ItSo…C: Chapter 14
A few days later, Jesse, whose heart has grown three sizes and embraced Christmas, suggests an afternoon of shopping. So it seems he has also embraced the commercial aspects of Christmas-with-a-Capital-C.
Although I appreciate that Jesse is “almost” enjoying this, and really mostly doing it for Lindsey, who apparently wants to buy expensive gifts (along the lines of “some kind of computer software box,” by which I assume is meant a video game) for each child at church.
Damn, tree farm’s doing well for itself, I guess.
(I would be wierded out if a neighbor woman I only knew casually bought a not-trinket gift for my kid. But again, this may be a Thing that I’ve missed out on, not having a “church family.”)
Jesse has a chance to ruminate on what a dick his stepfather was. (Or is, I guess. Is the guy dead or just Not Around?)
He’d gotten [sports stuff as Christmas gifts] before his mother had become ill. Those last two years before she died, he’d received nothing. Les Finch wasn’t much of a shopper. Reason enough for him to do better.
Poor little guy…
Though this does shed (a small amount of) light on the situation. The Christmas Curse claimed Jesse’s mom after a long illness, not a sudden accident, like his wife. And Jesse’s mom was so sick that she couldn’t even get gifts for her son.
So, the questions remain. How does Jesse know the tree farm is his? Did his mom make a will? Some kind of heart-wrenching deathbed bequeathal? WILL WE EVER KNOW???
But despite his Scrooge/Mr. Bumble/Grinch stepfather (btw, it’s interesting that everyone keeps calling Jesse a “Scrooge,” it’s really Evil Stepfather who better fit that bill), Jesse has FINALLY come to a decision:
Over the last few days, he’d spent a lot of time praying for answers about the Christmas Tree Farm, but the continual nag of doubt and worry plagued him yet. He had a right to that farm. He must have said that to the Lord a hundred times.
Hurting Lindsey was wrong, regardless of his true claim to the land.
Loving Lindsey, in the way God intended man to love woman, meant doing what was best for her. As Christ loved the church, so man should love his wife. Jesse wasn’t sure why he remembered the verse, but he was sure it came from the Bible.
The farm belonged to her. She was the heart and soul of that place. He’d wondered what to give her for Christmas and now he knew. Even though she would never be aware of the secret gift, relinquishing his quest for the farm was the best present he could give.
He would never again harass the pathetic old lawyer, Stuart Hardwick, to confess. And most of all, he would never hurt Lindsey by telling her of his original reasons for coming to the farm. She didn’t ever need to know that the Christmas Tree Farm legally belonged to him.
Citation needed still. Also, why didn’t he think of this earlier???
He would find another way to provide well for Jade—and for Lindsey, if she’d have him. He had skills. He could work for any electric outlet in the area.
Wait, what? Lindsey needed help at the farm in the first place. That’s why she hired him. Why wouldn’t they just run the farm together?
I am still so confused.
But overall, good decision, Jesse. About gorram time, too.
But I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone that it is all for naught.
But one day later, Lindsey is interrupted in her gift wrapping by the sheriff, who brings tidings of great grief, which shall be to all people:
“Here’s the upshot, Lindsey. This eighty acres belonged to a woman name of Madelyn Finch. She inherited it from her grandparents. When she died, her husband, Les Finch, hired a lawyer name of Hardwick to help him gain ownership of the place.
The woman’s will was clear.”
There was a will??? All this time, there was a “clear” will???
THEN WHY WAS JESSE WASTING HIS GORRAM TIME TRYING TO SHAKE DOWN THE ATTORNEY???
Jesse, you goldfish!
“Somehow Hardwick and Finch forged the boy’s name on the sale papers.”
The legal community in this…um, community…FRAKKING SUCKS.
Lindsey still doesn’t know “the boy” is Jesse.
“Does he know about this? … He’s filed a claim to regain possession?”
“Yes, ma’am. He’s the one stirred things up after all this time.”
Yeah, why did Jesse wait so long?
And, also, Jesse what is wrong with you? You filed the claim, then, what, forgot to withdraw it after your change of heart???
“Your hired hand should have told you this himself, Lindsey. He’s Madelyn Finch’s son, the rightful owner of this land.”
There is much talk in romance novel circles of the Big Misunderstanding, which would, of course, be settled with a simple conversation. But here, I can hardly blame Lindsey for jumping to the conclusions that Jesse was playing her from the start (he was), and pretended to love her to get closer to the truth (he wasn’t).
And (again, quite naturally) she blames herself for falling for another handsome guy who just ended up hurting her.
And apparently, Jesse is doing work on the farm while Lindsey wraps gifts. And he gets a “bad feeling” when he gets near to the house and sees the sheriff there.
“Oh, yeah, that little legal matter that I forgot to actually deal with!”
The sheriff leaves the house and catches Jesse on his way back to it.
“…I have to explain.”
“Explain what? That you came here under false pretenses, looking for information—“
—when you had a perfectly good a “clear” will, dammit!
Sorry to interrupt.
“—that would take this farm and return it to you? That you’ve been dishonest with her from the start?”
This is gorram good sense, and Jesse, to give him credit where it’s due, he feels just as bad as he should.
In fact, he decides to chuck it all, grab Jade, and skip town, leaving the farm safely with Lindsey.
Seems a bit of an overreaction, but somehow I can’t blame him.