[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with: Richard Armitage as Sam Wakeforest, Marcia Gay Harden as Sam’s older sister Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney, and Emily Deschanel as Tessa’s sister-in-law Olivia Delaney Wakeforest, Viola Davis as Pauletta Perkins, Cicely Tyson as Nellie Newton, Anna Sophia Robb as Alice Trent, Kevin Spacey as Roger Delaney, Sam Heughan as Todd Wakeforest, Idris Elba as Dominic Perkins and others as noted.]
Authors Content Note: “Love in the Great Pine Woods” is a mature love story with dramatic themes of love and relationships. It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of: L for language, D for dramatic emotions, and S for sensual themes. And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of the next chapter.
Authors Recap from the Previous Chapter: On a regular Monday, March 28th, 1956, Sam and Olivia enjoyed a lazy and sensual morning at home—their first in a long while, now that her morning sickness has mostly abated as she enters her fourth month of pregnancy. They are looking forward to a happy future with their first child on the way. And Sam’s sister Tessa and brother-in-law Roger are also growing their family with their foster children whom they hope to adopt, fourteen year old Alice and twenty three month old Bobby.
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Ch. 26 (PG-13, D): Making Peace with the Mountain
They say that nothing is certain in life, “but death and taxes”. Well, maybe the more morbid folks say that considering everyone just had to submit theirs on Friday April 15, 1956—that April 15th date being newly established the previous year [(2]. Of course, banker Roger Delaney appreciates this normalized tax day that allowed four months for taxpayers and accountants alike—not to mention bankers and businessmen—to prepare and submit their tax documents. He would.
But for Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney, the only thing certain in her life is her joy in finally becoming a mother with her and her husband Roger’s foster children Alice and Bobby Trent. And they will formalize their adoption of the children at the end of May—coinciding with Bobby’s 2nd birthday. But for now, they will host an extended family birthday party for Alice’s 15th birthday on Saturday, April 16th.
Tessa had asked Alice what kind of party she wanted, and the still on the reticent side Alice said that a party with the Wakeforest County Orphanage school children would be enough—since she sees the children every morning when she takes her math and science lessons with School Principal Pauletta Perkins, then Alice helps out with craft and story time with the little ones. And Tessa honored Alice’s request with a lovely cupcake and games school party with the little ones yesterday, Friday, April 15, 1956—tax day.
But Tessa also has planned a big family midday picnic inside at Delaney Manor, today Saturday April 16, 1956—with sledding afterward for the last time this snow season up on Wakeforest Mountain, with hot cider and cookies at the repaired cabin of Sam’s and Olivia’s.
Sam was quite pleased that the cabin itself had sustained minimal damage in the avalanche—but for the back porch needing to be shored up and the back kitchen door window to the outside having to be replaced. But the generator shed had to be completely rebuilt with a more solid four sided cinder block and brick structure—along with a new generator for the electricity. And those repairs were long ago made and the cabin became inhabitable again.
Some of Sam’s siblings have even enjoyed some weekends up at Sam’s and Olivia’s cabin since–but not Sam and Olivia. For Olivia still has lingering fears about the avalanche and her injuries that she is still recovering from—her sometimes waking up in the middle of the night shaking and in tears that Sam calms and soothes. Her nightmares have mostly abated by now—primarily due to time, Sam’s loving care, and also Olivia’s attention being focused upon their baby she carries in her womb who will be born in five months time in September.
Yet, Sam sometimes catches Olivia gazing out their kitchen’s back windows that face the magnificent and unfettered view of Wakeforest Mountain, since they live on the outskirts of the Town of Wakeforest. And then, as now this Saturday, April 16th, 1956, Olivia is seemingly lost in thought as she sits on a kitchen bar stool towel drying the breakfast dishes that Sam is washing in the sink with another dishtowel around his waist to try to keep his pants from getting wet from all of his dish washing sloshing. Olivia allows that Sam has become a thorough dish washer, but she often wonders if he will ever be less messy at it.
Sam leans down and kisses his wife Olivia’s lips as she is holding a now dried plate in her stilled hands.
Sam: “A penny for your thoughts, Olivia.”
Olivia: “What?” Olivia gazes up at her husband Sam in surprise, she had not realized that she was day dreaming. “Oh, it’s nothing.” Olivia shakes her head trying to lessen the cobwebs of doubt and fear still clinging tenaciously to her healing psyche.
Sam: “Well!” Sam smiles wickedly as he removes the dish from her grasp and walks behind her to envelope her in his arms—his left hand resting on the almost imperceptible baby bump on her tummy. “I say that we take a nap before this momentous 15th birthday party picnic that Tessa is throwing for our foster niece Alice.”
look that Sam loves so well [(3) right]. Her husband smirks,
Sam: “We need our rest.” Sam’s smooth deep baritone vibrates smoothly, like a velvet caress.
Olivia: “Somehow, I think little rest is what we will be gaining.” Olivia retorts with a small smile.
Sam: Pouting, Sam asks in concern. “Do you not feel well enough for our nap?” Why he is speaking in code is beyond him. Their small household staff are off this Saturday and no one is about. Since for Sam and Olivia, naps do not involve sleeping.
Olivia: “Sam? Would you mind if we cuddled on the chaise by the fireplace in the family room den and truly nap?” She asks sweetly. “I am feeling more tired lately.” She gently lays a hand on her small baby bump and lovingly smiles up at her husband.
Sam: His hopes dashed, but ever the understanding husband, Sam smiles. “Of course, My Love.”
So Olivia and Sam move to their cozy family room den near the kitchen and cuddle together and truly nap before the family birthday party.
Having overslept their nap later, Sam and Olivia arrive 30 minutes late at Delaney Manor around 12:30pm to find the family birthday picnic lunch party in full swing in the Delaney kitchen’s sitting room and eating area and three season screened in and heated porch.
Tessa: “Sam! Olivia!” Tessa gives her brother and sister-in-law warm embraces.
Adult/parent Wakeforest and Delaney in-laws: “Sam! Olivia!”
Sam and Olivia wave and receive more hugs.
Roger: Shaking Sam’s hand, Roger inquires. “Something held you up, Sam?” Punctuality is prized by Roger.
Sam: “Something like that.” Sam smiles blandly as he deposits Alice’s wrapped birthday gift on a table with other presents on it. But Sam does not give Roger a reason for their tardiness. Roger is not his father.
However, Olivia has been ingrained from birth to explain herself to her much older brother Roger.
Olivia: “I’m more tired these days, Roger.” Olivia unconsciously pats her plumping up baby bump. “We were napping.”
Tessa: Shooing her husband Roger away from Olivia for his officiousness, Tessa proclaims. “Olivia honey, you’re a married woman now. You don’t owe your brother Roger any explanations.” Then Tessa turns back to her husband Roger and gives him an indulgent smile as she scrunches up her nose at him. “Let’s go find the birthday girl.”
Sam merely raises an eyebrow in definite agreement with his sister’s take on the situation. And then the three of them—Sam, Tessa, and Olivia– walk back to the three season porch just off the kitchen where the nieces and nephews kids—including birthday girl Alice—are eating. This leaves Roger standing stiffly in the center of the kitchen, before he jolts out of his reverie and joins them on the porch.
Alice: “Aunt Olivia! Uncle Sam!”
All the kid cousins: “Aunt Olivia! Uncle Sam!” Whereas chewing away happily 23 month old Bobby merely waves.
Olivia: Embracing a cheerfully smiling Alice [(4) right], Olivia asks as she strokes Alice’s hair. “So Alice sweetheart, do you feel fifteen?”
Alice: “I don’t know! But maybe a little bit. Mommy Tessa is going to teach me how to drive soon.” Alice gushes. Alice smiles more now that she ever did in her previous fourteen years. She has a new family—a stable home and support system that will love and nurture her kid brother Bobby throughout their lives.
Tessa grins in anticipation. However, her husband Roger groans in surprise—him knowing how Tessa drives, erratically to his mind.
Roger: “Good lord!” Roger blanches.
Tessa: “Well Roger Dear, Alice has to learn how to drive sometime.” Tessa rolls her eyes.
Roger: “But I’ll have to increase our insurance coverage.”
Again, though Roger is an esteemed businessman and astute bank owner—well, he is the only bank owner in the Town of Wakeforest—he certainly states the obvious most obtusely at times, to his wife’s amusing chagrin. Every family has to increase their auto insurance coverage when their children start driving.
Although Roger’s brother-in-law Sam has another view of it.
Sam: “Roger? Are you always such a stick in the mud?” Sam [(5) right] raises a querulous eye brow and fixes a decidedly grumpy frown at his brother-in-law Roger. And the firmly planted red base ball cap on Sam’s head that he did not remove when he entered Delaney Manor is a further annoyance to Roger—because gentlemen are supposed to doff their hats indoors. And Sam is a gentleman, but annoying his brother-in-law Roger is one of Sam’s favorite past times.
Roger: “Hey!” Roger scowls in a curmudgeonly way.
Olivia: “Now fellas. Today is Alice’s day. No unpleasantness, please.” Olivia places a calming hand on her brother Roger’s and her husband Sam’s forearms.
Sam: “Of course, Olivia Dear. My apologies, Alice.”
Alice: “That’s okay, Uncle Sam.” She smiles.
Then all eyes turn to Roger. He is forgetting something. Then Tessa nudges him.
Roger: “Right. Thank you, Olivia. I appreciate your gracious reminder. Happy birthday again, Alice Dear.” Roger pats his foster daughter’s cheek.
Alice: “Thank you, Daddy Roger.” Alice smiles sweetly.
Tessa: “Okay! Let’s get you some food in you, Olivia. Afterall, you’re eating for two!” Tessa hooks her arm into Olivia’s and guides her back into the kitchen where the food buffet is set up.
Sam and Roger stubbornly stare at each other—each waiting for the other man to move.
Roger: Finally as host, Roger gestures toward the kitchen. “After you.”
Sam: “Thank you.” Then Sam walks back into the kitchen for some food with Roger trailing behind.
After lunch, Alice opens her presents. She is quite bowled over with receiving presents from each of the Wakeforest families of her Mommy Tessa’s brother–Sam, Kevin, William, and Todd—as well as several presents from her foster parents Tessa and Roger, and from her toddler brother Bobby (bought by Tessa for him). Alice has never had so many presents in her life and she is quite thrilled upon receiving several clothes items, Scrabble and Monopoly board games, a Timex wrist watch [(6a)] from Uncle Sam and Aunt Olivia, and a dainty April birthstone diamond [(6b)] necklace and earring set from her foster parents Tessa and Roger Delaney. And Alice’s little brother Bobby loves making a mess of all of the wrapping paper.
Then around 2pm it is time to drive up Wakeforest Mountain to Sam’s and Olivia’s cabin as their base of birthday sledding operations for the remainder of the afternoon. Tessa will bring along hot cocoa, hot cider, and cookies for treats later. As they are all putting their coats on before heading to their cars outside, Tessa sees that Olivia is standing off to the side of the foyer, leaning on her crutches with her head down in thought. Olivia’s reticence to go to Wakeforest Mountain is quite pronounced, and Tessa notices.
Tessa: “Are you feeling alright, Olivia? You look pale.” Tessa asks in concern as she hugs Olivia, then looks into her cloudy eyes.
Sam: “It’s been a long day for us, Tessa.” Sam dissembles for Olivia’s sake.
Sam stands behind his wife Olivia, rubbing her shoulders. He looks over the back of his wife Olivia’s head and winces at his sister Tessa, who nods knowingly at him.
Olivia: “No, I … I’m alright. But maybe I’m a little tired.” Olivia smiles half-heartedly. The thought of going up into Wakeforest Mountain and to the cabin fills Olivia with dread, and her breathing becomes quicker and more shallow as she begins to panic. She hasn’t been on the mountain since the avalanche that caused her injuries last January, three months ago.
Sam: “Olivia Darling, if you’re too tired to go to the cabin while the kids sled, we can just go home.”
Sam knows that his wife isn’t tired. She is just afraid of the Mountain because of the severe leg injuries she sustained from the avalanche. And he understands that. Sam doesn’t want to risk Olivia having a panic attack and fainting in her pregnant condition. But he also feels that at some point, she will have to face her fear. The mountain is his life, it is in his blood—and it will be in their future children’s blood as his legacy to them, literally and figuratively as their children will be future custodial owners of Wakeforest Mountain. However, Olivia has his heart, and Sam is the keeper of her heart. So Sam will not pressure Olivia now to do more than she feels that she can, with regard to the mountain.
Alice walks over to them.
Alice: “We’re all carpooling to the cabin for the sledding. May I ride in your car, Aunt Olivia and Uncle Sam? Your car is snazzy!” Sam is driving his sporty looking two tone red and white Chevy Bel Air, rather than Olivia’s sky blue Rambler.
Tessa: Trying to help Olivia save face, Tessa covers for her. “Alice Honey, Aunt Olivia is feeling tired.”
Alice: “Oh, I’m sorry. I understand, Aunt Olivia.” Alice smiles sweetly at her.
Then Alice notices her Uncle Sam’s pinched and stoic facial expression as he stands behind Olivia. Sam nods with a small smile.
Sam: “Thanks for understanding, Alice. Maybe in the future we will go up… well, we’ll see.” Sam is at a loss for how to help his wife Olivia over her fears. All he can think to do is to let her have more time to come to terms with them.
Olivia: Turning around to face her husband, Olivia gazes up at him searchingly. “You don’t mind?”
Sam: “No. No. It’s alright.” He soothingly strokes her hair and cups her head in his hand. “It’s alright.” He repeats himself. “We’ll go home and rest.”
Olivia: Embracing her husband with her tears dampening his shirt, Olivia says in a hushed whisper. “I’m sorry. Thank you.”
Sam: “There is nothing for you to be sorry about, Olivia.” Sam soothingly rubs Olivia’s back as he comforts her.
Tessa and Alice look upon the tender scene of Olivia being comforted by her husband and are concerned for Olivia’s emotional well-being.
Having missed the exchange between Olivia and Sam and Tessa and Alice while he was busy passing out coats, Roger walks over to them and sees Olivia crying.
Roger: “What’s wrong with Olivia?” Roger asks rather undiplomatically. And Tessa’s and Sam’s heads turn and frown at Roger for his insensitivity.
Tessa: “Hush, Roger! Olivia’s feeling under the weather and she and Sam are going home to rest.” Tessa tries to tilt her head knowingly at Roger, but telepathy was never his strong suit.
Roger: “She seemed fine earlier. Alice will be disappointed that Olivia and Sam don’t go sledding—it’s her birthday, afterall.”
Roger whines while using one of his usual needling ways of getting people to do what he wants them to do. And this elicits more crying from Olivia. Sam glares at Roger for his insensitivity. Tessa is also extremely annoyed with her sometimes boorish husband.
But with Alice having spent the better part of the weekday afternoons the past two months with her Aunt Olivia for lessons, she has come to understand her feelings better. And though only fifteen, just today, Alice is wise beyond her years.
Alice: “Daddy Roger, it’s alright. I am not disappointed. Aunt Olivia has been through so much these past three months with her injury, surgery, and long recovery. Of course she is tired. You should see how hard she works on her physical therapy when I’m reading my assignments or taking a test during my afternoon lessons at her home. It would make you cry to see her suffer, as she works through her pain. Aunt Olivia has been very very brave. If she says she is tired, then she is tired. Please don’t make her feel bad about that.” Alice pleads.
Roger: His eyes widen in shock at his foster daughter Alice’s forthrightness. “But …”
Tessa: However, Tessa interrupts her husband. “Roger! If you don’t want to sleep alone for more than tonight, you had best be quiet.” Tessa warns.
Alice hugs her Aunt Olivia from behind, since Olivia is still embracing Sam.
Alice: “You go home and rest, Aunt Olivia. I’ll tell you all about the sledding when I see you Monday afternoon for lessons.”
Olivia nods her head still buried into her husband Sam’s chest.
Sam: “She’ll be alright, Alice. Thanks for understanding. You go on and have fun sledding.”
Alice: “Thanks Uncle Sam … and Aunt Olivia.” Alice waves as she heads outside to one of the family cars to ride to the mountain.
Tessa: “I’ll call you later, Olivia sweetheart.” Tessa leans in and kisses the back of Olivia’s head. Sam nods.
Everyone slowly heads out the front door, leaving Sam and Olivia alone in the Delaney Manor foyer.
Sam: “Well, I guess that we’ve cleared the room.” Sam states facetiously, then chuckles. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Olivia: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Olivia giggles into Sam’s chest. Then she swats at her husband’s arm.
Sam: “Ow!” Sam exclaims in mock pain. “What was that for?”
Olivia: “You stole my line!” She smiles up at him through her tears.
Sam: “I can’t let you have all the witty remarks in our family. Besides, I’m trying to expand my repartee from grunts and growls.”
Olivia: “I’d say that you have succeeded, sir.”
Sam: “Thank you. Shall we go home, my lady?” Sam rubs Olivia’s cheek with his index finger.
Olivia: “Yes, thanks.” They start to walk toward the front door to head to their waiting car. “Maybe …” She takes a deep breath.
Sam: “Yes?” Sam waits patiently.
Olivia: “Maybe… we could go to our Wakeforest Family XMAS Tree Farm lot on our way home.” Olivia breathes deeply, slowly, calming breaths. She is asking to go to the base of Wakeforest Mountain—the closest that she has been to the mountain since the avalanche. Baby steps.
Sam: “Oh? And what will we do there?” He asks smiling impishly.
Olivia: “Look up at our mountain.” She looks up at him hopefully.
Knowing that even getting this close to the mountain is a big step for Olivia, Sam smiles.
Sam: “I think that will be nice. It still smells very piney in the sale barn from all the XMAS trees and wreaths we sold there months ago. We can make a fire in the fireplace in the barn and drink some hot cider and get all cozy. Would you like that, Mrs. Wakeforest?”
Alice: “I would, Mr. Wakeforest.”
Sam and Olivia smile and walk hand in hand out to their car. Sam is a patient man, kind and understanding—just what Olivia needs. And though Olivia is only going to the base of Wakeforest Mountain today, it is the start of her reclaiming her confidence and her feeling safe on the mountain again. She is making peace with what happened to her when she was injured in the avalanche. And Olivia will recover from her ordeal—in body and in spirit. And one day, perhaps soon, Olivia will go back up onto Wakeforest Mountain, and to her and Sam’s cabin. And when that time comes, the mountain will welcome Olivia home.
To be continued with Chapter 27
References for Ch. 26 by Gratiana Lovelace, March 10, 2016 (Post #885)
1) The “Love in the Great Pine Woods” story cover is a composite of two images manipped by Grati:
a) the Richard Armitage portrait is from the 2011 Project Magazine photo shoot and article interview, that was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/ProjectMagJuly2011/album/slides/ProjectMag-05.html;
b) the snowy Pine forest vertical image was found on Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/62/fa/ff/62faff1253d55f571eb3659cc7661e73.jpg
2) For more about the history of income tax assessments in the U.S., please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Day
3) Olivia smiling is Emily Deschanel found at http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/2400000/Emily-Deschanel-emily-deschanel-2478681-497-600.jpg
4) Alice Trent smiling is Anna Sophia Robb and was found at http://images1.westword.com/imager/annasophia-robb/u/original/6557239/annasophia.robb.photograph.jpg
5) Sam Wakeforest is Richard Armitage in red cap in a tweeted image by cyn@dainty Jul1415
6ab) For more about Alice’s gifts, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timex_Group_USA ; https://www.americangemsociety.org/april-birthstone
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