Saturday Snippet: The opening

1:00 AM


Upon entering the old-fashioned parlor, Emmeline took a deep breath, inhaling dust and the faint smell of her father’s pipe-tobacco.
These were the smells of memories.
One of her earliest memories was of peeking through the crack in the door of this very parlor, her small fingers picking at the chipping paint of the doorframe. She could see her papa and Mr. Carter smoking their pipes by a cheerful fire. She should have been in the playroom with her sister, Cassandra, and Miss Carter (as Geraldine, the pretentious daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carter, insisted on being called). However, Emmeline preferred to be with Papa.
“George,” Mr. Carter declared. “You allow your wife too many liberties. She is making all the decisions for your house.”
Her father’s deep, rumbling laughter filled the parlor. “This is the twentieth century, Clement. Women now have the right to vote and all sorts of things. Besides, the Good Book says that we are to love and care for our wives. She is a good woman, and I don’t mind giving in to her whims. I have to admit that the electric lights she had put in last year have helped my eyes very much.”
“Progress isn’t all it is cracked up to be,” Mr. Carter grumbled.
It was the only memory Emmeline had of her father’s joyous laughter, or of his best friend, Mr. Carter. Clement Carter, along with Emmeline’s own mother, had died of the influenza epidemic that fateful year of 1919. They were only two of the many the epidemic had claimed in the small Pennsylvania town of Ashbury.
Emmeline reached out and caressed a vase that had stood on the mantel where her mother had always kept it. While the rest of the house had been redecorated and modernized as much as she could persuade her father to allow, this room was like a time capsule of twenty-five years before, when her mother and father had moved into the house.
“Deep in your own thoughts, I see,” a deep, masculine voice said.
Emmeline didn’t even turn around, but continued her dusting. “Most people knock when entering a home that isn’t their own, Fredrick,” she said dryly.

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