Threads of Grace
Trey leaned one hip against the counter. “So you know her, Lorna? You think she’d be willing to work as a housekeeper for Mr. Covington?”
The older woman’s forehead wrinkled. “You’ve not given this much thought, have you?”
He shrugged. “What’s to think about. Boss said to bring someone home and you said yourself you didn’t know of anyone else here in Prairie Grove. It isn’t like it’s a hard job or anything.”
Lorna finished tying a string around one of the packages. “You two pull up something to sit on and let me give you a quick lesson on one Miss SueAnna Morrow.”
Ben winked. “Something wrong with her, is there? Trey had so many stars in his eyes I don’t think he could’ve seen wrong if the little gal had it branded on her forehead.”
Trey doubled his fist, but Lorna grabbed his arm before he could send a punch to the redhead’s gut.
“You two stop it and get yourself parked before I take a willow switch to both our behinds. First off, Trey. SueAnna is not alone in this world.”
He gulped. “She’s married?” Just his luck. Not that he intended to marry anytime soon, but she was a looker.
“No, she’s not married. But she does have a little sister. Right now they are living with the preacher, the Bittmans. But they’re leaving before the week is out—moving to be closer to Mrs. Bittman’s parents—and plan to take the little sister with them.”
Trey winced. “You mean they’re taking the little one and leaving SueAnna? Why?” It brought back memories too painful to think on for now.
“SueAnna is to stay with us. But to answer your question, yes they were taking the little one with them. That’s why so many packages flew every direction when you collided. SueAnna spent every penny she could possibly spare to get LilyAnna ready to leave. And it’s breaking her heart.”
“But that’s perfect, Lorna. If she’d come to work for Mr. Covington she could bring her sister with her, couldn’t she? I mean, what would one more person hurt.”
Ben stood and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m even smart enough to know the answer to that one. She’s a pretty little thing, buddy. What’re you gonna do when twelve other men start fightin’ for her attention? You figure that out, have ya?”
“She won’t have to be around the men. She’ll stay at the main house. Mr. Covington won’t hurt her none.”
Ben shook his head. “Think on it, partner. She supposed to feed them men through a hole in a box? Of course she’ll be around them. We all eat at the main house. Remember? And how do you think they’re gonna take to her washing all their clothes. I’ll bet that pretty little gal never seen a pair of men’s underdrawers.”
“Nobody ever seemed to worry about Hilda being alone, or washing our underwear.”
Ben slapped his forehead. “You ain’t got the brains of a fly, Trey. Hilda’s old. She’s at least forty. Besides, she could’ve turned any one of us over her knee and whupped us good. Even Mr. Covington didn’t cross her.”
“So you think forty is old, do you?” Lorna laughed and pinched Ben’s cheek. “Ben does has a point, Trey. But so do you. I hate the idea of the girls being separated, and perhaps the Bittman’s would agree to let Lily stay if there was some way SueAnn could provide for her. It might be worth a try to at least go talk with the Reverend. And it’d probably be best if only one of you go, seeing that the two of you can’t be in the same room without a tussle.” She grinned and patted Ben’s cheek.
“I ain’t gonna be the one to go. You don’t know nothin’ about this girl, Trey. And I don’t aim to answer all them questions the boss is sure to ask.” Ben crossed his arms across his chest. “And you’re gonna be the one who has to come up with the answers.”
Trey shrugged. “Don’t know why you think that’ll be a problem, buddy. It isn’t like I’m bringing home a wife and kid.”