For me, writing means rewriting. I’d written the first chapter for The Bride Wore Blue then decided it was “backstory.”
I chose instead to begin Vivian Sinclair’s story at a point of action, with her moving forward. But I kept the Out Take, and I thought you might enjoy a peek into Vivian’s past.
Paris was her only option.
Vivian Sinclair lay across the windowpane crazy quilt on her bed. She needed to hear from Father again. Soon. Supported by her elbows, she revisited the handful of postcards he’d sent her from France, dreaming of the imminent day she would see those places for herself.
Once upon a time she was convinced that being the last child—the youngest—made her extra special. Thanks to Father and her three older sisters that’s how she’d felt as a little girl. And the only vivid memory she had of her mother supported her assumption. She’d crawl into bed beside Mama and listen to mother sing between the coughs that took her life.
My wee little one, youngest of my angels, God saved the sweetest angel for last.
Vivian had believed it. Until Gregory’s lies. Now that she’d grown up, she knew the truth: Being the youngest was a curse not a blessing. She could never live up to the standards her sisters’ had set. She’d made mistakes they would never make. No, she couldn’t go to Cripple Creek. She could face them. Neither could she remain in Portland.
She ran her index finger across the image of the sandy banks along the Seine River. She bent her finger at the water’s edge as if she could slide into the river finger-first and be washed clean.
A knock sounded on the door, and Vivian jumped up from the bed. “Just a—” Before she could stack her cards and finish her sentence, the flung door opened and her aunt stepped through the opening.
A strawberry-red braid crowned her aunt’s head like a halo. Aunt Alma glanced from Vivian to the rumpled quilt and back, her eyes narrowing. “You can’t mope around here forever. I say it was a rare act of chivalry that he let you off the hook when he did. Never trusted that weak chin of his. A sure sign he’s not the kind deserving of a prize like you.”
“I’m fine.” Vivian fanned the postcards and held them up. “I was only reclining and looking at Father’s writings to me.”
A slow smile deepened the laugh lines that framed her aunt’s green eyes. “Well then, I’d say I have superb timing.” She pulled a long envelope from the pocket on her duster and waved it like a banner. “I’ve just come from the post office.”
“A letter from Father?” Vivian’s heart hammered as she snatched the envelope and ran her finger along the seam.
“Dinner is nearly ready. You can read the letter to me while we eat.”
Vivian nodded. When she heard her aunt’s footfalls on the stairs, she closed the door and hurried to her bed. Vivian would miss her aunt and her sisters. She’d been anxious to meet her three brothers-in-law and her new niece, but Paris held her future. Living with Father would allow her a fresh start, a chance to pursue her dream of being a famous dress designer.
Perched on the foot of the bed, Vivian opened the envelope and slid out a piece of stationery much smaller than promised by its large packaging. She drew in a deep, hope-full breath, unfolded the sheet of paper, and began reading.
My dearest baby daughter,
Vivian sighed. Would her family ever regard her as anything but the baby?
I miss you and your sisters terribly. I would love nothing more than to gather all of my daughters around me for a Sunday supper and look on as the four of you engage in a Sinclair sisters’ checkers tournament.
Vivian felt her shoulders sag. She longed for that too. How she wished her life could return to those days before Kat and Nell left Maine as mail-order brides, bound for Cripple Creek. If only she could return to the days before Father’s job here changed and he had to go to Paris.
But, my dear daughter, I cannot bring you to Paris. I don’t live in the pictures in your head. My life here isn’t that which inspires the photographs in the postcards.
Her lips began to quiver. He was telling her no. She blinked hard against the tears blurring her eyes and forced herself to continue reading.
I live in an industrial district of smoke-belching factories populated by teamsters and longshoremen. Far from the romantic genteel Paris of your artistic sensitivities.
Vivian glanced at the window ledge where her cat slept then forced herself to finish reading.
It pains me to tell you no. Your mother would say I never was good at it. But, Vivian, you must join your sisters in Colorado. That’s where you belong. I am wiring the fare to your Aunt Alma, and she will see you safely to Cripple Creek.
All my love, Father
Vivian let the stationery flutter to the floor. If what her mother had taught her was true, God knew what she’d done and that where she belonged was far below Cripple Creek, Colorado.