Nan's Story

Nan's Story by Paige Farmer

Book: Nan's Story by Paige Farmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paige Farmer
coloring appointment at Serendipity. Charlie had yet to meet the renovated Elsie.
    “Let’s go say hi,” he said, starting toward her mother’s table.
    Oh boy, Nan thought. Please, please, please mama, she prayed.
    “Mrs. Bower,” Charlie said with genuine happiness as they neared. He leaned down and kissed Elsie on the cheek. Nan was amused to see her mother blush.
    “Charlie,” Elsie replied, the hard lines in her face softening as she took his hand. Charlie’s reference to Nan’s mother as ‘Mrs. Bower’ reminded Nan again of the years gone by since she’d seen him. Elsie stood up and gave him a warm hug. Nudging Joe she said:
    “It’s so good to see you Charlie. It’s been such a long time! I want to introduce you to my husband Joe. I’m a Hamilton now.”
    As if that was some sort of accomplishment, Nan groused silently. Elsie neglected going so far as to tell Charlie she’d married Joe a few months after Sam died and Nan wondered what he would think when he heard this little bit of information.
    “And since you seem to have gone off and grown up, please, call me Elsie.”
    Nan was sort of amazed to see Joe stand up straight and begin energetically shaking Charlie’s hand.
    “Joe Hamilton. Good to meet you son.”
    Her stepfather was visibly impressed with the bars and stars he saw on the uniform Charlie wore and was indulging her friend with a real handshake, rather than the obligatory grip and grin.
    “Korea?” Joe asked, pointing at the bronze medal on Charlie’s chest.
    “Yes sir. Served up until the end.”
    “Good for you, son,” Joe said in an unusually paternal tone. “You stationed over at the yard?”
    Nan reached to remember a time when she might have seen Joe look so respectful, but couldn’t readily think of one.
    “Yes sir. I’m a free man in November and thinking of settling back down here. There’s a lot to see out there in the world, but Portsmouth is home. Always has been.”
    “Well welcome home sailor. Welcome home,” Joe said patting Charlie heartily on the back.
    Nan looked at her mother. Who’s this guy, Nan inferred, pointing her thumb at Joe. Elsie shrugged her shoulders.
    Joe invited Nan and Charlie to join them at the table, and unable to quickly come up with a reason to decline, Nan looked at Charlie to see what he thought.
    “Why not?” he said.
    Before they sat, Nan had one more person that Charlie needed to meet.
    “Charlie, this is my son, CJ.”
    Nan looked at her mother to see if she would interject something snide, but Elsie stayed silent.
    Charlie extended his hand, enveloping CJ’s small one in his own.
    “Hi CJ. It’s nice to meet you,” he said.
    CJ regarded Charlie.
    “Are you a pilot?” he asked.
    “Nope. I’m a sailor. I wanted to be a pilot, but I’m afraid of heights,” Charlie replied.
    Nan saw by Charlie’s expression he wasn’t joking. In hindsight, it occurred to her she couldn’t remember seeing him climb the tall oak trees out back with her brothers a single time when they were young. And yet, he still pulled her up from the ledge without hesitation.
    “You are ?” Nan asked.
    “A chink in my armor,” he replied, winking as he pulled out a chair for her next to CJ. He took the one beside her.
    “I never been on a boat before,” CJ said. His tone was factual, but Nan thought she heard a hint of want in his statement.
    Before Charlie could respond, CJ was done and turned his attention to Nan’s mother.
    “Grandmama, can we have cake?” he asked. Elsie looked over at Nan, welcoming her to say something in light of the not-yet-forgotten cookie incident, but Nan just rolled her eyes and stayed quiet.
    “Not yet,” Elsie responded. “When Uncle Arthur and Aunt Laura cut it, then everyone can have some.”
    Nan jumped when she felt a hand clamp her shoulder. She looked up to see Buddy staring coldly at her. So there he was. So much for staying on my toes, she thought. He’d removed his jacket and tie, and rolled up

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