UNRAVEL: Truth Be Told by Michelle Johnson-Lane

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Maxwells were gathering for Thanksgiving dinner at Family mansion on a gorgeous twelve-acre ocean view estate in Portland, Maine. Tilly's four children and most of her grandchildren were raised in this home. It had been almost two years since everyone had all come home. The plan had been for the family to celebrate the 6-week holiday season through the New Year. Melissa, a journalist, is Tilly's oldest daughter who stirs the pot when she stumbles upon a 40-year-old vintage airmail envelope in her mother's untidy armoire. This was totally out of character for Tilly Maxwell and raised a red flag for Melissa. She questions her mother and Tilly admonishes Melissa, but this journalist refused to live well enough alone.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - There's Nothing Like Family

Submitted: September 23, 2011

Reads: 245

Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 23, 2011






There’s Nothing Like Family


Tilly felt the rising of the all too familiar brooding emotion of terror, which came upon her as quick as a summer storm. Drenched in sweat, and frightened out of her mind, she gently slapped her chest and caught her breath.

“Another damn panic attack!”

She then reached for a glass of water that she faithfully kept on the nightstand, took a sip to cool off, and gathered her thoughts. The flat-screen television that sat directly in from of her Queen Anne Style Bed had a commercial about a living will. Tilly had her paperwork in order and knew her children would be well taken care as she had inherited the family fortune.

Tilly often talked to herself and always made sure no one was around to hear. She developed many defense mechanisms to deal with her sudden spells of vulnerability.

Tilly’s spells and nightmares began early in her teenage years, after her father had suddenly abandoned the family. School had been very difficult for her, but she made it through elementary and achieved getting a Bachelors Degree. To cope, she tried to block out her childhood memories, but they haunted her just about every day. Most of her life, she had been on medication.

“I’m too old for this shit!”

As a 71-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, Tilly became extremely creative with keeping her condition securely locked away in her mind. She had them all fooled. None of her family suspected anything. The thought of getting old and slipping up caused her more anxiety. For the moment, she stayed on top of her game of secrecy.

“This has got to stop,” she said, shaking her head. “Tilly, you must get a hold of yourself and forget about the past, once and for all!”

“10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.”

After she counted backwards to relax, she reflected on the last therapy session with Dr. Moonzata. His deep baritone voice rang out so clear as though he had been in the room with her.

Mrs. Maxwell, you’ve been my patient for many years now and we’ve tried many forms of therapy and medications to help you get through your post-traumatic stress disorder. It seems you’re suppressing memories and selectively sharing bits and pieces. The only way the new treatment plan will work is if you fully open up and release what’s got you bound.

“Hmmmp! I will never share all my secrets. They will go to my grave.”

She got up with her glass in hand, slid her size 8’s into her cozy satin black slippers, and kept her balance by moving slowly toward her dimly lit private bathroom.

 She opened the medicine cabinet and zoomed in on her bottle of Prazosin. Still, a little rattled, Tilly tussled to remove the childproof cap. Once opened, she dropped a few pills on the vanity and in the sink, but quickly scooped them as if winning the game of pick up jacks.

Over the years, Tilly had many doctors who had prescribed various new heavy anti-depressants to help subside the spells. Like the pro that she was, Tilly lied to her children and told them she had been taking a beta-blocker to treat her high blood pressure, which she no longer took, but cleverly kept the label on the bottle. Tilly had always stayed two steps ahead of outsmarting her children, especially her nosy daughter, Melissa, who recently got promoted to Head of Media Relations for the Maine Examiner.

“I hate swallowing these damn pills!” Tilly said, running water in her glass from the spigot.

She stared at the reflection in the mirror of a pale Caucasian woman with olive undertones, deep-sea blue eyes and thick wiry white hair.

“Pull it together.” She threw her head back, popped two pills and took a huge gulp and slowly walked in her room to climb into her queen-sized bed.

Normally, Tilly fell asleep with the T.V. on, but tonight, she wanted complete solitude and clicked off the remote.

After she got comfortable, Tilly looked at the crystal golden clock that sat on the myrtle burl bureau. The fancy quartz face displayed 11:07 P.M. by the mechanical hour and minute hands.

“My babies will be arriving in the morning.”

Within minutes, Tilly slept like a baby until awakened by the beaming sunlight against the beautiful glittery snow piled high on her windowsill.

As she awoke, she remembered last night’s weather report of thirteen inches expected in her area. The inviting smell of fresh brewed coffee opened her nostrils wide as a double barrel shotgun.

“It’s time to get things started,” she said, yawning and stretching her petite frame.

Anticipation grew as she got herself ready for the day.


Tilly had become a young widow nearly 40 years ago after suddenly losing her husband, Quentin, to a brain aneurysm. As the Matriarch, Tilly maintained the family bond. She refused to remarry to avoid having a blended family. With the help of a nanny, Tilly raised their four children, Malcolm, Melissa, Christopher and Patricia.

Her children all led very different lives. Malcolm, a prominent judge in Atlanta was happily married to Giselle. They have two children, Sylvia and Brian. Melissa, who worked as a journalist for the Maine Examiner, a divorcee, had one child, Maggie. Melissa and Maggie lived in the guesthouse of the Maxwell mansion. Chris, the quiet one of the bunch, lived the edgy and risky life on the Mississippi River. He and his business partner and also significant other are owners of a gambling and bootleg joint on their luxurious riverboat. Patricia, who prefers to be called Trish, had her priorities all mixed up and chose to experience the wilder side of life on the streets of Houston. She had four children out of wedlock and had been promiscuous since age 15. Trish had no idea who fathered her twin boys, Patrick and Tristen, and two daughters, Kayla and Shannon, which disappointed Tilly to no end. Due to Trish’s reckless lifestyle, Tilly took on the responsibility of caring for her grandchildren and she raised them similar to her own.

Tilly had to be strong all her life to prevent appearing weak. It was rare to see her shedding tears. Today was one of those days when she shed a few as she thought about all her children and grandchildren coming home to celebrate the holiday season through the New Year.

For the first time in over two years, the Maxwell’s were gathering for Thanksgiving dinner. Most days, Tilly had private chefs cater their meals. Since her children moved out, the family made it tradition to bond together as they prepared holiday feasts.


Tilly followed the smell of Arabic Coffee into the kitchen and saw steam arose from her favorite mug full of black gold awaiting her like a dance partner with an extended hand. Most mornings, Melissa prepared coffee for Tilly whenever the maid had been scheduled to arrive in the afternoon.

“Good morning, Melissa.” Tilly said as she sipped and glanced through the newspaper advertisements of Black Friday Deals.

“Hey Mom! I hope you slept well.” Melissa said, kissing her forehead.

“I did and I’m ready to begin spending time in the kitchen on this beautiful snowy Thanksgiving morning.”

“Yes, me too.”

Melissa grabbed her keys and full-length hooded cashmere coat.

“If you’re wondering, I sent most of the crew home for the holiday weekend. I’m on my way to the airport to pickup Malcolm and Trish whose flights are fifteen minutes apart.”

“In all that snow? Did you check to see if the flights are on time?

“I sure did.”

“Let me send the driver. Where is he?”

“I’ll be fine. Maggie and the twins are connecting her PlayStation for your oldest grand’s to play when they get here. Do you need me to stop at the store for anything?”

“No. I sent out for everything earlier this week. Just drive slow and be very careful with my precious cargo.”

As Tilly watched Melissa head towards the door, suddenly, she remembered something she needed and summoned her back.

“Oh, Melissa! Before you go!”

“Shoot, I knew it!” Melissa whispered.

“I heard that!”

Melissa unbuttoned her coat.

“Yes, Mother.”

“Can you go upstairs and get my blood pressure medicine for me, please?” Tilly asked, peering over her expensive eyeglasses.

“Sure, Mom.” Melissa said, trotting up the spiral staircase.


When Melissa entered her mother’s room, she immediately noticed Tilly’s untidy jewelry armoire, totally out of character for her mother. The white piece of paper that stuck out from the side caught Melissa’s attention. As she pulled the paper out, she mulled over the vintage red, white and blue airmail envelope. The postmark had faded, leaving a tinge of pink streaks, a partial date in a circle. She quickly walked into the bathroom and grabbed her Tilly’s medication and headed downstairs with envelope in hand, carefully studying this unusual looking correspondence.

“Mom, I noticed this envelope sticking out of your jewelry box,” Melissa curiously said, holding it up so Tilly could see. “It’s rather old. What is it?”

“Why are you prying, again? You have no right to go through my things, Melissa.” Tilly frowned. “Give it here, Child!” She tried to snatch the envelope from her grasp.

“I’ll put it back and I wasn’t prying. It’s not like you to have things in disarray, Mom.” Melissa said, as she read the written return address. “Why do you have somebody else’s mail from Washington State Mental Institution?”

“You can never leave well enough alone. Mind your own business when things don’t concern you. Melissa. Now, put it back where you found it!”

“OK. I’m sorry.”

She swiftly ran up stairs and before returning, Melissa snapped a clear picture of the vintage mail with her cell phone camera.

“Mom, let me get you some water and check on these kids before I head out.”

“Hurry up and get back here. I’ll need some help in the kitchen.”

 “Mom, do you want me to preheat the oven? Melissa shouted from the kitchen.

“Yes, please! I’ll put the turkey in soon. Now, get out of here before I send the driver to the airport.”

Melissa’s antics caused a concern of an onset panic attack and Tilly thought it best to pop a pill to remain coherent.

She decided to cook Belgium waffles topped with fresh fruit and sausages for the kids.

“Gammy Tilly, can I have more whipped cream on my waffles, please?” Patrick said.

“Sure, Darling. You know your mom will be coming soon to see you all.” The table went quiet.

“”But, you’re our mom,” Kayla said.

“I am your mother’s mom, which makes me your grandmother.”

“Where has she been? You always took care of us,” Tristan said, looking around the table at his siblings.

“Well, your mom has to work through some things and can’t wait to see you all.”

“What’s her name?” Kayla said

“Her name is Patricia, but Gammy Tilly calls her Trish.” Patrick said.

“That’s right, Patrick. Your mother loves you all very much and asked me to look after you until she can come for you.”

“Mommy, Trish… Pa..Tri..Sha.”

“Very good, Kayla. I’m so proud of you for saying your mommy’s name. Auntie Melissa left to go get her, your Uncle Malcolm, Aunt Giselle, Brian and Sylvia too.

“Listen, I know it’s been a while since you last saw her and she can only call late at night when you’re in bed. She asks about each of you all the time.”

“I remember Mom,” Tristan said, “She’s tall, has dark long hair and smokes cigarettes.”

“You do remember, her. Well, guess what? She no longer smokes anymore.”

The grandchildren talked about how well their grades were in school. They went over their Christmas wish list and the kids went outside to make snow angels on the veranda. Tilly washed the few breakfast dishes and kept anxiously checking the clock.

“A watched pot never boils.”

To keep herself distracted, Tilly called and talked to a friend who often met her for lunch at the country club. After the call, she double-checked her shopping spree and list of Christmas gifts.

Tilly enjoyed shopping whenever she was not in therapy, at the country club or spending quality time with her grandchildren.

Every Sunday after church, they all went ice-skating. She began to think about the times her family spent time at the rink and remembered how Christopher hated the ice. The pretty boy felt it was too cold and wet.

Tilly grew concerned when another 30 minutes went by and no sign of Chris who had been on the road driving alone most of the night. She wanted to call, but for safety reasons decided not to. As she gazed out of the floor to ceiling window, Tilly hoped to see him pulling in the horseshoe-shaped driveway.

She knew how much he loved to help with food preparation and held off as long as possible before putting the bird in the oven. Tilly cleaned, seasoned and stuffed the 25-pound turkey and placed it in the oven as she anxiously awaited her family’s arrival. The grandkids joined in as best they could to help out in the kitchen. She knew her baby boy would be arriving any minute to pick up the slack.

Finally, after an hour, Tilly saw her youngest son drive up and felt relieved to see his handsome face. They made eye contact, exchanged smiles and waves.

As she watched him make a call from the car, Tilly smelled the poultry seasoning which called her name to come baste the bird.


“Hey, Love!” Chris said, talking into his iPhone. “I just called to let you know I’ve arrived safely at the Queen’s home...The drive, mostly peaceful but really long...Maine got 12-inches of snow…The royal family should all be here, but I won’t know for sure until I get inside...I wish you could be here, too...Next time…Yes, I’m going to be here through the New Year...Oh, shoot, I just remembered something—I need you to do me a favor. After you get to work, can you confirm the Taylors final head count and call the vendor to make sure the liquor has been shipped in time for the weekend? ...I really do appreciate you…Listen, Love, I really must get going before my mother comes out here wondering why I’m still sitting in the car...I’ll call you later...Toodles!”


What normally took 20-minutes, took Melissa over an hour to cautiously drive to the airport on the icy roads. She had thoughts of her ex-husband, Pete Frazier II who fathered their daughter, Maggie. Melissa wondered what his plans were for the holiday, but shook off her thoughts since he had broken her heart on their wedding day nine years ago when she was 5 months pregnant.  

Melissa remembered her baby sister missing many family gatherings and time away from her babies over the past few years. She hoped the kids remembered their mother.

It had been so long since the family had last seen Trish. Melissa prayed that her sister had beaten her drug addiction and hoped she had been ready to relieve their mother of taking care of her four small children all under the age of 8.

As childhood memories flooded her mind, Melissa thought how overprotective Malcolm had always been of Trish. It had intensified when Trish had nearly drowned in the icy pond when Malcolm had turned back to pick up her favorite doll she’d dropped. Melissa wiped tears with the back of her designer gloves as she relived the day Malcolm saved Trish’s life. He pulled her limp frozen body from the frigid water. Wet from head to toe, Trish’s lips turned blue and her hair froze too. Malcolm wrapped his coat around her small dainty frame and got her to the hospital just in the nick of time. Trish suffered frostbite without blisters or lose of extremities.

At the time, Malcolm was seventeen, with a brand new driver’s license, and Trish was just eight. Trish always said she believed Malcolm was her guardian angel because he helped her through many close calls.

Melissa realized her backwards time travel caused her road trip to move a little quicker than expected. She had finally approached the parking garage and found close parking.

Melissa rewrapped her thick scarf around her neck and pulled her coat tighter and walked carefully along the freshly salted sidewalk. She skirted past a young couple on their way out the revolving doors. She hurried inside and couldn’t remember whose flight arrived first. Melissa grew anxious to see her family after being apart for so long.

She read the arrival board and saw Trish’s flight landed early and Malcolm’s was delayed by 30 minutes. Melissa thought she saw Trish from a far distance and tried to wave her down. Just as quickly as she spotted her, Trish disappeared in the sea of people. She got a little closer and discovered it was not Trish.


The moment Trish exited the plane with only a carry-on bag; she made a beeline to the bathroom. She paced the floor mumbling and rubbing her hands together like someone who had lost his or her mind. She constantly looked over her shoulders in search of goons from Houston, who had been on a hunt to find her over the last four days. Trish felt relieved for the moment with the strong possibility that she had finally escaped from her abusive pimp. Home was where she felt safe from imminent danger. Trish had her demons and a monkey on her back that traveled with her from Texas. She tried to shake off the horrible withdrawals of the street drug, Houston Hook aka HoHo, purging from her system. She had to figure out how to win this losing battle when her ship was sinking fast. Trish needed a hit to ease the craving, but knew that couldn’t happen anymore and decided to quit cold turkey for the sake of her young children. The chest coughing caused her a lot of discomfort, but picturing images of her beautiful babies gave her strength to endure. Trish snatched a roll of toilet paper, unwound a wad and stuck in her oversized coat pocket.

Trish was glad to be back home in Portland, but not in the mood to talk and avoided eye contact with the passersby. With the stroke of a magic wand, she wanted so badly to make her Houston experiences just disappear and turn back the hands of time. More than anything, she needed strength, support and Malcolm’s shoulder to cry on.

The uphill battle of handling unfinished business with her mother, because she neglected to take back her children as promised, also invaded her mind. She kept trying to grasp how this all started oh so long ago before Tilly forced her out on her own. Trish missed her kids terribly, but she had trouble chasing her from all directions and had a time kicking her drug habit. She lost control of her life.

For the first time, Trish looked at herself in the full-length mirror and saw how suspicious she looked in her disguise. She knew her family would hardly recognize her and wished she had a change of clothes. Trish had been in the bathroom long enough and decided to leave in search for Malcolm. She thought she saw Melissa, whom she couldn’t stand to be around, a good ways off checking the arrival board. Just in case, she purposely turned away from her near-perfect sister’s direction. In that moment, Trish felt secured when she saw her big brother and his family heading her way.

She smiled and mumbled, “Now, I’m home free.” Trish took in a deep breath and exhaled.

Just as Trish scurried through the sliding doors, Malcolm and his family greeted her with open arms and kisses. She finally got the much-needed attention she longed for.

“Malcolm!” She blurted, holding on for dear life and trembling like a scared kitten.

“How’s my baby sister?” Malcolm asked, as he looked her over.

 “Oh...um...I’m hanging in there,” Trish replied with a dry cough. “I’ve got a little cold, but otherwise I’m ok.”

“Did you have a good flight?” Malcolm kissed Trish on the forehead.

 “I’m nauseous from the bumpy flight. You know how much I hate flying.” Trish coughed again a little louder and longer.


Malcolm did all he could to hold back the tears. He knew something was wrong, but decided to question Trish in private. He slowly pulled away, raised his eyebrows and saw how unkind life had been to his baby sister. Malcolm honed in on the bruise on her nose and her oversized rumpled trench coat.

“Come on. Let’s go get our luggage,” Malcolm said, grabbing Trish by the hand like he did when they were kids.

Giselle and the children trailed a few paces behind them.

“Hopefully, Melissa is already here,” he said looking in all directions. Trish, we really missed you greatly.”

“Yeah, I know. I couldn’t get off work.”


Melissa scanned the many faces in baggage claim like a facial recognition application. She hoped to find her siblings quickly. Even though she was a journalist, large crowds made her very anxious. She took a deep breath to help relax, but her palms were sweaty and her heart pounded a mile a minute. She quietly counted backwards from ten to calm down, but it didn’t relieve the nervous tension as she watched the masses of jet-lagged passengers rushing to their destinations.

Melissa couldn’t wait to find her family, but dreaded navigating through the crowd. So she tried to cheat by standing on her tippy toes to get a better look over everyone’s heads. Only 5’5”, she had no such luck and pressed forward like a big rig just leaving the filling station.

Ten minutes and many deep breaths later, Melissa successfully spotted her family. She barely recognized her sister, as she was nothing but skin and bones. Trish had heavy dark circles under her red eyes, half-combed hair, and she wore a coat three sizes too big.

“What… what the hell is this?” She whispered under her breath.

After all these years apart, Melissa was amazed at Malcolm and Trish’s unique bond still as strong as Crazy Glue. She kept her eyes fixated on them through the sea of arrivals and made her way passed all the shoving and grunting.

“You look great, Brother!” Melissa said, respectfully with arms stretched out wide.

“Ahhh... thank ya, thank ya, thank ya!” Malcolm replied, puffing up his chest.

“It even looks like you lost some weight.”

“Giselle!” She hugged Giselle, Sylvia and Brian. “Oh my goodness! Look how tall you guys are now!” Melissa told her niece and nephew.

“I know; it seems like just yesterday I was teaching Sylvia how to tie her shoe and changing Brian’s diapers,” Giselle said, equally excited to see her favorite sister-in-law. “It’s so good to see you, Melissa.”

“You too.”

When Melissa turned to face Trish, concern spread across her face like jam on toast. It looked like Trish’s Houston lifestyle wore her down from head to toe.

“How have you been, Trish?” Melissa asked as she extended her arms to hug Trish. “What’s going on in Houston?”

Trish barely returned the hug.

“I’m surviving,” Trish said, looking away and guarded. “It’s been too long and I just want to get home and see the rest of our family.”

Melissa knew that meant she was confessing her need for help and wanted rescuing again from her latest troubles. She noticed Trish’s shaking and her repeated urge to use the bathroom, apparently suffering from withdrawals.

No one said a word as they waited for their luggage. So many different brands, shapes, colors and styles whizzed around the conveyor several times. Finally, Sylvia noticed Giselle’s Louis Vitton Luggage labeled with a bright pink ribbon, which led the way.

“Mommy, there’s yours coming around now!”

“Yes, Honey, and it looks like everyone else’s too.”

“Thank goodness! I’m famished.” Malcolm said.

Once their suitcases came around, the family grabbed their specific matching sets and everyone headed to the parking garage. The Maxwell children looked like a family of ducks strolling through the airport with Melissa and Giselle in front. Trish kept her distance and Malcolm kept his eyes on his family from the back.

Melissa popped the trunk release from her keyless remote and Malcolm neatly placed the luggage inside. Her niece, Sylvia, and nephew, Brian, climbed in the back row seats. Melissa watched them buckle up and they popped in their ear buds to listen to the latest tunes on their iPods. Malcolm opened the door for Trish to hop in the front seat. He and his wife took the middle row captain seats.

When everyone got together, it was hard to have a one-on-one conversation. The long trip home gave the siblings a chance to catch up before the busy holiday weekend began.

Although Trish said very little, Malcolm briefly discussed some of his most interesting court cases that made national news. Melissa talked about her new promotion, her recent travels for headline stories and how she looked forward to her upcoming trip to Seattle, Washington.

Melissa felt Trish’s tension growing; as she sighed after every sentence she shared anything about her life. She had been prepared for the brewing argument. Melissa had been known for not leaving room for anyone else to get a word in edgewise.

“Melissa, how has Mom really been?” Malcolm asked, making eye contact in her rearview mirror.

“Witty as ever. Just before I left today, for instance, I noticed a rather old envelope with a return address from a mental hospital in Washington State sticking out of her jewelry box.” Melissa said, passing her cell phone picture to Malcolm. “Take a look at this. Do you know anything about it?”

Malcolm shook his head after stretching and studying the clear picture.

“When I questioned her about it, she tried to put a guilt trip on me by accusing me of prying through her personal belongings. Mom clearly didn’t want to talk about it.”

Malcolm’s eyebrow rose. “That’s weird,” Malcolm said. “Why would Mom have anything to do with a mental hospital? What’s the connection?”

“That’s what I asked her¾

“I’m sick of you, Melissa!” Trish shouted as she rolled her eyes. “Where is your respect for Mom’s privacy? You had no business going through her things like that! Why bring your job as the big-time journalist into our mother’s home, huh? You need to leave it alone and get a life.” Trish gazed out the window at the familiar sights.

“Calm down, Trish,” Malcolm said, rubbing her shoulder. “I’m sure Melissa has an explanation for snooping through Mom’s things.” Malcolm winked at Melissa. “Now, give her a chance to explain.”

“For your information, Miss Smarty Pants, Mom asked me to get her medicine from her bathroom.” Melissa said, studying her eyes on the icy road ahead. “We all know how anal she is about cleanliness. It drew my attention because it’s so out of character for her to have an untidy armoire. That’s the only reason I noticed it.”

Just a few miles from home, no one spoke a word for the remainder of the trip. Soft sounds of jazz enveloped their ears.

When Melissa pulled up in the driveway behind her brother’s sky blue Aston Martin, Brian and Sylvia raced inside from the freshly plowed sidewalk.

 “Slow down you two before you slip and fall!” Melissa and Giselle shouted collectively.

As the siblings unloaded the car, they watched how awkwardly Trish got out of the car. She slammed the door, cupped her mouth, held her stomach, and pushed through the front heavy wooden door.

“Trish must be coming down from her high and making me her target again,” Melissa said.

“She’s got a bad cold, and it’s made her cranky,” Malcolm said, protecting Trish as usual.

“Yeah... OK,” Melissa said in disbelief. “Well, anyway, back to this postmarked forty-year-old envelope. I couldn’t help but be curious since it had been opened. Malcolm, I’m going to Seattle soon for my company convention. I think I’ll do some digging before I head out.”

”I have no idea what this is, but there’s definitely something odd here,” Malcolm said in his professional and concerned tone. “We’ll talk about it later. I need to check on Trish. We both know she is not doing well. Would you look at this? She left her pocketbook and duffle bag in the car.” Malcolm pointed inside the car.

As they headed toward the house, Chris got out of his expensive luxury sports car and warmly greeted his siblings. “How are my favorite brother and sister doing?”

“Great! How are things in the South?” Malcolm asked hugging and slapping him several times on the back.

“Things are swell, just swell. You know me, I’ve been busy as a little honey bee.”

“I can’t believe you drove this British beauty all the way from Mississippi by yourself.

“Yea, I did that in 34 hours with an 8-hour stay at the Hilton. Humph, I’m glad it was a straight shot on I-81!”

“Man, this is nice. Can I take it for a spin later?”

“I call her Azul and of course, you can take her for a drive. Just let me know when you’re ready, Bro. Surprisingly, she does all right in the snow.”

“Are you just getting here?” Melissa asked as she pecked Chris on the cheek.

“I got here not too long ago, but had to make a few calls before I went inside,” Chris said, popping his trunk. “Where’s the butler?”

“I sent most of the staff home this early morning.” Melissa said.

Malcolm walked back to Melissa’s car to get the luggage.

“Oh, how thoughtful of you. They need to spend time with their families too. I saw our evil sister who didn’t look so hot. What’s going on now?”

“Who knows? That’s what we were just talking about,” Melissa said, staring at Malcolm who nodded. “Why don’t you guys go ahead? I need to grab something from the house. Let Mom know I’ll be right there.” She gently touched Chris on the shoulder, turned, and walked toward her freshly shoveled path to the guesthouse.

Melissa planned on returning to assist with dinner but had to grab her mother’s Thanksgiving greeting card. She wanted to drive to the cemetery to visit her father, who died when she was nine. Melissa decided to wait until the snow melted in the late afternoon according to the weatherman on the radio.

© Copyright 2017 Michelle Johnson-Lane. All rights reserved.


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