Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Reggie ran the entire mile to the cottage on the lake stopping only to buy a bouquet of daisies at the flower cart outside Nichols General Store. He knew Josie's favorite flowers were daisies. How did he know that, he wasn't sure. He knew her favorite color was yellow, her favorite season was spring, she loved children and wanted a dozen at least. He felt as though he had known her forever and it had only been a few months.
He had wasted so much time longing for Elena Malone. What a fool he had been. He hoped Josie would be home. He had so much to tell her. He loved her and he hoped she felt the same about him. It would serve him right if she didn't. He treated her like one of the fellows instead of the beautiful girl she was.
She opened the door and saw him standing there with a smile on his face and a beautiful bouquet of daisies in his hand. Those must be for Elena she thought to herself. Daisies are my favorite flower. Reggie must be on his way to see her and decided to stop by to tell me he's moving to New York City with her.
“Hi Reggie. How was your reunion with Elena?”
“My reunion? Oh, it was good. I came by to tell you that I am in love with the most beautiful girl in the world. I have loved her since the first day I laid eyes on her but I was too blinded by my foolish infatuation to realize it.”
Josie could no longer hide her tears. “I wish you a long and happy life with Elena but I'm busy now so I will just say goodbye”
She put her hand on the door to close it and Reggie pushed it open again.
“Long and happy life with Elena? What gave you that idea? I'm here because I finally realized it is you I love, you I want to be with for the rest of my life and I'm praying I might have a chance with you. You are the girl I want to wake up with every morning and go to sleep with every night. I want to call my crew over right now and start building bedroom additions on this cottage so that we can fill them with the dozen children we both would like to have someday. Now, will you invite me in so I can hold you and kiss you and ask you to be my wife?”
“But Reggie, you have loved Elena for so long, I do love you but I won't be anyone's second choice.”
“You aren't my second choice, I was with Elena this afternoon and I saw her for what she is, a selfish, spoiled beauty who doesn't know how to love anyone but herself. When I was looking at her all I could see was your face smiling back at me. It was then I knew I didn't want this superficial woman and I don't think I ever really did. She was a childhood crush and I have finally grown up.”
With tears streaming down her cheeks, Josie kicked the door closed with her foot and said “Let's see what kind of a kisser you are before I agree to marry you.”
It didn't take too long before the whole town was buzzing about Josie and Reggie. The two of them were incapable of hiding their feelings even if they tried. Josie was one of the town's favorites and now that Reggie wasn't pining away for unrequited love, he was becoming a favorite too. Doc and Mary McMillan were happy with their daughter's choice and even happier when Reggie informed them he and Josie planned to make their home in Camden Corners. Reggie loved the friendly little town almost as much as he loved Josie. Jamison Bentley was glad Reggie had come to his senses about Elena Malone. She and the theater troupe left shortly after their last performance the week before. No one would call the production a smashing success. It needed more work and Jamison suspected the producers might start by finding a new leading lady.
The Hightower house was completed and none too soon. The sisters were almost to full bloom. Because of their conditions, the girls accepted any help they were offered in preparing their new home. Emma Patterson and Lily Kramer practically furnished the entire house with treasures they had found in their hunts. They were able to fill every one of the eighteen rooms with beautiful heirloom furniture. The two nurseries, one in yellows in the left wing and one in pale greens in the right wing. Quilts were displayed throughout the house. Curtains and draperies were pulled back to allow the late summer sunshine in. Each window had its own unique view. Some overlooking the lake others the freshly planted vineyards. In the spring work would begin on the winery allowing it to be ready for the first grape picking next summer. The Hightowers were so grateful for all the help they had received and the interest everyone had taken in their new home they thought a summer picnic on Labor Day would be fitting. Most of the town arrived just after noon on that Monday. All the women brought along their favorite picnic specialty. The children had plenty of places to run and play. The young people took advantage of the nearby lake and set up makeshift rafts to escape the prying noses of their parents.
The food was all eaten, the dishes cleaned and put away and the ladies were all relaxing around the fire pit near the front porch. The men were having horseshoe tournaments one after the other with small wagers on the side. Nick Rossi had just made a ringer and was collecting his winnings from Reggie who was determined to get his money back in the next game.
Lucinda McCoy caught herself staring at Nick. His shoulders were so broad, almost as broad as his smile. She knew in her heart she had fallen in love with this wonderful man but couldn't get past the guilt of betraying her deceased husband Paul by giving into her feelings.
Josie whispered in her ear “I think it's time for a walk in the trees over there and I'm going to put an end to this game and drag my soon to be husband away from it and into the woods. Come with me, I know you'd like nothing better than being in the shadows with Nick”.
Lucinda's face turned red. She had been sipping a little too much of Caroline's blueberry brandy and it was going to her head. Caroline overheard Josie and encouraged Lucinda to do just that.
“I'll watch out for Cassandra. Paul would want you to find happiness again.”
Josie downed the remainder of her glass and walked over to Reggie.
“That's enough with the horseshoes, it's time for a walk in the woods.”
Reggie winked at Nick and off he went hand in hand with Josie. Nick asked Lucinda if she would like to take a walk by the lake. She thought that was safer than the woods and agreed. They walked without speaking for a little while and then without warning, Lucinda threw her arms around Nick's neck and kissed him firmly on the lips. He was so stunned he started losing his balance and Lucinda, being unsteady on her feet after a little too much brandy pulled him down the rest of the way. They landed in the water laughing and kissing and making up for lost time. When they finally arrived back with the group, all eyes were staring at them. Everyone was smiling including Cassandra who was hoping Nick would be her new daddy very soon.
Nettie Crowley asked what names had been chosen for the babies. Hyacinth said they wanted to keep flowers in the family as their mother did and if either one had a girl, she would be named after a flower.
Howard spoke up and said “If it's a girl, we are naming her Daffodil and call her Daffy for short.”
Everyone laughed except Hyacinth who shook her head at her husband.
“No, if it's a girl, she will be called Daisy Bloom Hightower and if it's a boy he will be Henry Shane Hightower.”
Dahlia spoke up. “Violet Bloom Hightower for a girl and Harry Shane Hightower for a boy.”
She had barely gotten the words out when she doubled over in pain.
“Sister,” cried Hyacinth “Is it time?” as she too, grabbed her round tummy.
The babies weren't due for another two weeks but it didn't look like they had been told when to arrive. Luckily there were three doctors available. Harold and Howard carried their wives into the house and to their bedrooms. The girls hadn't planned on giving birth at the same time and wanted to be there for each other so the men moved the two beds into the big living room and were then shooed away to wait outside with the other men.
Less than an hour later, Josie opened the window and shouted “Harold, you have a son.”
Five minutes passed “Howard you have a daughter and Harold you have a daughter too” then
“Howard, you have a son.”
Lily came running out of the house.
“I know” cried Richard “Go get two more cradles.”
“This has been the perfect ending to a perfect Labor Day” said Caroline Bentley. She hadn't been a witness to the births, she and a few of the other women had watched over the children. Earlier she had been sitting next to Doc McMillan. Doc said those women didn't need him up there. Julie could handle it and he'd only get in the way. The womenfolk don't like stuffy old doctors around when babies are coming into the world.
“How are you feeling Caroline? You look a bit pale.” he asked his friend.
“Well Doc. To be honest I haven't been myself lately. A bit tired but I blame it on all the changes in my life these last few months.”
“Come into the office tomorrow morning. We'll run some tests and maybe get you some vitamins.”
Jamison overheard the conversation and didn't like it one bit. He had been worried about Caroline himself lately. She hadn't wanted him to hire a housekeeper but he was going to insist. After all, she wasn't a young girl anymore and she had two youngsters to keep track of. His sons were coming to Camden Corners tomorrow. It would be the first time they met Caroline. He was happy about that but worried if Caroline was sick how much of a burden it would be to have his sons added to the mix. Doc could see the worry on Jamison's face and patted his back telling him not to worry. He didn't think anything was really wrong with Caroline. He had his suspicions but thought it best to wait until he was sure.
All the guests were invited into the house to meet the new additions to the Hightower family. All four babies had the same faces.
“Is there such a thing as identical cousins?” asked April Hawthorne.
Caroline congratulated the happy couples and said how lucky they were to have two babies to care for. “It's so nice having a baby in the house.”