“Well now…” Kilgore shifted somewhat uncomfortably in his chair, fingering the antique violet-patterned teacup to whose delicate contours he never did figure he’d manage to adjust--need to get a couple real good old chunky mugs in here tucked away in the corner of a cabinet somewhere so my clumsy hands’ll have something to grab onto, ’cause I know it’s just a matter of time before I break one of these doggone things--“about that honeymoon…ya see, I figure everybody ought to have the chance to jump out of a plane at least once in their lives, so if you never done it before, well, what better time than this? Jump right into our new lives together, so to speak. What do you think?”
“I think you’ve got something up your sleeve! I know you’ve been busy planning something…gone half the time on your days off, having all those cryptic conversations with your friend Roger--I’ve seen the two of you together in the diner more than once over these last couple of weeks, and seen how you turn away and pretend you haven’t noticed me when I walk past--so come on, spill it! What’s the plan?”
“Now you know I can’t tell you that! Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, and besides, this is one top secret operation I got going here, and you know how it goes. You just got to trust me on this one.”
Susan sighed, shook her head and began clearing the dishes. “Oh yes, I know how goes. How that sort of thing has to go, and I do trust you of course, and guess I don’t want to know any more about it than I need to know for the moment, but perhaps…” she grinned mischievously, her short, dark, silver-frosted curls bouncing as she whirled back about to face him, nearly upsetting her stack of plates and teacups, “perhaps you can simply confirm or deny my suspicions with a little nod, or something. You think? No harm in a little nod. Ok, here goes. I think…your friend Roger must have a second plane, a slightly larger plane, and he’s gone to get it which is why I haven’t seen him around town for a few days, and I think after the wedding he’s going to take a certain happy pair up in that plane and have somebody push them out the door--well, somebody will probably have to push me, at least!--over a snowy meadow way up in the high country somewhere, where they’ll enjoy a quiet couple of weeks together snowshoeing and snow camping and perhaps visiting an old friend or two or three… Am I close?”
“Aw now, how’d you know about the Twin Otter?”
“Hey, you were supposed to nod! I don’t care about the Twin Otter, it’s the other bit that I’m really wondering about, and you know it!
“Nope, can neither confirm nor deny, on that account. But do have to say that you’re one astute and perceptive woman, Mrs. Kilgore.”
“Future Mrs. Kilgore.”
“Real near future, if I haven’t got my days all mixed up…”
“No, you haven’t, so I’d better get busy with the preparations, hadn’t I? Guess if you don’t want to get roped into helping me prepare several dozen little mushroom logs, three batches of ham rolls, four cheese balls and a whole mess of different kinds of cookies, it would be about time for you to head back outside for a while!”
“Would I get to taste the dough?”
She swatted playfully at him with a dishtowel, began retrieving lidded buckets of flour and sugar from one of the cabinets beneath the kitchen counter. “I’ve seen your idea of ‘tasting the dough!’ If you taste the dough, I’m afraid there won’t be enough left to be worth baking, and then what would we have to serve people at the wedding? Just the scraps and scrapings left in the bowls when you got done, and that wouldn’t do!”
“Guess I’ll head out and finish the plowing, then. Still got some to do out there, and better check on the avalanche charges, too, the way this stuff keeps coming down. Wouldn’t do to have our wedding guests caught in an avalanche, I guess…”
“It also wouldn’t do to have the ladies from the church caught in one, so you be careful with those charges, because I’m expecting them to show just about any time now.”
“No worries. Me and high explosives, we’re real good friends from way back…what could ever go wrong?”
Both of them laughing, Kilgore hurrying into his coveralls and boots and ducking out the door before Susan had a chance to make the remark that had been on the tip of her tongue--what, indeed…seems it’s only been a few months ago that you stopped by here on your way home to Arizona all battered and bruised and with your face full of what looked an awful lot like recent shrapnel wounds of some sort, just days after that big explosion in the old mine that took out so many of the federal searchers, and I never did quite buy your dirt bike accident story--which was alright with her, as she knew he really was just about the most competent person around to manage Bill’s avalanche mitigation project, or anything else relating to volatile substances and big booms, despite what she’d been going to say.
Watching Bud disappear out into the storm she turned, shook her head and got back into her apron, beginning preparations for the various baking projects she’d set for herself that day. While she had for some time suspected the nature of the honeymoon trip Bud had planned for them she now had confirmation, and while tremendously excited at the prospect of seeing Liz and perhaps even being there around the time when the baby might be coming, she also worried, both about the potential harm their visit might bring the little family if they weren’t extremely careful about how the entire thing was executed, which, with Bud doing the planning, she was sure they would be; such things were his profession, and the way Einar would react to having people show up unannounced--not like we have any way of announcing it--in his little mountain kingdom, especially at such a sensitive time. A lot of things to think through, but she expected Bud had already thought through them, had plans to mitigate both problems. Hoped so, both for their sake and for that of the little family up in the basin whose territory they were ostensibly talking about dropping in on, just three days out.
· · · ·
Darkness in the basin, the dark hour sometime just after midnight and Liz couldn’t sleep, lay wide awake in the cooling cabin listening to Einar breathe and trying to figure out what had wakened her, why she felt so much like being up and doing at that hour and finally she gave up trying to return to sleep, slipped out of bed and lit a candle, crouching in its circle of light, no longer doubting the cause of her restlessness.