Mama offered to lend her the car, but Maddie preferred to walk. Her feet knew where they were going; they were happy to be back on the streets of her home town. Her heart, on the other hand, longed to roam, and her fingers itched to play.
She found the shop, right where it had always been. A guitar-shaped cutout hung over the sidewalk, and the words “Buy, Sell, Trade,” danced in fading colors across the window. The building’s paint was starting to show some wear, but that was okay. Maddie was showing a little wear, herself.
She took a breath, grasped the doorknob and tried to turn it. It wouldn’t budge. Locked.
She was just about to knock when she heard a familiar voice behind her.
“Wow,” the voice said. “I’d heard you were back in town.”
Maddie rotated, a smile already breaking out on her face. “Hi Jobe.”
He looked completely the same, and entirely different. His hair was still dark and curly. His eyes still glistened gold under straight brows. His mouth still quirked in a sideways grin. This was her favorite face, on her favorite person. She wanted to hug him, but instead she said, “The old man hasn’t fired you yet?”
“Nope.” Jobe shook his head. “He has a soft spot for me. Says I’ll have a job at this place until I die or find something better.” He shifted his weight to the other foot. “But I don’t know. What could be better than working here?”
“‘There will always be a job for Jobe,'” she quoted.
He tilted his head in the same way he had done since they were kids. Maddie’s heart wanted to skip a beat, but she grasped it firmly and held on tight. Once upon a time, people had thought that she and Jobe might get married. But real life doesn’t unfold like a fairy tale, and Maddie didn’t want to let herself forget that.
Jobe was holding a tray with two coffee cups. Maddie nodded toward it. “Who’s the second coffee for? You got a girl in there? You know that the old man wouldn’t like that.”
Jobe just smiled, refusing to take the bait. His golden eyes crinkled. He asked, “You in need of some strings?”
“In need of some salvation,” Maddie said. “As in, a job.” She heard the sadness in her voice and knew he would understand.
His face grew somber. “What happened to it?” The guitar.
“It was worth exactly the price of a bus ticket home,” Maddie said.
Jobe looked stricken. Maddie rushed to say, “I’m getting it back. That’s why I need the job.”
“A job from Jobe.” He seemed to shake himself. “Well, come on inside and let’s talk about it. There might be something I can do.”
Jobe started toward the door, but Maddie hesitated. Once some thresholds had been crossed, it was almost impossible to go back.
“I don’t know.” She eyed the coffee cups. “Who’s the other cup for?”
As he slid the key into the lock, his eyes smiled at her. “Maybe it’s for you. Maybe I’ve bought a second coffee every day since I heard you were home, just in case you showed up here.”
Maddie’s heart wanted to skip again, and this time she let it. “Is that true?”
“One way to find out.” He turned the knob and pushed the door open, holding it for her. Then he looked back.
“So,” he said. “You coming in?”
“Home is where the heart is.” – Proverb
Thank you so much for reading part two of Homeward Bound! Part three will be posted next Monday. (To read part one, click here.) If you’re enjoying the story, I hope you’ll leave a comment below! And you might want to check out my novel Homesong, available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Thanks again for reading! See you next week!
Hugs and happy reading! ~Misha