Coral Memories Book Excerpt | Author Jan Moran
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.
Owned & Operated by Sunny Palms Press, LLC.

Coral Memories Book Excerpt

CORAL MEMORIES ebook 200x300 1Ginger opened the old photo album on the coffee table. Embossed with worn gold lettering, the cover read, Our Memories.

Settling against the brocade settee in her airy bedroom overlooking the ocean, she swept back the sleeve of the silk caftan she’d had made in Paris. Like her, it was considered vintage, though the fabric with its violet hues was still as lustrous as the day she’d discovered it. She aimed for her mind to remain just as vibrant, even as her limbs showed signs of age.

Signs of a life well lived, in her opinion.

Her husband’s words sprang to mind. As long as we’re living, we should live well.

To which she’d added—and find happiness wherever we are.

She still missed Bertrand, yet his presence remained evident in their private quarters. He had taught her how to live well, regardless of a person’s station in life. The right partner, good friends, a sense of style, and doing what you love.

She drew a deep breath at the memory. To this day, she kept bottles of his favorite colognes on her dresser. He wore Spanish lavender in the morning and a smoky, spiced sandalwood parfum in the evening. The scent on a linen handkerchief he might offer her if needed was lodged in her olfactory cortex.

She smiled at the memory of his sweet gestures. No one could ever replace him. While she’d loved her grand, life-long romance, she was satisfied with her life now.

His last words—passionate yet tinged with humor—floated to her as if through the ether. Never say never, darling.

“You rascal,” she replied, pursing her lips with a smile. As long as she was still in a relationship with the love of her life, how could she?

Ginger touched the curled edge of a sepia-toned photograph of her parents and siblings. They were frolicking on a beach not far from that which stretched beyond her cottage window. A frothy high tide crashed along the shoreline, conjuring a vivid image of that distant day at the beach.

Footsteps sounded behind her, and her eldest granddaughter joined her. “What did you want to show me?”

Ginger gestured to the photographs. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these.”

Marina looked at her with a hint of curiosity in her eyes. She peered at the images. “That’s a wonderful photo. Do you remember that day?”

“As if it were yesterday, darling.” Surely Marina didn’t think she was waning just yet. Ginger lifted an eyebrow in mild reproach, yet her granddaughter’s gaze held such keen interest she realized that was only Marina’s way of asking for the story behind the photograph.

Perhaps it was time her granddaughters learned about her past. They needed to know why she’d told the stories she had—before her history was lost forever.

Anything could happen at any time.

Like that day Bertrand had left their suite at the Ritz for an afternoon swim before dressing for dinner.

Ginger blinked back the memory. There were so many things I wish I’d asked him.

Marina shifted the heavy photo album toward her lap, sharing its weight. “I recognize your parents. Who are the others in that photo?”

“My brother Jesse and our friends.” Ginger named everyone and added a little backstory on each of them.

Yet, she hardly knew where to begin in telling her own story. Over the years, she had woven many tales for her granddaughters. While she grieved the tragedy of her only child, Sandi, and her husband, Dennis, she also bore the responsibility of their three daughters left behind. Without Bertrand, she’d had no choice but to carry on.

Life had a way of laughing at the plans one made.

Afterward, she guided and protected the girls with every sliver of determination and creativity she could muster. Her girls had grown into lovely, accomplished women with their own families. She was proud of every Delavie descendant.

Ginger had been the matriarch of her family for decades, having outlived her two older brothers by many years. One was lost in a distant war, another from an ailment that could have been treated today. Someday, one of her granddaughters—all young women now—would inherit her title of matriarch. That would be Marina if the natural order of life prevailed.

Not that it did, she knew, coughing and surreptitiously touching the polished coffee table for luck.

Marina looked concerned. “Would you like a glass of water?”

“That would be lovely. Thank you, dear.”

The nagging thought arose again. My granddaughters should know their family history.

Marina brought a glass of water to her and settled beside her as Ginger sipped it. She glanced at another image. “Are those your brothers?”

Returning her focus to the old photographs, Ginger let out a small sigh of remembrance. “Yes, the four of us. We were nearly inseparable then.” She glanced at Marina. “Tell me, how is Jack? Is he busy?”

Marina looked mildly surprised at the change of subject. “He just finished an assignment. Until edits from your publisher are returned, he plans to sift through ideas for another project and spend time with Leo.”

Ginger nodded thoughtfully. She may have a window of opportunity. Marina’s husband, Jack, had won awards for his work in investigative journalism. Since they had been collaborating on a successful series of children’s books, she had grown to trust him.

Jack had been angling to write her biography for some time.

With her memory still excellent, Ginger recalled everything. She turned the page and pointed to a photo of her younger brother, who remained forever young in her mind. “This was Jesse.”

She was acutely aware of the passage of time. Even now, she felt her brother’s presence, as she always had. His memory still motivated her.

In essence, she was determined to live for both of them. Ginger had learned to listen to her intuition, and now she wondered at the sudden urge to memorialize her life. “I should make notes about the family.”

Gently, Marina touched her shoulder. “I’d like that. Brooke and Heather would, too. And Jack thinks you’ve led such a fascinating life.”

“I’ve been fortunate,” Ginger replied, shrugging off her granddaughter’s admiration.

“You’ve always told us that we create our luck,” Marina said. “Do you think you’ve done that in your life?”

“Luck cuts both ways, my dear.” Yet, besides her resolve, Ginger considered herself born lucky—even destined. “Some fortune is earned; some is a pure gift.”

Her great fortune was in her brain’s natural processing power, pattern recognition, neuroplasticity, and nearly total memory recall. Even as a child, she’d experienced the world in mathematical terms. Patterns, such as the Fibonacci sequence—and many others—shimmered to her consciousness in countless areas, from nature and stock market charts to the codes she enjoyed disassembling.

As much as she had worked to illuminate the truth, she had also been required to conceal it.

Ginger turned the page to her wedding photos and pressed a hand to her heart. This photo…we had such a wonderful life ahead of us then. A few short years later, she would discover more riveting pursuits for her skills.

Marina leaned in. “Grandpa looked like a movie star.”

“Even better, in my mind.” Warmth filled her chest. Her Bertrand was incredibly handsome.

Marina studied the old photo. “You were very young when you married.”

“You weren’t but a few years older.”

Marina nodded in acknowledgment. “Still, I can’t imagine Heather being married. She and Blake seem serious, but I want her to get to know him better.”

Ginger had married for love, though she likely would have followed a different path today. At that time, few positions for women with keen mathematical abilities existed. Rather than wither under endless, meaningless conversations with boys her age, she’d chosen life with a more exciting man of thirty.

“Was it love at first sight between you and Grandpa?” Marina asked.

“I don’t believe in insta-love.” Ginger sniffed. “Still, I quickly deduced that Bertrand and I were an excellent fit, and I wasn’t wrong. He became the love of my life.”

She had grown to love him much more than the day they married. Bertrand saw her as she truly was. He admired her intelligence and encouraged her; her success didn’t dim his in any way.

Her sweet darling Sandi was born the following year.

The old wound in her heart opened once again, but Ginger caught herself. Years ago, she’d sworn to remember Sandi with joy rather than grief. With a slight lift of her chin, Ginger regained her smile. How fortunate that she had a trio of lovely granddaughters.

Marina scanned the photos. “And this ship?”

“That was our maiden voyage to France. Oh, what a world we stepped into.” Even today, her skin tingled with the anticipation she’d felt. She would never forget the grand ball in Paris that changed her life—or anything that happened afterward.

Especially what happened afterward.

Her youngest granddaughter Kai swept into the room, her sunflower print sundress swirling around her. “A letter just arrived for you, Ginger. It’s handwritten, so I thought it might be important.”

“All letters were once handwritten,” Ginger said with a smile of amusement. She took the letter and instantly recognized the sender’s name.

“Who is Oliver Powell?” Kai asked, leaning over her shoulder.

Marina shot her an annoyed look. “Give her some privacy.”

“What, like it’s her boyfriend?”

Ginger chuckled at the thought. “No, darlings. Kurt Powell was my first boss. Oliver was his younger brother whom I met years later when Bertrand and I visited New York. He was closer to my age. Quite a charmer in his day.”

“So, open it,” Kai said, handing her a brass letter opener from her desk.

Ginger stared at the letter, dreading the contents. Kurt and Bertrand were old schoolmates. He would be in his ninth decade now. She sliced the envelope and removed the letter.

Dearest Ginger, I write this with a heavy heart. My dear brother Kurt has moved on from this realm.

She nodded sadly. “As I expected,” she said, folding the letter to read later.

“He says they’re having a celebration of life ceremony in Laguna Beach,” Kai said. “Isn’t that like a party?”

“It’s a celebration of one’s life,” Ginger replied. “Would you put that on my nightstand?”

Kai unfolded the letter. “He’s invited you, so you should go.”

“Don’t be so nosy,” Marina said.

“I’m only reading the interesting parts.” Kai brightened. “If you don’t want to go alone, I’ll go with you.”

“There will likely be many old friends there,” Ginger said. It wouldn’t be the same without Bertrand, though. Why, the fun they’d once had. Oliver Powell. She smiled, recalling how they used to go out with him and his wife.

Marina shot her sister another look. “Come sit with us. Ginger has some old family photos for us to see. Someday, you’ll be showing these to your little one.”

“If she ever arrives.” Kai plopped down on the other side of her grandmother.

Ginger turned the page. Jack had been angling to write her story since they’d met. While she intended to share everything with him, a question nagged at her.

Was it time to write her life story, or did she have adventures yet to live?

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