The Rebel Daughter(2)

By: Lauri Robinson

Josie was the quietest of the sisters and rarely complained, but Twyla knew she had been as tired of Norma Rose ruling them as Twyla had. Before Ty appeared on the scene, Norma Rose had staunchly refused anyone’s help—other than to make beds and scrub floors. Those chores she’d passed out like candy at a parade.

There was more to it than the chores. For the past few years, along with their father, Norma Rose had treated them as if they were still the young girls who’d all shared a bedroom in their old farmhouse, where the flu had swooped down one winter as dark and pitiless as any plague. That had been devastating to all of them. Within weeks of each other, their mother, brother, grandparents and several other community members had died.

The epidemic had taken more than lives. It had taken hopes and dreams and promises never meant to be broken. Those were the things Twyla remembered slipping away that cold, dark winter. Those were also the things she was determined to get back.

The deaths of so many in their family had left holes. Big holes right in the very center of her heart. It had been a painful time to live through, but she had. And so had her father and three sisters. Norma Rose had appointed herself to take on the role left vacant by their mother’s death, and life had marched forward much as it had before. It hadn’t been until a couple of years later, when another blow shook their family, that things changed immensely. It was also when Norma Rose had taken it upon herself to see that none of the Nightingale sisters became doxies—her words, not Twyla’s.

Twyla wasn’t overly concerned about being labeled a doxy—people could think what they wanted, she knew the truth—but she was interested in having fun and adventures. That was the part of her life that had completely disappeared. There were no adventures for a girl locked in her bedroom. If you asked her, none of them were likely to become doxies—not with their father. Very few people chose to anger Roger Nightingale, who was known as The Night in some close-knit circles. Even fewer were brave enough to actually show interest in one of his daughters. Not that kind of interest.

That, too, played in Twyla’s favor. Now that she had her father’s blessing—for he had been very happy she and Josie were helping Norma Rose—she was going to live it up. She was going to dance until the sun came up with as many men as she liked. Have herself some good old-fashioned adventures.

She’d be careful, though; men were a slippery slope. On that particular subject, she was more wise than people realized. Take Norma Rose, for instance. As smart as her sister thought she was, it hadn’t taken long for Ty to make Norma Rose turn over a new leaf.

Twyla saw why. The way Ty looked at Norma Rose made her sister melt in her shoes. No one had ever done that to Norma Rose before. Not even...

Twyla stopped her train of thought, or at least rerouted it. Nothing lasted forever. Life had taught her that years ago. Besides, right now she had a lot of living to do, a lot of making up to do. She would admit watching Ty and Norma Rose made her smile. It was time Norma Rose found someone else, something else, other than the resort. Her sister had gone through a bad time a while back, and Twyla was happy to know Norma Rose had finally gotten over it.

The two of them—Ty and Norma Rose—hadn’t announced wedding plans or anything, yet Twyla knew that would happen soon. At least she hoped beyond all hope on this green earth that was what would happen, because she had plans. Big plans. All those people who’d teased her about being the little sister who couldn’t come out and play would soon be eating their words. By the end of the summer, Nightingale’s resort would be known as her playground, and it would be the place everyone wanted to play.

“Good evening, Twyla.”

Twyla’s thoughts were shattered and her spine quivered as if a hairy spider had just zipped up her back. She turned, ever so slowly, to face the one man she’d just refused to think about. The one man who could very well throw a wrench into everything, into all her dreams of stepping into Norma Rose’s shoes and running the resort.

That could not happen. Would not happen. She pulled up every evil thought she’d ever had against him, in the hope it would help. “Good evening, Forrest,” she said calmly, coldly. “Glad you could make it.”

“I’m sure you are,” he said dryly.

With immense effort, Twyla held a smile on her face and continued to greet and direct the couples still streaming through the open double doors, as she told Forrest, “Josie will write you a receipt.”

“I’ll wait for you,” he said, smiling and nodding at guests as if he had every right to do so while standing next to her. “Considering neither of us has a date.”

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