Authors: Kelley Brown
Second in the Ray Series
All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional. Any similarity
to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by this author.
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
This book is dedicated to
All single mothers everywhere.
Other books by Kelley Brown
SEARCHING FOR THEIR DREAM
(First in Ray Trilogy)
Laura sat down at her kitchen table and rubbed her temples. She felt the headache creeping up the back of her neck again. If only John hadn’t died of a heart attack, he would know what to do. Then if John was still alive maybe she wouldn’t need a job. Maybe they would still have their farm and dairy west of Pryor, Oklahoma, if John didn’t have a bad heart.
John had died of a massive heart attack during the winter. Nora had left college and come to
St. John’s Hospital as soon as she received the call that her father was there. Nora had refused to leave the hospital room except for food. She remembered them sitting one on each side of the bed holding his hand. The doctor told them that he was too weak for an operation. He had waited too long to come to the hospital. John, being stubborn like he was, didn’t want to be cut open for an operation.
called the ambulance when she couldn’t get him to respond. In good conscience she couldn’t just let him lay there in the bed and die without trying. Grand Valley Hospital sent him to St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa as soon as they stabilized him. Sometimes she thought those who pass on have no idea how hard it is for those who love them to continue living without them.
She stiffened her back and got up to fix herself a glass of iced tea. In spite of herself, sometimes her grief got the best of her.
Right now she consoled herself Danny needed her. Anytime now, he would return home from school. She pushed her own problems aside and braced herself to prepare the evening meal and place a smile on her face.
From the refrigerator she pulled some pork chops out. She put some potatoes on to mash and opened a can of cream corn which was one of Danny’s favorite vegetables.
Eleven year old Danny burst through the front screen door with Aaron trailing behind him. Aaron and Danny had almost become inseparable since they had moved to town. Both of the boys had decided that they wanted to become football pros. Almost every day they could be found somewhere tossing the football to each other.
“Hi, Mom,” Danny called opening the refrig
erator to pour a glass of cold water for them.
“Hi, Danny. Hi
“Hi, Mrs. Ray,” Aaron said with a wave and a smile.
“Did you have a good day at school?” she asked.
“It was okay, I guess,” Danny said turning toward her, “except we had a spelling test.”
“Well?” Laura asked, “How did that go?”
He shook his head, “I can’t spell garage, I never will be able to spell garage.”
“What’s so hard about spelling garage?” she asked.
“I can never remember where to put the ‘u’. Does it go after the first ‘g’ or after the ‘r’?” Danny asked with a puzzled frown.
Aaron retorted, “There’s no ‘u’ in garage. Just leave it out and you’ll spell it right.”
Laura ducked her head and turned the pork chops to keep from laughing. “How about you, Aaron? How was your spelling?”
“Fine.” Aaron said then added, “I didn’t miss any spelling words. I missed five of those long addition problems. I hate those things.”
“Sometimes school is tough but it teaches you to think,” Laura admonished.
“I can think just fine without all that stuff,” Danny remarked.
“Aaron, would you like to call your mom and see if you can stay for supper?” she asked.
After making the call, Aaron announced that he needed to go home. He only lived a short distance away. Since Danny and Aaron had become such good friends, Mary his mom and Laura also had become friends. Often they pitched in to help each other out when one of the boys needed a place to stay for one reason or another. Danny was at the Roberts’ house as often as Aaron was at theirs.
Laura washed the dishes and Danny dried them. She could have done them easily by herself but she found that this time was invaluable. Often while Danny dried the dishes he would confide in her about things that bothered him. He didn’t disappoint her, soon he asked, “Do you remember that big boy named
Bobby Jackson?” He looked over to see her nod, “Well, he threw rocks at our bikes again today when we rode home.”
“Did you ignore him like I told you to do?”
“Yes,” Danny confided, “He scares us. I’m afraid someday he will hit us.”
“I’m sorry, Danny.
I hope something can be done before he hurts you.”
He went to his room to do his homework and Laura went to the living room and turned on the television. She curled up in John’s big comfortable chair. She leaned her head back just as she had seen John do so many times in his last months. He was so weak and tired most of the time. Right now she felt so weak and tired.
She watched the television, her luxury item she had bought herself with her own money since she had started working. She almost felt guilty because John always told her that they didn’t need to spend their money on a TV. As much as she missed and needed him, now she could make a few decisions of her own.
After the news she went to bed, then all the memories came back to haunt her.
Her boss, Ralph Hudson’s face loomed before her closed eyelids. His leering eyes and his smile exposing his yellowed teeth from smoking constantly revolted her. Apparently he thought anybody whom he chose to bestow his affection upon should be honored. She shuddered.
Ralph Hudson didn’t seem to understand that every
time that she dodged his advances meant that she wasn’t interested. What is it with men that thought just because a woman was a widow; she wanted sex with any man who offered? John had been too weak to have sex for a long time. It wasn’t like it was something new to go a few weeks without. She sure wasn’t dying to get on Ralph Hudson’s couch.
He often called her into his office, or touched her inappropriately when he passed by. She tried to keep out of his way but sometimes it was unavoidable. This
being the first job outside of the home, she knew she had no skills and was surprised that Mr. Hudson had hired her when the employment office sent her to his office. She caught on quickly what was required to be a receptionist in his office. The other girl gave no reason why she was leaving except that she wanted to stay at home for a while. Now Laura thought she knew why.
Since Laura didn’t feel that she had any skills, she hated to give her job up. This job could be pleasant. She worked in doors in comfortable conditions. The work wasn’t hard like lifting heavy milk jugs and running cattle through the dairy like she had to do on the farm. The hours provided her time with Danny in the evenings and on weekends.
She had only worked there two months but she wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold out.
By Monday morning, Laura had fortified herself enough that she thought she could hold out a least another week. By the afternoon her resolve weaken when he stood behind her chair and began massaging her shoulders and his fingers were getting too low in the front.
Laura whirled around and managed to get out from under his hands without his hands reaching further on her anatomy. “Mr. Hudson! I will not allow you to continue touching me. I demand respect. I do not appreciate your advances and I will not condone this kind of treatment from you. You are a married man. If you want to give affection to anyone, please give it to your wife!”
Laura had never yelled at anyone like that before. She was embarrassed at herself for losing her composure and wanted to cry. There was no way she would give him that satisfaction so she glared at him.
He stood there as if in shock.
She opened her desk drawer to pull out her purse to go home. She knew that now she would have to find another job. Danny would be out of school in three weeks so
she might stay home with him until school started again.
“Wait, Laura, I apologize. I had no idea you were taking my massage in that way.”
She was almost to the door but turned to look at him, “I will look for another job, Mr. Hudson. I can’t continue working for you when I have to worry all the time about you touching me.”
“I’m sorry, Laura. I promise that if you stay I will be very careful. I didn’t know that I was offending you.”
“I really like to work here, but I will not tolerate any further advances from you. My son will be out of school in three weeks. You can consider this my notice to quit, if you ever touch me again. In which case I will immediately walk out the door and never darken it again. Do we have an agreement?”
“Yes,” he answered and turned on his heel to return to his office.
She sat back down at her desk and let out a big sigh. She could feel her blood pressure pounding in her ears. She took three long breaths and rubbed her face. Oh God, she thought
he didn’t fire me. How will I ever face him again?
Fortunately, he didn’t come out of the office again for the rest of the day. She left thirty minutes early without saying anything to him.
She went home trembling.
She sat down in John’s big chair so she could feel him hold her.
She missed Nora and John so much. Laura thought for a minute, this must be what it feels like to have empty nest syndrome. I know that I have Danny at home but I miss them so much.
Laura took a deep breath and went to the kitchen to prepare the meal for Danny and
From that day forward Mr. Hudson treated her only with professional courtesy. She still dreaded to see his smoke stained smile but the job was tolerable now.
Nora attended Pre-med at Oklahoma University in Norman, Oklahoma. She drove close to three hours every time she came home so she usually only came home on holidays. Now she had completed her first year and Laura could enjoy her all summer long.
Laura baked Nora’s favorite pies and lined them up on the kitchen counter the day she would arrive
. A pot with delicious aroma emitting from it sat on every burner of the stove.
Nora came through the screen door of the front porch sniffing the air. “It smells like you cooked all my favorite foods.” She walked over
and hugged Laura.
Laura drank in the sight of her nineteen year old baby girl as she chatted about her trip and sniffed the bread and pies.
Danny burst in the front door and headed to Nora to give her a hug. Nora opened her arms to return his affection.
ash your hands, Danny, and set the table.” Laura reminded him.
During the meal Laura watched Nora and Danny chitchat about school and various things that interested them. Eight years separated them but they had a
healthy brother and sister relation. Laura could feel her heart slowly mending some now that Nora was home.