Gloria pulled up behind the house and puffed out a long breath. Her shift at the spa had been a busy one and her feet ached like the dickens. Tugging her keys from the ignition, she shook her head, remembering Beatrice’s visit that afternoon. Lizzie’s mother had a way of dominating the scene.
As she stepped out into the chilly November evening, Gloria chuckled at the thought of Beatrice marching into the spa like a bomb hitting its target. The woman had the tact of a steamroller.
A gust of wind whipped a lock of curly red hair into Gloria’s face, making her shrug deeper into her coat and pick up her pace toward the house. No sleeping dogs obscured the back step tonight, she noted. Fergus must have let them in to sleep in the mudroom. “What a softy,” she murmured, shaking her head.
Cautiously she stepped in, navigated past the sleeping dogs, and closed the back door, keeping the creeks to a minimum. Tiptoeing, she headed through the living room and quietly opened her bedroom door. Snoring sounds came from her Grandfather's room across the hall, so she relaxed, relieved that she'd not disturbed his sleep.
In her room, she shook off her coat, then used one toe to pry the other heel from her winter boots. Dropping onto the end of her bed she huffed out another long sigh as she watched her stocking-clad toes wiggle, enjoying freedom from the heavy boots.
It was guilt-free crafting in her mind, because she needed a planner. It was practical. Unlike her card making, which had to be vigilantly controlled or the time and funds spent went wild.
She flopped back onto the bed to stare up at the cracked ceiling. Christmas was starting to pop up everywhere, like flowers in the spring. Soon the community would be eyeball deep in decorations and holiday activities. She loved Christmas and normally looked forward to the hubbub and chaos, but this year…
Lizzie opened one eye. Sure enough, faint morning light glowed behind the bedroom curtains. Careful not to wake Elliot, she stretched under the covers, dreading the cold outside her cozy bed. Too bad the farm animals didn’t understand weekends, she reasoned, she could use another hour of sleep.
Tentatively she reached one foot out from under the covers. Cold air raced up her ankle causing her to wince. Elliot snorted in his sleep and adjusted his pillow, and it took all Lizzie’s will power not cuddle up to his big warm back and go back to sleep.
Finally she sighed and counted to three, then jumped out of bed, danced across the cold floor, and raced to tug on her jeans. Moving as quickly as she could, she pulled a sweatshirt over her head and opened the door to head downstairs. She loved her old house, but winter mornings were definitely chilly.
In a daze, she started coffee in the old percolator, and once it was bubbling on the stove, she plopped down on the bench in the mudroom. Outside would be even more cold than upstairs, and she took in a deep breath, trying to collect strength to face the day.
The ancient sagging door creaked open, dropping a shaft of light into the barn. Ingrid, the favorite of her two alpaca’s, lifted her head and hummed good morning.
“It may be cold,” she mumbled as she reached for the pitchfork, “…but this is still my favorite way to start the day.”