Roses N Chocolates

TUESDAY ROSE BUSHES – A TRIBUTE TO A SISTER

Thomas watched Charles Taylor arraigned. He wanted to see it. The man looked young for a father of a teenager. His dark eyes seemed like an endless pit, Thomas saw no life in them. As his charges were read to him, he merely stared into space.

Lacy walked into the room with a tray of freshly brewed coffee and two giant chocolate chip muffins. The smell of the delicious mix wafted to Thomas’ nose and drew him to stare at his hostess.

She’d visited him every day of ten days till he was strong enough to leave the hospital, and offered him a place till he could decide what next.

Lacy placed the tray on the bed beside him and glanced at the screen of the 14” TV mounted on the wall ahead.

“You are seen as a hero,” she said.

Thomas moaned. “I am no hero.” He wanted truly to be nice to her. But he was here at her mercy.

She lived alone in a condo and though he was yet to ask, he thought she’d improvised her bedroom into a guest room. Whatever the case was, he had no plans of staying with her or in this town. His animal instincts told him to move on.

“It’s not what you say. Several people caught the event on—”

“I know what several people caught, Miss.”

The coffee smelled so good. As soon as she settled him into the room, she’d disappeared, only to return with this. Against his better judgment, he picked a muffin.

“I spoke with Aunt Ann just now.” She smiled. “She sends her love.” She chuckled. “Told me she knew I’d be with you sooner than later.”

“Why would she say that?”

“I don’t know.” She walked to the blinds and peeped. “It gets hotter every day. This weather can’t decide.”

“You told Mrs. Covender your plans to keep me.” He poured coffee.

It was just so American of her to serve him coffee late in the morning, and for him to accept it with gratitude. Though he showed none of it. He realized to his shame he hadn’t told her a single “thank you.”

She half-turned. “Plans to keep you?”

“Do you? Plan to keep me?”

She shook her head. “Who are you? Why did you follow me here?”

It dawned on him he had indeed. Maybe all along the way he’d refused to admit it, but he couldn’t hide this anymore. He wanted to find her. He trained his eyes on her, and she stared right back.

“These are nice.” He raised the muffin and took a bite.

Several sips of the delicious coffee, and a giant muffin gone down, he rose.

She took a step toward him. “The doctor said you needed rest.”

“What did Aunt Ann say?” He drawled the old lady’s name. He did need to rest.

The bullet had nearly taken his shoulder off. He was glad to heal so fast. But he was a roamer, a stray dog. He could never stop in this place.

“That you’re a good man. And you will work for any kindness extended to you.”

He laughed, and she smiled. “I would. What kind of work can I do for you?”

“Tell me how you came to be here, and I’d be more than pleased to convert it to rent.”

He stiffened. “I won’t stay here.” He swayed and involuntarily sat on the bed. “This looks like only a room. Did you vacate your space for me? Why?”

“This is a friend’s place. She’s been away since the beginning of spring and will be till the end of summer. She let me bring you here. At least until she returns.”

Her voice was low. Much as he had no plans to hurt her, he couldn’t do what she wanted. Hang around and—and get attached.

“Who’s Molly?”

His head jerked up, and he glared. How did she know?

“You’d wonder how I had such access to you at the hospital?” She walked to him and a meter away, stopped. Warm, grey eyes stared into his cold blue. “All through the first night, you asked to see Molly. Only Molly. When I got to the hospital in the morning, the nurse asked if I was Molly when I requested to see you. All harried.”

She’d lied?

He snickered. “Seriously?”

She sat beside him. “I may sound silly, but I did this, all of this, going through—being here. I did for Molly. I guess she must be a woman you love dearly.

“When I entered that hospital in the morning, I just wanted to be sure you were fine, and to know if your family had been contacted.”

“You lied to be beside me.”

She fixed her gaze on his chin. “Do you hate me for it?”

Hate her? His throat worked up a nasty comeback but her eyes. Molly’s eyes. They spoke to his soul.

“Molly was my wife. She was killed by a drunken driver eight years ago. A minor, I believe. She was seven months pregnant.”

Lacy did what he least expected. She cupped his face and smiled. “Welcome home.”

Images by Jacqueline Macou and Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto  from Pixabay

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