The following special preview of Falen: Semper Fi by James MacKrell appears here with the permission of the author.
“Damn you,” she shouted at the dashboard of her Corolla. Pounding the steering wheel she screamed out, “Damn! Damn! Damn!”
All the way out to the Gonzales’s ranch she had fantasized about the reunion with Rick. The handsome marine had become always present in her waking mind. Her daydreams at her desk at Fernhurst Life and Casualty in Chicago replayed in her heart as vivid as if she was reading some popular romance novel.
The Burtons moved to Big Timber because of Fernhurst. Cecil Burton had been a major executive in the southern branch of the insurance company's office in Atlanta, Georgia. The agency in Big Timber became available and Cecil jumped at the chance to buy it. He wanted to spend his life fishing and riding horses in the heaven he often dreamed of in Montana. Susan grew into a Montana girl while her mother kept her deep Southern roots alive and well. At every turn, Lonnelle Simpson-Styles Burton would regale anyone within earshot of the importance of a proper ‘up-bringing’, and how blessed she had been to be from such a wealthy and important family. Not until Susan’s freshman year in college did she discover all of her mother’s bragging and pretensions were lies. In fact Susan learned from an aunt on her father’s side that Lonnelle had come from a family barely above the poverty line. Her mother never knew of Susan’s knowledge of her phony story, but the deceit caused a rift in their relationship. Trust is a precious thing that must be cultivated. Once the seeds of doubt are sown they take root and become an insurmountable obstacle.
Young Susan cursed her mother for driving the wedge between she and Rick.
The hateful words raced through her mind as if they were spoken yesterday.
“Why, Susan Burton, how could you think of such a thing? A Burton going to the prom with a Hispanic? What would proper people think?”
Lonnelle Simpson-Styles sniffed like the thought of her daughter dating beneath her status might break her heart. “This would never happen in Atlanta.” Lonnelle drew in a breath over her clenched teeth and the sound grated on Susan’s ears.
Susan spent prom night in her room listening to the radio and crying. She never told Rick why she couldn’t go to the dance with him. Rick being raised in Montana never thought of the bigotry behind the decision. He accepted the fact that she couldn’t go and, while disappointed, he didn’t go either.
“Damn her to hell and back.” Susan wiped her eyes with a Kleenex found on the seat beside her. “Damn her and her hurtful ways.”
With both hands firmly on the steering wheel she let her anger drive the car and the speedometer reached 90 plus miles an hour. Tears flooded her eyes.
Her heart pounded and the moisture on her hands made the steering wheel slippery. Over and over in her thoughts one sentence repeated itself. Friendships and relationships are like spring flowers. Too much heat and they wilt; not enough sunshine and they fade. This is how it was between these high school sweethearts. Rick was busy with football and helping his father tend the cattle. Susan stayed equally busy trying to be the perfect daughter to a not so perfect mother. The snatches of time they spent together only led to fantasies of what might have been. Their desire manifested itself in their dreams. Forbidden love is sometimes much hotter than a realized affair. Stolen glances, admiring each other from afar, and times spent in a brief span together built this crush into something they both treasured.
At the Billings airport when Rick was shipping out for the Marine Corp and Susan was heading to Chicago, their meeting led to a bittersweet embrace. Promises of keeping in touch, a slight caress or a longing look seen in each other’s eyes built the foundation of a lonely, long distance romance. Both wrote, emailed and tried to speak on the phone, but the ease they enjoyed in high school wasn’t present in their grownup conversations. After Rick went to Iraq and Susan lost herself in work in Chicago, their missives became more and more strained.
When Rick was wounded and convalescing in the hospital in Germany he cut off contact altogether. Being deprived by her mother of any lasting affair, Susan had no trouble substituting work as a replacement for personal gratification. Yet, the time spent with Rick moments ago set forth a stirring in her heart she hadn’t felt since she and had Rick satisfied their desires while on a Future Farmers of America trip to Billings.
After a successful career in radio, music publishing and many facets of the entertainment industry including appearances on popular television shows and in feature films, James MacKrell was inspired by a dream to try his hand as an author. James' first book, Down from the Mountain, is being hailed as one of the best new dog stories of our time. It is a gripping tale about an intrepid Australian Shepherd. Set in the mountains of Montana, it is a story of bravery and loyalty and it celebrates the connection between animals and their people.
Down From The Mountain
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