Hello dear readers and welcome to another installment of my popular web series Cherry Hill! When last we left the story, Amanda and Jack had escaped Walt Fischer, his men, and the nefarious Nurse Valerie and had arrived back in Cherry Hill at the home of Jack's parents; Marjorie and Henry Wilson, leaving Amanda's children with her Protector at a school where they would learn to channel their magic.
We resume the story in Marjorie Wilson's kitchen...
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It was almost surreal, sitting in Marjorie Wilson's kitchen eating macaroni and cheese while Jack fielded questions from his father who had absolutely no idea about The Zanzibar, The Association, or any of the reasons why he and Amanda had left town with the children.
"To be honest, dad," said Jack, holding Amanda's hand and looking into her eyes, "We thought it would be best to leave for a while. We knew once the town got wind of our relationship, the rumour mill would explode."
"What do you think it did when the two of you disappeared?" shouted Henry Wilson. Overcome with relief his son had come home, the dinner hour had made way for a new emotion to emerge and Henry found himself choking back tears of anger when he thought of the torture his son's disappearance had caused.
"It was bad enough when you were overseas during the war - the waiting, the wondering - but to have you vanish like that, so soon after coming home, it was almost more than my heart could take."
Marjorie looked at her husband with a new found sense of love and loyalty. She had never shared with him the secrets of The Zanzibar because she had been forbidden, but now she wished this man who loved them both so deeply, had been privy to everything from the start. With a sigh, she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Henry, you're a good man, and a wonderful father. But perhaps it's best now to put our fears aside and celebrate our son's return home, and even more so, to rejoice in the knowledge that he's found what we've had for so long: love."
Amanda drew a surprised breath as the woman who had always appeared to be her enemy looked across the table at her with a mixture of pride and care that almost bowled her over. But then came Marjorie's voice in her head, "I love you as if you were my own and always have. Nothing in heaven or on earth could make me happier than I am right now."
That day in the apartment. The woman who took her on the train to her new family was Marjorie. The inimitable Mrs. Wilson. Cherry Hill's most revered hostess, and for a time, Amanda's Achilles heel, was in truth, her Protector. Her ultimate Protector, and she shyly sent a thought message back: "I always knew there was more to you than clam dip."
Though no one else knew what had just transpired between the two women, Marjorie threw her head back and began laughing. Soon everyone was wiping tears of relief and joy from their eyes; and to the casual observer, the picture that evening of a happy family sitting around the kitchen table on a sleepy Cherry Hill evening in 1948, would be one that would provoke envy.
But Marjorie knew better. She knew this brief respite would not last. There was a storm coming to Cherry Hill and by the time it ended, the fabric of innocence that had begun to unravel with Paul's death would hit with a vengeance. It was time to tell Henry the truth. It was time to alert The Zanzibar.
If Amanda and Jack were to enact destiny, it was only fair that her parents be there to bear witness and it was only right that Amanda's adopted family come to Cherry Hill.
"Would I be premature, " queried Marjorie with a glimmer in her eyes, "If I announced we have a wedding to plan?"
"You wouldn't be mother," said Jack, and then looking at the woman he had grown to love more than life itself, he reached into the pocket of his jacket to the small box he had been carrying for the last two months; unsure he would ever get the opportunity to make his deepest desires known.
"Amanda Fitzpatrick," he said opening the box to reveal a ring with tear drop diamond and two tiny opals, one in the upper right of the setting and one in the lower left, "Would you be my wife."
Without hesitation, Amanda threw her arms around Jack and said, "Yes!!"
Outside Namanya howled.
In a dark room somewhere on the outskirts of Copenhagen a small man wearing coke bottle glasses looked into a mirror and said "It has begun."
Stay tuned next Sunday to find out what happens next!
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer
with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe
developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay
believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and
ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of
all levels can accomplish.
Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.