We parked in front of a huge house and Momma told me to get out of the car so that we might ask the people if there was anywhere we could stay.
“How can I help you?” The woman who answered the door asked.
“Do you know of a place that my daughter and I can stay?” Momma asked.
“This is your lucky day,” The woman said. “This is the Sunshine Bed & Breakfast.”
Momma smiled. This had to be one of the worst days of her life well at least for me.
“What do you charge?” Momma asked walking through the door.
“Depends,” The woman shrugged. “How long you planning on staying?”
“For a while,” Momma said.
“Everybody’s got a different idea of ‘a while’,” The woman said frowning. “I have day, week, month, and year.”
“How much for a month?” Momma asked.
She wasn’t serious about staying in this small town for at least a month could she?
“For one room its one thousand a hundred dollars due at the end of your month,” The woman said. Momma looked shocked. How was she supposed to come up with that much money by the end of the month?
“But since its Christmas I charge nine hundred dollars for a month,” The woman said.
“What’s your yearly price for the Christmas season?” Momma asked.
“Eight hundred and fifty dollars a month,” The woman said.
“Does it include breakfast?” Momma asked.
“Yes, it includes breakfast. I serve breakfast and dinner,” The woman said. Momma sighed.
“Are there any jobs around here?” Momma asked.
“Not many,” The woman huffed.
“Maybe I can be of help to you,” Momma said. “I know how to cook and clean. I decorated people’s homes back in Miami for the holidays.”
“I could use some help in the kitchen,” The woman mumbled.
“I’d be willing to do the yearly plan,” Momma said. I wanted to scream. Spend an entire year here?
“You got a deal. You help me around here and I give you a paycheck. It won’t be much but it’ll be better than nothing. I’ll see if I can help you get jobs with people in town,” The woman said. “Oh and by the way I’m Donna.”
“Riley. And this is my daughter Natalie,” Momma said offering her hand. Ms. Donna smiled and shook it.
“How old are you?” Ms. Donna asked me.
“Twelve,” I answered.
“I got a son who’s thirteen,” Ms. Donna smiled. “DARCY!”
A tall boy who I assumed was Darcy walked up with an empty plate in his hands. He had dark brown almost black hair and blue eyes. He had pale skin and a couple freckles. He had a huge scowl on his face.
“This is Mrs. Riley and her daughter Natalie. Say hello,” Ms. Donna said.
“Hi,” Darcy grumbled.
“Darcy, help these ladies with their things. I’ll be putting them in the Miami Room,” Donna said. I felt like laughing.
Darcy handed the plate to his mother and walked out the door.
“Wow, I’ve never seen licenses plates from so far away,” Darcy said when he saw our Florida tags. Momma smiled and opened the trunk.
“We’re going to need more manpower,” Darcy gawked as he looked at all the stuff in the car. “Did you pack your entire house in this car?”
“Actually, yes,” Momma laughed. At least someone was having a good sense of humor about all this.
“I’ll be right back,” Darcy said walking back into the house.
“And entire year, Momma?” I asked. Momma looked at me.
“Natalie, you do realize that we have nowhere to go?” Momma asked me.
“We can go back home!” I cried.
“We are home,” Momma said picking up the wreath. I wanted to cry but Darcy and two other men and another boy walked out the house.
“Ladies meet Steve Matthews, Samuel Drew, and Nelson Drew your housemates,” Darcy said.
“Hello!” The boy said offering his hand. “I’m Nelson.”
“Natalie,” I said not shaking his hand.
“I’m Steve Matthews,” One of the men said. He took one of my mother’s hands and kissed it. My mother’s cheeks turned bright red.
“Hello, Natalie,” Mr. Steve said to me. He took one of my hands, the right to be exact, and kissed it. I smiled politely.
“And I’m Samuel Drew. Welcome to the neighborhood,” Mr. Drew said. Momma smiled.
“That’s one interesting tree,” Mr. Drew said looking in the trunk.
“I’ve had it since Natalie was a baby,” Momma said. Darcy snickered.
“It’s very gold,” Darcy commented. Nelson shook his head.
“Let’s start helping the ladies with their things. I’m sure that they’ll want to get settled in as soon as possible,” Mr. Steve said. The men started to move the tree out of the trunk and the rest of the things.
“Thank you all so much,” Momma said opening her purse. “I have ten dollars in here……….”
“That won’t be necessary,” Mr. Drew and Mr. Steve said at the same time. Darcy looked disappointed.
“Here young men,” Momma said giving Darcy and Nelson both four dollars.
“No ma’am I can’t take your money,” Nelson said.
“Take it. It’s Christmas,” Momma smiled. Darcy had already put the money in his pocket.
“How long do you plan on staying?” Nelson asked me as we walked up the steps.
I wanted to say, “I want to go back to Miami and I don’t care that stalker dude Ryan is there.” But instead I said,
“At least a year.”
“Cool! I’ve been living here since I was three,” Nelson said. “I have a twin sister named Regina and a younger brother Fred.”
“You must be the new girl,” A blonde girl said when I walked through the door. “I’m Regina Drew.”
“Natalie. Natalie Baldwin,” I smiled.
“Miss Natalie Baldwin, you are the newest waitress for the Sunshine B&B,” Ms. Donna said to me that night. As part of the deal I would help out in the restaurant.
“Do you get a big crowd?” I asked worried I might drop the food. I’m not exactly the most balanced person in the world.
“Depends on what you call a crowd,” Ms. Donna laughed. “During the Christmas season there are a couple more people stopping in but it’s mostly the regulars.”
“Miss Donna, are you open for dinner yet?” An elderly man asked walking through the Sunshine B&B restaurant door.
“I sure am Hank,” Ms. Donna said. “My new waitress, Natalie, will be helping you today.”
“Hello, sugar,” Mr. Hank said to me. I smiled politely.
“What can I get you?” I asked.
“My regular of course!” Mr. Hank shouted like I had just asked what country we were in.
“Regular?” I asked.
“Sorry, sugar,” Mr. Hank said. “My regular is beef carrot stew with a glass of root beer. I’m so used to Darcy taking my order. Sorry, sugar.”
I nodded my head and walked towards the kitchen. No one’s ever called me ‘sugar’ before.
“Here’s Hank’s root beer,” Ms. Donna said when I gave her his order.
When I walked back to the restaurant Darcy was talking to Mr. Hank. He scowled at me when I put the root beer on the table.
“Fix your face, son,” Mr. Hank said to Darcy. He quickly turned his frown upside down.
A man and a woman walked into the restaurant and sat down.
“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be…..serving you today,” I said unsure if serving was the right word to use.
“Well hello Natalie, how long have you been living in Florida?” The man asked.
“Which one?” I blurted out. I soon realized that he meant Florida, Massachusetts.
The man and the woman laughed.
“I’m assuming you’re from the other Florida? The state?” The woman asked. I nodded to afraid that I might say something else stupid.
“That’s ok,” The man said.
“I’ve been here for about two hours,” I sighed.
“Did you here that, Joan? The girl’s only been here two hours and she already has a job!” The man laughed. I smiled politely.
“Well we’re Tom and Joan Rivers. We live down the road,” The woman said. “If you ever need anything honey you just walk down the road to the log cabin.”
I nodded. It wasn’t like I ever intended to actually do that.
“We already know what we want,” Mr. Rivers said. “I would like Seafood Salad and Joan will have the beef carrot stew with a glass of ice tea. I’ll also have an ice tea.”
I nodded and wrote it down on the pad.
“Here are the Rivers’ ice teas,” Ms. Donna said when I got back to the kitchen.
There was another customer by the time I put the ice teas on the Rivers’ table. Darcy was helping the lady.
“You sweetheart! The one with the dirty blonde hair! Come here!” The woman shouted across the room.
I walked over towards her a little embarrassed.
“Darcy, introduce me to your new friend,” The woman smiled.
“This is Natalie. She and her mother live here now,” Darcy mumbled.
“You must love Christmas,” The woman joked. I nodded.
“You should see their gold Christmas tree,” Darcy mumbled.
“Speak up, Darcy Edwards!” The woman scolded. “Hi, I’m Jane Powers but you can just call me Aunt Jane. Everybody does.”
“Nice to meet you Aunt Jane,” I said a little uncomfortable. Aunt Jane smiled.
I curtsied. Why I did that I have no idea but I walked back to the kitchen and got Mr. Hank’s food.
“Thanks, sugar,” Mr. Hank said with his mouth full of stew.
I nodded and walked back to the kitchen and delivered Mr. and Mrs. River’s food.
“Thank you, Natalie,” Mrs. Rivers smiled at me. Another customer walked in. This time it was a man and I walked up to his table.
“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be serving you today,” I said with my best smile.
“Eh? What happened to Darcy?” The man asked.
“I’m right here, Mr. Stewart,” Darcy said walking up.
“Who’s this Natalie girl?” The man asked rudely.
“She’s a new waitress. Her mother and her live here now,” Darcy said. He scowled at me and I had a feeling Mr. Stewart wasn’t going to tell him to fix his face.
“Darcy, I would like to try to Seafood Salad tonight and I’ll stick with the root beer,” Mr. Stewart said. Darcy wrote it down and walked away. I walked away feeling a little awkward.
A family of six (three girls, one boy, and two parents) walked through the doors of the restaurant and since Darcy was off in the kitchen I walked up to them.
“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be serving you today,” I said with a smile.
“Hello, Natalie we are the Carlson’s,” The man said.
“I’m Libby!” The youngest shouted. I smiled.
“And I’m Michael,” The boy said.
“Judy!” The other girl shouted.
“Jody!” The other girl shouted.
“And I’m Michael the second and this is my wife Kaitlin. We’ll all just take the beef carrot stew all with lemonade. Please make three bowls children sized,” The man said. I nodded and walked towards the kitchen.
Darcy was walking out the kitchen at the same time with Mr. Stewart’s drink. I don’t know if he meant to do this on purpose or not but he tripped me.
If he meant to do it on purpose the joke was on his because as I started to fall and I banged my foot HARD into his knee and he fell on me. Root beer splashed everywhere.
“My foot!” I groaned. I couldn’t move my toes.
“My knee!” Darcy groaned holding on to it.
Ms. Donna and Momma walked out of the kitchen and Ms. Donna knelt down next to Darcy and me.
“Darcy’s knee with be all right but Natalie’s foot is broken,” Ms. Donna said touching Darcy’s knee and my foot.
What a wonderful way to start off in Florida.