The women of Hope Springs Community Church have weathered some pretty fierce storms. Now their friendships are tested again when one of their own is leaving. Join Louise, Jessie, Charlotte, Beatrice, and Margaret for a farewell that Hope Springs will never forget.
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By Hinton, J. Lynne
The Pilot News
* aunt * dot's * helpful * hints *
Dear Aunt Dot,
Are there any household uses for old pairs of panty hose? It seems so wasteful just to throw them away when they get runs.
-- Runaround Sue
Of course you can make use of those old hose. You can cover leafy plants in your garden to eliminate the bug problem, and you can use them in your cleaning kit. Simply ball them up and use them like scouring pads. You'll find they're not nearly as abrasive as most cleansers on the market.
"Be careful of that desk drawer."
The warning came too late. Charlotte walked right around the corner and into the open bottom drawer and nicked her shin, ripping a large hole in her hose and causing a painful contusion just below her knee.
"Gosh. Sorry about that." The desk sergeant winced at the sight of the young woman's leg. "That desk needs to be put somewhere else." She made a clucking noise with her tongue on the roof of her mouth. "You're the second one to run into it this morning."
Charlotte started to ask why the woman hadn't moved the desk aside herself or, at the very least, taped the gaping drawer shut, but since she was not one to make such bold suggestions, especially to strangers who wore guns and handcuffs on their belts, she simply bent down and calculated the damage.
There was a little blood from the gash, but the worst consequence was the unsightly rip she now had in her stockings. She knew there wasn't any way to hide the tear, and she wished she had followed her instincts when she was getting ready and wore pants instead of this dress and panty hose or, even better, that she had listened to her original inclination, which was not to come in the first place.
She was at the correctional facility in Winston-Salem to visit Peggy DuVaughn's grandson, Lamont, who was in jail on a robbery charge. Peggy asked Charlotte to go because she was concerned about his safety and well-being and because she had heard that ministers had unlimited opportunities to see inmates, whereas family members had strict rules about their visitations.
"It's different this time," the older woman said to her pastor after she finally confessed what it was that was troubling her. "He's really going to do better. I know it."
Charlotte had assumed when her parishioner called and asked if she could drop by and talk that she was concerned about her husband, Vastine. His doctor had given him a terminal diagnosis of congestive heart failure and he had only recently become a hospice patient. But the older woman had come into the office and fidgeted and changed the subject from first one thing and then another until Charlotte finally asked what she was doing there. Peggy broke down and told her about her youngest daughter's son, who had gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd in junior high school and had never gotten away from it.
"It's those drugs," she said as if she knew for sure the cause of his downfall. "They get hooked on that stuff and then there's just no way to save them." She tugged at the back of her collar and dropped her hands in her lap. "It's the devil's work," she added with a pained expression.
Charlotte nodded in sympathy with a passing thought of Serena, remembering her own hopes for a family member's recovery.
"Vastine and I tried to keep him, you know, when he was little. Sherry was going through the divorce then and just had so much on her." The older woman's face was pinched and crossed in worry. "We kept him for almost three years."
Charlotte had not heard this part of the DuVaughn family history.
"He was such a sweet boy." Peggy rubbed her hands together. "He and Vastine were real close." Then she paused, looking up. "We never had boys."
Charlotte listened. She knew there were three daughters, Sherry, Bernice, and Madison. They had all attended the church at one time or another. Madison's oldest child had been confirmed at Hope Springs. Charlotte thought she was at college out of state somewhere.
"Little Lamont was a handful, but we were doing the best we could." She stopped. "We got him enrolled in the kindergarten at the school. We put him in Scouts and baseball."
She sat quietly for a few moments.
"We would have kept him, you know." Then she sighed with the sound of regret. "But he got to be too much for us." Peggy shifted from side to side in her chair. "So Sherry took him back and they moved down to Lexington." Her movement in the chair stopped. "And then things just got worse."
The pastor handed Peggy a tissue. She took it and wiped her eyes.
"It's always been little things before now, mostly just boy stuff. I mean, I knew he was heading in the wrong direction, but I kept thinking he'd grow out of it, mature." She paused. "It was stealing this time," she confessed. "He broke into a convenience store. Tried to get into the cash drawer but was only able to take some merchandise. When they caught him," she hesitated and shook her head, "he had a gun."
The older woman wiped her eyes again. "It's serious." She peered up at Charlotte. "He's in the adult unit. They say he threatened the police officer." She dropped her head. "He's definitely going to prison. I saw him when he first got there. He was so scared he cried." Peggy spoke softly. "It just about broke my heart."
Charlotte went around her desk and knelt down in front of her parishioner ...Continues...
Excerpted from Forever Friends by Hinton, J. Lynne Excerpted by permission.
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What People are Saying About This
“Forever Friends is a wise, moving novel of the sustaining power of friendship.”
“Hinton writes about the kind of life we all dream of having - abiding friendships...and love no-matter-what.”
“I want these strong, wonderful women as my friends…forever. Whatever you do, don’t miss this book!”
” Hinton writes …with grace, wit, and a keen insight….a pleasure from the first page to the last.”
“Hinton’s talent shines in Forever Friends. Fans of the Hope Springs series will be delighted with this one.”
“Forever Friends is a finely crafted book on the power of fellowship and faith.”
“Forever Friends is an engaging exploration of relationships woven through the twists and tangles of everyday life.”