short story: Grandma's lace
Beth sifted through the layers of lace inside her grandmother’s woven basket. Each touch brought back memories of sitting at her knee while Grandma told her stories of queens and kings who lived happily ever after. What Beth wouldn’t give to hear her sweet, melodic voice again.
Her fingernail caught the edge of a piece of paper, and she dug into the lace to retrieve an envelope that bore her name. Her grandmother’s familiar handwriting tugged at her heart, and she held the note close to her chest before withdrawing a lilac-scented piece of stationery.
Beth, this lace is yours. I hope you will use it for the wedding dress of your dreams. Love, Grandma.
“Grandma, you always were trying to get me married.” Beth swiped away tears before tucking the note beneath her leg. “If it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.” She returned her attention to the basket in search of the delicate, blue lace her mother wanted. Instead, her fingers encountered another envelope—a note addressed to Lucas.
Beth’s heart quivered. Lucas Bryant. She’d spent most of her high-school years pining over him, hoping he’d start to feel something for her. They’d shared one dance at the prom, and he’d given her a gentle kiss on the cheek before wishing her a good night.
After graduation, she’d given up, but she’d never forgotten him. How could she when he lived right next door to her grandmother? Every time she came to town, she saw him. And now, her grandmother wanted her to see him again. She could put the letter in the mail. Or she could walk next door and give it to him like an adult.
“He would have asked me out by now, Grandma. I don’t know why you never could accept that we weren’t meant to be.” Reluctance in every move, she got to her feet.
The cool, fall air caressed her face as she crossed the grass to Lucas’ house. He opened the door on the first knock, an uncertain smile on his face.
“Hi, Beth. Didn’t think you were still here. Come on in.”
“It’s taking longer than I thought to clean out grandma’s house.” A lump formed in her throat.
He put aside the hammer he’d been holding and waved her toward the kitchen. “You look like you could use a cup of coffee.”
What she didn’t need was to be closer to him. “No, I-I can’t stay. I just found this in Grandma’s lace basket and wanted to bring it to you.”
Lucas’ brown-eyed gaze settled on the front of the envelope. “Mattie always did like to hide things in that basket.” He took out the note, and Beth watched as he read the cursive lines.
Even as curious as she was, she couldn’t ask him what her grandmother had written. “She left me one, too. Told me she wanted me to have her basket of lace. She hoped I’d make the dress of my dreams.”
“Well, this makes a little more sense then.” He held the note open with two fingers so Beth could read it.
Lucas, Beth has the lace. Now all she needs is a reason to make the dress.
Tears, a combination of embarrassment and grief, rolled down Beth’s cheeks. “I’m so sorry. Grandma was always a romantic at heart.”
He cleared his throat and looked down at the ground. “There’s more to it than that.”
“What do you mean?”
His gaze stayed on his boots while his hands folded the envelope into a tiny square. “Mattie knew that I…”
After a long pause, she prompted him. “That you what?” She caught a fleeting glance at his face before his gaze dropped again.
“This isn’t the right time, Beth.”
Her heart skipped a beat. He couldn’t be trying to tell her…no, it was impossible. “We’ll be putting Grandma’s house on the market soon.” She hoped the words didn’t sound like a push.
“What?” His gaze lifted. “I didn’t think you’d sell the house.”
“I can’t live in it. It has too many memories. As soon as I get it cleaned out, I’ll be going back to Asheville.”
“Then you won’t have a reason to come back to Brevard, I guess. And here I was thinking I was doing the right thing by waiting.” He sighed. “It’s never easy to know when it’s too soon.”
She placed a hand against his chest, and his heart raced beneath her palm. “Lucas, what is it?”
He blew out a breath and curled his fingers around hers. “Mattie knew I had feelings for you.”
She wanted to melt into him. “What? After all these years…you never said anything.”
“I know. I wanted to, planned to, but you left right after high school. Then you were dating that guy.”
“I’m not dating him anymore.”
His gaze lifted and connected with hers. “My parents wanted me to focus on education.”
“And you did what they wanted you to do. I always wondered why I never saw you with someone in school.”
A small smile curved his lips. “Dad wasn’t well.” He stopped and looked down, his silence reminding Beth of his father’s passing almost immediately after graduation.
“I’m sorry. I know it still hurts.” She took a step closer to him, offering silent comfort.
“It does. I wasn’t myself for a long time after he passed. It took me some time to get back on my feet. By then, you were dating someone. I figured I’d lost my chance.” Their gazes connected. “I’m better at swinging a hammer than I am at talking about things like this. So if it’s too late…”
“It’s not.” She took his hand in hers. “There’s plenty of time.”
“When do you have to go back to Asheville?” He captured her other hand and threaded his fingers through hers.
“I’m a freelance artist, remember? I can make my own schedule.”
Hope lit up his eyes. “So you can stay for a while?”
“I think it’s going to take me longer to clean out grandma’s house than I originally planned.” She gave him an impish smile. Inside, she wanted to dance across the lawn, but outwardly, she remained composed, a lady as her grandmother would have wanted.
“Well,” he brushed a tendril of hair away from her cheek, “maybe you can make some time for dinner.”
“I think that’s possible.”
“Yeah?” He tipped her face up with two fingers underneath her chin. “I’ve been waiting a long time to kiss you, Beth Harrister, but I’m going to wait a little longer.”
Disappointment flowed through her veins. “Why?”
“Because once I start, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.” His lips touched her forehead.
Her breath stalled in her throat. “Dinner then? Tonight?”
She took a step back from him, reluctance in every move. Their gazes held as she moved away from him, down the steps, and out onto the vibrant, green grass.
Back inside the house, she knelt at her grandmother’s basket. “Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for never
giving up on anything…especially us.”
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