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Authors: Hillary Manton Lodge

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BOOK: Plain Jayne
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“She wouldn't. Ever.” Kim. I missed Kim. And Joely and Gemma… “I miss you.”

“I miss you too.”

I met Shane when I covered the construction of the new Civic Center. Shane, being near the bottom of his architecture firm's food chain, was the most accessible source. I asked him about the design process and inspiration; he asked me to dinner.

Being with Shane excited me. For the first time I was in a grown-up relationship involving dinners at nice restaurants and intellectual conversation.

There wasn't a beach bonfire to be found, no sad high-school dances with wilted helium balloons, no furtive make out sessions in dorm hallways. I felt as though I'd finally broken free of my past.

Shane took me home to meet his parents and two younger brothers. I think a part of him waited for me to return the gesture.

Scratch that. I
he wanted me to. But I just couldn't do it.

How could I explain that he represented my separation from home? I liked Shane for a lot of reasons, one of which was that he knew nothing about my life before I came to Portland. If I took him home, it could ruin everything.

But another part of me wondered how long I could continue to run.

After I hung up with Shane, I brushed Rachel from my mind.

Jealous? I wasn't jealous. I had handsome, urbane Shane waiting for me at home.

Urbane Shane. That was funny. I would have to call him that in passing some time.

Levi was just a guy. A complicated guy, but a guy nonetheless. I was, perhaps, a bit attracted to him, mainly because he was here and Shane wasn't.

I was bigger than that, stronger than that. Levi certainly had his own baggage as well, and I didn't need to go near that with a ten-foot pole.

Although professionally, it could help with the story.

Being a journalist was complicated sometimes.

I cut a total of fifty squares that afternoon. Sara examined my work on the way back. “Good,” she said. “I should be able to use these.”

Don't know how she could tell, with the buggy bouncing the way it was.

Martha made a beeline for the kitchen when we returned. A pot of stew bubbled on the stove. Baking sheets of yeasty dinner rolls rose in the oven. “Is there anything I can help with?” I asked.

She wiped her hands on her apron. “I don't think so. All that needs doing is baking the rolls. Why don't you see if Sara needs help with the mending?”

They were awfully eager to arm me with a needle, first with the quilting and then with the mending.

I didn't mention my concerns. Sara sat in the family room beside the glow of a propane lantern. “Your mother told me to help you if you needed it.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “You can sew?”


“Okay.” She took a critical look of my Amish ensemble. “If you would like,” she said, “I can make you a new dress.”

I sat down next to her. “I'm not going to be here that long…”

“I'm quick. I could have a dress for you in a couple of days.”

“Only if you want to…”

“May I measure you?” She didn't stop for an answer. “I'll get my tape.”

“Shouldn't we…” Was it proper to be fitted in the family room? But then, I didn't suppose the Amish were all that concerned with the finer points of tailoring. I waited. If she wanted to make me a dress, who was I to stop her?

I started writing in my head—
Within a few days, Sara wanted to sew for me. But why?

She returned a moment later, arms laden with fabric, a tape measure, and a pincushion shaped like a cupcake. “I ain't opposed to taking in the dress you're wearing.”

“Do whatever you want. Do you enjoy sewing?”

“I do.”

“When did you learn?”

“I started when I was eight,” she answered, pinning my dress along the sides. “This dress was made for someone larger than you. You're also wearing a real bra.”

As opposed to fake ones?

Sara must have read my expression. “We usually make undergarments to hold and…flatten.” She began to blush.

“Oh.” No lift and separate here, then. I stuck my hands on my hips. “Well, what do you need me to do?”

She regained her composure. “To start, I need the length of your torso, arms, and legs from the waist.”

I held out my arms. “Should I stand like this?”

“You could, but I left my notepad in the kitchen.”

“Ah.” I put my arms down.

For all of her quiet Amishness, Sara possessed a surprisingly acerbic wit. There was a real teenager struggling to get out.

Heaven help us.

She came back from retrieving her notepad and started with measuring my arm. I stood very still. “Do you sew all the family clothes?”

Sara scribbled a number. “Most of them. Sometimes Mother and Leah help with the hemming.”

“Leah sews?”

“Elizabeth is learning. All Amish women sew.”

But Leah and Elizabeth were so young. I couldn't imagine wielding a needle and thread at that age.

Nor could I imagine feeding cows, but the children took care of the livestock on a regular basis.

“You're going to be here tomorrow?” Sara asked, after measuring my torso.


Sara looked over her shoulder toward the kitchen. “Could you take me to town?”


“I need to take mending back to Levi.”

“You do Levi's mending?”

“Shh!” She waved her hand at me. “Not so loud.”

I lowered my voice. “Why are we whispering?”

“Normally Grandma takes me to town, but she can't for a week and suggested you take me.”

“Why are we whispering?”

Sara glanced again at the kitchen. “I don't want my mother to hear and tell anything to Father.”

“Doesn't your father wonder why you have normal clothes in your mending pile?”

“I mend them in my room. Can we take your motorcycle?”

“What?” I forgot to whisper.


“Sorry,” I spoke in a hush again. “I don't have a second helmet.”

“That's okay.”

“No, it's not okay. It's illegal, and even if you had a helmet, I don't think you could ride and keep your skirt free.”

“What if you borrowed Grandma's car?”

“I thought she was busy.”

“She might not need her car.”

“Well, let me know.”

Truth be told, being jarred by the buggy all the way to Levi's didn't appeal to me.

Apparently Sara was a skilled negotiator, because I found myself driving Ida's Buick to town the following afternoon.

Ida held my bike as collateral.

“Remind me what you told your mother?” I said as we zipped down the highway at fifty-five beautiful miles per hour.

“I told her Grandma needed us to take some things to a neighbor, and they were too heavy for her to lift, so she asked us to help.”

“And then didn't come along?”

“She's busy today.”

“With what?”

Sara shrugged.

If there was anything I remembered from my teen days, it was the necessity of details in a good parental lie. Not that Sara needed to know that… although she seemed a bit proud of her subterfuge.

She had also insisted that I stay in my Amish clothes, lest anyone suspect we were headed to the outside world. But being a reporter, and a darn good one, I didn't mind the fact that I was driving a Buick older than my older sister and wearing a bonnet.

The Buick? The bonnet? All prime material.

As was Spencer's face when we walked in.

“Ms. Tate!” he said, and that was all.

Nothing makes a man speechless faster than a grown woman in a pinafore.

“I have mended clothes for Levi,” Sara said, full of noble purpose.

Spencer nodded, still silent, before retreating down the hall toward Levi's office.

Sara frowned. “He's usually more talkative than that.”

I restrained a smirk. “It's been a tough day for him.”

“Jayne! Sara!” Levi grinned like a boy receiving a dirt bike. “What are you ladies doing?”

Sara pulled the bundle out from under her arm. “I have your clothes.”

“Oh. Good. Come back to my office.”

Sara all but skipped after him. I lagged behind, watching.

They belonged with one another, brother and sister. Seeing them together, studying their faces, I could see the family resemblance. Granted, Levi's hair was dark and Sara's blond, but the slight upturn of the nose and the shape of the eyes identified them as siblings. The way they both seemed to smile with their whole face. Not that I'd seen Sara smile very often. Was she simply more serious in disposition, or unhappy? I'd had friends in high school with permanent rain clouds over their heads. Somehow, Sara didn't strike me as being one of them.

Levi turned at the threshold of his office door. “Coming?”

I nodded and quickened my steps.

“You know,” Levi said, closing the door after I'd stepped through, “I haven't seen Spencer speechless since his mother announced that she was ‘down with new bling.'”

I winced. “I hate the word ‘bling.' It came and went and yet it's still printed in the media.”

“And uttered by mothers.”

“I'm sure Spencer was glad to know how hip his mother was.”

“He couldn't talk for five minutes.”

“That must be a record.”

“Levi!” Sara tugged on his sleeve. I quieted and let her have a moment with her brother.

With painstaking care, she pulled out each garment and showed him how she had tended to each piece of fabric.

“They all look perfect,” Levi told her.

Sara smiled and tried on the humble-Amish expression, but she didn't
quite make it. They chatted for a few minutes before she excused herself to the ladies' room.

Leaving Levi and me alone together.

“She's starting to talk like you,” he said.


“Your mannerisms, your patterns of speech. She admires you.”

BOOK: Plain Jayne
9.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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