Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 4

“Okay.”

But I knew she wouldn’t. She was too stubborn. I just needed to remember to offer my help more.

I carted her cans out to the curb and Miss Mildred, my eighty-two-year-old neighbor across the street, came out her front door wearing a housedress and curlers in her hair.

“Good morning, Miss Mildred.”

“There ain’t nothing good about a morning when women are strutting around in skimpy clothes only hours after the sun has risen.”

I sighed. My robe hit mid-thigh. “Would you rather I wait until lunch time to prance around in my skimpy clothes?”

A scowl puckered her face. “Don’t you get fresh with me, young lady. Your mother’s probably rolling over in her grave right now.”

I shook my head. I had no doubts about that, but I was sure some much bigger grievances were causing all that rolling around.

As I suspected, the job site was too muddy for more work, which was just as well. Our next task was to build a three-foot-tall retaining wall. And while I could have done it on my own, it would save time if Bruce Wayne was around to help me cart the stones.

I spent the rest of the morning at two other houses, creating landscaping plans and promising estimates within the next couple of days. The last house belonged to Mary Louise Milligan, one of Violet’s friends from high school. “I saw what you did at the Murphy’s. I loved the fountain, but I really have my heart set on a water garden. A little pond in the back with some of those big-eyed fish. You know the ones. What are they called?” She tilted her head to the side, a perplexed look on her face.

“Koi?”

“Yeah, them.”

We’d never made a water garden before, but I was thinking about putting one in my own backyard and had been studying the logistics of building one. It didn’t seem difficult. “Sure, we can definitely do that.”

Her face lit up with happiness and she started listing what else she wanted, ticking off each item with a finger. “I want those flowers that float on the water and a waterfall. And also some rocks stacked around to make it look artsy like Betsy’s pond.” Her hands made a somewhat pornographic shape. “Only nicer.” Her eyes widened as she nodded to stress this point.

I watched her as she continued to mime phallic shapes that were nicer than Betsy’s. “Okay,” I finally said, jotting down notes.

My head felt cloudy and my vision got fuzzy. I cringed at the familiar sensation, preparing for the awkwardness that would hit within a few seconds.

“You’re going to have a baby.”

Her eyes flew open, her face turning pale. “How did you know that?”

I forced a smile. “How could I not, Mary Louise? You’ve got a glow that’s hard to miss.” But that wasn’t the reason. Ever since I was a little girl, I’d known things about people. Things I shouldn’t have known. The information came from visions. I couldn’t control my ability, and the visions were always for the people next to me. They were usually mundane, about an unexpected visit from an in-law or the color so-and-so was going to paint her bedroom. But they were almost always awkward, especially since only a few people knew about them.

She twisted her hands in front of her, biting her lip. “But my husband Brian doesn’t know yet.”

“He’s going to be thrilled, Mary Louise.”

“How can you be so sure?”

I’d seen his bright smile when she told him in my vision. “I just am.”

When I finished my drawings—although I couldn’t bring myself to draw the anatomical rock structure—I checked the time and realized I only had ten minutes to get back downtown and meet my best friend, Neely Kate, for lunch at Merilee’s Café .

I parked my truck a block from the county courthouse where she worked and was putting change in the parking meter when I heard someone say my name from behind me.

“Rose.”

I spun around, my heart in my throat. “Mason.”

He stopped in front of me, wearing a dress coat over his grey suit. The wind blew his dark blond hair around his face. His cheeks were tinged with pink, making his hazel irises even greener than usual. I hadn’t seen him in almost two weeks, and I was surprised by how nervous I felt.

“How are you?”

“Good. And you?” I brushed my hair back, suddenly very aware of how bad I had to look. I didn’t have on any makeup and my hair was in a messy ponytail. The knees of my jeans were muddy from the first job site and my tan sweater had a coffee stain.

Why on earth was I worried about how I looked around Mason? I’d never thought about it before. But I knew why. The last time we saw each other, we’d admitted that our feelings were more than just friendly. I’d told Mason I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet, that I was working with Jonah to figure out who I was now. Mason had said he’d wait.

His eyes softened. “I miss you, Rose.”

“I miss you too.” But I still wasn’t ready, and I could see in his eyes that he knew that. “I’m meeting Neely Kate for lunch at Merilee’s. Would you care to join us?”

He looked over his shoulder at the café. “I’d love to, but I’m meeting my friend Jeff for a working lunch. Can I get a rain check?”

“Do you really have another lunch date or are you avoiding me?”

“Rose.” Several people walked by and Mason grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to the entrance of an antique shop. “I’m not avoiding you. I’m giving you space. Do you really think I don’t want to be with you?”

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