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About the author:
Dallacey E Green graduated from Andrews University with her BA in Architecture and a minor in Art. She also has her certificate in Interior Design.
What inspired you to write your book?
Secon Best is about insecurities and how we all allow them to get in our way. How we view ourselves is not always how others see us. This book’s message is about not limiting our self, but truly believing that anything is possible.
Here is a short sample from the book:
As she walked another old memory sprung up before her. A memory of when Helen orchestrated a mock wedding and chose Nicholas to play her groom. A mockery is truly what she was. Now everyone Cassie knew would never let her forget it. Though they would never say so with their lips, she read their unspoken words in the depth of their eyes.
“Cassie,” Nicholas called out as he walked towards her, taking long and forceful steps until in seconds he stood towering over his tiny wife.
She looked up at him and saw the disapproval in his eyes before he’d even spoken. Cassie shivered, but it was not from the cold. He looked furious.
Nicholas was furious. He watched her at a distance at first in sheer disbelief and then uncontrollable fear gripped him. The ground was covered with ice for miles. It was easy to slip and fall, yet she had trailed through the countryside, all alone, walking on her injured leg!
Cassie could have fallen, been laying somewhere unbeknownst to him. Why did she have to do this? Why was Cassie always attempting something she knew was dangerous for her to do? Why couldn’t she just lean on him and let him help her for once? He was her husband. Or was she still trying to forget that? Nicholas couldn’t forget the look on her face, on their wedding day one year ago. Cassie looked like a martyr, a regal sacrifice.
“What do you think you’re doing walking out in this kind of weather? Do you know how dangerous it is to be out alone in weather like this?” he spoke in a harshly pointed tone. “I have lived in Cherry County all of my life, and I have never seen a winter as bad as this one!”
Cassie pulled her coat even more tightly about her. She instantly felt like a child who was being disciplined by her father for doing something wrong, when all she had done was purchase the things they needed.
“I-I wanted to buy some grocery,” she said this so softly, he leaned down closer to hear her before the wind took away her words.
I always displease him, I never do anything right, she thought sadly.
“I came home just a few minutes ago and you were gone, why didn’t you wait for me?” he sounded annoyed and upset. “I would have driven you into town.” Then Nicholas looked down disapprovingly on the brown paper bag she held in her hand.
“You carried this bag all the way from town?” he made a deep growling sound from the back of his throat. “Give me the bag Cassie!”
He stood there waiting for her to let him have the bag. She looked so pale and vulnerable and he just ached to help her. Nicholas could see Cassie wanted nothing from him. Everything he tried to give her, she pushed away.
Nicholas took the bag from her when she hesitated to hand it over to him, then shook his head as the wind wiped through the air tossing his hair all about.
Cassie’s gaze fell to the dirt frozen ground. “I didn’t want to bother you, I…” Tears came to her bright hazel eyes and she tried to hold back her emotions. She didn’t want to be a burden to him. Why couldn’t Nicholas understand how she felt? Cassie wanted to prove to him, as well as everybody else just how strong and capable she was, or at least was trying to be.
Another strong wind whipped by them and it seemed the cold air was intensifying the ache in her leg. It was sheer agony to stand now. Cassie flinched as the pain in her leg began to throb even worse than it had just moments before.
Nicholas saw the tears in her eyes. He wanted to reach out to her, he wanted to take her into his arms, but he felt she wouldn’t want him to. It was hard having Cassie as his wife and not being able to tell her how he felt.
Nicholas sighed. “Bother me, Cassie! Look at you. I can see you’re hurting…three and a half miles! What would your parents say?” He shook his head as he let out a frustrated breath.
“Come on, take my arm. Let’s get you inside where you can warm-up.”
Cassie hesitated for a second. She didn’t want his help, didn’t want Nicholas to treat her like the cripple he knew she was. Her parents…he mentioned them all the time. Nicholas promised them he would take care of her. He felt responsible for her now. Nicholas always took care of his responsibilities, she thought begrudgingly.
A knot tightened in her throat. It could be worse really, she tried to comfort herself. He could ignore her, not show any concern about what happened to her…only she wondered sometimes if it would be better than feeling like someone’s fragile possession?
“Cassandra!” Nicholas said her name in his no-nonsense voice and she reluctantly took his arm.
He felt the sting of her rejection. She never wanted to come near him, to touch him. His pain cut deep, so deep he ached with it.
“This is the last time Cassie. From now on you will not leave this house to go into town without me. I have told you this before. If you need to go somewhere, anywhere, I will take you,” Nicholas said, finally putting his foot down.
Nicholas began to walk towards the house, taking slow strides to give her a pace she was comfortable with. What he said, how he said it made Cassie feel more like his child than his wife. She never really felt like his wife. When people called her by her new last name, Mrs. Andersen, she rarely ever realized they were talking to her.
“I didn’t like it when you did this even in the summer time and I won’t stand for it now. It is dangerous out here in the cold. What if something would have happened to you?”
“I’m fine Nicholas, really I am,” though she said this, every step she took was with sheer will power. Cassie heard the crunch under her feet at each step. She nearly slipped once, but Nicholas held her so firmly she kept her ground. Cassie was thankful when they were but five feet from the porch steps.
“How’s your leg?” he asked deeply worried about her.
Her hand unconsciously tightened on his arm. Cassie flinched. “It’s a little sore,” she tried to sound nonchalant about it, hating to be reminded she was not as whole as she would like to be.
Maybe he regretted marrying her now. Cassie saw the way the town people looked at them when they were next to each other. In their eyes she saw awe and sympathy. Nicholas’ burden is what she had become. The thought was very disturbing, so disturbing that she found it was hard to look at him sometimes.
He was a handsome man, her husband, so perfectly handsome. Nicholas was six feet two with broad muscular shoulders. He had light brown hair with streaks of sun-kissed blond strands throughout. His eyes were a light brown color also, lighter than his hair and hypnotizing. When he made a joke he winked adorably. His jaw was square cut, ruggedly shaved. He had a warm friendly smile, only Nicholas didn’t smile much since Helen went away.
“Let me help you up the steps.” His hand was under her arm now.
Cassie tensed as her thoughts returned to the present.
“No, I can do it…thanks.”
Cassie glanced up at Nicholas for a moment. He had a weird expression on his face. He didn’t let go of her right away. Nicholas studied his wife for a few moments then he nodded and released her. Carefully she made her way up the steps one by one, all the while aware he was watching her. Cassie found herself cringing inside. She was always embarrassed when he watched her. She never liked it when Nicholas looked at her for too long, as he was looking at her now.
She wondered if he was thinking of Helen and the fact he was now stuck with her, while Helen was forever lost to him. Why didn’t he go away? Why wasn’t he off working in the barn or something? She did not expect him to be home when she returned. He only ever came back to the house for lunch in the middle of the afternoon. In the day time, she would barely see him. Cassie sighed when she made it to the top of the steps.
“You must be freezing.” Nicholas pushed on the large cherry wood front door and waited for his wife to enter first.
Instantly Cassie felt the heat coming from the fireplace. The warmth of the room was a vast contrast to the cold. She sneezed covering her nose as she heard the door behind her firmly snap shut.
“Come here.” Nicholas took her hand and pulled her more closely into the room, near to the fireplace.
“Let me help you before you make yourself sick.” He began to pull on the red wool scarf she wore before he removed his own scarf and coat.
“It’s fine, I can do it.”
Nicholas turned her to face him. When she looked up into his eyes Cassie saw a look of much determination. He wasn’t backing down this time. No, not this time. Nicholas was going to help her whether she liked it or not.
Without saying a word, he began to unbutton her gray wool coat, just like her mother use to do when she was seven years old. She watched as he hung it up on the coat rack. Nicholas then reached for her hat, pulling the gray knitted cap off of her head, causing her black thick wavy curls to fall down onto her shoulders.
Before Cassie knew it she was sitting by the fire in her sweater and checker board wool skirt, with only her knee high boots to be discarded. When she reached down to pull them off Nicholas lightly pushed her hand away, knelt down beside his wife and began to gently remove them for her. Cassie unconsciously pulled back her right leg.
Nicholas looked up then at her with regret in his eyes. “I’m sorry Cassie. I am trying not to hurt you, but if you move your leg like that, there is no helping it,” he said in a warm soothing voice, trying to calm her.
She looked down at him and felt more vulnerable than she ever felt in her entire life. If she was Helen, well he wouldn’t need to do this for Helen. Helen was strong…capable, so unlike her.
Cassie cried out when he removed her right boot, her hands gripping the wooden arms of the accent chair.
“Shh, I didn’t mean to hurt you, Cass. Your ankle is a bit swollen. It will be better in a little while. You’ll see,” he spoke tenderly, far too tenderly, so much so, it brought tears to her eyes.
Nicholas was being so nice and she almost wished he would not. If he loved her then his kind attentiveness would have been welcomed, but because he did not Cassie felt like life was playing a cruel joke on her. She didn’t want to believe that he could care for her. She didn’t want to dream about things being different between them anymore.
”Let me look at it?” Nicholas didn’t wait for her response. He gently took the heel of the injured leg in his hand and began to carefully massage it.
Cassie tensed trying to pull her foot away from him. “No, don’t!” A tear slipped down her cheek.
“Shh, Cassie it’s alright, don’t cry,” Nicholas said soothingly as he continued to massage the tight ache out of her foot. “The pain will go away soon. I promise. This is why I don’t want you to walk to town anymore, alright?” he said tenderly.
His light brown eyes pleaded with her to understand. He tried to let her see he was not angry with her, it was just he cared for her so much.
Cassie sniffed and nodded, relieved he hadn’t guessed the true cause of her tears. She closed her eyes needing and yet hating the attention he was giving her.
“Is it better?” Nicholas asked a few minutes later, with a worried look in his eyes as he watched her.
“Yes,” Cassie whispered, wiping her tears away.
“Don’t cry Cass. I hate to see you cry.” He blinked frowning. Then his eyes suddenly lit up. “What if I make you some hot chocolate with cinnamon? But only if you stop crying.”
Cassie sniffed, then she nodded.
Nicholas knew them so well…he’d known the Baker family as if they were his own family. He remembered the special cup of hot chocolate her mother use to make. Cassie’s mom use to make her children a special cup of hot chocolate to cheer them up when they were down or sick, with a touch of cinnamon in it. Nicholas then pulled around tufted ottoman towards her and placed it under her right leg.
“Sit here and I’ll be right back with your cup of hot chocolate.”
Not having the strength to resist him, she nodded and watched as her husband removed his winter coat then slipped into the kitchen.
He was back in the living room in less than ten minutes, seated across from his wife watching her. He liked looking at her. She was so beautiful, his wife, so utterly beautiful. It was hard to believe she really was his.
Cassie sat sipping her cup of hot chocolate with her eyes lowered on her lap. He said nothing for a while and it made her nervous, the silence.
“I almost forgot.” Nicholas stood and went back into the kitchen again.
Cassie heard the back kitchen door open and the harsh sound of the winter wind. Moments later the door in the kitchen slammed shut.
“Cassie, do you remember what this day is?” Nicholas spoke from the other side of the kitchen door.
Did Nicholas remember it was their anniversary? She thought about the disappointment he must feel on being reminded today was the day he married her instead of Helen, the woman he loved. Cassie found she could not answer him.
“Cass?” Nicholas pushed open the kitchen door and walked into the living room with a tall and heavy item in his hands. He got up extra early this morning, walked out in the biting cold to bring this special gift to her.
She watched in amazement as he came closer, speechless to see what it was he presented to her. Why had Nicholas brought her the tree? It was strange to think he would remember, even cared to consider the sentiment of his deed.
Nicholas waited for her to say something, but as the seconds flew by and Cassie still remained silent, he found himself saying, “You don’t like it?” He looked puzzlingly at his wife. “This is the day your father cuts down your families Christmas tree isn’t it…the twenty-second of December?”
“Well, your father said you always enjoyed getting a tree and I thought it would be nice if we did the same.”
Nicholas wanted to please her. He wanted Cassie to realize they were a family now. That these traditions she had shared with her family could now be special between them.
“Oh, it’s nice…thank you,” Cassie said with no emotion in her voice. The hazel pools of her eyes reflected the large tree which stood before her. Then she clasped her hands, not knowing how to compose herself.
There was a lot to do in the house and the day was already going by so quickly. Jeremy and Dotty were coming over for dinner this evening. Their visits were always something Cassie looked forward to because they were so happy and had a light-hearted way of joking around. They were so much in love, Jeremy, and Dotty. Often Cassie found herself wondering what it would be like to be loved by a man the way her sister-in-law was loved by her brother.
Nicholas leaned the tall evergreen tree in a corner of the room. He began to brush off the snow which was now all over his head, and on the red, plaid, fleece shirt he wore.
“I went out scouting on our property this morning, looking for a tree,” he spoke as if this was an everyday occurrence. Then Nicholas stood over the fireplace rubbing his hands together.
Cassie didn’t know what to say, so she said the very first thing that came to her mind. “You left before breakfast…I didn’t see you when I got up,” she spoke softly.
He shrugged. “It was too early and I didn’t want to wake you.” Nicholas turned to her then, his light brown eyes focused on his wife. “You’re not mad at me are you…for leaving and not telling you?”
Cassie shook her head.
Nicholas studied her intently as if he was looking for something, then he turned back gazing into the fireplace.
“I remember when I visited your parents’ home. You always seemed to be so involved in your music. I watched you sit for hours by the piano earnestly laboring over picking the right notes for the music you were composing. They were lovely songs and I could tell you put your whole heart into them. You worried your music wouldn’t sound just right. I could see it was hard work, but you loved it. Besides your music Cassie, you don’t seem to worry about anything much do you?” Nicholas sighed then he looked up at the painting on the mantel. The painting of Cassie and Helen he painted four years earlier and his heart ached all the more. Her parent’s intention was good, but an imitation never holds up to the real thing.
“Cass I wish you would─” But before he could finish his sentence the phone rang.
What was it he wished? The question was a wonder to her as she watched him reach for the phone. Cassie already knew he wished she was Helen. Wasn’t it obvious?
“Yes hello…Helen!” Nicholas exclaimed with a happy lift to his voice.
Helen. Yes, the dull ache in his voice was gone now. Cassie looked up and watched him smile, a special smile which was not for his wife. The smile he had not given her, not even in an entire year of marriage.
“So you are coming for Christmas after all!” Nicholas smile seemed to brighten all the more. “I’m so happy to know you’ll be here! I haven’t seen you in such a long time. How is the baby?” He let his gaze settle on his wife.
Not having a baby was one of the others failures Nicholas’ mother offhandedly kept reminding her of, but it wasn’t her fault, at least not entirely.
Mrs. Andersen admired Helen a lot. She openly talked about Helen and Nicholas being a fantastic match. She told everyone in town how honored she was going to be to have Helen as a daughter-in-law. When Nicholas took Cassie to his mother and father, Mrs. Andersen said nothing. He explained what Helen had done and how he was going to marry Cassie instead.
When Nicholas was finished he waited for his mother to say something, but Mrs. Andersen just sat in her Queen Anne styled chair and stared out into her front yard speechless. It was Nicholas’ father which gave them his blessing. Mr. Andersen was a warm man, with a large, friendly disposition. He did all he could to make her feel welcomed. In the evening, he told their cook to prepare a special meal in honor of Nicholas’ and Cassie’s engagement. But Mrs. Andersen remained cool and aloof about the whole affair.
At the wedding, Mrs. Andersen looked gravely upset. She wept throughout the entire wedding ceremony. She was comforted by several of her close friends who came to watch the wedding more out of curiosity, than true, heartfelt sincerity.
When Nicholas’ mother found out Helen was going to have a baby, well it is all she talked about for months. She went on and on about wanting to be a grandmother, hoping something could be done about it before she rested in her grave.
It was very painful how Nicholas’ mother pointed out from time to time that Helen was married only four months longer than Cassie, and yet she bore her husband a son, Davy. The baby was five months old. Cassie loved her nephew. Davy was a sweet baby and never seemed to cry much in her arms, but it hurt to hold him. It left her wondering deep down inside if she would ever hold a child that was her very own. Nicholas never mentioned children to her, but he didn’t have to, Cassie saw the longing in his eyes. She watched the way he played with Jeremy’s children, and the way he held the babies of his other friends. I should never have married him, she thought sadly to herself.
Nicholas laughed happily then at something Helen said. “Cassie’s fine. Her leg is a little sore, but I believe she will be better in a little while. You know how this weather affects her ankle.” He paused. “But you always loved it when it snowed, didn’t you?”
Cassie watched how happy Nicholas was whenever he talked to Helen, and wondered how Daniel felt when he listened to their light banter. Did he ever feel as invisible as she did or was he contented because he was the one Helen chose?
“Yes, your sister is right here. Give me just one moment.” Picking up the shiny black phone Nicholas moved it to sit on the cherry pedestal table at her side.
“See you in two days. Bye.” He paused then laughed throwing back his head, it was a deep throaty laugh.
Nicholas placed his hand on the receiver as he stood over his wife, holding her gaze. He was even more handsome when he was happy.
“Listen I’m going to work on the repairs to the barn. I’ll be back for lunch.”
Cassie nodded. He handed her the phone, then patted Cassie on her shoulder.
She was use to the light way he touched her, had grown accustomed to it. They didn’t kiss goodbye like most married couples did. There was no love play or warm affectionate glances between them, as all newlyweds seem to share. Nicholas and Cassie’s marriage was very practical; she cooked and cleaned while he worked on the farm and paid the bills. It was an unspoken arrangement, all their marriage could be. Cassie didn’t expect anything more.
Nicholas wanted to kiss her before he left. He looked into her large, lovely, hazel eyes and wanted to tenderly kiss her. But he refrained himself as he thought about the many times before when he’d tried to do so and she flinched as if his touch disgusted her.
He didn’t want to leave like this. When he got to the front door Nicholas hesitated.
“How about we go into town tomorrow and pick up some decorations for the tree?” he said out of the blue.
“Decorations?” Cassie’s hazel eyes brightened.
“Yes. Would you like for us to purchase our own decorations?”
She nodded slowly, surprised at his suggestion.
Nicholas grabbed his jacket, looked at her one last time then he said, “Goodbye, Cass.” Then he was gone, leaving her to Helen.