Authors: Ruth Ann Hixson
No Plans for Love
By Ruth Ann Hixson
Cover design by Betsy Riley
Copyright owned by Ruth Ann Hixson 2012
All Rights Reserved
This ebook is fiction. The characters names and actions are not derived from any known person, living or deceased, but are from the author's imagination. Any real places are used in a fictional way and may not be an accurate depiction of the actual site.
Dedicated in loving memory of my sister, Carole Marie Zartman who was my childhood playmate and my best friend. She believed in my ability to write.
Table of Contents
"You dang near caused an accident!" shouted the young man who stepped down from the crimson Chevy Suburban. He stormed to where Sherry stood beside her old brown station wagon.
"If you hadn't been tailgating, you would have seen my turn signal," she shot back. "I was looking for a white house but it's green now. It wasn't until I saw the name on the mailbox..." Sherry wished she could see his eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses.
His gaze traveled over her from her brown-crowned head to her worn sandals. His inspection stopped at her knees below her khaki shorts. When he saw the scar on her right knee his inspection stopped. "Little Sherry all grown up. Welcome back." He stepped forward and seized her in a bear hug.
She jerked free and slapped him so hard it left her hand stinging and a red mark on his face.
He pulled off his sunglasses. "Sherry, it's me, Mark. Mark Blakely. Don't you remember me?"
She put her hand to her mouth. "I'm sorry. I didn't recognize you. I was only four when my mother took me away from here." She noted a dimple in his right cheek when he grinned.
"Are you planning on staying here? There are no utilities."
"I know that. I bought water and non-perishable food and all I own is in this car. It will be like camping out. Or camping in."
"Just don't build a campfire in the middle of the dining room floor. I'll help you carry your stuff inside." Without waiting her approval, he opened the back door to her car and began pulling out garbage bags filled with her belongings from the folded-down backseat. "Go unlock the door to the breezeway."
"I only have the front door key." She leaned in the car to take two bags of groceries from the front seat.
"One key fits all," he informed her.
She set her groceries down on the concrete doorstep to unlock the door.
He followed her inside. "That key fits the kitchen door, too." He deposited the bags on the red and white tile of the breezeway floor and went back to the car for more. She took her groceries to the kitchen set them on the counter.
He returned with more of her things and put the load down on the floor. "By the way, there's no furniture either. Your Uncle Roy sold everything that wasn't nailed down."
"That is what he was supposed to do according to Gram's will," Sherry informed him. "He and Mom got the money; I got the house. That suits me just fine."
It took several more trips to carry in the rest of her belongings. They heaped them along the wall on the garage side of the breezeway.
"Thank you for helping me unload."
"If you need anything, just give a holler. Let me put your cell number in my phone."
"I don't have one yet. I'm new at this house of my own business. I need to know how I go about getting my utilities hooked up?"
"The phone company and gas company are open until noon tomorrow. For the electricity you'll need to wait until Monday unless you have a power outage."
"I do." She flipped a nearby light switch. "See. No juice."
That brought a chuckle from him. "If you have something to write on, I'll give you directions to the gas and phone companies."
Sherry dug in a box of books to come up with a tablet and pen. His hand touched hers as he took them sending sparks along her nerves. He went to the kitchen where he laid the tablet on the white marbled Formica counter to print the directions in neat block letters. "Mom is manager at the bank. If you need to open any accounts, she's working tomorrow."
"Thank you," She was still reacting to his touch. This handsome man could not possibly be the skinny kid she used to know, the boy who would keep an eye on her and his younger sister.
"I'll be back in a little while with some water." He went out to his truck and left.
After she put her groceries in the pantry just inside the kitchen door, Sherry decided to explore her new home. More than the color of the house had changed. There was a roof over the patio and a back porch that ran along the side of the breezeway which used to be the deck. It looked cool and inviting if only she had some outdoor furniture. If only she had any furniture.
She went through the breezeway and opened the door to find the garage empty except for a built-in workbench on the far side. She glanced up at the garage-door openers. They wouldn't work without electricity.
Stepping out on the back porch, she walked to the south end and leaned on the wrought iron railing. Down the slope a line of trees marked the course of the creek. The last time she'd been to that creek she had gotten in trouble with her mother.
When she was four years old, she, Mark and Lisa went down to the swimming hole and Mark had taught the girls to swim. Her mother had been furious. A few days later her mother packed up her car and took Sherry away. She had felt that it was her mother's way of punishing her for doing something bad.
She was making up her bed on the dining room floor when the sound of a vehicle in the driveway drew her to the window. An old gray Chevy truck backed up to the doorstep. Mark got out to let down the tailgate and lifted a milk can from the back of the truck as if it weighed nothing. She rushed to open the door for him.
"Cool water fresh from the well." He set the can down. "I'll go get that other can.” When he set the second milk can down, his cell phone rang. He took it out of the belt clip and opened it. "My fiancee. I better take this call."
Sherry watched him get into the old pickup and leave. So Mark was engaged. She thought about the boy she had known as a child. She had worshiped the ground he walked on. He was her "big brother."
One day when she and Lisa were playing in the sandbox out back she had told her best friend that she wished she had a big brother to look after her. Lisa was sympathetic, saying, "Well, I can let you use mine." From that day on Sherry had treated Mark like her big brother.
While Lisa was willing to share her big brother, she was not quite so willing to share her father. In her childish way, Lisa had told her to go find her own. Sherry had no idea who her father was. All her mother had told her was that her father had been married and that she hadn't known until she was already pregnant. Sherry had grown up without a father.
Opening the milk cans was bit of a challenge. She tried pulling the lid off of first one can, then the other. Neither budged even a little bit. She needed a hammer. Then an idea came to her. She ran outside and came back with the jack handle/lug wrench from her car. A few whacks brought the lid off. But that wasn't the end of her problems. She had nothing with which to dip out the water and the full cans were too heavy for her to tilt and pour it out.
While she was mulling over the problem, she went to the kitchen, took a can of spaghetti from the pantry and opened it. Sitting on the floor she scooped the food from the can with the only spoon she had. When the can was empty she sat looking at it. After she removed the label and washed it, she had her dipper. She used it to dip water into her bucket to flush the toilet. As far as drinking water, she would use the water she bought first.
She knew she had to prepare for the darkness that would soon envelop the house. She had the scented candles she'd brought with her from her old home. She dug them out of her pile of belongings and set them on the counter beside the box of matches.
Lacking electricity to play her CD's, she went to her things and got her guitar. She loved that guitar; her grandparents had given it to her for Christmas when she was thirteen. The 1938 Martin was worth a lot of money; it had belonged to a great-uncle she never knew. He had been killed in Korea long before Sherry was born. He had played that guitar in a country music band, and when he died, he left it to his brother who was Sherry's grandfather. He gave it to Sherry when he learned that Sherry's best friend, Dawn Holmes, was taking guitar lessons. Sherry wanted to learn to play, too. Dawn took lessons and she taught Sherry.
Like many teenagers Sherry and Dawn dreamed of making it big. They competed in a few talents shows and even won once. As they grew older their dreams turned to college and what they would accomplish in life. Dawn got grants and student loans and was accepted at Princeton. Sherry was still waiting to fulfill her dreams. Her short term goal was simply to survive and to improve herself every day.
She got her bag of potato chips and a bottle of tea and took them out to the back porch where she sat at the top of the concrete steps to play her music and munch her chips. She was content with how things had gone that day. She had finally cut the ties that bound her to an impulsive, irresponsible mother.
The roles of mother and daughter were somewhat reversed with Sherry and her mom. Her mother was totally irresponsible where money was concerned. Ever since she was twelve, Sherry paid the bills and bought the groceries. Her mother would deposit her paycheck in the bank and Sherry would write out the checks for her mother to sign. When they went grocery shopping, Sherry had to be constantly alert that her mother didn't sneak something they couldn't afford or didn't need into the cart. Alison Winnette had been completely dependent on her, but Sherry'd had enough of it.
Her mother's boyfriend had walked into her bedroom stark naked and crept into her bed. She rolled out the other side and threatened, "If you don't get out right now, I'll teach you a little karate."
He laughed at her but when she took a step forward, he scooted his bare ass out the door. Sherry had gone immediately and bought a bolt for her door. When she was in her room, even if she was fully dressed, the door was bolted.
But Sherry had to get out of Newark. Her life depended on it. So, it was a Godsend when she received the letter from Gram's lawyer telling her that she had inherited the house. After her mom went to work one morning, Sherry packed everything she owned into her station wagon and headed west on Interstate 80. "Mifflin County, here I come," she said as she started on her journey.
Now she was there and could start her life over in the home she had known as a little child. It would be difficult until she got her utilities, some furniture and a job, but she resolved to continue her plans to get a job to save the money for college. She had vowed at an early age that she wasn't going to be like her mother.
Sherry went to work for the Blakelys helping with the milking. Jan Blakely, Mark's step-mother, offered to give her food produced on the farm and the old table and chairs that had sat on the Blakely's front porch and now sat in her kitchen.
. She liked the sound of that.
She learned that the Blakely's were friendly people. Frank did most of the farming when Mark wasn't home to help. Jan worked at the bank and Mark was an Ag-Tech teacher at the high school. He had a degree in agricultural engineering but could find no work close to home. "I'm not ready to give up on the family farm yet," he told Sherry.