THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN
"Now, if you'll just hand me that bowl,
over there," Janet Stokes said as she held
a potato in the sink
underneath the running water and scrubbed it with a vegetable brush, "I can
finish this and you can start grating the cheese for this casserole."
Burt Lamont pulled the bowl out of the cabinet
and handed it to her before leaning back against the counter and folding
his arms across his chest. "Amazing," he smiled as he watched
her closely. "Simply amazing."
"Why do you say that?" She
glanced up from the potatoes and looked at him. "Haven't you ever
seen a woman wash vegetables before?"
"Oh, many times," he laughed.
"But I would never have thought that you'd be the type of woman to scrub
her own produce. Surely, your parents didn't make you pull kitchen
"Far from it, actually," she
laughed as she placed the freshly washed potatoes in the bowl and then reached
for the paring knife. "Father hated for us to go anywhere near the servants
unless we needed something from them. That meant that the kitchen
was off limits. Even for Mother. But I always managed to slip down
there so I could sit with the cook while she prepared dinner." She
smiled warmly as she thought about the childhood memory. "I always
loved Maeve. She was our cook. She'd always bake me cookies."
"So, you learned the fine art of potato
peeling from her?"
"That and a few other
things." She popped her head up and scowled when she realized that
Burt wasn't doing anything but watching her work. "Honey, grate the
cheese or I'm never going to get this dinner finished." Once Burt had
begun to follow her instructions regarding his portion of the dinner preparation,
she went back to both her potatoes and her story. "When I spent time
with Maeve, she'd tell me stories about when she was a little girl in
Ireland. I swear she had a million and one ways to cook a potato."
"Did Judith and
Jillian spend a lot of
time with you in the kitchen?" Burt asked as he dragged the block of cheese
across the grater.
"Not quite," she laughed and then
walked over to the refrigerator to grab a bottle of milk. "Judith
couldn't have found the kitchen if someone had given her directions and Jillian
was always far to busy with social obligations and the various classes Mother
put her in."
"Classes?" He paused in his grating and looked
up at her. "What kind of classes?"
Mother had this idea that to be refined young ladies, we all needed to have an
appreciation of the arts. Jillian took piano, I, of course, took art, and
Judith.... Well, let's just say Judith had a lot of classes.
None of them ever lasted very long, though. She was always too interested
in boys -- or an attractive male instructor -- to be very dedicated."
She paused and grinned. "Besides, all the other girls in her classes
"I wouldn't have any idea why."
cheese, Burt." Janet nodded towards the block he held in his
hand. "Dinner's not going to be ready if you keep stopping."
of dinner..." He returned to his assigned task as he kept his
attention divided between the cheese and her. "I really wish you'd
reconsider and join me and Randy tonight. I don't know why you can't
"You and Randy need to spend time alone together
as a family. These types of evenings might not happen all the time after we
"I just hope he takes the news
well," Burt sighed. "He's had a rough time of it what with Ma's
death and then us finding out...well...that we don't have the same father."
going to be fine," she reassured. "Randy and I have always
gotten along." She hesitated for a moment and then carefully dried
her hands with the dishtowel before walking away from the sink.
are you all right?" he asked, quickly sensing a change in her mood.
"How Randy might react does bother you, doesn't it?"
It's not that. It's just...." She turned her back to him to
hide the nervousness she felt -- nervousness brought on by the prospect of
Judith's increasing memories of the night she fell. "What would you
say if I suggested that we make this a short engagement. I mean, let's not
wait too long before we get married. Would you think I was being too
anxious? No, not at all," he laughed as he set the cheese aside and
walked up behind her to take her into his arms. "I can't wait to get
married, either, but...well...I don't want to cheat you out of the wedding
you've always dreamed of. I wouldn't feel right about that."
Burt, big lavish weddings have never meant that much to me," she explained
carefully. "Besides, Mother just finished planning a big wedding for
Jillian and I don't think it would be fair to simply force another big event
like that on her."
"I don't think she'd feel like
anything was forced on her. What mother wouldn't want to plan a big
wedding for their daughter?"
"True," Janet nodded,
"but...well...I don't really want a big wedding. That would
take too much planning and...well...a lot of time. Maybe a small, intimate
ceremony would be better. That wouldn't be too difficult to plan and we
wouldn't have to wait to get married."
"Why are you so insistent
on having a short engagement?" Burt turned her so that he could look
into her eyes. "Is something wrong? Did...Judith say something
to you to upset you?"
"N-no, it's not...that," she
stammered and then looked away from him. "It's just that we've
already been through so much and I...and I just don't want to waste any
time. I don't want to give fate too much time to step in and derail our
"Oh, honey," he laughed as he held her
tightly in his arms, "there's nothing to worry about. There's no way
that fate, Judith, or anything else is going to keep us from getting married and
spending the rest of our lives together."
As Janet felt the
warmth and security of Burt's arms around her, she suddenly became increasingly
away of the tick-tick-tick of the clock. However, when she looked up at
the clock on the wall, she realized that the sound wasn't coming from there.
was, in fact, the sound of her own heart, beating out the time.
that she was frightened was quickly running out.
her last chance at true happiness would slip away from her forever.