Chapter Two

When the work week was over and Saturday finally rolled around, I decided to wake up a little early. Even though it was my day off, I still had a lot of things to do. My parents, who lived on the other side of town from me, were having a BBQ. It was always a huge event and it only seemed to grow every year. Half the town would end up making an appearance. Some I'm pretty sure only came for the free food, but others were genuinely interested in keeping in touch with my parents.

My dad was an active member of the town's Gentleman's Poker Society and my mother went to every Ladies' Bridge Club meeting. The poker games were real, but the bridge games were just a means to gossip and plan out the lives of everyone else in the town. All the important people in town were members, which meant that despite having a strange daughter, my parents were pillars of the community and that everyone knew who they were.

The thought crossed my mind that this might be my dad's last BBQ and my ribs tightened around my heart. I shook my head, trying not to be negative. If this was his last BBQ, I was going to make sure it was a good one and not bring gloomy thoughts with me.

I rolled out of bed and looked out my window at the morning sunshine. The view that sprawled in front of me was like something out of a farmer's magazine. My house was on the outside of town, which meant that my backyard consisted of nothing but miles and miles of corn fields. I found it beautiful and incredibly peaceful, especially in the early summer, when the corn stalks were still dark green. It looked like an ocean of lush foliage against a bright blue sky, laid out in front of me as far as the eye could see.

In the distance, a lonely red tractor puttered across my view. The sound of the motor combined with the sweet smell of summer grass triggered childhood memories. I opened the window and drew in a long breath, sucking up the humid air.

There are things I love about this place, I thought. It's worth it to be back here.

Shutting the window, I wrapped myself in my robe and went downstairs to start a pot of coffee. While it heated up, I glanced around my little house. Fifty years ago, it had been my grandparent's farm house. When my grandparents passed years ago, they'd left it to my parents and they'd used it as a second home for guests. When we got my dad's diagnosis, they were happy to give it to me so I could be close.

I smiled as I looked around the cheerful yellow kitchen with an old avocado colored stove and worn cabinets. I had so many happy childhood memories in this place. My mother and I would spend summer afternoons in this kitchen, chatting with my grandmother as she baked cookies. My mother taught me how to make a casserole in this kitchen when I was sixteen.

My phone rang and I walked across the small living room to answer it. The caller ID said it was Karina, my oldest friend.

“Hello,” I said warmly into the phone, expecting to hear my friend's voice.

“Aunt Hannah!” a small girl squealed instead. It was Leigh Ann, Karina's six year old daughter.

“Well, good morning,” I said, a smile filling my face. “How's my favorite goddaughter doing today?”

“I'm good,” she replied. “I wanted to make sure you were coming to the BBQ today.

Mom said she wasn't sure.”

“Of course I'll be there,” I promised. “I wouldn't miss it.”

“Good, because I miss you, Aunt Hannah,” Leigh Ann said. “I want to see you.”

My heart melted and it was all I could do to not tear up. “I miss you, too. I'm looking forward to seeing you today. Maybe we can play horseshoes.”

“Yay! Horseshoes!” Leigh Ann squealed. “Mom! Aunt Hannah said she'll play horseshoes with me.”

“That's great, honey.” I heard Leigh Ann's mom, Karina, in the background. We'd been best friends since the third grade when we snuck frogs into Mrs. Stone's lunchbox.

“Can I talk to your mom real quick?” I asked Leigh Ann.

“Yeah, here she is,” Leigh Ann said.

A moment later, Karina came on the line.

“Hey,” she greeted me. “I hear your in town, but I haven't seen you for more than five minutes.”

I chuckled, knowing that we'd stayed so long in a restaurant we were kicked out just a week before. Still, for being in town, I hadn't seen my friend as much as I would have liked.

“I know, and I'm sorry. I'm still getting settled,” I said. “I think I'm finally settled in at work. We'll do something soon. Promise.”

“Good. I need some more wine time,” Karina replied. “Leigh Ann, do not climb on the counter tops. If you need to climb something, you can go outside.”

From the background I heard a “but, Mo-om,” followed by a brief pause and then the sound of the backdoor opening and shutting.

“How long until summer is over?” Karina asked. “I don't know if I'm going to make it.”

“It's barely June,” I replied with a chuckle. “She driving you crazy already?”

“Yes. Her kindergarten teacher was a saint. I can't wait for her to start school again.”

“She's going to be in first grade this year, right?” I asked, shaking my head. I couldn't believe my little goddaughter was already in first grade. It felt like just yesterday that she was born. I was one of the few people that Karina had wanted in the delivery room, and thus was one of the first to meet Leigh Ann.

“Yup. She's so excited for the full day, but I'm thinking I'm looking forward to it more,” Karina joked.

“You realize in two years, Leigh Ann will be the same age that we were when we met?”

“My God, that's scary to think about,” she said, laughing. “I really hope she doesn't pull the frog stunt. I was grounded for a month after that.”

“Yeah, me too,” I said. “Worth it though.”

“Definitely. Seeing that mean old teacher scream was awesome.” She laughed and let out a nostalgic sigh. “Anyway, do you want me to bring anything specific to the BBQ today?”

“I can ask my parents, but I'm guessing that you don't need to worry about it,” I said. “They'll probably have tons of food and drinks. Maybe bring some chips and salsa if you have some.”

“I can do that,” she said. “Well, I don't need to keep you on the phone since I'll being seeing you in a couple of hours. Just wanted to hear your voice since I've almost forgotten what it sounded like.”

“Very funny. We both know you couldn't ever forget my voice,” I said. “But yes, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys today.”

“Me too,” she replied. “And I know Leigh Ann is. All she has been talking about all week is how excited she is to see her Aunt Hannah.”

“Aw, that's sweet,” I said. “Tell her I can't wait to see her, too.”

“Will do,” Karina said. “Oh, hey. I heard Dr. Mathews might come. Is that true?”

My heart skipped a beat at his name. “I haven't heard, but I did invite him.”

“I wanted him to check this bug bite on Leigh Ann,” Karina explained. “It's just so red.”

“I'll make sure to take a look at it,” I promised. “If it's bad, I'll let you know.”

“You can do that?” Karina asked.

“I'm a nurse, so yes.” I shrugged.

“I didn't know you knew stuff like that,” Karina replied.

“Why do you think I went to school for four years?” I asked, rolling my eyes. “I don't just wear a short skirt and say 'thank you, doctor' in a breathy voice all day. I actually know medical things.”

“Whoa, sorry.” I could hear Karina take a step back. “I didn't mean to insult you.”

I sighed. “No, I'm sorry. It's just that everybody in town thinks I don't do anything. That I didn't get a crap ton of training and experience.”

“We've just never had a real nurse like you before,” Karina explained. “Dr. Mathews is lucky to have you. We all are.”

“Thanks.” I sighed again. “We good?”

“We're always good,” Karina assured me. “Hey, is it weird to work with Dr. Mathews? I mean, you tutored him in high school and now he's your boss.”

“He's changed since high school,” I told her. “He's not a punk kid anymore.”

“Thank heaven. Remember when he punched out Aiden for drinking all his booze at that after party?”

“Yeah.” I shook my head. It seemed like Jacob Mathews was always in trouble when we were in school. If you wanted booze or a party, he was the guy to go to. He had been trouble back then.

“He's a lot better now. There's no way I'd let him touch my kid otherwise,” Karina agreed. “Okay, I'll see you in a couple hours. Thanks for looking at the bite. ”


She hung up the phone and I did the same. I walked over to the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. It was good and warm in my hands as I took a sip.

I looked out my window and toward town. My thoughts went to Dr. Mathews and how much he'd changed since high school. How much we'd both changed.

I wasn't quite such an ugly duckling. He wasn't the bad boy. I let my thoughts drift to the first day that we really talked. The first day that my crush went into overdrive.


Comments (3)
goodnovel comment avatar
Tanya Gordon
She's got the hots for Dr. Matthews hehe
goodnovel comment avatar
Anka Knoetze Rossouw
Good story so far. Chapters to short.
goodnovel comment avatar
Beatrice Olubunmi Ibitomisin

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