Lavender Blue

Lavender Blue

by Michelle Crystal


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We're Murdockswe can do hard things.

Rachel Tate enjoys an idyllic lifean attentive, handsome husband, three healthy, beautiful sons, a comfortable lifestylebut when disaster strikes, she stands to lose it all. Rachel, a former lawyer turned stay-at-home-mom, struggles to make sense of her new life, find a path to happiness, and gain peace of mind.

Attempting to heal her family's deep emotional wounds proves more difficult than Rachel ever anticipated. Surprising repercussions follow their insurmountable tragedy, leaving Rachel drowning in grief, self-pity, and doubt. As a favor to her mother, Rachel assists in cleaning out her ailing grandmother's home. There, she stumbles upon journals from the late 1800's, authored by her great-great-grandmother, Anna Murdock Pierce. The two women exist centuries apart, but seem to live nearly parallel lives. As Rachel grows in the knowledge of her ancestor, she begins to accept herself. But will learning about the past bring insight to Rachel's presentor will the daunting trials she faces get the best of her?

Past, present, and future collide on Rachel's journey to understanding

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546216537
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 11/30/2017
Pages: 340
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Michelle Crystal bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction. She started writing poetry in elementary school, receiving publication at an early age. Her poetry background lends fluidity and symmetry to her fiction.
Addicted to metaphor, she can find one in just about anything. Her family endures her regular, boundless allegories, she discovers in everyday events. Spending hours looking for the right word or simile, is not an uncommon event, and she wont rest until she finds it. Clichs curdle her stomach and are not allowed utterance in her home.
If shes not writing, Michelle is probably out scouring thrift shops for some rare find or refinishing furniture. She has held many jobs over the yearswaitress, retail manager, caterer, floral designer, woodworker, and preschool owner, but her favorite jobs are wife, mother, and writer. Lavender Blue is her debut novel, which she hopes is just the beginning.

Read an Excerpt


Pink bacon sizzled and sputtered in a steel pan, curling at the edges. Pride swept through Rachel at the thought of their hearty breakfast: bacon, toast, eggs and smoothies. Weekends were meant for big breakfasts and family time. Turning the bacon over with tongs she inhaled the salty aroma. Moments like this made her life feel idealistic — happy, healthy kids, a loving, hardworking husband, a beautiful home. Her own theme song should be playing in the background while she whisked and blended with a starched white apron fashioned over her evening dress. When Hayden came down for breakfast, she'd lift one high heel and allow him to kiss her on the cheek.

"Hey!" Randy cried.

The fifties theme song blaring in Rachel's head screeched to a halt. Reluctantly, she turned around to see what had disrupted the peace even though she knew exactly what the problem was. A deep frown and mad, squinty eyes had already turned Jake's beautiful, eight-year-old face into a sullen scowl. It was only 7:30 A.M. and "Angry-Jake" was already on the move. Walking over to the table, Rachel knelt down at Randy's side, placing her hand on his skinny arm. He looked up at her with large, chocolate eyes that seemed decades older than five. "What's the problem Bud?"

He glanced over at his big brother for a split second, then back at the table. "Nothing. I'm okay."

The fact that Randy, at age five, was already covering-up for Jake's bad behavior, made her stomach feel full and uneasy. She always tip-toed around Jake's moods like maneuvering through a mine field, speaking softly, not wanting to make a bad situation turn into a fatal one. But what long-term effect was that going to have on Randy? Already having? Hayden's insistent voice resounded in her head — We can't coddle this out of Jake. It isn't fair to the other two boys." Her husband insisted that with time and discipline, Jake would grow out of his selfish faze. Rachel wasn't sure. Maybe his bad attitude was perfectly normal for an eight-year-old boy. But this behavior was not new. Jake had always been hard, even when he was just a baby.

Her gaze and hands drifted to Randy. His hair felt like thick, silky thread as Rachel kneaded her fingers through it. She touched Randy's soft cheek and peered over at his brooding, big brother. "Is there a problem, Jake?"

Jake lowered his gaze, but said nothing.

The baby shrieked — an ear-piercing sound that made them all turn.

"It's okay, love. Do you want some cereal? Ollie smiled at the attention. He didn't understand her words yet, but he loved to be acknowledged. "Jake, get Ollie some Cheerios. Dad will be down in a minute."

Jake grumbled something but got up and shook the yellow box onto Oliver's tray. All she heard after that was Ollie slapping his pudgy palm on the plastic tray and the incessant rattle of Cheerios dancing across it. Back at the stove, Rachel carefully raised Jake's poached eggs with a slotted spoon from their hot bath and slid them onto his plate. He had to have poached eggs. Even though they were time consuming and somewhat a pain, Rachel did it — to keep the peace. "Come and get em' Jake."

A loud screeching cut the air as Jake forced back his chair. The third nervous knot of Rachel's day began to form in her gut. He grumbled as he ambled over.

"Poached. Just like you like them."

He barely nodded, grabbed his plate and trudged back to his seat.

Steam rose from the bacon. The briny aroma of pork had intensified and enlivened her senses. She inhaled deeply, but another smell caught her attention. Something different. Something even better.

Strong arms wrapped around her waist as Hayden nestled into her neck with his smooth cheek. "Morning," he said.

"Mmm, someone smells good." She turned around in his arms so they faced each other.

Hayden leaned in and kissed her. He still used the same aftershave he did in college because he knew the effect it had on her.

"Ooh. Gross," Jake called out. "I want some bacon. My eggs are already gone."

Hayden eased away from her, frowning.

Dang it Jake. Rachel turned back to the bacon. It was nearly perfect. As she reached for the silver tongs, Hayden swung her back around then pulled her in tight, dipping her into a dramatic pose.

"Hey, Bacon-boy, watch this!" He planted another kiss, this time with more intensity than the first.

"You're crazy," she mumbled, with his mouth pressed firmly against her teeth.

"Disgusting," Jake said.

Randy giggled in his bright, cheery way.

When Hayden raised her up and pulled back, a blob of pink lipstick smeared his chin. Chuckling, she nodded toward Jake. "That boy may need therapy after your little display. And, you may want to wash your face." She pointed to his chin.

He leaned down to peer at his reflection in the toaster and then slowly stood. "I don't know what you're talking about. Pink is my signature color."

Now both boys laughed from their seats at the table. And the baby babbled nonsense between bites of cereal.

"Boys, don't encourage Daddy."

Hayden turned to them. "What do you think, guys? Does Dad look cool like this?"

"The coolest, Dad," Randy said through a mouthful of toast.

Egg yolk smeared Jake's chin. "You look like a girl."

"Trust me, my boy. Nothing, is more manly than a beautiful woman's lipstick on your face."

Jake didn't say anything. He just stared at his dad with a blank expression. For some reason the look on his face, all pinched-up and confused, was hysterical. Hayden must have thought so too, because they both laughed.

Within seconds, Jake's face bloomed a splotchy red. His whole body started to tremble.

Oh, no. Rachel's stomach sank like a spoon dropped into water. Not again, Jake.

"You're laughing at me!" Jake screamed.

Contention made Rachel's nerves collide. And Jake made the calm between storms shorter and shorter these days. She rushed forward to dispel the situation, before it escalated, but Hayden made it to Jake first. Ollie banged his fists on the tray of his highchair, making Rachel jump. He'd only last a few more minutes in there before he started to fuss.

Squatting down to Jake's level, Hayden spoke in a soft tone. "Bud, we weren't laughing at you, we were laughing with you."

"I wasn't laughing." Jake just stared down at his plate, stabbing his toast with a fork.

Rachel made it to the table in three quick strides. Placing her hand on his arm she said, "Jake, we didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Your face was just so cute it made us laugh."

"It wasn't funny." He scraped his plate with his fork. The steel tines made a grating, tinny sound against the ceramic.

The sound made Rachel's back teeth ache.

Then Jake smacked his fork on the empty plate like he was beating a drum.

Hayden stopped him by holding his hand. "Please stop, Jake."

"If there was food on my plate I'd be eating." He muttered under his breath.

Right. The bacon. An acrid smell offended Rachel's nose as she turned around. Oh no!

Running back to the stove, she stared at the blackened, shrunken strips clinging to the pan. How was this possible? She never made mistakes when cooking. The kitchen was her stage where every action was perfectly timed.

"Great! Now no bacon!" Jake cried.

Unable to react, Rachel just stared at the steaming pan, until a deafening shriek assaulted her ears. Beep. Beep. Beep! The smoke alarm's blast shook Rachel into motion. "Hayden!" Beep! Beep!

"I'm on it," he said, rushing over to silence the alarm with a broom. Beep. Beep.

Ollie wailed. Randy covered his ears. Rachel's head felt like it would implode. Beep. Beep. Beep. Silence. Finally. Ollie's sobs petered down to a pathetic whimper. "Aw, buddy."

"I've got him." Hayden swooped in to comfort him.

Moving the hot pan to the back burner to cool down, Rachel grabbed a new pan from the rack above her head, and reached into the fridge for the open pack of bacon. "It'll only take a few minutes to make more."

An exaggerated groan spewed from Jake.

"It's okay, Mom. I don't feel like bacon today," Randy said.

Shutting the fridge, Rachel glanced at her middle son. He still had a smile on his face. That little man loved bacon, the sweet, tender heart.

Jake just brooded in sullen silence.

Why couldn't she erase the moment? Swipe the anger from Jake's eyes and put a smile on his face. Some kind of special treat would make him happy, but Hayden shook his head at her before she could even attempt the move. He knew her so well.

He gently squeezed Jake's clenched hand. "Your mom didn't mean to burn the bacon. She's probably just as upset about it as you are. Mom does a ton of nice things for you, and I want you to apologize to her right now."

Silence was Jake's only response; it quickly overwhelmed the room. Rachel struggled with the need to be the smoother, the fondant applied to cake to diminish any lines. "That's not —" But when she caught Hayden's gaze she abruptly stopped. His eyes said; don't cave now. He was right. Hayden could always look at a situation as a whole, then analyze the parts to figure out a natural solution. It was one of the things that drew her to him all those years ago. Caving-in now would only make things worse with Jake, like giving a toddler what they wanted after they threw a tantrum. He had to learn. They had to teach him.

After several moments of awkward silence, Jake finally looked up at her. His eyes were wet. "I'm sorry." His voice was sincere.

Jake really was a good kid. He would be okay. "I know, Bud." Turning her attention back to the bacon she rotated the slices that danced in the pan. Hayden snatched Jake from his seat at the table, grunting as he spun him around in the air. Rachel turned her head to watch. Jake's skinny legs flailed in the air, his pale hair waving behind him. In that instant, Jake looked so much like her late brother, Allen. It made Rachel's chest ache, as if she'd been held under water for too long. Squeezing her eyes shut to dissolve the negative thought she returned her attention to the meat sizzling before her. It was nearly impossible for her to be active and happy in the moment, without worrying about what tragedy the next one may hold. There once was a time she embraced each day, found the fun in every moment. After Allen passed away, fear trickled into her blissful life, spotting every moment like ink blots on a white page.

When Allen died, Jake was just a baby. He'd never known his mom as the tough, logic-driven attorney, or the fun, lighthearted young woman she once was. She hardly remembered herself. It was hard to believe there was ever a time worry didn't overshadow her happiness; where the thick rime of fear didn't coat every moment, turning bright days to a dull, lifeless gray. Hayden did his best to hold her hand and prevent her from slamming the panic button. Sometimes he succeeded. Taking in a deep breath she let it out slowly. Jake will be fine. Relax.

Hayden lowered Jake to the ground. "You're almost too big for me to spin, Jake the snake."

"I am almost nine, ya know." Jake finally smiled, his front teeth still too large for his face.

Hayden winked at Rachel. "Is that right? Nine? Are you sure?

"Yeah. I'm positive."

He ruffled Jake's hair. "I know, Bud. Don't forget to practice the piano this morning. Your lesson's at three. We won't be home in time to practice after the big hike!"

Jake rolled his eyes, Hayden didn't see it.

Rachel held in a chuckle as she turned back to the bacon. Just because Hayden wanted to learn the piano, didn't mean the boys would appreciate the opportunity. Oliver cried out from his highchair startling her thoughts. She swiveled around to look. He struggled against the nylon straps that held him in. They looked like snug, navy blue suspenders digging into his mint green pajamas. "Just a sec, Ollie." She slid the fresh bacon onto a plate.

Before Jake plopped down in his seat, Randy began pulling on Hayden's legs, begging for his turn. At age five, Randy was a miniature Hayden; dark wavy hair and sparkly brown eyes that danced with excitement. Ollie's high-pitched screech ripped through the room. Rachel cringed. "I know, baby. I'm coming." Grabbing a binky from the counter she called out, "Hayde, think fast." And tossed the pacifier to him. He caught it without any trouble. "It may buy us three or four minutes."

Hayden hobbled over to the highchair with Randy attached to one leg. "Here's your plug, little man." He swung Randy up from his leg and into the air in seconds. Because of his small size he seemed to fly to the ceiling, pausing in mid-air before he came back down.

Rachel's breath caught in her throat every time Hayden threw him, no matter how often he did it. The fear of Randy slipping through his father's fingers never left her. She stared her husband down.

His solemn face peered back at her. "You know I'd never drop him."

Hayden would never put the boys in danger on purpose, but accidents happen. Allen. Her heart beats tripled. She rushed over to them and reached for Randy. "Give him to me before you make him puke up his breakfast." She sat Randy safely back in his seat. "Finish up, Rand-man. Phineas and Ferb is on in five minutes."

Randy peered up at her, his innocent face held no malice. "Are all Daddies more fun than Mommies?"

His wise, old eyes, entranced Rachel and left her unable to answer him. She felt smaller, weaker by his simple words. How come a little motherly fear erased all her other efforts? Why did she always have to be the bad cop? Hayden may be fun and stress-free, but she was the one they came to when they were hurt or scared or hungry. Fun-times-Dad didn't know their favorite foods or the names of each of their teachers from preschool on up. He didn't know which popsicles to buy when they had a sore throat. Anxiety may squeeze her stomach and taint some moments, but it also made her a competent and attentive mother.

A loud clattering made Rachel turn. Ollie's sippy-cup rolled across the tile, settling in the corner. "Two seconds, little man."

Hayden's voice turned serious as he walked over to Randy. He placed his hand on his shoulder. "That's not true, Rand-Man. I married your mom because I had more fun with her than anyone else in the whole world."

Comforting heat slowly spread across Rachel's chest, as if she had swallowed warm cider. It was nice to know her husband still thought she was fun, even if the boys didn't.

Randy peered over at his mom for a second, searching for truth in his father's words it seemed, then looked over at his big brother, Jake. They exchanged glances that said: I don't buy it. "Really?" Randy said, with his little head cocked skeptically to the side.

Hayden smiled and winked at her. "Really! You'll see how much fun your mom can be today on our hike." His eyes didn't leave Rachel's. The gauntlet was thrown.

A high-pitched squeal stabbed her ears.

Hayden darted over to Ollie. "Did you think Daddy forgot his smallest man? Did you? Did you?" Leaning closer, he blew on Ollie's chubby neck, the sound vibrated bubbly and wet. Oliver threw his hands in the air and opened his mouth wide, exposing his three teeth. A gurgled laugh erupted from his tiny mouth. Ollie slammed bits of mashed up egg into his dad's mouth. Hayden stood and turned to her. His mouth was still open. A pale yellow blob quivered on his tongue.

Poor Hayden looked like he was about to cry. Rachel laughed again. "Here. Take this." She handed him a napkin.

He spit the egg out. "Gross." Then swigged juice from Randy's cup and swallowed hard, shuddering from the taste. Turning his attention to Rachel he said, "Are you feeling left out, too?" He pulled her in tight.

His woodsy, slightly citrus scent drew her in. "Yes. Could you throw me up in the air and blow on my neck?"

Pulling back, Hayden grinned, arching one eyebrow higher than the other, his signature look that always made her laugh. "Tonight. I promise."

A tingling sensation tickled just below her stomach. "Don't forget we're going to see Gram after dinner."

Hayden's eyes widened for just a second, but she saw it. "Right. Of course I remember."

"Sure ya did."

"I remember now." Leaning closer, he ran his fingertips along her arm. Goose bumps erupted along the path he created.

She never could stay mad at him for long, even though his memory often lagged at inconvenient times. From what she gathered from her friends this "forgetful" gene was dominant in the male species, like brown eyes and height. "She's expecting us at six. We'll have to get home from the hike at a decent hour to be back in time for Jake's lesson and so I can make the ricotta cookies."


Excerpted from "Lavender Blue"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Michelle Crystal.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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