The Forgotten Daughter(8)

By: Lauri Robinson



“No,” Josie and Scooter answered simultaneously.

They hadn’t broached the subject of fireworks. There had been no need. Scooter was as reliable as Father Time. He said he’d handle the fireworks, and he would, without fail or complications.

Twyla always had to dig deeper. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Scooter said.

“The fireworks will go off as planned,” Josie assured her. At least once a day, usually more often, for the past week Twyla had talked about how Forrest was taking her up in his plane to watch the fireworks, cooing about how romantic it would be. Josie had to admit it did sound romantic, but right now, it made her want to be sick. Probably because of the way Scooter’s hold tightened on her arm. It plainly reminded her romance would never be a part of her life. Ignoring Scooter, she said to Twyla, “It’s almost time to cut your wedding cake. I was on my way to see if the ice cream was ready.”

“Twyla and I can do that,” Forrest said, glancing between her and Scooter. “Sorry to have interrupted you.”

Josie clenched her back teeth together so hard her jaw stung. She took several deep breaths through her nose as Twyla was led off by her new husband. Once they were out of sight, she wrenched her arm free from Scooter’s hold. “That was terribly rude,” she spat out.

“So?”

“So?” she repeated, even more furious at his callous attitude. This was not the Scooter of yesteryear. The one she could have laughed with over the color of her shoes.

He shrugged, as if being rude made no difference to him in the least. “Our conversation wasn’t finished. Why’d you get yourself arrested?”

Huffing out a breath, she used the time to gather her wits. Flying off the handle would only make matters worse. If that was possible. She’d already told him more than she should have. He had the uncanny ability to get things out of her like no one else. “That is none of your business,” she said, sounding much calmer than she was. Catching a glimpse of Norma Rose on the balcony, Josie took a step in that direction. “And our conversation is finished.”

“I’ve made it my business, Josie,” he said.

The conviction in his tone made her spine shiver, but she didn’t turn around.

“There you are,” Norma Rose said, pausing in the open doorway. “We need to move a table into the center of the dance floor for the cake.” Waving a hand, she continued, “Scooter, we could use your help.”

Josie held back her opinion on that as she crossed the threshold and followed Norma Rose across the balcony. When a hand settled on the small of her back, sending fire and ice up and down her spine, she willed herself not to flinch. Half the country was watching them.

“Smile,” Scooter whispered.

“Shut up,” she replied, seething.

He laughed.

She planted a smile on her face for the onlookers while elbowing him in the ribs.

At the bottom of the steps she gladly separated herself from him, and took a spot on the sideline to keep people back while Norma Rose cleared the dance floor and gave directions as to which tables needed to be carried over. When Moe, the assistant cook, appeared, he was followed by several serving girls carrying trays of little glass bowls holding scoops of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with a mint leaf. Josie stepped forward to ensure he had a clear pathway to the tables. The last in line was Silas, the head cook, carrying a cake so tall he could barely see over it.

“I still can’t believe Twyla agreed to ice cream,” Moe whispered as they walked. “But Silas says it’s not the Fourth of July without ice cream.”

“Twyla’s so in love she’d eat mud pies today,” Josie replied. Silas was a bit temperamental, but Moe was always smiling and was the real one in charge of the kitchen.

Moe winked at her. “That’s how a girl should feel on her wedding day.”

Of their own accord Josie’s eyes settled on one of the two men carrying the last table to the center of the floor. She wanted to pull her eyes away from Scooter as badly as she wanted to pinch the bridge of her nose, where a headache was starting to form. “I suspect you’re right.”

“We’ll start serving the hors d’oeuvres around nine,” Moe said. “Before the fireworks start. By then people will be hungry again.”

“Sounds perfect,” Josie answered. “Thank you.”

He set down his tray and directed the girls to start unloading the bowls of ice cream onto the table. “Hurry now, the cake is coming and we don’t want things to melt.” Turning to her, he said, “You go enjoy the day, everything in the kitchen is under control.”

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