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
*Rob* Grace is still asleep when I wake. Though I’m immediately burdened with a fierce morning arousal catching the lingering scent of her shampoo in her hair and feeling her round firm bottom pressed into my hips, I lie still. It took some doing, lots of hard work with lots of help from my friends, their girlfriends, my parents and a generous smattering of folks from the community. Margie Gregor tapped a few friendly resources and secured us a cake that she paid for as a wedding gift. She also knew an amazing seamstress, who in four weeks, cranked out three bridesmaid dresses, faux-50s style with the full skirts, simple but elegant necklines, and short belted jackets that were what Grace’s grandmother’s bridesmaids wore, plus all the suits for the groom’s party, perfectly matched to those her grandfather and his brothers wore on their wedding, sixty years ago.
*Grace* "Marshall Arsonist Arraigned in District Court on New Charges" by Margie Gregor "Paul Danvers, a 37-year-old Marshall man previously accused of criminal trespass, 1st Degree Arson, and resisting and obstructing a police officer now is charged in a separate incident with aggravated harassment. "Prosecutors say Mr. Danvers used a flare gun and a bottle of charcoal fluid to set fire to a residence on Delta Crossing over the July 4th holiday, causing significant damage to the home. “He planned to burn the property down,” the county District Attorney said in a statement Monday. “This was a premeditated act of arson directed at his estranged wife after brutal harassment of her over a period of weeks following her filing for separation.” "Monday's arraignment followed the ne
*Jack Mueller***Warning: sociopathic and narcissistic mentality**Might not think it, but there’s a lot of baggage people carry around. Even in a small town. Even one small as this one. Sure, I got my own too, but I make a point to settle myself and stay out of the politicking.Except in the case of Juliet Hammond. That was one I never could quite get past.Mostly because she never would let me.Everyone in these parts talks about Juliet like she was some sort of saint. And on the surface, she might have been, but the woman had a black and vindictive heart hidden inside that beautiful package. One she disguised expertly. One she used to turn things back on you quicker and more agile than a jackrabbit in whatever way that benefited her best— I have to give her credit for that.But I digress, and as I make my way on foot to the Hammond farm—well, I suppose now Grace’s married that Asian man, it’s not the Hammond farm anymore, real shame that that is—I try to forget that Juliet was the p
*Juliet*“Come on, little one,” I coo, gently scooping my still napping daughter into my arms. Julia gives an irritable moan, then begins a tired hiccupping cry. Patting her on the back and rocking, I tuck her against my shoulder and soothe, “Ooh, I’m so sorry. I know, you’re not ready to get up yet. It’s oka—.”“Juliet!” Sam calls from downstairs. “We need to leave now or we’ll be late!”Rolling my eyes, I heave a sigh. “For pity’s sake, Sam, it’s just a game. You’ll be there early to warm up anyway.”“Juliet, I swear, if I have to come up ther—.”Rounding the corner at the top of the stairs, I drape a light blanket over Julia as she sucks her thumb, then give him a pointed glare, staring down my nose
*Sam* “Bill!” I shout over the roar of the fires, “get these people out of the way! We can’t get the trucks back to the pump to refill the tanks!” Nodding, he pushes the gathered crowd of mostly women and children to one side to give me time to get the truck through, but even I know it’s a futile effort. As if the high winds are fed by the fire the way it’s fed by them, they’re pushing the flames faster and hotter, and the roaring blaze is gobbling up everything in its path. The best we can hope is to cripple it near the east end of Main, before it gets to the Gothic church built in the 1840s. The fire chief has a crew with axes taking down the trees lining the church’s small cemetery and they’ve flooded the grounds by emptying the rectory water tank, perched up the hill behind the church to protect it. Still, twice already we’ve had to pull one
*Sam* My eyes are still gritty and my nose and throat sore from the blowing smoke and ash and fighting the township fire yesterday, but I collect the paper at the end of the drive and read the front page story on the veranda while Juliet’s still upstairs, getting ready for church. “Fire Destroys Township’s Historic Main Street” by Margie Brennan “A massive fire destroyed nearly three-quarters – the entire west and majority of the east side – of the Main Street historic businesses and buildings on Saturday. “Approximately 13 businesses burned down in the fire, including the Coady Bank, the newly renovated opera house and theater, Reid’s General Store, Dunn’s Drugstore and Medicines, the three-story men’s clothing and boot shop and the ice cream parlor, both owned by D.F. Palmer, three ladies’ dress shops, the Pet
*Juliet* “The Coadys aren’t staying. Maxwell Coady says they’re moving north near his wife’s family.” Margie sits on one corner of my blanket, cleaning the lens on her camera and talking about the township’s leaders and their rebuilding meetings since Main Street was all but leveled a couple weeks ago. Out on the baseball field, the teams are warming up before their rematch for the baseball tournament between the four townships that intersect here, and my eyes follow Sam as he throws the ball around to his teammates, fielding when it’s returned. “But Pat’s been fixing up the grocery store ever since. He’s almost done.” Alice occupies another blanket corner, rocking her youngest sleeping over her shoulder, but leans forward and gives a light smack to the hand of one of her children when our new shepherd pup give a pained yip. “Gently when you touch the puppy,” she scolds h
*Sam*Carrying Julia’s baby bag on one arm and the puppy tucked under the other, Juliet unlocks the mudroom door when we get home, calling over her shoulder as Julia darts down the veranda towards the porch swing. “Julia, come inside now.”“Swing!” Julia shouts back, as if in explanation.Removing the keys from the knob, Juliet calls again, “No, not right now. Come inside.” As she opens the door, the most delicious savory smell drifts out, assaulting both our senses, and breathing deep, we take it in gladly. My stomach seconds our assessment with a loud rumbling growl.Along the veranda, Julia’s stopped, but her little face is screwed up in angry rebellion and she actually stomps her foot, balling her little fists when Juliet tells her ‘no’. It’s all I can do not to laugh. Knowing how