Working My Way Back
“Look,” Stephanie Cabot pointed her finger as Dr. Cabot and his family slowly drove past the General Store.
“We must be close,” Ryan Cabot, one of the Cabots’ sons murmured as he rechecked the GPS. Nothing was marked on any map he could find.
“Trees, must be pretty in the summer,” Joseph, their other son stated; he was quietly contemplating the countryside.
“The artist speaks,” Ryan teased getting a familiar finger gesture in return.Their parents ignored them.
“The directions say to turn into the driveway just past the row of mailboxes and stop at the gate,” Stephanie continued.
“A row of mailboxes,” Sabastian indicated the obvious.
“A very neat row of mailboxes,” Joseph pointed out. “Aren’t country mailboxes supposed to be different shapes and sizes?”
“And full of bullet holes,” Ryan snarked.
“Boys, please behave. I have a feeling we’re the guests of honor,” Sabastian said painfully.
“Oh stop it,” Stephanie demanded. “All of you. It’s very nice of Mr. Kinney and his partner to ask us to dinner and to stay for a few days. I, for one, can use the break.”
“What kind of break is it going to be if you still have to cook?” Cabot asked.
“The kind where you all do the cooking,” Stephanie pronounced. Before anyone could respond, Dr. Cabot stopped short at the gate.
“Now, that’s what I call a gate,” Cabot said as he looked over the gate, up and down and side to side. Over the years, as more families moved in, John had upgraded the gate. It was an imposing structure meant to keep out the world and yet be inviting at the same time. “Now what?”
“Didn’t he give you a code?” Stephanie asked.
“Yes and no,” Cabot replied.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Stephanie asked.
“When I confirmed our plans, Kinney sent me the email with the directions. He said I would know the code,” Cabot stated, seemingly embarrassed.
“It’s gotta be your birthday or maybe today’s date?” Ryan said. Cabot rolled down the window and tried both.
“No good,” Cabot growled.
“Password?” Stephanie suggested trying to be helpful. She gestured at her husband to try it. He reluctantly tried it without success.
“Any other suggestions?” Cabot asked. His family called out several word combinations and numbers all producing nothing.
“Wait,” Stephanie called out as she placed her hand on Cabot’s arm.
“It couldn’t be that easy, could it?” Steph stared at her husband.
“Try my birthday,” Stephanie said. Cabot gawked at his wife then turned toward the keypad. He carefully entered his wife’s birthday. They were all astonished watching the gate swing open. “How did he know my birthday?”
“How does that man ever know anything?” Cabot grumbled as he slowly drove the car through the gate and around the bend onto the lane.
“Is this Narnia? Look at these cottages,” Stephanie exclaimed. Their reaction was typical of first timers to the lane. “Slow down,” she chided her husband.
“If I go any slower, I’ll be going in reverse,” Cabot rebuked. The boys in the back snickered.
“Where are we staying?” Ryan asked.
“Kinney said the large cottage in between the thatch roofed cottage and the greenhouse,” Cabot replied as he drove past Emmett’s cottage.
“White picket fence,” the family mumbled as Cabot slowly drove by.
“You’re right,” Ryan admitted to his brother. “This place must look like something out of your art books in the summer.”
They drove a little further toward Debbie and Carl’s thatched roof cottage.
“No way,” Joseph exclaimed. “Dad, pull over! I have to see this.”
Cabot obliged his son who rarely expressed any type of emotion except for something he deemed as artistic. Steph and Cabot exchanged looks as their son barely let the car come to a full stop before Joseph jumped out.
“You’d kill me if I did anything like that,” Ryan grumbled good-naturedly.
“You have more sense,” Steph said with a wink as Ryan got out of the car to see to his brother. Steph and Cabot remained in the car.
“Do you think anyone will mind if the boys wander around?” Stephanie asked.
“I don’t think so. It kind of looks quiet,” Cabot said. They were looking out of Steph’s window.
“Very quiet. You don’t suppose we’ll be attacked by zombies,” Steph stated with a gleam in her eyes. Cabot chuckled then they both let out a startled shriek when…
“Hellooo!” Emmett called out loudly as he knocked on the driver’s side window. He had come from the conjoined cottages, pushing his rolling cart. “Oops, sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. You must be Dr. and Mrs. Cabot. Welcome to the lane,” Emmett shouted for all the world to hear. Hearing the commotion, the boys came running. “Ooo, and little Cabots. Welcome! Welcome!”
The boys quickly got into the car as Steph nudged her husband. He rolled down the window.
“That’s better. No need to shout. I’m told my voice carries,” Emmett said with a grin and a shrug. “I’m Emmett Honeycutt, that’s my cottage, the one with the white picket fence,” said Emmett with a gush of emotion. “My Drewsie had it built for me.” Emmett wiped away an emotional tear.
“This cottage belongs to Debbie and Carl Horvath. That’s the B&B, where y’all will be staying. Would you like a guided tour before you settle in?” Emmett asked as he grasped the door handle to the back seat. Before anyone could reply or complain, Emmett shimmied and shoved his way into the back seat, sharing with the Cabot teens.
“Okay,” Ryan grumbled before he politely introduced himself and his brother.
“Well, let’s roll and I’ll give you a brief history of our lane,” Emmett said with enthusiasm, patting the seat near Dr. Cabot’s head. “Like I said, my hubby asked Brian if he could have a little plot of land to build me a cottage with a white picket fence. And of course, our Mr. Kinney couldn’t refuse. So John built me my little dream cottage,” rambled Emmett.
“John built the B&B because, well, frankly our little family has grown so large that we don’t know where to put them all,” Emmett went on as if everyone in the car understood what he was talking about.
“Then John wanted to experiment so he became a doctor and built the thatched cottage for Debbie and Carl. They both lived in Pittsburgh but retired several years ago so the boys gave them the cottage.
“Move up,” Emmett urged Cabot, slapping the side of the seat. The boys snickered. “This is the greenhouse. You’re better off seeing the inside, it has a waterfall,” Emmett proudly stated.
“A waterfall?” Steph asked.
“Oh yes, Brian wanted it, John created it. What our Brian wants, he usually gets,” Emmett said knowingly.
“Who is this Brian?” Steph leaned over to whisper to her husband. “And what are we doing here?” Steph complained.
“This is where the boys live with their kids,” Emmett said as he pointed out the conjoined cottages. He ignored any side conversations, going on with the tour.
“That house looks out of place,” Ryan observed.
“Good eye, young man. That house was rescued by John then transplanted here. Rachel and George live there. Swing around,” Emmett commanded.
“This sweet little cottage belongs to Molly. She’s Justin’s sister. You’ll meet her and her family later.” He had Cabot drive back toward the B&B and park across from it.
“And if you look between these evergreens you’ll see our only log cabin,” Emmett again pointed. Cabot pulled over to park. The family got out to take a better look.
“Who lives there?” Steph asked.
“Michael and his partner Ben,” Emmett told them.
“So all these people live out here?” Cabot asked as he stood in the lane taking it all in.
“Oh no, there are only 4 permanent residences. The boys, of course, with their kids. Rachel and George and Debbie and Carl. The rest of us live in Pittsburgh then come here when we need a break,” Emmett explained. “Come on, let’s get you settled in. We’re a small bunch this Thanksgiving so you have the B&B all to yourself. The larger suites are on the first floor. There are several smaller rooms on the second floor and then there’s the attic suite. It has wonderful lighting for artists or so I’m told.” Emmett grinned. “You can leave your car here or park in front of the B&B,”
Emmett got out of the car as Cabot climbed back in. Cabot swung the car around so that it was in front of the larger cottage while Emmett walked toward the cottage to stand by the door.
Cabot popped the trunk so that the boys could retrieve their bags. They were only staying until Saturday so they didn’t bring much. Brian assured them the general store could provide them with what they needed by way of groceries and not to worry about Friday morning breakfast. Plus, they’d certainly be taking back goody bags from dinner.
While the Cabot family oooed and aahed as they explored the large cottage, Emmett puttered in the kitchen. He inspected the refrigerator checking out the provisions either John or Brian had placed there. And the cabinets for tea, sugar, and other basic staples. While he was there Emmett started the coffeemaker and filled the kettle for tea.
When the family decided on the rooms they wanted, Emmett instructed them on one more thing, more like a warning.
“Before I forget, uh, do you like dogs?”
“Dogs?” Ryan perked up. He loved dogs.
“Yes, you see most of us have a doggie dish and we keep fresh water near the side or back door for the dogs. They like to patrol the lane,” Emmett tried to explain.
“Patrol the lane,” Joseph pressed for more information.
“Yes, you see, they’re kind of big dogs,” Emmett said with a shy smile.
“How big?” Steph asked.
Right on cue, Little Beau came barreling into the kitchen from the back door then slid across the floor. Lady Lucie and Beau Sr. were just behind him.
“Oh my God! Wolves!” Stephanie shrieked, frozen in place. Beau Sr. barked at his pup. Little Beau knew to stop then lay down before the frightened woman.
“Yes, that’s what I thought when I first met Beau. But John assured me that even though they have a touch of wolf blood, they are dogs. Beau is a highly trained guard dog. He and his mate, the very darling Lady Lucie. With an “i e,” Emmett made air quotes. “Patrol the lane and surrounding territory to keep us safe. She had one litter of pups several years ago. Brian and John decided to keep Little Beau. Although, he’s not so little anymore.
“It’s okay, you can pet them. Just let each of them smell your hand, like this.” Emmett demonstrated how to offer a hand to Beau and his pack.
Joseph was the first to get acquainted with the large dogs. “Hi Beau,” Joe said as he offered a hand for inspection. He got the once over then a bark of approval. Lady Lucie proudly presented herself to the brave young man. “You’re beautiful,” Joe said to the golden shepherd. After he passed her inspection, Lucie allowed Joe to give her a good scratch around her neck.
A small whimper brought Joe’s attention to Little Beau, who actually was several inches taller than his sire. But you wouldn’t know it because Beau Sr., as leader, knew how to make an impressive entrance. Beau barked again, and Little Beau stood to present himself to Joe.
“Look at you,” Joe said then laughed with hysterics as Little Beau dispensed with the usual introductions, knocked Joe on his butt and began slobbering all over Joe’s face. While the shenanigans continued, Cabot, Steph, and Ryan made their formal introductions to Beau and Lucie.
“Hey, should I be jealous?” Glen asked loudly as he rolled himself into the main room of the B&B closely followed by Alex.
“It appears you have competition,” Alex observed.
Little Beau jumped up and off Joe, ran to Glen then greeted Glen in his own way. Glen laughed as Little Beau slobbered all over him.
“Stephanie,” Cabot began. “Allow me to introduce Dr. Alex Wilder, psychiatrist,” Cabot said with a bit of snobbery in his voice.
“Sabby! You must tell me what you did to get such a beautiful wife,” Alex teased as he warmly greeted Stephanie. “And I know my way around the human body as well as the human mind, thank you very much.”
“At least someone thinks I’m beautiful,” Stephanie teased. Cabot ignored his wife and Alex to continue the introductions.
“And the man currently drowning in dog spit is…”
“I’m doctor, doctor, Glen Wilder. I’d shake your hand but I’m currently occupied with this beast,” Glen complained however not too convincingly as he hugged said beast. Joe and Ryan laughed.
“Doctor, doctor?” Steph asked with a chuckle.
“Show off,” Cabot grumbled.
“Yes, PhDs in psychology and in physical therapy,” Glen explained looking around Little Beau’s head.
“Please don’t get him started; he’ll show off with his Mary Lou Retton routine,” Alex warned. “Just thank the gods there aren’t any parallel bars in the room.”
“Alex, honey, I have to get back to my cottage; Debbie and I are doing a lot of the cooking. And thank you, sweetie, for bringing the vegetables. They look divine. Would you mind bringing the Cabots to the conjoined cottage?” Emmett asked.
“No problem, Emmett. We’ll walk them down. Call if you need help,” Alex said to Emmett.
“Thank you, honey. See y’all later!” Emmett waved to the Cabots, as he left the B&B with his usual flare. The Cabots were looking a bit shell shocked.
“Don’t mind him and don’t worry about dinner, the rest of the family are a little more subdued than Emmett,” Alex assured the Cabots.
“Except for Debbie, she can be a little loud,” Glen stated as he was released by Little Beau. The dogs had taken their leave through the back door to continue their patrol. “I think I need a shower. At least a change of clothes,” Glen commented.
“We have plenty of time,” Alex said. “Do you want me to drive you?”
“You don’t live on the lane?” asked Steph.
“Yes and no,” Alex replied. “We live in what John likes to call the meadow cottage. There’s a small driveway next to John and Brian’s cottages. It leads through the sunflower meadow to our cottage which is sort of on a small hill,” Alex explained.
“When the sunflowers are in bloom, you can barely see the cottage. It was an experiment for John; it’s totally green. It can also be moved if it gets too much to be out there alone, but for now it’s just what we need,” Glen said. “Babe, I really smell like dog.”
“Would you like to see our cottage? We have plenty of room in our van,” Alex offered. “By then, it’ll be time for dinner.”
“I’d be interested,” said Ryan.
“He’s into making things green and self-sustainable,” Joseph explained. The boys looked at their parents.
“Okay by me, if it’s not any trouble,” said Stephanie. “I’m certainly curious. Um, Emmett said something about John became a doctor? Who is John and what kind of doctor?”
Alex and Glen filled in the blanks as they piled into their specially outfitted van. The boys were fascinated at how Glen maneuvered himself around and realized just how much upper body strength he had. Alex drove up the lane, just past the conjoined cottages then turned onto the driveway that led to their home in the meadow.
“Emmett wasn’t kidding when he said the cottages were joined,” Joe remarked.
“Yes, the sun porch not only joins the two cottages but serves as their formal dining room and Justin’s studio,” Glen explained.
“All that light,” Joe murmured.
“My brother is into art,” Ryan said. “He’s hoping to get into one of those pre-college programs at PIFA.”
“May I make a suggestion,” Glen offered. “Speak to Justin. If you’re serious about art of any form, talk to him. He loves guiding serious students and has sponsored many.”
“Wilder…” Cabot growled out a warning.
“Get over yourself, Sabby; if your son has talent, Justin will know. Then he’ll talk to you about it. Here we are,” Glen said as they slowly emerged from the sunflower field.
Many of the sunflowers had been harvested for their seeds. A lot were left for birds and small animals to sustain them through the winter. The rest were allowed to do what came naturally.
“This is adorable!” Steph exclaimed. “May we see inside?”
“Of course, please go right in.” Glen indicated the front door.
“You don’t lock your doors?” Stephanie asked.
“Patrolling wolves, remember,” Glen sagely reminded the woman. She nodded with understanding as she gingerly turned the door handle then walked inside.
“Perfect; a little minimalist but warm and cozy just the same,” Steph went on.
“Stephanie considers herself a designer; self-taught. She has a good eye for color and what goes where,” Cabot proudly stated. Steph beamed at her usually emotionally cool husband.
“Talk to John. If you’re looking to do it professionally or just consulting from time to time I bet John could use you,” Glen said before excusing himself to shower and change. Alex offered beverages as he showed the Cabots around and how John accommodated Glen’s wheelchair.
“So you spend most of your time in the city and then come here for holidays?” Stephanie inquired.
“Yes. We try to coordinate our practices to be able to take most of the summer months off but we got tired of traveling and living out of suitcases. Having this place gives us another option and it’s a little easier on Glen. You’d be surprised how many resorts aren’t wheelchair friendly even in this day and age,” Alex said with a scowl.
“Sometimes we just want quiet; this place affords us all the quiet we want. And then there’s the boys and their family,” Alex said with a laugh. “I think the family have adopted us. The wolves have certainly taken a shine to Glen.” Alex smirked.
“Did I hear my name?” Glen bellowed as he wheeled himself out of the bedroom looking well groomed and not smelling like dog.
“Yes, I was telling the Cabots how we’ve been adopted by the family and the dogs.”
“Stephanie, wheedle an invitation from the boys for any time during the summer. I can guarantee you some great eye candy. I highly recommend their gardener,” Glen said with a wink.
“Oh?” Stephanie leaned in.
“Don’t tell her that,” Alex said as he buried his face into his hands.
“Who’s their gardener?” Cabot asked out of curiosity.
“Brian,” Alex and Glen said in unison.
“I think I better meet this Brian,” Steph said.
“Mom!” the boys yelled, aghast.
“Ignore her,” Cabot teased.
“Come on, old man, time to go,” Glen teased Alex. Alex shook his head but lead everyone outside and back into the van. Within ten minutes they were strolling into Edna’s Treasures.
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