One hour later I checked the last card in the pile and studied the sheet. One line remained blank but today’s mail hadn’t arrived.
A long sigh escaped. The finished chore called for a reward. With a stretch to relieve stiff bones, I strode to the kitchen to brew a pot of mint tea and to defrost a brownie from the freezer. The cat abandoned his battle and padded after me. While the water heated, I pulled my favorite teapot from a shelf. It was a duplicate of the one Brenda had refused to sell. I smiled.
Some days I felt as though I was the woman climbing from hot water. Though I dearly love Lars, I wished he’d agreed to elope. Instead I was stuck with a summer wedding and two receptions, the first at the church and the other at Cedar Inn. At least he’d agreed to a list of local charities instead of gifts we would never use.
The kettle whistled. After warming the teapot, I hung a stuffed tea ball on the rim and poured. A cloud of aromatic steam brought a moment of relaxation. With a filled mug and a brownie on a plate, I walked to the living room. Robespierre abandoned his food and followed.
While sipping tea and eating the chocolate treat, I sat on the window seat and stared outside. When I converted the house to apartments I’d chosen the second floor. When the trees lose their leaves I have a great view of the
River. A nice treat in winter during the days when a walk was
impossible. The cat curled beside me. His rumbling purrs set me into dreams of
the coming day.
Nearly thirty years of being a widow have given me a sense of independence. Lars has been a widower for twenty years. My husband and I had been friends with Lars and his wife. Those bonds of friendship hadn’t been broken by death. This winter’s events in
had removed the obstacles to our marriage. Santa Fe
Was I sorry Bonnie had been killed? My sorrow was for Lars’ pain. His only daughter had been responsible for the death of his daughter-in-law and for trying to steal his investment company and turn it into the kind that buys and ruins businesses for profit instead of lending a hand. Years ago, as a teenager, Bonnie’s tantrums had ruined Lars and my chance of a wedding.
My thoughts shifted to the coming day. Suit and shoes were in the closet. Hair appointment to keep my tresses the auburn of my youth had been made. All was set, even our honeymoon plans.
Plans change again
Edward stepped from the podium and clasped our hands. “I present you Katherine and Lars Claybourne.”
The recessional began. Instead of walking down the aisle, Lars and I led the way to Fellowship Hall where the Women’s Guild had prepared the first reception. Wine, iced tea and coffee and fruit punch were served along with finger sandwiches and other appetizers. Two five tier cakes stood on a table, one iced with white and the other one of my chocolate cakes. Lars and I stood at the door to greet the guests and hear good wishes.
As the line grew shorter, I realized Joyce hadn’t arrived. Worry stuttered through my thoughts. What had happened? Traffic. Construction. An accident. Illness. Brenda.
Lars clasped my hand and startled me. My fears for my friend remained strong.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Joyce didn’t come.”
“I’m sure she left a message for you. We’ll learn when we go for your luggage. It’s time to taste the food and cut the cakes. On our way to
Montreal, we’ll stop at her house.”
His belief in a logical explanation brought a moment of relief. We reached the buffet table where Lars filled two plates with an assortment of tidbits. I tasted a slice of brie topped with sliced strawberries and put the plate down. Though I’m sure the food was delicious, concern for my friend killed my appetite.
When Lars finished sampling every offering, we cut the cakes and fed each other a small piece. A flawless tasting. Both cakes were terrific. Two of the Guild women cut the bottom layers cakes into slices for the multitude of guests. The two middle tiers would be taken to the restaurant for the second reception. The top ones would be boxed for Lars and me.
Edward strolled toward us. “Katherine, Lars, what a fabulous celebration. The cakes are fabulous but of course I’m partial to the fabulous chocolate confection. Did you make both?”
“Just the chocolate.” My smile threatened to morph into giggles. Fabulous must be his word of the day.
“Lars, a word in private. I’ve had a fabulous idea.”
Before I could protest he drew Lars away. Moments later two of the Elders joined them. The four walked toward the door leading to the garden.
Not today. I needed Lars’ phone to make a call. I was convinced Joyce was in trouble. Since the incident in
Santa Fe he kept his cell
phone in his pocket. Mine was at the apartment. This suit had no pockets and my
purse was at home.
Following to snatch Lars from his kidnappers proved impossible. Every time someone stopped me to gush congratulations, my stomach tightened. I thought about being rude but we were in church and today was meant to be a joyous occasion.
I noticed Sarah’s foster son near the stage. He held a rectangular object in one hand. His fingers moved so fast they blurred. Texting, I hoped. I hurried toward him. He held a phone.
"Jamal, could I use your phone? There’s a call I must make.”
What will the call reveal?