Chapter 1.1 - April Craft Day - Emma Nicole

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Everybody in Kilbyford knew the pretty little red brick church on Washington Street was haunted. It was an accepted fact. Also an accepted fact: One final mid-April snowstorm always preceded spring's arrival.

The first fact explained why Emma Nicole Frazier sat in her old blue Honda for fifteen minutes, unwilling to go inside the church alone. The second accounted for her near-hypothermic state, now that she'd entered.

"Well, for goodness' sake, child," her mother scolded. "Why didn't you start the car and run the heat?" Pamela Adkins shook the snow from her heavy blue parka and hung it on the rack next to the door.

"Have you seen the price of gas lately? Have I got money to burn?" Emma shot back. She didn't want to mention her car's recent tendency to overheat, lest she be lectured about driving the grandchild around in a unsafe vehicle. As if she had a choice.

Margaret bustled into the room, yanking her stocking cap off with one hand. The motion left every hair on her head standing on end, lending her the appearance of a freshly shaven Albert Einstein. "Don't start bickering, you two," she commanded. "Today is a day for celebration!"

Lisa click-clacked into the room in four-inch stiletto fur-lined boots. Her blonde curls bounced on her straight shoulders. The only sign that she'd walked through the same storm as the rest of them showed in the pretty pink flush spread across her high, slim cheekbones. "Don't you feed me your line of bull, Zeke Ford. You've had your six weeks, which means that report will be on my desk Monday morning or I'll be giving the account to Buckley." She stopped, just inside the doorway and listened for a moment. "No, I will not. And if I ever hear that term on your lips again you'll never so much as get a bid into my office. I know for a fact you don't talk like that to male associates." She walked over and set the clear plastic box she carried on the end of one of the long rows of tables, flashed a dazzling smile at the other women, held up her index finger in a "one-minute" gesture, and clicked back out again.

Emma sighed, watching her go. Beauty, money, brains, and a yoga butt after age forty. If she wasn't the single sweetest, kindest, most generous woman in the world it would be easy to hate her.

"Why are we celebrating?" Pamela asked.

"Because it's snowing!" Margaret exclaimed.

Emma started unpacking her fabric scraps and laying them out along the length of one row. "I don't see why that's much cause to celebrate. It's been snowing since last October."

"Because those are the terms of your contract," Lisa said, from just outside the door.

Margaret grinned, showing off a set of dentures far more perfect than real teeth could ever be. "But this is a mid-April snowstorm. Spring is on the way."

Emma smoothed a wrinkle out of a square of turquoise cotton. "It can't get here soon enough." The past six months had been the worst of her life. Maybe if the sun could literally shine again, some metaphorical light could come back into her world. Doubtful, but a girl could hope.

"Don't mind her," Pamela said. "She's just grouchy because Aiden spent the night at Paul's." She opened the snaps on her file box and extracted a large black pencil pouch.

"Really, Mom?"

"It's true," Pamela said, mirroring her daughter's hands-on-hips stance. It was like looking in a magic mirror that showed a twenty-three year age difference. Same thick mouse-brown hair, same sturdy midwestern build, same hazel eyes squinted into an unspoken challenge. Only a slight fullness of form and a few strands of grey on the older woman set them apart.

Lisa stepped into view again, plucking what appeared to be a white plastic bean from one ear. "Are they fighting already?" she asked Margaret.

"It's how they show affection," Margaret replied. "How's business, dear? By the sounds of it, you're giving them H-E-double-hockey-sticks."

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