Norah learns something about her family she never thought possible.
|The dinner table was quickly cleared to make way for the supplies on hand. Soon stacks of emergency equipment, thermoses of leftover stew and coffee, and whatever spare blankets Meg could spare. Some had left to prep for the incoming snows at their own homes, while others had wrapped themselves up in as much possible for teams heading out for the harder to reach cabins up the mountain.
Frost had already started to form on the windowpanes. Norah worked efficiently beside her mother in the kitchen to finish the last of the food packages, both trying their best to fight the cold seeping through their fall clothing. She had expected many challenges coming home, but a snowstorm was definitely not one of them.
“Are you going to be okay with this,” her mother asked as she wrapped up two pairs of fresh dinner rolls, and placed them beside a canister of stew. Each family not able to attend, about seven including the elderly Purcells, were getting a warm meal to ride them out the first night of the storm.
Norah turned and frowned, her hands still working in front of her. “Sure; why not? I’ve been up the mountain in worse weather than this.”
“No, sweetie. I mean partnering up with Luke on this run. I know that things have been strained since…well…you know.”
“Divorce does that to people.”
“Mama, it’s always going to be strange. There’s so much history between us.” Eight centuries worth. “But whatever makes us snap at each other doesn’t matter when it comes to helping the people here.” She forced a smile. “I’ll survive”
Meg tucked a wry curl behind her daughter’s ear, shaking her head in amused dismay. She took the finished packages off the counter and handed them to Norah to be set out on the table with the others. “Stubborn to the core, just like your father. Its not a wonder why I married him instead of James.”
Norah stopped in mid stride, turning swiftly on the heel of her boot. “Wait. You’re kidding right.” Seeing no laughter on her face, she felt her mouth hang open. “James. As in James Goleski? Sheriff Jimmy? You were going to marry the sheriff?!”
Meg leaned back against the kitchen counter. She looked off into the distance, staring at some piece of time no one could see but her. “It was the summer I went away to college. Jimmy and I were high school sweethearts, but he stayed in town to get officer training from his father. We had plans to wed right after I graduated; I practically had my wedding dress all picked out.” A smile lit up her face, highlighting the creases of laugh lines around her eyes. “Then I met your father at the corner store on a snack run for me and my friends. The power went out, and we were stuck in that store for hours. I told him about my studies, and he told me about coming home after his time in Vietnam. I fell completely in love with him by the time the lights came back on.”
Norah felt dumbstruck. “And the sheriff?”
Meg sighed sadly. “I came home and told James . By then, he’d had already started to feel sweet toward Linda, so things didn’t end too badly. Still, I always wonder what would have happened if I had chosen James instead.” She snorted and turned back to packaging the food. “I could have turned into Linda.”
“Norah.” Luke walked into the kitchen, rubbing his icy hands together from helping the men outside place chains on the car wheels. “We have to move out if we want get off the high point of the mountain before we’re snowed in.”
Norah could only look up at him in sheer horror at the information she just heard. Sensing something was wrong; he crouched down in front of her and placed his hands firmly on her upper arms, a scowl of concern on his face. She was too disturbed to mind his touch. “Norah dove, what’s wrong?”
She pointed awkwardly, accusingly, to her mother. “I…ummm…she…”
He turned to Meg, but kept his hand securely where they were. “What happened?”
“Oh,” she scoffed, swatting the air with her dishtowel as if dismissing the issue with a wave of her hand. “She’s just upset because I told her James Goleski was almost her father.”
His dark eyes went wide in astonishment. The tensing muscles of his jaw told Norah he was fighting back a smile. “Wow…Sheriff Jimmy…isn’t that something.”
Norah stood abruptly from her seat. “We have to go.”
“But I want to hear about-“
She narrowed her eyes in his direction, silently telling him what he could do with his wants and desires. “Now.”
He gave Meg a quick kiss on the cheek before striding towards the front door, food packages in hand. The action caught Norah by surprise. How often have he stopped by since she left town?
“Don’t worry, Meg. I’ll look after her, and you can tell me all about you and the sheriff later,” he said, winking in her direction.
Norah stocked to the driver’s door of her truck, trying desperately to get the key in the keyhole. She was still flabbergasted over the news about her mother’s love life. The idea of her mother and Sheriff Jimmy together, like that, sent her into a cold sweat. Luke’s amusement didn’t help.
Norah looked up from her predicament to find him standing next to her, taking the keys out of her hand and opening the door. The heat radiating from the closeness of his body was shock to her reality. Something was different about him now that she was so close. Even in the dark she could see the angles of his face were sharper, the natural leanness of his frame was smaller, more defined. There was a feral look about him now, even with laughter still dancing in his gaze. She wanted, so desperately, to see if he still felt the same against the tips of her fingers, still tasted the same after all these years.
He caressed the back of her hand holding the door open. Too shaken, too wanting, she pulled away from his touch, and quickly got behind the wheel. The slamming door echoed through the cold night.
“I’ll follow you up the mountain to the Purcells,” she said tersely, staring straight out the windshield. “And if you mention the sheriff and my mother to anyone – I’ll kill you and make it look like an accident.”
Norah turned the key in the ignition and revved the engine, trying her best to drown out the husky laughter of her ex as he climbed into his truck. The sound, unfortunately, followed her all the way up the mountain.
Prompt 4: Talk about a chance not taken by one of the characters. That can happen right now or be something form the past. Show me a consequence from not having taken the chance.
"Chapter 1: Harvest Lake" - "Chapter 2: Deep, Deep Roots" - "Chapter 3: In Abundance"
"14 Days, 7 Prompts, 1 Story Contest"
Word Count: 1136
Total Count: 3585