PublicBookshelf Book Club
Weekly tips on great novels to read.
A raging winter storm blanketed the Delaware Valley in several inches of snow and ice, complemented by the plaintive howls of a chill
wind. Maddy paced around the kitchen, holding baby Ava in her arms and
staring out at the unfolding weather scene with trepidation. Here it was,
New Year's Eve and Kenny was driving up from New Jersey to be her
date. Greg and Vanessa, Lori and Vince, and Damian and Laura were all
joining them for a dinner celebration at the nearby Media Inn, the one
establishment in the area offering live music, food and drink at a
As Maddy cooed sweetly to a receptive, smiling Ava, Laura entered
the room holding Tommy.
"Wow, it's really coming down out there," she noted. "Reminds me
so much of Des Moines."
"I guess winters were pretty brutal there," Maddy offered, noting how
pretty her sister-in-law looked in a blue taffeta dress with a wide sash and
a ruffled neckline. She'd curled her dirty-blonde hair and it hung in a fullbodied
bob that framed her attractive face.
"Wow Laura, you look great!"
"Oh, thank you!" She laughed nervously in her typical way. Laura was
truly a good person at heart, but the boisterousness of the Rose home
with its constant activity was sometimes intimidating to her. Still, Maddy
was impressed by the way she'd conducted herself so far.
"I just hope Kenny gets here safely. It scares me thinking of him
driving over the bridge and then on all of the narrow windy roads around
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Laura offered. "He seems like a very capable,
smart guy. He'll be careful."
Just then, Damian joined them in the kitchen, clad in a beige suit. As
soon as Ava saw him, she held out her arms; Maddy happily transferred
the tot to the embrace of her waiting father.
"My gosh, I'd better go get in the shower," she said. "Otherwise,
you'll all be waiting for me when it's time to go!"
A little while later, Madeline and Lori were standing side by side in
their shared bathroom, the older sister wrapping her hair in hot rollers
and the younger, applying make-up. As an accompaniment to this
customary ritual, their favorite radio station played in the background,
tonight showcasing the top 100 hits of 1992. Monica Rose walked into the
pink and white bedroom to relay a message.
"Maddy, Ken just called to let you know he's on his way. His cousin's
wife just had a baby and he stopped by to see him on his way over. He
says it is really bad driving but he'll be here soon."
"Ok, thanks Mom. I don't care if he's late; I just want him to get here
"I know," her mother sympathized, "It looks pretty scary out there.
But I'm sure the Expressway and the bridge are clear. They're usually
pretty good about salting the main roads. It's Paxon Hollow I worry about
She thought back to countless moments when her children were
younger, picking them up from school early and then navigating the car
precariously on the windy road that led to their street. The toughest trick
of all came just as they were about to approach Martins Run; it was there
that a sharp bend came perilously close the adjacent golf course. On more
than one occasion, her metallic green station wagon had slid right into this
treacherous trap, its wheels caught in a stubborn, icy-and seemingly
"Me too," Maddy sighed. "I wish he had a car phone like Lori. At
least he could call us if he needed help."
"Don't worry Mads, I'm sure he'll get here," Lori offered, as she used
a pick on her freshly-coiffed mane. Maddy got out of the way when she
saw her reach for a big can of Aqua Net; she hated the smell of that stuff,
not to mention the way it made her hair feel like cardboard. But she was
more fortunate than Lori; while her naturally wavy hair was also fine, it
was much more abundant and able to hold a style on its own. Left to its
own devices, Lori's dark, straight hair hung listlessly to her shoulders.
"Ok girls, I'll be downstairs," Mom announced, before starting for
the bedroom door. Then with another thought, "Madeline, what are you
wearing tonight, hon?"
"Oh, my black dress from Gantos," she replied, pulling it out of the
big walk-in closet where all three of them stored their formal attire.
"Remember, I wore this for a dance showcase once? I want to wear it
again, while I have the opportunity." With its gathered waist, accented by
a matching rosette, handkerchief-hem and sequined bodice, it was one of
her special occasion favorites.
"Yes I'd almost forgotten about that one," Monica commented. "You
look stunning in that; I'm sure Ken will love it!"
"If he gets here in one piece," she said worriedly.
"Honey, I'm sure he'll be fine." With that, her mother kissed her on
the cheek and headed back down to the kitchen.