The Forgotten Daughter - Page 71

Twyla led them toward the front door of the Plantation. The building was huge and the front boasted white pillars that stretched three stories high. Once a nightclub catering to gangsters from all over, the place now hosted a bowling alley that was quickly becoming more and more popular.

Once on the second floor, Twyla graciously threw open a door. “We put most of my things across the hall.” Smiling, Twyla glanced up at Forrest, who stood by her side. “Until I have time to rearrange things.”

Josie followed the others, including Forrest’s mother, into a clean but rather small apartment filled with furniture that had seen better days. Josie made note of that fact only because of all the girls, personal possessions—and the quality of them—meant the most to Twyla. But her mind was mostly focused on getting back to the resort. Maybe she could borrow Twyla’s car. That way she could stop at Scooter’s place, just to make sure he and his family were safe.

“This is the living room,” Twyla said, “as you can tell. Over here is the kitchen and...”

Josie’s gaze had gone to the far wall, where two windows overlooked the back of the building. A painting hung between the windows, and she moved closer as if interested in it. She wasn’t, she wanted to see if Twyla’s car was parked out the back or not.

“I’m so glad Twyla found that picture in the basement,” Karen Reynolds said, stepping up beside her. “It was one of my father’s favorites.”

Josie shifted her gaze from the parking lot, where the moonlight revealed Twyla’s car was parked, to the painting depicting an Indian brave, knife drawn as he rescued a maiden from a huge white bear. “Kis-se-me-pa and Ka-go-ka,” she said offhandedly.

“You know the story?” Karen asked.

Anyone who had grown up in the area or lived here for any length of time eventually heard the legend of how White Bear Lake had got its name. Mark Twain had even referred to it in one of his many books. “There are several legends with different endings,” Josie said. The brave killed the bear. The bear killed the brave. The bear killed both the brave and the maiden. All three died—the bear, the brave and the maiden. No matter which ending, the legend of the great white bear had given the lake its name.

“They were from different tribes,” Twyla said, having joined them near the window. “He was a Chippewa brave. She was the daughter of a Sioux chief, and they were in love.” Twyla sighed heavily. “Her father was about to attack the Chippewa and she went to warn him. His brave act of saving her from the bear proved his love and they lived happily ever after.”

“Where’d you hear that version?” Josie asked. Her sister’s tale was an idealistic mixture of all three popular tales.

“That is the correct version. The most romantic,” Twyla said, moving forward to straighten the picture. “I don’t know why it doesn’t want to hang straight. It’s always tilting to one side, as if that side is heavier than the other.”

“Maybe the wire on the back needs to be tightened,” Josie offered, uninterested, while attempting to come up with a logical excuse to borrow her sister’s car.

“I never thought of that,” Twyla said, lifting the picture off the wall.

“I didn’t mean right now,” Josie said.

As Twyla spun the picture around for Josie to examine the back, the cardboard backing became separated from the frame. Acting quickly, Josie grabbed the bottom before it fell all of the way out.

“Here,” Forrest said to Twyla. “I’ll take it.”

As he lifted the picture, Josie tried sliding the cardboard back into place. “It’s stuck.”

“Set it on the table,” Karen said, “before the glass falls out.”

Josie held the bottom until Forrest lowered it onto the table in front of the couch. Then she stepped back to give him room to work. Leave it to Twyla to make the story of killing a bear romantic.

Scooter had rescued Josie several times lately, but it hadn’t been a romantic gesture, and he hadn’t done it because he was in love with her. He’d done it because he had a family to feed. A family he loved so much he’d left school and all his friends behind in order to make enough money to keep everyone fed and clothed. He’d hate her forever if something happened to any one of them. She wouldn’t blame him, considering it all would be her fault.

“Something’s under the cardboard,” Forrest said.

Josie considered pointing out that it would be the picture, but didn’t. Her mind was focused on too many other things. Including how she could get Twyla’s keys.