Guys! Gals! I am excited! I have finished my revisions of the full novel of Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing and I’m sending it out to beta readers and then will have ARC copies ready to go by June. Do you want to get in on reading the full book early? You can sign up to read an advanced copy (and hopefully review it if you like it) here:
To celebrate finishing my revisions (but not my corrections because it has to go to the editors still), I thought I’d share chapter 3 of the book.
You can find the previous chapters here and here.
As usual, there could be typos in this chapter since I still have to send it to my editors.
Let me know what you think in the comments if you want to!
Glawynn woke with a start the next morning, heart pounding.
A horrible grinding noise had jolted her from a dream. It stopped almost as quickly as it started and now she wondered if it had been part of the dream, which she could remember very little of. There’d been a court jester and a young Frank Sinatra. The rest had faded into oblivion.
The room she was looking at reminded her of something someone might see on the set of a Regency film. She let out a breath, blowing hair out of her face, and struggled to remember where she was.
A solemn woman with her hair high on her head in a tight bun scowled at her from a gold-framed picture on the wall above a full-length mirror opposite her. To the woman’s right, there was a full-bearded man wearing a Quaker-style hat staring at her from out of another framed picture. Both photographs were black and white.
It was all coming back to her now.
Grandma’s house in Brookstone. Her home for the foreseeable future.
She winced as she moved her legs, stinging pain shuddering through the bottom of her feet, reminding her of her stupid decision to wear high-heeled boots to work.
Downstairs the noise that had woken her up had started up again. Some kind of grinding and squealing, like maybe a cat caught in a woodchipper.
What was her grandmother doing?
Or maybe it wasn’t her grandmother. She hadn’t actually seen her grandmother when she’d come home last night. Lucinda’s bedroom door had been closed. Gladwynn had tiptoed past it and crawled into bed without even changing into her pajamas.
Now fully awake, she tossed the thick quilt off her and reached for the flashlight next to the bed, weighing it in her hand.
Yeah, that would work if there was a chainsaw-wielding maniac downstairs instead of her spunky grandmother.
She inched her way into the hallway then slowly to the top of the stairs, ancestors watching her with stoic stares from ornate and vintage frames along the flower-wallpapered walls.
Making her way down the wooden staircase that dated sometime in the early 1900s, one hand on a banister, she winced as the grinding noise grew louder. It was clear now that the sound was coming from the kitchen.
Amidst the grinding, she could hear Dean Martin crooning away and just as loud, Lucinda’s voice joining in.
Gladwynn set the flashlight on a small table sitting against the wall next to the staircase under a framed image of the Grant coat of arms that a great-uncle twice removed, or something had brought back from a trip to Scotland.
She paused to look through the kitchen doorway, unable to keep from smiling at the sight of Lucinda wearing a silky, bright pink bathrobe, her back to the doorway. Her light gray hair was swept back in a messy bun and her plump hips swayed from side to side as she sang while pouring something bright green from a blender into tall glasses.
Gladwynn stepped up into the doorway. Lucinda looked over her shoulder, smiled, and belted out the end of the song, before flicking off the CD player.
“Hey there, girl! There you are! You were passed right out when I got home. That must have been some crazy second day.”
When she got home? Where had her grandmother been last night at 8 p.m. if not curled up in bed asleep?
Gladwynn flopped into a chair at the kitchen table. “Yeah. It was a little crazy.”
“Different than library work, huh?”
“That’s an understatement. It’s like walking from Brigadoon into Saigon.”
Lucinda set a glass of the green concoction in front of Gladwynn and winked. “Glad to hear you referencing a classic movie we used to watch together.”
Gladwynn smirked. “Brigadoon or Platoon?”
“Very funny, kid.” Lucinda winked. “You know we never watched Brigadoon together.” She sat at the table across from her granddaughter, taking a sip from the glass. She smacked her lips. “Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.”
She sighed and folded her arms on top of the table. “It’s been nice having you here, you know. I’d honestly been considering moving to Willowbrook before you called. This place is too big for one person.”
Gladwynn studied the green substance with suspicion. “You? In a retirement community?”
Lucinda shrugged. “I’m there enough as it is and almost all my friends are there now so it probably wouldn’t be a huge adjustment. Plus, it’s not easy for this old lady to take care of this big house anymore.”
“What were you going to do with the house?”
“Sell it, probably.”
She couldn’t be serious. This house had been in the family for over a hundred years. “Why? Wouldn’t dad or mom or Aunt Margaret or Uncle Doug and Aunt Harriet have wanted it?”
Lucinda shrugged again and took a swig from her glass.
“None of them are interested in keeping up this old place. They’ve all got their own lives and responsibilities. Your siblings and cousins are too wrapped up in their own worlds to care about it either.” She smirked. “Except for Trudy. I overheard her at Christmas last year tell her friend, or whatever he is, that she would love to turn this house into a bed and breakfast one day.”
Yeah, that sounded like Gladwynn’s cousin Trudy. She scoffed. “She would have abandoned that idea as soon as she realized it would require her to actually do work.”
Lucinda revealed a faint smile over the rim of her glass.
Gladwynn twirled the glass slowly in her hands and made a face. “What is this stuff anyhow?”
“It’s a green smoothie. All the rage and very good for you.”
Gladwynn sniffed the glass and set it down again. “Green things aren’t really something I eat. Or drink. Ever. But especially in the morning.”
Lucinda lifted an eyebrow. “Being healthy doesn’t interest you? Well, then, by all means go ahead and pour yourself some cereal that resembles cardboard or throw some heart attack-causing butter on a piece of inflammation-inducing toast and toss a piece of cholesterol-raising pig in the frying pan.”
Gladwynn stood. “Don’t mind if I do. Bacon sounds amazing right now. Also, I think it is the butter that raises cholesterol and the pork that can lead to the heart attack. Not sure about that, though, since I really don’t care.”
She felt her grandmother’s eyes on her as she walked to the fridge, but the woman luckily changed the subject. “So, how did your first couple of days go?”
Gladwynn shrugged. “They were okay. The job is just different than I expected.” She slapped a pack of bacon on the counter. “I caught a couple of the staff gossiping about me yesterday. I don’t think they like me very much.”
Lucinda turned fully in the chair to look at her. “Gladwynn, are you listening to yourself? You’re not in high school. ‘They don’t like me.’ ‘They were talking about me.’ Who cares! You don’t have to be best friends with these people. It’s a job. Work the job and come home. You young people today are too stuck on thinking you have to like your job or the people you work with. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about making money to pay your bills and put food on the table.”
The bacon sizzled in the pan. “I know, Grandma, but it would be nice if my co-workers at least liked me.”
“Did your co-workers at your last job like you?”
“Well, yeah, but we were all similar. A bunch of weirdos spending half of our lives with our noses in a book.”
Lucinda chuckled. “You’re so much like your dad. That boy always had a book in his hands.”
Gladwynn tensed at the comparison. She was nothing like William Alexander Grant or her mother, Penelope Fitzwalter-Grant, which was probably why she was always butting heads with them.
Lucinda picked up Gladwynn’s glass and poured half of the mixture into her own glass. “I’m going to the community center tonight to play Pitch. You want to come along?”
“No, my shift starts at three today. I have to go to a meeting with one of the other reporters.”
“Oh, yeah, which meeting?”
“Some little township about half an hour away. Beachwood or something.”
Lucinda finished the smoothie in her glass. “Oh, Birchwood. Good luck with that. Those people are always arguing.”
“About anything and everything. Sometimes it’s about zoning, and sometimes about the shape of the roads. Sometimes someone looked at someone else funny. Who even knows. Lately, the paper had been writing about some beef going on with the volunteer fire department and the township board or a resident of something. I don’t know. I really don’t have time to read the paper these days.” She put her glass in the sink. “I certainly don’t envy you, young lady. Now, before you go, I’ll need you to help me pick out my outfit for tonight. It’s so wonderful having someone here that can help me choose.”
“What about Doris?”
“I love Doris, honey, but you know she has no taste. No taste in music. No taste in men and definitely no taste in clothes.”
Gladwynn shook her head, placing a couple slices of cooked bacon onto a plate. “Now, Grandma, is that any way to speak about your best friend? And her husband for that matter? Bill is a good guy.”
“Doris isn’t my best friend. She’s just a friend. My best friend was your grandfather and he’s not here anymore.”
Gladwynn flipped a piece of bacon. “So, Doris will have to do.”
Lucinda sighed. “Yes, I guess so. She is a very good friend so she can be my almost best friend. As for Bill – well, that’s another conversation for another day.” She snatched a piece of bacon off the plate. “Now you finish that bit of smoothie I left for you. It’s good for you. I’ve got to get to the post office and then I’m heading up to the Y for a swim. I’m going to swing by Judy’s Market on the way home. Can I get you anything?”
“Grandma, don’t you ever slow down? I want to know how your date went last night. More importantly, I want to know who it was with.”
Lucinda bumped her hip into Gladwynn’s and winked. “There will be plenty of time for that conversation, little lady.” She took another bite of the piece of bacon. “You just get yourself some food and relax until you have to go to work.”
Heading toward the doorway, Lucinda started to hum another Dean Martin tune.
Gladwynn placed a hand to her hip and scowled at Lucinda’s retreating form. “I thought you said bacon wasn’t healthy.”
Lucinda glanced over her shoulder waving the bacon above her head. “It isn’t but it sure does taste good.”
After she finished her breakfast and her grandmother had left to run her errands, Gladwynn made her way to her grandfather’s office, which was also a library with floor-to-ceiling cherrywood bookcases built into the walls.
Little had been changed in the room since Sidney William Grant had passed away six years ago. The top of his mahogany desk had been cleared of papers, but family photos still remained. Rows of books from a variety of eras filled the bookshelves and oil paintings of scenes from the area along with various photographs from his 50 years as a minister lined the walls.
Gladwynn paused and breathed in deeply. She was amazed the room still smelled so much like her grandfather’s aftershave. It was as if the day he died her grandmother had closed up the room to lock in all the smells and memories of him. It was clear, though, that Lucinda, or someone else, had been in the room since then by the lack of dust on the desk and shelves.
She sat in her grandfather’s chair and rubbed her hands along the black leather of the armrests. An old-style radio she’d been told was her grandfather’s when he was young sat across the room on a small table. It was probably built in the early 1950s, maybe earlier. She remembered sitting on her grandfather’s lap as a child in this office, listening to the oldies radio station.
The songs from the 1940s and 1950s had always been her favorite. She still listened to them when driving in her car or while reading.
Though there was a time that sitting in this office had made her feel sad and acutely aware of her loss, she felt an odd sense of joy and peace sitting here today, grateful for the memories of him.
She stood and looked at the books on the shelves, choosing one her grandfather had read to her when she’d used to visit in the summer.
She sat back at the desk with it and opened it, the crack of the spine sending a delightful shiver up her spine. She’d always loved the hand-drawn illustrations inside.
An hour later she looked up at the clock and yawned. She didn’t want to leave the refuge of the room, but she should probably get a shower and start putting her clothes away in the wardrobe in her room, something she hadn’t yet done since moving in last week. She laughed softly, thinking of the first time she’d stayed in that room as a young child and how she’d felt all the way to the back of that wardrobe to see if it felt cold as if it might really be a portal to Narnia, which she had been reading about at the time.
Walking back toward the staircase, she marveled, once again, at the size of the house. To get to the main staircase to go upstairs she walked past two parlors, a living room, a sunroom that included a mini library filled with her grandmother’s classic book collection, a dining room that was bigger than her first apartment, and a full-size bathroom. Inside the living room was a stone fireplace her grandfather had built.
Upstairs there were four bedrooms, a room that used to be a nursery but was now a den, two porch balconies outside two of the rooms, a full bathroom that Lucinda had installed a hot tub in three years ago, and an attic on the third floor.
Outside, massive granite stairs with grapevine mortar sidewalls lead up to a wrap-around porch and porte-cochere that led to a three-car garage at the side of the house, at the end of the drive, that had once been a carriage house.
The home, built in 1894, had originally belonged to her grandfather’s grandfather, a prestigious county lawyer and then judge. The woodwork inside was original and Gladwynn ran her hand along it as she walked to her room at the end of the long hallway, which was lit by lanterns that resembled those from the early 1900s but had actually been installed in the 1960s.
This home had always fit her personality more than the modern two-story house she’d grown up in with her parents, two older sisters, and older brother in upstate New York.
Unlike her older sisters she’d somehow never felt like a modern girl. Instead, deep down she felt as if she’d been meant for a different decade. She had even set aside modern clothing for more vintage outfits since high school.
“You’re a girl with an old name and an even older soul,” Lucinda had once told her as they sat on the metal bench in the middle of her grandmother’s overflowing flower garden.
Gladwynn heard her cell phone ringing as she reached the end of the hall. She took her time getting to it, knowing who it would be.
She glanced at his name on the lock screen, pushed the call to voicemail, and once again questioned why she hadn’t yet blocked his number, knowing deep down it was because she hated leaving anything unresolved. Someday she’d have to resolve that situation, but for now, she was going to enjoy a long bath before work.