This is one of my favorite pictures
Lily had no idea why she’d come out of the house. She went in on shaky legs, took her coat off and threw it on the couch on her way through the living room. Her stomach felt funny. She rubbed it lightly with one hand as she went into the kitchen in search of a drink. She went to the cupboard and pulled out a tall glass and filled it with ice from the fridge. She loved the sound of soda as it hit ice, crackling and sizzling and fizzing away.
She went to her bedroom, feeling alone. “I miss my daddy.” One lone tear trailed down her face. This was much harder than she’d ever imagined it could be. She flopped down on the bed and pulled out her cell phone. With a flip of a long, slender finger she went through her contact list, looking for Nan. Her eyes fell on the name and she pushed on it. Her head was hurting and when she put the phone up by her ear, she groaned. “Ouch!”
“What do you want?”
“Nan, don’t hang up, I…”
“You better make it quick, then.” Lily could hear a long, fake fingernail tapping impatiently on the other side.
“I’m sorry you’re angry at me. If I’d known you wanted to go, I wouldn’t have asked Linda. You know you’re my best friend.” She frowned at the groveling tone, but determined to see this through. She needed her friend right now.
“If I’m your best friend, why did you call her?”
“You hate to ski, Nan. I didn’t think you’d want to go. You’ve turned me down every time I’ve asked you to go to a competition.” She wanted this over with as soon as possible. The house was too quiet without her daddy. Without Nan, it was deafening.
The tapping of the fingernail ceased for a moment. “I do hate to ski…”
“Yes you do.” Hope filled Lily’s voice and she prayed a silent prayer for Nan to forgive her. If God would grant her this wish she would…her thought was cut-off.
“Okay, you’re forgiven. Do you want me to come over with a pizza?”
“Yes! I’ll never ask Linda to go with me again, I promise.”
“You better not. She has a loud mouth, sugar.”
“So do you.” Lily felt light-hearted now that her friend had forgiven her. “I fell down the steps again. You’ll never guess who was standing over me when I came to.”
“Let me see, Zack Reed?” Lily could hear Nan moving around. She imagined her putting her coat on, grabbing her keys, walking out the door and getting into her little red Ford Mustang.
“Not even close, my dear.”
“Well tell me then. You know I hate guessing.” Nan’s car started in the background and Lily sighed in contentment. Life was looking up.
“You’re kidding!” Nan squealed so loud in Lily’s ear she thought her eardrum would burst.
“I know, right? I about had a heart attack. He has the most gorgeous eyes.” The fact she was gushing didn’t deter her one bit.
“He does, doesn’t he? He said high to me last week.”
“You’re not his type, girl.”
“Is that a black joke?”
“Nope, you aren’t his type because he likes blondes.”
“How do you know? I can dye my hair, Miss Thang.”
Both women laughed at the thought. Nan wore her hair in a short afro and she never lacked for male attention. In fact, Lily had to fight them off at times. Her friend’s bubbly personality brought all kinds of crazies out of the woodwork.
“I called dibs on Sheriff Adams the first time we saw him, so step back.” Lily’s tone was teasing, but there was a hint of steal Nan couldn’t have missed.
“You know I’m just teasing you. I love me some Billy Barbour, sugar.”
“He is a cutie. Did he ask you out yet?” She heard the warning bell on Nan’s car door as she got out. She heard footsteps as she walked into the restaurant to order.
“No, but I think he will. He stares at me all day long.”
“Are you serious? You hired him?”
“I had to have someone to do stock for me.” Nan giggled like a schoolgirl.
“Uh-huh…and it had to be him, huh?”
“He came in and asked for a job. Who am I to turn him down?” She burst into deep laughter. “Hey, cut that out now. People are staring at me.”
“It isn’t my fault you laugh so loud.”
“You’re the one who made me laugh, woman.”
“Just order the pizza and quit your whiny-bobbering.” Lily was so full of gratitude to God for giving Nan back to her she felt close to bursting with joy. It was a testament to their friendship that they’d picked up right where they’d left off; like they’d never argued.
“I love you, skinny woman.”
“I love you curvy woman.” She snickered at their banter. It was so good to be able to express love for her friend again.
“What do you want on the pizza?”
“Double cheese sounds like a winner.”
“Meat lover’s it is.”
“Nan, you better not.”
Nan chuckled loudly into the phone and said, “It’s all good, sugar.”
“Maybe it is to you, but I don’t like pepperoni on my pizza.”
“That has to be breaking some kind of species law, or something. Who doesn’t like pepperoni, for Pete’s sakes?”
“You need to have your taste buds checked, sugar.”
As they talked, a weird feeling came over Lily, like something wasn’t right. What was it? She’d become aware of it when Nan had called her sugar…she couldn’t put her finger on it, but the feeling of uneasiness was there.
“Are you there, Lily?”
“Yeah, sorry, my mind was wandering.”
“Are you okay?” Lily heard the concern in her friend’s voice and it warmed her to her toes. Not many people were blessed with a friend like Nan.
“I’m fine, girl. Stop worrying. Besides, you didn’t worry about me all day when I was without you.”
“I worried, you just didn’t know it.”
Nan’s jovial mood had returned and Lily pushed the unsettled feeling to the back of her mind. She was just being silly. “I missed you, girl. We should never argue.”
“You should never pick Linda Withers over me.”
“I didn’t pick her over you, I…” She was cut-off by Nan’s laughter. “You’re trying to get a rise out of me, aren’t you?”
“That I am.”
“It’s because I’m that good. I’ve got the pizza. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Lily slipped the phone in her pocket and went to the bathroom. She turned the faucet on to wash her hands, and heard a noise. “What was that?” She whispered. She turned the water off and craned her head toward the door. She heard it again. A scraping noise, like someone was trying to open the bedroom window. Terror gripped her heart and it pounded painfully against her chest. Who was it? A loud thumping noise came from the bedroom. Someone was in the house! With trembling fingers she pulled her phone out and dialed 911. She rushed over and quietly clicked the bathroom door shut and turned the lock. It wouldn’t keep anyone out for very long, it was just a cheap one.
“Someone’s in my house!” She whispered urgently when the operator came on the line.
“Can you speak up, miss, I can’t hear you.”
“Someone is in my house!” The words came out louder and more forceful this time, and Lily’s heart pounded louder, if it were possible. Had the intruder heard her? Beads of sweat popped out on her lip and she quelled the urge to whine.
“Hurry, I hear him coming this way!” Tears of fear slid down her cheeks. Frantic eyes searched for something to defend herself. There wasn’t anything! Crime was almost non-existent in Pembroke Acres. That’s why she’d moved here.
“Sheriff Adams is on the way, dear. Try to stay calm…”
“Does that ever really work? It’s easy for you to say stay calm; you don’t have an intruder in your house!” She slid helplessly down the wall beside the door, waiting for the man to come in the bathroom. She could hear him rattling all the knobs. He would be here next, and when the knob didn’t turn, he’d know she was in here.
“I’m sorry, that was rude. I’m usually not this bad.”
“I totally understand, Miss. Stay on the line with me, no matter what.”
“I will, don’t worry.” She heard the intruder getting closer and prayed a quick prayer to God for safety.
Whoever it was hesitated right outside the door. Blood pounded in her ears and she swallowed the urge to scream in terror. His hand was on the knob, turning it.
“Lily, are you in there?” The voice was that of her twin brother, Willy.
She jumped from her spot on the floor, said, “It’s my brother! I’m so sorry!” She ended the call and stuffed the phone in her jeans pocket. She opened the door and slammed her brother as hard as she could. “I called 911 you creep!”
He laughed so hard his face turned beet red. “Sorry sis, I was trying to surprise you, not scare you.”
“You came in my bedroom window, you jerk!” She slammed him again. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t defend himself.
“I guess you should lock your doors and windows like I’m always telling you to do. Why were all the lights out?”
“I just got back from Snowbird. This has been a really weird night, Will.”
“What do you mean?”
“I must’ve gone outside for some reason earlier because I woke-up at the bottom of my steps. Sheriff Adams was standing overtop of me.”
“That’s just wishful thinking, sis. You’ve had a crush on the guy ever since you moved here.” He waggled his eyebrows teasingly.
She picked a Raggedy Ann doll up from the couch and threw it at him as she passed. “You are a beast.”
“You call me a beast because I tell you the truth?” His voice conveyed hurt, but she knew better. He was just being him.
“I hear Nan out in the driveway. She’s bringing a pizza. Too bad there won’t be enough for…” She paused to open the door and a gasp of horror escaped. “You!”
Sheriff Adams raised his eyebrows questioningly. “I got a call about an intruder. Is everything okay?” He looked around her to where Willie sat on the couch with his feet propped up on her coffee table.
“I thought there was, but it was just Willie. I told the lady on the phone it was my brother. The beast scared the daylights out of me.”
Wyatt gave a quirky smile and said, “Brothers can be like that sometimes. So everything’s okay?”
“Yes, I’m sorry you came all the way out here for nothing.” The slam of a car door behind the sheriff caught their attention. He turned, and she craned her neck.
Nan walked up the sidewalk carrying two pizzas, preening the whole way. “Well, how-do sheriff. To what do we owe this visit?”
“Lily thought there was an intruder, but it was just Willie.” He gestured toward the house.
“It figures. That boy is gonna be the death of her yet. Since you were drug out here for nothing, the least we can do is feed you. Are you hungry?”
Lily gave Nan a frantic look and shook her head negatively. Infuriatingly, Nan ignored her and smiled hugely. Lily gave her a look that said she would pay for it later.
“I am kind of hungry. Do you mind?” He’d turned around to face Lily and she could do nothing but shake her head no.
“It looks like there’s plenty.” She gave Nan a murderous look after the sheriff walked in and sat down beside Willie.
“How could you do this to me?” She whispered.
“I’m helping you, sugar. It isn’t like you were ever gonna go for it.” Nan whispered back a little louder.
“Nan, be quiet, he’ll hear you!” Lily exclaimed in a loud whisper.
“Just enjoy this night. If it turns out you two get along, you can go from there.” Nan grabbed her shoulder and propelled her into the living room. “We’ll go set the table. What do you two want to drink?”
“I’ll have a soda.” Willie said with an impish grin.
“I’ll have a brew, if you’ve got one.”
Both women stared at the sheriff in surprise. “We don’t drink.” Lily knew she had the proverbial ‘deer in the headlights’ look, but she couldn’t help it. It hadn’t even occurred to her Wyatt Adams might be a drinking man.
“I’ll have a soda, too.” He laughed, not seeming the least bit embarrassed.
Lily decided to let the moment pass. So he drank. It wasn’t a big deal. Jesus drank, too. “We’ll have the table ready in a few minutes, guys.”
“Lily, where’s that nice peach tablecloth you have?”
“It’s just pizza, girl.”
“I know, but it could lead to so much more.” She replied suggestively.
“Okay, knock it off Nan.” Lily said as soon as they got in the kitchen.
“What? I’m just trying to help you get acquainted with a guy you’ve had a crush on for two years. Why is that such a bad thing?”
“Did it ever occur to you he isn’t interested in me? I have been here for two years and he’s never said one thing to lead me to believe he likes me.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like you, sugar. Maybe he’s shy, too.”
Lily snorted in an unladylike manner. “You’re joking, right? The guy is fearless.”
“Everybody’s afraid of something, sugar. Maybe he’s afraid of women.”
“Nan, you’re being silly. He comes to church every week with a different model-looking woman on his arm. The only thing he could possibly be afraid of is being alone.”
A thoughtful look came over Nan’s features and she shook her head up and down. “You may have something there, sugar. Maybe that’s why he always brings a different woman to church.”
“I think he just likes all kinds of different women and doesn’t want to commit.”
“Aha. That could be another reason.” Nan grabbed the stack of paper plates and some silverware while Lily trailed behind with some plastic cups and napkins.
They walked into the dining room where Nan had dropped the pizza on her way to the kitchen.
“I don’t think I need a man who’s afraid to be alone, but afraid to commit.”
When she looked up toward the living room, Wyatt was staring at her with blazing eyes of indignation.
“Uh-oh sugar, you’ve done it now.”
“I know, but what did I do?”