A little more than a week until Book 26 – Moments and Milestones – is released. I can hardly wait for you to get this one in your hands.
Friday night – TRIVIA NIGHT! We always have so much fun and this time I’m adding two of those awesome new t-shirts to the giveaways. You won’t want to miss this. Mark your calendar.
Okay, here’s a vignette to tide you over until June 25th!
Book 26 – 03 – Mornings Come Too Early
“Jeff is feeding us at Sycamore House,” Rebecca said as she ran through the kitchen. “I was supposed to pick Kayla up five minutes ago.”
“You’re late,” Polly said.
Rebecca didn’t have time to talk about it as she ran for her car.
Cilla was leaning against the passenger door, her phone in hand. “About time,”
“I know, I know. I never get up this early. It’s killing me.”
Cilla laughed. “Can you even believe we got jobs where the shops don’t open until ten? Mom thinks I should be up and cleaning the house at eight so I’m wide awake and bushy-tailed when I get to work.”
Rebecca waited for her friend to buckle her seat belt before roaring out of the driveway. “I’m glad Polly knows that I’m a night person. All she wants me to do is smile at the family when I get up. Sometimes that’s more painful than anything else.”
“Smiling’s the worst,” Cilla agreed.
“Polly says if I don’t let my face know what my heart is feeling, no one else will know either. But she doesn’t like it if I’m grumpy in the morning”
“Especially since you get to sleep til nine. It’s not fair.”
Rebecca pointed at the clock on the dashboard. “I didn’t get to do that this morning. I’m in the car and it’s not even nine o’clock yet. Why does Jeff want us at Sycamore House so early? The parade doesn’t start until ten thirty.”
“You really don’t like mornings, do you? This is only one day. You probably won’t die from getting up.”
“Let’s hope not.” Rebecca came to a stop at the highway. “Look at all these cars. Is everyone in town for the Fourth?”
“It’s a long weekend. Who knows?”
Rebecca turned onto the highway and headed for the hotel. Her phone had buzzed with texts a couple of times. They were probably from Kayla and Andrew, wondering where she was. Kayla was an early-bird, always ready in plenty of time. She was early to everything. Andrew complained about mornings like Rebecca did, but his mom kept asking him to work at the bakery before he went to work at the grocery store. He took the hours because he wanted to buy his own car. That meant he was usually out of the house before five thirty. How was that even morning? It was still night time to Rebecca.
When she pulled in under the canopy of the hotel’s lobby, Kayla was sitting outside on a bench. Her best friend in the world smiled and waved, then climbed into the back seat when Rebecca came to a stop.
“Good morning,” Kayla said brightly. “It’s going to be such a nice day. I can’t wait to get started.”
Cilla started to laugh and swatted at Rebecca’s arm. “Just like that. See how it’s done?”
“What?” Kayla asked. “What’s going on?”
“You’re so happy in the mornings,” Rebecca said. “What is wrong with you?”
“I don’t know. Why not? I get to spend the day with you guys. We’re going to carry the Sycamore Enterprises banner in the parade. There’s a party and then we get to go see fireworks. It’s the best day of the summer so far.”
“I can’t even,” Rebecca said.
Kayla pushed at her shoulder. “Come on. You gotta perk up. This is going to be awesome.”
“At least the horses are walking behind us,” Cilla said. “We could have to follow them.” Polly’s horses would be right behind the banner they carried, and then Elva Johnson, Eliseo’s sister who owned the stables, was following on some of her horses.
Rebecca chuckled at that. “That is a good thing. Kayla, do you know why we have to be there so early? Polly said she and the boys didn’t have to be here until just before ten.”
When there wasn’t any response, Rebecca glanced into the rear view mirror and saw her friend’s sheepish face. “What? What do you know?”
“It’s my fault.”
“What did you do?” Rebecca drove into the parking lot, surprised at the number of cars there. She knew they parade was lining up in the street in front of Sycamore House, but this was still early.
“I volunteered to help get everyone in place and then Jeff said that we should wear matching t-shirts and then Mrs. Donovan volunteered Andrew and then it just all sort of blew up. I’m no good at telling people where to go, but you guys are.”
Cilla laughed out loud. “That’s what friends are for. He wants us to help get people in the right order?”
“Yeah. He has charts and sheets and everything. Stephanie is already here. They’re putting stakes with signs on them out front so people can kind of get in order on their own, but we’re supposed to help last minute people get into the right place.”
“I’m going to be all hot and sweaty before the parade even begins,” Rebecca said in protest.
“At least we aren’t in band uniforms,” Cilla said. “Think about that. Shorts and t-shirts is way better. It’s only for another hour. Quit being a whiner.”
Kayla laughed from the back seat as Rebecca drove around looking for an empty parking space. She finally ended up down by the barn. “Rebecca hates mornings. She always whines.”
“I do, don’t I,” Rebecca said with a sigh. “That’s probably why Polly wants me to start smiling in the morning. But at that hour, smiling hurts my jaw.”
As she got out of the car, she saw Andrew running toward them. “About time,” he yelled. “I’ve been texting you. Why didn’t you respond?”
Rebecca frowned. “Because I was driving. Polly would kill me.”
“And it’s illegal,” Cilla whispered.
“Yeah. It’s illegal.” Rebecca laughed. “I need to stay out of jail. Can’t you just see it? Chief Wallers or Sheriff Merritt would love to call Polly and Henry to tell them I got pulled over for texting. I do not need to be in any more trouble with any of them.”
“There are people already inside,” Andrew said. “Come on. I saved some of Mom’s breakfast sandwiches for you guys. She gave me croissants for today. Jeff has cold pop for us, too. He said we needed as much caffeine on a day like this as we could get.”
Cilla opened her mouth and Rebecca knew exactly what she was going to say, so she brushed her off. “Don’t even argue. I know caffeine isn’t as good as water on hot days. Whatever. Polly isn’t here to stop me and I’m having a party.”
“I’m glad Stephanie isn’t that bad,” Kayla said.
Rebecca shook her head. “Of all the things that Polly has to get pushy about with us kids. Not getting pop is a killer. She used to drink it all the time. She said once we all started showing up in her life, it wasn’t fair of her to drink it in front of us, so she just stopped. How do you just stop? It’s not like she’s a saint or something, but man, she’s hard to live with.”
“Poor Rebecca,” Andrew said. “Poor, poor Rebecca. She lives such a terrible life.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.”
Cilla held the front door of Sycamore House open. “We all feel really sorry for you, Rebecca. Really, we do.”
Rebecca shook her head as she went inside. They didn’t spend as much time here since Polly and Henry bought the Bell House. She kind of missed being part of the action. Of course, back when she lived here, there wasn’t as much going on. Nowadays, the place was always busy. People were walking in and out of the auditorium and the kitchen was open, so there was a line waiting for coffee and breakfast.
“What did Rachel make for breakfast?” she asked Andrew.
He shrugged. “They’re serving scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon. Mom sent me over with cinnamon rolls and muffins earlier this morning, but Sweet Beans was packed with people. If I hadn’t been working here, she’d have made me stay up there.”
“Sky is working at Sweet Beans today,” Kayla said.
Andrew pointed at the classrooms. “I have our food in here. Unless you want to eat in the auditorium.”
Rebecca felt her energy level rising, just like it did whenever she was around people. She loved the excitement of big groups of people. “Let’s eat in the auditorium. I want to see who’s here.” She was already turning toward the main doors of the auditorium when she realized that she shouldn’t make Andrew carry her breakfast for her and spun to catch up with the rest of her friends.
“Whoa,” said a big, booming voice. Scott Luther, the new custodian at Sycamore House, pulled up short so she didn’t crash into him.
“I’m so sorry,” Rebecca said. “I wasn’t paying attention.
It wasn’t like she would have bowled him over. He was a mountain of a man.
He put his hand out. “Haven’t had a chance to meet you proper since I came to work. I’ve seen you around with Ms. Giller. I’m Scott.”
“Rebecca,” she responded. As she looked at their hands together, she wished she could get a photograph of the image. It would be perfect subject matter for a still life.
“Everything okay?” he asked, releasing her hand.
She realized she’d probably held on long enough to make things awkward and giggled. “Sorry. I was thinking about how to draw our two hands together. Yours is so big and strong.”
“That’s right. Eliseo said you’re an artist. Anytime you want to draw my hands, it’s okay. They’re always with me.”
Rebecca smiled at him as he went into the noisy auditorium. The doors closed and the sound died down.
“What are you doing?” Andrew came up beside her and held out a brown paper bag.
“You don’t get embarrassed that easy.”
“I just held Scott Luther’s hand too long. When I tried to figure out how to explain it, I just had to tell the truth. He was nice enough, but I made it awkward.”
“Why were you holding his hand too long?”
She shrugged. “Thought it would make a good drawing. His great big hand and mine.”
Cilla pushed them toward the doors. “She’s always doing weird stuff. We have to keep her from wandering off into the forest and getting lost.”
All three of the kids turned to her and stared. It was only last year that she’d been kidnapped and taken into a wooded area by a crazy friend of her family.
“What?” Cilla asked. “So every time we talk about a forest, you think I’m going to fall apart? Where else do elves and fairies drag their prey? Duh.”
The door to the auditorium opened again and Jeff walked out with Eliseo. He stopped and looked at the four kids. “You guys have ten minutes before I need you outside. Your t-shirts are lying on Stephanie’s desk. Make sure to put those on before you come out.”
Rebecca smiled at him. “We’re late. It’s my fault. I’ll hurry.”
He laughed and shook his head. “Don’t get too excited. It’s the first time I’ve been in charge of this thing and Adam tells me that I’m uptight. Me? Uptight? Come on. That can’t be true.”
Eliseo’s eyes lit up with laughter and Jeff shook his head. “Evidently, I’m uptight. Come outside as soon as you can. It isn’t like the parade is going to come to a complete stop because someone is out of order. Right?”
“You’re doing fine, boss,” Eliseo said, patting Jeff’s back. “You kids come out as soon as possible. The order of parade entries is on top of your t-shirts and we’re putting signs up right now. You’re fine.” He held the door open as they went inside.
Rebecca took in the number of people seated at tables around the room. Whatever leftover sleepiness she’d felt when she ran out the door of her house was long gone. She snagged Kayla’s arm and tugged her toward an empty table. “You’re right. Today is going to be a great day.”