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CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE – TROUBLE BREWING ( Friday, December 23 )
It was Friday, and Sarah had not yet heard from Lindsey. She didn't want to call her, knowing she and Leslie were getting ready for the funeral on Monday. It had been announced in the newspaper. Sarah had done nothing on Thursday concerning her job with the travel agency. She had moped around and half-heartedly helped the kids clean their rooms, wrapped a few presents, played with the household cat, and did a few chores around the house. She had not brought up the subjects of the car accident or Lindsey with Sylvia the past two days. It was too painful for her to discuss. From all outside appearances, life went on as if nothing significant had happened.
As for Sylvia, she had gone to work Thursday and spent the whole day at the clothing store. When she got home, she said sales had been booming, and she was anxious to go back Friday. She had not talked about the last couple of days, either. She was still in shock that her baby sister—her baby sister —had feelings for Lindsey. How could Sarah let herself be taken in by that lesbian slut?
Sarah's phone jingled its merry tune. She rushed up the stairs from the family room, knowing it was Lindsey, at last, without even looking at the caller ID number.
"Hi, Lindsey," she said, happily. "I've been waiting for you to call. How are things going?" She tried to sound as positive as possible, to help Lindsey through this transition period of her father's death.
"Sarah, can we get together tomorrow for lunch—before we have the Christmas program practice? I need to talk to you." Lindsey sounded distressed.
"What's the matter, Lindsey?" Sarah asked. "You sound bothered about something. Can we talk on the phone?"
"No. I had a big argument with Leslie Wednesday after the service about something, and I need to talk to you in person. So will you meet me tomorrow for lunch at Rita's ? Say one o'clock?"
"Of course, sweetheart. Though I wish you'd let me know what's on your mind now ."
"I can't, Sarah. But remember that I love you. That will never change." She hung up before Sarah could say another word.
Sarah turned and gazed down into the family room and then looked out the bay window, wishing she could go over to Lindsey's house. But she had all these kids to take care of, and Sylvia was gone for the day. What the hell is going on? She had never known Lindsey to argue with anybody , and never would she have thought she would get into it with her twin sister. I do that with Sylvia all the time, she thought, but that's not Lindsey . She had seen Lindsey's anger previously with the busload of men who tried to steal from The Old West Town 's church, but she didn't argue with them. She just told them where to get off. She was in control and furious. Now she sounded so depressed, and she sensed the yearning behind that, too.
* * * * * *
Lindsey came down the stairs and put her winter coat on. Leslie was in the living room, gazing at the tree with its presents scattered around underneath.
She looked up as Lindsey entered the room. "What should we do with these presents, Lindsey?" she said sadly. She had calmed down considerably after her outburst on Wednesday. Yesterday—Thursday—had been filled with making preparations for the funeral.
"Just leave them where they are—for now." Lindsey walked over to her sister and put her arms around her. Whatever reason Leslie had for saying those awful things about her, they were still sisters and closer than ever after their father's death. If only her daddy had not sold the ranch. If only she had moved on to train horses when they moved to Cheyenne. If only she had not given in to her sexual appetite when they moved to the big city. If only she had tried to help in the church more, maybe daddy would still be alive. If only's ...all water under the bridge now.
Leslie was partially right. Lindsey had run a brothel in Cheyenne. And she had taken to bed almost every woman she could before she moved to Laramie. She had tried her best to change when she came here. She no longer ran a brothel, but concerning her appetite for sex, it had been almost impossible to change—until she met Sarah Davis.
"Just how long have you known about me, Leslie?" she asked, pulling away, "...that I'm gay?"
"Lindsey, I've known since you were a little girl out on the ranch. It was all I could do to keep it from daddy. When I'd see you pull girls over to you and kiss them, I knew there was something different about you. I wouldn't dare tell daddy. I'm your twin sister, Lindsey. What if I grew up to be gay, too? It would have broken daddy's heart for both of us to be lesbians. He never did figure it out about you."
Lindsey hugged her again, aware now of the tremendous bond there was between them as twins—even though they had their differences.
The church was taking care of lining out the funeral services—at both the church and the burial site. It was a good church and had been good to her father—and to her and Leslie. Nevertheless, Lindsey also had to take care of preparations for the Christmas program at The Old West Town .
"I have to get things ready out at The Old West Town for tomorrow," she said, unwrapping her arms. "Will you be all right here?"
"Yes, I'll be all right," Leslie said. "One of the ladies of the church is coming over this afternoon for a while. She's one of the other Sunday School teachers." She turned back to the tree. "I think I'll just take daddy's presents and lay them to the side over here in the corner."
"Whatever you want to do. I'll be back later."
"Drive carefully," Leslie said. "I don't want to lose a sister, too."
Lindsey slowly made her way out of town. Thoughts of Sarah and the argument with Leslie dissipated into the background as she focused on The Old West Town . She hadn't been out there all week and didn't know what to expect when she got there. Deanna had been there for her, and she was so glad she had someone who was dependable and trustworthy. After they had put a stop to those men stealing things from the church, Deanna had been ever more vigilant over who bought tickets to the western town. They had been closed Monday and Tuesday because of the storm.
Lindsey was also sure Herman had taken it upon himself to have the snow removed from the old town on Wednesday. She would have liked to have been there, but she trusted Herman to do what was necessary. She was so thankful for good help.
As she pulled up into the parking lot, she noted with satisfaction that the snow was piled high at one end. The snow removers had done a good job. The snow was melting quickly, as the temperature rose to 50 degrees yesterday, and the asphalt paving was showing. The snow in the parking lot would probably all be gone by tomorrow afternoon.
She drove around to the outdoor stage and grinned as she saw that Herman had shoveled out behind there, too. He knew that was where Lindsey always parked. As she pulled up there in her truck, she glanced around The Old West Town and saw that the sidewalks were cleared of snow. In addition, the snow had been packed down in the dirt street to a smooth surface so people wouldn't have to trudge through on their way to the church. Good deal, she thought. What a great handyman I have working with me here!
She went into the Visitor Center and Deanna came out from behind the counter and gave her a hug. It was the first time Deanna had ever hugged her. "I'm sorry, Lindsey," she said.
"Thanks. We're doing okay. The funeral is Monday. You'll come? The Old West Town won't be open that day."
"Of course I'll come to the funeral. And Herman is planning on coming, too."
Lindsey released her, the business at hand on her mind. "We need to get hold of two or three of the girls who work here in the summertime and see if they can come out and help tomorrow. People may start coming as early as one o'clock, just to roam through the town, but the program doesn't start till three. Then there's a repeat performance at five. So I need help from about one o'clock on. Do you think you can handle that end of it—getting help out here? I know some women can't come—being this close to Christmas, and on such short notice, too. I should have made arrangements sooner. Call people till you have some firm commitments. Okay?"
"Sure, I can do that for you," Deanna responded. "The list of employees is on the computer."
"I think a couple of them have moved away, and I haven't asked you to delete them from the records yet. So if you find they no longer live here, you can do that, too, can't you?"
Deanna nodded her head.
A couple of men walked up to Lindsey. She had noticed them as she came into the Visitor Center, but didn't pay any attention, thinking they were just browsing around. They must belong to the two cars she saw in the parking lot when she drove up.
"Are you Lindsey Hobbs?" one of them said.
"Who wants to know?" Lindsey shot back.
"I'm Arnie Potter, from the Laramie Herald . This is my photographer, Wilson Abernathy. Could we talk to you for a few minutes?"
"About what?" Lindsey was in no mood to talk to reporters unless it had to do with the Christmas program. Perhaps she'd get free advertising in this evening's paper.
"We were wondering if you knew the other two people in the car accident your father was in. I understand that the man in the other vehicle deliberately plowed into your father's car. What reason would he have for doing that?"
"Look, buddy," Lindsey came back at him. "I don't know what you hope to accomplish by asking questions like this, and I certainly don't know where you're getting your information. But my father is dead now, so what does it matter?"
"I think it would matter a great deal to the people in your church."
"Get out of my face," Lindsey said, starting to turn her back on them. "You don't know what you're talking about. Case closed."
Then she stopped and turned back around and faced them fully, anger on her face. "In fact, get the hell out of my Visitor Center," she said, pointing to the door, "unless you want to advertise the Christmas program being held tomorrow in honor of my father's memory."
The two men looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. "Maybe we'll be back later to take a few pictures." Then they left.
It wasn't soon enough for Lindsey. It took her a while to calm down. She didn't need to have rumors spreading around about what she knew to be true, so she did not verify the reporter's information about the two other people in the accident. She didn't know where they had gotten their information, but reporters always have a way of finding out things. She hoped they wouldn't be back. They better not be back, she thought.
CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR – A GRATEFUL PEOPLE
"I'm going to check around the old town and see how things are," Lindsey said to Deanna. "Herman is here, isn't he?"
"Yes. He's around somewhere. You never know where that old codger hangs out, though. Sometimes I think he sleeps here, just to make certain nothing is missing when he starts work the next day!" Deanna smiled broadly, showing her sparkling white teeth.
Lindsey went out the door to the old western complex, thinking, The gall of those two reporters ! She was still upset.
She strode down to the church first, as that was her main focus. As she approached it, she drew up short and shook her head—disbelieving—and just gazed at the front of the church. It was covered with Christmas wreaths and Christmas lights. A huge Christmas tree—completely decorated—was near the entrance. Someone had set up a couple of posters on the sidewalk in front of the church that advertised the Christmas program. They had taken one of the small posters from town and maximized it into posters that were about six times the size of the original. When people started flocking through the gate tomorrow, they couldn't help but notice where to go. Additional small signs were pointing the way from the Visitor Center all the way to the church. She knew people from the church had been out here doing all of this.
Tears started leaking from her eyes, and she thought how much her daddy was loved. She would never let it be known who her father really was. It would destroy Faith Community Church . She received word from the hospital on Thursday morning that Mr. Murray had died in the night, so that kind of information would not be spread through him . She knew her sister Leslie wouldn't say anything, either, even though she knew the truth. She wouldn't accept it as truth, because she would never believe it of their father!
Lindsey was glad she was moving out of the house. Depending on daddy's will, if he left his house to his daughters, she would let Leslie keep the house and live in it. She wanted no part of it. Her heart began to ache as she thought of Sarah and of how much she loved her. She longed to see her.
She walked into the church and was greeted by more Christmas decorations adorning each pew, on the walls, and at the back of the choir loft. She looked around in gratitude. What a fitting memorial for my father, she thought. He loved the Christmas season.
Herman came out from the small room adjacent to the sanctuary. "A little bit ago some ladies from the church dropped off some refreshments for tomorrow's performances," he said. "There's almost enough food in that little room to feed the whole town of Laramie!"
Lindsey walked over to the doorway and looked inside. The small table was piled high with cookies and cakes. Herman said the choir ladies planned to bring little sandwiches and salads tomorrow before the program.
"Your father was certainly well-thought-of," he said. "Do you remember when he first saw this church?"
Yes, Lindsey remembered the dark, drab, and plain—but authentic—church building when she first came to see The Old West Town . She had brought her father out here, and he had fallen in love with it. He built on to it from the back, expanding it and making it larger, then furnished it with pews, chairs, candles, and other things. He wanted people to realize how important a role churches had always played in the development of the old western towns during that era. Hiram saw to it that the church would not be barren, even if no other buildings had anything done to them! He never offered to fix up the other buildings, either, even though he had enough money to give the entire western town quite a facelift. His love was the church, and Lindsey thought of that now—her father's love for the church.
Then he had to go and get himself in trouble because of his insatiable appetite for sex. She shook her head again at the futility of life in the face of passion—how people got themselves in such horrible messes with their lives because they couldn't control themselves.
She knew she'd be able to do something with her life now, before it was too late. All because Sarah had become the most important person in her heart. She would never go back to what she'd been. She had to level with Sarah, so Sarah would know the truth. Hopefully, she wouldn't condemn her and walk out of her life forever.
CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE – UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ( Saturday, December 24 )
"Hi, Lindsey...and Sarah," Annette said as she walked up to their table at Rita's Home Town Café . "Beth and I thought we'd stop in for a bite to eat before dress rehearsal today. Mind if we join you?"
Annette and Beth were both dressed in western attire for the Christmas program. Unlike Lindsey and Sarah—who wore jeans, western shirts and cowboy boots—their clothes were prairie dresses, billowing out as if they were blowing in the wind. They had long sleeves with puffy shoulders, and sunbonnets to match. Sarah smiled slightly. She didn't like Annette now that she had gotten to know her better. She liked her even less when she walked up to Lindsey, expecting Lindsey to accommodate her.
"I'm sorry, Annette, but this is a private lunch between just the two of us," Lindsey responded. Annette's eyes widened perceptibly and her eyebrows rose in disbelief.
Lindsey continued, gesturing, "But I notice there's a table over there on the other side of the room." She beckoned to a waitress passing by and asked her if she could seat her friends at that other table.
Annette turned and walked away from Lindsey with her head held high, pretending that Lindsey's dismissal didn't upset her. Beth followed her example.
Sarah smiled slightly again—this time at Lindsey, who was looking at her menu, seemingly not distracted by the interruption. She finally looked up at Sarah and shrugged her shoulders. "I didn't want to share you with Annette. You're mine," she whispered.
"You mean Annette is a lesbian ?" Sarah whispered back.
Lindsey nodded her head.
"And she's in the Bible Study group?" Sarah asked.
Again, Lindsey nodded her head.
"What about Beth? Is she a lesbian, too?" She was still whispering, looking around to make sure no one overheard.
"Uhhh...I really don't know. Come to think about it, she and Annette hang out a lot together. Could be—" Her face assumed a blank look, and she shrugged her shoulders again.
"What is it you're not telling me, Lindsey?" Sarah wanted some answers.
"Our Bible Study group is a cover for a lesbian book group," Lindsey admitted without hesitation. Her eyes were pleading as she lifted her head and gazed at Sarah. "I was going to tell you when you came to the Bible Study for the first time."
"You weren't going to tell me till then ?" Sarah was incredulous. "What were you thinking? That I'd disapprove of it?" She saw the pathetic look in Lindsey's eyes. "Actually," she said, "I find it rather exciting! A lesbian book group...what a surprise."
Lindsey smiled broadly. "You mean you're okay with that?" she asked. She hadn't expected this reaction from Sarah. Maybe she would start up the group again after she moved and have a real lesbian book group. She could forget about the Bible Study altogether, because she didn't have to answer to her father anymore. She felt relieved when she realized she didn't have to answer to him for anything now.
"Of course, I'm okay with that, Lindsey," Sarah replied.
Then Lindsey had second thoughts. Maybe it isn't such a good idea to start up the group again. She had experienced sex with three of the women in it. Eventually Sarah would find out, when Lindsey didn't continue her once-a-month agenda, if not before . She didn't want to take that chance. The ladies, especially Annette, would be sure to question why. She'd have a problem with Annette, in any case—and probably sooner than later. She decided she'd cross that bridge when she came to it.
"Are you going to have the Bible Study after you move into your apartment?" Sarah asked. "That is, if you're still going to move into the apartment—" She left the statement hanging.
"Oh, I'm still going to move. But I won't have the Bible Study. There's no need for it. My father isn't around anymore. In fact, I'll probably quit going to church."
Sarah was startled that Lindsey would think of a major decision like that so quickly after her father's death.
"The lesbian book group then?" she said.
"I don't think so."
"Why not? I think that's a great idea."
Just then, the waitress came up to the table to take their order.
"Let's order, shall we?" Lindsey said, temporarily putting the matter to rest. She knew Sarah would keep after her about it, though, and she just didn't know how to answer her.
They talked over lunch about the funeral arrangements. They were just about finished eating when Sarah decided it was time to question her concerning the real reason they were having lunch together. She knew it had nothing to do with the funeral. She had hoped Lindsey would open up to her first , without having to ask her. It was after 1:30, and most of the customers in the restaurant had left. Even Annette and Beth had gone. Annette had said flippantly as she brushed past them, "See you out at The Old West Town , Lindsey...and Sarah."
"What was it you wanted to tell me that you couldn't talk to me about on the phone?" Sarah glanced up at Lindsey, who was wiping her mouth. Lindsey put down her napkin and opened her mouth to speak, but something came out which Sarah didn't expect. It did nothing to sate her curiosity.
"We need to get over to The Old West Town for rehearsal. I should be there already. We shouldn't have taken so much time for lunch."
"Lindsey!" Sarah said abruptly, putting her hand on Lindsey's arm. "What's going on?" She was insistent.
"We'll talk later, Sarah. It's just not the right time, and it would take too long. Let's go."
Lindsey got up from the table, leaving money for the meal, and strode towards the door to go to the truck. Sarah hurriedly followed. She had no clue why Lindsey was behaving this way. Something was certainly upsetting her.
Sarah had called Lindsey earlier to pick her up at her house because Sylvia was going to drive the SUV to The Old West Town for the Christmas program. There was still a lot of snow on the ground, and she didn't want to take a chance on getting stuck in Sylvia's little compact car.
Lindsey had been cheerful and outgoing when she first came to the house and as they drove to Rita's . Now, after they were settled in their seats, buckled up and ready to head out to the Christmas practice, Sarah could see that Lindsey's demeanor had changed to a definite sadness.
Once or twice over lunch, Sarah noticed that tears would begin to well up in Lindsey's eyes and she would take her napkin, wipe her nose and eyes and then go back to eating. She must really be taking her daddy's death hard, Sarah thought, as they had been talking about the funeral.
They were quiet all the way to the western town. Although the funeral was in Lindsey's thoughts, that was not the reason for her sadness. How can I talk to Sarah? How can I explain to her what I've done with my life? Will she understand? Will I lose her? She didn't think she could go on living if Sarah wasn't a part of her life.
She reached over once as she drove and took Sarah's hand. "I love you," she said simply.
"I love you, too, sweetheart," Sarah answered, squeezing Lindsey's hand.
She slid closer to Lindsey and put her head on Lindsey's shoulder, still holding her hand. She was satisfied to wait for Lindsey to say what she needed to say. All Sarah desired right now was to be close to her...love her...help ease her troubled mind.
CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX – A BIT OF THE OLD WEST
They pulled up to The Old West Town where people were already gathering for the Christmas program. Some of them had gone into the Visitor Center, but many were still standing out in the visitors' parking lot. Deanna wasn't selling tickets and letting anyone into the complex until a half hour before the program started. There would be plenty of time for them all to be seated. Thankfully, no one—not even tourists who might have wanted to tour the town—had come early. So although extra help hadn't been needed at one o'clock, as Lindsey predicted, it was good they were on hand early to help with other things. For instance, they made sure the refreshment room was ready and agreed amongst themselves what their role would be concerning the Christmas program.
Lindsey parked in her regular parking spot and noted that the three employees standing by the door of the church whom Deanna had recruited were three women she would have pulled in herself to work.
She recognized Daisy from her buxomness. The identification badge on her chest stuck out like a glittering star waiting to be plucked from the sky.
There was Dorothy, the tall, slim, dark-haired girl who rarely smiled, but who could talk up a storm about the town—anything the tourists wanted to know.
In addition, Brandy was there—the woman whom Lindsey hired right off the bat when she took over management of the town. Brandy was a tall blonde with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She knew her way around horses and was an all-around friendly type. Anyone who walked up to her would be greeted with a meaningful and open smile. She and her sister were co-owners of a horse ranch in Southern California, so she didn't really have to work. Lindsey never understood why she left California to make her home in Laramie, but was glad to have her.
These three women will work out just fine for this program, Lindsey thought, as she and Sarah hurried into the church. The choir members were already assembled in their seats in the choir loft, talking amongst themselves. Sarah took her place in the alto section.
As Lindsey stepped up to the front of the choir behind her music stand, all eyes immediately focused on her. The conversation came to a halt.
"You ladies look wonderful this afternoon!" Lindsey said with gusto. "I'm so proud of you! Why, look at you , Mabel! Where did you get such a beautiful country dress, sweetie?" Mable, an older woman, immediately blushed—as if on cue—just as Lindsey thought she would.
Suddenly, Sarah realized what it was that made Lindsey such a great leader. She was able to gather herself together, take charge and do what needed to be done, in spite of what was going on with her emotionally at any given moment. She looked over at Leslie and noted Leslie's eyes were wet. She wondered what had happened between the two sisters. It seemed to be all right now, she guessed, as Lindsey gave a nod to Leslie, and Leslie nodded back.
Lindsey was pleased that things were in order when she got to the church. Marlene had done an excellent job of attending to the music, making sure the CD player was ready to go and that the choir members were seated properly. Lindsey couldn't help but smile, and everyone smiled back.
They practiced for exactly half an hour and then Lindsey dismissed the choir for fifteen minutes to get some refreshments and told them to be back in the choir loft at 2:55 sharp—in their seats and ready to sing.
She grabbed Sarah by the hand. They left the church building and ran back to the Visitor Center to let Deanna know it was all right now to let people into the complex. By that time, there were close to a hundred men, women and children milling around inside and outside of the Visitor and Information Center.
Deanna began selling tickets, with her mother inside the door checking to make sure everyone had a ticket before they were allowed into the complex through the turnstile.
Herman was outside the door, guiding them down the sidewalk in the direction of the church. Daisy stood at the door of the church and answered questions brightly. The other two helpers were inside the church building, directing people to their seats and answering questions.
After making sure things were running smoothly, Lindsey and Sarah sprinted back to the church and hurriedly downed half a cup of coffee and a thin slice of delicious red velvet cake before they went back to where the choir was gathering.
The Christmas program started right on time after an introduction by Lindsey. She stressed the importance of the Christmas season, and why the program came to be held at The Old West Town.
"Maybe some of you don't know, but my father used to raise horses on a large ranch east of Cheyenne. When he found the Lord, it was always his dream to preach in an old western town. But the problem was that he was born a little too late. The old western towns had all but disappeared by then—due to progress. Then he saw this replica of an authentic western town and fell in love with it, because the church was at its center. Since he couldn't preach in a town like this, I felt the next best thing would be to have a Christmas program performed here. So I found one that was based on a western theme, presented it to him, and he said 'go for it.' We hope you enjoy the performance. It's called A Bit of the Old West. We present it in memory of our father and pastor, the Reverend Hiram Hobbs."
Amidst thundering applause, she turned and directed the choir in a heart-inspiring Christmas program, lasting just over an hour. Lindsey didn't ever remember the choir singing so well, and her heart was bursting with pride. Her sister Leslie was exceptional on her solo parts.
After the program, bowing to a standing ovation, Lindsey dismissed the choir again and said for them to be back in half an hour. She told the audience that there were refreshments in the little room off to the side of the church if they wanted to stay and visit for a little bit. She told her helpers that there was an encore performance at 5 o'clock, and they needed to have the visitors out of the church fifteen minutes before then so other people could come in and see the second performance.
She delegated this last task to Brandy and Dorothy. She left Daisy at the church door to answer questions. Daisy was the epitome of the wholesome, old-fashioned type of woman who fit right in with a western setting. Even though she wore jeans, a western shirt and a big Stetson hat, people catered to her the most because of her winning ways. She could make anybody feel comfortable in a minute! This was especially true of the men, who couldn't keep their eyes off her ample bosom.
Lindsey saw Sarah head toward the little room for some refreshments and wished she could join her, but she had to go back up to the Visitor Center and make sure things were still running smoothly for the next performance. She noted as she was leaving the church that Annette was scooting right along on Sarah's tail, and hoped she wouldn't cause any trouble for Sarah.
She needn't have worried, however, because Sylvia was there with her four kids. She kept close to Sarah practically the whole time they were drinking punch and eating off their plates heaped with food. The boys—with the huge appetites of blossoming teenagers—had already gone back to the table for seconds.
"Sarah, I didn't know you had such a beautiful voice!" Sylvia gushed. "Don't you kids think your Aunt Sarah sang really well?" The twins all nodded their heads, their mouths full of cookies and cake. "Why didn't you tell me you could sing like that?
"It just never occurred to me, I guess," Sarah said, embarrassingly, but wondered how Sylvia could pick out her voice from the choir. Maybe she had mistaken Leslie's voice for hers .
She couldn't tell Sylvia that her experience in singing came from karaoke bar crowds in Denver and some get-togethers with other lesbian friends who liked to sing. She learned to read music from a guitar player who hung out at one of the karaoke places she used to go to—a woman guitarist named Audrey. Audrey had fallen for Sarah and thought Sarah could really go somewhere in the music business as a singer if she applied herself.
Theirs was a short relationship—all of six months—during which time Sarah and the guitar player taught each other more of the intricacies of lesbian sex, doing what came naturally and what felt good to each other. Her relationship with Audrey occurred five years after Melanie died. Although she never thought of Audrey anymore, she had never forgotten how to read music.
Dorothy and Brandy were doing their job of herding what remained of the audience from the first performance out of the little room and entryway and back to the Visitor Center. Sylvia and her kids were the last to leave. She hugged Sarah and wished her well. Lindsey came up and clapped her hands to get the choir's attention.
"Time to get back up to our places, ladies. If you do as well a job on our encore performance as you did earlier, the townspeople will know that Faith Community Church is not just a little black speck on the map of Laramie, but a church to be reckoned with! You were great!"
With smiles on everyone's faces, they made their way back to the choir loft. Lindsey noticed that the church was once again filling to capacity, and her heart overflowed with gratitude that so many people would show up to pay homage to her father. She repeated her welcome and the significance of the Christmas program to Hiram Hobbs, and finished her speech once again to thundering applause.
The darkness outside slowly descended as they performed A Bit of the Old West for the second time. Herman had turned the lights on over the choir loft so the choir could see their music, and now he turned on the rest of the lights inside the church building so the audience could see their programs. Lindsey was glad her father had thought to install electricity in the church a long time ago. None of the other buildings had power—they were just dark, dreary places where one looked around inside with help from outside light during the day. That's another reason they were open only during daylight hours.
If this place were mine, I could do a lot with it, Lindsey thought.
After the program, refreshments were once again offered to the audience, and more people stayed this time than those who stayed after the first performance. There was still plenty of food, and Lindsey thought she'd give what food remained to the church to help some needy people who attended there.
When the crowd began to thin out, Annette came up to Lindsey and said, "We learned that the Alpine Coffeehouse is staying open early this evening, instead of closing for Christmas Eve. A number of townspeople indicated to them that they wanted to come over after the Christmas program. So a bunch of us girls are going over to celebrate, too. Want to come with us?"
Lindsey looked over at Sarah coming toward her. "Just a minute. I'll ask Sarah if she wants to go."
She met Sarah before she reached them and whispered in her ear. Sarah looked around behind Lindsey at Annette and then said something back to Lindsey. Annette couldn't hear what they were saying. Lindsey shrugged her shoulders. She said something back to Sarah, and Sarah nodded. They both walked back to Annette.
"Yes, we'll come for a little bit," Lindsey told Annette. "But Sarah wants to be home with her family for Christmas Eve, so we can't stay long."
Lindsey hadn't intended on going anywhere after the Christmas program, but it was early, and it seemed appropriate that they should celebrate a little bit. The program had gone off without a hitch, and Deanna and Herman had been able to sit down and enjoy the second performance. She thought what a boost it would be for Terri's coffee house with a bunch of townspeople flocking over there to celebrate, in addition to some choir members.
"We'll see you there, then," Annette said. She turned away with a big smile on her face. "Beth is coming, too," she said over her shoulder.Lindsey wondered what that information had to do with anything—
To Be Continued...
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