Read Pretense Online

Authors: Lori Wick

Tags: #Romance, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Christian, #Family, #Fiction, #Christian Fiction, #Sisters, #INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE, #General, #Religious

Pretense (6 page)

BOOK: Pretense
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Marrell knew that the essentials would be doughnuts and chips, but she didn't care. There would be time enough later to shop for what they needed. She was thankful she had opted to

41

put some canned goods, a box of rice, and bags of flour sugar in one of the boxes so they would have a little to fall 1 on. A concern about the prices in California ran past hermindbut she pushed it aside.

Stop it, Marrell,
she said to herself.
You have plenty to doout worrying over something you can't change.
With that peptalk,she began to attack the boxes in the living room.

Hours later the beds were made, dinner was eaten, and Marrell had heard all about the spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the parking lot of the commissary. Paul had cleaned the kitchen, and Marrell felt free to collapse on the sofa. There was an open box next to her, and on the top was a photo album. Tired as she was, the thought of paging through it made her smile. She picked it up and started at the beginning. As if by magic, her family joined her. Delancey first, then Mackenzie and Paul.

"What is that?" Delancey wanted to know as she looked at one of the pictures. It was a beach scene.

"That is a lifeguard station. Some beaches have lifeguards, and in order to see the water, they sit up high to keep a lookout."

"Look at that," Mackenzie giggled, her finger on another photo. "There's a dog on your skirt, Mom."

Marrell laughed too. "That is a poodle skirt I wore just a few years ago. Your dad and I were going to a costume party."

"Where is that skirt?" Paul asked.

"I think it's in the box I sent to my grandma's when we moved to Texas."

"We could have seen it last Christmas." Mackenzie said, sounding disappointed.

"Well, maybe next time we go."

"When will we go again?"

"I don't know. We'll have to wait and see."

"Where did you get it?" Mackenzie seemed the most fascinated.

"I made it. Your dad's shirt too."

The girls peered at the picture again.

"Will you make one for me?" Mackenzie asked.

42

"Me too?"

"Well, maybe I will. They would certainly make cute Halloween costumes."

The girls exchanged smiles. While they would not have thought of this, neither were they going to argue.

They paged through the rest of the photo album, and when they closed the cover, it seemed like a perfect end to the day. It had been a full one, so neither girl argued when told to ready for bed. Had the truth been told, they were rather excited-their first night in their own rooms. Both Marrell and Paul kissed them, and within moments they were asleep.

The elder Bishops were just as tired, and once they retired, sleep held them completely unaware of the way Delancey awoke, somewhere near midnight, and sought her sister.

"Micki," she said softly.

"Um ..."

"Micki, wake up."

"What?"

"I want to sleep with you."

"Um" was all Mackenzie could manage, but she still scooted toward the wall. Delancey climbed in, snuggled close, and was back asleep in just a matter of seconds. It was morning before Mackenzie would be awake enough to be indignant.

Paul's first day on the job gave him a headache. Army procedures were the same everywhere, but his job was new to him, and certain variations, as well as the basic need to learn new faces and names, made for a day of some stress. He worked two hours past his scheduled time, and by the time he arrived home, he was ready for quiet.

His daughters had other ideas. Map in hand, Marrell had taken the girls to see their new school building, for a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, shopping on Pier 39, and for a visit to the Ghirardelli Square, where they had sundaes at the chocolate shop. Both small Bishops wanted to sit in their father's lap and tell him all about it. Paul was not overjoyed, but it was some time before the girls caught on to his closed eyes and still position.

"What's the matter?"

43

"I'm tired."

"Come on, girls." Their mother had come in in time to hear Paul. "Head to your rooms for a little while."

The girls obeyed, but both looked a little hurt.

"As bad as all that?" Marrell confronted him, none too happy.

"I just have a headache."

"And they just wanted to tell you about their day."

The two stared at each other.

Marrell was the first to offer the olive branch. "Do you want something to eat?"

"Yes, please. The girls can come and talk to me when I'm done."

The evening improved on that note. There was a children's special on TV, and they all watched it before the girls were invited to climb on Paul's back and be carried off to bed. Paul even apologized to Marrell for his mood when he'd arrived home. Marrell was sensitive and asked him all about his day. She was very pleased that, bad day or not, he knew he was going to enjoy his new posting and even like his commanding officers. The evening ended with talk about Mackenzie's birthday. It was just three days away, and Marrell wanted it to be extra special. The plans were made before they slept, and Marrell had Paul's word that he would be home on time.

Mackenzie was speechless as she stared at the pink Jeep in the box. She had wanted a Barbie Jeep for as long as she could remember. And there was not only a Jeep, but two new Barbie outfits from the store and five more that her mother had made.

She finally found her voice and threw her arms around her parent. "Oh, Mom, thank you. I love it."

"Look at this one, Micki," Delancey spoke up, fingering a tiny pair of shorts and a top their mother had made. "It's the same color as the shorts she made us."

"Oh, Mom," Mackenzie said again when Delancey held up some shoes that the older girl hadn't seen the first time.

"Looks like you scored big," Paul said from across the room, his left eyelid dropping in a wink.

Marrell smiled, but she was thinking about the way she'd almost gone blind making some of those outfits. She wasn't sure she would try it again, but it had been fun.

44

"Now is it time for cake?" Mackenzie asked.

"Yes," Marrell said indulgently. Her daughter's eyes had been like moons over the new things, but like a typical child, was ready to move on to the next event. Delancey was no different: While they were still eating their cake, she began to talk of her own birthday, which was just a month away. Marrell had to stifle a groan when she requested her own Barbie doll and homemade clothes as well. Marrell cleaned up the dishes, wondering if she'd created a monster.

The middle of July came and went, and as the month stretched on, Marrell thought of Sharon Elliott more and more. The thought of seeing her and being uncomfortable about her breakup with Marty was more than Marrell could stand, but on impulse and before she could change her mind, she wrote to her, explained their move to the Presidio, and even included her address and phone number. The call wasn't long in coming.

"Marrell, it's Shay."

"Oh, Shay!" Marrell felt as though she could cry. It had been years since she'd heard her friend's voice. "How are you?"

"I'm absolutely fabulous. I can't believe you're in San Francisco."

"Amazing, isn't it?" Marrell laughed. "When my grandmother told me you had moved here, I was stunned."

"When can I see you?" Shay asked, cutting right to the chase.

"Name a day."

"This weekend. Come to my place Sunday morning."

"All right."

"Your address is the Presidio-you must still be married to that handsome lieutenant."

"He's a lieutenant colonel now."

"Ooooh," Shay said with a laugh. "And you have two or three kids?"

"Two girls. Mackenzie and Delancey."

"Great names. How old are they?"

"Mackenzie was nine last month, and Delancey was eight on Monday."

"Bring them on Sunday."

"No," Marrell said in no uncertain terms. "You can meet them some other time. I want to catch up with you on my own."

45

"All right. Let me give you directions to my place." Marrell found paper and a pencil with a chewed-off eraser and took down notes. She went over them again before ringing off, and after putting the phone down, reached for the map, her heart pounding in anticipation. In the midst of her excitement, she realized it had been weeks since she'd done something on her own. She had gotten together with friends before leaving San Antonio but hadn't really made any new friends here. She didn't know if Paul would be very excited about her leaving the family on a Sunday, but this was necessary.

Her daughters chose that moment to start shouting at each other. Marrell set her pencil down in order to look into it. She was calm enough on the outside, but inside her heart was vastly different.
Don't even think about telling me I shouldn't see Shay on Sunday, Paul. I need a break from this house and the girls, even if I have to take the bus to get it.

Sharon Elliott's second-story apartment on Lombard Street was surprisingly easy to find, since Lombard Street was one of the streets that led directly into the Presidio. Marrell arrived right on time and was able to park without mishap, but her heart beat a little too swiftly as she rang the doorbell. She need not have worried. Shay looked older, but she was still the same-a bit zany in her dress and hairstyle but still lovely and warm.

"Marrell!" she cried, coming right onto the step to hug her. "How are you?"

"I'm fine." Marrell felt tears sting the back of her throat.

The women embraced for a long moment and the years fell away. Moments later Shay led the way inside, where Marrell was in for a surprise. Shay's apartment, actually the entire top story of a house, was beautiful. Shay's jeans were well patched, her shirt was a loud orange, and her red hair was as frizzy as a bird's nest, but her home was that of a professional with surprising style and taste.

"Come in. Sit down."

"Thank you," Marrell returned as she sank into an overstuffed leather chair, her purse going to the floor beside her. "This is beautiful, Shay."

Shay had settled across from her and now looked around in pleasure. "I like it," she admitted, "and I'm not far from work."

46

"What are you doing these days?"

"I can tell you're new in The City," she said with a proud smile, "or you would surely have heard of Elliott and Associates, San Francisco's finest new architectural firm."

"Sounds so professional."

Shay inclined her head modestly, giving complete lie to the way she'd just bragged. Marrell smiled at her, but with the mention of architecture, her mind shot to Marty. Marrell was asking herself if she should say something, but before she could, Shay started to question her.

"How did you end up in San Francisco?"

Marrell reminded Shay of the way she'd met Paul, and then explained how they had moved with his career.

"How many times have you moved?"

"Let's see . . . this is our third."

"In how many years?"

"We've been married eleven and a half years."

"So you just go wherever he goes?"

"Sure," Marrell answered easily, but she knew what her friend was thinking.

Shay studied her. "Not very progressive, but I can see you're happy."

"I am happy, Shay," Marrell told her. And she meant it.

A short but not uncomfortable silence fell between them, so Marrell took a moment to look around. In doing so she spotted a photo of Shay and Marty. A simple snapshot but beautifully framed, it sat on a bookshelf by the window. For a moment Marrell wondered if her grandmother had heard wrong.

Shay had been watching her and now spoke up.

"I can see you've spotted the picture."

"Yes," Marrell admitted. "My grandmother told me that you'd split up. Did she hear wrong?"

"No. We're divorced." Shay's eyes went to the photo. "I don't hate him, but I can't live with him."

"I'm sorry, Shay."

"Thank you, Marrell." She appreciated far more than she could say that her friend did not gush and carry on. "I was pretty shaken for a time, but I think I've got my head on straight now."

"That's good to hear."

47

"You don't know how good," Shay said ruefully. "You can't believe the crazy things I was into. Transcendental meditation, group therapy, drugs, water therapy, even a therapy that encouraged me to release my inner feelings."

"What did that entail?" Marrell asked, a bit afraid of the answer.

"It was weird. At the time I had a van that I drove, and when I just couldn't cope anymore, I pulled to the side of the road, got in the back, and screamed until I was hoarse. It helped for a while, but when I finally sold the van, it was a great relief."

Marrell was stunned speechless but managed to keep the surprise from her face. Shay went on as if this was all completely normal.

BOOK: Pretense
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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