Since today is the last day that you can download Beginning Anew: The Naomi Chronicles, for .99 cents, I've posted chapter one. Enjoy!
Chaz carried Naomi over the threshold and into the vestibule. His gaze caressed her every feature, resting at last on her eyes. They were a striking couple. She, a petite woman with olive skin, azure blue eyes, and curly hair that, when let loose, fell to her waist; he, a lanky man with close cut, dark brown hair and strong features who had once again married the woman his heart yearned for. As Naomi met his gaze with her own, she found herself believing that the Spanish tiles and sideboard stood as silent witnesses to the love encompassing them. She felt Chaz tighten his hold on her and remembered the first time she came to this casa, a teenager handcuffed and dragged here against her will.
He nuzzled her neck, and her thoughts turned toward Chaz coming to this casa the first time they wed, unaware of her secrets. When they looked at each other, Naomi believed each of them were experiencing the magic that surrounded them, magic carried on the soft velvety breeze that drifted in through the front door, enfolding them in its embrace. Noticing that they breathed in unison, her heart rejoiced, for their unity affirmed to her that this was the beginning of all their tomorrows as their yesterdays faded away.
She smiled, certain each of them was remembering the vows they had reaffirmed, the promise of the night they shared, and the many promises they made; promises to love, cherish, and obey.
Naomi drank in her surroundings, amazed that the place of fear and trepidation that had become a refuge for her while serving others, and from which she had fled weeks ago, was now a place of love and joy. Bringing her thoughts back to the present, she saw Chaz’s gaze sweep the casa and noticed his scowl. She wondered if he was remembering their first wedding night a little more than a month ago that for him, she believed, was a night of unmet…She blushed and was about to ask him when he turned toward her. Though she believed, she would never be sure, his look seemed to say…Nomi, you take my breath away!
She flicked a piece of lint from his tuxedo jacket.
“Nomi! Did you hear me?” He stared at her.
Though not given to mind reading, because of the way Chaz looked at her, Naomi wondered if he was remembering the way they met years ago when he was on the street inebriated. Before their life had fallen apart, he had told her that the few moments they spent then changed him forever. Now, as she relieved the moment, Chaz had called her “Nomi” she realized once more the manifold blessings of remarrying this man who used the same endearment her papá had. Chaz had called her “Nomi” before, but this time, when he spoke that name it sounded like a benediction, and her heart filled with joy. She was certain he truly loved her as her family had, for none but her family had ever called her what her papá had until Chaz claimed her heart.
“Nomi, you take my breath away!”
“Oh, Chaz, I thought I imagined you saying that.”
Chaz smiled and kissed her. “Dear one, let us remember what we went through to come to this place and this time. Let us never take lightly the love we have for each other.”
“I promise…I will not forget.”
“Amore, time has robbed us of many things. Commitments unconsecrated at the beginning of our marriage and your promise of their completion on that first Sunday night.”
She blushed. “This is true, but there is nothing we can do about that now.”
“We can have our special Sunday as you planned.”
Naomi took the measure of her man with new insight. “Do you mean to tell me that after all of this, you are willing to wait?”
“Sí, that is exactly what I mean. If there is one thing I have learned from all of this, it is that I need to be patient with you…with us.”
“Are you trying to develop this trait by putting off our union?”
“I believe we should come together after we have sorted things out. I must confess, you were not the only one hiding. I came to you with one suitcase and allowed you to think I was less than I am. For that, I ask you to forgive me. It is because both of us have not been open with each other that we need this time. Besides, waiting until Sunday will be wonderful agony for us both. After all, what is it they say, ‘waiting makes the moment more special’? I believe we should wait as you originally requested.”
“What do you mean, you made yourself to be less than you are? Who exactly are you?”
“See, you are aware that we do not really know each other, or you would not be reacting this way.”
“That is true. I can see the wisdom in what you suggest. But…”
Chaz watched his bride’s emotions as they flitted across her face. “What are you thinking about?” he asked as he put her down.
Seconds ticked by. She smiled at him. “I was thinking about the sign.”
Chaz drew her close. “I am glad you like it.”
“Well…who would not be surprised…I mean pleased, to come home and discover the casa had been named after them, with a sign saying so now hanging above the front door?” She remembered asking him, “Why did you pick these words?” Though she hated having her name where everyone could see it, she smiled when he answered, “I told you before, you are my casa, Naomi. I am at home in you!” Amazed by her response, “I never thought of this as my casa,” Naomi knew she sounded happy like new brides do. Now, those words seemed to reverberate within the walls of the casa, as if the house was rejoicing with her because it somehow knew that home had always been an illusion to her until now.
She thought of the yellow butterfly on the sign and asked, “Chaz, are you one who watches butterflies?”
“No, my sweet, I am one who watches you.”
“What do you mean?”
“What were you thinking of that made you blush when I proposed?”
“Well…I said I would date you…because outside my bedroom’s French doors each spring, I watched caterpillars spin their cocoons and emerge later in the season as beautiful butterflies. I wondered if…if I…could be like them…becoming all I was meant to be by…marrying you.”
“When hearts beat as one like yours and mine, in time we come to understand each other’s secret yearnings.”
“And what is my secret yearning?”
“That we be happy—”
“Oh yes, I want us to be happy and… hope for…”
“Una mariposa amarilla, sí?”
“How did you know my secret wish was to be free like a yellow butterfly is?”
“Naomi, for one who was taught that observing the Jewish faith could lead to her death, who sought freedom in America, then needed to live in isolation because she had entered the land illegally, thinking of a butterfly that goes where it wants and does what it pleases must have seemed like heaven. As for yellow, that, my lovely, is no secret. Given the choice, if you are not trying to be invisible, or dressing to please me, you wear something yellow.”
Naomi thought of the lovely yellow sunhat with embroidered red roses Chaz had bought her and nodded. “Yes, you are right.”
“Un momento.” Chaz hurried away, returning a moment later with that hat in hand. She smiled at him as he placed it on her head and draped the matching scarf artfully around her neck. “I promised myself that when you came back we would begin again with good memories. For me, this hat and dancing with you on the patio are the best!”
She smiled at him.
He picked her up, and hurried towards the backdoor. Before he crossed the kitchen’s threshold, she motioned for him to put her down. “Is there a problem?”
She frowned. “It is going to be hard enough to wait until Sunday, so…”
He saw her frown and understood all she had not said. “Sí…dancing with you is out of the question! Now I wish you had not agreed to wait until…”
“No. I know you were right…though it seems odd to be married twice in such a short time and never come together.”
Chaz chuckled. “When you put it that way, I can see the humor in our situation.”
“It might not seem funny when some will insist that we wed on June fifteenth, 1967 instead of on July twenty-sixth, 1967.”
“I do not care what date we use. All that matters is that we are really and truly married.”
“Yes, a new beginning.”
“Now there are things we need to do.”
“We must go shopping for some new bedding and other things for the master suite.”
At the mention of bedding, Naomi blushed.
“What is it?”
Aware that if she shared her desire, Chaz’s plan might go awry, Naomi cast her eyes down. “Nothing…nothing at all…”
“Naomi, do not hide from me again.”
Oh, God, how do I do this? she wondered as her color deepened.
The way Chaz looked when he uttered those two words made her feel weak in the knees. Talk about something else, she told herself. “All right…since you spoke of Madre Vida and the sign, I must share that her name is misspelled.”
“Is that all?”
“I am so sorry that I did not clear out her room for you.”
“Nomi, it is all right. We can do that together.”
“I could not let go of her presence. With your help, now I can.”
“Good! Let us make that room our own.”
“I am glad you will help because that way the room will really be ours. What should we do with Madre Vida’s things?”
“We could pack them away,” he suggested. Then seeing his bride frown, Chaz exclaimed, “Why not pick some of her things and frame them!”
“Oh, Chaz, that is a wonderful idea, but…”
“Well,” she looked at him for assurance. Seeing him nod, she continued, “It might be silly to speak of such things now, but though I lived with Madre Vida for more than five years, I do not know anything about her except her work with girls like me, and the market she owned and passed on to me along with all her other commitments. Though not my real mother, she gave me this life.”
“Maybe, in her things, you will find what you want.”
“I hope so. I would like to know…” Naomi smiled at him. “She was my only family here in America.”
Chaz hugged her tight. “Now you have me.”
“We have each other.”
Chaz heard the kitchen clock chime, marking the midnight hour. He escorted his wife to her bedroom door and forced a smile. “Then we agree, tomorrow we begin to make the suite fit for us.”
Naomi smiled and opened her door. “Yes, tomorrow we begin to be us instead of you and me….Us, as only a couple in love can…”
“Will be,” Chaz finished her sentence, then he kissed her lips longingly. Drawing circles in her right hand, he moved closer, so close each could feel the other’s heart beating. “Naomi, I…” he pulled her to him.
“Whatever you want, I am yours,” she murmured as his lips encircled hers.
“Naomi,” he moaned, “I must leave you now or I will never go!” He forced himself to turn away and walk down the hall.
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