Saved By The Belles (5 page)

Arthur was Vivi’s only family and she was his too. They had always been each other’s. Vivi’s dad had died and her mother spent much of Vivi’s young life in and out of institutions. She was very sickly all of Vivi’s life. I have always been Vivi’s sister—well since she and I decided we would be sisters from the first day we met in third grade at St. Catherine’s Catholic School. And in eighth grade we created The Sassy Belles with our other good friend, Rhonda Cartwright. But she moved away that summer. Vivi and I are still Sassy Belles to the inth degree.

Bonita is a plus-sized African American doll, and we just loved her from the get-go. We made her a Sassy Belle right away when she and Arthur got serious. She was still the assistant homicide investigator and worked full-time with Sonny but I knew in my heart she was madly in love with Arthur and I told Sonny she’d quit before we knew it to help Arthur build that business if he needed her.

“My, heavens above! Let me see that!” I shouted, grabbing her hand and bringing it under my face.

“When did this happen?”

“Yeah, when were you gonna tell
?” Vivi looked hurt and left out. Arthur was her only family and she felt entitled to be the first to know.

“It just happened last night. We were gonna tell y’all tonight. Arthur was so cute. I just love that man like nobody’s business,” Bonita gleamed.

“Well, honey I am so happy for y’all! Vivi jumped up and threw her arms around Bonita’s neck.

“Thank y’all, I am totally over the moon!” Bonita had a permanent grin stretched across her beautiful face. “I said yes, in case you couldn’t tell.” She threw her head back and laughed a deep rolling laugh as she waved her hand around like a movie star.

She and Arthur were great together. And their BBQ was quickly becoming legendary. Especially on game days and cold Saturdays. People were lining up all the way down the plantation drive to get those succulent ribs and heavenly peach cobbler.

Bonita stuck her head back in the door, “Blake, Sonny got some news today and he just called my cell. He’s been trying to reach you all morning.”

“Damn, I guess I left my cell in the car.”

“I’ll go get it. You need to just stay put,” Vivi said. “Watch Tallulah for me.”

“What’s going on?” I asked Bonita.

“You’ll never guess where that old man had been. You know that one Sonny’s been investigating that was found dead at the wheel of his car the other night?”

“Yeah, where?”

“Seems like he had been playing strip poker with a hooker out at the trailer park.”

“The trailer park?

“Yeah. Seems like somebody out there’s runnin’ a good old fashioned brothel.”






“Look what the cat dragged in,” Vivi announced as she entered the kitchen from going out to my car for the cell phone.

Kitty and Meridee, my mother and grandmother were right behind Vivi. Meridee was pretty much the matriarch of everyone in my little circle. Meridee was a tiny little spitfire who had just turned eighty years old last summer. She had thrown herself a Hollywood nights themed party complete with half naked cowboys carrying her in on a Persian cot. That tells a person a lot about my Meridee. This tiny woman was the center of my universe when I was little.

“Hey y’all. How my girls doin’ on this cold winter day?” Meridee asked reaching to hug me as she entered the warm kitchen.

“I’m good,” I said still thinking about the news Bonita just shot out there. It was no secret, Myra Jean; the Trailer Park Psychic lived out at the trailer park where Sonny and Bonita made their discovery. And Meridee had been friends with her for as long as I could remember. I needed to talk to Sonny but not now, not in front of Meridee. Lord knows she’d call Myra Jean and then Miss Myra would get the whole trailer park all in an uproar. I had no choice but I had to wait. Plus, Kitty was known as the town crier so nothing was safe around her.

“Hey Baby”, Kitty said snagging a grape from a ceramic bowl of fruit near the corner TV. “You get Vivi up to speed on that ass of a husband of yours?”

“Yes, Mother and he’s pretty much not my husband anymore.”

“Well, legally he is and I don’t want your name dragged across the mud with his. Hell, there’s already a petition circulating to get that man kicked out of office,”

We all looked at her.

“For real, y’all. I just heard it at Krispy Kreme. Everybody was chatting about it.”

“You mean you got Krispy Kremes in that car and you didn’t even bring them in?” Vivi jumped in.

“Were they
Hot Now
? What were you thinkin’?”

“Okay Okay, I’ll share. If I have to.” Kitty pouted then turned to head back outside to get the warm sweet fried confections.

“Meridee, what are you and Kitty doin’ out together today?” I asked.

Meridee looked down and then away. I instantly felt my stomach drop. “Is something wrong?” I asked.

“Oh you know that crazy mother of yours. She keeps dragging me to doctors for checkups. She’s got the craziest ideas that I need regular check-ups.”

Kitty came through the dining room door with the Krispy Kremes just as I heard the catch in her voice. I detected something. My eyes darted over to Vivi just as her eyes grabbed mine from across the table. It didn’t feel right.

“Mother, y’all been at the doctor this morning?” I threw it out there. I wanted to get a look at Kitty. She was the very worst at keeping anything a secret.

“Yeah, that old woman is so damn difficult. I told her she’s not a spring chicken anymore and maybe we need a check-up. Finally I convinced her.”

But I wasn’t totally convinced. About it being just a check-up. I quickly looked at Vivi again and she looked concerned too.

“Just a check-up huh?” Vivi pushed.

“Oh, Yeah. You know, just making sure everything’s still in the right place. Now give me one of those doughnuts. I’m starved.”

“She had to fast for all the blood work so I know she’s hungry.” Kitty just let the cat out.

“What do you mean? Blood work? Why?” I was getting anxious.

“It’s nothing,” Meridee said biting into the sweetness. “I’m just fine. Kitty is just insistent that I get my blood done and all that since I’m so
.” She smiled as she chewed, trying to keep us from getting too upset. Making like it was no big deal. But I felt a twist in my stomach.

“I finally got her there by promising to take her to see Dr. Riley.”

“He’s a stud, I’ll say. Hard from head to toe,” Meridee took another bite grinning because she loved shocking us.

“Meridee!” Vivi shouted turning as red as her mop top. “I wanna be like Meridee when I’m eighty.” Vivi was giggling as she got up to get the plates for Bonita and Arthurs BBQ that was on the way.

“No one’s gonna be hungry if we eat all these right now. Arthur’s on his way up here with lunch. Y’all stay okay?” Vivi told them more than she was asking. Meridee jumped up and grabbed some silverware and helped Vivi.

“I need to run out and make a call,” I said. “Be right back.”

“Honey, you can call from here. It’s cold outside.” Kitty suggested.

“Oh, uhm… sometimes my cell doesn’t pick up from inside.” I slipped through the dining room and out to the front porch to call Sonny. The cold air slapped my warm cheeks as I hit his picture on my cell.

“Hey, baby. Forget your cell?”

“Yeah, sorry. So there’s a real life brothel? I can’t even believe that.”

“Yep. You never know. We found a phone number on the dead body of that old guy and traced it. Turns out he was just leaving an appointment from somewhere out there. We think we know which trailer it is too. Doesn’t that psychic Vivi saw for her bridal shower live out there?”

“Yes but why?” I asked. Did you wanna talk to her? I can’t imagine she’d know the hookers.”

“Come on Blake, she’s a psychic right? I mean doesn’t she know everything?”






I drove home after lunch in deep thought, Harry at the top of my mind. It was all so confusing. I knew him better than most and something about that look he gave me when I threw him out earlier that morning bothered me. I wanted to know for sure. Harry said someone set him up, but the picture was of him kissing that brunette. That was a certainty. Maybe he was just full of it like always, using whatever woman would get him to the top.

I pulled in to the drive at Sonny’s. Well it was my home too, now. I had to get used to that. My old antebellum dream house I shared with Harry sat across town near campus empty and dark. I kept swearing I was gonna put it up for sale but somehow I just never really get around to it.

I went inside and my curiosity got the better of me. I went straight to my laptop.

I’m a lawyer, a researcher, so I knew if anyone could dig up the truth, I could do it. I got out the newspaper and looked at the picture of the intern in a lip-lock with my soon-to-be-ex. Her name was included in the article and her hometown. Jessica Jamison. Twenty years old from South Carolina. Interning in D.C. for the semester. Wow! She sure doesn’t waist any time, I thought. I decided to dig a little deeper.

A few more clicks of the keys led me to another clue about this aggressive little intern. She has relatives here in Tuscaloosa. I decided I needed to find out exactly whom she’s related to and maybe go knock on their door. Then I stopped myself.

Why? Why in the world am I putting myself through this to help Harry? I caught him with two different women last summer as our marriage was ending. And in spite of all that he still counted on me to stand by him and help him get elected. Am I a fool?

I got up to search the fridge for something to drink when I heard the doorbell. I turned and hurried back to the door.

“Hey honey, get in here. It’s freezing out there,” I said reaching in and pulling Vivi inside. “What are you doing here?”

“I just talked to Lewis and he found out some stuff about that intern,” she said stepping inside and taking off her olive green wool overcoat. Her cream cashmere scarf set her red hair and ruby lips off like a portrait. “I left the baby with Arthur but I gotta be back in an hour so he can get the dinner shift going. Now listen, Harry’s in deeper trouble with this little affair. Looks like he may not get to stay in office if Tuscaloosa has a thing to say about it.”

“How do you know?”

“Lewis just had a visitor at the radio station.”

“Who? And why does it matter?”

“Well, Lewis said that petition has snowballed with support in just a matter of hours. All it took was that picture of that lusty little hussy kissing Harry and Tuscaloosa wants him out. Now.”

“So who was at the radio station today?”

“That freakin’ used car salesman, would be politico, Bullhorn McGraw.”

“That idiot that ran against Harry? What the hell did he want?”

“He bought an add.”

“For what, his old car lot?”

“No, honey. He’s telling everyone to get Harry outta Washington and send him instead.”

“Harry hasn’t even been pushed out yet.”

“Well, it may not be long.”

I handed Vivi a cup of hot chocolate from the microwave and threw in a couple of mini marshmallows. I sipped the chocolaty silk and it warmed me—but only for the second it took to slide down my throat. Just then, someone began knocking on the front door. Vivi and I were both leaning on the kitchen counter cups in hand when we were startled by the noise.

“God, this place is grand central today. I’ll be right back.” I said as I sat my warm cup down next to Vivi’s and headed down the hallway to the front room. I could see a tall blonde through the beveled glass.

“Hey Dallas. My goodness, what a surprise!”

“Hey Blake, how are you doing these days?”

“Good,” I said a little curiously. “Come on in. Vivi and I were just having some hot chocolate. Can I get you some?”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “Can I leave my coat here?”

Dallas removed her creamy white long wool coat and laid it over the leather chair in the corner, tossing her crimson velvet gloves on top of the coat. I felt like a whale near the spiked high-heeled, centerfold like TV anchor.

“Hey Dallas,” Vivi said as we entered the kitchen. “Whadja think of that story on Harry last night?” Leave it to Vivi to get the conversation started.

“I know it. It was unreal. It’s the top
story line for the day—probably for the rest of the month with that petition going around. Really that’s one of the reasons I’m here.”

“Really?” I said handing Dallas her hot chocolate, my confusion just continuing to grow.

“Yeah, I saw all the pictures in the news and I even tried to call Harry all day long. I never got him. Only his voicemail and he never has called me back.”

“He’s in hiding, I’m sure,” Vivi said swigging her hot chocolate.

“Well, I for one believe he might be innocent.” Dallas said, looking at both of us like she had a secret. Suddenly she had our complete attention. Vivi and I set our red ceramic cups down on the granite counter-tops in unison, our mouths dropped open like fish gasping for water.

“What? What do you know?” I asked her leaning left toward the end of the center island.

“Sonny’s working that dead body case right? The one with the old man slumped over?”

“Yeah. He found a number and an address that led him to the trailer park. But what does that have to do with Harry?”

“Well, I got a tip into the newsroom this morning about Harry. It was from a resident of River Pines. The trailer park.”

“What the hell?” Vivi pushed.

Dallas curled her long blonde hair behind her ear and shifted her weight from one hip to another. Then she set her cup down next to mine, leaning in as if no one else should hear.

“I think Harry could be telling the truth. There’s reason to believe he may have been set up.”

“Can you share anything about this tip? I mean I know all about confidentiality.” I was prying, but technically we’re still talking about my husband. The divorce was supposed to be final soon. Plus the baby was coming. Not that my new little sweetheart had anything to do with it. I knew he would choose his own time to arrive without deferral to any of us to make his debut into this world. But, still the birth did involve me and it was on my mind. I knew I had to get this whole mess with Harry solved before I was pushing this new little life into this world. I had an agenda.

Other books

Sacred Is the Wind by Kerry Newcomb
Atm by Walter Knight
A Regimental Affair by Kate Lace
Killing Sarai by J. A. Redmerski
Finally Home by Jana Leigh, Rose Colton
The Last Enemy by Jim Eldridge
Angry Black White Boy by Adam Mansbach
Arrows Of Change (Book 1) by Honor Raconteur Copyright 2016 - 2022