The Obsession Page 90

“I like figuring things out for myself. Maybe that’s a flaw or self-reliance.” He shrugged. “Other times, it strikes me it’s fine to wait until somebody gives me the answers.”

“Sometimes they’re the wrong answers.”

“It’s stupid to ask then, if you’re not ready for whatever the answers are going to be. I like who you are—right here and right now. So I’m good with it.”

“Things can evolve, or devolve.” And why couldn’t she just let it go, and be right here, right now?

“Yeah, can and do. How long did you say your uncles had been together?”

“Over twenty years.”

“That’s a chunk. I bet it hasn’t been roses every day of the over twenty.”


“How long have we been in this thing, do you think?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure when to start the clock.”

“The Day of the Dog. Let’s use that. How long ago was it we found the dog?”

“It’s been about . . . a little over a month, I guess.”

“Well, in the time’s-relative area, that’s a chunk.”

She let out a laugh. “World record for me.”

“Look what you’ve got to work with,” he said, gave her that cocky grin. “Let’s see what Month Three brings around. For now, when we’re done with these really good eggs, we should clean it up, take some coffee up to the deck, wait for sunrise.”

When she said nothing, he touched her arm lightly, then went back to eating. “This is your place, Naomi. Nobody can take it or what it means to you away except you.”

“You’re right. Coffee on the deck sounds perfect.”


Brooding, worrying, second-guessing accomplished nothing.

Still, she sat down, wrote a long email to a friend who would understand. Ashley McLean—now Ashley Murdoch—reminded her, always had, always would, that life could go on.

She’d nearly called, just wanting to hear Ashley’s voice, but the time difference meant she’d wake her friend before Ashley got out of bed with her husband of ten years come June, got her kids fed and off to school and herself off to work.

And emails came easier—gave her time to compose her thoughts, edit things out. All she really needed was that touchstone.

It helped, it all helped, making breakfast, watching the sunrise with the man she had an undefined thing with, gearing up for a day of errands while construction noise filled the house.

Life had to go on.

With the dog as company—and why had she tried to convince either of them she wanted him to stay home?—she drove into town. At the post office, she unloaded boxes, carted them in, found herself caught for a full ten minutes in that oddity of small-town conversation.

“Check one off the list,” she told the dog.

She drove down Water Street. Busier today, she noted. Full-blown spring didn’t just bring out the green and the flowers, it brought out the tourists.

They wandered the streets, the shops, with go-cups and cameras and shopping bags. As she looked for parking, she saw boats gliding or putting out of slips, and the kayak/bike rental, with those colorful boats displayed, doing a bang-up business.

She really wanted to try kayaking.

She found her parking spot, pulled in, turned around to the dog.

“You have to wait in the car—I warned you—but we can take a walk around after this stop and before the grocery store. Best I can offer.”

He tried to get out when she opened the back to get the box, and the tussle that ensued to deny him illustrated clearly he’d put on weight and muscle. Gone was the weak, bone-thin dog limping down the shoulder of the road.

She got the back closed again, had to lean against it to catch her breath. When she glanced back, he was all but pressed against the rear window, blue eyes devastated.

“I can’t take you into the shop. That’s how it goes.”

She picked up the box she’d had to put down to win the war, started down the sidewalk. Looked back.

Now he had his muzzle out the partially opened side window.

“Don’t let him win,” she muttered, and aimed her eyes forward.

She knew Jenny worked that morning, as Jenny had called her the night before. Had offered sympathy and comfort. Had offered to bring food, bring alcohol, bring anything needed.

Friendship so easily offered was as unusual for Naomi as ten minutes of small talk in the post office.

She opened the door of the shop to a lovely citrus scent, an artistic clutter of pretty things, and the bustle of business. The bustle made her consider coming back during a lull—if she’d known when and if lulls happened. But Jenny, discussing an old washbasin currently filled with soaps and lotions with a customer, spotted her and gave her a cheerful come-ahead signal.

So she wandered, saw half a dozen things she wanted to buy. Reminded herself she hadn’t come to shop, had a house in crazed construction and shouldn’t shop.

And ended up picking up a set of wrought-iron candle stands that absolutely belonged in her library.

“Let me take that.” The minute she could work herself over, Jenny took the box, set it down. “And do this first.”

Smelling lightly of peaches, she wrapped her arms around Naomi, tight, tight.

“I’m so glad to see you.” She loosened the hug enough to tip back, study Naomi’s face. “Are you okay?”

“I’m okay.”

Prev Next