Remember to wear sunscreen.
My characters do!
Remember to wear sunscreen.
My characters do!
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Where Mary has to face she may be alone for the first time in her life…
She didn’t remember crying out, she barely remembered clutching at the thing that hurled toward her from the blinding white.
A conductor held her arm and she realized she had been reaching out, trying to get off the train. She couldn’t be here, not without her escort, as gruff and inappropriate as he was.
Words were murmured behind her, and hands grasped her upper arms preventing her from slipping into a faint. Someone propelled her down a row of open couches.
One step in front of another. How was she to do this? She didn’t even have her ticket. That man had all of her documents, all of her money. What was she to do?
She tried to turn and make her way back to the front of the car, back to the little platform where she had entered the car. Maybe he was there, maybe he had caught the train.
“Miss, please.” The conductor turned her around and continued her in a forward motion.
“But…” Mary couldn’t form words; she didn’t know what to say. Her guardian, her travel companion, her deliverer was gone. How was she to prove her ticket?
Her brain froze on the thought, no matter how she tried to work her way around it, they were going to put her off the train at the next stop.
What was the next stop? They would leave her in the middle of the wild west, bandit country, restless natives, whore houses! Oh her reputation would never recover.
“I need…” She tried to turn again, only to be directed through the car with a firm grasp on her arms.
Other passengers looked at her with expressions of horror and pity. A young woman traveling alone, how completely untoward. She tried to swallow and compose herself.
“I… I’m fine,” she stammered out.
She was not fine. Her knees buckled and threatened to leave her on the floor, but the resourceful conductor caught her in a timely fashion.
The conductor guided Mary through the car, out the other end, and into another car. More faces judged Mary as she clutched the thing in her hands. What was it? She looked down and realized she crushed Marshall’s unfashionable Stetson to her breast in her despair and grief. She barely had the wherewithal not to break down in tears.
“Almost there Miss,” the conductor said as he led her between rows of couches.
“But I have a private sleeper,” she whined, trying her best not to wail out her terror at being alone, and being parked in such a public space as this. No. She was certain, there had to be a mistake.
“This is the sleeper car Miss. There are no private compartments unless you have an entire train car, which you don’t.”
Everything was wrong. Marshall was gone. She had no ticket. This car was wide open. There were no private births. Her trunks were away in some baggage car. And she was… alone.
“Here you are Miss.”
Mary had to blink to clear her vision. No privacy at all, and the unmitigated uncoothness of boots resting on her couch!
“I know you don’t care much for me Mary, but you don’t have to take it out on my hat. Hand it over before you crush all shape out of it.”
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian
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Where Marshall touches Mary in a manner that she considers inappropriate…
“Are you done?’’ His voice was a menacing rumble.
It blended with the cries of the saurians and tumbled in her gut as something to fear.
She would not be afraid of this man or his uncouth gruff ways. She looked up at him through her lashes, her mouth set in a firm and resolved pucker.
She would show him.
With deliberately slow motions she folded her letter and placed it in the envelope. She had to lick and seal the envelope next. Terrified of getting a paper cut on her tongue, Mary steeled her resolve, and squinted at Mr. Marshall Hunt. Her disdain of the man overpowered her revolution of the taste of the gummed envelope—which typically left her making terrible faces.
“Gimme that.” He snatched the sealed letter from her.
“You will post that immediately!” Outrage colored her cheeks as she thrust to her feet. Her diminutive stature barely put her at eye level with his chest, even in her modest and appropriately sized heeled boots.
How dare the man.
She noticed his own anger was barely contained in his heaving chest.
He let out a long exacerbated breath. “Miss Mary, we must leave.”
She stood glaring at him.
The train whistle blew, and she jumped letting out a startled scream.
Saurians joined her in their cacophonous complaint at the piercing noise.
He grabbed her upper arm. “Now, woman, or we’ll miss the damned train.”
Mary didn’t have time to protest as Mr. Hunt rushed her along. He thrust the letter, now slightly crumpled, she couldn’t help but notice, and a passing porter. And practically carried her by her arm to the closest open carriage door.
“That letter must reach my sister in Chicago. She must learn of my unfortunate situation. You will post it immediately please.” She tried to let the porter know to post the letter immediately.
“Mr. Hunt, I would appreciate you not using language of such a nature in my presence. Will you unhand me, I am capable of walking by myself. My grandfather will hear of your boorish behavior. I cannot believe you are subjugating me to such atrocious behaviors. Mr. Hunt, are you even listening to me?”
“I’m trying real hard not too at the moment.”
There was a loud roar, not from the saurians pulling loaded carts of luggage on the other platforms, or pushing empty train cars on to other tracks in the train yard, no this roar was from the train as the wheels ground against steel and the train began rolling.
“Mr. Hunt, I believe the train is leaving and we are not aboard.”
His only reply was a grunt.
With a squeal, Mary found her feet completely off the ground. Mr. Hunt’s hands were on her waist and pushing against her skirts at her derriere.
She gasped as that firm hand was definitely on her bottom— albeit there were several layers of skirt separating their flesh, but how dare he— and pushing her up and into the moving train. She windmilled her arms wildly attempting to grab hold of anything to stabilize her rapid ascent into the train.
A coachman grabbed her by the wrist and unceremoniously hauled her into the train. Flummoxed and jangling with nerves she looked nervously to the coachman. She was on board the train without a chaperone. She hadn’t thought her situation could get any worse, and yet, it had. How could she, a woman, travel to San Francisco alone? She had no access to funds, her belongings were in the baggage car. This was the most dreadful thing that could have happened.
Why hadn’t that man, Marshall Hunt said something about the train imminent departure?
She stood shaking as she watched the departing station through clouds of billowing steam.
©2020 Lulu M Sylvian