Book 1: Memories

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Book One: Memories

Memories was a finalist in the 2006 Fresh Voices Book Awards!

Reviewed by Brenda Ramsbacher of Scribblers.

Loveman has an intriguing story that has the reader cheering on Jake and Laura as they struggle to overcome their feelings while the world is falling apart within their very souls. Only they can fight the demons to win the confrontation between good and evil before the entire town is destroyed by one evil man and his henchmen. MEMORIES is truly memorable. Part of the FIREHOUSE FAMILY series, I am looking forward to reading more about these courageous men and women who put their lives on the line in the face of danger.

Dan Darvey has a secret he’s hidden from everyone in Woodhill, Ohio for four years. He has also operated on the wrong side of the law without being caught filching money from people who can’t afford to pay using threats to keep the money flowing in. Now he’s stolen from his boss, the fire chief found his secret, and the cops want to question him.

Laura Darvey is a woman married to the wrong man. She’s allowed the freedom to raise her horses and do her work without interference but at a cost to her well-being. Then she meets the fire chief who lights her blood hotter than her husband ever has. When her husband runs, Laura forgets about her watchdog, invites Jake over, and ends up fighting for her very life.

Jake McCann and two of his friends are firefighters from New York hired to keep the small town of Woodhill safe. Bringing emotional baggage along for the ride, Jake is surprised to find himself caring for another man’s wife. But now fires are being set to give someone an opportunity to search the firehouse and Jake wants to know why. All seems to be find until Jake uncovers the box Dan has been looking for.

Reviews From the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books
“. . .a psychological thriller. . .       ”
“. . .impressed by the plot and the writing. . .the opening scene is immediately attention-getting.”

Review by Kim Atchue-Cusella, All About Murder

Jake McCann comes to Woodhill, Ohio as the new fire chief. He is leaving behind New York City to join his brother, Dave, who is the town doctor. His friends Freddy and Mickey also join him at the firehouse. His first order of business is to bring the town buildings up to code without making enemies of the townsfolk.

Dan Darvey and his wife, Laura, have lived in Woodhill for most of their lives. Laura moved to the town when she was eleven so that her father could become the fire chief. Laura makes her money raising horses. Dan helps run moonshine during the Prohibition period. The town police chief ignores this practice.

Jake uncovers a deep secret held by the town realtor and Dan. When Dan finds out he was discovered, he leaves town, not caring about Laura, until he finds out that Jake is in love with her. The situation becomes dangerous and Jake needs to save Laura from life threatening circumstances.

Laurie Loveman writes Memories, the first in the trilogy of the Firehouse Family series, with suspense, romance and the feelings of loyalties between families and friends. The story is set in 1932 and is well written to make you feel as if you are there, standing next to the characters. Jake and Laura have such deep-rooted problems dealing with the conditions that life has dealt them that you want to see them get past the pain to live happily ever after. The next in the series is The Quarry, followed by The Farm Fires. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.


Chapter One

Dan Darvey thought he saw something move in the corner behind the chimney. A mouse, he guessed, but didn’t care enough about it to investigate further. He was sitting on a cardboard carton by the attic dormer window of his mother’s house on Ashwood Street. A wisp of breeze caressed Dan’s cheek now that evening had dissipated the June heat. A bare electric bulb at the top of the attic stairs cast just enough light on Dan’s watch so he could see it was a few minutes past ten.

Downstairs his mother was listening to records and muttering about what Dan might be doing in the attic. He’d been keeping his treasure in the attic for four years, and in all that time, Alma Darvey had never come upstairs to look for herself. But, that was because Dan had warned her long ago not to intrude on his business, just as he’d warned his wife. Dan knew his mother was too afraid of rousing his anger–she knew just how far she could push him–but he wasn’t sure of Laura. Which was the whole reason he couldn’t keep his treasure at home on Hall Street, in his own attic. Laura would find his treasure, he was sure of it. Laura would be immediately suspicious of anything she was told not to touch. And, if she found out, she wouldn’t understand….

Dan’s daughter, whose mummified remains now rested in his lap, had vaguely resembled him during her two-month lifespan four years ago. Her eyes, Dan recalled, running a finger gently along her cheek, had been that grayish new-baby color instead of blue, like his, and she had been born with a fuzz of blond hair, lighter than Dan’s. Most of her hair had rubbed off over the years, though. Dan still remembered clearly her moments of life, could recall touching the breathing body. It had been so soft then, not like the dried leather his finger now caressed.

“I love my little girl,” he crooned tenderly to the blanket-wrapped bundle as he lifted her to kiss her forehead, “You’re always gonna stay with your daddy, don’t you worry. Daddy loves you.”

He set the baby on his lap once more and reached into the small cardboard box where his daughter’s body rested when he wasn’t holding her. Dan estimated that the pillow he lifted from the box weighed several pounds already. The fifty-two thousand dollars worth of stuffing was in twenty, fifty, and hundred-dollar bills.

With the baby cradled against his chest and the money-filled pillow on his lap, Dan gazed out the window. The only thing to see, looking past the arborvitaes at the back of the yard, was the firehouse parking lot. It was deserted since no one stayed in the firehouse any more. Talk was, Woodhill was finally going to hire a couple of real firemen instead of relying on those half-trained guys who showed up on the rare occasion of an alarm. In fact, Dan recalled, Laura’d said that Dave McCann’s twin brother was coming from New York City to take the chief’s job and a pal of his was coming as an officer. Damn mayor musta made ’em a helluva deal to get ’em to come here, probably end up with half of New York here. First Dave McCann comes here to be a doctor, now his brother, next thing ya know the mayor’ll be importing every bum in New York, takin’ away what few jobs there are to be had ’round here…

Tiny paws skittering across a piece of brittle paper made Dan break loose from his reverie. She’ll be makin’ me set traps, he thought, visualizing his mother screeching about rats. Shit, if there were rats up here they woulda got my baby years ago….

He didn’t like the thought, so he changed the subject, hugging his daughter, telling her, “Now, don’t you worry about any little mice, they won’t hurtcha, not as long as I’m around. And we’re gonna get a real fire department, howdya like that, sweetheart?” He looked out the window again, then in a harsh voice, too loud in the stillness of the attic, he said, “It’s about time the damn assholes runnin’ this town did somethin’ to make us modern. It’s 1932, for the luvva Pete.” That said, Dan immediately forgot about the fire department. He leaned over slightly to remove a wad of bills from his trouser pocket, added the money to the pillow, then put the pillow back in the carton.

Setting the blanket-wrapped baby on the pillow, he whispered, “Ah, my sweet darling, I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow, so I won’t see you for a little while, but don’t you worry, I’ll be back.” Carefully, he closed the carton flaps and set the carton under the attic window.

  • *  * *

It was getting to be embarrassing, all the handshakes, goodbyes, and good-natured kidding about going to the wild west. Chuckling to himself, Captain Jake McCann made his way through a tangle of hoses. The fire was in an abandoned carriage barn behind the National Biscuit Company plant on Manhattan’s West 14th Street. The cause of the fire was anyone’s guess; nobody saw a thing and if they did, they weren’t about to tell the fire department.

“No luck, no witnesses,” Jake reported to Chief Reed.

“So, what else is new?” Reed said, detaining Jake with another handshake. “Listen, McCann, in case I don’t see you before you leave, I’ll wish you good luck now in your new job. You deserve the break.”

“Thanks, Chief. I’ll miss working with you,” Jake said, and continued into the alley leading to the carriage barn.

“Hey, hey, McCann!” someone shouted as he passed by, “we hear you’re goin’ to the wilderness! Whadda they got in Cleveland we don’t got here, huh? Cleveland, Ohio, willya kiss my baby’s butt!”

“Woodhilll, Ohio,” Jake corrected cheerfully as he strode past.

“Ha, even worse, it ain’t even on a map!”

“Twenty miles southeast of Cleveland,” Jake added, spotting his best friend, Lieutenant Freddy Pratter. He changed course to meet him. Freddy and his company had just been relieved and were slumping to the ground to rest near a brick retaining wall. As Jake hunkered down next to George Samson, Freddy flopped against the wall, gulping air like a fish out of water.

“Must be a thousand goddam degrees out,” Freddy panted, wiping dirt and soot off his face with an already-filthy bandanna. “Shit, if it’s like this in June what’re we gonna have in August?”

“Snowstorms,” George said. “Ya know, I can’t get over you guys, leavin’ New York to go fight grass fires in some hoot’n holler town in the middle of nowhere.”
Jake said, “George, you have no spirit of adventure.”

“Goddam right,” George snapped, looking from Jake to Freddy and back again. He was going to miss these two, even more than he’d missed Mickey Justini when Mickey quit after Phil and Gordie died. Funny, if ya thought about any one of the three–Mickey, Jake,or Freddy–the other two came right to mind….

George glanced from Jake to Freddy and back again, amused by how much alike Jake and Freddy looked even though they weren’t related. Jake was thirty-two and Freddy a year older, and both of ’em were an inch or two under six feet. Jake’s wavy brown hair curled around his ears when it got too long. Phil Preston used to chase Jake all over the firehouse with a pair of rusty horse clippers, yellin’ he was gonna give Jake a real haircut. ‘Course, Phil never did catch Jake, ’cause the kid was too damn fast. George chuckled, remembering. Freddy’s hair was the same color as Jake’s, but it was straight, and Freddy always took care that it looked good. ‘Course it was hard tellin’ now, with it stickin’ out all over and filthy.

The sun and his own fatigue were making George sleepy, and he nearly dozed off, but Freddy’s laugh jolted him awake. George tried to block out Freddy. Too bad he ain’t quiet like Jake. Sure, but Jake used to laugh a lot until those goddam fires buried his sense of humor along with his wife and kid.

Freddy changed too, but he hid it better. Dammit, we all changed. Freddy used to get us all goin’, crackin’ jokes, tellin’ stories. You could almost tell how Freddy’s mind was workin’, gettin’ ready to tell a whopper, just by watchin’ his blue eyes. Sometimes ya thought Freddy was seein’ straight through ya. And his eyes would turn icy, when he looked atcha that way. Not like Jake’s brown eyes that glint, jet black, when he’s crossed, which thank God, isn’t too often. Funny, when ya really look at ’em, they don’t look so much the same…. Must be fourteen years of bein’ friends that make ’em seem so much alike….

“Hey, George, let’s finish up,” Freddy said, intruding sharply. When George didn’t immediately respond, he added, “Whatsa matter? You okay?”

“Huh? Oh, sorry. daydreaming,” George said, getting to his feet, rubbing at the ache in his right knee that was getting worse and harder to hide, especially from Freddy, who could be a damn Mother Hen when he felt like it. Drove the guys nuts when he started worryin’ about their aches and pains. Ha, the way I’m goin’ I should get out while I can. The thought of retiring crossed George’s mind again, but he shoved it aside. “I’m comin’, hold your horses,” he growled, following Freddy and the others.
When Jake was out of earshot, George said, “I still can’t figure out why you’re goin’ with Jake, Freddy. Didja run outta women in Manhattan? Ya can’t settle for startin’ on the broads in Brooklyn or the Bronx, for chrissake, ya gotta go clear to Ohio?”

“I’m just going to keep Jake outta trouble. You know, sometimes his temper lets loose.”

“You’re full of it,” George said.

Freddy shook his head. “C’mon, pal, you know he’s gotta get outta here. It’s been more’n three years since Phil and Gordie died, and two since he lost Sara and Sean. Ya can’t go back, you know what I mean? It’s no good, his living at home with his folks after having his own family and place. When Jake’s brother called about the chief’s job in Woodhill, Jake saw his chance to get away from all the rotten memories. That’s why he went right away for the interview.”

“And for you?”

Freddy shrugged. “Jake’s the closest thing I got to family. Without him, I got no reason to stay. Besides, Mickey’s coming to Woodhill, too. I wanna see him, George. I want the three of us to be together again.”

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