Confessions From A Coffee Shop (29 page)

“I was not, Mother!” I looked over at Maddie, horrified of what she would think. “I used to deliver newspapers when I was an undergrad, to help pay the bills. To save time, I rolled the papers while I drove my route. There wasn’t much steering going on, so I got pulled over. Once the cops realized I was just working, they let me go. I was never arrested or cited for anything.”

“They never gave you a ticket? Not even for reckless driving?”

“Nope. They were very nice about it. It was almost like we had a bond of some sort, since we all worked really crappy hours. The hours were brutal.”

I watched my mother raise the scotch glass to her lips again. I had once seen her drive away and lap the house eight times before she was able to get out of our neighborhood. She kept driving by the house as I watched from the front window. She hit the same trash can twice. And I was the fuck-up with alcohol?

Peter asked, “You can’t stay the night?”

“No. I have class first thing in the morning. It’ll be easier to head home tonight.”

“I thought college professors got to pick their own schedules.” His smile was truly smeared all across his face.

“Professors do. Doctoral students do not. We have to teach the classes no one else wants to teach.” I tried not to bristle. His condescension got under my skin, but I had learned over the years not to show any weakness around my family, or they would pounce.

“What classes do you teach?” asked Maddie, giving me another bedeviling smile.

“I teach Western Civ,” I said, gazing into her gorgeous blue eyes.

“I have to admit that history wasn’t my best subject.” Her smile this time was shy, sexy, but she never took her eyes off my face.

I reciprocated. “I hear that a lot. It surprises me that people aren’t fascinated by it. But I think the problem is that too many teachers concentrate on the facts—‌you know dates, places, and names. I want my students to appreciate that history is the greatest story ever told. It has violence, sex, love, romance, adventure, betrayal, drama, comedy. It has it all.”

“You teach your students about sex?” sniggered my mother, The Scotch-lady. The extravagant diamond on her ring finger nearly blinded me as she raised her tumbler to her mouth again.

Out of everything I had just said,
that
was what Mom honed in on.

“I don’t get out the dolls or anything.” I rolled my eyes. “But sex is important to history.” I swiveled my head in Mom’s direction. She took another sip of her drink and looked away.

“What do you do, Maddie?” I turned back to the blonde.

“I’m an interior designer.”

“Really? One of my good friends studied interior design at CSU. Her program was tough. She pulled all-nighters all of the time.”

The waiter arrived with my Coke and I took a sip. Secretly, I wished I could add a shot of rum, maybe two shots…‌or three.

“Yeah, a lot of people think all we do is put pretty throw pillows on a couch. They have no idea how complicated it is.” She laughed.

“You should see her work; it’s beautiful.” Peter leaned over and kissed Maddie’s cheek. I wasn’t sure if he was marking his territory or being affectionate.

Could he be jealous that Maddie and I were hitting it off? I wouldn’t say that fireworks shot into the sky for all to see, but there was a connection. Was it apparent to all?

“I’d love to see your work. Any chance you brought your portfolio?”

She laughed and shyly rolled her napkin. “Yes I did. I have an interview here in Denver.”

“Maddie and I are moving back home,” Peter casually blurted out as he reached for a roll from the middle of the table.

I looked at him, curious. “Oh? I had no idea.”

He had been living in California for the past five years. I only saw him for the occasional holiday, and even that seemed excessive. During all those years, I had not visited him; nor did he visit me.

“We want to be closer to family now. We’re hoping to start our own family soon.” He raised his glass to our mother.

I looked at my mom, then at my laconic father, then back at Peter. Poor girl. Poor kid.

Then a thought crossed my mind. Could I seduce Maddie?

The waiter came over and took our food order. While the others ordered, I took in Maddie’s charms. Madeleine. Captivating. A name befitting such a magnificent creature. Her beauty could rival the Greek goddess Circe. How did Homer put it in
The Odyssey
? Circe was the most beautiful of all gods. Yes, Maddie could rival this goddess.

Seducing my brother’s fiancée would normally be a repulsive thought to me. Yet, I wasn’t repulsed. Did Maddie cast a spell on me? What would my mother say? I bet it would be priceless.

* * *

A Woman Lost
is available from
Amazon US
and
Amazon UK
.

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