Rural Pennsylvania was exactly what Jordyn imagined it would look like. There were trees, a lot of them, and there were a lot of rolling green fields, but not a lot of anything else. Oh except for cows. There were a lot of cows in the fields they passed.
“Does everyone around here live on a farm?” Jordyn grumbled, watching the fourth farm house and field of cows pass them by since they’d left Pittsburgh.
“We’re in the country, Jordyn,” Jack said. “There are a lot of farm houses in the country.”
“They have deer in the country,” Logan commented as they passed a Deer Crossing sign.
“I bet they have deer hunters, too,” Jordyn said. Suddenly, she imagined a hunter creeping around her house in his camouflage clothes and his orange hat, his big gun. And he would mistake Jordyn for a deer and Boom! She’s dead before her life even started.
“Cedarwood seems dangerous,” Jordyn said suddenly.
“Cedarwood is a beautiful town, Jordyn,” said Zara informed her daughter. “And it’s not dangerous.”
“The house is right on a lake,” Jack added. “It actually sits on a cliff overlooking the water.”
Jordyn knew this. She’d been here to visit her grandfather when she was nine, but didn’t remember it so well. She’d seen pictures though. She couldn’t argue that the house was beautiful. It was huge, and it was old. But it wasn’t her home, it was her father’s. The beach house in Moon Bay Beach was her home.
“We’re here,” Jack said, beaming, looking at his wife when they passed the Welcome to Cedarwood sign. The sign boasted it’s 6,987 population and was emblazoned with “Home of the Cougars.”
“The Cougars?” Jordyn asked.
“Mascot for Cedarwood High School,” Jack explained. “Which reminds me. Ty, I talked to the football coach at Cedarwood while signing you guys up for school. You missed workouts, but tryouts start next week. Bright and early Monday morning. And they need a receiver.”
“Cool,” Ty said, perking up and seeming interested.
While Jack and Ty talked football, Jordyn focused out the window. So far, since they’d passed the welcome sign, she still hadn’t seen anything but trees, and fields, old barns, a few farm houses, and cows.
But then, so suddenly, the trees were gone, and they were on a wide, tree-lined streets of what Jordyn knew instantly was the main drag of Cedarwood. They passed first, a church—the biggest she’d ever seen—and after that a bakery, a library, a sporting goods store, and a post office. There were a few cars coasting up and down the wide street, windshield wipers going full speed, and several on either side in front of the long line of various, stuck-together store-fronts.
Cute, Jordyn thought, but she wasn't impressed. She glanced down the small side streets, nothing impressive there, either.
“No malls?” Jordyn asked without surprise. She noticed there was a store front, stuck between a bakerycalled Miss Bee's Buns, and a bait and tackle store,with a sign that said "Thee Olde Cedarwood Shoppe" with a few outfits in the display window. By the time they were at the very end of the street, slowing at a stop sign, Jordyn realized there was no sign of a shopping center for this century anywhere.
“There’s an outlet mall in Woodbury,” Jack said, pointing to a sign directly in front of them, stating "“Lake Cedar recreational sites.” to the right, and to the left, “Woodbury, 15 miles.” He made a right onto what Jordyn learned was Lakeside Road, and after passing a series of small restaurants—Thank God there was at least a McDonald’s here—and a small shopping corner complete with a Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie, they were back in the country again, with nothing but trees. Every so often, Jordyn spotted narrow, sidestreets with signs that indicated different beaches and recreation sites. Further on, Jack rounded a curve to the left, and suddenly, they were face-to-face with a huge lake.
“There’s Lake Cedar,” Zara said with a smile as the road began to run parallel to the water, alongside the lake shore, and several marinas. The shoreline was sea level for the most part, but up ahead, Jordyn could see it rising up to a rocky cliff, atop it, another thick line of trees.
“How much further?” Logan asked, finally looking up from his PSP.
“Nearly there,” Jack said, flicking on his left signal light. “This is our road.”
Jordyn peaked at the road sign of the highway they were about to turn on. Cliff Road. How original, Jordyn thought, seeing that the road took a sharp upward direction as it snaked through the trees, and what looked like, the top of the big cliff she’d seen from Lakeside Road, which also had been quite original. She knew they were at the top when she saw the sign that said “Lookout Point Recreational Area, two miles,” pointing down a long, gravel road that disappeared into the thick trees.
Looked like a road leading to a serial killer’s hideout to Jordyn.
“Kids, this is where I grew up,” Jack sighed nostalgically. “Down through there is Lookout Point. Just a really nice view of the lake down there. I don’t know about now, but it was a pretty popular hangout spot back in my days. Where kids used to go after football and basketball games to go parking.”
“Parking?” Jordyn asked, amused.
Ty chuckled and nudged his sister. “Olden days, Jordyn. That’s what they called making out.”
“Gross!” Logan said.
“Not olden days,” Jack said. “1987. Good old days. Ah, here we are.”
Jordyn stretched, trying to get a good look. But besides the mailbox, there was no indication of a house, until Jack turned onto a dirt road, much like the one that lead to Lookout Point, that snaked through the trees.
“You can see all of Cedarwood from the top of the cliff,” Jack said proudly. “Right from our back yard.”
So Cedarwood was that small.
“It seems very isolated up here,” Jordyn said.
“It is,” Zara assured. “It’s quiet, and it’s gorgeous up here.”
“No neighbors?” Logan asked glumly.
“No neighbors,” Jack confirmed. “At least not for ½ a mile down the road.”
Jordyn sighed and pressed her forehead against the glass of the back window. Her only neighbors were trees. Back in Moon Bay Beach, there were tons of neighbors. Always someone to hang out with, walking distance of everything needed, the beach in the back yard. Judging how far up on the cliff they were, Jordyn’s new backyard, being on a cliff, was going to be dangerous. She could see herself falling now, tumbling to the rocky shore below.
“Alright, this is it,” Jack said, slowing down to turn left onto a long, winding driveway though the woods.
“How far?” Logan asked in surprise as they went further than even Jordyn expected through the woods without seeing anything but trees. “Are we living in the forest?”
“Yeah,” Jordyn said. “Where’s the house?”
How’d the moving vans get down in here, she thought with astonishment. But that thought was cut short as the house finally came into view. Surrounded by the trees of the forest, the house, with its towering three stories sat in an opening on a lush green lawn, spotted with its own trees. Jordyn had seen it before, but barely remembered it. But it was beautiful. Her memory of the place her father had grown up hadn’t done it justice. Not at all.
“Whoa,” said Logan, who hadn’t seen the house at all before. “It’s huge!”
Zara turned around a smiled. “There’s also a basement and an attic. Plenty of room for an exercise room, maybe some extra lounging space.” She looked at Jordyn. “Maybe a dance studio?”
“Wonderful,” Jordyn grumbled.
“And that reminds me, honey. Your audition for the Cedarwood Dance School is Monday morning. Bright and early. Maybe after dinner we can go over some steps, make sure you’re ready?”
She wasn’t. And she was sure her pirouettes, butterfly jumps, or scissor leaps had nothing to do with it. She also had a feeling she wouldn’t need any of that to place into the advanced class here.
“Mom, can we maybe go over that stuff tomorrow?” Jordyn asked. “I want to kind of get used to the house and all tonight.”
Zara opened her mouth to say something, but Jack put his hand on his wife’s arm, shaking his head in what he thought was a subtle manner, so she just forced a smile and nodded.
When the SUV was parked, they all got out. Ty’s Mustang was already in the yard, having been hauled by the moving vans.
The family didn’t waste much time outside, since it was still pouring rain, so they hurried in through the front door. And surprisingly, Jordyn liked what she saw.
The living room was big and open, and a staircase lead up to a loft above. Their furniture was already in place, but there were still plastic slip covers over the couch, love seat, and recliner. The walls were solid white, but bare, since their many paintings and various decorations were probably packed away in the piles of cardboard boxes strewn over the floor.
“Well, what do you think?” came Jack’s voice as he walked up behind his daughter, putting his hands on her shoulders. She couldn’t lie. It wasn’t home, but it was a beautiful house. She nodded, and walked over to the fireplace on the right wall, surrounded by brick, and topped off by a mantelpiece.
“This is beautiful,” she admitted, touching the old brick.
“And it’s a real fireplace, too,” Jack said. “And one that’s really gonna be used.”
“I heard it gets cold here in the winter,” Logan said, also looking around the house.
“Oh, it does,” Zara said, nodding. “But it’s not unbearable. Either way, we’re gonna finally see some real snow.”
Living a good portion of her early life in Sweden, Zara knew all about snow. Plus she’d lived here in Cedarwood for the year after college with Jack before Ty was born and they headed to California. Jordyn already knew her mother was excited to see the snow here this winter.
“We’re also right in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains,” Jack said. “I think you three will love to snowboard.”
Jordyn just shrugged and further investigated every nook and cranny throughout the big living room. There was a door under the stairs, and upon opening it, Jordyn saw that it was only a closet. In the nook by the foot of the stairs to the left of the front door, was a swinging white wooden door. Creeping over and pushing it over, Jordyn saw another room, with a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
“That’ll be the dining room,” Zara pointed out when she saw her daughter looking in there. “Which means soon we’ll make a trip to Pittsburgh to do some furniture shopping.”
“We have plenty of furniture,” Jordyn said. “Why would we need more?”
“We have a bigger house with more rooms,” Jack said. “We didn’t have a dining room, or a den in our old house.”
“Where’s my bed?” Jordyn asked.
“Put together in your room,” Jack replied with a smile. “Why don’t you go check it out? Top of the stairs, first door on the left.”
Upstairs, Jordyn quickly realized the only doors up there were on the left. To the right was the banister, overlooking the living room she’d been in before.
“First door,” Jordyn said to herself, eyeing the plain, white door that would lead to her brand new bedroom. Her brand new Jordyn-space. She took a deep breath, and hoping to God she wouldn’t hate her new room, she reached forward and turned the doorknob.