It was another beautiful day, and the case Eliza was supposed to be overseeing landed her back in her beloved Windenburg. She took it as a sign of good things to come. The same house she visited eons ago for vandalism had been vandalized again. Windenburg didn’t necessarily have any bad parts, but the city center did have the most crime. But, for the same crime to happen to the same home? That was a point she would throw out to her
lackeys pupils for them to ponder when they got back to the police station.
The end of the work week had come so quickly. Eliza was very much looking forward to some leisure time with her girls. She almost forgot it was time for the HOA meeting again and saw Mary crossing the street and the others strolling down the sidewalk when she unlocked the front door. Her mind had been so preoccupied with the drama at work and the trouble with Breanne, she didn’t plan an agenda. No one seemed to enjoy the meetings much anyway. Maybe a casual night of conversation would be more palatable.
Asia looked a bit off. She better not be bringing anything contagious into the house! “You’re not feeling well?”
Jared must not have noticed and appeared concerned. “Baby? Are you ok?”
She held her stomach and choked back whatever attempted to come out. How dare she bring disease into her home!
She groaned. “I think it’ll pass.”
Jared didn’t look convinced and grinned. “Are you sure?”
“Good heavens, Jared!”
As much as Eliza didn’t want those germs in her home, she hoped they were germs and not symptoms of something a bit more permanent. The last thing the Pruetts needed was yet another child.
“Eliza,” Mary said, “Before we get started, Leah and I have something to propose if you do not mind.”
They were grinning from ear to ear. What in the world could it be? At least something was on the agenda now. “Let’s hear it.”
“I think it would be wonderful if we as a neighborhood volunteered together.”
That wasn’t what she expected, but it wasn’t a terrible proposal. “Oh? What did you have in mind?”
“We could clean up Willow Creek Park, or hand out sack lunches to the homeless downtown–”
“Or we could mentor children one afternoon,” Leah inserted.
They were so excited about this plan. Her life was dedicated to service, so volunteering to help others was never on her radar. But, it was so nice to have some excitement in the meetings again. “All of those are wonderful ideas. If you two can settle on one, we will be able to plan it together.”
They looked so surprised by her compliance. Why wouldn’t she agree to it? After all, the future Chief of Police needed to be seen with the people. She could help someone in need and help her own cause at the same time. Such a brilliant idea indeed.
Hearing from Mary made a random memory jump to the forefront of her mind as she transitioned to take back control of the meeting. “Oh! Mary, I saw John the other day. I’m very sorry to hear about the dissolution of your marriage.”
Her smile faded and body stiffened. Poor thing. She must still be pretty hurt by it. Maybe Robert would make something nice to take to her.
“Why would you say such a thing?”
Her voice was broken and hushed. Perhaps if she would have come out and told them all, she could have avoided the pain. Everyone looked at Eliza strangely. Leah smiled uncomfortably, and Asia’s jaw was on the table. Jared looked like he was ready to fight.
“That was not cool, Eliza,” he said.
“I beg your pardon?”
He stood up. “Let’s go, everyone.”
“I have not adjourned the meeting yet!”
“Adjourned or not, we’re leaving!”
“Jared…” Asia said carefully.
“No, baby, I’m saying this! We are so tired of this gossip column you call the homeowners association! Month after month, we come here and you trash our children, tell embarrassing stories about us and then tell us our home values are doing well to save face. You know what? We can check our own home values! Until you’d like to apologize and stop putting your nose in everyone’s business and want to build real community, these meetings are adjourned…forever!”
He stormed out leaving the women a bit hesitant, but eventually, they left too. What in the world just happened? She had such a nice day and thought things were finally looking up. But like garden gnomes, when one gets kicked over, another one pops up somewhere else. How could she fix this one? Was there even a solution? Divorces were public record, and anything that happens in public is fair game! She broke no laws, therefore, she crossed no lines. What exactly would she apologize for? She couldn’t begin losing control now when she had almost all the control she ever wanted. She was bound toward being the Chief of Police! No one cancels on the soon-to-be-Chief!