After Jilly’s recent Sunday’s post, I thought that perhaps the ongoing saga of Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict Scottish estate by the sea and decides to build an opera house, had run its course. With a Blessing Stone, a pair of abandoned twins, Jenny from Kansas, and a ghostly visitor it seemed things might just have gone as far as they were going to go.
But then I saw that Kay had posted two alternative story segments on Friday and got to thinking about a television show that was popular when I was a kid – Dallas – that had an entire season of episodes and then when the next season started basically said, “just kidding; that never happened.”
I was, for lack of a better word, inspired. So, without further ado, here is a new story installment. In keeping with the Friday writing sprint challenge, it includes the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm and preserve.
What a Dream!
“Tea is ready,” Jenny heard Jordy call. His voice held a touch of impatience, as if that wasn’t the first time he’d called.
She raised herself to a sitting position on the mossy bank edging the river that wended through the back garden, brushing grass and a few stray flower petals from her skirt. Her brain felt fuzzy and slow as if she’d had one too many down at the Pointing Dog.
“Coming,” she called out as she got to her feet and made her way toward the cottage. The sunlight reflecting off the surface of the river was dazzling, and the scent of the blooming flowers was sweet, but Jenny was oblivious to both.
She hadn’t planned to fall asleep when she sat down on the river-bank; she just wanted to rest her eyes for moment. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a full night’s sleep, especially since the twins started teething. Worrying about things with Jordy hadn’t helped either.
She was exhausted.
The charming little garden had been warm and calming and that’s all it had taken to send her off to dreamland as soon as she sat down.
No, Jenny thought as her mind cleared, definitely not dreamland. The nightmare she’d had came back to her in full force, causing her heart to race again in alarm. She glanced around, afraid she would see the freckled-face young woman who claimed to be the twins’ mother on the path, but no one was there. She took a deep calming breath and then released it.
After fumbling briefly with the old latch, Jenny opened the garden gate and headed for the cottage. Entering the hall, she glanced at the little mirror on the wall and attempted to tidy up her hair and remove the slept-in look. With a sigh she gave up the effort and settled for straightening her blouse and brushing the bits of grass off her creased cheek.
Fortunately, vanity wasn’t one of her big concerns. At least not these days. Now she considered it a good day if neither she nor her clothes had baby food or other baby debris on them.
Her stomach growled as she entered the kitchen saw the laden tea table. She could smell the freshly baked scones and couldn’t wait to slather one with clotted cream and some of Maeve’s famous preserves.
If Jordy was trying to win his way to her heart through her stomach, he was certainly off to a good start.
“I was beginning to think you’d run away,” he said as he added a plate full of thinly cut sandwiches to the table. They were arranged in an intricately decorative pattern on the pretty flowered plate, as if they were an art installation, rather than mere sustenance.
“Sorry,” she said as she washed her hands at the white enameled sink and then took her place at the table. “I feel asleep out in the garden.” She had a brief pang of remorse as she transferred a few of the sandwiches to her plate, but all thoughts disappeared when she took her first bite. Apparently, in addition to everything else, Jordy was also an amazing cook.
Is there anything this man can’t do? she thought as she chewed.
They ate in companionable silence for a while and then, after several little sandwiches, a scone, and two lavender honey butter biscuits Jenny pushed her plate aside and folded her hands on the table.
“We need to talk,” she said, looking with apparent fascination at the pattern on the tablecloth.
She heard an intake of breath and looked up. “About?” Jordy’s expression was guarded, and it looked as though he was bracing for something terrible.
“We need to find out who the twins belong to,” she said, holding his stare.
Jordy’s eyes flashed. “They belong to us.”
“Yes, they’re ours now, but they didn’t just drop from the sky. Someone gave birth to them, and if we don’t find out her identity and the truth about why they were left in the churchyard, then we’ll always wonder.”
“But Maeve said . . .” he started.
Jenny laid her hand on his. “I know,” she said softly. “This is a miraculous place, and we’ve been caught up in the Blessing Stone and the superstition, but if we’re going to move forward, if we’re going to be a real family, we need to know the truth.”
Jordy got a calculating look in his eye. “Has something happened.?”
“No, nothing has happened.” Jenny turned her glass of loganberry cordial around and around in her hand, watching the light reflect off the ruby liquid. “I’m just worried.” She thought again of her nightmare and felt a cold chill race up her spine. “If we don’t find out now, we could leave ourselves open to blackmail or bribery or something worse down the road.”
Neither one of them wanted to think about what the “something worse” could be. Though their own relationship was just in the early stages, their relationship with the twins was strong and deep and sure.
“Besides,” she added, I don’t think I could forgive myself if the twins have other family and I didn’t even try to find them.” Jenny looked at Jordy, her eyes imploring him to understand.
Jordy did understand. He didn’t like it and couldn’t help but worry that they might lose the twins if they dug too deep into their background, but he knew how important family was to Jenny; how much she’d longed for one of her own.
And so, while his logical mind shouted don’t do it, his warm heart won out and he asked, “where do we start?”
PS, here are the links in case you missed any of the previous story installments.
1 The Laird’s Legacy (by Jilly)
2 Finding Home (by Elizabeth)
3 And Now, Twins (by Kay)
4 Challenge Accepted (by Jilly)
5 The Unexpected (by Elizabeth)
6 Who Is Alanis McLeish? (by Kay)
7 Grave Concerns (by Jilly)