Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

I actually had this ready early last week. Only I forgot to post it on Friday. Oops!


Previously: When Sarah Jane told her family that Jesse had seen Rachael, her father left, saying he didn’t know anyone by that name. Nathan called Jesse to get details and was told Jesse was on his way to the Richter home to talk to them. Sarah Jane wondered if the woman she saw with Jesse could be her sister.


The Bandbox Hat

Chapter Eight

As soon as I hit the top of the stairs, I called out to let Jake and Anna know I was back. “Got it!” I sang out. “Should I serve the cobbler, Anna?”

“Not yet,” she said, materializing in the kitchen.

“He’s here.” Nathan called from the living room. “Looks like he’s alone, too.”

My heart settled back into my chest from my throat where it had been hovering since hearing Jesse was on the way over.

The clack of the front door opening reached me and I darted a glance at my sister-in-law. Her lips were pinched together as tightly as she insisted her Tupperware be sealed. She saw my look because she turned pink and strode out of the room.

“Jesse,” she said.

I followed more slowly.

“Hi Anna, Sarah Jane.” Jesse stood in the doorway and I had to force myself to breathe normally. The last time I’d seen him before yesterday, he’d been in that same spot. This time though he wasn’t twisting a gimme cap advertising Rosedale Feed and Seed in his hands and shuffling his size 12 Carhartt boots.

I returned his easy smile before I had a chance to wonder at my response.

“What’s going on, Jesse?” Anna skipped over the pleasantries like a flat rock flung across Tule Lake. “Sarah Jane told us you’ve been in contact with Rachael. You should know we don’t want to see her. She’s not welcome here.”

Jesse flinched as if Anna’s words were directed at him. Which in a way they were, even though Anna’s real anger was meant for Rachael. “Is that true?” He looked from Anna to me to Nathan who held up a placating hand.

“I want to ask you some questions first,” Nathan said. “Anna, didn’t you mention cobbler and ice-cream? Jesse and I will be on the porch.”

Anna whipped around and back into the kitchen, indignation rolling off her stiff back. Jesse let Nathan herd him outside leaving me in the entry between the dining room and living room. I was dying to hear what Jesse had to say about Rachael but if I didn’t help Anna dish out the dessert I’d be in for several days of silent treatment interspersed with heaving sighs of disdain whenever I spoke. I followed Anna.

“Here.” She thrust a tray into my hands. “Put the coffee carafe, some cups, sugar, and cream on here and take it out to them. I know you’ll be useless in here.”

I let the insult slide and filled the tray with mugs and other coffee paraphernalia. I let the screen door slam behind me just because it would irritate Anna.

“Here’s coffee.” I set the tray on a wicker side table and sank into Mom’s rocker. “So, what’s going on?”

“Rachael came to town with me.” Jesse leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees.

“Was that her with you at Enns Dry Goods?”

He shook his head. “That’s a … another friend. The three of us drove up from LA yesterday. Rachael was at the motel. Lynn wanted to see the town.”

I exhaled and willed my heartbeat to normal. I knew it couldn’t have been Rachael. Surely I would’ve recognized my own sister. At least, I hoped I would.

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