The Farmer’s Market was on a highway Jordyn had never been on before. It was down Lake Road, in the opposite direction from Woodbury, and deeper, Jordyn realized, in the country than she’d been the entire month she’d lived in Cedarwood. Going to it, Jordyn watched the scenery pass her by from the back window of Mrs. Doherty’s minivan. So far, the country was beautiful.
“There sure is a lot of corn,” Jordyn pondered out loud as she passed, yet another, corn field. Besides the seemingly endless, roadside array of ten-foot-tall cornstalks, they’d passed tons of abandoned farms, and even went under a cute covered bridge over a wide creek.
“I can’t believe you’ve never been to this part of the county,” Alice said, still incredulous that Jordyn had lived here this long and had managed to stay contained in one small part of the county. “There’s so much more to do around here than just sit around Cedarwood.”
“I see that now,” Jordyn said, watching as the thick splay of trees they were once surrounded by opened up to flat, empty fields, some with old farm houses, most dilapidated, sitting maybe 200 feet off the road.
She couldn’t believe she thought Cedarwood was country. There was a whole world away from it, mazes of secondary roads, farms, cows, corn; things she hadn’t seen before today’s trip. She wondered how much further into the sticks they would go before they reached the Farmer’s Market.
Not much, she realized after they’d rounded a curve and approached what was surely the Farmer’s Market. The place looked like a short, white circus tent, a wooden sign by the highway advertising that this was, indeed, the Farmer’s Market. And there were a lot of cars.
“Do they do this every day?” Jordyn asked. “I mean, is it open seven days a week?”
“Not on Sunday,” Alice said.
Mrs. Doherty parked and they all got out.
Jordyn jumped when she heard the deep cry. Alice burst into laughter.
“Jordyn, you’re too much!” she declared. “Turn around.”
So slowly and cautiously, Jordyn turned around, and saw across the road from the Farmer’s Market was a field of cows.
“Oh,” was all Jordyn could say. She’d never been this close to cows in her life. And she wasn’t even close.
Alice laughed and put her arm around her friend as they followed Mrs. Doherty into the “big top.” “Oh, Jordyn. I have to take you on a tour of the county. We have a lot to offer to a city girl like you who hasn’t seen a thing like this in your life.”
Alice was right about that, too. Jordyn really hadn’t seen anything like this in her life. In the “big top—” Jordyn would call it that being that the word tent didn’t do this circus-like space justice—there were a lot of people. Crowds so thick, Jordyn felt claustrophobic just looking at them. She didn’t know there were enough people in Cedarwood to make this place packed.
There were booths and booths of fruits and vegetables set up side-by-side, forming aisles between each row. Jordyn spotted apples, cherries, even pumpkins! You name it, the big top had it.
“Hey, mom,” Alice said, grabbing Jordyn’s arm as the three of them stepped up to a booth full of fresh apples, manned by a cute college-aged boy. “We’re gonna go get some fudge.”
“OK, well don’t be long,” Mrs. Doherty said, examining a shiny apple. “We’ll be leaving soon.”
Alice just nodded, pulling Jordyn with her in haste.
“Where are we going?” Jordyn asked as they whipped through the crowd.
“To get fudge,” Alice said.
“To get, what?”
“Jordyn, you’re in Pennsylvania. Capital of Hershey’s chocolate. We have sweet teeth for chocolate around her.”
“But you said fudge.”
“Yes, ma’am. Look.”
They had stopped in front of a booth near the back of the big top, along the banner above the booth was “Miss Betty’s Genuine Goat’s Milk Fudge.”
“Goat’s Milk Fudge?” Jordyn asked, cringing. That sounded awful.
“No, it’s good,” Alice insisted. “Delicious, actually. I’m buying some. And you are going to try it.”
Jordyn opened her mouth to argue, but forgot about the goat’s milk fudge when she saw who was manning the booth. There, in jeans, a white t-shirt and a blue apron and matching paper hat, was a smiling Blake Cormann, packing up some fudge, and saran-wrapping it for a customer.
“Alice,” he said. “California. What’s up?”
“What are you doing here?” Jordyn asked, then instantly realized she may have sounded a little rude.
Blake just laughed, making Jordyn feel better. “Working, California. What are you doing here?”
“Jordyn, here, is about to try some of your grandmother’s famous fudge,” Alice said, smiling back at Blake.
Blake took a five from his customer, and gave her her change, thanking her before turning to Alice and Jordyn.
“Well, great,” Blake said. “And California, I think I’ll give you a free sample, just don’t let it get around.”
He spoke to Jordyn, but winked at Alice. Jordyn saw Alice blush.
Now she got it. Alice liked Blake! How had Jordyn not seen it before? And by the looks of it, he liked her back.
Jordyn watched Blake take a small block of fudge from the pan and hand it to her in a napkin.
“Don’t look like that, Jordyn,” Alice said as Jordyn took it, making a face at the thought of goat’s milk. “It’s good. Eat it. I promise you’ll like it.”
“Hey,” Blake said, holding his hands up. “I might be biased, but my grandmother’s fudge is top of the line.”
“Eat it, eat it, eat it,” Alice started chanting. “Eat it, eat it—”’
“Alright, alright!” Jordyn laughed. “I’ll eat it.”
So, trying to force herself to forget that it was made out of goat’s milk, she took a bite of Blake’s grandmother’s famous chocolate fudge.
They watched her expectantly as she chewed slowly, then swallowed. And she had never tasted fudge that good in her life.
“Oh my God!”
Alice laughed, clapping, and Blake just beamed. “So that’ll be a pound of fudge to go, California?”
“I’ve got to get some of this to take home,” Jordyn said after she’d scarfed down the rest of the fudge. “How much?”
Alice laughed. “I told you!”
Jordyn paid for some more fudge, then when Blake started to get busy, they left, not wanting to bother him anymore.
After Mrs. Doherty dropped Jordyn off at home, she rushed inside, eager to get ready for her date with Cole. Yes, it was only 3:00 and he wouldn’t be picking her up until 6:30, but she was excited.
She wandered into the house through the front door, and found her dad in the living room, a football game on TV.
Penn State? Wow. This whole family was really conforming here.
“Hey, daddy,” Jordyn said, shutting the door behind her. “I got fudge!”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “Fudge?”
“Yes, goat’s milk fudge. I went with Alice and her mom to the Farmer’s Market and I bought it. I got some delicious butterscotch, too.”
“You went to a Farmer’s Market?” Jack asked, his eyebrows high. “Wow. Someone’s sure adapting.”
Jordyn chuckled, sitting on the couch. She motioned to the TV. “Yeah, says he who’s watching a Penn State football game?”
“Can’t pick up California game around here,” Jack said. “They don’t sell University of San Diego shirts around here, either, so I guess I’m trying something new. I guess I’ve been busy this week with work and everything. I haven’t seen much out of you. A little behind on what’s been going on with my little girl.”
“It’s OK, I understand,” Jordyn said. “We’re still getting used to everything. I haven’t seen much of anyone except Ty, really.”
“I say we catch up,” Jack said. “Soon. How bout I take you to lunch tomorrow? Since you’ll be going out with Ty’s friend, Cole tonight.”
OK, so he knew about her date. “Uhm, yes?”
Jack chuckled. “Good for you. He’s a nice guy.”
“You’re OK with me going out?”
“Of course. I’ll have my gun out when he gets here just so he’ll know where to keep his hands.”
Jordyn panicked when Jack didn’t smile. “Daddy.”
He smiled. “Ty and Natalie are upstairs. She wants to see you before your date.”
“OK,” Jordyn said. “And daddy, don’t you dare take out your gun.”
Jack just smiled and took a sip of his beer when Penn State scored a touchdown.