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Monday Knight's Adventures
Tuesday Nolan Excerpt
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CHAPTER 1

 

Tuesday sat at her desk, staring at her computer screen. A smile formed across her face. Monday Knight! There wasn’t a single person in the civilized world who hadn’t heard of Monday Knight, especially after she nearly died in that terrible accident. And she thought it was a stroke of good luck? She always figured people who had nothing but fantastic looks were a little bit flaky. Now she had proof positive of it.

Without giving more than a few moments contemplation to the e-mail, Tuesday hit "Reply" and began to type.

Dear Monday Knight,

Of course I know who you are. Everybody knows Monday Knight.

I am flattered by your letter, and I would love to get acquainted with

you, at least cyberly speaking.

You were correct in your assumption. I was born on Tuesday. I was

"born and bred properly," according to my mother, and taught that

a "perfect southern belle" must at all times and above all be the

picture of grace and charm.
I am a graduate of Juliard School of Music. I am a concert pianist by

profession. However, with the passing of my parents, I inherited the

old mansion, Buffington Manor, in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and

I have established the Nolan Finishing School. I presently have 7 young ladies who are studying the fine art of being a "Southern Belle" under my tutorage.

Please keep in touch with me. And I will endeavor to begin a search for

Wednesday, whoever and wherever she might be.

Gracefully yours,

Tuesday Nolan

Just as she hit the "send" button on her computer, Tuesday heard a scratching at the door of her study, and she knew instinctively that it was Buffy, her faithful Afghan Hound. She got up and opened the door just a crack so the dog could get in. Buffy went over beside the desk and plopped down in a most ungraceful-like manner.

"Buffy, you will never learn, will you?" Tuesday asked. "How am I ever going to teach the girls to be graceful when you insist on being so clumsy?"

Tuesday turned back to her computer and checked the rest of her e-mail messages. She hit "delete" on many of them, and others she typed back quick notes to inform the parents of her charges of their progress. She puzzled briefly over the next message, then opened it and began to read.

Dear Ms. Nolan:

The Charleston Post and Courier, Investigative Reporting

Division, has heard rumors that there is some underlying

reason for the recent development of your fine new estab-

lishment, "The Nolan Finishing School."
We would like to have our ace reporter interview you on the

reasons for the establishment of your school. Please reply to us

here and we will set up a meeting at a time at your conven-

ience and a place of your choosing.

Thank you for your gracious, and hopefully affirmative, reply.

Tuesday read the mysterious e-mail, then almost hit the "delete" key. Something stopped her, and she reread the message. She wondered what they meant—or what they knew. What sort of rumors were circulating through the city about her? Her family had been one of the most forceful, prestigious families of the entire state, and they certainly were above being the butt of somebody’s warped, over-active imagination. Her father had worked extremely hard to become successful. It wasn’t his fault what he had was deemed "new money." Like that made it no good!

Tuesday seethed as she remembered her mother trying to get Tuesday into some of the elite events of nearby Charleston, only to be snubbed. Now it was her turn to pay them back. She would take these girls—plain, simple young women from the streets and the "ordinary" people of the region—and would turn them loose on society. And no one would be the wiser. She had even figured out how to doctor their family histories, when the time came, so nobody would question who they really were.

She looked at the end of the e-mail. Whoever was prying into her private, personal affairs didn’t even have the decency to sign his name.

Why did she assume it was a "him"? It could be a woman, but somehow she knew it was definitely a "him." She thought about picking up the phone and complaining to the managing editor at the Post and Courier, but decided against it. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of admitting that she was, in spite of her curiosity, going to acknowledge the receipt of his message.

* * *

Buffy began to whine loudly, just a few seconds before the bell on the iron gate in front of Buffington Manor buzzed.

"How do you do that?" Tuesday asked Buffy. "I swear, you are psychic!"

Tuesday got up and went outside and looked towards the gate. There stood a beggar. A down-and-out panhandler! She had seen this same man earlier in the day when she was in the city to pick up the music she had ordered.

As a modern success story, Tuesday felt an obligation to repay some of what they had done for her. "Tuesday’s child is full of grace" She’d had it drilled into her mind from the day she was born. Her mother tried her best to teach her all the right manners, the ladylike moves, the Emily Post etiquette, and she had done so quite well, even though Tuesday had attended a public school. Yes, she was, true to her name, a very graceful young woman.

"Go away!" she called out to the disheveled man, in her slow, easy southern drawl.

Tuesday cringed as her eyes focused on the man. His clothes were wrinkled and too big, a black suit jacket and a brown pair of pants. Anybody knows you don’t wear black and brown together, she thought. His black hair was too long, and far more mangled and matted than Buffy’s had been when she rescued her from the shelter. His face had a five-o’clock shadow—no, it was more like an eight-o’clock cloud—and his mustache had a spot of something that resembled sour milk on one corner of it.

"All I want is enough to buy a decent meal," he called back to her. "Surely you can afford that." He smiled, and Tuesday almost softened for a moment. "I am so poor my penny loafers are penniless."

"It isn’t a matter of whether I can afford it or not," she replied, walking towards him, even though she was repelled by his very appearance. "I do not wish to associate with the likes of you."

"Is that any way for a woman of means to act? Just enough for one meal. I’ll even buy it at a fast food joint so it won’t cost you much."

For some reason, his condescension caused Tuesday to laugh. She put her hand to her face, trying to hide her reaction. And she had to give him credit; his smart aleck remark about the loafers was a good line.

Buffy, sensing that this man was friendly, went bounding ahead of Tuesday and began to lick the stranger’s hand through the iron fence.

"See? Your pup thinks I’m all right. Maybe you should take lessons from him."

"Buffy is not a pup! Nor is Buffy a him. Buffy—Buffington—is a thoroughbred Afghan Hound, with papers to prove it. And Buffy is definitely a her!"

The man laughed, realizing that he had just gotten the best of her. Strike one! he thought. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, maybe the way to a woman’s heart is through her dog. But he wasn’t interested in her heart; he was interested in what made her tick. Or was that one in the same thing? Tuesday Nolan might well be a woman of high standing in the community, but there was more than a clock ticking beneath that mop of blonde curls. Oh yes, this woman had something going on upstairs, and he was more determined than ever to find out what it was. And someone as wise as Tuesday Nolan was probably not a true blonde anyway. It was obvious she was one smart cookie.

"Buffy!" Tuesday called out. "Come back here! Come on, Buffy!" Buffy kept right on licking the man’s hand, completely ignoring Tuesday’s pleas.

"Seems like he—I mean she—has better taste than her mistress. So do I get the money?"

"No!" Tuesday said, going right up to the fence and pulling Buffy away from him. The more Tuesday tugged, the more Buffy resisted. Buffy was almost half as tall as Tuesday, weighed considerably more, and was just as blonde. The pooch definitely had way more strength. Tuesday pulled harder, and as Buffy’s collar came unhooked, Tuesday went sprawling onto the ground. Her straight navy pinstriped skirt slid well above her knees, and the slit was suddenly a lot higher than it was supposed to be! Her elbow skidded on the sidewalk, causing her to let out a blood-curdling shriek.

"I’m sorry, ma’am," the stranger said, sounding way too polite for a ne’er-do-well. He had to watch himself, or his secret would be out of the bag.

Buffy went over beside her and began licking her face. Tuesday tried to fight the dog off with her uninjured arm. "Help me up," she pleaded, but the dog just kept on licking her.

"If you had let me inside, I could have helped you."

"Never!" Tuesday said, trying to get up without losing all of her dignity. She pulled on her skirt and tugged at the torn sleeve on her white ruffled blouse. "It’s all your fault! Now go! Get out of here, and don’t ever come back! I never want to see you again!"

* * *

As Tuesday headed for the house, Buffy now following protectively behind her owner, she heard the stranger say, almost too low to be audible, "Too bad they named you Tuesday. Seems to me Grace would have been far more fitting!"

He turned and slowly walked away, a very big grin spreading widely across his face. Yup, strike one was a definite hit. He had just made it at least to first base.

Tuesday clicked on a random key to reactivate the computer screen. There, staring at her, was that pesky message from the paper. She tucked it safely into a folder, then wondered why she had done that instead of deleting it.

Maybe, she thought, it will come in handy if I have to call the police.

The thought startled her. She’d had two odd events in the same day. Her life was usually so normal—no, it was downright boring—that two such events on the same day had to be more than a mere coincidence.

Her mind flickered back to the stranger. A bum! A plain ordinary bum! She shivered as she wondered if he was stalking her for some reason. Was he planning to burglarize her house and wanted to try to worm his way inside to "case the joint"?

Tuesday smiled at the choice of words that crossed her mind. She had never enjoyed crimes or mysteries until Amy had moved in with her.

Amy! Maybe this man was someone from Amy’s past life. She had taken her in to try to help her. Was she going to have to pay a price that was way too high to keep her safe? What if this man was…Amy told her she was sure he was an older man… Was this stranger--this bum--a rapist? Should she follow her gut instincts and call the police? What would she tell them? He hadn’t done anything to hurt her—yet. Was she, perhaps, his next target? His next victim?

She shut the computer down and went upstairs to find Amy. She was in her room, lying on her stomach on her bed, her head propped up on her elbows, watching reruns of Law and Order. She glanced up briefly, turned her attention back to the TV, then jumped up and asked, "What happened to you? You look like you’ve been mauled or somethin’."

"Something," Tuesday corrected. She wondered if she had taken on more than she could handle with her project to make ladies out of these girls. Amy was just one of the seven, but she still clung to her old habits.

"So…some-thing," Amy said, carefully enunciating the word. "But seriously, what happened to you? Are you OK?"

"Yes," Tuesday said, rubbing her elbow, which was beginning to feel the after-affects of the tumble she had taken. "There was some man…" she shivered at the sound of the word. He could hardly be classified as that, but she wasn’t sure where else to stick him. He just wasn’t the type of being to get pigeonholed into any certain spot.

"Did he…" Amy’s face filled with fear. She had been attacked and raped as a mere youngster of only fourteen, and she didn’t trust any man.

"No, no!" Tuesday replied, going over and sitting on the bed beside Amy. "He didn’t do anything to me. Buffy wouldn’t leave him, so I tried to pull Buffy away and her collar came undone. I was pulling really hard, and the next thing I knew I was lying there, sprawled all over the lawn."

Amy tried to appear sympathetic, but she could not hold back the giggles.

"It wasn’t funny!" Tuesday protested, but she was soon laughing along with Amy, in spite of trying to remain cool, calm and collected. "Well, maybe a little. But I know I just humiliated myself something terrible in front of…"

"You know the man?" Amy asked.

"No, but he has accosted me twice now, both times today. I am afraid that for some reason he is stalking me."

"What would he want with you?" Amy asked.

"Hmm," Tuesday said, mulling his approach over in her mind. "He did ask me for money. I thought maybe he was trying to case the mansion to see what he would have to do to break-and-enter."

Now Amy burst out into a full-blown roar of laughter. "You’ve been listening to too many crime shows with me. It sounds perfectly normal when they say something like that on Law and Order or Perry Mason, but it doesn’t sound right at all when you say it!"

"You are probably right. I guess I will never make a private eye, will I? Still, maybe you can help me with something. Will you accompany me to the office? I want to show you something. Or do you want to finish watching the program first?"

"Are you kidding? I have seen this one at least five or six times. I already know what happens." She got a smug smirk on her face. "I just like to study the way they conduct themselves in the courtroom. I want to be just like Mariska Hargitay when I am a lawyer. You know she is Jayne Mansfield’s daughter, don’t you?"

Amy bounced down the twisting stairway to go to the office, and Tuesday walked primly and gracefully behind her, completely oblivious to the fact that she still sported her torn skirt and blood-stained blouse. She shook her head, wondering if these girls—her charges—would ever be what she dreamed they could be.

* * *

At the offices of the Post and Courier, a lonely figure sat hunched over his computer, poking away at the keyboard, trying to find every single piece of information he could about Tuesday Nolan, Buffington Manor, the Nolan family, the Buffington family, and the emergence of the Buffington Finishing School. He was unaware of the society editor, who was working late on a story for the morning edition, and he jumped as she spoke.

"What are you doing at Reginald’s desk?" The voice was clear and demanding.

The man looked up, a broad grin on his face. The society editor stared in shocked amazement.

"You—you are Reginald? But, what…" Then she laughed, holding her sides, until the tears ran down her face. "What happened to you?"

Reginald Vandercamp, head investigative reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier, cringed as he replied, "If you think I look bad, you should see the way she came out of the tussle!"

He clicked off his computer, pulled his jacket collar up and shuffled past Gloria Hayes, leaving her in limbo, wondering what on earth was going on.

"Good night," he said as he turned off the light in his office and headed out to his shiny red BMW to go home where he could take a shower and shave.