I see you came back. :) I hope you enjoy this last part of the story. Somehow though, I'm thinking that you are all going to want more. If that's so, be sure you leave a comment telling me so and I'll see what I can do.
Yesterday was one of those crazy days where I didn't get done the things I would normally get done but I got other things done. You see, I have a birthday party to attend tomorrow afternoon for a friend I've known since she was born. She's having a "book/movie costume party" and I was working on an apron I need for my character. Come back next week, and I just might show you my outfit. ;)
Not much writing this week. But I'm almost finished reading TCR-5. Any ideas for the next TCR book are wanted! I'll take anything really even if I won't promise to put everything in the book. :)
I've been having fun working on the cover for the new Graham Quartet mystery. And redoing the cover for the first one. I can't wait to get them finished so I can let you all see them! The new mystery has gone out to test readers and my Graham Quartet illustrator is working on the drawings. Pray that she will be able to get them done quickly as she has 3 more to do than the last time. (Yep, this book has three more chapters.)
Okay, here's the last part of this story. Enjoy!
A Change of Visitors
Dylan stared moodily out the window in the living room. The overcast sky and cold, misty day seemed to reflect his inner feelings and he sighed. He and Fern had been taken to the hospital to see their mom that morning; she had talked to them, but only for a short time. Then they had had to leave her there and come back to the Wood’s house. And the sheriff had talked to them, asking many questions. Fern had chattered about anything without regard to his nudges and the glares he had given her to make her stop. All he had managed to do, however, was make her mad, and she had yelled at him. After that the sheriff had decided to talk to them separately, and Dylan wondered what his sister had said. “It’d be just like her to blab everything about our life to complete strangers,” he muttered. “I wish she was the shy, timid kind of girl.”
“Dylan, would you like some freshly baked cookies?” Mrs. Wood’s bright voice sounded from the doorway behind him and he turned.
He followed her into the kitchen and found Fern seated on one of the high stools eagerly eating a warm chocolate chip cookie. It was obvious that she was enjoying it, for bits of chocolate were smeared about her mouth. When asked if he wanted a glass of milk, Dylan shook his head. “No, thanks.”
“Dylan doesn’t like milk and cookies,” Fern piped up. “He never would drink any at home, and Mom used to say that–”
“Be quiet,” Dylan hissed. He didn’t think he’d be able to stand much more of her free talk.
“I can say anything I want to, old man.”
“Fern, we don’t allow that sort of talk in this house. It isn’t kind,” reproved Autumn quietly, taking the last pan of cookies from the n and setting it on the counter.
“Well, it’s true. Mom said he was a man and old before time, so there.” Fern folded her arms and stuck out her lower lip.
Dylan didn’t say anything. He knew that even the slightest word from him would set Fern into another burst of name calling.
“I don’t care if it is true,” Autumn said, and Dylan wondered if she was trying not to laugh. “It wasn’t kind.”
“I can call him anything I want,” insisted the little girl. “He’s mean sometimes and–”
Autumn interrupted. “Then you can’t have your second cookie.” And very calmly she took the other cookie from Fern’s plate.
“You give me back my cookie!”
Stuffing the last third of his second cookie in his mouth, Dylan dropped off his stool. He started toward the door, but paused. As soon as he could speak, he said, “You might as well give it back to her; she’ll cause a huge scene if you don’t.”
But Autumn shook her head. “If she’s not going to talk sweetly, then she can’t have a cookie.”
Dylan didn’t wait to see what the outcome would be but hurried from the room, his sister’s screams sounding in his ears. Mr. Wood came in the front door, glanced at him and then strode to the kitchen. With a sigh, Dylan climbed the stairs to his room. Life was different. Everything had changed since their car had broken down on that old road.
Sitting disconsolately on his bed, Dylan leaned his elbows on his knees, propped his chin in his hands and stared at the window. The mist had changed into rain. Pattering drops splashed onto the window pane. He couldn’t hear Fern screaming any longer and wondered if she had stopped or if the rain had drowned out her voice.
A knock on the open door startled him some time later. “May I come in?”
It was Mr. Wood, and Dylan nodded.
The army reserve man came and sat down on the bed next to him. “It’s kind of hard right now, isn’t it?”
Dylan nodded without saying a word and the man went on.
“Dylan, you don’t have to try and hide your mom’s past. Your mom told the sheriff and me all about it. There were some corrupt police in the town you lived in, and things were done that shouldn’t have been allowed. But things are different here. Sheriff Reese is an honest man, and the men on the force here are honorable. You don’t have to be afraid of hiding things.”
A queer feeling came over Dylan and he shifted.
Scott Wood placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder and went on. “That house where you and Fern were staying belongs to your mom. It was your great uncle’s farm, and he left it to her when he died.”
“He did?” Dylan turned his head.
“I don’t want to stay there!”
Scott couldn’t keep back a smile. “I can’t say that I blame you much right now. But don’t worry, you and Fern are going to be staying right here until your mom is well and the house has been fixed up.”
“Is Mom going to get well?”
“The doctor said it may take a while, but he hopes she will be able to leave the hospital in a few weeks.. She suffered a seizure on her way back to the car that night. It might help her recovery if she didn’t have to worry about you and Fern being happy here. Do you think you would like to stay here?”
There was a long silence as Dylan gazed about the room, stared out the window and then turned to look at Mr. Wood. “Yeah. I like it. But Fern won’t unless she gets her own way.”
“You just leave Fern to us, okay?”
Dylan nodded. He was glad to dump the care of his little sister onto broader, stronger shoulders. The silence lengthened and the darkness deepened into dusk.
At last Scott seemed to rouse himself and asked, “Would you like to help me bring in some wood from the porch and get a fire going in the den?”
Dylan nodded. He didn’t like just sitting around with nothing to do.
While her hands were busy in the hot, sudsy water, Autumn listened to her husband's steady voice in the other room. She smiled to herself as she pictured the rapt faces of Dylan and Fern as they listened to the story. “I wonder how long we’ll get to have them here,” she mused. “Even after their mother is released from the hospital, I don’t think the house will be ready until some time in spring. Maybe we can persuade her to stay here too. She’ll need help after she leaves the hospital, and I think Fern is more than she can handle right now.” Turning on the water, she rinsed the mugs and spoons from their hot chocolate. “This is a perfect autumn evening and I think I’m going to enjoy our change of visitors, even if it will be more of a challenge.”
Did the ending satisfy you?
Are you tired of these characters now?
Or do you want to know more about them?
If you want to read more about Scott & Autumn, and Dylan, Fern and their mother, let me know. And tell me what you want to know. Maybe I'll get enough ideas to turn this into a longer story.