Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chapter Three

“I think that about covers all we will be able to handle today.” Claudia, Kristy, and Jessi had been pouring over Jessi's catalogues all morning. Kristy closed her copy of Home Fashions and stretched. “I am catalogued out.”

“Sounds like we need to start shopping,” Jessi announced.

“Perfect timing.” Dawn plopped down her sketches and pencils. “I am going to need some materials before I do any more planning.” She smiled at Jessi, “Where can I get paint and painting supplies?”

“Home Depot in town should be able to cover that stuff.” Jessi pushed up to her feet. “My! What a mess. We will need to clean up before we go anywhere.” The living area of the third floor apartment was strewn with magazines, cloth and painting samples, and a ton of notebook pages that had been discarded as they had planned. “If you guys clean it up, I will go ask Adem if we can start furniture shopping and get the keys to our jeep. I would rather not risk the van.”

“Sounds good,” Kristy immediately began piling up the catalogues nearest her.

“Are we going to need to save any of these?” Dawn held up a piece of notepaper.

“What do you think Claudia?” Jessi, now on her feet, looked down at the dark head to her right.

“I think we have everything we need in the notebook.” Claudia waved toward the five-subject, spiral bound notebook sitting in the middle of the mess. “As long as we keep all the magazines, I am sure we will be fine.”

Jessi nodded and started for the door. Before leaving, she poked her head back around the door. “Are there any other stops you guys need to make? Adem always likes to know where I am going to be,” she explained.

“If we could stop at a drug store,” Claudia said, “I need to pick up something I forgot.”

Jessi smiled and nodded. “Anything else?” She glanced at the other two girls. Dawn just shook her head and Kristy continued to clean. “Guess not,” she declared, “I will be right back.”

“What do you need?” Kristy asked as she continued to shove magazines across the floor.

“Yeah,” Dawn shut her pencil box and whipped her notebook close. “Maybe I brought some.”

Claudia just shook her head. “The only person here that might have want I am picking up would be Jessi.”

Kristy dropped the pile of catalogues she was about to put in the carton. They went flying in every direction. “Kristy,” Dawn wailed.

Ignoring her, Kristy sat down abruptly. “You're pregnant.”

Dawn's eyes got big and she immediately looked at Claudia. Then, she began counting something on her fingers. The result was a huge grin. “It would be due around March! That is great!”

“I don't know yet.” Claudia interrupted waving at Dawn's hand. “I have to see if I am right. If not, I am sick and need to see a doctor.”

“Morning sickness?” Dawn looked sympathetic.

Claudia grimaced, “Try all-day sickness.” She rubbed her stomach thoughtfully.

“Have you told Austin?” Dawn asked. Claudia shook her head. “Why not?” Dawn immediately asked. Claudia shrugged.

“I thought waiting until I know for sure might be a good idea.” Claudia did not look to happy with her idea. “I am not sure what to do.”

Dawn frowned. “I think you should let him know as soon as possible.” She crawled over to the mess that Kristy had made and started cleaning as she talked. “Marriage is a partnership. Austin will be surprised, but I think in the end he will be happy.”

“I want to know first.” Claudia said before she resumed collecting the garbage. “That way I don't have to do it twice.”


“Where did you say this goes?” Scott held up a water bill. It was the second he had come across that morning.

Austin looked up long enough to identify the person speaking. Immediately returning to his list he asked, “What is it for?”

“Water, I think.” Scott ran his hands through his hair. “I had one earlier, but forgot where you said to put it.”

This time Austin did not look up. “If the account is for this house, it goes in the expense box.”

“What if it is for a different address?” Scott waved the envelope to get Austin's attention. “Last I knew we were in Maine and this bill is for some place in California.”

“Those go over here.” Adem cut in from across the room. “I had it forwarded here for the time we are working on the house.”

“How did you manage that?” Scott waded through the over flowing boxes to hand the errant documents to Adem.

“The Mail Boxes Etc. down the street from us forwards all our mail to this address so we don't have to worry about bills going unpaid and stuff like that.” Claiming the envelope, Adem carelessly tossed it in the direction of the top desk drawer of the new desk they had purchased that day. “Hey, Austin,” he said without looking up from the pad he held in his hand. “What do you want me to do with this list once I have finished it?”

“Bring it here.” Austin set his batch of papers and notes on the coffee table in front of him. “We need to talk about what you have done and what needs to be done.”

“Okay,” Adem walked over and sprawled on the couch next to Austin. After handing him the pad, Adem leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “So far, we have signed a contract with Frank Construction. They are going to pave the driveway, landing field, and courts. They also are going to install new sidewalks and landscape the property. Actually, I am expecting them to call any day now. They are finishing up a major project right now, but should be starting on ours some time this week.”

“Are you going to be fixing up the exterior of the house?” Liam asked from the other side of the room. “The shakes that are on there now are going to need scraping and painting very soon.”

“Actually,” Adem leaned forward to prop his elbows on his knees. “I was kind of hoping that you guys would help with that.”

“Hey, Adem!” Jessi's yell echoed around the almost empty parlor and into the crowded office.

“In here,” Adem hollered back. A moment later, Jessi appeared in the open doorway.

“My goodness,” she surveyed the mess in dismay. “You guys are supposed to be cleaning, not making the mess worse.” Taking a good look at the sprawl of men, paper, garbage bags, boxes, and office supplies, the guys had to admit the room looked worse than when they found it.

“It will get better... eventually.” Scott looked to Austin for reassurance.

“I am sure it will be better soon.” Jessi hurried on. “Adem, the girls and I are going to be heading out to town. Can I have the keys to the Jeep and is now a good time to start furniture shopping?”

Liam's eyes got big. “Dawn and furniture are an expensive combination. Are you sure you want to spend that much?”

Austin broke in, “Claudia is worse.”

“Either way,” Adem interrupted. “Now is a good time to start. The keys are on the dresser in the bedroom. Have fun.”

Jessi flashed him a dazzling smile. “Thanks. We will.” Then, she disappeared.

“Now, back to our list,” Austin said. “Are we also going to be painting the interior?”

The phone rang.


“Don't take those turns so tightly!” Dawn yelled from the back of the jeep. “Or I am going to become one with this door and you will never be able to free me.” Shoving against the four chairs that she was sharing a seat with, Dawn tried to keep from getting squashed as Jessi drove the over-laden car around yet another corner.

“Sorry, guys,” she yelled over her shoulder. “Only three more turns.”

“Think of it this way,” Liz commented from the front seat. “At least you won't be perforated like Kristy.” Even as she spoke, the vehicle rounded the next turn and Kristy groaned. She was in the open trunk between the hatchback and a very leggy table.

“Are you okay back there?” Jessi asked worriedly.

“Just fine,” Kristy replied. “Just get us home please. I would like to see my fiancé while I am still in one piece.” A bump jogged everyone and this time Dawn joined Kristy's chorus.

“Next time we take the van.” Dawn insisted. “This is not worth it.”

Jessi took the last turn slower, but both girls still groaned. 'Come on,” Jessi protested, “That was not so bad.”

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of five to ten miles per hour sounds better.” Dawn propped her foot against the door.

“I will have to remember that on our next trip,” Jessi replied. “We are almost done with this run. There is the house.” Dawn followed Jessi's pointing hand and realized they were pulling up the drive.

“I will have to take your word for it,” Kristy responded from the trunk. “I cannot see anything from in here.”

“Oh,” Claudia straightened to get a better look. “Look. I think that is the landscaping company's van.”

As they pulled up the drive, Jessi tried to dodge the potholes, but finally gave up so she could look at the new arrival. “'Frank Construction: landscaping, pavement, siding, or windows, we do it all.' Yep, that looks like them.”

“What did you say?” Kristy's disembodied voice came from the back as Jessi eased to a stop next to the new van.

“The construction company is here,” Dawn offered while trying to maneuver into a position where she could open the door.

“No,” Kristy grunted as Claudia shut the passenger side door hard enough to shake the car. “What did you say the name was?”

“Frank Construction.” Jessi opened the trunk to the sight of her sister-in-law's look of pure horror.

“Oh no,” Kristy finally gasped. “Scott is going to be green.”

“What in the world are you babbling about?”

“Will someone please help me?” Both Jessi and Dawn spoke at the same time.

“I am coming,” Claudia answered Dawn's cry for help. “Just give me a minute. I want to know what Kristy means.” She was standing behind Jessi as they observed Kristy in her seat on the floor of the trunk space. “So,” she said to Kristy, “What do you mean?”

Kristy just shook her head. “Are any of them around?”

“Kristy,” Jessi put her hands on her hips. “For the first time since I have known you, you are making no sense.”

The statement brought a laugh from the backseat. Claudia could not help smiling, too. She and Dawn had known Kristy to make no sense many times. At least it only lasted until she had explained.

“Are any of the contractors in sight?” Kristy demanded.

Dawn, finally managing to get her head above the seat so she could join the conversation by looking over the back of the backseat, answered the question. “No sign of Kevin Frank or any of his relatives or employees.”

Understanding dawned on Claudia's face, but Jessi became even more confused. “Who is Devin Frank? And what does he have to do with you?”

“It is Kevin Frank, not Devin.” Claudia corrected with a grimace at the name. She had a strong dislike for the name Devin.

“They dated in high school,” Dawn explained. “It was before Scott got around to noticing Kristy. What I don't understand is why Scott would be envious about him. Would you care to explain?” The question was directed down at the back of Kristy's head. In order to do this, Dawn had to turn her face sideways against the top of the seat and strain her eyes toward her friend. In all, the look was quite comical on a bodiless head. Jessi laughed.

“I will go help Dawn,” she said. “That looks very uncomfortable. Claudia, will you please help Kristy unload that table.”

Jessi was already at the back seat door before Kristy managed to protest. “But I don't want to see him!” Jumping to her feet she came around the corner of the car to continue her complaint. “Isn't there someway I can avoid it?” Jessi, having discovered the door was jammed in the locked position, turned to respond, but was cut off by Claudia.

“It is too late, Kristy.” She was staring up the hill toward the house. “Here he comes now.” Both Kristy and Jessi turned to look and sure enough there was Kevin Frank, in the flesh, coming down from the house to greet them with Claudia's husband in tow.

Seeing that they had been spotted, Austin called, “We heard you pull up. Do you need any help with that stuff?”


With the guys help, the furniture was swiftly brought up to the house and deposited in the main dining room. It was going to be the temporary home for all the furniture purchased until the painting was finished in the bedrooms upstairs.

“Just to the left a little,” Jessi instructed and both men obediently shuffled the table to the left. “Perfect. Thanks, guys.”

“Anything else left in the car?” Kevin asked as he straightened.

“No,” Dawn answered. “It is good to see you again.” She offered her hand.

He took it slowly. “I know the face, but I cannot place the name.”

“Dawn,” Dawn supplied. Turning toward the rest of the group, she started introductions. “Claudia, Jessi and....” She tried and failed to spot Kristy. “I know you know Kristy. She is around but has disappeared somewhere. She will show up soon enough.” She turned back and flashed him a smile. “I will go find her later. So, how are you doing? It has been a long time since I have seen you.”

As the two of them fell into conversation, Jessi went to see about dinner and Claudia and Austin snuck away to steal a moment alone.


“Hey, Scott!” Kristy yelled after the distant figure of her fiancé as she ran to catch up with him. He was just where Liam had said he would be, on the runway, pacing out the length so Liam would have a rough estimate to start with. “Scott!” This time Scott's brown head came around and he looked for her. The moment he spotted her, he smiled, waved, and then waited for her to catch up.

“When did you get back?” He asked as soon as she was within hearing distance.

“A few minutes ago,” she puffed slightly. It was a long run from the house to the field and almost the whole trip was uphill, making it more difficult. “Did you know that the contractor arrived?”

Shaking his head, Scott started pacing again. “Forty-four, forty-five...Adem told me they hired a Frank Construction Company. I asked, but he did not know if it was connected with my great uncle's family or not.” He stopped and wrote down his number on a scrap of paper.

Kristy frowned. “Well they are here and it is your relative's family business. Do you remember that I dated Kevin?”

“Yeah, it was right before we started dating, right?” He glanced over at her in the pink evening light.

“You aren't going to be jealous are you?” Kristy watched his face carefully. “I mean he is the only other guy I ever dated except you.”

“Why should that make me jealous?” Scott straightened so he could look at her more directly. “I have a feeling there is something you are not telling me.”

“Well,” Kristy winced, “I was the one who broke it off and he told me he still loved me at the time. I don't think he will do anything, but I just wanted you to know from me before he told you himself.”

“Is that all,” Scott sighed with relief. “You had me thinking much worse.” He smiled and quickly closed the distance between them. Pulling Kristy close, he smiled. “I love you and how can I blame anyone for loving something I love.” Placing a quick kiss on her forehead, he said, “I am sure everything will be fine, Kristy. If he gives you any trouble, just let me know. Okay?” Kristy nodded slowly. “Great,” Scott smiled again. “Now I want a real kiss.” He promptly followed through by slipping his left-hand into her hair and pulled her close with his right. “Just remember your lips are mine and there will be no problems.” Then, he staked his claim solidly.

“Hey, guys!” Liam's voice interrupted. “Dinner is ready.”

“Kristy,” Dawn joined in. “No PDA allowed.”

Reluctantly Scott ended the kiss. “PDA?” he asked softly caressing Kristy's cheek with his breath.

“Public Display of Affection,” Kristy finally managed. “I am going to kill her.”

“Can't,” Scott smiled. “She is your maid of honor.”

“I can threaten, can't I?” Sliding her arm around Scott's waist, she cuddled against his side as they walked toward their friends.

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