Saturday, October 8, 2022



Late summer 1931 and twenty-seven-year-old Adelyn Crawford is lying in a hammock in Tulip Junction, Georgia. She lives on this working farm with her sons, her parents, her uncle Tyree and Aunt Grace and occasionally, these days with Garnett her husband. One afternoon she is lying in a hammock that begins to swing, and half of her feels she is asleep; the other half knows better when her former lover Innis Crawford begins to make love to her. She knows that her dead lover is back for her. She worries he is planning to stay this time.

The novel travels back to 1918. Innis’s brother, Garnett, is ever-present, a witness to their passion. When Innis dies in a suspicious auto accident, Adelyn falls into Garnett’s waiting arms. The courtship with Garnett has an equally inevitable storminess, first in New York City, then Flapper era Paris and the South of France.

Now Innis wants to come back to be with Adelyn. Who will win this battle?

Book Details
Title: Dead Eyes in Late Summer
Author: Renée Ebert
Genre: historical fiction, paranormal romance
Publisher: ‎
White Bird Publications, (October 26, 2021)
Print length: 372 pages



     “Adelyn, I hope you’re not dawdling in there.” Missus Jackson found herself once again waiting on her daughter and the last-minute adjustment of her wardrobe. She wondered how a dress without any corset, like the one Adelyn wore, could possibly take that long to put on. Ready to call out once more, and this time with authority, her daughter’s appearance in the doorway appeased Missus Jackson. Adelyn a vision in navy blue silk with jet-beaded beribboned streamers to below her knee, though the hems seemed to be climbing every year. Missus Jackson wanted to blush yet found a way to quell the emotion. After all, the girls all wore them that way.
     “At least you’re wearing dark hose.” Having made what might sound like a slight toward the wardrobe choice, she quickly covered with, “And such a good decision.” She gestured, “Turn around; let me see.”
     Adelyn obliged as she pirouetted in a circle and then back again, the glint of the diamond pin catching the light. She saw her mother’s expression. “I know; I saw it in the mirror. It does look good, doesn’t it?” She began to pull on her gloves. “I want to get to the lobby before Garnett arrives.”
     “I am certainly not the one detaining us, my dear.” Her mother held the door open for Adelyn. “Besides, it’s not always good to be on time.”
     “I think I’ve made him wait long enough, Mama.” She glanced once more in the mirror and realized how, at home, she avoided ever looking too directly at her own image. A chill caught her shoulders, but she shook it off. Her mind moved quickly in an attempt to resolve this phenomenon of shunning mirrors at home. As though someone stands behind me, always just out of sight, and my body hides them from me.
     Adelyn sensed her mother contemplated her remark about Garnett’s waiting.
They left for Delmonico’s where friends of Garnett would attend with their wives or girlfriends. Mary Jackson spoke to each of the young people in turn, about careers or the girl’s completing college like Adelyn, and about babies to the few already married. They enjoyed a festive dinner, full of sparklers placed on a celebratory cake. Her mother’s eyes filled with tears at the Christmas engagement ring, and quietly remarked how Sarah Crawford would be proud to see her son accomplishing so much. At Garnett’s insistence, the three of them drank two bottles of wine, one of them champagne. Her mother would sleep soundly.
They dislodged themselves from the taxi onto one of the side streets downtown. Garnett took Adelyn’s hand and led her to a door that looked like an apartment. Two sharp knocks and a peep hole opened; a man nodded, waited for the password. “Carnival season,” Garnett mumbled.
     “Where did you tell that taxi driver to take us?” Adelyn adjusted her rolled-up stockings and straightened her slinky dress. “I thought you said, ‘back room’.” Garnett put his finger to his lips to signal her to whisper.
     The peephole closed, and the door opened. Garnett entered first with Adelyn trailing behind him as he held her in a tight grip. People packed the sweaty, smoky room, sipping drinks with ice cubes out of coffee mugs. One table held at least ten men in evening formal wear who openly sipped from glasses of bubbling champagne, and the subdued lighting made it all romantic. Garnett joined a younger crowd of men in suits with young women wearing glittering dresses. Adelyn, Garnett, and his friends took turns toasting one another and soon drank their way to an alcoholic haze. The orchestra played racy, hot Dixieland jazz, then would switch to swarthy and dark slow music.
     “It’s new, isn’t it? C’mon. Let’s dance this one.” Garnett pulled her to her feet and surrounded her with his body. “It’s a tango.” He breathed heavily.         
     “I heard that Valentino danced the tango here just last week.” She said this maybe to shock him.
Adelyn never knew a more exciting evening and began to think of reasons to leave Georgia for good. Garnett’s face scowled some form of disapproval, and she whispered in his ear to further tantalize him. “You’re not the only one who keeps up with fashion.” She followed his movements; his body signaled her left and right legs as he kept no space between them. The dance lasted long and ended with her body curved down and his almost laying on top. “And, no, I wasn’t dancing with Valentino last week.” She teased him, and he let her.
     Garnett led her back to the tiny table in front of the dance floor and wiped his face with a handkerchief. “I’ll be right back.” As he left, the band went into a spirited “Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie” and the dancers crowded the floor, all the young women dancing the Charleston. Adelyn jumped to her feet and danced with them, relishing the attention of a few old, portly financial titans. At least, she thought that’s what they might be.
     Garnett came back at the finish, and she settled at their table, next to him. “Don’t you know those women are mostly prostitutes? He was angry “You can’t be up there, dancing with them.”
     For the space of a moment, she lowered her head, surprised and chastened, but then the wild something in her took possession. “I’m in New York City. I don’t see any kin, do you, Garnett? I think we’re safe from Savannah Society News.”
     She coaxed a semi-smile, and the band drew them up from their table into a slow dance. She hummed to the song, “What’ll I do when you are far away….” The words struck something deep in both of them as they danced closer, Adelyn’s imminent departure the next day, the long winter without one another made it all sad.
     They didn’t speak as the song ended, but hastily threw on their coats and left for Garnett’s hotel. They tacitly felt their movements more than spoke their intentions, as she lingered near the door of the lobby and he got his key from the night attendant. Long years of hotel work had taught the solitary man to look otherwise and not at Adelyn as the two young people took the lift to his floor.
     She thought of the times they had been together, but this time they were engaged, and she turned the pretty ring around and around her finger, watching the diamonds sparkle and savoring the true red and green of the other stones. They made love tenderly and quietly, two people who cared for each other. They fell asleep and woke to a phone call.
     “Good morning, sir. This is your three o’clock morning call.” The night attendant’s voice informed Garnett. “Okay.” He had thought to ask for a call in case this very thing had happened. Adelyn stirred and miraculously plumped up her hair to where it had been hours before.
     “Don’t worry, Garnett. Mama will be fast asleep when I get back. She has these potions she takes to sleep soundly. That, and the extra bottles of wine.” Adelyn pulled the hose up and then rolled them down to her thigh.
     He watched her sultry moves and listened to her sultry voice. “We should hurry, or I won’t be able to let you go.” He crossed in front of her where the light sparkled against something in her hair. Bending close he touched the diamond pin, asking, “What’s this?” Looking more closely, he saw the diamonds shaped like an arrow. “He gave you this. You wore it only a week after…,” but he didn’t finish, then, “a week after he had you.”
     She felt the painful tug as he plucked the pin and strands of hair from her head. “Ouch. What on earth are you doing?” She held her hand to the place where he pulled. “Are you crazy? I have no idea in heaven what you mean.” But then her mind filled with lost memories of a time when Innis had gently pinned the diamond arrow in her hair, saying to her, “Adelyn, you’ve pierced my heart.” At sixteen she had giggled self-consciously, now all of it came flooding back.
     “Four years? You expect me to remember something that happened four years ago? I was barely a woman. How dare you?” She tore at her hand and wrung her fingers till they swelled, trying to pry off the engagement ring. “I won’t do this. I won’t be a part of this.” She flung the ring at him and her coat over her shoulders.
     All the while Garnett took stock of everything, experienced it all as if he floated above it, as it all happened below him. “Don’t.” He pulled her to him as he realized what had just happened.     “Please, don’t.”
     “You go to hell.” She slammed the hotel door.
Rain turned to sleet, and Adelyn cursed the entire night as the cab took her back to her hotel. Garnett, this weather, the world. She fumbled with her gloves; thankful they covered her bare arms as she wrapped her coat around herself more firmly. The doorman rushed to her with his circus tent of an umbrella, another reason to be thankful. She steeled herself against the possibility of her mother waking as she returned, which kept her clearheaded and forced the discipline on her of dropping her emotions somewhere between Garnett’s hotel room door and the one that she now carefully opened into her hotel suite. She turned the key in the door with a shaky hand.
A small lamp emitted a dim light, enough to negotiate the room without bumping into anything large or noisy. Please God, let her sleep on, for now. Adelyn rushed to strip out of her clothes and into her nightgown; this time she hastily tied the ribbons in a bow and she did the same with her dressing gown. She eased between the silky sheets, faintly aware of the lavender scent coming from sprigs that some maid had taken the time to spread out between the sheets. The aroma had a softening effect on her jangled nerves as she lay on her back breathing the cool air from the window left open to stave off the suffocating heat of the radiators.
Though she welcomed sleep, she struggled to make sense of the evening, from beginning to end, because she could not believe that one small thing, a silver and diamond pin, would cause that explosive change in Garnett. Her mind flitted from one scene to another, dinner, dancing, the gin. Could it have been tainted liquor? Bootleg gin or Champagne in fancy bottles? Something in her said no to bad gin or bad champagne. She left all the evening behind her and somehow, gratefully, fell asleep.                                              
     Across town, Garnett sat in hazy confusion. He moved in fits and starts every time his mind came back to the two or three short events in the room that ended the evening. As each thought played out, he moved rapidly toward following her. His mind would not stay on point, however, and he sat down again on the bed to contemplate fragmented memories of the evening. Finally, he dressed, his coat on, his white silk bow tie dangling, hatless and gloveless. He rushed down in the lift, waved away the cab, and walked in the direction of Adelyn’s hotel.
     The deliberate, well-planned part of him wanted to make sense of it. He pictured her face, her body, the length of her shoulders to her back. He tried to conjure a common-sense answer to her actions, to his own. He finally hailed a lonely cab on the lonely avenue and listened to the tires on the paved road of lower Manhattan, all plans thrown out the window like so much smoke from his cigarette. He threw that out as well along with the idea to confront her again. With my ridiculous jealousy of my dead brother, Innis? He thought further back to the morning and how stolidly Adelyn had researched, took notes, became enthralled with the subject of the influenza and how it infected all those young soldiers. These thoughts just made him more furious with his own stupid lack of control, because now he recalled his jealousy-tinged remarks at lunch. He painfully recalled how he forced her to justify her actions, her feelings. Does she love me, then? And he knew she did.
            No one milled about the lobby of her hotel, but a few remained in the coffee shop where Garnett gravitated. He thought he recognized a man sitting alone at a table. Though his hair had turned mostly gray, he saw evidence of a young man’s face that looked familiar.
     “Can I sit with you?” Garnett waved to the waiter who bustled over, even at four o’clock in the morning. “I’ll have what he’s having.” He gestured to the man who raised his cup of coffee. The man paused until the waiter set down the cup and saucer and returned to the kitchen, then pulled a flask out of his coat pocket, dragging Garnett’s cup to himself and pouring liquor into it. “That’ll be some fine brandy, son, for that coffee.” He pushed the cup back in front of Garnett, the brandy’s aroma warm and sweet as it mingled with the hot coffee.
     “Do we know one another? I could swear….” Garnett sipped the coffee and brandy, appreciating its warmth as it rolled down his throat. The urge to drink it all filled him, and he drained the cup. Another appeared before him, and the stranger fortified it with more brandy.
“Sure do, son.” He looked kindly at Garnett and shook his head in a sad way.
     “You feel sorry for me. Why?” Garnett quaffed his refill, and he felt light-headed. “Cause you can’t possibly know. Can you? That I so thoroughly threw away my own happiness tonight?”
     “Listen, son. It’s not too late. Give in to your feelings for her. She’s yours, not your brother’s.”
     Startled that this stranger should know so much about him, Garnett sat up straighter, glancing into the mirror that lined the wall near their booth. He looked closely at his heavy-lidded and weary eyes and ran his hand along the red stubble of a beard. Looking over toward the man, he saw no image of him in the mirror. Only his own.
     “Who are you?” He framed the words as he quickly looked back at the man.
     “You’ll see my face in your mirror when you are much older and hopefully somewhat wiser, son.”
     A hard knock woke him as someone poked him in the shoulder.
     “I don’t know why I came down here. But I am certainly glad I did.” Adelyn stood over him, looking as bright as the rising sun.
     “What?” he looked around the empty coffee shop.
     “The front desk recognized you and called and thank God, Mama was still asleep. It’s almost seven o’clock.”
     Garnett stood up. “Please, please.”
     “I don’t want a scene here.” Adelyn had looked to see the coffee shop deserted and allowed his embrace. Her body stiffened, a signal against anything that might be considered questionable behavior. They took the elevator up.
     “Five, please.” He spoke to the elevator operator. He prayed she would not contradict him, and she didn’t. They got off two flights below her own. The hallway as deserted as the coffee shop had been, he embraced her again, and she let him. His lips touched her face and hovered over her lips until she tipped her head up and accepted his mouth open and on hers.
     “Just let me hold you. Don’t ever leave me. Promise.” His voice came in short sobs from a deep, deep place. He had grasped her to him and hugged and hugged. No passion, no sex, only love, and a desire to be forgiven.
     Adelyn did a curious thing—she took his face in both her hands and studied him. Her eyes scanned his brow, his cheeks, his chin, then his eyes again, for a long time, and then his lips, where she kissed him fully, this time her mouth open and sultry but loving, too. “I love you, Garnett. And I know how much you love me.” She smiled. “Let’s not waste time. Let’s have babies and a home and a wonderful life.”


Long before the writing began, Renée found the power of words in books. A voracious reader from her first encounter with "Run Dick Run, and Jump Jane, Jump" she walked downhill to the nearest library and became a card carrying member of that special society that doesn't judge or descriminate. All book lovers may join.

Reading became the informant, shaping how and where her imagination would be carried. "It didn't hurt to have old movies on television that shaped images and enlarged them for me."

She felt as though she read through life with best sellers competing with classics Salinger against Austen. Who won that battle? "I did, because I quickly found that each had a place at the table, and all were winners of my special contest." That contest being each writer's ability to engage a young and developing mind.

Of the newly launched novel Dead Eyes In Late Summer, Renée says, "I got to know some about the south a while back when my husband and I engaged in a two week southern tour, Atlanta, Birmingham, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. But it was Eudora Welty who completed the picture for me. Everything I experienced on that tour, I had already learned from Ms. Welty."
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