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Authors: Pepper Phillips

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BOOK: The Devil Has Dimples
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“She showed me how much she loves a big lummox who is too
stupid to see anything nice about her.”  I knew that tears were forming in my
eyes, but I couldn’t help it.  They began to overflow and I hastily wiped them
away.

“I would give anything for someone to look at me with the
love that she has for you.  And you.  You just don’t see it.”  I broke down
then.

Grant stood helplessly for a moment, then took a half-step
forward and wrapped me in his arms.

“Why would she love me?”  He whispered against my hair.

“Only God knows if you’ve been treating her as rudely as
I’ve seen you do.”  I could feel my nose turning red as I snuffled.

Grant pushed a hankie in my hand.  Ah, it was a pink one.  I
gave a weak smile as I wiped off the tears.

“I really need to get all your pink stuff and rewash it.”

“Does that mean I can stay?”

“Just be nice to her.”  I looked up at him, my eyes pleading
him to say yes.

His gaze showed nothing for a moment, then relinquished, and
he sighed.  “While you’re here, I’ll be nice.”

I grabbed him and gave him a big hug. “Thanks.”

He was tense.  His body tight and hard.  I pushed back and
looked at him.  His lips were in a tightly drawn line.  A slash across his
face.  I pushed up on my toes and kissed his lips, softly.  Slowly.  They
melted against my mouth, warming and opening up to accept my embrace.

Hot lips.  A flash of desire rushed through my body and I
pulled back. I forgot about Tina and apparently so did Grant, if the kiss was
any indication.

“I’m sorry.”  I pushed myself completely away from Grant. 
“I need to go downstairs.”

He was watching me.  I could feel it.  It felt warm, hot,
delicious, like honey and butter.  That was enough to scare the living
daylights out of me.  I needed to remember that he was actively involved with
another woman and that he was a jock.

My feet took the winding staircase at a busy pace, and I was
in the store before I could clear my thoughts.

Margie was digging in a linen armoire.  Thankfully her back
was to me and I had a moment to collect myself.  I looked at my hand to see the
pink handkerchief still there, so I wiped my eyes again, hoping that I didn’t
look like I’d been crying.

“Aha!”  Margie stood, bringing out a lace tablecloth, she
turned and waved it at me.  A large grin on her face.  “This is going to be
fun!”

“Great.”  I replied.  Fun was the furthest thing on my mind
at the present.  All I could think about were lips, hot teasing lips, lips that
touched my soul and wanted to devour me. 

And I wanted to help them.

Lord, what was I supposed to do now?

A clicking on the front door interrupted my thoughts.

A smiling Bitsy and a frowning Joanna were peering in the
window.  It looked like it was going to be a long day.

I motioned for them to come in and then I heard Grant
walking down the winding staircase.

I turned and he smiled at me.  A wicked smile.

Bitsy and Joanna walked in, as Grant reached the bottom of
the stairs, walked over and kissed me in front of the ladies.  He then walked
over to Margie, who had a shocked look on her face and gave her a hug and a
kiss on the cheek.

Margie was even more shocked than before.  Her hand went up
to press the kiss further into her face.

Joanna stared in amazement and Bitsy puckered up and said. 
“Here, Big Boy.  I need a kiss too.”

Grant obliged by bending down, picking Bitsy up in a huge
hug and kissing her full on the mouth.

She patted him on the cheek.  “My, my, my.  If I wasn’t
married you’d have to keep track shoes on all the time, else I’d run you down
quicker than a horse fly.”

Grant put her down, ruffled her hair and walked out the
door.

Joanna puckered her lips in a disapproving fashion.  “Well,
I never.”

Bitsy slapped her on the arm.  “Of course you never.”  Bitsy
winked at me, which caused me to chuckle.  She was wearing a t-shirt that said,
‘If you’re old enough to remember Lash LaRue, you’re the guy for me.”

“Who’s Lash LaRue?”  I asked.

Bitsy smiled.  “The hottest movie star of my day, of course,
I was a kid at the time.  He was a western star and used a whip instead of a
gun.  I read somewhere that he married ten times...must have been a romantic.”

I’d never heard of the guy.  It sounded more like an eyelash
extension.

Joanna glared at me, causing me to turn around.  I noticed
that Margie was still holding the cheek that Grant had kissed.

Margie mouthed,
thank you
.

I felt embarrassed and turned to my two guests.

“You’re up and out early.  What’s going on?”

Bitsy started to talk as she headed for the coffeepot.

“Joanna found that picture and decided to bring it over and
asked me to join her.”

Joanna stood there grimly, her arms pressed tightly to her
sides.  I could see a large brown envelope tucked under one arm.

I could hardly contain my excitement.  I held out my hand
and Joanna swiftly turned aside as though guarding the picture.

“Joanna!  Coffee?”  Bitsy asked.

Joanna glared at me and then reluctantly took the manila
envelope from under her arm and thrust it in my hand.

“You do know that Grant is dating my daughter.  They’re
practically engaged.”  She then stalked over to the coffee pot and poured
herself a cup of coffee.

Bitsy wandered over and remarked in a low voice that only I
could hear.  “When Grant marries that bitch, I’ll have a smooth complexion.”

Bitsy nodded toward Joanna.  “Old bat didn’t want to bring
it, but I forced her to.”

Then Bitsy turned around and spoke louder, so that Joanna
and Margie could hear.  “Time for a coffee break, girls.”

Bitsy perched herself on the same sofa as she had the day
before.  She patted the seat next to her.  “Sara.”

I dutifully walked over and sat.  My fingers trembled as I
took the photo out of the envelope and laid it to rest on my lap.  Six young
girls, their arms across each other’s back, were taking a step forward, into
their future.

Bitsy leaned over and pointed her finger at the first
figure.  “That’s me.  Lord, I loved that hairstyle, I need to go back to
wearing it that way.  This is Maudie next to me.  She’s taller than I am.”

Joanna, sitting on a chair in the grouping stated.  “Every
adult in town is taller than you are.”

“Joanna, most of the third grade is taller than I am.” 
Bitsy said.

I studied my mother’s face.

Maudie was laughing in the picture, her face young and
bright, you could tell at a glance that she had the world by a string and was
willing to pull it anyway she wanted it.  Her hair seemed a dark brown, though
I couldn’t tell what color her eyes were.

Bitsy moved her finger down the line.  “That’s Edna, of
course.”

I looked at my adoptive mother’s face.  She, too, was
laughing.  Something that she seldom did when she was older.  Everything seemed
like a chore to her, and a distasteful chore as she raised me.  What happened
to the laughing girl in the picture?

“Naomi.”  Bitsy’s finger trailed across the black-and-white
photo.

I smiled.  Naomi looked rough even in her youth.

“That’s Bobbie next to her, and of course, Joanna.”

Bobbie was smiling at Naomi and Joanna was a step away from
the other girls, her hand resting on Bobbie’s shoulder.  A part of the group,
but not quite.  Plus she was frowning.  Did the woman ever smile?

“That’s a horrible picture of me.”  Joanna said.  “I don’t
know why I kept the thing.”

Margie asked.  “Can I see it?”

I could feel Joanna freeze up on the other side of me.

“Certainly.”  I handed her the photo as Bitsy moved closer
to Margie.

“Why is she here?”  Joanna whispered.  Though her whisper
carried over to Margie and Bitsy.  They both looked up for a second then
dropped their gaze to the photo.

“Margie is helping me with one of the rooms.”  I answered.

“Can’t those high school boys Maudie hired help you?”

I laughed.  “Well, I guess they could if I was just moving
furniture around.  Margie has a fantastic eye for decorating and I asked her if
she would give me a hand making one of the display rooms a knockout.”

Joanna looked as if she would choke on her coffee.

Bitsy smiled.  “Sure, I’ve been telling you Joanna, Margie’s
kitchen is to die for.”

Joanna sniffed.  “Really.”

“Yeah, you should have her look at your living room and give
you some pointers.”

Joanna smiled smugly and sipped her coffee.  “Maybe she
should look at her own living room.”

Margie glanced at Joanna and gave her a big smile.  “Why,
you are so right.  I am just going to do that thing as soon as possible.  In
fact, I’m going to redecorate the whole house.  Lord knows it been needing it.”

Joanna did choke on her coffee this time.  Bitsy jumped up
and thumped her on the back.  I thought Bitsy used a lot more force than was
necessary, but I wasn’t going to say a word.  Joanna needed a good thumping.

When Joanna stopped choking, Bitsy pulled her up by the
hand.  “Come on old girl.  Let’s get out of their way before they put us to
work.”

Joanna looked startled at that remark, and couldn’t make it
to the door fast enough.

Bitsy right behind her.

Just as she closed the door, Bitsy threw Margie and me a
kiss.

Margie put her hands on her hips and turned to the dining
room.  “Come on Sara, before anyone else interrupts us.”

 

* * *

 

Grant strode in the living room, hustled to the kitchen, and
opened the oven to take a peek.

“Ah, whatever those brown things are sure smell good.”

I knew it.  This man thought with his stomach.  I smiled.

“Those ‘brown things’ are sweet potato balls.  The gumbo is
almost ready, if you want to get into something comfortable, now’s the time.”

He gave me a wink, then disappeared into his bedroom.

The doorbell rang, so I trotted down the winding staircase
and let in Margie and Lenny.

They both came upstairs and I started to dish up the rice. 
Margie began to set the table for four, as Lenny stretched out on the love seat
and grabbed the daily paper off the coffee table.

Grant came out of his room and seemed startled to see Margie
there. It was almost amusing to see the little hamster running the wheel in his
brain.

I raised my eyebrow and nodded toward Margie.

He hesitated, letting the rat run the maze some more then
gave a weak smile. 
Poor baby, I bet that hurt.

“Hi, Margie.”  He went over and gave her a little hug and a
peck on the cheek.

She seemed surprised and shyly grateful.

Grateful.  If I had had a rolling pin in my hands, I could
have killed some rodents.

“Sara invited your father and me for dinner, since I’ve been
helping her all day.”

“All day?”

Margie was excited.  “Oh yes!  You should see how wonderful
it looks downstairs.”

“I’ll have to go see.”

Margie grabbed his arm as he turned toward the staircase.

“Oh, no.  Wait until Sara shows you.  I wouldn’t want to do
anything to mess things up.”

Grant took a step backward.  “Mess what up?”

Margie looked embarrassed.  She tried to whisper, but I
could hear her.  “Well, that kiss this morning.”

“That kiss was nothing,” Grant denied.

Grant didn’t notice Lenny standing behind him.

“What kiss?”  Asked Lenny.

Grant was embarrassed.  Margie twisted her hands together.

I rushed in to save both of them.  “It was nothing.  Just a good-bye
kiss for Margie, Bitsy and me.”

Glancing over at Grant I said, “You neglected kissing
Joanna.”

“Brrrrrr.”  Shuddered Lenny.  “No one would want to kiss
that old bitter cat.”

Bustling over to the oven, I checked the contents, and
turned off the heat.  “Dinner’s ready.  Grant, will you give me a hand with the
sweet potatoes?”

“Here, I’ll help,” offered Margie.

“No, you worked too hard today.  It’s time someone waited on
you for a change.  Grant can do it.”

Grant gave me a sneaky smile.  As he passed by me in the
small kitchen, he whispered.  “I’m going to get you back for this.”

“I think you already did.  That kiss for Margie meant
something, even if you didn’t think so.”

“No.  The kiss for you meant something.  Not the one for
her, you ordered me to be nice.  I was just being nice.”

I threw him a baneful look.  “Liar.  Just admit it.  Don’t
deny it.”

“I can’t.  Not to her.”

I shook my head.

Apparently Grant was a master at hiding his true feelings. 
Even to himself.

“Come on boy, don’t forget the butter.  I’m hungry.”  Lenny
said.

Grant opened the refrigerator and brought out the butter
container.

 

* * *

 

“That was excellent, Sara.”  Lenny leaned back and rubbed
his stomach.

Lenny leaned forward and grabbed the photo that Joanna had
given me from the kitchen counter.  He looked at it for a moment.  “The
six-pack.  Only three left now, a nutz, a klutz, and a futz.”

“Lenny!”

“Well, it’s true.  Edna died in a car crash.  Bobbie burned
to death.  And how did Maudie die, Grant?”

“Lenny!”  Margie exclaimed again.

Lenny realized that I sat there, taking in the
conversation.  “Sorry, Sara.  But no one knows how Maudie died.  How did she
die, Grant?”  Even Margie looked expectantly at Grant, though she tried to hide
it.

Grant looked embarrassed, then thoughtful.  “I honestly
don’t know.  Does it matter?”

Lenny shrugged.  “I guess not.”

I looked over at Grant.  “Do you think you can find out?”

Grant hesitated, then shrugged.  “Sure.  I’ll find out.”

BOOK: The Devil Has Dimples
2.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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