Chapter 10

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It was late April. I'd been in the new house for a little over three weeks. When I first purchased the property, Mary had asked me if I should arrange for Harry deliver my furniture from the house in Sellwood. I told her I didn't want any of it and that I'd let it go with the sale. She gave me a confused look. I told her I didn't want any reminders. I wanted to fully embrace my new life in Bend.

"You know I have all my mother's old furniture in the barn. I never knew what to do with it. It's very old fashioned but you're welcome to it. It would be more than enough to fill your house."

"That would be wonderful. Mary. How is it that you always help find my dreams? How come it doesn't matter what I think or do, you listen and never criticize? It seems like you always think my ideas are good ones and I know that not all of them are."

She stood up and leaned over me and kissed me on the forehead, "Don't you know by now that I love you?"

I did know it, but the way she said made me want to cry; it was so motherly, so protective.

"I think we need to go out and see how the pergola's coming."

I had sketched the design for my garden and it was time to put all the plants and trees in the ground. Frank was building the wooden structure and it was almost finished.

We walked out back. "Mary, I'm still going to finish your garden." I said to her.

"I know you will. I'm in no hurry. Let's get your place together first, all right? What'll you plant to climb over the pergola?"

"I don't know. Wisteria or grapes?"

"Maybe you should use grapes, you could take some starts from the vineyard." Mary and Frank grew champagne, green and concord grapes. I agreed. It would be lovely to see the large, light-green leaves creating a filtered shade. And then when the grapes were ripe, I could hold Charlie up to pick handfuls and watch him devour them. After he'd eaten his fill, I'd carry him over to the garden hose to wash his sticky little hands.

I felt so blessed to have saved myself from a life of pain and jealousy. Why had I acted like a child with Jeff Lambert? And for so long? My life all came together once I was able to free myself from him. I had a house that felt like a home, just like Mary and Frank's. Maybe it was also the furniture that gave it that homey quality. Unlike Mary's opinion, to me her mother's furnishings weren't old fashioned at all. The mahogany hutch fit perfectly against the wall in the dining room. I kept my table linen in the drawers, along with my mother's silver that I'd brought back with me. Frank had helped me hang a large, stained oak mirror over the hutch. It reflected the light from the windows facing the side of the house with the view of empty fields that, at one time, had been full of rows and rows of corn.

The kitchen table was my favorite. It was a big farm table with wooden, ladder-back chairs. This house had such a lovely kitchen. Once the garden was mature, the window over the sink would look out on to an herb garden and further in the distance a pergola covered in bright green grape vines and colorful fruit. I had planned the flowers so they would erupt in a choreography of colors. I'd planted jasmine around what would be the stone walkway to the pergola. I knew the jasmine would provide a sweet scent all through summer. I didn't mind that the garden was still mostly barren. I knew the seeds were there under the earth and would someday be mature plants. I didn't mind because the garden would grow up with Charlie. I didn't need what I had in Sellwood; gardens that had been established back in my mother's time. At my farmhouse, I wouldn't have to fight trying to transplant 40 year old shrubs to make the garden mine.

I was so happy. Even when a letter came from Jeff in late April and another in early May, I didn't care what he had to say and I wasn't afraid of him. I didn't even read them; I tore them up and threw them in the trash. He was still sending them to Mary and Frank's, which I didn't like. I knew he was aware of the risk of Frank finding the letters, but even that didn't intimidate me. I had planned on telling Frank, being honest with him. Even if he were to grow disappointed with me, I was like a daughter to him. Charlie was his grandson, legitimately, since I had named he and Mary guardians. At the same time, I had to tell him. I knew that. Mary and I practiced what to say and how we'd say it. She was sure he would come around. It worried me that she was so hesitant to tell him the truth but she reassured me, telling me we'd softened him up. I saw so much love in his eyes and if it weren't for him, my house wouldn't be so beautiful.

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