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Love, Topaz


Here are two excerpts from Love, Topaz, a full-length novel by Mary McAvoy, which is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2017.

Dancing in the Moonlight – Jerome and Topaz

“As Jerome and Topaz fell asleep, each knew, though neither expressed it, that what Topaz was really feeling was that she was tired of being cooped up.

So, it was no surprise to Jerome when, at 3:30 in the morning, Topaz woke him, saying in a hurried whisper, “Jerome. Jerome, wake up. I want to go outside. Look at the moonlight!”

Surprised or not, Jerome couldn’t make himself wake up.

He muttered, “Topaz, go back to sleep.”

As he did, she didn’t. She crawled to the end of the bed, stepped off it, walked across the room and out the door.

Jerome heard the click of the doorknob as Topaz closed the door behind her, and he sat up with a start. In the dark of the room he whispered loudly, “Topaz! Topaz, where are you? Topaz!” When she didn’t answer, he knew she’d left the room.

Jerome jumped up, grabbed his jeans and, while putting them on, he hopped barefoot into the hallway. He shut the door quietly and hurried down the stairs. He first checked the bolt on the front door, which was locked. He knew she could not have gone out that door. He hurried through the living room to the back door that led to the patio. This door was open and he hurried through it. After three strides across the patio, Topaz came into his view.

Jerome had known Topaz for five years. He’d seen her dressed up, dressed down and undressed. He’d seen her with her hair in an up-do, a down do and a drenched do. He’d seen her with make-up and without. This night he stopped in his tracks, stunned by her radiance. Never had she looked more beautiful. The moon was full and it illuminated her white nightgown and the pale skin of her arms and legs. Her arms were extended, embracing freedom, and her head was tilted back – as if she were basking in the glow of the moon. Ringlets of her hair framed her face and shone like a halo as they reflected the light. Slowly she was spinning, whirling, dancing her liberation. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. Her shadow danced along with her as she swayed and then ran in little circles on the lawn.

Jerome walked quietly toward her. She opened her eyes and saw him. She smiled as he intercepted her in her dance and held her close as he joined her in her revelry.

Topaz sang softly, “What a marvelous night for a moon dance,” and went happy-in-love limp in Jerome’s arms. He swayed with her and hummed along with the tune.

The crisp night air was deep blue and Jerome knew he might never again feel as in love as he did in these moments. He wanted to freeze time and to not ever let go of Topaz. He wanted her to be always in his arms, always his love, always and forever by his side.”

Paper Dolls – Marlene and George

“…But there was more to it than that. Here’s what Jerome didn’t know. Marlene had been coming to Weeping Willow for three years now. She’d come two or three times a year, staying for at least one week each time. Her visits were the highlight of George’s life. And that George lived in Weeping Willow was not a small part of Marlene’s reason for being there. In fact, it really was the only and whole part of her reason for being there. Despite her proclamations of being a writer who needed an environment without distraction, George was a constant distraction as thoughts of him occupied her every minute.

Marlene did the bulk of her writing elsewhere, both at home and at “highly competitive” writers residences where she was always a welcomed guest. She’d stumbled into Weeping Willow when a tight deadline for editing a book caught her unprepared and she quickly needed someplace to work. Her editor had suggested Weeping Willow. Of course Kenn and Bobbie thought their ship had come in. And, in a way, it had. By lending her name to Weeping Willow Writers Retreat, Marlene had drawn to the retreat a steady flow of applicants.

So, it was no accident that Marlene looked pretty as a picture this morning. She’d made sure she did, knowing she’d see George.

But there was more to it than even that – as often is the case in the case of attraction between the sexes, as a complex web is weaved. Marlene had a 5th Avenue address – an upper 5th Avenue address, just across from Central Park – and all the social implications that went with it. Marlene didn’t need to write another word. Her royalties would outlast her and her children, if she had had any. She knew that George, despite those things that were alright about him, would never fit into her lifestyle. Oh, it was fine that she’d come to Weeping Willow and flirt with him. But she could never bring him home.

Sometimes, in her mind, she’d play paper dolls – with him as the doll. She’d cut out the finest jacket, and the most fashionable slacks. She’d carefully cut out gorgeous Italian leather shoes – casual shoes. And she’d find a beautiful white dress shirt, open at the collar, for him to wear under the jacket. She’d dress him in those clothes so that he’d have something to wear while she cut out the rest of his wardrobe.

And all the while she was snipping away, he’d sit in his lovely clothes as they’d talk about the books he’d read, and the places around the world he’d visited, about operas, about Broadway, about with whom they’d hob-nobbed the night before at the ______’s home in the Village.

In real life, George had thoughts of his own. His thoughts, unlike his spoken words, were well-formed, intelligent, sensitive, and with not a small amount of insight. He clearly saw the difference in social strata between Marlene and himself. He saw the quantity and quality of her clothing and accessories. He knew her address, and what it signified. And he knew that Marlene was a fish out of water at that address. As far as George was concerned, Marlene had backed herself into a corner. She’d achieved the grandest life she could have ever thought up for a novel, and she worked hard to put herself there. George had realized early on in their encounters that in doing so, Marlene had become lost and lonely and loveless. He had no interest in being a part of her world, and he was patiently waiting for her to realize that she really had no heartfelt interest in it either.”

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