Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. While the calendar says we are at the end of September, two weeks away from Canadian Thanksgiving, Mother Nature is having a hot flash here. The temperature has been close to or above 30 C for the last ten days, with humidex values pushing that up over 40 or 104 F. This has been the hottest weather we’ve had all year, and to be truthful, I feel guilty as I look up at the sunny, clear skies and think of all my friends facing natural disasters such as tropical storms and hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria. God wiling, there will be no more of these horrific storms this year. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered because of this weather just as it does the the millions in Mexico reeling from 3 major earthquakes in less than a month.
Tuesday Tales is a place where books are born. Each week, a group of talented authors add to a work in progress and do it based on a word or picture prompt. Last week’s word was CRUSH, so I used it , too, even though I wasn’t able to post. This week, the word is COAT–not a good choice considering the weather! I’m continuing with my contemporary romance, with a working title, Same Time Next Year. If you’ll recall from my last post, Twyla has just met Mavis, an old acquaintance that was anything but a friend.
“Yes, well, life is full of surprises,” Mavis said. “So, after all these years, what brings you back to The Colonel’s Inn?”
“Rest, relaxation, and inspiration. I’m working on a new book.” Not that it was any of her damn business.
Mavis smiled, although it looked as if the action hurt.
“Another Hannah James spy thriller?”
“No, but it’s bad luck for an author to discuss a book before it’s finished. This one will be quite different. What brought you back?”
Twyla drained her glass of wine. Where was Ezra when she needed him? He could bring the bottle and leave it now.
“Oh, I come here at least once a week. My husband Rick and I own a cottage on Indian Lake just a hundred yards from the old Morrison place. Raven, my granddaughter, is getting married to Peter Markab—he’s Nessa’s nephew—do you remember her?”
Twyla nodded. Nessa had been another of Mavis’s targets that summer.
“Since they loved this place, they chose to have the wedding here,” Mavis continued. “While they’ve invited their friends, Rick and I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for a reunion with the old gang. I assumed we’d reserved all fifteen cabins, but apparently not.”
Ignoring the implied slight, Twyla pictured herself tossing Mavis into the weed-strewn lake and breathed deeply.
“I don’t seem to remember anyone named Rick.”
“You probably didn’t meet,” she said signaling the server. “His family had a farm in Elgin, and we all attended school together. The summer you were here, he was enrolled in a special course at the agricultural college in Kemptville. His father wanted him to take over the operation, but Rick opted for law instead of farming.”
Twyla coughed to cover a giggle. As a writer, she could imagine a lot of things, but Mavis as a farmer’s wife wasn’t one of them. She would fit in as well as peignoir-wearing Eva Gabor had on Green Acres, a television show from the sixties where a millionaire left Park Avenue to become a farmer.
“Yes, Mrs. McKeown,” Ezra said, coming over to the table. “How can I help you?” Can you get my friends another drink on me? I’m late for my meeting with Julia. Call up and say I’m on my way.’
“Right away, ma’am.”
Mavis watched the young man walk away, her eyes fixed on his black clad backside.
“I must say Julia has done well with the staff she’s hired.”
“I agree. Everyone has been super. So, when are your guests arriving?” she asked, her eyes shining. “I’m sure Grams would love to see some of them again.”
“Not for another week.” Mavis turned to her. “Will you still be here?”
“Yes.” Her heart raced. Had the old biddy included Michael?
“Do you remember Lydia Morrison? She’s coming, but I don’t know about Michael,” Mavis said, reading her mind. The woman’s gaze speared her. “Most of us were stunned to hear about your wedding. You never mentioned a beau let alone a fiancé when you were here. Poor Michael was quite crushed by the news. He requested early deployment. I haven’t seen him since.” She stood. “Well, if you’re still around, feel free to crash the party.” She turned to Lana. “The offer is open to you as well. I have to go. If I don’t see you again, have fun at Princeton.”
Mavis turned and walked away, her hips sashaying the way they always did. What had Mother called her? A shameless guttersnipe intent on rising above her station? Judging by the Louis Vuitton bag she carried—not a knock-off either—she’d landed on her feet.
“Wow! Are you bleeding? I felt those cat scratches from here.”
Twyla chuckled. “I suppose you did, and I know you’ve got questions. Ask away.”
Ezra deposited fresh drinks in front of them.
“Will there be anything else?”
“We’re good for now.”
He nodded and moved back into the pub. For Twyla, some of the beauty had gone out of the day.
“I’m assuming Michael was the boy you made the promise to?” Lana asked.
“Yes.” Twyla picked up her fork and began to eat the salad she’d neglected, but as delicious as it was, her encounter with Mavis had spoiled her appetite. She pushed her plate away.
“So, tell me more about Mavis Crowder McKeown and the banana split,” Lana said, continuing to make her way through her charcuterie. “Something tells me there’s a lot more to the story.”
Twyla sighed, reached for the wine glass, and leaned back in her chair.
“There really isn’t much to tell.” She sipped the wine. “Before I arrived that summer, Michael and Mavis had been an item, and she was upset when he turned his attentions to me. Mother and I had been to church with friends and I was still in my Sunday best. As soon as we returned to the resort, I went straight to the Liars’ Bench where he was waiting for me. Mavis was sitting with him. When he saw me, he looked up and smiled, but the glare I got from Mavis was so cold, I could’ve used my winter coat.”
“I can imagine. Things got a little frosty not too long ago,” Lana said.
“They did. At any rate, Mike suggested we get a banana split and share it. As luck would have it, Mavis had to dish out the ice cream. We waited at the table, staring at one another, talking about nothing, and when she came over, she dumped the entire dish on me. I had ice cream and chocolate sauce from one end to the other. I was mortified.”
“What a bitch!”
“Michael wasn’t impressed. She apologized, claimed she’s tripped on a floor board, but she almost lost her job over it. After that, I made sure not to get to close if she was serving.”
There was no point in mentioning that Mavis, a close friend of Lydia’s, had been the last person she’d spoken to all those years ago when she’d been the one to answer the phone when she’d called, desperate to speak to Michael. While she couldn’t prove it and Mavis would never own up to it, she would bet the royalties from her last two books that the woman had never given Michael her message … but she’d sent the letter, and he hadn’t responded to that either.
Twyla finished her wine.
“Ready?” she asked, signing the bill and assigning the charges to her cabin. “My muse is screaming, and I want to get started.”
Lana chuckled. “Well, you write and I’ll swim. We can have a farewell dinner tonight and then you’ll have all the peace and quiet you need.”
“And the memories would swamp her.
Her granddaughter tilted her head to the side. “Will you crash the wedding?”
Twyla chuckled. “Why not? Free food and drinks? Besides, I would like to see how some of my old friends fared,” she admitted, but if Michael wouldn’t be there, did it matter?
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.