As the three year anniversary of the release of Breathing on Her Own approaches, I offer this short story prequel to the book. Enjoy! And try the recipe at the end for a delicious treat!
Molly pulled the pan of brownies out of the oven. “When Laney asked if we were busy for the evening, I thought she was inviting us to a New Year’s celebration.”
“Just as well. I’d rather keep our grandkids than spend all night awake waiting for a ball to drop on television. M-m-m, those smell great.” Travis reached for a knife to cut the brownie cake.
“Hold your horses, Travis Tipton. They have to cool.”
“About as long as it takes for Hunter and Ellie to get here.” Molly turned to face her husband. “I picked up ice cream and chocolate fudge topping at the store, too.”
A smile spread across Travis’s face. “See? Isn’t this better than any old party to welcome in the New Year?” He put his arms around her waist.
Molly slipped her arms around Travis’s neck. “Remember when we were in Tahoe for New Year’s Eve and we watched the New York broadcast?”
Travis laughed. “The girls thought it was midnight and went to bed without a whimper.”
“Well, don’t count on Hunter and Ellie being as cooperative. Hunter’s determined to stay up all night. Ellie wants to see the ball drop, but I guarantee she’ll crash around ten.”
The front door opened letting in a gust of the cold winter wind and two giggling children. “Grams! Grandpa!” Laney and Rob followed close behind, shivering. Laney grabbed the jackets off of the floor, shook them free of snow and hung them in the hall closet while her family raced ahead into the kitchen.
“Something smells good,” Rob said. “Looks like the real party’s here.”
“Grams made brownies. We’re going to have ice cream and brownies,” five-year-old Ellie told her dad. Travis picked up his granddaughter and gave her a hug.
“So where is this party you two are going to?” Molly asked.
“Remember Laney’s friend, Andrea from college?”
Molly remembered. A cold chill ran up her spine. Andrea and Tori had been Laney’s best friends in college. A bad influence. A bad crowd. What kind of party was this anyway? Molly rested her hand on the counter. “Will there be…”
“…other people there you know?” Travis interrupted. He shot Molly a look that warned her to be careful what she said.
“A few, I guess. I know her husband, Evan. He’s a good guy.”
“Where do they live?” Molly asked.
“Who?” Laney asked, coming into the room. “Where does who live?”
“Andrea. Rob said the party’s at her house.” Molly hoped she sounded calm.
“They live out past Milford.” Laney called to her two children to take their overnight bags upstairs.
“Well, be careful out there,” Travis advised. “There’ll be a lot of crazy people on the road tonight and with the snow and all, it could get messy.”
As predicted, Ellie was asleep by ten. Travis carried her upstairs to the room his daughters had once shared. He watched as Molly tucked Ellie in. “Bring back memories?”
“Sweet memories.” The two stood at the door in silence for a moment, reliving the days Laney and Lissa whispered their own good nights in this very room. Molly rested her head against her husband’s chest. “I worry about Laney being out tonight.”
“You mean with drunk drivers ringing in the New Year and the like?”
“That, and…well, this party they’re at. It’s at Andrea’s. I’m sure there’ll be drinking. You remember what happened when they were in college. Besides that, I have this feeling…”
“Your intuition flaring up again?” Travis laughed. “Look, Molls, first, you can’t assume there’s drinking because of what happened over ten years ago. Second, Rob and Laney are adults. You can’t live their lives for them. And if you’re worried, then pray about it. I’m going back downstairs. I told Hunter we’d play a video game and maybe watch a movie.”
“Have fun. I’m going to bed.” She kissed her husband goodnight. “See you next year.” How can I not worry?
Molly lay in bed and willed herself to sleep, but it didn’t come. I should have told them to call when they got home. Strains of music filtered up from the man-cave where Travis and Hunter were racing jet skis around a virtual track on the big screen TV. How could he do that? How could he play as if he didn’t have a worry in the world?
Andrea. Andrea had seemed like such a sweet girl. Maybe she was, too. At least until she met Tori. Yep, Tori was the real problem. She was self-centered and strong willed. Worse yet, Tori was wild. She was the kind of person who gave the college a reputation for being a party school. If the party Andrea was throwing tonight was anything like the ones the girls attended in college, Molly had plenty to worry about. Maybe it was intuition. Maybe it was common sense.
Sleep was not to be found. Molly looked at the clock. 11:48. Molly headed downstairs to join Travis and Hunter welcome in the New Year.
“You didn’t get much rest last night,” Travis said the as he poured himself a second cup of coffee the next morning. “I figured you’d sleep in.”
Molly pulled a yellow mug from the cabinet. “I couldn’t. I just kept thinking about Laney and Rob and kept praying they were okay.”
“They’re okay. Laney texted to say they’ll pick the kids up around eleven. You prayed for the wrong child.”
“What do you mean?”
“Lissa. She called this morning. She was helping at the church youth group overnighter and when she left the parking lot this morning, she slid on a patch of ice and hit a tree.”
Molly pulled her hand to her heart. “Is she okay?
“She’s fine. Dented her fender. One of the guys there, a Mark somebody, followed her home to make sure everything was okay.”
“Praise God!” Molly’s shoulders relaxed. “But, hey, my intuition worked. I just had the wrong daughter.” Molly put her coffee down. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it. A car accident is every mother’s nightmare.”
Molly's Famous Brownie Cake
2 c. sugar
1 ½ c. flour
1 c. Crisco
½ c. milk
6 T. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X12 inch rectangular cake pan. Mix ingredients in a large bowl until batter is smooth. Pour into cake pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Brownies are done if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool a bit and cut into squares. While still warm, split individual brownies horizontally and fill with a scoop of ice cream. Pour hot fudge topping over brownies and serve.