Read Kindred Spirits Online

Authors: Sarah Strohmeyer

Kindred Spirits

Table of Contents
 
 
Also by Sarah Strohmeyer
The Penny Pinchers Club
Sweet Love
The Sleeping Beauty Proposal
The Cinderella Pact
The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives
Bubbles Betrothed
Bubbles A Broad
Bubbles Ablaze
Bubbles in Trouble
Bubbles Unbound
Bubbles All the Way
DUTTON
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First printing, July
 
Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Strohmeyer All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Strohmeyer, Sarah.
Kindred spirits / Sarah Strohmeyer.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-53226-3
1. Female friendship—Fiction. 2. Death—Fiction. 3. Drinking customs—Fiction. 4. Secrets—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3569.T6972K56 2011
813’.54—dc22
2010042288
 
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
 
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For Lisa
My “kindred spirit” for forty- three years and counting
“Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.”
 
—CICERO
(An Excerpt from
Best Recipes from the Ladies Society for the Conservation of Marshfield, 1966
)
The Art of Mixing the Perfect Martini
A martini is the world’s most sophisticated cocktail, a classic of beauty and simplicity that derives its intoxicating allure from the melding of four strikingly different sensations.
But there is only one way to correctly mix the perfect martini, and few know the secret method—until now.
Begin with a chilled martini glass. Add half an ounce of dry vermouth for softening, swirl, and shake out every last drop. Refrigerate the glass again.
In a clean glass pitcher, combine the best possible gin at room temperature and fresh ice made from clear mountain spring water, and stir—never shake, lest you bruise the gin’s delicate charm. Pour into the chilled glass and garnish with a thin lemon peel twist.
Strong.
Soft.
Cold.
Tart.
These are the four diverse elements that combined in correct proportions create nothing short of a divine elixir, especially when shared with good friends.
Now you know.
—Mrs. DeeDee Patterson, Chairwoman
Chapter One
L
ynne Flannery took it as an encouraging sign that the day of her last martini would be the anniversary of her first.
Even the weather was identical—a postcard-perfect New England fall afternoon heralded by red, orange, gold, and green leaves fluttering against a brilliant blue sky. That morning, Canada geese had flown overhead in an ever-shifting
V
, squawking and vying for top position, and now the last lingering robins had disappeared seemingly overnight.
Her brazenly illegal burn pile roared full blast, tingeing the air with the sharp scent of woodsmoke—along with a sense of change. A shift from the frenetic business of living to something quieter, something that required reflection and respect for the passing. What her father used to call the “locking-down period.”
Girls just want to have fun,
she hummed, systematically emptying one pill bottle after another into the flames that leaped and cracked to catch the tablets of magnesium and Emend on their hot tongues.
“Bye-bye, suckers. Thanks for nothing!”
She threw in what was left of the ginger crackers and Saltines and the self-help books with their relentlessly upbeat titles—
You, Too, Can Survive Cancer; The Top Ten Rules to Beating the Odds; Mind Does Matter: Think Your Way to Health.
Well, she’d thought and thought and thought so hard her brain hurt almost as much as the rest of her body. For eight years, she’d thought her way to health and still those cells kept replicating and replicating, building upon one another like Tetris blocks until it was Game Over.
The fire roared in gratitude and she blew it a kiss. “No,” she said, “thank
you
.”
Oh, Mother dear, we’re not the fortunate ones. And girls they want to have fun.
Cyndi Lauper, singing her life story.
She poked the smoldering burn pile and surveyed the garden into which they’d invested a lifetime of labor—the brick patio Sean had built himself after much swearing and sweat; the asparagus patch long gone to seed; the McIntosh trees, once spindly twigs from the nursery, now drooping under the weight of ripe, red fruit. At last her gaze rested on their sons’ old redwood swing set, long neglected, that after much hemming and hawing they’d decided to leave for future grandchildren.
Lynne closed her eyes, imagining those grandbabies, redheaded like her, fat cheeks dotted with freckles, laughing as they crawled up the yellow slide. It was almost as good as seeing them for real, even if she’d never be able to hold them or sink her nose into their soft curls.
Anyway, it would have to do. She was trying to be grateful for what she had been given instead of bitter over what she would lose, because what she would lose had never really been hers. This was, perhaps, the most worthwhile lesson she had gleaned from this otherwise useless, rotten, lousy disease. Life is a lease and God is the landlord. We mortals could stake no claim.
She spritzed the fire with bottles of grapeseed extract and pomegranate juice, hosed it down for good measure, and nearly stubbed her toe on the hoe her husband had carelessly deposited by the garden.
Sean would let the hoe lie there all winter, rusting under the snow. So, with much difficulty, she got herself to the garage and hung it on its hook. Slipping out of her pink garden clogs, she opened the side door to the kitchen, shrugged off her zip-up jacket, and washed her hands at the sink, leaning heavily against the basin.
Only three thirty and already the sun was low in the sky. The school bus passed, stopping with a whoosh of its brakes at the Brezinskis’ house. The doors opened, unleashing the cacophony of shouting children and the two Brezinski boys ran up their driveway, tossed their backpacks onto the lawn, and tumbled in a mock fight for the entertainment of their fellow inmates. Lynne dried her hands on the red gingham dish towel and shook her head. Those Brezinski boys were going to be making news someday. One way or another.
Time to call Tiffany.
Tiffany could barely hide her relief when Lynne told her she was giving her the night off. “Go see a movie,” Lynne said. “Have some fun for once. Forget about me.”
Babysitting a terminally ill woman was no job for a person with Tiff’s vitality. The woman might be in her twenties, but she couldn’t stand still for five minutes without bubbling like a kid. She was exactly like her mother, Mary Kay, a ball of constant energy. A force majeure!
Lynne had been worried about what would happen to Tiffany after she was gone. But lately she’d been considering the flip side, that by stepping out of the picture she’d be opening the cage doors and setting this wild bird free. Tiffany could return to her beloved Boston and a much more exciting job in the Mass General ER instead of babysitting her mother’s friend who mostly dozed and stared out the window.

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