The Soldier and the Stripper

By Rachel Esdaille All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Other

Blurb

Florence Kelley and Clayton Pryor have known each other for years. Clayton is from the American South and is a 22nd generation soldier. His family thinks that he's a decorated war veteran like all the men before him. He has a devastating secret , at night he struggles with post traumatic stress disorder which gives him terrifying dreams about the loss of his fiancée Sarah and best friend Paul in Afghanistan. Florence is a talented fashion designer who is the best at a Toronto fashion magazine she's young and beautiful and up for a promotion. Instead of a promotion she loses her job and now works as an exotic dancer at a Toronto nightclub. She doesn't have the heart to tell her parents the truth about her circumstances so they think that she got the promotion and is now editor at this fashion magazine. Every summer since Clayton and Florence were kids, their families have met together in North Carolina for two weeks, but the summer that they turn 30 changes their lives forever.

Chapter 1


May 29, 1984

Toronto, Ontario

Ingrid

“Ingrid, honey, push. Come on, Mrs. Kelly, one more I can see the head and shoulders, just one more big push and she’ll be out.” Ingrid Kelly pushed as hard as she dared. This was not going to look good on camera. It was a pity really, just last week I was mentioning to my best friend Marguerite who was also pregnant and scheduled to give birth any time how we were both going to have to do a large amount of horrible abdominal exercises to get our fingers back after this horrible ordeal called childbirth. I mean, really, couldn’t mother nature or God or whoever have come up with a more dignified way of having children? This panting and pushing, not to mention the unsightly stretch marks and the extremely awkward growing stomach that women have to put up with for nine months. The one silver lining is that I’m not going to do this alone. My best friend by marriage, Marguerite, is going to be going through the same thing a few days from now.

Marguerite lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our husbands, Archibald and Samuel, were in the same platoon in the Second World War, but then after the war Archibald moved to Charlotte and Samuel decided to settle back home here in Toronto where his parents are from and where he grew up. Archibald stayed in the army and made that his career for 25 years. Whereas after the war, my Samuel went to business school and is now a Canadian chartered accountant with some very high-profile clients. Although separated by a border and the fact that they married myself and Marguerite, this in no way stopped the two men from growing their friendship. In fact, every summer we go to Charlotte to visit Archibald and Marguerite.

We bought a large summer property with a large home with many square feet attached to it. A few years ago Marguerite and Archibald thought it would be a good idea to open up their home to all of their friends for the summer and have games and activities for the kids and a little social time for the adults. The first year was a huge success and they have been doing it ever since. I can’t say I’m looking forward to going this summer, however, with two new screaming newborns on our heels, thank goodness for nannies.

It’s a girl!

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