Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. The word prompt this week was twig. I had to get creative!
By Sunday morning, Twyla was miserable, ready to admit that Billie might’ve been right, and she was on a fool’s errand. Not only had it rained for the past three days, it was cold enough outside that she’d used the gas fireplace rather than the air conditioning. To make matters worse, she’d somehow managed to catch a cold. Everyone knew summer colds were the pits. She hadn’t even been able to bring herself to get dressed and go to the dining room for food, satisfied to eat fruit and yogurt—when she did feel like eating at all.
Normally, she managed to get a stranglehold on one of these viruses within a couple of days, but that was when she could take the medication that actually worked, but now, because those could raise her blood pressure dangerously high, she was limited to the less effective ones.
To add insult to injury, her muse had vanished, and despite how many songs she listened to, she’d made little progress on the book. Remembering wasn’t as easy as she’d thought it would be, especially when it made her miss Michael and her youth more than ever. She’d managed to write about their first whole day spent together—well as together as two people could be when joining eight others at a private beach for an afternoon barbecue.
Someone knocked at the door bringing her back to the present.
“Who is it?” she called, not expecting visitors nor wanting any.
“It’s Solitaire. I’ve come to make up your room.”
Twyla frowned. Housekeeping. She’d sent the girl packing yesterday, and since she planned to spend another day in bed feeling sorry for herself, did she really need the room cleaned?
“I’ve brought you some of my mom’s chicken soup. It does wonders for a cold.”
The thought of homemade soup made Twyla’s stomach grumble. Reluctantly, she climbed out of bed, slipped her feet into her mules, and grabbed her housecoat. Unlocking the door, she smiled at the young girl on the veranda, a thermos in her outstretched hand.
“My cousin Ezra works in the bar. He mentioned you hadn’t been in for meals since Thursday when you started feeling poorly. Starving yourself when you’re sick is never the answer. Mom always feeds us soup when there’s a bug around,” the young girl said, handing her the thermos.
Twyla grinned. “No matter how lousy I feel, I’ll never say no to homemade soup, but you don’t really need to clean up. I’ll probably spend the day in bed again.”
“Staying in bed feeling sorry for yourself is the worst thing you can do,” the young brunette continued matter of factly, as if she were an expert on the topic. “Mom insisted we get plenty of rest, but rest didn’t involve lazing around all day in bed when we were sick. Chicken soup and fresh air were her cures, although she did keep us inside if we had a fever. Why don’t you shower while I change the bed, and then I’ll clean the bathroom for you? The sun’s coming out, and it’s going to be a nice day. If you don’t want to venture too far, you can at least sit on the veranda and soak up the sun—maybe even take your laptop out there to write.” Her cheeks reddened. “Listen to me bossing you around. I guess it comes from having so many underfoot all my life.”
“Really?” Twyla chuckled. “With a name like Solitaire, I would’ve expected you to be an only child.”
The young girl shook her head, her smile wide enough to split her face.
“No such luck. I’m an identical twin. I was named after a character in a James Bond movie. I suppose it could’ve been worse.”
Twyla burst out laughing. “Considering some of the more unusual names, I would say you lucked out. So, you have a sister?”
“And four brothers: Sean, Roger, Tim, and Pierce. Sean’s the oldest, then there’s Jane and me, followed by the rest of the boys. As the oldest girl, I spent a lot of time bossing the young ones around.”
“I’ll bet. Four Bonds and one heroine. Jane Seymour did play Solitaire, I believe.”
The young girl laughed. “True enough, but I’ve never thought of it that way. My brothers are all named after relatives—my grandfathers, Sean and Roger, my dad, Timothy, and my uncle, Pierce. My sister’s named after my mom’s sister. It’s funny no one ever saw that before, but you’re a writer. I’ll bet you see connections like that everywhere.”
Twyla shook her head. Five minutes with Solitaire had improved her mood considerably. Maybe the girl’s mother was right.
“I think I will take that shower and then feast on this.” She held up the thermos, her head cocked to the side. “How did you know I was a writer?”
Shrugging, Solitaire carried the clean sheets over to the bed. “I heard Mrs. McKeown telling Julia, she’s the manager here, that you’re a famous New York bestselling author.”
Nodding, Twyla smiled at the girl’s curiosity.
“I’ve had a few successes. I write as Dawn Williams,” she said, proud that she’d accomplished one of her dreams.
“Get out of here!” the girl shrieked, her eyes the size of twonies, the strange two-dollar Canadian coins. “I’m reading one of her—I mean your—books right now.”
“Which one?” Twyla asked. This girl couldn’t be more than twenty, much younger than what she’d assumed her fan base was, and some of her books definitely had adult content in them.
“One of the color ones. I just love the titles. The Crimson Carnation was amazing. The one I’m reading now is The Tangerine Tulip. I’m waiting for The Primrose Peony at the library. Using specifically colored flowers as code is brilliant.”
Twyla smiled. While her spy thrillers did have adult situations, they were less graphic than some of her other ones.
“Is this going to be another Hannah Jones mystery?” the girl asked, moving the twig-colored scarf off the bed.
“No, but I do have one in the works. We’re debating on the title at the moment. My publisher wants something with mauve, lilac, or purple. She’s giving her assistant nightmares since the flowers can’t be too rare. I can’t say any more since that would be bad luck, and we writers are a superstitious lot. I’ll just get cleaned up.”
Fifteen minutes later, feeling better than she had, Twyla came out of the bathroom. Solitaire had cleaned and vacuumed and stood by the open drapes gazing outside, the wistful look on her face reminding Twyla of how she’d felt fifty years ago. Was she missing her lover? The girl sighed so deeply she actually moved up and down.
“A penny for your thoughts,” she said, making the girl jump. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Solitaire turned to face her. “You didn’t, but we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore. It would have to be a nickel.” She smiled. “But, you wouldn’t get much for your money. I was woolgathering. Never a good thing to do when there’s work to be done. By the way, your phone rang. I didn’t answer it, but maybe the caller left a message.”
Twyla reached for her cell phone, checking the call display, expecting to see Billie, Lana, or possibly Caprice, surprised when the missed call was from Nessa. She’d forgotten all about her offer to have coffee with her old friend.
Pressing redial, Twyla waited as the phone rang.
“Nessa, it’s Twyla. Sorry I missed your call. I was getting a late shower. What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if you were free for that coffee this afternoon?” Nessa asked, her voice filled with hope. “I have to meet Mavis to discuss wedding plans—her granddaughter is marrying my nephew, and she wants me to read something during the service. It would give us a chance to talk before the others arrive.”
About to say no, Twyla reconsidered. Nessa’s parents had run the post office here years ago, and Nessa had frequently been the one sorting the mail into the post boxes. She might know if Mike had even gotten her letters. Besides, she was feeling a bit better, and maybe the fresh air would do her some good.
“I’d like that,” she said instead. “Where and when do you want to meet?”
“How about in the bar around three? Then if we decide we want wine instead of coffee, we won’t have far to go.”
Twyla chuckled. “A woman after my own heart. See you then.”
She ended the call as Solitaire came out of the bathroom.
“All done. Enjoy the soup. I hope you feel better.”
Twyla smiled. “I already do. Have a great day.”
Solitaire opened the door and waved goodbye.
Unscrewing the lid on the thermos, Twyla sniffed appreciatively and poured some of the golden liquid into the lid. Reaching for the spoon on the counter, she tasted the soup. Delicious. Within minutes she’d finished it all.
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.