After the first chapter, you had to decide why the girls went to the Double Rocking B. In a landslide win (almost unanimous) Scarlett's mom made a casserole for the Meddletons as the neighborly thing to do. Now the wait is over and the second chapter is here and ready for you to read! Be sure to vote at the end of the chapter on a public event the sisters just can't miss. If you'd rather just listen to the story, follow thislink or look for the video below. Happy reading! Scarlett and Blizzard will be back again in two weeks!
On the last day of school, Scarlett came to pick me up. It became a tradition when she first came back home. We drove up to Jackson for an afternoon of shopping and girl-time. As we drove, we laughed about everything that had happened over the school year. I was glad for summer. Summer was one of our busiest times and I hoped it would pull Scarlett out of her shell a bit. She had grown more and more reluctant to leave the ranch and it was getting old. But the further from town we got, the more of the old Scarlett I started to see. Soon she was laughing and we were joking about like we usually did. We discussed plans for the ranch, next school year (because Scarlett insists on being practical), and plans in general. When we arrived, Scarlett went straight to our favorite salon.
“Scarlett, I’m thinking of doing something different with my hair. Is that okay with you?”
She laughed. “As long as Mom won’t have a conniption, you can do what you want. It’s your hair. What did you have in mind?”
“It’s a surprise.”
Laughing again, we walked in. The owner looked up and smiled. “School’s out already?”
“That’s right, Sharon,” Scarlett replied with a grin.
“Well, pull up a seat and we’ll be right with you.”
“No rush,” I said. We sat down. Scarlett grabbed a magazine, looking for style ideas. I already knew what I wanted. A rumor had gone around school that the stingy dye rules were about to be loosened up a bit. The administration confirmed that there would be small changes, but that was all I needed. I glanced at Scarlett. Her strawberry blonde hair shimmered in the light. Scarlett had never been one to dye her hair. But with hair as naturally beautiful as hers, I couldn’t blame her. Mine didn’t have the red in it and tended to bleach out in the summers. And it may have been helped out by our regular salon trips.
Before long my favorite stylist, Dean, led me to his chair. He had a pleasant rumbling voice and a great eye. “School’s out for summer, huh? Have something fun in mind?”
“Well, our school is making some changes to its dress code in regards to hair color...”
He laughed. “I wondered when you’d want to try something a little more daring. What were thinking of doing?” I explained my idea and he smiled. “You’re going to fit your name, that’s for sure. All right, darlin’, get yourself set up over here and we’ll get started.”
“Make sure Scarlett can’t see me.”
“Oooh, haven’t told Mom and Big Sister yet, huh?”
Dean chuckled and got to work. He chatted with me and I could hear Scarlett laughing with Sharon. The couple owned the salon and it was one of our favorite places to go.
As the dye set in my hair, Scarlett and I enjoyed manicures next to each other. “So, what are you doing with your hair?” she asked.
“Not telling. It’s our secret, right Dean?”
Scarlett shook her head and laughed. “You’re going to get me into trouble, you know that?”
“Isn’t that what little sisters are for?” I retorted.
“Probably. So, what do you think of mine?” She shook out the freshly cut waves. I have to admit for a moment I was jealous. Scarlett’s got those perfect loose curls that only seem to exist in movies and romance novels. Her hair bounced around her shoulders, glinting red-gold in the sunlight filtered through the blinds.
“Gorgeous as always,” I replied.
“All right, cowgirl, time to rinse,” Dean said. It didn’t take long for him to have me back in my chair. When he finished, he turned me toward the mirror. “What do you think?”
I looked at my hair and beamed. “Perfect. Hey, Scarlett, come check it out!”
She came and I watched in satisfaction as her eyes widened. Then she gave me a rueful smile. “Purple streaks?”
“Do you like them?”
Laughing, she shook her head, “Definitely going to get me in trouble, but you look great Blizzard. I think that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I grinned. “What do you think Mom will say?”
“I’m afraid to think of it. Come on, let’s do some window shopping and head home. There will still be chores to do when we get back.”
We walked around the various artists’ shops and vendor’s booths. It was clear Jackson was getting ready for the summer tourists. When Scarlett spotted a booth of painted guitars, she insisted we look around.
“Come on, Scarlett, you know I can’t get one right now,” I said as I glanced at price tags. “My summer job doesn’t start for another two weeks.”
“Hey, every girl needs a dream,” she replied. She stopped by one with horses and let her fingers brush the smooth wood. Then she moved on. Suddenly her eyes got wide. “Go wait by the truck.”
“Just do it,” she replied, her smile huge.
“What are you up to?”
“Would you just go?”
Knowing I wouldn’t be able to win an argument, I did as I was told. It seemed forever before she showed up carrying a guitar case in one hand and a drink tray and food sack in the other. “What did you do?”
“Get the tailgate opened up and we’ll have a quick snack before we go home.”
I glared at her. “You’re really enjoying this aren’t you?”
“Oh you better believe it. A little revenge for your hair surprise. Go on.”
I hopped into the bed of the pickup and took the drink tray from her before then taking the food. Scarlett sat down and set the guitar case next to her. I knew she was going to draw this out as long as she could, so I sipped from the cup she handed me and sat staring at the guitar case. I figured she had found something for me and I was dying to find out what it looked like…and how much I owed her. Based on the ones I’d looked at it was going to take a month at least to work off the guitar.
Scarlett slowly lingered over her fries, occasionally sipping from her soda. Her gray eyes sparkled and I could tell she was eagerly waiting the right moment to spring her surprise on me. “Well, should we head home?”
“Are you kidding me? Seriously, Scarlett, what’s in the case?”
She laughed and passed it over to me. “Happy birthday, a few months early.”
I opened the case and sat staring at it. Finally, dumbstruck, I pulled the guitar out. Snowflakes swirled over a purple and blue body around the word Blizzard. I almost wanted to pinch myself because it couldn’t possibly be real. “Did you set this up?”
“No, it was like that when I saw it. Isn’t it perfect?”
“How much do I owe you?”
“Not a penny. My lips are sealed. And before you think about digging through my purse for a receipt, I tore it up and threw it away at the diner. All you owe me is a promise to keep chasing your dreams and don’t ever give up. And maybe mention your totally amazing sister during your acceptance speech,” she added with a wink.
I tried to ignore the lump in my throat as I strummed the strings. They definitely need tuned, but that could be done at home. “Thanks, Scarlett,” I said as I put the guitar in its case. “I definitely have an amazing sister.”
“And don’t you forget it. Let’s go home.”
The first thing I noticed when we walked inside was the tantalizing aroma of fresh baked chive rolls and Mom’s famous macaroni and cheese. The second was Mom walking towards the door with one of her covered casserole dishes and a grocery bag. “I expected you girls to get home sooner.” She stopped short, her eyes fixed on me. “What have you done to your hair?”
I suddenly didn’t feel as confident as I had earlier. “Well, I…”
“They’re just a few purple streaks, Mom,” Scarlett interrupted.
“I suppose you encouraged her?”
“She caught me by surprise too,” Scarlett shrugged. “But, Mom, she looks adorable.”
Mom gave me a reluctant grin, “That’s part of the problem. Anyway, we’ll discuss your hair later. Right now I need you girls to take this over to the Double Rocking B.”
“What?” Scarlett choked.
“Why?” I asked.
“I called Teddy this afternoon to learn he’s just been allowed to go home from the care center he was in. It’s no more than neighborly to take them something homemade for dinner. I daresay Josiah’s been living off the diner on Main since he arrived.”
“I don’t think it will hurt either of them,” Scarlett muttered.
“Scarlett India, you know the only reason we’re still in operation is Teddy Meddleton. It won’t kill you to go over. Besides, you have a great relationship with Teddy.”
“I like Teddy just fine. It’s his son…”
Mom stopped her after placing the dish on a nearby coffee table. “Scarlett, honey, you’re going to have to face him sooner or later,” she said, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Why can’t you take it?” It was the nearest to whining I’d ever heard from my sister.
“My new glasses haven’t come in yet, so I really shouldn’t drive. You’ll be fine.”
Scarlett glared at her before grabbing the casserole dish and stomping toward the door.
Mom sighed as she handed me the grocery bag. Inside were a bag of rolls and a plastic container with salad. “Make sure no one gets hurt.”
“Wait, what?” I heard the truck engine roar and knew I didn’t have time to ask more questions. I ran out to the truck and got in. Scarlett didn’t say a word the entire drive over. Luckily it wasn’t a long drive.
When we arrived she handed me the casserole dish. “It would be better if my hands are free.”
She didn’t answer. We walked up to the front door with Scarlett muttering under her breath, “Please don’t be home. Please don’t be home.” She took a steadying breath before knocking.
It wasn’t long before the door opened, revealing the one person Scarlett didn’t want to see. “Well, well. Scarlett Jannsen,” Josiah said, his gaze slowly taking her in. “It’s been a long time.”
I’d never seen her fidget so much, and it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d seen someone eye her that way. Scarlett is gorgeous and she knows it. “We brought dinner for you and Teddy.”
“We?” He glanced over. His eyes barely skimmed over me, though they paused on the purple in my hair. “Ah, the kid sister. Snowflake, isn’t it?”
“Blizzard,” I corrected with a glare. I was beginning to see why Scarlett didn’t like him.
“Right, Blizzard, I knew it was something wintry. Well, do you girls want to come in?”
“Actually, we’ve got a lot to do,” Scarlett said quickly. “We’re just dropping this off and heading out. Sorry we don’t have more time.”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t…”
He didn’t finish the line before Scarlett hit him. I mean she just flat-out slapped him across the face. I stood in shock as she growled, “That wasn’t funny in middle school and it sure as spittin’ ain’t funny now.”
Rubbing the red spot on his cheek, Josiah glared at her. “Still haven’t joined the modern world yet?”
“My mother taught me ladies don’t swear. It’s vulgar.”
“Well, I was taught intention matters as much as the words, so just how clean are you Miss Priss?”
“Josiah Meddleton I swear…”
“I thought ladies didn’t swear.”
Scarlett started to reach for the dish in my hands, but then we heard a quiet voice behind Josiah. “Joey? Is that my little Lettie in the doorway?”
Josiah stepped aside and my heart lurched. Before his stroke, we did a lot with Teddy. He was built like a bear, but sweeter than honey. Josiah looked a lot like his father, tall and broad with warm brown eyes and dark hair. Not that you could see the similarities now. Teddy was leaning heavily on a cane, his skin pale and eyes tired. I’d never seen him look so fragile and it just about killed me. I could tell Scarlett was shocked too as she stammered, “How are you Mr. Meddleton?”
“Mr. Meddleton?” he repeated with a weak grin. “Has Joey here been bothering you? Just smack him good and hard for me.”
“She already did,” I said without thinking.
Scarlett glared at me, but Teddy laughed. “He probably deserved it. And Blizz, is that purple in your hair?”
Why didn’t I just stick with blonde? I thought as I said, “Yes, sir. Do you like it?”
“Like it? I love it! It’s as pretty and vibrant as you are, dear.” I grinned, glad that at least one adult in my life approved of my new style. Well, two counting Scarlett. “What brings you two lovely ladies over anyhow?”
“Mom made dinner for you,” Scarlett replied. “She figured you’d enjoy something homemade to celebrate being home.”
He laughed again. “I thought I smelled her cooking. I think I missed our weekly dinners most when I was away. Let’s get that set up on the table.” Scarlett and I followed him into the house. As we set the food on the large dining table, Teddy asked, “Will you be joining us?”
Scarlett hesitated. “I’m sorry, Teddy, we still have chores to do. We had a girls’ day, so we’ve got a lot to catch up on.”
“But we’ll set something up soon,” I added when he looked a little disappointed.
He brightened and said, “Well, don’t stay away too long. Joey, show the girls out and mind your manners.”
“That really isn’t necessary…” Scarlett began.
“I’d be happy to.” Josiah offered each of us an arm. Scarlett glared at him, but tentatively placed her hand on his arm. I could tell she was doing it more for Teddy than for his son. As soon as we were out in the hall she let go and moved ahead. We got out to the front porch and Josiah reached out to touch Scarlett’s shoulder. She tried to avoid it, but he was faster than she was. “Listen, Scarlett, I’m sorry about what I said earlier. Getting a rise out of you probably wasn’t the best way to say hi.”
“You think?” she retorted, still not bothering to look at him.
“Hey, I said sorry. I’ve missed you, you know.” His voice was quiet and even a little tender.
She turned towards him, her gray eyes swirling dangerously. “That’s not going to work, Josiah. I’m not falling for it again.”
Again? I followed after Scarlett as she strode to the truck. I normally don’t have a hard time keeping up with her, but I felt like we were sprinting. Just as we reached the truck, I heard Josiah’s voice from the porch.
“Well, fiddle-dee-dee,” he said, his hands on his hips.
Have you ever seen a tornado? We don’t get them where we live, but my mom’s sister has a small farm in southwest Kansas and we saw one once while visiting. The sky started gray and then turned greenish. Then the hail and the winds started. It was terrifying. Scarlett’s eyes do the same thing when she’s mad. She turned to Josiah again, that sickly green creeping into her eyes and I was sure an F5 was about to drop on his head. I waited for her to shout, to throw something or maybe even to run back and hit him. Instead, she just glared and then got in the truck. I didn’t dare say anything as we drove home. The entire way Scarlett’s breathing was sharp and almost sounded timed. When we arrived at home, she had barely parked before she was undoing her seatbelt. As I glanced over, I realized she was crying. Without a word to me, she went straight to the barn.
For a moment I hesitated, unsure what I should do. Finally, I walked inside where Mom was waiting. “Why did you do that?” I demanded.
“I take it things didn’t go well.”
“She hit him.”
“Hit him? Why?”
“He said the line. Well, he started it anyway.”
“Oh. He should know better than that.” She looked at me. “I suppose you think I did that on purpose.”
I glared at her. “Scarlett’s out in the barn crying, Mom. Why would she have told Josiah she wasn’t going to fall for it again?”
She sighed. “I’m sorry, Blizzard. That’s not my story to tell.” We were quiet for a moment and she said, “Come on, let’s have dinner and you can tell me what all happened.”
“What about Scarlett?”
“She’ll come in when she’s ready. She doesn’t like to appear weak, especially not in front of you.”
I followed Mom to the dining room, though I didn’t have much of an appetite anyway. I hoped for Scarlett’s sake we wouldn’t see the Bear again anytime soon. Though I still wondered why she had said “again” and why it mattered if I saw her weak.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius