Chapter 7

Arnie's words echoed in Win's ears. “If she stays there, I’m afraid she’ll be pulled down into a place she can’t get out of. She’s smart and has a lot of potential, but she doesn’t know what she wants.”

That night, Win couldn’t work up an appetite for the savory roast his aunt’s cook had prepared.  He pushed the fluffy mashed potatoes around on his plate until the gravy ran all over the tender carrots and peas.

“Win, dear, don’t you feel well?”  Aunt Nell asked with a concerned expression on her face.  “You haven’t eaten a thing.”

“Sorry, Aunt Nell.”  He sighed.  “I don’t really have an appetite.  I’m worried about a friend.”

“Who is it, dear?” she asked.

“You know your seamstress, Juliana Vanderheiden, passed away last month.  Her daughter is a friend of mine.”

“Yes, I remember you took her on a picnic last summer at the Spencers’ lake.” Aunt Nell nodded in acknowledgement.  “Mrs. Vanderheiden apparently became ill suddenly; she’d had polio a number of years ago and it had weakened her lungs.  It’s so sad for her daughter.  She’s such a young girl to have to deal with losing her mother.”

“That’s what’s on my mind.  Katie told me she’s going to have to give up her home; her mother rented from Frank Olyfant and she can’t afford the rent alone.  She hasn’t been able to find another place.  I was hoping you and Uncle James might know of a place she could rent.”

James had listened to the conversation in silence.  Now he spoke up.  “I’m sorry for the chit,” he said.  “If there was something I could do for her, I would.  But all of my rental property in Sleepyside is tenanted now.  I don’t even have anyone whose lease will be up before summer.”

“Do you think there’s a chance something may open up sooner?”  Win directed a hopeful look at his uncle.

James shook his head and turned his attention back to the excellent slice of beef on his plate.  “Anything can happen.  But just now, I’m not expecting it.  My tenants are steady people, good workers.  I wouldn’t evict anyone during this cold weather unless there was some serious reason.  So right now, I can’t offer Miss Vanderheiden anything.  I’m sorry, Win.”

“I understand, Uncle James.  I just felt like I had to try to help her.  She’s so young and helpless.”  Win tried one more bite of his dinner, but it had no taste in his mouth.  He forced the bite down and used his napkin.  “May I be excused?  I just can’t eat. I’m sorry.”  He pushed his chair back and left the table, heading upstairs to his own room.  He wouldn’t be good company for anyone tonight.  

Katie flipped through Sleepyside’s small telephone directory, looking for Mr. T’s, the secondhand furniture dealer.  Mr. Clayton had suggested Mr. T might buy some of her furniture, and that would help her to pay the money she owed Frank Olyfant.  She skimmed the pages until she located the listing, then picked up the phone and dialed the number.  As the connection was made, she could hear the phone ring on the other end.

“Mr. T’s Second Time Around Quality Used Household Goods, what can I do for you today?” a cheerful male voice greeted her.

“Hello, this is Katrina Vanderheiden.  I’m...moving...and have some furniture I’d like to sell.  I’ve heard that you buy furniture—is that right?”

“Yes, ma’am, I do.  How much furniture are we talking about?”

“I have a dresser, a bed, a table and four chairs, a couch, a couple of smaller tables, a couple of lamps and a dish cupboard.  Also, I was wondering about curtains, linens, that is, really almost a houseful of things.”  Her chest clenched at the thought of giving up all of her possessions, but what else could she do?  She owed the money and wouldn’t be able to keep much if she had to rent a room, anyway.

“If it was only a few things, I’d ask you to bring it to my store.  But since you have several large pieces of furniture, I can bring a truck over, price it for you and write you a check for the lot,” the man said.  “Then I can load it up and take it off your hands.  Is that what you want to do?” the man asked.

“Yes...yes.”  She sighed with relief.  “When can you come?”

“How about Friday morning?  With today being Christmas Eve, I won’t have time before that.”

“Friday morning will be fine.  How early can you come?” she asked.

“Where are you?  I need an address and phone number.”

She rattled off her address and phone number. 

“I’ll be there at eight o’clock.”

“I’ll be ready.  Thank you, Mr. T.”  She hung up the phone.  One call down and one to go.  Juliana’s sewing machine was probably the nicest thing she owned.  Since she’d earned her living by sewing, her instrument was of good quality and she’d maintained it scrupulously.  Katie gazed into the sewing room from the tiny hallway alcove that housed the telephone.  The wood of the sewing cabinet shone with a quiet patina, and the machine had been tucked away into the cabinet.  The neat stacks of fabric were mostly gone, picked up by Juliana’s former customers over the past few weeks.  Katie didn’t like to go into the room that was so closely associated with her mother, but she had harbored a dream of keeping the sewing machine.  Now she reminded herself she’d have no place to put it and lacked the skill to use it.  She picked up the telephone directory again and looked up the number for the dry cleaner’s shop that was nearest her home.  The woman who did alterations there had used Juliana for a backup when she was too busy.  Maybe she’d like to buy the machine now.

Ten minutes later, Katie hung up the phone.  Her heart was heavy at the thought of giving up the sewing machine, but with that added money, she should be able to completely pay off Mr. Olyfant.  

On the twenty-sixth of December, Win met Katie again at Clayton’s Drug Store as she was closing down the lunch counter.  “Want to grab a burger at Wimpy’s?” he asked.

“Wimpy’s?  Where all the kids from Sleepyside High hang out?”  Katie looked a little anxious, and worried her lower lip as she smoothed the skirt of her uniform.

“Oh, do they?”  Win’s eyebrows went up.  “Is that a problem?”

She dipped her head and picked at a hangnail.  “Kids from Irving don’t really mix with kids from Sleepyside.”

“I think any Sleepyside kids who might be there tonight will be jealous of me,” he said, tipping her chin up to him.

“I don’t know about that, but they’ll definitely be jealous of me!”  She tossed her head and smiled then.

Since Wimpy’s was only a block away, they walked the short distance and Win left his car parked in front of Clayton’s.  He took her hand and adjusted his pace to hers.  Reaching the diner, he opened the door and Katie ducked into the warm space, with its booths that lined each side and a few tables that ran down the center.  They walked to a table near the back.  Win took her coat and hung it over the back of his seat, then walked up to the jukebox on the back wall.  He fed fifty cents into the machine and selected five songs to play.  By the time those were done, they should be about ready to leave.

Some Enchanted Evening, from South Pacific, was playing as he slipped back into his seat and began to scrutinize the menu that had been left at his place.  Katie looked like she’d already made her choice.        

As soon as the waitress took their orders and walked off with the menus, he asked the question that was burning in his mind.  “Katie, have you had any more luck in finding a place to live?”  

“No,” she answered.  “Mr. Olyfant stopped by yesterday again.  I can get a room with a hot plate and a bathroom shared with only two people for half of what the rent on our house is.”  She stopped for a moment and sighed.  “I guess I’m going to have to take it.  But ewww!  He’s so creepy.  He touched my arm he had a right to touch it.”  She shuddered at the memory.  

“Don’t sign a lease with him,” Win blurted out suddenly.  “Don’t have any dealings with him.  He’s bad news.”

“What do you mean?”  Katie’s eyes were big and her face was white and pinched.  “He’s creepy and does a lot of shady things, I’m sure.  But I have to live somewhere, and neither of us has been able to find another solution.”  She pulled several napkins from the dispenser on the table and immediately started to twist one between her hands. 

Just then, the waitress brought their orders.  “Plain hamburger, fries, and small Coke.”  She set the plate in front of Katie, who didn’t even react to the enticing aroma of fried potatoes.

“Double cheeseburger, fries, large Coke.”  Win’s plate was placed before him.  “Enjoy your meal.”  She walked away and Win decided he had to tell the truth about why he didn’t want her to rent from Olyfant.  

“I’ve heard he keeps a ring of...of prostitutes.”  His face was crimson.

“What?  You’re not saying I’d ever—?”  She dropped the wrinkled napkin on her plate and scraped her chair back, standing as if to leave.

“No!”  Win jumped up.  “Of course I’m not saying you’d ever do any such thing!”  He reached out a pacifying hand to her. “I am saying he might try to recruit innocent young girls to work for him.  I don’t want you to ever have to deal with anything like that.”   

 “Don’t worry about that!  I never would!”  Her face had gone scarlet.  She stood indecisively for a moment, but with a defeated sigh, dropped back down in her chair.  “Win, I don’t want to do it.  But I’ve got to live somewhere.  I won’t let him talk to me about anything horrible.  No matter what.”  She straightened and looked at him with a flash of her usual spirit.  “Just as soon as I can save some money, I’ll move out.  I mean it.”  She took a bite of her burger as if to prove she was perfectly confident, but Win noticed tears gathering in her eyes and her chin started to quiver.

He tried to pretend everything was fine, since that seemed to be the way she wanted it.  But when Katie gulped down her small mouthful as if it were the size of a golf ball, averted her face from him, and dabbed at her eyes with another abused napkin, he reached over the table to find her small hand.

“Katie, don’t cry!”  Her tears upset the logical balance he’d tried to maintain during his efforts to help her.  She was so small, so helpless, and so alone against the world—as he would have been, if not for his uncle and aunt.  The solution to her problems hit him like an electric shock.   “There’s one thing we can do that will take you out of Olyfant’s reach forever,” he said, taking her other hand as well.  “Marry me.  I’ll take care of you and you won’t ever have to deal with creeps like him again.”

“What?”  Her eyes were even wider than they’d been when he’d first warned her about Olyfant.  “What did you say?”

He realized his proposal was completely lacking in romance—or indeed, in anything that might make her feel wanted and special.  He tried again.  “Katie, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

Katie’s food was growing cold, but she ignored it.  “Win, you barely know me.  How can you ask me to marry you?  And what would your aunt and uncle say if you brought me home as your wife?  I’m betting they wouldn’t be too happy.”  She shook her head.  “It’s lovely of you to try to help me, but it’s just crazy.”

“I’ve known you for a year and a half.  That’s longer than a lot of couples know each other.  Uncle James himself has said he fell in love with Aunt Nell the minute he saw her.”

“It’s not the same,” she insisted.  “You’re your uncle’s heir.  You’ll be expected to take your place at Frayne Enterprises and you’ll need a wife who can be your hostess and helpmate.”  She jerked her hands away from his.  “I’m not that kind of person.  I’m just a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he retorted.  His tone was even more forceful because he recognized Matt Wheeler’s words about Katie being thrown back in his face by Katie herself.   “This is America, not medieval England.  You’re a beautiful and intelligent girl and you can do anything you set your mind to.  Besides, Uncle James and Aunt Nell will love you when they get to know you.”

“You are a wonderful person, Win.”  Her eyes shimmered with emotion and accumulated moisture.  “But this is a crazy idea.”  She reached across the table and tugged at his long fingers.  Lifting them to her lips, she dropped a small, quick kiss on them and lowered both of their hands to the table.  A tear splashed onto his hand and he turned it over, catching her hand within his.

“Katie, we can be good for each other.  We may not know each other well now, but we can grow together.  Most of all, you won’t have to turn to that crooked snake, Olyfant, for help.  I’m twenty-one, I have my own car and a monthly allowance.  We can make it until I graduate in June.  Then I’ll go to work for Frayne Enterprises and earn a salary.  I’ll be able to support you, and a family, too, if we’re lucky enough to have children some day.” 

She blew her nose, daintily as she did everything, he noticed.  “You make it sound so wonderful,” she said, smiling in spite of her tears and red nose.

“It will be wonderful,” he asserted.  Sitting there, looking at her, he felt like her knightly champion, saving her from a fate worse than death.  Whatever Uncle James’ response, it would be a small price to pay in return for what he could do to help Katie.

“Oh, Win!  You’re making it very hard for me to say no.  But please, think about it overnight, and let me think about it, too.”  She picked up one of the now-cold fries.  “This is a huge step and you need to be sure. Both of us need to be sure,” she corrected herself.

As they talked, they hadn’t noticed the couples and small groups who had entered and chosen seats.  Win’s original selections at the jukebox had finished and music with dance beat had taken over from the standards he’d chosen.  Luckily, the louder, more vibrant music had covered their voices, and as he looked around, he felt sure no one else had overheard their conversation.  

“What time do you have to be at work tomorrow?” he asked.  “Because we’ll need to buy a marriage license.” 

“Not until ten-thirty.  Some days I open for the coffee-and-donut crowd, but tomorrow I won’t come in until time to start getting ready for the lunch customers.”

“Let me pick you up at your house at eight,” Win suggested.  “We’ll drive to Croton or White Plains for the license, and if we can get married right away, we’ll do it then.”

“What if there’s a waiting period?” Katie asked.  She nibbled at her lower lip. 

“That’ll be even better.  If we have to wait, we’ll go into the city on your next day off and have a nice dinner, then spend the night at a hotel.”

“But, Win, I’m not off again until Saturday.”  She twisted her fingers together.  “And Sunday’s the thirty-first.  I have to be out of the house by then.”

“Can’t you get someone else to work for you Friday?  That would be the perfect day to get married.  We’d have one night in the hotel, and after we come home Saturday, we could spend time getting your things moved into storage.”

“I could try.  There are a couple of other girls and we don’t all have the same schedule.  I’ll check with them.”  Katie clutched his hand in both of hers.  “Are you really sure, Win?  Because I don’t want you to feel like you have to rescue me.  You’d end up hating me for it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.  If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have said anything.”  He reached over with his free hand to smooth a strand of hair away from her face.  “You’re a wonderful, sweet girl and there’s some kind of special chemistry between us.  We belong together, I’m sure of that.”

She said nothing more, but her eyes were brilliant as she stared at him.  “I love you for saying that, Win.  I’ll do everything I can to make sure you never regret it.”

After taking Katie home, Win drove slowly back to Ten Acres, pondering the huge step he’d just taken.  He wasn’t sorry, but he realized he’d never given a thought to the process of marrying.  How much did a marriage license cost?  Did both parties have to be present?  Were any medical tests required?  His mind whirled with questions.  He hoped he could find out the answers before driving to Croton in the morning.  At the same time, he found himself reluctant to question his uncle.  James would not be happy he was getting married before graduating from college, and he had only one semester to go.  Quite reasonably, under normal circumstances, he’d want to know why they couldn’t wait until June.  Win arrived at home with no more answers than he’d had at the beginning of the evening.

He stopped at Katie’s house a few minutes ahead of the time he’d promised.  She must have been waiting, because she opened the front door and came outside before he even reached the doorstep.

“Win!  Are you still sure you want to go through with this?”

“Katie, of course I’m sure.”  He was a little hurt at her lack of faith.  “Listen, I wouldn’t have said it if I wasn’t sure to start with.  And when I’ve given my word, I keep it.”  He took her hand and looked her up and down.  “My goodness, you look awfully pretty today,” he said appreciatively.

Katie blushed.  “Well, a girl wants to look nice when she’s going to buy a marriage license,” she said.  She wore a light charcoal suit jacket, closely fitted, with a little ruffly piece at the bottom and some black buttons with rhinestone decorations.  Her blonde hair was caught up in a twist in the back, and she wore a black pillbox hat with a little face-veil. Over her arm she carried her red swing coat and in one hand she clutched a little black handbag.  Against the slightly gubby-looking snow she was a vision of freshness.

“If we can’t go ahead and get married today, I’ll probably wear the same thing Friday,” she warned him.  “This is my only really dressy outfit.”

“Don’t worry, you look beautiful,” he assured her.  He opened the car door and handed her into the passenger seat.

“Win, I brought my birth certificate and my Social Security card,” she said as soon as they were well on the road. “I hope I won’t need any other identification, because I don’t have any.”

“Jiminy Cricket!” Win exclaimed.  “I have a driver’s license and Social Security card, but I didn’t think about a birth certificate.  I’d better go back home and get that.”  He turned the car around and headed back out Glen Road.

At Ten Acres, he told Katie, “Just wait in the car.  I’ll leave the heater on for you.  It’ll only take me a few minutes.”  He hurried into the house and ran into his aunt immediately.

“Win, dear,” she said in surprise.  “I thought you were headed into Croton early today.  Didn’t you say you’d be gone all morning?”

“Yes, Aunt Nell.  But I’d just gotten out of Sleepyside when I remembered something I left in my room.  I’ll just run up and get it.”

“Well, don’t speed just to keep from being late.  I really can’t understand why you need to run over to Croton today anyway, with the weather the way it is.”

“Yes, Aunt Nell.  I’ll be careful.”  He took the stairs two at a time and scrabbled through his top dresser drawer where all of his important papers were kept.  Finding the document he wanted, he stuffed it into his overcoat pocket and galloped back down the steps.

“I’ll be careful,” he repeated, bending down to give her an affectionate kiss.  A minute later he was out the door and inside his car again.

Croton was nearer Sleepyside than White Plains, and since it was no larger than Sleepyside, it didn’t take Win long to find the office where he could obtain the license.  A pleasant, bespectacled clerk gave them papers to fill out.  “Another couple looking to take advantage of the end-of-the-year tax break,” she said.  “You’re the fourth ones today.”

“I’m surprised the end of December would be such a popular time to get married,” Win replied as Katie nodded her agreement.  He handed their papers back to the clerk.

“Usually there are half-a-dozen couples who want to tie the knot before the end of the year.  I’ll venture it’s usually the man who chooses this time of year, to be sure.  Now, I need to see your birth certificates and another form of identification.”            

Win and Katie pulled their documents out and pushed them through the grille separating them from the clerk.  She glanced at the papers and handed them back. 

“Looks like everything is in order.  You must wait twenty-four hours before you can marry, and you must marry within sixty days for this license to be valid.  If you haven’t married within sixty days, you’ll have to reapply for a license.”  He counted out the cash for the license fee and gave it to her.  She signed the license and slid it through the grille, smiling at them kindly.  “Congratulations!  You’re almost there.”   

Win tucked the paper carefully into the breast pocket of his suit coat.  “Come, sweetheart.  We don’t want you to be late for work.”  He took her hand and they went back to the car and back to Sleepyside.   

He stopped by Clayton’s Drug Store late in the afternoon, when he knew she’d be shutting down the lunch counter.  He could see her through the large plate glass window that faced the sidewalk.  Katie worked briskly and efficiently, filling and straightening the napkin dispensers, sugar and salt and pepper shakers.  She wiped down the counter and glanced from one end of it to the other.

He entered the drugstore just as Mr. Clayton approached to lock the door. 

“I’m sorry, but we’re closing,” the druggist said.

“I’m sorry to walk in at the last minute, Mr. Clayton.  I don’t need to buy anything, though.  I just came to pick up Katie Vanderheiden, if she’s ready.”

“That’s all right, then.”  The older man gestured toward the lunch counter.  “She’ll be finishing up any second.  She’s a good worker, that one.  It’s a shame about her mom.”  

“Yes, very sad,” Win agreed.  “Is it okay for me to wait for her here?”

“Yes.”  Mr. Clayton went to the back of the store and came back with a broom, with which he proceeded to sweep the floor.   Katie waved at Win and ducked through a door behind the lunch counter; he assumed she was fetching her coat.  His assumption was validated when she walked back out a minute later, wearing the red swing coat and tying a hooded muffler around her head and neck. 

“Win!”  She hurried over to him.  “You’ll never guess!”

“Guess what?” he asked, laughing.  “Tell me, then, while we’re walking to the car.  Mr. Clayton is anxious for us to leave, I think.”  He took her hand and they walked outside into the chilly, dim gloom of an early evening in late December.

“Bonnie said she’d work for me Friday.  That means I’ll have three whole days off.”  She gave an excited little skip.  “If you’re sure you want to go through with…you know, what we’ve talked about…we can do it Friday.”  She clung to his arm and looked up at him with eyes that still held a tinge of doubt.

“Of course I still want to go through with it.”  He stopped so he could tip her chin up, to look eye-to-eye with her.  “I told you, I never go back on my word.  If I say it, I mean it.”  He pulled her close, dipped his head to her level and kissed her cheek. 

“Let’s drive out to Hot Dog Heaven, for old time’s sake,” Win suggested.

“I’d love to,” Katie agreed.  “But aren’t you a little worried about us being seen together?  Last night at Wimpy’s, and now at Hot Dog Heaven?”

“If I had anything to be ashamed of, I might.  But there’s nothing wrong in what we’re doing,” he said.  He pushed thoughts of Uncle James out of his mind.  Technically, he was right.  They’d done nothing wrong, and given no scandal by their behavior.  But, knowing Uncle James’ intention that he should marry Alice, he was at least acting underhanded in not telling his uncle and aunt about his plans with Katie.  He pushed those thoughts aside.  After all, his intentions were absolutely honorable toward Katie; he was saving her from a fate worse than death if his sources were accurate about Frank Olyfant.  And by keeping her with him in the evening, he was keeping Olyfant from sniffing around, bothering her.

“Here we are.”  The neon sign blinked overhead, and he flashed his lights.  The new young waitress he’d met before hurried out to take his order, and guilty thoughts of Uncle James left him as he enjoyed a meal with Katie.

Friday morning, he arrived at the Vanderheiden house early, as arranged.  They would drive to the train station and then take the train into the city to be married.  Afterward, he intended to treat his new wife to a nice dinner before they moved on to a hotel where they’d spend the night.

Katie came running outside, carrying a small suitcase.  As promised, she was wearing the same suit under her coat, and the same black hat with its wispy veil.  Today, though, the sky was threatening snow, and she wore her galoshes and carried a pair of heels in her free hand. 

“It’ll be just a little bit longer, Win,” she said as soon as she was close enough to speak at a normal volume.  “Mr. T, the secondhand furniture dealer, is coming over to pick up my furniture.  He’ll pay me for it and I’ll have that money to give Mr. Olyfant on my rent.”

“What time is he coming?” Win asked.  “Not that we need to be in a big rush.”  He leaned against the car door.

“He said he’d be here at eight o’clock.”  Katie tried to project a calm exterior.

Sure enough, in moments they could hear the rumble of a large truck.  It parked just behind Win’s car and a tall, thin man hopped out and waked over to Katie.  A younger man dismounted from the passenger side and followed him over.

“Are you Katrina Vanderheiden?” the older man asked.

“Yes, I am,” she replied.  “Let’s go inside and I’ll show you the furniture.”

She showed him everything, and he jotted numbers down in a little notepad as they did the walk-through.  When they finished, he spent a few minutes calculating a sum, and then said, “I’ll give you five hundred dollars for everything—all the furniture, dishes, and pots and pans.  Does that sound fair?”

“What about the linens—sheets, towels, blankets?”  Five hundred dollars would take care of Olyfant, and give her enough to put forward a month’s rent for a room, if she still needed it.

“I’ll throw in another twenty dollars for all of that.”  He snapped his notepad closed.  “Do we have a deal?”

“Y-y-yes.  That will be fine.”  Tears sprang unexpectedly to her eyes.  “I’m sorry,” she apologized.  “I’m selling everything because my mother passed away.  I can’t afford to stay here and I can’t take much with me, wherever I end up going.”

“I’m sorry about your mama,” the man said with a kind smile.  “Was that Juliana Vanderheiden?”

“Yes, it was.”

“She was a nice lady.  I wish you good luck.”  He pulled out a checkbook and dashed off a check for five hundred twenty dollars.  “My boy will help me get this stuff loaded.  We’ll be finished in about half an hour, I think.”  He nodded toward Win, who was still outside.  “Will we be holding you up from anything?”

“No, it’s all right.  We can wait until you’re finished.” 

She went back outside to wait with Win.  Somehow, being in the house as all of her—and her mother’s—possessions were being dismantled and loaded was more upsetting than she’d expected.  He seemed to sense her distress and put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer.  She felt warmth—and comfort—flowing into her body from his nearness, and the tightness in her chest eased a little. 

Finally, the truck was loaded and Mr. T and his son climbed back in and drove away.  Win and Katie went back inside to check everything and to carry the trunk that held all of her clothes and a few special possessions to the car.  Win heaved it into the trunk of his car while she locked up the house. Returning to the car, she smiled a little tremulously at him.  “I’m ready if you are.”

“I’m ready, so let’s go.”  He opened the car door for her and they drove off.  Katie admired again the smooth ride of the dark green Chrysler.  “Can we stop at the bank?  I’d like to deposit the check into my account.”

“Sure.”  Win stopped in front of the First Bank of Sleepyside and she hurried inside, stopping at the teller window to deposit the check.

“You’re mighty dressed up, Miss Vanderheiden,” the young teller said with a smile.

She smiled back at him.  “Just going into the city for the day.”

“Thank you and have a good time,” he told her as he stamped her passbook and recorded the deposit.

Moments later, she and Win reached the train station and lined up to buy their tickets.  Soon, they’d left Sleepyside behind them, headed for a new adventure.  Katie wondered how it was going to end. 


She and Win walked out of the judge’s chamber hand in hand.  Katie kept feeling for the thin band of gold that now adorned her third finger, left hand.  Mrs. Winthrop Frayne.  She tried the name out in her mind, over and over.  Until now, she had not really believed it could possibly happen, in spite of Win’s assurances that it could.  Mrs. Winthrop Frayne.  She glanced down at the orchid corsage he had bought for her to wear on her lapel.  Another totally unbelievable thing.  And he had kissed her—right on the lips, not on the cheek like he’d done before.  When the judge pronounced them man and wife, he’d kissed her on the lips.  Her lips tingled as she recalled the moment.

“Oh, Win!” she exclaimed.  “Is it really real?”  She couldn’t help adding the question.

“Yes, Mrs. Frayne.”  His eyes crinkled as he smiled at her.  “It’s really real.  We’re man and wife now, until death do us part.”

“Don’t say that!  It’s bad luck!”  Katie wished for something to reverse the bad luck of mentioning one’s own death. 

“Why not?  It’s just what was in the ceremony,” Win replied, perfectly reasonably. 

“I don’t know,” she mumbled.  “Mamma always said it was bad luck to talk about dying.  I don’t like to think about it.”       

“Well, you can throw some salt over your left shoulder when we get to the restaurant,” he said, laughing.  “I don’t think you need to worry.”

Katie made a silent vow to toss some salt over her shoulder, but as Win pointed out famous landmarks and introduced her to the city, she was caught up in the sights and sounds that were so novel and overwhelming.  They’d already dropped their suitcases off at the Iroquois Hotel, and had several hours to roam the city before their room would be ready.  By the time they reached the Eden Roc restaurant, where Win had made a lunch reservation, she was so awed by the skyscrapers, street vendors, and amazing store window displays that she’d forgotten the comment.

“Win, this is so exciting!” she exclaimed.  “It’s like we’re on the threshold of a huge adventure.”

“We are, Mrs. Frayne, we are.  This is the beginning of a new life for us together, and I mean to make sure you never regret it.”

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Author’s Notes

5556 words

I can’t thank my wonderful editors enough for all of the help they gave me with this story.  It’s so much better as a result of their comments and suggestions (not to mention all of the extra letters, periods, etc., that are now gone).  Any remaining mistakes are mine, not theirs!

Thank you to Vivian, my fabulous html guru and website partner.  You’ve helped me so many times!!

Thank you to all of the readers who have stuck with me for the whole story—especially since the first chapters were posted so long ago.  Your encouragement keeps me going!

“Chit” is an old-fashioned reference to a young person.  Often, but not always, used in a derogatory sense.  One online dictionary definition: “A child or babe; a young, small, or insignificant person or animal.” I think James may have used it with a mixed meaning—he wouldn’t have considered Katie to be Win’s social equal, but I doubt if he meant to slur her character at this point.  “Dish cupboard” is basically like a hutch or maybe a Hoosier cabinet.  Here is an example.

I don’t know why Win and Matt both had dark green cars *wink*.  But they did!

The Iroquois Hotel and the Eden Roc restaurant are real places in New York City that were around during the time Win and Katie married.  I found out about them from my friend Google.  I’ve tried to stick to real places that would have been considered suitable by a well-to-do young man who wants to give his wife a memorable honeymoon at a reasonable cost.  Literary license is claimed for any stretches of the truth.

Throwing salt over one’s left shoulder is supposed to reverse bad luck.  Many people believe that speaking of one’s own death is bad luck.

There is more of Win and Katie’s story to come.  But this is the end of their courtship and the beginning of their life together. 

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2010-2012 by MaryN/Dianafan. Images from; manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. Graphics copyright by Mary N 2012.

Story copyright by Mary N, 2012.

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