Monthly Archives: March 2015

Chapter two part three

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Young man on the streetSo far in Embraceable You. Josefine Hanrahan, the  daughter of mining tycoon St John Hanrahan, has escaped from her boarding school to play her saxophone in the mist garden beside the National Art Gallery. There she will connect spiritually with her mother Liv, who died when Josefine was six years old. Unfortunately, she has just been located by her collage principal, Miss O’Mara.

“Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you. Embrace me, you irreplaceable you,” the sound of Liv singing played in Josefine’s head. She opened her eyes and saw that the rusty sculpture, the bones of a becalmed ship, was enveloped, embraced, by a salty ocean of greying smoke. Standing quite close by, looking down on her with an odd mixture of emotions on her face, was Miss O’Mara, her college principal.

“I thought I’d find you here.”

“Miss,” Josefine acknowledged her teacher’s words with cool politeness.

“You were playing beautifully.”

“Embraceable you.”

“I know. Gershwin.”

“Are you angry?”

“I’m disappointed.”

“Sorry.”

The spell of the saxophone’s haunting voice was broken. The tourists, who had been tip-toeing around quietly, respectfully leaving the girl and her saxophone in privacy, now stood and openly listened in. Liv was gone and Josefine was just another moody teenage girl.

“You need to come with me now.”

“No.”

“Josefine, there are always security issues surrounding your whereabouts, issues you are well aware of, that make it imperative that we know, at all times, where you are.”

“If I’d asked, you would have said no.”

“Or yes.”

“But then, you’d have insisted on coming with me.”

“For your own safety.”

“I wanted to be alone.”

“We don’t want a public scene, do we?”

“We don’t want everyone knowing that Josefine Hanrahan went AWOL from her school. Or rather, that Our Lady of Dolores college lost their prize fish for a while,” Josefine snapped in a peevishly childish whine that carried much more clearly than she intended.

Somewhere in the depths of her heart, Josefine caught a fleeting image of Liv’s face shadowed by sadness.

The middle-aged woman leant in closer as she whispered: “Josefine, you know perfectly well why we don’t make public announcements like that.”

The Hanrahan heiress was always a kidnap risk. The board of Our Lady of Dolores had held a special meeting when St John chose their school to send his returned daughter. They had even discussed the feasibility of accepting her there under a false name. In the end they decided it was much too likely that the uncooperative eight year old would undo their work by telling everyone who she was. That scheme was dropped. They had extra security and extra rules that applied just to her. She made a habit of ignoring them both.

Josefine knew she was behaving childishly. She liked Miss O’Mara and knew that it wasn’t her fault that she had to come to fetch her back. She’d probably been standing there for a long time, letting the miscreant have some privacy in the garden, and that was kind. But Josefine was eighteen, for heaven’s sake, and it wasn’t as though she’d been out dancing at a disco. She was just having a quiet session jamming with her mother in the mist garden, bothering no-one.

“Fine,” she sulked. She pulled the saxophone apart and packed it into its case. “I’m finished anyway.”

“Good,” replied Miss O’Mara crisply.

She extended a hand to help the girl to her feet. The hand was ignored and the uncoordinated teenager stumbled as she rose and turned her back on her teacher.

“Let’s go,” Josefine spat over her shoulder as she gathered her coat into shape and slouched off moodily, leaving the saxophone case on the ground behind her. This forced Miss O’Mara to pick it up to avoid another public outburst.

The tall, skinny girl cast a belligerent eye over the faces of the small number of curious spectators witnessing the public spat. A ferocious scowl locked her eyebrows together and her blue eyes were hidden under semi-closed lids lined by long, thick dark lashes. She looked off to the edges of the crowd and couldn’t see the security guards who shadowed her moves, even though she’d become quite adept at spotting the ever changing personnel of her security team amidst the faces of crowds. None of the men and women in the garden looked away in the telltale manner when she scanned their face.

Josefine did notice someone unusual. Just at the entrance to the mist garden, not blending in any way despite the drifting thick curtains of ambient mist, was an extraordinarily tall, hunky boy, well… a man really, standing like a mountain of muscle. He was watching her with a look of intense fascination on his face.

Perhaps it was going to be a good birthday after all, thought Josefine, as a smile began to wriggle all over the top of her teenage scowl, like a puppy begging to be allowed into the kitchen.

 

 

e has just been located by her school principal, Miss

Chapter two – part two

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Singing woman on grey backgroundSo far in Embraceable You. Josefine Hanrahan, the neglected daughter of mining tycoon St John Hanrahan, has escaped from her boarding school to play her saxophone in the mist garden beside the National Art Gallery. There she will connect spiritually with her mother Liv, who died when Josefine was six years old.

Josefine had been told fragments of her parents’ story, partial explanations for what made a soulful Danish beauty marry an empty vessel like her father, but it never made complete sense to her. Liv Axelsen was an air hostess on an international flight which had ferried her father to a business meeting and the busy tycoon had been so enchanted that he bought a ticket and got straight back on the plane, missing all his connections as he followed her home. Morfar, her grandfather, never joined in with the story but Mormor Axelsen told it as though it was a great romance, that the great and powerful St John Hanrahan was so overwhelmed with love that he couldn’t help himself. She told it as if Liv’s signature song had come true for her.

Just one look at you,” the lyrics explained, “and my heart grew tipsy in me.”

Mormor blended real life with Gershwin, as if she actually believed St John was capable of feeling any sort of emotion for another human being.

You and you alone, you bring out the gypsy in me.”

Maybe Liv briefly believed in the fairy tale too, because she was raised with love but Josefine recognized that St John pursued with an acquisitive impulse, not for love. He saw something he wanted, paid the price to acquire it and then lost interest once Liv was his, as he had done with possessions all his life.

Josefine noticed that when Liv sang, her thoughts were a long way away.  Not wanting to break the spell, she never once asked who her mother was thinking about, but she hoped with all her heart, that the wistful expression wasn’t anything at all to do with her father.  Josefine never saw her father touch her mother, not once. She’d never intercepted a tender look between her parents. In fact, she could barely recall seeing the two of them together except in photographs in newspapers and magazines as the smartly dressed couple posed with fixed smiles, framed by luminaries at important social functions.

Even as she played the role of society hostess, always being supportive and smiling in public, Liv Hanrahan constantly defied her husband’s wishes about their child. St John wanted his daughter despatched to the care of nannies as soon as she was born and to a boarding school as soon as she turned five, but Liv kept Josefine close. There was love in spadefuls in the Hanrahan home, but it was all locked up in the bond between the woman and her child.

Through business magazines in the school library, Josefine followed her father’s ventures.  Like a hunter, she tracked his company acquisitions and hostile corporate raids; she probably knew more about St John Hanrahan than most of the men who sat on his boards. In neat notepads, she kept extensive records of the patterns that made him swoop down and swallow up companies that seemed irrelevant to his vast empire.

“Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you. Embrace me, you irreplaceable you,” the sound of Liv singing played in Josefine’s head. She opened her eyes and saw that the rusty sculpture, the bones of a becalmed ship, was enveloped, embraced, by a salty ocean of greying smoke. Standing quite close by, looking down on her with an odd mixture of emotions on her face, was Miss O’Mara, her college principal.

“I thought I’d find you here.”