouthed at him, thinking to myself, normal girls don’t have gold coins in their back pockets either. But that part I didn’t mention, at least not yet.

Instead, I sat on the edge of my bed, listening while Ian ranted about the two boys at the park.  “They’re bullies, Rainey. Did you ever think what they would do if they found ya hiding? And what about the Beach Patrol? How are you going to explain everything? And what about me? I’m not taking the blame for this.”

On and on Ian went until I wanted to push him off the bed and throw the covers over my head and go to sleep. But after his last comment about daft behavior for girls my age, my itchy fingers could take it no longer.

“Oh yeah, well, what about this?” I said, pulling the coin pouch out of my back pocket, letting it swing enticingly in front of his nose.

“What’s that?” he frowned.

“Possibly a coin belonging to Blackbeard himself,” I said with a satisfied smirk as I stood to my feet and walked to my desk.

“What are you talking about?”  Ian said.

Instead of answering him, I decided to show him. With shaky fingers, I pulled a magnifying glass out of my desk drawer, opened the pouch, and let the coin drop to the surface of my desk and roll a few times until it came to a stop.  I pointed a flashlight beam over the top so he could see.

“A coin?” Ian whispered, touching his fingertip to the surface.

“Not just any old coin,” I corrected, brushing his hand away so I could lean in for a closer examination on the date.

“The mint is 1862,” I said with a disappointed sigh.  I had to admit, though highly unlikely, it would have been cool if it had belonged to Blackbeard.

“What does mint mean?” 

“That’s the date the coin was made,” I explained.  “It’s not old enough to be Blackbeard’s because he lived in the 1700s.”

“Whose coin is it then?”  Ian pressed.

Ignoring him, I flipped the coin over to examine the other side with my magnifying glass and immediately something else caught my eye. There were strange etchings on the face. As I leaned in closer, I could see three distinct letters scratched on the surface: SSD.

“That’s weird,”

“What?”  Ian said, crowding over my shoulder.

“Someone scratched letters on this coin S… S... D. Why would someone go to all that trouble?”

“I can figure that out,” Ian said, pointing his words into my ear so I couldn't ignore him this time.  “They’re initials. That way nobody could steal it from them.” Then without warning, he snatched the coin off the desk before I could stop him.

“So, Rai, you want to tell me where you got this?” he said, holding the coin tightly in his fist. “You obviously got it from somewhere.”

I rolled my eyes in disgust. “Give it back,” I said, holding out my hand.

He didn’t flinch.

“Tell me where you got it.... or I’ll show Uncle Gerry, and you can explain it to him, tomorrow,” he eyed me stubbornly.

I moaned audibly. Why did Ian have to keep mentioning Gerry’s name?

“Give my coin back Ian.”

“Yours?” Ian scoffed.  ‘Since when do you carry gold coins in your pocket Rai?”

“I found it on the beach, okay.”  I shrugged, offering him little explanation.

“Really?  Where?”

He was way past the point of annoying me now, so I blurted.

“On some driftwood,” even though it sounded ridiculous even to my ears. 

“Very funny. I suppose you're gonna tell me it was growing there too.”

“Nope, just hanging,” I said, without an ounce of waver in my voice, “so I took it.”

Ian must have read the seriousness in my face because something began to change on his, rapidly.

“Come on, Rainey. You don’t expect me to believe someone left a coin…hanging …drift,” he paused long enough for his eyes to light up like a couple of firecrackers on the fourth of July.

“Oh my god, tell me this doesn't have anything to do with those two bullies out there? Tell me you didn’t take it from them?” He nearly choked on his words before they came out of his mouth. 

I could feel guilt skip across my face as I tried to look away from his shocked expression.

“Well, technically they stole it from an old lady, I just rescued it.”

“Rescued it?” Ian gasped, dropping the coin onto the desk like a red hot potato. “Are you joking? Those boys will kill ya if they find out!”

“Those boys don’t know I have it. They took off like a couple of scared rabbits when the security guard came. I couldn’t leave it there.” I defended, snatching the coin from the desk and putting it in the pouch before Ian changed his mind.

“Of course, you leave it!” Ian snapped, looking like he wanted to strangle me. “Is that why that security guard chased you? Because of that coin?”

“Nooooo,” I said defensively.  Although I did realize with some level of uncertainty, the security guard might have mistakenly thought I was the one illegally digging at the park.  But I didn’t care to talk about that at the moment.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Without imagination, we only have the tangible things in front of us. Therefore, I dream. Dreaming has led me to publish poetry like 'Hey Little Butterfly' and 'The Golden Isles of Georgia.' I also imagined 'Lola Lullubee' soar across the sky with dozens of colorful hot-air balloons. I dreamt of a young girl discovering new hope after losing a parent, from a shiny silver slide in the park. However, my greatest joys in life have come from being a wife and a mother to three wonderful daughters.

Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
My most inspirational novel series would be Diana Gabaldon's 'Outlander'; along with my favorite fictional character, Jamie Frasier. Not only do her details on historical fiction come to life, but we relish her characters both good and bad. Add a dose of time travel into the mix; you have it all.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
I was once told to write about things that mean the most to you, that way you write from your heart. The heroine was inspired by my daughters. The setting is a beach in Georgia that I grew up visiting. The character Mo was molded by my grandfather, and the rest grew from years of trial and error.
Q. What did you learn while writing this book?
A.
Writing is a challenging, yet fulfilling journey. I often compare it to painting: One small stroke at a time until you have created a complete picture. Sometimes you may need to change a paint color or pick a new brush, but the more patience you have, the more beautiful it becomes.

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