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.”“I told Big Rick a hundred times he’s too old to be out there working alongside the younger men.But he thinks not doing it would mean he’s getting old—which he is—so he never listens.” She pursed her lips.“He scared all of us.Then, the old goat tried to leave the hospital, and that started another panic.The doctors expect him to make a full recovery.”“I hope I’m not keeping you from visiting him at the hospital.” Actually, I hoped I was.Then, maybe I could get out of this uncomfortable situation.“Oh, dear, no.” Julienne laughed.“Rick’s used to being the boss, and he can’t stand not being in charge at the hospital.I’d prefer not to see all the awful fits he pulls.”“Daddy made one of the nurses cry yesterday,” said Madeleine.A few months ago, I’d have been horrified and classified Dean’s father as someone I’d prefer not to meet.But the last several months of dealing with Memaw’s failing health had opened my eyes to a whole new world.Some people didn’t have the patience to be patients.A little stab of guilt for leaving Memaw alone worked its way into me even though her doctor promised to check in on her.“Remember when Big Rick got food poisoning from that roadside stand?” Lisette’s dark eyes met and held Julienne’s.“Do I ever,” the older woman laughed.“I thought he would go into shock and die before he let us take him to the hospital.”“Lisette grew up with my older children,” Julienne told me.“Her mother had…health problems, and we sort of took her in.”Lisette glanced at me, silently asking if I understood she’d been around way longer than I had.I dropped my gaze to my feet.It wasn’t in my nature to back down, but this place had me off my game.Nothing was as I’d imagined.I wished I could take back the decision to come storming into Dean’s life.Had a black hole to nowhere opened in the floor, I would’ve swan dived into its depths.Feeling eyes on me, I glanced up.Lisette beamed at me.“Health problems?” Lisette snorted, still smiling like she’d just won something big.I guess she had.“She was a mean-mouthed lush.”Dean’s mother flushed, and his sister looked at her watch.The sound of a door opening interrupted our uncomfortable silence.Dean’s voice echoed through the house.“Mom?”“We’re in the parlor, son.Take off your shoes and leave them outside the door.” Dean’s mother flashed another smile at me.I made myself smile back even though regret hung over me like a dark cloud.You should have stayed home, girl.Oh well.Another stupid decision in a life full of ‘em.###Dean padded into the room, sweaty, dirty, and shoeless.He grinned when he saw me and said, “Isn’t it usually you who looks like you crawled through a mile of mud?”I felt an unwanted little bolt of joy at seeing Dean.Then I reminded myself to be annoyed.Dean’s family, while nice enough, were wealthy beyond what I could comprehend.His choice not to tell me about them didn’t look or feel good.I shouldn’t have come here.Madeleine tugged Dean’s arm and crossed her eyes at him.He arranged his face into an expression of mock outrage and stuck his nose into the air.Formalities complete, he crossed the room, heading straight for me.“Don’t touch the furniture.” Julienne held up one finger, a gesture that had more command than any amount of shouting she could have done.I stood, butterflies turning somersaults in my stomach.Somehow I expected him to act different now.I knew his secret.But he held his arms open to me, and, forgetting my irritation with him, I hugged him tight.He pulled back from me, his eyes twinkling, obviously thrilled to see me.If he didn’t mind me showing up, why didn’t he tell me about these people?“I’m so glad you’re here.” He inhaled deeply and squeezed me again.“I thought my nosy mother and sister would drive me crazy asking questions about you.”Feeling eyes on me, I glanced up to find Lisette glaring at me, hectic spots of red flaming on her high cheekbones.Now that’s more like it.Was her frequent presence what kept Dean quiet about his family? He said their marriage went down in flames.The details I knew made it surprising she still showed her face here.I glanced at Dean, hoping for a hint of the situation between them, but he was engaged in exchange of nonverbal insults with his sister.Now that I thought about it, he hadn’t even acknowledged Lisette.Her eyes followed every move he made, though [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]