Jason decided Lissa fit perfectly in his arms. It felt good to be able to comfort her. Like the time when they were kids and she'd skinned her knee falling off her bike.
She sighed, lifted her head and stepped back. "I don't know what to do."
He took her hand and led her to the couch and sat. "So tell me what was supposed to happen tonight?"
She stared at him before taking a seat beside him. "Haven't you ever celebrated Midsummer here?"
"Maybe a while ago, but this is around the time of my folks' anniversary. They mostly went out of town to the place where they stayed for their honeymoon. I bunked in with a friend."
"A bit of history. Nanna was something of a pagan and liked celebrating some of the Celtic holidays, especially the winter and summer solstice."
"Which is Midsummer."
She nodded. "Years ago she decided it would be fun to celebrate the day. She started it mostly for herself, but it grew until most everyone participated."
"So what do they do?"
"Mostly it's lots of good food and conversation. But the balefire is the special part.
He frowned. "Balefire?"
"That's the old word for bonfire. On a slip of paper, you write down something that's gone wrong during the year or something you regret having done, and toss the into the fire. You don't say what you've written, but as the paper burns, you can say, 'So mote it be gone'."
Sounded like a bunch of hocus pocus to him. "Interesting."
"I'm guessing you're skeptical."
Jason chuckled. "You caught me."
"What's really interesting, is that, crazy as it sounds, it works."
He was silent a minute, considering what she'd said. "I can see how it might make sense. Sort of like when you tell someone you're upset, you don't hang on to the resentment."
She hadn't said anything about her grandmother, and he didn't see her in the camp. Probably explained why this was important to her.
* * *
Melissa shifted, trying to ease the tightness in her chest. She couldn't give up. "Sitting here isn't getting anything done."
"What can I help with?"
"I'm not even sure where to begin." She blinked away tears that threatened to spill over. "This is not how this day is supposed to go. I want to do this to honor Nanna Jo's memory."
"Maybe that's what you need to write on your piece of paper this year."
She smiled. "That's the best advice I've heard today."
"So where do we start?"
She appreciated that Jason was willing to pitch in. "I guess I need to treat this as if it's an unknown product Dad's setting up a PR campaign for."
"Or like using a client's amateur design to build the house of their dreams."
Lissa set her jaw and stood. "We need to act as if this will happen."
"Let's get the food ready first. Then we can figure out the rest."
"Sounds like a plan." In the kitchen, she gathered the ingredients for coleslaw.
"I'm going to my camp for the bratwurst I brought. And I'll pick up some of Mom's relish."
"Yum. She makes the best relish. Better bring a lot. Everyone loves it."
Jason left and Lissa started grating cabbage and carrots. She hummed one of Nanna's favorite tunes. Maybe things would work out for the evening.
Just as Lissa finished the coleslaw, Jason returned with brats and buns. He also brought some and fixings, sliced onions and green peppers for grilling, a jar of sauerkraut, and of course, mustard, ketchup and his mother's relish.
"Did anyone tell you what a great guy you are?"
He stared at her for a moment. "Not by a girl as pretty as you."
Her cheeks warmed. "I wasn't looking for a compliment."
"But you got one anyway." He grinned, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
She glanced at the clock, noting the day was racing by. "Now that we're even in the mutual admiration department, let's start setting up outside."
Distracted by her swirling feelings, she had failed to pay attention to the weather.
"When did those clouds roll in?" Jason pointed at the sky. "I didn't notice them when I walked here."
"Let's hope it will blow right past." She crossed the road to the open area circled by the cul-de-sac and walked to the outdoor fireplace beside the fire circle. It had been built right after the original camps were finished. Constructed using stones from clearing the lots, the chimney was nearly five feet high. Inside, there was a restaurant-sized grill, and either wood or charcoal could be used for cooking. Families often shared meals and grilled here rather than at their camps.
She checked to make sure there was charcoal in the storage box. A couple of bags, that’s plenty.
As Jason helped her arrange the picnic tables close to the fireplace and campfire ring, thunder rumbled in the distance.