Anything for Her - By Janice Kay Johnson Page 0,1

about any leftover fabrics she had around and still create something nice to look at.

His mother had kept an old family quilt rolled in a pillowcase in a cedar chest, which he thought was a waste. She claimed to want to preserve it. She’d called it Grandmother’s Flower Garden, he recalled. Tiny scraps of pastel fabric had been hand-pieced to make flowerlike circles. Nolan was glad Sean’s wasn’t that feminine looking. He had something precious to hold on to, and he could put it on his bed without embarrassment.

This quilt top was more geometric than anything, and had only two colors: a navy blue fabric polka-dotted with white, and plain white. Chains of small white squares linked bigger squares, all against the darker background. He couldn’t tell what it was meant to depict, if anything.

“I wonder why it never got finished,” he said.

“Grandma said supposedly it was the last one her grandma made before her arthritis got real bad.” There was a rhythm to the way Sean reported this bit of family wisdom; Nolan could tell that he was repeating what he’d heard, with the emphasis on the same words.

Nolan nodded, fingering the fabric. “I wonder if we could find someone to put it together. So you could use it on your bed.” He thought a boy who’d lost his family might sleep better warmed by a quilt his great-great-grandmother had made with love and handed down to her descendants.

Naked hope showed on Sean’s thin face. “Do you think there’s someone who would?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted, “but I can find out. I’ve seen a quilt shop in town that I think mostly sells fabric. I can stop by tomorrow and ask.”

“That’d be cool.”

Nolan ruffled the boy’s wheat-blond hair. “For now, why don’t you put it away. I’ll start dinner.”

“Are we having spaghetti?”

“I thought just hamburgers, if that’s okay. Maybe baked beans and corn.”

“Sure. You make good spaghetti, though.”

Nolan laughed at the broad hint. “I’ll make it later in the week, when I leave myself a little more time.”

Sean was carefully folding the quilt top when Nolan left to go back downstairs. As he located a can of baked beans in the back of the cupboard and took out pans, Nolan worried about what might have happened to make his foster son come home from school looking for comfort. Fourteen years old, a freshman in high school, he didn’t seem to have friends. He was a good-looking kid; there wasn’t anything obvious about him to draw scorn from his classmates. Living with his grandmother, he’d been in a different school district, but he’d been here for second semester last year, so he already knew some of the kids. Maybe everyone knew he lived in a foster home. Would he be looked down on?

Despite the amount of food he put away, so far Sean stayed skinny, but Nolan seemed to remember that being normal for teenage boys. Sean’s feet and hands were too big for the rest of him. But, damn, there’d been a time when Nolan had hardly been able to walk without tripping over his own feet, so he kind of guessed that was normal, too.

Sean had looked pretty raggedy when he first came to Nolan, and he’d admitted his clothes had mostly been acquired from thrift stores and even, a few times, from the charity that gave clothes to the really poor kids at school. That might make a teenager feel funny, wondering if someone would recognize the shirt he was wearing as their discard.

Give it time, Nolan decided. You’re fretting like an old lady. He’d only had the boy for a couple of months, and somehow he thought he should have been able to make everything right immediately. Snap, snap.

Faintly amused at himself, he put water on to boil and started husking the corn. Chances were good Sean had better social skills than he had. The kid would manage.

Feet thundered on the stairs, an encouraging sound. Sean burst into the kitchen. “I’m hungry! It’s cool you buy real hamburger buns. Grandma and me always just used bread. And it gets, like, soggy.”

Nolan grinned. “Glad you’re happy. Homework?”

“Yeah.” Sudden gloom. “It sucks.”

That all sounded normal to him, as well.

The water was boiling, so he dropped in four ears of corn then flipped the burgers. Damn, but he was hungry, too.

* * *

THE BELL HANGING from the door rang. In the middle of gathering tiny stitches onto her needle, Allie didn’t immediately look up. Her quilt frame was at