Two Ships

two: that makes two of us, then;

She loved Sunday mornings.

On Sunday mornings in Cambridge, June would walk to her favorite coffee shop, get a black coffee and a blueberry muffin and take a couple hours to read. If it were nice, she’d go for a walk in the Boston Commons. On rainy days, she’d peruse the thrift stores and second-hand bookshops near her apartment.

But as she sat on a wicker bench that had been strategically placed on the wraparound deck to face the ocean, wrapped in an old, green-and-orange patchwork quilt from the 70s that had belonged to her mom, drinking strong, black coffee from a chipped earthenware mug, and watching the ocean as it glittered in the early morning, June admitted to herself that maybe a new Sunday morning routine wouldn’t be so bad.

She’d picked up a few “new” pieces of furniture for the house from Atlantic Supply: a faded, but still soft, blue satin couch, and a curved, cherry coffee table that was from the 80s but in surprisingly good condition. James Montgomery had given her a good price for them.

June still felt a little twinge of guilt for being so unnecessarily rude to Daniel Montgomery. Sure, what he’d said had been rude, but he’d looked genuinely embarrassed, and he had tried to apologize.

Taking another sip of her coffee, June shrugged the quilt closer around her shoulders. In the early morning breeze, the beach grass rippled in lush, green waves. The ocean maintained its steady ebb and flow against the beach.

He appeared in her line of vision before she had even realized he was near. Daniel Montgomery, in what she was coming to realize was his morning routine, now stopped in front of her house, wearing a plain white tee shirt and blue sweatpants with Yale printed down the leg.

Daniel gave her a tentative wave. June returned it with a sinking stomach, which Daniel took to mean that he was free to run up the old wooden boardwalk that connected the wraparound deck to the beach.

“Hey, listen,” he said when he was only a couple yards away.

June waved a hand away. “No, no, don’t apologize again. I know you weren’t trying to be a dick.”

Daniel glanced to his feet, smiling. Well, she had to give it to him – he was good looking. He reminded her of those Ralph Lauren ads: all those pretty guys with good bodies in nice clothes, riding horses, and playing Polo. His eyes were dark, yet only a shade darker than his thick hair. He even had the chiseled jaw and high cheekbones that a handsome blue-blood heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune should have.

“Yeah well I never have to try to be a dick. It usually just happens.”

His response made her chuckle. “So which Montgomery are you? I’ve heard you’re a rather large clan.”

“I guess I’m sort of the Montgomery, then. My father is Philip Anderson Montgomery – technically, he’s Daniel Philip Anderson Montgomery the Third. And someday I guess I’ll have a kid and he’ll be the fifth one of us.”

“That’s perhaps too many Daniel Philip Andersons in the world…that name is a mouthful.”

Daniel outright laughed at that, and June had to admit; he had a nice, warm laugh. The way his eyes crinkled up, too, she liked that. It was sincere. “Yeah, perhaps.” He looked straight in her eyes. “I just wanted to let you know, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I used to like to go into your house when it was abandoned, I don’t know why really, it’s just my favorite house. I’m sorry if I was rude yesterday, I just feel protective of your house. There’s a lot of history there.”

At least he was being honest.

“So did you try to gauge your jog for when you thought I’d be awake just so you could apologize?” June teased, expecting a sarcastic response.

He just laughed again and shook his head, a vague answer, and looked away, up at the house. “You know, I want you to be able to make this place a real home, the way I imagined it should be as a kid. I’ll let the boys at Atlantic Supply know that next time you go in, you can pick out whatever you want, free of charge.”

“Wow,” June replied, not sure of how to feel about the offer. Flattered? Embarrassed? Angry that he would think she needed his help? “That’s a tall order.”

“Let me do this for the house.”

A gust of wind tumbled down the beach, churning up the water and sending the salty, seaweed scent right into June’s nose. She loved the smell of the beach, especially in the morning. “We’ll see,” she finally answered. “I appreciate the offer.”

Daniel checked the watch that hugged his large wrist. “Look, I gotta get back to reality soon. Hey…my parents are throwing a Memorial Day barbeque after the parade tomorrow. Will I see you there?”

“I don’t exactly spend my days rubbing elbows with the upper echelon of society, if you know what I mean,” June replied, feeling awkward. “I don’t think I’d fit in.”

“That makes two of us, then.” With that, Daniel grinned…but it didn’t reach his eyes. There was that lost, sad look in his eyes. It was a look that she recognized, with an ache of her heart, as a very familiar feeling.

How could this beautiful, young man with his whole life ahead of him feel out of place in his own home? June couldn’t figure out how to answer, but Daniel didn’t seem to want one. Quickly the emotion in his eyes was masked with dark blankness.

“I’m sure I’ll see you again at the sunrise, though. I’ve really got to get going.” He held up a hand in a gesture of goodbye without meeting her gaze. “I’m glad we got a chance to talk. Have a good one.”

Daniel ran off without letting June say goodbye – she blinked and he was off, down the beach. He sprinted away in a graceful stride. June blinked her eyes again to the spot where he’d just been.

There was no way else to explain it; she simply liked having him there.

June was nonplussed at the feelings, so she tucked them away, picked herself up, and took the quilt and the now-empty coffee mug inside.

It took her even more by surprise to see Connor standing at the wood stove, cooking something on one of the griddles. “It’s 7am. What are you doing up?” June sounded more accusatory than she’d anticipated and at once she felt bad. She wasn’t good at this sister-slash-guardian thing.

“Be grateful, I’m cooking us breakfast.” He looked up from the stove with a smile on his face. “I have a job interview this morning, at 8.”

“A job interview, huh? You’re quick, I wasn’t even going to start searching until after Memorial Day. You sure you’re ready for this? All you’ve ever done is mow lawns.”

Connor shook his head, still looking chipper. “It’s just at this café and deli downtown. I went there when you were with the realtor the other day. Pays $8.50 an hour and I’d 30 hours or so a week. That’s like $250 a week!”

“Before taxes,” June reminded him, sitting down at the kitchen island. “So how did you get so knowledgeable about this job? You haven’t had the interview yet.”

At this, Connor shrugged, but his eyes were bright and he was grinning. “Uh, well there was this girl there who was telling me about it…”

“Oh, okay, I get it, so you want to work with this girl cause you think she’s cute, huh? You do realize you’re going to have to actually work, right?”

Connor picked up the pan and two paper plates and served the eggs he’d been cooking. Then, he popped a few slices of bacon on top and handed her a plastic fork. “Elegantly served,” June joked. “But I appreciate the effort. This looks delicious, thank you.” She began to eat the steaming pile of eggs and watched as her brother slung a backpack around his shoulders.

“I can’t stay, I want to get there with plenty of time to spare.” Connor balanced his plate on one hand and picked up his longboard with the other.

“You don’t want a ride?” asked June. He just shook his head, smirking. “Sorry I don’t have a cooler car,” June answered, sarcastic.

“It’s fine, I’ll live, somehow,” replied Connor with mock-melodrama. Then, with a wave, he was gone out the front door.

Alone, once again.

June poured herself another cup of coffee and ate her breakfast in the warm morning sun. The weight of loneliness pressed against her chest, but she inhaled deeply and tried to exhale it away. Her mind wandered to Daniel, but thinking about him made her feel prickly, and just a little queasy.

She sighed and took a sip of the dark brew in her mug.

Well…today was as good a day as any to start organizing all the crap in her aunt’s attic.


It was the day before Memorial Day, so it was the day that Daniel’s father moved all his shit from his office in Boston and made the trek down to the Cape. And since it was the day that his father was coming back – and the first they’d be together since their fight on New Years – naturally, Daniel was hiding out in one of the storage rooms, going through old high school memorabilia.

The pictures in the yearbooks and the photo albums felt foreign; a lifetime away…in these photos he had a smug grin painted on his face. Just wait, he told the face in the picture. In a few years, you’re not going to even remember why you’re smiling.

“Harrison thought I would find you in one of these old rooms,” came a new voice behind him. Daniel shut his senior yearbook closed with a snap.

“The man is our Chief of Staff. Let’s hope he knows a little bit more about us than our exact locations at every minute of the day.” Daniel turned around, not sure if his grandmother would hear the irony in his voice, but she was smirking.

“Your father just arrived, they’re unloading the vans. He wants to have lunch with the whole family,” she informed him. She was every inch the blue-blooded matriarch: perfectly bobbed white hair, piercing blue eyes, a pointed nose and thin lips. She was impeccably dressed, as always, in a dove-gray skirt and turquoise top, with large gold jewelry. Per usual, she wore at least nine rings on her bony fingers.

“I’ll be down,” Daniel answered, his tone noncommittal.

Edie Perkins Montgomery gave her grandson a searing look. “You know,” she said at last, her voice breezy, “You’re too young to remember Isabella Parker…but she once spent her summers here with her aunt, Lily, when she was a young woman many years ago. Beautiful girl, but very troubled. Everybody knew it…she spent her time with all sorts of people in the city. Then one summer, she attempted to ensnare your father into matrimony. She was…well, creative…I’ll give her that.”

“Parker? As in, The Parker House?” Daniel questioned. Edie gave him a close-lipped smile. “Why are you telling me this?”

At this, she parted her lips in a polite grin. He could see her canine teeth, pointed sharp like fangs. “It’s important to know your neighbors,” she answered. With that, she turned around and left the room. Daniel heard her Christian Louboutin shoes – the only kind she would wear – clack down the hall until they, too, had disappeared.

She knew that he’d met June Parker, then. Somehow, she’d found out. Never underestimate the lengths that Edie will go to if she wants to know something. It was something his mother had said a few years ago.

Daniel’s brother Liam was deep in discussion with their father by the time Daniel finally dragged himself downstairs. They were both holding engraved, crystal tumblers filled with amber colored alcohol, and dressed in casual white shirts and khaki pants.

Liam, two years Daniel’s junior, had just finished his junior year at Harvard and had decided to come to Cape Cod with their father. Liam and Philip had always made quite a pair – tall, tan and blonde.

Despite his dread ad at an interaction with his father, Daniel was relieved to see his closest ally this summer. Liam had always been the one running behind Daniel and Charlie, screaming, “Wait up guys, wait up!” Now that he and Charlie weren’t speaking, however…

“Holy hell, Danny’s emerged!” Liam’s exuberant voice bounced across the main foyer; Daniel’s father, Philip, looked up at the sound of Liam’s voice. He was handsome, with his silver hair and a sarcastic smile that never reached his eyes. At the sight of Daniel, Philip tilted his chin forward. His façade of endless defiance.

Daniel met his brother at the foot of the stairs with a handshake and an embrace.
“How was school?” asked Daniel as they pulled away.

Liam shrugged. “Without you? Not as fun. Crew busted my balls, basically, and Dad’s been bitching at me about business school. You know, now that he can’t bitch at you about it.”

“Daniel.” The sound of their father’s imperious voice interrupted the brothers’ conversation. They parted from each other and Daniel looked at his dad. For some reason, his grandmother’s earlier comments popped back into his head. Edie must have known that Daniel would want to know more about his father and Isabella Parker’s supposed engagement.

“Dad,” replied Daniel, shaking his father’s hand.

“Nice of you to join us at the house this summer. I trust you’ll be participating in all family events?” Philip put his hand into a khaki pocket and sipped his drink. Daniel soon found himself with a crystal tumbler, which Liam was giving him. Taking a gulp, Daniel gave himself some time to answer.

“Well, you know I wouldn’t miss the barbeque for anything,” Daniel replied at last. It was a concrete enough answer for Philip, but he simply shrugged and walked through the double doors out to the garden terrace where a lunch spread had been laid out.

Liam joined Daniel on their walk out. “Come out with me tonight,” Liam prompted. Daniel groaned in response. “C’mon, when was the last time you got laid?” Liam asked.

“Jesus Lee, I’ll come out with you if you don’t make me answer that dumb question.” Daniel felt his face get hot and Liam crowed a laugh as they made their way to the table, where pan-seared fish, roasted chicken legs, and bowls of sautéed vegetables and various cold salads were laid out.

“Atta boy,” chuckled Liam, thumping Daniel on the back with his fist. He began to load a plate up with food. “This looks fucking delicious,” he said, his voice, a complete deadpan. Remembering that his younger brother had been eating dining hall food all year, Daniel laughed and began to put food on his own plate.

As the two brothers went to join the rest of the family to eat lunch, Daniel felt comforted to know that at least he had Liam through all the bullshit.


She’d put the little, locked chest that James had given her the day before in the attic with whatever else was hidden up here beneath dust-ridden cloth. Now, June stood in the attic, among her Great-Aunt’s things, and wondered where to even begin.

June pulled the first cloth off a tall, old lamp with a curved, white shade and a claw footed base. It lacked a light bulb, but she suspected it still worked. It would make a nice addition to the first floor.

Feeling optimistic that she would find things of use up here, June began to pull off the sheets at a quicker pace. She soon uncovered a number of beautiful, old oil paintings, extra chairs for the dining room set, and even an antique cabinet with curved glass and a china dish set displayed inside.

After this, she pulled the sheet off a desk, stained nearly-black, with a closed rolling top. June pressed her fingers against the closed top and pushed it up. It rolled back smoothly, clicking into place.

It was as if someone had just left the desk moments ago, closing the desk in a haste, as if they would only be gone for a few minutes. Old pieces of paper with an elegant, slanted cursive scrawled across the front were scattered on top. A leather-bound journal with thick parchment pages rested on the left, and a pair of reading glasses lay, crossed, next to it. June ran a finger over the tiny drawers in the top part of the desk and opened them.

A golden locket lay in the first one. June picked it up and clicked it open. Inside were the faces of a plain, yet gentle-looking woman and a handsome man with a curled mustache and dark eyes. She clicked the locket closed and slipped it in her pocket. This was all hers now, apparently.

She opened, and almost closed, the fourth drawer in a blur, but caught herself when a flash of silver glinted. June pulled the drawer back open to reveal a small, tarnished key.

Lily said the key was in the house, James had said.

Well, shit. June picked up the key and went to the small chest. She sat down on the dusty floor and pulled the chest to her lap, fingering the lock and then looking at the even tinier key.

June placed the key as delicately as she could into the lock, turning it with a light push of her finger pads.

And then, with a click, the lock opened.