Authors: A. Gardner
"Vanilla Ice called. He wants you to stop raiding his '90's closet," I teased. "Where's your good coat?"
She sighed. "Dry cleaners. Pippa was playing dress-up and spilled grape juice all over it. It was either freeze or go out looking like a blast from the past."
"Well, at least the car looks professional." Donna had been driving her mom wagon, complete with car seats for her twins and stale french fries, to showings until her husband had convinced her to lease the Cadillac SUV.
"Plus it will smell like Italian food when I pick up my clients, which hopefully will leave the subliminal message of home and hearth."
"Speaking of which…" I trailed off, unsure if I should bring it up.
Donna and I had been friends long enough that she knew what I was asking without my having to actually ask. "Are you saying you and Jones are in the market?"
"Just me," I clarified.
She slowed to take a hairpin turn. "Wait—is something wrong with the two of you?"
"No. We're great." I frowned. "At least, I
One pink mitten waved in circular motions. "Okay, I'm going to need more information here."
"As a Realtor or as my BFF?"
She grinned "Both. That way I can give you my professional opinion and still ask you if you're off your meds in case the need arises."
I laughed, though it came out as a sort of wheeze. "Fair enough. Bottom line, I just don't know how much longer I can live off Lizzy's largess. Jones doesn't talk about what comes next, doesn't want to make any plans beyond dinner tonight. He just says we'll deal with that when the time comes. I still don't know if he plans to stay in Beaverton indefinitely. I told you, he might have that gallery show in New York. But I own the Bowtie Angel now. Kaylee's mom moved closer so she could get to know Kyle and me, and there's you and Pops and Aunt Cecily too. I can't just up and leave."
"What do you want?" Donna probed.
"Honestly, I really don't know. For the most part, I like the way things are now, but I know they can't go on forever this way. Lizzy and Kyle will get married eventually, and then she'll want to live in her house. But he won't make any future plans no matter how many times I bring it up. It's so frustrating. And—"
I cut myself off, but Donna pounced like a kitten on a ball of string. "And what?"
I cleared my throat. "There are times that he tends to um…forget me."
"What do you mean?"
"You know, he goes down into his little man cave and then sort of forgets I exist. I spend as many evenings alone as I did when I was single."
"Did you say anything to him about it?"
"How can I? He's working on making his dream come true at the same time he's working his regular job. I want him to succeed, and I'm trying to be supportive. You know the domestic PI stuff wears him down. He can't talk about it, confidentiality and all, but there are only so many cheating spouses you can follow without becoming completely jaded."
Donna's lips parted, but her cell phone rang. "I can't figure out the stupid Bluetooth connection on this thing. Could you get that for me?"
I fished it out of the cup holder, glad to leave the subject of Jones for a while. "Donna Muller's phone."
"Hey, Andy, it's Steve." Donna's husband had a deep, authoritative voice, perfect for a cop.
"Hey, Steve. What's going on?"
"Donna asked me to call when we got the fire marshal's report in."
There was a pause, and I cleared my throat. "Well, she's driving right now, but I can pass it along. Did he find anything?"
"Yeah, just don't go spreading this around town. And tell Donna I said the same thing. Preliminary evidence indicates it wasn't an accident. Further inspection is needed, but by the looks of things, it was arson. Someone meant to burn the florist shop to the ground."