A Different Blue Page 49

“So why are you asking me? Where's Pamela?” I was proud of how innocent and conversational I sounded.

“I'm asking you because you informed me that you are out of wood, you are bored, you are hot, and you are cranky.” That much was certainly true. Wilson had come down to the basement to do some laundry and found me staring at my empty work bench mournfully, trying not to melt into a hot mess all over the concrete floor. I had neglected my wood gathering expeditions lately. The heat combined with pregnancy made me an absolute wuss. Now I was paying for it. A whole day off and nothing to sculpt.

“And Pamela's in Europe,” Wilson added, moving a load of his clothes to the dryer. Of course she was. People like Pamela hobnobbed all over Europe with their hobnobby friends. But if Pamela was gone . . .

“Okay,” I agreed. “Bring on the barbeque!”

Wilson's mother looked nothing like him. She was blonde, slim, and looked very much like an English aristocrat. She would look very at home in a wide brimmed hat watching a polo match and saying 'Good form!' I could see a resemblance to Tiffa in her willowy figure and wide blue eyes, and Alice looked exactly like her, only less serene. The lack of serenity might have been the result of the three little red-haired boys bouncing around her, over her, under her. Alice looked frazzled and irritated where her mother seemed cool as a cucumber. I wondered if Wilson favored his dad. If not for Tiffa's curly hair, I might think he was the product of a torrid affair. The thought made me snicker. Joanna Wilson did not do torrid affairs, I would almost bet my life on it. But she was crazy about Wilson, no doubt about it. She held his hand in hers while they talked, hung on every word he said, and patted his cheek countless times.

I hung back, awkward in the close family setting, and spent most of my time in the pool playing with the kids, throwing weighted rings to the bottom over and over again so they could retrieve them like tireless puppies. Tiffa joined me after a while, and the kids piled on her eagerly, little wet bodies scrambling to hold on as she giggled and dunked herself – and them – several times. I was surprised by her physical play and the obvious affection she had for her nephews. I wondered suddenly why she didn't have any kids of her own. She seemed much more suited to motherhood than poor Alice, who sipped an alcoholic beverage in a nearby pool chair and squealed every time one of the boys splashed too much. What had the woman been thinking having three children one after the other? Maybe, like me, she hadn't been thinking at all.

Tiffa had met and married Jack, a native Las Vegas boy, when he was completing his residency at the Cancer Institute her father had left England to work for. Tiffa could have stayed in England when her parents and Wilson moved to the States. Alice was married by that time and had remained in England. But instead, Tiffa had taken a job at a small art gallery on the upper east side of Salt Lake City, anxious to stay close to her family and gain new experience. She and Jack had been engaged and were married in a matter of six months. And six years later, they were still obviously giddy about eachother. They had moved to Vegas when Jack had taken a permanent position with the oncology unit at Desert Springs Hospital, and Tiffa had been hired as a curator for The Sheffield.

My eyes swung to Jack, tan and handsome in a pale blue polo and khaki cargo shorts, manning the barbeque like a true-blue American man. Alice's husband Peter wasn't contributing much to the preparation, but he hung close to Jack, listening to him talk and laughing at something Jack said. The two men seemed nothing alike, but I had liked them both immediately.

Peter was the nephew of an Earl – I was stunned to discover there were still Earls and such in England – and, according to Tiffa, richer than the Queen. I didn't know what Earls did, but apparently when your wealth rivals that of royalty, there is a lot to manage, which Peter was reportedly good at. Maybe that was what had attracted Alice, although he had other qualities that endeared him to me. He was homely while Alice gleamed, quiet while Alice scolded, and gentle while Alice seemed harsh. His smile was shy and his manner unassuming. And his hair was as red as that of his offspring. I sincerely hoped they were all wearing sunblock. I was naturally brown, and even I had slathered on the 50.

I climbled out of the pool and walked quickly to where I had removed my sundress. I had made Wilson stop at a Target on the way, and I had grabbed a boring blue one piece that drew as little attention as possible. I hadn't wanted to wear the black string bikini that had survived the dumpster heap six weeks ago. Somehow, pregnancy and string bikinis didn't appeal to me. Some women worked it, I supposed. To me it just looked tacky, like those horrible facebook pictures where expectant women bared all and their husbands kissed their bellies awkwardly. I was five months along, and my stomach was a neat little mound, but compared to what it had been, it felt gigantic. I wondered if it would be sleek and concave ever again.

Wilson and his mother were still deep in conversation, sitting on deck chairs under blue striped umbrellas as they had been every since we'd arrived. Wilson had introduced me to his mother as a “friend and a tenant” and had not embellished further. Joanna Wilson seemed to accept my status, though she had raised her eyebrows slightly and asked about Pamela when she thought I wasn't listening. Apparently, Joanna was good friends with Pamela's parents.

I tried to keep my back to them as I exited the pool, but when Joanna stopped talking midsentence, I knew I hadn't hid my stomach well enough. I pulled my sundress over my head and tried to pretend I hadn't noticed the telling pause. She resumed her conversation a half-beat later, as if she'd never stopped, but when I stole a peek at Wilson he was looking at me with an indecipherable expression on his face. He hadn't misunderstood her reaction either.

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