Novel Excerpt (26)

Novel Excerpt (26)

A scene from Breaking Bread, Book 5 in the Bucks County Series by Margaret Sorick. Find all the excerpts here.

Time moves so much more slowly when you are waiting. The minutes dragged by. About an hour into our wait, Brad and Olivia’s Mom and Aunt Gigi burst through the Emergency Room doors. Della Samuels and her sister Giannara Kennard lived in South Philadelphia so the ride had taken the better part of an hour. They hurried over to where we were sitting and Olivia jumped up to hug them both.

“Is there any news?” Della asked. “Oh my poor boy…”

“Not yet, Mom,” Liv told her. “He was awake and we talked to him earlier, though. That’s a good sign, right?”

“Yes. Usually… You never know, though.” She turned to me with open arms. “Maya, sweetheart…” she said, pulling me in for a hug. “How are you? Livi said this is just one more in a whole host of trouble you’ve had at the cafe. I’m so sorry, my dear.”

“Oh Della, I should be the one apologizing. Brad just got in the way of whoever is targeting my business.”

“But Maya, that’s not your fault. And besides, Brad is the building owner. He had a duty to check out any potential problems on the property,” she said, patting my hand. “But good heavens, why on earth would someone target your business?”

“I don’t know…” I raised a hand and let it drop. “We suspect that there may be a rival cafe going into the building across the street. But after this… I can’t imagine anyone going to these lengths over a competing business.”

“You wouldn’t think so, no…”

“So I don’t know what to think,” I said. “It would be nice if they left some convincing evidence back at the scene…”

“Well, let’s hope so, dear.”

One of the ER nurses came out to the lobby and approached us. “You can come back now. We’re waiting for the radiologist to take a look at the films and the CT scan.”

We followed her back to one of the treatment bays, where we found Brad propped up in bed. His mother rushed to his side. He patiently reassured her that he was alright, despite having a massive headache, then he smiled wanly at the rest of us. “I don’t suppose there’s any news?”

“Not yet,” Leo said. “Jack said he would be over when they finished at the cafe. It seems to be taking a while. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign.”

Brad looked at me. “Are you ok, Maya?’

I nodded, choking back tears. How could he be thinking of me at a time like this? I took his hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” he asked. “For me being careless? For walking blindly into a dangerous situation? I should’ve turned around as soon as I realized the camera had been smashed.”

“You remember?” Olivia asked.

“Yeah, it’s starting to come back.” He adjusted his pillow to sit up further. “I was upstairs watching TV and I heard a thud and glass breaking. It was hard to tell where it was coming from, so I went outside. Everything looked fine out front, so I went around the side. The light above the door lit up the sidewalk but the back patio area was all dark. Maya, don’t you have a light out there?”

“I do. There’s a dusk to dawn light on the rear of the building.”

“So whoever did this must have taken the light out as well as the camera… Anyway, I had my phone out…. Hey, did anyone find my phone?”

Leo said, “Not that I know of. But Jack will find it if it’s out there.”

Brad nodded, then winced in pain. “Ok, so anyway, I took my phone out to use the flashlight app. I had just come to the corner of the building and shone the light out onto the courtyard… I saw the tables and chairs, the spray paint… And that’s the last thing I remember.” He turned to me again. “I’m sorry Maya. The vandals have struck again.”

“I just can’t understand it. Even if it is Kiki opening another cafe. Why would she be so ruthless? God… It’s not like she needs the money…”

“Let’s not jump to any conclusions until we confirm what she’s doing over there,” Leo said. “I’ll go to the borough office tomorrow, first thing and see what permits she applied for.”

“And sweetie,” Olivia continued, “you need to let Jack know what you suspect.”

“But Liv, all I have is a vague suspicion. There is no real reason to think she’s behind this. Seriously, can you see Miss Almost Pennsylvania getting her hands dirty?”

“No. But maybe she had help.” She squeezed my hand. “Just promise me you’ll tell Jack.”

The ER doctor came in shortly after to let Brad know his tests were all negative and that beyond suffering a concussion, everything was alright. After filling out his discharge paperwork, he was free to go.

Leo and Liv went back home to relieve Kerry of babysitting duty, Della and Gigi offered to stay overnight and Brad tried to argue.

“You really shouldn’t be alone, dear. Not after a concussion,” Della objected. “I insist.”

“Fine,” Brad said with a sigh. “Hey, um…” he went on, “can I have a minute with Maya? Alone?”

She and Gigi exchanged glances, but cleared out of the treatment bay, leaving Brad and me alone. He reached for my hand. “Maya.”

“Hey.” Tears spilled over and ran down my cheeks.

“Oh, honey…” he said, squeezing my hand tight. “Don’t cry. I’m ok. Are you ok? Are … we ok?”

I nodded. “We’re good. We should talk, but … it can wait. Just know that we’re good.”

“Ok. That’s all I needed to hear.”

I leaned down and kissed him. “I’ve never been so scared in my life as I was tonight.”

He reached up and swiped the tears from my cheek. He smiled. “Which time? When you ran out on me? Or when you came back later?”

I laughed. “Hmm. Both I guess.”

“And are you still scared?”

“Just a little,” I said. “But I’m feeling braver every minute.”

“That’s good. I’m going to be ok, Maya. And we’re going to figure this out. All of it. Together.” He pulled me down and kissed me deeply.

Just then Della walked back in. “Sweetheart, they said…” She gasped. “Whoops! Bradford! Maya!” Della said, laughing, now. “Well! When were you two going to tell me…?”

“We’re telling you now, Mom,” Brad said with a grin.

She smirked. “All right. You’re off the hook for now, but only because you’re injured.” She hugged me tight. “I’m so happy, dear. You have no idea!”

I’ll play along…

Sketched selfie

My lovely friend VictoryInTrouble has nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. As you can see in the top left sidebar, I don’t ‘do’ awards. However, once in a great while I will sort of play along. (This is because I love Vic!) What that means is I’ll only follow the rules I want to. So in this instance, I’m going to to tell the world three things about myself and answer Vic’s five questions. Rather than pass on the award, I’m nominating ALL of you! So anyone that want to take this award and run for it, you’re up…

Three things you may or may not know about me (or care):

  1. I love the theater. I have had season tickets to The Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia for the past ten seasons. The Walnut is America’s oldest theater, founded in 1809. Shows at the Walnut have been attended by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette. I also visit New York fairly regularly (it’s just 2 hours away) and see shows on Broadway as well. 
  2. Like my character Maya, I bake bread. In fact I have an upcoming post about it. I’ve been baking my own bread for about fifteen years. I started with a bread maker and graduated little by little to making it by hand. The strong hands I’ve acquired in my years as a chiropractor have come in handy.
  3. The sketching I’ve been doing lately… I used to draw when I was younger. In fact both the writing and the art got left by the side of life’s road around the same time. Fool that I was. Anyway, my grandmother was an artist – painted in oil and watercolor. I had hoped I’d inherited a little of that talent. However, like the writing, the art was never encouraged … and here I am trying to dust off those rusty skills.

All right, now on to Vic’s questions:

  1. Where is the best place you’ve ever travelled to?  This is a toss up. I’ve been to Ireland 4 times. I’ve become so familiar with it, it feels like home. At least the Galway area… But Paris is also one of my favorite places in the world. The food, the art, the history, the culture. Tres magnifique!
  2. What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Pepper cookies. They’re a Russian (or Eastern European) cookie – chocolate with cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. I know that sounds weird but they’re amazing. 
  3. Do you like turtlenecks? Nope, they make me feel claustrophobic. I’d sooner have a scoop or v-neck top and wind a scarf loosely if I get cold.
  4. Do you like to eat foods one at a time or do you mix foods on your fork? Both. Mashed potatoes are glue for anything else on my plate. Otherwise, you gotta keep ’em separated.
  5. In twenty years, if you look back, what’s the most important thing you want to have done with your life between now and then? I need to preface this so that it doesn’t come off sounding selfish. I don’t have children, I don’t have extended family. I have no one to raise or depend on me for their well being. I have friends that fill that need so don’t pity me too much! My wish in looking back from twenty years in the future is that I used that time to chase the dreams I put on hold for the first half of my life. So I will write, publish books, create art, explore my creativity in ways I may not have discovered yet. I don’t want to look back with regrets, regrets for not trying or for fearing failure. And maybe that’s the cool thing about getting older – not worrying so much about the results as the trying. 

That’s it. Thank you Vic, for thinking of me and for being a great friend!

Novel Excerpt (25)

Novel Excerpt (25)

A scene from Breaking Bread, Book 5 in the Bucks County Series by Margaret Sorick. Find all the excerpts here.

My phone rang on the table next to me. Taking note of the time as I reached for it, I realized I hadn’t been asleep for long. “Hello?”

“Ms. Kaminsky, this is Steve from Guardian Security. There seems to be a malfunction with one of the cameras at your business. Some damage or something. It’s triggered an alarm.”

“What does that mean? Has someone tried to break in?” I asked, sitting bolt upright.

“We don’t know. A call has been made to the local police and they are on their way. It could be nothing. An accident, a tree branch falling on it or something like that.”

“There are no trees anywhere near the camera,” I said.

“Well, I can’t speculate, Ma’am… We needed to inform you of the incident. We can send one of our emergency technicians out to make repairs, if you don’t want to wait until regular business hours. However, you might want to wait and see what the police discover. If it’s merely an accident, there’s no sense in paying the after hours charges.”

I threw back the covers. “I’ll go down and see for myself, then…”

“Very well, Ma’am. Call us back at our twenty-four hour number if you decide you want the tech to come out.”

I disconnected and immediately called Brad. He could get down a whole lot faster than I could. However, his phone rang and rang and finally went to voicemail. Maybe he was already downstairs.

“Brad, if you get this… there’s been some kind of problem with my security camera. I’m on my way down and the police are coming, too. I just thought maybe you could check…”

I threw on some clothes, grabbed my keys and ran out to my Jeep. Two police cruisers were in front of my building, lights flashing, when I pulled up out front. I jogged toward the cafe and was stopped by the first officer I came to.

“Hold it right there, Miss.”

“Hi, hello…. This is my business. I’m Maya Kaminsky. I got a call from my security company about damage to my outside camera?”

The officer looked grim. “Miss Kaminsky, I’m afraid it’s worse than that. There’s been an injury…”

“Injury? Who? How…?”

“Come with me, Miss,” he said, gesturing for me to follow.

The corridor between the buildings was being illuminated with the high powered flashlights that the police use. Two of the officers were kneeling next to a supine form lying on the sidewalk. I broke into a run when I realized who it was.

“Brad! Oh my god!”

“Easy, Miss. He’s just coming around. We don’t want to move him until the ambulance gets here,” one of the officers said. “Do you know this man?”

“Yes, yes. He’s my … my… boyfriend. He lives in the apartment above the cafe.”

“That makes sense, then…” he said.

“Wh-what happened?” I asked shakily.

“Well… we’re thinking he might’ve interrupted something.” The officer turned his light toward the courtyard. Some of the tables and chairs had been sprayed with bright paint.

“Oh my god,” I said again. I sank into a crouch and held my head in both hands. This was too much. Vandalism was one thing, but assaulting someone was another thing completely.

“Miss? Are you alright?” The officer asked. “Can we call somebody for you?”

“Already taken care of,” said Jack Staley, walking up to the scene. “Maya, come here, hon.”

He helped me to my feet and put a strong arm around me. “I heard the address on the radio and came as soon as I could. I called Leo. He and Liv are on their way.”

“Jack, it’s Brad,” I said, tears beginning to well up. “Someone attacked him.”

“Alright, come on. Let’s see how he is,” he said, gesturing for the officer on the ground to let us near.

“Brad, it’s Maya,” I said, touching his arm. “Can you hear me?”

He moaned. “Yeah. I can hear…”

“Are you ok? No. Stupid question… Of course you’re not ok…” I babbled. “I’m sorry.”

Jack said, “Brad, it’s Jack. Do you remember what happened? Did you see who did this?”

“No. No idea.”

“What do you remember?” he asked.

“Um… Heard a noise. Came down to check on things.” He paused, closed his eyes. “The tables. Paint. I was going to take a closer look…”

The ambulance arrived at the same time Olivia and Leo. We all huddled together as the paramedics examined Brad. To be safe, they decided to take him to Doylestown Hospital for a CT scan. Leo had me leave my car and drive with him and Liv. Jack stayed behind to see what, if any, evidence was left behind at the scene.

“This is horrible,” I said. “What the hell is going on?”

“I don’t know, sweetie, but whatever it is it’s serious,” Olivia said.

“I feel terrible. Brad getting mixed up in this mess. And now he’s hurt.” I started to weep.

“What if it’s bad? What if he has some kind of brain injury? Like a subdural hematoma? Like that actress that died… What if…?”

“Maya, for god’s sake! Stop!” Olivia said. “Don’t say things like that. Brad is going to be ok.” She turned in the seat to face me. “This is not your fault.”

I covered my face with my hands. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

The hospital was only a short drive from the center of town. Leo parked in the Emergency Room parking lot and we all rushed into the waiting room. The ambulance had just arrived a moment before us and the paramedics were only now unloading Brad onto a stretcher. Olivia went over to the admissions desk to speak to the nurse. Leo took my hand. He said, “It’s going to be all right.”

Olivia was amazing, keeping her cool under pressure. She would likely fall apart later, after the details had been dealt with. When she had given the receptionist all of Brad’s information, she came back over to sit with us. Now we would wait. The doctors would look Brad over, he would have tests and scans and x-rays…. And we would wait.

Novel Excerpt (24)

Novel Excerpt (24)

A scene from Breaking Bread, Book 5 in the Bucks County Series by Margaret Sorick. I’m working on the story for National Novel Writing Month in November. Find all the excerpts here.

This was the kind of thing I would usually talk to Olivia about. She’d come over or I’d go to her and we’d make cookies or drink beer and figure it all out. But I didn’t know Liv would feel about helping me sort out my feelings for her beloved brother. So as soon as I got home, I did the next best thing. I called Juan Paolo.

“I knew it. Did I not guess immediately that he had feelings for you, Maya?” JP said when I told him what happened.

I rolled my eyes, glad that he wasn’t there to see it. “Yes, JP. You were right. Now, I need your help.”

“I am sorry darling, of course. What’s wrong?”

“He’s just… ten steps ahead of me. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the two of us becoming a couple and tonight he said something about sharing the apartment above the cafe.”

“Oh, wow. He doesn’t mess around. Hmmm.”

“Hmmm, what?”

“Well, at least you can be sure he’s serious about you. This isn’t a casual fling or anything…”

“A fling? No way. Brad is not that kind of guy.”

“And how do you feel about that? Getting into a serious relationship, I mean. Is that something you were looking for?”

“Well… sort of. That is to say, if I had been looking for a relationship at all, I’d want it to be serious. I’ve been too busy to meet anyone so… I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Especially not with a man I’ve known my whole life.”

“All right. Tell me… is knowing him so well a bad thing? Obviously, there’s no ‘getting to know to you’ stage, but no deep dark secret to uncover either. Hmmm.”

“What hmmm?!?” I demanded.

“So I’m just thinking… Brad is on to the next stage and you haven’t caught up yet. What I mean is, besides having initial chemistry when you meet someone for the first time, after that you date for a while to get to know the person. You either start to like them more and more or you find things out about them and decide they’re not the one for you. And you move on.”

“You think Brad has already made up his mind that I’m the one for him. That’s what you’re saying.”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“Holy shit.”

“So how does that make you feel?”

“Uh, I don’t know Dr. Phil…”

He sighed heavily. “You asked for my advice, Maya.”

“Sorry.” I paused, thinking. “I guess… overwhelmed? Maybe?”

“Understandable,” he said.

“JP, what if it doesn’t work out? What if it ruins our friendship? What about my friendship with Liv? The implications of what might happen if it all went to hell are just… too much to bear. Even his family… I can’t stand the thought of disappointing them.”

“Maya, I am worried. You are already imagining the worst possible outcomes. It doesn’t seem like you are enjoying this new relationship. At all. This should make you happy. Even with your reservations, you should be happy.”

I was quiet. He was right. I should be happy. I was only focusing on the negative, imagining all the worst case scenarios instead of concentrating on the positives. “You’re right, JP. I am happy. About Brad, I mean. He’s a terrific guy.”

“Then, why do you think it’s all going to go wrong? Can’t you imagine a scenario where it all goes right?”

I thought for a minute –long enough that JP asked if I was still there. “Sorry, JP. I’m just thinking. When I try to imagine things going right with Brad, I only get so far before the dream kind of blows up.”

“What do you mean? Give me an example…”

“Well… what if people think I’m suddenly interested in him because of his money?”

“Who gives a damn what other people think, Maya? Every woman Brad might date could be suspected of that, unless he found himself another millionaire. Is that all that you’re worried about? What people think?”

“And my family… they’ll have their opinions…”

“Like what?”

“Like, I found a rich man, I can settle down and have babies and give up on that ridiculous cafe.”

“Aw, sweetheart. Do they really not see what a success you are?” he asked.

“They might. If they ever came into the place.”

“You’re kidding. They don’t come in to your cafe? Ever?”

“Nope. Not once in the whole time I’ve been open. Well, except for Tanya,” I said. “She and Michael came to the grand opening. Not since then, though. My mother probably threatened her. ‘Don’t encourage that nonsense’ or some shit like that.”

“Oh my darling, I had no idea things were that bad with them.”

“Yeah, well… I just made it way worse, too.” I told him about the blow up at Sunday’s family dinner.

“Maybe it will make your mother think about how she’s treated you all this time… And if not Maya, you have at least let her know you will not put up with it anymore. You cannot control how she acts and feels, but you can control your response to it. You do not deserve to be made to feel guilty about pursuing your dreams, especially when you have done it without any help and support from them. You should be proud of all you have accomplished. Do not let your narrow minded mother ruin it for you. And by extension, do not let her ruin your relationship with Brad.”

“You’re absolutely right, JP. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome darling. Do you feel better, now?”

“Yeah. I do. I have unwittingly let my mother’s negativity creep into the way I think about love, life, everything. I have to stop doing that.” I thanked him again and said goodnight. Then I thought about calling Brad and apologizing. At this point, though, I didn’t feel like talking anymore and Brad deserved a thorough explanation. So instead, I sent him a text, told him I was sorry I freaked out and that we could talk tomorrow. He texted back with another apology for pushing too far too fast.

By the time I showered and crawled into bed, I was so tired and emotionally drained that I fell asleep within moments of turning the lights out.

***

Brad tried to watch Monday Night Football, wished he’d bought beer and wished he’d had a better control over his big mouth. In his mind, he and Maya were much further into this relationship than she obviously thought. God, if he’d blown it already…

He got up from the sofa, rummaged in his refrigerator, not really knowing what he was hoping to find —he hadn’t had time to shop for food— came up empty and closed it again. Then wandering over to the front window, he saw that the lights had finally gone out in the building across the street. As he was about to return to the sofa, he heard a thud and then the sound of breaking glass. It was hard to tell where the sound came from, but considering all the trouble that Maya had been experiencing, he thought it was smart to check it out.

He grabbed his phone and hurried down the stairs to the front entrance. Everything on the street seemed to be alright. At this time of night, there weren’t any pedestrians out walking since all the nearby businesses had closed up for the day. He moved to the other side of the building to the walkway back to the courtyard where the cafe’s outdoor seating area was located. The security light over the side entrance was the only thing illuminating his way. Past the doorway, however, the rear courtyard was in deep shadow. He paused at the corner of the building, trying to listen for any unusual sounds, but all was quiet. He took a step forward and his foot crunched on glass. Using the flashlight feature on his phone, he lit the ground beneath his feet. The smashed security camera, wires dangling, was lying on the ground.

He muttered a curse and shone the light into the darkness in front of him. The tables and chairs closest to the building had been spray painted with bright yellow paint. Just as he took a step forward to get a better look at the damage, he heard the whoosh of air an instant before the blow knocked him out.