Authors: Beth Albright
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
“Oh, my God, no! I would never let go of Sonny. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. But Harry must need something back here. I mean he’ll be here tomorrow.”
“What are you gonna do? Meet him somewhere? I mean you have to tell Sonny, right? You
gonna tell Sonny. Right?”
“Of course I am. I just don’t wanna upset the apple cart, ya know?”
“No, I don’t know. What are you talking about?”
I heaved a deep breath. “I just thought if I could hear what Harry has to say-- make him understand there is nothing here-- then he can just go and no one has to know.”
“Well, that is the very worst plan I have ever heard,” Vivi huffed.
I loved Vivi. I could count on her. She was that friend who would say, “That most assuredly
make you look fat! Now, take it off.” So I knew I needed to listen to her. I was in a pregnancy fog anyway, and now I just wanted this over. I was in the nesting mode and Harry was making a mess of it. I wanted to hide from it all together. That’s it! I could leave town tomorrow and just conveniently not be here when Harry shows up.
“Okay, why?” I asked Vivi. “Why is this the very worst plan ever? I mean I think Harry’s just seeing the end now. We’re supposed to sign the papers next week. Maybe he’s just wanting to make sure.”
“What the hell drugs are you takin”? Vivi was heading for a hissy fit and it was directed squarely at me. “ Listen to me, Blake. You gotta see him and you gotta tell Sonny he’s coming. You and I both know that sleazy soon-to-be-ex of yours is up to something.”
“Okay, I know you’re right. I’m just tired, I think. With the baby coming and all preparations I’m just in a haze. I’ll…” She interrupted me.
“Oh my God! Lewis honey, what’s wrong?” She was talking to her husband Lewis, Harry’s brother, who was supposed to be at his radio station. He owned the station that broadcasts the Alabama football games and he was their announcer. Obviously, he had just walked in the house unexpected.
“Blake, just a minute. Lewis looks like he just got some bad news. Hang on for a second and let me see what it is.” She dropped the receiver and I heard it hit something. I could hear her as she tried to talk to Lewis. “He did what?” I heard. “Oh my Lord. What in hell—okay now I get it.” I heard the swishing noises as Vivi made her way back to the phone.
“Okay, now I get it.” Vivi was loud and upset.
“What? What do we get?” I begged full of curiosity.
“Lewis heard from the news room at the radio station. Seems like our Harry is embroiled in a little senatorial affair—with an intern!”
I sat wringing my hands, squirming in the seat, tapping the tabletop. I was at the T-Town café just off Fifteenth Street. The interior was so warm and inviting. The smell of their delicious fried green tomatoes had me salivating, despite my nerves. I had called Sonny to meet me for lunch.
Sonny was working on a case so I knew he didn’t have much time. Someone had found an elderly man slumped over in his car on that dirt road that led out to the trailer park, the one near the river where Miss Myra Jean, the psychic lived. Sonny was on the case to determine if foul play was involved. A tough case put him in his element. I hoped my news wouldn’t throw a wrench into his day. He loved his work so much and I loved watching him work. He was the Chief of Homicide for the Tuscaloosa Police Department. He looked a lot like Blake Shelton, that handsome very tall country music singer, all cuteness, muscles and dimples.
“Hey beautiful,” Sonny said as he took his seat beside me near the back of the restaurant.
I loved when he said that. That was his way. He always said hello to me like this and I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world when I was with him. Sonny had a way about him --his grin, and his one eyebrow that arched when he wanted me, which was every time he looked at me. And his swagger. Oh, that swagger. Watching him walk should be a spectator sport.
I had met Sonny in the ninth grade. We were on again off again until we were twenty years old and in college. He wanted marriage, but I was hyper-focused on my law career. When we broke up the last time, as I headed to New York for an internship, the sadness and disappointment in his sweet brown eyes etched an image in my heart I never forgot. He was the boy I left at home as I stretched myself ever further into my dream-life where I met and married Harry Heart who also become my law partner.
But in the end, old feelings never really die and my heart thumped a little faster that day last year when I ran into him on a case. By then Harry and I were all but over and it felt good to see my cop. Just like it did now in the restaurant.
“Hey Baby, you’re a sight for sore eyes,” I breathed into his neck as he leaned down to kiss me. I inhaled his skin and his Stetson cologne, the cold air outside still clinging to his red cheeks. “What's up? You look worried or like you might throw up,” he said.
“Well you know, I should be over all the morning sickness by now,” I hinted.
“So I know that look, Baby. What’s wrong inside that gorgeous head of yours?”
The waitress showed up with our waters and we ordered our drinks--regular Coke for me, Dr. Pepper for Sonny, his usual. I hesitated and squirmed, darting my eyes anywhere but into his.
“Come on Sugar, you can tell me anything. The baby’s okay isn’t he? I mean it’s not the baby is it?”
“Oh no, Baby, he’s just as healthy as a quarterback,” I offered a reassuring smile. I knew I was making him worried so I just spilled it.
“Harry’s coming here. Tomorrow.”
“What for?” He asked swigging his water and crinkling his brows at me.
“He says we need to talk, but Lewis found out something today. As soon as it hits the six o’clock news tonight, the whole town’s gonna know. Tuscaloosa’s gonna be the very worst place Harry can be. I need to stop him, but I wanted you to know first.”
“What is it? What did he do?” Sonny leaned toward me.
The restaurant had ceiling fans that churned slowly on this frigid day, just enough to swirl the mouth watering aroma of the fried chicken and red velvet cakes baking. I could live here. It all smelled so delicious. The cafeteria styled oak tables were scattered around here and there. The inviting patio full of picnic tables was closed up for the winter. The café sat right this side of the train tracks and every so often a horn could be heard. The noise was deafening. But no one seemed to care about that or even notice it, for that matter. We were all here for the delectable offerings of some of the best southern food I had ever eaten.
We ordered, and before I knew it, the waitress delivered our plates. As bad as I wanted to dig in to those famous fried green tomatoes, I knew Sonny needed the whole truth. I had hem-hawed long enough.
“Harry has been accused of having an affair.”
“Huh,” he let out with sarcasm and a smirk, “well, that’s sure nothin’ new.”
“No, Baby, he’s been accused of sleeping with his intern.”
“Oh my God, that stupid bastard.” He shook his head in both disbelief and disgust as he cut into his chicken fried steak. Then suddenly, he looked up at me. “Why the hell is he comin’ here?”
I knew I had to tell him about the phone call this morning. “Harry called me this morning.”
Sonny, still chewing, put his fork down and wiped his mouth with a white paper napkin. “What? Why?” he looked confused.
“He said he still loves me and we need to talk; but obviously he is running home to hide. He just wants to use me for show.”
Sonny cut me off. “Kinda like he did to get elected?” Sonny was suddenly stern. “You know I’m not vindictive but I really don’t want Harry bringing you down into his sleazy problems. I mean he’s made his bed. It’s not your fault he’s had everyone and their sisters
that bed—or in this case their daughters. So please, don’t even talk to him. It’s not worth it. Want me to call him?”
That was just like Sonny—jump in and be protective.
“No, no I can handle him,” I said with reassurance. I wasn’t so sure myself but I had to make Sonny believe me or this whole thing could blow up before I could stop it.
We finished our lunch and Sonny got up, all six foot three of him, long legs stretched out, he slapped at his fit thighs brushing the last of the crumbs to the floor.
“I love you, Baby. Now don’t stress. You and my future little quarterback surely don’t need any of what Harry has to offer. I’ll see you tonight and we’ll get the finishing touches on that crib, okay?” He kissed me goodbye. I smiled back at him, rubbing my baby belly. Sonny was sure right about one thing; Harry had nothing to offer but trouble. But, he was already on his way, headed straight for me.
I got home that afternoon after lunch and saw the unmistakable Pepto Bismal pink van pulled up in front of my house. The Fru Frus. They were caterers who were now trying their hands at becoming decorators—and I was their very first decorating client. The name of their little company is A Fru Fru Affair. Oh, they still did their catering. They were amazing with food. They had catered Vivi’s wedding last fall and it was fabulous. Now they wanted to branch out into the world of interior design too. Sometimes I wondered if I had totally lost my mind.
Crazy did run in my family after all. Meridee, my grandmother, always said to me,
Blake, your mother is crazy.
And yes, sometimes my mother Kitty was certifiable. But there’s crazy—and there’s bat-shit crazy. Kitty was the good crazy.
Kitty loved to love me-- out loud. If anybody did anything wrong to me, Kitty was the queen mother of the mama-bears. I suddenly wondered what in the world she was gonna do when she saw the news about Harry! I knew I had to tell her, but first I had to deal with the decorators. The baby could be early and it scared me to death that we might not be organized and ready.
I made my way in to the house only to be greeted by the Fru Fru’s. There were just the two of them. They had been together since high school when they changed their names from Craig and Jean Paul to Coco and Jean Pierre. They had opened up their own catering company right after high school while both were in culinary school. They were great chefs; the interior decorating thing was yet to be seen.
Jeanne Pierre was always dressed in dark clothes. He had dark hair and green eyes and was never without his notes and his iPad. Coco was lighter, with sandy blonde long hair and blue eyes. He was funny and even on this cold winter day he was dressed in bright blue skinny jeans and a lemon yellow striped sweater.
“Hey y’all, I’m home,” I announced as I entered the house. I had given them the key so they could work on the new nursery. They had been at it for over two weeks and I wasn’t allowed to even peek at it. They wanted it to be a surprise. I was hopeful as I made my way inside. Sonny and I had decided to turn an unused guest room into the baby’s room.
I was so tired after my busy emotional morning all I wanted to do was have a seat with some hot cider and put my feet up. But other things were on the agenda.
“Hey baby girl!” Coco bounded in from the bedroom and kissed me on the cheek—well mostly in the air.
“Hey honey,” I said. “How’s it going?” I threw my red leather Kate Spade bag and keys onto the front room chair. I began to slip off my long wool red coat as Coco continued.
“Oh, girl—you are gonna so love this! We worked so hard to get it ready for you to see. You are gonna be so surprised!” He raised his eyebrows as he grasped my hand and dragged me up the hall and back to the new nursery. “Now remember, we’re still in the early stages, but we think we’re on the right track. Cover your eyes and I’ll count to three.” Coco was so excited. I however, suddenly felt butterflies take flight in my stomach. I had given them some creative freedom. Suddenly I was seriously second-guessing my generosity.
“Now don’t open your eyes till we say three, okay? Jean Pierre has his camera ready to take a picture of your reaction.” Coco led me by the hand as we walked. I felt our arrival as we made a stop. He turned me to the left, so I would be right in the doorway.
“ Okay, here we go,” Coco said.
“One. Two. Three!” Both of them shouted in unison.
I quickly uncovered my eyes and stood speechless as Jean Pierre snapped pictures like I was on the red carpet. What I saw nearly threw me into labor! I felt my eyes bug out and my mouth drop open.
“Oh, my,” I uttered. “Uhm, I do love it but somehow I think we may have mixed up the plan a tad.” I was trying so hard not to hurt their feelings. But the vision I saw while standing there in the doorway made me instantly nauseous.
“Oh, honey, I thought you would love it! We went to so much trouble to make sure we got the nudes of you and Sonny just right. We were guessing, of course. I mean we couldn’t ask y’all to strip down and model since it was a surprise and all,” Coco said proudly.
“But I never asked for a mural of me and Sonny nude and riding bareback on a-- unicorn—over a rainbow! I mean it
a nursery after all and having a painting of mama and daddy naked on the wall really isn’t –well, too appropriate. I’m gonna have to ask y’all to just paint the walls a buttery yellow and add those baby blue stripes. That’s his colors for now--cheerful.”
“Well if y’all ridin’ on a beautiful unicorn over a rainbow isn’t cheerful, I have no idea what is!” Jean Pierre wasn’t just hurt-- he was insulted.
The Fru Fru’s looked so disappointed. But, honey—me and Sonny naked--waving out from the wall, ridin’ bare-butt on a glittery unicorn? Please! I could barely stomach looking at it. We looked like Siegfried and Roy, not Blake Shelton and Katy Perry. That’s who I think Sonny and I look like, anyway. What am I even talking about? Me and Sonny naked on a mural had no place in a nursery, no matter what!
“Oh, it’s cheerful, but not for the baby. Would y’all mind just doing the stripes for now? Maybe we can do a mural another time?” I was trying to be diplomatic.
“Bo-ring,” Coco sang in a high-pitched voice. “Fine if average is what you want we are happy to please.”