Run, Laney, run. That’s what Mama said she should do if something really bad happened. What just happened is worse than Mama could have imagined. Now Laney, terrified, covered in blood, and alone, is on the run from the law.
Laney finds a way to hide in plain sight and builds a safe and near-perfect new life. Safe and near- perfect, that is, until three people from the past show up looking for revenge, redemption and love.
The Lost Chapter from A Shadow Life
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Laura Oakley.
I was shot up and on fire with fever and pain, lying on a narrow bed in the war casualties ward of the Minnie Tapp Memorial Hospital in Dallas not long after the Armistice of 1918. The only thing I had on my mind was how to get somebody to put me out of my misery for good when I felt a cool hand slide under my head and raise me up. A cup of water touched my lips and a voice said, “Welcome home, soldier.”
I looked into a pair of brown eyes the exact color of Mama’s secret recipe chocolate cake. The kindness I saw there flooded my eyes with tears that dribbled down into stubble on my cheeks. Now, you might think a six-foot-four pig farmer from the Texas hill country would be too shamed to cry, but you would be mistaken. I tell you, after wading through body parts of men and mules in the Argonne Forest, with the blood of your dead friends thick on your face and filling your eyes so you can’t tell a Kraut from a tree, well, a few tears… they don’t amount to nothing.
When Laura leaned over me and brushed the hair back off my forehead with her fine pale hand, all of a sudden it seemed like life might be worth living after all.
“Where are you from?” Her voice flowed over me, warm and sweet, like the honey that always covered my hands when I robbed the hive up in the old cottonwood at the farm.
“Kendalia, down in the hill country.”
“I love it down there, especially when the bluebonnets are in bloom.”
“Yes, ma’am.” It was all I could think of to say. Laura smiled and moved on to the next soldier.
The man in the bed on my left didn’t know who he was or where he was but the man on my right told me Laura was a volunteer who visited the military ward every weekday. From then on, Laura was the reason I bothered to open my eyes every morning.
She was tall, taller than a lot of men, but you could tell she was strong even though her frame was slim. Her skin looked smooth and soft, the ivory color reminding me of the bit of Irish lace Mama had brought from Ireland and kept safe in her top dresser drawer.
All the men were in love with her, not because of how she looked but because of who she was. She had a gentle way about her that made you feel like you were special, and no matter how sick you were, you just knew you were going to be okay because Laura said so.
Laura stopped by my bed and talked for a few minutes every day, just like she did with the other men but I didn’t want to be lumped in with the other men. I wanted to be extra-special but I could tell Laura was a genteel, educated girl by how she talked and how she acted. She was so far above me, it was like she was the sun and I was a little petunia in Mama’s flower bed; I could feel the warmth of her shining but I’d never be able to touch her.
So I just watched as she moved among the hospital beds in the ward, stopping for a few words with everyone, squeezing the hand of a kid too young to be coming back from a war, writing a letter for a man who lost his arms, and always smiling. I held those few minutes she spent with me every day close to my heart and I still think it was Laura that speeded my recovery. Even though I understood all my yearning would come to naught, I lived in dread of the day I would be discharged and never see Laura Oakley again.
Then one day a miracle happened, though it didn’t feel like a miracle at first. Laura said “Hi” as she walked right past my bed without stopping to talk like usual. I didn’t know what to make of that and fretted and stewed all day. Then, a little before supper, she came back, pulled up a chair and sat by my bed. “So, Mr. Pig Farmer Milo French, what do you do down there in the hill country besides raise pigs? Do you have a wife and a passel of youngsters to keep you busy?”
Well, I tell you, I was so billy-whacked by this turn of events, it took me a few minutes to come to myself and say, “No, ma’am, just pigs, ma’am.” I felt like I was chewing my words way too much before spitting them out.
Laura laughed and took my hand between hers. “Call me Laura, Milo. Ma’am makes me feel like an old lady.”
Buy Link: https://books.pronoun.com/a-shadow-life/
About the Author
Tale-spinner. Revealer of secrets. A dog’s best friend. Cornbread and fried okra country girl.
Lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys writing, reading, the open road on a Stallion motorcycle (trike–as a passenger), good food, travel, genealogy, and a large, fun-loving family. Favorite destinations: Ireland and Singapore. Author of “High Cotton Country” and “A Shadow Life” and presently writing her third novel, “Dancing to the Silence.”
Leta says she loves the fascination of new characters and the fun of getting acquainted with them and seeing what they will do as the story develops.
Come on over to www.letamccurry.com to read a free chapter. Sometimes free books, too.