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Chapter 6

There was a hint of mockery in Brian’s voice. “I hope the aroma of bacon means that we’re having a sit-down breakfast.”

Ginny turned from the stove and grinned at him. “About time, don’t you think? I promised that I would cook more when I cut back my hours. It just so happened, scrambled eggs and bacon headed the list of Molly's favorites that Abigail slipped to me. Molly barely touched dinner last evening. I’m hoping to tempt her. Did you hear her moving around before you came down?”

“No. Should I call her?”

“Let’s give her another ten minutes. She didn’t get to sleep until late.”

“Are we going to church?”

“If we attended her church, that would be a yes. Since we don’t, no. She’s met enough strangers and been in enough unfamiliar settings for one weekend.”

“You’re probably right. What’s the plan for today?”

“If you are onboard, I thought we might look at houses. The open house for the first house on the list you gave me is at one. We can eat lunch at Howard’s after we do a walkthrough. After lunch, we’ll take a look at the other two.”

“House shopping isn’t on my list of fun things to do. I don’t think it’s on Molly’s either.”

“I’m aware of that, Brian. We’ll just have to make the day an adventure. I mentioned house shopping when I tucked her in last night. She said that she liked seeing where other people lived.”

Ginny and crew arrived at the open house at one on the dot. After the walkthrough, Brian commented, “The photographs looked a lot better than the actual house.”

Ginny agreed. “I like the layout, but I don’t want to spend three or four months remodeling. Maybe the next one will be exactly what we’re looking for. Who’s ready for lunch?”

Mid-way through their entrees, Ginny received a call from Nick. She wasn't eager to take his call. He wouldn’t call unless there was change of plans or an emergency. She excused herself claiming that she couldn’t hear the caller. She moved into an area out of Molly’s hearing range.

Nick informed her that Abigail had experienced a seizure while at church. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the hospital.

The news was mind numbing. Ginny’s voice shook. “How is she Nick? Is she going to be okay?”

“The doctors started treatment as soon as she reached the hospital. They diagnosed a TIA. Even though it was mild, she was bruised when she fell. They want to keep her for a couple of days for observation.

“I’m sorry about the inconvenience, Ginny, but is it possible for you to keep Molly until tomorrow. If so, I’ll have someone from Child Services meet you at Abigail’s apartment.”

Ginny was horrified. “Please don’t do that, Nick. That precious child has already had more than her share of trauma. Brian and I aren’t relatives, but we’re willing to take care of her for as long as necessary. Can’t you put off the agency until I can drive to Summerfield and talk to Ruth Northrop. As Molly’s next of kin, shouldn’t she be the person to decide who Molly lives with?”

“How soon can you go?”

“Tomorrow afternoon.”

“I think that I can put off the social worker for that long. What about Molly?”

“She can stay at my friend Carol’s house. Carol has a daughter a couple of years older than Molly, and Brian will be there. He’ll keep an eye on her.”

“I don’t want an unnecessary fight with Child Services, so let me know what happens as soon as possible?”

Ginny put on her game face and rejoined Brian and Molly at the table. She didn’t tell them about the phone call. The child deserved to spend a reasonably normal Sunday afternoon.

The third walkthrough was as disappointing as the first two. As they were leaving the neighborhood, Molly noticed another open house sign. “Look Ginny Roark. There’s a sign for another house. Why don’t we look at that one.”

“Thank you, Molly. I do like this neighborhood. Brian, what about you? Are you onboard, or you tired of looking?”

“As long as we’re here, why not.”

A winding lane led to a charming craftsman style home that was large enough to give Ginny and Brian personal space, but small enough to be cozy and inviting. The wide plank floors, stone fireplace, built-in bookcases, and updated kitchen appliances were also a plus. From the view outside the kitchen window, one would guess that the house was nestled in a forest. In reality, the house was less than ¼ mile from one of Archdale’s busiest street. Ginny was delighted when she spotted a magnificent magnolia tree—she could visualize it in full bloom—and two weeping cherry trees. Best of all, the house was affordable.

The house was a gem. Beth and Jim Harrison had lived in the house twenty-five years. They were moving out of state to be close to their children, but their excitement didn’t keep them from being sad about leaving their home. They loved the house, the yard and the neighborhood.

Ginny thanked the Harrison’s for giving her and the kids a tour and promised to be in touch.

As soon as they were back in the car, Brian scolded Ginny. “Mom, what were you thinking? The house is perfect. You should have make an offer or least told the Harrison’s that an offer would be forthcoming.”

“I can’t make an offer Brian until I talk to Denise and my banker. You do realize don’t you that I will have to sell half of our furniture or put it in storage? I need to sit down and make a list of all of the pros and cons before I make an offer. I don’t want to make a mistake. If we’re meant to have the house, things will fall into place. Now, who wants ice cream?”

Since it was a warm day, and because she needed a quiet spot to tell Molly about Nick’s phone call, she suggested that they enjoy the ice cream outside. She dreaded disturbing the peaceful afternoon by sharing the news about Abigail. Molly seemed content, if not happy.

After Molly took the last bite of her strawberry ice cream, she asked, “Am I going back to Abigail’s now?”

“Remember the call I got during lunch? It was from Mr. Nick. Abigail became ill this morning at church. An ambulance came and took her to the hospital.”

It broke Ginny’s heart to see tears glistening in Molly’s eyes. Before she could continue, Molly asked, “Is she going to die like my mommy.”

“No . . . no, sweetie. Her doctors say that she’s going to be just fine. They are going to observe her for a day or two to make sure that she’s strong enough to go home.”

“Where will I stay?”

“With Brian and me. I know that you would rather be at Abigail’s. Right now, that’s not possible.”

“When can I see her?”

“Mr. Nick will call when she is allowed to have visitors.”

In his own bumbling way, Brian tried to comfort her. “It’s going to be okay, Molly. Mom and I are here for you.”

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