Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Fifteen

Tom returned to the table just as Ginny was emptying the last drop of her tea.

"I'm stuffed," she said.

"Ginny, thank you for your company, but I'm afraid I have to run now. I have to repair a leaky roof, of all things," said Tom.

Ginny laughed. "Mom would be horrified."

"Indeed," said Tom. "The forecast is calling for storms tonight, and since it hasn't rained in weeks I imagine it'll pour down."

"I hope so," said Ginny. "It'll help Mom's roses along."

Despite Rose's warning, Tom picked up the check on the table and replaced it with a generous tip for the waitress.

"How was your meal?" said Rose's counter help.

"Tasty, as always, May," said Tom.

"Who's your lovely girlfriend?" said May, winking at Ginny. "I don't think I've seen her before."

Ginny's cheeks turned as red as the ketchup she'd dipped her fries in.

"I'm not Tom's girlfriend," said Ginny. "I'm Rose's niece. Ruth was my mother."

May clapped her hands together. "I'm so happy to meet you!" she said. "Although Rose talks so much about you that I feel I've known you for ages!" May's smile faded and a serious expression clouded her face. "I'm deeply sorry about your loss. Ruth was a kind and gentle soul."

"Thank you," said Ginny. Tears swelled in her eyes and pride in her heart as Ginny realized what a beloved member of the community her mother was.

As Tom and Ginny turned to leave a woman walked through the front door. She was about Ginny's age, sporting a stylish emerald-toned dress, with high-heeled shoes dyed perfectly to match. On the top of her head sat a wide-brimmed hat, its crown surrounded by green silk roses. But, beneath all her finery, Ginny recognized the monster- Laura Baker.

"Tom, darling," said Laura as she reached out and touched his arm. "How are you this lovely spring day?"

Laura acted as if Ginny were invisible. Surely she recognized her. Laura hadn't changed much in the ten years she'd been gone. She still wore her hair long and straight and dressed  casually in jeans and tees. She'd lost a bit of weight due to nerves. Other than that, she was the same old Ginny.

Now, the same old Ginny watched the same old wolf in sheep's clothing wrap her paws around Tom.

"I had the best time Wednesday night," said Laura. We simply must do it again."

"Thanks for coming, Laura," said Tom. "I'd love to chat but I'm in a hurry. I have a job to do."

"Ta ta, darling," said Laura. "I hope to see you soon."

Tom opened the door to let Ginny through and followed on her heels. They climbed in his pickup. Tom started the engine and steered the truck towards home.

Ginny tried her best to supress the subject, but her mouth got the better of her.

"Are you and Laura dating?" said Ginny.

"Dating?" Tom chuckled. "Heavens no! Our church had a fundraising banquet Wednesday and Laura showed up with a large donation. The church was very grateful."

"I bet," said Ginny and left it at that. They were almost to Ginny's driveway.

Tom pulled in the driveway and before he could slip out to open the passenger door, Ginny climbed out of the truck, slammed the door and ran into the safety of her mother's sturdy home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Fourteen

The figure sat in the car watching the man chat on the phone. Who did he think he was, picking Ginny up and taking her to lunch? The figure should butcher them both.

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Thirteen

Tom opened the diner door for Ginny and when she walked through it, she saw her Aunt Rose at the register ringing a customer up.

"Ginny!" said Aunt Rose, her face beaming brighter than the afternoon Spring sun.

"Hi, Aunt Rose," said Ginny.

"You have company, I see," said Aunt Rose. "And good company, at that!" Aunt Rose winked at Tom.

"Hi, Rose," said Tom.

"Have a seat, you two," said Rose. I think there's a table in the corner near the window.

Tom led the way through the crowd to the only empty table in the diner.

"Rose's sure is busy today," said Ginny.

"Rose's is busy everyday," said Tom. "Funny, when they opened the McDonald's in Fairgrove, Ruth thought she would lose most of her lunch crowd. She obviously underestimated her talent with food."

"And her customer loyalty," said Ginny.

A perky young waitress sauntered up to the table. "Welcome to Rose's Diner," she said. She handed them each a menu. What would you like to drink?" she asked.

"Sweet tea for me," said Tom.

"And me," said Ginny.

"Be back in a minute to take your order." The waitress hustled through the swinging double doors into the kitchen.

Ginny scanned the menu.

"Still a vegetarian?" asked Tom.

Ginny peeked over the menu at Tom. "You remember that?" she said.

"Of course," said Tom. It was a big part of who you were. And I remember all those times when I'd order a burger and you'd squeal in disgust."

Ginny giggled. "I promise not to squeal if you order a burger today, Tom."

"I do think I'll have one," said Tom.

Just then the waitress returned and slid two tall glasses filled with tea and decorated with lemon wedges onto the table.

"Ready to order?" she said.

"We are," said Ginny. "I'll have a veggie burger with extra pickles and fries."

"I'll have the same," said Tom.

"Tom, don't be ridiculous," said Ginny. "Go on and order the beef!"

"No," Tom said. "I'm eating less of it these days and I've never felt better. I think you're onto something."

The waitress scribbled their orders in her pad and hurried away again.

Aunt Rose snuck up beside them.

"How are my two favorite kids?" she asked.

Tom laughed.  "We'll be better after a taste of your cooking."

"I need to scoot back to the kitchen," said Rose. One of my helpers quit on me and I'm trying to cook and work the counter.  It's hard to find good help these days. Young people don't have the work ethic they used to."

"Would you like me to help?" asked Ginny. "I'd be glad to work the register."

"No," said Aunt Rose. "I'd like you to sit right there and enjoy your lunch. I called my best waitress who's off today. She said she'd be glad to come in and help. She should be here any second. And don't you two even think about paying for lunch. It's on me," said Aunt Rose.

A silver-haired lady walked through the diner door.

"Here I am, Rose" she hollered over the crowd. She stepped behind the front counter.

"God bless her. Enjoy your lunch, kids," said Aunt Rose. She threw the woman a wave and hurried off into the kitchen.

"So, Ginny, what are your plans for the future?" said Tom. 

"I plan on wrapping things up here and leaving town soon. I need to go through Mom's things then I'm putting the house on the market."

"Your mom would be devastated," said Tom. She loved that house and sunk a lot of work into it.  Believe me, I know," Tom chuckled. "I did most of it."

"She liked to stay on top of things," said Ginny. "I can't remember our ever having peeling paint or a leaky roof."

"She had the prettiest garden in town. Everybody said so," said Tom.

"She did," said Ginny. "In fact, Mom's roses should bloom any day now."

Ginny wasn't much of a gardener. She preferred getting lost in a book to digging holes in the wormy earth. Romances were her favorite. She devoured the love stories, savoring their happy endings like rich desserts. She hoped someday she'd find a happy ending in her own life. However, she was beginning to think the only way to accomplish that was to forget about romance.

"Ruth would want you to stay," said Tom. "It broke her heart when you left."

Ginny knew she'd broken her mother's heart and she'd carried that guilt for years. But, Tom had broken Ginny's heart and he didn't seem very remorseful.

"Two veggie burger plates," said the waitress, interrupting the conversation. Ginny was relieved. She'd moved on years ago and didn't want to rehash the past.

Tom and Ginny hungrily swallowed the burgers.

"Aunt Rose hasn't lost her touch," said Ginny.

"And they're not those frozen frisbees you buy in the store," said Tom. "Rose makes her veggie burgers from scratch."

"So, you've tried them before?" said Ginny.

"Of course," said Tom. "You don't think I ordered a veggie burger just to get on your good side?"

Ginny laughed.  "The thought hadn't crossed my mind."

"Well, if you'll excuse me for a minute," said Tom, "I need to step outside and make a call. I'm sure my boss has another job lined up for me by now."

"Of course," said Ginny. She finished the last of her fries while Tom chatted with his boss outside the diner.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Twelve

"Lunch it is," said Ginny, not sure where the words were coming from. Was her mother's spirit at work already, trying to fix up her and Tom? Her mother had always loved Tom and had begged Ginny to reconsider letting Tom back into her life. There was little chance of that but Ginny was hungry and some unexplained force was compelling her to eat lunch with Tom at the diner.

Tom loaded his tools in his toolbox while Ginny poured Boots a bowl of Steak Crunchies for lunch. "Be back soon," she said as she stroked Boots's furry gray head.

"Meow," he replied, more interested in his Crunchies than long goodbyes.

Ginny locked the house up, praying she wouldn't find another broken window when she got home. She was shocked when Tom opened the passenger door of his truck for her. She didn't know men still did that. Greg had certainly never done anything so genteel for her. Ginny climbed into the pickup truck. Tom closed her door, walked around the truck and jumped behind the wheel.

"So, Ginny, what have you been up to all these years?" said Tom. He took his eyes off the road for a second and flashed her a brilliant smile.

"Well, Tom, I was married as mom probably told you. But my marriage didn't work out. I divorced Greg a year ago and I'm trying to start over."

"What about you, Tom? What have you been up to?"

"I was married, too, but it didn't work out. I'm afraid I'm to blame for the mess. I couldn't love Anne like she needed to be loved."

"I'm sorry," said Ginny, not knowing what else to say.

A minute later they were on Main Street. Tom pulled into the driveway at Aunt Rose's Diner and eased his pickup into one of the few remaining parking spots.

Tom got out of the truck and, once again, opened Ginny's door. 

"Let me help you down," he said. "That's a mighty big step." Tom took Ginny's hand in his and when he did Ginny felt a tingling in her body that she hadn't felt in ten years.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Eleven

"All done," said Tom. Ginny glanced at the new window, impressed with Tom's handiwork-and speed. It had taken him under thirty minutes to do the job.

"How much do I owe you?" asked Ginny. She snatched her pocketbook off the chair.

"It's on me," said Tom.

"I...I can't let you do that," said Ginny.

"I insist," said Tom. "Ruth was like a mother to me. Consider it a favor to her. Ginny, I wanted to attend Ruth's funeral but I didn't want to upset you. Gee, the last time we saw each other you had a meltdown."

Ginny blushed as she recalled the details of her last conversation with Tom. In hindsight, that last "conversation" had been one-sided, with Ginny doing most of the talking.

"Well, Tom, what did you expect?" said Ginny, "after I'd caught you in Laura's arms?"

"I expected," said Tom, "to tell my side of the story."

Ginny felt that old anger rising again and did her best to supress it. Soon I'll be leaving town-again. Take a deep breath and calm down, she thought.

"What are you doing for lunch?" said Tom. "I don't know about you but I'm starved!"

"I'm going to visit Aunt Rose at the diner," said Ginny.

"I was headed that way myself. Why don't you let me give you a lift and treat you to lunch?" said Tom.

Ginny hesitated at first. Tom had already done enough for her, footing the bill for the broken window.  Should she let him buy her lunch, too? Wouldn't that be leading him on?

But, Ginny had to admit she was lonely and Tom was good company.  At least, he had been until Laura Baker came along. And, even though Tom had proclaimed he'd never loved Laura, Ginny couldn't get the picture out of her mind of the two of them embracing beneath the magnolia tree at River Park.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Ten

Tom gathered the tools and the glass he needed to fix Ginny's window. He silently chided himself. Why didn't I notice that broken window at 5 A.M. or spy something out of place?

Why did Ginny have to be so unreasonable-and stubborn? It's the reason they broke up a decade ago and she hadn't changed one little bit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shattered Dreams-Chapter Nine

The knock sounded just as Ginny bagged up the last of her mother's clothes. She set the bag aside for the Cancer Society and ran to answer the door. Just to be safe, Ginny peeked out the living room window. To her relief, she saw a black pickup parked in the driveway, its bed filled with ladders and a metal toolbox that glistened in the sun.

Gotta be him, Ginny said to herself. She swung the door open wide and found herself standing face to face with her first true love, Tom Brady.

Ginny knew Tom was a handyman. He'd done work for her mother before. But Ginny had no idea that Tom worked for Red Robin Repair.

"Ginny," said Tom. He nodded politely. "I'm here to fix that window."

"Come in," Ginny said. She led Tom through the living room, down the hallway and into the kitchen.

"It's in here," she said and she parted the curtains to reveal the damaged window.  "Be careful," she added. Now that it was daylight she could see there were jagged edges of glass rising up out of the pane.

"How did this happen?" asked Tom.

Ginny explained the incident and watched a noticeably worried expression spread over Tom's face.

"Did you call the police?" he asked.

"No," said Ginny. "It was probably just some neighborhood kids enjoying a few laughs at my expense."

"At five A.M.?" said Tom. "Most kids are in bed then. They have school today, Ginny."

"Ginny, I strongly urge you to call the police and report the incident."

"No," Ginny insisted. She'd dealt with law enforcement many times in the past and they'd never stopped Greg from hurting her. She'd had to take matters into her own hands-and run away from Greg.

Tom sighed. "Let me go out to the truck and get what I need to fix this window."