Out-takes Part Two
Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 😀 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.
This was the original first scene featuring Presley Ann’s heroes. Kendry and Jared McCulloch. They made fast friends with Presley Ann’s elderly Uncle Marvin Kramer. Presley Ann wasn’t the only one who had friends trying to match make for her.
The second scene features Presley Ann and Uncle Marvin. Readers get a feel for their relationship and how concerned he was for her and the welfare of the baby. I would’ve liked to have let readers get to know this colorful character but space and pacing just didn’t allow for it. His appearances later in the story served to show what a sweetheart he was to her and the baby.
Kendry McCulloch stood with his brother, Jared, in the big bay of the central fire station on the outer edge of little downtown Divine. Since they were in town looking for a place to live, they’d decided to stop at the station and say hello to the chief and meet some of their future coworkers. A real estate agent was meeting them there shortly to take them on a tour of the properties that met their needs in the area.
Vehicles meandered along, heading up and down Main Street at a measured pace. Even this late in the year, there was still green grass, and leaves on the numerous trees that dotted the Texas Hill country landscape. Most notable, however, was the light breeze that whispered through the big, wide open doorways of the station. He was used to the dry, stiff winds of Abilene that persisted, regardless of whether the temperatures were sweltering or frigid.
Jared crossed his arms over his chest and craned his neck to peer up and down Main Street, and then looked at Kendry. “Good call, brother.”
The gut level feeling that this was the right move for them tightened in his chest and Kendry grinned and nodded. “This was a mutual decision, so right back at you.”
They weren’t scheduled to be on duty for two weeks, after they’d finished moving from Abilene. They’d shared a house there for the last several years so they had a whole household to move. Besides checking in with their new boss and delivering paperwork to him, they were also in Divine to hopefully find a new place to live, hopefully one with a big yard and room for a couple of big dogs to run.
They’d let James and Vincent Elder know they were in town and they’d invited them to supper that night and had mentioned that after their shifts were over, they’d be across the street from the fire station taking care of a delivery for Leah. Kendry smiled just thinking about that sweet lady…and her beautiful and perplexing sister.
Presley Ann Woodworth had sparked his interest from the moment he’d met her. Something in her eyes and her manner. Shyness and stress had seemed to rolled off of her and she’d been so thin, despite the fact that she was expecting. When he’d asked her, she’d told him that she was single and had left it at that. His intrigue had grown each time they’d encountered her on visits to Divine. Each time their paths had crossed, she’d grown more beautiful, more self-confident, and more appealing to him. And still, there was no man, no father to her baby, in the picture, at least not that they’d heard of.
When he’d asked Leah in private about it, Leah had only said, “You need to ask her about that.”
His attention centered on the building across the street and the white-haired man struggling to lift a heavy-looking box from his tailgate. The sign on the building proclaimed it Marvin’s Computer Repair. The bed of his truck was filled with such boxes. He and his brother shared a mutual chuckle when they both moved at the same time to walk across the street and offer the man a little help.
“Hi there. You look like you could use some help, sir,” Kendry called, as the usual spokesman for both of them. He and Jared often shared the same thoughts but Jared was more introverted and let Kendry do the talking.
The older man swiped his cowboy hat from his head and smiled at them and nodded breathlessly. “If you have a mind to help, I’m willing to accept. I was feelin’ strong this morning when I was loading all these up from my storage barn but I’m definitely flagging. Name’s Marvin Kramer. This is my place of business…or where I spend my daytime hours at any rate.”
Kendry held out his hand and shook Marvin’s. “I’m Kendry McCulloch. This is my brother, Jared.”
“Sir,” Jared said quietly and offered his hand as well.
Kendry hefted the box Marvin had left on the tailgate and said, “If you’ll just show us where you want these, we’ll get them unloaded for you.” Jared grabbed a box and they both followed Marvin in through the front door on the two story structure. “Computers, huh?”
Marvin chuckled as he hung his hat on the coat rack in the corner and nodded. “Nowadays it’s just a place to go during the day. I own some property down south and that brings in a little income and helps to keep the lights on. Always had a knack for electronics and such so I help out my friends who have difficulty with their laptops and all the snazzy mobile devices their grandkids talk them into buying. Pretty simple mostly and it keeps me in circulation.”
Kendry looked around and said, “Nice place.”
“I like it. Bought it a couple of years ago. My little upstairs renter helped me to make it homier.” He gestured at the potted plants and the window treatments. “The place needed a lady’s touch.” Marvin showed them back to the office and told them just to put the boxes wherever they could, which meant adding to the mild shambles the room was already in.
Jared glanced at him and they turned and went back out to the truck but Kendry’s curiosity was piqued. He had a knack with electronics, too. The breeze was nice outside and after the truck was unloaded, Marvin offered them an ice-cold beer from his refrigerator. They sat on the tailgate of his truck and watched the traffic go by as he told them all about life in Divine, occasionally waving back at people who honked or waved at him from their vehicles.
The wind kicked up, sending a blast of cooler air to ruffle his hair and he noticed the sky was darkening to the north. A distant rumble reached his ears.
Marvin said, “Storm’s coming. Weather’s been mild lately but that front is gonna change things. I need to get upstairs and make sure the windows in my little renter’s apartment are sealed properly. I’ve never spent any time up there in the winter so I don’t know if it’ll be warm enough for her and the baby she’s expectin’ soon.”
“Oh yeah?” Kendry asked, his attention piqued a little.
“Yeah,” Marvin said with a slight nod. “She’s actually my niece…sort of. Me and her daddy—and her mom—were best friends in school. Presley Ann Woodworth.”
Kendry and Jared both perked up and Kendry chuckled. “No Kidding!”
Marvin grinned. “You know her? She’s a sweetie. Used to be a bit of a Daddy’s girl but she’s grown up a lot recently. Got no choice.” Before Kendry could ask him what he meant, Marvin raised his hand in a wave and said, “Looks like I got more visitors.”
Kendry got up from the tailgate, prepared to take his leave with Jared as another vehicle pulled into the lot and then he laughed when he saw who it was. It was indeed a small town, he thought, as James Elder rolled to a stop in the space next to Marvin’s truck. He and Vincent jumped out, now dressed in their street clothing, with big smiles on their faces.
Vincent said, “Hey! I see you’re already getting to know all the local old timers.”
Marvin gave a belly laugh and said, “Not so old I can’t still put you across my knee like I did when you were little, boy.”
Vincent dodged a play punch and then shook Marvin’s hand and said, “Hey, we got the key to Presley Ann’s apartment from Leah. We’re delivering a surprise for her and some others are gonna be showing up with other stuff for her and the baby.”
“Sounds good, Vince. I was just telling the McCulloch boys that I need to get up there and make sure her windows are all sealed nice and tight. I don’t want that cold wind blowing through any cracks, chilling her and the little one once he gets here.”
So it’s a boy she’s carrying. He wondered, not for the first time, why the baby’s father wasn’t in the picture. She didn’t strike him as the type of woman any man could easily walk away from.
“If you bring me the stuff, I can do the work for you,” James said as he opened the tailgate on his truck and pulled a large box out to the edge of the truck bed. “This crib isn’t going to take long to get set up.” Vincent helped him lift the bulky box, which must’ve been the crib, from the truck.
“Sure,” Marvin said. “I’ll be right back.”
While Marvin went inside, the Elder brothers turned to Kendry and Jared, and James lifted his chin. “It’s a small world, huh?”
“I’d say so,” Jared said. “Any chance Presley Ann might be interested in joining us for supper tonight?”
James chuckled and shook his head. “Leah mentioned it to her a few minutes ago and Presley Ann told her that she was supposed to stop in and talk to Marvin after work and she wasn’t sure how long it’d take. She also said her feet were really painful today.”
Vincent nodded as he took the mattress from his brother. “I used to think she was whiny but there are days where she looks like they really are hurting bad, and being pregnant seems to make it worse. Besides that, she seems like she’s just a little skittish—” James knocked him in the shoulder and Vincent turned to him. “What? It’s the truth. They need to know where she’s coming from.”
Kendry frowned. “What do you mean?”
James held up a hand. “She’s just in a difficult place right now. Being focused on bringing this baby into the world and taking good care of him is her major motivation right now. I—we think her self-esteem took a major hit when she discovered she was pregnant.”
“Is the father in the picture?” Jared asked softly as a pair of shoppers walked out of Batson’s Grocery Store next door.
James was about to answer when another vehicle pulled up in the parking lot. The SUV was driven by a familiar brunette who grinned and waved at the Elders before smiling at Kendry and his brother, curiosity obvious in her eyes.
James hurriedly said, “I’ve probably already said too much, guys. I’ll tell you we did mention to her earlier today that the two of you were moving to Divine and she seemed to like that news. Just…be careful with her.”
Jared frowned and leaned closer as the pretty brunette climbed from her truck. “We’d never do anything to hurt her feelings, James.”
James nodded and put his hand on Jared’s shoulder. “I know you wouldn’t. Y’all are like family. Just understand…there’s only so much Presley Ann can handle right now.”
Kendry nodded as the brunette walked up and said, “Kendry, Jared, I don’t know if you remember me or not but I’m Lydia Carlisle.”
“From out at the Rockin’ C, right? You’re Chance and Clayton’s wife?”
“Yes. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re moving to Divine. That is good news.”
They all chatted for a few minutes and then Lydia mentioned that she had food that needed to be refrigerated. Kendry wanted to stay and help but he didn’t think it’d be right for them to be going in and out of Presley Ann’s place, helping to carry everything upstairs. No matter how helpful their intentions were, he didn’t want to take a chance on upsetting her. He looked at Jared and his brother nodded, showing that he was thinking similar thoughts.
Jared nudged him and pointed across the street as a man dressed like a cowboy climbed out of a big Dodge dually in front of the fire station. There was a magnetic real estate sign stuck to his driver side door.
“Well folks, looks like our guy is here to show us properties in the area.”
Lydia grinned and said, “Good luck!”
James said, “Leah should be here soon. She’ll be sorry she missed you.”
“Give her a hug for us,” Kendry called as they made their way across the street and greeted the real estate agent. Presley Ann stayed on his mind as the agent took them on a tour of the surrounding area and properties that were available.
When he’d mentioned the attraction he felt for Presley Ann to Jared a couple of months before, his brother had admitted that she stayed on his mind as well. Surprising or not, neither of them minded that she was bringing a baby into the world on her own. They didn’t know much about babies but any child of hers would be a welcome addition. Kendry’s chief concern was whether the father of her baby might make an appearance in her life someday and whether or not he and Jared might have a chance at making her forget the man entirely.
“You’re willing to pay me to organize your office for you?” Presley Ann asked later the same day after work as she stood in Marvin’s cluttered office. She’d never been in his office because he kept the door closed but it looked like a tornado had hit it. There were copy paper boxes full of manila files piled everywhere, bits and pieces of computers, typewriters, and other unknown equipment on shelves, and boxes holding more stacked next to the boxes of files
Marvin jingled the change in the pockets of his jeans as he stood there with her, looking around at the messy room. The distant rumble of thunder filtered in through the walls of the building, which had originally been a house that Marvin had remodeled into an office with an apartment above it. Storms had been in the forecast for that evening. “Uh, yeah. I started clearing all my business files out of the storage barn today and now I can barely get to my desk. Looking at it through fresh eyes, I must seem like I’m auditioning for that television show Hoarders, huh?”
Presley Ann turned her gaze to him and when he grinned, she burst into laughter. The light fizzy feeling in her heart increased. “My dad put you up to this, didn’t he?”
Marvin ran a hand through his curly white hair and shook his head but his eyes twinkled. “Doesn’t it look like I need the help?”
“Come on, Uncle Marvin.”
“Let me put it this way. My office has been needing a skilled hand at organization for a long time. Now the need is dire. Your dad told me you’re looking for a way to make some extra money on your days off and I’d like to think it’d make your mom happy, knowing that I was somehow contributing to you making ends meet. This is perfect for you, provided you don’t go trying to move any of the heavy boxes. I can do that for you. I spend most of my days at the front counter so this space is always neglected. You live just above the office so you don’t even have to dress up or anything, just come down the back stairs.”
“No one has ever trusted me to organize such a—”
“Mess?” he asked with laughter in his voice as he nudged a box with the toe of his cowboy boot. “It all got packed up when I bought this building and moved from my location downtown and I’ve just never… Well, to be honest, it was a mess back then too, so the mess just moved from there to here and it’s only grown since then. It’s bad, huh?”
“No,” she replied hastily. “No, it’s just a huge project. I’m not renowned as an organized person.”
“You did a fine job of organizing and prettying my storefront and that space upstairs. And your dad and Leah tell me you do a good job of staying organized at work.”
“Yes, when I can stay focused, I do. It’s staying on task that can be the problem.” She squinted at the labels on the boxes and almost didn’t hear him as she lifted the lid on a box marked “1983.” He’d been working on computers and such in the area a long time.
“Ah, don’t be worried about that, Presley Ann. You’ll be the only one working and you won’t have any interruptions, besides from your little one of course.”
She walked around and looked closer at the huge mess and then turned back to him. “I’ll do it.”
“Great. I imagine it’ll take you several months, if you’re working part time, to get it done. I don’t need you to rush. I’d just like it finished before I retire.”
“Well that’s open-ended.”
“Yup. And you’re more than welcome to bring the baby down here with you. There’s even room in the corner for a cradle or playpen if you want. You stop to feed or take care of the baby any time you need to, and I won’t bother you. You can even shut the door if you need privacy to nurse—or whatever,” He blushed a little, probably at the thought of her breastfeeding a baby and she had to giggle at the notion herself. There was a time she’d have been flat out disgusted at the thought of letting a baby near what she’d thought of as perfect breasts. All she cared about now was that they were perfect for breastfeeding, at least that was what she hoped.
“I usually have two days off every week but they switch up my schedule so I don’t always have the same ones.”
“That’s okay. I’ll keep a timesheet on a clipboard for you. You just record your time. And hey, I know little babies can get sick and whatnot, and sometimes need lots of care so if you’re looking for a flexible boss, that’d be me. And like I said, there’s no rush at all.”
“Are you sure my dad didn’t put you up to this?”
Marvin shook his head and looked like he was fighting a grin. “Nope. I’ve heard you’re a good little worker and you always pay your rent on time so I trust you. You set your own pace. And remember, anything that’s hefty I can move for you.”
She looked around at the messy office and said, “I love a challenge.”
It wasn’t until after she’d gone back upstairs that she realized she hadn’t asked him what he was willing to pay her per hour. She wrote herself a note to remember to ask him. Setting her purse and keys on the kitchen counter, she enjoyed the sound of the thunder rumbling in the distance. She’d always loved storms, as long as she was inside where it was safe.
A smile crossed her lips as she looked around the cozy expanse of her apartment. Marvin was right, she had done a good job with it. It was nice to be trusted with the task of organizing his office, even if she did still have the feeling that her dad had put Marvin up to it.
After pulling her shoes from her aching feet and slipping on her comfy house slippers, she came around her closet, which was located in the center of the space and created a division between her living room and kitchen.
Something at the far end of the room caught her eye and surprised a gasp out of her. Next to her neatly made bed was a brand new baby crib. Crossing the room, her first impulse was to worry. This wasn’t the used crib she’d looked at online. She hadn’t mentioned the name of the resale shop in Morehead to James and Vincent. The scent of newness filled the space.
With trembling hands she stroked the beautiful oak grain of the crib. Blue sheets in a cheerful teddy bear print were already on the mattress, and the bumper pad matched. Inside the crib there were packages of waterproof pads, cloth diapers for spills, a fluffy blue teddy bear in the corner.
Taped to the rail of the crib was a blue envelope labeled with her name, in Leah’s cursive handwriting.
“What did they do?” she whispered as she opened the envelope. Her baby boy wiggled and squirmed in her belly as she took a seat in the large, padded rocker she’d found for a steal at a local resale shop. She stroked her abdomen and he quieted down as she read the note inside.
For the peanut,
I hope you like the crib, Sis. It’s solid oak and should last for several of my nephews and nieces. I know you budgeted for a crib and I want you to spend that money on yourself instead. I’ll even help you shop.
Presley Ann laughed. She still hadn’t decided on a name for the baby so Leah and her men called him peanut. Presley Ann had given it a lot of thought over the months and the right name for her baby hadn’t come to her yet. It was an important decision. A small part of her heart told her it was difficult mainly because she didn’t know his father’s name. Given the choice, she’d at least consider naming him after his father.
After dialing Leah’s number, she put her phone to her ear. When the call connected and Leah’s voice came on the line, Presley Ann said, “I have the best sister ever.”
A giggle sounded over the line. “Why?”
“Because you put that snarling hose-beast in her place today at lunch.”
Snorting laughter sounded in her ear. “Yeah, and she deleted my comment like two seconds later.”
“But not before I saw it. You called her on her hatefulness. You should’ve heard her this afternoon before I went to lunch.”
“I heard about a small portion of it from Evelyn when she came back from lunch. Like I’ve said before, that was our dad’s hire, not mine. Soooo…how’s your evening progressing?”
Presley Ann grinned as she caressed the rails of the crib. “This crib must’ve cost you a mint, not including the new linens.”
“The crib was James and Vincent’s idea. They came today to get the extra key to your apartment from me so they could set it up. I already washed the sheets so they’re ready to use. The mattress is made up with three waterproof pads and three sheets.”
“Leah! That’s expensive.”
“Not really, and it will come in handy if he spits up during the night, or so I’m told. All you have to do is strip one set off and there’s another underneath.”
“It’s beautiful, sis. I love it,” she murmured as tears leaked from her eyes. “I wish I could hug you right now.”
“Oh, stop,” Leah replied, her voice sounding soft and shaky on the line. “I know you’ve told me no but I have to ask one more time. Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us until the baby comes? I worry about you there on your own.”
“Sis, I’m right in town, less than ten minutes away from you, and three minutes away from the hospital.”
“But three minutes away is still a long distance to drive all alone if you’re having contractions. It scares me.”
“I’m strong and I can do it. I’ll go to the hospital when they are five minutes apart so if I time it right I should make it with two minutes to spare,” she said, trying for a joking tone so Leah wouldn’t worry.
“But what if your water breaks, or what if you go straight into active labor. I’ve heard of that happening. What if—”
“Stop, sis. You’re looking at all the worst case scenarios. I’m a big girl and I can do this. You’ll see. It’ll be just fine and we’ll laugh later about all your worries. And besides that, you don’t need a big ol’ pregnant lady waddling around your house getting under foot.”
“Not hardly. You’re always at the store. You should be on maternity leave already. I was watching you rub your lower back all afternoon. I know it’s bothering you.”
Her cheeks grew hot and emotion clogged her throat. “You were watching out for me on the security monitors?”
“My back is just stiff, that’s all. I’ve been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and being on my feet just makes it sore and tired, that’s all. I promise I’ll be fine. I should probably be drinking more water, too.” Her back was killing her but she couldn’t stand the thought of Leah worrying like that.
“I can’t convince you to come just until it’s time to go to the hospital? I’m willing to bet it’ll happen any day.”
“Or it could be another two or three weeks. You wouldn’t want me underfoot until Thanksgiving, now would you?”
“Actually, I think it’d be nice.”
“Well, don’t worry, I’ll be there for the holiday one way or the other. You can count on that much, and maybe I’ll have the peanut with me by then.”
“Any closer to deciding a name?”
“No. I may just wait and see what comes to me the first time I hold him.”
Leah chuckled. “That’d drive me insane. Okay, since you won’t come and stay with me just plan on hearing from me every night. Do you have your phone all charged up?”
Looking at the charger cable on the table by her rocker, Presley Ann said, “I’ll put it on the charger as soon as I hang up.”
“Nuh-uh. You can call me overprotective or just understanding of how forgetful pregnant mommy brain has made you lately. Plug it in right now.”
With a snicker and a roll of her eyes, Presley Ann did as her sister directed. “Yes, mother. It’s done now. Happy?”
“Only a little. Don’t forget to drink a glass of water and take your vitamins.”
“You sure do hover a lot, Auntie Leah.”
“Oh hush. I’m making up for lost time. Go look in the fridge.”
“What else have you been up to?”
“Not me, I swear. A little elf has been busy baking, cooking, and shopping for you. Go look.”
She slowly worked her way out of the comfy rocker and padded over to the kitchen on painful feet, heaving a sigh of relief that she’d cleaned out her fridge during a nesting binge the previous weekend. It wouldn’t do for anyone to see how messy it had been.
She pulled open the refrigerator and gasped when she saw containers of her favorite juice, lactose free milk, and yogurt among many other staples stocked up in neat rows on her fridge shelves. Yanking on the freezer door, she squealed when she saw all of the foil-wrapped casserole dishes neatly stacked. She went back to her phone and said, “Lydia came with you?”
“She dropped by earlier because she knew we were here setting up the crib. The container of BlueBell Pumpkin Pie ice cream was my idea. There’s whipped topping in the fridge, too.”
“Sis, I’m just gonna get fatter and fatter at this rate.”
“That’s not why I did it. Ice cream is a good source of calcium. I’ve actually been very relieved to see you eating regular normal meals the last several months. I figured that might be hard for you.”
The laughter was rough in her throat. “You know, honestly, once I came to grips with reality, it wasn’t much of a contest. Even if I wasn’t on my own, it’s what I would do. My head is in a different place now.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know. The whole man-catching thing, stupid as it was, is in the past. It’s me and him now.” She looked down at her large abdomen and grinned when a little elbow stuck out on one side, then he shifted onto her bladder. “Uh-oh, gotta go.”
“You okay?” Leah asked with concern obvious in her voice.
“Yeah. He just bounced on my bladder.”
Leah giggled. “Oh, okay. You sure you don’t want to come with us to supper? Kendry and Jared will be there…” Presley Ann could hear the unvoiced suggestion as her sister’s voice trailed off.
“I really can’t. I need to give my feet and ankles a rest and I have to get some laundry started.”
“Okay, but be careful on the stairs with your baskets. They’re steep and that door is heavy.”
“I know,” she murmured, remembering the day she’d smashed her finger. “Uncle Marvin replaced the back door with one of those heavy metal doors. He says it’s his duty to keep me safe.”
“Uncle Marvin is a sweetheart.”
“Speaking of Uncle Marvin, I got another job today. It’s part time with flexible hours, organizing his office.”
“I’ve seen his office. You’re a brave girl. Okay, go pee. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I love you, Leah. And thank you, and the guys, for the crib and stuff. I’ll give Lydia a call in a bit to thank her, too.”
After hurrying to the bathroom, she separated the laundry into baskets. Because she’d been on a cleaning tear the last few weeks, the loads weren’t very big which meant less to carry up and down the stairs. She’d never been a compulsive cleaner and attributed it to the nesting instinct. Maybe if she could keep a handle on the laundry she could prove to herself that she could be a good mom. Yeah, that explained why the entire apartment was pristine and sanitary. She was in control of her little corner of the world…for now.
This scene will continue in the next Out-takes installment…
Make sure and come back tomorrow morning for a look at the original first kiss between Presley Ann and her men ♥
Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier
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