Sneak Peek: A Wedding at Blue Hydrangeas, a work-in-progress, coming soon
After dinner, Jack and Sara retired to the family room, the TV tuned to the Tuesday night lineup: Eight is Enough, Taxi, Soap, and Vega$.
“What do you think of the tents?” Sara asked for the third time that day.
Jack sighed. “The tents are fine, Sara. Stop worrying.”
“Do you think we have enough?” Three large white tents dotted the back lawn, with enough tables and chairs to accommodate their party set up beneath them.
“We have exactly enough. And the weather forecast is sunny, no precipitation expected. Everything will be fine.” He rustled his newspaper, trying to get back to a story he was reading about the launch of a 24-hour cable news channel. “This all-news channel they’re talking about is nuts,” he said. “What could they possibly talk about for 24 hours? Who’ll watch? It’s crazy.”
Sara interrupted his reading again. “Do you think we ordered enough food for the reception?”
Jack peered at her over the rim of his bifocals. “Are you serious?”
“Well,” she said, “you never know. And I would be so embarrassed if we ran out of food.”
“Didn’t you work this all out with the caterer?”
“And he told you how much to order, right?”
“I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. He’s been in business for more than 20 years.”
“I guess you’re right. Oh, I don’t know why I’m so nervous!”
“Neither do I. You always have everything under control. This will be no different.”
“It’s just that I want everything to be perfect for David and Anne.”
He gave her a reassuring smile. “It will be.”
The doorbell rang, startling them.
“Who could that be?” Jack grumbled. “It’s after eight o’clock.”
Sara went to answer. The screen door was open to let the evening breeze into the house, revealing a portly gentleman on the other side, peering in, a couple of suitcases at his feet. He looked harried, a bit disheveled, his round face glistening with perspiration. He wiped at it with a handkerchief.
“May I help you?” she asked, opening the door for a better look at the man.
“I had a terrible time finding this place. A bit off the beaten path, wouldn’t you say?” he asked, his breath labored.
“Pardon me?” Sara was confused. They weren’t expecting anyone until Friday. Who was this man, and why was he here complaining about their location?
“Walter Willoughby,” he said, extending his right hand. “I have a reservation.”
Sara took his hand with trepidation. “For tonight?” she asked, her mind racing. No one was written in the book for tonight.
“For the next five nights,” he said. “I’m here on business. I’m setting up several stores and restaurants in town with new machines to manage credit card sales. Perhaps you could use one?”
“Gee, I don’t know,” Sara said. “What we have seems to be working fine.”
“These are electronic. They’re the new thing. Technology, you know?” He patted his face again with the handkerchief. “I had no idea it got so hot on Cape Cod. What happened to the ocean breeze?”
“Who is it, Sara?” Jack came up behind her.
“It’s Walter Willoughby,” she said. “He says he has a reservation.”
They exchanged dubious glances.
“I’ll check,” she said, turning to go back into the house, although she knew he had no reservation for the next five days. The inn was closed, all rooms booked for the wedding.
A quick look at the reservations book confirmed her suspicions: Nothing for Walter Willoughby. She turned the page, and there he was, booked for next Tuesday. Oh dear, the poor man had made a mistake. She hastened back to the front door but heard voices in the sitting room. Jack had welcomed their unexpected guest inside, and he now sat in in one of her best chairs, perspiring, still a bit short of breath.
“Can I offer you a cold drink?” she asked. He looked desperate for one.
“Unsweetened iced tea, please, if you have it,” he said.
“Absolutely.” Sara gestured for Jack to follow her to the kitchen.
“What’s going on?” he asked when they were alone.
“He’s confused,” she whispered. “He’s booked for next week.” She poured a tall glass of iced tea, no sugar added, and topped it with a fresh slice of lemon.
“Well, that makes sense. At first I thought it was our error.”
“Absolutely not,” she said, affronted. “I don’t make mistakes with reservations, Jack, you should know that.”
“Well, you have been distracted lately.”
“Jack, every room is reserved for friends and family. We have no space for Mr. Willoughby.”
“What are we going to do with him?”
“I’ll call Rose. Surely she can put him up.”
“Good idea.” Jack took the glass of iced tea and went back to their guest.
Sara called Rose and learned that their inn was also booked.
“It’s a busy weekend with weddings and the annual fishing tournament down at the harbor,” Rose explained. “Everyone’s booked. Good luck with Mr. Willoughby. He sounds like a pip.”
Sara hung up the phone, disappointed. The last thing she wanted was to turn Mr. Willoughby out. Although he seemed like an unpleasant sort, she empathized with his position. Cape Cod in July was a popular destination for vacationers, beachgoers, weddings, honeymoons, and the usual antiques shoppers. He would be hard pressed to find a place on such short notice. There must be some way she could accommodate him.
She studied her reservations board, where each of their guest rooms had a space with a guest’s name and the dates of their stay. She’d planned for the groomsmen to bunk together in two rooms, Emily and her crew of nine to share two rooms (although the older kids would camp out in the family room), and Ellie and her kids would take a room. The last available room was reserved for Anne and her bridal party to use the day of the wedding.
She joined Jack and Mr. Willoughby in the sitting room. Jack caught her eye and she smiled.
“Mr. Willoughby, you’re all checked in,” she told him.
“He is?” Jack barely contained his surprise at this turn of events.
“He is,” Sara confirmed. She turned toward their guest. “I’ve put you in the Garden Room, which overlooks my cutting garden on the eastern side of the house. It has a double bed, which I’m sure will accommodate you.”
The man looked relieved. “That sounds wonderful. I’ve been on the road all day. I came all the way from Manchester, New Hampshire with a half dozen stops on the way, including Boston. Dreadful city.”
“I must warn you that we are hosting a wedding here on Saturday for my son and his bride, and the house will be full of wedding guests and family starting on Thursday. If you prefer to stay elsewhere, I understand. However, I heard that everyone’s booked, so I’m not sure you’ll find much success in locating another accommodation.”
He looked perturbed at this turn of events. “The wedding is Saturday?” he asked.
“I’ll be making sales calls all day. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
“All right then. Once you’ve finished your tea, I’ll show you to your room.”
“I’m ready now. Let me get my bags.” He went out to the front porch.
“How did you pull that off?” Jack asked when he was out of hearing range.
“I moved Emily’s younger girls downstairs with the rest of the kids and gave Mr. Willoughby their room. Everything worked out.”
Jack smiled. “It always does. You’re a miracle worker, Sara.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
Willoughby stepped back in, bags in tow.
“Right this way,” Sara said, and led him to the stairs.
Jack took one of his bags and followed.
“I must tell you I’m a diabetic,” Willoughby said as he ascended the steps, becoming winded almost immediately. “It’s imperative I adhere to my diet. No added sugar. How many flights are there?” he huffed.
“Just this one. And I am perfectly capable of accommodating your diet,” Sara said, ushering him into his room at the top of the stairs.
He looked about with a critical eye and finding nothing unpleasing dropped his suitcase to the floor. “This will do,” he said. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to get settled for the night. I eat breakfast at seven a.m. sharp. Simple food please, nothing fancy. And no added sugar.”
“It will be on the table when you come down. Good night, Mr. Willoughby. Please ring if you need anything.” She gestured toward the handbell on the night table.
“I certainly will,” he said.
Jack and Sara left him alone.
“Something tells me he’s going to be a problem,” Jack said once they were downstairs.
“We’ve had problem guests before,” she said.
“Not while we were hosting a wedding for 60 people.”
“True, but how bad can he be?”
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Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story
What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name?
A care home is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband, Jack, can’t bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams, and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas.
Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving, complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home.
With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But, on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.
“Read it twice just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”
“Blue Hydrangeas is, by far, the most tender love story I’ve read in a very long time.”
“Blue Hydrangeas is a different kind of Alzheimer’s tale. A story of love and loss, of impossible promises, and dreams passed on to the next generation.”
Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas
It’s Christmas Eve, and Sara is waiting for her husband and son to arrive home to Blue Hydrangeas, their Cape Cod bed and breakfast. The day starts out with a snowfall, which quickly escalates to a blizzard, threatening to close the bridges, leaving all travelers to and from the Cape stranded. As she prepares for the holiday, unexpected visitors arrive, all sharing the common bond of grief. Sara is determined the storm and sadness will not spoil Christmas, and ensures Santa will find his way to two fatherless children far from home. A sweet slice-of-life story about loved ones and strangers coming together to share the spirit of Christmas. This is a prequel to Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story.
“I loved Blue Hydrangeas, and now I love reading about Sara and Jack before Sarah became ill. Wonderful book to read as the holiday season approaches, filled with the warmth of family and goodwill to all from the good in Jack and Sara’s hearts.”
“I enjoyed this lovely story of the love within a family that shared their Christmas with others. Very tender and heart-warming. Lots of feel-good moments to celebrate here during the holidays.”
“Reading Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas is like stepping into another time. Marianne Sciucco creates a world that delights the senses and warms the heart.”
Sometimes winning is everything.
Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.
But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?
“Lovers of contemporary YA will find plenty of clean drama as Aerin undergoes a journey of self-discovery. Overall, an athletic story with a relatable lead.”
“As a former swimmer and a swim mom myself, I believe this rich, well written story with authentic characters participating in a demanding sport, accurately supports real life issues for teens.”
“This book beautifully captures the life of a swimmer and high schooler.”
Collection: Daisy Hunter Story No. 1 (The Daisy Hunter Stories)
Daisy and her family accompany their hardworking father on a trip to collect his wages from a slow-paying customer, and encounter surprising consequences. A poignant coming of age story that captures the fallout in a collision of classes. Winner of Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest 2007, Honorable Mention
“In this story about the differences between those who have more than enough and those struggling to get by, Sciucco weaves a classic tale of snobbery and humility.”
“They say those with the least will give the most and it’s so true.”
“A short story that draws you right in with fleshed out characters, well-described setting, and a fantastic plot. Narration was superb!”
Birthday Party: Daisy Hunter Story No. 2 (The Daisy Hunter Stories)
It’s Suzanne’s 13th birthday, and Daisy is shocked and saddened to learn that she’s never had a birthday party. So she sets out to give her one, complete with a cake, ice cream, soda, and balloons. But when Suzanne’s mother shows up, the party’s over. A poignant coming of age story where good will and alcoholism collide.
“A bittersweet short story. A lot packed into 12 pages.”
“Delightful book especially for preteens or teens looking for a clean story with substance. Well-written and true-to-life.”
“A very sweet story about children and friendship. And a great mom.”
Ino prepares a Christmas feast for her successful, CEO son, but when he’s too busy to spend the holiday with his mother she shares her dinner and gifts with her home health aid. Sometimes the people who love us best are not family.
“The author packs so much into so little space. This is what a short story should be.”
“I felt myself sink into the story, somehow a welcome guest in Ino’s life. And then the story was over – much too soon. And it left me terribly hungry for some Italian cooking. I do wonder what Ino’s recipe tastes like!”
“There was nothing I didn’t like about this story. A highly recommended read for all ages.”
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Want your digital book signed by the author? Marianne Sciucco is on Authorgraph.