"That's what Nick keeps telling me." Kacey held the diner's door. "You're going to love this place. It's like stepping back into the fifties."
The warmth grabbed her the moment she stepped inside. Kacey was right; it looked like a scene from Happy Days. She'd watched the reruns with her mom so many times. It'd been one of her favorite TV shows. She started to mist up again, but shook off the feeling, determined to let in the happy atmosphere.
"Hey, everyone, this is my best friend, Sue, from Florida."
Everyone greeted her, smiling and saying hello. Sue returned their smiles as Kacey led her to a table. A red and white checkered tablecloth covered each table. An artificial poinsettia stem in a small vase served as the centerpiece.
"This is so cute." Sue set her purse on the table. "You know, it's so strange. The moment I climbed out of the car I felt such warmth. It was like Mom had her arms around me, holding me tight."
"See, Mistletoe is already working its magic." Kacey reached for the menu. "They have great food. I love the roast beef sandwich with French fries. With absolutely the best gravy in the world served over the fries if you like."
"That sounds good."
"I see your friend got here okay," a middle-aged woman said. "My name's Hannah."
"She owns the place," Kacey added.
"What do you think of Mistletoe?" Hannah asked.
"Well, I just got into town, but I love what you've done with this place." Sue smiled at her. "My mother used to tell me about a diner like this from when she was a teenager. This looks like what she described to me."
"Kacey told me about your mom. I'm sorry for your loss, honey. You must miss her."
"Yes, but it's so strange. I feel as if she's here with me. It's the first time I've felt that way since she passed away."
"Here in Mistletoe, you'll find a lot of comfort. If you feel like your mom is here with you, that's good." She looked over at Kacey. "How's Nick doing with his orders this year?"
"Busy as ever." Kacey glanced down at the menu. "We both want the roast beef with gravy on the fries."
"Well that's an easy order. What do you want to drink?"
"I'll take a Coke," Kacey said.
"You can make mine a Coke, too."
"Want your drinks now?"
"Yes, that would be good." Sue realized it'd been two hours since her last stop, and she was thirsty.
"Be back shortly."
Sue watched Hannah walk away. She guessed her somewhere in her fifties, although her wisdom seemed to exceed her age. She liked the woman and had a feeling they'd get to know each other better before she left Mistletoe.
"What're you thinking about?" Kacey asked.
"How much I like your Hannah."
"Me, too. I was instantly drawn to the woman." Kacey smiled. "Here in Mistletoe, there's no such thing as a stranger. You'll soon find that out."
Hannah returned with their drinks. "Your order will be up shortly. Did you hear Bob's grandson is home from Iraq?"
"Yes, Nick told me." Kacey tore the paper off her straw and stuck it in her drink. "He said he and Chance went to school together."
"Yes, they did. As I recall very well, Nick and Chance got into a lot of mischief." Hannah raised a brow and slid her order pad into her apron pocket. "Chance got wounded, which is why he's home."
Kacey's eyes widened. "No, Nick didn't tell me that. How badly was he injured?"
"Serious enough to take him out of the action for a while. Bob told me it was his shoulder."
"At least Bob'll be able to enjoy his company now, and that's good. He missed him while he was gone, always talked about him."
Hannah turned toward the front door as it opened. "Well I don't believe it--he's finally come out of the house." She waved at Bob's grandson, motioning him over.
Sue sipped on her coke as she watched the man come toward them. Well over six feet tall, he had a large build. His left arm was in a cast held up by a metal brace. He wore his sandy blond hair close-cropped. But his baby blue eyes captivated her.
"It's about time you came in to see us, Chance." Hannah threw her arms around him.
"I'm sorry it took so long. I hated coming out with this thing on. And adjusting to being home takes time." He stepped away from Hannah and looked around. "The place looks as good as I remembered it."
"That's good to know. I'm sure you've had a lot on your mind. Nobody comes back from Iraq without some scars. Chance, I'd like you to meet Nick Klaus' wife, Kacey, and this is her friend, Sue Johnson, from Florida."