The Rebel Daughter(9)

By: Lauri Robinson

Just when that search should have hit its peak, Prohibition was introduced. One would have thought that would have increased her opportunities of meeting fascinating and interesting men, but in her case, it threw up a roadblock faster than if she’d been a bootlegger driving an old jalopy in downtown Minneapolis. That city was as dry as an empty bottle. An odd thing, considering all one had to do was cross a bridge into St. Paul to enter a city as wet as the Mississippi River, which separated it from Minneapolis. Prohibition seemed to have separated the two cities far more than anything else ever had.

Like many others, it hadn’t taken long for her father to capitalize on the new law. His work at Hamm’s Brewery had helped. He knew the ins and outs of the world and those in it, and used all of that to turn Nightingale’s into a highfalutin resort that rivaled others nationwide. Men poured into the place like leaves falling off the trees in October, but rather than being able to rake them in, she and her younger sisters had become little more than prisoners, locked in their gilded cages atop the largest speakeasy in the nation, watching all those men come and go.

Forrest was the reason Norma Rose wasn’t locked away like her, Josie and Ginger. The two of them, Forrest and Norma Rose, had never really dated, it was just known they’d be together. After finishing the private high school he’d attended, Forrest had gone to college, but by then he had a car, so he was home more often than the previous years. He’d spent a good portion of the days he was home at their house. Back then, her family had still lived in the old farmhouse on the other side of the barn located across the resort’s parking lot, and Forrest had always been welcome.

It wasn’t until he’d graduated from college that things had changed. He’d been gone for months and her entire family had been looking forward to seeing him. They’d all gone to his graduation party, even her father, which had been unusual. Galen Reynolds and Roger Nightingale had never seen eye-to-eye. Their relationship became worse after that night. The rest of the sisters had already gone home, leaving Norma Rose behind for Forrest to give a ride home.

It had been a scene she’d never forget. The way Galen had hauled Norma Rose into the house that night, cursing and shouting.

Galen had never liked any of them, but after the flu epidemic had taken many lives, including his five-year-old son, August, he’d really started hating all of the Nightingales. He claimed the girls’ mother had killed August by exposing him to the flu.

Forrest’s mother, Karen, didn’t agree with her husband, but she’d never said that in front of him. No one ever said much in front of him. He was too mean. His evil glares used to put the fear of the devil in all of them.

When Galen had hauled Norma Rose into the house that night, their father had ordered all of the girls upstairs. The walls hadn’t prevented them from hearing Galen calling them gold-digging doxies. Twyla had feared for her father’s life that night and had been thankful after Galen had left and she’d snuck downstairs to find her father unscathed.

The feud really started then. Galen spread rumors about Norma Rose, calling her all sorts of names. Though things calmed down some over the years, the rivalry hadn’t completely stopped until last year, when her father, by then far wealthier than Galen Reynolds ever hoped to be, had seen that the man was run out of town.

The damage had been done to Norma Rose. After that dreadful night, she’d flipped into a tyrant whose goal became proving to the world that none of the Nightingale girls would ever be doxies.

Twyla couldn’t say she wanted to be some man’s doll, but she couldn’t stay locked up any longer. She wanted to live fancy-free. A man wasn’t needed to do that, but they did make things more fun. A woman just had to know how to play with them. To Twyla’s way of thinking, one never knew what was in someone else’s heart. Especially a man’s heart. And that’s where the problem lay. In a person’s heart. That’s what made someone who they were. They could think all they wanted, or say all sorts of things, but their actions showed what was in their heart. Who they really were.

Take Forrest, for instance. He’d supposedly been in love with Norma Rose, but he certainly never showed it. Rather than standing up for Norma Rose against his father’s blasphemy, he’d left town. Without a word he’d just vanished, and hadn’t retuned until last year, after his parents had gone to California. It had been hard to believe. For years Forrest had protected all of them. Not that they’d ever been in real danger, but he’d squashed spiders and shooed away garter snakes.

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