If you haven’t read part one, go here to meet everyone first, then come back. We’ll wait.
I ducked into Bev’s, not surprised to see nearly every seat taken and a half dozen people in line at the carry-out window. Michael waved from the back corner, and I reached the table just as the teenager waiting tables put a glass of sweet tea in front of him.
“Oh, could I have one of those, too? And whatever the soup and sandwich is today?”
“Sure thing, I’ll be right back.”
I leaned over to give Michael a kiss and sank into the seat across from him.
You were up awfully late last night – is everything OK?” I asked.
“Yeah, I just wanted to polish up that one song a little more before I called it done. As of three this morning the album is finished.” He ran a hand through his graying dark hair and I saw the shadows under his eyes. The band’s first album had been more successful than anyone had anticipated, so their follow-up effort had all the guys stressed out, worried about living up to everyone’s expectations.
“Well, Lisa and Pooka should be here in a couple of hours, and she’ll have plenty of stories from the book tour to keep your mind off the album. Did I tell you she wants to look at the house next door to Angelia?”
“You mentioned she was thinking about looking for a house around here, but isn’t there anything better for sale than that place?” Michael cringed. “I’d hate to think how much it would cost to fix it up. It’s sat empty way too long. It was already starting to look shabby when we moved here and whoever owns it hasn’t touched it since then as far as I can tell.”
I shrugged and turned my attention to the Cuban sandwich and black bean soup. Lisa had always had a good eye, so I was willing to believe there were merits to the old dilapidated house the rest of us couldn’t see.
“Maybe it’s just the convenience of having a dog groomer living next door. Did you see the picture she emailed me of that weird cut Pooka ended up with in Dallas?”
Michael nodded and chuckled around a mouthful of sandwich. Pooka, Lisa’s Schnauzer, traveled with her on her book tours, so he’d gotten trimmed wherever they happened to be when he started to look shaggy. I loved my low-maintenance lab even more when I saw the odd, asymmetric cut he’d gotten in a fancy doggie spa in Dallas. Hopefully Pooka’d grown out enough now that Angelia would be able to fix him while they were in town.
Angelia is an artist, one of several in town. Her most well-known pieces are hand-painted furniture, and a spread a few months ago in Southern Living featuring one of her credenzas had gotten her more orders than she’d be able to fill before the end of the year. She’d worked as a dog groomer to pay the bills when she first started out, and since we didn’t have a groomer in town several locals bribed her shamelessly to trim their dogs so they wouldn’t have to drive an hour each way to the nearest shop. Rumor had it that Beverly had to cough up a red velvet cake AND a batch of lemon ricotta cookies last time her Yorkies got groomed. Luckily, Angelia is a big fan of Lisa’s books, and was willing to pretty-up Pooka in exchange for an opportunity to have Lisa all to herself for a little while.
After lunch Michael and I dropped by the little gourmet grocery on the way home to pick up a few things for the weekend. Michael and Leo, the proprietor, chatted about music while I gathered a few things and wandered over to the tiny bakery section.
“Try the pineapple muffins! It’s a new recipe she’s trying out- got a crunchy topping.” Leo called from the other side of the store. His slight Italian accent was as charming as ever. With his olive skin, dark eyes, and easy smile he’d always looked like Antonio Bandaras’s older brother to me, which made grocery shopping a treat. I took a dozen muffins, all that were left. My boys eat like starved things every meal, and I wanted to make sure there were a few left for breakfast in the morning.
We got home just as Lisa pulled up in front of the house. Pooka’s snout was out the window and his whole rear end was wagging and I wondered how he was up high enough for me to see that much of him. Then as I walked around the car I saw he was sitting on someone’s lap in the passenger seat. He opened the door, set Pooka on the ground, and smiled a big, goofy grin I couldn’t help but return.
“Hi, I’m Ed. I hope you don’t mind Lisa bringing me along. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
I looked across the roof of the sports car at Lisa, who was trying not to smile, but the edges of her mouth couldn’t help but turn up and her eyes were twinkling. Oh, my.