19,525
07.03.2019

RICHARD WAS IN AND OUT the next day like a pizza-delivery man. He arrived on time, was gracious and cordial, and loaded the kids into the car without one hint of drama.

"I don't know, Dody. Do you suppose he's up to something?" I asked after Richard drove away.

Dody shook her head slowly. "You should always give people the benefit of the doubt, darling. But I have to admit, that's one rat I never thought would change his spots."

I bit my lip, pondering a dozen sinister possibilities as we walked into the family room. Maybe he'd kidnap them and drive over the border? No, he couldn't troll for chicks with two kids in the backseat. Plus he hated Canadians. Maybe he'd drop them off at Jesus Camp and bring them back to me as little evangelicals? No, Richard and church didn't mix. Too many rules about monogamy. So try as I might, I couldn't come up with anything. Except that maybe, just maybe, he was being sincere.

"Is the spawn of Satan gone?" Fontaine asked, coming in from the deck.

"I hope you're referring to my ex-husband and not my adorable children."

"Uh, sure. Whatever. So you're childless now, huh? In the mood for some good news?"

I nodded, grabbing a feather duster from the pantry and swooshing it over a shelf.

"I just talked to Kyle on the phone. He went to Owen and Patrick's housewarming party, and apparently they were gushing about what a great job you did for them last week. And now a bunch of their friends want to hire you! And guess what else?"

"What?" My arm froze, the duster poised above Dody's porcelain statue of Abraham Lincoln.

"A couple of them want me to do some redecorating too. At the same time. Isn't that stupendous? You and I can work together. Just think of it, pumpkin pie. This could be the start of a bee-yoo-tiful partnership, don't you think? We decorate, we organize. We're decorganizers! We could start our own company, along with Kyle too, of course." Fontaine began pacing, holding his hands up as if to contain all the fabulous ideas about to burst out. "We need a name. Something clever and catchy." He snapped his fingers and spun around to face me again. "By Jove, I've got it. Stash-in-Fashion."

I fluttered the feather duster over President Lincoln's face. "Hold on, Fontaine. That's great news and everything, but don't get all wound up over it. I mean, there's a lot to consider. I'm not ready to commit to anything."

Dody's eyes glistened. She clapped her hands together. "Oh, you two will be so happy together. I hoped and hoped something would come up to make you want to stay here, darling."

I dropped the duster and nearly knocked Honest Abe from his pedestal. "What? Dody, come on. That's not even what we're talking about."

"Not really, but think of it. If you did move here, the children could walk to school. There's that path from the corner of my yard that goes right to the elementary school. I've already talked to the principal. She's in my stained-glass class. And you could live right here. Fontaine will be back in his place soon and Jasper is always at Beth's, so there is plenty of room. Oh, Sadie, I would love for you to come live here."

I would have laughed if it wasn't so ridiculous. "Are you kidding me with this stuff, Dody? I can't move here."

"Why not?" Fontaine and Dody cried in unison.

I stared at them for a full minute, waiting for the "gotcha" to come. It never did.

Dody sat down on the sofa. "I thought you were enjoying yourself here, darling."

I sat down next to her while Fontaine paced again, biting his manicured thumb.

"I just never thought about it, Dody. I mean, I do love it here, but my life is back in Glenville."

"But aren't you happier here than you were there?"

"That's apples and oranges, Dody. Of course I'm happier here. I'm on vacation. But Glenville is home." I stacked the magazines on the coffee table.

"Why? What's there for you except a house that's too big?"

"Well, there's Penny, and my mom, and my friends." It occurred to me just then that none of my friends had called me in weeks, not to see how I was doing or even to share their latest gossip. And every time I was back in town to drop off the kids, none of them was ever available for lunch or coffee. Had I been voted off the island and no one told me?

Dody shook her stubborn head. "Penny travels and your mother is always busy with her committees. You told me that yourself."

Penny did travel, but she'd be getting pregnant soon, and I'd want to be close by for that.

"OK, so what about Richard? We'd have to drive the kids back and forth all the time."

"Stash-In-Fashion, Sadie. Don't you love it?" Fontaine said loudly. "We can still do it, even if you move home."

"Hush, Fontaine. She needs to move here." Dody patted my hand. "Glenville was your past. But I think Bell Harbor is your future. We should go see Madame Margaret. She'll tell you what to do."

I ejected from the couch. "No, Dody. I'm not letting your psychic advisor decide where I live. And Fontaine, as far as a partnership goes, it might be fun to do this one project together, but after that I'm going to have to think about it."

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