Small but tantalizing morsel from “Return to the Outer Banks House”

My inspiration for the character Eliza Dickens had a lot to do with the Heart song “Crazy on You.” She’s a rifle-toting, britches-wearing woman that does not suffer fools, does not crack smiles, does not forgive and forget. And the kind of love she had for Ben Whimble still lives, will always haunt her, despite her efforts to forget. When she sees him again at a funeral in Whales Head, that love rears its powerful head once again. (Now cue the song: “Let me go crazy, crazy on you….ohhh…”)

“The sky above was all cloud, but even so it was like someone had shined a sunbeam on this face, just for me. I tried not to stare his way, but I couldn’t help myself. A brass band and gypsy parade could have marched us by, and I wouldn’t have even looked away from him.

He stood there, Ben did, and I hadn’t even seen him come. His face had thinned out since I’d seen him last, but he wore a coat I remembered from the old days. His britches were finely made, the collar of his wool shirt under the coat clean. He had on some leather boots too, not the shiny ilk that the Yanks wore, but nice enough. His yellow hair was combed back off his clean shaven face, and I reckoned he was more handsome than even before. But more than that, he stood so straight now, black slouch hat in his hands. He was a man full grown.

No sign of his wife, I saw.

Had he seen me too? I lowered the ugly black shawl from my head and smoothed out my hair. I knew my cheeks were red from the cold so I wouldn’t have to pinch ’em. I licked my chapped lips good, then looked down at my beat-up boots and Union coat and homespun dress. He’d see I hadn’t changed a lick, be bored with me and we hadn’t even said two words to one another.

Then, as the uncle kept on, I saw those blue eyes meet up with my brown ones. I saw that he saw it was me. He made me a smile, kind of a sad smile for Ben, and tipped his head to me. I kept my face flat though. Didn’t want him to think I was happy to see him.

Which I was.”

Do Eliza and Ben have a reunion of sorts? Or do they go their separate ways, once and for all? I think you know the answer, or there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell! You’ll have to read on to find out who wins Ben’s love in the end…his depressed yet steadfast wife Abigail, or the hot-mess, Eliza Dickens.


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