We left our heroine last week, after she received a puzzling phone call from an anonymous stranger...
Missed an episode? Get caught up here: Cherry Hill Index
Amanda hung up the phone, and feeling puzzled, made her way to the kitchen to check on the casserole she had bubbling in the oven. It was a new recipe for something called Zesty Ham and Broccoli Bake and if the way it was smelling was any indication, Amanda was certain they were in for a lovely supper.
But it still didn't quite take away the uneasiness she was feeling over the mysterious phone call. "Nothing is as it appears... Zanzibar..." and what in the dickens could Jack possibly have to do with all this?
Shaking her head, she called the children in to wash up before dinner and debated whether or not to pay Jack a visit later in the evening. "Surely the entire thing is a joke," she told herself as she dished steaming portions of the cheesy casserole onto each plate, but with so many unusual occurences over the past year and lingering questions surrounding the death of her husband Paul, Amanda wasn't certain of anything anymore.
"This is so lovely," she thought as she added sliced tomatoes to the plates and poured each child a cold glass of frothy milk, resolving not to let the troubling thoughts swirling about in her mind interfere with dinner hour.
Sally and Bobby arrived at the table sun kissed and freshly scrubbed after having spent the bulk of the afternoon playing in the backyard with the neighborhood children. Prior to his death, Paul had built them a tree house and it was home base for many games of make believe.
Amanda sighed as she looked out the window into the backyard. The tree house had been a labour of love. Perched onto a platform of their old oak tree, the cheerful little house boasted two windows with white eyelet curtains, a full replica kitchen made of wood with a child sized oven, cupboards, a frigidaire, and a wooden table with four little chairs. A white eyelet table cloth Amanda sewed to match the curtains, added a final touch to the whimsical little play area, and, not to be outdone by too much femininity, Paul and Bobby built a sign that hung on the outside of the front door that said "Pirate's Retreat."
Returning to the table with a basket of warm dinner rolls and cold creamery butter, Amanda was flooded with bittersweet memories as she looked at her children; Sally so serious and grown up, and eight year old Bobby the image of his father.
"Children, place your napkins onto your laps," Amanda reminded them lightly, and bow your heads for grace; it's Sally's turn tonight.
Ten year old Sally bowed her blonde head and with earnest, furrowed brow prayed: "Heavenly Father, bless this meal, and Mommy, and Bobby, and save some for Daddy in heaven. Oh! And thank you for the tomatoes, even though I don't really like them, I'm still grateful. Amen"
"Amen" said Amanda and Bobby in unison, and they commenced the meal amid a coulorful recounting of the day's events while Amanda, only half listening, tried to dispel the thoughts of worry and doubt that continued to intrude on dinner.
When the last bits of casserole were finished and the tomatoes eaten up, Amanda decided on a surprise and, clapping her hands together said, "Hurry children, the ice cream man will be by in about 5 minutes!"
Knowing how excited the children would be to get their first frozen treat of the summer, she saw it as a good excuse to pay Jack a visit. With ice creams in hand, they strolled through the neighborhood toward Jack's house.
Jack was in the front yard watering the rose bushes when he spotted Amanda coming up the road. As was always the case, he drew in a sharp breath and was conscious of his heart beat when he took in her glossy brown hair, blue eyes, and the pretty red and white polka dot dress she had on that evening.
6'4 and war weary rugged, Jack had seen many things in his 33 years. He'd been all over the world and faced too many dangers to list, and though he appeared outwardly sturdy... no one would ever guess he was weak at the knees.
Jack vowed to himself, once again, to protect Amanda as he had always done, vowing she would never find out the terrible secrets surrounding Cherry Hill or the legacy of her birth...
Click here to read the next installment in our popular web series: Zanzibar
Will Amanda ask Jack about Zanzibar? Will jack reveal his true feelings? And what of this mysterious legacy? Stay tuned next week for the next installment of Cherry Hill to find out...
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