“I called my daughter, Abby, today,” Mr. Steve said that night at dinner. My mother was filling in for me tonight and I think my mother forced Steve to sit with me because he didn’t look too comfortable.
“I didn’t know you had a daughter,” I said picking at my Seafood Salad.
“She lives in Boston,” Mr. Steve said. “She’s going to drive up tomorrow.” I smiled politely.
“She can’t wait to meet you and your mother,” Mr. Steve said. “I think you’ll like her.”
I wanted to roll my eyes. Not likely.
“How old is she?” I asked.
“Nineteen,” Mr. Steve said.
“What does she do in Boston?” I asked.
“She’s an architect. She graduated college last year. She says that Boston has great architectural history,” Mr. Steve said.
“You said she was nineteen,” I said.
“She skipped a bunch of grades. She started college when she was fifteen,” Mr. Steve said.
“Oh,” I nodded. Great. What in the world would I have in common would I have with someone who went to college at fifteen?
This was going to be a long weekend.
A black car drove up the Sunshine B&B. A girl wearing a nice red dress got out of the car. She had Auburn hair and from the window I thought her eyes were brown. She also had a mighty big suitcase in her hand.
She saw me through the window and waved. I pulled the curtains back. The doorbell rang and I slowly walked towards the door.
My hands trembled on the knob. I didn’t know if I could trust myself not to have a panic attack right now.
“Natalie?” Momma asked walking up behind me. She pulled my hand off the knob and opened it.
“Hi,” Abby said. “You must be Riley. It’s so good to meet you.” Momma smiled at her.
“And you must be Natalie,” Abby said offering her hand. I shook it. She walked into the house.
“Abby!” Mr. Steve called.
“Daddy!” Abby shouted. She gave Mr. Steve a hug.
“How’s Boston been treating you?” Mr. Steve asked.
“Pretty good. I just finished the Smith Project so I’m now designing another house for my company,” Abby said. Mr. Steve nodded.
“Abby,” Ms. Donna said walking into the foyer. “It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s good to be back. Boston is great but Florida is home,” Abby said walking towards the stairs.
“Amen to that,” Ms. Donna laughed.
“Is anybody in the Tampa Room?” Abby asked.
“Nope, it’s just the way you left it,” Ms. Donna said. Abby smiled.
“You want to see my old room, sis?” Abby asked. “That is if you can get up the stairs.”
Mr. Steve was about to offer to carry me up the stairs but I was so not letting that happen.
“I can get up there myself,” I said.
“Are you sure, Natalie?” Momma asked. I nodded. I lifted myself so that I could put my crutches on the first step.
With every step I took I thought I was going to slip and fall. By the time I got to the top step my body was aching. I promised myself that was the first and last time I would try to climb thirty steps on crutches.
Abby raced up the steps in no time.
“I take it two at a time. Did you know that’s how I learned to multiply?” Abby asked. I shook my head no. Abby walked all the way down the hall and opened the door.
“Welcome to Abby’s Paradise,” Abby said walking in the room.
The room was painted a nice light blue. There was a bed a comfy looking bed. The head post looked like a beach chair. I looked down at the ground and saw that the carpet looked like sand.
“I love this room,” Abby said flopping on the bed. “Did you know that Daddy redid this room when I was thirteen?”
“No, I didn’t,” I said sitting in a beach chair.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the beach and well since Daddy and I couldn’t go to the beach he brought the beach to me,” Abby said hugging a pillow that was shaped like a shell.
“You’ve never been to the beach before?” I asked surprised.
“Never. I’ve never been anywhere outside of Massachusetts,” Abby said. “I here you come from the beach.”
“Yeah, I was born in Miami and lived there before we moved here last month,” I said.
“Florida is rather different from the other Florida but I can’t know how someone could come here and not love it!” Abby said. “Everybody knows everybody. I know everyone in town and I’m sure by now you at least know almost everybody.”
“Yeah,” I said. Abby nodded.
“There’s a lot of love around here. I mean every time you go into town or just walk to school, you see someone you know,” Abby said. “I miss that feeling of knowing everyone around. I walk down the streets of Boston and see people I’ve never seen in my life!”
“It was defiantly that way in Miami. I mean with all the people that take holiday there,” I said.
“You sounded very British when you said that sentence,” Abby smiled.
“My dad is British,” I said. Abby nodded.
“Yeah you got a hint of a British accent. It’s very becoming,” Abby said. I smiled and laughed.
“So do you like it at Memorial?” Abby asked kicking her shoes off.
“Yeah so far,” I said.
“Are the Stewarts bothering you?” Abby asked.
“I’m guessing you know about the Stewarts,” I said.
“Of course. When I was here that Emily Stewart was over here a lot. I knew early on she was going to be a pain,” Abby said.
“And she is. She sticks to Darcy like glue,” I said rolling my eyes. Abby winked.
“And I don’t see much of Timmy because he’s in high school,” I said. Abby shrugged.
“He’s a trouble maker I can tell you that,” Abby said rolling her eyes.
I wanted to ask how so but Ms. Donna called us down for dinner.
“Think you can get down, sis?” Abby asked when we got to the stairs.
Before I could answer, Abby lifted me up and carried me down stairs.
“Wow, you’re strong,” I laughed. Abby shrugged.
“Oh that’s nothing,” Abby said. “I can lift Dad a little off the ground.”
I so wanted to see that.
“Beef Carrot Stew. My favorite,” Abby said sitting down.
The doorbell rang.
“Everybody in town knows to go through the restaurant door. Darcy, can you go see who that is?” Ms. Donna said. Darcy got out of his chair and went to the door.
A second later he came back with a wooden box.
“Delivery for Riley Walters. Boy this box is heavy!” Darcy said dropping it on the ground.
“Darcy! You don’t know what’s in that box,” Ms. Donna said.
“I didn’t order anything and why would someone address it to Riley Walters?” Momma asked. She got down on her knees to open the box.
“Oh my!” Momma gasped. I looked over her shoulder.
“Who would do such a thing?” I asked.
“I don’t even think that’s legal!” Darcy shouted looking into the box.
“It’s not,” Mr. Steve said looking inside the box.
“The poor thing,” Ms. Donna said. Abby nodded.
I stared inside the box. A two year old blonde little girl stared back.