After Michael left, Daniel called his mother. He had to tell someone how he feels, even after all these years, about Eva. Dee answered on the third ring.
“Daniel, is everything alright, darlin’?” she asked, voice laced with concern. “It’s rather late for a phone call.”
Daniel sighed. “Mom, I still love Eva.” He closed his eyes and leaned against the back of the couch. “What’s worse, is she and Louis are having trouble. And lately, I’ve been spending more time with Sadie, which really means more face time with Eva,” he said and bumped his head on the cushion.
Dee cautiously said, “Daniel, you and Eva will always be connected. Regardless of your personal relationship with her, you will forever share the title of Sadie’s parents.” She stopped and Daniel could hear a rustling in the background. “There isn’t any greater a gift than creating a child with someone. Especially when it’s someone you were destined to be with. I can hear the love you have for her in your voice. And, I know you’re a gentleman who wouldn’t intervene in another’s marriage. Having said that, if that asshole breaks her heart, I fully expect you to help mend it,” she said with authority.
Daniel chuckled, “Yes, Mom. I hear you.”
Dee spoke sharply. “I’m not joking, Daniel. I’ve never liked him. And if he hurts Eva or my granddaughter, Mr. Zane will learn not to mess with G’ma Dee.”
Daniel blurted out a laugh from the mental image of his mother wielding a baseball bat and running after a screaming Louis. “I’m sorry, Mom,” he laughed. “You give great imagery!” He continued to laugh for a couple minutes, then apologized, again.
“Are you quite done” Dee asked.
“Yes,” Daniel chuckled. “Ok, I’m sorry,” he cleared his throat. “How about we discuss your trip?”
“Yes. Let’s do that,” she replied.
Sadie sat with her friends at a table near the back of the cafeteria. Trista and Ami were giggling over something, the nature of which Sadie wasn’t sure. She and Dani talked quietly about their plans for the weekend. Trista looked up from her nail polish and asked Sadie if she knew when Jared was coming back.
“No,” Sadie replied. “I haven’t spoken to him since before he left.”
Ami said, “Maybe you will have a nice reunion when he comes back,” as she wiggled her eyebrows.
Dani made a noise of disgust, and said, “Oh, grow up. Jesus.” She rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Sadie. “Don’t listen to those self-absorbed bitches,” she said. “It’s not worth it.”
Sadie nodded and said, “So, my mom is going to drop me off after supper tonight. We’ll have plenty of shopping, eating and movie binging time.” She held her hands up and said, “Oh! I need to text mom about hitting the ATM on the way home after school. I want plenty of retail therapy money.” She pulled out her cell and sent Sadie a quick text, and received an affirmative reply. “All set,” she said and stowed the phone in her backpack.
Dani did the happy, fast clap and smiled big. She looked at her watched, and said, “Ah hell! The bell’s gonna ring in a minute and we have to set up our own stations in Art today.” She started packing up her stuff. “I’ll see you guys later,” she yelled and ran for the door.
Eva and her head buyer, Sam, poured over more inventory logs and photos of the items going up in the estate sale. She massaged her temples and stood up to stretch. “This is insane,” she said. Turning to Sam, she asked, “Do we know who botched the time line on this? I want to murder them.”
Sam backed away a step and shook her head. “No, Eva. We still haven’t figured it out, yet.” She held up a reassuring hand and said, “We will, though. Then you can take their head.”
Eva clenched her fists and said, “Awesome” through gritted teeth. “I need a drink…or twelve. Or a full bottle of wine.” She slumped her head forward and whined, “I can’t wait for this sale to be over!” she bellowed. Taking a minute to compose herself, she braced her hands on the table. Sam reluctantly started making short piles of photos and files. Eva stopped her when an item grabbed her attention: a nineteenth-century mahogany desk.
“Wait,” she said. Getting excited, she snatched the photo and attached file from the table. “Text George in distribution. Have him pull this item and make sure it’s delivered to my house at four.”
“Yes, Eva,” Sam replied and stepped away to get her phone. “A gift for Sadie?” she asked.
Eva smiled. “Oh, yes. Definitely a gift for Sadie.”
Vince was working on invoices when Daniel knocked on the door, jumping him in his chair. “Geez, man. Careful who you sneak up on,” Vince laughed and closed the leather book in front of him.
“Yeah, well. You looked waist-deep in those invoices. Didn’t want to just come thundering in like a bull,” Daniel joked and sat in a decrepit chair. “I came by to see what’s on the list for Monday, and let you know Mom’s coming in for a visit in a few weeks.” Rubbing his hands together, he watched Vince for a reaction.
Vince leaned back in his chair and looked shyly at Daniel. “I always did like your mother,” he said with a smile. “A beautiful, sophisticated woman.” Vince had a faraway look in his eyes, like he was immersed in a distant memory. “I wonder if she’d be willing to have dinner with me. You know, during the day…when she isn’t visiting with y’all.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Christ, Vince. Good thing Dad isn’t around to hear you talk like this. He’d have your ass,” he laughed. “Anyway,” he cleared his throat, “Got any overhauls, custom work, or anything like that? Kinda anxious to get back into it.”
Vince handed him the sheet and opened the ledger. Daniel looked at the paper and chuckled. “Ian wants purple ghost flames on his Viking…really? It’s a guy bike. Not a chick bike.” Daniel shook his head and folded the paper to put in his pocket.
Vince glanced at Daniel and said “It’s a birthday present for Amber. She got her license last week and he wants to surprise her.” He shrugged, “Guess that’s what bikers do for their old ladies, I don’t know.” He continued looked at the ledger, and a puzzled expression passed quickly across his face before Daniel caught it.
Daniel was shocked. “Wow. Okay, then.” Nodding slowly, he said “Since it’s for Amber, I’ll thin out the lines and add a gray shadow on the back end. Make it more feminine.” He stood up slowly, and winced. “I’m heading out. Gonna see if Sadie wants to have dinner with me tonight.” He walked towards the door and stopped, his hand on the knob.
“You don’t need my permission to ask my mom to dinner, you know. She is a grownup.” And with that, Daniel left the shop.
Sadie bounced down the steps of the high school and barreled into Eva’s car. “Let’s rock this,” she said and put on her seat belt.
“Wow, okay,” Eva replied, giving Sadie side glances as she pulled out of the pick-up lane. “What’s got you in such a mood? And, what kind of mood is this, exactly?” she asked.
Sadie threw her backpack in the backseat after taking her wallet out. “Well,” she started, “my essay was a success, and I got the bonus points.” She gave a fist pump and said, “Go me! Also, I realized what kind of Barbies I hang out with and they annoy me.” She leveled a serious glare at Sadie and said, “I’m so not a Barbie kind of girl.”
Eva chuckled, “No, you certainly are not a Barbie.” She flipped on her blinker and turned into the bank. “So, I have a surprise for you. It will be delivered to the house around four.” She pulled into the ATM lane and held out her hand for Sadie’s debit card. “When we get home, you need to clean your room. It’s a room type of surprise.”
Sadie handed her the card and asked, “You found me something cool from work, huh?”
Eva smiled and processed the ATM transaction. “Maybe,” she said over her shoulder. After the money and receipt spat out of the machine, she handed it to Sadie and said, “I promise you’ll like it.”
Sadie put the money, card and receipt in her wallet and said, “This is just a ploy to get me to clean my room. Which, by the way, isn’t as bad as you think it might be. What time did you say it was coming?”
Eva looked in the car’s mirrors and drove into traffic. “Four. Since you already figured out it’s from work, you won’t be surprised when Jon and Ryan show up with the truck. But, you really need to clean up your room…might as well empty your desk, too,” she said with a smile.
Sadie’s head whipped around and she turned in her seat. “Why? What’s wrong with my desk?” she asked in a panic.
Eva held up her hand and said, “Nothing is wrong with your desk. I just thought it might need cleaning out is all. Chill, babe.”
Sadie remained skeptical, and looked sidelong at Eva. “Uh huh. You’re not fooling me, Mom. You suck at lying.”
Eva laughed. “Gee, thank you.”
They rode to the house in silence, with Sadie occasionally changing the radio station or the stereo’s volume. Eva stared at her rocker daughter when Godsmack’s “Indestructible” came on. Sadie sat in her seat playing air drums and singing at the top of her lungs. Eva mouthed “wow” at the steering wheel and shook her head slowly.
When they pulled into the garage, Sadie all but jumped out of the car and ran for her room, yelling “I only have thirty minutes!” as she went. Eva followed her in at a slower pace and tossed her handbag on the table. As she walked to the fridge, her cell chirped and she turned around to fetch it from the bottom of the handbag. When she pulled it out, it showed a missed call from Susan. She hit the send key.
“Yes, my dear? How may I help you this evening?” Susan asked.
“Hey, listen. After Sadie gets her gift situated I’m dropping her off at Dani’s then heading back here for a shower. We still on tonight? I’m guessing that’s why you called” Eva rushed.
“Of course. Michael ended up trading shifts with someone and our dinner date falls in with his lunch break. Is it okay if he joins us?” Susan replied.
Eva rolled her eyes. “No, he can’t.” She paused and asked, “What do you think?”
Susan said, “Well…I didn’t know but maybe you wanted just girl time tonight. He could join us anytime.”
“He’s more than welcome to come, you know that,” Eva shot back. When she realized she had snapped at Susan, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m sorry, Susan. Of course Michael can join us.”
“Okay, then. We’ll see you at Bella’s at six,” Susan responded. “By the way, you seriously need to get laid,” she said and the phone went silent.
Eva looked at the phone, her eyes wide in disbelief, and shook her head. She really shouldn’t have snapped at Susan, she knew, but couldn’t help it. Susan’s comments were hitting a bit too hard lately. Right then the doorbell rang, and she looked at her watch. They’re early, she thought to herself and went to the door. She was surprised to find a floral delivery woman standing on her front step.
“Hi, I’m Marie. I have a delivery for a Mrs. Eva Zane. Is that you?” the woman asked.
“Uh, yeah, that’s me,” Eva replied, a dumbfounded look on her face.
“These are for you,” Marie said and handed the bouquet to Eva. “Have a great day.”
Eva said, “Thank you,” and watched the woman get in her van sitting at the curb. “Well, that’s weird.” She closed the door and turned in time to see Sadie bound over the stairs.
“Is that the guys…Oh, I guess not,” Sadie pouted. “Who are those from?” she asked, nodding to the flowers in Eva’s hands.
Eva looked through the petals and did not find a card. She shrugged and said, “No idea. Louis, maybe? I really don’t know. I am going to put them in water, though,” Eva said and walked into the kitchen to find a vase. Just as she pulled a blue vase out of the pantry, the bell rang again. “Can you get that,” she asked Sadie.
“Sure,” Sadie replied and answered the door. There was Ryan and Jon, the delivery men from the auction house, standing on the walkway next to the desk Eva had purchased. Sadie screamed and ran into the kitchen, tackling Eva against the edge of the sink with gratitude.
Eva laughed and hugged Sadie back. “You’re very welcome. Now, let’s go see how this looks in your room, shall we?” she asked with a smile. “And, they’re early, so this actually works out great.”
Sadie took hold of Eva’s hand and they went back to the door. Eva thanked them both and swept her arms towards the stairs in a grand gesture. Jon and Ryan looked at each other, then at the desk.
“You’re kidding, right?” Jon laughed.
Ryan slapped him on the shoulder and said, “Don’t be an ass.” He looked at Eva and asked, “Is the room clear?”
Eva frowned and said, “No, but the existing piece is being moved one room over.” she stepped back and asked them in.
They went in and followed Eva and Sadie upstairs. Eva made a big show of Sadie’s room – which looked like a tornado had hit – and the men moved it to the guest bedroom next door. Ryan remarked how light the pine desk was in comparison to the mahogany piece waiting on the walkway. It was Jon’s turn to level a glare. The foursome made their way downstairs and prepared for the new-to-Sadie desk. Sadie couldn’t stand still watching them haul it up to her room and set it up. Once it was placed exactly where she wanted it, she took two tens out of her wallet and gave one to each of the men. Both nodded and said “Thank you,” Sadie blushed, and they all went downstairs.
After the men left, Sadie sprinted up the stairs and stared at the desk for several moments. Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away with the cuff of her UNC hoodie. She ran her hands over the top and marveled at how much bigger the surface was compared to her other desk. Eva stood in the doorway, watching her baby and was overcome with pride.
“So, I’m guessing you like it?” Eva asked.
Sadie jumped and squealed, then laughed at herself. “Yes. Very much.” She turned to Eva and hugged her, again. “It’s beautiful.”
Eva returned the hug and held onto her daughter for a moment longer. Sadie pulled away and went to the guest room, frowning. Eva followed behind her, asking “You aright, babe?”
Sadie stood with both hands on the pine desk and sniffled. “Yeah, it’s just…,” she paused and faced Eva. “Dad built this for me when he found out I loved writing.” She looked at it lovingly. “I feel like I’m betraying him.”
Eva put her arms around Sadie and pulled her in for another hug. “Your Dad and I are very proud of you, I hope you know that.” She leaned back and smoothed the hair from Sadie’s face. Gesturing to the desk she said, “This desk will always be special to you. The new desk is for the new stage in your life.” She hugged Sadie, again, before reassuring her. “Dad won’t be upset, I promise.”
Sadie turned out of Eva’s arms and sniffled. “I guess,” she conceded. “The new desk isn’t better than this one. It’s just different, right?”
Eva smiled and nodded, “Right. Maybe you should take a picture of it and send it to him after you get it all set up how you want. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to see it.” She rubbed Sadie’s back and said, “I’m very proud of you,” and went into her office to finally start cleaning it up.
After dropping Sadie off at Dani’s, Eva called Louis to tell him about the desk. It took three tries before he answered, and when he did he was out of breath and panting.
“Hey, babe. I was in the shower, sorry,” Louis claimed.
“No worries. I found the most beautiful desk for Sadie. I can’t wait for you to see it,” Eva said excitedly. “It’s a big and full mahogany structured beast from the nineteenth century. She loves it.”
“Whoa. Wait. How much did this cost us?” Louis asked, his tone displeased.
Eva was shocked to hear his response. She thought he’d be pleased. “Us? It didn’t cost us anything. It cost me less than a car payment,” she said, her voice rising along with her anger. “In case you forgot, I own the company and can do what the hell ever I want!” she screamed and closed the phone, tossing it on the seat beside her. She looked at it quickly, and screamed. Finally, she made it through town and parked across the street from the restaurant. She sat for a couple minutes in the car to compose herself before getting out and locking the car. Traffic was unusually light and she crossed without incident.
The waiter seated her with Susan and looked at the empty seat. “Where’s Michael?” she asked.
Susan rolled her eyes. “He got roped into working for a few hours. Something about one of the patrolmen having a birthday party, or something. I really don’t know,” she replied and waved her hand in dismissal. “He’ll be here shortly, though.”
Eva spread the cloth napkin in her lap and said, “Ah.”
Susan took a sip of her wine. “I ordered you a glass, too. Thought you might need it.” She watched Eva with interest. “And it would seem I was right. What happened?”
Eva downed her glass of wine and took a deep breath. “Well, Sadie loved her desk, which is great. When I called Louis, he was less than thrilled,” she replied. “I hung up on him,” she said with a shrug and signaled the waiter.
He came over. “Yes, madam?” he asked.
Eva looked at Susan and said, “We’re going to need the bottle.” She patted his arm and thanked him. He nodded and hurried away.
Susan’s eyes were wide when Eva looked at her. “Wow, okay,” Susan said. “Bout time you grew some balls, chica.”
Eva watched her friend and knew there was something Susan wasn’t telling her. But instead of following it, she put it in the back of her mind, tired of fighting. “Yeah. So, listen. I’ve got the weekend free. You want to hit Bangor with me tomorrow for retail therapy?” she asked. The waiter set the bottle of wine on the table and retreated.
“Sorry, I can’t,” Susan replied. “I’ve got clients booked all day, because Michael has a training thing. If it weren’t for that, you know I would.”
Michael walked up to their table and sat down. “Sorry, I’m late,” he said and kissed Susan on the cheek.
Susan rubbed his shoulder and said, “Occupational hazard, babe. No worries.”
Michael looked from Susan to Eva and asked, “Okay, ladies, what did I miss?” he asked cautiously.
Eva rolled her eyes and said simply, “Louis is a dick.”
Michael looked at Susan, who shrugged, and said, “Oh. So, uh, what happened?”
Susan answered before Eva had the chance. “She bought this great desk for Sadie and he gave her hell for it.”
Michael watched Eva pour another glass of wine for herself and fill Susan’s glass. “I see,” he said. “Anything else?” he asked Susan, hoping to get the answer he wanted, rather than the answer he was afraid of getting.
“Nope,” Eva said, sipping her wine. “That sums it up nicely. Thank you, Susan” she said and raised her glass at her friend.
Susan raised hers and replied, “Any time, chica.”
Michael’s radio crackled and he reached down to lower the volume when dispatch called for rescue to a two-car collision near the mall, the victims’ descriptions given over the air. Eva realized the dispatcher was describing Sadie and Dani, she blanched. Michael radioed back for names of the victims. When dispatch denied names, Michael called in on his cell and explained the situation. The dispatcher released the names and Michael’s face fell.
“We need to go NOW,” he said and got up from the table. He pulled out his wallet and laid a fifty. “Come on. Its Sadie and Dani. We need to move. Susan you drive her. I’m headed over to the scene to help. We’ll meet you at the hospital.”