Timing: Chapter 5

The next day, Eva and Susan meet at Bella’s for lunch. The meal started out pleasant and slow; it was mostly small talk about work. After a few minutes, Susan began her interrogation.

“So, Sadie’s not pregnant. Are you going to tell Daniel?” Susan asked.

Eva sighed and said, “You know, I really don’t know if I should. But, if I don’t, he’s going to be pissed when he finds out.” She took a sip of her lemonade and continued. “Louis worked late last night and was all over the place when he got home,” she said in effort to change the subject. “Something isn’t right.”

Susan swallowed hard. She couldn’t tell Eva what she knew. It would devastate her. Looking up from her plate, she said, “Maybe he just had a really bad day at work. I know how Michael gets when he has to pull OT. He’s like a bear.” Shrugging, she said, “I don’t know. I give up trying to figure Louis out, anyway.”

Eva watched Susan’s body language and decided her friend knew something, but wasn’t letting on. The women finished their meal in relative silence. Their waiter brought over their checks and thanked them for “choosing Bella’s.” Susan snickered as he walked away. They pulled out their planners and made a lunch date for a couple days ahead. “Save us the trouble,” Susan said with a wink. After their date was set, Susan and Eva left the restaurant.



“It’s D. I have a job for you, if you’re interested.”

“This is a surprise.” A pause. “Email me details.”

“Thanks, man.”


The afternoon ran typical for Eva. Matching inventories and sales sheets, returning emails and making calls to buyers before going home to make dinner kept her busy. She was grateful, too. She was tired of all the thinking and wondering about Louis and where their marriage was going. Sadly, she was resigning herself to it going nowhere.

Dinner and evening activity passed as usual. Louis and Eva cleaned the kitchen after dinner, and Sadie went to her room for homework and talking to friends. Louis went upstairs with his laptop to work and Eva watched a documentary on an animal fabled to be a relative of the chubacabra wreaking havoc in North Carolina.

About halfway through, her cell buzzed. Daniel was calling her. Eva’s brow knit together and she answered. “Daniel? Is everything alright?”

“Oh, yeah. It’s fine,” he replied. “Mom’s coming to visit soon and I wanted to know how you felt about it.” A can popped in the background, accompanied by the sounds of an action movie.

Eva curled her legs under her and sighed. “Well, I think it’s a great idea. Goddess knows she and Sadie should get time together. When’s she coming out?” she asked and took a drink of her soda.

“That’s the other thing. I can’t remember when school vacation is,” Daniel hesitated. “Don’t really want Sadie missing school and stuff.”

“No, yeah. She doesn’t need to miss school,” she agreed and pulled the blanket over her. “This is a critical time. Applications and trip planning is rather intensive.” Eva paused and said, “You know what? Let Sadie decide. A day or two isn’t going to hurt, and she can get her assignments ahead of time.”

“You sure?”

Eva smiled. “Yes, I’m sure. The two of you can pick dates and we’ll go from there. Does that work?”

“That would be great!” She could hear Daniel smiling through the phone. “You’re awesome, Eva. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Daniel. I’ll go up and tell her. Don’t be surprised if your phone blows up in a few minutes,” Eva laughed.

Daniel laughed, and said, “Yeah, I’m expecting it. Have a great night, Eva. Thanks, again.”

Eva replied, “You’re welcome,” and hit “end.” She sat there for a few more minutes staring at the television, not really seeing it. Finally, she got up and turned it off.

Eva went into Sadie’s room to tell her about her grandmother’s upcoming visit. Sadie, sitting cross-legged on the bed with ear buds in and books strewn about, didn’t realize Eva is there until she felt a hand on her shoulder.

Sadie jumped and screeched, “Mom! Oh, my Goddess!” She chuckled and slapped playfully at her mother. “You scared the crap out of me.” She shoved a couple books out of the way and patted the bed. “What’s up?”

Eva sat on the scant space and asked, “How would you feel about ditching school for a week and hanging out with G’ma Dee?”

Sadie’s eyes got really big and she yelled, “Really?! That would be stellar!” She bounced a little on the bed and Eva laughed. “I haven’t seen G’ma Dee in a long time. This is gonna be awesome! Oh, my Goddess, Mom! Do you know how cool she is? I mean, like really know?”

Eva laughed harder and said, “Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do. Dad’s going to arrange everything and let me know when she’s getting here. And you know how your Dad is, he isn’t going to let her stay in a hotel. So, chances are pretty good you’ll get to hang out at his place a lot.”

Sadie thought about this for a minute, little furrows showing between her eyebrows. She looked at Sadie and a smile spread slowly across her face. “G’ma is a football fan, right?”

“Yes, I believe she is.”

“I need to look up the UMaine schedule and text Dad dates of home games.” Sadie giggled. “She can take me to a game…” She opened her laptop and pulled up the website for the Panthers. “Ha! In two weeks there’s a home game against the Terrapins .” She giggled, again. “I know Dad is a Maryland fan. I’m gonna text him,” she said and picked up her phone.

Eva laughed and said, “Okay, babe, you handle all that. I’m going to tell Louis and then hit the sack. Momma tired.” She kissed Sadie on the head and walked into the hallway, leaving the door open a crack.

As she walked to her bedroom, she heard Sadie cheering, and giggled. That girl needs some happiness, she thought to herself and entered the bedroom. Louis was shirtless in bed, his laptop on the covers and she watched him for a moment before moving to her side and climbing into the antique bed they shared. She paused before telling him about Daniel’s mother coming to visit.

“So…Dee is coming to visit. What are your thoughts?” Eva asked cautiously.

Louis looked at her and back to the laptop quickly. “Sure, that sounds great.” He tapped the keys impatiently and frowned.

Eva tapped him on the arm and waited. When Louis didn’t respond, she poked him in the ribs. He pushed her hand away. She pouted, and said loudly, “I want a baby.” That got his attention.

Louis’ head snapped in her direction and he asked, “Are you insane? Sadie’s almost eighteen and you want to go through the diapers and midnight feedings thing, again?” He stared at Eva hard for a minute before she answered.

“No. I just wanted your attention.”

Louis sighed and looked at his laptop, again. “Seriously, Eva, I’m on a deadline.”

Eva eyed him, and said, “Dee is coming for a visit in a couple weeks. I wanted to know what you thought about it.”

He took off his glasses, and turned to her. “Well, I hope it doesn’t interfere with anything you and I have going on, or Sadie’s classes. Other than that, I guess I really don’t care. That woman never really liked me, anyway.” He put his glasses back on and typed.

Eva muttered “I can see why.”

Louis asked, “What’s that?”

Eva got off the bed and said “I think I want fries.” After a minute, she asked, “Would you want to fly your parents in for a visit? We haven’t seen them for a few years.”

Louis waved his hand at her and said, “No, that’s okay. Mom would claim to have some weird disease that doesn’t exist on this planet, and Dad will say he can’t get off work for the trip.” He shrugged his shoulders and focused his attention back to the laptop.

She grabbed her robe and went downstairs to the kitchen, picking up her cell off the hall table along the way and said, “Damn it, now I really do want fries…” She took the bag of fries out of the freezer, got a cookie sheet from the cupboard and preheated the oven before calling Susan. Eva stared at her nails waiting for Susan to answer.

“Well, hello, darlin’. Kinda late for a call, isn’t it?” Susan purred.

Eva laughed and said, “Wow…been drinking, sweetie?”

“No,” Susan chuckled. “Just in a good mood…if you know what I mean.” Eva could swear she heard Susan’s eyebrows wiggle. “What’s up, chick?”

The oven chirped, and Eva put the fries on the cookie sheet and into the oven. She said, “Well,” as she set the timer, “Dee is coming out in a couple of weeks to see Daniel and Sadie.” She grabbed a coke from the fridge and sat at the table. Popping the top, she said, “I asked Louis if he wanted his folks to come out and he was pretty adamant that they didn’t need to. Or, rather, would make excuses not to.” She took a drink, then said, “I don’t know, Susan. I get the feeling he’s pushing everyone out, including me. It’s becoming a pain in the ass.”

“Sweetie,” Susan started, “he is an ass. And before you try and jump to his rescue or tell me everything will be fine, I can assure you it won’t. If he’s being like this, I almost suggest you start calling lawyers.” She paused. “Just my opinion.”

Eva sighed and said, “Yeah. I know it. I don’t really want to be that woman with two divorces, you know?” She took another sip of coke and walked over to the oven to check on the fries. They weren’t quite done, so she sat back down. “I don’t know what to do, Susan. He’s like a different person lately.”

Susan asked gently, “Do you think he might be playing around?”

Eva hurriedly replied, “Oh, no! No, no. I don’t think he’s that type. I know we hear about all our friends fooling around and stuff, but I really don’t think he’s capable of it.”

Susan said, “Sweetie, people are capable of murder. And it’s usually those we least expect. At least think about it. Go through your head and your planner – I know you write everything down – and see if something jumps out at you. That’s all I ask.”

Eva chewed on her lip and thought about it. She took a sip of coke and said, “I guess you might be right.”

“Of course I’m right, chick. Now, why are you in the kitchen?”

Eva looked around her and said, “Uh…talking to you?”

“Well, duh. What are you cooking?” Susan asked, then mumbled something.

“French fries?” Eva replied. “I’m just hungry. Need a snack.” She didn’t think Susan needed to know the exact reason for the late-night food emergency.

“Uh huh. Okay, Eva. I’m gonna ravage my man, again. You have a great time with those fries.” Susan made kissing noises into the phone and hung up.

Eva looked at the phone and said “Wow. Okay.” Putting the phone on the table, she got up just as the oven chirped. She got the ketchup and a plate, and pulled the fries out of the oven. Eva smiled and said “Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff right there.”


After hanging up from talking with Eva, Susan looked up to see Michael coming into the bedroom. “Well, how did your talk with Louis go?” she asked.

Michael tossed his cell in the chair and sat on the bed. “Well, Louis is an idiot. I really don’t see them lasting much longer.” Susan nodded in agreement. “If he thinks Eva is going to put up with his jealous attitude much longer, boy is he mistaken.” He got into bed and turned out his bedside lamp. “What about yours with her?”

Susan crossed her arms and looked at the blanket. “Well, she’s blind to his abilities.” She reached over and took Michael’s hand in hers. “I’m really glad we don’t have all that bullshit to deal with and worry about.” She kissed the back of his hand and laid it back on the blanket.

“Me, too,” Michael said, and turned on the television.

Susan slid out of bed and informed Michael, “I’m going to take a shower. Want to join me?”

Michael chuckled and said, “No, babe, that’s alright. I’m gonna check on Daniel.”

Susan sighed and said, “Fine,” and went into the adjoining bathroom.

Michael got up to retrieve his cell from the chair, watching the television as he went. Hitting the speed dial number for Daniel, he climbed back in bed and waited. Daniel answered on the first ring.

“What’s wrong? Are the girls alright?” Daniel asked in a panic.

“No, man. The girls are fine. I just wanted to check on you,” Michael said as he alternated between Sports Center and the NFL Network, checking scores and highlights. “How’s the ribs? And what’s this about Mama Dee coming for a visit?”

Daniel laughed and winced, “Ow. Don’t make me laugh.” Michael could hear him adjust his position. “Word sure does travel fast in our circle, doesn’t it? But, yeah, Mama Dee’s coming in a couple weeks. I figure she hasn’t seen Sadie in a few years, and not too long that girl will be heading off and doing her own thing. Ma needs time with her.” Daniel swore under his breath. “Plus, I’d like to see her, you know?”

Michael switched back to Sports enter and said, “Yeah, your mom was always real nice to me. Sadie gonna beg for UMaine tickets?”

Daniel laughed. “Oh, yeah. She texted me and asked for Ma to come the weekend they host Maryland. Sick, twisted sense of humor that girl’s got.”

Michael laughed and said, “Oh, hell. I need to go, too. That’s gonna be quite a game, my friend.” He paused. “Hey, listen. Eva called Susan earlier. She said anything to you about how things are with Louis?”

“Uh, no? We don’t discuss our relationships with each other. Known trouble in paradise?” Daniel asked. “Other than you catching him, I mean”

Michael shifted on the bed. “Eh, you could say that. Just want you to have a heads up that not only is he screwing around, Louis is also being a dick to Eva.”

“Thanks, man. If he’s pulling that with her, I need to keep tabs on Sadie,” Daniel replied. “Ah, Ma’s calling. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Later, D.” Michael closed his phone as Susan came out of the bathroom, towel-drying her hair.

“Was that Daniel?” she asked, and grabbed the hairbrush.

“Yep, that was Daniel. I mentioned Louis’ ass hat behavior,” he said.

Susan sat on the bed and brushed her hair. “So, what was his take?”

Michael shrugged. “It’s Daniel. He’ll do what’s necessary to keep Sadie safe, you know that. Oh, and get this. Sadie purposefully asked for Dee to come the weekend we play Maryland,” he said with a smile. “We need tickets for that game.”

Susan laughed and put her brush on the nightstand. “I’ll get them tomorrow. We could make a day of it. Sort of like a small reunion. Tailgate and all that” She leaned over and kissed Michael’s cheek. “Now, how about I give you tickets to a very personal show…”


The next morning, Daniel stopped at Eva’s to talk to her about his mother’s upcoming visit in more detail. She heard his bike pull into the driveway and met him at the door.

“Hey, there. What brings you by at the ass crack of dawn?” Eva asked, ushering him into the hall.

Daniel stepped in and followed her to the kitchen, where Eva had been putting lunches together. “Is Louis home?” he asked, helping himself to a cup of coffee. “Sugar?”

She pointed to the pantry. “In there,” she said and continued packing her and Sadie’s lunches. “No, he left a couple hours ago. Something about a big deadline, I don’t know,” she shrugged. “So, Sadie is real excited about Dee’s visit. Did she ask about tickets?” Eva asked with a smile.

Daniel chuckled. “What do you think? I’ll get the tickets tonight when I go into Bangor.” He got the sugar and added it to the cup. “Seems we both spoke to a certain couple last night,” he said, taking a sip of the coffee with a moan. “You make the best coffee.”

“Well, thanks. Yeah, I talked to Susan. Needed a girl’s ear.” She looked at Daniel, and watched him savoring the cup. “Back to Dee’s visit, if I may,” Eva said, putting sandwiches into thermal bags. “She’ll be staying with you, right?”

“Yeah. I’m not putting her up in one of the hotels in town. They suck, or are way overpriced. Why do you ask?”

Eva hesitated. “Well, I was thinking maybe Sadie could spend a few days with you and Dee. You know, more time together, and all that. What do you think?” she asked, zipping the bags closed and setting them on the table.

Daniel continued to moan over the cup of coffee. “I think that would be great, actually. She can have my room, mom can take the guest room and I’ll take the couch. There, all worked out.”

Sadie came into the kitchen and stopped in her tracks when she saw Daniel leaning against the counter. “Uh, hi, Dad?” She slowly moved towards him and gave him a hug.

He hugged her back and said “Hey, sweetie. How’s things?”

Sadie put her lunch bag in the backpack slung over the kitchen chair and said, “Things are good. Kinda wondering why you’re here so early.” She looked between Daniel and Eva for an answer.

Eva said, “Dad and I are talking about G’ma’s visit. He’s picking up tickets today for-” using air quotes, “-the big game.” She put her cup in the sink and grabbed her travel mug out of the dishwasher. “We’re also discussing sleeping arrangements for the visit. You get to stay at Dad’s for a couple nights while she’s here. Dani picking you up this morning,” she asked.

“No, I was hoping you’d give me a ride in today,” Sadie said and sat down.

Daniel put his cup in the sink. “I’ll take you, if you won’t mind helmet hair,” he said with a smile.

Eva dug the car keys out of her handbag and tossed them at Daniel. “Take my car. I’ll be ready for work when you get back.” She looked at the clock on the wall. “Shit! Okay, I need to get moving.” She gave Sadie a hug and said, “Thanks, Daniel!” as she ran upstairs for a shower.

Daniel shook his head and asked Sadie, “Ready to go?”

“That I am. Let’s rock,” she replied. Grabbing her backpack, she headed for the door. “My friends are gonna love you,” she chuckled.

Daniel rolled his eyes and followed her into the garage. “I don’t even want to know.”


A knock sounded at Louis’ office door. He yelled, “Come in!” and returned to the spreadsheet he’d been scouring since he arrived. He glanced up when the door opened and there stood Steve, with a huge smile on his face. Steve moved across the room slowly, and handed Louis an envelope before sitting in the chair in front of Louis’ desk.

Louis took the envelope and asked, “What’s this?”

Steve said, “Your new project, dumbass,” still smiling.

“Ha ha.” Louis opened the envelope and dumped it on his desk. Out tumbled plane tickets and an itinerary. He picked it up and skimmed it quickly. “Salt Lake, huh?”

Steve nodded, “Yes, sir. Salt Lake. You know what that means, right?” he asks.

“Layovers and a kick ass hotel room?”

Steve laughed. “Well, there’s more to it than that. It’s a huge conference that I was supposed to go to, but,” he paused, “I decided to send my top man, instead. You up for it?” he asked.

“Hell, yeah. I could use some time away. Check out the local wild life,” he replied.

“It won’t be all play. This is a serious conference. Lots of competition and new talent,” Steve reminded him. “Of course, what you do outside the conference is none of my concern.”

Louis waved his hand at Steve. “Yeah, yeah. I know. Business before pleasure. I got it.”

Steve stood up and headed for the door. “All the info you need is right there in that envelope. Go over it, and plan accordingly. You flight leaves early in the morning.”

Louis looked at his watch. “Guess I better get a move on, then. Oh, and I should call Eva. She’ll be the good little housewife and pack my stuff for me. Thanks, man.”

“Don’t mention it. Have a safe trip,” Steve said as he walked out and closed the door behind him.

Louis picked up his cell and called Eva.

“Hey, you!” Eva answered the phone, slightly out of breath.

“Uh, hi. Whatcha doin’?” he asked, surprised by her tone.

“Just got out of the shower. Running a little behind. What’s up?” Sadie responded. “Everything alright?”

“Oh, yeah. Everything’s great. Called to tell you I need to go out of town tomorrow for a few days for work…and was wondering if you’d pack a suitcase for me? I need to gather a lot of info here before I can head home.”

Eva paused, and Louis could hear her thinking. “Yeah, I can. I’m gonna try to get it done before I head to the office.”

“Thanks, babe. You’re awesome. I’ll see you tonight?” Louis snapped his phone shut and said to himself, “I knew she would.” Then he turned his attention to the itinerary in front of him.

Eva stared at the phone in disbelief. Did he really just hang up on me? “Pfft.” She moved toward the closet and pulled Louis’ suitcase out, laying it on the bed. She started to gather suits when she heard Daniel downstairs. “Be right there!” she yelled.

She walked into the kitchen and saw Daniel putting away dishes. “You seriously do not need to do that,” she said and leaned up against the counter, arms crossed.

He stopped and looked at her. She’s so cute fresh from the shower, he thought to himself. Giving himself a mental shake, he closed the dishwasher door and grabbed a fresh cup of coffee. “I got Sadie delivered to school as promised, and your car is in one piece,” he said with a smile. “Her friends kept staring at me, though. What’s that about?”

Sadie blushed, and hesitated. “Well, you’re in great shape for your age, old man. That’s what that’s about.”

Daniel set his cup on the table and rolled his eyes. “Ah, hell. Just what I need…bunch of teen girls crushing on me.” He winked at Eva, which made her blush more.

“Anyway,” Eva started, “I’ve got to get motoring if I’m going to get anything accomplished today. You should see the stack of inventories I need to work on this week. Gotta love impromptu estate sales. Yay!” She threw her arms in the air and twirled.

Daniel laughed and looked at his watch. “Damn! I need to go, too. Scouting new talent in Bangor today, plus need to stop and pick up those tickets for Sadie and Ma.” He stood up and put his cup in the sink. “We’ll talk later?” he asks.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll be home probably around three,” Sadie replied.

“Okay, cool.”

She walked towards the office and yelled, “Drive safely!”

Daniel let himself out and looked at the house as he got on his bike. He shook his head, started his bike and headed for Bangor.


Sadie came into the kitchen just as Louis was getting home from work. Eva heard them and turned around, smiling. “Hey, you two. Supper is just about done. Grab your plates and have a seat.” She returned to mashing the potatoes.

“What are we having?” Louis asked, as he pulled three plates from the cabinet and handed them to Sadie. “It smells kinda like chicken, but not really.”

“Louis is right, Mom. What is that?” Sadie took the plates to the table, and got silverware from the drawer. “Don’t get me wrong, it smells good. Just wondering what it is.” She set the table and took her seat.

Eva smiled and pulled a pan from the oven. “It’s Chicken Marsala. I figured I would try something new and exciting,” she said and put the pan on the table. “Louis can you get the mashed potatoes, please?”

Louis did as asked. He brought the bowl over to the table, and said “This all looks really good, Eva,” and kissed her cheek. “Special occasion today?” he asked and sat down.

Eva smiled and sat down. “Nope. Just wanted to spoil my family a little bit.”

They served themselves and ate quietly for a few moments. Each of them commenting on how delicious dinner turned out. Eva smiled at the compliments. She took a sip of her wine, and asked Louis about the business trip.

“Well, it’s this huge sales conference in Salt Lake. And, I do mean huge.” He paused to take a pull off his beer. “Firms from all over will be there competing in workshops, real meetings, and doing some team building exercises.” He set his beer down and returned to his plate. “Damn, Eva. This is fantastic.” Sadie nodded in agreement.

“Good,” Eva said, beaming. “How long with you be gone for?” she asked.

Louis sighed and said, “Ten days.” Eva looked at him with wide eyes. “Hey, I told you it was huge. Steve usually goes, but decided to send me instead. Don’t ask me why.”

Eva rubbed his arm, and said, “Oh, come on. He trusts you. I just wish it wasn’t for so long.”

Sadie said, “Dinner was great, Mom. I’m gonna go talk to Dani online.”

Eva said, “Well, thank you. Don’t stay up too late.”

“I won’t,” Sadie assured her, and went up to her room.

Eva watched her daughter go, and turned to Louis. Lowering her eyes she said, “You know, she’ll be wrapped up for a couple hours. What do you say we get wrapped up in each other?” and put her hand on his leg under the table.

Louis smiled and put his hand on hers and stood, pulling her up with him. “Let’s clean up this kitchen first and then you may have your way with me,” he replied and kissed her cheek softly. She giggled loudly and they began clearing the dishes from the table.


Eva got up early with Louis and drove him to Bangor International. She navigated the Subaru into the drop zone and set the car in park before turning to look at him. Quietly she confessed, “This is going to be a long ten days,” with a sigh.

Louis took her hand in his and kisses gently. “I know, babe. Just think of the reunion we’ll have when I get home,” he replied, wiggling his eyebrows. Eva laughed. “Seriously, though. If I pull this off, it could mean a lot more than just VP-ing a department,” Louis said firmly. “It could mean relocation, expansion, possibly my own firm.” He waited for her to say something, but she appeared lost in thought. “Eva?”

“I’m listening. I don’t want to leave here. This is where we grew up, and our friends are here,” she said in a half-whisper.

Louis leaned back against the door and sighed. “Look, I don’t want to argue. Especially not right now.” He lifted her face with this hand and looked into her eyes. “It might not even happen, okay? Let’s have our moment before I get on that plane. That’s what I want for right now.” He pulled her to him and hugged her close. “When I get back, we’ll see how things are. Deal?”

Eva sat up and watched his eyes. He sounded genuine. “Deal,” she said with a weak smile. “When you get back,” she agreed and leaned in for another kiss.

They sat like that for several moments, cuddled in the front seat of the car. Louis looked at the clock on the dashboard and gently pushed Eva into her own seat. “Babe,” he sighed, “I have to go.”

Eva looked at the steering wheel and said, “I know.” She turned to him and said, “Have a safe flight, and good luck today. Call me when you get settled, alright?” She really did not want him to leave.

Louis smiled and said, “Yes, ma’am. I will call when I land.” He started to get out of the car, but turned and gave her a deep kiss. “I love you very much. I hope you know that,” he said before climbing out to get his bags from the backseat.

Eva said, “I love you, too. Call me tonight,” and put the car in gear.

Louis got his bags, said “I promise,” and closed the door. He waved and walked into the airport.

Eva watched him go, and sniffled. It was a full minute before she pulled from the curb and headed home. She pulled her cell out of her handbag and pressed the speed dial for Susan. When she answered, Eva thought she sounded way too chipper that early in the morning.

“Hey, chica. You get him off to the airport?” Susan asked.

Eva sighed. “Yeah, he’s getting checked in, now. Hey, listen. I was wondering if you wanted to come by and have coffee this morning. I really need some face time with you.”

“No problem. I have a 7:30 client, but will postpone. Site a family thing, or whatever,” Susan decided. “That’s the beauty of being a freelance masseuse. How far out are you?” she asked.

Eva looked at the dashboard clock and said, “Uh, like, thirty minutes? Traffic hasn’t gotten too bad, yet.”

“Great, I’ll meet you at the house.”

“Awesome. Thank you so much, Susan. See you then,” Eva said, and motioned to change lanes. A large truck crowed her and she swore loudly. “Goddess, I hate stupid people who can’t drive,” and pushed a few stray hairs from her eyes.

When Eva pulled into the driveway, she parked beside Susan’s Audi. Threading her way between the bushes lining the path to the front door, she made a mental note to call the landscaper and have them pulled, or at least thinned. She opened the door, threw her handbag on the couch and headed for the kitchen. Sadie and Susan were sitting at the table, cups in hand.

“Wow, babe. When did you start drinking coffee,” she asked Sadie and pulled a cup from the cabinet. “Don’t think I’ve seen this before.”

Sadie crossed her legs and said, “Well, I didn’t sleep very well last night and needed a pick me up,” She took a sip and asked, “Can we get some of that flavored creamer stuff? Milk and sugar doesn’t taste too good.” She crinkled her nose and set her cup down.

Susan laughed and put her hand on Sadie’s. “Coffee is an acquired taste, and one that is cultivated over years of searching. Trust me, your Mom and I know all about the journey to discovering a good coffee.” She closed her eyes and savored a mouthful of the liquid gold in her cup. “I do love me some coffee.”

Eva said, “Yeah, after my meetings today I’ll pick some up. What flavors do you want?” she asked.

Sadie thought about it, and looked at the ceiling. “Hazelnut, French vanilla and that caramel macchiato stuff I saw on television,” she decided.

Eva laughed, “Alrighty, then. I can do that.”

A car honked and Eva looked out the window. Dani was parked on the street waiting for Sadie. “Dani’s here, babe.”

“She’s been great. Giving me rides and listening to me rant about Jared,” Sadie said. She stood up and hugged Susan and Eva. “Love you, guys. See you later!” She sprinted out the door, grabbing her backpack along the way.

Susan looked at Eva and asked, “Oh, you do see what’s going on there, right?”

Eva watched Sadie get in the car. “How do you mean?” Once they pulled from the curb, she sat across from Susan at the table.

Susan smiled and hesitated. “You didn’t hear what she just said, did you? How Dani’s being all attentive and supportive.” She watched Eva closely for the realization to wash over her. When it didn’t come, she followed up. “Okay, let me put it another way. Think back to when you and Daniel split up. There was that woman at the auction house who invited you to vent your emotions, and she tried to get in your pants?”

Eva’s eyes widened in surprise. “You don’t think…Dani wouldn’t do that,” she admonished. “Would she? I mean, they’ve been friends since they could walk, practically.”

Susan sat there with a slight smile on her face. “Yes, I think she would. Who else is better suited to ease Sadie’s fears and console her?” she asked. “On another note, have you called the therapist, yet?”

Eva was lost in thought, but snapped back to attention. “Huh? Oh, yeah. I made the appointment, but with Louis out of town, I need to reschedule.” She stood up and dumped out her coffee. “I think I need a night out.”

Susan jumped up and put her cup in the sink with Eva’s. “How about dinner tonight with Michael and me? He’s doing the early shift and I don’t have any evening clients. It will be nice to get out. What do you say?” she asked, leaned up against the sink next to Eva.

Eva said, “Sure. I’ll see if Daniel wants to hang out with Sadie. I really don’t like leaving her alone at night. Too many things could happen.” She turned, emptied the coffee pot and asked, “Mind if I text you about it later? I need to get my ass in gear and over to the office. This damn estate sale is huge.”

Susan kissed her on the cheek and said, “Sure. I’ll see you later.” She picked up her handbag and walked out to her car.

Eva watched her get in the car and back out of the driveway. She walked to the living room to get her cell out of the bottomless pit she called a handbag and noticed she had a text from Michael, asking her to call him. She frowned. This is different, she thought to herself. Eva clicked his profile and hit send.

“Eva? Good, you got my message. Listen, I thought you should know I heard from Jared’s mother a few minutes ago. Jared took off and hasn’t been heard from since yesterday. I’m sure Sadie will hear about it at school, and wanted her to hear it from you instead of those so-called friends of hers.”

Eva sat on the arm of the couch and sighed. “She’s already left. Dani picked her up about 10 minutes ago. What did Rita say, exactly?” she asked.

“Just that Jared left for school and hasn’t been home.” Eva heard Michael’s radio crackling in the background. “Technically, he isn’t missing, yet. But, I’m trying to convince my boss this is not a normal teen angry at his mom. Can’t even track his cards or put out an alert for him this soon.”

“But his mother can track his cards, can’t she?” Eva asked. “I mean, she’s likely the authorized…whatever…on his accounts. You want me to call her?” Eva looked at her watch. “I have a few minutes before I need to head to work.” After a moment’s pause, she realized she need to call Daniel, too. “Shit, okay. I’ll call Rita, grab my stuff and call Daniel on my way in. Apparently, I’m having dinner with y’all tonight and don’t want Sadie alone. Especially not with Louis out of town.” She looked at her watch again. “Okay, I gotta go. Thanks, Michael.”

She ended the call and pulled up Rita’s number in the contacts. It took several rings for Jared’s mother to answer the phone. When she did, she was out of breath, like she had sprinted to the phone.

“Rita, hi. It’s Eva, Sadie’s mother. I just spoke with Michael, and he told me what’s happened. Can you call or go online and look at his last few card purchases?” she asked.

“Eva! Oh, my Goddess! I didn’t think of that!” Rita exclaimed and hung up on Eva.

Eva looked at the phone in surprise and texted Michael to let him know about the call. She headed to the office to gather her things when her phone chirped. She saw it was a text from Daniel. “Well, don’t you have perfect timing,” she said out loud. She began putting folders into a cloth shopping bag and called him back.

“Eva, hey. I was wondering if Sadie wanted to hang out tonight. She’s not answering her cell, so figured I’d call you,” Daniel rushed out.

“She’s probably in class by now, but I’m sure she’ll get back to you when she has a free period or lunch,” Eva explained. “And, it’s funny you asked, because I was going to call you when I left for work to ask the very same thing. I’m having dinner with Michael and Susan tonight. With Louis out of town, I don’t really want to leave her alone, you know?” she said as she continued piling the day’s work in the bag. “But, listen. Jared seems to have gone missing. Michael called this morning and I’ve talked with Rita. He left for school yesterday and hasn’t been home since. She’s going to call the card company and track his purchases.”

“Oh, shit!” Daniel yelled. “And no idea where he went? Wow…that isn’t good. Does Sadie know yet?” he asked.

Sadie shook her head and said, “Not that I’m aware of. But, she’ll hear about it at school, I’m sure.” She looked at her watch. “I’m running behind already. My cell will be on and I’ll call if I hear anything.”

Daniel said, “Yeah, I’ll make a few calls and see what I can dig up, too. I still know people.”

“Thanks, Daniel. I’ll talk with you later,” Eva said and hung up. Looking around the office, she sighed. “Man, this place needs a lot of help.” She gathered the rest of her things and headed out.

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