The Forgotten Daughter - Page 14

“Time flies,” Dave said. “I remember when John got the letter from Maize saying the baby had arrived and that it was a boy.”

A moment of silence spread between them. Dave and John had been shipped overseas together, and though the other man never spoke of it, Scooter had heard Dave was at John’s side when he died. Even though Dave had been Josie’s mother’s brother, he’d moved back in with the Nightingales when he returned home, and now was Roger’s top salesman. He carried around a suitcase full of resort brochures, but sample bottles of whiskey—Minnesota 13—were tucked inside hidden compartments. The home brew was better than the stuff the Canadians made and had become world-renowned. Thanks to Roger.

Everyone knew that, but no one mentioned it. A man might as well cut his own arm off if he did. The entire area thrived because of Roger’s business, and no one wanted things to go back to the way they’d been.

“Jonas is here somewhere,” Scooter said, still trying to keep the conversation off what he was doing. He nodded toward the crowd that littered the slope leading toward the lake. “He’s excited to stay late enough to see the fireworks.”

“It is the Fourth of July,” Dave said. “And those nieces of mine outdid themselves with this party.”

“They sure enough did,” Scooter agreed, glancing toward the door.

“I’ll mosey around, see if I can find Jonas and say hi,” Dave said.

“Try the beach,” Scooter said. “He was convinced he’d learn how to swim today. Otherwise just listen for the popping noise. I bought him several rolls of firecrackers.”

“I bet that made him happy.”

“It sure did,” Scooter said. The firecrackers were only a nickel for a hundred, and he’d gladly paid the minimal price. There had been times in his life where a nickel had seemed like a dollar. Now, thanks to Roger Nightingale’s success, his fueling station allowed him to spend money a bit frivolously once in a while. He’d picked up several boxes of sparklers, too, for Jonas to share with his friends later on in the evening.

“I’ll see you around,” Scooter said, stepping closer to the door. Josie should have returned by now.

Dave nodded and waved as he took his leave. Scooter grabbed the doorknob but didn’t have time to pull it open.

“Hey, Scooter, hold up.”

His fingers clenched the door handle before he let it loose and Scooter pulled up a smile for the couple walking hand in hand toward him. Getting hit by a Studebaker couldn’t have shocked him more than the sight of Brock and Ginger pulling up to his gas pumps that morning. He and Brock had been friends since childhood and Scooter had questioned if he’d ever see Brock again when his old pal had headed down to Chicago to perform on the radio several weeks ago.

Brock had defied Roger Nightingale by refusing to perform solely at the resort and leaving town, which had been an act few men would have the guts to follow through on. Marrying Ginger, Roger’s youngest daughter, could have gotten Brock killed, too. Scooter figured Brock didn’t have a chip on his shoulder; he had an angel.

“Where’s Josie?” Ginger asked.

Scooter gestured toward the door. “Inside, talking with Gloria Kasper.”

Ginger shot a concerned glance at Brock and then asked, “Why? Is she not feeling well?”

It was still hard to believe Brock and Ginger were married. Then again, Scooter had been shocked to see Norma Rose at his gas station with Ty Bradshaw earlier this summer, and again when he’d heard Twyla had gone flying with Forrest in his airplane. A lot had changed this summer. Maybe all that contributed to his urgency to make Josie stop her Duluth runs. The fact her sisters weren’t around to keep her in line meant it was up to him.

He doubted any of the sisters knew of Josie’s activities. They’d have told their father and Roger would have put a stop to it all long ago. “She’s fine,” he answered. “It was probably something to do with the party.”

“I can’t believe all that’s happened in the short time we’ve been gone,” Ginger said. “It’s like I left one world and returned to another.” Her sparkling eyes were once again gazing up at Brock.

The two of them looked as love-struck as two doves on a telephone wire. Feeling a bit like an intruder, Scooter looked the other way when Brock leaned down to kiss her, and didn’t turn back until Ginger spoke.

“I’m going to find Josie,” she said. “The dance-off is about to start.”

The prize for the winner of the dance contest was a hundred bucks. Not for the couple to share, but a hundred bucks each. Scooter had read that in the advertisements. Add Babe Ruth, Twyla’s wedding and fireworks, and it was no wonder half the state was in attendance. Those who lived out of town and couldn’t find rooms to rent had set up tents in empty lots and backyards. This would be an event the town would remember for a long time.