Halfway down the staircase that ran along the wall leading into the ballroom, she ducked slightly to see through the arched doorway and into the dining room. The tables had all been replaced and set with tablecloths, napkins and silverware, ready for whomever chose to sit down, but no one was sitting. The room was empty.
“Where is everyone?”
“Family or guests?”
“Both,” she replied.
“Probably because Norma Rose was whipping out orders to disassemble the dance floor before the birds started tweeting, most of the guests left shortly after breakfast. I suspect a lot of them had long journeys home and tomorrow is a workday.”
Josie glanced up at Scooter and let her aversion to his smart attitude ooze from her gaze.
He grinned. “Your father decided last night that he’d drive Babe Ruth back down to New Ulm. Well, actually Walter drove them, in your father’s car. He and Babe decided making Forrest fly back down there the first day of being married was asking a bit too much. I agree with them. It was a nice sentiment. They left right after breakfast, too.”
Her sigh hadn’t fully escaped before he continued.
“As far as I know, Forrest and Twyla are still out on the island. Ginger and Brock left at the same time as your father and Babe.”
Stepping off the last stair, she pulled up her mouth into a false grin. “Well, in that case, I’ll go and see what Norma Rose needs help with.”
He hadn’t let go of her arm, and he tugged her backward when she attempted to walk away. “I just told you she’s been cracking the whip since the sun came up.”
“So?” Josie asked.
“So, she’s not here.”
“Not here?” Josie shook her head. “Norma Rose would never leave the resort unattended.”
“She didn’t. You’re here, I’m here—”
His smugness was irritating. “Where is she?” Josie asked.
“She and Ty went to St. Paul to see a picture show.”
“They did not,” Josie insisted. “Norma Rose would never...” Actually, the old Norma Rose wouldn’t. The one that had emerged since Ty had arrived was different. She and Ty were always going places together. Still, Josie knew one thing for sure. “She would never leave guests unattended to.”
“They are being attended to,” he said. “By a dozen employees.”
That wasn’t exactly what she had meant. “Norma Rose—”
“Left Gloria in charge,” Scooter whispered in her ear. “Which is why I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere. Not without you.”
Josie’s insides quivered, though it wasn’t with dread.
“Come on.” He tugged on her arm. “I’ll let you eat something before we leave.”
Steering her down the hallway toward the kitchen, he said, “I need you to help me clean the raft and float it ashore. I don’t want a boat to accidently run into it.”
The idea of spending the day with Scooter was growing on her. As ridiculous as that was. It probably had something to do with the idea of facing Gloria today. That made her stomach ache. The other woman was sure to be mad about yesterday, and Gloria’s wrath was a force to reckon with.
“What about Dac?” Josie asked. “Can’t he help you?”
“Dac had a bit more to drink than he should have last night. His dad hauled him and his motorcycle home in their farm truck in the early hours of the morning.”
“Really?” she asked, only to give herself a moment longer to think. If there was no one else to help Scooter, she should. It would be the right thing to do. However, it would make her think about all sorts of wrong things. Maybe she should just go back to bed.
“Yep. At least that’s what Brock told me when he and Ginger came up to bed.”
The thought that he’d already been in the hallway then made her feet stumble, but she set them straight before his stride was broken. “You were really on those chairs all night?” She truly hadn’t believed him before, especially about her father giving him the pillow and blanket.
Tucking that knowledge aside for deeper consideration later, she asked, “Brock slept in Ginger’s room?”
“Yes, although, at breakfast, your father promised he’d have the room painted before Brock and Ginger visit again.”
His wink made her feet stumble again.
He caught her arm this time, and held it until they arrived at the kitchen. Pushing the door open, he made a sweeping bow. “After you, my lady.”
* * *
Scooter had never been in the resort’s kitchen, and the size of it was a bit intimidating. The three refrigerators that lined the back wall made the one he’d purchased for his mother last year look like an icebox. That refrigerator had cost him a pretty penny, and he couldn’t rightly fathom how much each of these must have cost. Not to mention the two stoves and the cupboards and counters. He knew Moe, the assistant cook, well. He worked on the man’s car, along with Silas’s vehicle. Silas was the main cook and Moe explained to Josie that his boss had the day off as he ushered them to a small round table on the far side of the room.