Home > The Sometimes Sisters(10)

The Sometimes Sisters(10)
Author: Carolyn Brown

“You don’t eat our food without at least a good mornin’,” Zed told her.

“Good mornin’,” she grumbled. “I’ve never been a morning person, and I don’t expect to change.”

“Might be surprised what changes will come about here on the lake. You get that computer stuff all ready to start work this afternoon?” he asked.

“I sure did and went through the program to familiarize myself with it. I learned it in my freshman year of college. It’s old but pretty basic. If my work goes on after the workday closes, why do I have to be up at the crack of dawn?”

“You do your work in the mornin’s when you are fresh and your mind is clear. The store and café receipts and the bankin’ stuff can always wait until the next mornin’ after we give them to you. You won’t need to go to the bank tomorrow, since we haven’t been open here for a week. That will start next Saturday mornin’, and if you’ve a mind to be nice, then you can help either here or in the store when you ain’t busy with the book stuff,” Zed said as he headed back into the kitchen.

“And if I’m not in the mood to be nice?” Tawny asked.

“Then you can sit on your porch and watch the grass grow. It’s up to you, girl,” Zed answered.

“Grass has always fascinated me. I can’t remember when I had food like this,” she said between bites.

“Body needs to start off the day with something that’ll stick to the ribs,” he said seriously.

Harper brought her plate of food to the table. “I’m surprised you didn’t die from bein’ poor those few months.”

“Don’t you start on me,” Tawny growled.

“Looks like we’re the last ones to the party.” Dana and Brook pushed inside the room.

Brook looked from Tawny to Harper and back again. “So what are y’all fighting about now?”

“Whether or not bein’ poor is a fatal disease,” Harper answered. “Tawny never had to live in a world where she needed a paycheck until this last little while.”

“Shhh”—Brook nodded toward the kitchen—“don’t talk about death. It’ll make Uncle Zed sad all over again.”

“Best get to eatin’ or these two won’t leave nothin’ for you.” Zed emerged from the kitchen with another plate of crispy bacon.

Dana quickly changed the subject. “That’s the story of my life. Always comin’ in last.”

“That’s not the way I see it. Seems to me like you were always the bossy firstborn who lorded it over us,” Harper said.

“And you were the wild one and Tawny whined a lot and both of y’all were the precious little princesses who had a mama and daddy both,” Dana shot back.

“You don’t know that. You weren’t even here when I was a teenager,” Tawny said.

Brook poured two glasses of orange juice and put them on the table. “I’ll be bossy, wild, and whiny if y’all will homeschool me. I’ve attended the same private school since pre-K. I’m nervous about all this.”

“Private school?” Harper cut her eyes around at Dana.

“The kids on the ranch where I worked all went to the school. It was one of the perks of the job,” Dana said.

Brook fidgeted in her chair. “This is my first time to go to public school.”

“Harper and I went to a private school, but we both always wanted to go to public school,” Tawny said.

“Why?” Brook cut open a biscuit and slathered it with butter.

A wicked grin spread across Harper’s face. “We heard you could buy weed there better than in the private schools.”

“Harper Clancy!” Tawny raised her voice.

“Hey, don’t gripe at me. I was a pretty good kid, but if I remember right, Mama had to make a sizable donation to the school to get you out of trouble more than once. Come on, girl. Fess up. Why do your hands look like they’ve been diggin’ ditches?” Harper shot a look her way.

Brook jerked her head around to see what Tawny would say next.

“I’ve been working, and I didn’t get in trouble for weed. And you’re setting a bad example for this child. And how did you know about that stuff? You never came home after you ran away from that boarding school where they sent you,” Tawny declared.

“You and Mama weren’t the only Clancys I talked to. Until Daddy passed away, he and I talked at least once a month. If I remember correctly, the school got two nice little donations toward scholarships to keep you from being suspended.”

“That was for skipping school to go shopping,” Tawny explained to Brook. “Mama was angry because I ran up her credit, not because I skipped school. They were going to kick me out, but she still didn’t want me to go to public school.”

“Why?” Brook asked.

“Because she thought only the scum of the earth went to public school,” Harper answered for Tawny.

Brook turned to face Dana. “Well, I’m not the scum of the earth. Sounds to me like y’all’s mama was different than my granny Lacy.”

“Little bit,” Dana said and then yelled toward the kitchen, “Great breakfast. I’d forgotten how good your pancakes are, Uncle Zed.”

Tawny would have traded mothers with Dana in a heartbeat. When Lacy came to pick Dana up in the summers, she’d been sweet to Harper and Dana both. And Dana actually missed her mother while they were at the resort. Tawny could never remember having that kind of feeling. Mostly she wished she never had to go home.

Zed brought out another platter with six big pancakes on it and then went on back to the kitchen. “It’s Annie’s recipe. Secret is in beating the egg whites first and then folding them into the batter. Makes good light pancakes. I’ve got to get the lunch special started. Word’ll get out about us bein’ open, and some of the folks around these parts always eat here on Friday.”

Tawny hurried through the rest of her breakfast, cramming a biscuit full of scrambled eggs and bacon to take back to the cabin for a midmorning snack. Watching grass grow might work up an appetite. A gentle morning breeze brushed against her cheeks as she walked back to the cabin. She zipped her jacket and sat down on the porch in one of the vintage metal lawn chairs. This one was red, like the one on Harper’s porch. Seemed fitting—she and Harper shared parents and a bloodline, so that made them like two chairs cut from the same pattern.

A cardinal lit on the railing around the tiny porch and cocked his head toward her. She sat perfectly still and listened as he and a squirrel in the willow tree between cabins number seven and eight argued with each other. Off in the distance, she heard a rooster performing his wake-up calls. A couple of frogs joined in the mix, and a pair of robins chirped as they hopped around the yard.

The sun, a bright-orange ball sitting on the horizon, sent enough light through the trees that she could make out a few new spring leaves. There were a few tiny little whitecaps on the lake, and by cocking her head to one side she could hear the distant drone of voices—most likely fishermen already out there in the coves trying to catch their dinner. The cardinal grew bored with her and flew away, leaving one red feather fluttering from the railing to the porch.

She picked it up, went inside the cabin, and removed her jacket. When Zed had said that strangers would be coming into her personal space, it had freaked her out. So she’d arranged the desk, file cabinets, and everything to do with the business under the window looking out over the porch. Then she’d taken down one of the twin beds and carried one piece at a time to the storage room behind the laundry house. That’s where she found the bookcases and had asked Zed to borrow his old truck to take them to her cabin.

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