- Part 9
- After Harry left the next morning,
Rachel finished typing his journal, then picked up the telephone
to place a call to San Francisco. She had to go through information,
but she got the number, and hearing that made her remember the
extension of Gail March's office. "Gail March here."
- "Gail? It's Rachel."
- She heard Gail's surprise even over
the phone line. "Rachel Wando- I mean Dalton?"
- "The same."
- "I read about you in the papers,
old friend. And about what happened. Must have been a nightmare."
- "Worse than you can imagine,
- "What's up? Can I hope this
call is to say that you want to write a book about your experiences?"
- Rachel fingered the disk. "In
a way, Gail. You obviously know I'm remarried-"
- "Yeah. To a real hunk, too,
according to the pictures I've seen. Lucky you."
- "I am lucky. Harry's written
something that I'd like you to take a look at. I put it on computer
- "YOU, Rachel? I didn't think
you even knew how to turn a computer on."
- "Harry taught me how to use
his computer. Anyway, would you be willing to read it?"
- "Are you kidding? Right now,
ANYthing about Dante's Peak is hot. Send it to me, don't worry
about the cost- send it C.O.D. I'll take care of the charges
on this end. Just make sure his name and a telephone number and
address are on the disk."
- "Where should I send it?"
Rachel asked, picking up a pen. After a few more minutes, Rachel
hung up and called the kids. "We're going into town,"
she told them. "I have to send something to a friend in
San Francisco. And I don't think it would hurt to do some grocery
shopping while we're there."
- They were about to leave the house
when the telephone rang, and Rachel asked Lauren to pick it up
while she looked for her keys. "Hello? Hi. She's trying
to find her keys so we can go into town. Okay. Mom? It's Daddy."
- Rachel took the telephone, seeing
her keys beside it as the same time. "There they are. Hello,
- "Sounds as if I'm lucky to
have caught you."
- "I didn't expect you to call
this early. I have to go into town to mail that disk to Gail."
- "You spoke to her about it?"
- "Just a few minutes ago. She
sounds interested. How is it going?"
- "Could be worse. Dr. Morrison
told me that my arm is healing well- in fact, he's going to remove
the cast next week, but I'll still have to take it easy for a
- "That's wonderful news."
- "And Marie Delabarre called
me back. She's agreed to teach a course in the department."
- "Sounds like everything's coming
- "Yes. Once everyone arrives,
the real work will begin. Agreeing on the curriculum."
- "When will they arrive?"
- "Marie won't be here for two
weeks. The rest will begin arriving this weekend. Have you called
and made the appointment with Jane Fox?"
- "No, I haven't. She won't be
there until Monday."
- "You can still make the appointment."
- "I'll do it while I'm in town,"
Rachel told him. "What time will you be home?"
- "I'm not certain. I have some
textbooks that I have to look over - no later than five, I should
- "I'll have dinner ready,"
She sent the disk overnight to Gail, then went to Dr. Bowles'
office, where a young woman smiled at her when she entered. "May
I help you?"
- "I need to make an appointment."
- "Dr. Bowles isn't taking any
new patients, ma'am."
- "The appointment would be with
- "Oh. How did you know about
that? Grandpa- Dr. Bowles only told me about it this morning."
- "Dr. Fox and I are old friends,"
Rachel told the girl. "I'm Rachel Dalton."
- The girl's brown eyes grew wide
when she recognized the name. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Dalton."
She got out the appointment book. "Dr. Fox won't be in the
- until Monday morning at nine-"
- "How about nine-thirty, then?"
- She wrote down Rachel's name. "And
what's the reason for the appointment?"
- "Dr. Fox knows what it's about,"
Rachel told her. "I'll see you Monday."
- "Okay." She handed Rachel
a reminder card. "Dr. Fox is supposed to be here later today.
I'll let her know you came by, Mrs. Dalton."
- "Thank you."
The telephone rang two evenings later as Rachel was just finishing
the dishes, and Harry picked it up in the study. "Hello?"
- "With that accent, you have
to be Harry Dalton," the female voice said. "Is Rachel
around? Tell her it's Gail March."
- "Ms. March. I'll tell Rachel-"
- "Not before I tell you that
I LOVED the stuff you wrote that Rachel sent me. You're very
talented, Dr. Dalton."
- "Thank you."
- "Would you be interested in
letting us publish it? I can guarantee that it would be a best
seller - make you and Rachel a lot of money."
- "I'll have to think about it,
okay? Let me get Rachel." He put the telephone down and
went to the door of the kitchen. "Your publisher friend
is on the telephone,
- Rachel dried her hands. "Gail?
She must have finished your book -"
- "She wants to publish it,"
Harry told her as she picked up the extension. He turned back
toward the study, where he hung up the other line.
- "He's not only a hunk, Rachel,
he's got talent to spare. Try to convince him to agree to let
us publish it, Rachel."
- "I'll try, Gail, but I won't
- "Thing is, do you think you
could write something along the same lines from your point of
view? We could combine the two into something that might even
get a movie offer."
- "Me? Write? I haven't written
in years, Gail."
- "Hey, who was the star reporter
on the school paper? Even won a couple of awards, as I recall.
Always thought you made a mistake getting married to Brian
- instead of going to college and
studying journalism, Rachel."
- "That was a long time ago."
- "Give it a shot- and get it
to me as soon as you can."
- Rachel hung up the phone and went
to the study door, watching as Harry worked on the computer.
"I think we need to consider investing in something a little
bigger than that laptop," she said.
- "Hmm. Considering that we just
signed twenty years of our life away last night to buy this place,
I think we need to wait a little while." He glanced up at
her over his glasses. "What did your friend say?"
- "She wants me to convince you
to let her publish the book- and she wants me to write about
what happened from my perspective. She mentioned something about
- "Are you going to do it?"
- "Probably. Harry, if the book
were to make the kind of money she thinks it would, we could
pay this place off."
- Harry took off his glasses to study
her expression. "This means a lot to you, doesn't it?"
- "I think it's worth a shot.
What have we got to lose?"
- "I'll get to read what you
write before you send it to her?"
- "Of course you will."
- "I'll think about it,"
he told her.
- Rachel sat down at the computer
the next morning and stared a the blank screen with its flashing
cursor. Where to begin? With her struggle to raise her children
after Brian left? With her decision to run for mayor of Dante's
Peak, following in her father's footsteps?
"I was born in Dante's Peak, grew up there, never planned
to leave the town where my father was a lawyer and later the
town's mayor until his death with my mother when I was twenty.
By that time, I had already been married for two years to my
high school sweetheart, Brian Wando, and had a one year old son,
- "Two years later, I had
my second child, Lauren, and had started taking an interest in
the future of Dante's Peak, much to Brian's chagrin. All I had
ever wanted was to live in Dante's Peak, get married, raise my
children in what I considered to be the best town in the world.
Brian hated the town where we had grown up, wanted more than
anything else to get away. So two years later, he left, after
filing for divorce."
- "I started a small coffee
shop/souvenir store with a small business loan in order to support
my children, the only family I had left in town being Brian's
mother, Ruth, who lived up the mountain in a log cabin that she
had her late husband had built when Brian was a baby. Between
raising my children, and running the store, I was busy, and when
I was approached about running for mayor after spending one term
on the city council, I hesitated. I wasn't certain I could do
the job and still take care of my kids and business. I finally
convinced myself that I had to run, and to my surprise, I won.
Soon after, one of the council members, who I had run against,
brought Elliot Blair into town, and Mr. Blair, who was looking
for a place to build a new plant, decided to build it in Dante's
Peak, creating much needed jobs."
- "Halfway into my first term,
Dante's Peak was named by Money magazine as the second best place
to live in the United States, with a population of under twenty-thousand.
We were to be presented with a plaque to that effect during our
annual "Pioneer Days" celebration. The afternoon before
the gathering, I recieved a telephone call from Dr. Paul Dreyfus
at the United States Geological Survey, telling me that he was
sending one of his people, a Dr. Harry Dalton, up to look at
the mountain, and asking if I could show him around."
- "I had completely forgotten
about Dr. Dalton's visit in the excitement of recieving the award
for the city, so when he came up to me and introduced himself,
it took me a moment to realize who he was. When I did, I agreed
to show him around, with a detour to drag my son out of the locked,
abandoned mine in the center of town, where he and some friends
had set up a hide out. . . "
- Harry sat reading the words on the
computer screen, realizing so many things about the woman he'd
married. He smiled when he read the part where she had asked
him to dinner. "To thank you," she'd said.
- "Thanking me for what?"
- "Saving Graham's life. And
for caring." She had
wanted to add more, according to her writing, but hadn't the
courage to say it. "And because I happen to think you're
a hunk and want to get to know you better." Harry laughed
outloud upon reading that. If she'd said that at the time, Harry
probably would still have accepted the invitation, if only to
find out if she were really that honest.
Rachel found herself pacing beside the lake's edge until she
saw Harry come out of the house and start toward her. "If
you hate it, I don't want to know."
- He pulled her into his arms- "I
didn't know you thought I was a hunk," he said, his eyes
filled with laughter.
- "I shouldn't have put that
in there," she said.
- "I liked it. I liked all of
it. No wonder you thought I was talented. You're talented as
- "Then you think I should send
it to Gail?"
- "By all means."
- "And if she wants to publish
both of them?"
- "Go for it," he told her.
"I think we'll survive - and you're right. We could use
the money." He looked down at her. "You really shouldn't
have tried to dig me out. If that tunnel had collapsed with you
- "We were very careful, shored
everything we could up. And it worked- until they pulled the
truck out." She kept her eyes on his chest. "I still
didn't know if you were alive. We knew the roof of the truck
had collapsed, and when they started trying to rescue you-"
- He held her tighter. "I know,
love. I know." His kiss was gentle, and when he lifted his
head, he said softly, "Now, about this 'hunk' description-"
- "It's only because you happen
to be drop dead handsome," Rachel told him. "And I
feel extremely lucky that you're all mine."
- "Forever," he promised.
"Why don't we go back to the house and go to bed?"
Monday morning, Jane Fox performed another test, then did a complete
examination. "You're still in excellent health, Rachel.
I'll let you know about the tests when the results get back.
In the meantime, you know the drill. Calcium tablets, iron-"
- "I'm way ahead of you, Jane."
- They went back into the outer room.
"Carla," she said to the young woman at the desk, "Would
you set up another appointment for Mrs. Dalton in four weeks?"
- "Sure, Dr. Fox." She entered
the information in the book, then handed Rachel a card as the
door opened and Hank Jameson entered.
- "Rachel. I thought that was
your truck outside. Hope nothing's wrong-"
- "No, Hank. I was just visiting
an old friend. Dr. Jane Fox, Hank Jameson. Cuttersville's mayor."
- Jane smiled as Hank said, "Jerry
Bowles has a lot to answer for. He didn't mention that you were
so attractive, Dr. Fox. He did mention that you had come from
Dante's Peak, however. Weren't you on the council over there?"
- "Yes, I was."
- "Great. Then I'll expect to
see both of you tomorrow night at the council meeting. Seven
- He looked outside. "I have
to go. I look forward to seeing you again, Dr. Fox," he
said, closing the door behind him.
- Rachel looked at her friend. "Looks
as if you've made a conquest, Jane."
- "Are you going to the council
meeting?" Jane asked, ignoring the comment.
- "I hadn't really planned to,"
Rachel said. "Harry has a faculty meeting tomorrow night."
- "Why don't I bring Lacey out
to watch the kids and you and I can go together?"
- "I'll have to discuss it with
Harry," Rachel told her.
- "I'll call you tonight,"
Jane said. "Just to make certain that you do. Rachel, you
can't lock yourself away out there the way you have been. You're
not used to that. I
- think Harry will agree with me."
- Rachel hadn't mentioned the council
meeting to Harry by the time dinner was over that evening, and
as she was washing the dishes, the telephone rang. Harry answered
in the study. "Harry? It's Jane Fox. Has Rachel talked to
you about her going to the city council meeting tomorrow evening?"
- "No, she hasn't mentioned anything
- "I was afraid of that. I offered
to bring Lacey out to watch the kids if necessary. I really think
she should go, Harry."
- "So do I, but I can't very
well force to her attend."
- "I suppose not."
- "Why don't I talk to her about
it and I'll have her call you?"
- "Thank you."
- Harry hung up and looked thoughtfully
at the telephone before removing his glasses and heading for
the kitchen. He leaned against the doorframe, watching Rachel
close the dishwasher. "Almost finished?" he asked.
- "Yes. Who was on the telephone?"
- "Jane Fox. Why didn't you mention
that she'd offered to have Lacey watch the kids so you could
go to the city council meeting tomorrow night?"
- "Because I'm not certain that
I want to go," Rachel told him. "I'm not sure I should
leave the kids right now-"
- "They know Lacey," he
reminded her. "And you need to get out of the house for