Cinnamon Girl: A Thornton Vermont Christmas Story, Part 9
John Pease turned up at the farm three days later, dressed in flannel, denim, and work boots. Walt heard footsteps down the barn’s wide center floor and stuck his head out of a stall he’d been clearing out.
“Hey, John. C’mon back.”
“What’s goin’ on?”
“Murph’s out in the east pasture bringing one of the girls back. Doc Sutton is stopping by later to take a look at her.”
John leaned against the stall’s half-wall. “Do I want to know?”
“How’d’you feel about udders?”
“Bovine?” John grinned. “Not so much.”
Walt chuckled. “You here to work?”
“If you can put me to use.” John cast around the barn as if looking for inspiration.
“I’m walking the fence line by the Swift’s place this afternoon. I wouldn’t say no to company and an extra pair of hands.”
Murph came around the side of barn door, leading one of the dairy’s sweet-faced Brown Swiss. They were his mother’s favorites—gentle girls with furry ears his mother loved to stroke as she crooned over them. His mom hadn’t been back once since the day after the funeral, when his cousins George and Charlie had come by to help move her things to Aunt Yolie’s house.
He ought to insist she and Aunt Yolie come out to the farm for Sunday dinner.
Who would cook dinner? He was pretty competent at the grill, but he’d stocked the freezer with an embarrassment of TV dinners since his mom left. He couldn’t make a turkey or a ham to save his life.
Who would eat it, anyway? His Pop’s had been the biggest appetite. For everything.
Molly and her lasagna flooded his thoughts. Slow down there, Fuller.
“Walt?” John was watching him, a mixture of pity and concern in his eyes.
Walt blinked. “Sorry, thinking about the vet bill.”
“Bullshit.” John’s tone was conversational. “I wish you were thinking about Molly Sanders, not something that makes you look like a kicked dog.”
John’s uncanny question caught Walt off guard. “What about her?”
“She’s pretty, and she likes you.”
His friend’s words unleashed butterflies in his gut. “Is that your law degree talking?”
“That’s my eyes talking.” John clapped Walt on the shoulder. “I don’t get my law degree until spring. You like her, too, if I still know you. Let’s take a walk and you can tell me what that’s about.”