The Forgotten Daughter(9)

By: Lauri Robinson



She hadn’t taken a step when a hand took a hold of her elbow. Stepping out of the way of the serving girls, she hissed, “You’re worse than a bad penny today.”

“Thank you,” Scooter said, leading her toward the edge of the platform.

“That wasn’t a compliment,” she said.

“I know.”

Josie bit her tongue as others gathered near. Being the center of attention had never been her way. That much hadn’t changed.

“There sure are a lot of people here,” he said.

“Yes, there are,” Josie answered, noting how others were nodding, having heard his comment. “It’s because of Babe Ruth,” she said, hoping no one noticed how Scooter held her arm. Her subtle attempts to shake off his hold hadn’t worked and anything more strenuous would be noticed. Even with the distraction as Babe Ruth approached.

The ballplayer stopped next to her father, who was in the center of the dance floor along with Forrest and Twyla. A hush came over the crowd when her father held up a hand. He made a brief speech about how he’d known Forrest his entire life and was proud to call him family, and then Babe Ruth said a few words about having flown with Forrest on the east coast and that he was honored to have attended his wedding. He also remarked on how beautiful Twyla was and that if he wasn’t already married, he’d have stolen her away from Forrest.

The crowd roared, especially when Twyla proclaimed that although Babe Ruth was famous, and handsome, she’d still have chosen Forrest, mainly for his airplane.

Josie scanned the area behind her, looking for an escape route, but didn’t have any luck. As she turned back around, Scooter’s chuckle irked her. Pretending it didn’t she asked, “You didn’t have any problems with the fireworks, did you?”

“No,” he answered. “They’re all set to go. Dac and I built a raft and anchored it out in the middle of the lake. That’s where we’ll light the fireworks.”

Scooter was a member of the volunteer fire department and took all fires or potential fires seriously. She figured it was because his father had been with the fire department until he’d lost his life battling a blaze at one of the resorts closer to town several years ago. Nodding, she said, “Twyla’s excited about them.”

“Forrest, too,” Scooter replied. “He’s going to fly over them.”

“I know,” Josie answered.

“Have you ever gone up in his airplane?” Scooter asked.

“No.”

“Afraid?”

“No.”

He chuckled again and the shine in his eyes, the one that said he’d been teasing her, made her drop some of her guard. They had been friends for years, and he was likable, when he wanted to be.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You should try it.”

“I’m sure I will, someday,” she answered. Forrest had been giving airplane rides all afternoon. Even her father had taken one and upon landing had proclaimed he was going to buy his own plane. He most likely would.

“Want to know a secret?”

She frowned and her mouth went dry as she once again brought her gaze up to meet his. “What secret? Whose secret?”

“Twyla’s,” he answered. “She asked Dac and me to set up a tent out on the island.”

“What for?”

“For her and Forrest to spend the night.”

“Tonight?”

He nodded. “She said the island is her and Forrest’s favorite place.”

Josie didn’t doubt that. All of her sisters, not just Twyla, had favorite colors, favorite places and favorite things. She didn’t. Not really. That had never bothered her before today. Once again she chalked it up to the feeling of dread inside her. Maybe it wasn’t necessarily that something was going to happen, but the fact that something had happened. In a matter of a few weeks, everything around her had changed. She was still one of four sisters, but those sisters had all moved on, moved out. Pretty soon it was just going to be her. When Norma Rose and Ty moved into the old farmhouse where they’d all lived before the resort had been built, it would be just her and her father occupying the family area of the second floor.

First Ginger had left, then after tonight, Twyla would no longer be there and soon Norma Rose would be gone—although, while Norma Rose thought no one knew, she hadn’t been sleeping in her room for weeks. She spent most nights at Ty’s cabin. One of the twenty the resort owned that lined the lakeshore.

All that could cause her to be out of sorts. After all, her father would surely notice her comings and goings a lot more in the future. Meaning she’d have to be a lot more careful. Along with making sure Scooter didn’t snitch on her.

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