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Dreams in a Jar-Chapter 1

Chapter One


Thea Carter stepped out of Eddy’s diner, her shift over, before glancing around furtively. Her aim, to have as few townsfolk as possible see her enter the next establishment. If her wish came true, no one would. Her shoulders stooped inside her tired, baggy overcoat, a thrift store purchase five years ago, flapped in a sudden breeze. Quickly eating the distance between the diner and the only bookstore in town, she crossed the street and entered the building. Miriam’s was an original from the establishment of the town in pioneer days. The overhead tinkle of the bell announced her arrival.


Inside the store, Thea’s weary expression changed. Her eyes lit up at the splendid sight of shelves packed with novel after novel, charting every subject under the sun. A slight smile tugged at her lips, as she walked to the back of the building and the shelf housing her current reading matter, Around the World in Eighty Days. Selecting the volume from the space she had returned it to the previous day, Thea glanced around. She expected to see Miriam, the proprietor, pop her head around the door of the backroom to see who was in the store. She didn’t. Thea decided that the older woman was on the phone and would surely venture out in a few moments. The conversations they shared were a highlight to Thea’s day, for a short time discussing the book she was reading. She and Miriam had developed an unexpected rapport from the first day she dared enter the shop. When was it now…ah yes over five years ago. Time was certainly marching on, and if her day-to-day personal circumstances hadn’t changed, at least her knowledge had extended by leaps and bounds with this time, mainly thanks to Miriam, her only friend in Frankton, outside of Eddy, her boss.


A surprising array of words from the counter had Thea staring intently at the person who was cursing. Cathy Sidney, Miriam’s assistant, didn’t usually work in the mornings. Thea saw her picking up a couple of books that had fallen onto the polished wooden floor. Where is Miriam?


“Hey Thea, I’m glad you’re here. Poor Miriam was taken ill at the weekend, hospitalized. She told me to tell you not to worry and to do what you always have.”


Cathy was married to the local sheriff and well thought of in the local community, her disposition friendly and amenable for most folks. Not that Thea had much to do with her, her husband saw to that. Sometimes Thea wondered if she wasn’t living in a Victorian novel. Her vision slid to the calendar on the wall showing it was the twenty-first century.


“What’s wrong with Miriam?”


Cathy knew Thea Carter, knew everyone in town. Part of being married to the only peacekeeper for a hundred miles. If all the stories she’d heard were true, then this woman needed a medal. Better yet, she needed a life away from here. According to Larry, Cathy’s husband, Jethro Carter was a control freak. His family had once owned several hundred acres, before their finances were destroyed in the 1930s. Didn’t stop the family thinking they still lorded over everyone over the years. Jethro was cut from that same cloth. How this timid woman had ever married such a man defied logic, at least to Cathy. He must be at least twenty years older than her. To the best of Cathy’s knowledge Thea never bad-mouthed her husband in public, even though she had just cause. He constantly criticised her, in public, about her appearance and manners. Who knew what else he said behind closed doors. Her children, at least the two eldest, were heading in much the same direction as the father. Pity that; Thea didn’t deserve to be treated as a slave. As far as Cathy gleaned, that was all she was to the Carter menfolk.


“Heart attack.”


Thea’s face went several shades paler.


“Hey, she’s going to be fine. Her niece was visiting and rushed her to the emergency room. I call that fate, don’t you?”


Thea felt a lump forming in her throat. She might never speak to Miriam about books again. She pondered the possibility that her one ray of sunshine would be extinguished and she may never have told the older woman exactly what their friendship meant to her.


“Yes fate. When will she be home, do you think?”


Smiling at the nervous question, Cathy knew that Thea had few, if any, friends in the community, except for Miriam. How lonely a life that must be and how easily it could change if it weren’t for the controlling nature of the man she’s married too. Larry had warned her not to get involved with the Carter’s…any of them. That included Thea. Knowing her husband well enough, she accepted his council. No way would he warn her off helping another unless it would make matters worse. This woman needed a savoir big time. “Not sure, sorry.” At the despondent look, Cathy suggested, “Her niece is due anytime; she can tell us more.”


Thea nodded, replacing the volume on the shelf. “I need to be home.” Thea quickly skirted past Cathy with a brief good-bye.


Watching the slender, but surprisingly curvy, woman speed down the street toward the outskirts of town, Cathy frowned. Her expression cleared as the door swung open, and in walked Miriam’s niece—Sheryl Appleby.


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