The Forgotten Daughter - Page 49

Her mind was trembling, too, and for the life of her, she couldn’t come up with an excuse to leave the table. The subject had turned to Babe Ruth and went on forever. In fact, it seemed everyone was gathered around the table for hours.

When Brock’s mother said it was time for them to leave, Josie all but leaped to her feet. Scooter did, too, but in order to offer to help Brock load up the wheelchair. He walked past her without so much as a sideways glance.

Josie followed everyone as far as the front door, where Twyla once again dominated the conversation, talking about how she’d start moving her things to the Plantation the following day.

Twyla was still talking when Forrest led her out the front door. The familiar sound that hit Josie’s ears should have made her happy, but it didn’t. Neither did seeing the taillight of Scooter’s motorbike as he rode it down the driveway.

Ginger and Brock said good-night and headed for the stairs. Norma Rose and Ty said they were going to take a walk before turning in, and Josie spun around, ready to retreat to her own room, when a powerful sense of unease rippled through her.

Her father’s hand fell on her shoulder. “I need to talk to you, Josie-girl.”

“Oh,” she said, almost choking on a solid lump in her throat. “About what?”

“You and Scooter—”

Josie’s ears started to ring and the room threatened to spin. She knew it. Knew there’d come a time when he’d betray her.

“—aren’t going to be able to pick out your new car tomorrow. Big Al informed me last night he’d have a new shipment coming in next week. He wants you to wait, and I agreed. It would give you several more to choose from.”

A car. Really? She’d almost fainted because of a car? She didn’t even want a new one.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’ve already told Scooter. He said he’d take you over there as soon as I hear from Big Al.”

Her mind was still going in other directions, none of which included a car—old or new. Scooter hadn’t told her father. Just like he’d promised. That caused even more confusion inside her.

“It’ll be sad to see Ginger leave tomorrow,” her father said. “It’s been nice having her home. But she and Brock are doing well down in Chicago. I’m happy for them.”

“Me, too,” she said.

“And for Twyla and Forrest,” he said. “Your sister will soon have the Plantation buzzing again, and Forrest will get his airmail contract. I’m sure of that.”

More like he’d make sure of it, Josie thought, but she merely nodded. Her ability to make small talk was gone. Scooter had taken over her mind.

“Things sure have changed around here,” her father said. “Quickly.”

“That’s how change is,” she muttered. “Doesn’t even give us time to contemplate what’s happening.”

He grinned. “You’re right there.” Giving her shoulder a squeeze, he said, “You’re so much like your mother, Josie. So levelheaded and rational. The opposite of a couple of your sisters.”

The lump in her throat was back.

“I appreciate that, darling. I’ve never had to worry about you.”

Dread, or perhaps shame, wouldn’t let her ramble down that road. “It’s late, Daddy. I’m going to turn in.” As unfathomable emotions bubbled up inside her, she stretched up on her toes to kiss his cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Josie-girl,” he said. “Good night.”


She was almost at the ballroom when he asked, “Oh, what do you think about Norma Rose’s idea of hiring Maize Blackburn? The poor girl hasn’t had it easy since her husband died. Or since that debacle with Galen Reynolds.”

Squeezing her hands into fists to stop them from shaking, she dredged up a smile. “I think it’s a fine idea.” Then in great need of escape, she repeated, “Night.”

Her flight up the stairs was swift, but as soon as she shut her bedroom door, Josie realized there was no escaping. Not for her. There might never be.

Chapter Ten

Tuesday morning wasn’t any better than Monday morning had been. Scooter was still at a loss. He’d never been this hopeless before, not even when his father had died and he’d found himself responsible for his family. Knowing what had to be done, he’d dug his heels in and went to work. Sleep had been nonexistent for a time. He’d delivered groceries during the day and repaired any and all types of vehicles at night. From bicycles and motorcycles to automobiles. It had taken a long time to build up a customer base large enough for him to quit the grocery store, and a bit longer before he’d saved enough to buy his first gas pump.