Welcome to the last week of A New Beginning. I’ll be sharing the last three chapters today, tomorrow and Saturday.
Since we will be moving next week, I don’t know if I will start sharing more fiction next week or the following week. I’ll play it by ear, as the saying goes.
You can pick up the first part of Blanche’s story on Kindle for $2.99 (or free until April 10 if you have Kindle Unlimited. )
I’ve also been writing a short story called Quarantined about an estranged couple who get stuck in their house together during a “virus outbreak” without really going into what the virus is or much about the situation surrounding it.
It was almost noon when I heard his truck pull into the driveway. I’d barely slept but I tossed the covers aside and rushed to the window, feeling like a young girl again. I sat on my knees, leaning my chin on my arms folded on top of the windowsill.
I watched Judson climb out of the truck and reach in the back for Daddy’s toolbox that he’d borrowed a few days before to repair a broken pipe in his kitchen. Watching the stretch of muscles along his upper arms with longing, I thought about his arms around me the night before and wondered how I should act around him in front of Mama and Daddy.
At that moment I wanted to fly down the stairs and throw my arms around him but cringed at the idea of Mama and Daddy teasing me, or the opposite, looking at me disapprovingly. Even worse might be their declarations that a wedding should be planned immediately.
Jackson’s voice broke through my thoughts and I watched my son run out the front door and throw his arms around Judson’s waist.
Judson hugged him back with one arm, the other hand holding the toolbox. “Hey, kid! What are you up to?”
“I’m building a model airplane. Want to help?”
“Absolutely. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.”
I heard the front door open and Daddy greet Judson, ask him about how the repair had gone. I heard Mama in the kitchen ask Judson if he would stay for lunch. It was all so much different than when I had fallen for Hank. Judson was welcome, almost part of the family already. The peace I felt was foreign after courting inner turmoil for so long.
I felt an unexplainable nervous buzz in the pit of my stomach as I walked down the stairs after quickly dressing and dragging a brush through my hair, leaving it down around my shoulders like Judson liked it.
“There you are sleepyhead,” Mama said cheerfully from the kitchen.
“Long night?” Daddy asked, sitting at the table and picking up a piece of the model airplane.
Judson was leaning against the doorframe in the kitchen, a small smirk tugging at his mouth as he looked at me. He looked amazing, but then again, when didn’t he look amazing? My face flushed warm under his gaze.
“Yes,” I said, my voice sounding higher pitched than I’d meant it to as I walked to the fridge to pour myself a glass of juice.
“How about you, Judson?” Daddy asked as he squeezed a line of glue on an airplane wing. “Long night?”
Judson’s smirk faded. He coughed softly.
“Well, no sir. Just a . . . well, a good night.”
It was clear Daddy knew exactly why I was so tired this morning.
“Maybe you two should take a walk,” Mama said, turning around from the sink where she was washing dishes. “A good stretch of the legs might wake you both up a little bit after your long night.”
Oh my gosh. Mama knows too.
She smiled. “I’ll start lunch and have it ready when you get back.”
Good grief. They were like some kind of creepy parental clairvoyants.
Fallen leaves crunched under our feet in the backyard.
“What was that all about?” Judson asked, clearly amused.
“I’m guessing my parents heard you bring me home,” I said. “They apparently aren’t the heavy sleepers I thought they were.”
Judson laughed. “Well, they can’t be too unhappy, or I’d be being shot at right now.”
We walked toward the fence along the backyard and Judson interlaced his fingers with mine.
He glanced at me and grinned. “Based on last night I guess I don’t have to worry about Thomas stealing you away.”
I tipped my head back and laughed. “Thomas? You were worried about Thomas?”
He shrugged. “Maybe a little.”
I laughed. “Thomas is – well, not as bad as I thought, but he’s still just a huge flirt. And he’s definitely not someone you have to worry about. He is not who has been keeping me awake at night with racing thoughts.”
“Thoughts of me kept you awake at night?”
“That’s good to hear since the same thing has been happening to me since I was first reintroduced to you at Emmy’s that day two years ago.” He tipped his head toward the ground. “And maybe off and on since I saw you at Edith and Jimmy’s reception. Of course, back then I thought you weren’t an option because you were married.”
Stopping at the fence, I turned toward Judson, leaning back against it.
“So, are you going to let me take you on a real date now?” he asked.
“I think that would be nice. We still have a lot to learn about each other.”
He stepped closer and pushed a strand of hair behind my ear, his hand lingering and cupping my cheek.
“I hope we will have many years to do just that,” he said, leaning down to kiss me.
“You know,” he whispered when he pulled back for a moment. “That day at the movies when I was sitting between you and Sherry, all I could think about was how good your arm felt against mine and how much I wanted to slide my arm around you. I couldn’t even focus on the movie.”
“Oh, really?” A smile tugged at my mouth as I remembered Emmy telling me that day how she thought Judson had been wishing he’d been with me instead of Sherry.
Judson’s lips grazed mine as he spoke. “Oh, yes, really.”
Proving my family truly had horrible timing, I flinched when I heard Mama yelling from the back porch.
“When you two are done kissing, come in and set the table for lunch!”
I dropped my head against Judson’s chest and groaned.
“Oh my gosh. My parents. They are so embarrassing.”
Judson tipped his head back and laughed as he held me against me. He kissed me again before we walked inside for lunch, our hands intertwined again.
After lunch, Jackson and Judson sat at the kitchen table, putting together the rest of the model airplane. I leaned against the door frame, listening to their relaxed laughter and banter.
“I think this part goes,” Judson pressed a plastic wing into place. “right here.”
Jackson looked up at Judson, his green eyes permeated with admiration. I felt confident in that moment that my decision to tell Judson how I felt would be as good for Jackson as it would be for me.
My mind flashed forward, briefly imagining life with the three of us as a family, but I shook my head and turned myself away from the kitchen. It was too early to think that far ahead, too soon after Judson and I had finally established how we felt about each other. I may have dropped my protective walls for Judson, but I wouldn’t let my imagination careen out of control, only to end up in heartbreak like it had before.