Willi Miller has a difficult time after her young son dies when his sled slips away from her and into the path of a truck. But fortunately she has her rough-and-tumble younger sister, Lorna, to help her pull through. Willi and Lorna are characters in my new hilltown release, Northern Comfort.
Life hasn’t been easy for Willi. Her childhood was marred by the death of her father, then being raised by her insensitive mother and the abusive man she married. She made a bad choice marrying Junior Miller, who left her and their disabled child. Willi got a break when her kind grandfather took them in and left her his cabin. She did her best by Cody, cutting hair in a country beauty shop.
Then tragedy struck.
Fortunately, Willi has a tough-as-nails ally in Lorna, who still lives at home and works in a bakery. “Lorna took after Daddy’s side of the family, the Merritts, tall and husky. Willi felt childlike when she stood beside her.” Her relationship with their stepfather, Joe, is vastly different than the one Willi has.
When her sister needs help, Lorna, is there, like a protective guard dog. She accompanies Willi to see her boy’s body for the last time and stands beside Willi at his funeral.. Lorna is the one to call Junior to tell him about his son’s death, tracking him down at a bar. Lorna stays with Willi until she says she can be on her own and even after she is there to help. There are later scenes in the book that show them even having sisterly fun.
I so enjoyed creating Lorna’s character. She reminds me a little of Annette Waters in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. The two of them would have a great time together.
Here’s a scene that shows Lorna’s mettle. The chapter is called No Better Than Us.
Lorna parked her beat-up Ford near the general store. Willi had stayed home since the funeral five days ago, and now she didn’t want to leave the car. Her clunker didn’t start, the battery drained from sitting so long in the cold. Lorna volunteered to take her.
Her sister made puffing noises as she leaned inside the car.
“Willi, there’s nothin’ to eat in your house. You can’t just live on the stuff I bring you from the bakery. Come on, get your butt out here.”
Willi peered up at her sister.
“I think it’s time you went back home, Lorna. I can manage now. Really.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure. It’s cause of what I said last night about packin’ up Cody’s things. How I said it was too depressin’ to see all of his stuff all over the house. I’m sorry I said it and the other stuff, too.”
“I know he’s gone, Lorna. I just can’t do it now.” She blinked back tears. “Please, Lorna, I just wanna be left alone.”
Lorna gave her sister a square, hard look.
“I was gettin’ tired of that lumpy bed of yours anyways. And you snore.” She paused. “Now get your ass in the store. We’re here already.”
“Okay, okay, I’m comin’.”
Willi reached into her jacket pocket for a white handkerchief to wipe her eyes. She opened the car door and slowly followed her sister inside.
The store was filled with customers. Some stopped to offer their condolences, but a few stayed away, suspicion playing on their faces.
Lorna saw it, too.
She spun toward a woman, wife to one of the town’s selectmen.
“Did you say somethin’? No? Could’ve sworn you did. My mistake.”
Willi was embarrassed and grateful when the woman went to another aisle. She stood in front of the shelves of canned foods, trying to decide what soup to buy. It was too hard. Lorna dumped one of each kind in her handbasket until Willi got tearful.
“Please, Lorna, that’s enough, please.”
Lorna took the basket from her sister’s hand.
“Shush, I’m only tryin’ to help. Let’s get some milk and cold cuts. Do you need food for that mutt of yours?”
Willi couldn’t keep up with Lorna. The woman had ticked off her sister, and now she was walking and talking fast. Then Lorna was out the door, with three grocery bags in her arms. Willi ran from the store to get to the car before her sister.
“That snotty bitch. Who does she think she is?” Lorna muttered as she dropped the bags on the back seat. “You should see how she is when she comes into the bakery. Talkin’ about that precious son of hers. The architect.” Lorna sneered. “She’s no better than us. Don’t you ever forget it.”
Link: You can find Northern Comfort on Amazon in Kindle version. It’s only $2.99. Paperback readers will have to be a little patient.