Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Episode 49 Homecoming

On the drive back to Pine Lake from the airport, Claire was very quiet.

"You okay?" Matt asked.

She smiled at him, but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "Yes, but it's been an intense couple of days."

"Vegas tends to be that way. And we sure made the most of it."

"You know people are going to talk."

"Really?" His voice rang with sarcasm. He glanced briefly at her, then returned his eyes to the highway. "Sweetheart, the good folks of Pine Lake always talk. They've had plenty to say about me since I moved to town, and Lord knows they've always had plenty to say about you. We should both be used to it. The only thing that's going to change now is that they will talk about us together. And I'm okay with that."

"It might get ugly."

"Not for us." Taking one hand off the steering wheel, he caressed her cheek lightly and said, "Not as long as we're together."

Claire held up the sparkling new wedding rings on her left hand. "I do believe we just made promises to stay together forever."

"You know that's going to be enough to keep tongues wagging for six months. Hey, maybe Genevra Adams will do a feature story on us for 'Pine Heart'. After all, we are probably Pine Lake's one and only couple to be married by an Elvis impersonator."

The idea of Genevra even considering such a story made Claire laugh aloud. She glanced at her new husband and felt a rush of love and contentment that she'd never known before. Matt Wilson had come into her life like the proverbial knight in shining armor. He was right--the gossip was nothing new, and this time she had nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Episode 48 Another Long Night

Genevra Adams and John Donati? There was hardly a less likely pair, thought Helen Kallias as she watched the two of them leave Taverna together. They'd been at the bar for an hour, then moved to a cozy two-top at the back of the dining room where they'd sat drinking, sharing a plate of fried calamari, and chattering away like old chums until midnight.

Helen had approached their table a couple of times, discreetly, hoping to hear something of their conversation, but there was nothing they discussed that she hadn't known already: John was upset that his ex-wife had moved to San Francisco; Genevra was disgusted with her husband and children.

Genevra's kids weren't so bad--except maybe for Billy, who was just pitiable--but Helen could sure understand why Blake Adams was on Genevra's shit list. The guy was an idiot. Everyone in town knew he was screwing around with that trashy Jeni DuMont.

What was it about these men--Helen's husband, Nick, as well as Blake--that made them behave so badly? They strutted around, treated their wives like hired help, did a lousy job of parenting, then when the shit hit the fan, they acted like the messes in their lives were everyone else's fault.

Again tonight, Nick had left the restaurant before ten. Mr. Big Shot didn't have the stamina to make it though an entire day any more. It would have made Helen sad if she weren't so profoundly angry with him. The image of Selena's face, the crimson scar running from her left eye to her chin, dispelled any feelings of pity Helen might have had for her husband. He'd brought on misery when he'd tried to outsmart Fate.

The last of the diners headed to the door. The busboys swarmed in to clear up and re-set tables for the next day. Gus closed out the bar, and Helen went to her office.

Long after everyone else had left, she locked up and headed home in the calming blue light before dawn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Episode 47 At the Bar

"Well, well. If the Chief of Police is at the bar, who's keeping the streets of Pine Lake safe?"

Genevra Adams slid onto the barstool next to John Donati. He glared at her. "Slumming tonight, Genevra?"

"Don't be snide." She turned to the bartender, a dark-eyed young man standing in for Taverna's regular barman. "Jameson. On the rocks. The good stuff, not the crap."

Lost in his own thoughts, Donati ignored the woman next to him. They each nursed their respective libations until she broke the silence. "So why isn't Jack behind the bar tonight?"

"He's busy." Donati answered without taking his eyes off his drink. He could feel her staring at him, but he refused to meet her gaze.

"What's the matter, Ossifer? You're looking a little sorry for yourself. People might start to talk."

"Huh?" He turned his head, squinting at her.

"You look like someone just drowned your cat. And slightly blotto to boot."

"Don't have a cat." Donati went back to contemplating the melted ice in the bottom of his glass.

"Right. Sorry."

The police chief knew he was being a jerk. He couldn't quite bring himself to apologize for his rude behavior, but he could at least be civil. "What brings the lovely Mrs. Adams here tonight, all on her own?"

"It's a long, ugly story." She drained the amber liquid in her glass.

Donati was pretty sure he knew most of the story, but mostly to ease his own misery, he said, "How 'bout I buy you another drink and you can tell me all about it?"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Episode 46 A Difficult Situation

 "What's this?" Blake looked at the brochures scattered across the coffee table and knew full well that they advertised travel packages.

"That's our honeymoon," Jeni replied. "I thought we could start in Paris, then go through Italy and finish up with a week or two on a Greek Island."

The two of them were in Jeni's living room sitting awkwardly side by side on the very sofa where it was likely their child had been conceived. The notion made Blake fidget--he hadn't planned on being a father again at this stage of his life. And given the state of his three adult children, he was pretty sure he sucked at parenting.

"Aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself?" Blake asked. "After all, I haven't asked you to marry me yet. And in case you've forgotten, I'm still legally married to Genevra."

"Details," Jeni said, offering him her dazzling and determined smile. She leaned into his shoulder, gazing up at him with eyes that were more calculating than adoring. "We're going to have such a wonderful time."

Adrenaline surged through Blake's system. Fight or flight.

"I don't know," he said. "I think we need to re-think the situation. We've had a nice little . . . thing going, but I'm too old to be starting another family."

Jeni's expression hardened. "So, you're saying you don't want to marry me?"

Blake winced. She made him sound so heartless. "I'm only saying we have options. We need to think things through." He hesitated, then blurted out what was really on his mind. "Are you sure you want this baby?"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Episode 45 Jack's Dream

It was a beautiful blue-sky day, and Jack Donati was on top of the world. Everything was going his way. Last month, he'd finished his EMT basics, last week, he'd aced the National Registry EMT-B exam, and now he was driving home from city hall where he'd just been offered a job as Pine Lake's newest EMT. He'd married the love of his life, and their first child was on its way. Life was good.

The only annoyance was his wife's mother. Genevra Adams was a pain in the ass. Whitney had told Jack from day one that there was no pleasing her mother and, so far, Jack had to agree. He couldn't understand how someone like Genevra--rich, beautiful, smart--could be so miserable. Whitney's father, Blake, had finally had enough. He'd moved out of the Adams' mansion to a duplex near Hunter Ridge.

Jack and Blake got on well enough. Blake had even given his daughter and new son-in-law a sizable check as a wedding gift (probably without Genevra's knowledge). Before today, Jack had been thinking it would be nice to use the money to buy a house, but on his bartender's salary, it was still too much of a stretch. Now, with the new job, he was more optimistic.

Since it was such a nice day, Jack decided that instead of going straight back to the apartment, he'd drive around a bit on the older side of town where the modest real estate might be in their price range. His favorite dream of late was for Whitney and him to be in their own place before the baby came.

On Spring Street, he spotted what he'd been hoping to find: a small house with a large side yard, obviously in need of repair, and obviously vacant. Jack parked the car across the street and sat daydreaming for a few minutes. He was pretty certain that the money Blake had given them would cover a down payment with enough left over for fixing up the basics.  He envisioned working on the place over the years, painting and renovating bit by bit until they'd turned it into a little gem. White paint with green trim, window boxes spilling red, white and blue flowers, and a big swing set filled with laughing children in that side yard. He snapped a quick photo with his phone and hurried home to tell Whitney all about it.