Free Shipping on Orders over $100!

Ebook Bundles! Buy More, Save More!

Books to deepen your faith and resonate with your soul.
Browse, read, and buy directly
from this small, family-owned company!

[chatbot style=”floating” assistant=”primary”]

We’ll Meet Again

by Melody Carlson

Now in its third year, World War II still rages, taking its toll on everyone. On the home-front, the Mulligans continue to face war-related challenges . . . and patience wears thin.

Margaret is pulled in various directions as she attempts to care for her toddler and disabled husband Brian, who’s haunted by mistakes made on the battlefield—and their marriage is put to the test. Colleen is still pursuing her Hollywood career, but will the arrival of her baby change everything? And with Navy pilots being shot down daily, will Geoff escape the odds and make it safely home?

Bridget still serves as an Army nurse in the Pacific front, where not only her life, but health and heart are in harm’s way. Molly continues to do her part to help her family and find her place in the world, but when her relationship with Patrick gets shaken to the core, she heads off on a journey that leaves her family conflicted.

The war will eventually end, but will the Mulligan family remain intact when it does?

Chapter 1

Late April 1944

Margaret knew it was irrational, but she still felt somewhat responsible for Brian’s war injury. Oh, she knew she hadn’t actually thrown the grenade that cost her husband his right leg while leading his troops through Italy, but she felt guilty all the same. If only she’d attended Mass more faithfully, lit more prayer candles, recited the rosary more often—or, most troubling, if only she’d been a more faithful wife—perhaps poor Brian would still be whole.

Despite going to confession weekly and doing the penance imposed by Father McMurphey, Margaret still couldn’t shake the idea that God wanted to punish her. And why not? Didn’t she deserve punishment? Yet it seemed unfair that Brian was the one to suffer…all because of her.

As Margaret drove through the morning fog to Letterman, she tried to redirect her mind to more positive thoughts—like Father McMurphey, who had been encouraging. She reminded herself of how little Peter was saying more words and how helpful old Mrs. Bartley had been at the store these past few months. And it was so great that Colleen was home—and expecting her first baby. Those were all good things.

Yet as she turned into the visitors’ parking lot at the imposing military hospital, all her happy thoughts evaporated. All she could think about was packing her wounded serviceman into the backseat of this car and transporting him home. Her stomach knotted as she pulled into an empty space, and her hands trembled as she removed the key from the ignition. She wanted to be strong, wanted to be upbeat, wanted to be like Mrs. Miniver from the Greer Garson movie. But it was so hard.

Just last night, when she held an emergency planning meeting with the family to discuss how to handle Brian’s unexpected discharge, Margaret had put on a brave front, assuring her family and Brian’s that she could handle this. But now she could barely hold back the tears—she wanted to run away and let someone else deal with it.

“Put your best foot forward,” Colleen had advised this morning as she adjusted Margaret’s headpiece. The latest fashion, straight from Hollywood, was a gorgeous teal blue beaded fascinator that Margaret hoped would help conceal how distraught she really felt.

Margaret checked her image in the rearview mirror, retouching the lipstick that she must’ve chewed off during the short drive here. “God give me strength,” she prayed aloud as she snapped her handbag closed and got out of the car. Various family members had offered to accompany her this morning, but Margaret knew this was her cross to bear. She also knew that everyone was busier than ever these days. Mam was caring for Margaret’s toddler Peter today, and Molly had university classes as well as her internship at the newspaper. Colleen, despite her morning sickness, was working at the store, and Dad, well, he was supposed to avoid all forms of stress and strain. As if that were possible. All one had to do was turn on the radio or pick up a newspaper and blood pressure was certain to rise. This horrible war…would it ever end?

It wasn’t just her family that was busy. Brian’s dad was trying to round up a wheelchair, and his mom was busily getting their house ready for their wounded hero’s homecoming. It had been decided last night at their emergency meeting that Brian could be best cared for at his parents’ home since they had a spare bedroom on the first floor. And Mrs. Hammond had seemed comfortable with the unexpected chore of caring for her disabled son. That was a relief.

The family member Margaret truly longed for as she walked through the parking lot was her sister Bridget—well, besides her big brother Peter, but there was no bringing him back from the dead. As a trained army nurse, no one would be more skilled than Bridget to help with Brian’s recovery. But Bridget was God-knew-where in the South Pacific right now, caring for other wounded soldiers…some who would be sent back to the battlefield, some who would come home to better-equipped hospitals, and some who would not survive.

“Thank God that Brian’s alive,” Margaret said beneath her breath as she entered the lobby of the busy military hospital. By now she was fairly used to Letterman and barely shuddered to see a pair of severely wounded servicemen sitting in wheelchairs parked in a nearby hallway. The facility was filled to nearly overflowing. That was why Brian was being discharged this early, even though, according to the doctor, he was still in the healing process. Not only with the leg, but his cracked ribs and some of the other injuries would take time. But to be fair, most of the patients here were in worse shape than Brian—and space was limited.

Holding her head high, Margaret stopped at the nurses’ station, where the head nurse greeted her. Before long, she was signing discharge papers and listening as the head nurse explained about future outpatient treatment and therapy, mostly reiterating what the doctor had told Margaret yesterday when she’d been informed that Brian could go home.

“These pills are for pain.” The nurse handed Margaret an amber prescription bottle. “Just follow the directions.” A pamphlet joined the bottle. “And this has some helpful hints for caring for an amputee.”

Margaret placed the items into her purse and thanked her.

“Well, then, I guess we’re set.” The nurse nodded toward Brian’s ward. “Unless you have any questions for the doctor. Although he’s quite busy this morning. A new shipment of patients is expected to arrive soon.”

Margaret just shook her head then, bracing herself, followed the nurse into Brian’s ward. She felt slightly relieved to see Brian fully dressed and seated in a wheelchair. She smiled as she greeted him. “You look like you’re ready to go.”

He nodded with what was clearly a forced smile, and before long, with the help of a sturdy orderly and the supervision of the head nurse, they were loading him into the backseat of the car. She clumsily attempted to arrange the pillows she’d brought along, hoping she could make him comfortable but fearing she was only making it worse. If Brian was in pain at the jostling and bumping, he didn’t say a word. But, of course, he was probably used to pain by now.

“Here’s a blanket.” She offered him the woolen lap robe as the hospital staff departed.

“I’m fine.” He pushed it away. “It’s not cold. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Yes, of course.” She hurried into the driver’s seat, trying not to tremble as she started the engine. She did not want to cry. Please, don’t cry!

“So…where are you taking me?” he asked in a flat tone. “Or perhaps you’d like to simply toss my carcass into the bay.”

“Brian!” She stopped at the edge of the parking lot, turning to stare. To her relief his lips were curved slightly up…but his eyes were dark and somber.

“I’m sorry, honey.” He grimaced. “I guess I just feel a bit useless at the moment.”

“You are not useless,” she declared, but before she could elaborate, the sound of a car horn made her jump.

“Keep moving,” Brian commanded. “Someone back there sounds impatient.”

Margaret returned her focus to driving, reminding herself that she was transporting a seriously injured man and needed to proceed carefully. As she drove, she tried to think of a gentle way to inform him of where he’d be staying during his continued recuperation. She felt certain he wouldn’t be pleased with the news.

“We all met last night,” she began carefully, stopping for a traffic light. “Everyone agreed that it’s best for you to stay at your parents’. You know, because they have a first- floor bedroom and your mom—”

He released a loud groan.

“I really wanted to bring you home to the apartment above the store, but they all talked me out of it. There’s the stairs…and the bathroom’s downstairs and—”

“Yes, I know. I understand. But being back at Mom and Dad’s…” He let out a loud sigh. “Well, it figures.”

“I can start looking for a place,” she said suddenly. “Something that’s on one level and where we can be—”

“Don’t bother,” he snapped. “From what I’ve heard, there’s a shortage on housing in this town. Probably will be until the war is over. Maybe longer.”

“Well, we don’t have to live in the city. We could move out—”

“You’ve got the store, Margaret. Our families are here. Of course, we want to live in the city. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“That’s all true, but what if—”

“The light’s green,” he declared in a sharp tone.

Tears burned in Margaret’s eyes as she passed through the intersection. She knew he wasn’t trying to be harsh and that she should have thicker skin, but none of this was like anything she’d ever expected of their lives together. But why should that surprise her? When had anything in her life ever gone as planned?

“Are you comfortable?” she asked meekly as she turned onto a bumpy street, instantly wishing she’d chosen a smoother route.

“As much as I can be,” he said stiffly.

“I’m sorry.” She blinked to hold back her tears.

“It’s my fault. The nurse tried to get me to take pain meds, but I refused. I didn’t want to be doped up for the ride.”

She considered offering to stop so he could take a pill but figured it was too late. Instead, she kept her mouth closed and concentrated on avoiding the worst bumps. But by the time she reached his parents’ house, she felt like a bundle of raw nerves.

“Here we are,” she said as she parked the car. “I’ll run inside and tell them.” She hurried up to the house where Mr. Hammond was already emerging with an old wooden wheelchair, his wife just steps behind him with an anxious expression.

“How’s he doing?” Mrs. Hammond asked with wide eyes.

“I think he might be in some pain.” Maggie quickly explained about the missed pain medication then reiterated the orderly’s instructions for easing Brian out of the car and into a wheelchair. It was an awkward process, but at least they didn’t drop him in the street. Still, Margaret could see by the firm line of his jaw and the paleness of his lips that he was in pain. As soon as they got into the house, she ran for a glass of water and immediately offered him one of the pain pills. He didn’t protest.

“Dad managed to find you a hospital bed,” Mrs. Hammond said pleasantly as they wheeled him into his old childhood room—the same room Margaret had occupied after Peter was born. To her relief, all the childish décor and dusty school pennants were gone. It smelled as if Mrs. Hammond had done some thorough cleaning, but the stripped-down space now had a rather stark and clinical appearance.

“Where is Margaret going to stay?” Brian demanded.

“Margaret?” Mrs. Hammond’s brows arched.

“Yes, she’s my wife. Shouldn’t she be here with me?”

“But we all decided that it was best for Margaret and little Peter to remain in their apartment above the store,” Mrs. Hammond explained. “Didn’t she tell you?”

Brian frowned darkly.

“I meant to tell you, but—”

“If Brian would like to have his family here,” Mr. Hammond intervened, “I don’t see why we can’t accommodate that. Right, Louise?”

“Well, if everyone thinks that’s for the best.” Mrs. Hammond sounded uncertain.

“I think that’s best,” Brian said firmly.

Mrs. Hammond glanced at Margaret. “Is that going to work for you, dear? I must say I would love having little Peter here full time. And I can help with him.”

“We’ll let you use Patrick’s room too,” Mr. Hammond declared.

“I’ll have to relocate my sewing and we’ll need to get a—”

“We need to get Brian into bed,” Mr. Hammond said with authority. “I’m sure he’s worn out from the trip home. You ladies can discuss the living arrangements later.”

Both Margaret and Mr. Hammond managed to hoist Brian into the bed, but seeing the beads of sweat on Brian’s forehead told Margaret that he was in pain. “Hopefully that pill will start to work soon,” she quietly told him as his parents exited the small room.

“I should’ve taken it earlier,” he muttered between his teeth.

She went around the bed, gently tucking in the blankets, taking extra care on his right side…where the lower half of his leg was missing. “Can I get you anything else?”

He shook his head. “Just need to rest.”

“Yes.” She leaned over to kiss his smoothly shaved cheek. “Welcome home, darling.”

“Thanks.” His voice sounded flat and dull, mechanical.

“You’ll feel better soon.” She slowly backed out of the room. “Just give yourself time, Brian.”

He simply stared blankly at her, as if doubting her words. Then he closed his eyes, and she closed the door. Time… They would all need lots of time to get beyond this. And even if the old adage were true, that time could heal all wounds, she knew all the time in the world would never replace Brian’s missing leg. Or anything else that they’d lost since this stupid war began.

Chapter 2

As Colleen unloaded a case of canned peas, it hit her—this was nothing like Hollywood. She chuckled to herself as the set the last can on top of the pyramid. If only her fans could see her now. Of course, some of them could, and did, see her. The older customers had quickly gotten over her, limiting their trips to the store after her first week of filling in for Margaret. But it was her second week and star-struck teenagers were still flocking in after school. Sure, they’d buy an apple or orange, but it was clear that they hoped to make small talk, get signatures, or even take a photograph with her. It wasn’t bad for business, but it did get old after a while.

So they decided a few days ago that Margaret, who was still helping Mrs. Hammond with Brian’s care, would work afternoons at the store. And Colleen would go upstairs and put her feet up. The baby wasn’t due until August, but Colleen’s waistline had already expanded enough to make maternity clothes a must. For now she was borrowing some things from Margaret, but she eventually planned to look for something more fashionable.

“Time for the changing of the guard,” Margaret announced as she came into the store. “How’s it going?”

“It’s been steady.” Colleen removed her apron and reached for her purse. “And Mrs. Bartley had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment.”

“Is she unwell?” Margaret asked.

“I think it was just a routine checkup.” Colleen suddenly noticed dark circles beneath her sister’s eyes. “How about you?” She peered curiously at Margaret. “You look worn out. Are you okay?”

Margaret shrugged as she picked up the grocer’s apron. “I’m fine.”

Colleen frowned with real concern. “You don’t look fine to me.” She hooked her arm into Margaret’s then led her into the back room, calling out to Dirk, who was cleaning vegetables. “You watch the front for a few minutes.”.

“The autograph seekers already here?” he teased as he laid down his knife.

“Not yet. But I need to talk to Margaret.” Colleen led Margaret into the office then pointed to one of the chairs. “Now tell me what’s going on.”

“Nothing is going on.” Margaret sighed as she sat down. “I’m just a little tired.”

“You look more than just a little tired.” Colleen leaned forward, looking intently into her sister’s eyes. “What’s wrong?”

Margaret blinked then looked away.

“Is it Brian?”

She barely shrugged. “It’s just so hard.”

“Of course it’s hard.” Colleen reached for Margaret’s hand, clasping it in hers. “You’ve been such a trouper too. I’m really proud of you.”

Margaret shook her head.

“But I can tell it’s getting to you, Margaret. Tell me what’s going on.”

A tear streaked down Margaret’s cheek, and she reached for her handkerchief. “I—I’m afraid if I talk about it—I’ll start crying—and I won’t be able to stop.”

“Go ahead,” Colleen encouraged. “I promise you, you’ll be able to stop when you need to. Besides, you’ll feel better after a good cry.”

“Well, you’re right—it is about Brian.” She blotted the tear. “He…he’s so unhappy. And who can blame him? He’s half a man, Colleen. And…and he doesn’t want to live.” She choked on a sob.

“Doesn’t want to live?”

“That’s right. He…he wants to die.” Margaret’s tear-filled eyes grew big. “He—he was hiding his pain pills under his pillow, Colleen! Every time I gave him one, he pretended to take it, but he was storing them up. He planned to take them all at once. He planned to kill himself.”

“Oh, honey.” Colleen wrapped her arms around Margaret, holding her as she sobbed for a couple of minutes. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s just so—so hard. And I don’t—don’t even know what to do.”

Colleen smoothed Margaret’s hair, peering into her tear-streaked face. “Did you tell Brian’s parents?”

“Oh, how could I? They would be devastated. And besides, Brian made me swear not to.”

Colleen pursed her lips. “Well, Brian isn’t thinking clearly right now, Margaret. You don’t have to agree with everything he says.”

“I know. But now I’m scared. What if he tries to kill himself in some other way?”

“You need to call the hospital, Margaret.”

“I—I did. The nurse there told me this wasn’t uncommon. She just said to make sure that all firearms and sharp objects and medications were locked up.”

“That’s all?”

“She said it was something most amputees went through and that it was all in the pamphlet they gave me when he got discharged from the hospital.”

“So they can’t put him back in the hospital?”

“Letterman is already overly full. Casualties just keep pouring in.”

“This blasted war.” Colleen felt a rush of concern for Geoff. She knew that being a navy pilot was one of the most dangerous jobs in the military—something she tried not to dwell on too much. Although it was easier said than done, she knew it was better to pray than worry.

Margaret blew her nose. “So last night—after I discovered the handkerchief holding his stash of pills—we had a fight. He confessed his plan. But it was so late, and I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go to sleep…afraid he might do something to harm himself.” She shuddered. “I sat in a hard chair, like the night watchman. I actually dozed off a couple of times but not for long. And then Peter woke up early.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “I’m just so tired.”

“I can see that.”

“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I moved in there. I sleep on the little cot in Brian’s room, but I’m constantly waking up. Sometimes he’s groaning in pain. Or he’s had a bad dream. I’m always jumping up, making sure he’s okay, giving him his pills to help him rest better.” She shook a fist. “The pills he wasn’t even taking.”

“That sounds like pure torture.”

“I’d sleep in Peter’s room, but we decided that Brian needs someone nearby. Even more so now that I know what he was planning.”

“Is he safe now?”

“His mother is there with him. I hinted to her that he wasn’t doing too well, and I insisted on leaving Peter with Mam for the afternoon. I made it seem like she was missing him. And I made sure Brian took a pain pill before I left. I watched him actually swallow it. The pill will make him drowsy. And, really, I don’t think he’d attempt anything with his mother around. But at night…when everyone is asleep…and if he had access to the pills or something else, well, I just don’t know.” She let out a sob. “I feel like I’m never going to be able to sleep again.”

“You’re going upstairs,” Colleen insisted. “To have a nice long nap.”

“What about the store? It’ll get busy soon.”

“I’ll stay.” Colleen pulled Margaret to her feet. “Come on.”

Colleen led Margaret up to the apartment. “I’m sorry it’s not very tidy.” She kicked a pair of shoes out of the way. “I guess I’ve been tired too. Not like you though. Just morning sickness. You know how that goes.”

“I’m surprised you want to stay here.” Margaret looked around the apartment that she’d worked so hard to carve out of an attic storage area. “You could be in your old room with Mam and Dad.”

“I know. But this is handy for helping out in the store. Besides, I’m used to my independence. And I think they’re enjoying having their home to themselves for a change.” She peeled the bedspread back from the bed. “Less stress for Dad too.”

“I guess.” Margaret sank down on the bed, and Colleen knelt down to pull off her shoes.

“And I’ve been thinking that, if you don’t mind, I might do some improvements to the place.”

“Improvements?” Margaret asked sleepily.

“Maybe get a plumber to install a bathroom up here. And a real kitchenette.” Colleen plumped the pillow.

“That’d be nice.” Margaret lay back with a tired sigh.

“Just close your eyes and don’t think about a single thing.” Colleen pulled the blanket up over her. “Everyone will be fine. Just rest.” She tiptoed out and down the stairs just in time to hear the chattering noise of girls coming into the store. Instead of going out to wait on them, Colleen picked up the big produce knife and proceeded to clean the pile of cabbages that Dirk had been working on. Just like she used to complain about doing when she was a teenage girl, back when she used to dream about being a famous movie star.

“You’re not in Hollywood anymore.” She gave the stemmed end of a cabbage a hard whack with the knife. But the truth was she was relieved to have this forced break from the limelight. She reached down to touch her slightly rounded midsection and smiled. A piece of her and Geoff was growing down there. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what she’d planned on, but she was happy about it. And, although she’d assured her agents that she wasn’t quitting Hollywood for good, promising not to burn any bridges, she seriously doubted that she’d be back. Hopefully this war would soon end, Geoff would come home, and the three of them would live happily ever after.

Flourish for Mulligans

May 1944

Mrs. Bartley told Molly that after the hard work of soil preparation and planting was complete, she would be happy to tend their shared victory garden. “You’ve already got plenty on your plate,” Mrs. Bartley had reassured her. “Just stay on top of your studies and your internship at the paper, and I’ll see to the garden.”

But Molly got so much comfort from seedlings growing into sturdy plants that she didn’t mind popping over on the weekend to check on things. Not only was it peaceful here, but it allowed her to catch up with her parents and whatever other family members or friends might be around. Molly wasn’t ready to admit it to her family, but she wasn’t particularly enjoying sorority life. Oh, most of the girls, other than her roommate, were nice enough—for “rich girls.” But many of them seemed slightly shallow and distracted. Molly felt they wasted too much time husband hunting. Or else they’d complain about the lack of available men. So much so that, as the school year drew to an end, Molly grew weary of hearing them. Weren’t they there to get an education?

“Good morning,” Mrs. Bartley called out as she came into the garden where Molly was sitting with a book. “You’re an early bird today.”

“So are you.” Molly stood to greet her, giving her old friend a big hug. “It’s such a glorious day, I couldn’t bear to stay inside.” She wrinkled her nose. “And my roommate was sleeping in so I would’ve had to be as quiet as a mouse anyway.”

“Is she still as cantankerous as ever?”

“Greta will not win any congeniality awards. I try to keep out of her way.” Molly stooped to pull a weed.

“Oh, I must’ve missed that one.”

Molly tossed the weed into the composting pile then smiled. “The garden looks spectacular, Mrs. Bartley. I can tell you’ve been taking good care of it.”

“Well, I do my best.” Her smile seemed to fade a little.

Molly studied the old woman, noticing something different…or perhaps she was simply tired. “How are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Just old.” She rubbed her back. “Old and achy, but that’s nothing new.”

“I know how helpful you’ve been at the store. I hope you’re not overdoing it.”

“I thoroughly enjoy my time there. Much better than holing up in my house and listening for more bad news on the radio.” Mrs. Bartley sat on the garden bench. “It makes me feel younger to be helping out…more alive.”

“I’m so glad.” Molly reached for her hand. “You’ve become like one of the family. Everyone says so.”

“Thanks to you.” Mrs. Bartley squeezed Molly’s fingers. “And how are you doing, dear girl? Any news from your sweetheart?”

Molly felt her cheeks grow warm. She still wasn’t quite used to having her relationship with Patrick out in the open like this. “I did receive a letter shortly after his leave ended. A couple months ago. Patrick wrote it while en route and sent it from Hawaii. But he did sound quite happy.” She smiled to remember his affectionate words. How many times had she read that letter? So much that she practically knew it by heart.

“But nothing since then?”

Molly sadly shook her head. “It’s hard to post letters from a submarine.”

“Of course it is.” Mrs. Bartley turned her face up toward the sun with a sigh. “And how is our Bridget? What do you hear from her?”

“Well, she was very pleasantly surprised recently. Her old doctor friend, Cliff Stafford, has been reassigned to her unit. And it sounds like they’re striking up their friendship again.”

“A romantic friendship?” Mrs. Bartley’s thin brows arched.

“I think Bridget hopes he’ll become her beau. But she doesn’t say as much. And according to Bridget, a handsome young unmarried doctor is quite a popular commodity among all the nurses.”

“Oh, let’s hope that romance blossoms. Bridget is such a dear girl. Serving her country like she’s doing. I keep her in my prayers, always. Just like I do for all the boys serving over there. Speaking of that, how Brian is doing? I don’t see Margaret anymore. Not since she’s coming to work later in the day. We’re like ships in the night.”

“I barely see her myself. But Colleen told me that caring for Brian has been hard on her. Poor Brian is not in very good spirits.”

“Understandably so. When will he get his, uh, his…what did you say it was called, dear?”

“A prosthesis. From what I’ve read, they usually give the wound six months to heal before fitting for a prosthesis. That won’t be until mid-July.”

“That must be discouraging for him.”

“Yes. And Margaret is discouraged too. She’s so worried about Brian. According to Colleen, it’s not only about his physical condition. He has bad dreams about the battlefield and his spirits are low.” Of course, this was an understatement. Molly knew that Brian had wanted to end his life. She’d been praying for him daily.

“You know what that boy needs?” Mrs. Bartley said suddenly.

“What?” Molly waited.

“Brian needs to finish his schooling,” the old woman declared. “If he had his law degree, he could start a practice. That would get his mind off of other things.”

“I think you’re absolutely right.” Molly nodded eagerly. “Although I’m not sure that Brian would agree with you. At least not right now. He’s been very negative about pretty much everything lately.”

“I’m sure it’s terribly difficult for him. A grown man suddenly dependent on others. He probably feels rather helpless…perhaps even useless. So sad.”

“And according to Margaret, living with his parents isn’t easy.” Molly shook her head. “I think the Hammonds are lovely people, but I don’t think I’d want to live with them.”

“Hopefully you and Patrick will never have to.”

Molly blushed. “Patrick and I aren’t even engaged, Mrs. Bartley.”

“Not yet anyway.” She winked slyly.

Molly picked a pale pink peony, spinning it around. “Well, if I were married to Patrick…” She sighed happily. “I think I could live almost anywhere—and with anyone. I mean, if we had to.”

“Could you live with your roommate Greta the Grouch?” Mrs. Bartley chuckled.

Molly grimaced. Had she been mistaken to confide in Mrs. Bartley about her cantankerous roommate? “I can’t imagine how that would ever be necessary. But I suppose, if I had Patrick around to buffer Greta’s meanness, I could do it.”

“So, she’s still picking on you?”

“Let’s just say the girl has a very sour disposition.” Molly frowned. “The harder I try to be nice to her, the more she seems to hate me.”

Mrs. Bartley patted her hand. “Maybe you should just move back home.”

Molly considered this. “Well, besides having a longer commute to my classes, which are nearly done anyway, I suspect that Mam and Dad have been enjoying their calm, quiet house. Besides I’ll be home soon enough…in June.”

“Then why don’t you live with me, Molly? I have plenty of room. And I would appreciate the company.”

Molly considered this. “Really?”


“Well, the school year is nearly over, but I suppose I could move in with you after finals.”

“Then it’s settled.” Mrs. Bartley clapped her hands.

“And I would be closer to the newspaper here. Did I tell you that I’ve been offered a full-time job for the summer?”

“That’s wonderful news.”

“You’re sure you want me?” Molly peered into her old friend’s pale blue eyes. “I’d hate to impose.”

“Believe you me, I am thrilled at the idea of having you here.” Mrs. Bartley started to stand. “You know me, Molly, this is not an offer I would make lightly. Certainly not to just anyone, but I gladly make it to you.”

“And I gladly accept it.” Molly helped Mrs. Bartley to her feet.

“I’ll start getting things ready for you.”

“Please, don’t go to any trouble.” Molly walked with her to the back door. “I can help with any moving or cleaning or whatever.”

“Perhaps you’d like to occupy the second floor,” Mrs. Bartley told her. “I rarely go up there anymore. The stairs are hard on my knees.”

“That’d be fabulous. And you just let me know what you want done up there and I will gladly do it,” Molly assured her. “And if there are chores I can help with in the house, you let me know that too. Perhaps you could make a list for me.”

Mrs. Bartley nodded as she opened the door. “I think we will be very happy together, dear.”

Molly knew that most people her age wouldn’t want to live with an old lady, but Molly and Mrs. Bartley had been good friends for several years. Living with her would make life better all around. Molly would be close to her parents without imposing on them. She could tend the garden, and Margaret and Brian were just a few blocks down the street. Plus, it was a short trolley ride to the newspaper. It was perfect.