Home > The Long and Winding Road (Butler, Vermont #9)

The Long and Winding Road (Butler, Vermont #9)
Author: Marie Force


Prologue

 

 

Dear Cletus,

Hope this finds you doing well and enjoying your daughter’s cooking as much as I enjoy my daughter’s. Why’d we resist moving in with them for so long anyway? I gotta say the service around the barn is pretty darned good and includes laundry that smells fresher than a spring day. My Molly dotes on me and seems to love every minute of it, so I let her do her thing. She loves to mess with Linc by waiting on me hand and foot while telling him to take care of himself. Whatever she brings to me, I ask for a second one for my buddy Linc. It’s rather entertaining! I love having the dogs, Ringo and George, underfoot, too, although Molly is forever yelling at them not to trip me. They wouldn’t do that to me. I’m always sneaking them treats when Molly isn’t looking. They’re my buddies. They’re getting on in years, but they still have lots of energy, so we hope they’ll be with us for a long time to come.

I take care of the pups when Molly and Linc are off on one of their getaways, usually with Linc’s siblings. I’m so glad he’s spending so much time with them these days. He’s all but retired and turned the reins over to Hunter, who juggles CEO and CFO roles masterfully, as only he could do. He’s hired some more help in the accounting department, which has allowed him to handle both jobs. We’re very proud of the direction the kids have taken the family business. It’s in very good hands with Hunter, Will, Ella, Charley and Wade running the show, with lots of help from Cameron, Lucy, Emma, Mia, Amanda, Dani and many others in the office, store and warehouse. The catalog has been a huge success, growing the business at a staggering rate. The kids are planning to open two more locations in Stowe and Rutland over the next couple of years. People still come to town all the time looking for the gorgeous “models” in the catalog, also known as my grandkids, most of whom are now married with children. The best was when a woman chased Will around the grocery store after she recognized him from the catalog. He didn’t think that was funny, but the rest of us sure did!

I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying your new home, too. I’m sure it’s not the same living in Maine, which is like a foreign country to us Vermonters! Hopefully, you can come visit sometime. We’ve got lots of empty bedrooms here in the barn, and you’re welcome to stay. Although, we’ve always got a little one sleeping over, or so it seems. And there are a LOT of little ones—forty-one great-grands at last count. Can you believe that? Eighteen kids had forty-one kids (although we acquired a few through marriage and other situations—they all count), and they’re not done yet!

Hannah’s son Henry just got engaged to a lovely young woman named Emerson, who we absolutely adore. They grew up together here in Butler but met up in Boston at a Red Sox game. The rest, as they say, is history. Jackson is engaged to Autumn, who he met when he was in Wyoming. He’s living out in Jackson Hole with her, so we don’t know her all that well yet, but she seems like a peach. Sarah, my youngest granddaughter, is dating a wonderful guy named Nathanial, who more than holds his own with the family, which, as you can imagine, is essential to his success.

As for the rest of them, they’re married and having babies and working and making us proud every day. Molly had to make a spreadsheet with all the kids’ names and their birthdays so we wouldn’t forget. I’ve got that printed out here next to me, so I won’t overlook anyone. In a funny aside, even with all the space in the barn, Linc had no choice but to add on to the dining room so we could keep having Sunday dinners during the baby boom. For now, the addition is set up with high chairs and booster seats, but it’ll convert as the little people get older.

I’ll start with Molly’s family. Hunter and Megan have three kids, Carson, 5, Cory, 3, and Claire, 2. Megan is still running the diner, and somehow, she and Hunter make it look easy to manage the businesses while raising three kids. Hannah and Nolan have Ms. Callie (real name Caleb, for Hannah’s late first husband), who is 6, and a son named Colby, who’ll be 5 soon. They’re both a couple of pistols like their mother and are as obsessed with moose as she is. Hannah takes care of Hunter and Megan’s kids while they’re at work, which has been great for both families. Hunter and Hannah are still the best of friends like they’ve been from day one. Hannah and Nolan finally built the gorgeous post-and-beam house he’d been dreaming of for years on the property his grandfather left him.

“Baby” Dexter the moose is now fully grown and has his own “moose house” that Nolan had built for him out of desperation when letting Dex sleep in front of the fireplace was no longer feasible. That moose is like a pet dog to their family and is best friends with their dog, Homer Junior. Fred still comes for playtime every afternoon, the highlight of their day. He’s getting on in years, but that doesn’t slow him down. He’s still strolling through town like he owns the place, which he probably does by now. In another unbelievable development, Nolan’s father, Vernon, has gotten himself sober and is actively involved in the lives of Nolan and his family—and even helps at the garage when Nolan needs him. It’s done my heart good to see those two mending fences and for Vernon to get his life back. I must admit… I never thought it would happen, and I’m very happy to have been proven wrong.

Anyway, where was I? Will and Cameron have Chase, who’s almost 6, and Molly, 3, and recently had a surprise baby boy they named Murphy, which is Cam’s maiden name. Will said that the C names had to stop eventually, and he wanted to name his daughter after his mother and the new little guy after Cam’s family. Our little Molly is as sweet as her grandma and is crazy about her brothers and their pups. Chase and Molly are thrilled about their new baby brother, as are the rest of us since Will and Cam had said they were quitting with two. You gotta love a surprise!

Speaking of surprises, you probably read about this in the paper… Cameron’s dad, Patrick Murphy, married our beloved Mary Larkin in Paris about four years ago and sent us a picture with the news. Will and Cam, those sneaky devils, managed to get there with Chase to celebrate with the happy couple. We had a big reception for them back here in Butler the following summer, and we see a lot of them when they come up from the city to visit the grandkids. Cameron says her dad barely notices her when the kids are in the room, but she loves seeing him as a doting grandfather. He’s cut way back on work so he and Mary can travel and enjoy life. He’s shared with me before that he regrets not spending more time with Cam when she was growing up. If you ask me, he’s making up for that with the time and attention he gives those babies. It’s very sweet to see.

Ella and Gavin have Sarah, almost 6, the other Caleb, almost 5, as well as Cecilia aka Cici, 2. Interestingly, Caleb is a twin to his late Uncle Caleb at the same age. I think it brings Gavin some comfort to see his beloved brother in the little boy he named after him. His logging business is booming, and they’re building a new house on a lot they bought outside of town a couple of years ago. Gavin’s parents are still running the Capt. Caleb M. Guthrie Inn for the widowed spouses of servicemembers. Even with the country not at war, you’d be surprised how many still come through the doors seeking the solace they offer. Amelia and Bob love being grandparents to Gavin’s kids as well as Hannah’s.

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