Chapter 1

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the phone rang. It was Jon-Oliver. He and his mother shared the job of postmaster/mistress at Cross River by huge Lake Superior. Every summer for the past seven years, Sonia had bought stamps at Cross River to see if Jon-Oliver would flirt with her behind his mother’s back. Last summer, he’d invited her up to his “little pad” above Village Grocery. “Sample a bachelor’s cooking,” he’d winked at her. They’d sampled far more than that.

“Mom died Thanksgiving day,” came Jon-Oliver’s friendly, lilting voice. “One minute she was tossing white meat onto a platter, and the next she was face down in the bird.”

Sonia laughed, before stuffing her fist in her mouth. “I’m so sorry. What happened? She seemed fine last summer.”

The line crackled. Jon-Oliver came on again. “The doctor said a heart attack. Her father died the same way.”

“Face down in the turkey?” Sonia took a chance.

“Face down in his tackle box.” He paused as if he wanted to ask something but couldn’t quite find the words. “It’s dang cold up here,” he said finally. “Olson won’t be able to get Mom in the ground until spring. I’ll have to store her in the freezer.” He has to be joking, Sonia thought, picturing Jon-Oliver’s slender mother, hanging in the huge, walk-in Village Grocery freezer—a body in a wedding gown twirling among venison haunches and sausage links, a North-Shore Miss Havisham. Why she thought of Dickens’ mean old lady in relation to Jon-Oliver’s tiny, white-haired mother, she couldn’t quite fathom.

Fluffing up her gray-brown bangs, Sonia announced to Jon-Oliver, “I’m coming right up.” She was astonished at her rapidity. “Think Gus Simon can find me a cabin?”

Jon-Oliver whistled. “No contest.” After October 1st, it was too cold for most people to vacation in a Lake Superior cabin. “We’ll fill the hot tub the minute you arrive,” he promised, apparently, like her, with snuggling in mind.