Ingredients

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When I stepped outside it was like seeing Hereford Hills for the first time. With the early morning sun hanging bright in the clear blue sky, the expansive lawn stretched out before us and revealed a slight curve upon the horizon, indicating the manor sat on a hill. Over the tree tops I spotted a church spire and some ways in the distance I could see gabled roofs and brick chimneys.

It was about a five minute drive through the forest of wind-whipped trees with barely a leaf left on their bony branches before we spotted another house. The skeletal trunks may have thinned as we headed into town, but they could still be found lining Hereford Hills' quaint main street. Eventually though, some green emerged. A thick evergreen stood strong and proud in the center of the town square. I'd bet the house that that particular tree was destined for some sort of extravagant tree lighting, but for now the town was only concerned with rushing off to a turkey feast rather than decking the halls. Though, that didn't stop Jordan from listening to some overly cheerful jingle about sleigh rides that had him tapping his fingers against his steering wheel and swaying his head to the beat.

When I found myself observing his charming cheer with a bit more intensity than I felt comfortable with, I turned my eyes to my passenger side window and watched the town flit by. In the early hours of the day, pedestrians bundled up in woolen coats, knitted scarves, and felt hats, walked down the street with their arms overburdened with tins, trays, and bags full of tasty treats. Every now and then, a family would turn up an elegant walkway of paving stones littered with fallen leaves and knock upon a door dressed with a wreath of little pumpkins and vibrant chrysanthemums.

Some of the passersby waved to Jordan who always gave a hearty greeting in return. As for me, I usually gained a nod and a smile, though curiosity held their tongue and their eyes trailed after us as we continued down the main street towards the heart of town. However, upon reaching a quiet intersection with an adamant red light barring our progress, one pedestrian took the initiative to investigate the new face in town.

"Well, good morning Jordan!" said a cheery woman with silvery curls and a slight stoop to her back. "Happy Thanksgiving!" She took a shaky step off the curb, but then managed a quick, but small stride over to the passenger side of the truck, where I sat with the window partially rolled down. "You have a friend with you."

"Hi Mrs. Green," said Jordan, reaching over and rolling the window down the rest of the way, even if that meant nearly falling in my lap. "This here is Georgina's grandniece. Her name's Madelyn."

"Lyn," I mumbled. "My name is Lyn."

"Oh Madelyn, I'm so happy to meet you," she said, offering her thin, trembling hand over the edge of the window. I glanced up at the now green light, but, to my disappoint, found no one waiting behind us in the side view mirror. With a slight smile, I took her hand, making sure not to grip it too firmly, fearful her bones may break with even the slightest pressure.

"It's Lyn," I repeated. "And it's nice to meet you."

"I can see Georgina in the curve of your lips," she said with a soft smile that caused me to blush and bite back my lips. She chuckled at my reaction and then drew back her hand. "I hope you'll be continuing your aunt's tradition this Christmas."

I tried to keep my internal groan from reaching my eyes. Of course my aunt must have done this dinner at Christmas too. I couldn't just abandon these folks on the holidays, especially when they didn't have a family to take them in. But, I doubted my aunt also ordered the food for Christmas too before her death, which meant I needed to see to it that that was taken care of and foot the bill. Not to mention, I'd have to make sure whoever I hired to run the place for a couple months, knew what to do. Of course, I knew Jordan wouldn't even need me to ask him to make sure everything went smoothly. If only I could just hire him to do everything.

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