"Lyssa!" Terri walked to the foot of the stairs and looked up toward her daughter's bedroom. "Your breakfast is ready now. Hurry up or you'll be late for school."
Terri returned to the kitchen, where she scooped fluffy scrambled eggs onto a plate. She heard the telltale sound of her ten-year-old daughter's imminent arrival --- athletic shoes stomping hard on the steps as Lyssa took the stairs two at a time. Moments later, Lyssa entered the kitchen, backpack slung over one shoulder.
"Do you have your homework with you?" Terri asked.
She lifted an eyebrow and gave her daughter a hard look. "Are you sure? I don't want to have to leave the salon like I did yesterday to bring your papers to the school."
"I've got it, Mom." Lyssa dropped her backpack onto the floor, then slipped onto a bar stool at the kitchen counter.
Terri turned to the stove, added two strips of bacon and a slice of buttered toast to the plate, and slid it across the counter. Lyssa took her fork and began shoveling eggs into her mouth as if it had been a week since her last meal.
"Slow down, honey."
Lyssa swallowed and grinned. "You told me I was gonna be late. I'm just doin' what you said."
Terri leaned her backside against the edge of the sink. She took enormous pleasure in her daughter. Watching her eat, watching her sleep, watching her play baseball --- it all brought pleasure. Of all the blessings in Terri's life, Lyssa was the greatest.
Without looking up, her daughter said, "Don't forget you're gonna bake your special cake for the Cavaliers' carnival tomorrow night."
Terri winced. She had forgotten. Not the fund-raiser itself, but that she'd volunteered to bring a cake. Why hadn't she written it in her day planner when she volunteered? She knew better than to trust things like that to memory. Her schedule and Lyssa's schedule were jam-packed during the school year. Without her list of "to do's," Terri was lost.
She would be the first to admit that it wasn't easy being a single parent with no other family to lend support. Some days she felt stretched to her absolute limit. Thankfully, she had many friends in Hart's Crossing and a wonderful church family who stepped in to help when needed.
She turned toward the recipe box, flipping open the lid with her left hand while reaching for a shopping list and pen with her right.
"Coach Jenkins says I'm pitching really good. Maybe he'll let me be a starting pitcher at least once this summer. Wouldn't that be something? First girl to start a game in the major division of the Cavaliers."
"Yes, it would be something." Terri had enough flour, but she would need more sugar and eggs. She scribbled on the notepad. "But remember, all the pitchers on your team are a year or two older than you are. You can't count on starting a game."
Lyssa laughed. "I'm a whole lot better than Bobby Danvers, and he's twelve."
"Pride goes before a fall, young lady."
"I mean, you still have a lot to learn. Don't think you know it all."
"I don't think that."
Terri frowned as she stared at the notepad. Oh, yes. She needed two packages of frozen cherries, some unsweetened cocoa, and a carton of whipping cream. She would shop for groceries on the way home from work today and bake the black forest cake first thing in the morning before heading to the salon for her Saturday appointments.
"Mom? Did you hear me?"
Terri turned around. "I'm sorry, honey. What did you say?"
"I'm going now." Lyssa stood beside the kitchen stool, once again holding her backpack.
"See you after school."
"Not without a kiss, you don't." She stepped forward and brushed her lips across her daughter's forehead. "And put your coat on. It's cold, and that sweatshirt isn't enough to keep you warm."
Lyssa rolled her eyes but obediently headed for the rack beside the back door.
Moments later, alone in the kitchen, Terri completed writing her shopping list, set it on top of her planner, then went upstairs to dress for work. She chose jeans, a rust-colored sweater with three-quarter sleeves, and --- the most important item for a person who was on her feet all day --- comfortable shoes. With a quick glance in the mirror, she determined a ponytail would have to do. No time for fussing with her hair.
She smiled ruefully at her reflection. Good thing my clients don't judge my expertise based on how I look.
It was a short drive from her home on the west side of Hart's Crossing to Terri's Tangles Beauty Salon, located at the corner of Main and Municipal. The car's heater didn't have time to take the chill out of the February air before she pulled her 1991 Toyota Camry into the reserved spot near the back of the shop.
She rushed to the entrance, shoved her key in the lock, and pushed open the door. Before she had time to do more than shrug out of her coat, the telephone rang. She lifted the receiver from the back room's wall phone. "Good morning. Terri's Tangles."
"Hey, Terri. It's Angie. Got a minute?"
Terri moved toward the coffeemaker, pressing the handset between shoulder and ear.
"Sure. My first client isn't due for about forty-five minutes. What's up?"
"I wanted to see what you're doing on May 20th about 2:00 in the afternoon. It's a Saturday."
"I don't have any clients booked out that far." She filled the carafe with cold water and poured it into the reservoir. "You can pick whatever time you want. Hang on. Let me get my appointment book, and I'll --- "
"I don't need an appointment for my hair, Terri. I need a maid of honor and a flower girl."
For an instant, Terri froze in place. Then she squealed. "Are you teasing me, Angie Hunter? Because if you are, so help me, I'll --- "
"I'm not teasing. Last night, Bill asked me to marry him."
"It's about time." Terri couldn't think of better news. Bill Palmer and Angie Hunter were two of her favorite people, and she thought them perfect for each other. She'd been hoping and praying for this to happen for months and months. "I was wondering when Bill would get off his keister and propose. Sometimes that man is as slow as molasses."
"Did he give you a ring?"
"Yes. He did the whole routine. Candlelight dinner. Soft music playing in the background. He even got down on one knee to propose. When I said yes, he slipped the engagement ring on my finger. It was very romantic."
Terri sighed. "I'm sure it was. Bill's a romantic kind of guy."
"Can you swing by the salon today? I'd love to see the ring and give you a hug. I'll be here until 3:00."
"Sure, I'll drop by. And you and Lyssa will be my maid of honor and flower girl, won't you?"
"Of course. As long as you don't make us wear something too atrocious or froufrou."
The two of them laughed in unison before exchanging a few words of farewell. Moments later, Terri hung up the phone and returned to the coffeemaker.
Angie, Bill, and a May wedding. How delightful. She wondered if they planned to be married in the church or outdoors. May weather could be iffy, but the gazebo in the park was a wonderful location for a wedding.
Terri and her ex-husband, Vic, had been married by a justice of the peace in Twin Falls. Neither of them had any family in Hart's Crossing --- Terri's parents were deceased and Vic's family all lived back East --- and he hadn't wanted to wait to plan a more formal wedding. At the time, Terri had thought it romantic that he was in such a hurry to become her husband, but she should have wondered instead about his impatient nature. His spur-of-the-moment decisions had caused her much grief.
More than seven years had passed since Vic Sampson left town with that blonde he met at the ski resort --- not the first woman he'd flirted with during his marriage to Terri, but the only one who'd convinced him to leave his wife and get a divorce.
Terri's love for her ex-husband had long since died, but time couldn't completely heal the wounds of a failed marriage. She'd never planned to be a divorced mom. She'd never wanted her daughter to grow up without a father. But that's what happened anyway.
Terri gave her head a quick shake. Let sleeping dogs lie. That's water under the bridge. No crying over spilt milk. Pick a cliché. They were all true. Dwelling on the past couldn't change it.
Once, Angie had asked her if she was interested in marrying again. Terri had answered, "I hope I can find the right guy, the one God means for me to marry. One day I hope Prince Charming will ride into town and sweep me off my feet."
But so far Terri had seen neither hide nor hair of a tall, dark, and handsome prince and his white horse galloping down Main Street.
Excerpted from DIAMOND PLACE (Hart's Crossing) © Copyright 2011 by Robin Lee Hatcher. Reprinted with permission by Revell, an division of Baker Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
Diamond Place (Hart's Crossing)