The other day I was surprised to discover that I’ve written a handful of songs since the beginning of the year.  I’m not a prolific songwriter, as I tend to get distracted.  I do have good reason of 5 kids, and other responsibilities. Still, professional songwriters often write 5 songs within a day or two.  I tend to work on the ones I do write a lot, if I feel that they are worth investing time in.

There are some songs that I start writing and can tell right away that I won’t be returning to them to edit.  They lack the “spark” that my favorites do.  Usually the best songs of mine pour out onto the page like water from a glass.  They are the easiest ones, with little editing.  Then there are those songs that I just KNOW will be good songs if I keep touching them up.  They are those diamonds in the rough.  They usually end up being my favorite songs, because of all the time and dedication I’ve put into them.

Do any of you write songs?

P.S. “Erisa Rei” is my stage name. (It’s also my full first and middle name.)

“Yellow”, a poem.

I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to be a writer all throughout junior high and most of high school.  It’s also been something that I’ve had in the back of my mind as “something I want to do someday”.  I’ve decided that although I’m busy, I’m going to try to write a little bit every week.


I’m working on my new book series right now, but I plan on writing a few short stories that I’ll publish here in the interim.  I also wanted to post a few old poems and short stories I wrote when I was a kid.  This next poem is one of them.

I wrote “Yellow” when I was 12.  It was my favorite color at the time, and I was a very romantic girl. 🙂


Soft as sunshine in the morn

Soft along the river’s waves

In the darkest was yellow born

A moonlight path for you it paves

Strong enough to draw you in

Yet soft enough to let you out

Look at yellow once again

Let its colorful significance shout


See?  Very idyllic. Please remember I was only 12. Haha!

What’s Next?

I have put up the entire novel for everyone to read now! I probably won’t be writing a historical romance again, but it was a good start. I’ve started working on a futuristic sci-fi series. It feels a lot better writing it, as if it is more “my thing”. I find this surprising, because I have always been a romantic at heart. I think that I like the freedom to imagine the future as I see it, as opposed to being restricted to the perimeters of our actual history.

Once February gets over with, I’ll be working on getting the first book of the sci-fi series done. I have 5-6 books planned out in a skeleton form. This is, of course, loose. I’m not one for boxes and silly rules.

Come and join me on Facebook:

How One Looks – Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Rand Matheson woke a couple of days later in a good amount of discomfort.  He was exhausted, even after having just woken up.  He was also thirsty and hungry.  Looking around, he noted Shae curled up in a stuffed chair by the bed, asleep. His friend, McClure, was standing by the open door.

“Good, good.  You’re awake.”

“Yes,” was Matheson’s reply.

“Do you remember what happened?”

“Yes, unfortunately.  Was Wren able to open the box?”

“She certainly was.  One of the most complicated locks I’ve ever seen.  She’s brilliant.”

McClure’s regard for her made Matheson tense up.  His friend seemed to not notice.

“You’ve got a gem of a wife, Rand,” he continued. “Do you realize she’s barely left that spot on that chair for two whole days?”

Matheson looked at his wife.  She had done the same with Lucy when she had her relapse in January and February.

“I’m not surprised.  She puts her whole self into most of what she does.”

“Most?” McClure seemed surprised that there were exceptions.

“She abhors painting and embroidery work.”

McClure smiled widely at that.

“She’s not overly fond of heights either,” the red-headed man added.

“Oh, really? How did you discover this?”

“When I was training her.”

Being reminded that McClure spent the early morning hours with his wife, while he was states away, gave him less than pleasant feelings.  Without knowing it, he clenched his fists and growled a little.  McClure did notice and remarked on it.  Matheson ignored him.

“What did the doctor say about my wound?”

“You, my friend, are lucky.  Another inch to the right and you’d have been dead on the spot. You’ve lost a lot of blood, so you are supposed to stay in bed resting for another 3-4 days.”

“And the letter?  Did it contain the necessary evidence against the Mayor?”

McClure filled him in over the next few minutes.  Matheson felt himself growing more tired.  He excused himself and was asleep within a minute.

The next day, Shae walked into her husband’s room, and found him trying to get up out of bed.

“You are supposed to stay in bed,” she chided.

“It’s dull sitting and doing nothing.”

“You can’t have been awake more than 10 minutes.  I left briefly to get you some food.”

She lifted the tray to show him.

“Long enough,” he answered.

While he ate his dinner, Shae kept his mind occupied while she read from the newspaper.  After that she kept up the conversation, until he admitted he was tired and needed to sleep again.  This continued over the next 2 days.  Shae found she loved it.   She got to know him, as they conversed about their childhoods, and their teenage years. She told him about the two horrid marriage offers that she received previous to his.  He told her about the day that he met Claire.  He told of the many escapades that McClure and he got into as boys.  She laughed until she was holding her stomach.  He tried not to laugh as it pained him.   She found her friend again. He found contentment.

On the fifth day, after being shot, Matheson awoke to find that Shae was asleep in the chair again.  She was a little thing, he noted.  He remembered though, when he had kissed her and waltzed with her that she was curvaceous, as well.  Her hair had felt like silk in his hands too.  And her lips?…

BLAST!  Why was he thinking of these things?  Had he really pushed aside these feelings for her all these months?  He was always running, it seems.  McClure was right about that too.  The jerk.

So, he sat and thought about all that he had put her through.  He didn’t deserve her.  He had also kept her from the possibility of finding true love by marrying her.  He had been a selfish lout.  At the same time, he didn’t want someone else to have her.  He hated it when McClure flirted with her.  What did that mean, exactly?  He thought some more and came to a decision.  Then he made a plan that followed along with that decision. When they got home, he would have a talk with his Little Wren, and see what she thought about it.

Matheson healed fairly quickly that week.  McClure claimed it was due to Shae being there to make sure he stayed resting in bed.  Shae couldn’t disagree, because she spent a lot of time coming up with topics of conversation to keep his mind occupied.  Now they were finally home and on Christmas Eve.

They sat in chairs by the fire in a comfortable silence.   After the drama last week, they were basking in the silence of that normalcy.  Shae had her sherry.   Matheson had his whiskey. That was when Matheson  decided to approach Shae with his plan.

“Might I call you Shae?  Would you mind?” he asked her.

“That would be fine.”

“Thank you,” he started. “Before we went to Chicago, I noticed how empty and expansive this mansion is.”


“When Lucy was living,” he said, “even as sick as she was, she filled it with life.”

Shae’s heart panged and her eyes welled up with tears. Nodding, she swallowed down the lump in her throat.

“I agree,” she finally answered, choking back tears.

“Thinking of you all alone in this monstrosity, for six months– I fouled up so badly.  I know I’ve apologized, but I can’t say I’m sorry enough.  I was a terrible husband, and I also let you down as a friend.”

He paused, and Shae didn’t disagree with his assessment. She couldn’t.

“Then, I almost died when I was shot.  You would have been alone for the rest of your life here in this huge mansion.”

Shae didn’t respond.  She didn’t know what he was getting at.  He seemed frustrated, and that fierce wildness was peeking through his polished exterior.  He stood up, groaning at the pain in his shoulder, and poured himself another finger of whiskey.  Shae lifted an eyebrow at him.

“Liquid confidence,” he said, shrugging.

Shae was even more confused.  She sipped her sherry.  He sat back down in his chair across from hers.

“When I almost died, I realized that I had amassed a great fortune.  And what for?” he asked, almost to himself.

“I had always planned on giving most of what I had to Lucy.  I had a large sum also set aside for you, and for you to choose whether you wanted to live here at the mansion in town, or at the country estate. But then my dear girl died…”

He trailed off.  His eyes filled with tears.  Shae had tears running down her face.

“The doctors told me that she would die young, but she was so vivacious that I convinced myself that they were wrong.”

He was nearly weeping while speaking.  Shae set down her sherry and kneeled on the floor by him.  She took his hand.

“But I was the one that was wrong.  I couldn’t bear the though of living without Lucy, so I foolishly hid from the truth of that. I hurt you so much.”

His hand that she had been holding fell out of her grasp, as he tenderly caressed her cheek.

“I betrayed you, the sweetest friend I’d ever known.  I let you down in the most horrid way. I’m so sorry.”

“Please stop apologizing,” Shae answered. “I forgive you.”

“You’re a good woman, Shae.  Talented, brilliant, and kind. You’re best woman I’ve ever known.”

He slid off the chair and kneeled before her.  He took her tiny hands in his huge ones.

“I’m mucking this up,” he admitted. “It’s such a tender subject.  You are my favorite person in the world, Shae.   You’re the most beautiful I’ve ever known too.”

Shae started to object, but he gently squeezed her hands to stop her.

“No, listen, please.  A beautiful soul does wonders for the perception.  You don’t have the common type of beauty, but you are dainty and sweet in yours.”

He put his forehead on the tops of her hands and sighed.  Then he looked into her eyes, his own a storm of wild blue and grey-green.

“Shae, will you help me fill this empty tomb of a house with the sound of children’s laughter?”

She looked at him confusedly.  He was acting so strange.

“Little Wren, with our children’s laughter.”

Then she got it.

“Oh,” she breathed out. “OH! But–”

“I know that you don’t love me.  However, I’m committed to this marriage.  I’ve resigned from spy work.  I let McClure know a couple of days ago. I will continue my law business here, but I’m done with politics.  All I want is a life with you, and if God willing— and I guess, if you’re willing, with our family. I can think of no other person that I’d want to share that with here on this earth.”  

Shae was speechless.  Could she push aside all of her fears? Could she let down her guard?  Could God help her let go and trust Him, as well as to trust Matheson?    She wasn’t sure what love was, but regardless of his one huge mistake with her, she respected him more than any other person of her acquaintance. She knew that she didn’t want to think about life without him.  Him nearly dying had showed her that.  She also knew that he would be an attentive father, just like he had been with Lucy. Although she felt that he would be a more present one with their children, if she agreed to his proposal.

“But– I thought that you didn’t want this.  Last year, before we married, we agreed that we would maintain a conventional marriage.”

“Can’t a man change his mind?” he asked, incredulously.

For once his face wasn’t a stoic mask.  His eyes were a storm, almost pleading to her.  Shae eased out a quiet, husky laugh.

“But I’m not beautiful,” was her response to him.

“Did you not hear what I said earlier, Shae? Beauty depends on how one sees.  When you don’t really look, you will never see the beauty in someone.  If you stop, though, and appreciate the fine qualities of someone’s character, it changes your perception.”

Shae started to pull her hands away.

“Wait, I’m not finished,” he demanded, getting very close to her.

Shae could barely breathe.  The smell of his cologne enveloped her.  It brought her back to the other times when he was this close.  His warmth and size made her feel safe.

“Yes?” she asked, a bit breathlessly.

“You are a beautiful woman, Shaelene Matheson.  Have you not noticed the way the men at the parties and balls look at you?  I’ve about torn the arms off of McClure a few times when he’s flirted with you.”

“Would serve him right,” Shae remarked.

Matheson’s reply was a rumble of laughter, then a pained wince because it still hurt his shoulder to move it too much.  Then he took her into an embrace, one that felt like home.  One that was like a blanket wrapped around her eager soul.

“I care for you, Little Wren.  It’s different than it was with Claire, but it is a stronger feeling.  I don’t know what else to say about how I feel about you.”

Just then a figure came out from behind the curtain.

“Tell her you love her, you numb-skull chicken!” McClure exclaimed.

“McCluuuuuurrrrrreeee!”, Matheson said, as he gently removed Shae from his arms.

He stood up to give McClure a walloping, even if it meant aggravating his wound.  It was too late, however, as McClure had shot out the front door.  Matheson helped Shae to her feet.

“For as much as he calls you that, it does seem like his is the one always running from you,” Shae pointed out.

Matheson laughed, and then cringed.

“I do love you, my sweet Shae,” he murmured.

Then he took her in his arms and kissed her gently, reverently on the lips.

“What do you think about all that I’ve revealed to you tonight?”

Shae knew her answer right then, looking into his sincere eyes.  She felt safe and loved. This was home.

“I think that I love you, Rand.”

With a triumphant grin, her husband, Rand Matheson gave her a very thorough taste of his affection for her.  Hot iron poured all over her, as he kissed her.  Shae rather liked it.


How One Sees – Chapter 20

Chapter 20

After four weeks of careful preparation, they went to the Mayor of Chicago’s soiree.  Things had went well, as they successfully played the part of the Matheson’s, a couple very much in love. After the celebration, they went at McClure’s home that he owned in Chicago.  Their plan had been to enjoy the party in its entirety while gaining information.  After which, they would discuss what information each of them had gathered.  Having done these things, they were now creating a plan that had to be executed within a few hours time.

They would have to steal the letter a few days sooner than they had originally planned.  While Matheson had discovered the whereabouts of the letter containing the assassination plot, Shae had found out from the mayor’s wife that she had overheard her husband talking to a strange man about “doing the deed” the next day.  Over the past couple of weeks, Shae had gained the confidence of the Mayor’s wife, at dinners, tea and balls, all throughout Chicago.  Mrs. Mayor believed that her husband was filing for divorce, and that she would find out by tomorrow morning that he was planning on doing away with her.  Shae saw it for what it was, a date and time for the Senator’s possible assassination.  With their help, hopefully the Mayor would get exposed for his deeds and a man’s life could be saved.

“This is a most undesirable circumstance,” growled McClure.

Matheson nodded his assent, while Shae stayed silent.  She was by far the least experienced of the spies there.  She’d let them work out the plan.  The men discussed for about 30 minutes and came up with a good, sensible one.  However, Shae felt that something was off.

“Doesn’t this seem too easy?” she asked.

The men looked at her, as if they had forgotten she was there. In truth, they had. At least, McClure had the sense to blush.  Not so, Matheson.

“What do you mean?” Rand inquired.

“Everything fell into place so easily,” she said.  “It doesn’t seem right.”

“Well, we’ve been infiltrating the political scene here for years, just in case this situation arose.  The seeming ease is just the result of meticulous planning. Are you seeing any holes?” McClure asked her.

“No, I’m not seeing any, but something doesn’t feel right.”

McClure patted her on the shoulder.

“There, there.  It’s just your first big mission.  It’s just the nerves getting to you.”

Shae wasn’t completely convinced, but being rather green in spywork, she let the subject drop.  McClure then laid out the plan.  Shae, dressed in menswear for ease of movement, along with Matheson would sneak into the study window, that McClure had went in and unlocked earlier that evening at the party.  Then while Matheson was on watch, Shae would unlock the drawer that held the incriminating letter.  McClure would be waiting a block down with horses for them to escape with.  They would each go separate ways down the streets of Chicago, looping around until Shae and Matheson reached McClure’s home.  McClure would be along later, because the letter needed to be sent to the authorities immediately.

“It is too dangerous for Shae to go inside the house,” Matheson argued. “She did her part by garnering information from the Mayor’s wife. Why does she need to do more?  Surely, you and I could do it ourselves.”

“True, we could, but neither of us can pick a lock as quickly as your wife.  She has picked every training lock, and otherwise, that I brought to her.  And once she got the hang of it, she could do it thrice as fast as anyone I’ve seen.”

Shae felt herself blushing from the compliments.  Matheson looked skeptical about her involvement still.

“Matheson,” McClure demanded, “you know that time is of the utmost. Every second counts.”

With that, Matheson reluctantly acquiesced.  And they went to ready themselves.

They got into the Mayor’s home with ease.  Matheson kept a look-out by the door, while Shae went to work picking the lock.  It was harder this time, because her gut kept telling her that they were in danger.  This was the first mission she felt that way.  Trying to concentrate, she picked the lock on the desk drawer.  It was a fairly easy one, but once she opened the drawer, she found it empty.  She felt under the drawer, but there was nothing there.  It seems that her husband had been given false information.

She looked at him, and shook her head.  Matheson began to feel uneasy himself.  Shae started going through the other drawers, but once again didn’t find the letter.  As her eyes were looking around the room for possible hiding places, they heard strident steps coming down the hall towards the study.  Matheson jerked his head towards the window, telling her by the gesture to get out.  As she was starting to, she noticed a box on a table with a particularly complicated lock.  She froze, and Matheson ran into her.

“We need to go,” he whispered sternly.

“It’s in that box,” she countered.  “I know it.”

“We don’t have time, Wren.”

“We have to complete the mission,” she insisted.

“There will be other chances,” he said nudging her towards the window.

The steps in the hallways were growing louder and closer.  Shae grabbed the box, and tucked it under her arm.

“I’ll unlock it at Dragon’s.”     

She made it through the window easily, but as Matheson was getting out the window a shot rang out from behind them.

“Hurry!” Matheson growled.

With that they forgot about stealth and ran as fast as they could towards the meeting point, where McClure was waiting.  Two more shots rang out from behind them.  One landed near her feet, and the other made a dull noise, as her husband growled out in pain.

“You’ve been shot,” she said running back to him.

“Get out of here, Wren,” he demanded.

Then he shot the man who was climbing out of the study window.  The man cried out and fell to the ground.  Turning back to Matheson, Shae saw how pale he was even in the moonlight.  She put her arm around his waist to help him to where McClure was waiting.

“Woman, get out of here.”

“Never.  I’ll help you.  Let’s go.”

Grunting, Matheson got to his feet, and they stumbled their way down the block.  Fifty yards away, McClure saw them, and ran to them.

“What happened?”

“Wolf was given false information.  The letter wasn’t where the informant said it was.  Wolf was shot by a co-conspirator who had been waiting for us.  I’m not sure why he wasn’t waiting in the study.  If that had been the case, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

McClure wrapped his arm around the other side of Matheson’s waist and helped Shae hold up her husband.  They were almost to the horses.

“You are a great beast of a man, Wolf.  Don’t pass out on me. I don’t want to carry you.”

“I won’t,” said Matheson, weakly.

“There is a change of plans.  Wren, you go your planned route.  I’ll have to ride with Wolf, to make sure he doesn’t pass out on the way back.  It’s riskier, but it has to be done.”

McClure grunted as he pushed Matheson onto his horse.   Then he helped Shae up.

“Stay safe,” he told her, as he smacked her horse on the rump.

The last sight she saw when she looked back was McClure alighting his horse, and Matheson barely sitting up, slumped over the saddle. She dug into her horses flanks with the box tucked under her arm.  It was because of her insistence on finding the evidence that Matheson was shot.  She had to make something of that mistake.  She had to get the box safely to McClure’s.

When she got to McClure’s stables, she asked the stable hand whether the men had returned.

“No, Ma’am.  You’re the first to arrive.”

Shae ran inside and informed the butler of the circumstances.  He paled, but nodded.

“I’ll summon the doctor.  Clyde, the stablehand, will help the men in.”

As he rushed off, Shae walked briskly to the study, where McClure kept special tools for cracking difficult locks.  This one was probably the most complicated that Shae had seen.  A hairpin wouldn’t do.  She’d been working on it for ten minutes when there was a commotion at the door.  McClure and Matheson must be back.

She stopped what she was doing and ran to the hallway.  McClure and Clyde were holding up Matheson, who was barely conscious, and very pale.  There was blood all over him which came from a bullet wound in his left shoulder near his heart. It took every bit of Shae’s fortitude to not cry out.  She looked at McClure.

“Yes, it’s bad,” he said, not sparing the truth. “He is lucky that it came out the other side.  He’s lost a lot of blood though, and it was very close to his heart.”

“What should I do?”

“Have you ever dressed a bullet wound?”

“No,” she admitted.

“Then leave it to me.  It’s a shame that he was shot for nothing. I wonder who tipped them off to us.”

“No!”, Shae exclaimed.  “It wasn’t for nothing, perhaps.  I grabbed a box that might contain the letter.  It’s a complicated lock, and the letter might be in there.”

McClure breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Well, there’s that.  Let’s hope the evidence is in there.”

“I’ll go work on the lock.”

She walked up to her husband.  She touched his face with her hand.  It was cold and clammy to the touch.

“Don’t die, Rand,” she whispered.

He looked at her with eyes that were dull, and barely coherent.

“Highly unlikely, Little Wren,” he ground out from clenched teeth.

Then they took him up the stairs to his room.  Shae made her way back to the study to work on the wooden box.  She supposed that she could just shoot the blasted thing, but she would give herself 10 more minutes to figure it out before doing so.  It was too good of a learning experience, plus McClure couldn’t go deliver the contents until the doctor arrived.

Five minutes into it, Shae heard a satisfying click and the lid cracked open slightly.  With a happy chirrup concerning her success, she started looking at the contents.  A huge smile spread all over her face, while she perused.  She read it over and over for twenty minutes.  It looked like the box not only contained the one incriminating letter, but several of them, with more names of men who were co-conspirators in the plot.  McClure would know for sure.  He happened to make his way into the room right then.

“You got it open!” he blurted, relieved. “And the contents?”

“First, how is Matheson?”

“The doctor thinks that he’ll pull through.  He lost a lot of blood, but not enough to snuff him out.  He did say if the bullet was a half an inch closer to his heart, he would have died almost immediately.  Rand is very lucky in that regards, but still has a lot of recovering to do.  He needs to rest in bed for a few days.  He’s never followed the doctor’s orders before now, so I doubt that will happen.  I fear he needs to though this time, with as much blood as he lost.”

“I feel it is my fault.  I should have left when Matheson wanted me to.”

“We are all at fault in someway.  I should have seen that we’d been found out.  My work in Chicago is ruined.  And worst of all, my best friend almost died, leaving you a widow. I should have listened to your gut instinct tonight.  Women have intuition in spades.  Well, what have you found out? Tell me, and then make your way to your husband.  Maybe you’ll be able to keep the beast in his rest bed.”

Shae told him her findings.  After rifling through the stack of letters, McClure smiled hugely.  He put down the letters, grabbed her shoulders and gave her a resounding kiss on the forehead.

“The smartest thing Matheson’s ever done was marry you. Not only did we find the plot and more names, but also more plots against political leaders throughout the state of Illinois.”

Shae expressed her relief.  McClure headed to the authorities he had been working with.  She made her way upstairs to the bedroom where her husband lay.  McClure was right, he was a beast of a man.  Broad-shouldered, thick-chested, and well-muscled, she took him in, along with the tell-tale bandage of his near miss with death.  He was sleeping.

She got a stuffed chair and placed it beside the bed.  It gave her time to contemplate her feelings for Matheson.  How deeply did she feel for him?  She really didn’t believe that she was in love with him.  She loved him, like a friend, at least.  She thought he was attractive, but was sensible enough to understand that attraction and love were very different things.  She definitely didn’t want him to die.  When he wasn’t putting up walls or running away, he made a personable companion.  She admired him more than any other man she had met.  However, she didn’t love him. She didn’t think she did anyway, but she didn’t really know what love looked or felt like.

Things were complicated.  She just wasn’t sure if they could erase the pain of Lucy’s death, as well as Claire’s.  Could she trust him after he abandoned her for six months while she was grieving for Lucy?  She forgave him, but she wasn’t sure that she could trust him. She felt betrayed still. Pondering these things she fell asleep.

How One Looks – Chapter 19

Chapter 19

Shae looked in disbelief as Neva Langley trounced into her sitting room on Thanksgiving Day.  She was followed by Aunt Martha and Beatrice.  The latter gave her an apologetic look.  Shae nodded at her understanding. The former carried the air of a queen as she found a place to sit, demanding to know where her nephew was.

“I’ll have Canton get him.”

Shae also asked Canton to inform everyone that there was a 5th place setting to be put at the table.  He bowed and did her bidding.

“What time is the meal?  I don’t want to be stuck here for an ungodly amount of time,” Aunt Martha complained.

“It will be ready shortly.”

Within a few minutes, Matheson joined them.  The asked him many questions about his trip to New York.  His cousin asked him if he heard many symphonies while there.  (No, he was working.)  His aunt asked him if he had gotten into any trouble while he was there.  (No, he was too busy working.)  Neva had the audacity to ask him why a newlywed husband would deign to leave his wife for six months. (Why would any properly-brought up lady deign to ask such a question?) His wife asked him nothing, and said nothing.

“Pardon me,” Canton interrupted. “The meal is now ready.”

They made their way to the dining room, and were starting to sit down to eat when a knock sounded on the front door.  The Matheson’s looked at each other.

“Surely, he doesn’t have the audacity to show up after yesterday’s debacle,” she whispered to Matheson under her breath.

“Trust me, he does,” he muttered.

Sure enough, John McClure, complete with one ugly specimen of a black eye strode through the door.  Beatrice gasped.  Neva clucked her tongue.  The rest looked on in annoyance. Shae and Matheson for obvious reasons.  Aunt Martha, just because she didn’t like him.  Did she really like anyone, besides Rand?

“Shall I set a place for 6?” Canton asked.

“Yes, please, Canton,” Shae replied.  “Thank you.”

Once it was all set up, they thanked God for their bounty, and began eating.  Neva flirted first with Rand, and then with McClure in order to get a reaction from Rand. Neither worked, so she turned to Beatrice to talk, but found that Beatrice was talking to Shae about music, of all things. She resorted to talking to Aunt Martha, who had little tolerance for Neva’s silly games. Finally bored to distraction, she asked McClure where he got his black eye.

“I bet he got it from a tiny slip of a woman,”  suggested Matheson.

“No!” Neva gasped. “Surely not.”

“Actually, yes,” McClure admitted.

“And,” Matheson added, “I bet that she also beat him on the back with her reticule.”

“Yes,” McClure affirmed, as he put a bite of mashed potatoes in his mouth.

“This is too much!” exclaimed Neva, loudly laughing in Aunt Martha’s ear.

“It certainly is,” commented Aunt Martha, dryly.

“And to finish off her routing of you, I bet that she even pulled your beard!”

“Surely not!” Beatrice interjected, catching on, glancing at Shae.

McClure wiped his mouth with his napkin, then he stroked his beard. He winked at Shae.

“That she did.  That she did.”

It was Shae’s time to interject now.

“Actually, I bet she finished it off with a resounding kick in the shin, wouldn’t you say?”

Shae started giggling when Matheson gave her a side glance. With this John McClure’s boisterous laugh resounded in the dining room.  Soon everyone joined in, except Aunt Martha. She didn’t get the joke.  Neva didn’t either, thinking it to be a wild hare, but she was pretending to.  Besides, it was hard not to laugh when McClure was in a full-out howl, tears running down his cheeks.  One had to be a very dour individual to not be effected by it. 

“Actually she did, but thankfully that kick wasn’t for me.  I quite despise kicks on the shin.  I’d much rather have a good story with my black eye.  With a shin bruise, you can’t show off your trophy.”

And with that all of them, but Aunt Martha, started laughing again.  When the peals of laughter died down, Aunt Martha piped up.

“Really, John.  Your laugh has always been terribly indecent.”

Neva nervously tittered, until Aunt Martha glared at her.  However, if you were trying to look for it, you would have seen her give John McClure a little wink.  He was looking, and he bet that when she was getting ready to lay down in bed that night, she’d have a few private chuckles about the whole thing.  And he was right.

Later on that evening, when Aunt Martha, Beatrice and Neva were engrossed in a game of cards, McClure joined the Mathesons in the study.  He wanted to apologize for his back-handed ways.  They got the results he wanted, but at the expense of his friends’ feelings.

He told them so and they accepted his apology.  They saw his intent in the end was to save their marriage.

“My biggest concern is that you won’t be able to convince anyone of your undying affection for each other,”  McClure said.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell Shae.”

“Who’s fault is that, you lout?” countered his friend, “I warned you that your meager scribbles and lack of attention would destroy your camaraderie.”

Shae looked down at her hands.  Rand saw once again, how foolish he had been.

“I don’t know how to fix it,” he admitted.

McClure rolled his eyes. He got up, and grabbed one of each of their hands.

“We will be at a ball.  Let’s start with that. Pretend you are there and dancing a polka.”

They began to dance.  He threw out few other dances, all of which were difficult to do without music. Finally, called out the waltz.

“Stop,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Can’t you get closer to each other?”

At first, they just stared at McClure, but then they obliged and stepped closer.

“Closer still. I want to believe that you want to be near each other.  Shae your face is about alive as that of a dead fish.”

She glared at McClure.  Then Rand pulled her as close as he did that one evening at the ball, nearly a year ago.

“Look at me,” he told her. “Otherwise you’ll get dizzy.”

“Now waltz,” barked McClure.

McClure was so bossy that she wanted to pull his beard again.

“What’s that fierce look for?”


Her eyes snapped.  He laughed, and it rumbled through her body.  His charisma was getting to her again.

“Stop. Stop. Better, but still not enough,” conceded McClure.

He strolled across the room looking at the pictures on the wall, as they caught their breaths. As he was perusing, he found a small closet built into the wall.

“What’s this here? A wee closet?”

“That’s exactly what it is, McClure,” Matheson replied.

McClure seemed perplexed by something he found in there.

“I say, Shae.  Did you know this was in here?”

He was pointing at the something high on the shelf. Shae went over to see what he was talking about.  Shae tried to see, but she was too short.

“Your wife is too short, to see what I’m seeing, Rand.  Come have a look yourself.”

Matheson sighed, but obliged.  His friend stepped out of the way so he could get a better look.  At about the time he was going to ask what he was supposed to be looking for, McClure pushed him into the closet with Shae and locked the door.

“McCluurrrrrrrre,” he growled.

Shae felt his rumbling through her whole body.  It was a very small closet, which made very close quarters. She was afraid of small spaces, and their situation made her uncomfortable, so she wiggled around, which made her husband uncomfortable.

“Hold still, Shae.”

“Then stop growling.”

“McClure, what are you up to?”

No answer.

“You know he is up to something,” Shae said.  “I can’t say “no good”, because somehow, no matter how hare-brained his ideas seem, his shenanigans end up doing some sort of good. What do you think his purpose is?”

“Can’t you guess, Wife?” he asked, his breath tickling her ear.

“I have some ideas as to why.  Maybe I can unlock the door?”

“It locks from the outside only.”


She looked up at him.

“How have you stayed friends with him for so long?”

“He has his good qualities. Plus, he is usually right, even if his methods are a bit unorthodox.”

“A bit?” she huffed. “He’s locked us together in a tiny supply closet in our own home. How did he get the key for this closet anyway?”

“He always has his ways.”

“We’re going to have to get back at him someday for this,” Shae suggested.

“I agree wholeheartedly.  Shake on it?”

Clumsily, they figured out a way to shake hands.  Shae was nestled between his two arms, which were propped on a shelf behind her.

“I can’t believe we were daft enough to fall for the one of the oldest tricks in the book.”

They laughed softly, until they heard the sound of Neva’s voice.

“Where could have they gone?” she asked. 

“I saw them whispering to each other, looking like they wanted some privacy.”

Rand sighed and hung his head. Shae stifled a giggle.

“Surely you don’t believe that they are a love match, Mr. McClure?”

“Don’t you?”

“A man gone away for 6 months, apart from the love of his life?  I don’t believe it.”

“You don’t need believe it, Neva.  It’s none of your business.”

His voice sounded right outside the door. They could hear the scratch of the key in the lock.

“What do we do?” Shae frantically asked Matheson.

He looked at her for a split second, then he mussed his hair. The door lock clicked.  He ran his big hands through her hair, taking out a few pins. She pushed at his chest.

“What did you do that for?” she whispered, rather loudly.

They heard McClure start to chuckle, but cover it up by clearing his throat.

“You just have to accept it,” McClure said to Neva as he went to sit in a chair.

Quick as can be, Rand’s arms went around Shae like vices, one on her waist and the other in her hair.  Then his mouth came down on hers, so warm.  At first she was stiff with shock, then she realized that she rather liked it. She felt safe in his arms.  Plus, he smelled good. She put his arms around his neck, and sighed, melting into him.  Matheson seemed to hold her tighter when he heard it.  It was at that moment that the closet door slowly swung open to reveal the Mr. and Mrs. Matheson in a passionate kiss.

They stopped abruptly at the sound of Neva’s gasp.  She was shocked at the sight of them, and in a deep way, because Rand looked quite satisfied with himself stepping out of the closet, leading Shae bwho followed him looking rather blissful.  True to McClure, when he looked at Neva he looked shocked, but when he looked at the Matheson’s, he smiled and winked. He turned back and forth a couple of times, changing his face appropriately, making Shae giggle.  Luckily, she just seemed to be embarrassed at being caught kissing her husband in a supply closet.

McClure had done it again.  With his preposterous schemes he managed to fix a bad situation.  Neva spent the next week at afternoon teas, telling the community what she had seen in happening in the Matheson’s closet.

As for the Matheson’s, as they were retiring for the night, they climbed the stairs together.

“I’m sorry if I startled you with that kiss in the closet.  As soon as I heard Neva and McClure talking, I knew what he was about. We didn’t have much time.”

“It was shocking at first, much like the kiss under the mistletoe.  But I thought the kiss was actually quite nice.”

And with that she went into her room.  She thought she might have heard Matheson growl “me too”.