[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, the late Polly Holliday as the Waitress Madge, Donald Sutherland as Aldus Warren, Teri Polo as Lillian Warren, and Ewan McGregor as David Warren, and others as noted.]
Author’s 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.
Author’s Recap from the Previous Chapter: Sam Wakeforest opens up to his wife Olivia about his World War II experiences and how it affected him. He also reveals to his wife some of his reasons for beginning a relationship eleven years ago for five years with Lola Campbell, now Lillian Warren—their baby’s nursery room designer. After speaking with Lillian/Lola over the phone to gently let her off the hook as their designer, Olivia convinces her husband Sam to explain himself to Lillian/Lola—and he does, ultimately apologizing to and thanking Lillian/Lola for helping him through a tough time in his life acclimating to civilian life after the war. Lillian/Lola quietly thanks Sam, then hangs up. Sam may never be fully able to make amends to Lillian/Lola, but it is enough for each of them that he cared enough about her to try.
And Sam’s wife Olivia feels a burden lifted off of their shoulders. Though Sam and Olivia need time to recover their equilibrium, the little ones in the extended Wakeforest and Delaney families have their own wishes and time tables. Because though Sam and Olivia have four more months yet to wait for their bundle of joy to arrive and they become parents, Sam’s sister Tessa and her husband Roger—Olivia’s brother—will become real parents next week via adoption as their foster son Bobby turns two, with his charming fifteen year old sister Alice also being adopted by the Delaneys. But first, they have Bobby’s 2nd birthday party to enjoy.
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Ch. 33 (PG-13): Playing nice in the sandbox
Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney does not do parties by halves—nor even by two thirds. She goes all out—as evidenced by her family birthday party for their soon to be adopted foster daughter fifteen year old Alice last month. Now comes Alice’s toddler brother–and Tessa’s and Roger’s foster son–Bobby’s two year old birthday on Saturday, May 28th and Tessa will make it a child’s extravaganza. This party is kind of a double celebration since on Monday morning, Tessa and Roger Delaney will legalize their adoption of Alice and Bobby.
Though Tessa’s party planning has been in the advanced stages for several weeks, her 2nd husband Roger Delaney merely asks her to be somewhat restrained for his sake. The man has been wed to her for two years and he should know better. Roger asking his wife Tessa to be restrained is akin to asking the sun not to shine or the stars not to twinkle. It just isn’t happening. And this Saturday birthday party and related activities will test Roger’s limits of patience and endurance.
But then, for the Wakeforests—especially for Roger’s four brothers-in-laws—needling Roger out of his comfort zone is just one of the perks of their sister Tessa being married to him. And Tessa’s eldest younger brother Sam Wakeforest—who also happens to be married to Roger’s sister Olivia—will be the ringleader.
The day begins innocently enough—at 6:30am in the morning on Saturday, May 28th 1956. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a smallish 4 ton bulldozer—fitted with a shovel rather than a plow–and three trucks heavily laden with supplies trundle up the driveway of Delaney Manor. And then the four large vehicles proceed to drive around the large mansion—on the grass, or what now used to be grass before the bulldozer tracks churned it up—and make their way to the backyard of the property.
With bulldozer and trucks gears shifting loudly, the inevitable happens—as Roger Delaney is rudely awakened from his sleep as he bolts upright in bed.
Roger: “What’s that sound?” Roger looks around and sees and hears the loose objects on his dresser jangling and falling off to the thickly carpeted floor with a thunk. Bulldozers are not called earth moving equipment for nothing and their four tons ambling across the back lawn do create a vibration effect—along with the loud rumbling noise. He shakes his contentedly sleeping wife hugging her pillow next to him. “Tessa! Wakeup! I think we’re having an earthquake!” Tessa wears ear plugs to ward off Roger’s loud snoring—which, though lacking in whole house vibrational effects, is noisier than the bulldozer. So only Roger’s shaking her rouses Tessa from sleep.
Tessa: “What?” Tessa sleepily looks at her alarm clock that says 6:45am. “It’s early. Go back to sleep, Roger.” She closes her eyes and tries to do just that.
Roger: “No! Something is happening! The whole house is shaking!” Roger jumps out of bed in alarm—and with an alacrity not usually found in his often deskbound 51 year old banker’s frame–and he dashes around to Tessa’s side of the bed. Whereupon, Roger tries to lift her into his arms and carry her to the door jam—something he learned in civil defense in high school. However, the petite Tessa is still too much for her middle aged husband as she squirms and he collapses with her onto the plush carpeted floor—with her landing on top of him.
Tessa: “Hey! What’s going on?” Tessa startles, now fully awake. “Roger, If you wanted some morning nookie so bad, all you have to do is ask. She winks at him coyly.
The fact that each of them are only partially clothed—with Roger wearing only his pajama pants bottoms and Tessa only wearing her husband’s pajama top—means that bare skin is in abundance. And the still sometimes staid Roger blushes.
Roger: “Tessa, not now! We have to go see what is going on in the back yard!” Their master suite faces the back yard, so they are hearing and feeling the full effects of the invasion.
Tessa: “Oh! Yippee!” She squeals as she pushes off of her husband and stands up.
Roger: “Ufff!” Roger coughs with Tessa pushing off of him.
Tessa: “I forgot! Sam and the boys were coming over early to build Bobby a sandbox from us for his 2nd birthday!”
Roger: “A sandbox? From us?” Roger bellows in confusion. And Tessa nods brightly as she slips on some undies, then some pink exercise stretch pants. “In our back yard?”
Tessa peels off Roger’s pajama top and throws it to him—leaving him momentarily speechless at viewing her charms in the full light of the morning. Then Tessa quickly dons a bra and zips up her pink exercise jacket.
Tessa: “Oh, come on! We have to show them where to put the sand box!” Tessa kisses her surprised husband on his lips, then skitters out of their bedroom, in order to head outside.
Roger: “Tessa, wait!” But Roger’s appeal is too late as he stands and puts on his pajama top and dons his red brocade robe–tightening his belt as if to gird his loins for battle. But all it has the effect of doing is cutting off his circulation around his hiatal hernia that was recently repaired. So he loosens his belt.
Eventually, Roger also makes his way downstairs and out onto the terrace to see what all the fuss is about. The vision that greets him is his tall and taciturn brother-in-law Sam using the Wakeforest Family Lumber Mill bulldozer and carefully scraping off the grass where Tessa is pointing about 20 yards beyond their patio terrace—while his other brothers-in-laws unload their wood and tools from their three trucks. Sam will reuse this grass sod later to repair the side yard grass that was torn up by the bulldozer tracks. But Roger doesn’t know that yet.
Roger flails his arms and runs over to Tessa standing at the base of the terrace steps.
Roger: “Stop! Stop! What are you doing?”
Tessa: “I told you! They’re building Bobby’s sandbox.” She shakes her head and continues to point to where Sam is scooping up the grass and making a level spot to situate the sandbox.
Roger: “But I don’t want a sandbox!” Roger tries to make himself heard over the din of the bulldozer.
Tessa: “Silly! It’s not for you. The sandbox is for Bobby’s 2nd birthday today!” Tessa rolls her eyes and Roger fumes, speechless, for once.
Then as they carry their wood and tools, the Wakeforest brothers each file past a stupefied looking Roger Delaney, greeting him with swift nods of their heads. With Kevin and William each holding one end of several 8 foot long and 2 inch thick wooden boards.
Todd: “Roger.” Actually, to be fair, Todd is limping a bit and still using a cane from his earlier mountain injury last fall. So he is carrying the power tools, screws, and such.
Roger: Then Roger finds his voice again. “But a sandbox will track in sand! It will be a mess!” Roger tries to reason with his wife Tessa—as if reason had anything to do with it.
Tessa: “Oh Roger. We’ll vacuum. You won’t notice any sand being tracked into the house.”
And yet, Roger is undeterred—still trying to put forth an argument against a sandbox—even as Sam completes the ground leveling and verifies that with leveling tools after Sam hops down from the cab of the bulldozer.
Roger: “Buttt … but ..” Rogers sputters, then points. “It will ruin the view if you put the sandbox there.”
Tessa: “The only view that I care about is being able to watch Bobby play and supervise him from the terrace. That is, when I’m not playing in the sandbox with him.” Tessa glares at her husband Roger.
Roger: “And it will be huge! Those must be 12 foot long boards!”
Tessa: “A boy has to have room to play, and room for his playmates!” Tessa argues.
Sam saunters over to Roger and Tessa and folds his arms across his chest—him clutching the rolled up sandbox plans in his hand.
Sam: Then unfurling the sandbox plans with a photo of what the finished sandbox will
look like [(2a) right] and showing them to Roger, Sam clarifies. “Actually, the sandbox pit will be 6 foot square and two feet deep—with 1 foot wide and 8 foot long bench seating all around bringing the sandbox up to 8 foot square. And we’ll even make a removable sandbox top for you to prevent critters from taking it over.” Sam and his brothers will build up the sides of the sandbox with partially notched corners for strength and to serve as a base for the bench seating—fitting the boards together rather like Lincoln Logs toys [(2b)] that they played with as children, Lincohn Logs being the present that Sam and Olivia will give to Bobby for his 2nd birthday today.
Tessa: “See, Roger? Not 12 feet!”
Roger: “8 foot square is still big!” Roger pouts like a little boy.
Sam: “Give it up, Roger. Tessa is winning this one, fella.” Sam’s sister Tessa grins broadly at her husband Roger.
Roger: “How can you be so blasé, Sam?” Roger looks at his brother-in-law Sam with a look of annoyed confusion.
Sam: “Not my wife.” Sam cocks his head at his brother-in-law with a smirking grin. Then Sam returns to help his brothers build the sandbox for their nephew Bobby.
Roger’s mouth drops open in shock. His brothers-in-law are doing his wife’s, their sister’s, bidding—without consulting him.
Tessa: “Close your mouth, Roger Dear.” Tessa gently pushes up on her husband’s chin. “You’ll catch flies with that.” Then she turns to her brothers and waves. “Thanks, fellas! We’ll have breakfast out here on the terrace for you in an hour!” Then clasping her husband Roger’s hand in hers, Tessa returns to the house, tugging him along. “Come along, Roger. If you’re a good boy, you’ll get a present, too.” Tessa smiles coquettishly at her blushing husband Roger—who then catches up to her and hurries her along into their home.
Later around lunch time, Tessa and Roger Delaney host a wonderfully playful extended Delaney and Wakeforest family wiener roast 2nd birthday party for their foster son Bobby—with lawn games and such. And Bobby is thrilled with his new sandbox! His smile is so wide that Tessa thinks his face might solidify into a permanent grin. Then Bobby grabs handfuls of sand and putting it on overturned pail bottoms. Bobby hasn’t quite learned the concept of putting things into something yet. But all of Bobby’s foster cousins show him how it is done. And Bobby’s sister Alice also helps him build a castle and moat.
And in true Tessa form, the birthday celebrants—including adults–are all admonished to doff their shoes and socks and wade into the sandbox barefoot. And though muttering mightily, Roger removes his shoes and socks and rolls up his trouser pants leg and stiffly stands in the center of the sandbox next to his foster son Bobby—who tugs on his papa’s pants leg. Roger looks down at the happy child—at Bobby’s glee in scooping sand with his shovels. And Roger can’t help but smile at Bobby’s carefree innocence.
Then Tessa calls everyone back to the terrace for the birthday cake. Roger waves at his wife with a smile—not watching as Bobby scoops more sand. Then Rogers leans down and he lifts Bobby into his arms and hands him off to his brother-in-law Sam standing outside the sandbox–who carries him to the terrace with his wife Olivia by his side as they dote on their foster nephew. And Roger carefully steps out of the sandbox—him not wanting to sit down on the wooden bench, in case he might get splinters or snag a thread on his trousers. But, of course, Sam and his brothers had already planed and sanded the seat bench smooth to prevent splinters—on Bobby.
Later that afternoon—after seeing off all of their family after Bobby’s birthday party—Tessa carries a very tired 2 year old Bobby up to his bedroom for a nap. Meanwhile, Roger walks into his den study to sit and rest a bit, too. But he snaps his fingers and realizes that he has become so uncharacteristically comfortable being barefoot that he left his shoes on their terrace. He will go and retrieve his shoes to put them on—like the staid buttoned up banker he is, even on the weekends. But first, Roger reaches down to unroll his trouser pants legs—and some of Bobby’s sand that he had put into his papa’s rolled up trouser pants legs folds, falls out onto the carpet, to Roger’s chagrin as he grimaces to an empty room.
But then Roger smiles and thinks that sons come with sandboxes—and sand. Because come Monday, their foster son Bobby and their teen foster daughter Alice will become their children legally. And both Roger and Tessa can’t wait to officially become their foster children’s official parents.
To be continued with Chapter 34
References for Ch. 33 by Gratiana Lovelace, April 18, 2016 (Post #900)
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
2ab) The sample sandbox image was found at http://cambiumgroup.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Latitude2007-GardenProducts-Sandbox.jpg; for information about the history of Lincoln Log toys, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Logs ;
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