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Dandelion Wine Alternate Ending
Behind her in the living room, someone cleared his throat. She whirled around, heart thrashing against her sternum, eyes wide, and faced the man in the dark suit. She let out a great gasp of relief and brought her hand to her heart to try to stop the furious flutter.
“It’s only you.” She laughed, a bit hysterically. “Oh, I could’ve sworn I saw you a minute ago. I told you to stay inside the house. Boy, I think I’m starting to believe our little story.”
He laughed and pulled Lavinia into his arms. He smiled and caressed her cheek. “I thought it was pretty clever of you to lead your little friend to Elizabeth Ramsell. That way, she won’t be suspecting you anytime soon. If she does, we’ll be long gone,” he stated.
“Tonight,” she spoke, reverently.
“Yes, tonight,” he agreed. He stared into her pale blue eyes that shone in the dark. “You are no longer the second loveliest lady in this godforsaken town. You are no longer lonely, and neither am I. We have each other and, whatever it took for us to get here does not matter. I would have killed hundreds of people to be with you. I love you, Lavinia.”
“And I love you.”
He smiled with adoration. “Come now, go pack your things. We have a train to catch.” He released her from his tender grip and, she slowly walked towards her room, but hesitated and stopped to turn around.
“Why on earth did you ask about me at the candy store? You might’ve blown our cover. Francine and Helen were getting suspicious! They said that I was in danger from the ‘Lonely One’. Oh, how laughable! I am the farthest from being killed by the ‘Lonely One’ or the ‘Lonely Ones’, I should say. They almost walked me home and they suggested I sleep over! Imagine how that would’ve turned out. Luckily, I convinced them I was fine and capable of walking home alone and surviving.”
“I’m sorry, my dear. If we were leaving tonight, I couldn’t leave your reputation here as a boring, old maid. You have to be sought after by many, admired by all! Asking about you would make you intriguing. I just wanted people to see you the way I see you.” She gave him a speculative look, but decided to let it go. Devoted men who would kill without a thought like him were tough to figure out. She had to believe that he would do anything for her. He had killed the other women for her. They were nuisances, better rid of, anyway.
The only reason she was a middle-aged maid was because of those other women. Roberta Ferry had tortured her as a little girl and as a young lady. When Lavinia had begun to grow out of her awkward pubertal stage and actually found a suitable gentleman, Roberta had swooped in and clawed the suitor into her grasp. Roberta married him six months later.
After three years of waiting and healing from the Roberta incident, Lavinia had met the man who would propose to her… and break the engagement. The man had been from the East—the home of the big cities, dark and mysterious speakeasies, and fashionable ladies in risqué tight, fringed, and beaded dresses. They had been in love… or so she thought. The engagement lasted three months before Lavinia found out about Hattie McDollis. There was no explanation. She just came home one day and her “fiancé” was there. He told her, short and sweet. Then, he left… with her. The new couple had been planning to travel west.
Elizabeth Ramsell was an easy matter. It was undisputed that Elizabeth was the most beautiful girl in town. Every man chased after her heart. Elizabeth Ramsell had done Lavinia no wrong; she was just in the way, so she had to be eliminated. Lavinia had to have more options. No one wants to be a middle-aged maid. Either way, she had to have revenge and prevent others from stealing the men she loved.
It took Lavinia a few years to gather information and construct a plan. Along the way, she met another man. He wasn’t the finest-looking man, but he would do. The key object was that he was devoted to her, loyal. She could see in his eyes that he would do anything for her. He loved her and only her. She trusted him enough to tell him her story and her plan. He would murder the women, but he wanted to do it his way; and so, she allowed him. He had a very clever and entertaining mind. She would’ve thought of a simple, clean kill; but, him? No, he thought of the tongue sticking out of their mouths, the ravine, and the once-a-month. That part was for his convenience, though. He came to visit Lavinia each month for only two days, so no one would suspect him, the new stranger.
She felt so stupid, thinking someone was following her on her walk home from the theater. How ridiculous to think she was in danger! She had gotten carried away and started to believe the story that she had invented. Well, the only time she felt truly in danger was when she bumped into Officer Kennedy. If he had walked her home and found her gentleman caller in her house or, dear Lord, something else, she doesn’t know what she would’ve done.
She smiled to herself as she came back with her suitcase full of clothes and personal belongings. She couldn’t take much, though; it had to be as if she had disappeared. When they arrived at their destination, she would dye her brown hair red. They drove to the train station and boarded the train headed to New York. When they arrived, they settled down in a little outdoor café with forest-green chairs and tables. The white awning over their heads did nothing to shield the harsh glare of the rising sun. Though it was early dawn, Lavinia sat up straight, elegant, in her chair, waved the waitress over, and smiled.
“Yes, we’d like a bottle of dandelion wine, please.”