Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

ROLL BACK THE CLOUDS
Friday, April 3, 2020 by TERRI WANGARD

PLEASE WELCOME

TERRI WANGARD

TO

FICTION FRIDAY

 

EXCERPT FROM ROLL BACK THE CLOUDS

New York City

Saturday, May 1, 1915

 

“Oh, Geoff, look at it. The Lusitania!” Geoff Bonnard’s wife grabbed his hand. “Lavish enough for King Solomon and big enough for all of his wives.”

He grinned at Rosaleen’s excitement as their taxi inched closer to Pier 54, where the fabled ship loomed over them.

She fidgeted on the seat beside him, and laughed. “Mum never understood why the multiple wives should be spoken of so admirably when the Lusitania was launched.”

“The old king did live a rather risqué life. Hardly proper to excite young girls with his example.”

“It’s in the Bible.” His wife raised her chin, but her eyes still glittered with merriment. “Mum totally missed the fact that the ship resembles a palace and can comfortably accommodate Solomon’s thousand queens. Lots more than that. And now we get to sail on it.” If not for the curmudgeon driver seated in the open-air cab in front of them, she no doubt would have squealed.

Rain spattered on the taxi’s roof as a crowd hemmed it in. Not everyone in the crowd planned on sailing that day. Geoff spotted several cameras set up and aimed at the gigantic ship.

He slid open the window to speak to the driver. “Is a crowd like this usual when a ship sails?”

“Maybe a little bigger this time.” Their driver shrugged. “Maybe because of the war news.”

Rosaleen turned away from the bustling scene. “Has something happened?”

“Not yet.”

Her gaze swung to Geoff with eyes wide. He offered a minute shake of his head. Perhaps the man’s cryptic response suggested a frustrated longing to sail on the Cunard Line’s grand lady himself, or maybe it reflected his dour nature.

With a toot of his horn, the driver eased in closer to the ship. “Best I can do.” He heaved himself out and began wrestling with their steamer trunk.

Geoff helped Rosaleen step out of the car. She didn’t immediately release his hand. She squeezed it tight enough to do damage.

Then, her eyes aglow with wonder, she whirled to face the ship and took three steps forward. “This is really happening.” This time, her words came in an uninhibited squeal.

She came back and snatched up her hatbox. “Hurry. People are boarding already.”

Geoff chuckled. Rosaleen’s excitement rivaled that of a little kid in a candy store, or a toy store. His smile dimmed. Good thing his brother Alf and his fiancée Edwina weren’t with them. Haughty Edwina would relish taunting his wife’s delight with patronizing condescension.

Their driver lined up their luggage on a trolley, and waited for Geoff’s payment.

“Have a good time.” His statement sounded like a question.

Uniformed Cunard officials stood at the foot of the forward gangway, checking tickets and papers. While Geoff and Rosaleen waited their turn, a man walked along the line handing out leaflets. He pushed one into Geoff’s hand.

“What does it say?” Clutching her hatbox and handbag, Rosaleen didn’t attempt to press close.

Geoff read the brief message, crumpled it, and shoved it into a pocket. “It’s a warning against sailing.” He blew out his breath. “Apparently, the Germans hope to disrupt the boarding.”

The war in Europe had been grinding on for the better part of a year. Maybe the Germans aimed to drive a wedge between the Americans and the British.

A photographer cranked his newsreel camera as the line of passengers edged forward. “Smile, folks. Your families will appreciate a last image if you don’t make it to England.”

Rosaleen gasped.

Geoff gripped his briefcase hard enough to crack the handle. “The Germans aren’t stupid. They won’t attack a passenger liner.”

“That’s what you think.” The photographer blotted at any raindrops on his lens. “They’ve already made it clear they’re gunning for the Lucy.”

Such audacity to taunt the travelers! Cunard ought to keep the German provocateurs away from the passengers.

The man in front of them reached the gangway. He asked the officials, “Do you expect the Germans will attack the Lusitania?”

The official checking his ticket laughed like he’d heard a hilarious joke. “Oh, there’s no risk whatsoever. The Lusitania can make twenty-five knots. The old girl can outrun any enemy vessel that tries to catch her.”

Rosaleen whispered in Geoff’s ear. “He didn’t really answer the question.”

Geoff didn’t have the heart to dampen her spirits with his rising concern. She’d been so thrilled to hear she could accompany him on his business trip, which included passage on the ship that had fascinated her for years. Surely the mighty Lusitania was safe. “He seems like a blowhard, but the Lusitania has been continually crossing the Atlantic in safety since the war began.”

The official beckoned them forward. “Your tickets and passport, sir.”

The man inspected their tickets like he expected them to be phony, rubbing the paper, flexing it. His scrutiny took so long, Rosaleen turned away from the ship with her brow furrowing. Before Geoff could ask if there was a problem, their papers were returned.

“Very good, sir.” The Cunard man summoned a stevedore to take their trolley. “Would you like your trunk in your stateroom or in the cargo hold?”

“In our room,” Rosaleen answered. “May we remove things and then send it to the hold?”

“That will be fine, ma’am. Head on down to that gangway at the stern of the ship. Have your tickets ready and you may board.”

Geoff hesitated. Other passengers were being questioned. The taxi driver’s strange comment suggested something out of the ordinary. “Is this normal security?”

“No, no. We simply want to make sure nothing untoward will happen.” The company man smiled big and tipped his cap to Rosaleen. “Have a pleasant voyage, folks.” He turned to the next couple in line.

Something was up. Geoff had that twitchy feeling between his shoulders when he knew someone was lying, but what could be the problem?

Rosaleen shot Geoff a quick grin and marched ahead. With her first step on the narrow gangway, she hesitated. It clattered and quivered under all the passengers’ footfalls. Finding her rhythm, she strode halfway across and paused to look down at the Hudson River, so far below. She glanced back with another grin. “We don’t want to drop anything here.”

Geoff laughed. She maintained a dignified pace, even though she must want to dash across and step inside. Yet she stopped at the entrance, and he nearly walked into her.

“This is it, Geoff.” Her head swiveled back and forth. “We’re really here.”

“You’re inside. I’m not.” He tapped her shoulder. “Care to keep moving?”

“Oh.” She scooted forward to the first available crewmember. “Hello.”

“Welcome aboard, mum, sir.” The man must be the epitome of proper British decorum. He gave the impression he’d been waiting all day for them to arrive so he could greet them.  “May I have your tickets?”

After consulting a ledger, he smiled. “Second class is overbooked, so we’ve assigned you to a stateroom in first class. I’m sure you’ll be quite comfortable there.” He nodded to the first man in a line of stewards. “Julius will show you the way.”

First class? Geoff tried not to frown. That may garner them extra physical comfort, but would the high and mighty ladies in their rarefied atmosphere be accepting of Rosaleen, her mouth now open in a silent o? Edwina would be in her element, grabbing every opportunity to taunt his sweet-hearted wife.

The steward stepped forward and relieved Rosaleen of her hatbox. “This way, mum, sir.”

He led them out of the second-class foyer, and down the promenade toward the bow. “As you may know, second class is located in the stern, third class in the bow, and first class occupies the center of the ship. This is Deck C, also called the Shelter Deck. Your room is down on E Deck, the Main Deck.”

They walked half the length of the ship before entering a first-class foyer that stretched across the width of the Lusitania. Light poured in from skylights high overhead. The steward led them to a grillwork elevator beside a crimson-carpeted staircase. “Few people are about, because the saloon passengers haven’t started boarding yet.”

“Saloon?” Geoff wouldn’t have noticed the lack of people. All the intricate details in the plasterwork and ornate railings had claimed his attention. He grinned. Soon he’d be gawking like Rosaleen.

“First class.”

“Oh, Geoff. Isn’t this exciting?” His wife’s heels tapped unevenly on the tile floor as she twisted this way and that, missing nothing of their surroundings. “I’m glad the others aren’t here yet. It’s easier to see everything, and we can get settled in before they arrive.”

The elevator whisked them down to E Deck. Julius turned to the left, to the starboard hallway going fore and aft. He paused, facing aft. “Your room is forward, but allow me to point out the ladies’ lavatory there on the left. The gentlemen’s lav is on the opposite side.”

They continued forward. Just before the end of the hallway, Julius turned down a narrow aisle with three doors on each side. “The two at the end are outside rooms.” He stopped at the last door on the right, E-15, and opened it. “Here you are.”

A sigh of relief eased out of Geoff. The first leg of their journey was complete. The reason for their trip might border on the harebrained, but they may never again have the opportunity to be world travelers. A niggling doubt pushed into his thoughts. Could the war actually engulf them?

 

ABOUT ROLL BACK THE CLOUDS

Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard receive a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to England aboard the fabled Lusitania in 1915. Europe is embroiled in war, but that shouldn't affect a passenger liner.

 

As they approach Ireland, a German submarine hurtles a torpedo into the grand ship. Rosaleen scrambles into a lifeboat, but where is her husband? She searches the morgues in Queenstown, heartsick at recognizing so many people. Geoff is finally located in a Cork hospital, alive but suffering a back injury.

 

While waiting for him to recover, Rosaleen is thrilled to meet her mother’s family, but a dark cloud hovers over her. The battered faces of dead babies haunt her. She sinks into depression, exasperated by Geoff’s new interest in religion. Her once happy life seems out of reach.

Roll Back the Clouds can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1659679842

ABOUT TERRI WANGARD

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard

Twitter: @terriwangard

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/terriwangard

Instagram:  @terriwangard

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

Website: http://www.terriwangard.com

 

Share This Blog:


Previous Posts

WORD PLAY MYSTERIES
JULIE COSGROVE
10/15/2021

JOLLY ANGEL CHRISTMAS
Linda Wood Rondeau
10/5/2021

A LIFE REDEEMED
OLIVIA RAE
10/1/2021

DARIA'S DUKE
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
9/24/2021

FINDING THAT TENDER SPOT
CAROLE BROWN
9/17/2021

MAKING UP TIME
VALERIE BANFIELD
9/3/2021

MAKING UP TIME
VALERIE BANFIELD
9/3/2021

THE WEATHER GIRLS
JENNIFER LYNN CARY
8/27/2021

THE GIRL in the CARDBOARD BOX
JANE DALY
8/13/2021

JUSTICE AT DAWN
VALERIE MASSEY GOREE
8/6/2021

SUMMER COVER-UP
SALLY JO PITTS
7/30/2021

HEAVIER THAN BROKEN HEARTS
LEE ANN BETTS
7/23/2021

LOVE FOUND IN CRANBERRY COVE
JUNE FOSTER
7/9/2021

THE JOHNSON KNIGHTS
ROBERT QUATTLEBAUM
7/4/2021

HIS GIFT
JOAN C. BENSON
7/2/2021

THIRD AND MAIN:BEFORE AND AFTER
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
6/29/2021

FLOWERS FROM AFGHANISTAN
SUZY PARISH
6/25/2021

ALWAYS A WEDDING PLANNER
LEE ANN BETTS
6/18/2021

THE MARITIME CURE
MICHELLE S. LOWE
6/11/2021

ON SUGAR HILL
ANE MULLIGAN
6/4/2021

WOUNDED SOLDIERS: THE PEACEFUL VALLEY ANTHOLOGY
J. CAROL NEMETH
5/28/2021

BEING ETHEL IN A WORLD THAT LOVES LUCY
Michele Olson
5/21/2021

LIVING WATER
ALLISON WELLS
5/14/2021

PAPER WOLF
CHRISSY M DENNIS
5/7/2021

SURRENDERING HEARTS SERIES
Julie Arduini
4/30/2021

BENT TREE BRIDE
Denise Weimer
4/23/2021

A SONG FOR HER ENEMIES
SHERRI STEWART
4/20/2021

HANNAH A GOLD RUSH BRIDE
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
4/16/2021

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
TERRI WANGARD
4/9/2021

PUPPY CIAO
ANNETTE OHARE
4/2/2021

SPRING BETRAYAL
SALLY JO PITTS
3/26/2021

ANCHOR MY HEART
SARA BETH WILLIAMS
3/19/2021

DEEP END OF THE LAKE
CAROL GRACE STRATTON
3/12/2021

DREAMS REKINDLED
AMANDA CABOT
3/5/2021

ANCHOR MY HEART
SARA BETH WILLIAMS
2/26/2021

SONG OF SUGAR SANDS
DEBRA COLEMAN JETER
2/19/2021

A CHANGE OF SCENERY
DAVALYN SPENCER
2/12/2021

SECOND HELPINGS
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
2/5/2021

THE INN AT CRANBERRY COVE
JUNE FOSTER
1/29/2021

WRITING HOME
AMY ANGUISH
1/22/2021

THE PAST EVER PRESENT
DEBRA COLEMAN JETER
1/15/2021

LITTLE GREY CELLS
LEEANN BETTS
1/8/2021

MY GIGI'S HOUSE
MEREDITH SAGE KENDALL
1/1/2021

THE GAME IS AFOOT
LEEANN BETTS
12/25/2020

THE MISTLETOE CONTRACT
JENNIFER CHASTAIN
12/18/2020

Northern Protector
Laurie Wood
12/11/2020

UNTIL THEN
GAIL KITTLESON
12/5/2020

SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS
ANN BRODEUR
11/27/2020

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ENEMY
MARY VEE
11/20/2020

A PINK LADY THANKSGIVING/A STORY BEHIND THE STORY
DONNA SCHLACTER
11/13/2020

TOGETHER FOR GOOD
PENEPOLE POWELL
11/6/2020

FORTUNE'S FALL
KATHERINE BARGER
10/30/2020

SECOND HELPINGS
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
10/23/2020

SPRINKLED WITH SABOTAGE
ALLISON PEARL
10/16/2020

THE SLEUTH'S SURPRISE SPECIAL ONCORE POST
KIMBERLY ROSE JOHNSON
10/11/2020

SAVING GRACE
AMY R. ANGUISH
10/2/2020

DEADLY CONNECTION: SMALL TOWN GUARDIANS BOOK THREE
JENNIFER PIERCE
9/25/2020

MY HEART WEEPS
Pamela S. Thibodeaux
9/11/2020

THE SLEUTH'S SURPRISE
KIMBERLY ROSE JOHNSON
9/4/2020

HIS GIFT
JOAN C. BENSON
8/28/2020

THE AMISH MENORAH AND OTHER STORIES
PATRICK E. CRAIG
8/21/2020

THE HEART OF COURAGE
LYNNE BASHAM TAGAWA
8/14/2020

MURDER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
8/7/2020

DARK MOTIVES
ZANNE MARIE DYER
7/31/2020

THE STORY BEHIND DEN-A MODERN-DAY DANIEL
HOPE BOLINGER
7/24/2020

REMODELING: AN AUTHOR'S STORY
SHANNAN TAYLOR VANATTER
7/10/2020

RISK MANAGEMENT
LEEANN BETTS
7/3/2020

COOKING UP A MYSTERY
GAIL PALLOTTA
6/26/2020

THE WIDOW & THE WAR CORRESPONDENT
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
6/19/2020

YOU'RE BRILLIANT
JULIE ARDUINI
6/12/2020

THE GREEN DRESS
LIZ TOLSMA
6/5/2020

PURSUIT
JOHN OWENS
5/22/2020

KATE
DONNA SCHLACTER
5/15/2020

WHERE THE ROAD BENDS IN OUTBACK AUSTRALIA
DAVID RAWLINGS
5/8/2020

DEVYN'S DILEMMA
SUSAN G. MATHIS
5/1/2020

LEAF ME ALONE
JULIE B. COSGROVE
4/24/2020

JUSTICE FOR ELIZABETH
MARY VEE
4/17/2020

WHEN HEARTS ENTWINE
BONNIE ENGSTROM
4/10/2020

ROLL BACK THE CLOUDS
TERRI WANGARD
4/3/2020

RIVEN
H.L. WEGLEY
3/27/2020

RED LETTER DAY
PAT JEANNE DAVIS
3/21/2020

THE LOST COAST
PATRICK E. CRAIG
3/20/2020

THE CABIN
ERIN UNGER
3/13/2020

OUT OF THE EMBERS
AMANDA CABOT
2/28/2020

HER SHINING EYES
JEANETTE MORRIS
2/21/2020

THE STORY BEHIND OFF THE GROUND
CATHERINE RICHMOND
2/14/2020

ACTS OF MALICE
NIKE CHILLEMI
2/7/2020

THE CLOCK IS TICKING
TRACY WAINWRIGHT
1/31/2020

UNDER GROUND
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
1/24/2020

AN UNEXPECTED FAMILY
JUNE FOSTER
1/17/2020

WHEN VALLEYS BLOOM AGAIN
PAT JEANNE DAVIS
1/10/2020

MISSING DEPOSITS
LEEANN BETTS
1/3/2020

IN AN INSTANT
TRACY WAINWRIGHT
12/27/2019

THE PURPOSE REVEALED
JULIE COSGROVE
12/25/2019

IMPERFECT SNOWFLAKES
T.E. BRADFORD
12/20/2019

THREE FRENCH HENS
LINORE BURKARD
12/13/2019

RESTORING CHRISTMAS
JULIE ARDUINI
12/6/2019

SARA'S SURPRISE
SUSAN G. MATHIS
12/4/2019

MY GOOD SON
DONNA DeLORETTA BREANNAN
11/29/2019

FOREVER LATELY
LINORE BURKARD
11/22/2019

THE TICKET
DEBRA COLEMAN JETER
11/15/2019

MISSING PIECES
LINSEY BRACKETT
11/8/2019

CONFLICT AVOIDANCE
SUSAN G. MATHIAS
11/1/2019

PRACTICALLY MARRIED
KARIN BEERY
10/30/2019

CASSANDRA AND THE COWBOY
JANINE MICK WILLS
10/25/2019

UNWRAPPING HOPE
SANDRA ARDOIN
10/18/2019

FOOTPRINTS ON HER HEART
ANGELA BREIDENBACH
10/11/2019

"Indian Attack"
Lynne Tagawa
10/4/2019

Dreams Deferred
JUNE FOSTER
9/27/2019

A NEW YORK YANKEE ON STINKING CREEK
CAROL MCCLAIN
9/20/2019

JOY AFTER NOON
DEBRA COLEMAN JETER
9/13/2019

Match Made in Heaven: A Novella
JULIE ARDUINI
9/6/2019

THE MASTER'S PLAN
STEPHANY TULLIS
8/30/2019

SONG OF SUGAR SANDS
DEBRA COLEMAN JETER
8/23/2019

LOVE'S ALLEGIANCE
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
8/16/2019

WRITING THE PAST: THE DUST BOWL
CLEO LAMPOS
8/9/2019

THE STREET SINGER
KATHLEEN NEELY
8/2/2019

JANUS JOURNALS
H. L. WEGLEY
7/26/2019

WHERE I WAS PLANTED
HEATHER NORMAN SMITH
7/19/2019

TO THE RESCUE A SHORT STORY
PAT JEANNE DAVIS
7/12/2019

THE LEAST OF THESE
KATHLEEN NEELY
7/10/2019

SUMMER PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS
KARIN BEERY
7/5/2019

AND THEN BLOOMS LOVE
SALLY JO PITTS
6/28/2019

IN THE MONEY
Leeann Betts
6/26/2019

AMMO (An Original Shorty Story)
JENNIFER HALLMARK
6/21/2019

POWER UP
JESSIE MATTIS
6/14/2019

THE PINK BONNET
LIZ TOLSMA
6/7/2019

KATELYN'S CHOICE
SUSAN G. MATHIAS
5/31/2019

HOSEA'S HEART
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
5/24/2019

FAITH AND HOPE
AMY R. ANGUISH
5/17/2019

FALLEN LEAF
JULIE COSGROVE
5/10/2019

GRACE & LAVENDER
HEATHER NORMAN SMITH
5/3/2019

JULIA
VICKIE MCDONOUGH
4/26/2019

AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE
BARRY NAPIER
4/22/2019

KATELYN'S CHOICE
SUSAN G. MATHIAS
4/19/2019

When Valleys Bloom Again
Pat Jeanne Davis
4/12/2019

You Asked for It
STEVE STROBBLE
4/10/2019

One Door Between Us
Tom Donnan
4/5/2019

BURIED MOUNTAIN SECRETS
TERRI REED
3/29/2019

CAPTURE ME
SHERRY KYLE
3/22/2019

UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES
CYNTHIA ROEMER
3/15/2019

A Tender Hope
Amanda Cabot
3/8/2019

PARHELION
LISA LICKEL
3/1/2019

CAROLINA GRACE
REGINA MERRICK
2/22/2019

A LOVE MOST WORTHY
SANDRA ARDOIN
2/16/2019

YOU'RE AMAZING
JULIE ARDUINI
2/8/2019

LOVE'S RESCUE
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
2/1/2019

COURTING DANGER
NIKE CHILLEMI
1/25/2019

JOHN ALDEN ... A SHORT STORY
LYNNE BASHAM TAGAWA
1/18/2019

THE OTHER NEIGHBOR
Gail Sattler
1/11/2019

NO TURNING BACK
H. L. Wegley
1/4/2019

ALLEY'S PERFECT ANGEL
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
12/28/2018

A SILVER MEDALLION
James Callan
12/21/2018

THE AMISH MIDWIFE'S SECRET
Rachel Good
12/14/2018

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ENEMY
Mary Vee
12/7/2018

RETURN TO WALHALLA
LAURA HODGES POOLE
11/30/2018

HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
PeggySue Wells and Marsha Wright
11/16/2018

HAIR CALAMITIES AND HOT CASH
GAIL PALLOTTA
11/9/2018

MEET ME IN GALVESTON
ANDREA BOESHAAR
10/26/2018

HARVEST OF BLESSINGS
JUNE FOSTER
10/19/2018

MEET JENNIFER SLATTERY
Jennifer Slattery
10/5/2018

He Passes By
Linda Wood Rondeau
6/15/2018

Bryan's Homecoming
Linda Wood Rondeau
6/8/2018

EMERGENCE
Linda Wood Rondeau
6/1/2018

Antiquainted Man
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
5/11/2018

SOMETHING NEW
LINDA WOOD RONDEAU
5/4/2018