Authors: Diane Greenwood Muir
Look Always Forward
DIANE GREENWOOD MUIR
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Cover Design Photography: Maxim M. Muir
Copyright © 2015 Diane Greenwood Muir
All rights reserved.
"That girl is never here," Henry said, dropping onto the sofa beside Polly. "Where is she tonight?"
"Rebecca and Kayla are watching Molly. Jessie has to write a paper for her online class," Polly said.
He chuckled. "How does Jessie afford two baby sitters?"
"She doesn't, but since we're both nervous about either girl babysitting by themselves this summer, I'm supplementing."
"Of course you are." Henry put his arm around Polly's shoulders and she relaxed onto him. "Does Rebecca know?"
Polly shook her head, and then, recognizing she was tickling his chin with her hair, continued moving it back and forth.
"Stop that." He clamped his hand down on top of her head, trying to restrict her movement.
She ducked out from under his hand and said, "What do you want to do for supper?"
"Why aren't you up at Pizzazz with the girls?"
"Everyone was busy. It's no big deal. So what should we do?"
"You're the worst wife ever." He flinched backward before she could swat him. "I work my poor fingers to the bone all week long. Every once in a while I expect dinner to be on the table, but instead, not only do I have to make a decision about dinner, you probably expect me to pay for it."
"Either that or you can hire a cook." Polly stood up and waggled her eyebrows at him. "Tell you what. Take a nap and rest your weary overworked bones. I'll go to Pizzazz by myself."
"And bring supper back for me?" He grinned at her.
"Not on your life. If you want to live in that strange little world where wifey prepares your meals and meets your every need, I'm going to let you live there all by yourself."
Henry grabbed her hand and pulled her back down to his lap. "Nope. I'd rather live with you in whatever world it is you've concocted. So really, no plans for dinner?"
She gave him a quick kiss on the lips and pulled away. "Since it's such a beautiful evening, we can grill out. Chicken is marinating, veggies are wrapped in tin foil, and potatoes are already cooking. It's all downstairs in the kitchen, so whenever you're ready.
"You're a rotten woman, you know that?" Henry poked her side and kissed her cheek.
"Come on Obiwan, let's go outside and play while Mr. Fuddy Duddy gets into his comfortable clothes." She sashayed into his office. "I'll be the one relaxing with a glass of wine. Doug, Billy, and Rachel are joining us."
They finally put a patio in the back yard this summer. Henry had built eight Adirondack chairs and installed a fire pit. She'd given him a nice grill the week before Independence Day and they used it every chance they got. Whenever they sat down for dinner, someone joined them. Whether it was Doug, Billy and Rachel, or Sylvie and her boys, or Jeff or even Stephanie and Kayla, Polly prepared more than necessary, because it would always be eaten.
She was going to miss this when winter came. It was so much easier to put a meal on the grill than cook dinner in her kitchen. As soon as it turned too cold, they'd go back to pizza and takeout.
Polly filled the rolling cooler with food from the refrigerator downstairs and pulled it outside. She opened a bottle of wine and set glasses out on a table, then arranged the food so Henry could put it on the grill.
Obiwan and Han wandered through the back yard. The younger dog was doing much better. Obiwan was good for him and Polly worried less and less that he would run off. They stayed pretty close to wherever she and Henry were.
She sat down in an Adirondack and closed her eyes. The summer had been wonderful. It was hard to believe school was starting in a couple of weeks. She enjoyed having the kids here. Andrew had grown, adding at least three inches to his height. He was still lean, so much different than his older brother, but Sylvie had uncles who were tall. His additional height had given him more confidence with the horses and Rebecca finally convinced him that he should learn to ride. The three kids were finally spending more time with Eliseo in the barn.
Andrew and Rebecca hadn't changed all that much, though. Eliseo had put together a table they could drag outside and they were often found there, Andrew with his head in a book or his fingers on a laptop and Rebecca with a sketchpad.
The big horses had grown used to all of the dogs that ended up in the pasture with them. Eliseo brought his two, Khan and Kirk, nearly every day, and this summer, their sister Padme accompanied Jason and Andrew to Sycamore House. She was well-behaved after spending time training with Eliseo. Andrew and Rebecca were also in charge of taking care of Billy's dog and Doug's very playful puppy.
Jason was less thrilled to have his brother around, but he had a couple of friends who helped with the animals. Polly wondered if she shouldn't pay Eliseo hazard pay with all of the kids that were in his space.
Polly heard the back door open and turned her head to make sure it was Henry. "Do you need anything else?" she asked.
"It looks like you have everything here. Are you ready for wine?"
"Nah. Not yet. I'm just enjoying the quiet. I can't believe no one's here yet."
The sound of the cooler opening accompanied soft laughter. "You always have plenty of food for everyone, though."
"It can go back in the fridge." Polly stood and met him at the grill. "How are things coming at the coffee shop?" she asked.
"Fine - same as yesterday. I spent today down the road at Mikkels' new place. We're laying the foundation next week."
"But we're still on schedule?"
"Labor Day weekend it is." He poked at her with his elbow. "I keep telling you that if you want to manage the guys, you'll know we're moving forward."
"They won't listen to me."
"Bet me. They know better than to mess with Polly Giller. Not only are you the scariest woman in town, you're the boss's wife."
"I'm not scary. Stop that."
"Yes, honey, you are." He leaned forward to kiss her and she backed away. "Okay," he said. "You're not scary. Gimme a kiss?"
"Whatever. But you're sure we'll be ready."
"You know better than that. You're up there enough."
Polly snickered and swatted his behind. "You're awfully good to me."
up there nearly every day. The front was finished and they were placing chairs and tables that she and Sal ... and Beryl and Andy and Lydia and Joss and everyone who had anything to do with the place picked up across the state. A few pieces had gone back to Henry's shop for additional repair, but for the most part, the furniture just needed to be cleaned.
The fire last May had made the upstairs apartments unusable. Henry's crew ripped those out and opened up the ceiling, giving the space an immense feel. The floor and wooden coffee bar that Henry's dad and Len Specek made had been scorched in the fire, but when Sal saw it, she fell in love with the beautiful patterns the fire created in the wood. It would be a great conversation piece. After ripping out the walls and replacing them, everything was finally coming together.
They'd begun installing appliances in the bakery two weeks ago and even though they were fully functional when the original owner closed his bakery in Strawberry Point, cleaning and small repairs were necessary. Sylvie was still testing and tweaking - something she'd be doing until long after the bakery was open for business. Jeff was interviewing baristas and servers while Sylvie came to grips with the fact that she needed more help now that she had two kitchens to manage. Rachel would stay at Sycamore House and Hannah's work hours were fairly limited, so additional employees were imperative.
They still had a big hole in their team at Sycamore Inn. Polly didn't mind working out there, but they needed someone there more regularly. Jeff had been right when he insisted that Stephanie and Kayla shouldn't live there. So far, everyone that she'd dealt with was polite, but some rough characters came through. Stephanie was too nice to take their harassment, but she had become adept as Jeff's assistant.
Polly poured a glass of wine and put it on the table beside Henry, then poured another and took it with her. Just as she was bending to sit down, tires squealed and the horrendous sound of two cars trying to occupy the same space rang out. She put her wine on the patio floor and turned to see Henry take off at a run.
"Call 9-1-1" he yelled as he ran past her. "This was a bad one."
Her eyes followed his path to the highway in front of them. She dialed and gave as many details as possible, while jogging toward the crash.
A man in his mid-forties had gotten out of an old Chevy pickup truck and was headed for the sedan in front of him, its passenger side crushed in the accident. He looked inside and then stood back up, his head thrown back. Polly waited for a wail; it seemed to be what he wanted to do.
Henry was on the other side of the car, speaking to the driver. Polly stepped onto the highway and saw blood pouring out of the young man's scalp, stepped back up onto the grass and bent over at the waist. Blood wasn't something she dealt with well.
"Do you need me?" she called out to Henry.
"Check him out," he said, pointing to the man now standing in the middle of the highway.
Polly did her best to keep her eyes averted and approached the man cautiously. "Are you hurt anywhere?" she asked.
"Don't bother with me. Help him," he said.
"I've called 9-1-1 and my husband is with him. I want to know if you've been hurt."
"I don't know. I don't know. He came out of nowhere. I didn't mean to hit him. All of a sudden, he was right there in front of me and I couldn't stop in time."
"What's your name, sir?" Polly asked.
He looked at her in confusion. "Why do you need my name?"
"Because I want to have a conversation with you. I'm Polly Giller and that's my husband, Henry. And you are?"
With a name like that, Polly expected at least a British accent, but no such luck. He was quite ordinary looking, his thick dark hair smattered with silver. His scruffy face had a beard growth of at least three days that only accentuated his pallor. He kept darting glances toward the kid in the car and relief flowed across his face when they finally heard the howl of the emergency siren coming toward Bellingwood.
Two Bellingwood police cars arrived and Chief Ken Wallers got out and strode over to Henry. He looked inside the car, shook his head slowly, and then approached Polly and Alistair Greyson.
"What happened here?" Ken asked.
Greyson looked at the crumpled car and then back at his own truck, its front end ripped and torn apart. "I was just coming through town when all of a sudden, he was in front of me. I couldn't get stopped. He was right there."
"I need to see your driver's license and automobile registration," Ken said, steering Greyson away from Polly. She heard him ask, "Have you been drinking this evening?"
"No, thank goodness," the man said.
Ken cocked his head. "What does that mean?"
Polly stepped back onto her grass as an ambulance and firetruck came down the highway, but she continued watching. Greyson appeared confused and she wondered if he'd hit his head in the accident. Surely Ken was aware of how dangerous his condition could be.
Doug, Billy, and Rachel had come down from their upstairs apartment and were standing further down the street. As she looked around, quite a few people had come out of their houses to watch the action.
The EMTs spoke to Henry, he stepped away from the car and walked over to Polly.
"What's happening?" she asked. "Do you know who that was?"
Henry nodded and said under his breath. "It's Leslie Sutworth's kid, Denis. I don't know if he's going to make it. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and bounced all over the inside of that car. Something in the passenger seat impaled his right side."
"Oh no. Was he talking to you?"
"He was for a while. I did my best to keep him alert. I knew I couldn't move him. I just wanted someone to be there with him."
"Did he say anything?"
Henry slowly turned to her and tears filled his eyes. "I need to talk to Ken."
"What?" Polly asked.
He took her hand. "Just stay with me, will you?"