With a heartfelt sigh, Amanda closed the office door and leaned against it. “Finally.” As much as she loved her family, the non-stop noise and bustle wore on her nerves.

She sat behind the desk and flipped open her laptop. If someone had told her a year ago that she’d not only enjoy, but look forward to writing in a diary, she would have laughed at them. But here she was, hiding away from her loved ones, anticipating getting her thoughts down before they got away from her.

 

Thanksgiving on the Rocking W: T Minus Ten

I may be wrong, but I always believed that Jello was supposed to wiggle. And shouldn’t break your salad plates. I love my sister. I really do. And I am so happy to have her here with the family for the first Thanksgiving Lex and I are spending together. But Jeannie can’t boil water. Why Gramma let her loose in the kitchen is beyond me.

I remember when Jeannie and Frank were first together, and she wanted to make breakfast for him. My phone rang that morning with my sister in a panic.

“Sis! Quick, do I need to put butter in the skillet to make fried eggs?”

“Of course, you do.” My sister was really going to attempt cooking?

“Oh. What if I just want to scramble them?”

She didn’t quite get the concept of technique and the reasons for different cooking methods.

Word to the wise: Unless you see a packet of store-bought mix, do NOT eat her gravy.

Frank caught on after his second trip to the emergency room. He hired a live-in cook to take care of their meals and occasionally give Jeannie cooking lessons until they all mutually agreed it was futile. My sister is highly intelligent and organized. She can walk into any business and run it successfully. No question.

But please keep her far away from food, any heat source, and utensils.

Amanda.

 

Amanda leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes after she finished. While writing was cathartic for her, it also took a lot of her energy.

The door opened, and Jeannie popped into the office. “There you are! I can’t find Lex, and Martha asked if one of you would run over to her place and bring the spare coffee carafe.”

“Seriously?” Amanda stood and stepped around the desk. “Where the hell did she wander off to?” she grumbled, as she edged past her sister.

Jeannie was about to follow her when she noticed the open laptop. “Wonder what she was doing, hiding away in here? Watching porn, or something?” She glanced over her shoulder to make sure Amanda had left, before she sat in the office chair and looked at the screen.

“Hmm. What’s this?”

 

###

 

Amanda closed the back door with a huff. “Oh, my god, that wind is cold!” She set the carafe on the bench under the coatrack and removed her jacket and scarf. “We need to quit drinking so much coffee around here,” she muttered after picking the carafe back up.

“Mandy!” Jeannie yelled, stomping down the hall towards her sister. “What the hell?”

“Huh?” Amanda ducked into the kitchen, which was empty. “Crap.” She turned as Jeannie came into the room. “Hey.”

Jeannie’s face was red. “My Jello wasn’t that bad! And it sure as hell didn’t break any dishes!”

Amanda turned toward the coffee maker. “What are you talking about?” She came close to dropping the full pot of coffee when her sister grabbed her arm and spun her around. “Jeannie? What’s wrong with you?”

“Me?” Jeannie released her and took a shaky breath. “You made fun of my Jello.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Amanda leaned against the counter. “It was a nightmare. I can’t believe no one broke a tooth.”

“Argh!” Jeannie reached for her. “I’ll show you a night—”

“What is going on in here?” Anna Leigh asked, from the doorway. We could hear you two all the way in the den.”

Jeannie turned around with a guilty look on her face. “It’s Mandy’s fault! She made fun of the dish I brought today. And said I poisoned my husband!”

“I did no such thing!” Amanda pushed her sister aside. “I came back from Martha’s and she started screaming at me.”

“You did too!”

“I did not!”

Anna Leigh came into the room and stepped between them. “Girls! That’s quite enough. I don’t know why you turn into teenagers the moment you get together, but it’s going to stop this instant.”

Amanda glared at her sister. “I swear, I didn’t,” her eyes widened. “You looked at my laptop, didn’t you?” she asked Jeannie.

“What?” Jeannie backed a few steps away from her. “I may have taken a tiny, little peek.”

Anna Leigh put her hand on Amanda’s arm. “What are you talking about?”

“I was in the office, writing in my diary, when Jeannie came in and told me Martha needed me to get her spare coffee carafe.” Amanda sent another dirty look toward Jeannie. “I should have known you’d pry into my private stuff. You always have.”

“Hey! You left it open. It was like you wanted me to read it,” Jeannie countered. “And it was really good and funny until I realized you were talking about me.” She turned to their grandmother. “She said I poisoned Frank. And that my Jello didn’t jiggle and it broke salad plates.”

Anna Leigh covered her mouth with one hand.

“Well,” Amanda defended, “it was more like ballistic gel than Jello. And just what were those things floating inside? Or should I say, cemented inside?”

“Ugh!” Jeannie brought up her fists and shook them. “See what I mean?”

Anna Leigh fought back a laugh and ended up snorting, much to all their surprise. “Pardon me,” she chuckled, “but it was rather, um, interesting.”

Jeannie looked at her, then at Amanda. She started to giggle.

Amanda joined in, and soon all three were laughing. Once they wound down, Amanda hugged her sister. “I’m sorry about what I said regarding your Jello. It was mean.”

“But true,” Jeannie finally admitted. “And really funny. You know, you should post that on a blog or something. You’re a very talented writer, sis.”

“Oh, please. It’s just something I started doing to get my thoughts down and relax. No one else would be interested.”

“Is everything,” Frank poked his head into the kitchen, and saw Anna Leigh. “Oh. Do you need any help?”

Jeannie turned to Amanda. “We’re fine.”

“Hey, Frank, do you still have that lady that cooks for you?” Amanda sweetly asked, ignoring her sister.

He came into the kitchen. “Yeah, she takes care of the house, too. Why?”

“Just wondering.” Amanda bumped Jeannie. “Have you been to the hospital since she’s been there?”

“Mandy!” Jeannie fussed, bumping her back.

Frank turned to Anna Leigh. “Umm.” At her shrug, he shook his head. “No, I haven’t. Is this about when I ate those bad shrimp?’

“Yes. Food poisoning. From her,” Amanda nudged her sister again, “cooking.”

“Once!” Jeannie yelped. “And it wasn’t my fault!”

He took a step back. “Yeah, I think I hear someone in the den calling me.”

Jeannie pointed at him. “Don’t you dare leave! Mandy is making fun of my cooking, and said I sent you to the hospital twice with food poisoning.”

Frank held up three fingers as he backed out of the kitchen. “Gotta go!”

“Chickenshit!” Jeannie yelled after him. She turned to her sister. “And you!”

Amanda held up three fingers. “Three times? Poor Frank. I wonder if he has a frequent visitor card they punch at the emergency room?” She squealed when Jeannie attacked her, tickling her ribs. “Aah! Stop!”

Jeannie laughed as her sister shrieked. “That’ll teach you, smartass!”

Anna Leigh shook her head. “Well, now that I’m certain there will be no bloodshed,” she looked at each of them, “I’m correct, aren’t I?”

Both women nodded.

“Wonderful. I’ll leave you two to finish in here,” she said, as she turned to leave. “Quietly, please.”

She was barely out of the room before Jeannie and Amanda broke into laughter again.

From Hope's Path - Book III in the Somerville Series - coming soon!

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© 2019 by Carrie Carr