Setting the Scene: A musty scent invades Laurean Brooks' nostrils as she walks through the open door of the warehouse-turned-mission on that warm June day in 1938. She notices the hard, dirt floor and wonders how the mission volunteers manage to sleep on it. Making her way toward the far end where the kitchen is situated, she spies a young lady at the sink, scouring a cast-iron dutch oven. Could this be the blue-eyed spitfire Austin Grant is mad about? The heroine in Journey To Forgiveness?
Laurean hugs her notebook to her chest and clears her throat. She doesn't want to startle the young lady. At the noise, shoulder-length bronzed curls swish as the girl swirls around, then dries her hands on a dish towel.
Jenny: Yes? Are you looking for someone? The men are out nailing shingles on the second house. In a couple days it will be complete. Those tornadoes wiped out three blocks of homes here in South Pekin. Left a lot of folks homeless. That's why our mission group is here-- to rebuild some of those houses.
Laurean: Actually, I'm looking for Jenny Hinson. I want to ask her about that stool-tipping incident that involved Austin Grant.
Jenny: (Rolls her eyes) Did you have to bring up his name? Austin is the ultimate Klutz! I was doing perfectly well without his help perched atop that stool. I already had the bottle of rubbing alcohol and gauze in my hand,(She rolls her pretty eyes) when he grabbed the stool and we both came crashing to the ground.
Laurean: Why were you reaching for the alcohol and gauze?
Jenny: Like I said, Austin is a Klutz. While working on the roof, he smashed his thumb with a hammer. Goes to show his carpentry skills. His thumb looked pretty bad--purple and swollen. I had hoped that Caroline would bandage it up for him, but she had other ideas. You see, Luke was here today...and don't tell anyone, but I think she's got her hat set for him. She gets all google-eyed at the mention of his name. Anyway...I ended up playing nursemaid to that big baby, Austin.
Laurean: What happened after the stool tipped over? Did anyone get hurt?
Jenny: The breath was knocked from me when I struck the ground. But to hear Austin's cater wallerin', you'd have thought he was the one dying. His head struck a pole on the way down, then I almost landed on top of him. (She smirks).
Laurean: What do you find so amusing?
Jenny: (Leans forward and whispers) Austin's hand was still clenched around my waist when we hit the ground. When I peeled it off he yelled, "Oh-h-hh! That was my sore thumb you bent backwards!"
Laurean: (Gasps) You surely didn't just leave him there in his misery.
Jenny: (Points a finger) Just wait until you hear the rest of the story. I got up and dusted my dress off while Austin lay there curled in a fetal position. I noticed he was shaking, so I thought he might be convulsing. I walked closer and looked down at him, then asked, "Are you okay?" Well, he let out a war whoop that could have awoken the dead, and then...started laughing. At me!
Laurean: Very interesting. (Laurean's brows arch.) What was your reaction to that antic?
Jenny: (Stares at the floor, then clears her throat. When she raises her head, her turquoise eyes soften). I lost my temper...as usual. I threw the bottle of alcohol really hard, and struck him in the stomach. Then I traisped straight back to kitchen. All the time he's yelling, "Come back!" (Her eyes narrow.) I was humiliated! I don't like being made fun of.
Laurean: Do you think Austin will be in a bad mood when he comes in for supper?
Jenny: Are you kidding? He never gets mad. Life's one big joke to him. But, I'll tell you one thing... At the evening meal tonight, I will make sure Austin doesn't find one spare inch of room near me. Last night, he filled his plate and plopped down beside me. So I scooted closer to Aunt Violet. But, do you know what that infuriating man did? (Laurean shakes her head.) He slid right over andcrowded me, then set his plate down. I didn't even have room to swing my elbow! Tonight I'll find a spot so tight... (Jenny shakes her head.) Just let him try.
Laurean: (Glances at her watch). Well, I'd better hit the road if I'm to arrive home before dark. Thank you for the interesting interview. Seems there's never a dull moment when you and Austin run into each other. Pun intended.
Jenny: (Stands and curtsies) You are so right, Ma'am. Austin Grant may not know it, but he has met his match. (Jenny smiles and winks.)
Journey To Forgiveness: Available through www.whiterosepublishing. Or for an autographed copy, email Laurean at firstname.lastname@example.org . She will gladly mail you the book and deduct a dollar from the shipping. What a deal!