Ardelle Holden

Writer of Mystery and Intrigue

The FedEx van stopped in front of the main house, just as Keith exited the equipment shed. He slapped the snow off his gloves against his thigh and tucked them in his back pocket. He wasn’t surprised to see the van; it often delivered to the winery or the stables, but seldom to the house. The driver nodded in his direction as he deposited a large box at the top of the steps.

“It must be something very small and fragile; it doesn’t weigh much,” he said as he jumped back into the driver’s seat.

His words came too late. Keith had applied too much muscle in the lift, causing him to juggle the awkward box in the air. He smiled to himself as he read the return address: Grace Chambers, Chemainus, BC. He slipped out of his boots as he opened the front door. He should have come through the mud room.

“Frances, Dad. There’s a parcel here from Grace. Is Fiona home?”

Frances emerged from the kitchen wiping her hands on a tea towel. “No. But she’ll be home soon. It’s almost supper time.” She took the parcel from him and headed for the den. “What do you suppose this is all about?”

Keith carried his boots through the kitchen to the mud room, his father’s voice following him. “What have you got there, Frances?”

“It seems Grace Chambers has sent the family something, including you Frances.”

Keith sauntered in rubbing his hands. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

His dad sliced the tape across the top and sides. A large manila envelope rested on top of white tissue paper. Open me first. When his thumb broke the floral sticker seal, out slid four letter sized envelopes. “Looks, like one for each of us.”

Keith reached over the desk for his. 

Keith's quilt, Burgundy wine bottles, green, white, and burgundy coordinating fabrics.Dear Keith,

Since I last wrote, Ben has been making steady progress healing. The cast is long off his leg, and he is no longer limping –due to his physical therapy and Samantha’s loving care, I’m sure. She has been a godsend to our family. When they met, Ben was still blaming himself for Sandra’s death. It was Sam who broke through that cloud for him, and now this. They have been seeing a psychologist from Sam’s clinic and together they are fighting the PTSD demon. We revel in every bit of progress they make.

Our way of coping with all that’s happened to Ben and Sam, is to focus on the fact that Ben is alive. The horror of the months when we believed we had lost both of our children so violently were, without a doubt, the worst months of our lives. But the reality is, Ben is alive, and I won’t let the bad memories ruin that.

I fondly remember your college days when you would come home with Ben for breaks. Sandra lit up when you came through the door. It still confounds me that she took up with Dennis and broke your heart. I try not to think of what could have been.

As you can see from the parcel this letter arrived with, I have been thinking of ways to thank you for all you’ve done for Samantha and Ben through his ordeal. I hope this quilt will keep you warm for years to come. I’ve chosen this fabric because it reminds me of Bach House Wines’ signature burgundy.

I am so proud of what you have accomplished since graduating, growing your family’s business. The insurance money from Sandra’s death could not have been put to better use. Now that spring is here, I expect you are seeing new life in the vineyard. I wish you another successful season.

Please distribute my letters to the rest of the family.

My very best wishes to you, Keith.

Grace

Keith blinked back the tears and rubbed his nose. His father, sitting behind the desk, looked over his glasses at him. It was clear his letter was similarly poignant.  Frances paced around the room, reading. With glistening eyes, she walked back to the desk. “Should we wait for Fiona?”

At that moment, they heard the growl of Fiona’s car. Frances tisked. “Let’s wait.” A minute later Fiona bounced in the front door on a chill draft. “Fiona. Come in here, please.”

She leaned in the doorway. “What’s up?” 

Keith waved her envelope at her. “It’s from Ben’s mother, Grace. Read it before we open this parcel.”

Tearing the envelope open with a long purple fingernail, Fiona flounced onto an easy chair and flicked the letter open. Before she could possibly have finished, she jumped up. “Open it! Open it!”

It was Keith’s turn to roll his eyes. He lifted two soft packages out of the box, handing one to Fiona. Each was wrapped in white tissue paper closed with a delicate floral sticker. It was all he could do not to become emotional as he tore the tissue paper away. Even folded, the quilt exceeded everything he had anticipated from Grace’s letter. 

Frances grabbed one corner. Holding it high, she backed away. The quilt cascaded to the floor. “Oh, Keith.”

He made momentary eye contact with her. That was all he could manage. Held up to its full length, the quilt would have touched a normal height ceiling. He struggled to clear the frog in his throat with no success. 

Frances came to his rescue. “Your mother would be speechless, if she could see this.”

Keith glanced over at his dad seated behind the desk—his face shielded by a fluttering letter. “Well, I don’t know about speechless, Frances. But I think it would have taken Mom a few moments to find the right words.”

A shriek emanated from Fiona, flapping her quilt for Frances to catch the other side. “OMG! This is a queen-size quilt. It’s effing sweet.” She scooped it up in her arms and headed for the door. “This is going on my bed right now.”

Keith held out his hand to block her. “Hold your horses, Fi. There’s the little business of a Thank You? We’re calling Grace right now.”

 

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Dark burgundy wine bottles, winter white, burgungy fa

Keith’s fabrics:
Burgundy wine bottles
on a white field
Winter white
Green and Burgundy

Grace’s Plan
Disappearing Nine Patch
Test Block

Design plans and first disappearing nine-patch block for Keith's quilt.

Fiona’s Fabrics:
Red wine bottles
Vine bark brown
Beach Sand and Red