Coming attractions, p.7
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Coming Attractions, p.7

           Robin Jones Gunn
 

  She would have to get an update from Christy once they were back on the road to Bob and Marti’s house in Newport Beach.

  Instead of leaving right away, they lingered awhile, talking with Doug and Tracy, who had used their time away to go house hunting. Their little cottage was too small now that Daniel was growing and Doug was working part-time from home on consulting projects for the financial investment business a relative had connected him with.

  “Any leads on a house?” Christy asked.

  “No,” Tracy said. “We have a better idea of where we don’t want to live and what’s out there that we can afford. It doesn’t look like we’ll be moving anytime soon. We’ll just have to be more creative with the space we have here.”

  “Rick was smart to grab both those café properties when he did,” Doug said. “He gave me an update a few weeks ago, and I have to say, that was a smart business move. He and his brother look to make some good money.”

  “That’s what he tells me,” Katie said.

  “You know, I was thinking the other day about when Rick, Todd, and I all shared an apartment back in our UC San Diego days. How long ago was that? Five years? No, it has to be at least six. Anyway, it’s pretty awesome how everything has turned out, isn’t it?”

  Katie smiled. Not only had she forgotten the all-encompassing, warm, and affirming way Doug gave hugs, but she also had forgotten that awesome was his favorite word.

  “Yeah, and speaking of awesome, who would have ever guessed that I would be the one to end up with Rick?”

  “Not me!” Doug spouted. “You’re the last one I would have ever…”

  Tracy shot him a look that caused him to backpedal.

  “I mean, who would have ever guessed you guys would be the last of us to marry? You’re the catch of the bunch, Katie. Rick is one blessed man… I mean, that is, if the two of you are getting closer to… to announcing any particular…”

  “Doug, you can stop anytime you want,” Katie said.

  “Good. I couldn’t manage to bring up the nose on that one, could I? Crash and burn.”

  Katie smiled. She liked Doug. She always had. When it came to crash-and-burn comments, in the past, Katie was often the one heading the conversation into a nosedive, and Doug was the one offering her a parachute. It felt kind of nice, actually, to be the one handing out the crash-landing gear.

  “On an unrelated topic,” Tracy said, reaching for a small toy truck and handing it to Daniel, “what did the church board decide about Todd’s position? Are they going to keep it as a full-time job?”

  “What’s this?” Katie asked.

  “I didn’t tell you yet, but Todd found out last week the church is cutting back on staff, and he’s the last one they hired. They might cut his hours and ask him to go part-time. But they haven’t asked yet.”

  “Part-time? How in the world could Todd do all that he does part-time? If anything, they should hire an assistant youth worker to help him out.”

  Christy shrugged. “They’re going through a rough time at the church right now. So far, Todd still is employed. We’ll see what happens though.”

  Katie had no idea anything out of the ordinary had been going on at the church. But then, she only came and went on Sunday mornings, and even then it wasn’t every Sunday. That was one pattern from this past semester she planned to change once she finished school.

  As a matter of fact, she remembered a conversation she had had with Todd several months ago. She had told him once summer arrived, she could volunteer to go on outings with the youth group as well as help out on Sundays and at events.

  I guess I won’t be much help to Todd if I go to Africa this summer. If he has to scale back to part-time, then he’s going to need more help than ever.

  Doug, Christy, and Tracy kept chatting, but Katie’s attention flitted out of the conversation. She wondered if the same fluttering-flock-of-butterflies feeling she had when she first thought about going to Africa would be there if she helped with Todd’s youth group. Was the anticipation of being free from school and studies what propelled her toward the rush of making new plans?

  There’s one thing I know for sure right now. My judgment on just about any given topic can’t be trusted.

  Katie confessed her feelings of uncertainty to Christy as they drove on Interstate 5 to Newport Beach. “It’s the stress, isn’t it? I think I need to take a stress-reducing vitamin. Could you pull into the first drugstore you see? Maybe I need more calcium too. My fingernails haven’t grown beyond their nub stage all semester. Milk has lots of calcium, right? Pull off on the next exit, will you?”

  “What do you want? Vitamins or milk?”

  “I was thinking more along the lines of a milkshake. I’m paying. When was the last time you had a thick, fat, happy, vanilla milkshake?”

  “Chocolate,” Christy corrected her. “If I’m going to drink that many calories, it’s definitely going to be chocolate. And you’re right. It’s been far too long. Let’s find a place that serves milkshakes before we get to my aunt and uncle’s and Aunt Marti puts me on a soybean diet for the rest of our stay.”

  “Aunt Marti wouldn’t do that!”

  Christy laughed. “You don’t know my aunt. The first summer I stayed with them I came down for breakfast one morning, and Uncle Bob was making waffles.”

  “Ooh, waffles. I’m so hungry right now.” Katie crossed her arms across her middle.

  Even though Tracy had said to help themselves to anything they wanted to eat, both Christy and Katie felt a little funny about raiding the sparsely filled refrigerator.

  “So my uncle served me a hot waffle, complete with butter melting in every little square and just the right amount of warm maple syrup.”

  “Stop! You’re torturing me!”

  “That’s exactly how I felt when my aunt walked into the kitchen and shrieked. Mind you, I was only fifteen and weighed at least ten pounds less than I do now. I was ready to take my first delicious bite, but my aunt Martha — ”

  “Ooh, I love it when you call her Martha! This is going to be good!”

  “My aunt Martha comes marching into the kitchen, snatches the fork from my eager little hand, and whirls up something horribly nasty but decidedly nutritious in the blender. She tells me that’s what a young lady should drink for breakfast if she wants shiny hair and clear skin, or whatever.”

  “Did you drink it?”

  A playful grin edged up Christy’s face. “No. I poured it down the drain — in front of my uncle, no less. I felt like the most rebellious teenager alive! Then I ate as much of the waffle as I could stuff into my face.”

  Katie laughed. “I don’t think I ever heard that story. That’s classic.”

  “Yes, it is. I’m glad we’re going up there tonight. I need to feel young again.”

  “And maybe a little rebellious?”

  Christy gave a mock expression of shock. “Rebellious? Oh, yes, please! What should we do? Leave our wet towels on the bathroom floor? Put our feet up on the coffee table? No, I’ve got it. We’ll make waffles tonight for dinner. With syrup and whipped cream on top.”

  “You are in a snarky mood! No waffle making for me, though. Not after the cooking disaster I had at your apartment last fall with the microwave popcorn.”

  “I almost forgot about that.” Christy put on the blinker, preparing to turn the car into a fast-food restaurant. “I bet they have shakes here. What do you think?”

  “I think we’re going to treat ourselves to large milkshakes for dinner. And french fries. We can dip the fries in our shakes.”

  Christy pulled the car up to the drive-through menu and waited for the attendant’s voice to come over the loudspeaker. “We’ll take two chocolate shakes and one large fry.”

  “No, make one of those vanilla,” Katie piped in. “One vanilla shake and one chocolate. And make it two large fries.”

  “Will that be all?”

  “Yes.”

  “Oh, look, chili-cheese dogs!” Katie
was eyeing the rest of the menu. “And onion rings. I’m really hungry now.”

  “I’ll have your total at the window,” the attendant said.

  They drove up and soon were handed two bulging bags of food. The attendant told them the amount, and it was much more than they expected.

  “I think there’s a mistake,” Christy said. “We must have someone else’s food. We ordered one large vanilla shake, one large chocolate shake, and two large french fries.”

  The attendant checked the order. “Right, and you also ordered two chilidogs and an onion ring.”

  “No, we didn’t really order those,” Katie said. “I was only saying, ‘Oh, look, they have chilidogs and onion rings.’ I wasn’t ordering two chilidogs and an onion ring. Do you see what happened? I was merely commenting that you have them on your menu in case I would want to order them.”

  The attendant looked so confused that Katie said, “Never mind. Here, I’ll pay. We’ll take it all.” She handed over more than was owed. “Keep the change. And have a nice day.”

  “Thank you!” The young woman looked grateful.

  Christy drove off and said, “What are we going to do with all this food?”

  Katie reached into the bag and pulled out a french fry. “Guess we’ll have to eat it. Do you want me to put your straw in your shake for you?”

  “Yes, thanks.” Christy slipped her hand into the bag and pulled out a few fries. “They’re hot. Nothing like a good hot french fry.”

  The two friends snacked all the way to Newport Beach. Even though they were ravenous when they left Carlsbad, both of them felt uncomfortably full by the time Christy wedged her Volvo into the narrow parking area near Bob and Marti’s beach house.

  “I feel like letting out a huge burp right now.” Katie put her hand up to her mouth.

  “Don’t you dare! You have to mind your manners here, Katie. You know that, don’t you?”

  “Yes, of course I know that. What if we go in first, say our hellos, and then come back for the overnight bags? Then I can belch in private.”

  “Good idea.”

  They walked the familiar front walkway up to Bob and Marti’s door. Christy knocked politely. A demure ruffle of a burp escaped from Katie’s closed lips.

  “Katie!” Christy whispered.

  “Hey, I had my lips closed. You should be glad for that.”

  “Well, keep your lips closed so no more surprises leak out.”

  Just then the door opened with a jerk. Both Katie and Christy opened their mouths and nearly in unison drew in a gasp of surprise. The off-guard gasps were followed by unladylike hiccups.

  Standing in front of them were two surprises.

  8

  Todd!”

  “Rick!”

  “What in the world — hic — are you guys doing here?” Katie spouted between hiccups.

  Rick and Todd looked pretty pleased with their surprise.

  “Surprising you both,” Todd said.

  “It worked,” Christy said with another hiccup. “Now you have to scare us so these hiccups will — hic — go away.”

  “Seriously, though.” Katie pressed her cheek against Rick’s chest and received his big hug while Christy and Todd gave each other a hello kiss laced with a hiccup.

  “What’s with the hiccups? What have you two been doing?” Rick asked.

  “Just eating.”

  Todd lowered his voice. “Your aunt isn’t going to like that. She made dinner reservations, and apparently you’re late.”

  “Late?” Christy and Katie looked at each other and hiccupped again, followed by shared laughter.

  “We didn’t know we were supposed to be here at a certain time,” Christy said.

  “Christy, darling, is that you?” Aunt Marti’s shrill voice called from the living room.

  Rick put his finger up to his lips and gave Katie a warm grin. “She has plans. It seems best we just go along with them.”

  “By any chance would the two of you be part of her plan?” Katie asked.

  “She called and asked if we could come up and surprise you.”

  “Why?” Christy asked. “What is she up to?”

  “I have no idea. Come on in, and we’ll find out.”

  “I need to get my bag out of the — hic — out of the car,” Christy said.

  “I’ll get it for you,” Rick offered.

  “I’ll go with you,” Katie said. She and Rick walked hand in hand a few feet away from the front door before Katie felt an overwhelming need to burp. She put her hand over her mouth and tried to silence the culprit.

  Rick turned and looked at her as the muffled belch rumbled behind her closed lips. “Are you okay?”

  Katie nodded but didn’t dare open her mouth quite yet. She felt much better. Her hiccups were gone as well.

  The first thing Rick commented on when they opened the door to the car was the unmistakable scent of fast food. “What were you two eating?”

  “Chilidogs and milkshakes. And onion rings and fries. But the chilidogs and onion rings weren’t our idea.”

  “What?”

  “Nothing. Never mind. The bags are in the trunk. So how did you manage to get away and come here? I’m stunned.”

  “Are you glad I came?”

  “Yes, of course. Very glad. I thought I was going to spend my time here working on projects for school, but this is much better. It’s going to be lots more fun being with you.”

  “And shopping for a car,” Rick added.

  “Oh, Uncle Bob told you?”

  “Marti did.” Rick closed the trunk, picked up both overnight bags and stood in front of Katie with a not-so-happy look on his face. “Why didn’t you tell me, Katie?”

  “Tell you what?”

  “That you were ready to buy a car.”

  “I knew you were busy. I called Uncle Bob awhile ago and asked him if he could help me.”

  “I’m not so busy that I can’t be there for you at times like this. I want to help you with important decisions. You know that, don’t you?”

  “Christy said I should have told you. I just got so busy, and to be honest, I didn’t think you would mind.”

  “It’s not that I mind. I mean, it’s your car and your money. But I just don’t understand.”

  “Don’t understand what?”

  “First of all, where did you find the money to buy a car, and second, why didn’t you tell me?”

  “Tell you about the money or about buying a car?”

  “Both.”

  “Well, I… I, um…”

  Rick looked impatient, standing there holding both bags.

  “Can we go inside, and then I’ll tell you the whole story? It’s kind of long.”

  Rick’s expression made it clear he didn’t like that idea. Katie knew it would be impossible to talk with Rick privately once they were inside with Aunt Marti running the show.

  “Okay, I’ll just tell you. Actually, it’s not that complicated. I’ve probably made it more complicated than it really is.” Katie shifted her weight to her other foot. “I had a great-aunt who passed away, and she left me some money. I decided to use some of it to buy a new car. Well, actually, a used car. But it will be new to me.”

  Rick tilted his head and scrutinized Katie. Even when he was edgy, he looked handsome. His dark hair was longer than usual and hung across his forehead in a tussled sort of way that made him look as if he were ready for adventure, even though Katie knew his idea of adventure were meetings with a banker, a realtor, and a contractor all on the same afternoon.

  Rick’s next question came out slowly. “When?”

  “When am I going to buy the car? Tomorrow, if everything works out.”

  “No, Katie. When did your great-aunt pass away?”

  “I don’t know. Almost a year ago, I think. I never met her. I didn’t know about the money until my mom forwarded me the letter from the lawyer. That was last fall sometime.”

  “You never told me this.”

&
nbsp; “Well, a lot was going on at the time. You know Julia, my resident director? She helped me figure everything out. As a matter of fact, Rick, do you remember that day last fall when you and Josh were at the bank working on a business loan, and I was there with Julia?”

  “I remember.”

  “That was the day I received the money and put it in the bank.”

  “And you didn’t tell me until now? Why?”

  “It was a lot of… it was… I don’t know. It just seemed easier not to make a big deal of it.”

  Rick put down the bags and placed his hands on his hips. Katie didn’t like this stance on Rick. She never had. This was his I’m-going-to-act-like-your-boss-now stance. She had never responded well at moments like this when she worked for him at the Dove’s Nest Café.

  “Katie, exactly how much money did your aunt leave you?”

  “She was my great-aunt, actually.”

  “Please don’t do that. Don’t try to avoid the topic. Just tell me. I think I have a right to know when my girlfriend inherits a substantial sum of money. I would tell you if I had inherited money. How much was it?”

  “I don’t want to tell you.” Katie felt defiant and irritated by Rick’s approach.

  “You don’t want to tell me? Why?”

  “It was a lot. Can we just leave it at that?”

  “What’s ‘a lot’? Are you talking about ten thousand dollars? Twenty? Thirty?”

  Katie kept her lips pressed together as Rick kept going up the scale. When he hit one hundred thousand dollars and her expression still hadn’t flinched, Rick threw his arms up and turned away from her.

  Spinning back around he shouted, “Katie, you have to be kidding me! You inherited more than one hundred thousand dollars?”

  “I’m not saying.”

  “Your lips might not be saying, but your face is telling me everything.” Rick paused, analyzing her more closely. “It was more than a hundred thousand, wasn’t it? Was it more than two hundred thousand?”

  When Katie still didn’t flinch, Rick put both hands on top of his head and bellowed, “I can’t believe this!”

  Katie’s heart was pounding with anger at Rick for pressing her when she had made it clear she didn’t want to talk about this now.

 
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment