It was Thursday before Easter,not a day they had ever had book club. This was their first-midweek get-together and would be the day set for the month of April. It was the only time they could all be there since half the group was going to be out of town this year.
Tess was going to show her daughter off to her family in Minnesota, even if it wasn’t the day they celebrated the holiday. Since she was raised orthodox Christian, her Easter was the following weekend, but that was Natalie’s wedding weekend, so her new little family was going down there early. Mia knew her extended family was having a small reception for their wedding in two weeks. Most of her family would not be attending, which was okay since there were over a hundred people in her immediate family. That was far more out-of-towners than Landstad could hold.
Natalie was also going to Minnesota to see her birth mother, also a week before her wedding, so that her mom’s sisters wouldn’t have to make the trip out to North Dakota. Ruth and Hazel were going to Grand Forks to visit their in-laws, though Hazel would be back on Sunday since her husband was the pastor and had to work that day.
That left only Mandy and her in Landstad for the weekend. And Mandy was debating going to Hue’s sister’s place in Fargo. Or they would stay and have the holiday with her family, minus her brother, Tess’s fiancé.
Nobody even asked what Mia was planning for the holiday, because everybody assumed they knew. Except they were right, she was going to her mom’s and leaving early if possible. Alone.
So here they were on a Thursday night, talking about Ed Gein, who was a creepy topic for any night of the week. Natalie and Ruth really had the best books about him, and they dominated the conversation. Mia’s own book had been disappointing.
Natalie laughed at Ruth as she stopped recording. Mia pulled her headphones off and joined in as she got up to fill her glass of whiskey, her drink of choice. Turning to the group, Mia asked if anyone else wanted anything while she was up.
As she filled glasses for others and brought them to the table, she let the conversations circle around her. Sitting back down next to Mandy, she asked her cousin, “Have you guys decided if you’re going south for the holiday?”
“We’re staying here. Hue doesn’t want to take the baby down there right now. He still doesn’t do well in cars,” Mandy said about her son.
“You’d think that Hue would be okay with long car rides,” Mia joked to make her cousin laugh. It worked.
From across the table, Ruth joined in, stating, “Anderson and I decided to stay close to home, too. I just don’t want to do the big family thing this year. Just something small with my mom on Sunday after church.”
Mandy turned to her. “Maybe we should do something in the evening?”
“We should. That would be fun. Just a little dinner party,” Ruth said with excitement.
“You should invite Rafferty.” Mia bit her lip at the suggestion. She wished Ruth would include him in things, but Mia wasn’t even invited to this particular event.
Ruth turned to her with a glare. “Why would I invite him? He’s just Anderson’s employee.”
“And his friend,” Mia pointed out. They were probably together tonight since they usually were during book club.
“But he’s not my friend, so I’ll pass on that,” Ruth stated coldly.
“It was just a thought,” Mia mumbled, trying to stop the conversation before it focused on her and Rafferty.
“Well, you can keep those thoughts to yourself,” Ruth said, glaring at her still.
Mia set her glass down far away from her. Slowly, she got up and looked over at who she had thought was one of her closest friends for over a year, someone whose secrets she held close to her heart. A friend who couldn’t seem to find it in her heart to forgive a man who did nothing but love her like the sister she was to him.
Looking across at Ruth, Mia just held the steel blue gaze and stated coolly, “Don’t ever tell me what to do, Ruth. You know exactly what I’m asking of you. I know more about you than anyone in this room.”
Waiting for Ruth to say something, she just stared into her unflinching eyes. Mia knew all eyes were on them. Silently, the moment went on without anyone saying a word, not even Ruth.
Angrily, she turned and walked out of the apartment. She grabbed her shoes on the way but didn’t put them on. Today, she was tired of how Ruth treated Rafferty.
All she wanted to do was go the two blocks to his house, but she knew Anderson was there. So instead, she went up to her apartment and slammed her door shut behind her.
She didn’t know how Anderson did it. How could he sleep with Ruth and be friends with Rafferty and understand how she treated him? She was his counterpart, and she was hating it more and more every day.
Half expecting someone to come and talk to her from the group, she was surprised when half an hour went by, and nobody did. Ruth must have told them something that made sense as to what they were talking about. Right now, she really didn’t want to know what Ruth had told them.
What she had said was true. She didn’t think anyone else at that table knew that Rafferty was her brother or that she and Anderson were married. But Mia knew. Mia also knew that nobody else in the group had any big secrets from the group anymore, just her and Ruth. And their secrets were suddenly causing friction between them.
After fuming on the couch for two hours, she decided no one from the group was coming over and that Anderson must be home by now. Locking her apartment, she headed to Rafferty’s house. It was Thursday, but tomorrow, she was going to her mom’s for supper and wouldn’t see him until maybe late. So, she decided to go over there now.
When she got there, Rafferty was watching some kind of sports in the living room, and she curled up with him on the couch. It was only then that she had finally been able to let the tension release as he held her close.
By the time the game was over, she was asleep, and he must have carried her to bed because when her early morning alarm went off, she was in bed with him. And somehow, she had gotten all her clothes off. She still didn’t know how he got her undressed so easily without her knowing how it happened. Maybe one day she would figure it out, but for now she just liked being with him.