"Hey Mrs. Jo?" Nat wandered his way into the parlor.
"Yes, Nat?" She smiled at him. He had grown up so much in the last year.
"What would you do if you really liked a girl but didn't know how to tell her?" He looked at almost anything in the room besides Jo.
Jo smiled again, trying to keep from laughing out loud. "Well, . . . it depends on if she likes you."
"Well, how do you know whether a girl likes you or not?" He managed to look at her face then dropped his eyes to his feet.
"You ask others." Jo was about to go on, when two fourteen year-old kids ran into the room. "Daisy, Demi, How are you? Meg, what a pleasant surprise." Jo rose to her feet and welcomed them in.
"Hey guys. I have some work to do. See you later Mrs. Jo." Nat quickly escaped to the barn.
"What's the matter Jo? You look red in the face. . . Daisy, Demi, go play out in the yard while Jo and I talk."
"Yes maam." Came the two replies. Then scampering feet as they ran out the door.
"Now Jo, what is it? Is it Nick?" Meg quizzed her sister then was shocked when Jo started laughing. "JO! What is it?"
"I'm sorry Meg. It's just so funny. Nat came in before you and asked how to ask a girl out on a date. He is so shy, I just . . ." Jo started giggling.
"Now Jo. You must remember that he has always had someone, namely Dan, to lean on for support. Since Dan is off exploring the west, its kind of hard to lean on him." Then as Jo continued to laugh she said, "I don't think its THAT funny Jo."
"Oh neither do I. It's just that I know who he wants to ask out and . ." She started laughing again.
"Well who is it Jo?" Meg acted like she didn't care but all at Plumfield wanted to see Nat get married.
"It is, of course . . . . . . . . . ."
Part 2 -
"Bobbi Jo, from town. I could tell that he liked her from the moment he met her." Jo smiled.
"Oh Jo, that would be perfectly, wonderful. Nat and Bobbi who would have guessed." Meg started to laugh.
Meanwhile down the hall another person was trying to keep from laughing. Nat leaned against the wall trying not to make a sound as he thought about him and Bobbi. ‘So its Bobbi and me now, who'd have guessed she would think of Bobbi?' Then he threw himself around the corner as Nan walked in the door.
Nan heard the ending of Meg's speech from ‘Bobbi who would have guessed.' Making her presence known she asked "Who likes Bobbi now?"
"Hi, Nan. How are you?" Jo came forward for a hug. "I thought you said you would be by yesterday."
"I'm fine Mrs. Jo. I was planning to come yesterday but then George Camley came down to the office and asked me to go to the dance. I would have rather come here, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings."
"No, of course dear. Don't hurt his feelings." Jo smiled again and immediately Nan knew what was going on.
"Mrs. Jo? No! I don't really like George, and you are NOT going to interfere." Nan sank down on the couch weary from the walk and the talk.
"I wasn't planning to interfere. Now to answer your previous question, we think that Nat likes Bobbi." Jo giggled.
Meg watched Nan carefully as she became fidgety, and started glancing towards the window.
"Nat likes Bobbi?" Nan quietly asked.
"Well, I don't know for sure, but I think so. You were there when he met her. You know how they were watching each other. Plus, Nat did start blushing."
Meg quietly and quickly jumped in with "Of course, Nat does blush around any girl."
"Oh but Meg, this was different. I really think he likes her." Jo smiled.
"Well, I know yesterday that I said I could stay longer but I want to say hello to Nick, and Nat before I go back to town. We have had a lot of patients and I don't want to miss anything important. See you later Mrs. Jo, Meg." Nan quickly kissed them both then hurried thru the door.
Once outside the room Nan leaned against the wall. Though they were unwanted, the tears started to flow. ‘How can Nat like Bobbi. We've known each other since we were young. He can't like Bobbi. I love him.' Played over and over in her mind. Quickly she went to the wash room where she washed her face trying to look normal and she went outside.
Nick saw Nan before she saw him and started towards her. He called out because she didn't seem to see him. "Nan!"
She quickly turned and ran into Nick's arms. "Hey Nick. I haven't seen you in a while. Did you miss me?"
"I miss having to fix everything that you break."
"Uh! That was unfair Nick. That door could have broken on anyone." Nan quickly replied.
"But it didn't break on just anyone. It broke on you!" Nick smiled.
"Oh be quiet Nick. Besides, it would have been funnier if it had broken on Mrs. Jo. Then you could save the damsel in distress."
"That wouldn't be all bad."
"Do you know where Nat is? I want to see him before I go back to town and I need to get started back." Nan started looking around.
"He's in the barn Nan. He seems a little depressed. Be nice to him, okay?" Nick smiled as she started off.
"When am I ever not?" She retorted.
Nat saw her first and his heart started pounding. He couldn't figure out why she couldn't see him. Even if she couldn't she must hear his heart. She glanced upwards and saw him. They both paused and looked into each other's eyes. Hoping for something that they would see.
Part 3 -
"Hey Nat." Nan finally spoke.
Nat quickly jumped down from the loft where he was working. "Nan, . . . . you look great."
"Thanks Nat. I just came by to see you, since you never come visit me at the office."
"Yeah well, Nick has me working a lot, I don't have a lot of time for pleasure calls." Nat answered growing even more nervous. "So what have you been doing lately?"
"You mean besides the normal, flu, colds, and a case of the chicken pox," she smiled. "Well, we did get a broken leg in yesterday. . . . . . Mr. Jones had decided to fix his roof. All by himself."
"No way! Mr. Jones. That guy is practically ancient." They started to laugh.
"Yeah well, now he feels it. After the first shingle went on, he came down. Fell right off the roof. Thank goodness there was hay scattered around."
"Well is he okay?" Nat asked not really caring.
"He's fine. Um, I really need to get back to town. I'll see you around." Nan started for the door.
"Hey, are you going to come back soon?" Nat hurriedly stepped after her.
"Well, I don't know. We've been really busy lately." Nan looked over at the kids scattered through the yard. "But you could come visit me," she said hopefully.
Nat smiled. "Maybe I will. See you."
"Bye." Nan started on the walk back to town. She was really happy until she remembered the conversation between her, Jo, and Meg. So he likes Bobbi. Just then she saw Bobbi coming out of the store. Bobbi saw her and recognition dawned.
"Hello Anthea. How are you this lovely morning?" Bobbi asked politely.
"I'm great Bobbi. You?" Nan struggled to keep her emotions under control. Inside her mind she was thinking that she should say ‘Stay away from Nat. He's mine.'
"I'm perfectly lovely Anthea. It's such a fine morning isn't it?" Bobbi smiled almost to the point of smirking.
"Listen, Bobbi," Nan was getting angry. "I go by Nan, and stop acting so high and mighty. Neither Dan nor Nat is here for you to impress. Besides that I really think that Dan likes Bess."
"Yeah well, you think. You don't know. Besides I can have either one of the two boys and IF Daniel decides to go with Bess, then I will chose Nathaniel as second best." Bobbi started to leave.
"He goes by Nat, and if you even want a chance with him, you'll have to start calling him that." Nan was furious with this girl. She was so smug. ‘If I wasn't trying to keep my job, I'd punch her lights out,' came through her mind.
"We'll just have to see about that. I'll see you back at the office. Dr. Pierce will be waiting for you. Oh, and believe me, if you aren't on time, my uncle will get angry with you." Bobbi took off down the road.
"Yeah well if he wasn't your uncle I'd hurt you," she murmured to Bobbi's back.
Part 4 -
The Next Day!!!
Nat was working on the barn when up the drive came Bobbi Jo. ‘What a surprise' he thought to himself.
Acting surprised she said, "Oh, hello Nathaniel. I didn't know you worked here."
Nat flinched at the use of his full name. "Yeah well, Mrs. Jo mentioned it to you on Sunday when I met you."
"Oh," she smiled. "That's right I remember now."
"May I ask what you are doing here?" Nat smiled in spite of himself. I mean this girl was trying to act so proper, but she was making such a fool of herself.
"Oh, Mrs. Bhaer invited me to tea. You can come if you want." Bobbi starred up at him.
"Nat, NAT!" Bess screamed as she came up the walk.
Squinting Nat thought he saw someone. Bobbi turned to see. Nat smiled, "Bess, . . ." He called out to her. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," out of breath she noticed Bobbi. "Oh, hi Bobbi."
Bobbi spoke up, "It's a pleasur . . ."
Bess cut her off, "Nat guess what, you won't believe it."
Nat smiled at the disgusted look on Bobbi's face. "What?"
"Dan, is coming back for a visit. I just got a letter today. He'll be here in about two days. Oh Nat, do you think he might propose?"
Laughing at the way Bess was acting Nat replied, "If he has any brain at all, he'll propose to you Bess."
Totally forgotten, Bobbi wandered up to the house. Then turning she watched Nat as he came off the roof and shared the excitement with Bess. Murmuring to herself, she continued to the house. "If I have anything to say about it, Dan won't propose to Bess if she was the last woman on earth. Honestly she acts more like a person living on the street more and more everyday." Then spotting Jo, she smiled with a lot of teeth, and walked up to her. "Good morning Mrs. Bhaer."
"Oh, Bobbi, you look lovely this morning. How are you dear?"
Nick stopped at the corner and watched the two ladies. Almost turning the corner he stopped when Jo continued.
"You know, and don't tell this to anyone, but, I know for a fact that Nat wants to ask you out. Isn't that exciting?" Jo giggled with Bobbi.
Knowing the truth between Nat and Nan, Nick shook his head. This woman he loved was a little daft. How could she think that Nat liked Bobbi. Besides that, Bobbi was a little stuck up.
"Oh. Mrs. Bhaer. That's so exciting. I think that Nathaniel is just about the cutest boy that ever walked the face of the earth. Will you help me?" Bobbi knew in her mind that as soon as she had Nat, she'd dump him for the next unfortunate victim. That was all the fun that she had in her miserable no good life.
Nick flinched at her use of Jo's last name. Even though many people called her that, he wished they could all call her Mrs. Jo. The he came back to the present time when Jo spoke.
"Of course I will dear. You are so sweet. I know that Nat will ask you out before the end of the week dear, we just have to help him along." Jo smiled thinking she was helping Nat.
Frustrated Nick stomped off. ‘Fine' he thought. ‘Just remember this Jo, two can play this game. I will be helping Nan during this little scheme of yours.'
Part 5 -
Nat and Bess came up the walk just as Bobbi was leaving. "Oh, Nathaniel, can I speak with you for a moment?" She called to him.
"See you later Nathaniel." Bess teased in a murmur as she continued to the house.
Smiling Nat turned to Bobbi. Mistaking his smile for one to her, she smiled back. "I'm so glad we could talk. Could you walk me back to my Uncle's?"
"Listen Bobbi, First off, I go by Nat. Secondly, I can't walk you back to your uncle's because I want to celebrate the good news with Mrs. Jo and Bess. Also, could you ask Nan to come to Plumfield as soon as she has a chance? Don't tell her why, I want to surprise her."
Bobbi managed a smile and replied, "Of course I can." She watched as he ran up the walk to the waiting Jo and Bess. "But that doesn't mean I will." Then she smiled and waved goodbye to Jo and walked slowly taking the long way back to town. She went in to her uncle's office, and announced her return. Then turning she almost bumped into Nan. "Oops sorry Anthea."
"What are you doing here Bobbi?" Nan glared at her.
"Ouch, sorry An-the-a. I didn't realize you own this building." Then realizing that she could lie to hurt Nan, she continued, "I just came back from having tea with Mrs. Bhaer and Nathaniel. I lost track of time when Nat and I took a walk. We must have talked for about an hour alone in the woods." Then deliberately forgetting to tell her that Nat had asked for Nan to come to Plumfield she walked out the door, not even stopping to look at the open mouthed Nan.
Two Days Later!!!
Nat, Bess, Amy, Laurie, Jo, Nick, and Rob came up the walk in front of the doctor's office. Seeing them coming, Nan became worried and rushed out the door to meet them. "What is it? What's wrong?"
Nat answered with a peculiar look on his face, "didn't Bobbi tell you?"
Bobbi came up behind them all, "Oops! I must have forgotten. Sorry Anthea, Nathaniel." She shared a smile with Jo.
Glaring at Bobbi, Nan then turned back to the group. "Well? What is it?"
"Dan's coming on the 3 o'clock train. He wants to visit." Rob answered.
Looking at the grinning faces, Nan smiled. "Yeah! That is so cool. I can't believe it." She smiled at Bess. She shared a look of mischief with her. Bess blushed and turned away.
Bobbi watched everyone, then quickly thinking, She came up to Nat and came way to close for comfort. Surprised, Nat backed away from her. "Bobbi?"
Everyone noticed what had happened, including Nan. She had a peculiar look on her face and quickly excused herself to get a shawl so they could go. Everyone seemed to notice what was happening except Jo. She smiled at Bobbi and linked her arm with her. Quickly she asked, "Bobbi, why don't you come with us?"
Nat's mouth fell open, but he quickly recovered, though Nick did see it.
"Now Jo," Nick quickly stepped in. "Dan doesn't know Bobbi, and he will probably want to see his family and friends, not some stranger. No offense Bobbi."
"None taken, I accept your apology." Bobbi smiled, knowing she wouldn't be able to go with them now. ‘Uhh. Why did he have to fo that?'
"Nick!" Jo stared at him with that disappointed look in her eyes. "How will Dan ever know Bobbi if he doesn't meet her?"
"No Mrs. Bhaer. He's right. Besides that, I must be going. Goodbye Laurence, Amy, Bess, Nicholas, Josephine, Rob, Nathaniel, and Anthea." She smiled and looked at the one of many astonished faces of Nan. Then she quickly walked off.
"Somebody needs to teach her about nicknames." Laurie finally spoke.
Everyone laughed except Jo. "I thought it was sweet."
Everyone stared at her then laughed harder. They then started to walk towards the train station. Nat noticed that Nan avoided him as much as possible and was really disappointed for that. They all arrived just as the train pulled up.
They watched as people got off the train and Bess, suddenly shy, hid towards the back of the group. Suddenly Dan appeared. "Hi everyone!"
He jumped off the train and threw his arms around Jo. She smiled and hugged him back. He then shook hands with Nick, Laurie, and Rob. He gave a small hug to Amy and whispered something in her ear. She smiled and nodded. He then smiled and gave a big bear hug to Nat. Then he turned toward Bess. She had tears in her eyes and she quickly threw her arms around him. He smiled then finally spoke.
"I guess that means your happy to see me?"
"I've missed you so much Dan!" Bess started to cry.
"Hey, it's okay. I'm here now. . . . Bess? . . . ." he waited till she looked up.
"Yes?" She managed to get out.
"Will you marry me?" . . . . . . . . .
Part 6 -
Everyone stood shock still except for Amy. She smiled through her tears. She stepped over to her daughter and pulled her into a hug. She then pushed her back so that she could look in her eyes. "Bess, . . . darling." (Sniff) "You won't find a better man, . . . he'll take care of you. He loves you."
Bess looked her mother in the eyes then turned to Dan. "Dan, . . .Yes! I will marry you."
He came closer to her and leaned down for a kiss. They kissed until they heard the applause of the rest of the group. Bess then blushed and pulled away. Dan just grinned and kissed her again quickly.
Nat came forward and nudged Dan. "Good move." He laughed. Then he continued to Bess, he leaned close to her ear and whispered, "I told you he would. He got a little bit of a brain."
Bess just grinned. Then hugged Nan tightly. Nan suddenly started to cry. "Nan what is it?"
"Nothing, Nothing. I need to go. I'll see you later. Congratulations on your proposal." She then ran off towards the woods. Bess was quickly swept up in a hug from her father. It seemed that the only person who noticed what had happened was Nick, and Nat!
The Next Day!!!
Bess and Dan were sitting on the porch swing when Bobbi came up the walk. "Bess, It's good to see you. You must be Daniel! What a pleasure to meet you."
"Excuse me?" Bobbi was startled.
"It's Dan." Bess smiled behind Dan's back.
"Oh, sorry. I seem to do that to everyone. Ohhh look! Bess where did you get that ring?" Bobbi's head was spinning for some strange reason. She quickly rubbed it and looked at them expectantly.
"Um, actually Bobbi, believe it or not, Dan proposed to me, and I accepted." Bess smiled at Dan.
Bobbi's face fell for a minute then she smiled her ‘do I have to do this?' smile. "Congratulations. Do you know where Nat is? He promised me a walk."
"I think he's down by the creek. Do you know where that is?" Dan started to look worried.
"Of course I know where that is. We've only been there about a hundred times." She quickly turned and left them starring after her.
After she was far enough away, Dan turned to Bess. "Nat likes her? I thought he liked Nan."
"So did I. But if he's taken her to the creek before . . ." Bess looked up at him. He smiled at her and she recognized it. "Alright Dan, lets go before she gets too far ahead." He really grinned then, grabbed her hand and took off after Bobbi.
They followed her around for a while, and found she obviously didn't know where the creek was. She finally found it though and quickly spotted Nat. The she called to him "Nathaniel!"
Nat stopped suddenly when he heard her call out. "Dang It! What is she doing here?" he whispered. He pasted a smile on his lips and turned to her. "Bobbi. . . . It's Nat. . . . This is a surprise." Then thinking for a moment continued, "how did you find the creek?"
"It was easy actually. Especially with the instructions that Dan gave me."
Dan looked at Bess the quietly whispered, "I gave her instructions?"
She giggled, "that's Bobbi for you." The quieted down as Nat squinted towards them.
"What?" Bobbi asked turning. Nat smiled as he caught sight of a brown fabric that looked a lot like Dan's coat.
"Oh, it's probably just a bird." Nat turned back to her. "So, why are you here?"
"Because you said that you would take me on a walk." She stared at him.
"Just because I said I was too busy to take you the other day, doesn't mean I promised to take you on a walk."
"You mean you won't take me?" Bobbi asked faking coming close to tears.
Dan leaned over to Bess and whispered into her ear. "If he does take her, he's an idiot." Bess just smiled at that.
Nan came bounding through the bushes. "Whoa! Where did she come from?" Dan asked.
Nan looked up and saw Bobbi, holding fearfully on to Nat. Extremely disappointed, she smiled slightly. "Oops. Sorry you two. Didn't mean to interrupt." She then went back the way she came not realizing that Nat was watching her leave with sorrow.
Bobbi trying to regain control of the situation, suddenly turned and quickly kissed Nat. "Nat, will you take me to the dance tomorrow?"
Part 7 -
Dan and Bess were shocked. "Did she just kiss him?" Bess whispered.
"I think so." Dan replied.
"Nat? Hello? Are you still on the ground? Oh, I get it. That was your first kiss right?" Bobbi sat there trying to get his attention.
"Bobbi. . . . ." Nat was is shock.
"Pick me up at seven on tomorrow?" Then without waiting for a reply, she started back to the house.
"Bobbi!" Nat ran up to her. "I'm not taking you to the dance tomorrow. I don't want to go with you. As for that kiss, what in the world was that?" Nat struggled to keep control.
"But, . ." then she became angry. "It's because of Nan isn't it?"
"Your not jealous are you?" Nat became confused.
"Jealous? Oh, no its just an act. It's a jealousy act." She smiled a fake smile then let it fade. "Why shouldn't I be jealous? I didn't even have a chance! You've been swooning over Anthea ever since I got here! Well if you haven't noticed, she isn't paying you the time of day! Goodbye Nat." She then stormed off toward town instead of the house.
Nat watched her go, and he realized she was right. Nan hadn't paid any attention to him since Dan stepped off the bus and proposed. He then remembered the brown coat. He turned straight towards them and Bess took a surprised gulp of air. They ducked down further.
"Would you two get out of there? You're going to get dirty." He smiled then turned back to the creek where he was trying to catch fish for dinner.
Bess looked over at Dan who shrugged then stood straight up then offered a hand to Bess who took it and stood. "How did you know we were here?" Dan asked.
"Saw your coat." Nat answered. "Its true though isn't it? Nan isn't giving me the time of day."
Bess glanced at Dan then stepped forward to Nat. She turned him so he was facing them and was surprised at the tears that she found. She quickly hugged him as he started to sob. He turned away from her ashamed of the tears. Bess then nodded for Dan to take over and she started back to find Nan, hoping that Nan was still at the house.
She walked up the path just as Nan was leaving the house. "Hey Nan."
Nan smiled and came forward. "I was hoping to see you. We looked everywhere."
"I need to talk to you for a minute. In private if we can." They walked to the barn and climbed up to the loft. Neither saw Nick working quietly down below.
"What is it Bess?" Nan asked.
"We need to talk about what you saw in the woods." Bess stared straight at her and watched as Nan flinched and turned away from her.
"What about it?" She mumbled.
"Well lets see. Where should I start? Bobbi came to the house asking for Nat. We told her that he was down by the creek and asked if she needed directions. She said that she had been there before, but Dan and I decided to follow."
"You were there?" Nan interrupted. "What happened?"
"Would you like me to go on?" Bess smiled and backed up so that she was leaning against the wall directly above the listening Nick.
"Yes, sorry." Nan looked at her expectantly.
"She had no idea where the creek was." Bess watched as Nan's forehead creased in wonder and amazement. "She wandered around until she found it, then quickly called out for Nat. He didn't exactly look happy to see her. Bobbi asked for a walk and Nat refused. Then you popped out of the woods."
"I was so embarrassed when I saw them there." Nan quietly spoke.
"After you left, Bobbi kissed Nat." Bess cautiously waited for a reaction.
"He let her kiss him?" Nan practically screamed. Bess wasn't disappointed and below Nick flinched in disgust.
"He didn't let her do anything Nan. Would you please calm down?" Bess had to raise her voice so Nan would listen.
"Sorry." Nan mumbled again.
"Bobbi tried to get Nat to take her to the dance but when he refused she became upset. Jealous actually."
"She then told him that you aren't giving him the time of day, and that it wasn't fair. She then quickly left. Nat told us that he knew we were there, and told us to get out of the dirt. Nan, . . . when I left he was sobbing." Bess was coming close to tears herself.
"Yeah, he now knows that he lost Bobbi." Nan turned toward the wall.
Bess disgusted stood and started for the ladder. Once on the ladder, she stopped and spoke. "He loves you Nan. You're worse than a dolt if you don't see that." She then continued down and saw Nick. She pointed towards the loft and mouthed "You heard everything?"
Nick nodded. Bess then smiled slightly and went towards the house.
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