POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS - Synopsis
By Kay LeGrand
The last thing Lora McDaniel needs is a ticket for speeding in a school zone. Newly fired and dumped by a manipulative boyfriend/boss, she has no idea how shes going to pay her rent, much less a pile of hefty fines. Shes been abused, betrayed, and she has no use for men. Especially not for the handsome but stern-faced motorcycle cop whos just ruined whats left of her life.
Rookie Forrest City, Ohio, officer Jim Brook has little desire to become entangled with women, either. One of seven siblings in a family thats heavily into meddling with the course of his life, hes long since decided bachelorhood is the only way for him. But hes totally unprepared to find himself face to face with a hysterical, green-eyed beauty. And when she tearfully confesses she cant pay the fines hes imposed, Jim discovers a protective instinct he never knew he possessed. Letting his heart get in the way of professionalism and common sense, he finds a way to slip cash into her purse without her knowledge.
Of course, Loras furious. She sees this as an attempt at charity, and charitys one thing shes vowed never, after a childhood of physical and emotional poverty, to accept again. Still, shes trapped. With no job and no savings, shes forced to use Jims money, though she makes it perfectly clear she considers it a loan. One she will pay back.
And that, she thinks, is the end of that.
Fate, though, isnt about to let her off the hook. Without warning, her boyfriend, Bjork, reappears. Hes got the idea that she and Jim are having a love affair, and hes worked himself into a self-centered fury. Telling Lora she will come back to him because she belongs to him, he strikes her to drive his point home.
When Jim learns what Bjork has done, he wants Lora to press charges. But she refuses. Experience has taught her its safer, wiser, to do nothing and wait for Bjorks fit to pass.
Unable to change her mind, Jim does manage to convince her its not safe to stay where Bjork can find her. With no safe-house available in small Forrest City, all he can offer is his apartment. But shell have it all to herself. He promises. And hell be right next door, should trouble arise.
At first, it seems like a perfect solution. Until Bjork finds her, and promises retaliation if she doesnt do everything he demands.
Worried that Bjorks obsession will escalate into real violence, Jim tries again to get her to file charges. And when she still refuses, he spirits her away to a cottage on the shores of nearby Gaudens Lake.
Unfortunately, Loras been to the lake before. Her father, an angry and domineering man, took her and her mother there for vacations, and the memories arent good. And the worst of all is the memory of the terrible punishment her father inflicted when she was six, and asked to ride the carousel in the park. She didnt belong on that side of the lake, hed shouted. Shed never belong there.
Yet thats where Jim has brought her. That side of the lake, where the carousel music haunts her.
Sensing that the carousel lies at the root of so many of her troubles her lack of confidence, her fear of reprisals from Bjork should she cross him, her insistence that a man she calls the gardener is stalking her Jim tries to convince her to ride. He has to do something. He cant just stand by, and watch her suffer.
Gradually, as he works to convince her to face the demons shes held inside for too long, he realizes hes fallen in love with her. And hes revealed a few secrets of his own, things he never meant to share with anyone. About his family, and the single-minded way they pressured him to conform to tradition and become a cop. And hes allowed Lora to see the effects of a strange illness thats been plaguing him, leaving him dizzy and short of breath. An illness that seems to have grown worse.
Bewildered and unnerved, Jim tries to retreat. But its too late. Love, he discovers, is a lot like a jack-in-the-box. Its sneaky, its unpredictable, and it has a habit of hitting with a sledgehammer when a person least expects it. And thats doubly true when he realizes Lora seems to love him, too.
The realization leads to moments of intimacy that even a day or two earlier would have seemed impossible. Moments that leave Lora aglow with new hope, and new belief that her most cherished dream might now come true. Starry-eyed, she confides shes always wanted kids of her own. She wants to lavish upon them all the love shes always been denied.
When he hears her dream and sees the wistful sparkle in her eyes, Jims devastated. Because he has one other secret one hes never thought important until now. As part of his youthful rebellion against his family, he had a vasectomy.
Sick at heart, Jim confesses. And Loras reaction is even worse than he feared.
Feeling once again betrayed and used, she wont trust him any longer. Shes just about to demand he take her home to Forrest City when Bjork appears, spoiling for a fight.
The confrontation between Bjork and Jim is as short as it is brutal. Amidst vile threats and insults, Jim ejects Bjork from the cottage, then suffers an attack of illness so severe he can no longer deny somethings wrong. So Lora makes a deal with him. Shell go back to Forrest City and file charges against Bjork, if Jim agrees to see a doctor. But first, she has to ride the carousel, if only to prove to herself that she really is ready to stand up to Bjork.
Despite last-minute misgivings, its a magical moment. It helps her see that Jim has been right all along. She has nothing to fear from the past. She has only to face up to it, and shell find all the strength she needs to take charge of the future.
But fear, it turns out, is very much a part of the present. On the way back to Forrest City, theyre run off the road by someone who seems intent upon killing them. Only Jims skill with the motorcycle saves them, though theyre both badly shaken. Then, stopping at a convenience store to pull themselves together and report the incident to the state patrol, they walk into a robbery attempt. Jim steps between Lora and the robber, and is shot.
With Jim cradled in her arms, Lora finally admits to herself that she loves him. But its too late. Hes unconscious. Probably dying. And in all the chaos that follows emergency surgery, a harrowing moment when his heart stops, the surprising revelation that hes been suffering a well-hidden heart problem all along, and the not-so-surprising news that his family blames her for what happened at the convenience store she fears shell never have a chance to tell him how she feels.
Fortunately, Jims sister seems to understand. Shielding Lora from the family, and hospital protocol designed to keep non-family out, she announces Lora and Jim have secretly married, and takes Lora to see him.
Loras horrified, Jims amused, and the family reluctantly admits they could have been wrong about her.
But no one can protect Lora from a confrontation with her mysterious gardener. Admitting he followed them and ran them off the road, he says he believed Jim was Bjork, and was looking for revenge. Because Bjork has been having a love affair with his wife. And later, nothing can protect her from news that Bjorks been arrested for killing the gardeners wife when she tried to break off the affair.
Shocked and saddened, Lora is relieved, too. With Bjork out of the picture, shes free for the first time ever, to take charge of her life. To tell Jim she loves him, and to accept with joy in her heart when he asks her to marry him.
Even if he cant father the children she wanted, shes learned that there are all kinds of families, all kinds of ways to love. Jim comes with a ready-made family. Shes already started to win their acceptance, and in time, shes sure theyll come to love her as much as they love Jim.
And Jims free, too. No longer able to be a cop, hell finally have a chance to make his own decisions, follow his own dreams. More importantly, hes learned the true meaning of family. Hes learned that his is a real treasure, and he doesnt want the solitary life, after all.
He wants Lora. He cant imagine a future without her.