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Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 32 (Word prompts: tiny, wasp, suitcase, lingering, flutter, perplexing, ultimatum, control, obsessive, encounter)
Madison barely remembered the rest of the trip home. It was as though she were reliving the night she drove away leaving Robert in the light of the back door standing in the driveway watching her leave. She had not taken the time to pack a suitcase then either.
Robert had come home late from work and he had been drinking. In those days Madison knew little about alcoholism and the obsessive behavior that could go along with it. All she knew was that she was miserable. Although they had been married such a short time she had given up on the idea that the problems were something that would sort themselves out. They were beginning to make comments at work and were teasing her about making time to sleep even if she were a newly-wed. She was too ashamed to tell them what was really causing her loss of sleep and the feeling that she was losing control of every aspect of her life, at home and at work.
It had been a chance encounter with an old friend who had broken through her denial and it became obvious that she could not continue the way she was headed. She found herself telling Miriam the entire truth and Miriam asked the simple question to which she had no answer. “Why are you staying?”
That night when Robert came home and ignored the dinner that, although cold, was still on the table, Madison told him that either things had to change or she was leaving. It was not the first time she had uttered these words or something similar during the four years since they had met. She had lost count of all the times they had broken up until, after a few days, one of them would apologize and pledge that things would be different.
That night Madison knew it was for real this time. For the first time she wondered if Robert was feeling the same thing when he made the ultimatum.
That had been the first time she had made the threat since they had been married and she had been living in his house. Although she still had her own house in another area of town, it was now empty and provided no safe place to escape after an argument. It had been perplexing that she resisted the idea to sign up with a realty company in order to rent the property, which had been the plan when she moved out. She had not had a good reason when she was reminded that this item was still on her “To Do List”.
On this day, remembering that time so many years ago, Madison knew that she had always known that the house would be needed by her before long. That had been her security blanket.
That night she had driven across town to her parent’s house. By the time she drove up their dark driveway she had formulated a plan. Luckily her mother had still been awake, although not expecting visitors at this time of the night. Madison remembered her fluttering around the kitchen as she made coffee for her to drink while she told them of what she had done and what she had planned. Mother had awakened her dad who wanted to go beat up the man who had hurt his baby. Madison had to convince him that would not be necessary and in the end he had calmed down. She still missed her father who was always ready to defend her.
The next day, although her father wanted to go with her, she chose to go with her mother back to the house to get some clothes and to leave a note that she would be arranging for the moving company to pick up her things. Robert had not been there but she remembered when she went to the back door, which was the only door that she had a key, there was a wasp that seemed to be blocking her way. But then it had flown away so that she could enter without fear. It had been no accident there had been this tiny creature during both of these times.
Madison parked the car in front of her own house. She didn’t go inside right away but wanted to linger in the car for a while just thinking about the past, the present and all the times in between. She hadn’t realized until now that she was still harboring those doubts that she had when she drove away from Robert. Now she knew it had been the right decision, as had all the decisions she had made during the intervening years. She had no idea what she was going to do from now but she had a new confidence that she would know when the time came.
It was a different person who led the dogs out of the car and into the house than the one who had left it only a week before.
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 31 (Word prompts: tiny, wasp, suitcase, lingering, flutter, perplexing, ultimatum, control, obsessive, encounter)
Madison started to go upstairs to pack her suitcase but then stopped at the foot of the stairs. It seemed a useless thing to do. She had plenty of clothes at home. Everything she needed for the trip was in her purse on the table beside the front door. Besides, it wasn’t like she was leaving forever.
She was aware of the most perplexing sensation. For some reason a wasp seemed to be calling to her through the glass beside the door, telling her it was important to walk through. At the same time she felt Craig’s eyes lingering on her back. She feared turning around and seeing them again. The pull in both directions were strong.
It seemed an eternity before she picked up her purse and called the pups. They were always anxious for a ride and they were pawing at the door which gave her an excuse to follow them out.
As she made the right turn onto the highway she told herself that she was doing the right thing, taking control of a situation that was clearly out of control. And it didn’t really involve her at all. If she had stayed at home, if Robert hadn’t died and left her his house, if she had never encountered him in the first place, she would be completely ignorant of three abandoned children left in an automobile two hundred miles from home.
It was when she looked in the rearview mirror and saw Daisy and Tedi looking back at her that she realized she had been talking out loud. This wasn’t the first time she wished they could speak in words that she could understand. Their eyes were telling her that they had plenty to say.
She stopped at the next town to fill up the gas tank. She paid with the credit card since she didn’t like leaving the dogs in the car while she went inside. She hoped there would be a place with a drive through where she could get something to eat and drink as she had left without eating. She was in luck and got a supply of food and drink for them all. Perhaps she could make it all the way home without having to stop.
After a few miles she was unable to see the faces in the mirror and knew the pups were taking their early afternoon nap. The sound of the tires on the highway accompanied the Michael Buble CD. It was a good day for a drive. The clouds and mist of last night had been replaced by bright blue sky interrupted by a few white fluffy clouds. Madison tried to clear her mind and enjoy the road but she couldn’t shake the tiny thoughts that kept tickling her mind. At first she tried to ignore them and then she tried to identify them but as soon as one would appear it would flutter away when she tried to catch it. The only thing that was obvious was that the messages were negative. They were telling her she was doing the wrong thing.
Up ahead was a rest stop. She thought Daisy and Tedi might like a bit of exercise. She pulled into the parking lot which was almost empty. There were two cars near the rest rooms so she parked at the other end to walk the dogs. She stopped at a picnic table and let them sniff around. It was the sight of a wasp that reminded her of the feelings she had been having at the front door. It was a feeling that she was making a decision that would have an important bearing for the rest of her life. But why should she feel this way? After all, she was just returning home. She hadn’t hung a sign on either place and with Craig’s offer to use and pay for the barn, there was no need to make a decision any time soon. She had told Craig he could call her if he needed anything. In fact, she rather hoped he would call just to update her. Why was she obsessing about all of this? It wasn’t the first time she had been accused of making a mountain out of molehill.
With a shake of her head she coaxed the pups back into the car. They were not anxious to leave the spot where they were obviously enjoying very interesting aromas but they jumped into the back seat as she held the door open.
It was then she had the flashback of another time when she was holding the car door open and coaxing her dog into the back seat. Robert had just told her that if she left she would not be able to return. He had given her an ultimatum and she had made the choice,
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 30 (Word Prompts: seeking, discarded, question, twinkling, spontaneous, cluck, shadow, quicksand, entangle, troubling thoughts)
The two men were staring at whatever had been written in the sketchbook. Now there were no clucking sounds coming from Craig, but rather words spoken in such a hushed voice that she couldn’t make them out even from only a few feet away. This brought a whole new assortment of troubling thoughts and her impulse to leave was stronger than before. Unlike before, this seemed the time to follow that impulse. She was still wearing the clothes from the party. It had been only a few hours since she had dressed but it seemed days. Perhaps a change of clothes would help.
Her departure seemed to go unnoticed by the men but Tedi and Daisy followed her up the stairs and immediately jumped on the bed. The thought they might have the right idea but rather than lie down, she took her robe from the closet and decided on a bubble bath which would also give her time to think.
By the time she had dried off and donned the now familiar leggings and shirt, she had made a decision. It was time to head back home and check on things there. Her stay had already lasted longer than she had planned and she had made no preparations for an extended absence. Besides, she felt the need to talk with some female friends. There is nothing that takes the place of girl friends when it comes to support.
She had arrived here a week ago with some questions in mind, mainly what was she going to do with this house. In a way perhaps she had found an answer to that one. There would be no FOR SALE sign placed on it in the near future. Of course this one question had been replaced by many more. It seemed as soon as one was discarded another took its place. She was becoming more entangled in this place by the moment.
“What do you think we should do?”
Craig was still staring at the notes he had written earlier. “I think the first thing we need to do is to talk with Dusty. I think I want to do that before I talk with Jason again. I don’t like the feeling I’m having that he’s lying to me and that makes me question everything. I realized that when we went to Joanie’s house to get the things for the kids we really didn’t talk about her missing. It was more like she had been called out of town on an emergency and I was taking care of the children. Jason had the car towed away. I don’t know that it involved law enforcement at all. I have to find out if they are even doing a search for her.”
A shadow seemed to fall over the entire kitchen. Stan couldn’t dispute anything that had been said but he had a very hard time believing they could be deceived by someone they had considered a friend since childhood. He kept thinking there had to be an explanation for what seemed a set of sinister circumstances.
Craig was about to make a call to see if Dusty was on duty. After all it was Sunday and even the county sheriff deserved a day off now and then. Madison returned to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. She could tell she hadn’t even been missed by their look of surprise.
“I have to make an announcement,” she said. “I’ve stayed here too long, much longer than I planned and I think I need to go back home.”
There was a spontaneous gasp from Craig but he said nothing. Stan looked at him in surprise.
Madison turned to Craig. “Look, you are welcome to use the house and anything else that you want. I suppose some sort of arrangements will have to be made for the children after their father returns to rehab this afternoon, unless his plans have changed.”
She tried to read the expression on Craig’s face. Was it anger or something else. It was obvious she had caught him by surprise. Was it possible he had not realized that her stay here was temporary? Did he think she was seeking something other than what she had said? How could she know that he was feeling himself sinking into the quicksand that she had felt only a short time ago? They both missed entirely the twinkle in Stan’s eye as he realized something that had as of yet occurred to neither of them.
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 29 (Word Prompts: seeking, discarded, question, twinkling, spontaneous, cluck, shadow, quicksand, entangle, troubling thoughts)
Madison was suddenly exhausted. The last thing she remembered was thinking of going upstairs to bed. Obviously she never made it because she was still on the sofa when the sun assaulted her eyes from the front window. Someone had put a cover over her and she had gotten herself entangled in the folds. There was a slight headache behind her left eye and a cramp in her shoulder. Otherwise she seemed to be intact, and alone.
That she was alone was a surprise. It wasn’t the first time she had fallen asleep on a couch, but usually when she awoke she would find at least one dog beside her and the other on the floor at her feet. There wasn’t a clock in sight but from the looks of the sun, she had slept much later than normal.
She sat up and tried to remember what had happened before she closed her eyes. All she remembered was the three of them seeking answers to numerous questions revolving around the seemingly spontaneous disappearance of a young mother leaving her three children alone in a car. Then she remembered thinking that Joanie herself might have planned it. Had she told the others of that particular troubling thought? She hoped she had kept that to herself. She was not a mother, but she couldn’t conceive of anyone willingly leaving three small children in an automobile on the side of the road.
The faint clucking sounds coming from the direction of the kitchen warned her that she was not alone and answered the question of why Daisy and Tedi were not by her side. Obviously they thought chances of getting a treat were better in the kitchen.
Craig was sitting at the table with a mug of coffee in his hand and Madison’s sketch book in front of him. There were shadows under his eyes and she wondered if he had slept at all. He didn’t look up as she entered the room and seemed startled when she spoke, showing how deep in thought he had been.
“I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed your pad. I thought it would help if I wrote some things down.”
“No, I don’t mind. Did it help?”
“It hasn’t so far. I’ve come up with a lot of theories and discarded them all. I don’t even know why I’m doing this. Actually it’s a problem for law enforcement and maybe for Joyce and Jason since they are next of kin, other than Sean.”
Of course this was no mystery to Madison. She had seen the way Craig looked at the children and knew that he wanted nothing more than for them to be taken care of. She had to wonder if he had feelings for Joanie too and again hoped she had kept her thoughts to herself last night. She felt a jealous female just thinking about it. Was she really jealous of someone she had never even met? And what about the fact that she had only just met Craig? What right did she have to such feelings?
“Great”, she thought. “Just what I need, more questions, like the quicksand wasn’t deep enough.”
Madison attempted to rid herself of these questions and bring herself back to the present. There would be enough time to deal with this later, hopefully when she was alone and could make decisions without all the male energy that seemed to be surrounding her of late.
After pouring a cup of coffee and popping two slices of bread into the toaster, she took her place beside Craig.
“Do you mind if I take a look at what you’ve written?”
He slid the sketchbook toward her. “What time did Stan leave last night? I guess I wasn’t a very good hostess.”
“Actually, he never left. He’s upstairs asleep. I didn’t think you would mind. He was very tired and I was worried about him driving home.”
The toast popped up, saving her from the need to answer. She heard a voice behind her as she spread the toast with butter and jam.
“Good morning all.” Stan’s voice sounded more of a croak than his normal cheerful sound.
Madison made an attempt to sound cheerful as she asked if he wanted some toast. She received only a head shake as he poured himself a mug of coffee and made his way to the table and slid the sketchbook to where he could see.
Madison stood at the counter and looked at the two men in her kitchen. She had never seen Stan in the morning, but this was not the Craig that she had seen before. Both men seemed to have aged overnight. The twinkle of excitement that she had seen from them the night before had been replaced by something she could only describe as dark. What had happened last night after she went to sleep?
(To be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 28 (Word Prompts: seeking, discarded, question, twinkling, spontaneous, cluck, shadow, quicksand, entangle, troubling thoughts)
“I’m sorry”, said Craig. “I seem to be saying that a lot tonight. It’s just that we seem to be coming up with more questions than answers. I’m hoping the three of us can put some things together.”
Stan interrupted. “Craig just told me about your confrontation with Marcie. I’ll have to say I’m puzzled. Is it possible she’s entangled with this whole thing?”
“Well, she was certainly unpleasant and I was uncomfortable with her questions, but I don’t understand how she could be involved. By the way, did you learn anything about the bracelet?”
“I think we can discard that as a clue. I did have a chance to comment on it and she told me that a friend of hers made it. It seems she’s friends with my jewelry maker. They are certainly similar but she could have made more than one of a singular design. I think that’s just one of those coincidences that seem to happen spontaneously when you are least expecting it. Perhaps I would have asked some other questions if I had known about your encounter with Marcie.”
“I still don’t understand what Marcie could have to do with this.”
Stan looked over at Craig as if waiting for him to answer. Madison hadn’t noticed that he was making the now-familiar clucking sounds again. She could understand his fellow classmates giggling. For some reason she was having the impulse herself and would have if not for all her other troubling thoughts. She was beginning to think of it as the sound of Craig’s wheels turning and hoped she was right and he would have some answers. For some reason the thought that the unpleasant woman at the day care center gave her the feeling that she was more entrenched in this drama than she had felt before.
“I think what Stan is saying is that Marcie is Joanie’s neighbor. They are good friends. Her reaction to seeing you seems extreme when she had no idea who you were or why you were there. It seems more reasonable if she already knew that something was going on with her friend. Perhaps she had just noticed that the car was not in the drive or she had tried to borrow a cup of sugar, but I think she was aware that things weren’t normal .”
Madison thought about it and could see their point. She had just thought her to be a very rude woman but perhaps there was more to it than that.
“You know, she might have noticed that Joanie wasn’t home and then saw the children there. Maybe she was just seeking information and didn’t want to ask outright.”
A shadow seemed to lift from both faces and she thought she spotted the twinkle back in Stan’s blue eyes.
“I like that explanation,” said Stan. “I rather like Marcie and her sister too. I would hate to think that either of them had something to do with this pile of quicksand we seem to be caught up in. Let’s put them on the back burner and get to some of these other questions. Craig, did you get anything from Jason tonight?”
“Not a lot. He kept looking around him to see if anyone was listening before he would even talk to me. His ears turned red when I asked had he heard anything and that has always been a signal that he’s being less than honest. I told him about my visit to the house and my impression of Sean. He didn’t seem surprised and that bothered me. He said he would check on them tomorrow.”
Stan asked, “Did you mention going public?”
“No, I didn’t think it was the time to go into that. He promised to let me know after he sees Sean tomorrow. I thought that would be a better time to bring that up. Perhaps I’ll just mention it to Dusty. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s been a mistake to let Jason talk to the sheriff all alone. I hate it that I’m feeling suspicious of one of my best friends, but something about this stinks and I think he knows more than he’s saying. I understand lawyer/client privilege but we have three children at risk here, not to mention Madison, who has been more than free with her hospitality.”
Madison felt better after Craig’s little tirade . Perhaps it was being acknowledged as a part of this or maybe it was hearing the passion in his voice, even if he was trying to remain in control. Whatever the reason, she noticed the urge to run out the door had diminished. In fact, she very badly wanted to find out the answers to all these questions, which meant she had to stay a part of it.
“I had a long conversation with Joyce and she was clearly on edge”, said Stan.
“I would call that an understatement”, said Madison. “If looks could kill I would be lying in a bloody mess on the floor.”
“It wasn’t just you. I tried to joke with her like I usually do but she was having nothing of it. She was watching everybody there and even while talking to me, her eyes were checking out all the other people in the room. I asked who she was looking for and she got really defensive. Of course I pretended to be completely ignorant of anything going on outside of that room so I couldn’t ask questions, but I was thinking that this has a lot more to do with her than anything else.”
Craig mentioned, more of an afterthought, “I asked if the children could stay there after Sean goes back into rehab, which I suppose he will do on Sunday night or Monday morning and he almost fainted. He actually stuttered when he told me that wasn’t an option. I got the idea it was Joyce that was the problem there. It seems odd since she’s their aunt.”
“It doesn’t seem strange to me”, said Stan. I guess you were out of town when all the drama went down between the two girls. Joyce was already married to Jason and her little sister came to visit. It was on that visit that she met Sean and slipped out the see him. Joyce was livid when she found out and even more so when they ran off and got married. Of course she was pregnant with Johnny at the time. Well, their mother blamed Joyce for letting her baby sister get in trouble. Joyce tried to talk Joanie into leaving Sean and going back home to have the baby, maybe put him up for adoption and go back to school. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story, but I don’t think the two of them have spoken since. I don’t know if Joyce and her mother ever made up either.”
Madison found this very interesting. “Is this common knowledge around town?”
“I don’t think so”, said Craig. I didn’t know about the connection until Jason told me the other night. I gather the whole thing was very hard on Joyce and this is bringing the whole thing up again. I wonder if she’s having a bout of guilt if something has truly happened to her sister.”
“How does Joanie feel about Joyce? Are there any hard feelings from that direction?”
“I don’t know”, said Stan. “She’s never said anything, but this last year with Sean’s drinking and then rehab, it seems normal that there would be some jealousy about an older sister who seemed to have everything going for her.”
“I know she’s been having a hard time. I’ve noticed that she seems to be losing weight and not sleeping well, judging by the dark circles under her eyes when I’ve picked up Johnny.”
Madison looked from one to the other and wondered if they were thinking what she was. Could this be something planned by Joanie herself?
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 27 (Word Prompts: seeking, discarded, question, twinkling, spontaneous, cluck, shadow, quicksand, entangle, troubling thoughts)
Madison followed the suggestion and made herself comfortable on the sofa to await Stan’s arrival. She could hear Craig in the kitchen opening cabinets and knew he was searching for the coffee. She wondered if she should help but decided to let him seek what he needed on his own. She had several troubling thoughts to ponder.
As usual the dogs realized all was not well and spontaneously took their place by her side. Tedi put her head in her lap while Daisy placed her paw on her hand. Neither demanded anything from her but the message was clear that she had their support and their love.
It was a very few minutes when the darkness was broken by headlights followed by the sound of a car. Her protectors didn’t move until she got up to look out the window and was able to see the headlights dim followed by a figure heading toward the front door. She couldn’t help thinking there was something ominous about the shadows cast by the full moon. She realized the sky had cleared which should have made her feel better, but didn’t. She also realized she had failed to leave the front light turned on. She reached the door at the same time Stan reached the first step.
The light caught Stan’s eyes and they seemed to twinkle behind the lenses of his glasses. “I got here as fast as I could. Has Craig been clucking?”
“Does he do that often? I hadn’t noticed it until tonight.”
“You should have been there on test day in high school. We always expected for the teacher to stay something but she never seemed to understand why everyone sitting around him was giggling and we were the ones who got in trouble. I figured this would be one of those times when he would be clucking away.”
“He’s in the kitchen making coffee so I don’t know what he’s doing other than opening and closing cabinets and drawers. I’m staying out of his way since he seemed to want it that way.”
Stan’s somewhat jovial manner went a long way to help discard the foreboding feelings that she had been having. Tedi and Daisy seemed to feel better too as they thoroughly investigated their guest. They seemed to give their approval an moved aside so he could enter the house. He seemed about to head toward the kitchen when Craig joined them and they all walked toward the sofa. Madison wished she had started a fire in the fireplace, even though it wasn’t cold enough to need one, but the atmosphere could use some warmth.
“The coffee will be ready in just a few minutes”, said Craig. “I found sugar but no cream. I hope that’s OK with everyone.”
Stan nodded that it was fine.
She didn’t notice a signal between the two but Stan followed Craig into the kitchen while Madison was left alone, The dogs looked at her and then toward the kitchen, torn between their desire to be where they felt needed with their mom or where there might be treats waiting. Madison felt a little better when she was chosen over treats.
She was about to join them whether she was welcome or not but they came in with a tray containing a variety of mugs and the appropriate condiments. Stan followed with a plate containing the last of the cookies and also some toast covered in jelly. She thought perhaps they weren’t making plans to exclude her as she had thought, but she still had questions that weren’t being answered and she was tired and her patience was becoming more thin by the moment.
Craig performed his duties as the host and poured coffee into all three mugs. Only Stan used the sugar. Madison took a piece of toast covered in raspberry preserves that she hadn’t even realized was in her kitchen. It must have been in the back of the frig but was surprisingly good. She waited for the information to flow but instead they began to talk as though it was any night following a gathering.
“Look, are either of you going to tell me what is going on here? Did you learn anything tonight or is it some big secret? I’m sorry if I sound bitchy but I’m tired and it seems I’m entangled in something that I know nothing about. If I’m not needed I’m going upstairs and go to sleep and tomorrow I will head back to my other life and leave this to all of you.”
Craig had that quicksand look on his face again and Stan jumped up to stop her as she started to rise.
She sat back down and took another piece of toast and waited for the information to flow.
(To be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 26 (Word Prompts: seeking, discarded, question, twinkling, spontaneous, cluck, shadow, quicksand, entangle, troubling thoughts)
Madison felt better as soon as she heard the front door close behind her. She was desperate to discard all the troubling thoughts that had been plaguing her all evening. She was tempted to run to the safety of Craig’s truck but forced herself to slow down. She had the feeling that he was struggling with some questions of his own so she contented herself to study the few stars that were twinkling from behind the clouds.
It seemed a much shorter distance to reach their parking space that it had seemed earlier in the evening and before she knew it the door was being held open for her. Not a word had been spoken between them and the silence continued as they drove away. It was becoming uncomfortable and yet she hesitated to break the silence. But then she noticed it wasn’t really silent at all. Craig was making a strange noise that sounded almost like a cluck. She didn’t think he was even aware of it and wondered if this was a habit that signified deep thought.
They had driven quite a distance when Craig finally spoke. “I think I owe you an apology.”
This was not what Madison expected to hear. “What would you need to apologize for?”
A shadow seemed to cross his face. “I really thought we would have a good time tonight. The parties that Jason usually gives are full of life and music and laughter. I was thinking it would be a good time for us to break away from the past few days that I know have not been easy for you. I don’t know what was going on with everyone tonight, but it was not what I expected.”
“You certainly don’t owe me an apology. In fact I’m relieved you were feeling it too. I thought perhaps it was just me. It was all I could do not to spontaneously run out the door when I saw Mary walk toward us. The look I’d gotten from Joyce was bad enough, but that was the topper.”
“Why did Mary upset you?”
Madison realized she hadn’t told him about the incident when she picked up the children. “Well, it wasn’t really Mary at all but she looked very much like her sister and I wasn’t anxious to have another meeting with her.” She went on to explain.
She wasn’t certain what she expected his reaction to be but all she got was a renewal of the clucking sound. That lasted until they were in sight of her driveway.
She opened the front door and instantly felt better when she was greeted by Daisy and Tedi. They both sought her attention at the same time. Daisy was on the right and Tedi took the left. A prolonged ear-scratch seemed to satisfy them that all was well and they proceeded to check out Craig who had the expression of a man who was slowing sinking into quicksand.
“What is it? I would feel a lot better if you would talk to me.”
“Look, just sit down and I’ll make some coffee. I think we need to wait and talk when Stan gets here. I don’t think it will be very long.”
Madison obeyed the suggestion, which sounded more like an order. For the first time she felt entangled in something far more than she had imagined. It was hard to ignore the thought that she should run now.
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 25 (Word Prompts: determination, disappearance, twist, integrity, premonition, revenge, crawl, bracelet, hotel, mirror)
Madison had the impulse to run in the opposite direction. She couldn’t remember the woman’s name but the meeting outside the day care center was one she wouldn’t soon forget. But it was too late. Stan was calling to her with a big smile on his face. He had no premonition at all of how awkward this could become.
Madison was determined to act as though everything was normal. After all, this woman would probably not recognize a person she had met only once in an entirely different setting who was looking entirely different. As she came closer it was evident that Madison was not the only one who looked different and she was more unsure this was the same person.
“Madison, Craig, I’d like you to meet my new friend, Mary Matthews. She doesn’t know anyone here and I thought I would introduce her around.”
Madison still didn’t remember the other woman’s name but she didn’t think it was Mary. But the resemblance was remarkable. “it’s nice to meet you, Mary. Are you new in town?”
“Not really. I have a sister who lives here so I come for a visit from time to time. Marcie was supposed to come tonight but she has a cold and told me to come anyway. I’ll have to admit that I was bored enough to take her up on the suggestion.”
Craig and Madison both did their best to welcome Stan’s new acquaintance but she seemed to sense that they were being less warm in their greetings.
“Actually, I’m rethinking my decision and Stan volunteered to take me back to the hotel. I was wondering how much longer he planned to stay. I was thinking about calling a cab.”
Madison was trying to catch a glimpse of the bracelet. She wore it on her left hand which was held by her side and she couldn’t think of a way to call attention to it. She looked at Stan, thinking he might understand what she was wanting.
“I need to stick around a bit longer. There are a couple of people I want to see, but it would probably be at least a half hour before a cab could get here anyway. We only have one in town, you know. By that time I’ll be all yours.”
“Mary, there’s some delicious food over here and Craig knows most everyone here.” Madison took her arm and led her toward the table. In the better light she could get a better look at her wrist and Stan was right. This was very possibly a one-of-a-kind piece. It was a silver band almost an inch in width which appeared to be a series of vines twisted around each other in a very organic way.
Stan had disappeared again and Craig took over as host, introducing both Mary and Madison to several people. Madison hated to admit that she was about as anxious as Mary to leave. She had been shaken more than she liked to admit by the look on Joyce’s face and Crystal hadn’t helped any with her talk of mood swings and threats of revenge. She was having a hard time shaking the feeling that her very flesh was crawling in a very uncomfortable manner.
She attempted to have a conversation with Mary, but found it difficult. She learned that she always stayed in the hotel when she visited her sister because of Marcie’s husband and it was good to have a place where she and her sister could meet away from him and the children. She said most of their visits were at her house except when they had business concerning their parent’s estate which was here in town. Jason was their attorney handling the paperwork. He had cancelled their appointment for Friday and they were to see him first thing on Monday.
“I don’t mean to question his integrity, but it seems to me very unprofessional, to say the least, to cancel an appointment at the last minute, especially when he knows the client is from out of town. Of course, in this case it gives me an opportunity to visit with Marcie, but still it’s not really convenient.”
Madison had to agree. She would not have been so forgiving had she come to town for an appointment and had him cancel on her, especially if it meant staying at a hotel. But perhaps the money was of no consequence. She hadn’t mentioned that and it was obvious that her dress was very expensive. She and Stan were probably the best dressed couple in the place, including their host and hostess.
Just then she looked up and noticed Stan standing in the doorway. He was pointing at Craig, whose back was toward him. She tapped Craig on the shoulder and he went over to join Stan, returning in just a few minutes.
“Stan says he should be ready to leave in about 15 minutes if you would like to meet him at the mirror in the hallway.”
“Thank you”, said Mary. “That is very good news. I’ve enjoyed meeting you both but I’m afraid I’m just not very good company tonight. I should have stayed in with a good book.”
Actually, that sounded like a good idea to Madison also. She couldn’t help but think that she might have enjoyed having Mary as a friend if the circumstance was different. Tonight there was just too much on her mind to relax and enjoy the evening.
As soon as Mary left to wait for Stan, Craig asked Madison if she wanted to leave too. He told her that Stan had suggested they get together later to compare notes. It appeared he had heard a few things that he didn’t want to discuss here.
Madison was so anxious to leave that she would have played hostess to any number of people if it was just on her own territory.
(To be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 24 (Word Prompts: determination, disappearance, twist, integrity, premonition, revenge, crawl, bracelet, hotel, mirror)
Madison didn’t know if it was Craig’s words or the memory of Joyce’s icy look but a strange feeling was slowly crawling up her back and any thought of this being a pleasant evening was lost. She had no way of knowing that Craig was having a similar feeling about the crow he had seen earlier and thought of it as being a premonition of what was to come.
It was Stan who spoke first. “I don’t like the things that are roaming through my head. I think I’ll have a little mingle and see if there’s anything I can pick up. There are a few people here that I don’t know and I think I would like to.”
“I know,” said Craig. “Good for business.” With a wave Stan disappeared in a crowd of about six on the other side of the patio and then headed inside the house again. It was the last they saw of him for a long time.
“I hate to leave you alone, but I need to have a word with Jason if I can find him. Will you be OK for a few minutes?”
Craig sounded so odd that Madison had to smile. Even though she hated to be around a lot of people she didn’t know, at the same time, none of these people looked dangerous and she thought there was very little trouble that she could get into.
“I’ll be fine”, she said. Maybe I’ll meet somebody interesting while you’re gone.” She immediately knew this was not the right thing to say but it was too late to take it back so she just smiled hoping he would know she was joking.
She was still standing at the table trying to get the courage to join one of the groups of people she saw. She was thinking she would investigate the same group that had attracted Stan when a familiar voice came from behind her.
“I was right about the outfit, wasn’t I.”
Madison turned around to find the smiling face of Crystal. Even though she had met her only once it seemed as though she was meeting an old friend.
“You were absolutely right. I just wish you had sold me a jacket or something too. I realized I had nothing to wear over it and the weather is still looking a bit iffy.”
“Well, I’ll have to say that’s a new twist. Usually people are having buyer’s remorse and telling me I let them buy too much.”
They both had a chuckle over that one. “Have you met everyone?”
Madison looked around. “No, the only people I know here other than Craig and Jason is his friend Stan, who I just met tonight. For some reason Joyce was giving me the evil eye earlier and I don’t know what that was about but I’ve decided to stay away from her as much as possible.”
“Don’t mind Joyce. Don’t say I told you, but I think she has some problems. Maybe she’s bi-polar or something but sometimes she can be very friendly and other times I watch my back. I’ve even heard her talk about revenge for some person or other that I know has been a friend and will be again next week. I’ve never known her to act on any of these fantasies, but I try to stay away from her when she’s in a mood.”
“Thanks for the warning and the explanation. I’ll try not to take it personally. Stan said that he thought she an Jason were having words before the guests came. I guess he’s used to this.”
“Let’s forget about them and I’ll introduce you to some of the locals.” With that Madison was led by the hand over to the group where Stan had been earlier. It turned out that they were all neighbors of Joyce and Jason. Two of the men announced they were “in insurance” and Madison thought they were both thinking of selling her a policy. Their wives were discussing the latest fundraising project for some charity and were interested in how long she would be in town. She was determined to stay uninvolved with all volunteer activities until she had a grasp of her own future plans. The third couple might have been more interesting but before she could find out, Stan rejoined the group.
Of course he and Crystal knew each other well and Madison enjoyed their teasing. Shortly Craig returned and seemed relieved to find that Madison was no longer standing alone where he had left her. The four of them drifted away from the group of six and soon Crystal headed back inside to mingle. Madison remembered Craig’s remark to Stan that it was “good for business” and realized this was true for Crystal also.
Craig did not look happy but before Madison could find out what had happened Stan pointed inside the door toward the inside of the house.
“Don’t look now but there’s a woman with blonde hair standing beside the mirror in the hallway.” Madison was almost facing that direction and tried to see if she could get a glimpse. She took a step to the right which gave her a better view. It was a woman wearing a black dress, sleeveless with a high neck. She was unable to see her face clearly but there was something about her that seemed familiar.
“Are you making a new conquest tonight?” Madison could tell this was something that had been played out between the two of them for many years.
Stan grinned. “Well, that’s possible. I’ve volunteered to take her back to the hotel after the party, but that’s not the interesting part.”
“And what’s the interesting part?”
“The interesting part is that she’s wearing a bracelet that belongs to Joanie.”
Suddenly Craig was completely serious. “How do you know?”
“I know because I’m the one who gave it to her and, as far as I know it’s the only one like it in town. Don’t look at me that way. My integrity is completely intact. Joanie came by the store a year or so ago to get a gift for Sean, for his birthday or something. She had some time to kill before picking up the children and we were having coffee when a woman came in who represents a jewelry company. I buy a line of cuff links and things from her every now and then but she was starting a line of women’s jewelry too. I wasn’t interested but Joanie really liked a bracelet so I bought it and gave it to her. I felt good because that made both women happy.”
As they were pondering the meaning of this news, the woman in question began to walk toward them and Madison realized why the woman seemed familiar.
(to be continued)
Re: The Inheritance Revisited
Chapter 21 (Word prompts: message, transition, rejection, traveler, hope, request, golden, mesmerizing, drizzle, crow )
Craig was aware of the feeling of dread that had descended upon him along with the sound of the crow impacting his windshield. He wondered if there was something to be read into the need to leave a message on Madison’s voicemail. He hadn’t requested that she return his call. Perhaps he should have.
He felt like an insecure teen-ager as he climbed the steps to Madison’s front door. He had been concerned when he didn’t see her car in it’s usual place and thought she might not be home. His rejection was lifted at the sight of that front light which seemed to say that he was expected. He felt even better when he saw Tedi and Daisy watching through the front window. He knew their tails were wagging in their excitement and again made the vow to pay a visit to the local rescue very soon. He could feel himself making the transition from that scared kid to the man he wanted to be when the front door opened.
If he had been interested in the woman in jeans and oversized shirt, he was completely mesmerized by the one who opened the door. Her hair fell around her shoulders and appeared more golden than red in the light. She had done something to her face that made her eyes look enormous and her lips were begging for a kiss. When he forced his eyes down, the view was even better. The blouse showed the rise of her breasts and a gold belt made her waist look small enough that his hands would fit around it. He could only hope that when he tried to speak some sound would actually come out.
“Are you ready to leave? You might need a wrap. I haven’t seen a weather report but there was some drizzle earlier.”
“Really? I hadn’t really planned on a jacket but I guess I can get my poncho from the car. That’s the garment that every traveler is never without.”
Craig escorted her to his truck and then found her poncho in the backseat of her car right where she had said. He also saw the mound of bags and thought he knew where she had been earlier in the day when he had called.
It was a pleasant drive to Jason’s place by the lake. The time was spent with small talk of the day’s events. He didn’t mention going by to check on the children but he felt he needed to let her know that he had shared the information with his friend.
“I’m really glad that someone else knows the situation, and I’m looking forward to meeting your friend. I certainly like his taste in clothing.” Craig glanced at her and caught a glimpse of a rather mischievous smile. He was glad to see she was thinking of this as a date also.
About that time they turned a curve in the road and pulled up in front of a gate. The headlights showed a drive on the other side with trees lining both sides. A man appeared at the window.
“Oh, hi, Craig. I should have recognized your truck.”
“Hi, Bart. I guess you won’t be seeing very many of these tonight.” He suddenly wondered if Madison might feel strange in the truck and if he should have suggested they bring her car instead.
“No, I’ll have to say you’re the first one for the night. Go on in. I guess you know where to park.”
(To be continued)
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