“Hey, Aunt Hadley,” I called into the kitchen as I walked into the house.
She turned away from the dishes she was washing and smiled “Hi, honey. Nora is upstairs.”
“Thanks.” I came over enough that I just let myself in now; most of the time, like today, I didn’t even call before coming over.
I took the stairs on the balls of my feet and quietly let myself into Josh’s-room-turned-nursery where I found Nora humming softly as she rocked Caleb. “Hey,” I whispered.
She turned, a smile forming on her face. Right then, the resemblance between Nora and her mother was stronger than ever. “Loralee, hi. Let me guess, you want to hold him?”
I grinned and crossed the room. “However did you know?” She passed the warm little bundle to me, and I cuddled him against my chest. “I can’t believe how big he’s getting.”
“Watcher,” Nora said as she sat down on the bed. “I know. It’s crazy how fast he’s growing.”
I pressed my nose against Caleb’s downy head, inhaling the classic, innocent scent of baby. I had to admit, I did love being around Caleb. He was really the only baby I’d had the opportunity to be around. When Nathan and Theresa were born, I’d been too young to really hold them or anything. The first time I’d held Caleb, I’d been so nervous; now, it felt almost natural now. Not that I was looking to have any babies of my own anytime soon! Dear Watcher, no. Still, it was nice to borrow Nora’s son for a bit.
Somewhat reluctantly, I settled Caleb back into his bassinet then gestured towards the door. When Nora nodded and stood up, I led the way out of the room and over to the sofa on the landing.
“I’m glad you came over, Loralee; I’ve been meaning to ask you, did you hear back from WCU?”
I’d almost forgotten that I’d applied to the university. “Yeah, I got accepted.” With a scholarship, even.
Nora beamed. “That’s great! You can – “
“I’m not going,” I interrupted before she could start planning my college adventure.
She stared at me, uncomprehending. “What? But…it’s college; you have to go.”
“No, I don’t. Josh didn’t. Mama never went either.”
“Well, yeah…but this is you!”
I couldn’t help but smile at her confusion. “I’m going to move to Oasis Springs with Tommy.”
It was truly comical the way her eyes bugged out of her head. “You’re what?”
I waved my hands at her, shushing her. I hadn’t known her voice went that high. “Shh! I don’t want Aunt Hadley to know yet. I haven’t told my parents.”
“You can’t be serious. Do you really think it’s a good idea to move in with a guy right out of high school? I mean, Watcher, what if he breaks up with you? What if he cheats on you?”
“Nor, this is Tommy. He’s not going to do any of that.” He’d had plenty of opportunity to run around on me in Windenburg, but I had complete faith in him. “I love him, Nora. We’re going to start our life together.” I knew she was leery because of what had happened with Kurt, but he and Tommy were worlds apart. Galaxies, even.
“I guess…wow. I just can’t believe it. First Josh and Alison move in together, now you.”
“Right?” I laughed. “It’s like a disease. Really, though, my biggest worry is finding a job. I’m probably going to end up a dishwasher or potato peeler or something.” Of course, I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up, but I couldn’t help but hope for something a little better.
Nora sighed softly. “Yeah, as soon as I graduate, I’m getting a job. I really hate that I’ll still have to leave Caleb with Mom all the time, but I need to save some money up so we can get our own place.”
“What are you going to do when you’re able to move out?”
“I’ll find a daycare. Mom shouldn’t have to do it all the time.”
Personally, I didn’t get Nora’s issue with this. Aunt Hadley obviously loved Caleb and enjoyed being a grandma. But I guess it was only up to Nora what she did. “Are you going to try to get a job as a reporter?”
“I don’t know.” She sighed softly. “Josh has told me over and over again it’s what I need to do, and it is what I want to do. I just feel like I could make better money doing something else.”
“There’s probably always going to be better money elsewhere; you should do what you love.”
She smiled a little. “You sound just like Josh. It’s probably what I’m going to do. I just worry about it, you know.”
“You’re going to be a fricking awesome journalist.”
She snorted softly, flushing under the praise. “Well, I hope so.”