*18* Fast Forward


Though it’s taken a few days, we’ve got Ella mostly covered, I think, crossing replacement items she needed after the fire off my list. But my niece and nephew still need new clothes, especially with school starting soon. When the mudroom door opens, I look up from my perch on a stool at the kitchen bar, watching as Rob closes the door behind him.

He fixes me with a beaming dimpled smile as he strides across the kitchen, planting a warm kiss on my forehead when he reaches my side. “It’s strangely quiet in here.” He peers around first the corner into the great room, then into the dining room, as if expecting the farmhouse to suddenly burst to life.

“It is,” I groan contentedly at the blissful silence. “Your dad took the truck to the Village Mercantile to pick up more fungicide and fertilizer for the beets. Your mom and Ella are out shopping for school supplies and

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