Well, we're back to cold. It's in the 20s right now but is supposed to warm up to the 50s later today and be in the upper 60s tomorrow.
Today is GoofBall's 8th birthday! It's hard to believe it's been that long since he was born! And my brother's birthday is tomorrow. And "Puggle Bug" (that's what my youngest nephew told me he was) is going to be 3 next Saturday! Since my grandparents are coming down today, we are all going out for lunch and then tomorrow we'll have a cookout over at my brother's house and celebrate all three birthdays. I'm sure it'll be a bit crazy, but fun. :)
Tonight my grandparents, sister and I are going to a concert to hear the Chanticleer men's chorus. Grandpa loves listening to them and was delighted and impressed that they were going to be singing here in town!
Not much to update you all on. I still haven't gotten everything corrected in the Graham Quartet, nor made any progress on a cover design. Sorry. Hopefully next week will be better.
I'm glad you came back for the next part of this story. I hope you enjoy this next part as much as you have the first two.
A Change of Visitors
There was a moment of hesitation before the boy backed away from the doorway, pushing the door wide open. Smoke poured from the room, sending both children into a fit of coughing. Scott pulled them from the house. “Stay out here until I see what the problem is.”
Autumn couldn’t tell if the girl was cold or just frightened as she pressed close to the boy, wrapping her arms about herself. Quickly undoing the pack behind Nutmeg’s saddle, she pulled out the two warm jackets. Approaching the children, she said softly, “Here, why don’t you two put these on while we wait for the smoke to clear.”
The boy turned to look at her and then took the smaller jacket and put it about the girl’s shoulders. “I’m okay,” he said, but a visible shiver belied his statement, and Autumn put the jacket about his shoulders with a slight smile.
The silence was awkward. “My name is Mrs. Wood. What are your names?”
“I’m Fern and I’m eight. I wish Mom would come back cause I don’t like staying here alone.” There was nothing shy about that little girl.
“Did your mom tell you where she was going?”
Dylan shook his head. “Huh uh. She was here one minute and then she was gone. I thought she’d gone to see about getting the car fixed.” His voice dropped and he kicked a small stone. “But now I wonder.”
The smoke had pretty much cleared from the doorway and Scott stepped out. “The wood was green and damp. That’s why it wasn’t burning and you were getting nothing but smoke. Did you gather that wood today?”
Dylan nodded. “We used up the other stuff last night.” He paused and then asked, “Are you really in the army?”
Scott nodded. “Yep. Well, I was. I’m just a reserve now, but–” he shrugged and wiped his hands on his pant legs. For a minute he looked about the yard, glanced back into the house, and then raised an eyebrow at his wife. When she nodded, he said, “Suppose we take you kids with us. We’ll leave a note here for your mom, telling her where you are, and then we can make some phone calls and see if we can locate her. How does that sound?”
“Can we ride on the horses with you?” Fern asked, looking eager.
“Sure you can,” Autumn answered quickly. “You can ride Ginger with me.”
“What about it, Dylan?”
Scott pulled out a small pad of paper and a pen from his pocket. “Let’s get your backpacks, and I’ll write the note. We’ll make sure the fire is out and then we’ll be on our way.”
By the time the horses had stopped before the Wood’s home, Fern had fallen asleep and Autumn could tell that Dylan was having a difficult time staying awake. Her sympathetic expression was met with a nod of understanding before Scott dismounted, assisted Dylan to dismount and then came over and reached for the sleeping girl.
“Where should I put her?” he asked in low tones.
“On the couch in the den. Do you want me to start calling or work on supper?” Autumn had slipped from her own horse as she spoke, run up the stairs and quickly unlocked the side door.
“Supper. I’ll lay her down, put the horses up and then be in to call.”
Autumn nodded and beckoned to Dylan.
Sitting at the table, Dylan looked about. The dining room was cozy and warm. The food was really good, and he was glad he and Fern weren’t still alone in the old house. If only their mom would show up. Mr. Wood had made several phone calls after he had come in, but nothing had been learned. Silently he looked across the table to where his sister sat. After her short nap she had awakened eager to do something and was now chattering away around mouthfuls of food. At least she wasn’t talking about their previous life.
“I’ve always wanted to ride a horse. Can little girls ride your horses or only big people? Did Ginger ever have a baby? Why do you have such a big house when there are only two of you? Do you like dogs? I do, but only if they aren’t mean. Do you think Mom will come tonight? What if she goes to that cabin place? Oh, I forgot, there’s a note for her. But if she doesn’t have a flashlight she won’t see it until morning and she might go looking for us.” The chatterbox paused and took a long drink of water, giving Scott a chance to say something.
“The police said they’d have someone out there if case she did come back.”
“Mom won’t like that. She doesn’t like the police.”
“Fern!” Dylan hissed.
“Well, she doesn’t. She said so.”
“Only those other police.” Dylan cast swift glances at the faces of the two adults at the table, but neither one seemed to notice the half whispered conversation.
Just then the phone rang. Scott excused himself and went into the den to answer it.
Dylan looked after him. Was that call about their mom? He wished he knew.
“Mrs. Wood,” Fern said, her young voice suddenly concerned, “sometimes Mommy doesn’t hear us talk to her even when we’re right beside her. And sometimes she starts crying over really strange things like one time–ouch! Don’t kick me, Dylan, or I might get mad.”
Dylan glared at his sister. Why wouldn’t she learn to shut up? “Fern! Tell her about the owl.” He had to change the subject.
“What owl?” Autumn, as much as she wanted to know what the little girl had to say, was hesitant about encouraging her in talk that her brother seemed to think wasn’t right.
Instead of answering, Fern turned and glared at her brother in reply. “I don’t like owls and I’m not going to talk about any.” Her words were short. “I’m going to tell her anything I want.” She didn’t add, “And you can’t stop me,” but her face said it.
Autumn knew it was time to change the subject. “Who wants cookies?”
The change in Fern’s attitude was instant. Her face brightened and an eager light came into her eyes. “I do!”
“All right. Suppose you both carry your dishes into the kitchen for me and then you can each pick two cookies from the cookie jars.”
“You have cookie jars?”
Amused at the little girl’s awestruck tones, Autumn chuckled. “I sure do.”
What do you think has happened to their mom?
Will Fern tell what she shouldn't?
And why would the kids' mom not like the police?