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Roberta Olsen Major
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Nellie Farmer has always been the best source of gossip—and baked goods—in the town of Williams Trace, Texas.
Plump as a dumpling, lonely as a heifer in a flock of sheep, and feeling bleak about her life and prospects, Nellie opens her second-best rent room to a handsome young stranger with mischief—and vengeance—on his mind.
He’s a charmer—and Nellie is ripe for the charming.
But promises, so they say, are like piecrusts…easily broken.
Williams Trace, Texas
Nellie smoothed the crumpled paper flat with a quick pass of her heated flat iron, then set the iron on the mantle to cool.
The nib of her pen had broken again, and she was just too blamed glum to make the walk over to Charley Fugg’s mercantile this evening to buy a replacement, so she rummaged through her box of pencil stubs and fished out the best of the bunch. Licking the tip, she set pencil to paper.
It was dandy to get your letter! Thank you for remembering my birthday was January and for wishing me well. You were the only one to do it--not that I’m complaining, mind you, but in years past Verna Louise’s brother-in-law, Garrett Galway--You’ll remember him from five years back at the New Year’s sociable?--has been known to recollect. But never mind. I’m sure he’s busy running that fancy restaurant of his up Dallas way and can’t be called upon to mark another year in the life of Nellie Jane Farmer.
Nellie licked the tip of her pencil again, and reread what she’d written. It wasn’t fancy writing, and maybe the former schoolteacher would be critical? No, she decided, not Phyllis, who hadn’t a mean bone in her body.
I was pleased as can be to read that you are increasing at last. I figure one of your own will be a joy after the Reverend’s four--Not that they weren’t sweet children, mind you, but it’s a brave soul who takes on the raising of another woman’s children. That Johanna must be quite the young lady by now. She always was a pretty little thing. Just like her mama, or so Bess used to say.
I’m increasing as well, though the cause is from too many cookies and pies, and not from the particular attentions of a man. But I was already as round as Charley Fugg’s pickle barrel to begin with, so I figure a bit more girth won’t matter.
Have you heard from Bess and Benjamin? I expect you have and don’t mean to tell me in case I let my tongue slip around Sheriff Caldwell, but I’m sure it’s all blown over by now and they are in no danger from the law. Milt would no more leave Williams Trace to track them down than he would give up his visits to that bawdy house over at Six Gun Hollow. Scandalous, how Eunice lets him get away with such behavings!
Business is good, though my two rent rooms are empty at present.
I had a nice couple from over by Stafford’s Point stop in for a few days last week, but didn’t see much of them as they had just been married by Reverend Galway and had more pressing matters on their minds, if you know what I mean. Which of course you do, being a married woman yourself.
Well, now that I’ve managed to depress myself completely, I will close, being too cheap to pay for extra pages anyhow. But it was grand to hear from you, Phyllis, and to receive your good news.
Nellie Jane Farmer
Nellie sighed and folded the page into thirds.
She’d baked herself a little cake, three layers, rich with butter and drizzled with a sugar glaze that should by now have hardened to a decadent crunch.
"I almost don’t have the heart to eat it," she muttered, then got to her feet. Almost, but not quite. A nice slab of cake washed down with a cup of tea would maybe fill the hole brought on by Phyllis’s reminder of this year’s unremarked fortieth birthday.
Though why Garrett Galway hadn’t sent along a little note like he had five years running was still a mystery that the two months since her birthday hadn’t dimmed.
Well, cake wouldn’t solve the mystery, but it might make the presence of it easier to swallow. Though it would surely take more than one puny slice of it to do the trick.
Might as well take her fork to the whole thing. There was no one here to share it with anyhow.
Roberta Olsen Major wore out two toy typewriters as a child before her parents decided it would be more frugal to provide her with the real thing. Throughout junior high and high school, she used two fingers to tap out lurid, angst-filled stories peopled with impossibly beautiful characters speaking highly improbable dialogue.
After earning a BA from Brigham Young University, she worked as a librarian in sensible shoes, before switching her Major to the care and feeding of a scientific husband and two charming children.
A published playwright and reviewer of children’s books, she now lives in Texas, where she collects dust, gets taken for daily walks by her faithful Schnauzers, and is, as always, working on her next book.
The Ice Cream Crone: “…a galloping romp of hilarity on a quest of pure enjoyment. Roberta Olsen Major delights her readers with wit, puns, and good old silliness… filled with the perfect combination of chivalry and joviality… Life, love and the pursuit of laughter reign…” --Joyce Handzo, In the Library Reviews, October 10, 2003
The Ice Cream Crone: “… takes ‘happily ever after’ a hop, skip and a jump farther, leading the child in us all on a merry romp through ‘what if’.” -- Pam Ripling, author of Locker Shock!
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 310
Paper Weight (lb): 13.0
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