Chapter 9 - Sunday June 26
Part 4 of 4
By the time Sam showed up after doing the maintenance on my car, Melanie was halfway to oblivion and ready to stake a claim in the grass for Fourth Fest. Right now, a week early. "C'mom, don't be a boob-schmoob. We can go down there and find the best spot. I'll mark it with spray paint."
She was talking to Alex, who was laughing at her in a good-natured way. "Wine coolers get you this fucked up?"
"Bah," Melanie said. "I found some vodka in the house and poured it in. You can add vodka to anything. Did you know – " she cut herself off, "Hey, Jo-Jo, Jeremy, listen to this now. It's reeeeally important." When she had everyone's attention, she continued. "You can inject vodka into watermelon." When people started rolling their eyes, she got a little more intense about it. "No, really, you can. It's a very healthy snack, very healthy grown-up snack, I mean, and so maybe we should do that for the picnic. Oh yeah, I was going to go down there and stake out the best spot."
"Mel," I said. "You're not driving anywhere."
"I know, I know. Alex'll drive me, right?"
Sam walked into the yard right about then, and he was shaking his head. "Mel, no driving." He greeted me, and then said, "Oh, hey, Alex. I thought you were busy this weekend?"
Was it my imagination, or did Alex's whole face get happier the minute Sam came on the scene?
"Yeah," she said. "Dinner at my AA friend's mom's house." She made a gesture that encompassed the patio. "Wah-la."
All right, this was getting seriously weird. Not that I didn't like Alex, not that at all, but it looked like Sam and I needed to have a talk. A talk that started with where he'd been last Saturday night until six in the morning.
I hate fighting with Sam. It was easier to believe that lunch with the boys got a little out of hand and suddenly it was bar close, than to worry that he was with Alex. I would have to be careful how I presented the question.
"Anyone want drinks from the kitchen?" I asked brightly. "Kool-aid for the kids?"
"The kids aren't here, Jesse, where's your head?" Mel asked, and I laughed and slapped my hand to my forehead, like "doh." I went halfway to the kitchen door, then turned around and said, "Sam? Can you help me for a minute?"
He gave me a look, silently asking what I needed help with. I just shrugged, so he followed me inside.
"Okay, what's the deal with Alex? I mean, I like her, but she's seems really focused on you."
He grinned. "She came to lunch with us last weekend."
"Like… liquid lunch till bar close?"
He nodded and flashed an admiring smile toward the back yard. "That girl drank all of us under the table. She's a pro."
"Is that good?" I asked. "I thought she was in AA. She keeps talking about AA."
"I don't know if it's good," Sam said, and tickled my side. "But it sure is fun."
"Do you think she's getting attached to you? Like too attached?" I asked.
He looked startled. "Like how? Like… get rid of you kind of attached?" Then he answered his own question, first with a shake of his head. "Nah. She likes you. If she knew you better, she'd probably like you better. She has a thing for girls."
I felt warm all over. I knew that, didn't I? From the kiss in the bathroom at Grandma's Saloon. Maybe I blushed, I don't know, but whatever it was, Sam saw it.
"Ah, so you know she has a thing for girls. There you go. Maybe if we brought her home she'd play with both of us."
"Oh my God. This is not the place for this discussion. Seriously? We have a child at home. Sam, you're a total perv."
He flashed me his most wicked grin. "I know. That's why you love me."
I tried to give him a dirty look, but he said, "Aw, sweetie, you know I'd always choose you," and ruined the moment.
"Of course you'd always choose me. Who else would put up with you?"
Sam laughed. "True. Me and my phone."
"And your socks. Don't forget the socks." Oh, the glamorous life of a towing widow. Phone calls at all hours of the day and night. Socks on the floor in every room because Sam's toes hated to be confined.
But anyway. At least I was fairly certain that Sam wasn't hiding anything from me. Alex had just been around my flirty husband enough lately to be comfortable.
"Discussion over," I said. "Now help me find some napkins or silverware to carry outside. And the vodka. Because I think Mel's right – wine coolers should contain more vodka."
"You're not going to get drunk, are you?"
I fluttered my eyelashes at him. "Maaay-be. Got a problem with that?"
"Hell no," he laughed. "I like it when you're drunk and easy."
We got back to the patio just in time to get burgers straight off grill, and Josie laughed at us. "Napkins and silverware? You could have brought out the coleslaw, chips, and dip."
"Sorry Jo-Jo," I said. "I'll run for them."
I felt a lot better now that the Alex smiling at Sam thing wasn't so strange anymore.
Silas was back and forth with Jeremy, all evening, like he just couldn't settle on a personality or a mood. He'd be watching Jeremy with quiet, serious eyes, touching Jeremy when he walked by, but then shaking him off if Jeremy tried to show affection back. What a weird relationship. It was like Silas didn't know what he wanted from Jeremy, and some combination of longing and fear made him completely unpredictable.
Every once in a while I caught a pinched look in Silas's face, brows drawn down, lips tight, and he looked positively angry – twice I saw it, and each time Josie and Jeremy were standing together in a tight little huddle and Josie was laughing at something Jeremy said.
"Whoa, easy, boy," I finally whispered into Silas's ear. "They're friends. Don't panic."
Silas pretended he didn't know what I was talking about. "What? Me? Panic? About what?"
I didn't spell it out, just raised my eyebrows, and cut my eyes toward Josie and Jeremy. "Chill out. Everything's okay."
Silas shrugged away from me and got up to get a beer. Maybe he'd thought about it, because when he came back, he said, "Hey, it's not like I own him or something. So whatever."
Liz talked about her statistics class, how in some ways it wasn't as tough as she thought it would be, and that was definitely way more interesting that she expected. It was good to hear her excited about something other than getting pregnant.
Melanie kept drinking. Josie brought her iPhone speaker dock outside and Alex picked out rowdy tunes.
Sam whispered in my ear, "Alex is going to get this party started, so if we're supposed to pick up Annabelle, we'd better go before it gets crazy."
I figured he would know, so we said our goodbyes, agreeing again that next week we'd meet for Sunday on Monday, not realizing that this might be the last normal Sunday we'd ever have.