Time in Willow Creek: 2 years, 8 months, 3 weeks, 3 days
Hillary outdid herself that weekend. With every meal she prepared, her cooking acumen increased. But that meal…oh boy. She made so much food, it felt like they were at a picnic instead of Sunday dinner. Jase had way too much cornbread and deviled eggs. It was a miracle he was even still awake. If she
“Heeeey, Boop Boop.”
Jase nearly died from stifled laughter each time that exchanged happened. He had been at Umbrage Manor every day for 15 months, so he knew Harold wasn’t always a stick in the mud. Still, he was caught by surprise every time he saw what a fun grandpa he was.
Knowing how sensitive Harold was about his instruments, Jase clumsily arose to intervene. “Abbie, let Pop Pop play.”
Harold grinned. He looked proud. “Let her alone. We got ourselves a musician.”
He hoisted the baby into his lap and let her “play.” It was one of the sweetest sights Jase had ever seen, and he hoped Hillary was peeking around the corner and saw it.
Jase didn’t want to ruin the cuteness but couldn’t resist the window of opportunity he saw. Wiping his sweaty palms on his pants, he cleared his throat and hoped for the best. “Did Hillary tell you I bought a house?”
Harold grunted. Where was Hillary? He needed her to translate.
“I-I’m I’m moving next week… I’m pretty excited…” The silence induced panic. “My house is so tiny and cluttered…and there’s no yard. Abigail should have a yard, don’t you think?”
Why didn’t that man ever talk? Did he even understand where Jase was going with all that?
“Yeah…so…” he sighed, feeling defeated almost. “I’m just trying to take care of my family…which is why I wanted to talk to you…” He could have sworn he saw Harold giving him the side-eye and could have kicked himself. Get to the point, Jase! “How do you feel about Hillary moving in with me?”
“You gon marry her?”
Harold was a traditional man, but somehow the question still managed to catch him off guard. “Y-yeah! Of course…one day…soon…soonish.” Even after all those years, Harold still managed to make him feel nervous.
“It’s bout time you growed up. Be a man.”
It was hard not to take offense seeing as how he was almost 25 years old, had a good job with an excellent salary, bought his second house, and took financial responsibility for his daughter. But, Harold’s definition of manhood was clearly much different from his. Still, at least he hadn’t completely shut him down. Maybe they could all be together sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Rebecca made a fresh pitcher of iced tea and invited her baby sister to the back porch. She had many questions that required answers–namely the status of her and Jase. They were close all night even when they weren’t near each other. The loving glances across the room were telling. Why Hillary hadn’t told her about the developments in their relationship, she was not sure. But, in the rare case that she was wrong, she needed to hear it directly from Hillary’s mouth.
“Dinner was excellent. I can’t remember the last time I had a meal like that.”
Hillary grinned. “Me neither. This morning I felt like having mac
Rebecca gazed admirably at the woman next to her, the bratty, lazy girl completely gone. Mama would be extremely proud of her.
“So,” she said, staring into her glass, clinking the ice cubes around, “what’s happening between you two?” She looked up in just enough time to catch the flash of surprise on Hillary’s face.
Hillary’s mouth dropped for a brief moment, and then her shoulders deflated in tandem with a deep sigh. “We’re together now.”
“Good! It’s high time it happened.”
She rolled her eyes.
Even after all the
“What is it?”
“Jase bought a house.”
“How nice. Good for him.”
“He, uhhh, he wants us to move in…and I want to go, but–“
“So go,” Rebecca said flatly.
“But, what about daddy? He’ll be all alone now.”
She had grown up so much but was still so young. There were so many solutions to this perceived problem. “I’ll hire a housekeeper. Or, he can stay with us if he’s keen on letting go of this place.”
Hillary looked like she knew Rebecca was right, but conflict still lingered in her eyes. The changes she had gone through were amazing to witness. Two years ago, she would have rejoiced over such solutions. Then she would have ran back to the house to start packing. It was great to see she was using that pretty head of hers. Still, she needed to be convinced. Hillary was a woman now, but she would always be her baby sister. It was hard not to treat her like a child, but this time she needed it.
“Child, listen. You need to live your life! I love that you are loyal to daddy, but whether you like it or not, we’re going to lose him too one day. You shouldn’t put your life and your little family on hold worrying about him. He wouldn’t want it. And, he expects you to leave. You’ve taken care of daddy all this time, and now I suppose it’s my turn. You let me worry about him.”
After Mama’s death, Rebecca did come by often to check on daddy. She thought he and Hillary would be too broken to function leaving her to care for them both. But, each time she went to Umbrage Manor, she found everything in order. The clothes were washed, the house sparkled, and
“Abigail is growing up fast. Soon enough she’ll notice Jase doesn’t live here, and then you’ll have to answer all kinds of questions you don’t want to answer!”
Perhaps she projected her own experience, but the truth was still applicable. Their relationship was just so strange, and there was no reason for them to be living apart. With Mama gone, no one would care if they were married or not.
Hillary grinned. Perhaps she had the answer she was looking for. Or, maybe she had it but needed confirmation
Early spring evenings were so pleasant. Despite how warm the afternoons were, the evenings cooled down quite nicely. The soft breeze was enough to give her a chill but not enough to run inside. Behind them, the house bustled with happiness and laughter. Abigail banged on the piano, and Axel and Kevin’s banter carried over everyone else’s. It was nice to see them getting along. They always seemed so cold toward each other.
“I can’t believe Axel is done chasing skirts.”
Hillary snorted. “I can’t believe this one is around his age!”