“Robert! You shaved!”
“You like it?”
“Of course I like it. I love it! I haven’t seen this face in…10 years!”
Bob was pleased although her gushing made him blush a little.
She couldn’t stop looking at his face.
“You said something about respectful appearances, so I thought I should do something too,” he said.
Frankly, she didn’t care why he did it and didn’t hear a word he said. She was just glad to see his face again. It was the face (and pouty lips) she fell in love with long ago.
The temperature in the room was rising. It had been a while since she felt that way and wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. “Well…I guess I should…shower…”
Bob wasn’t a very bold or ambitious man. He wasn’t an idiot either. He knew an opportunity when he saw one, and he was not going to let this one lay on the table.
A few hours later, the Pancakeses were awaken by a knock at the door. They both jolted up because it was very late. Bob had to be at work within a half hour and got dressed quickly. Eliza ran down the stairs to see how she was needed. It was Mary Jones at the door.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Jones. How can I help you?”
“Oh! Are you feeling well? I hope I haven’t dragged you out of bed!”
“I’m fine, thank you. We were just, ummm…never mind. Are you ok?”
Bob was coming down the stairs to go to work. He walked between the ladies with a happy grin on his face. “See you later,” he said.
Mary was standing right there, but Eliza couldn’t control herself and began grinning and blushing like a teenager. “Have a good day,” she said. Then she whispered, “I love you.”
He winked at her and kept moving.
“Come in, Mrs. Jones.”
“Oh, please call me Mary.”
“Fine. Why don’t you have a seat while I go get dressed. I’m very sorry for my less than casual appearance.”
“Oh, you don’t have to apologize, Eliza. You’re at home! And I’ve come over unannounced. I’m the one who’s sorry.”
“Well, please have a seat. I’ll be right with you.” Eliza went upstairs and took a very cold shower and rejoined Mary in the living room. “Ok! I feel much better now. How can I help you, Mary?”
“Well, I was thinking about the meeting, and I was wondering if I could help!”
Eliza was quite surprised. No one had ever offered their assistance before. She sat down next to Mary and tried to decide if she genuinely wanted to help or if she wanted to take over.
“Oh? What exactly do you want to help with?” Eliza asked.
“Well, as you know, I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have a lot of free time, and I’m used to putting my time to good use,” she recited as if she were applying for a job. “Before we moved here, I was part of all kinds of charitable causes, the PTA, and I was the best mother in my children’s classrooms. No one says no to my chocolate chip cookies.”
Eliza wanted to laugh. She thought it was ironic that she would make “to die for” cookies for other people but wouldn’t eat her fruit cake. But she listened. She didn’t want to be suspicious of her, but she couldn’t help it.
“…and your husband’s food was so delicious! I know I’m not needed in that way, but I’m simply stating that I am available for whatever you need. I can handout fliers, write a newsletter…just say the word and I’ll do it!”
Eliza couldn’t figure her out. She was flattered that Mary was so willing to help…not that she actually wanted any help, but it was still flattering. Maybe she’s not a bad person, she thought. Maybe she’s just a busy body who likes to control the people in her life. She left her thoughts there until she had more evidence to make a decision.
“We actually have leftovers. Would you like a snack?”
“Oh sure! Those brownies were delightful!”
Eliza wanted to laugh again. “I’ll tell my husband you thought so! Right this way.” She showed her to the dining room while she gathered their meal. She had a salad while Mary ate the brownie.
Mary looked around and took pleasure in what she saw. “Golly…this home is so beautiful! I miss living in a stately home.”
“There are plenty of stately homes for sale in Willow Creek. How come you didn’t choose one of them?”
Mary hesitated for a second. “We wanted to, but we figured we needed to be a bit smarter with our money with John starting his new job. Can never be too careful, right?”
“Indeed.” Eliza thought her answer was good. But was it too good? She would find out.