Read Somebody Like You Online

Authors: Beth K. Vogt

Tags: #Fiction, #Retail, #Romance, #Top 2014

Somebody Like You (5 page)

BOOK: Somebody Like You
11.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“And then . . . well, it’s been four months. I thought Stephen decided to leave things be.”

“You haven’t talked to him since then?”

“No. We’re . . . not close. And I didn’t call him during the holidays—I just couldn’t.”

Twilight Zone.
That was it. She’d been transported to a present-day
Twilight Zone
. There was no other way to explain the fact that she was widowed and pregnant, and that her husband’s twin brother had shown up on her doorstep tonight, unknown and unannounced. And now her mother-in-law stated, “We’re not close,” as if she were talking about the mail carrier.

Miriam’s voice pulled her back to the harsh glare of reality. “The divorce—it did awful things to our family.”

“I have to go.” Haley walked over to where she’d left the blanket, picking it up and clutching it to her chest.

“Haley, let me explain—”

“Not tonight. Please.” Haley curled into the corner of the couch. “We’ll talk tomorrow.”

“I’m so, so sorry.”

She disconnected without saying good-bye, but not before cutting off the sound of tears in Miriam’s voice.

Miriam was sorry. Would Sam be sorry that the secret he’d kept from her had walked into her life, a living, breathing reflection of him?

Secrets. How she hated them.

three

J
ust do the next thing.

How many times since becoming a widow had Haley pushed herself forward by saying, “Just do the next thing”? The next thing. And the next. Bury her husband. Confirm her pregnancy. Move out of her apartment. Go to work. Come home. Try to sleep. Go to work the next day. She was an expert at doing the next thing. By saying that simple phrase enough times and staying on emotional autopilot, she got through each day. The not-so-funny thing was, the heaviness on her shoulders never eased.

Not that she would complain. This was her life—and she would manage. Somehow.

And now, here she sat at her got-it-at-a-bargain-price dining room table with Claire beside her, staring down the next “next thing,” her hand motionless on the computer keyboard. On the TV, John Wayne held a muted conversation with Jim Hutton in one of her favorite non-Western movies,
Hellfighters
. Why didn’t she remember to turn the TV off before Claire arrived? She’d have avoided the whole “How old is this movie, anyway? Did
you see the cars they’re driving? Their clothes?” drill. And she’d have avoided the way her best friend tried to hide her sympathy behind forced casualness. For all her kindness, how could Claire, who was more than busy with her job as a front-desk receptionist at the Broadmoor, understand the need to block out silence?

“You have to pick a childbirth class, Haley.” Claire’s voice softened, wrapping around Haley’s shoulders like a favorite sweater. Comfortable. Never too tight.

“I know. Why are there so many choices?” And why did she have to go sit in a class with other moms-to-be—and dads-to-be? And would anyone understand the invisible “It’s all on me” albatross hung around her neck the day Sam died? “I’m a little distracted because I got a letter from the homeowners’ association telling me that I need to edge my lawn.”

“What? It’s January—no one edges their lawn in Colorado in January.”

“You know that and I know that—but I don’t think I’m dealing with a rational person. I can accept the warning to turn my porch light off—even if it does freak me out a bit that some guy must be driving around at night checking out porch lights. But it feels like they’re trying to find things to hassle me about.” Haley motioned toward the garage. “And I still haven’t unpacked the Great Wall of Boxes—”

“The what?”

“All the boxes piled up in my garage. And my fence is . . . leaning or something. My bathroom toilet is leaking. The sliding glass doors don’t want to slide. The shutters need to be repainted—not to mention I didn’t like some of the room colors when I moved in, and I still don’t. Orange only works on a pumpkin.”

“Haley, you know some of the guys will help you. Let me have Finn organize a work crew.”

“I was talking out loud, Claire, not asking for help. Everyone’s busy—they have their own families to take care of.” She forced herself to refocus on the list of childbirth classes. “Sorry. We were talking about options.”

“Whichever works for you, I’ll go with you.”

“You have a husband, not to mention a job. And if I remember correctly, weren’t you talking about training for a marathon? You don’t have to take care of me.”

“I’ve already told Finn I’m your coach. It’s all settled. I talked to my supervisor and explained the situation, and she’s willing to adjust my shifts so I can go to your classes.” Claire commandeered the mouse, moving the cursor along the listings. “What about the one offered at the hospital? It’s close.”

Haley nodded as Claire clicked on the link. Stared at the web page.

“Or . . . there’s always the one offered at that instructor’s home. She has a lot of experience.” Claire switched back to the previous web page. The black and white images of smiling, peace-filled women holding newborns blurred before Haley’s eyes.

Just do the next thing.

This wasn’t about having the baby. Yet. She was doing what she needed to do to be ready when it was time to have the baby. To be a mom. By herself. Without her husband, who didn’t—

Charm bracelet jangling, Claire rested her hand over Haley’s where it sat next to the computer keyboard. “I’ll be with you, Haley.”

“I know.”

“For the classes. For labor and delivery. Everything.” Claire squeezed her hand.

“I hate to ask you to do all this, Claire.” Haley scraped together her confidence, which had been undermined just by looking at web photos. “I can manage.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Claire grabbed her by the shoulders—gently—and turned Haley to face her. “You are not having your baby alone. End of discussion. Moving on.”

Haley allowed Claire to hug her, leaning into her for the briefest of seconds before squaring her shoulders. Inhaling. Exhaling. “Now all I need to do is figure out what kind of classes to take. What do you think?”

“No experience in this category, my friend.” Claire masked the shadows Haley glimpsed in her hazel eyes by leaning forward to study the screen, causing her shoulder-length black hair to fall forward like a shield. “So, we’re back to you: What do you want to do?”

Haley’s troubles were no reason for her to ask careless questions. “Here’s what I want: anything and anyone to ensure I have a fast, uncomplicated delivery.”

“That’s what every pregnant woman wants.”

“Then someone should have figured it out by now.” Haley closed the laptop sitting on the table with a soft click, standing to stretch her back before moving past the archway into the kitchen. Through the sliding glass doors, the solitary tree in the backyard seemed to lift its branches in supplication to the muted gray sky. “I’ll look at that again later. You thirsty?”

“Sure. Hot tea?”

“For you, always. For me, soda.” She pulled a Plexiglas bowl of rinsed green grapes and a smaller bowl with some mini squares of sharp cheddar cheese from the fridge. “Look, I cooked just for you.”

“Rinsing fruit and opening a bag of precut cheese is not cooking.”

“For me it is.” She grabbed a bag of cheese-flavored Doritos out of the mostly bare pantry and set a tub of cream cheese beside it. “One of the members at the range said this is delicious.”

Claire wrinkled her nose at the chips-and-dip option. “That’s all yours.”

“Fine.” Slipping her hand beneath her long-sleeved denim top, Haley rubbed the faint tightness in her lower back. “So . . . something happened last night.”

Claire stopped sorting through the wire basket on the counter that contained the few boxes of tea Haley kept on hand for her friend. “Something bad? Or something good?”

“Something . . . weird.”

“Weird? Baby weird?” Claire paused, as if weighing the effect of her next question. “Being-without-Sam weird?”

Haley chewed her bottom lip, leaning back against the counter, gripping the edge of the sink. “Some guy showed up claiming to be Sam’s brother.”

Claire dropped the box of Constant Comment tea she’d selected, causing it to hit the floor with a dull thud. “Sam doesn’t—he doesn’t have a brother.”

“That’s what I thought.” Releasing her death grip on the counter, Haley filled the electric teakettle with water, setting it on the counter and turning it on.

“Sam would have told you if he had a brother.”

Claire knelt and scooped the tea packets back into the box. Haley pulled a red ceramic mug from the cabinet and placed it next to the electric kettle. She had five more just like it—a bargain at a dollar apiece. “Again—that’s what I thought after meeting this guy who looks and sounds exactly like Sam. I mean, why would he have a twin brother—and not tell me?”

Claire looked up from where she knelt—why hadn’t Haley swept those scattered dust bunnies and cereal and chip crumbs? “What did you say?”

“I said why would Sam not tell me—”

“No, you said
twin
.”

“He’s Sam’s twin brother.”

Claire plopped onto the floor, seeming to abandon all thoughts of cleaning up the tea bag mess. “This gets more and more bizarre.”

“Welcome to my personal episode of
The Twilight Zone
. You’ll have to be satisfied with a cameo appearance, as it seems I have the starring role.”

“Is this guy a—what do they call it—a fraternal twin? You know, the kind that doesn’t look alike?”

“He looks
exactly
like Sam.”

“No, he doesn’t.”

“Claire, I was there.” Haley refused to allow even a hint of anything—everything—she’d experienced last night to creep into her voice. “When I say ‘exactly,’ I mean I couldn’t tell the difference.”

“What?”

“He walks like Sam. Sounds like Sam. If Sam looked in a mirror, he’d see this guy. It was dark . . . but for a minute or so, I thought . . . I thought . . .”

Claire scrambled to her feet, walking over and wrapping her arms around Haley. “How awful. This guy is really Sam’s twin brother?”

Haley shrugged out of the embrace. “I should have known it wasn’t Sam. The guy called me ‘Haley.’ To Sam I was always ‘Hal’—you know, like one of the guys.”

“Your husband did not think of you as one of the guys!”

“You know what I mean. Anyway, I called Sam’s mom last night. She confirmed it—although don’t ask me why I needed her confirmation. Miriam said she couldn’t tell me about Stephen before because it was up to Sam to do it. And he never did.”

“What did Sam’s brother say?”

A snort escaped her lips. “Not much after I threatened to shoot him if he didn’t leave.”

“You. Did. Not.” Claire gave her space, gathering up the tea packets before tearing one open, positioning the tea bag in the mug.

“I did.” She’d collapsed in some strange man’s arms—who, even in the muted light, seemed to have the same cleft chin as Sam . . . the mirage had haunted her sleep all night.

“One day, Haley, you
are
going to shoot somebody. Then what?”

“Then, as my brothers would say, I’ll have made ’em proud.” As the teakettle whistled, Haley poured boiling water into the mug, the water hissing as it flowed over the tea bag. The scent of cinnamon and cloves wafted into the air.

“What did he do when he found himself face-to-face with your gun?”

“He left. I’ll give him points for being smart.” She picked up the ivory business card with brown lettering that he’d wedged between the screen and the front door. “He did leave me this.”

“What? His card?” Claire scrutinized the writing. “ ‘Stephen R. Ames. Architect. Entrepreneur.’ Huh. Thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he? Lives in Fort Collins. Sam’s twin brother lives in Colorado?”

“Apparently. Two hours away—and he shows up after Sam dies.” As the baby moved inside of her, Haley covered her tummy with her hands. “What do I do, Claire?”

“About?”

“About this guy . . . if he shows up again?”

“Hear him out?”

“Why?”

“Because he’s Sam’s brother, and he’s here for a reason.”

“But Sam never told me about him, and he did that for a
reason.” She paced the kitchen, stopping to stare out into the backyard. “Why should I get to know him now?”

“Have you prayed about it?”

“Yes. And no.” Claire’s burst of laughter tugged a smile across Haley’s face. The first of the day.

“What do you mean, ‘yes and no’?”

“If you mean have I said a formal ‘Dear God, what do you want me to do about Sam’s lookalike?’ prayer, then no, I haven’t prayed about it.” She retrieved a can of Sprite from the refrigerator, taking a sip in hopes of soothing the ache in her throat. “But if you mean have I prayed in a ‘God, help me, help me, help me’ kind of way . . . then I’ve been doing that since the day I shut the door when the Bereavement Team left.”

“So you have no plans to call Stephen R. Ames, architect and entrepreneur?” Claire wandered back out to the living room with Haley following her and settled on the couch, resting her bare feet on the redwood-and-pine coffee table.

“No.” Haley set the chips and dip beside her on the couch cushion.

BOOK: Somebody Like You
11.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Ultimate Werewolf by Byron Preiss (ed)
The Betrayal by Laura Elliot
Barcelona Shadows by Marc Pastor
Beach Ride by Bonnie Bryant
America Aflame by David Goldfield
Trial by Ice and Fire by Clinton McKinzie
Don't Leave Me by James Scott Bell
The Bastard by Novak, Brenda