Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Episode 44 Claire and Matt

"I still think we shouldn't have come here," Claire Monroe said, glancing around Taverna. She and Matt Wilson had a table in the corner, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.

"It'll be fine," Matt replied. "Besides, this is the only good restaurant in Pine Lake."

"And unfortunately, it's owned by the parents of the girl my son ran away with," Claire added.

Matt smiled, "From what I gather, she was only too happy to go."

Out of the corner of her eye, Claire saw Helen Kallias at the back of the restaurant. Helen had seen her, too, but Claire couldn't quite read the expression on her face. "Oh, God, there's Helen. What if she comes over here?"

"What if she does?" Matt answered. "Even if she is upset, which I seriously doubt, she's not going to yell at you and make a scene in her own restaurant."

"She might kick us out."

Matt shrugged. "We'll order a pizza."

Claire felt herself relax just a bit. Matt had that effect on her. She had grown very fond of this man who was so easy-going. Nothing rattled him, and as far as she could tell, it took a lot to make him angry. It had been a a long time since she had felt this way about a man. Taking her cue from him, she decided not to worry about Helen and give her full attention to Matt. "You're right, I need to let it go. It's not my fault that Biff and Selena left town." She took a healthy sip of her chardonnay. "Now, tell me, what is this surprise you've been talking about?"

Matt grinned and reached across the table for her hand. "I have a great idea," he began. "I think we should ---"

"Claire!" Helen had managed to come around the corner behind their table so that neither Claire no Matt had been aware of her approach. To Claire's amazement, the woman was beaming as she said, "Claire, your son is my new hero." Helen bent down and planted kisses beside both Claire's cheeks. "He risked his life to come back here and rescue my Selena, for which I can never, ever thank you enough."

Helen reached up and snapped her fingers in the air, signalling a waiter who stepped over to the table with a bottle of Dom Perignon. "Your dinner tonight is on the house, as is this bottle of champagne. Enjoy!" She turned and left.

Astonished, Claire and Matt sat speechless as the waiter filled two flutes with golden bubbles and set the bottle in a cooler next to Matt.

"Did I just imagine that?" Claire asked.

"I don't think so, but if you did, you've got a great imagination, baby."

They clinked glasses and took a sip. Matt put his glass down carefully. "Now as I was saying . . .I think you and I deserve some fun. How does an all-expenses paid week in Vegas sound?"

For the second time in 15 minutes, Claire was rendered speechless.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Episode 43 Angering the gods

Nick had screwed up. Totally. He sat in the shadows of his empty restaurant feeling like a broken man, wishing he could turn back the clock and undo his mischief. It was 7 a.m.; he'd been in the same chair since he'd wandered into the building in the wee hours. At home, he'd been unable to sleep, so he'd come to Taverna, but there was no peace here, either.

Nick had angered the gods by trying to manipulate Fate, and they'd responded by bringing his entire world crashing down. His heart attack had been their opening volley. Recovered but weak, he'd had to suffer worse pain and anguish when his daughter, Selena, nearly died in a car accident, her beautiful face now permanently scarred. That was his fault, too. If he hadn't tried to outsmart the gods, she never would have been on the road, distraught and distracted.

His wife, Helen, would never forgive him. She'd said as much last night. The two of them had been standing alone in their living room just after Selena and Biff announced that they were leaving Pine Lake. Immediately. Forever.

When they'd gone, Helen glared at him, white with rage. "Why on earth would you threaten to send murdering thugs after Biff?" She'd asked.

"I just wanted him to leave town. I wanted him to leave Selena alone," Nick replied. "It was all lies; I made up all that stuff about knowing who to call to make him disappear. How was I supposed to know he'd been an undercover drug agent and there really were people who'd come after him?"

"You're a fool," she'd said, walking away.

He was a fool. A pathetic old man whose family despised him. A line from The Odyssey floated into his head: "This time you are the derelict the Powers bring" (Book XIV, line 451).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Episode 42

Billy Adams loved it when his mother went on a rant, and tonight she had outdone herself. In fact, she'd been on a pretty good streak of tantrums and hissy fits ever since Whitney's wedding. The first thing to set her off was the wedding itself--she hated the groom. Never mind everyone else in town thought he was a decent fellow. Then, she'd really gone nuts when the wedding had to be moved ahead because Whitney had gotten herself preggers. But all that was nothing compared to what happened at the wedding.

Genevra Adams' little fantasy world had blown apart when she saw her older son, David, kissing his boyfriend right in front of everyone at the wedding. Hah, Billy thought, served her right. He'd always wondered how she'd stayed so clueless about David. But then, she was clueless about all three of her kids. And her husband.

The night after the wedding, the 'rents had gone at it tooth and nail. Yelling, smashing china and glassware, throwing shit at each other. It was good. Even scared the crap out of Gaston, Billy's caregiver, who wasn't used to such displays.

Things were quieter now that Billy's dad, Blake, had left. The old man had called her bluff on that one. He'd packed up and stormed out a couple of hours ago.  Billy and Gaston were in the games room, playing 8-ball. Gaston was winning, which was annoying.

"Billy? Billy! Where are you?" Genevra was coming down the hallway, her high heels cracking like little gunshots.

Billy glanced at Gaston. "Don't say a word."

"Dude, she's your mom. I gotta let her know where you are." Gaston turned. "In here, Mrs. Adams."

Genevra marched into the room. "It's after ten o'clock. Billy, you should be in bed. The doctors still want you to rest."

"Mom, I'm not five years old." Billy leaned over the pool table to take his next shot.

Genevra ignored him. "Gaston, please see to it that my son is settled for the night. Now."

"Mom . . ."

His mother reached over and picked up the cue ball. "As long as you are in my house, you will do as I say."

Billy glared at her. "Go to hell." He stalked across the room, turning at the door. "I'll be eighteen in six weeks. No stopping me then, Mommy dear."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Episode 41 A Wedding, A Kiss

Genevra allowed herself a moment of self-congratulation. In spite of less than ideal circumstances, her daughter's wedding was perfection. The sunny June afternoon had become a beautiful evening, gorgeous flowers and fairy lights ornamented the most elaborate reception Pine Lake Country Club could provide, and the bride was absolutely stunning.

All the arrangements had been rushed, but Whitney's off-the-rack Vera Wang dress fit as if it had been made for her, revealing no sign of her baby bump. The caterer had outdone himself, producing hors d'ouvres of smoked salmon, stuffed mushrooms, and petite quiches, followed by filet mignon, roast asparagus, and fingerling potatoes. A four-tier cake stood waiting for the bride and groom.

As far as Genevra was concerned, the only fly in the ointment was the groom. Whitney could have done so much better for herself, but she had insisted on marrying Jack Donati, which doomed her to being stuck in Pine Lake for the rest of her life, raising his brats. It made Genevra want to cry.

Blake offered a toast to his daughter and new son-in-law that was blessedly short. (He looked like hell; Genevra knew for a fact he hadn't been sleeping.) He and Whitney danced to "Isn't She Lovely," and then Jack and his mother, April, got up and rocked to "Twist and Shout," which Genevra thought wholly inappropriate. The band was much too loud, nevertheless played a wide variety of songs, and most people were dancing. Blake had taken a turn with each of Whitney's three bridesmaids after handing his daughter over to Jack. In the crowd, Genevra saw Claire Monroe dancing with Matt Wilson.  Billy (who had been allowed to come as long as he was accompanied by his handler) was  out on the floor with a girl Genevra had never seen before. Jack's father, John, stared wistfully at his ex-wife as she moved around the dance floor with various partners. Genevra's eldest child, David, came into view laughing and joking with his friend, Michael. She'd met him last night at the rehearsal dinner and thought him witty, but a bit odd.

The newlyweds cut their cake and the band played a medley of pop tunes that seemed to go on forever. It annoyed Genevra that everyone was dancing in a large group, rather than specific couples, which made it impossible to tell who was with whom. She would have enjoyed a dance or two, but Blake had disappeared and she was not about to just get up by herself and go flailing around like some teenager.

Finally, midnight came around and Whitney stood on the landing of the Club staircase to throw her bouquet. The guest filled the foyer below her, waiting, then chanting as she raised the flowers overhead, "ONE. . . TWO. . .THREE!"

The bouquet sailed in a perfect arc over the outstretched arms of the bridesmaids, past Claire Monroe and April Donati, straight to David's friend, Michael, who caught it with one hand. He held the flowers aloft, and as Genevra watched, he and David threw their arms around one another. The crowd cheered and clapped. To her horror, the joyful embrace continued, and as the band began to play, became a kiss and a lovers' dance.