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What the Heart Knows
By Margaret Daley
Thorndike PressCopyright © 2004 Margaret Daley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThrough the crowd packed into the church's recreational hall, Kathleen Somers searched for her sister and nephew. She spied Laura waving from the front row. Quickly Kathleen hurried toward her, aware the talent show would be starting soon.
"I didn't think you were coming. You're never late." Laura indicated she sit between herself and a young girl who looked familiar.
"I didn't think Mark would ever get ready. He wanted to do this, but the way he was dragging his feet you would think I had made him." Kathleen took her seat, smiling at the child next to her.
Laura leaned close and whispered, "Still having problems with Mark?"
Kathleen nodded, not wanting to discuss Mark and his odd behavior of late. Being sixteen was a difficult time in a person's life, but the problems she was having with her son were going beyond adolescent rebellion.
The lights in the hall flashed off then on. The young girl next to Kathleen twisted around in her chair, scanning the back of the room. She knitted her brows together in a frown.
"Is something wrong?" Kathleen asked.
"Dad should be back by now."
"Where did he go?"
She turned back around and peered at Kathleen. "Looking for my brother. You're Chad's aunt, aren't you?"
"Yes, I'm Kathleen Somers."
So that was why she looked familiar. Kathleen was acquainted with her father, Dr. Jared Matthews. He took care of her sister's children and was an active member of her family's church.
"Didn't you just move here?" Hannah asked. "Chad said something about helping you move into a house a few weeks back."
"Yes, but I grew up in Crystal Springs, not that many years ago."
"Yeah. I went to Alcott Elementary and Morton Junior High."
"I went to Alcott Elementary, and Morton Junior High is now Morton Middle School. That's where I go."
"Is Mrs. Brenner still teaching Home Economics?"
Hannah's eyes grew round. "Oh, my gosh, yes! Isn't she ancient?"
"She was when I was attending school. I can't believe she hasn't retired."
"I think she'll still be there when the school is condemned," Hannah said with a giggle.
Dr. Jared Matthews approached them, a young boy about eight with dark blond hair at his side. Jared nodded a greeting, his blue eyes warm with a smile. "It's good to see you again, Kathleen. Your return has been all your family has talked about for weeks." He took the seat next to Hannah, his son plopping down next to him with a pout on his face and his arms folded over his chest. "Thank goodness I found Terry in the nick of time."
"What happened?" Kathleen asked, marveling at how much Jared's son looked like him, except for the hair color.
"Let's just say Terry was being a little too enthusiastic in showing his appreciation for his sister."
"Dad, what did Terry do?" Exasperation laced each word.
"He was writing your name on the barrel in the playground."
Terry leaned around his dad, sticking his tongue out at Hannah. "Yeah, with Dylan's."
"Dylan?" The girl's face screwed up into a frown.
"I saw you two talking earlier." Terry began to chant, "Hannah and Dylan sitting in a tree. K-I-S-SI-N-G. First -"
Everyone in the recreational hall heard Hannah's protest. Kathleen noticed a few people shift their attention to the girl.
Jared's face turned red for a few seconds, his eyes round. "We can always leave if you two don't settle down."
Kathleen was amazed by Jared's calm tone. His quiet voice held a firmness, however, that promptly communicated his message to Terry and Hannah. Her sister had told her he was good with children. Kathleen had to agree. She wished she felt that way about her relationship with her son. There was a time when she and Mark had been extremely close. Now she found it hard even to carry on a conversation with him. What had happened these past six months to change everything? Was he just being a typical teenager?
"See why I sit between these two?" Jared said, catching her attention. "There are times I think they live to fight with each other."
"You should have seen Laura and me when we were growing up. We used to drive our parents crazy." The lights in the hall dimmed again. "Too bad they're on vacation. They'll hate missing my son's performance. They haven't seen him play in a while."
"I didn't realize he was one of the performers. This will be a treat for us." Jared settled back to enjoy the show as the curtains opened on the first act.
Mark appeared on stage after the fifth act. Kathleen shifted in the seat, crossing and uncrossing her legs. He sat on a stool in front of the mike and adjusted its height, then began to play the Beatles' song, "Yesterday." With his gaze fixed on the floor, he made it through the first verse with not one mistake. A constriction in Kathleen's chest lessened as her son continued playing. Even though he didn't look at the audience, she saw a glimpse of the old Mark on stage.
Halfway through the second verse Mark stopped playing and shot to his feet. He stared at the people at the back of the recreational hall, his posture ramrod straight as though he would break any second. Silence, thick and heavy, reigned. Transfixed, Kathleen held her breath.
Suddenly Mark raised his Les Paul guitar and smashed it against the floor. Once. Twice. Several people gasped. Mark tossed the fragments toward the back curtain, then spun about and raced from the stage.
Excerpted from What the Heart Knows by Margaret Daley Copyright © 2004 by Margaret Daley. Excerpted by permission.
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