Sweet Thyme Baby – 27

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

27

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 26 first)

 

Maggie baked when she was worried and as far as Dee could tell she had been worried for days. There were chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies and a couple of lemon meringue pies on the counter. Two loaves of bread were rising on the shelf over the stove. She was glazing cinnamon rolls now.

 

“What about that Proposition Thirteen we voted on a few years back? Didn’t it freeze property taxes for people like Con and Carlotta? It was supposed to keep taxes low if you owned your house a long time and didn’t move.” Maggie looked pleased with herself, as if understanding a law put her in charge of it.

 

“Con and Carlotta plain didn’t pay their taxes for years and years, so it doesn’t matter how low they were, it still adds up to a lot of money.”

 

“All those years, how come they didn’t collect?”

 

“How should I know? Maybe the tax office lost the paper work.”

 

“There’s no reason for you to be in a snit at me. I’m not the tax collector.”

 

“No, and you’re not the one whose supposed to come up with the money either.”

 

Dee stared at the baby and the baby stared back. “Where are Pinkus and George?”

 

“They went out.”

 

“Out? Just like that? How the hell am I supposed to run this business without a little help?”

 

“They’ll be back in a while.”

 

“Where’d they go?”

 

“Why can’t you sell off some of the land? That’s the obvious solution, isn’t it? The will doesn’t say you absolutely can’t sell. You think Con’s going to haunt you?”

 

“They saved my life. I owe it to them to honor the terms of the Will.”

 

“You know what my mother would say.”

 

“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

 

“You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

 

“This has nothing to do with spite.”

 

“Use the sense God gave you, Dee. If you don’t sell something, you end up with nothing.” Maggie laughed. “Con Ryan and that Irishy tongue of his. My guess is when he was alive he bamboozled the tax man and now he’s doing the same to you only he’s dead.”

 

Lance spoke up then. How long had he been standing in the kitchen door? Or, more likely, in the shadows just beyond the door where he could not be seen but could hear every word spoken?

 

“I may be able to help –.”

 

“Sweet Jesus!” Maggie cried and the spatula clattered out of her hands, off the table and onto the floor. “See what you made me do?” She stooped to pick up the spatula, stood up and brandished it a foot from Lance’s face, dripping sugar glaze on the floor.

 

“Put it down, Maggie,” Dee said.

 

Lance took another step into the kitchen. “As I was saying, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation …” His breath was winey.

 

“Would you like a cup of coffee, Lance?”

 

Mashed banana burbled out of Sweet Thyme’s mouth and down his chin.

 

“Whose baby is that?”

 

A long baby-filled second of silence ticked by.

 

“Belongs to my niece,” Maggie said finally.

 

Dee sighed.

 

Lance looked at Dee. “Would it be possible for us to talk alone? Maybe a walk in the garden?”

 

He put his hand under Dee’s elbow, steering her around chairs and table to the backdoor.

 

Maggie lifted the baby out of his high chair and held him out to Dee. “Why don’t you take Sweet Thyme with you? He’d like the fresh air.”

 

He grinned and squirmed; and at that instant when Dee was preoccupied with tax worries and wondering what in the world did Lance want, Sweet Thyme opened the room in her memory she had kept locked for years. She remembered Serena and the touch of a small sticky hand on her cheek. It hurt too much. She could not bear it.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 28 of Sweet Thyme Baby

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