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"Laura and Lacey" by Jean Youkers

      The most flamboyant and beloved character in the novel Full Moon over Estrogen Island was sophisticated, energetic, and had lived in France. Despite enjoying life as a high school art teacher, Laura LaCoeur (at 50) fantasized about plunging into entrepreneurism and began researching courses in finance, accounting, and marketing.


     Snow blasted the suburban town that was home to Lacey Devine, author. She was to read from her latest book in the fabulously successful Full Moon series at Barnes and Noble in Center City, Philadelphia. Pacing fitfully from window to thermostat, Lacey worried what the conditions would be when she had to drive home. The temperature was 36 degrees and plummeting steadily. She felt like a weenie to cancel the long-standing engagement yet imagining I-95 with slippery snow gave her heart palpitations. She stood immobilized in her kitchen.


     Laura's two years of business courses had prepared her to open a shop featuring whimsical treasures, lingerie, and fragrances. It would be a venue for yoga and meditation classes, psychic readings, art exhibits. With a business plan, budget, inventory list, mission statement, and logo, all she needed was a site.


     Lacey rode Amtrak toward Manhattan for a meeting with her editor. She was uncomfortable on the train where germs were surely crawling over the seats and the greasy magazines. She wrung her hands, careful not to allow an elbow to graze the sleeve of the suspicious-looking man coughing in the seat beside her. 


     Laura installed the For-Sale sign on her front lawn with a flourish. Confident the house would attract a qualified buyer quickly, she planned to make an offer on the quaint building she'd found to house her shop on the ground floor, with living quarters above. Her newly-dyed pink hair flared about her head, complementing her cherry blossom tattoo.


     Lacey passed the building with multiple bay windows that would become Laura's shop, "Interlude."  Grand Opening plans - red roses, sedate music, tasteful refreshments - danced in her head. She wanted to ring the bell, go inside to view the interior through Laura's eyes. But that was out of the question - the current occupants would believe she was insane at worst, intrusive at best. 


     The motorcycle ride was invigorating. Laura, holding tightly onto her bearded and tattooed boyfriend, Sherman, felt she was soaring along hills and fields.  Suddenly a large deer vaulted out and Sherm had to make a quick, skidding turn. Laura was thrown onto her head, suffered irreparable injuries, and died in the ambulance, as its siren blared.


     Lacey had allowed and encouraged Laura to take risks that she herself would never dare, enjoying it all vicariously. It was jealousy in that final chapter. Waves of regret washed over Lacey. She had killed the character of her own creation and now, she missed Laura terribly. In a panic, she called her editor, begging to replace the final paragraphs, but it was too late. The presses were rolling and Laura with them. 


Jean Youkers stories have appeared in the anthologies Beach Days, Beach Fun, Beach Love and Beach Dreams, as well as in Delaware Beach Life Magazine.

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