Wednesday Sampler: Mark of the Loon by Molly Greene
December 30, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Mark of the Loon, a supernatural thriller by Molly Green.
As one reviewer said: When I picked up the novel, I wasn’t sure if it was mystery, fantasy, women’s fiction, literary fiction, or what. After spending yesterday glued to my Kindle, and finishing the final chapter at 10 pm, I gotta say, it’s all of that. And it works beautifully on every level.
Mark of the Loon is about a single workaholic who falls in love with an old stone cottage in Northern California. Madison Boone renovates and sells property in addition to her real estate sales career, and her work-centric lifestyle leaves little time for anything other than business and her three wise, hilarious friends.
When she buys a house built by an ornithologist and his eccentric Irish-born wife, a series of events both endanger her and lead her to love – and a permanent home. Madison’s story is about taking risks, dealing with loss, and about deep, satisfying, wonderful friendships.
A heap of framed pictures tilted haphazardly against Madison’s living room wall, stacked among random possessions and packing supplies. She sat cross-legged in the midst of the disarray. A grubby yellow dust cloth, a dozen jacketed books, and an open, empty Sterling Vineyards carton were within reach. A half-full glass of chenin blanc balanced precariously on the coffee table, wobbling on its makeshift coaster of bubble wrap and rags.
In the slanted light of early evening, the final rays of the sunset struggled to cling to what little life was left in the day. The ceiling fan circled listlessly overhead, nudging the muggy air with a soothing, lazy breeze that held the Indian summer’s sticky humidity at bay. The radio was tuned to local oldies station KFMZ. She sang along in a pitchy attempt to mimic Frank Sinatra as he crooned the words to a well known mid-sixties hit.
She felt the sudden prick of tears, no doubt due to the nostalgia of hearing one of her mother’s all-time favorite songs combined with the wine she’d recently consumed. Madisontucked a book into the cardboard box, then swallowed hard and linked stiff fingers behind her head. She arched her back in a much needed slow motion stretch.
The threat of tears diminished as she opened her mouth wide and drew in a deep, deep breath. Feeling safe, she reached to pick a photo from the shelves. The poignant notes of Ole Blue Eyes’ sexy ballad intervened and she stood, lifted the glass from its place among the ancient, torn-up t-shirts used to wipe up dust and grime, and walked to the French doors.
When the ice cubes in the goblet clinked with the movement, Jack shifted in his bed and raised his head to watch her progress across the room. He returned to his dream when he realized she was not going outside.
She stood at the window, humming along with the melody. Her throat constricted and she stopped, content just to listen and watch as the final bit of light faded behind the distant hills. She felt like an outsider who stumbled on a private scene of passion, yet couldn’t tear her eyes away from the lovers.
A breeze stirred the soft, translucent sheers. Madison moved with them, back to the kitchen for a refill. She returned to her task with a full glass, kneeled among the rags, and reached for the simple silver frame that held a candid shot of her parents on an anniversary trip to Paris.
Jennifer Boone smiled straight into the camera. Her mother looked strong and sure, wearing a bewitching Mona Lisa look that only hinted at the joy billowing just beneath the surface. As always, John Boone’s eyes were fixed adoringly on his wife. He was probably speculating how he ever got the smart, witty beauty to marry him. He often wondered that aloud to them both while he was alive.
Madison wiped the glass with a clean rag, kissed the photo tenderly, then held it out and tried to imagine herself in the scene. Jack whimpered in his sleep. In the background, Sinatra crooned about the march of years and the women who had passed through his life. She hugged the picture to her chest, then gently swaddled it in bubble wrap and packed the memory away.