Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Romance

It's time again for another Wednesday Romance. Don't forget to vote on your favorite cover!!!

Chapter 3
The doorbell rang and Rhianna hurried to answer it. To her surprise, both the baby sitter and Jerrick stood on the front porch. “Come in.” She gave the sitter a quick run down of everything she might need to know and left her cell phone number on the fridge.
“I need a kiss, Mommy,” Lark said with her arms open wide.
“Have fun, honey, and be good. Help Stephanie with Lavender.”
“Bye, Mommy,” Lavender said as she buried herself in Rhianna’s arms.
“You be a good girl and go to bed.”
“Okay, Mommy.”
“You aren’t terribly comfortable leaving the girls, are you?” Jerrick asked once they were in the car. “Peppermint?” She took one and put it into her mouth, which saved her scarf from momentarily being twisted into further knots.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“No. I think it’s a good thing. Too many parents don’t have any qualms about leaving their children with a sitter far too often. I think it’s great that you have such a close relationship with them.”
They drove in silence for a few minutes before Rhianna finally spoke again. “Where are we going?”
“Yeah. Your little friend decided that would be a great activity.”
Of course she did. Nicole’s favorite thing to do was go bowling. Rhianna shook her head. The second she mentioned that she and the girls would be spending Thanksgiving with Jerrick, Nicole had decided to set up a double date. Rather than plan it with Rhianna, Nicole called Jerrick and the two set up the evening.
In the past week and a half, Jerrick had been over several times. Just to stop by and say hello, or play with the girls. Once, when he stopped by, Lark said very loudly with annoyance, “Mommy, when is that man going to leave?” Jerrick and Rhianna had to try earnestly not to laugh. But Lark finally started to warm to him some, though they were not bosom buddies. Jerrick claimed he stopped by so the girls would feel comfortable with him and not give away the charade come Thanksgiving time. Whether that was his true purpose or if he had other motives for stopping by, Rhianna admitted that it was enjoyable to have him around.
After securing a lane and renting hideous bowling shoes, Rhianna and Jerrick selected bowling balls and awaited Nicole and her date’s arrival. “Are you any good at this?” Jerrick asked as he laced up his shoes.
“No. Unfortunately, Nicole is very good.”
“Oh, so I’ll have some competition?”
“Are you good?” she asked, concerned that she might humiliate herself tonight.
“No,” he chuckled. “I usually do all right the first four or five turns, but then my shoulder starts bothering me and I get gutter balls from there on out.”
Rhianna laughed, relieved that she may not be the worst one there. Looking at Jerrick, she felt the nervous butterflies in her stomach start anew. Feeling unsettled by him was a strange sensation. She had known him most of her growing-up life. He was a dear friend and there was no reason she needed to feel nervous around him. Yet as they sat waiting for Nicole, Rhianna had a few minutes to contemplate her strange new feelings for Jerrick.
She found herself laughing with him frequently and even felt a desire to be a better person when in his company. He had a way of making her feel like her old self again and she reveled in the thought that perhaps she could be that girl again. But reality always seemed to be a breath or two away. As soon as solitude found her once more, the carefree person she was around Jerrick disappeared to be replaced by her lonely, depressed self. However, the more Jerrick came around, the less intense her loneliness became.
“I hope Nicole is actually planning to show up,” Rhianna muttered aloud. It would amuse Nicole to simply stay home and let Rhianna fend for herself.
“We’re in luck. I think that’s her right there.” He pointing to a couple on the other side of the room.
A half hour later, Nicole and her date, Adam, and Jerrick and Rhianna were starting their first game. Rhianna thought she was doing fairly well, though not as well as anyone else. “Here, let me help you,” Jerrick said on her third turn.
“Am I that bad?” she asked as he came to stand next to her.
“No,” he mumbled quietly. “I just want one of us to be able to give Nicole a run for her money. And since my game will be over in two more turns, it’s up to you, kitten.” He winked at her and she felt her face flush with color. Glancing over at Nicole and Adam, she realized they were so wrapped up in there own silly little conversation that they hardly seemed to notice Rhianna and Jerrick.
“Now,” he said more loudly. “Come up here.” Rhianna looked at him in question, but did as he said and walked to the beginning of the lane. “Now turn around and show me your foot work.”
“But I’m backward.”
“I know. Just show me what your feet do.” She complied and then he said, “Good. Now see where you stopped. Turn around there and try just your feet again and see where you land.”
She did as he instructed and ended up right where she had started the first time. “Okay, now what?” she asked, mimicking a knowledge starved pupil.
“Now, my dearest kitten,” he said teasingly, “you see those arrows on the lane?” Rhianna nodded. “That’s what you are aiming for. Those are your guides to the pins.”
Rhianna had heard all this before. She had taken a gym class in high school where they had learned to bowl, but she found it helpful to have a few basics reviewed. “Are you going to show me how to swing too?”
“I wasn’t. But if you insist,” he said with a sly smile. Taking the ball away from her, he set it down and stood behind her. The second his hands clasped hers, her arms broke out in goose bumps. He pulled her back to her new starting position and pulled her body flush against his, holding her with his hand around her waist. Her breath quickened as he began counting softly in her ear and guided her through the steps. He took her hand and swinging their arms, mimicked the actions of bowling a ball down the lane as though this was nothing more than a graceful dance.
When they released the imaginary ball, she could feel his chest raising and falling with each breath, faster than it should and her own heart seemed to be racing with his down the lane. Slowly, she turned around and gazed into his eyes. Her entire body trembled as she looked at him. His eyes caressed her face and she fancied they lingered on her lips a moment too long. Her eyes, too, traveled over his face and she felt an excess amount of water building up in her mouth and had to swallow before she could speak. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I think I have the hang of it now.”
“Are you sure?” he asked in a husky voice.
“Yes,” she said with more confidence and volume. Stepping around him, she went to retrieve her ball.
Difficult though the task was Rhianna tried to push her tutorial with Jerrick from her mind. It was simply an instructional lesson, nothing more. But the feelings that the lesson evoked troubled her. Convinced that she could never love another man or even feel a fondness for one, her pounding heart now caused her to tremble with fear. She had vowed to be forever loyal to Scott, and these betraying feelings distressed her. How would Scott feel, to be replaced after less than a year? No. She would not allow Jerrick or anyone else to sway her loyalty from Scott. Nothing could dispel his memory. And she would not allow anyone to provoke those kinds of feelings again. Jerrick was simply a friend in need and she would not allow him to be anything more. With renewed conviction, she took her stance, pushed Jerrick from her mind and rolled a strike.
~ * ~
“Mommy, I want a snack,” Lark said, as they drove through Togwatee Pass.
“Snack! Snack!” Lavender chimed in from the back seat beside her sister.
Rhianna looked back at both girls. They were nearly asleep but obviously wanted something to keep them awake a while longer. “Girls, I don’t want you getting sick on these winding roads.”
“But I’m hungry,” Lark whined.
“If you wait a little while longer, we should be there in a half hour or so,” Jerrick said from his position behind the wheel of his truck.
“But I want a snack!”
“Are you sure you’re up for us all weekend?” Rhianna asked.
Jerrick chuckled.
“Take a little rest and then you can have one.” Rhianna hoped they would take her up on the notion, but most likely they wouldn’t fall asleep until they were five minutes from the cabin.
The trip had been long but the girls had been very well behaved. At least until a few minutes ago. Jerrick and Rhianna enjoyed friendly conversation and she was most grateful that nothing had been mentioned about their intimate encounter at the bowling alley. Of course, as soon as she had returned home from the bowling alley the other night and the baby sitter had left, the phone had rung.
“How are you feeling?” Nicole had asked.
“Fine. Why?”
“Fine? Are you kidding me? After an episode with a man like Jerrick Mason and all you can say is that you’re fine?”
“What else should I say? I am fine.”
“Oh, I don’t know. You could say, ‘I’m smitten and long for his kiss,’ or ‘I can’t wait to get him alone so I can smooch him senseless.’”
“Nicole, don’t start. You know how I feel. Jerrick is a good friend but that’s all. How did things go with Adam?”
“Don’t change the subject. I saw the way you looked at Jerrick. He has far surpassed the status of friend in your eyes.”
Rhianna sighed as she tried to voice her feelings. “I love Scott, you know that. I can’t just allow someone to waltz into my life and take his place.”
“Anna, no one, especially Jerrick, wants to take Scott’s place. He was special to you. Everyone knows that and no one expects you to stop loving him. But perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to let someone else into your life. Not as Scott’s replacement, but as a companion and friend so you won’t be alone anymore.”
Nicole’s comment had festered in Rhianna’s mind but in the few days since, she had tried to open herself up to the idea that perhaps she should open up her heart. Or at least be willing to let him glimpse it. Perhaps learning how to be a friend again would be what she needed to move beyond the pain and live again.
Yet, while Rhianna had promised herself to open her heart to Jerrick’s friendship, the task proved to be more difficult the closer they got to his family’s cabin. The tickling sensation in her stomach increased as they ascended the mountain road and she worried if she would be able to pull off the charade. She wrung her hands in her lap. When Jerrick chuckled, her head jerked to face him.
“What’s so funny?” she demanded.
“You. There’s no need to be nervous. You’ve met my family before.”
“Yeah, in ninth grade. That was forever ago.”
“Relax, Anna. They will love you.”
“That’s just the problem. I’m the girlfriend now, and they will love me. But what happens when I’m out of the picture?”
“It’s not like you plan on seeing them again is it? So what does it matter?” His tone was clipped.
Her eyes narrowed. His jaw was tight in irritation. He knew she had no plans to make a future with him or anyone else. So what had caused him to become upset? Could it be that he really wanted to be more than just her short term friend? “I’m sorry.” Her voice softened.
“Don’t be.” He sighed and empathy filled his voice. “It’s wrong of me to… Never mind. They will love you and they always will. I won’t let them feel any differently. Okay?” He smiled over at her.
“Thank you.”
~ * ~
Rhianna felt reluctant to get out of the car when they finally pulled up to the cabin. “I somehow thought it would be smaller.”
Jerrick just laughed. The cabin was not large but for some reason Rhianna imagined it would have nothing more than a living room which connected to a small kitchen and a bedroom or two. But from the looks of it, it was easily the size of a small four bedroom house in the city. “Come on, kitten. Mom will be beside herself with wanting to see you and the girls.” Jerrick got out of the truck and stretched his hands over his head and arching his back. Rhianna averted her eyes, leery of the warming sensation in her chest.
As she stepped out of the truck into at least two feet of snow on the ground and noted that the snow was falling anew. Pulling her coat over her arms, she climbed out of the truck, grateful to have already put on her boots. She moved to the back seat to help Lavender put her boots and coat on and smiled as Jerrick did the same for Lark who started firing off questions for him.
“Are my friends here? Will we get to play in the snow? What are those things over there?”
“What things?” Jerrick asked, trying to follow the conversation, put on her coat, and see where she was pointing all at once.
“Those things,” Lark said with an exasperated sigh.
“Oh.” Jerrick said with a chuckle. “Those are snowmobiles. They’re like little snow tractors.”
“What do you do with them?”
“You ride on them. Kind of like a bike. And they drive you around.”
“Is it scary?”
“It’s a little noisy, but if you go slow, it’s not too scary.”
Lavender covered her ears with her mittened hands.
“Lavey doesn’t like loud noises.”
Jerrick chuckled as he looked at Lavender.
“I want to try. Please, Mommy? Can I try it?”
Rhianna lost a little color in her face as the conversation turned to the snow toys that the Masons owned. She stood very firm in her resolve to prohibit her girls from playing on things they were sure to sustain injuries from. For now, she was spared expressing her fears and refusing her children permission, so she would wait until it came up again. “Let’s get into the cabin and settled in first.”
Lifting Lavender out of her car seat, she placed the girl on the ground and, taking her hand, led her up the shoveled, wooden pathway to the cabin with Jerrick and Lark close behind. “Look, Mommy,” Lavender exclaimed, “I see my breff!”
“I can see my breath too, Mommy. Look!” Lark exclaimed and the girls began blowing air out of their mouths so that they could see the water particles from their breath freeze in the air.
Once on the front porch, Rhianna lifted a hand to knock but stopped when she heard Jerrick chuckle from behind. “Just go in, Anna.”
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly.”
“Sure you can. Besides if you knock, no one around here will know what to do. We all come and go as we please.”
Tentatively, Rhianna turned the knob and entered the cozy cabin. The girls each clutched one of her legs and she took a moment to look around. They had stepped into an entrance directly off of the living room which opened up into the kitchen behind that. To her left, were a couple opened doors that looked like bedrooms and a bathroom. Directly in front of her stood a staircase.
“Hi, Mom!” Jerrick called out.
A short woman with mousy brown hair rounded the corner from the kitchen. “You’re here!” she squealed. “How wonderful!” After giving her son a hug, she stood back to examine Rhianna and the girls. “And who do we have here? This lovely woman must be Rhianna, and these little ones must be Lark and Lavender.”
“I’m Lark. And this is my baby sister, but she’s not a baby anymore. She’s a little big girl, but I’m a big girl.”
“I see that.” Jerrick’s mother smiled with delight.
“What’s going on out here?” A man’s booming voice came from one of the rooms on the left and the girls instantly took refuge behind Rhianna. “Jerrick!” the man exclaimed. He looked like Jerrick, only taller; a great contrast to his wife who was nearly a foot and a half shorter. “And this must be the lovely Rhianna.” Rhianna blushed as the man put an arm around her shoulder. Then he stooped down in order to look the girls in the eye. “Now,” he said pointing to Lark first. “You must be Lavender because you’re so little. And this big girl beside you must be Lark.”
Lavender giggled and Lark took on his challenge. “No. That’s Lavender because she’s so little. I’m Lark and I’m a big girl.”
“Yes you are, sweetheart. And beautiful too.”
“Yes. See my new coat?” She spun around and looked down at her coat.
“I have a new coat.” Lavender turned, imitating Lark.
Everyone chuckled.
“Her’s isn’t really new ‘cause it used to be mine.”
“Thank you so much for having us, Mr. and Mrs. Mason,” Rhianna said politely.
“We’ll have none of that. You may all call me Alice and this is Brent. And we are simply delighted to have you here.” Smiling to each of the girls individually and then to her son she asked, “How was the drive up? Not too bad I hope? Joey said it was simply awful last night.”
“You know Joey, Mom. He likes to pull your leg.”
“Truly, they were quite nice,” Rhianna agreed.
“Oh good. I get so nervous when you boys drive up by yourselves. Especially when you have such lovely cargo.” Rhianna blushed again. “Now, let’s get you all settled in. Jerrick, take the girls up to their room and your father can bring in your luggage.”
Within a half hour, they were all settled in and after a quick lunch, the girls went down for their naps. What a wonderful thing – naps. Rhianna smiled to herself as she sat on the sofa and stretched out her legs. This time of day was her favorite because she was allowed a few moments of peace and quiet – even if the girls didn’t actually sleep. Breathing in deeply, she closed her eyes and delighted in the idea of having absolutely nothing to do.
In the next instant, however, she was seized upon by nearly the entire Mason family. Perhaps seized was too strong of a word. But for the suddenness of their appearance and the frantic throbbing of her heart, they may well have seized her.
Where they had been hiding previously, she had no idea. But when she opened her eyes, they all seemed to be looming in front of her. She gasped and stood, attempting her most sincere smile.
An anxious glance around the room told her Jerrick was nowhere in sight. Unnerved that she had to endure introductions on her own, she did her best to conceal her unease. Fortunately, she felt Jerrick’s hand on the small of her back seconds later as he miraculously seemed to appear at her side. She looked up at him nervously and he winked in return.
“It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you, Mrs. Rider,” the lovely blond woman said.
“Call me Rhianna.”
“I’m Joey, Jerrick’s handsome, older brother,” the tall dark haired man said, who stood next to the beautiful woman.
“I’m Andy, Jerrick’s little brother,” the tallest man said with a chuckle. “I may be younger than my brother, but I’m twice the man he is and considerably more handsome.” He winked. Andy pointed to the man beside him who was blond, lanky, and considerably shorter than the rest of the men in the house. “This is my roommate from college, Clark Stevens.” Clark nodded in greeting but said nothing, and she detected a soft blush touch the young man’s cheeks.
“Andy, stop flirting with Jerrick’s girl.” Joey shoved Andy in a teasing manner and Andy smiled triumphantly.
Joey introduced the rest of the group. “Rhianna, this is my wife, Mindy, and my children. Joseph is six, Sarah is four, and Sam is three.”
“It’s lovely to meet you all.” Rhianna smiled at the children. “I have two daughters, too, but the drive wore them out and they are resting.”
“You have kids?” Sarah asked. She was a miniature version of her mother.
“Yes. Lark is four and Lavender is two.”
“Oh boy!” Sam exclaimed.
“You don’t have any boys?” Joseph asked.
“No. But Lark is somewhat of a tom boy. She loves to play with trucks and wrestle.”
“Me too!” Sarah said. “We will have so much fun!”
“Yes, I’m sure you will,” Mindy said as she exchanged amused glances with Rhianna. “But I think you lot should go rest so you can go sledding later.” The children squealed and ran for the stairs.
Sarah stopped on the first stair and asked, “Can the other girls come sledding, too?”
Rhianna felt the blood leave her face and her legs weaken. Fortunately, Jerrick answered for her. “No one will get to go if you don’t go take a rest.” Sarah sprinted up the stairs behind her siblings and was out of site. “Do you want to go for a walk, kitten?” Jerrick whispered, looking at her with concern written in his eyes.
Rhianna nodded, relieved for the distraction and went to retrieve her boots, coat, hat and gloves.
~ * ~
Walking on Jerrick’s arm, Rhianna tried to think on the beauty of the nature around her but found the task difficult to execute. In her mind, she kept hearing Sarah ask if Lark and Lavender could go sledding. Of course they couldn’t! How could she allow her children to go out and slide uncontrollably down an icy hill only to have them stopped by a tree? She had already lost Scott and could not bear to lose her daughters as well.
“This is it,” Jerrick said, breaking through her thoughts.
“What?” Rhianna asked, looking around.
“The hill the kids want to sled down later.”
Rhianna looked at the hill that loomed in front of her. She felt as though she were staring death in the face. Beads of perspiration appeared on her face and her body began to shake.
“It’s not so steep, really.” Jerrick said brightly, obviously seeing Rhianna’s deteriorating state. “There’s a bigger hill over there a ways, but this one’s easier for the kids to go up and down. It’s not really very fast, but we always have a good time.”
“Are you crazy? There is no way on this God forsaken earth that my girls are going to go down that thing on a piece of plastic.”
“You can’t be serious?”
“Yes, I am. I will not allow my girls to endanger themselves.”
“What are you talking about? No one has ever gotten hurt on this hill. It’s not big enough to get up the speed to run into anything. It’s hardly an incline at all.”
“Just because no one has ever gotten hurt before, doesn’t mean there won’t be a first time.”
Jerrick looked at Rhianna for a minute until understanding finally seemed to dawn on him. “Anna, I know Scott died last year and that it was hard on you and the girls. But, you have never said how he died. Was it a sledding accident?”
Rhianna blinked back the emotion that rose in her throat, but not fast enough and a tear leaked onto her face. She closed her eyes and turned away from Jerrick momentarily, finding it difficult to speak. When she felt Jerrick wipe away the escapee tear, she opened her eyes and found his sympathetic ones.
Taking a deep breath, she looked up at the hill and said, “He was snowboarding with some friends.” She stopped and swallowed the lump that was lodged in her throat. There seemed to be an abundance of emotions longing for escape but she tried to shove them aside. “His friend said he went over a jump, crashed on the landing and flew headfirst into a tree.” Warm, comforting arms snaked around her as Jerrick wrapper her in his embrace. As though he had unlocked some door withholding her emotions, his tenderness unleashed her tears. Jerrick held her and all she could see was the blood and the twisted limbs of her husband. His face had been so pale under the bruises and blood. “He lived long enough to get to the hospital and he died with me by his side.”
“Oh, kitten,” Jerrick mumbled into her hair. “I’m so sorry.” He held her while she cried on his shoulder and did not speak again until her tears were spent.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Anna,” he said softly. “I do wonder, however, if it is a good idea to refuse your daughters the opportunity to go sledding.”
Rhianna looked at him as though he’d slapped her. “I don’t believe you would be so insensitive.”
“Now hear me out, Anna. I don’t want to undermine your position as mother to those girls, and I don’t disregard the pain you have suffered from the loss of your husband. However, I don’t think shielding them from innocent pleasantries will benefit them in any manner.”
“Pleasantries? You call these pleasantries?” She thrust a hand in the direction of the hill.
“Yes, I do. You remember sledding as a kid. As I recall, you were usually the one to suggest the activity on the first snow of the season.”
“That was different. I didn’t know its dangers. I didn’t realize how deadly….”
“And neither do your girls,” Jerrick said patiently. “Rhianna, I know you’re scared but you need to allow your girls to have a childhood filled with experiences and good memories. You can’t shield them forever. They will only be more likely to rebel later on. How much danger can they fine during a half hour of sledding on a small hill with plenty of supervision?”
The words rolled off his tongue so smoothly. She had no choice but to mull them over in her head. What he said made sense, even though she was reluctant to admit it. She loved her girls and only wanted the best for them but letting go of them would never be easy.
“I can’t watch them,” she whispered.
“Then let me,” he pleaded. “You stay inside and help Mom with whatever she needs help with in the kitchen, and I will bring the girls sledding.”
“I’ll even stand at the bottom of the hill and catch them, if you wish. Or I will go down with them so I can steer them away from any danger.”
Looking into his handsome face, she knew he had the girls’ best interest in mind. He would not let anything happen to them. Glancing at the hill again, she noticed it was smooth with few bumps. The enormous hill that had once risen before her had somehow seemed to be reduced into a small hill that would be a fine hill for her great-aunt Sophie to sled down with little danger. Taking in a deep breath, she needed to hear his reassurance again. “You won’t let them out of your sight?”
“Not a chance,” he whispered.
At that moment, as she allowed her heart to trust him, she felt a stirring in her soul. Something she thought had died along with Scott. Jerrick would not betray her trust and she felt comforted and safe.
Not only that, she felt her heart swell with emotion. Something akin to…love?
No. Certainly not.
Pushing the thought aside, she allowed herself to bask in the protection he offered and did not dwell on the warming in her belly or her racing heart, which were caused by his nearness.
~ * ~
After the girls awoke from their naps, Rhianna nervously helped them into their snow things and watched with trepidation as they left with Jerrick for the sledding hill. Stepping onto the porch, she waved to the retreating group and hugged herself to ward off the chill in her heart. She longed for something, anything to take the edge off her emotions, but she had nothing but the sight of her little girls heading for danger.
Before Jerrick had stepped off the porch, he had leaned over, kissed her cheek, and whispered, “They’ll be fine. I promise.” She put on her bravest smile as the girls waved and then tumbled through the snow to catch up with everyone.
Returning to the house, Rhianna helped Alice bake pie crusts, prepare the turkey and stuffing, and cut vegetables. Alice had so many things that were done ahead of time, Thanksgiving Day would likely contain very little stress in the kitchen.
“That will give us some time to play too,” she said.
Rhianna smiled at the woman bustling around with the merriment of an elf.
Alice told stories of the boys and some of the adventures they had gotten into as children. Though Rhianna had mostly grown up with Jerrick, she did not have much association with him outside of school life. “You know he was engaged once?” Alice asked at one point.
“About two years ago. She was a lovely girl. Full of life and spunky too. However, she was a little too promiscuous and it got her into trouble.”
“How so?”
“I’m not one to gossip or spread rumors I don’t know in their entirety, but I know that it became necessary for her to promptly marry another young man.”
“Really. Was she pregnant?”
“That’s how the story goes.” Alice flitted to the other side of the kitchen for another herb to season the turkey with. “Broke poor Jerrick’s heart, too. For a time, I didn’t know if he would ever pull through.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“He was in such a state of depression that he would barely get out of bed. I encouraged him to call his friends, visit a psychologist, but he refused. After several months, his good friend, Don, came over, pulled him out of bed, and literally drug him to do a DJing gig. He loves music, as you know. If it wasn’t for Don, I don’t know if Jerrick would ever have forgotten his misery.”
“Is that really possible? To forget your problems by going out and doing things with your friend, I mean.” She had been devoting her life for the past year to her daughters but she still felt lonely and lost.
“It seemed to work for Jerrick. He was the bitterest person on the face of the earth for a time. But when he found something to live for again, his heart changed and he became a different man. A loving man.” Alice smiled affectionately at Rhianna and she got the feeling the woman pitied her.
“Mom! Mom!” a voice cried as the front door came crashing open. Rhianna’s heart pounded against her chest and she was on her feet. But, when Andy rounded the corner, the pounding in her heart lessened. His cheeks were rosy and he was slightly out of breath, but there was a smile on his face.
“Mom!” he repeated again. “We need your camera. Where is it?”
“In the living room on the end table,” Alice responded, delighted by her son’s enthusiasm and obviously aware that some mischief was afoot. Andy dashed into the other room and Alice looked to Rhianna. “Perhaps you’d like to go see what that mob is up to.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Rhianna shrugged with uncertainty.
“Nonsense. You don’t want to be holed up in here with me when there is so much activity outside. No doubt those boys are up to some no-good adventure.”
At this comment, Rhianna turned and darted down the hall to put on her snow things and was outside within a minute. Her heart pulsed and her breathing was shallow. What was going on outside that demanded a camera? Obviously something that would like to be remembered. Something daring? Something dangerous perhaps? Hopefully Lark and Lavender were far away from the adventure but she doubted it and ran as fast as she could in the deep snow to the hill Jerrick had showed her earlier.

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