Authors: Susan Leigh Carlton
Susan Leigh Carlton
In Love and In Danger
Susan Leigh Carlton
Susan Leigh Carlton 2013
Published at Amazon
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The world stopped spinning for Rebecca Turner on April 17, 2012. There was nothing notable about April
17;it was a typical sunny day, temperature about 7
cloudless, the hummingbirds were hovering and occasionally fighting over the red container of sugar water. It was about to change. The doorbell rang; Rebecca opened it to find a US Army notification team. They had come to tell her the love of her life, Jason Turner had been killed in Kandahar the day before. Rebecca did not shed a tear as the senior member of the notification team gave her the details. She stood there with a blank stare on her face; she was neither seeing nor hearing anything.
Emily Walker, t
he wife of Jason’s commanding officer, Major Robert Walker, stayed behind. She had been part of the team since her husband had assumed command of Jason’s company at Fort Bliss. She recognized the symptoms exhibited by Rebecca as one of non-acceptance and shock. There had obviously been some kind of mistake. Jason would call; he would come home when his unit rotated back.
Walker sat with the zombie-like Rebecca for the better part of the day. She fixed a lunch, nibbled at but not eaten by Rebecca. She talked with her, told her of all the support mechanisms available to survivors. Eventually she left, and told Rebecca she would see her the next morning.
* * *
Emily Walker returned the next morning to find Rebecca still dressed in the same clothes she had worn the previous evening.
“Would you like to go for a walk, Rebecca?”
“No, I have some cleaning to do. I need to call mom and tell her Jason isn’t coming back. Have they notified Jason’s parents yet? I don’t know what to do next. I just don’t believe it. He really isn’t coming back is he?”
“I’ll help you with all of that Rebecca. That’s why I am here.” Now let’s sit down and talk. Where will you want to hold the funeral services? Here or in your home town? You can also use Arlington or any of the national cemeteries.”
“I think we will want to use Rossville. That’s our hometown, it’s in Illinois.”
“I’ll pass the word on, and give you the schedule.”
Thank you, Emi
ly. I appreciate it. I’m not sure I could go through this by myself.”
“You’re in the Army. You’re not by yourself.
” Tell me about you and Jason. I know he went to the Point, but how long have you known him?”
been in love since the third grade, though it was in the fifth grade when he told me wanted me to be his wife.
married in the chapel at West Point the day Jason graduated. Two weeks before that, I graduated from the University of Illinois.”
Then you guys have known each other forever!”
Pretty much, we lived next door to each other. In Rossville.”
* * *
All of the arrangements were made and a funeral with military honors was held at the United Methodist Church in Rossville and Jasonwas interred in the Rossville Cemetery, next to his grandparents.
Rebecca moved back to Rossville in May, 2012.
* * *
Turner rotated the “Open” sign that hung on the shop door to the closed side, walked back toward the rear of the small antique store. Rebecca had bought the store located on Chicago Street in Rossville, Illinois with the some of the insurance money she had received after her husband was killed by an IED in Afghanistan. The shop had been one of the few stores to survive the 2004 fire on Rossville’s main thoroughfare...
It had been a long day. Business had not yet developed to where she could hire any help, so everything was on her shoulders. What she really wanted to do was lock up, and
go home and collapse on the bed. That’s what she wanted to do. Before she could allow herself that luxury, she had to inventory the delivery left by the UPS driver earlier.
was busy appraising an old vase the young woman in front of her counter had inherited from her grandmother. She was writing the quote details for the customer when the regular UPS driver walked in. He had five boxes on the hand truck he was pushing in front of him. “Just put them in back in the usual place, Jim,” she said.
“You got it, Becky,” he said and rolled the
hand truck to the back wall where he stacked the package.
She gave the quote to the customer and said, “Thank you for coming in. Let me know if you want to put it on consignment. The customer nodded and left.
The UPS driver came back to the counter and handed Rebecca the portable pad to sign the package receipt. “Be the way, there’s a customer in the back.”
“That must be the lady that came in while I was writing the quote,
” she said to herself.
She had seen the attractive woman when she walked in. She noticed her flaming red hair, but mostly noticed the large tote bag she was carrying. It was the most hideous thing she had seen in a long time. It was ugly enough to keep you awake at night if you had it in the same room.
She hurried toward the rear and met the red-haired woman, who was carrying a porcelain Tiffany wedding clock. She paid $350 cash for the clock without making any attempt to haggle, which was very unusual. She then left the store. Rebecca had lived in Rossville all of her life except when she had been away at college. She did not recall having ever seen the attractive redhead. Rebecca walked on toward the back; nothing was missing that she could tell other than the Tiffany clock, just sold.
“Wonder what she was doing in the back
?” she thought aloud. “Oh well, at least I sold that clock, and made a nice profit on it too.” Thinking longingly of the bed awaiting her at home, she thought to herself, “I’d better get at the packages UPS delivered.”
he six packages were stacked next to the door. “I would have sworn I saw five packages on Jim’s cart. I’m too tired to think straight. I must have imagined it.” She began unpacking the boxes sent her by Herschel, the buyer in Chicago with whom she did most of her business.
Herschel seemed to always find a few real goodies for her. This time, she found a beautiful Wedgewood pitcher, adorned with delicate flowers. She also found an antique silver snuff box and was delighted when she came across the candlesticks, that looked to date back to the 18
century. She came to the sixth box. Its wrapping was filthy, the corners of the box were banged up as if it had been tossed around and dropped more than once. With all of the exterior damage, she didn’t see how anything could remain undamaged inside. “If whatever is in here is damaged, I am going to sit down and have a talk with Jim.”
When she cut away the tape and opened the battered carton, she squealed in sheer delight. Inside was an antique Symphonion Music Box. She had never seen a Symphonion before but she had read about them in catalogs. They were rare and usually sold for upwards of $1500. If they had any of the 10 inch discs, the price jumped. She picked up the box, thinking, “It seems heavy for a music box.” She put the box on a shelf by her desk in the small office she kept in a corner of the back room.
She locked the front door and turned on the small light she kept on at night and went to the back to her desk.
She went through the sales records for the day. Selling the Tiffany clock had actually made it a good day. She thought, “
Lord knows, I could use some good days. It’s a good thing the house is paid for or I would be having trouble making the ends meet without leaving a gap in the middle. It won’t be long until the tourist season. Once school is out, traffic will pick up.”
She looked around,
“There really are some nice things here.”
Rebecca had been a history major in college and really loved old things. Rossville was a popular spot for antiques prior to the fire in 2004 that destroyed most of the business district.
It was a popular hunting ground for anyone interested in antiques. Many of the farms in the area had been bought out by conglomerates and had liquidation sales after the buyout. There was a lot of really old furniture, steamer trunks. Nearly every farm had either a grandfather or grandmother clock, or at the very least, you could find an old Seth Thomas mantle clock. Clocks were eagerly grabbed up by the tourists.
Every farm house and barn in the county had lightning rods, another popular antique.
People will collect anything.
Rebecca had once met a man that collected fire trucks, another that collected hearses. She had even heard of a man in Texas that collected Cadillacs and then buried them nose down in the ground. She had seen pictures of them in Life magazine before its demise.
Tired and bleary eyed from staring at the shipping lists and catalogs, she decided to put the pricing off until the next morning. She set the alarm, went out the back door and headed for her car. She heard a rustling sound and spun around, seeing some movement out of the corner of her eye. She stood there and saw nothing. Rossville is a safe
town; even so you have to be careful.
“It must have been a rat or dog or some other small animal.”
She got into the car and set out for home.
A Symphonion plays music recorded on metal disks. The sound is very good from the wooden box. A Symphonion in good condition will sell for $1500-$2500. Listen to the
Music from a German Symphonion
The next morning
Rebecca opened the shop and began pricing and putting out her new merchandise. She decided to save the Symphonion sitting on her desk for last. It was rare something came into the shop that she was truly tempted not to sell. The Symphonion was such an item. After all, she was in business to make a profit and even though she collected music boxes, she couldn’t allow herself to keep it.
There was a steady stream of customers through the shop today. Most of them were browsing but she sold an occasional antique. She had to tend the customers because many of them had questions about various items on the shelves. She didn’t get much of the stocking and pricing done as she was kept busy with the customers. Just before noon, things slowed down enough to allow her to take a closer look at the Symphonion.
The cabinet top was beautiful and the inlay on the underside of the lid was spectacular. She had difficulty turning the crank and it would not play. This would dramatically reduce the value. She examined the cabinet carefully. There was a metal plate on the bottom containing the serial number, the manufacturer and the date, October, 1887. She also noted pry marks where someone had removed the bottom of the box. The marks would also decrease the value. It would probably bring $700 in its present condition.
She was interrupted by the jingle of the bell on the shop door, indicating someone had entered the shop.
She went to the front of the store and standing in the doorway looking around was the most stunningly handsome man she had ever seen. There was a continental look about him. He was well dressed. No, make that expensively well dressed. He had a bit of a haughty air of royalty about him. He looked good and he knew it. He reminded Rebecca of Prince Charming from Sleeping Beauty except he was dressed in modern clothes. He removed the pair of expensive sunglasses from his striking face when he spotted her. Walking toward her, his face tilted upward, he favored Rebecca with a mind blowing smile revealing white teeth that sparkled. His hair was slightly long and an ebony color. The aquiline nose equally divided the handsome face. His alabaster skin was as white as a new snowfall. It had probably never been exposed to the sun.
In a deep, resonant voice, revealing an accent
Rebecca classed as British, he said, “Excuse me young lady, would you please tell the proprietor of this lovely shop I would like to speak with her.
Gerald, from the dining establishment down the street told me to ask for a
Rebecca Turner. Is she available? Gerald informed me she might be able to help me a special item. I am trying to purchase.” It was the sexiest voice Rebecca had ever heard and it flowed from his mouth in what Rebecca classified as a British accent as sexy as a voice Rebecca could remember. Just the sound raised prickly bumps on her arm.
“You have found
the owner, sir. I am Rebecca Turner. How may I be of assistance to you today?” This handsome creature looked at her with surprise showing on his perfect face. That he was surprised was not unusual since most people do not expect the proprietor of an antique shop to be under thirty, and she was twenty five. She held out her hand for him to shake. Instead of shaking her hand, he took it in his, bowed and kissed it, the touch of his warm lips sent shivers throughout her body. She had only seen this gesture in the movies and she had always thought it to be extremely gallant. Certainly she had never seen an American do this.
In his entrancing accent, which
Rebecca was now having trouble placing, he said, “I am Ricardo Valdacci. I have business in the US and I would like to take home a memorable gift for my sister’s new baby girl.” I’m not looking for something for the child to play with, mind you, but something that will grow in value as the child matures. Perhaps something along the lines of a musical box?”
“We only have a few items for babies but the toys we have are over here.
” She led the way to a shelf that held baby rattles, dolls and such.
“Music boxes are my favorite. I have a modest collection of them myself.” She was entranced by his accent. She ruled out Scottish, Irish, and Australian. She led the way to a shelf, one that held about twenty music boxes. She picked up one of the prettiest boxes and handed it to Ricardo Valdacci, who took it, turned it, upended it and looked at the bottom. He rejected the box.
She handed him another, which he rejected immediately. “
Maybe it would help if you gave me some sort of an idea what you like, I might have some suggestions.”
As he talked,
Rebecca gave up guessing about the origin of his enchanting accent. “I don’t mean to be nosy, but where are you from, sir? Your accent is fascinating. I don’t believe I’ve heard anything like it before.”
He gave her his dazzling smile, and answered but didn’t really answer the question.
“You Americans have the most quaint way of speaking. I am from a little bit of everywhere, love.” It dawned on Rebecca he had not answered her question.
One by one, he had
turned down everything she had shown him from the shelf. She said, “I do have one other item I just received yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to appraise it, or evaluate the condition. I’m afraid there is no provenance with the item. I really have not decided whether to offer it or add it to my collection. It is a Symphonion from Germany. The serial plate has a manufacture date of 1879. I should tell you though, it does have some damage to the case.”
His face lit up. He was definitely interested in it.
“A Symphonion? You have a Symphonion? I haven’t seen one of those in quite some time. It sounds exactly like the object for which I search.”
“I don’t know
sir; it certainly isn’t ready for sale at this time.”
“If I came back tomorrow, would that give you enough time to have it
ready? I assure you, money is no object. My sister is very special to me and I know she would be pleased. I simply must have it.”
still hesitated. “I suppose I could have it ready tomorrow.”
If I pop in before lunch and I can have a look?”
“Yes, I will have it ready.”
“I shall be here then. Perhaps you would agree to a bit of lunch to celebrate my acquisition?”
“I will see you then, my lovely lady.”
He left the shop,
strangely, whistling as he walked away. He left Rebecca standing there and wondering if she hadn’t just been deftly maneuvered into something she wasn’t sure she even wanted to do.