Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Here Among Us by Maggie Harryman (Excerpt)

Chapter Three

It was Paddy who taught Maeve to fight.

She thought about all those clandestine boxing lessons as she exited the drive, heading down the hill towards her mother’s house in Maplewood, her knuckles glowing milky white as her hands choked the life out of the steering wheel. Oona had been livid when she found out. And while her mother pretended the idea of a young lady fighting was an affront to her delicate sensibilities, there was clearly something else on her mind when she pulled Maeve aside and said, “whatever he’s taught you, promise me you’ll never use it on your sister.” Maeve wondered now, still shaking from her confrontation with Flynn, if the statute of limitations on that promise hadn’t finally run out.

She took a deep cleansing breath and tried to calm herself, recalling what her personal yoga instructor had said about the path to enlightenment. During a reverse warrior pose he had explained that there was a power in the universe that was the source of all creation and that acknowledging her connection to it would allow her to draw on that power. “Maeve, if I teach you nothing else, know this,” he whispered as he realigned her shoulder and ran his palm down the length of her spine. “There is only one path to enlightenment. You must acknowledge that you are one with the Source.”

Now that she thought about it, one path wasn’t nearly enough. As to enlightenment, a Fendi bag or a pair of Jimmy Choos used to fill that bill nicely, but not so much any more. The only power of the universe she felt at the moment was a blinding rage over Flynn’s outlandish accusation. Playing it over in her mind she considered turning the car around and going back. But to do what? Explain that what she saw in Oona frightened her? That even though she loved her mother, her feelings for Oona were…complicated? One day she honestly wondered what her life would be like without Oona and the next she was ready to walk out on her because Oona was just like Flynn—treating Maeve like she hadn’t a brain in her head. Just the other day they had argued about making the menu all organic.

“Do you have any idea how much a change like that would cost me?” she’d snapped at Maeve.

“Not as much as you think. I’ve got some numbers here,” Maeve said, holding up a spreadsheet she’d worked on for hours. Oona hadn’t even bothered to look. So she’d tried another tack. “Come on Oona, you know you have to spend money to make money.”

Oona threw down her glasses on the desk. “That’s exactly your problem, Maeve. You never learned that you have to save money to keep money.”

No, she didn’t hate Oona. In fact, she was the one who had stayed in South Orange even though for years Jeffrey had begged her to move. She was the one who had made it her priority to take care of their mother. Even if taking care of her meant making decisions that under ordinary circumstances she never would have considered.

At Oona’s front door, Maeve knocked lightly and then, seeing the flashing lights of the television through the window, let herself in. Oona was stretched out on the couch, a crocheted blanket pulled up to her neck even though the heat in the house was turned up. The green and gold blanket had been the first that her oldest friend, Mary Lavin, had ever attempted and its dropped stitches and clumsily tied off ends bore all the hallmarks of an amateur. Oona had always cherished the gift but last year when the Lavins moved down to Florida, she seemed to cling to the blanket the way a child might to comfort a sense of loss. Next to her on the coffee table a half cup of tea had long since gone cold. A canary yellow flyer rested on her chest and her glasses had slid down to her top lip. She woke with a start when Maeve shook her gently.

“Jesus, Maeve, you scared me.”

“I brought you some clothes.”

“Clothes? Why did you do that? I have tons. I could open a store.”

“I thought you might like something new for tomorrow’s lunch with Flynn.”

“Lunch with Flynn?”

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – R (Strong language, adult themes)

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