The Forgotten Daughter - Page 26

When it came to fire of any kind, he always took extra precautions. It had been a lesson his father had taught him while he was growing up.

Once assembled, the stands took up a good amount of space. Scooter was considering all the options, when Josie said, “I have an idea.”

Chapter Five

Scooter checked her hands to make sure she wasn’t holding both paddles, preparing to leave, before he asked, “What’s that?”

“You could set up one stand on each side of the raft,” she said. “Then, you, Dac and Brock could all stand in your boats. You could each light a different kind of firework.”

While Scooter contemplated the logistics of that idea, Dac, Brock and Ginger started talking, sharing their thoughts on Josie’s suggestion. They all agreed that it wasn’t a bad idea, and would keep the fireworks far enough away from each other. It would also put Josie back in his boat, where he could keep a closer eye on her. He still didn’t trust her not to try to sneak away while he was lighting fuses.

“All right,” Scooter agreed, having worked through his thoughts. “Dac, you set up the sky rockets to be set off on your side. Brock, you do the Roman candles. I’ll do the torpedoes, along with a couple of the mortars. We’ll keep rotating until the end, then light the rest of the mortars.”

“Sounds like a great plan,” Brock said. “Josie, you best climb back in Scooter’s boat before we get everything set up. There won’t be room afterward.”

Scooter was glad Brock had made the suggestion. Josie wouldn’t question Brock to the extent she would him. Without a word of protest, she climbed onto the raft and walked to his boat. She even took his hand to assist her steps down into the boat.

“I’ll pass out the fuses and punks once everything is set up,” he told her. “Just hold on to them for now.”

She agreed with a nod, which was all he expected. Josie had always been the quietest sister. Up until the two of them had started arguing every time they saw each other.

Night was now falling fast, and all three of the men scurried to get the stands positioned and secured, and move the crates of fireworks near the correct stands. There was no wind to speak of, and Scooter was glad of that. It made their job that much safer.

A faint buzz soon became a rumble overhead that had them all looking up.

“It’s Forrest and Twyla!” Ginger squealed.

The plane swooped lower, flying over the lake and then the resort. A roar of laughter and clapping from the crowd filling the beach echoed over the calm water.

“That has to be cherries,” Ginger said. “Just cherries.”

Scooter’s eyes weren’t on the plane or Ginger. They’d settled on the way Josie watched the sky with an intensity he didn’t know how to take. It wasn’t excitement. Josie was too secretive to ever let that show, but there was something there, a wistfulness that went deep.

When her gaze dropped to his, she said, “They’re coming back this way. I think that’s our signal to get started.”

“I think you’re right,” he said. “Again.”

She smiled slightly. “You need these now?”

“Yep.” He took the punks and fuses. After giving careful instructions to Dac and Brock, Scooter stepped down into his boat.

Josie was sitting near the back of the boat, giving him room to straddle the center bench. The boat rocked gently, bumping the platform, but the movement wasn’t enough to cause concern. “You ready?” he asked her.

“Yes. Is there anything you need me to do?” she asked.

“No, just enjoy the show.”

“Will it be loud?”

“No more so than on the beach,” he answered. “Other than some hissing from the fuses. The loud explosions will all happen in the air.”

“Isn’t this just swell?” Ginger asked.

She was at the front of Brock’s boat, which almost bumped the back of the one Scooter and Josie were in. The sisters were sitting almost side by side.

* * *

Josie pulled her gaze off Scooter to glance at her sister. “Yes, it is,” she answered. Glancing up to the sky that was turning darker as they spoke, she searched for Forrest’s plane. Twyla was up there, newly married and probably having the time of her life. Josie couldn’t say she was resentful, but she wouldn’t mind having what her sister had. What each one of them had. They’d found their freedom, something she might never find. It was funny, because for years, she’d had more freedom than any of them.

After spending the day in Scooter’s company, she was questioning if what she’d considered freedom had, in truth, been just the opposite. She hadn’t been caged up at the resort like Twyla claimed. Although her sister had crept out more times than the rest of them put together. Attending the Ladies Aid meetings and making the trips to Duluth had been her escape, but that hadn’t been freedom. Even then, she’d always been following orders. Specific directions. She’d never been alone, either. Other than the day she’d got caught speeding. That had only happened because Hester Williams had unexpected company and couldn’t go with her.