Chapter 8 – Crestville
“I’m Trudy Carter, my grandparents had my name changed to Trudy Morgan but I’ll always think of myself as Trudy Carter. I don’t know where my father is but someday I’m determined to find him and have him back in my life. Do you want to hear the story?”
Carol stood up quickly. “We need to go. Don’t tell anyone you told me this or I’ll lose my job!”
That evening a nervous Carol decided to phone Seth. She’d been too busy with Trudy to phone him for a while and wanted to share the news with him.
Seth was excited at the news and wanted Carol to introduce them so they could recall their brief childhood experiences together, but Carol rightly discerned the Morgans would have her head if they discovered she’d any knowledge of Trudy’s other life. The Carter era was to be totally erased from Trudy’s life. Rebecca had resumed her family name long ago and all of Trudy’s educational records reflected that change. As far as MJ and Anna were concerned there’d been no Carter connection in the family at all.
But Carol finally agreed to give Trudy’s cell phone number to Seth on the strict understanding he’d never disclose who gave that number to him. Seth was surprised but agreed. Carol was anxious because she’d heard office phone records were regularly audited by Anna.
So it was an evening one week later before Seth phoned as agreed to put some distance between the meeting Carol had with Trudy and an appropriate interval to keep her in the clear. Trudy picked up the phone expecting either one of her office workers or her grandparents.
“Do you want to make some mud pies?”
There was a long silence on the phone. “Who is this?” Trudy said irritably
“This is Seth,” he said laughing.
Trudy laughed happily. “I hear you’ve been checking out the mud cake market in England with Carol?”
“Yes we did! Did Carol tell you it was on Sunrise Lane?”
“Yes! I hear you’re in investment banking, do you like it?”
“Yes and no, I’ve been in investment banking but am considering an invitation from Harvard to teach. Not as much money in it but I think I’d enjoy the interaction and apparently there’s travel opportunities associated with it. I think I’ll take it but it will be at the end of the year when my contract can be finalized with the bank before I decide on that.”
“Look, can we get together for a catch up dinner some time Trudy? I remember the transition time in my life when my parents left me with Uncle Jock while they moved home due to Dad’s new corporate appointment. I used to look forward to playing at your home.”
“I’d like that!” Said Trudy enthusiastically. “How about tomorrow evening, I’m free and bored most evenings?’ She laughed.
“Oh, I’ll be out of town for a week, how about Thursday next week?”
“You’re on!” said Trudy trying to disguise her excitement. “Where shall we meet?”
“How about lunch at that little café in Crestville? Just kidding! I’d suggest the Links Country Club just out of the city. Will you use your car or shall I pick you up?”
“The little café in Crestville is just fine. I’ll meet you there for lunch, it’s a couple of hours drive from here so shall we say 1 pm?”
Seth sucked in air in surprise. “I was just kidding, but yes I’ve wanted to visit Crestville as a nostalgia trip so I’ll take time off and meet you there. Are you sure you don’t want me to pick you up?”
So it was that Seth arrived in Crestville a week later. He’d given himself extra time in case of a holdup on the freeway. That did happen all too frequently these days, but it was a clear run and he arrived early and parked in front of the little café. No need for a booking here he thought to himself. The village was a little more modern than his remembrance from long ago. He glanced at his watch and wondered if he should call in to see if Mrs Carter still operated the hairdressing salon but decided against it.
Little did he know he was being observed from within the café. Trudy had arrived even earlier and had made herself known to the lady owners who’d continued to spoil her whenever she’d visit on vacation in her growing up years. A country town is a place where everyone’s business is an open book so the town’s folk were well aware of the Carter Morgan tensions. So they were happy to be part of the present conspiracy and watched Seth’s reactions as he waited outside the café looking at his watch frequently and occasionally pacing. The women inside giggled together like schoolgirls and poked Trudy.
“Go on out Trudy, stop torturing the man!” Eventually they pushed her out the door.
“Sorry, did I keep you waiting?” Trudy emerged innocently with a large basket full of a picnic lunch and blankets to sit on supplied by the café owners.
Seth blinked in surprise. “You’re here? Where’s your car?”
“Behind the café. I thought I’d surprise you.” Then nodding at the basket and glancing at his car she headed in that direction while he rushed to open up for her. He grabbed the basket from her, headed for the trunk, then dropped the basket and rushed to open the door for Trudy to get in.
This was met with a chorus of laughter from the Café as the women emerged to wave them off. Seth flushed with embarrassment and irritation then looked accusingly at Trudy who innocently let herself into the car.
“Where to?” Seth said stiffly as he climbed into the driver’s seat. His ego had been bruised.
Trudy laughed and pushed him playfully. “OK, I should have warned you about the conspiracy. Those women have been my adopted aunts along with most of the village people who are uncles and aunts to me from my growing up days. They’re really the only family I feel I have! I don’t know where my father and relatives on his side live as we’ve been separated from each other since I was a child.”
Seth spun around to look at her in surprise. He saw tears forming in her eyes and like any man didn’t know what to do about it so repeated his question. “Where to?”
“Uncle Jock’s farm, I know he’s passed along however I know the new owners and they raise horses now. I thought you’d like to see what they’ve done to the place?” She looked at him hopefully.
“That’s great!” said Seth enthusiastically. His bruised ego was suddenly forgotten with this welcome revelation.
So to the end of Sunrise Lane they went and Seth’s eyes opened in surprise. They’d really made that old farm upmarket with white painted timber fencing around the whole farm, stables and fields filled with thoroughbred horses and a number of workers busily engaged in work. Trudy pointed to a sealed side road and they cruised down to a set of shaded picnic tables complete with barbecue and even sheltered refrigeration well stocked. There was nothing familiar much to Seth’s disappointment but he gazed around in admiration at the sheer opulence of the place.
“What a transformation!”
Trudy went to a weather proof cupboard and took out table cloths and inspected them. Choosing one she spread it on the table then unpacked picnic things prepared by the café ladies while Seth looked on with interest.
“Who owns this place Trudy, you said you knew them?”
Trudy paused for a moment to study Seth then made her decision. “Welcome to the Trudy Morgan Ranch!” She stated, then turned to finish unpacking while she continued, “Grandfather asked me a few years back what I’d like most as a present and I said Uncle Jock’s farm. Of course he had no idea what I was talking about but if you know the Morgans he soon found out and to my surprise personally drove me out here one day to show me what he’d done, then handed me title deeds.” She watched Seth out of the corner of her eye as she spoke to see his reaction.
Seth stared at her in amazement. “This is yours?” he said incredulously.
Trudy nodded, looked at him with a smile then motioned for him to sit on the blankets she’d spread over bench seats.
Then after both of them were seated she said, “Silly me, I forgot something.”
She carefully lifted the table cloth to expose a portion of the bench table then went in behind the weatherproof cupboard to retrieve something.
“Remember when you phoned me last week, you asked if I wanted to make some mud pies? Well here they are. Something to remind us of our childhood meetings while we eat real food.”
To be continued
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