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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Author, except where permitted by law.
This is a work of fiction, and as such, certain events or situations may be improbable, and certain details may not correspond to real life. If you’re looking for strictly likely situations and exact reality, I suggest you skip this.
I recognized her, and yet, at the same time, she was a stranger to me.
Her shoulder length, brown hair with blonde highlights fell in loose curls to her shoulders and framed her immaculate makeup adorned eyes, cheeks and lips.
A navy blue blazer above a matching pencil skirt covered a white silk blouse that seemed to be working overtime to keep her ample breasts from escaping.
Her skirt accentuated her narrow waist and stopped midway down her thin calves above at least six inch heels.
I had never seen my mom dressed so nicely, looking so thin or sexy.
“Mother?” she whispered, staring at Amanda behind me.
I could now see some of Amanda in her daughter, and Bonnie in her mother. After finding out my parents were twins, I had assumed that Mom had gotten her looks solely from her father, Andrew.
My thoughts were interrupted by Amanda almost knocking me down in her rush to reach her daughter and embrace her.
“Christina!” Amanda sobbed.
Amanda had to almost lift herself off her toes. With her heels, Mom was probably an inch taller than me, and towered over her tiny mother.
“Oh…” Amanda whispered, then released her daughter and took a half step back.
Mom smiled and reached back into the still open doorway and pulled first an arm, then the rest of a man into the house.
He was a few inches shorter than Mom in her heels. His almost totally bald head was circled with a thin band of gray hair, barely visible above his ears. He wasn’t fat, not quite, but was rather plump.
“This is Harold Brinkley…my husband.”
Amanda’s smile seemed forced as she extended her hand to…my step-dad, or father-in-law, or uncle by marriage.
I’d decide which was most appropriate…later.
“Amanda Steele, nice to meet you.”
Harold smiled and nodded as he shook her hand.
“This is Clyde,” Mom said, gesturing to me, “and Bon…”
Mom’s eyes had moved from me to Bonnie, then down to her belly.
I should have seen it coming. I saw the fire ignite in her eyes before her open palm struck the side of my face.
“Mom! Stop!” Bonnie yelled.
“I told you…I told you, over and over…” Mom moaned. “Why didn’t you listen, Clyde?”
“Mom…” Bonnie started.
“And who is this?” Mom continued, almost shouting and pointing behind her at Haley, but looking at Amanda. “Did you have another baby? After we left you, did you need another baby?”
“I’m Haley Bonomo, I’m…”
“What? Bonomo?” Mom interrupted. “You’re…”
I could almost see the wheels turning in Mom’s head as she stared at Haley.
“You’re why my life turned to shit,” she whispered at the ceiling.
“What are you blubbering on about, Christina?” Amanda scolded her daughter.
“You don’t know, Mother? Are you blind? She’s obviously Clyde and Bonnie’s sister…half sister. Her mother is…what’s her name Bonomo. I hate her so much I can’t even remember her name, but she’s the first woman your son fucked, besides me. After telling me I was the only woman he’d ever want, or need, or love, he fucked her…right in front of me. She was my only friend, and he fucked her!
“He told me, he swore, I was all he wanted or needed. The only person I hate more than that girl’s mother is her father, your son.”
“Your brother, Christina,” Amanda reminded her.
“No brother would treat his sister the way he treated me.”
Mom slowly turned her eyes on me.
“Do you hear me Clyde Steele? No brother would treat his sister like that.
“I see it’s too late for that lecture though. You’ve already cheated on Bonnie. Did you tell your sister you love her and she was the only woman for you before you did?”
“No.” I said emphatically.
“I mean yes, I told her that, but I didn’t cheat on her.”
“How do you explain her then?” Mom looked at Haley’s belly, then at Bonnie’s, then back.
“You got her pregnant before Bonnie?”
“Mom, stop. You’re making us all crazy, including yourself,” Bonnie ordered.
I looked at Harold. He just smiled at me like none of this surprised him.
“I’m not crazy,” Mom mumbled.
“Mom, Clyde didn’t do anything wrong,” Bonnie spoke gently to her distraught mother.
“Bonnie…” I interrupted.
“Let’s just all calm Fındıkzade Escort down and have a seat,” I suggested. “I’ll explain it all to you, Mom.
“Even if you don’t deserve to hear it.”
“Clyde, be nice,” Amanda reprimanded me. “We only know…um, one side of the story, and only half of that side.”
“I probably do deserve whatever disdain my children have for me, Mother.”
Mom sat on one end of the sofa, with Harold between her and Amanda.
Haley nodded her head at her sister to move, then sat in the chair beside Amanda and Bonnie moved to the chair next to Mom.
I looked over at Maria sitting at the table with a glass of wine in her hand. She smiled and gave me a little wave.
“Want to join us?” I whispered to Maria as I grabbed a chair to carry into the living room.
“Nope. I’m good here. I’d have paid money to see this, and I don’t want to distract anyone.”
“Mother, where’s Father?” I heard my mom ask before I got back to the rest of them with my chair.
“Your Father passed away three years ago, Christina.”
Harold put his arm around my mom and hugged her.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, Mother.”
I could hear the tears in her voice, and was a little surprised.
I positioned my chair across the coffee table from my mom, and waited for her breathing to steady.
“Mom, what makes you think Haley is Dad’s, and why do you think I’m the father of either of their babies?” I asked softly when she finally looked up at me.
“She’s related to your Grandmother. Only a blind person can’t see that. Her name is Bonomo, and your father fucked the wife of the man who owns this ranch almost twenty years ago,” she replied, her eyes boring into mine.
“You’re right, she is mine and Bonnie’s half sister,” I affirmed her suspicion.
“This is a family get together, right?” she asked.
“What pregnant woman goes to a family get together without the father of her child? Not many. I see the way you two look at each other. It’s just like you and Bonnie look at each other.”
“I am the father of both of their babies, Mom, but I didn’t cheat on either one of them.”
“We’re married,” Bonnie said as she raised her hand and wiggled her wedding rings at Mom.
“Mother? Your wedding rings?”
“My husband is dead. It was time for me to stop grieving, so I gave them to Clyde to give to his wife.”
“How…you can’t get married. It’s against the law. Father made sure we understood that.”
“We just are,” Bonnie began, sounding angry again.
“Until now, the only people who knew different were people that love us.”
“I love you Bonnie,” Mom defended herself against my sister’s implied accusation.
“I guess I just didn’t notice…”
“You and your brother…it wasn’t your fault, but I was trapped there, with him, your cheating father, because of you. I didn’t want to blame you, but you were always there to remind me that I couldn’t leave, because we had committed incest and would go to jail if our parents found us. He swore he’d turn us in to the police if I ever left him. I’m sorry, it wasn’t your fault, but I blamed you.
“Your father,” Mom groaned, “wouldn’t let me leave even though I couldn’t stand to talk to him, or see him.
“Or touch him,” she whispered.
“I would have taken you and left, but I had nothing and nowhere to go. I was certain I would lose you forever if I tried to leave before you were on your own and safe from that man.”
“That’s not the story we heard,” I interjected.
Mom’s eyes smoldered as she stared at me.
“We’ve barely spoken to Dad since we left the ranch. Barely, as in Bonnie said one sentence to him, and I said one sentence to him.”
“I said two sentences, but what did you say to him, Clyde?” Bonnie asked.
“I asked if he needed help…”
“Oh yeah, with the mango tree! That was funny when Maria…”
Bonnie gasped and turned around to look at Maria.
Maria seemed to be concentrating way too hard on the almost empty wine glass in her hand.
“Maria?” Amanda spoke, barely above a whisper.
“This is delicious wine, Miss Steele. Do you mind if I pour myself another glass?”
“Fine, help yourself,” Amanda struggled to hide her chuckle.
“Who is she? Mom asked, exasperated.
“Ha! You brought one of your maids from Indianapolis? I’m surprised you didn’t bring an assistant, too.”
Bonnie looked at me, surprised, and mouthed “one of”.
“No. I have a home here, too. Charlie wanted to…she stayed in Provo. She wanted to go shopping.”
“Charlie’s your assistant? How could you manage through a day without someone to, um, do whatever an assistant does?”
“I’m retiring, so there’s less…tedium to perform.”
“Retiring…mhm…Father used to love to tell the story of you presenting a three-hour closing argument, and you were in labor with us the entire time. I can’t see you retiring.”
“You’re retiring Grandma? Does that mean you’ll be here more, Fındıkzade Escort Bayan or always?” Bonnie spoke softly, especially compared to the antagonistic tones of the conversation.
“No, sweetheart…I mean, yes. I actually don’t know. I’ll be here more than I was before…”
“You weren’t here ever, before,” Bonnie reminded Amanda.
“You could sell your house and just live here all the time. I’d like that.”
Bonnie smiled at Amanda. She looked like she was expecting an affirmative reply.
“I can’t sell the house. Your great, great grandfather built it, your parents were raised there, and it would…probably never sell for what I feel like it’s worth to me, or my family.”
“There are so many pleasant memories there, Mother,” Mom said sarcastically, scowling at Amanda.
“Jesus, Mother, you and Father are…were the only ones who’ve called me that since I was twelve years old. Can you just stop? Call me Christie like a fucking normal person.”
I watched the anger light in Amanda’s eyes, then dim and go out while Harold leaned over and whispered into his wife’s ear.
“Ladies room?” Mom asked, then smeared, more than it already was, the mascara and eyeshadow that had collected on her cheeks.
“Middle door,” Bonnie offered, pointing behind her.
“Harold? You married my daughter?” Amanda looked at the pudgy man on the sofa next to her as her daughter closed the bathroom door behind her.
“Yes ma’am,” he replied with a smile.
To me it sounded like he made ‘ma’am’ into a three syllable word.
I was relieved though; I had almost come to the conclusion he didn’t actually speak.
“I retired about a year ago, sold my house in Atlanta and moved to Barstow. That’s where I met Christie. She’s an amazing woman.”
Harold definitely had an accent that didn’t match anyone I had ever talked to before.
“Georgia to California, that’s quite a move,” Amanda replied.
She was smiling at Harold, but her expression wasn’t exactly her relaxed, happy smile. I wondered if this was how she looked in court.
“I was bored with my home town. Fifty-nine years in one place was enough.”
“Oh, so you’re…”
“A lot older, yes ma’am. I’m a gentleman though. I gave in rather quickly. A gentleman shouldn’t make a lady chase him too far.”
Amanda looked like her eyebrows almost raised.
“How far, exactly, did you make her chase you before relenting, Mr. Brinkley?”
“Just to my car, parked outside the diner where she worked.”
“What transpired to instigate her departure from her job to chase you down in the parking lot?” Amanda continued her examination of the witness.
“I feel compelled to go back to the previous evening, my first time finding her there.
“The story wouldn’t be complete otherwise.
“As always, on the previous evening, for dinner I had ordered a grilled chicken breast with a side of coleslaw, knowing it would be the kind with mayonnaise and not vinegar, and a sweet tea. I always ordered it that way, primarily because no rational person would drink tea without it being sweet, but apparently in this god-forsaken part of the world, that’s how it’s served.”
“Will you be answering the question, Mr. Brinkley?”
Amanda and Harold both looked like they were enjoying this.
“Soon, Mrs. Steele.”
Harold smiled and just sat there, waiting for something.
“When the charming woman serving me, your daughter, brought my tea, she apologized before she explained they had no sweet tea, but had brought an ample supply of various artificial sweeteners, and a sugar dispenser.
“The meal was exactly as I expected, with the exception of receiving five star service, instead of the normal three.
“So I left her a good tip.”
Amanda scowled at Harold.
“Mother, stop interrogating my husband.”
Mom was done in the ladies’ room. She had removed all her makeup, even lipstick, and she still looked better than I remember her ever looking at home.
“Chris…Christie, I just want to make sure…”
“You don’t have a say in it, Mother.
“I came here to see my daughter. I didn’t expect anyone else to be here.”
“Mom,” I interrupted.
“Rusty told me…Rusty and June told us, Bonnie, Haley, and me, that you participated in the sex.”
I wanted to get back to the topic. I wanted to know why she hated our Dad for cheating on her when the story we heard didn’t sound much like cheating.
She looked dumbfounded, and stopped halfway back to her seat next to Harold.
“I don’t think that’s how she remembers it, Clyde,” Harold softly told us.
“You were babies, not even a month old. I was under doctor’s orders: no sex,” Mom moaned.
“Even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t, but I didn’t want to. I only wanted…him. “
Mom was crying again.
“Let’s go, Harold.”
“Mom, please don’t go,” Bonnie begged her.
“We had a…we got married today.”
I guessed that explained the Escort Fındıkzade being dressed up. I was still surprised at how svelte she looked.
“We left Barstow this morning, had a stop in Vegas, then came to Beaver. It was a lot of driving, and we’re tired,” Harold explained.
“You can stay with…” Amanda started, then apparently had a change of heart. Probably because Dad was on the property where Amanda almost offered them a place to sleep.
“How long will you be in town?” she finished.
“We’ll stay a few days,” Harold offered, and his wife nodded her agreement.
“Neither of us have anywhere in particular to go.”
Harold and Christie rose from the couch. It took a little more effort on Harold’s part, and Christie assisted him a little bit.
“Mom…” Bonnie stopped them at the door.
“For what?” Christie asked when she turned to look at my sister.
“For coming back. For looking for us.”
Charlie smiled at her reflection in the mirror on the closet door of her hotel room.
She had spent an obscene amount of money in Provo, just on new clothing, and now she was in Beaver. She hoped the gentlemen at whichever bar she chose would appreciate it.
Her divorce had been finalized almost two years ago, and until Amanda changed her life, she hadn’t been aware that she was ready to move on with it.
When she and Amanda left Indianapolis, she was dressed as she normally was: slacks and blouse with comfortable, flat, business shoes. Her straight, brown hair that could lay just longer than shoulder length had been bound up at the back of her head.
In the mirror, she took her new look in, starting with the ornate, pointed toe, western boots with three inch heels, along her legs covered with skin-tight blue jeans, tucked inside the boots, over the flair of her wide hips. Her torso was mostly covered with a button up western shirt, unbuttoned several buttons to reveal her ample cleavage amplified by her almost hidden pushup bra.
She was especially pleased that she had taken the time in the salon in Provo. Her hair, now very blond, hung in loose curls to just above her shoulders under her new cowboy hat.
It was her opinion that she very much looked authentic.
Charlie had always taken great care of her body, a fact that her ex-husband seemed to have never noticed.
With her new hair and clothes, she felt, and looked, at least a decade younger than her fifty-four years.
She climbed into her barely used new truck. She had practiced, and could almost do it fluidly, hardly having to think about which foot to start with, first on the rung hanging below the running board, then up to the running board, then a step up inside and a twist to land in the driver’s seat.
The Renegade Lounge sounded like it might be a good place to start, or finish, and decided to ignore the fact that there were only three vehicles parked in front. They were all pickup trucks.
She swung her truck into a U turn across Main Street, and parked at the curb facing south.
There was a couple, man and woman, standing in front of the bar, smoking. They were both watching her, and she could only assume they continued as she reversed the maneuver she had used to get inside her truck.
Without even bothering to look either way for traffic, Charlie met the gaze of the woman smoking outside the bar as she crossed Main Street. Downtown Beaver didn’t look like it was ever very busy, and now the bar seemed to be the only thing open.
“Howdy,” the woman spoke as Charlie approached.
Her companion touched the front of his hat and nodded in the pretense of a greeting, but actually used the opportunity to check out Charlie from foot to head, then smiled as she met his gaze.
The bar was better lit than Charlie anticipated. The two brightly lit pool tables monopolized the interior floor space, and the bar itself was illuminated only slightly less than the tables.
Most of the two dozen or so patrons inside had paused only briefly when she entered, and Charlie assumed it was to see if she was anyone they knew. She passed a couple on her way to the middle of the bar.
“Coors, please,” she requested from the bartender as she lifted herself up onto a stool.
The attractive, twenty-something girl turned and opened a bottle then put it on a napkin in front of Charlie. The bottle didn’t look familiar to her, so she picked it up and looked at it. It was Coors, but not Coors Light. She had never seen Coors that wasn’t Light.
“Oh, yes, I forgot that Coors came in something besides Light.”
“From out east, then?” the girl chuckled before heading to the far end of the bar without letting Charlie answer, or even asking her for money.
Charlie’s eyes followed the bar girl in the mirror above the bar. There was another couple between her and the far end, so she didn’t have a direct line of sight to the man sitting there.
She felt her eyes narrow when he looked up to speak to the girl bringing him another drink. She recognized him, or felt like she did. She hadn’t actually met anyone in Beaver, so she couldn’t think how she could possibly know him.
He tipped his cowboy hat just before the girl turned her back on him to carry a tray of drinks to a table as Charlie’s feet hit the floor and headed for the end of the bar.
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