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Shadows On The Lane





     Jessie Hanson positioned a silver mesh strainer over a pink china cup and poured a stream of amber tea from the matching teapot. Then, smiling a proper little smile, she said, “Will you have lemon or a sugar in your tea, Tina?”

     Tina Adams stifled a giggle, crooked her little finger and said in a high-pitched voice, “Why I believe I’ll have one lump, thank you.” She burst out laughing and eyed her father chatting quietly at the next table. Dr. Adams glanced in her direction, shook his head and frowned.

      “I guess your dad thinks we should act more grown-up since we’re almost thirteen,” whispered Jessie. She wore her blonde hair down today, liberated from its customary single braid. Her blue dress was the same color as her eyes, like the cornflowers that dotted the prairie in the spring. “How are the twins?”

      “Big and beautiful!” beamed Tina. “Mom and Dad are tired and crabby.” Tina made a face, rolled her brown eyes and shoved up the clips that held back her dark hair and matched her yellow sundress. “They’re pretty much up all night with the babies.”

      The girls were attending a tea in the converted Johnson mansion on Willow Lane. The old house was now called “The Swedish Museum” and, besides the tearoom, featured scenes of the historical migration of Scandinavians to Nebraska.

      “I’m sure glad I wasn’t a pioneer,” said Jessie. “Seeing what they went through, I think I would have stayed in Sweden.” Jessie and Tina had just toured the museum during an open house for the completed renovation.

      Someone clinked a glass for attention and everyone looked at a tall man in a dark suit and tie standing by the grand piano. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “Welcome to your new museum. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Now we have some musical entertainment. Bryce Peterson and Cami Falkinborg will play Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata” for piano and violin, in honor of this beautiful May afternoon. The speaker returned to his table.

      Tina leaned toward Jessie and whispered, “Who’s that?”

      Jessie tasted her tea. “Dr. Peterson, Bryce’s dad. He’s running the museum. He moved here with Bryce last month but he’s been so busy, I just met him yesterday.

      Tina rearranged her napkin over her lap. “He’s a doctor?”

      Jessie took a scone from the tray, broke it in half and covered it with raspberry jam. “Not like your dad,” she said. “You know, like Dr. Bernard at school.”

      “He’s nice looking. But he’d have to be; he’s Bryce’s dad,” said Tina with a little smile. “And we know how cute Bryce is.” She bit into a lemon tart.

      “Jessie frowned at Tina. “Your turn will come and I cannot wait.”

      Tina laughed. “Did you notice that Miss Tyler is sitting with Dr. Peterson?”

The Willow Lane Mysteries take place in the 1980's

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