victorian-1269908_960_720 How many of us were fortunate enough to have parents still around and welcoming enough to bring home that one special someone to meet them for the first time? I still remember a nice December day many years ago when the prospective Child Bride made the trip with me. It was a contest who was more nervous, Mom, Dad, or the future Mrs. The truth is, it was me.

Still recovering from occupying the same space and time as a rifle bullet, Sam brings his new love, Eileen, upstate to meet Mom and Dad. A time to heal and forget about the recent past. But Eileen, Dutch, and Molly are not the only visitors Sam has brought with him . . .

From SIDE SLIP, the third book in the SAM DELAND CRIME NOVEL series:

Passing through the shaded streets of Wellsboro, Eileen felt as if she was just in a little larger version of Porter. Not much moving. A few after church cars but almost no one walking past the closed stores. Here and there she could see people sitting on their front porches looking back. Very peaceful and serene.

“Here we are,” Sam said as they pulled into the driveway of the last house on the side street going out of the town. Fields and woods stretched out behind and beside the two story house with the wide front porch that went around the house on the driveway side. Several barns and buildings sat behind the house and she could see farm equipment and a fuel oil truck all parked neatly between the structures.

Dutch was up behind her and trying to get his nose out of the open window. Molly was standing up, too and her white tipped tail moving back and forth gave away her excitement.

Eileen took in the crisp and freshly painted look of the house. It had sloped roof lines and decorative pieces in the gable ends. Not a Victorian mansion but a scaled down version of one.

“What a nice house, Sam,” she said as Sam brought the Pathfinder to a stop in the paved driveway.

“Dad moved Mom in here right before I was born and then after my grandparents passed on we stayed. The house has been in the family for a long time. The Delands came out here from the Hudson Valley after the Revolution and settled. I have cousins scattered all over but just Mom and Dad are still here in town. The only real house I ever lived in. I spent a lot of time in those woods back there.

Eileen could see a green tractor moving across one of the fields beyond the house and a gray haired, shorter, stockier version of Sam driving it.

When she heard a woman’s voice shout, “Sam!” Eileen turned to see a very pretty sixty something woman in a white cotton blouse and tight jeans waving from the front porch. An orange and white dog pushed out of the screen door and bounded down the steps toward the Pathfinder. Dutch let out a short bark and tried to crawl over Sam to get out of the truck.

“Hey, Brushie!” Sam shouted, “and you too, Mom.” Sam opened the door and the Brittany jumped up into Sam’s lap and covered his face in dog spit. Dutch tried to get his nose in, but Molly started barking and the whole inside of the truck seemed to be overwhelmed with dog tongues and tails.

Sam hoisted the Brittany over and dropped her on Eileen’s lap, “This is Brush, the best pheasant dog and couch warmer in the state.”

By now Dutch was climbing over the seat trying to get his nose in the spot on Brush that dogs use to find out all they need to know about another dog. Molly crawled over Sam and was up on the front porch in a few quick steps and was picked up by Patti and rubbed vigorously.

“Let’s get them out in the yard before Dutch breaks a leg trying to get at her,” Sam said.

Eileen popped her door and the three of them tumbled out into the driveway. Molly was down the steps and led the three dogs around the house and out toward the barn in a game of chase that had all three dogs running at full speed round and round the buildings.

Patti greeted them on the steps, “You are even more beautiful than Sam let on. Hi, I’m Patti. Jake is out in the fields but he’ll come in when he sees the dogs. Welcome, I’m so glad to meet you.” Patti stepped down and wrapped her arms around Eileen, sweeping her up in a warm hug.

For an older girl she had the strength of most men. Eileen felt the power in Patti’s arms and was impressed. Eileen was a powerful woman herself and knew how hard she worked at it, “I hope I won’t be in the way. Sam promised me good food and hard work, how could I resist?”

Patti laughed out loud and they all turned their heads when the tractor shut down. “Jake’s coming in now. Are you two hungry? I have a pot of soup on the stove ready for you.”

“We had a late breakfast on the road but I always have room for a bit of your soup, Mom,” Sam put his arms around both women and steered them toward the door. None of them saw the black Suburban move past on the road in front of the house.


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