Carole Mortenson



FEEDBACK: Constructive criticism only, please. Have a heart--this is my first work online! Seriously, though, I'd love to hear from you.
Contact me at cardi38morn@gmail.com




Lindsey pulled up to the Alpine Coffeehouse , happily talking to Sarah about the program and how everyone seemed to enjoy it. Even the townspeople who never attended her father's church had remarked how refreshing it was from the ordinary, traditional Christmas choir.

She noted there weren't many cars in the parking lot yet and thought some of the women had probably gone home first to get out of their fancy western clothes—mainly the billowy dresses—before they came here.

They walked into the coffee house, and Terri saw them. "The bunch is upstairs, Lindsey. Annette said to send you up," she said, then winked at Lindsey.

Lindsey wrinkled her eyebrows, wondering why they all were upstairs. She went up to the second floor, holding onto Sarah's hand. As she got to the top of the stairs, her Bible Study and Lesbian Book Group greeted her.

"SURPRISE!" they all said together. They were standing and clapping their hands. Lindsey and Sarah looked at each other. Sarah had a questioning look on her face, but Lindsey looked desperate. She turned and started to go back downstairs, but Sarah held on to her hand with a bulldog grip and wouldn't let her go. Lindsey kept tugging at her.

"Where are you going, Lindsey?" she whispered, pulling her towards the group. She didn't know this was the Bible Study and Lesbian Book Group crowd. She had recognized only Annette and Beth, who were both in the Christmas choir. The other four women were strangers to her, although she thought she'd seen the younger one in church. She couldn't be sure. She wondered who the other women were. They weren't part of the Christmas choir.

Lindsey proceeded cautiously with Sarah's hand in hers, and they walked over to the group. "What's up?" she asked Annette. "I thought we were going to be celebrating downstairs." She seemed to take control then and looked Annette squarely in the eyes.

"We are celebrating, Lindsey," Annette said.

Turning to Sarah, she said, "I'd like you to meet Lindsey's Bible Study group, Sarah, in addition to being her Lesbian Book Group."

She looked for some sort of reaction from Sarah. When none was forthcoming, she introduced Arlene, Susan, Cameron and Rachel. Sarah nodded her head to each of them in turn, as they were introduced. "You know Beth, of course."

Then turning back to Lindsey, Annette said, "And I'd like you, Lindsey, to welcome Beth to our group. She can't wait to be first on your once-a-month agenda. Unless you want Sarah—who we'd like to join our group, too—to be first. I'll even relinquish my place as first in line."

She waited for Lindsey's reaction and looked sideways at Sarah.

Lindsey blanched and then turned all shades of red. She gulped and said, "I told you ladies we weren't going to have any more meetings till after the first of the year. So I don't know why we're here. This is no way to celebrate the Christmas program's success. We should be downstairs with the other people."

"Oh, but it is , Lindsey!" Annette said enthusiastically. "Just think....It was a year ago that you had your first once-a-month agenda, right around Christmas time. So we want to celebrate a year's success in that Christmas program by adding these two new members to our group—Beth and Sarah."

Lindsey turned to Sarah, her face paling again. "Let's go," she said, taking her by the arm and heading toward the stairs.

"Wait, Lindsey," Sarah said. "I want to know what this once-a-month agenda is, and why I would be added to the group."

She jerked her arm away from Lindsey and walked back to Annette and said, "What is this once-a-month agenda? Why do you think Lindsey would want Beth or me to be first ? First in what ?"

Annette looked at Lindsey—who was quite out of control now, standing there helplessly—and went in for the kill. She'd teach Lindsey a lesson not to fool around with her.

"Why don't you go over and open that door to the storeroom, Sarah. That should tell you what's going on with this group, and what the once-a-month agenda is." She looked at Sarah with a smug satisfaction on her face.

"Annette...NO!" Lindsey shouted. "Why are you doing this?"

Sarah, however, had already walked over to the door next to the fireplace that Annette indicated and opened it. She curiously peered inside and then turned back to Annette.

"I don't see anything in here except boxes of supplies it looks like, Annette. What am I supposed to be seeing?" she asked.

Annette rushed over to the storeroom, as did Lindsey. Annette turned on the overhead light. They both looked inside. No bed. No bedside table. Nothing but boxes of supplies.

Annette looked startled.

Lindsey heaved a sigh of relief. She remembered then, that she had told Terri that she wouldn't be having any more Bible Study meetings here. She never dreamed Terri even knew what was going on. Nevertheless, she should have known better. Terri had a handle on everything that went on in her coffee house. She had removed the bed and nightstand and moved things around to make it into nothing more than a storage room again.

"Sarah, let's go now," Lindsey said, taking Sarah by the arm again. They left a speechless Annette and a silent group of women standing in the middle of the room, wondering what happened to Annette's plan to teach Lindsey a lesson. The women knew Annette was jealous of Sarah and wanted to break up the duo. Now it was only their word against Lindsey's, who would, of course, deny there was anything going on with the group other than a Bible Study and reading lesbian books. Sarah already knew about the Bible study. She evidently knew about their Lesbian Book Group, too. Sarah would never leave Lindsey for those reasons. But maybe she would have left her if she'd known Lindsey was having sex with most of them.

Lindsey hastened Sarah back downstairs and ordered an espresso from Terri for herself—with a double shot—and a mocha latte for Sarah. She mouthed a silent "thank you" to Terri, who nodded her head knowingly. She looked around for a place to sit, and every seat was taken. Many of the townspeople who had seen the Christmas program, as well as women from the Christmas choir, were pouring into the Alpine Coffeehouse in droves to have hot coffee, espressos and jovial conversation to celebrate a little bit. There was standing room only.

A table in one corner suddenly became vacant. Lindsey took Sarah's hand and they rushed over to sit down before someone else beat them to it. Lindsey's sweating hand started to shake when she turned loose of Sarah. She wrapped it around her espresso, wondering what to say.



"I'm sorry about that business upstairs," Lindsey said, hesitating.

"Lindsey, what's going on? What is that once-a-month agenda Annette was talking about?" Sarah knew something was not right. Lindsey was too upset. When she had hollered at Annette, wondering why she was doing whatever she was doing, it threw her for a loop. She'd never heard Lindsey raise her voice like that.

"Baby, I can't talk about this right now," Lindsey said, tears starting to come to her eyes. "My father's funeral—" Her voice trailed off.

"I know all about your father's funeral, sweetheart. I know this has nothing to do with that. You're going to have to talk to me sooner or later, you know."

"I know, but just not right now. Please."

Lindsey took her hand again, squeezed it and then drew back, hoping no one had noticed the small intimacy. Then she remembered her father couldn't hurt her now, her sister knew about her lifestyle, and she didn't care if anyone knew she was a lesbian anymore. She took Sarah's hand and held it again. She released it quickly again, when she realized the danger there would be if someone in the church who might be at the coffee house—like the women in the choir—would see Sarah holding hands with her and tell Sylvia.

"I'm sorry," Lindsey said.

"Tell me what's bothering you, Lindsey. I know it's driving you crazy. And it's driving me crazy, not knowing what to say or how to help you."

"I promise you after my father's funeral we'll sit down and talk. I'm moving into my apartment Tuesday. Karin and Evelyn called today before I picked you up for lunch and said they were loaded up and heading out. They left their key with the landlord. I already have a key. So I'm going over there tomorrow after church and see how things look—to see if I have to do any cleaning or anything."

"Can I go with you?" Sarah said hopefully.

"No. You need to stay with your family. It's Christmas Day, and they need you with them. And I have some packing to do at home."

Sarah hung her head, knowing that Lindsey was doing the best thing for her. Yes, she should stay with Sylvia and the kids, simply because it was Christmas. They were the only family she had. Poor Lindsey's family was broken up with the death of her father. And the argument she had with Leslie—what was that all about? Shouldn't Lindsey be with her sister tomorrow instead of going to see the apartment?

Before she could voice her thoughts, Lindsey said, matter-of-factly, "My mother's coming tomorrow afternoon, to be here for the funeral on Monday."

"I didn't know you knew where your mother was," Sarah said.

Lindsey looked at her in surprise. She'd told Sarah—at least, she thought she did.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I thought you knew—I thought I'd told you. Mother and I have been in touch ever since she left daddy. She's always been good at writing me now and then to let me know how she's doing and what's happening in her life. I let her know about daddy after he died."

Sarah understood that Lindsey didn't talk to her about everything , like she would expect in a meaningful relationship. Now Sarah felt slighted. She and Melanie held nothing back from each other. That's one reason Melanie's death hit her so terribly hard. There was no one to be close to after that, no one to laugh and cry with—to know that secrets revealed would be secrets shared only between her and that special one. Audrey had not been that close—except for sex. Now there was Lindsey, and Sarah wanted desperately to make this relationship work.

"Lindsey, this might not be the right time to bring this up," Sarah said. "But you're going to have to be more open with me if you want our relationship to continue. I can't keep on like this, with you hiding your life from me like you're doing, while I give you everything I have of mine."

"I love you, Sarah," Lindsey said. "And I will be open with you. I just need more time."

"All right then," Sarah said resignedly. "After the funeral."

She took another sip of her latte and then said, "I've decided I'm going to take you up on your offer."

"What offer?" Lindsey asked, genuinely puzzled.

"I'm going to move in with you."

"Are you sure, Sarah?" Lindsey said, taken by surprise. "Are you completely sure? What about Sylvia? What will you tell her ?"

"The truth. That I love you. That I'm a lesbian. That I've been a lesbian since high school. That I don't want to be apart from you. And that I just don't want to live with her anymore!" She added an emphasis to her last statement.

Lindsey watched her talk, shaking her head in disbelief. She had so many faults, and Sarah didn't know the truth about her past. Yet she wanted to move in with her, to become a part of her life. The tears started running down her cheeks, and she hastily grabbed a napkin and wiped her face.

"Let me take you home," she said.

When they settled in the truck, Lindsey pulled Sarah to her and kissed her tenderly at length, before letting her go and starting the engine. "I love you," she said, turning to look at her as she backed out of her parking space.

"I love you, too," Sarah answered.

When she dropped her off at her house, Lindsey noticed Sylvia was looking out the bay window as she drove up. Sarah saw her sister, too. Neither of them cared, as they hugged each other fiercely and kissed passionately before letting go. Sarah got out of the truck slowly and reluctantly. She didn't want to go in the house. She wanted to run away with Lindsey and leave everything behind.

"Go," Lindsey said. "I'll see you tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that—"

Smiling now, Sarah dropped down into what was left of the snow and deliberately walked to the front door, head held high.

She walked into the kitchen and started to go up to her bedroom. Sylvia stood in the way.

"What was that I just saw out the window? You and Lindsey kissing?" She had her hands on her hips in an accusative manner, her voice anything but kind.

"What's it to you, Sylvia?" Sarah came back. "It seems to me you have your hands full with your marriage unraveling, without worrying about what I do. I'm thirty-five years old, and perfectly capable of taking care of myself. It's none of your damn business!"

She pushed Sylvia out of the way and stepped briskly onto the stairs and up to her deck.

Sylvia looked after her with alarm. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Sarah able to take care of herself? That's a joke , she thought . She doesn't know what Lindsey is doing to her, drawing her in to her web of passion, so she can get her into bed.

Yet Sarah was right, too. She had her hands full thinking of Rich wanting a divorce. She didn't know where to turn. She didn't know why he wanted a divorce. Her little indiscretion with Will hadn't even led to sex—just a few lunches and dinners over drinks, and a kiss afterwards. She was just so lonely. That's all it was.

Rich surely couldn't have heard that from anyone. He was gone for a year to God knows where! She had had only two phone calls from him since he left. The first one eventuated into an awful argument. That's when Lori ran up to Sarah's deck, then fell down the stairs and split her head open so bad it required stitches. The second phone call was when Rich stated he wanted a divorce. There must be another reason Rich wanted out of their marriage of fifteen years.

"It's my damn business as long as you live in my house!" she hollered up to Sarah before she could go into her bedroom.

"Well, that can be remedied!" Sarah hollered back.

Now what the hell have I done? Sylvia thought. She's not going to go through this apartment crap again, is she?

* * * * * *

Lindsey walked into her living room and Leslie was standing by the Christmas tree again. She had turned the Christmas tree lights on, watched as their sparkling colors chased each other around the tree and then sat down in their father's chair and continued to watch them.

Lindsey squatted down beside her sister. "It was a good program, wasn't it? You really outdid yourself tonight, you know."

"All for daddy," Leslie responded, staring at the lights. "He would have wanted it that way."

"Well, I'm going up to my room and pack a few things." Lindsey stood up. "You know mother will be here Sunday afternoon, don't you? And you know I'm moving into an apartment on Tuesday?"

"Yes, Lindsey. Those two things I know for certain—mother coming and you moving. I wish neither were happening."

"Things have to change, Leslie. Maybe it's for the best. As for what daddy left us in his will, I have no idea. We can go over that later. I don't even know if mother is included in the will, but if he willed the house to us, you can have it. You can do with it what you want to. Anyway, I'm the executor of the will, so I'll get hold of our attorney and we'll take care of that. There's plenty of money in the bank to see for your needs at the present time if you need it."

"All right, Lindsey. But I don't really need the money. I've worked at the day care center for a long time and have set money aside."

Leslie stood up and looked intently at Lindsey. "You know, you were always daddy's favorite. Who else could be the executor?" Leslie seemed to be resigning herself to her father's death. "You're the one in control. You're always the one in control."

Lindsey started to turn away, and Leslie put her hand on her sister's arm. "And what about Sarah?" she asked.

"What do you mean—what about Sarah? What about her?" Lindsey was startled that Sarah's name would be brought up in this conversation. She was angry that Sarah's name was brought up at all.

"Are you in control of her , too?"

It was a simple question, and Lindsey thought it best that she give a simple answer. She couldn't lie to her sister. Now was as good a time as any to come clean with the truth. She took a deep breath and pulled her arm away from Leslie.

"Leslie, I'm going to tell you something once, and I don't want to have to repeat it. So listen carefully. Sarah is going to move in with me in my apartment as soon as she can. You see, she's a lesbian, too—has been one almost as long as I have. We're a couple now. We love each other, and we're not going to be separated because of daddy, or you, or the church, or Sarah's sister Sylvia. So I want you to try and accept that. You also need to learn to accept what and who our daddy really was."

She proceeded over to the stairs to go up to her bedroom. She looked back before she put her foot on the first step. Leslie had sat back down in daddy's chair and her head was bent down to her chest, her hands up to her face. Lindsey could see her shoulders shaking. Leslie was weeping silently.



The kids were up bright and early Christmas morning, ready to open presents. Sylvia was up shortly after them. After much prodding, Sarah finally got up, too, though she wanted to sleep in. She was sure Sylvia had wanted to sleep longer, but the kids wouldn't let anyone stay in bed once the sun was up.

While the twins tore the wrappings off their presents, Sarah and Sylvia both sat in the kitchen with strong cups of coffee and listened to the kids oohing and aahing with every present they opened.

Sylvia walked over to the tree and brought back a present to Sarah from the boys. She sat down at the table with her while Sarah unwrapped it and looked at what their thoughtfulness for the holiday season had brought her. A computer keyboard cover! Sarah knew her sister had a hand in choosing the cover, as the boys would never have thought of it on their own. Sylvia admitted that she'd had to sneak over to the computer store to find it when they'd been shopping last Sunday after church.

Sarah hollered into the family room, "Thanks, Roger and Robert!"

They barely hesitated ripping open their presents when they said, together, "You're welcome."

"The girls bought you something, too," Sarah said. She retrieved the present under the tree that was from Lori and Lilly and set it in front of her sister. She wasn't sure how Sylvia was going to react when she opened it. The girls had insisted it was what their mother needed, and who was she to tell them what to buy for their mother.

Sylvia took her time opening the box after removing the wrapping paper. Her eyes opened wide with surprise as she pulled out a gigantic Mickey Mouse alarm clock! She looked at Sarah and said, "Did they really say I needed this?"

Sarah answered, "Yep. They said if you had a bigger alarm clock with a louder alarm, that maybe you'd get up on time! Their exact words." She chuckled. "You do run kind of late in the mornings, you know."

"Thank you, Lori and Lilly," Sylvia said loudly to them. "It's something I really wanted."

"Come on, Sylvia," Sarah said, getting up from the table. "I got you something for Christmas, too." She and Sylvia both sat down in front of the tree with their cups of coffee, watching the kids play with their new toys.

Sarah handed Sylvia her present, which she opened with care. It was a cookbook, with the fetching title Cooking Like A Professional Chef . Sarah figured she needed some help along those lines. The same day that Sylvia cooked an evening meal of rock-like fried pork chops and overdone fried potatoes for the family, Sarah had eaten Stevie's gourmet meal of steak and shrimp at Scully's when Lindsey took her to lunch.

"I guess I really do need some lessons, don't I?" Sylvia said, looking at her sister sadly. "Rich never expected much from me, though. Sometimes he would take over in the kitchen and do the cooking." Tears started welling up in her eyes. "Thank you."

Hastily wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she handed Sarah a present. "I think you'll like it," she said.

She knew Sarah loved cashmere sweaters and had gotten one of the last ones in stock in her store. It was a beautiful light rust color, which complemented Sarah's hair and eyes. Sarah hugged her sister and thanked her. She thought it was a wonderful present.

Sylvia put a turkey in the oven before she and the kids got ready for church so it would be ready to eat when they got back home. Sarah wanted to eat breakfast, so she dallied around doing that before she finally went upstairs to get ready. Then she piddled around up there, too, until the last minute. Time had gotten away from her—intentionally.

"Sarah, we need to hurry, or we're going to be late for Sunday School," Sylvia hollered up at her.

Still upstairs in her room, Sarah had just answered the phone. It was Lindsey. She heard Sylvia in the distance and told Lindsey to hold the line a minute, then went out on the deck.

"Why don't you go ahead, Sylvia," she answered back loudly. "I'll be there for the worship service. I'm just getting out of the shower." She was drying her hair wearing only a bath towel when she answered Lindsey's call.

"But Sarah—" Sylvia started to say, and was interrupted.

"Just go ahead, Sylvia," Sarah said roughly. "I'm not ready yet! I'll be along shortly! I'll drive the SUV."

She didn't really want to go to church, and if it weren't for Lindsey being there, she would find some excuse not to go.

She turned back to the phone, going back into her bedroom and closing the door, and related to Lindsey her words back and forth with Sylvia. "My sister gets so impatient when things aren't going her way."

"We're all that way sometime, aren't we?" Lindsey said, in a rhetorical way. "Leslie isn't going to church today. She's too upset about what happened with daddy, so she decided to stay home. Someone is substituting for her Sunday School class this morning. I'm almost ready to leave for a few minutes' choir practice this morning before the church service. So I thought I'd come by and pick you up. Do you think you could be ready in about fifteen minutes?"

"I already told Sylvia to go ahead without me, and that I'd be along later. I said I would drive the SUV. But I'd rather go with you, sweetheart. Of course, I can certainly hurry things along—for you. I can sit and watch you practice," Sarah replied happily. "I just didn't want to go to Sunday School. I can't stand to sit there and watch my sister and Will ogle each other."

"Well, you can come and join us in the church choir this morning then. It will probably be the first, last, and only chance to sing in the choir with me as the director. After the funeral, I don't plan on going back to the church."

"Are you really serious about that, Lindsey? You've been a part of the church for so long."

"My sister has been a lot more active than I have. I'll leave it up to her to continue there if she wants to. Daddy would probably like that. I'm sure the church people would be delighted to have her. It's not easy to get Sunday School teachers. I can be replaced. Do you think you want to continue going?"

"Absolutely not!" Sarah replied with emphasis. "I was never a church-goer to begin with. And now that I'm going to be moving in with you, do you really think that would be a good idea?" She chuckled as Lindsey broke out laughing at her wry humor.

"I'll see you in a few minutes then," Lindsey said, and hung up the phone.

Sarah hurriedly got dressed for church and went downstairs to grab another hot cup of coffee before Lindsey showed up. She couldn't stop thinking about moving in with her lover. Only a few more days, and it would be a reality. The funeral for Hiram Hobbs was tomorrow. She would tell Sylvia the truth about her relationship with Lindsey the day after that. That was the day Lindsey was planning to move out of her house. She just might move the same day. She didn't have anything to move but the clothes and personal things she flew up here with, plus her computer equipment. Everything else was in storage in Denver. She could always get that stuff later if she needed to.

She grew excited again, thinking about sleeping with Lindsey—with no interruptions. If Sylvia didn't want her to take care of the kids anymore because of her relationship with Lindsey, that was all right. She wasn't enthusiastic about taking care of them, anyway. She still had her work to do with the travel agency, and she was going to be here for a year—maybe longer now.

Lindsey knocked on the front door, and Sarah let her in. Before she could even say hello, Lindsey grabbed her around the waist and started kissing her. Sarah returned the kiss with passion, wondering why they had to go to church at all. They could just stay here and go up to her bedroom.

Lindsey broke away suddenly. "Get your coat and let's go," she said.

Sarah ran back up to her bedroom and hurriedly yanked her coat out of the closet. Stuffing everything she needed to take with her into the jacket's huge, deep pockets, she grabbed her phone last of all, which she had left on her computer desk. As she picked it up, she remembered she had turned it on to pulse after she hung up from Lindsey. She felt it pulsating now, so flipped it open.

"Hello," she said, wondering who would be calling her.

"Sarah," Sylvia's voice came through loud and clear. "I ran off and left my purse on the kitchen counter. I don't know where my head was this morning. Could you bring it with you when you come? I really shouldn't be driving without my driver's license."

Yeah, right , Sarah thought. You probably thought I wouldn't come, and left your purse here on purpose so I'd have to come!

"Okay," she replied. "Lindsey just got here to pick me up."

Silence on the other end of the line. Sarah could almost hear the wheels turning in Sylvia's head. Then Sylvia said, "I thought you were going to drive the SUV."

"Well, I was, but then Lindsey called and wants me to sit in the choir this morning. So I'm riding with her so I can take part in a few minutes of choir practice."

When Sylvia didn't answer, Sarah finished, "See you in a little bit," then folded up the phone and raced back down the stairs.

She grabbed Sylvia's purse off the kitchen counter and turned to Lindsey. "Let's go. I'm ready."

She locked the door behind her and followed Lindsey out to her monster truck. She noticed something different right away when Lindsey started the engine.

"I don't hear anything," Sarah said.

"Yes, isn't it nice?" Lindsey responded. "I had a friend install new mufflers bright and early this morning—as a Christmas present to myself. She owed me a favor. I've pulled her out of a snowdrift more than once. I had bought the mufflers already, so I just paid her for the labor—as a Christmas present to her ."

"A woman?" Sarah remarked, curious.

"Yeah. One of the best mechanics I know. Even though it's Christmas Day, she didn't have anything else to do—it was just another day to her. So that was the favor to me—doing this for me at the last minute on Christmas Day. She lives alone, no family or anything."

Sarah was nodding her head as Lindsey talked. She wasn't surprised by anything Lindsey said anymore. She just wanted to know more about her life.

"By the way," Lindsey said, "I got you a present, too. Nothing much, but I thought you'd like it."

While Sarah looked on wide-eyed, Lindsey pulled a small package out of her coat pocket and handed it to her. Sarah took it carefully and unwrapped it. It was a charm bracelet, with little charms depicting the different places in The Old West Town —the church, the barber shop, the stables, and a couple of other historical charms.

"It's beautiful! You're so thoughtful, sweetheart," she said, reaching over to let Lindsey fasten the bracelet on her arm.

"I got you something, too." Sarah reached into her pocket and brought out a small package. As Lindsey unwrapped it, her smile broadened when she looked at the key chain from which an ornament in the shape of a monster truck dangled.

"You know how much I think of this truck, don't you?" she said. She turned off the truck and switched her keys over to the new key chain.

Then they reached over and hugged each other, saying "Merry Christmas" at the same time. Lindsey started the engine again and they took off for church, with the truck purring like a kitten.

"What time is your mother getting here today?" Sarah asked.

"She should be here around four o'clock. She's coming on the bus from Seattle. She's been living there taking care of an elderly aunt. Leslie is going to pick her up—and in case the bus is late, she can wait at the bus depot for her. I still have some packing to do to get ready to move Tuesday. We haven't seen mother for five years. Leslie doesn't know that I've been writing to mother for all those years, but knew I had her address."

"What happened, Lindsey?" Sarah prodded. "Why did your parents separate?"

Lindsey hesitated, thinking the time was not right to talk to Sarah about what her life was like Cheyenne. Still, it was a straight-forward question Sarah had asked about her parents, and that was all she needed to talk about. She wouldn't have to explain her own life right now.

"Daddy's first church was in Cheyenne. He loved it, but he got involved with some women of the church, and the church finally found out about it. Mother thought that under the circumstances, to avoid further embarrassment, it was best that she leave daddy. A small church that needed a pastor was found for my father, so he came here to Laramie—by choice—rather than being kicked out of the ministry. Basically, it was his insatiable appetite for sex that got him in trouble. That's why mother left. He was broken up about it, and thought they would eventually get back together, so he would never agree to a divorce. Mother told me she didn't think she could ever live with him again. Ironically, she won't have to now. Leslie always thought it was mother's fault that she and daddy split up, and mother made me promise not to tell Leslie what actually happened."

She didn't want to tell Sarah the reason for the recent accident that resulted in her daddy's death. It wouldn't have happened if he had not been trying to have an affair with a woman in this church. Nevertheless, she knew she had to be completely honest with Sarah about why her mother and father had separated.

"I'm so sorry," Sarah said, leaning her head on Lindsey's shoulder as they drove up to the curb and parked a block away from the church. "Will you be glad to see your mother?"

"Yes, I think so," Lindsey said, shutting off the engine. They both got out of the truck and walked hand-in-hand up to the church.

"I need to tell you something else, Sarah," Lindsey said before they reached the church. "There's another reason Leslie stayed home today." She came to a stop, and knew she had to say more of the truth about her father.

Sarah turned to her and Lindsey continued. "Do you remember when those thieves tried to break into our house a couple of weeks ago?"

"Yes," Sarah replied, wondering where this was leading.

"My sister was going through daddy's roll-top desk yesterday evening and found several letters that were sent to him by that Murray fellow—the one who rammed Daddy's car and who also died from the accident. He and his wife were members of our church. He had threatened daddy more than once, and in a letter written to him soon after the incident of the failed break-in at our house, he said he and a fellow partner were setting out to destroy him for seducing his wife and trying to break up his marriage. We've never found out who his partner-in-crime was. But Murray admitted to trying to get in and trashing our house—not to steal anything—just to vent his anger. He wrote in a following letter that when he got the opportunity, he would kill daddy. I guess daddy never took him seriously. Murray had been dogging daddy's footsteps for a long time. He found the right time to do him in out there on Banyon Road, hoping to make it look like an accident. The woman who died in daddy's car was Murray's wife. So Leslie, of course, is upset about that and just didn't want to come to church and face the people here. She still can't believe it of our father. I'm hoping mother being here for a couple of days will help Leslie to understand."

She looked with anguish into Sarah's eyes. "Do you understand, Sarah?"

Sarah had covered her mouth with her hand, in an attempt to cover up the awfulness she felt as Lindsey talked about the accident and the horrible letters. Then she reached out and put her arms around Lindsey.

"Yes, I understand, sweetheart. I know what a burden it has been for you to carry, wanting to say something, but promising your mother you wouldn't. Believe me when I say this, Lindsey. There is nothing about you or your family that I wouldn't understand, and I'd never hold anything against you that happened in the past. I love you with all of my heart. You need to understand that ."

Lindsey held her close for a minute, and thought how understanding Sarah was about the situation with her mother and father and the mess her daddy had made of his life. She wondered if Sarah would be as understanding and forgiving about her past in Cheyenne and Laramie right up to the moment Sarah walked into her life.

They walked into the church and after shucking their coats, Lindsey immediately went to the choir loft with Sarah following. She noted most of the choir members were in their places. She introduced Sarah as their new choir addition for this morning's service. Sarah already knew most of the women from the Christmas program. The alto section moved over and made room for her. No one was surprised at anything Lindsey did anymore.

After a short choir practice, the Sunday School bell rang and people began coming into the sanctuary, Sylvia among them. Sarah came down from the choir and shoved Sylvia's purse into her waiting hands. Sylvia sat down in the spot where she and Sarah had sat for the past two Sundays. She looked at Sarah's back as she went back up to the choir loft. Lindsey glanced over at Sylvia, caught her eye, and nodded. Sylvia nodded back.

The service by the retired minister went smoothly, and after the choir sang their special number, Lindsey dismissed them all and followed Sarah as she went over to sit with Sylvia. After Sarah sat down, Lindsey leaned over and whispered to her, "I'm going to go home now and see how Leslie is doing after I stop and check out the apartment. I think it would be best if your sister took you home rather than me. I'll see you tomorrow at the funeral."

Sarah started to protest, and then thought better of it. She nodded in resignation and watched Lindsey go down the aisle, her heart pounding inside of her. She wanted to be with Lindsey, but knew she'd better stay with Sylvia.

As she turned back around, Sylvia patted her hand, and opened her Bible to the passage that was the key text of the minister's sermon. Sarah couldn't have cared less and dabbed at her eyes when tears started to run down her cheeks.



Lindsey felt badly about telling Sarah she was going to go to her new apartment before she went home. It seemed to make their separation worse than it was already. She unlocked the door to the apartment, walked in and then went from room to room. She noted that the place was as clean as she could ever make it herself. Karin and Evelyn had even left some groceries in the cupboard and fridge with a note saying they couldn't take the food with them and didn't want it to go to waste. She opened the freezer door and pulled out a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, found a spoon in a drawer and started eating it.

After a few bites, she put it back in the freezer and went back to the master bedroom and noted what linens she would have to buy so she could sleep here Tuesday night. Then she wandered through the living room to the kitchen again, pulling open kitchen drawers and cupboards to see what was there. She spent nearly an hour in the apartment, making a list of things she'd need, and then decided she'd better head on home.

She arrived home shortly before two o'clock and found a note on the kitchen table from Leslie. She was going out to lunch with a friend, but would be at the bus depot to pick up their mother when it was time for her to arrive. With a heavy sigh, Lindsey fixed herself a sandwich and sat down to eat, thinking about the future.

Even though it was a Sunday and her normal day to work on the books for The Old West Town , it was Christmas Day, too, and she had no plans to go out there until after New Year's. The place would be closed tomorrow because of the funeral, and she had too many things to attend to afterwards—the house, the will, her mother, her move to the apartment. So she told Deanna and Herman she was going to close up the place until after the New Year. Herman would still come out and take care of maintenance, however, but Deanna wouldn't be needed.

As far as Scully's Tavern & Grill was concerned, she knew she wouldn't have a job after the first of the year. She felt obligated, though, to continue to work her scheduled hours until it closed—with the exception of tomorrow night. Scotty said she would take her shift then.

With a smile on her face, she went upstairs to her bedroom and began sorting through some things she wanted to take to her new apartment. She would leave a lot of things at the house because she wouldn't have room for everything—even with two bedrooms. She might have to put some things in storage later, because the smaller of the two bedrooms in the apartment would also be Sarah's office. She daydreamed of Sarah moving in with her, and finally fell across her bed and let her mind wander and was soon fast asleep.

She was jolted awake by Leslie's voice hollering up the stairs. "Lindsey. We're back!"

Lindsey roused out of the sound, dreamless sleep she'd been having and went downstairs.

"Hello, mother," she said, giving her a hug. "Did you have a good trip?"

She looked at her mother with pleasure and noticed the years had not diminished her beauty one whit! No wonder her father had fallen for Matilda Ellen Lewis those many years ago!

"Well, outside of a blizzard following us all the way, I can't complain. I don't remember having this much snow when I lived in Wyoming all those years, though. At least we beat the blizzard this time. I hear you just got over one."

Mattie Hobbs looked at her daughter expectantly, thinking Lindsey would carry on the conversation along that line. Then she remembered, and lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry, that was when your father was killed, wasn't it—during the storm or right afterwards?"

"Yes." Lindsey was reluctant to say anything further and she wondered how much Leslie had told her. "Is it snowing out there again right now?" She turned to Leslie.

"It just started," Leslie said, hanging up her coat in the hall closet and reaching for her mother's coat. "But I don't think it will last. And I don't think it's another blizzard! Come on, mother, we'll take your suitcase into the guest room for now where you can lie down for a little bit so you can rest and refresh yourself if you want to." She took hold of her mother's arm.

"I have no intentions of lying down," Mattie replied brusquely, jerking her arm away. "I've been sleeping all the way from Seattle, and if I take a nap now , I won't be able to go to sleep tonight. Besides, we three have a lot to talk about."

Lindsey smiled at the remark, but even more at her mother taking control of the situation. Lindsey knew she got her own control issues from her father, but surely she must have inherited some genes from her mother, too. Leslie, as usual, faded into the background as she walked into the kitchen muttering, "At least I can put on a fresh pot of coffee, since my dear sister neglected to do that."

"How much have you told Leslie," Mattie questioned Lindsey, when Leslie was out of earshot, "about what happened between your father and me?"

"I had to tell her enough so that she knows it wasn't your fault that you two split up," Lindsey responded. "But I didn't want to tell her anything more than that. She's having a hard time believing that our father was not the holier-than-thou minster she was led to believe. And—just so you know—he was having an affair with one of the ladies of the church. That brought about the accident that killed him. I'll talk to you later about that."

"Well, I'll talk to Leslie about her father and me." Mattie pondered for a moment. "She knows you're a lesbian?" Mattie had known Lindsey was gay from the time she was a little girl, and always encouraged her to follow her heart.

"She's always known that, mother. But I never knew she did till after daddy died, and we had kind of an argument over that. I've fallen in love with someone, and I had to tell her that's why I rented an apartment. She went straight up in the air! But daddy never knew about me. Leslie had kept it from him."

"So you're not going to be living in this house?" Mattie said.

"No. I'm planning to move Tuesday after the funeral on Monday. But that may have to be postponed for a day because of the reading of daddy's will."

"Will Leslie stay here then?"

"I don't know. I told her she could. That is, I said if the house was left to us in daddy's will, she could have it. I don't want any part of it."

Lindsey and her mother had gravitated toward the couch and were sitting down as they talked now. Lindsey turned to her seriously, saying, "Mother, where do you fit in all of this? I don't know what is in the will, only that daddy made me the executor. Shouldn't you be the executor? You were still married to him."

"I think we better leave that for after the funeral, don't you think so, Lindsey?" Mattie looked at her daughter with loving eyes. "You may be surprised, and I don't want to spoil the surprise, my dear girl." She reached over fondly and patted Lindsey on the cheek just as Leslie came in from the kitchen carrying a tray holding cups of coffee and a plate of cookies.

"I baked these cookies especially for you, mother," Leslie said, as she placed the tray on the coffee table. "I hope you like them."

Mattie smiled at her, patted the seat beside her, and Leslie sat down. Lindsey thought Leslie was into her role of the biblical Martha with their mother now, as she always was with Hiram.

Mattie began, "Now, you both know your father and I never got a divorce, don't you?"

Leslie started pouting, "What? No, I didn't know that. No one ever told me . Why am I always the last one to know anything, mother?"

Mattie looked at Leslie with sadness and then turned to Lindsey. "You really haven't told her much of anything, have you?"

Lindsey looked down at the coffee cup in her hands. "You told me not to say anything. And I thought I'd already said too much."

Mattie turned to her other daughter and took her hand. "I did what I thought was best, Leslie. I know both my girls very well, and know their personalities. So I knew which of you would take kindly to your father and me separating, and which of you wouldn't . If you want to blame anybody, Leslie, then blame me for not sharing with you like I did with Lindsey."

Leslie started crying again, and in between sobs, she kept saying, "Lindsey was always the favorite....Lindsey was always the favorite."

Mattie continued to talk with her two daughters—

To Be Continued...


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