Welcome to Icicle Falls

Welcome to Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts Read Free Book Online

Book: Welcome to Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sheila Roberts
could do not to start crying all over again.
    * * *
    Summer dragged on, hot and heavy, and Muriel slogged through it listlessly. Her friends tried to cheer her up. Pat and Olivia assured her on a regular basis that someone else would come along. Arnie brought her bouquets of mountain meadow flowers. Lenny wrote her a song about better times ahead that thoroughly depressed her. And she consoled herself with so much chocolate that she gained seven pounds.
    Her father took her out to dinner at Schwangau, the fancy new restaurant in town, and talked about things working out for the best. Meanwhile, she had her family and friends, and the company. He wanted her to work full-time in the office come September. She could start out as a receptionist.
    â€œThis is all going to be yours someday,” he reminded her.
    She nodded.
    â€œThis company will take care of you and your family long after I’m gone,” he continued.
    Before she could have a family, she had to have a man. She wiped at her teary eyes with a corner of her napkin.
    Her father reached across the table and laid a hand on her arm. “Honey, he wasn’t good enough for you. If he was, he would have stayed.”
    â€œMaybe he would’ve stayed if he thought he was welcome.”
    â€œNo,” her father said adamantly. “If he’d really cared about you, he’d have stayed.”
    Deep down she knew he was right. Maybe Stephen had simply been looking for an excuse to leave.
    She’d finally had all she could take of well-meaning friends and fatherly advice. She slipped away on a Sunday afternoon and went for a walk. The walk led her to Lost Bride Trail.
    As she hiked she could hear the thunder of the falls. That poor, miserable bride. Her life hadn’t turned out as she planned, but at least she’d had a chance to
a bride. Muriel never would.
    â€œYou have to stop this,” she told herself.
    All this wallowing in self-pity was becoming ridiculous. She was too young for her life to be over. She could still make something good of it. She’d learn more about her family’s business, and maybe, down the road, she’d marry Arnie and he could help her run Sweet Dreams. They could have a family.
    Little Arnies running everywhere.
    Maybe she’d stay single and hope her father lived until he was ninety.
    She was at the falls now. She stood in awe, watching the water plunge over the rocks. How many women had something as incredible as this practically in their backyards? And how many women had a chance to live in such a beautiful town with so many wonderful people? So she was alone. But she had family and friends to be alone with. And— What was that? She strained to see more clearly.
    A woman in a long, white dress darted under the cataract.
    Muriel blinked. All right, she was imagining things.
    But no, there was the woman again. A shiver ran down Muriel’s spine and she gasped. The lost bride! She dashed off the trail, moving toward the edge of Icicle Creek to get a closer look.
    Muriel had never been the most athletic girl in town. She still wasn’t. She tripped over a tree root and tumbled down the bank, oomphing her way right into the shallows of the creek. She staggered to her feet, muddy and wet, and stared up at the falls.
    All she saw was water.
    Wishful seeing,
she told herself in disgust as she made her way back up the bank. There was no proposal in her future.
    She was never walking Lost Bride Trail again. Ever.
    * * *
    Labor Day weekend. It was the last hurrah for the grade school and high school kids, and the starting flag for many of the older ones. Pat would soon be attending Cascade Junior College and Olivia was looking into culinary school. Lenny was going to nearby Washington State University and Nils had been accepted at the University of Washington, where he wanted to study to become a pharmacist. Before leaving, though, he’d proposed to Hildy and she’d promised to wait

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