Chapter 4 — Part 2: Fleas and Frinks and Plot Twists?

A Lady in Defiance Book One By Heather Frey Blanton Copyright 2012 Heather Blanton


Rebecca cupped her hands around her eyes and peered deeper into the store. “I didn’t expect this to happen so fast,” she said, sounding uncertain. “One moment we’re talking about what to do for a living and the next, we own a hotel.”

“One that looks to need a complete renovation.” Naomi snapped her fingers. “Nothing to it.”

“What do you think we ought to do first?” Rebecca asked, ignoring the sarcasm.

Out of the corner of her eye, Naomi noticed Hannah scratching at her waist, something she had been doing more and more of late. Puzzled, and interested in observing, she turned and leaned her shoulder on the window.

“Get the restaurant up and running,” Rebecca continued. “Maybe that will only take some minor renovation, but we’ve got to get tables and groceries from somewhere…”

Hannah was still peering into the building and still scratching. Naomi couldn’t take it anymore. Her nerves crawling from stress, she wanted the annoying action stopped. “Hannah, what is the matter with you? Have you got fleas?” [THIS SCENE COMES FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE WITH AN EVER-EXPANDING WAIST LINE DURING PREGNANCY AND ALL MY FAVORITE CLOTHES FALLING BY THE WAYSIDE. WORSE, THOUGH, WAS ITCHY SKIN. I’VE BEEN WEARING MID-RISE JEANS EVERSINCE!”]

He sister jerked up, embarrassed, and her hand went to her back. “No, I don’t have fleas.” Her indignation over the question was obvious in her squared shoulders and rigid back.

Abruptly, Rebecca walked over and spun Hannah around so she could see her back. She raised her shirtwaist and saw that two of the buttons on her little sister’s skirt were undone and the skirt still looked to be pinching her waist. Rebecca hung her head. “Oh, honey. Why didn’t you tell us?” She offered both her sisters a resigned smile and tried to stifle a laugh. “Hannah here is bursting out of her clothes.”

Hannah whirled away angrily. “It’s not funny. It’s driving me crazy!”

“Simmer down, simmer down,” Naomi urged, fighting a grin. “We’re going to have to dig to the bottom of the wagon for that box of pinafores and dresses from Ms. Dawn.”

Hannah was not amused. “Well somebody better do something or I’m just going to start sporting around in my pantaloons.”

The ridiculous and irrational threat brought a snort out of Rebecca. “Trust me, eventually those won’t fit you either.”

Hannah looked as if she would like to offer another sassy reply, but the sound of boots at the far end of the porch drew their attention. The sisters turned to see Mr. McIntyre approaching with another man, a taller, muscular red-headed gent wearing a badge. As they stomped up the steps, Naomi thought she saw the slightest limp in Mr. McIntyre’s step.

“Ladies,” Mr. McIntyre greeted them, taking Hannah’s hand first. “I apologize for my rudeness earlier in not doing introductions. I’m Charles McIntyre.”

“Well, we were all a little pre-occupied at the time,” Hannah forgave. “I’m Hannah Frink.” Naomi thought her little sister looked dangerously impressed by Mr. McIntyre’s good looks and fancy clothes. He touched the brim of his hat in greeting, but froze before moving on to Rebecca. “Frink. I’ve heard that name somewhere.” He puzzled over it briefly. Raising an eyebrow, he promised Hannah, “It’ll come to me. It’s an unusual name.” [FRINK IS A FAMILY NAME. I DON’T REALLY EVEN LIKE IT, BUT I WANTED TO WORK IT IN—SORT OF AS AN INSIDE JOKE. AT THE TIME I DIDN’T THINK IT WAS A BIG DEAL. THIS WOULD BE THE ONE AND ONLY TIME THE NAME WOULD COME UP. LITTLE DID I KNOW THE PLOT TWIST GOD HAD IN-STORE FOR ME—ER, I MEAN, MY CHARACTERS!]

He turned to Rebecca, reaching for her outstretched hand. She smiled coolly at him. “I’m Rebecca Castleberry.” Naomi knew that voice: polite but reserved; Rebecca was evaluating this man before she formed an opinion one way or the other.

“A pleasure. This is our town marshal, Wade Hayes.”

The young man, his freckled face framed by shoulder-length, shaggy red hair and a beige cowboy hat, winked boldly. “Ladies.”

Should we swoon now? Naomi wondered. This town positively overflowed with swaggering, arrogant men. A thought that took her directly back to missing John….

Mr. McIntyre fished the key out of his pocket and shoved it in the front door. “Mrs. Miller, after you’ve had a chance to look around, if you would be so kind as to accompany me to the bank,” he flung the door open and ushered the group inside, “we can sign the papers and conclude our business.”

She slid past him without meeting his gaze. “That would be fine.” The sooner she was done with Mr. McIntyre, the better. [SPEAKING OF PLOT TWISTS, LITTLE DID NAOMI KNOW…]

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