Ricky always enjoyed the drive out to Baxter Loop, or at least he enjoyed it when he had the car entirely to himself.
He turned the radio onto scan, listened to two full cycles, and finally ended up on the oldies station Mom always listened to anyway.
What kind of gift should he find for his mom? She always liked the things from the Safe Anchorage gift shop, but he’d already given her four scented candles and two new goat milk lotions for her birthday last month.
Oh, well. If Connie was there this morning, she’d help him pick out something appropriate, and if it was one of the other workers instead, he could always browse through all the jewelry.
His mom was always asking him when he’d find a girl to date, but if having a girlfriend was even half as expensive as taking care of his mother, at his current pay scale he could afford to date once he hit fifty and might consider getting married when he was a senior citizen.
It could have been simpler. Susannah Peters, his best friend since they were toddlers and his longtime crush, had recently gotten married to some missionary from the East Coast. Ricky had been more than a little disappointed — devastated might be a better word for it — but his reaction wasn’t nearly so vehement as his mom’s or her friends from the Women’s Missionary League. In their minds, it was bad enough Susannah chose to marry less than a year after her mother’s death. It was even worse to marry someone she’d met in that nebulous, shady region known in some seedy circles as online.
Ricky was happy for Susannah, who from the time they were both twelve years old and attended the same junior high winter retreat wanted nothing else but to become a missionary. Secretly Ricky had always hoped he might be able to change her mind and convince her to settle down in Orchard Grove, but there was no denying that she and her new husband were perfect for each other.
It was after Susannah’s wedding that his mother grew even more insistent and pestered him about finding a girlfriend.
“It’s a pity about that Peters girl.” From the moment Susannah announced her engagement to a man no one at Orchard Grove Bible Church had ever heard of, Susannah had become nothing more than that Peters girl.
“It’s a pity she didn’t realize what a fine, godly husband you would make,” Mom sighed dramatically. “Well, it’s her loss, not yours.”
Which never made much sense to Ricky since Susannah was the one happily married and he was the one still single.
He pulled up in front of the Safe Anchorage Farm gift shop. It was early enough that there were no other vehicles here. He’d probably be Connie’s first customer of the day, and if he was lucky she’d have some cinnamon rolls or other tasty treats left over from breakfast.
He got out of the car, nearly losing his balance when his arm got stuck in the seatbelt, and checked his watch to make sure he still had plenty of time to shop for his gift and still make it back to the chiropractor’s in time to pick up Mom.