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 Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.
On Sunday mornings, I pick up Poppy, and we go to breakfast. Often he chooses Cracker Barrel, but this particular Sunday, he wanted to see what I'd done to the house, so we found a space at Harry and the Natives.
"This here place has been around since I can remember," said my grandfather. "I remember it when they opened, back in 1941. It was a motel. They cut the tidewater pecky cypress locally. The kids pumped gas, the wife served food, and then the turnpike opened, diverting traffic away from US 1. I remember the impact it had on all the local businesses. This one included."
We took a table in the back. I love looking over the Old Florida memorabilia. Signs are hung all over the place, featuring such witticisms as, "If we're closed, just shove the money under the door."
After we placed our orders, I told Poppy about Jodi's visit. It's the type of information that usually causes my grandfather to have a temper tantrum, but I knew he was too hungry to get up and stomp out without eating. Still, he did a lot of grumbling at this coffee mug. "Dag-nabbit. She got no right pestering you. I done already give her money."
"You did?" The words spilled out before I could stop myself. "It's none of my business, Poppy. I told her I was renting, which is true. I just figured I'd give you a heads up, in case she drops by your house to complain."
"She already did."
I gasped so loudly the man at the next table asked, "Are you all right?" I assured our neighbor that I was. "I guess I should have called you sooner."
"Don't matter. I gave her an earful. She don't have no reason to pout. We done our best for her. Your mama was too young. Your daddy wasn't sure he wanted to settle down. I've kept tabs on Jodi since she was given up for adoption. I knew the Wirekas. They were God-fearing, lovely people. They done their best by her. I don't know why or how she got so all-fired grabby. Wanting everything and being jealous of you. But she don't have no call to give me lip. Or you. If she comes back by, report her to the Jupiter Island Department of Public Safety. They'll escort her off the island. And if you want to, you can tell them to have her arrested the minute she sets foot on that property. Or I will. I don't mind doing it one bit. I'm tired of being bullied by that little gal."
Our food arrived. I had ordered the Surfer Girl. Poppy had waffles. We dug in, and I considered the matter closed. I didn't want him to call the police and have Jodi arrested. The more I ate, the more I decided that would be a very, very bad idea. Anything I did to inflame the situation could harm the people I love. Jodi doesn't seem to care who she hurts. That's a big difference between us.
The next week rolled by. We were busy getting the store ready for Mother's Day. Of course, it made me sad because it would be my second Mother's Day without my mother, and my first with Tommy away at school. But I concentrated on getting the shelves of The Treasure Chest full of fun items that any mother would like. One particularly cute gift idea was a wreath made of flip-flops. Skye had seen one on Pinterest. We're always picking up stray flip-flops from the beach, so we added a few cheap pairs to the ones we'd collected, glued on silk flowers, added ribbon, false gems and wow. Totally cute!
I was pretty excited about Mother's Day. I figured we'd do a ton of business, and we did. I was on my feet for eight hours. By the time I parked my Camry in my garage at home, I was nearly dead on my feet. I had a ton of paperwork to finish up before I knew whether we'd hit our sales targets or not. First I carried Jack into the house, then I fed Luna, and I was heading back to my car for the tote bag full of receipts and the detail tape when I heard the gravel crunch in my driveway.
And then I saw Jodi.
~ To Be Continued ~