Chapter 44. Something Missing from your mouth
Home! It made Kaylee happy. There! There at the memorial park where, one summer’s day, she discovered that if she wore her hair down, Glenn would run his fingers through her hair and enjoyed the texture of her curls.
Over there, he invited her to skinny-dip with him at the pond. But she was still a victim of strep-throat and wouldn’t swim. Instead Glenn just suggested she lay naked on the rocks, which she did! After laughter of that day and she pointed out that her dad would hurt him if pops ever found out, it was good summer memory of that year, too.
The taxi ride was typical of the area, battered on snowy roads and potholes. The cab, strictly functional with a rough ride on studded tires, was normal for the suburban type of taxi.
Home was so close, she could walk it from here. Her excitement was oddly muted.
Her thoughts turned back time and again to the man she left in the rain where he stood alone.
She looked out the window and told herself to shake the fog of melancholy off, Tom would be on the plane by now and be above the clouds far away from her, he was now history. Maybe.
He did have that moment. A look that bothered her. He reminisced with her and it should have made him smile, but he had a look of unfathomable sadness for a brief moment. A deep look like someone who once before stood on the edge of the road to say good-bye and could not bear to do it again. Then he was his quirky self again with a wide smile.
They had a great summer, but they were careful with each other and honest. Neither she or Tom expected it to last forever.
Kaylee was honest with Tom, she had a promise to keep. She and Tom, until that day at the start of summer, a lifetime ago it seemed. They did not know each other.
He was some random guy on a beach who wrote notes on a tablet computer.
She was a college student that had a really, really bad day.
He was the man that she would have not expected to wake up next to after a night of drink and smoke. *And married!*
It was so unexpected, she had gotten stoned many times and had never had even a hint that she and a date might get married.
*But there’s that sparkle about Tom. A color of soul that I could see even through my wine goggles and pharmaceuticals.* The heart of the matter was her heart, in the grand scheme of the universe, could the heart feel fondness about the strange man in the flying-yacht?
If not for two bits of information.
One: That Tom never asked. Was she with him for the simple reason of his money?
The answer was no, and that she even wondered about herself, it caused her to follow through with annulment of her marriage with Tom in a way that no one knew. Just to prove to herself the honesty of her heart.
And they did not have a pre-nup. His implicit trust her in her heart and soul. That there was no second thought, as if that was even needed. She left that life with her conscience clear, but with doubt in her heart.
And her heart did ache. Excited as for the question Glenn was about to ask, it ached for the quirky humor, adventurous spirit of Thomas Harte, the airship thief of hearts.
Still, she had Glenn, the boy that she first got stoned with, grew up with and had such a long history. Everyone knew that Glenn and Kaylee were best of friends and one day they would be married.
Every mile the taxi drove towards the home she grew up in, her smile widened. She wondered if everyone would be there, except Melanie who stayed behind for the start of early term classes.
The bump of the pothole that had been in the intersection for the last decade brought her out of her introspective moments.
She was home.
The cab driver got out and walked to the back of the taxi. For a moment, she expected the cabbie to open the door for her. Instead he opened the trunk and took her bags out.
Kaylee laughed at herself.
She’d been spoiled!
She pushed on the door and it opened with a rusty groan. A noise that cars get when the hinges exposed to the harsh elements are often stressed with constant open and shut, far beyond those of a normal car.
After he sat the bags on the sidewalk, the cabbie tipped his hat to Kaylee .
‟Thank you, miss.” He smiled as he looked at the bills she gave him and counted an extra twenty.
‟Keep the change and thank you.” Kaylee smiled.
The rain had stopped for a few minutes. By the looks of the clouds and the dark columns that obscured the hills and lowlands, it will rain again in a few minutes.
She gathered the bags up in her arms, she suddenly felt like an overloaded pack-mule — and she packed light!
The humor in the situation tickled her again. She was back home and happy. Soon she would get a big hug from mom’n’dad. Then to see Glenn, if he had not yet arrived at the house.
She had messed up everyone’s schedules, she knew, she took the private jet to an airport that was so much closer, it seemed a wise move.
Dad had emailed her, and he directed her on what was the best airline and the most on time. Her plane would land around dinner time and he would pick her up then. That made her shake her head it began to snow at the scheduled time of arrival on her smart phone if she followed the plans that the patriarch of the family had planned.
Dad’s office was fifteen minutes from the airport in Portland and he would pick her up on the way home. Except that Kaylee was eight-hours early and the airport she arrived at was an hour closer. She would surprise everyone when she walked through the door.
Up the steps, she stood at the doorbell for a moment. Oddly the small, pale mark on her finger where the jeweled band had been the last month stood out in her awareness. It was not very noticeable to the rest of the world, but to her it was a giant flag.
A leftover memory. A good memory, but one that she did not want exposed.
Not just yet, anyway. Mel, her sister, knew, she was the only one in the family aware of any of the events in the past summer.
It promised that an intense conversation with mom in the near future would happen after she unpacked and settled in.
The the first few notes of Westminster chimes sounded when she pushed the button, the sound made goosebumps on her skin that had little to do with the cold, moist air. The mission “Surprise!” was now active.
The door opened and her mom took a moment to register that her eldest daughter stood in front of her.
‟Kaylee!” The elder version of the daughter shrieked and jumped to hug Kaylee . ‟What? Where did you come from? How are you here so early? No one is here. Oh my God! We need to call your dad before he leaves early to pick you up.”
She walked into the house and was assailed by the smell of coffee, the primary drink in the house since before Kaylee could remember. The warm scent was pervasive and tickled her senses with chocolate notes. She was ready for a cup of coffee that her mother would make in a french press and then store the fragrant black liquid in the same kind of insulated pots she used at the cafe’s.
Mom often took the time off to make the coffee at home, too. As the owner of a chain of cafe’s, Linda Grant could take any time off she wished.
‟I only have to work half the day, and it doesn’t matter which twelve hours.” She would often joke. An accountant by her diploma, Mother Grant discovered that she had a strong business acumen and transformed a small, money-pit café into five salary-equivalent coffee and sandwich shops.
Mom’s recent history was a surprise for both of the Grant women as they talked.
Then a pause in the conversation.
“What have you been up to? You’ve arrived home late this summer. Any troubles with classes?” Mom asked.
‟It’s a long story, mom. But I promise I’ll tell you later. Glenn’s car just pulled up in front.” She stood up and hugged her mom and walked calmly to the door.
Then flew off the porch into the arms of what most of the girls in town agreed was the most handsome boy in town.
Glenn Greggory Schroder, president of the student body at Lincoln High School in his senior year. After graduation, he studied to become a congressional page then an assistant, he worked on his voter base so when he ran for an elected office life would be much easier while the he stumped for votes.
Six-foot-tall, blue-eyes of Danish extraction, Glenn, destined in his life to be elected to congress and, in breathless whispers by girls, a governor of the state, or even greater, office.
The friends that knew him, team members from the chess club and the debate team knew that he had a mind as dull as a hammer. But his talent for comeback was whip-quick. He never seemed to let that he was wrong or had the facts twisted ever stop his arguements, then if that did not work he would try to change the one subject to another that he had a handle on.
And he could drink! Only once did Glenn admit that he was even close to a DUI when the police wanted to pull him over after drank beer while home from school.
The officer that had tried to chase them, got hung up in a narrow lane and with a seven-point turn around, he had fallen so far behind that when he pulled into the driveway behind the parked station-wagon, everyone had already exited the car and sat around the pool with drinks in hand.
Unable to prove who was behind the wheel or violations of open beverage law occurred while they were in the car, the officer issued a weak threat that he would keep an eye on them.
In the small Oregon town, the officer always had his eye out.
Glenn admitted to the group, even when Kaylee sat in his lap that he was really too wasted to drive.
This set off a fight between Kaylee and himself.
Still and somehow, they stayed together. But with threats and argument, Glenn never admitted that he had ever did drink and drive again.
He never even admitted that he attended any party in school or on his internship in Washington.
Today, the only admission he had been his surprise at his girlfriends appearance.
‟Ohmygod! I have missed you!” Kaylee nearly screamed as they almost fell down into the wet grass of her parent’s house.
“You’re home! You weren’t supposed to arrive until after six o’clock tonight.”
‟I had a chance to catch an earlier flight and surprise everyone. ‟
‟You did that!” Glenn smiled a crooked smile, but there was wrongness about it.
‟Your mouth needs something.” Kaylee said with a sideways grin.
‟What?” The Nordic blue eyes almost crinkled in good humor.
‟My lips!” With that, she kissed him deeply.
The kiss was long and passionate of a couple that had not kissed in a long time.
But it was a troubled kiss. Kaylee pulled back.
‟I thought you would be happier to see me.”
‟I was not ready for you. I have one more stop to make, I need to shop before I come back.”
‟Ooh… Would it be… Oh, I don’t know. Important?” She got to her feet and almost danced in excitement.
‟Oh quite.” Glenn said. ‟I need to talk with you later, after you say hello to your mom and dad.”
‟I have gotten mom, already. Mom just texted Dad when I got in.” Kaylee bounced on the balls of her feet.
‟You have changed up my plans, I have a few stops to make, I was told to drop this server plate off to your mom. She said it is for a ham tonight and needed it.”
Glenn reached in his car and pulled out a silver tray with local names and places etched around the edges.
‟When I come back, you and I will go for a ride downtown. I need to talk to you.” Glenn said. ‟It’s serious.”
‟Oh.” She smiled but he did not. She refused to let him dampen her spirits or change her course of thought. She took the platter and kissed him, again.
‟I look forward to our talk!”
She watched him drive off, her smile faded to a frown. He acted different. His smile was wrong and his eyes were in a far-away place.
Inside her heart, she worried that he might be in trouble with the law, or maybe he ran afoul of the law in the capital with possession of an illegal substance and was about to be charged or had gotten caught in a undercover operation.
She walked back to the house to give her mom the big platter. A pensive look crossed her face.
The more she thought, the more she worried.