Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Camden Corners: The Merryweather - Tracy & Jack
Tracy and Jack
Tracy hopped in her car. She could almost see her house from The Merryweather property but with the winding roads and bridges to cross it was a two mile ride. Today she was in no hurry to get home. She pulled off the main road where she could park the car and walk to the edge of a hill. From there she could see the lake on one side and the town on the other. She enjoyed this view of her town. Even as a young girl she had a special affinity with Camden Corners.
Tracy's grandparents were James and Ella Robinson. Neither one of them had been born in Camden Corners but found happiness and each other in the small town. Grandpa James was the son of Helene Robinson. His father was Neville Merryweather. Neville was unaware of James' existence until 20 years after his birth. Chester Robinson married Helene shortly after she discovered she was in the family way and raised James as his own. On his deathbed, Chester confessed to James his birth father's name thinking it was important James knew his true identity. Much to Helene's dismay, James sought out his father and was accepted into the family without reservation, with the exception of Neville's alcoholic wife, Prudence, the mother of his two daughters.
Ella Pritchard arrived in Camden Corners looking for her baby brother who was abandoned at an orphanage in Pennsylvania twelve years before. Ella found her brother, Billy, and became a beloved member of the Duesenberry family. Billy, along with his friend, Butch, had been adopted by Vicar Will and Kate Duesenberry.
James and Ella never left Camden Corners. They married and had three natural children and adopted three more. Their oldest son, Jim is Tracy's father. James' natural parents, Helene and Neville married six months after the untimely death of Neville's wife. The older couple built a home on the lake where they lived with James, Neville's daughters and their two adopted daughters.
The house changed hands several times through the years. It became available once again in 1979 and was purchased by Tracy and Jack Crowley where they raised their three children.
Tracy loved that old house with the creaky floors and troublesome plumbing. Jack complained about the old place but the truth be known, he loved it too. More importantly, he loved Tracy and he knew living in the house made her happy. Jack was a Crowley and the Crowleys had been in Camden Corners for as long as anyone could remember. Jack's great great grandfather was Oscar Crowley. The Crowley Law Firm had been in the family since Oscar opened the doors almost 100 years ago. Oscar's sons, Robert and Richard took over the firm and passed it down to each generation after that. Jack had earned a reputation in his field and had received several offers to join larger and more prestigious law firms throughout the state. He always said he came from a long line of country lawyers and why would he want to break that pattern now. He was proud the day his son joined the firm and two years later, his daughter.
Tracy was lost in thought as she stared at the lake. It seemed like only yesterday when Holly and Steve were married under a canopy on the grounds of The Merryweather. It had been a lovely day for an outside wedding in the middle of September. The leaves were just beginning to turn in the hills and it made a lovely backdrop to the ceremony taking place. Holly was truly a beautiful bride and Steve was handsome in his cutaway. Jack Crowley was Steve's best man and Tracy was Holly's maid of honor. Jack had arrived in town very late the previous day. He had driven from Massachusetts after his last class of the day. His ancient car had given out about halfway to Camden Corners. He was able to rent a car for the remainder of the trip but it had delayed him for several hours.
Tracy was just a few years younger than Jack Crowley. She remembered him as being arrogant. He was the captain of the football team, class president and voted the most attractive senior of the class of 1965. She wouldn't admit this to anyone, but she had a big crush on him when she was a lowly freshman. Tracy was friends with two of Jack's sisters but he was home so seldom in the years following high school graduation, she hadn't seen him in a number of years.
“It's just too bad Steve chose Jack Crowley as his best man. He has some nerve skipping the rehearsal for the most important day of his friend's life.” spouted Tracy.
“The guy had car trouble, Tracy. It's not like he planned to miss the rehearsal and he did rent a car. He will be here for the wedding and that's the important thing. Why are you so irritated with Jack? Do you still have that silly crush on him?” Holly asked with a grin on her face.
“A crush on him? Holly, are we still in high school? I haven't seen Jack Crowley in years but I imagine he is still the same self-important jerk he was back then.
“Tracy, what has gotten into you? Jack always struck me as being very down to earth. From what Steve says, he is planning to come back to Camden Corners to join his family's law firm after he passes the bar. He has had offers to join other firms but he wants to live in Camden Corners. If he were as self-important as you seem to think he is, I can't imagine why he would come back here to this little town.”
“I guess I am over-reacting Holly. Maybe you are right. Maybe I never did get over my ninth grade crush. Maybe it's because he never noticed me. He always had a cheerleader or two hanging all over him.”
“You were a cheerleader too. Not in ninth grade but for the next three years. That whole freshman year was torture. Do you remember we were the only two girls in the class who still stuffed our bras with Kleenex? Maybe that's why we are such good friends. We shared our misery back then.”
They both laughed but the memories of that awkward time still made them cringe.
The next morning, Tracy and the rest of her bridesmaids stood back and admired the bride. Holly was the calmest one of the group. She had known she and Steve were meant to be together. They weren't the first of the generations of Burkes and Mackenzies to be joined in marriage.
The wedding march began as one by one, Holly's good friends walked down the aisle. Tracy was smiling as she glanced from side to side. She knew everyone sitting in the chairs that had been set up on the lawn earlier. As she neared the gazebo, she notice the tall handsome young man standing next to Steve. She recognized him as Jack Crowley. If possible, he was even more good looking than he had been in high school. Tracy couldn't believe he was staring directly at her. Oh what she wouldn't have given if he had even glanced her way when she was a skinny little thing back in ninth grade.
The wedding went off without a hitch and Mr. and Mrs. Steven Burke were introduced to the beaming guests. They walked hand in hand down the aisle and into the ballroom of The Merryweather where waiters and waitresses were carrying trays laden with champagne followed by those carrying hors d'oeuvers.
The guests were mingling and chatting with their friends and neighbors until the bridal party began lining up before a beautiful buffet spread. The bride and bridesmaids were on one side of the serving table while the groom and groomsmen were on the other. Jack looked up and smiled at Tracy. She smiled back and her knees went weak.
“Jack has improved with age, don't you think, Tracy?” Holly whispered to her friend.
“Holly, I'm not sure I ever got over that crush from years ago. Jack is gorgeous. I'm finding myself looking forward to being in those strong arms during the bridal dance. I hope I can control myself. I'll just have to remember there are children watching.”
“He keeps looking at you too. Are the two of you going to just stare at each other all evening?”
“Are you two talking about my brother?” Heather Crowley asked as the buffet line moved forward. “I think he likes you, Tracy. He hasn't taken his eyes off you since you walked down the aisle earlier.”
Tracy could feel the color rising in her cheeks as she asked Heather. “Does Jack have a girlfriend?”
“There was someone he was interested in a while back. I don't think they are still together. Mother keeps trying to get information about his love life out of him but he doesn't talk much. I can see her over there smiling as she is looking this way. I think she is seeing the sparks fly between you two and I know she would be very happy about that.”
Tracy sat down with the rest of the bridal party. Reverend Blake offered a prayer and Jack made a humorous toast to the newlyweds. Tracy knew the food was good but didn't taste a morsel of it as she cleaned her plate. Her partner for the bridal dance was all she could think of. The plates were being cleared and the time was almost here. The bandleader finally announced the bridal dance. Holly and Steve danced to their special song. The parents of the bride and groom were asked to join their children on the dance floor. At long last, the bridal party was invited to join in.
Jack smiled at her and said. “It's been a long time, Tracy. It's nice to see you again. You and Holly have done wonders with this old house. After we fulfill our wedding duties, I'd like to see what you've done with the rest of the place.”
“I'd be delighted to show you the second floor bedroom suites,” Tracy said and realizing how that sounded her face turned scarlet.
“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Jack laughed.
“Maybe we'd better start on the lower level. How would you like to tour the kitchen?”
They both laughed and continued dancing through the next song and the one after that.
Jack stayed in Camden Corners for as long as he could before returning to school and his classes. Tracy and Jack spent every moment possible together. Since Holly and Steve were on a short honeymoon, Tracy was in charge of the operation of The Merryweather. Jack worked right along beside her. He helped with reservations, checking in and even inspecting rooms after they were cleaned and readied for the next guest.
At the end of the day the couple would sit on the veranda overlooking the lake and relax with a glass of wine or walk on the beach in the moonlight. Tracy had never been happier. She couldn't imagine why she ever thought Jack was stuck on himself. He was warm and funny and completely down to earth.
“Tracy, I don't want to go back to school and leave you. Do you think it's possible to fall in love with someone in less than a week? Come to think of it, I don't care if it's possible or not. I have fallen in love with you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
“Jack, you don't know how tempted I am to say yes. Maybe we had better think this through. You have school to finish and I have The Merryweather to run. We are just getting established with the place. It has been a wonderful week but we both have to get back to reality.”
“I'm through with law school in December. I'll be returning to Camden Corners and clerking at the family firm until I pass the bar. Will three months be long enough to get to know each other better?”
“I've thought how nice it would be to have a Christmas wedding at The Merryweather. I had no idea it would be my own. Yes, Jack, I will marry you.”
Both Jack and Tracy were busy the next three months which helped the time go by quickly for both of them. They saw each other whenever they could break away from Jack's studies or Tracy's duties at the resort.
Eileen Robinson and Barbara Crowley were delighted their children were planning to be married. Tracy didn't want a big fancy wedding but her mother and Jack's had different ideas.
“Mom, I don't want any fuss. I just want to marry Jack and start our lives together. If we do anything formal it will take months of planning and I am not waiting a minute longer than I have to.”
“Tracy, I don't understand what the rush is all about. Oh dear, you aren't in the family way, are you?”
“Of course not. Mother, it's 1973, we take precautions these days.”
“Don't tell me about it, Tracy, I don't want to know.”
Tracy laughed at her mother's old fashioned ideas as she gave her a hug.
“Mom, you and Mrs. Crowley can plan the whole wedding. Just make sure I'm wearing a simple dress. I don't want to look like Cinderella at the ball.”
That was all Eileen needed to know. She picked up the phone to call her friend Barbara and the two of them were in their glory.
It was a simple wedding and a beautiful one. Tracy had final approval of her wedding dress. It was just exactly what she would have picked for herself. She had the feeling her new mother-in-law influenced the selection. After two sons, Eileen dressed her only daughter in all sorts of frilly outfits until Tracy was old enough to voice her opinion on what she was willing to wear.
Tracy couldn't help but smile as she thought back through the years. She never doubted Jack was the one for her. They both had busy careers but always found time to be together at the end of the day. They both had a fondness for Camden Corners and were never sorry they built a life in the small town for themselves and their children.
Lost in her reverie, Tracy was oblivious to the sound of a car engine as Jack parked next to her. He walked to the spot she was standing and placed his hand gently on her shoulder startling her. She looked into the still handsome face of her husband.
“Tracy, are you alright? I saw your car parked here. You never come to this spot unless you have some thinking to do.”
“I'm fine, Jack. I still have a lot of thinking to do but I'll do it later. I think I'd much rather sip a cold martini with my husband.”
“Sounds good to me, I'll go mix a couple for us. Olive or a twist?”
“Olives sound good. I'll meet you at home in a couple of minutes.”
He kissed her on the forehead. Jack was concerned. Something serious was on Tracy's mind. He knew his wife well and he didn't like the worry he saw in her eyes.
As promised, Jack greeted Tracy with an extra dry martini with a large pimento stuffed olive. “Straight up?” she said. “I must look like I need a stiff drink.”
Tracy handed Jack a copy of the contract Scott Douglas presented to Holly and her that afternoon. Jack read it over and his eyes opened with a look of surprise when he came to the amount that was being offered.
“Now I understand why you were looking so serious. What does Holly think about this?”
“We decided to sleep on it. It never entered our minds to give up The Mayflower. Holly and I thought Jenna and Katie would take our places some day. Taking this offer would mean The Mayflower will be demolished and much of the history of Camden Corners with it.”
“I'll look at this later. At first glance, it seems to be a viable contract. Let's go sit on the porch, looking at the water always has a calming effect on you.”
“You have a calming effect on me too, my love,” Tracy said as took a sip of her drink.