The Forgotten Daughter - Page 3

When her sister moved into town, to live at the Plantation with Forrest, it would create a hindrance to Josie’s other duties, namely her Tuesday runs. Twyla had assured her she’d come and help while Norma Rose was on her honeymoon, and afterward, whenever they needed her assistance.

Norma Rose was planning ahead, too. The resort had been her first love—although many people had thought Forrest Reynolds had been Norma Rose’s first love. Josie had known Norma Rose had never been in love with Forrest, just as she knew Norma Rose would never relinquish the resort to someone else. Not even one of her sisters. Norma Rose had made Nightingale’s what it was today.

While her father had been busy amassing a fortune from bootlegged whiskey, Norma Rose had been busy making the rest of the world believe the family’s resort was where they’d struck it rich. Hospitality was what she called it.

Josie had been very thankful for Norma Rose’s, and her father’s, drive and ambition. While her father had been focused on getting Minnesota 13 shipped worldwide and Norma Rose had been busy catering to the rich men their father did business with, Josie had had the freedom to pursue other adventures.

Twyla and Ginger had complained they were little more than prisoners, sent up to their bedrooms as soon as the sun went down. Freedom, Josie suspected, was like most everything else. Each person perceived it differently. Crawling into her bed while the parties below were still going strong had never bothered her. She’d been exhausted most nights, and more than ready for a good night’s sleep.

Her sisters would never understand that, and she’d never admitted it, not to anyone. Just like she wouldn’t admit she couldn’t fill in for her sisters and keep helping the Ladies Aid Society.

It wouldn’t be forever.

Just for the next couple of months.

She’d manage.

That was if Scooter didn’t follow through on his threat and put a stop to it all.

That’s what truly couldn’t happen.

There were simply too many lives at stake.

“I’m not worried,” she told her father. Another lie, but he’d been waiting for her response. “Norma Rose hasn’t booked another large party until Labor Day.” Taking a deep breath, Josie added, “Everything will be fine. Just fine.”

“You’ve always been the most sensible and levelheaded one of the bunch,” her father said. “I’ve always appreciated that. Even if I haven’t told you.” He kissed her forehead again. “You’ve never given me the worries your sisters have.”

Once again her smile wobbled.

“Must be that Ladies Aid Society you’re so involved in,” he said.

Josie closed her eyes, fighting harder to keep the smile on her face.

Letting go of her shoulders, her father straightened the maroon suit coat over his black shirt and vest. “I’m going to mingle,” he said. “It’s not every day a man gets to rub elbows with Babe Ruth. You should have some fun, too—visit the dance floor. Looks like your sisters are having the time of their lives.”

Her sisters all had reasons to be having the time of their lives. They’d not only found love, but in a sense they’d also found their freedom. Being one of Roger Nightingale’s daughters wasn’t an easy road. Up until a few years ago, they’d been just one more poor family among many others in the area. That had changed. Wealth changed a lot of things. Once again she told herself to be grateful for that. Luck had been on their side. If not for their father, and his determination, their lives would be very different.

“There’s Babe,” her father said, pointing toward a man as large as he was, and just as boisterous. “You coming?”

Inviting Babe Ruth had been Twyla’s idea, and the stunt had worked. People from all across the state had driven to the resort in hopes of meeting the baseball legend. “In a bit,” she said. “I have a few other things to see to up here.” Gesturing toward the empty ballroom—most of the tables had been moved outside, leaving a mere smattering of them in the adjoining dining room—she added, “Now that the barbecue is over, I want to check on dessert and make sure the chefs are making hors d’oeuvres for later on. The fireworks won’t go off for hours. We wouldn’t want anyone getting hungry. Especially Babe Ruth.”

Prohibition restricted the sale of alcohol, but the resort didn’t sell drinks. It sold tickets that included all the food people could eat. The tickets weren’t cheap, but people paid the price because along with the food came free drinks. Her father chuckled and patted her shoulder. “That’s my girl. Your momma would be as proud of you as I am. Of all of you.”