Author's Note: Okay, I'm seriously hooked on writing and sharing serialized short stories, but I depend on YOU to give me feedback. So, please comment! To read Part 1, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.
"That sounds suspiciously like a threat," said my friend Skye Blue. She twisted a strand of her dishwater blond hair around a finger. Skye was dressed to go across the street and work at Pumpernickel's, a deli. The stark white blouse and black slacks seemed odd on a person who loves gauzy skirts, loose knit tops, and boots.
"It doesn't just sound like a threat," said my other pal, MJ Austin. Today MJ wore a turquoise dress that emphasized her decollete. Matching earrings picked up the color, and a bracelet of the same gave the outfit extra points for style. "It was a threat. Cara, you need to talk to the Jupiter Island police. She can't get away with this."
I shrugged. "That would only encourage her. Jodi would know she's gotten under my skin. Besides, she hasn't done anything. I didn't even let her into the house."
"But you've been working so hard on that place." Honora McAfee is my oldest employee, and a dear nurturing soul. She plucked at her seersucker dress nervously. "What if she decides to splash it with paint. Or take a can of spray paint and write graffiti on the walls. She's done as much to the windows out front."
My friends knew I'd moved in when the cottage was a mess. Our newest hire, Jillian, was working with me to We sat around the small table in the back where we take our breaks. Since I love to cook, I'd baked a batch of biscotti for us to have with our coffee and tea. Bits of almond cookie were floating in my hot drink. "I need to talk with Poppy. If he's giving the property to me, and nothing to her, she's right. It's not fair."
I could see Skye and MJ's jaws drop. Honora even sputtered and said, "That's not true. She's inherited money from her adoptive parents. And her adoptive grandparents. I know that because the Wirekas were friends of friends. From what I've heard, they were rather successful in their own right. Furthermore, they probably had life insurance and savings."
"She can't have it both ways," agreed Skye. "She can't collect whatever the Wirekas left her and also claim whatever your parents and Poppy want you to have, too."
They had a point. "I swear, she gets me so rattled that I don't think straight. Each time she shows up, I feel guilty. Logically, it makes no sense. I had nothing to do with the decisions our parents made. I would do anything I could to welcome her into my life. I've steered clear of Cooper. I've apologized. I didn't even call the police when she vandalized the store."
MJ set down her coffee mug so hard that the brown liquid sloshed over the rim. "That's the problem, Cara. As long as you feel guilty, as you roll over and bare your jugular vein, she's going to come after you. It's like two dogs when they meet. When one of them acts submissive, the other takes the dominant role. You've shown her that you won't fight. She knows she has you cowering. Honestly, what do you expect? Open arms and roses?"
"When are they getting married?" Skye had hopped up to grab a paper towel and sop up the mess in front of MJ. Because Skye works as a waitress, she's fast on her feet like that. "Maybe when they do, and she's Mrs. Cooper Rivers, she'll ease up on you. Right now, she's bound to feel insecure."
I shook my head. "That's part of the problem, I think. I ran into Philomena Humberger at Publix. She told me that Cooper and Jodi's wedding has been postponed again. I guess everyone in town knows he's dragging his feet."
"Oh, my. She's probably blaming you for that," said Honora.
I nodded. "I think so."
~ To Be Continued ~