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From This Day
Nora R oberts
Chapter One
Spring c omes la te to N ew E ngla nd. Snow lingers in isola ted patc hes. Trees begin
their greening hesita ntly, tiny closed buds of leaves against naked bra nc hes.
Early blooms of c olor burst from the earth's w omb. The air is fresh with
B.J. tossed open her w indow w ith a flourish a nd w elc omed the early breeze into
her room.
she thought with a grin, a nd bega n to braid her long, w heat-
colored ha ir. The Lakeside Inn w as half-full, the summer season three w eeks
awa y, a nd if all followed her well-ordered pla ns, her duties as ma na ger w ould be
light for the dura tion of the weekend.
Her staff was loyal, though somew hat tempera mental. Like a la rge fa mily, they
squa bbled, sulked, teased a nd stuck together like morta r a nd brick w hen the
need a rose. And I, she mused w ith a rueful grin, a m head counselor.
Pulling on fa ded jeans, B.J. did not pa use to c onsider the inc ongruity of the title.
A small, c hildlike w oma n reflec ted in her gla ss, c urves disguised by casual a ttire,
bra ids ha nging impishly a stride a heart sha ped, elfin face w ith huge smoky eyes
domina nt. Her only la rge feature, they swa mped the tip-tilted nose a nd c upid's
bow mouth a nd were prone to smolder or sparkle w ith the fluctuations of her
mood. After lac ing dilapidated sneakers,
she jogged from the room, intending to c hec k on breakfast prepa rations before
stealing a n hour for a solitary walk.
The ma in stairca se of the inn wa s w ide a nd unca rpeted, c onnec ting its lour
spra wling stories w ithout c urve or a ngle, a s straight a nd sturdy a s the building
itself. She sa w w ith satisfaction the lobby w as both tidy a nd deserted. The
c urta ins were dra w n to w elc ome the sun, needlepoint pillows plumped, a nd a
va se of fresh wildflowers a dorned the high, w ell-polished registration desk.
The cla tter of c utlery ca rried from the dining room as she passed through the
dow nsta irs hall, a nd she heard, w ith a long suffering sigh, the running a rgument
betw een her tw o waitresses.
"If you really like a ma n w ith small, pig eyes, you should be very happy."
B. J. w atc hed Dott shrug her thin shoulders w ith the w ords a s she rolled a pla ce
setting in w hite linen. "W ally does not ha ve pig eyes," Ma ggie insisted. "They're
very intelligent.
You're just jealous," she a dded w ith grim relish as she filled the sugar dispensers.
"Jealous! Ha! The da y I'm jealous of a squinty-eyed little runt... O h, hello, B.J."
"Good morning, Dot, Ma ggie. You rolled tw o spoons a nd a knife a t tha t setting,
Dot. I think a fork might be a nic e touch." Accompanied by her c ompa nion's
snickers, Dot unrolled the linen.
"Wally's taking me to a double feature at the drive-in tonight." Ma ggie's smug
statement followed B.J. into the kitc hen, a nd she allow ed the door to sw ing shut
on the ensuing retort.
Unlike the ca sual, old fashioned atmosphere of the rema inder of the inn, the
kitc hen spa rkled w ith tw entieth century efficienc y. Stainless
steel glimmered everyw here in the oversized room, (he huge stove attesting tha t
the inn's ma in attraction wa s its menu. C upboa rds a nd cabinets stood like
vetera n soldiers, walls a nd linoleum gleaming w ith fresh cleaning. B.J. smiled,
pleased w ith the room's perfec tion a nd the drifting scent of coffee.
"Morning, Elsie." She rec eived a n absent mutter from the round w oma n w orking
at a long, w ell-scrubbed c ounter. "If everything's under c ontrol, I'm going out for
a couple of hours."
"Betty Jac kson w on't send a ny blackberry jelly."
"W hat? W ell, for goodness sa ke w hy not?" Annoyed by the c omplication, B.J.
plucked a fresh muffin from a basket a nd bega n to devour it. "Mr. C onners
alwa ys asks for her jelly, a nd we're dow n to the la st jar."
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