Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Six

**

“Natalie.”

I looked up from my science book. Momma and Mr. Steve were standing in front of me looking serious.

“Yes?” I asked.

“We need to talk to you,” Momma said sitting down on the couch.

“About what?” I asked. My voice sounded shaky and I have no clue why.

“Natalie, how would you feel if I told you that Steve was adopting you?” Momma asked. Her voice also sounded shaky.

“Mr. Steve is adopting me?!” I shouted standing up. I was finally able to stand on my foot again but at this moment my foot was aching and so was my heart.

“Yes, I’m adopting you and Megan,” Mr. Steve said. “And your mother is adopting Jaci and Abby.”

I ran out the door and sat on the porch and started to cry.

“Natalie,” Momma said walking out of the house and sitting on the swing next to me.

“I don’t want to be known as Natalie Matthews,” I sighed. “I don’t ever want to forget my father’s name.”

“Oh, Sweetheart, that is not mine or Steve’s intent,” Momma said squeezing my hand. “If you read this I think you’ll understand better.”

Momma placed a letter in my hand and walked back into the house.

  Dear Natalie,

  If you’re reading this it’s because I’m dead and your mother is getting remarried. Natalie, don’t be upset or hate this man. I want your mother to be happy and I have given her my permission to get remarried if I die.

 I also have made it a requirement that this man adopt you. Don’t scream my dear, Natalie, I’m going to tell you why I want him to adopt you. If I die it is very likely that it is not an accident. Your mother is also in danger. Now your mother has asked me not to tell you this danger here but has assured me that someday you will find out.

 Natalie, I know that the upcoming days are going to be hard for you but I want you to try to be happy for your mother. That’s an order. I also want you to use your new name with pride. That’s also an order. Through all of this remember that I love you and wish that I could still be with you.

Love,

Your Daddy, Alexander Baldwin

I sighed. How could I say with pride ‘Natalie Zoey Matthews’? I looked down and noticed there was a P.S.

P.S. Natalie, you may think that using your new name will be more than you can handle but I know you can do it. I would never ask you or your mother to do something I didn’t believe you could do.

I let tears escape my eyes. If my father thought I could do it then I could do it.

**

“This is a mighty long list,” I said reading the wedding guest list. Momma, Abby, Jaci, Mrs. Stewart, Emily, Mrs. Rivers, Sean, Ms. Donna, and I were in the restaurant planning the wedding and Momma’s bridal shower.

“It is not,” Momma said. “We’ve gotten lots of RSVPs back which is good since this wedding was such short notice.”

LET ME IN!” Someone pounded on the restaurant’s door.

“I wonder who that could be,” Ms. Donna wondered out loud unlocking the restaurant door.

Grandma Shirley marched through the door and a blonde woman who I had never seen before walked in behind her.

“Clarisse!” Momma shouted jumping out of her chair and hugging the woman.

“Riley!” The woman shouted hugging Momma back.

“Mother told me that you have six children,” Momma said. “It can’t be true.”

“It is,” Aunt Clarisse smiled. “This must be your daughter Natalie.”

Aunt Clarisse smiled at me and I smiled back.

“I cannot believe you Riley Anne Walters!” Grandma Shirley shouted. She pulled the wedding invitation out of her purse.

“I thought you would want to know,” Momma said. “I’m sorry if it offended you.”

“What offends me is that you didn’t tell me about this!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “I could have been helping you all this time! Well what’s been done has been done. Your father and brothers are coming up a little closer to the wedding.”

Everyone in the room just blinked (even Aunt Clarisse stared at Grandma Shirley).

“Who’s your maid of honor and who’s planning your bridal shower?” Aunt Clarisse asked Momma.

“There is no maid of honor,” Mrs. Rivers spoke up. “But I’m planning the bridal shower.”

“Can I help you?” Aunt Clarisse asked. “And I would love to be the maid of honor.”

“It’s been waiting for you,” Momma smiled.

“And of course you can help me,” Mrs. Rivers smiled. “You know more about Riley than I do!”

“Now I must know all the details! The wedding is in a month and I just got the invitation!” Grandma Shirley shouted.

“Here,” Momma said handing Grandma Shirley the wedding planning book.

“You’re dresses are being made by a sixteen year old girl?” Grandma Shirley asked looking disgusted.

“Hey! I’m eighteen!” Jaci shouted getting defensive. I was taken aback. Jaci usually didn’t talk like that to anyone.

“And I’m helping,” Mrs. Stewart said. “And so is Joan and Jessie-Maria.”

“Who’s Jessie-Maria? And why in the world is her name so long and weird?” Grandma Shirley asked.

“I’m Jessie-Maria and I prefer to be called Sean,” Sean said speaking up but her voice still sounded mouse-like.

“Why would you want to be called a boys’ name?” Grandma Shirley asked.

“Um, Mother, you said Papa and John and Cael are coming up closer to the wedding,” Momma said. “Does that mean Clarisse and you are staying in Florida?”

“Oh course!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “Why would I drive from Pittsfield every day when I can just stay at the B&B?”

This was going to be a long three weeks.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Five

**

“When I found out that the world famous Ned Davis was moving into the apartment next to me, I almost moved out,” Ms. Erin said as she told the story of how she met Ned. “I was appealed at the time that I was going to be living next to a man who played the Devil and was a Stewart.”

“You played the Devil?” Virginia asked.

“And won an Oscar for it,” Ned said.

“So I guess you were pretty famous,” I said.

“Yup. I’ve got two Oscars and five Golden Globes,” Ned said.

“Then why did you leave Hollywood?” Nelson asked.

“I got in trouble a lot. Fights at clubs and bars. And when my daughter Emma was born I knew I had to change,” Ned said. “So Emma and I left Hollywood and came back to where I grew up.”

“If I was a famous actress making lots of money I wouldn’t leave,” Virginia said. Ned smiled.

“Well I’m glad Ned left,” Ms. Erin said hugging Ned.

“We about ready to go?” Zach asked. We nodded.

“It’s really snowing out there,” Darcy said looking out the window.

“Again?” Emily asked also looking out the window. “We just had that terrible blizzard.”

“Let’s get home before it gets worse,” Zach said.

We piled into Zach’s car and started on the road for home.

“Honey, can you see?” Abby asked.

“Nope,” Zach said.

“Pull over!” Emily shouted putting her hands over her eyes. Nelson hugged her.

“I think we’re almost home,” Zach said. Abby groaned.

“What?” Ms. Erin asked.

“Nothing,” Abby laughed.

“LOOK OUT!”

Zach slammed on the breaks and just barely missed hitting another car.

“Seriously!” I shouted throwing my hands up.

Mr. Stewart walked from the other car and Emily looked at Timmy.

“Don’t worry,” Timmy said squeezing her shoulder.

“Mr. Stewart, what are you doing?” Abby asked rolling down her window.

“I could ask you the same question,” Mr. Stewart said.

“Zach, Erin, Ned, Natalie, Darcy, Emily, Nelson, Jaci, Timmy, and I went out on a group date,” Abby said. “What are you doing?”

“If you have to know I’m coming from Pittsfield,” Mr. Stewart said. “I don’t remember giving Emily and Timmy permission to go out this evening.”

“Grandma said we could go!” Emily screamed loud enough that Mr. Stewart could hear her. Mr. Stewart nodded.

“Uncle Fowler, why were you spending?” Zach asked rolling down his window. “And why are driving on the wrong side of the street?”

“Zach Davis!” Mr. Stewart shouted. “I’ll get on the right side of the road.”

Mr. Stewart got in his car and got out of the way.

As we started to drive towards the street where Ms. Erin and Ned lived, I had a strange feeling that Mr. Stewart was out to get me.

**

“Meehghneojgsosanivgsnhiigsiogils.”

“Huh?” I asked Mrs. Stewart. Mrs. Stewart took some pins out of her mouth.

“Hold still,” Mrs. Stewart said. I tried to stand still.

“Ow!” I shouted.

“I said hold still,” Mrs. Stewart said. “Now I don’t want to poke you but if you keep moving I’m going to.”

“Are you sure about this bow in the back?” I asked Jaci.

“I’m positive,” Jaci said. “I think the daughter of the bride’s dress should be a little different from the other bridesmaid’s dresses.”

“Darcy better not laugh at me,” I sighed.

“I’ll have a talk with him,” Mrs. Stewart winked.

I sighed.

“I feel like a princess,” Abby said. “OW!”

“Sorry!” Momma said. “I’m not the world’s best pinner. I still can’t believe Jaci talked me into letting her and Mrs. Stewart make my wedding dresses and my bridesmaids’ dresses.”

“We will not disappoint,” Mrs. Stewart smiled.

“Well I was impressed when Mrs. Stewart put the pattern instructions in her pattern drawer without even reading it,” Momma laughed.

“I’ve made these dresses a thousand times.” Mrs. Stewart said. “Ok not a thousand but I know what I’m doing and so does Jaci.”

“I’m just glad you were able to find the color pink I wanted in fabric,” Abby smiled.

“I feel like a penguin,” Mrs. Rivers sighed. Sean smiled.

“You should,” Momma smiled. “You’re carrying twins.”

“We should start planning your baby shower,” Regina said.

“Riley, you know the only reason I’m doing this is because you’re getting married next month,” Mrs. Rivers said. Momma smiled.

“How are we going to get these dresses made by April 20th?” Emily asked.

“I can help,” Sean said in a low voice.

“Do you know how to sew?” Jaci asked.

“Yeah,” Sean mumbled.

“I can help out too,” Mrs. Rivers said. “It will give Jessie and me something to do.”

“Why don’t you go to school?” Regina asked Sean.

“I…I….I….,” Sean started.

“She already has her high school diploma and is taking online college courses for Oxford. They made a special exception,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“You must be mighty gifted to be get into Oxford at your age,” Emily said. Sean dropped the pin cushion and went running out the door.

“I meant it as a compliment,” Emily said looking hurt.

“I know sweetie,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Emily. “I know.”

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Four

**

“Where’s Regina?” I asked the next day. Currently at the moment it was just Momma, Jaci, Regina, Mrs. Walters, and me in the house. Momma and Jaci were sitting down in the restaurant.

“I don’t know,” Momma shrugged. “Do you need her for something?”

“Well now that this ‘date’ has turned into a group date I’m starting to worry about what I’m going to wear,” I said.

Momma smiled.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come, Mrs. Baldwin?” Jaci asked Momma. “Zach and Abby are coming. And so are Nelson and Emily, Erin and Ned, Leo and Virginia.”

“No, I wouldn’t want to impose on my daughter’s first date,” Momma said. She squealed.

“Can you please stop with the squealing?” I asked walking off to find Regina. I opened the downstairs bathroom door.

“Regina!” I shouted. Regina was sitting in the corner of the bathroom with a box of hair dye in her hands. Her hair was an interesting shade of Auburn.

“I dyed it,” Regina choked.

“I can see,” I nodded.

“I think I did something wrong,” Regina said. “It was supposed to be Red with a Kiss of Sunshine.”

“It looks like Red with a Kiss of Darkness,” I said.

“It’s more brown than red!” Regina said looking at herself in the window.

“I agree,” I said.

“I look stupid!” Regina cried.

“Why did you dye your hair?” I asked touching it.

“Red heads and girls who dye at least a lock of their hair pink are very in right now,” Regina said.

“Regina………..,” Momma said walking into the bathroom. “What happened to your hair?”

“I dyed it,” Regina cried.

“I can see,” Momma said.

“I think I did something wrong,” Regina said. “It was supposed to be Red with a Kiss of Sunshine.”

“It looks like Red with a Kiss of Darkness,” Momma said.

“Like mother like daughter,” Regina cried. “My mom is going to kill me!”

“She’s not going to kill you,” Momma said. “She’s going to get mad but not mad enough to kill you.”

“I can’t come out of this bathroom,” Regina cried.

“Well you’re going to have to,” I said. “I need help picking out an outfit for tonight.”

“Why don’t you get Virginia to do it?” Regina snapped.

“Cause….cause….she’s getting ready for tonight too,” I said.

“Nobody likes me,” Regina pouted. “Everybody else got a special Valentine but all I get are stupid cheesy ones.”

“Is that why you died your hair?” Momma asked.

“There’s nothing special about me,” Regina said. “I was just a plan ole blonde haired girl. I want to be special.”

“You are special,” Momma said hugging her. “And you don’t need some boy to tell you that. You’re still young. You’re not even in high school yet. You’ll have tons of boys telling you you’re special in no time.”

“It just seems like everybody else is growing up,” Regina said.

“You’re growing up too,” Momma said hugging her tighter. “You just can’t tell because you’re looking at how everybody else is growing up and not noticing you are too.”

“Regina,” Jaci said walking into the bathroom.

“Ok, this place just got crowded,” I said. Regina laughed and then started to cry.

“What happened to your hair?” Jaci asked.

“I dyed it,” Regina said.

“Dyed it?” Jaci asked confusing.

“You dye your hair to change its color,” Momma explained.

“That explains why it’s brown now,” Jaci said. Regina cried.

“It’s not brown is it?” Jaci asked.

“It’s supposed to be red,” Regina cried.

“Like Emily’s hair red?” Jaci asked.

“A little darker,” Regina said. “But I think I left it on too long.”

“Oh,” Jaci nodded.

“I’m back and you should see the dress I’m going to wear tonight,” Abby said walking into the house. “Oh my. Regina, what happened to your hair?”

“I think I left it in too long,” Regina said. “It was supposed to be Red with a Kiss of Sunshine.”

“It looks like Red with a Kiss of Darkness,” Abby said. Regina sighed.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Two

**

  February 14

 Today was my first Valentine’s Day with Riley and I tried extra hard to make our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple special.

 I had planned to take her out to a little Italian restaurant and give her a dozen roses and everything. But it turns out Riley had plans too. She had bought a prime rib and all my favorite foods and had planned to eat in this Valentine’s Day. She even got special candles for the occasion.

 I was MAD. I wanted Valentine’s Day to go my way. We got into a huge fight and in the end Riley stayed at home and ate her prime rib and I went out to the restaurant.

 About halfway through my meal I realized what an idiot I was. I paid for my meal and went home. I found Riley crying in the bathroom.

 It broke my heart to see her crying just because I was too stubborn to eat at home on our first Valentine’s Day. Riley had ‘Valentine’s Day’ music playing so I switched it back to Christmas music and lit the candles. We started to dance.

 I think all is forgiven now. I ate some of her prime rib at like eleven o’clock at night. In a way this was a pretty good Valentine’s Day. I think we’ll stay in from now on.

Today was Valentine’s Day. I woke up to find a rose on my pilliow.

I had skipped ahead to my father’s second journal to read about their first Valentine’s Day. I put the journal back in the book under the couch and got up.

The hole in the restaurant was no longer there. Mr. Stewart had paid to get it fixed. He wanted Grandma Shirley to help pay for it but she said because he had already made a hole in the wall when she made a hole in the wall that she didn’t have to pay. That seemed to confuse Mr. Stewart enough to pay for the wall to be repaired.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Mr. Steve shouted.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I smiled back.

“Look at the strawberries!” Megan shouted with a white teddy bear in her arms. She had red and chocolate smudges on her face.

“I got my girls fruit baskets and bears or strawberry baskets and bears since that’s the only fruit but I think yours, Natalie, has oranges in it,” Mr. Steve said handing me my basket and teddy bear.

“Thank you,” I said taking out a chocolate covered strawberry. Chocolate and strawberries, now that’s a combination you can get me to eat all on my own.

Timmy walked through the restaurant door.

“Morning,” I said not looking up from my chocolate covered orange.

“Is Jaci here?” Timmy asked. I looked up. He had some chocolates and a balloon in his hand.

“Um, yeah,” Mr. Steve said backing away. “JACI! TIMMY’S HERE TO SEE YOU!”

“COMING!” Jaci screamed back. Jaci walked into the restaurant wearing a red skirt and a white shirt with a red heart on it.

She was carrying a box that contained Timmy’s Bible and a Valentine.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Timmy smiled.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jaci smiled back. They exchanged gifts.

“This is such a sweet Valentine!” Jaci cried. “Mine’s feels kinda dumb now.”

I looked over her shoulder.

I know we’re young

I know it’s soon

But I think I’m in love with you!

There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear

So I’m just going to say it

Please be my Valentine till the end of time!

“Your Valentine reflects who you are,” Timmy said. “You love the Lord and you love the Bible. I think it’s perfect.”

I tried to look over Timmy’s shoulder but he’s like six ft. and Jaci is no more than five ft. three.

Love is patient

Love does not envy or boast

Love is not arrogant or rude

Love never fails

Love never rejoices at wrongdoing

Not irritable or resentful

Love does not insist on its own way

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

Love is kind so be my Valentine.

“The bus is here!” Momma called. “Ms. O’Donnell wants all seventh graders in early so Valentine’s Day doesn’t take up school time.”

“WHAT!” I shouted. “I’m not even dressed!”

“Here are some clothes,” Momma said throwing them at me. “GO!”

I shook my head, grabbed my backpack, and headed out the door.

**

You’re amazing.

Did you know?

I’ve crushed on you.

Since long ago.

So here’s my heart.

And here’s my soul.

I think it’s time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

My heart seemed to beat out of my chest as I read this note. Could it be from Darcy? The note wasn’t signed. I hadn’t signed the one I gave to Darcy. I was too scared to do it. I actually gave him two Valentines so he wouldn’t guess it was me. The Valentine I gave to Darcy went like this.

I have just one Valentine’s Day wish.

That you’ll be my Darcy and I’ll be your Elizabeth!

So what do you say?

Will you make my Valentine’s Day?

“Virginia?” Darcy asked walking to the back of the classroom.

“Huh?” Virginia asked looking up from a yellow Valentine.

“Did you give me this?” Darcy asked. His voice sounded like he really really hopped Virginia hadn’t given him this Valentine.

“I have just one Valentine’s Day wish. That you’ll be my Darcy and I’ll be your Elizabeth. So what do you say? Will you make my Valentine’s Day?” Virginia read. “I made it but I didn’t send it to you.”

I don’t know why but I went flying out the door. I ran into the girls’ bathroom and broke down crying.

“Natalie?” Virginia asked walking into the bathroom.

“What?” I asked wiping tears away from my eyes.

“Before you get all mad at me, I want you to know that I didn’t send Darcy a Valentine because you like him and well I just didn’t want to send a Valentine to a guy my friend likes,” Virginia said shrugging.

“Liked,” I corrected.

“Look, I KNOW Darcy likes you. He’s your Secret Santa,” Virginia said. “He just used a logical method of reasoning.”

There was a knock on the bathroom door.

“Who is it?” Virginia called.

“Darcy.”

I got up and walked into a stall.

“Come in,” Virginia said. “Nobodies in here but Natalie and I.”

“I don’t feel like talking to you,” I said with my back towards the stall door.

“Can you listen?” Darcy’s voice asked.

“Do I have a choice?” I snorted. I heard Virginia chuckle.

“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t think you would send me that Valentine because I was kinda a jerk to you when you first came. City folk never understand us. But you’re not like other people who didn’t grow up here. You seem to like it here and enjoy the easy lifestyle we have. I really like you,” Darcy said his voice trailing off after the last sentence.

I opened the bathroom stall door.

“Will you take me to the ball?” I asked.

“I would be delighted,” Darcy said in a fake British accent. I laughed.

“All is forgiven,” I said giving him a hug.

**

“I am so disgusted!”

I looked at Regina who looked like she could kill somebody.

“It’s not that bad, Regina,” I said trying to calm her down.

“And the creepy thing is. She likes him back!” Regina shouted.

“Hi, Natalie,” Emily said walking up with Nelson. They were holding hands.

“Yuck,” Regina shuddered.

“You’re just jealous. No one sent you a lovey dovey Valentine,” Emily said smiling at Nelson. “Look at my Valentine.”

She pushed it in my face.

You’re amazing.

Did you know?

I’ve crushed on you.

Since long ago.

So here’s my heart.

And here’s my soul.

I think it’s time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

“Cute,” I said not telling her I got one exactly like it.

“My heads in the clouds. My heart’s in my throat. I’m walking on air. Handing you this note!” Regina said. I looked at her strangely.

“That’s what my Valentine said,” Nelson cleared up.

“I don’t know what your problem is,” I said to Regina. “Nelson and Emily can like whoever they want.”

“Oh, you’re just happy Emily doesn’t like Darcy,” Regina shouted getting up and storming out of the cafeteria.

“What’s her problem?” I asked. Nelson shook his head twice. Once for him and once for Emily.

**

Left you once.

Lost you twice.

Now it’s the third time.

So I’m not going to take any chances.

Please be my Valentine and my wife.

“Isn’t it so romantic?” Abby asked hugging Zach. “And to think I thought I was giving him a push!”

“You’re getting married?” Virginia asked excitedly. She had come over because us girls were going to get ready for the Valentine’s Day Ball.

“Yup,” Abby said showing us her ring.

“I knew I made the right decision when I read her Valentine,” Zach laughed. He handed it to me.

Take all my love.

Take all my kisses.

But there better be a ring.

If you want me to be your Mrs.!

I laughed.

“Get out, Zach,” Mrs. Rivers barked. “You can see your fiancée at the ball.”

Zach gave Abby a kiss and left.

“Girls, I would like you to meet Jesse-Maria. She’s going to be staying with Tom and me for a while,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging a short shy looking girl. “She likes to be called Sean.”

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” Sean mumbled.

“Let’s start doing hair!” Momma shouted. Soon the B&B was filled with girly giggles.

“Where are the guys?” Jaci asked as she was putting on her dress.

“It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a man in Florida, Massachusetts has something for his girl in the morning on Valentine’s Day and has something for her in the evening too,” Mrs. Rivers joked.

We all laughed, including Sean who hadn’t said a word the entire time.

“Who else besides Abby got a special Valentine?” Aunt Jane asked. Virginia looked uncomfortable.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“This!” Virginia shouted taking a yellow Valentine out of her backpack.

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

I don’t want to blurt it but since it’s Valentine’s Day.

I think I should tell you that I like you in that special kind of way!

“It’s from that Leo boy isn’t it?!” Aunt Jane asked sounding excited. Virginia nodded.

“And I sent him the stupidest Valentine back,” Virginia sighed.

“What did it say?” The entire room asked.

Roses are Red. Violets are blue. I never know what to say around you! I’d like to convince myself there’s no one left to ask. But the truth is I only want you!” Virginia recited. “He’ll think I like him.”

“But you do,” Aunt Jane said.

“I don’t,” Virginia said looking disgusted.

“Do,” Aunt Jane said.

“Don’t.”

“Do.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t,” Aunt Jane said.

“Do,” Virginia messed up.

We burst out laughing and Virginia shook her head.

**

“I can I have everybody’s attention?!”

I looked up at the stage were Ms. O’Donnell was standing next to Zach’s brother whose name was Ned Davis.

“Ned has something he would like to say,” Ms. O’Donnell said. Her eyes looked excited.

“Erin! Erin Carter! Where are you?” Ned shouted into the microphone. Ms. Erin stepped forth.

“I have something I would like to say,” Ned said getting down on one knee. The entire room gasped.

“Would you marry me?” Ned asked. Ms. Erin shook her yes head and ran up on stage.

“Three weddings and two in the same family and Joan is having a baby,” Mrs. Stewart smiled. “I wonder if there’s ever been this much excitement in Florida!”

“And now we’re going to crown our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and Junior Mr. and Mrs. Bingley,” Ms. O’Donnell said waving an envelope around. She opened it.

“Our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are………….Darcy Edwards and Natalie Baldwin!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Darcy and I walked up on the stage.

“And our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Bingley are…………Nelson Drew and Emily Stewart!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Regina looked surprised and ran out of the room where the ball was being held. Mrs. Stewart screamed and helped Emily on stage.

“Our Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are…………..Ned Davis and Erin Carter!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Ms. Erin laughed as she walked up on stage.

“Our Mr. and Mrs. Bingley are…………Steve Matthews and Riley Baldwin!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted.

I smiled as Ms. O’Donnell put a sash on me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Daddy I thought.

Posted in Farm Girl, Highlight & Contest, Natalie

Highlight & Contest: Will You Be My Valentine HINTS

First I would like to apologize. I didn’t know how hard this contest would be. So, I’ve decided to give out hints!

Couples

Jaci and Timmy– Hint: Scripture

Abby and Zach– Hint: Proposal

Natalie and Darcy– Hint: Pride and Prejudice

Virginia and Leo– Hint: Roses are Red

Nelson and Emily- Hint: Crushed

photo 1

Also the person who sent the Valentine they receive, they sent a Valentine to. The original post can be found here. Please contact me if the contest is still too hard. The winner and PRIZE will be annouced on Valentine’s Day! Good Luck!

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Nineteen

**

At the scene of the car accident just about every ambulance, patrol car, and person in Florida, Massachusetts was there. Then the fire trucks arrived.

A blue car was mashed-up pretty badly. A red car was completely ruined and thankfully abandoned.

“Who’s in the car?” I asked when I found my mother.

“Zach and Darcy,” Momma said. Her voice sounded shaky. I knew my face fell. I started to cry.

“Natalie, it’s all right! I’m sure Darcy’s fine,” Momma said hugging me. I pushed away.

“Darcy? You think I’m crying about Darcy?” I asked.

“What else?” Momma asked. I slowly backed away. I felt my foot go from under me and I fell down the cliff.

“NATALIE!” My mother screamed. I felt myself tumble down the hill. I had no idea how to stop myself. I was screaming pretty loudly.

“NATALIE!”

“NATALIE! STOP! STOP! NATALIE HONEY STOP!”

I felt my body hit something like metal. Mr. Steve ran to me.

“NATALIE HONEY ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?” Mr. Steve asked helping me up.

“No,” I said. My wrist hurt badly. I looked at what I had hit. It was the blue car. A bunch of men were around it and trying to get the door off of it.

I looked up and saw Darcy in the passenger seat. He looked like he was in pain. He had cuts on his face. He struggled to open his eyes but when he saw me his face lit up. All of the pain seemed to go out of his face and he managed to smile at me. He then winked which caused me to fall to the ground.

“Let’s get you to an ambulance,” Mr. Steve said picking me up. As he carried me away I managed to check a glimpse of Zach. He looked lifeless.

God, please don’t let Zach die I prayed as I was loaded into an ambulance.

**

“Natalie, we’ve got a serious problem on our hands,” Dr. Charles Walters said.

I stared at my right wrist which was bandaged up. It was broken.

“I’m afraid you aren’t getting enough vitamin C. I’m worried that it’s leading to Scurvy,” Dr. Walters said.

“Scurvy? Do people even get that that anymore? And how can I be vitamin C deficient I used to live in Miami,” I blurted.

“I talked to your mother. She admits that you preferred to stay inside and look out the window than go to the beach. And when you did go outside you had gallons of sun screen on your body. She also admits that you don’t always get the proper diet,” Dr. Walters said. “She says that you’ve seemed more fatigued lately. She thought it was just the move and seventh grade work. I heard about you throwing your eggs and bacon on the floor. Rapid mood change is a sign of Scurvy. You were very tired and had several bruises after your snow day. You’ve broken your entire foot and your wrist in a month that’s not the way God intended it to be, Natalie! You’ve got a serious problem and it can be so easily corrected! I’m putting you on a special diet.”

I huffed.

“Look, I’m just looking out for family here,” Dr. Walters said realizing he had been a little harsh. “Your mother is my cousin.”

Dr. Walters walked out of the room leaving me time to think.

Had I really been all the things he had said? I guess maybe I had been saying things a little bit harsher than usually. And maybe I felt like crying a couple of times for no reason at all. And ok, I had been extra tired but Ms. O’Donnell is tiring! She expects the very very best. And yes, I had a bad bruise right where Darcy’s sled had hit me.

I sighed. I hated oranges but sometimes you gotta do things you hate.

**

“I call it Vitamin Sea Food Salad,” Ms. Donna said the next day. Momma had given Ms. Donna my special diet and Ms. Donna promised to make a special salad for me.

“It’s got tilapia, salmon, oranges, strawberries, carrot shreds, tomato, and kiwi fruit. Its also got a lemon drizzle and some of the leaves are spinach,” Ms. Donna said. “Enjoy!”

I prayed over this disgusting sounding salad and took a bite.

“How is it?’ Jaci asked me putting ranch on her regular Sea Food Salad.

“Not as bad as I expected,” I said putting another bite in my mouth.

“I don’t understand why your so against eating a few oranges and strawberries,” Jaci said. “I bet there are thousands of people that would do anything to cure what they had so easily. You’re a blessed one.”

Jaci sure had a way of making you understand without making you feel too bad.

Timmy walked through the restaurant door along with his grandfather. Timmy looked around the room while Mr. Stewart walked towards a table. Mr. Stewart was limping.

“Mr. Stewart is limping,” I whispered to Jaci.

“So?” Jaci asked.

“If he was driving that red car he was bound to get hurt in some way,” I whispered.

“Natalie, you don’t think….,” Jaci started but Timmy was walking towards us.

“That looks good,” Timmy said pointing to my salad and sitting next to Jaci.

“Did Jaci put you up to that?” I asked. Timmy laughed.

“Nope, I love oranges and strawberries,” Timmy said.

“Am I the only one who doesn’t?” I asked picking at an orange.

Abby burst through the restaurant door and marched over to Mr. Steve.

“I can’t BELIEVE you!” Abby shouted at her father. “How could you NOT tell me about Zach’s accident?”

“I…I…I didn’t think you would care,” Mr. Steve stuttered obviously surprised.

“You didn’t think I would care?! Dad, Zach Davis is THE Zach Davis!” Abby screamed.

“THE Zach Davis?! But he’s a Stewart!” Mr. Steve shouted.

“I’m NOT a Stewart!” Zach shouted.

Everyone turned to the restaurant door to find Zach standing in the arch. He was still wearing a hospital gown and a syringe was sticking out of his arm.

“Zach, what are you………..,” Abby started walking towards him but Zach fainted in Abby’s arms.

Posted in Farm Girl, Highlight & Contest, Natalie

Highlight & Contest: Will You Be My Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is coming soon and I decided that this is the perfect time to have our first ever contest!

Contest Info:Valentine’s Day is about two weeks away and love is in the air in Florida, Massachusetts! But a couple of people are too afraid to tell their feelings to the person they like so they sent anonymous Valentines! Who likes who? Its up to you to find out!

So what you have to do is figure out who sent the Valentine and to who. Comment your answers but chose wisely you only get one chance! It should look like this: Valentine X was given to Blank from Blank.

photo 1

All of the Valentines!

photo 1 (2)

Valentine A

My heads in the clouds

My heart’s in my throat

I’m walking on air

Handing you this note!

photo 2 (3)

Valentine B

Love is patient.

Love does not envy or boast.

Love is not arrogant or rude.

Love never fails.

Love never rejoices at wrongdoing.

Not irritable or resentful.

Love does not insist on its own way.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love is kind so be my Valentine!

photo 3 (1)

Valentine C

Take all my love.

Take all my kisses.

But there better be a ring.

If you want me to be your Mrs.! 

photo 4 (1)

Valentine D

I have just one Valentine’s Day wish.

That you’ll be my Darcy and I’ll be your Elizabeth!

So what do you say?

Will you make my Valentine’s Day?

photo 1 (1)

Valentine E

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

I’d like to convince myself there’s no one left to ask.

But the truth is I only want you!

photo 2 (2)

Valentine F

I know we’re young.

I know its soon.

But I think I’m in love with you!

There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear.

So I’m just going to say it.

Please be my Valentine till the end of time!

photo 4

Valentine G (two people receive this Valentine)

You’re amazing.

Did you know?

I’ve crushed on you.

Since long ago.

So here’s my heart.

And here’s my soul.

I think its time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

photo 3

Valentine H

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

I don’t want to blurt it but since its Valentine’s Day.

I think I should tell you that I like you in that special kind of way!

photo 2

Valentine I

Left you once.

Lost you twice.

Now its the third time.

So I’m not going to take any chances.

Please be my Valentine and my wife.

Who ever gets them all right (or gets the most right) wins the contest! I will announce the winner and PRIZE on Valentine’s Day! Good Luck!

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Eighteen

“Yes, yes you did,” Zach said. His voice sounded shaky.

“Fowler, its been more than ten years. Its not his fault that Gavin crashed his car and killed his wife,” Ms. Donna said.

“A Stewart looks out for a Stewart,” Mr. Stewart growled. “Its all his fault that Gavin is sitting in jail right now.”

“Its not my fault that your son drove like a maniac, crashed his car, killed his wife, and lied to the police about it,” Zach said with a little bit more confidence in his voice.

“A Stewart looks out for another Stewart,” Mr. Stewart repeated.When you found the wreckage you should have come to be first before calling the police!”

“I thought I was helping when I found Tami’s body in a car in the woods,” Zach said. “I had been told that she had gone missing after Gavin got into a brutal attack.”

Mr. Stewart growled.

“Why are you back? I told you to never come back to Berkshire County after the trial so why are you back?” Mr. Stewart asked.

“Fowler!” Ms. Donna shouted. “He’s a grown man. He can do whatever he wants!”

Mr. Stewart gave a laugh that scared the life out of me.

“We’ll just see about that,” Mr. Stewart said with a smile on his lips. “Donna, I want a Sea Food Salad to go.”

Ms. Donna quickly made him his salad and Mr. Stewart left.

“You’re a Stewart?” Abby asked Zach.

“I’m NOT a Stewart!” Zach shouted. “So what if my mother is his niece and my grandmother’s maiden name is Stewart? The name Stewart is not on my birth certificate so therefore I’m NOT a Stewart.”

“Zach,” Abby said. “You can’t deny what’s in your blood. Mr. Stewart is your great-uncle.” Zach looked angered.

“You know each other?” I blurted. Abby nodded.

“I designed a building for his company last Spring,” Abby said. She looked sadden at the mention of last spring. Zach too looked sad at the mention of Spring.

“I’m not a Stewart,” Zach said. “I refuse to be. I refuse to be part of a clan of thieving, dirty, and tricky people!”

Zach ran up the steps and Abby looked sad. Jaci sighed.

“He has to learn to overcome the fact that he’s been born into such a line,” Jaci said.

“No. He has to realize that he’s a Stewart,” Timmy said. “But he’s not like the rest.”

Jaci smiled at Timmy.

“Who’s hungry?” Ms. Donna asked. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be mentioned the rest of the night but one way or another I was going to find out what this was all about.

**

“Momma?” I asked the next day after school.

“Yeah?” Momma said looking up from the table she was cleaning.

“Can I visit the Rivers?” I asked.

“Sure. Why not? Tell Joan that I want her to be a bridesmaid no matter how fat she is,” Momma said to me as I put on my coat.

I promised her that I would tell her and hobbled out the door towards the Rivers’ cabin.

“I was just wishing for some company,” Mrs. Rivers said when she opened the door. Mrs.Rivers hadn’t gained a lot of weight in the past couple of months but she starting to show.

I smiled at her and hobbled into the house.

“So what brings you here?” Mrs. Rivers asked as she took my coat.

“Ms. Donna has a new boarder. His name is Zach Davis,” I said.

“Zach Davis is back in town? Mr. Stewart won’t be happy about that,” Mrs. Rivers said taking out some brownies.

“He saw him yesterday at the B&B. He said that he had told him to never come back to Berkshire County,” I said.

“Mr. Stewart and Zach don’t get along too well. They never did. Zach hated the fact that he had any relation with the Stewart family. Mr. Stewart tried his hardest to make him like being a Stewart and nothing worked. And after Zach told the police about finding Gavin’s car in the woods there was no hope of a relationship between the two of them,” Mrs. Rivers said getting out some hot chocolate.

“Why did Mr. Stewart want to make Zach a Stewart? I mean he was born into the Davis family right?” I asked.

“True but Mr. Stewart wanted Zach to help him out at the law firm,” Mrs. Rivers said. “When Zach told him that he wanted to work with children, Mr. Stewart was disgusted.”

“No wonder he doesn’t like to be called a Stewart,” I said.

“Its sad but if you’ve ever had any relationship with a Stewart present or past people can be a little prejudice. I should know,” Mrs. Rivers said getting out some marshmallows.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“In high school I went out with Gavin,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“You did?” I asked. Mrs. Rivers nodded.

“Tom hadn’t come to Massachusetts yet and well Gavin was popular. He was known for driving fast to impress a girl and all sorts of crazy stuff. For two months in my junior year of high school I lived the fast life. Sneaking out at night, going to wild parties, asking Gavin to drive dangerously over the speed limit. It took a long talk to get me out of it,” Mrs. Rivers said. “To think I could have been the one in that car. I could be dead by now.”

I sat and thought about this for a minute.

“Why is Gavin in jail. That’s what I don’t understand,” I said.

“He was driving way over the speed limit on an icy day. He crashed his car and killed his wife. He was nervous and worried that the police would think he murdered her that he went to the police and told some story about taking a drive and some people pulling them over. He said he got in a bad fight with them and that’s what his scares were from. He said that they had taken his car and his wife,” Mrs. Rivers said. “When Zach found the car crashed and knowing Gavin’s reckless driving history, the police got curious. It was soon relieved that Gavin’s scares and injuries were from a car crash.”

I nodded.

“But why does Mr. Stewart hate Zach so much? Its not his fault that he found the car. He had been told that someone stole the car. He would be thinking he was helping and not hurting,” I said.

“Mr. Stewart needed a good reason to be angry at Zach. He never really did like him and it gave him a good reason to give him a job in Boston,” Mrs. Rivers said. “Mr. Stewart is a purebred Stewart. They have more grudges then everybody in Massachusetts.”

“How does Mrs. Stewart feel about her nephew?” I asked.

“She loves and adores him more than her own son. Zach was always so well behaved. Gavin was always getting into trouble. Who could blame her? Zach was defiantly the perfect ‘son’,” Mrs. Rivers said.

Mr. Rivers came bursting through the house.

“There’s a terrible accident on the Mohawk Trail!” Mr. Rivers shouted. “They need all the help they can get.”

“Where’s the accident at?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“Right around the area where Gavin crashed his car. That place is a crash magnet,” Mr. Rivers said.

I felt like crying. Nobody had to tell me that Zach was in that car. I had a strange feeling that this was in connection with my father’s car crash and my mother’s recent one.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Seventeen

**

“How do I look?” Jaci asked me in the morning. She was going to take a standardized test to get her high school diploma. She was wearing the same pale pink dress she had shown up in.

“You look fine,” I said. “Don’t worry.” Jaci sighed.

“Do I look professional and serious?” Jaci asked. I nodded.

“JACI! Timmy’s here to pick you up!” Ms. Donna called.

“Pray for me!” Jaci hollered as she ran out the door.

Momma walked into the family room.

“Can you help me get off the couch?” I asked. I threw the quilt off me.

“What’s that?” Momma asked pointing to a large gift wrapped in bright Christmas wrapping.

“Secret Santa strikes again!” I shouted trying to reach the package.

“Who’s Secret Santa?” Momma asked handing me the package.

“I don’t know. That’s what Regina calls him,” I said opening it.

“And do you have any idea who this guy is?” Momma asked with sparkle in her eyes.

“No,” I said pulling out a Christmas Clipboard kit.

“How sweet,” Momma said looking at it. She started to open it. I laughed.

“Oh! I’m sorry,” Momma said handing the half open kit to me.

“It’s ok,” I said placing it on the table. Momma helped me get up.

“Me want bacon!” Megan screamed running down the steps. She ran towards Momma.

“Morning, honey. I didn’t know you were up,” Momma said.

“Silly, Mommy!” Megan cried. Momma picked her up and walked into the kitchen. I followed.

“Where’s Jaci?” Megan asked looking around the room.

“She went to school,” Ms. Donna said to her.

“Why?!” Megan cried madly.

“She’s trying to get her high school diploma,” Mr. Steve said picking up his coffee cup. Megan pouted.

“The bus is here!” Darcy called. He pulled my arm.

“But I haven’t eaten breakfast!” I shouted as he pulled me towards the door.

“Ms. O’Donnell hates it when students are late!” Darcy called.

“At least let the girl get her backpack,” Ms. Donna said handing me my lunch and backpack. Darcy blushed.

“What’s your problem?” I asked hobbling out the door.

Ugh. The bus was at the stop before ours. Darcy hobbled out the door.

“Seriously?” I asked pulling out some bacon from my lunch bag.

Darcy didn’t answer me. What was wrong with HIM?

**

“Class,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “This is Virginia Powers.”

“Hello, Virginia,” The class chimed.

“And this is Natalie Baldwin,” Ms. O’Donnell said, “Both will be joining our class today. Most of you know Natalie but Virginia is new to Florida. Why don’t you tell us about yourself?”

“Well I’m from Virginia,” Virginia said laying on her Southern drawl. “I’m a farm girl. I have an older brother who is in high school and two younger sisters.”

“Thank you Virginia that will be all,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “Natalie, would you like to tell the class a little bit more about yourself?”

The look on Virginia’s face told me that she had more to tell but she didn’t dare go against Ms. O’Donnell.

“Well I moved here about a month ago. I live at the Sunshine B&B,” I started. What else could I say? I mean everyone in the room knew just about everything about me.

“I have a younger sister Megan and will have two steps sisters as soon as my mother marries Steve Matthews,” I said. My heart hurt a little to call Megan my sister.

“I love Christmas as my name implies,” I quickly added. That was something not too many people knew.

“Thank you, Natalie,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “The two of you may take your seats.”

I decided to let Virginia pick the first. There was an empty seat next to Darcy and a guy named Leo Logan. For some ridiculous reason I really hoped Virginia wouldn’t sit next to Darcy. Virginia looked at me and winked. I tried to act surprised. Darcy looked happy as Virginia walked towards the back. She sat next to Leo and shook his hand.

I sat next Darcy. He gave me a smile and what could I do but give him a silly stupid smile back.

**

“Look at this! Look at this!” Virginia shouted shoving a Valentine in my face.

“What is it?” I asked. I was sitting at a lunch table with Regina, Nelson, Darcy, and surprisingly Emily. She hadn’t uttered a word since she sat down.

“This is so rude! So ridiculous! I would punch the boy who gave me THIS piece of junk!” Virginia screamed.

“Calm down,” I said taking it out of her hands.

It read:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I don’t know what to say around you

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“I don’t know what to say around you? What kind of cheesy line is that? It might as well read ‘Roses are red. Violets are blue. I really don’t want to give a Valentine to you.’,” Virginia said sitting down.

“I don’t see what’s wrong with it,” Darcy said. Virginia gave him a look.

“This is being marketed as a Valentine to give to someone who you really don’t want to give a Valentine too! Dozens of poor girls are going to receive this terrible Valentine!” Virginia said.

“VIRGINIA!” Aunt Jane screamed running into the lunch room.

“What now?” Virginia muttered.

“I didn’t give you a lunch before you took off,” Aunt Jane huffed. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” Virginia said taking it. Aunt Jane smiled.

“Somebody get their Valentine’s Day out of the way?” Aunt Jane asked picking up the Valentine.

“No,” Virginia said. “I just found out that my desk partner is selling these!”

“Then sell them back,” Aunt Jane said.

“Huh?” The table asked.

“You make Valentines bigger and better,” Aunt Jane said.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” Virginia shouted. “I’ll beat him at his own game!” Aunt Jane nodded.

I looked over at the table where Leo was sitting.

I looked at the look on Virginia’s face. This was war.

**

I stared at the tall stranger sitting on the couch.

“You must be Natalie,” The young man smiled. “Your mother told me about you.”

I looked at the new boarder. His name was Zach Davis. Something about his broad shoulders and his face looked familiar.

“And you must be Darcy,” Zach said offering his hand to him.

“Hi,” Darcy said shaking it.

“I see you’ve met my new boarder Zach,” Ms. Donna said walking into the room.

“Here’s your coco,” Jaci said walking into the room. Timmy wasn’t far behind but he didn’t look like he was comfortable.

“Thank you, Jaci,” Zach said taking the hot chocolate and drinking it.

“The restaurant opens up in five minutes. I’m sure the town will want to meet you,” Ms. Donna said smiling. She walked back to the kitchen.

“I’m up!” Megan screamed walking down the steps. She looked at Zach and her eyes widened.

“You!” Megan shouted. “You!”

She didn’t sound mad. She sounded like she was happy to see him. Zach looked like he had no idea what to do.

“You must be Megan,” Zach said. “Your mother told me about you.”

Megan flew into his arms. Jaci snickered. Zach walked into the restaurant with Megan in his arms.

“She can walk,” Momma said taking Megan out of his arms.

“She just flew into them. I guess that means she likes me,” Zach said.

“LET ME IN!” Someone screamed pounding on the restaurant door. Ms. Donna unlocked it. Abby ran into the restaurant and tripped. She flew right into Zach’s arms.

“I guess I’m a magnet today,” Zach joked. Abby looked stunned.

“I’m so sorry!” Abby cried. “I guess I was so excited I tripped!”

“That’s all right,” Zach smiled. I looked at Regina. She returned my look. If I read her look correct she also thought this guy was developing a quick crush on Abby.

“Riley, look at this fabric!” Abby shouted. She pulled out a scrap from her purse.

“It’s a beautiful shade of pink!” Momma cried looking at it.

“I couldn’t wait until the weekend to show it to you,” Abby said.

“I could make bridesmaids dresses out of it!” Jaci shouted taking the fabric out of Momma’s hands.

“I like that idea,” Momma said.

“Oh please let me make your wedding dress!” Jaci cried. “I won’t fail you.”

Before Momma could answer Mr. Stewart walked into the restaurant. He looked at Zach.

“I thought I told you to never come back to Berkshire County,” Mr. Stewart said flatly to him.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Thirteen

**

I stumbled out of the car. I touched the snowflake earrings dangling from my ears (I found them at my feet this morning).

“Let’s just get this over with,” I grumbled.

“Why does everybody in town dislike the Stewarts? I had a delightful time sledding with Timmy,” Jaci said.

“You’ll figure out soon enough,” Abby said rolling her eyes.

Mr. Steve rang the doorbell and straightened his tie. Darcy answered the door.

“Darcy? What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Emily invited me over for dinner,” Darcy said. He opened the door wide enough for us to walk in.

“Welcome! Welcome!” Mrs. Stewart smiled as we poured into her family room. “I’m so glad you could come.”

“Thanks for inviting us,” Momma said. I wonder how hard it was to say that.

“It’s the least I could do after what my Emily has done to your Natalie,” Mrs. Stewart said. “But don’t worry. I am working on her.”

I didn’t know what ‘working on her’ meant but I hoped it worked.

“Oh, I love your dress! Did you make it yourself?” Jaci asked overlooking Mrs. Stewart.

Mrs. Stewart was wearing a plain looking pink dress. She didn’t have on her glasses today. A smile managed to creep into her face.

“Yes. Yes, I did. I love making clothes but Emily will only let me make her Sunday dress,” Mrs. Stewart said.

“I don’t see why. Your work is very good. Even mother wasn’t this good,” Jaci said kneeling to admire the hem.

“Are you a coach?” Megan asked. I felt like laughing. Mrs. Stewart did have a voice of authority.

“Why do you ask, child?” Mrs. Stewart asked.

“Whistle,” Megan said pointing to Mrs. Stewart’s chest.

“Oh. This? I use this to communicate with my grandchildren and sometimes my husband,” Mrs. Stewart said holding up the whistle. I hadn’t even noticed she had been wearing it. Come to think of it I think she was wearing it the day she burst into the school and at The Hill.

“Speaking of those children, where are they?” Mrs. Stewart asked. She blew her whistle five times.

A sound that sounded like elephants stomping rang through the house. Momma tried to hide the horrified look on her face. Mr. Steve seemed unfazed. Jaci stared at Mrs. Stewart in amazement. Megan covered her ears. Darcy (I almost forgot he was there) stood like he was in the army.

Timmy and Emily ran down the steps and got in line with Darcy.

“State your full name and age for our guest please,” Mrs. Stewart said in a stern voice. She blew her whistle once.

“Timothy-Caleb Jeffery Stewart. Age sixteen,” Timmy said. He looked at Jaci.

“But I’ll be seventeen on April 3rd,” Timmy added not taking his eyes off Jaci.

“Thank you for that extra and unasked for information,” Mrs. Stewart said. She blew her whistle twice.

“Emily Elizabeth Stewart. Age twelve,” Emily said. Emily looked at Darcy.

“But I’ll be thirteen on July 27th,” Emily said looking at Darcy. Mrs. Stewart rolled her eyes and blew her whistle three times.

“Darcy Chadwick Edwards. Age thirteen,” Darcy said. He looked at me.

“But I’ll be fourteen on August 10th,” Darcy said still looking at me.

“At ease children,” Mrs. Stewart said. “And next time please just give what I ask for.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Timmy, Emily, and Darcy said. Timmy and Emily ran upstairs. Darcy reluctantly followed.

“I’m so sorry about them,” Mrs. Stewart said shaking her head. “Dinner will be in a minute. My husband has not returned from Pittsfield yet.”

“May I go upstairs?” Jaci asked.

“Oh of course!” Mrs. Stewart said. “You, Natalie, Abby, and Megan can all go upstairs. Six whistle blows means dinner.”

Jaci took her time going up the stairs. That wouldn’t be a problem if she wasn’t ahead of Abby, Megan, and me.

“Move it, slow poke,” Abby said walking past her. Jaci looked hurt but she continued to walk up the steps. Abby slammed a door upstairs.

“Take my hand,” Megan said to Jaci. Jaci took Megan’s hand and they finished walking up the steps.

“Oh! I wonder what room is what,” Jaci said looking at the five doors along the hall.

Timmy walked out of the third door.

“I’m just going to assume that the third door leads to Timmy’s room,” I said. Jaci nodded.

“Hey, Jaci,” Timmy said smiling.

“You have a nice house,” Jaci said.

“Thanks,” Timmy said.

“Can you please tell me what’s behind these doors?” Jaci asked.

“Oh sure,” Timmy shrugged. “The first door is Grandma and Grandpa’s room. The second room is Emily’s. The third room is mine but sometimes I have to share it with Darcy. The fourth room is the upstairs bathroom. I think Abby’s in there. And the fifth room is Grandma’s sewing room.”

“I would like to see the sewing room,” Jaci said. Timmy looked like he didn’t want to show us the sewing room but one look at Jaci made him do it.

“This is where Grandma does all of her sewing,” Timmy said opening the door.

“Oh my goodness! I must have some of this fabric!” Jaci said holding up a roll of pink fabric. Jaci went around the room showing things to Timmy, Megan, and I that had to do with sewing. I don’t think Timmy was really listening thou.

Six whistles went through the air. Timmy offered his arm for Jaci and Jaci took it. She gave Megan a look that said follow her.

When we got out to the hall, Darcy took one look at Timmy and offered me his arm.

Let me get this straight. I did NOT want to take his arm but I did NOT want to be rude. So I let Darcy escort me downstairs.

“My lady,” Mr. Steve said to Momma when he saw Darcy and Timmy escorting Jaci and me. Momma giggled and took his arm. Mr. Steve offered his arm for Abby and she took it. Mr. Steve looked at Timmy and Jaci. If you ask me he looked a little upset to see Timmy escorting Jaci.

“Such gentlemen!” Mrs. Stewart gushed. Emily just pouted. Mr. Stewart looked at Timmy but Timmy didn’t notice.

There were little pieces of paper at different spots. I sat at my spot across from Darcy.

For once I felt bad for Emily. Her spot was the edge of the table between Mrs. Stewart and Timmy. I almost actually offered her my spot.

But Abby had a spot wedged between Mr. Steve and Mrs. Stewart so that was just as bad.

“Let’s eat,” Mr. Stewart said. Worry crept into Jaci’s face.

“Aren’t we forgetting to say the blessing?” Jaci asked. Mrs. Stewart looked at Mr. Stewart.

“Why don’t you say it, Ms. Matthews?” Mr. Stewart asked. Jaci nodded.

“Dear Lord. Thank you the food on the table. I’m sure Mrs. Stewart worked hard on it. Thank you for the chance to have dinner with the Stewarts. Lord, please bless the food we are about to receive for our nourishment, body, and soul in Christ’s name, Amen,” Jaci prayed.

“Thank you,” Mr. Stewart said reaching for a roll.

“So, Riley and Steve, when do you think the wedding will take place?” Mrs. Stewart asked reaching for the green beans.

“I’ve always wanted a spring wedding,” Momma said.

“Springtime is a wonderful time of year! It gets so pretty out here. You just have to take a walk on the Mohawk trail in the summer. My husband takes Timmy, Darcy, and Emily camping during the summer,” Mrs. Stewart gushed.

“I walked a little through the Mohawk Trail coming here. It’s surely a beauty in God’s creation,” Jaci said. Mrs. Stewart nodded.

“Did you just say walk? You didn’t walk here from Maine did you?” Timmy asked.

“Oh, heavens, no!” Jaci laughed. “I walked from Pittsfield to Florida.”

“You did what!” Mr. Steve, Darcy, Timmy, Momma, and Abby shouted at the same time. Jaci looked shocked.

“Are your ears troubling you?” Jaci asked speaking louder. “I said I walked from Pittsfield to Florida. It took me two days but I did it. I could have been here in one but I got a little tired along the way and took a nap in the woods. I lost track of time I guess.”

Mr. Steve looked horrified. Abby looked like she wished Jaci had just stayed in the woods.

“Why did you walk from Pittsfield to Florida? You could have gotten a cab,” Mr. Steve said.

“A man did pull up to me when I was in Pittsfield. He said he was a cab driver and said he could take me to the place I needed to go. But Mother always told me never to get in a car with a stranger so I didn’t,” Jaci said. Mr. Steve shook his head.

“I don’t think I want to hear anymore,” Mr. Steve said stuffing pot roast into his mouth. Jaci looked confused but she didn’t say anything.

“Abby, How’s Boston?” Mrs. Stewart asked.

“It’s good,” Abby said. “I just finished the Smith Project.”

“I heard about that. The building looks gorgeous!” Mrs. Stewart smiled. Abby nodded.

And that’s the way dinner went. We had scattered conversations about this and that. I was just glad nobody was fighting.

Emily got up from the table leaving her dirty plate and Mrs. Stewart gave one long whistle.

“Emily Elizabeth Stewart! How many times am I going to have to tell you to scrap off your plate after dinner and ask for permission to leave?” Mrs. Stewart said. Emily rolled her eyes.

“Did you roll your eyes at me?!” Mrs. Stewart shouted. “Get on your knees!”

“May I say something?” Jaci asked as Emily got on her knees. Mrs. Stewart looked at her but didn’t say anything.

“Mrs. Stewart, it’s easy to see that you love and care about your grandchildren but don’t you think it’s rather harsh making them kneel to the ground in front of people and make halfhearted apologizes? If there not truly sorry for what they do what good is all this? By the way you treat them with the whistles and kneeling apologizes I wouldn’t be surprised if Emily and Timothy-Caleb leave the minute they turn eighteen and I wouldn’t blame them if they did. I would find it a little hard to believe I was loved if I was treated like that. Mother didn’t always make it easy to see that she loved me but she wasn’t as bad as this. All thou she wouldn’t let me learn how to drive. She just said that she had her reason. That always meant that the discussion was to go no further but I’m getting off course. Now please don’t think I’m criticizing you but isn’t there a better way to punish your grandkids?” Jaci asked.

Mr. Steve looked like he wanted to disappear. Timmy looked shocked and fearful. Emily looked at Jaci with wonder. Abby looked at Jaci with wonder and amazement. All eyes were on Mrs. Stewart to see how she would react.

“Miss Jaci Matthews, I like you,” Mrs. Stewart finally said smiling. “You remind me of me when I was your age. Always speaking my mind. If you had blonde hair you could be a spitting image of me.”

Jaci smiled. Relief seemed to wash over Timmy’s face.

“I like you too, Mrs. Stewart. I think we’re going to be good friends,” Jaci smiled.

Mr. Steve, Abby, and Darcy just looked at Mrs. Stewart and Jaci in wonder.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twelve

**

When I awoke fresh snow was on the ground and snow was falling from the sky. The thunderstorm must have turned into snow in the middle of the night.

“It looks like today is going to be a good snow day,” Mr. Steve said at breakfast.

“Will you take us to The Hill?” Darcy asked putting Mr. Steve’s breakfast in front of him.

“I don’t know, Darcy. Do you think you’re knee will be all right?” Mr. Steve asked. “And what about Natalie’s broken foot?”

Darcy looked at me. His glance was a little hurtful but I kept eating my eggs.

“We’ll be fine,” Darcy said.

“But The Hill is rather steep,” Mr. Steve said.

“Me want to go in the snow! Me want to go in the snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I turned to see Megan running into the restaurant with Momma not far behind.

“Not until you have eaten your breakfast,” Momma said sliding into the booth and holding her hand out for Megan.

“Ok, Mommy,” Megan said crawling into her lap.

“What can I get for you?” Darcy asked.

“Two orders of toast, bacon, and eggs,” Momma said. “Make on kids.” Darcy nodded and walked towards the kitchen.

“I want to go to The Hill,” I said.

“What’s The Hill?” Momma asked.

“It’s this steep hill that all the kids go to when it snows. Darcy wants me to take him and the rest,” Mr. Steve said.

“Me want to play in the snow!” Megan shouted.

“Look at me, honey,” Momma said. “I want to play in the snow.”

“Yes! Me too want to play in the snow,” Megan said. Momma shook her head and laughed.

“Are you sure you’ll be ok?” Mr. Steve asked me.

“How steep can it be?” I shrugged.

**

“Whoa.”

“I told you it was steep,” Mr. Steve said handing me a sled.

I stood for a minute looking down the hill but that was a mistake.

GET OUT OF THE WAY!

I turned around the find Darcy and his sled racing towards me. And for some reason I froze. The sled, Darcy, and I collided. Darcy pulled me up into the sled.

“I got you,” He said as we went down the hill but he was so focused on making sure I didn’t fall off that we ended up crashing. The sled went on as we flew through the air.

Darcy landed on top of me and I started laughing.

“You know I’ve never been sledding before,” I laughed. Darcy started to laugh too.

I stopped laughing because I was looking into his eyes. Then for a moment I forgot that I didn’t really like Darcy. He seemed to forget too.

Then (maybe I imagined it) Darcy started to lean towards me. The memories of being tripped (purposely or accidently) and how Emily Stewart stuck to him like glue flooded into my mind. I felt fear and coldness going through my body. His cold nose touched my cold nose.

“You call that sledding?”

Darcy got off of me and helped me up. Timmy had Darcy’s sled in his hand.

“I told her to get out of the way,” Darcy huffed.

“I’m sorry,” I snapped. “I froze!”

“No need to get defensive about it,” Darcy mumbled. I huffed.

“Timmy,” Darcy snarled.

“What!” Timmy snapped.

“Thanks for getting the sled,” Darcy said taking the sled and walking up The Hill. Emily ran past us running towads ugh whatever Darcy was to her.

“Hi, Natalie!” Megan screamed. She was coming down the hill in a sled with Mr. Steve and Jaci. Jaci was screaming and had her eyes closed. Mr. Steve was laughing.

“How do I stop this thing?!” Momma screamed as the sled holding her and Abby flew by the sled with Mr. Steve, Jaci, and Megan.

“Come on,” Timmy said taking my hand. “Grandpa has an extra sled in the back of the truck. I didn’t want to sled with Emily anyway.”

“Um um,” I said as Timmy pulled me up the hill.

“Where’s Emily?” Mrs. Stewart snapped.

“Sledding with Darcy,” Timmy said opening the truck of their car.

“Natalie, is your mother here?” Mrs. Stewart asked me.

“Yeah, she’s here. I believe she’s sledding with Abby. She may be at the bottom of The Hill by now,” I said.

“Thank you my dear. I have to find out if we’re still on for Sunday dinner tomorrow,” Mrs. Stewart said starting to walk down The Hill.

“You ready?” Timmy asked dropping the sled on the ground.

I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready to go down The Hill with Timmy Stewart.

“I um,” I started.

“Natalie, I’m harmless,” Timmy said. He held out his hand. I didn’t take it but I sat in the sled.

My heart pounded as the sled started to move. Why was I so scared to go down The Hill with Timmy Stewart?

“NATALIE BALDWIN!” Abby screamed as we past her. She dropped the sled in her hand and started sledding.

Her sled bumped our sled hard and all three of us crashed.

“What is this? Extreme Sledding?” Timmy cried outraged.

“Natalie, what are you doing sledding with Timmy Stewart?! I thought you were sledding with Darcy!” Abby shouted.

“I’m not sledding with anyone,” I mumbled.

“Natalie!” Megan shouted running to me.

“OW!” Timmy shouted as Megan ran over him. He was still sitting in the snow. Abby laughed. I snickered.

“You sledding with me!” Megan shouted grabbing my arm. I hobbled up The Hill with a two year old pulling me.

“There you are,” Jaci said. She gave Megan a hug.

“Natalie sledding with me,” Megan said.

“You, Natalie, and Daddy go ahead,” Jaci said. “I don’t think I’m sledding material.”

“Then we’ll just have to make you sledding material,” Abby said. Mr. Steve gave a little chuckle thinking it was a joke but I didn’t find it very funny.

“Ready girls?” Mr. Steve asked sitting in the sled. I got in and Megan followed.

“Faster! Faster!” Megan shouted as we went down The Hill really really fast.

“I’m going as fast as I can go, sweetie pie!” Mr. Steve shouted.

“Boo!” Megan screamed. “Me want to go faster! Faster!”

She didn’t stop screaming faster until we stopped.

“Again! Again!” Megan shouted. Mr. Steve laughed.

“Ok, again,” He said getting out of the sled.

As we walked up The Hill a sled with Jaci and Timmy came down.

“Hold me tighter! Tighter!” Jaci screamed.

“I’m not holding you tight enough?! I don’t even know how can breathe! Yes, I’m holding you that tight!” Timmy shouted.

“Tighter! Tighter!” Jaci screamed.

Mr. Steve laughed but something in his face told me that he was disturbed that Jaci was on a sled with Timmy and that Timmy was holding on to her tight.

“I want to go home!” Emily screamed.

“Emily Stewart! Get down on your knees and apologize for speaking to me that way!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.

Everyone at the top of The Hill stopped what they were doing. Emily dropped to her knees.

“I’m sorry, Grandma. Its rude to be disrespectful and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you,” Emily apologized.

“You may get up now,” Mrs. Stewart said. Emily got up and ran into their car.

“You coming this time, Natalie?” Mr. Steve asked sitting in the sled.

“I think I’ll wait for the one with Mom and Abby,” I said. Mr. Steve nodded and looked at Megan.

“Do you think it will go faster with only two persons?” Megan asked. Mr. Steve laughed.

“Let’s see,” Mr. Steve said as she got in the sled.

“Faster! Faster!” Megan screamed as the sled went down.

“Hey.”

“Timmy,” I started as I turned around. But it wasn’t Timmy. It was Darcy.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Sorry for being a little rude after we crashed. I just can’t stand Timmy Stewart,” Darcy said.

“Well you seem to stomach his sister pretty well,” I said. Darcy rolled his eyes.

“She has her moments,” Darcy sighed. “Emily doesn’t want to sled with me and Regina is sledding with her brothers so do you want to sled with me?”

I saw my mother walking up The Hill with Abby. Momma looked worn out. She probably wouldn’t sled for a little while but Abby probably would.

“If you rather sled with your mom,” Darcy said catching my gaze. “I understand.”

“She looks tired,” I said. “I’ll sled with her later.”

I let Darcy take my hand and hold onto me as we sled down The Hill.

“You know that Christmas song Marshmallow World?” Darcy asked as we walked up The Hill after our fourth time going down it.

I wanted to say “Duh.” or “Of course.” But instead I said, “Yeah.”

“It’s days like this where I truly believe I’m trapped in a Marshmallow World. So what if spring is late? I can’t think of anything better than sledding on a cold winter day and having a snowball fight with my friends,” Darcy said.

“Darcy, are we friends?” I blurted.

“I’m walking with you aren’t I?” Darcy asked. When he said this his cheeks got pink.

You see in the song Marshmallow World there’s a part about taking a walk with your favorite girl.

“Race you to the top!” I screamed running up The Hill. Darcy quickly followed.

**

My whole body ached but I didn’t care. Today was one of the best days of my life. I actually had fun with Darcy. Nelson, Regina, Megan, Abby, Jaci, and I had a massive snowball fight when we got back from sledding.

“I hate sledding but I had so much fun,” Jaci said as she sipped on hot chocolate.

“I know,” I sighed. “I wish my life could be as sweet as this day was even thou I got knocked down.”

Jaci laughed. Megan ran into the room with a sippy cup full of hot chocolate and snuggled in her lap.

I sighed and barely uttered this short prayer, “God, all I want is for my life to go back to being sweet.”

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Eleven (Posted on January 14)

“Hi,” The little girl said.

“What’s your name, honey?” Momma asked helping the little girl out of the box

“Megan. You my mommy,” The little girl said pointing at Momma. Momma got a shocked look on her face.

“Natalie!” Megan cried pointing to me. “You hold me.”

“I’m sorry but I can’t I have a broken foot,” I said. Ok that was a little bit of a lie. If I was in the right chair and she sat on my lap I could hold her but I had no interest in holding this strange toddler.

“Oh,” Megan said. I don’t think she understood what a broken foot meant. She turned back to Momma.

“Mommy, me thirsty,” Megan said. “Me want water.”

“Of course, honey,” Momma said. Ms. Donna quickly came back with a cup of water.

“Thanks,” Megan said taking the water.

“All done,” Megan said a couple seconds later.

“Megan, how long have you been in that box?” Momma asked.

“I don’t know, Mommy,” Megan said. She hugged Momma. “I love you.”

Momma looked like she had no idea what to say.

“I love you too, honey,” Momma said brushing her hair back.

**

A thunderstorm started soon after Momma got some food into Megan. Everyone in the restaurant was whispering about this strange little child. Where could she have come from? Why would anyone ship a baby in a wooden box? And why would they ship it to Riley ‘Walters’?”

I looked out the window and saw a short girl in a flowy beautiful pale pink dress walking in the rain. I had never seen her before so she wasn’t somebody that lived in Florida. She was pulling a black suitcase. I assumed it wasn’t heavy cause she was pulling it with ease and she was smiling while she was doing it.

“Who’s that?” Momma asked looking out the window.

“I have no clue,” I said.

The girl walked towards the driveway to the restaurant. Relief seemed to overcome her when she saw the sign. She ran the rest of the way up the driveway and burst into the restaurant.

“This is the Sunshine B&B right?” The girl cried. “I’m in Florida, Massachusetts?”

“Um, yes,” Ms. Donna said staring at the wet girl. The girl’s face lit up.

“Halleluiah!” The girl shouted. “I’ve made it!”

“You must be cold and wet from walking in the rain. Please let me get you some towels,” Ms. Donna said not taking her eyes off this strange girl.

“Oh that won’t be necessary,” The girl said. “I have my own towels.”

The girl closed to restaurant door and unzipped her suitcase. She pulled out a fluffy looking blue towel.

“Would you like something to eat?” Ms. Donna asked. “I have Beef Carrot Stew and Seafood Salad.” The girl got a puzzled look on her face.

“Why in the world would you go to a restaurant for Beef Carrot Stew and a Salad? Those are things that can be easily made at home,” The girl said. “Oh, I’ll have the Beef Stew.”

She looked around the room and got a hurt look on her face. Her eyes lit up when she saw Megan.

“Hi,” She said to her.

“Hello. My name is Megan,” Megan said. I felt a little hurt. She freely told this stranger her name and was hesitant to tell her ‘mommy’ her name.

“Your baby is so cute,” The girl said to Momma as she sat at the table across from our booth. “How old is she.”

“Me two!” Megan giggled. “Your age?”

“Eighteen,” The girl smiled. Megan giggled again.”

“Thank you,” Momma smiled. I could tell it was a struggle to say that.

“Ma’am, I’ve traveled all the way from Charlotte, Maine looking for a Steve David Matthews of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Do you know him?” The girl asked.

“I’m Steve David Matthews,” Mr. Steve said standing up. The girl’s eyes filled with delight.

“You’re everything I’ve ever imagined about you! Expect you’re taller then I imagined,” The girl said also standing up.

“And who might you be?” Mr. Steve asked.

“I’m Jaci Ireland Matthews. I’m from Charlotte, Maine and I was born on Christmas Eve. I just turned eighteen,” The girl said. “I can’t believe I’ve finally found you.”

Abby looked at the girl strangely. Mr. Steve looked warily at the girl. Momma did too. I looked at the girl with wonder. I had a feeling this was about to get interesting.

“And may I ask why you have been looking for me?” Mr. Steve asked. The look on his face told me that he really didn’t want to know.

“I’m your daughter,” Jaci smiled.

If this night wasn’t already interesting enough, it sure got interesting then. The restaurant got all quite. Mr. Steve fell back into the booth. Abby got a look of utter disbelief on her face. Momma looked like she wanted to faint. I don’t know how I looked but I sure felt surprised. I actually felt like laughing. Ms. Donna nearly dropped Jaci’s Beef Carrot Stew.

“Excuse me but I think you’ve got the wrong Steve Matthews. I’m his only child and daughter,” Abby said. Jaci’s face fell a little bit.

“You must be Abby. I have a letter for you from Mother,” Jaci said. She unzipped her suitcase and pulled out a folder.

“I keep all important documents in this waterproof and fireproof folder. Mother thought it was better than buying a safe,” Jaci said. She pulled out two letters.

“I believe this one is for you, father and the other one is for you Abby,” Jaci said. She handed their letters to them. Mr. Steve opened his. Abby did not.

“I don’t believe you,” Mr. Steve said putting the letter back in the envelope and handing it back to Jaci. Jaci’s face fell completely. She looked like she was about to cry.

“Um, here’s my birth certificate and a DNA test that was done at birth,” Jaci said pulling those out of her folder and handing them to Mr. Steve.

Mr. Steve looked at the certificate and folded it.

“Jaci, your mother ran away from Pittsfield when Abby wasn’t even a year old. She told me that the stress of raising a child was too much for her. I tried to find her but I never came up with anything. I always assumed she left the country,” Mr. Steve said.

“Charlotte, Maine is not a large town. There are less than four hundred people living there. Mother was careful to cover her tracks. I knew she wanted to come back and see you and Abby but she couldn’t even mail you a letter about my birth,” Jaci said.

“Does your mother know that you’ve come to see me?” Mr. Steve asked. A sad look went across Jaci’s face.

“Mother has gone home to be with the Lord,” Jaci said. “It was night time and I told mother to take the car but she insisted on walking. A drunk driver hit her. May she rest in peace.”

“So what you mean to tell me is that my ex-wife Karen is dead and that you’re my daughter,” Mr. Steve said crossing his arms.

“Yes, sir. I know this is all very hard to believe and take in but…,” Jaci said. She looked around the room. Everyone was looking at her. Some were giving her a wary look. Some were looking at her with disgust. Jaci sensed that and stood up.

“Mother warned me about this. Mother didn’t want me to feel this kind of hurt. It’s the worse hurt imaginable to hear your father deny you. It’s even worse when people are giving you judging looks. Do you think I asked to be born? Do you think I asked to grow up without a father? No, I didn’t! So don’t judge me! Judge not, that ye be not judged!” Jaci shouted. She quickly zipped up her suitcase and walked off towards the door but Mr. Steve touched her arm.

She looked at him. Her eyes were filled with tears that wouldn’t be able to stay in much longer. She did look like Mr. Steve. She had his eyes, his head shape, and his nose. If they didn’t think that Jaci was Mr. Steve’s daughter they had to believe it now. The resemblance was uncanny.

“The bible also says,” Mr. Steve said. His voice was very unstable. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

Jaci nodded her head.

“It also says to love your enemies. I’ve struggled with that. It’s too late now thou,” Mr. Steve sighed.

“It’s never too late to forgive,” Jaci cried slowly. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” She let a few tears escape her eyes.

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” Mr. Steve said quoting the next verse. Jaci burst into tears and flew into her father’s arms.

I looked at Abby. She looked angry. She looked upset. She looked like she wished Jaci had never been born.

I looked at Momma who had a now sleeping Megan in her arms. Momma’s eyes were sad but the look on her face was compassionate. She knew what it was like not to have her father in her life for twenty years.

I looked Jaci. I looked at Megan. I never thought a day could change my life more than the day we left Miami and came to Florida. But this night had done it and it was going to be pretty hard to top it.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Ten

**

“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.