I'd been working on an oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico several years, but this year I was out off the Pacific Coast. I hated it. Last year I was able to get off the platform and see my wife every three weeks, but arranging travel home was more difficult from where I was now. I signed up for ten-week clips and stayed on the rig the whole time. Now I was flying into Biloxi and headed for home. I had cleaned up just before getting on the plane and was hoping Betty wouldn't be too turned off and would fool around just a little in the airport parking lot seeing as it was nighttime.
Instead of my wife meeting me, I came out and there was my Mom waiting, and I could tell there were tears about ready to fall. She rushed up and hugged me. "Pete, there is a man waiting for you. He has some papers to give you and then I will explain."
"Peter Roydon, 502 Magnolia Avenue, Biloxi?"
"That's me. What's this all about?"
"You have been served. Thank you Mrs. Roydon, for pointing out your son to me. Goodnight." He waved and walked off. I stood there with a brown paper 9x12 envelope in my hands.
"What is this, Mom?"
"Divorce papers. Elizabeth has left you. I don't know much except what she has told me. Your house has been sold. She had your power of attorney for that because she deemed your work was high risk and you agreed. I have at home an envelope with an accounting of the assets you and she have. She claims she has treated you fairly. I also have a letter explaining why she has done this to you. I imagine she has all of the t's crossed. She's a lawyer, so why wouldn't she?"
"From what you say, I'm sure she has. I never had a clue. We talked by e-mail just about every night. That's why we both have laptops. Well I'll find her and get this straightened out. Where is she now?"
"I have no idea. She left eight days ago. I promised her I wouldn't call you because she said you might get depressed and jump off the platform."
"I don't think I would have, but thanks for the thought. You know me better than that. Well, there goes a few years down the tube. How long does this take to become finalized?"
"Six months, I think. No one ever got divorced in our family before."
"How about Nancy and George? Have you talked to them?"
"I called them, but they wouldn't talk about this at all. I think they are very upset with Betty, but she is their daughter."
"Guess you're right."
"Come along home. You'll be staying with your dad and me until you get another place to live."
"The house really has been sold? That was fast."
"We didn't know it, but Betty had it on the market less than ten days after you left last time." I turned silent and Mom respected it. We drove by my old home and there were lights on with a strange car in the yard. The garage door was open and the lights on inside. I could see kids' toys scattered around the floor. No doubt about it, this wasn't my home anymore.
"Where's all of my stuff? She couldn't have taken that with her."
"It is all stored over in Bakers Storage Warehouse. We have the key. We went over after we received it and found out she had paid a year's rent in advance."
I could believe everything I was hearing. Betty was the most organized person I had ever known. When she made a decision, she went forward and carried it out, leaving no loose ends at all. This made her an exceptional lawyer and she knew she would advance up the corporate ladder. She had wanted to become a partner in four years, and I knew she would have to pay a premium for it. But still, she must be where she wanted to be.
I wondered how long she had worked on this, if that was her plan. Get settled and then get rid of me. Her parents paid for her college, but I had paid for most of her three years in law school. I'd take that up with a lawyer of my own. I had three weeks to get this settled before I had to return to the oil rig platform.
Right now I was too damned tired to think about my personal life. I had slept some on the plane, but there had been a lot of turbulence and I didn't particularly enjoy flying. I didn't mind being out in the ocean miles from land, but up in the air, not so much.
I tossed the papers the process server had given me on the sideboard and saw some more there with my name on them. I hesitated and then told Dad I was going to shower and go to bed. Dad was concerned. "You all right, Son?"
"Don't know, Dad. Don't have enough information yet. I'll look at things in the morning. Mix me a big rum and coke. I'll down that and maybe I can sleep and not think about this." I was good at putting things off. I mean, when you are miles from shore and weeks from everything and everyone, you get into that habit.
In the morning I awoke and lay there in bed thinking. Betty. Well, we had a strange marriage in some ways, but I never anticipated the divorce. I mean, we were apart almost as much as we were together and lately more. I never doubted her love for me before this. I met her in college and we dated. Before we graduated we were married. I had concentrated on learning all I could about energy and how it was produced. The industry was waiting for me and I was recruited by the present oil company before I received my diploma.
Betty wanted to go on to be an attorney. Her folks had given her the basic education and it was up to her husband to pay if she wanted more. After all, it would be for the benefit of both. The company I worked for had both land and ocean rigs. Those on the sea paid considerably more. "Pete, if you could make more money out there, it makes more sense than to be on land."
"But I would be away from you weeks and months at a time."
"Yes, but we would both be working toward the same goal. I'll be a good lawyer, I know I will. I'll make you so proud of me and it won't be forever."
Three years we lived like this. She studied hard and her marks were exceptional. When I would come off the rig, we'd spend a day catching up. There was never much extra money. All I had was a battered old Ford pickup and she drove a five- year-old foreign vehicle. Hopefully she wouldn't have any studying and we would be able to do things as man and wife.
She too was recruited before graduation by a firm that was the most prestigious in the city. Nothing was said about changing the way we had been living. I did enjoy what I was doing and when buying a house was mentioned, we had a new goal. With Betty employed now, we planned more enjoyable things to do when I was at home. Life was damned good while at home and there was always the carrot held before me of how things were to be when we reached our next goal.
The house we purchased was a four-bedroom, three-bath, much bigger, and in a more upscale neighborhood than either of our parents' homes. It was expensive to maintain as well. When spring came in our eighth year of marriage, I was transferred out to the west coast. Things weren't going quite so smoothly because we were apart longer and Betty was often on a case that demanded her time when I did get home.
Our home, I loved it and I didn't need sea legs. It was a luxury that was denied me for too much of my present life. I did sometimes feel as if I was a stranger in it. Occasionally Betty would have a get-together or party while I was home. I resented these somewhat, because I wanted my wife to myself and felt I deserved her full attention. After the third time at the latest party, I mentioned it to Betty and she did schedule her next one when I was at sea.
I wasn't comfortable with the lawyer types that attended either. I don't think they had reason to, but I was considered a roughneck. Maybe because I was out in the weather all the time. My skin was almost a mahogany hue from the elements and I was basically a quiet person.
I mentioned this to Betty as well. "You intimidate the people I work with. You are so big and rugged looking, they know you could snap them in two if you had reason to. You're my guardian whether you are with me or not. If anyone comes on to me, they soon get told what my husband is like and that's the end of it."
"Do you get hit on often?"
"All the time, Pete. Look at me. I'm tall and good looking, and yes, I have a good figure I'm proud of, and it is all for you. I have built a confident persona and it helps me win cases in court. I couldn't be where I am without you. You don't have to worry about me. I'm yours and yours alone for all of my life." That conversation took place approximately six months ago.
Now downstairs were divorce papers. Something must have happened to radically change her mind. Did she fall in love with someone she worked with? If she had' she must have known at the time she said she was mine forever. Was she knowingly lying to me? Could I live without Elizabeth? Of course I could. I just wouldn't have anything to look forward to when I came off the platform, that was all. I let my mind drift over the months of the last year. If you counted all the time I had spent at home with my wife, it might total three months. This was no way to live.
I suspected though, from what Mom said, it was too late to save my marriage. What about her work? She absolutely loved what she was doing. No, she might divorce me, but she would never give that up. Well, millions of people were divorced every year, so I was just a number now. I got out of bed to look at the paperwork. I would soon be single. My life would change, but how much? Not too much. I would just have to fill in the three months I had every year with Betty. I'll bet someone would be willing.
The papers were standard for a suit of divorce and dissolution of marriage through the courts. Irreconcilable differences. I'd go with that. Really, that said it all, even though in this case we hadn't talked about divorcing. I opened the letter that was enclosed in another large flat envelope. It was thin, so I knew it didn't hold much, but I could see a photograph that didn't come out when I shook out the letter. I didn't think I wanted to see it.
Betty was being blackmailed and I was going after the bastard who did it. That was my first thought. I opened the note. Pete, I know this is a surprise to you. You will just have to get over it and me. You see I am pregnant by another man. This is an intolerable situation for both you and me. Out of respect for you, I'm suing for a divorce. I will be married as soon as our divorce becomes final and my new husband will take care of both me and the baby.
My mind is made up that this is the best way to resolve this situation. Please don't seek retribution on the man who is to marry me. He really is a kind person and I will come to love him for taking care of the baby.
Another sheet of the letter listed all of our assets and how they were to be divided. The sale of the real estate, Betty had listed in my column. Also she had included the sum of $30,000. A line at the end of the accounting had this for an explanation. $30,000, amount Peter Roydon contributed to pay for one Elizabeth Roydon to attend law school.
This was about a third of the total cost and I knew Betty had about the same amount left to pay for her education loan. She had divided the cost in thirds, she picking up one third, giving me one third and would pay off the balance of the student loan herself. Fair enough. I looked at the photograph. It was a 7x9 glossy showing Betty laying in bed beside a man. Both were covered, although Betty was looking into the camera. The man, I couldn't make out who he was, because his head was turned away. He had some gray hair, giving me the clue he was older than we were.
I was coming out of this pretty damned well. The only thing I didn't have was Betty. She would be missed, and I didn't kid myself that I wouldn't miss her. I signed the papers and put them into the postage paid envelop provided. "Hand this to the mailman when he comes by, would you Mom? Let me have the key to the storage facility and I'll go see what I have left."
"You're not going to try to talk to your wife?"
"What's the point? I was thinking it has been almost three months since I left the last time. It will just make me angry if I see her now. She wants things to play out the way she has planned. Besides I would hate to upset a pregnant woman."
"She is pregnant?"
"So she says. I got a bunch of bullshit about how she respects me too much to do other than divorce me."
"You have done an awful lot for her and maybe she does respect you enough to leave this way. How much is this divorce going to cost you?"
"Nothing. In fact, if she pays all of the bills we have still owing, it will be split with 70 percent for me and 30 percent for her. She must have a terrible feeling of guilt or she sold herself to further her career."
"Don't be bitter, Pete. She has left you and it hasn't cost you anything."
"No Mom, I think it has. I feel as if I have a hole ripped in my heart, but I know it will heal, so I'll get on with my life and chalk it all up to a bad experience."
I was supposed to return to the west coast in three weeks. I didn't want to go out on the oil platform so soon. I had to get over this. This was the first time I had ever missed my schedule, but what the hell, I called and said I had a family crisis. I was granted three extra weeks.
Betty hadn't just made the accounting, she made it easy for me by making the distribution ahead of the divorce.
There was nothing to hold me here and truth be told I really didn't need the extra money that working on the platform brought either. I looked around my folks' house, I hadn't lived here for a long time. I knew they loved me, but I didn't think they would be comfortable having me for a long-term guest.
There was a little town not far out of the city. It had a nice park in the center and only a couple of fast food restaurants. There were a couple of barrooms that looked as if they hadn't changed hands in ages. The diner opened early for breakfast, had local patronage for lunch, and catered to families in the evening. I used to go up there and hang out in one of them when Betty had a case she was working on.
The homes were mostly occupied by people who worked here in the city. Kind of like a bedroom community. Maybe I could find a house that was for sale. When I drove out of the city I drove by Betty's parents' house. There was a small Cadillac with paper plates parked in the driveway. Betty was losing no time in trading up or maybe her parents' had struck it rich, I didn't know which.
It burned me a little to think she was confident in doing this so soon after I had received the papers. It was as if she would know exactly how I would react. Well why wouldn't she, she had lived with me long enough.
I parked at the diner and ordered a sandwich of pulled pork. I sat at the window where I could look out. When the waitress came over, she asked me what I wanted to drink and I said if it was something cold and wet, I'd try it. It was almost noon and the locals were coming in. One of the cars was parked where I could see a sign on the vehicle door. "Hometown Realty, Rawson Proctor owner."
Two men came in, one younger, and the other apparently the owner or manager. With them was a young woman with a logo on her blouse, saying Hometown Realty. I finished my sandwich and beer and stopped at their table. "You got some listings I could look at?"
The older man looked up from his meal. "Gail, go get the man our book out of the car. Hell, take him to the office, you can eat later."
"But Pa, I'm hungry."
"Go girl, who knows this man might be buying and you don't want to lose him. Go!"
"I'm in no hurry, so finish your lunch." The woman wasn't about to disobey her father. She ended up with a doggie bag and we proceeded out the door. She looked around and her heart sank when she saw my old beat up pickup.
"Don't mind the truck, it won't fall apart. You should see my other car, it's a junk." I paused to see how she would take my attempt at humor. I was flashed a glance and she saw I was smiling. "Seriously, Sunshine, I do have enough money to buy property if I see something I want. What are houses going for, generally?"
"Anywhere from $55,000 to $125,000. The agency owns some of these we have listed. Anything over that, Pa would have to show you. You got a limit?"
"Well, I'm just looking for a place to lay my weary head off and on. I won't be here all that much. Say we start at what you have listed for around $75,000. I'm soon to be single, so nothing fancy."
The third house Gail took me to was a two-bedroom on a quiet street. It had a semi-detached garage and a third of an acre in back that was at one time lawn, but now was overgrown with weeds. It was a sturdy stucco with an almost new roof. I liked it because it was empty and immediately available. There was another next to this one that was for sale as well, but would not be available for a month. "The woman who lives there now is being evicted. Sad really. She has one little girl and lost her husband in the military."
I thought to myself, another tragedy, just like being divorced by a cheating wife. "I like this house. The price is $89,900. I'll make an offer of $80,000. Call your Pa and see how long before I can find out if it is accepted. I'm not going to be in town very long."
"Can you put a binder on it? Pa would push this right along if you did."
"Sure can Sunshine, in fact I'll use my credit card. My limit is high enough to stand it." We drove back to the office and did the paperwork. The minute I signed and the card was swiped, Gail got on the phone to her Pa. I ended up buying the house for $81,500.
I suspected the house was owned by the Realty Company because of a slip of something said early on in our negotiations. That made me hang tough and yet wind up owning the house before I sat down with my folks for the evening meal. I had left one happy real estate salesman behind me. I was the first client she had been able to sell a house to. The last thing she said was that she would have the electricity turned on now that she had the information.
I was back the next day, looking over my purchase. I was going to get a brush cutter for the back yard or hire it cleaned off. The agency had kept the front yard mowed, and I would have to get a lawn mower. Tomorrow I was going to bring a bed from storage if my father would help me. Then I could move in anytime. I saw the lady from next door leave, heading toward where I knew the park was located. It would be quite a walk for the little girl with her. A young child, maybe three or four.
I was pretty damned tickled with my home. The one I owned before was always more Betty's than mine. This one I had pride of possession in and I hadn't done it under the direction of her either. I tried fast food today. Afterward I drifted over to the park where I knew there was an ice cream wagon. I wasn't sure, but I sat down on a park bench beside the woman who lived next to me. The child was begging for a cone, but her mother was having to deny her.
"Hi, I think I saw you come out of the house next to one I just bought. My name is Pete Roydon."
"I did see the Realtor lady there. They own the house I'm renting. I'm leaving in a couple of weeks."
"That's too bad. I just get to meet you and you're leaving."
"Yes, I am moving away. I have to find a job somewhere."
"Mommy, please can't I?"
"I told you no. We don't have an extra dollar. I'm sorry."
The girl was younger than I thought, maybe just barely four. "What's your name, little one?" I guess I scared her a little, for she wouldn't answer. I tried a different tack. "I'm your new neighbor and I'm going to be seeing you occasionally. I stopped here to get an ice cream cone. Would you ask your mother to join me in having one? What kind do you like? I bet you like sprinkles on yours, don't you?" Her little head was bobbing up and down.
"Mommy, can we? The man said he would pay and then we all can have one. Please?"
"Okay, all right we'll join you. I hate to deny Sandy, but there is never enough money for her every time she wants one. I haven't had a cone in quite sometime myself."
We got our confections and returned to the bench to sit down. I think I made both mother and daughter happy. "This would be about the time you told me your name, isn't it?"
"It is Rain Tuttle. Don't laugh at my name. My dad was a great joker and it was raining the day I was born. He put Rain on the birth certificate and mother said okay Pa, you named her and she will have to live with it. I hope she doesn't hate you for it.
"I haven't. My only regret is he didn't live long enough to be a joker around Sandy. She would have loved him as much as I did. He worked in a coal mine in the hills of West Virginia and that can tell you how he died. Mom died shortly after him. Broken heart, although no one would believe it."
"May I call you Rainy?"
"Sure, after buying me this cone, you can call me anything you want to."
"I take it you are up against it?" I was afraid I had been too personal, for Rainy just stared at me. "I'm asking because I'll be moving furniture into my house tomorrow and I need someone to arrange it for me. I'd like to hire you. If you are working, maybe I can get you to help me in the evening."
There was no hesitation now. "I'd love to earn a little money and I am up against it. I have nothing and I have to rent furnished and that costs extra. I don't have a car so I can't get a job too far away even if I found one. Also, I don't let just anyone take care of Sandy. She is all I have left of my husband. That and some wonderful memories of him. I said I was moving, when actually I'm being evicted, because I can't pay my rent."
"Well I'd be glad to hire you to put the house in order. The windows need washing and there is any number of things that need doing. Why don't you ride back with me and see what you need for cleaning stuff? You tell me what you need and I'll get it on the way here in the morning. My father will be with me, I hope, to help move in a bed."
"You are from the city?"
"Yeah, all my life. I'm not around much. I work for an oil company off the west coast. That may change after I finish this year's contract. That's up in October."
"I take it you're not married, but have been. You have a white ring on your finger."
"The ring has been off only three days. I took it off when I was served. On paper, I'm married and someday, I suppose I will be informed I'm not."
"Why did she have you served?"
"I have no idea. She did something. Well she must have cheated on me because she said she was pregnant and it isn't mine. We could have talked about it and I possibly would have lived with it under certain conditions. That's what hurts the most, not talking about it. But then, that is Betty all the way. Decide what to do and then do it. That has been our whole life."
"She wanted to become a lawyer. This was after we were married, so the only way it could be paid for was for me to get a job that paid enough. I worked the oil rigs in the Gulf. Then we had to have a big house to entertain, so I worked some more. Now she wanted to become a partner in her law firm and you have to buy your way in. I'm still working, but I suspect someone else has given that to her along with the baby, or she wouldn't have dumped me as she did."
"How could you afford to buy the house next door if she took you for everything?"
I paused before answering. Then, "I think whoever bought her, bought me as well. I am leaving the marriage with more money than I probably should deserve. I even had the money I paid for her education returned. So you see, I sold out as well."
"Do you still love her?"
"Yes and no. I'm going to miss her for awhile and like you said about your husband, I'll carry some very good memories. I guess I'll keep those. There is nothing else after I spend the money. What do you think about my situation?"
"Not my place to say. I do think she has let someone go she will regret. I think you're pretty nice." I got a smile. "Besides you just bought two strangers ice cream cones."
When we reached Rainy's house, Sandy was asleep and I carried her in. This house was spotless and the curtains were washed. The furniture was what you would expect in a furnished rental. She had the cushions covered so as to keep them clean. I was getting a gem of an idea when she asked, "Can we go over to your house to see what you want done?"
"Will Sandy be okay for the time we will be gone?"
The house had a simple layout. Living room in the front, then side-by-side dining room and kitchen. Next came the bathroom on one side of a little hall. On the other side there was a big closet for storage and a set of cellar stairs going down. Then two large bedrooms. There was an exit out to the side from the kitchen. There were hard pine floors throughout the house excepting the bedrooms and those were carpeted.
"I have a vacuum. I better do those tonight if you are bringing a bed tomorrow. Will you have a bed for the other room?"
"Not yet. What do you charge when you work out?"
"Minimum wage. By the time they take taxes it isn't hardly worth it unless I get six hours or more."
"Would you consider working and getting paid under the table? I won't squeal if you won't."
"That's like getting a raise. You bet I will."
"Okay, as far as to what the wage will be, I really need this done. I'll give you $9 an hour. You keep your own time and I pay for all necessary supplies."
"You don't have to pay me that much."
"Cheap at the price. Don't argue with your employer. You better get back over and see to Sandy. Here is $200 to get what you need and I'll see you in the morning, probably not before ten anyway. I'll leave the key with you. Maybe if you are in the hardware store you can get a couple extra keys made. Oh crap, you don't have transportation. You do have a license don't you?"
"Well, I'll go find you some transportation. If you are working for me you got to have wheels. If not tonight, I'll see to it tomorrow. Is there anything I have forgotten?"
"Can I have your telephone number?"
I gave her my parents' number. On the way out of town, I stopped at a used car dealer and purchased a seven-year-old Honda. "This better be reliable. This is for a friend of mine and I'll be all over you like grass stains on your jeans if it isn't."
"Got it. It's good, we stand behind every sale. This the address you want it delivered to?"
"Yes, and tell the lady it is hers to use."
I drove along to Mom and Dad's. I was feeling pretty damned good about myself. I was in charge, something I seldom was when I was home and off the platform. Betty had always been before. Why hadn't I stood up to Betty when she was my wife. I could have felt like this back when I had someone to hold in my arms and love. Crap, I don't want to think about Betty. She is now in the past.
My thoughts swung to Rainy and Sandy. They were having it tough. Sandy, I seduced her into friendship with one little ice cream cone. It went a long way with Rainy as well. Rain was a scrawny little thing, but she tried to keep herself well. What would she look like if she had the advantages that Betty thought were her due? She wouldn't have the classic beauty that my wife had, but I bet she would be cute.
Cones, that is how you would describe her breasts. I changed my thoughts, knowing these were coming from not having any loving for three months. It looked like it was going to be another six months anyway, before I felt comfortable about doing some pub crawling and woman hunting.
I related my day's adventures to Mom and Dad. The only thing I left out was buying a car for Rainy to get around in. "Mom, why don't you come up in your car and meet this woman. I'm thinking I'll hire her to house sit for me while I'm away. It will give her a home and the little girl won't be denied what she needs."
"Is it the little girl or the woman who has turned you into a do-gooder?"
"Sandy. You didn't see the longing for that ice cream cone like I did. I think the woman is good people as well. It isn't going to hurt me to lend them a hand."
"Do what you want. At least you aren't sitting around crying over Betty, the cheap slut."
"Mom, we know nothing about this. Sure she dumped me, but I'm sure she had a good reason. In her mind that is."
"Okay, okay, I do know how much you loved her. That feeling won't go away for awhile. Getting involved with this other person may turn out to be good for you."
"Mom, I'm not getting involved with this other woman as you put it. I'm giving her a hand that is all. The kid is part of it. Sure I can remember when I begged for something and didn't get it, but it wasn't because you couldn't afford to give it to me. Those two, mother and daughter, have come along just at the time when I could have turned bitter at women in general. I'm not feeling that way and I'll go back to my job knowing I may not have a wife, but I've got a couple of friends back here thinking well of me."
"You're talking bull hockey. Mark my word Son. She'll have you in her bed and you won't be all the way out of one mess before you have got yourself into another and with a kid to support to boot."
"You haven't met her yet, Mom. Hell, I haven't hardly met her either. You will tomorrow. We can talk tomorrow evening, and I'll bet you will have changed your mind."
I had no answer and all she said was for me to give her the address and she would find the house. I went to bed and slept good. Mom put pancakes and bacon on the table and was doing dishes when Dad and I left to get the bed out of the storage units.
I had a choice of furniture to choose from. Evidently Betty had moved in with her lover and there wasn't need for much of what we had together. There were a couple of pieces that belonged to her parents that were missing. That was fine. Dad and I managed to put the guestroom queen-size on the truck and then we also loaded on a pair of single beds for the other room. There was room for two bureaus and a couple of night stands.
Mom's car was already at the house when Dad and I backed across the lawn to unload. She wasn't there, but Sandy came skipping over from the house next door. "Mommy says to come over for coffee before you start to unload." We followed her into the kitchen. Sandy immediately climbed onto Mom's lap and got hugged between her arms. Mom stared defiantly at me and I grinned back at her.
"Good morning Rainy."
"Hi Pete. Your bedroom is already for you to move into. You can take your pick. Both have been cleaned. I was doing the windows on the inside when your Mom came. I didn't hear her arrive and I jumped out of my skin when she spoke to me. Sandy thought it was the funniest thing. Your Mom and I went down to the grocery and got coffee and doughnuts at her suggestion. I haven't had a chance to go shopping yet this week or I would have had coffee on hand."
"That's great. We'll drink up and get a move on." No one got it, until I said, "I mean that literally."
The twin beds had never been slept on and the queen rarely unless someone was too drunk to drive after one of our infrequent parties. We had owned that massive house and for what reason. Just show that was all. This house, I hadn't moved into fully yet, and I already felt more at home.
Dad and I left to get the kitchen furniture. The appliances had come with the house, so if I got a kitchen table and four chairs I was all set. I would need help with the living room, but that could wait I decided. The kitchen was more important. I brought back sheets and blankets for the beds and everything I could grab for the kitchen. "Mom, you and dad can leave, as there is nothing here I can't handle."
Rainy spoke, "I'll help. I'll make the beds while Pete is moving in the kitchen chairs and stuff."
I walked Mom out to the car. "Peter, maybe I was too quick about what I said concerning this next door woman. She seems very nice. I love little Sandy. She is so sweet. Did you see how she snuggled right into my arms? You used to do that when you were small."
"I told you."
"Yes you did, but Son, get to know Rainy better before you make any long term commitments."
"That I will do. Thanks for coming up. Drop into my new home anytime."
"We will Pete." Dad was driving and Mom waved good-bye.
I helped Rainy make the beds. "Pete, you sure have some really nice furniture here."
"I should have, I paid enough for it. I shouldn't criticize, because I still have most of it."
"You want to talk about your wife?"
"Not really, but if you want to listen I guess, yes, I do. It will be better to think about it now than when out of sight of land with only my own thoughts." I filled Rainy in on my early years going to school and stuff like that.
"I met Betty at a dance while I was in college. I was taking courses all related to energy and was serious about getting good marks. Betty wasn't a very good student when I first met her, but after we were going together for awhile, she got real serious. Her first couple of years were a waste, but when she graduated, she decided she liked to be in the spotlight. She settled on being a lawyer.
"There wasn't enough money from her parents for her to continue into law school and I already had been recruited. We were married with the understanding, now that I was her husband, I would put her through and help her pass the bar."
"What did you get out of this?"
"Sex, what else? Betty can be the most sexual person there is when she wants to be. When I think closely, I think maybe she had this plan and her words of love were empty. Maybe me being away from her for periods of time was planned. Planned for me to come home to boundless sex, become satiated and then willing to leave so I could come home and experience it all over again. Sounds cold, I know. Foolish me, I loved her. I probably will never know for sure if she felt the same way about me."
"She must have felt something or she wouldn't have left you with all of this nice furniture and things. You said you came out of the divorce settlement pretty good too."
"Rainy, that is what puzzles me. There are so many contradictions. I just don't know."
"Well, leave it for tomorrow. Come on over and watch me make macaroni and cheese. I bought hot dogs as well. Sandy loves them. Oh, I have to make an accounting and there is one thing we haven't mentioned either. You know what that is don't you?"
I grinned. "I didn't say anything because Mom was here and if I said I bought a car for you to use, she would think I did it just to get you into bed. That wouldn't look good for either you or me."
"Nope. I do have a proposal to make to you and I will do it in a couple of days. It has nothing to do with sex and won't have."
"Okay. I'll take the car to use because I need to get around so I can get a job. That's for Sandy's sake more than for my own. I'm not saying someday you and I might jump into bed, but it won't be other than because we wanted to enjoy each other. That wouldn't work if I owed you or you owed me for something."
"I like the way you think. Mom was concerned that you would try to entice me when I started helping you. I will have to tell her the concerns are without merit."
"I'd like it better if you didn't discuss it at all."
I went home early that night. I got a hug from Sandy on leaving and a reminder to say hi to her special friend who let her sit on her lap. In the morning Dad rounded up some extra help who had a pickup and we headed for my new home with the living and dining room furniture. Rainy had come over and brewed a pot of coffee in my own kitchen.
One of the men started to flirt with her and Dad told him quickly to back off. "She's Pete's neighbor and he wants to keep her friendly. Besides Pete is bigger than you are."
Rainy spoke up, "I don't need Pete to fight my battles. I've been around men all of my life and I can handle any of them. Go ahead and flirt if you want, but it won't get you anywhere and that includes Pete. He is smart enough not to even try. I'm just being neighborly." She turned and went across the lawn.
"Feisty little thing isn't she? Sorry if I caused trouble."
"No trouble, she said she was moving in a couple of weeks." After we got the furniture in, I gave everyone money for beer and many thanks. Dad rode home with them and I set about doing more organizing. Rainy was immediately over to help.
At lunch time I asked where we could get lunch. Sandy was jumping up and down as she seldom went anywhere, especially where she could eat. I ended up taking them to the diner where I first met Gail Proctor, the real estate salesman. We had no more than sat down when she came in alone. Pleasure washed over me. Gail looked around and spotted me.
"Hi, Mr. Roydon, it's a pleasure to see you again. Are you moved in yet?"
"Almost. Here sit with us, we haven't ordered yet. I'll even buy you lunch."
Gail then looked closely at who was sitting with me. She had tried to collect rent from Rainy without success and probably would be directly involved in her eviction.
"Please sit. I need to ask you something."
"Okay, I guess. Hello Mrs. Tuttle. Hi little girl. What is your name?"
"It's Sandy and you're the lady that wants money when we don't have any." Sandy was only repeating what she had heard her mother say.
"I guess I am, Sandy." Gail was very uncomfortable. "I think I had better sit somewhere else."
"No, the child doesn't understand. Sandy, the lady has to come to ask for money and I imagine she doesn't like to, but it is what her job is. I bet you would like her very much if you knew her better."
"Maybe. You are very pretty."
"I will come soon and I won't mention money at all. I have some papers for your Mom to sign."
Just then the waitress came for our order. Gail was sitting next to me in the booth. It was like my leg was on fire. Sandy had to go potty and had to have her new friend Gail go with her. "Rainy, you have cleaned my house beautifully. Would you like to do that kind of work if I can find you some houses to clean?"
"I could now that I have a car. Sandy could be with me. But how would I find one to clean?" Just then Gail came back. In a few minutes our meal came and Sandy talked all the time, just so happy.
"Gail, you said your agency had several houses listed that you own or manage. Do you ever have need to get them cleaned?"