Chapter 29

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Barlow and Irv tweaked their original plan. Given that Barlow was staying in Perry County to be with Pet while she recovered, he decided to embed himself with Les's crew and help on the New Bloomfield construction project. Irv's crew would finish up in Ohio and relocate to Pennsylvania for the winter. Barlow being there would ease the transition.

On Saturday morning, four days after Pet's accident, she was due to be discharged. Both her mother and Barlow waited at bedside for the nurse to arrive with a wheelchair to roll her out. Pet was dressed and argumentative. Her mother insisted she should stay with her for a few days, but Pet was digging in her heels, asserting she wanted to go to her own apartment.

"You need a few more days to recuperate," Mrs. Henning said. "It only makes sense that I help you with that."

Why wouldn't she want to spend a few days with her mother? He kept his mouth shut not wanting to get in the middle of it. Mother and daughter would have to work it out.

"Your car is totaled," her mother pointed out. "How are you going to get around?"

"Duh," Pet rolled her eyes, just like she used to back in middle school. Barlow found it endearing. She went on. "I'll just have to buy a replacement."

The doctors had performed surgery on her broken nose. Her nose and cheeks were an ugly shade of purple. Her eyes and forehead had a yellowish tint. The scar on her forehead seemed to be healing nicely. The surgeon did a great job making sure the scar would be barely noticeable. Barlow thanked God the rest of her body wasn't broken.

Pet stood and paced. She didn't have any problem being on her feet. "I don't know why we can't just leave. Pushing me out on a wheelchair is totally unnecessary."

"Honey, it's just standard procedure. Calm down."

Pet looked out the window. "Besides, Barlow wants to visit me every day after work, and my apartment is closer to the Dancing Bear than it is to your house. He wouldn't have to drive so far to see me."

Mrs. Henning went quiet. It appeared as if she was going to give in. She looked at him. "Barlow, why don't you come stay with us? It'll save you the cost of lodging."

Her request blindsided him. He said nothing while considering how to respond.

"When you were growing up, you spent as much time with us as you did at home. It wouldn't feel odd to me if you came to stay a while."

"Really, Mom? Are you serious?" Pet looked at Barlow. "I'd like that."

He decided he liked the idea too. "It would be convenient. I need to have a couple meetings with an auctioneer to dispose of Dad's house. It's next to yours, and I'd be right there. Pet, we could more easily work together on solving my mystery." He didn't want to get more specific, not knowing how much she had disclosed to her mother. "I could take you around shopping for a car."

"It would be nice having a man around the house again," Mrs. Henning said. "If only for a little while."

Pet met his gaze.

He grinned. "When you're all healed up, I'll help you get settled back into your apartment. Your mom is right about how much time I used to spend at your place. It'll be just like old times."

She looked at the floor. The corners of her mouth quivered. Barlow knew that look well, just like he knew everything else about her so well. She was holding back a smile.

 She was holding back a smile

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