Home > Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19)(6)

Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19)(6)
Author: Robyn Carr

Every twenty minutes or so, Kaylee put her in the box and waited. Nothing happened. They spent the rest of the day like that and Kaylee was too distracted to get any writing done. Eventually when Kaylee got tired, she held the kitten in her lap and began a mental conversation with her mother.

I found a kitten. If you were here we’d have to take her to a shelter but I could use some company. She’s not great company yet but all my writer friends have either dogs or cats. I’d rather have you. Of course I’d rather have you, but that choice was taken from us. So now I’ve gambled on a cat that clawed my head and bit my nose. Stop laughing! I’m doing my best, you know. Here I am in Virgin River where I know no one and am relying on the kindness of strangers...

And then, predictably, she began to tear up.

I miss you so much. I dream dreams of us sometimes and I’m not sure if that helps or hurts. Oh, Mom, I know you expect me to be tough and smart and capable and I don’t think I am. I don’t think I ever was... I’m just lost without you.

Eventually she fell asleep, the kitten in her precious little kitten bed beside her.

* * *

The next morning Kaylee woke to the sound of scratching. The little heathen was scratching the sheet and she had pooped on the bed.

“Great,” Kaylee said.

There was some serious tidying up to do and after Kitty had some breakfast and a brief visit to the sandbox, Kitty went in the cat carrier Kaylee had bought. That would keep her from hiding or having an accident. Then Kaylee took a walk. Though the scenery was lovely and the August morning was cool and fresh, those were not the reasons she faithfully walked each day. It was a holdover from those first weeks after her mom had passed, back when she couldn’t seem to find a reason to get out of bed. At the time she told herself she was simply exhausted from putting together a celebration-of-life event, entertaining friends and family, and not sleeping well at night because the darkness brought increased longing. Then she realized she was grieving and depressed and began to fear she might melt into a puddle and disappear. That seemed briefly desirable, but the image of her mother’s beautiful face twisted into a disapproving frown provided some stimulus to get up and move, to shower when really, who cared? She forced herself to eat though she wasn’t hungry and forced herself to move when what she wanted to do was curl up and just fade away.

Thinking her mother might be watching and that she would approve of Kaylee’s efforts kept her going. And taking at least one long walk every day became routine for her.

After her walk, she showered and went through the motions of getting comfortable, brewing a fresh cup of coffee and propping the laptop on her thighs. She began reading the work in progress from page one. Again.

But she realized she was reading page seven for about the twentieth time and she had just had it. “This can’t go on,” she said aloud. “I have got to get my mojo back. If I can’t write, what can I do? After the money I have runs out, take to the streets?”

“Mew,” came the answer.

* * *

It was nearly lunchtime when Kaylee walked into Jack’s Bar. There were quite a few people gathering. She saw Mel sitting up at the bar while Jack stood behind it so she went to the stool beside Mel.

“Well, hey there, I was just getting ready to give you a call. That Realtor I told you about, Gloria Patterson, has a few rentals in the area she’d be happy to show you, if you’d like,” Jack said.

“Did she happen to describe them at all?” Kaylee asked.

“Not really,” he said. “Except to say they were pretty nice, a couple had porches, one in town here and the others scattered around the hills. You want some lunch?”

“I don’t suppose you have salad?”

“They’ve gotten pretty good with salads once the population of women grew a little and we were all getting fat on Preacher’s food,” Mel said.

“How about a half a sandwich and a salad,” Jack offered.

“I could do that. And I’ll call the Realtor. Maybe this situation will get resolved soon, but I have to say, that little casita is awfully nice. Mel, I wonder if I could impose on you to borrow your washer? I have a small load of laundry.” She didn’t want to mention it was a load of sheets with the comforter. She was afraid they’d throw her out. That kitten was small enough so the spot barely showed, but still...

“Of course,” Mel said. “The back door is unlocked and the laundry room is between the garage and kitchen.”

“And the dog?”

“Ralph won’t bother you, except maybe to ask for a pet or treat. He’s very quiet and good-natured. Now, hurry and call Gloria,” Mel urged. “I’m dying to know what she’s got.”

“Me, too,” Kaylee said. She looked at the number Jack had written on a small slip of paper and keyed it into her phone.

“Gloria Patterson, please. This is Kaylee Sloan.” Then she began a series of questions. Are the houses furnished? Is there a view or at least pretty surroundings? How many bedrooms? Is the kitchen modern? Fireplace? Central heat? Available for six months? How are the utility bills handled? What’s the rent? And finally, “I’d be happy to meet you at three. That’s perfect.”

Then she relayed what she’d learned to Mel and they began to chat about everything related to living in the area—what some of the neighboring towns had to offer, where to go antiquing if Kaylee was into that sort of thing, what the fruit and vegetable stands along the road and the farmers market in Fortuna had to offer.

“Soon it will be cool enough for soups,” Mel said. “I’m a lousy cook but Jack is amazing and Preacher better still. But I still love the farmers market and if I bring home a big box of beautiful fruits and vegetables, Jack can turn it into something delicious.”

“I think that after I settle on a house I should look around to rent a Jack!”

“I have no advice on where to find one,” Mel said. “He took me by surprise.”

Somewhere in a conversation punctuated by laughter, Jack brought lunch for both of them.

“I’d love to hear about your work,” Mel said.

While they ate, Kaylee explained that she wrote suspense novels, the kind that made you wonder what that sound was in the dark of night, the kind that made you check the locks.

“I’ll go to the bookstore,” Mel said. “I love to read, it’s my primary relaxation, but I warn you—I only read the kind of books you write when I’m feeling very brave and secure.”

“What do you usually read?” Kaylee asked.

“I love romance and love stories. In my work, I require happy endings. And hopefulness. I like to read about people working things out.”

“You do know they’re fictional people working things out...”

“Not when I’m reading them,” Mel said. “After you get yourself settled in, if you find you need supplies or clothes or just want to look around, I’d be happy to tag along. I have to plan, though. I have patients to see and the kids, but Jack is great at backing me up in the kid department. My sister-in-law next door helps. She works at home and has a daughter and the cousins keep each other busy. We could shop and lunch, either in one of the bigger towns or check out the stuff in the villages that are a little more remote.”

“Assuming I’ll get settled in...”

“Excuse me,” a deep male voice said.

Kaylee looked up into the gorgeous blue eyes of a handsome man. Her mouth formed an O.

“Hey, Landry,” Mel said.

“Hey, Mel,” he returned. “Forgive me for eavesdropping, but I take it you’re looking for a rental.”

“I’m looking at some this afternoon, as a matter of fact,” Kaylee said, a little distracted by the blueness of his eyes.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “If you don’t find what you’re looking for, I have a house I rent out from time to time. My dad and I lived on adjoining properties and after he passed away, I moved into his house because it’s bigger. The house I’m renting is really nice. It’s only seven years old and small but comfortable. If you want to see it, I can give you directions.”

“You’ll be home later?”

“The rest of the day. Here’s my number. Text me if you want to see it and I’ll send you the address. I’m only ten minutes from here just on the other side of 36. I heard you talking about what you want. It has a porch and a view.”

“I’m Kaylee Sloan. And you are?”

“Sorry,” he said with a laugh. His grin exposed one slightly crooked tooth in a sexy smile. “I’m Landry Moore. No wants or warrants. Mel might vouch for me—she cured my bronchitis two winters ago.”

“I think he’s pretty safe,” Mel said with a laugh.

“If I don’t see you later, I guess we’ll run into each other around town. Probably in here.”

“Thank you,” she said. “It’s very nice of you.”

“My pleasure,” he said. “Good hunting. Mel, see you around.”

Once he left, Kaylee looked at Mel and lifted one brow. “I should stay away from his house. He’s pretty handsome. I suppose he has a wife and seven kids.”

“I think he has an ex-wife. No kids. He’s kind of a loner, but friendly when he turns up. I like him,” she said with a grin.

3

AFTER THE LUNCH crowd thinned out and Mel went back to her clinic, Kaylee ordered a Diet Coke, settled at a table in the corner and got out her laptop. She re-read those seventeen pages again. Then she wrote a page in the third person narrative about a woman looking for a new start in a small mountain town. It wasn’t exactly a journal but it also wasn’t exactly not. She needed to get words, any words, on a page. Anything to get those writing juices flowing.

At three she was sitting in her car in front of Gloria Patterson’s property management office in Clear River. After introductions and little conversation, they took Gloria’s car to look at rentals. The first one had a nice porch and view but was a wreck inside, wallpaper peeling off and old-fashioned linoleum floors that were all cut up from wear. The kitchen appliances looked old and unreliable. The next was all knotty pine inside and reminded Kaylee of smallpox. The third was very nice but it was a converted fishing cabin and therefore extremely small, just barely larger than Jack and Mel’s casita. There was no fireplace but there was a wood-burning stove and a small but decent galley kitchen.

   
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