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Clint, her charming friend, helps her to grow up and become tougher in this ...
Clint, her charming friend, helps her to grow up and become tougher in this challenging world. Together, they form a bond no one can tear apart but will they find happiness and forge a new life together? Will Marie Claire find the love that she has so wanted to experience?
The new relationship formed between Marie Claire and her half sister, who has come back into her life at a critical time, shows what can happen in families today. With the help of her friends and loved ones, Marie Claire works to overcome her past and strive for a brighter future. Before the Music is based partly upon the true life account of a young woman, the author, Marie Claire Peck.
By Marie Claire Peck
Roy Copeland took Marie Claire Peck to the Vancouver Bears vs. Seattle Civics hockey game one Saturday evening. It was the first time Marie Claire had been to any kind of sporting event outside of horse shows and rodeos. She thoroughly enjoyed cheering Seattle's team. The guys yelled at each other, people on the ice and in the bleachers were screaming at the players, and 'kill him, smash him, hook him' could be heard clear across the arena. Other things screamed out were 'hit him hard, and check him to the board (which is to say - 'knock him out!'). One player skated over to an opponent and gave him a 'face wash', where players will skate up to an opponent and, with gloved hands, try to reach through the opponent's barred guard to get to his face. It's a brutal and often times bloody game, much like football, and it can be boring at times, even uneventful, but it's well worth watching.
Marie Claire got so excited each time she saw the puck moving across the ice, she jumped up and cheered.
"You're only supposed to cheer our team, Marie Claire. That was a goal for the other team!" Roy had never seen a girl get this excited. With laughter in his eyes, he stood and looked at Marie Claire.
She kissed her friend on the cheek andshrugged her shoulders, then turned back to look at the game field. Roy sat down. The guys were getting off the ice for a few minutes, taking a break.
"This is fun," Marie Claire said to Roy. "I'm not much for sports, but I love this game. They are very competitive, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are. My dad got me hooked on hockey. I come as often as I can to see our team." Roy spoke quietly, looking between Marie Claire and the ice. "They're coming out," Roy said as one player appeared at the bottom of the stands to skate on the ice. They raptly watched him as he skated around the playing field, occasionally jumping and twirling in the air, skate tips pointed downward as though he were a ballerina. The enthralled crowd watching knew that this man loved the ice, and the captive audience smiled as the skater enjoyed his free time.
The teams came out ten minutes later. The Civics wore white jerseys, well padded in the shoulders, knees, elbows; and the red boots sported white trim. The red numbers stood out on the white jerseys. The Bears wore green jerseys with white numbers.
Plunging to be the first to hit the readied puck, players fell, got up, lunged at each other and tried to hit the black cylinder, and in their frenzy to be the first team to make a goal they would push, shove, and try to hook the stick around an opponent's knee or thigh to make him fall. Sometimes, after a mad dash to check someone, a player would slide into the goalie because the ice sometimes kept the players from stopping on those slender bladed skates. In the end, tears streamed from Marie Claire's eyes from all the excitement and laughter, though this sport was rough. She looked around her and the audience watched raptly, but didn't get as excited as Marie Claire did. She felt somewhat odd, but the couple appreciated and marveled at the skill needed in such a hard game to play, and the teams competed with eagerness and determination. Roy never said anything all night about her exuberance, other than her cheering earlier.
Civics player Number 99 had made most of his team's goals, and at the end of the game, he fought hard to, but never felt, the victory. It wasn't to be. The puck slid toward him. Player 99 got into position, slid into the opponent to keep him from making the puck, but just as his club hit the small round target to make it past the goalie for a score, Player 15 from the Bears checked him hard.
However, a hard loss for the Seattle Civics, in camaraderie the Seattle team bumped shoulders and headed for the showers. Their motto after losing was 'another game to come, another chance to win!'
Though the Bears won, the young couple wasn't disappointed. Marie Claire had fun watching the ice game. Roy had fun watching the joy on his girlfriend's face as the small hands squeezed his arm, and she squealed as another puck found its goal, no matter which team got the points. They held hands as they walked out to the car.
Marie Claire knew nothing about the game, but she was a pleasure to watch in herself. Always so quiet and shy ever since he'd first met her several years ago, amazement overtook Roy at the laughter coming from his girlfriend's mouth.
"You surprised me, Marie Claire. I have never heard you laugh. I've not seen you smile much either." Roy smiled beatifically at Marie, and she looked into his eyes, a bright smile of her own shining across the chasm.
Taking her face in his gentle fingers, he leaned into her and gave her a chaste kiss. He would have loved to deepen it, but Marie Claire gave a slight push against him. Roy straightened up behind the wheel, and still turning a smile to Marie Claire, he turned the key in the ignition, the engine purred, and he backed out of the parking space. In a few minutes, the BMW was on the interstate heading south and the couple made small talk about the game as the quiet car carried them towards home.
Roy stopped at the IHOP near the ferry dock so he could buy them each a banana split. The two really only had seen each other during school hours the past year, but they spent all the time they could talking while walking the school grounds, or sitting in the library when inclement weather set in. Roy enjoyed the game tonight. It was the longest they had been able to be together in quite a while.
* * *
Marie Claire asked her parents earlier in the day if she could go to the game with Roy that Saturday night. The Kingman's had something going with friends so the answer was 'yes'. Marie Claire could hardly wait for the minute that Roy would pick her up. So much was going on in her life that she couldn't wait to get away.
Roy talked to his mother about his feelings for Marie Claire and he told her he would like to propose marriage to the lovely girl. All smiles, Margarethe Copeland, Roy's mother, exuded her pride and happiness to her son. She thought Marie Claire a wonderfully nice young lady, and she would love to have her as a daughter-in-law.
"Oh, my son. That would be a pleasure. Marie Claire is so sweet. You said she doesn't have any hobbies but horses, so maybe I can teach her how to knit and crochet! I'd love to have a young lady helping me around here." Margarethe Copeland, much to Roy's delight, went on to tell how he needed to propose and when to do the thing. Roy's gentle heart made him take his mother's advice in the intention meant. She doted on her boy, and though not bossy, she tended to be overly protective.
Roy's mother was a sweetheart and often helped out in the community. Well known on the little island, people swarmed to her classes as she taught gardening in the winter and spring months. Other women sometimes went to Mrs. Copeland when they had concerns, and Margarethe, never one to turn away anyone needing help or advice, always made sure to be available to give aide, advice, or just be a sounding board for young and old alike.
"I'll like to talk to you and your father after she accepts."
"Mother, do you think she'll take me as her husband?" Roy was always calm and never nervous, but Margarethe could tell that her son seemed very much in love and wanted Marie Claire for his wife. Right now, he did seem a bit nervous, which was natural. Marriage was a big step, but Roy was well mannered and a very smart young man. He would do well in his life.
Margarethe and her husband, Roger Copeland, hadn't seen much of Marie Claire this past year. She and Roy used to be seen almost every day together, and she shared many meals with them, and even sailed with them a few times. They both thought her to be a good match for their son. She seemed, and according to Roy, was a proper young lady. Someone with good morals was getting hard to find in this day and age. Girls now were wearing miniskirts that, when they sat, their panties could be seen, and their blouses were getting shorter, showing some of the waistline. Parents knew because their children told them that make out sessions happened under the football stadium bleachers. They also knew the names of the kids involved. Being such a small place, everyone knew everything that happened on Vashon Island.
Roy's parents were in their sixties. Roy was born when they were in their forties, after having thought they wouldn't have any more children. He was their pride and joy. His mother doted on him. His dad taught him sailing, hiking, and encouraged him to join the Explorers in high school so he could learn to become a top rate officer should he join the navy. His father and his father's father had been in the navy, and Roger wanted Roy to follow in his forefather's footsteps.
"I don't know, Roy. She is so quiet and I can't read her well at all. Just ask and let the Lord lead the way. I know she's a Christian and a very nice young lady. You could do worse." She put her hands on her son's shoulders, kissed him on the cheek as she'd done when he was a young child, then she turned him and patted his back. "Go now, and have a good time." Margarethe, the sun shining on her snow-white short curly hair, became deep in thought as she watched her son drive away.
* * *
Marie Claire hadn't been to a casual restaurant like this. Inside, she smelled hot pancakes being cooked. The sweet aroma of maple syrup hung in the air. She loved breakfast, and hotcakes and waffles were her favorite. She wasn't really hungry so she just decided on a banana split and waited for the waitress to seat them.
There were quite a few people here tonight, at least a hundred. More came in the door each minute. They probably all came from the hockey game, Marie Claire thought. She marveled as she watched all the people smiling, laughing, and as the waitress seated them at a small table in the back that overlooked the ferry dock, Marie Claire and Roy both admired the happy, noisy people around them.
Over their sweetly decadent banana splits, Roy gazed at Marie Claire with love in his eyes. "I'd like to ask you something, Mare," Roy commented. Marie Claire, used to people saying what was on their mind without asking her opinion, felt surprised. She quickly lifted her head, a question in her eyes. She loved the fact that Roy gave her such a nickname. Her smile was sweet and her eyes lit up with pleasure.
"Sure, you can say anything you want." She put down her spoon and folded her hands in her lap. Her gaze stayed on Roy's shirt collar. Other than her grandfather, and out of deference to Francis Kingman, she looked everywhere but at anyone else's eyes when they talked to her.
"What would you say to marrying me?" Roy's gaze continued to stay on Marie Claire.
Sitting back in her bench, Marie Claire, a look of surprise on her face, stared at Roy as though she just received the biggest shock of her life. She never expected this question. Roy could see the wheels spinning in her head. Her fingers were kneading and entwining every which away. She glanced in his blue eyes.
Marie Claire looked away and, with remorse in her voice she said, "I want to finish school, Roy. I'm not sure what I want to do afterwards."
"Mare," Roy continued, disappointment tingeing his otherwise cheerful voice, "I will be in the navy. You can finish school and we can still be together." He explained how it all worked for servicemen and their wives and dependents. "You can be married to me and it will be just like you were part of the service. Nothing will change."
"No, Roy. I'm sorry. Thank you for asking - maybe later. Ask me again later." Marie Claire rose from her seat and walked outside. So many things were going through her head. So many reasons she wasn't good enough for anyone to marry, let alone her friend, Roy. She knew she couldn't marry anyone. She felt so unworthy. Besides, Marie Claire thought, I don't know that I love Roy. I'm not sure I know what love is.
Marie Claire wished she had someone to talk to, someone who would listen and understand. She wished God would just open up His arms and take her to Heaven. I'm such a worthless person. I don't know why I'm alive, she thought all the time. Things were happening to her that no one knew about. She tried several times to share with friend's mothers. No one would listen. She found hatred instead of understanding, lost friends, and just had nowhere to turn. Three women she thought would help her wouldn't. They just called her a harlot, or told her she was a sinner and they wanted nothing more to do with her. Her own biological mother just told her that she would have to 'live with it. Everyone else has to.' Marie Claire didn't understand that, but she let it be. She never again would talk to anyone about what was happening to her.
Roy walked up behind her, hugged her to his chest, and said, "You're worth waiting for, Marie Claire. I will ask you again. Count on that. Now, let's go home."
The ferry ride was quiet and the house more so when they reached her home. The back porch light glowed yellow, illuminating the carport and the steps up to the side door. The gravel of the drive caught a small space of the light, just enough to show where the gravel met cement of the parking bays. Only one car on the far side sat empty. It was Mom's new Mercedes. All the inhabitants would be away for another hour or two. Roy walked Marie Claire up the steps, gave her a chaste kiss, and left her standing inside the kitchen doorway, lock engaged, before he left for home.
She lived with the Kingman's for about six months before being asked to help her dad clean the bank one night. That was the first time that Francis Kingman abused her. She could have said no, should have said no, but she was so attuned to men having their way with her that she couldn't say anything. She cried when she went to bed that night. She didn't know what to do. She loved her new family. Mom Anne was great. She cared about the kids and she did for them what should have been done for Marie Claire and her siblings at her old home. However, no sense looking back on that, she thought at the time. Maybe, as smart as Mom is, she'll see there is a problem and fix it. At least, she thought that over the next few days.
Marie Claire was buttering a piece of toast one evening, using the fresh baked bread Mom made earlier in the evening, before going to bed to do her homework. She heard Mom call out Dad's name, and the next thing Marie Claire knew he was there, buck naked, standing for her to see his entire body. Embarrassed, the sixteen year old turned away and ignored him.
Many things happened over the next few months. Now a senior in high school, almost graduation time, Marie Claire had to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Francis and Anne started fighting just weeks ago. She would cry. He would hit her. Things were turning out to be just like before the young girl came here, except for the drinking. No alcohol touched the Kingman home. Marie Claire wanted to leave, but Cathy would say something and Marie Claire would be talked to or yelled at and she wound up in her room having to think about her actions, then an expected apology came. Thankful that Jill Wynnewood again had her every weekend for advanced lessons, Marie Claire tried her best to persevere. Learning the horse training business, Marie Claire felt she
Excerpted from Before The Music by Marie Claire Peck Copyright © 2009 by Marie Claire Peck. Excerpted by permission.
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