those from your mother or your father?”
Steel slid down my spine and I had to do the impossible, give in at the same time fight it.
“My mother with the eyes. I don’t know where I got my hair.”
She held my gaze, unwavering.
I pulled mine away and ate my toast.
I didn’t look back at her when she asked, “Where do you hail from?”
“We moved around a lot,” I evaded.
Silence then, “I see.”
Yep. I was sure she did.
I finished the toast, sat back, eyes to the table and sipped coffee.
Moments slid by then again from Grandma but not to me, “Best get Ivey into town, sweetheart. I’ll do the dishes.”
I didn’t eat breakfast but I figured I should at least offer so I chanced looking at her again. “Why don’t you let me do that? My way to say thanks for toast and preserves, coffee,” my eyes slid through Gray to the window as I finished, “and everything.”
“That isn’t necessary, Ivey,” Grandma Miriam said and I looked at her.
She wanted me in town, out of her house and hopefully, as soon as I could manage it, out of her grandson’s life.
“It isn’t any trouble. I’m sure I could have it done in a few minutes and be out of your hair.”
“Got nothing else to do, child,” she replied quietly. “Now, you get on into town with Gray.”
In other words, get on wherever just get on.
I nodded and stood.
In short order I had my jacket on, my scarf on, my purse strapped on, Gray had my bag in the back of his truck and we were on our way to town.
It was very early morning and still dark so I still couldn’t figure out what it was, where he lived. Ranch or orchard. But it didn’t smell like ranch though I couldn’t say I knew what that smelled like. Still, if there was livestock close, it had to smell like something.
What I did see was that his truck was not only beat up it seriously needed a cleanup. Someone had a sweet tooth if the plethora of candy bar wrappers were anything to go by. They also had a taste for salty if the big, empty chip bags were any indication. There were also crunched pop cans, wadded what looked like receipts and gum wrappers, the car mats were caked with mud and there was a thin layer of dust everywhere.
I took my mind off what I was certain in a weird but fascinating way would be cleaning up his truck and the fact that I really, really wanted to do it and I pulled myself together.
“How’s the cut?” I asked.
“Not the first. In this town, probably not the last. I’ll survive,” Gray replied again intriguingly and again I wanted to ask and again I wouldn’t.
“You stick around, she’ll come around,” he said quietly and I looked from the road to him.
He looked good in profile.
I already knew this. Still, it hit me and in a way I knew instinctively it always would hit me. If I lived a life that was the kind of life I was free to make connections and we connected, we held strong, I knew his beauty, no matter how time wore on it, would always hit me. It might eventually come as a surprise, still, there would be times it would hit me.
He glanced at me then back at the road. “You stick around awhile, Gran, she’ll come around.”
He wanted me to stick around. He wanted his Gran to have a chance to come around. He actually thought that would happen.
I looked back at the road too but when I did it, I did it fighting tears.
Gray kept talking.
“She’s had six men in her life, three of them good. Her Daddy, her husband and my father. All three of those men are dead.”
I closed my eyes.
His father was good, probably like him.
His father was also dead.
I did not like that.
Gray kept going and I opened my eyes.
“Leaves three sons who are no good. Part of how they’re no good, including my Dad, they got shit taste in women. Their choices but still, she bore the brunt of that. She’s cautious, trained that way by a mean Momma and then a lifetime of puttin’ up with bad women. But, you stick around, she’ll