Главная страница Случайная страница


АвтомобилиАстрономияБиологияГеографияДом и садДругие языкиДругоеИнформатикаИсторияКультураЛитератураЛогикаМатематикаМедицинаМеталлургияМеханикаОбразованиеОхрана трудаПедагогикаПолитикаПравоПсихологияРелигияРиторикаСоциологияСпортСтроительствоТехнологияТуризмФизикаФилософияФинансыХимияЧерчениеЭкологияЭкономикаЭлектроника

Chapter fourteen

Jill rolled over, her eyes half opened as she took a quick peek at the clock. She leaned up on her elbow, frowning.

" Oh, crap, " she murmured. It was seven forty-five. She tossed the covers off then stopped. " It's Saturday. It's freakin' Saturday."

She lay back down with a groan, eyes wide open as she stared at the ceiling. Saturday. Not a work day.

" Saturday, " she whispered. " I hate Saturdays."

With a sigh, she closed her eyes again, hoping sleep would claim her, hoping it would take her away for a few more hours. But it didn't. She'd never been a late sleeper. And try as she may, she apparently wasn't going to start now.

" Crap, " she murmured again as she swung her legs off the bed. She sat there for awhile, staring at the wall, staring at nothing. She finally stood and slipped her feet into the moccasins she slipped off last night. As she walked past the bed, she grabbed her robe off the banister and slipped it on.

She was halfway down the stairs when she heard rustling in the kitchen. She stopped, silently hoping he wasn't making a mess of things. But she did smell coffee. That was a start.

She pushed on the swinging door, nearly knocking Craig off his feet as he walked by with a handful of eggs.

" Good God, you're cooking? "

" Don't act so surprised."

" I've just never seen you do it before, " she said as she sidestepped him to get to the coffee.

" Now that's not true. When Angie was a baby, I remember a couple of times I got up early to make breakfast."

Jill smiled. " She's nearly fifteen."

Craig laughed. " Don't let her hear you say that. She's fourteen and not a day older."

Jill leaned against the counter and sipped from her coffee, watching as he cracked eggs and dropped them into the pan.

" If I want these scrambled, I just kinda stir them up, right? "

" At this point, yes. Most people scramble them prior to the pan."

Craig waved a spatula at her. " Just a waste of a bowl."

" May I ask why you're making breakfast? "

He grinned. " Don't you know? "

She frowned. Oh God, it wasn't their anniversary, was it? No. June. Birthday? No. July.

" Oh, come on, " he said. " It's the make-up breakfast."

She shook her head. " For what? "

He shrugged. " For the make-up lunch."

" How so? "

" You know, yesterday at lunch, I got a phone call."

" And? "

" And, well, we didn't really have the family lunch I'd planned."

She tilted her head as she looked at him. " You came to this conclusion all on your own? "

" Well, no. Not exactly."

Jill smiled. " Angie thought I was mad? "

" Yeah." He stirred the eggs then quickly looked back at her. " Are you? "

" Not mad, no." She forced a smile. " I never could compete with your cell phone."

He moved to the toaster and put two slices of bread in, then opened the fridge and pulled out the jug of orange juice. He looked at her with eyebrows raised and she nodded.

" I thought, you know, maybe today we could have a day out."

" What kind of a day out? " she asked suspiciously, watching as he poured their juice.

" Well, I thought maybe we could drive over to Richland."

" Richland? Why on earth? "

" Well, they're hosting a basketball tournament."

" I see. And? "

" I kinda wanted to see it. You know, we play Richland next week."

She opened the cabinet and took out two plates, silently handing them to him, before opening the drawer to the utensils.

" Well, you know what, I don't really want to go to Richland to watch a basketball game, " she said. " Why don't you ask one of your buddies to go? You know, guys day out, " Jill suggested.

He grabbed the toast and tossed them on the plates, then handed one to her. " Are you sure? "

She nodded. " I'm sure."

" But what will you do? "

She reached for her coffee, taking a sip before answering. " Boring as it sounds, I need to go to the grocery store. Not to mention laundry."

" Oh, babe, that's work. I'm offering you a free day. No work."

She raised her eyebrows. " So who's going to do it if I don't? "


The trip to the grocery store was made with practiced ease and she methodically checked items off her list as she moved down each aisle. But it wasn't groceries on her mind. She had a free day. A free Saturday.

And still, she and Carrie had yet to exchange phone numbers. But if they had, Jill would call her, see if maybe they could get together for a few hours today. Maybe even go to the cottage and sit down at the pier. It was another sunny day. And although it was far too early for spring fever, she had a desire to be outside, to sit in the sun. A desire to see Carrie.

Frowning, wondering why this woman was always on her mind, she stopped and looked at her list, trying to muster up some enthusiasm to finish her task.

Afterward, she would go home, have a quiet lunch then perhaps enjoy the sunshine on her own patio. And maybe her mind wouldn't be filled with thoughts of Carrie.

Later, as she pulled into her driveway, her backseat covered with grocery bags, she was surprised to see her mother-in-law coming out of the side door.

" Why Jill, I didn't expect you to be here."

Jill bit her lip to keep the obvious retort from slipping out. It was one thing for Craig's parents to have a key to their home for emergencies. It was quite another that Arlene felt the need to use it any time she liked.

" Grocery store, " she said as she opened the back door and pulled out two bags.

" Grocery store? I would have thought you'd gone to Richland with Craig."

" Why? "

Arlene pursed her lips and Jill prepared herself for the lecture she was about to get.

" You and Craig hardly spend any time together as it is. I would think you'd want to be with your husband."

" My husband was going to a basketball tournament, Arlene. As you know, I'm not really crazy about basketball."

" But Craig loves basketball."

" Yes, but I don't. I didn't want to waste my Saturday doing something I hate."

" I hardly think riding with your husband to a game would be considered wasting your time."

Jill opened her mouth then closed it again. She wouldn't waste her time now by arguing with Arlene. So she walked past her, pushing open the side door with her shoulder.

" Did you need something, Arlene? "

" Oh, I baked cakes yesterday. I brought one over. You know how much Craig likes my German chocolate cake."

" Yes. So does Angie. I'm sure they'll love it."

" I wish you would learn to bake, Jill. Craig has always loved desserts. I'm sure he would appreciate a fresh-baked cake every now and then."

Jill smiled. " Yes, and he appreciates when you bring them over." She walked back outside, getting the rest of her bags from the backseat.

" Well, baking does take some talent. Unless you open up a box and use a cake mix. Then I say, what's the point? "

" Yes, well, thanks, Arlene. I'll be sure to try a piece myself."

Arlene stood in the kitchen, watching as Jill put the groceries away. Jill finally stopped. " Was there something else, Arlene? "

" No. I guess I should get going. It's nearly lunchtime." She paused on her way out. " Do you want to join us? Carl is grilling burgers."

Jill shook her head. " No, but thanks."

" No trouble to do one for you."

" Actually, I've got some errands to run. I'll pick up something in town, " she lied.

" Okay then. And don't forget, we're having steaks for dinner. If this weather holds, it'll be nice to cook out."

Jill frowned, her eyebrows pulling together. " Craig didn't mention we were having dinner with you tonight."

" He didn't? Yes, at seven. But don't worry about bringing anything. It'll be simple. I'll do baked potatoes."

Jill nodded. " Well, I'm glad you told me. I would have already started dinner by the time he got home."

Arlene moved to leave then stopped again. " Where's Angie? "

" She's at Shelly's house. Her mother was taking them to the movies today, then she's staying over."

" How fun. It must be nice for you, hmmm? "

" What do you mean? "

" Oh, that Angie doesn't bring her friends over here. That way, you don't have to play mom."

Jill was about to protest but she didn't. It was the truth. Angie rarely brought her friends over to the house. So she nodded. " I think she's afraid I'd have to haul them around in my old car."

" It's no wonder she thinks you don't like her. You spend even less time with her than you do your husband." She looked back over her shoulder. " See you tonight."

Alone again, Jill finished unpacking her groceries, trying not to let Arlene get to her. She wasn't certain if she said things on purpose or if she was completely oblivious as to how hurtful her words were.

Slamming the cabinet door harder than necessary, she stood there, hands tightly gripping the counter. Without another thought, she grabbed her purse, going back outside into the sunshine. Before she knew it, she was speeding down the street, driving automatically, watching the familiar sights of their small city zip by as she headed out of town.

And toward the lake.

She didn't know how she knew it but something was guiding her, as if she was a puppet in a play. She had no reason to think that Carrie would be at the cottage on a Saturday. Yet, that's where she was headed, not for a moment questioning her reasoning.

That was why, a short time later, she was not surprised to find the gate open as she bounced along the tiny road. She felt an instant wave of relief when she saw Carrie's blue van parked in the driveway.

As she stood outside, she debated whether to use the front door or to go around the back to the sunroom like they normally did.

" Well, what a pleasant surprise."

Jill turned at the sound of Carrie's voice, her smile matching that of the other woman.

" You know, if you leave your gate open like that, you never know who will drop by."

Carrie walked closer, her eyes turning serious. " Would you believe me if I told you I had this... this feeling that you'd come today? "

Jill let herself be pulled into Carrie's eyes. She nodded. " Yes, I would believe you." She laughed lightly, pulling her eyes away from Carrie's, breaking the spell the woman seemed to have on her. " We've really got to exchange phone numbers."

" Yes, we do." She pulled off her gardening gloves and wiped her hands on her jeans. " Because this day is too beautiful not to share." She motioned for Jill to follow as she walked through the picket fence and around to the back. " Let me wash up, then we can go sit down at the pier."

" You're sure I'm not intruding? "

" Oh, absolutely not. It was just so pretty out, I thought it'd be a good day to start on the flowerbeds." She went to the sink in the kitchen to wash and Jill pulled out a bar stool, watching. " How did you sneak away? "

" Didn't have to sneak. There wasn't anyone at home."

" Oh yeah? "

Jill sighed. " Craig went to a basketball tournament in Richland." She waved her hand dismissively. " He wanted me to go with him so we could spend some time together."

" And? "

" I declined. For one thing, I hate basketball. And two, as long as his cell phone is with him, there's not a moment of down time."

" You hate basketball and he's a coach? How did that happen? "

" Football, basketball and baseball. He coaches all three. Football is the only one I have any interest in. But he lives for them all."

" How in the world can he possibly coach all three? "

" Assistant coach in football, head coach in basketball. He's the hitting coach for the baseball team. And yes, it takes up most of his time. Sports, period, take up most of his time." She shook her head. " I don't mean to complain. He was like this when I married him. I just thought he'd have outgrown it by now."

Carrie leaned on the bar with her elbows, watching Jill. When their eyes met, Jill tilted her head.

" What? "

" I just think it's kind of odd that we both have husbands so busy with their own lives that we've become almost an afterthought." She shrugged. " At least, that's how I feel sometimes."

Jill nodded. " Exactly. Yesterday, when he took us out for lunch, his cell rang barely ten minutes into it. I think he actually forgot I was even there. I had to ask him to end the call just so he could take me back to work."

" I know what you mean. I think James would shrivel up and die if he lost his cell phone. But I try not to complain. It wasn't all that many years ago where mine was the one constantly ringing." She moved to the fridge and held it open, peering inside. " Have you had lunch? "

" No. You? "

" No. But I don't have much to offer." She smiled over the top of the door. " Cheese and crackers that we had last week."

" That's fine."

" And I've got a bottle of wine. How about we spend the afternoon down at the pier? "

" Wonderful. It'll be nice to visit without having to watch the time." Jill stood, then paused. " Or do you have to get back? "

Carrie shook her head. " I'm all yours."

" I can't believe she said that to you. My mother-in-law would never interfere like that, " Carrie said. " Even though I'm sure she's wanted to on occasion."

" Most of my shortcomings usually involve Angie but today she was focusing on Craig too. I really think the woman hates me."

" I'm telling you, it's because he's an only child. In her mind, no woman will ever be good enough for her baby."

" I know. I keep telling myself that, " Jill said, holding out her glass for Carrie to refill. " Thanks. But I sometimes wonder if there's not some truth to what she says. We hardly spend any time together as it is. And I mean, even though I hate basketball, shouldn't I be more supportive and go to his games? I know other wives do."

" Did you in the beginning? "

Jill nodded. " Yeah. I used to make all the home games, at least. But it just became a chore. Something I hated to do. I was resenting the fact that on my time, I felt obligated to follow him around like some groupie." She laughed nervously. " God, that sounds so awful."

" It doesn't matter how it sounds. You should be able to voice your feelings, Jill."

" Yeah, but it sounds so selfish. I mean, what's wrong with me? Why don't I want to spend time with him? "

" Is that what you think it is? "

" I don't know anymore."

Carrie looked out over the lake then stretched her legs out as she got more comfortable on the bench. Jill turned sideways, watching her.

" I often wonder how my own marriage survived, " Carrie said. " But in the beginning, I was the one never at home. Every weekend, I was out showing houses, meeting buyers and sellers alike, never home for James, never home for the boys. It's just a miracle my kids have turned out to be such sweethearts." She turned slowly, meeting Jill's eyes. " Then, of course, the stores took off and James was gone all the time." She turned back to the lake. " And our kids still love us."

" What school do they go to? It's not Kline, is it? "

Carrie shook her head. " Private school. Brookhaven." She held her hands out as if to catch the sunshine. " Such a gorgeous day. I'm so glad you're here to share it with me." She smiled. " And it's good to see you like this, in everyday clothes. You look comfortable. You look nice."

Jill blushed then rubbed her hands on her jeans. " I hate business suits but Mr. Tutt insisted on them. Now that his son runs the business, he's not as particular but I've already got a closet full of them."

" That's the first thing I did when I got out of the real estate business. I tossed all my suits. I swore I'd never put on another pair of high-heeled shoes." She picked up the wine bottle and held it up. " We've about killed it." She laughed. " God, I love lazy days like this."

" Yes. It's so nice out here." Jill reached over and touched her hand. " Where are your boys today? How is it that you're alone? "

Carrie stared at their hands for a long moment then raised her eyes. Jill went to pull her hand away, embarrassed, but Carrie stopped her.

" You only wear a wedding band, " Carrie said quietly.

Jill raised her eyebrows.

" No diamond, just the band, " Carrie explained, touching her ring finger. She held up her own left hand. " Me too."

Jill nodded. " Craig and I couldn't afford much when we got engaged. I didn't see the point in spending an obscene amount of money on a diamond when we didn't even have a house to live in."

" You got married in college? "

" No. A month later. We both graduated in May. Got married in June. Started teaching—both at Kline—in August." She shook her head with a smile. " A whirlwind summer."

" Why here? "

Jill shrugged. " Craig's from here."

Carrie gave her a sympathetic smile. " I can't believe your in-laws live three doors down."

Jill laughed. " Most days, neither can I."

Jill turned her attention to the lake and stretched out, much like Carrie was doing. The garden bench was small and she was aware that their hands still brushed, aware each time Carrie's fingers moved across her skin. She finally turned, not surprised to find Carrie's eyes on her. Their eyes held for a long moment. Again, that feeling of familiarity—of connecting—settled around her. She liked it. It felt peaceful.

" I'm really glad you came today, " Carrie said quietly.

" Me too."

" I wish we could do this more often."

Jill nodded and smiled. " Perhaps we should exchange phone numbers, " she suggested.

" And I'll give you the code to the gate. Because even if we can't be together, there's no reason you can't come out here and enjoy the peace and quiet."

" Oh, I wouldn't come out if you weren't here."

" Why not? I'm offering. Besides, you are the only other soul who even knows this place exists."

Jill paused. " Do you feel guilty you've not shared this with your family? "

Carrie shook her head. " No, not at all. For one thing, James could never slow down enough to enjoy it out here. He's all go, go, go, all the time. Now the boys would probably enjoy the lake in the summer, would enjoy going swimming, but they both have their own things going on now. Josh will graduate in May and go off to college. He doesn't have a clue as to what he wants to do but he wants to leave home, go someplace new. And I'm all for that. He's far too young to be stuck in one place. But Aaron, now he's his father's son. He so smart, he could do anything he wanted—engineering, computer science, anything. But damn if he doesn't want to stay here and run one of James's stores."

" Well, I'm sure James is happy at least one of them wants to follow in his footsteps, " Jill said.

" Oh, of course he is. I think he was secretly afraid he was working his ass off all these years for nothing, " she said with a laugh. " But in the summers, Aaron goes with him every day. And this coming summer, James has promised him an assistant manager’s job. I have this horrible fear he'll graduate high school and move into a manager's position and never go to college. And Aaron would be perfectly happy. So would James, for that matter."

" Well, at least your kids have interests. Angie's world revolves around boys and makeup. I know she's only a freshman but she shows no interest in anything. I asked her once what she wanted to do and she said she'd probably end up being a secretary, like me, " Jill said with a smirk.

Carrie laughed and squeezed Jill's hand.

" I know. If she knew my salary was more than her father's, she'd die. I don't know how it happened but she's very old-fashioned." Jill leaned closer, liking the feel of Carrie's fingers on her hand. " She has this vision of fathers working to support the family and mothers being home to cater to the kids. And I know she gets that from her grandmother."

" She spends a lot of time with her? "

" Yes. Especially when she was younger. After school, she'd go over there until I got home from work. Even now that she's older, she still goes over after school most days. I cringe when I think of all the crap they must be filling her head with."

" Does Craig know all the things his mother says to you? "

" No. In the beginning when she'd say something to piss me off, I'd tell him, but usually he would just laugh it off, or worse, take her side. The only time he didn't take her side was when I quit teaching. He knew how miserable I was."

" So you tolerate her and pretend everything's fine? "

" Yes. And she informed me we're having dinner with them tonight. Craig apparently forgot to tell me."

" Ouch."

" Yeah. What a way to end a perfect day."

" Was it a perfect day? " Carrie asked quietly.

Jill smiled. " Well, let's see? It didn't start out all that great, no. But sitting here at the lake in the sunshine, visiting with you... yeah, it was perfect."

" I'm glad you think so."

But after sitting through dinner, silently listening as Craig gave play-by-play descriptions of the basketball games he'd watched that day, Jill thought how truly perfect the afternoon with Carrie had indeed been.

Carl, her father-in-law, looked at her once, his eyes questioning, but she smiled and turned her attention to Craig. She tried—she really did—to muster up some enthusiasm for what Craig loved. Unfortunately, it just wouldn't come.


Поделиться с друзьями:

mylektsii.su - Мои Лекции - 2015-2024 год. (0.026 сек.)Все материалы представленные на сайте исключительно с целью ознакомления читателями и не преследуют коммерческих целей или нарушение авторских прав Пожаловаться на материал