Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments

Page 2

I tucked my feet underneath me. “I’m sure this isn’t what you’re askin’, but I’m perpetually cold. I’m dealing with two furnaces that can barely keep up—both here and at home. The landlord keeps doin’ patch jobs on this one rather than getting us a new unit, and I can’t afford to replace the one at the farmhouse.”

Jonah gave me a pointed look and started to say something, but I held up my hand.

“No, I won’t let Mason pay for it. And yes, he’s offered a half dozen times.”

“Rose…”

I leaned closer, lowering my voice. “He’s paying for all our living expenses. Shoot, I’m so broke he had to give me money for gas this morning.”

Worry filled his eyes. “Maybe you shouldn’t hire someone to help out at the nursery.”

I shook my head. “No, the nursery is actually bringing in money. Thankfully, the town’s overlooked Violet and Brody MacIntosh’s affair, and they’re flocking to it, even in January. Violet’s carrying more home décor items, and now she’s offering home decorating services. We need someone to cover for her when she’s gone.” This new part of the business had been a lucky accident—much like how the landscaping portion of our business had fallen into our laps months ago. One of Violet’s friends had asked her opinion on which of several items would look better in her house, and by the end of the week, Violet had three appointments to go to homes for consultations.

“And you can’t cover the shop?”

I squirmed in my seat. “Yes…but it’s busy enough that we can justify hiring someone. We figured we’d be able to train the new person before RBW Landscaping gets busy in the spring and I won’t be able to help at all.”

He pressed his lips together but didn’t say anything.

I scowled. “I know that look, Jonah Pruitt, and no, this is not an instance of me avoiding my sister. I’ve already filled in several times.”

A grin tugged at the corners of his lips. “I didn’t say a word.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“But isn’t the fact that it was the first thing to jump into your mind a telling sign?”

I groaned and gripped the arm of my chair.

He leaned forward and patted my hand. “Rose, you’ve made tremendous progress. Sometimes you just have to deal with the issues as they come.”

My head began to tingle and my peripheral vision faded. I very well knew what that meant. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had visions. They always show me a moment from the future of the person next to me, seen through their eyes.

This time, I found myself in Jonah’s office, sitting in his chair. A man I’d never seen sat in a chair in front of Jonah’s desk. He was middle-aged with a slight pouch on his belly. His hair was light brown and his cheeks were as rosy as Santa Claus’s.

The man leaned forward, his fingers drumming nervously on the arm of his chair, and stared at me with eyes full of desperation. “Do you take confessions?”

My mouth dropped open. “Well, I’m not a Catholic priest who can give you absolution.”

He shook his head and stood. “This was a bad idea. I’m tellin’ ya, there’s trouble afoot in this town and it’s about to get worse.”

The vision faded and I blurted out, “There’s trouble afoot and it’s gettin’ worse.” Just another side effect to my “gift”—I always blurted out part of what I saw. Sometimes it got me in trouble, but Jonah was one of the handful of people who knew about my visions.

“There’s always trouble afoot in your life,” he said with a smile, “but judging from the vacant look you just had, I suspect you had a vision. Of me.”

“Yes.” I told him what I’d seen, including a description of the man. “Do you know who he is? I didn’t recognize him.”

“No, but the description is generic enough it could fit a lot of men. I suspect the important part is the message he gave me. Do you know of any trouble?”

“Hilary’s pregnant with Joe’s baby and he won’t marry her; Neely Kate lost her own babies; someone tried to kill Mason; I’m broke and my furnaces are about to die. There’s all kinds of trouble afoot.”

He laughed. “Yes, but I doubt any of those examples explain the mystery gentleman in my office.”

“True.” I doubted we were going to find an answer right now, so I forced a grin. “Enough about that. I want to hear about your new girlfriend. How’s it going with you and Jessica?”

A blush rose on his cheeks. “It’s the same as the last time you asked, thank you. And I can recognize a deflection when I see one.”

I laughed. “Can’t blame a girl for tryin’.”

“Have you talked to Joe lately?”

My smile fell. I hadn’t talked to Joe since that awful day in the hospital—two weeks ago now. I’d stayed away on purpose. It unsettled me, but when I thought of the man who’d been so strong and supportive and gentle that day, I saw Joe McAllister, the man I’d fallen in love with, not Joe Simmons. “No. Did you know his sister has been spending time in Henryetta?”

“Joe has a sister?”

“Kate. I’m sure you’d remember her if you saw her. She has a short dark bob with blue streaks.”

And suddenly I had an idea how to cheer Neely Kate up. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket.

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