Slamming her hands down on the table, fury emanating from every pore. “That cheating son of a bitch, how could he do this to me? And why, why would he do this to me? How could I be so stupid to believe that her loved me? Piper said sobbing through her hands, her face buried in them.
“Piper honey, please come and sit down,” said her friend Molly who had just delivered the awful news.
Piper did as she was asked, taking a issue from the box Molly had put on the table. Molly had called Piper earlier that morning asking her if she could come over as she had something to tell her. Piper had no idea what it was but she had heard the urgency in her friends voice. Throwing on old tatty jeans with holes in the knees, and a tight pale blue tank top. She had quickly put her bright auburn and very unruly hair into a bun with loose bit all around her face. She hadn’t bothered with make up but then she didn’t need to. Her skin was pale and flawless, with deep green eyes she was devastatingly beautiful. Blowing her nose she looked at Molly and tried to smile. “You are such a good friends and I’m acting like a complete baby.”
Holding Piper’s hand, “You are no such thing, I’m just so sorry it had to be me that told you.”
“Oh honey, I can’t tell you what it means to me. That affair I told you about when Jade was two, I was the last one to find out. It appeared that everyone knew before I did and tha seemed worse that the actual cheating,” Taking a deep breath, “but you, you had the courage to tell me which means so much to me Molly, you really are a good friend, thank you.”
Sighing with relief. “I can’t tell you what a relief that is,” Molly replied rearranging her long black skirt with brightly colored poppies scattered over it. “I nearly died when I saw them together, and I didn’t know what to do. So after I had delivered the groceries to the food bank I went and spoke to my mom. I didn’t know what to do honey. I knew I had to tell you, I just didn’t know how. I promise you though, she is the only person I told.”
Piper smiled at her friend and stood up. “I’m going to make more coffee, this has gone cold.” The two women had known each other for eleven years having met at the school Jade was attending. There was a school play and Molly’s five year old niece was in it as was Jade. Piper and Molly had volunteered to make the costumes. At the time Molly was a paralegal for a firm in Seattle and Piper had just set up her jewelry business and was trying to get it off the ground. Molly had offered to throw a party at her house. The party had been a great success. A lot of people had turned up and everyone was enjoying themselves. Piper and Molly’s mothers were both there meeting for the first time. They immediately hit it off and spent the rest of the evening talking loudly and laughing at everything. Both Molly and Piper were surprised at how well they seemed to be getting on when Molly turned to Piper and dragged her into the kitchen. She had opened the freezer and moved things around. Her special brownies were gone, she somehow must have taken them out by mistake. Their mothers were high.
“You sit down and I will make the coffee. We could sit outside the weather is so good. It was the beginning of September and the kids had just gone back to school. They were enjoying an Indian summer. Piper opened the French doors of the kitchen leading out onto a beautiful back yard.
Slipping off her bronze sandals, Piper walked around the yard looking at the flowers still in bloom while Molly busied herself making coffee and finding the home made cookies her mother had made. The kitchen was the biggest room in the house, painted a soft yellow. An over large dresser was at one side of the kitchen. Placed on it were Molly’s collection of white crockery painted with swaying daffodils and grass. In the middle of the kitchen sat a pale oak table that seated ten people comfortably. It was surrounded by ten chairs that had different brightly colored cushions on them.
Walking out into the yard Molly placed the tray onto the glass coffee table edged with wicker. “Coffees ready.”
Piper had been sitting on a comfortable white wicker chair with bright orange cushions placed under a large oak tree at the back of the yard. When she heard Molly she stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray and got up to join her friend.
“This all looks lovely,” said Piper seating herself in one of the eight oversized and high backed pale wicker chairs. All eight had overstuffed fuchsia pink cushions.
“They are the cookies my mom made, you know what she’s like for her baking.”
“I actually meant the crockery. You seem to have a different matching set every time I come over here, and that’s a lot.”
Molly laughed. “I just love matching crockery. I love to take my time choosing it. It’s a think of mine.”
“Well it all looks lovely. The purple swirls on white are so elegant, and little matching coffee cups to go with it”
Molly looked at her friend. “Are you making fun of me?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” crossing her long legs as she accepted a cup of black coffee and took a sip.
Molly put cream and sugar into her coffee and stirred it. “So honey, have you any idea what you are going to do?”
“I’m going to divorce him is what I’m going to do. I’m not sure how to go about it yet, but there is no doubt in my mind that I can no longer be with a man that cheats on me. The first time I forgave him. I took my marriage vows seriously even if he didn’t, and I wanted to make it work,” pausing to take another sip of coffee. “I am worried about how Jade will take it, but I can’t do this any longer. We’ve been drifting apart for a long time now. It’s time to make a clean break and start a new life.”
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear you say that. I was concerned you would want to9 try and make things work, you have always been faithful to him, and loyal, I thought maybe………”
“Not this time Molly,” looking at her expensive wedding ring. Toying with it she slowly took it off and sighed as she placed it on the table near Molly. “Would you take care of this for me?”
Molly nodded, “In that case, let’s get down to business. I still have a lot of friends and contacts from my days as a paralegal. Leave it with me for a day or two and I will have you the best dam lawyer this side of Washington.
Before Molly had a family she had gone to college and trained as a paralegal and was lucky enough to get a job with a company in Seattle not long after she left. She had worked for the same company for eight years, in that time she had made many friends because of her brilliance and bright personality. People were naturally drawn to her. She had met her husband Frank at UW where he was a professor of English, Molly had been there to do a talk on the kind of work she did. The two of them had literally bumped into each other at a coffee shop on campus, and a year later they were married. Both of them had wanted children but it had taken a long time for them to fall pregnant, but once they had started they hadn’t stopped. Within six years they had four children. Molly had taken to motherhood so easily as she was naturally a happy person and well organized she put most people to shame.
“Thanks Molly, I guess that’s the first thing taken care of. It will give me a few days to clear my head. The main thing is to make sure that Charles doesn’t know that I know.”
“I was going to mention that, but what are you going to do when it comes to, you know, sleeping with him?”
Frowning. “I’m not sure, I haven’t got that far yet. He is at a conference this weekend until Sunday night. Maybe by then I will have come up with some kind of plan, ” cocking her head to one side. “Is that Carrie I hear?”
Carrie was Molly’s youngest child. Now four months old, she was all squidgy and smiley, totally adorable and Piper couldn’t get enough of her.
“Mamma, Carrie’s crying,” this from Sarah who was four years old. “I think she needs feeding,” she said as she carried her baby sister out into the garden.
“Oh my God,” said both women in unison, jumping up. “Sarah honey how many times have I told you not to pick your sister up out of her cot.” Gently taking the baby out of Sarah’s arms. “You are only to hold her when you are sitting down on a couch.”
“I know Mamma, but she needed me. She told me she wanted me to pick her up and cuddle her.”
“Did she indeed,” smiling at her daughter.
“I’m going back to watch TV. Why am I allowed to watch so much TV today Mamma?”
“Mamma has important things to talk about with Auntie Piper okay?’
“Yep,” looking at Piper. “Could you always have important things to talk about Auntie Piper?” she replied leaving the room before Mamma could change her mind.
Molly handed the baby over to Piper as she went to warm up a bottle. Walking back into the kitchen she heard the doorbell ring. “Can you answer that Piper?”
Upon opening the door she saw Dee standing there with two large and very packed grocery bags.
“Don’t just stand there honey, let me in otherwise my arms are going to fall off if I don’t put these down soon.”
Moving out of the way she followed Dee into the kitchen.
Molly had just finished warming the bottle when Dee arrived. Molly was delighted to see her mom who only lived a few doors down. Handing the bottle to Piper she gave her mom a big hug. “How many people do you plan to feed tonight? It looks as though you have enough for twenty people.”
“No, just the eight of us unless our lovely Piper is going to join us which would be really nice,” smiling at Piper and holding her arms out for her grandchild.
Handing the baby over Piper went back outside while Molly fetched another cup.
Dee had made herself comfortable in one of the chairs while she fed her grandchild. She was dressed casually in black pants with green flowers on them and a loose green top, looking younger that her fifty nine years. As she settle the finished bottle on the table and began to burp the baby she said, “It looks as though you have the situation in hand. I’m sorry that he did this to you honey. And Molly told me last night that this wasn’t the first time. A man like that doesn’t deserve a woman like you.”
“Thanks Dee that means a lot. I think I’m still in shock actually. Right now I don’t feel anything for him. No hate, not anything.”
Piper and Dee had known each other almost as long as Piper and Molly having met at the jewelry party Molly had thrown for Piper eleven years ago. Their mothers had also met at the party and hit it off immediately, both of them had drunk a little too much but they were finding everything hysterical. It was then that Molly ran to the freezer to find that her mother had put out her special brownies thinking they were for the party. When she went to check the table they were all gone. However, the party turned out to be a huge success for Piper.
Piper finished her coffee and place her cup on the tray. “I’m going to go and leave you guys to your Friday night dinner,” smiling.
Standing up, Molly went over to her friend as she began to leave, holding her arms. “Please don’t go honey. You know how welcome you are her, plus, I don’t think it’s a good idea that you be alone right now. You said yourself that Charles is away until Sunday evening and Jade is with her best friend studying for SATs. What are you going to do? Sit in that extremely large house of yours all alone for the weekend? I don’t think so. So you go home, pack for the weekend and then come back here and use one of our spare rooms that are always made up. Please Piper, I really want you to stay.”
Piper squeezed her friend. “Thanks Molly, I really don’t want to be alone right now.” Saying goodbye she walked to her car dreading walking back into her cold and empty house alone. A house that when they first got married held so may possibilities. Charles had bought it for her before they were married as a wedding gift, he had put it in her name to show her how much he had loved her, and he had.
While this was all going on Piper’s daughter Jade wasn’t with her best friend studying for SATs, she was with her boyfriend Luke. They were at her grandparents cabin In Roslyn, forty miles from North Bend. They had been seeing each other for nearly two years and only their best friends knew about the relationship.
The two of them had know each other since kindergarten, but it wasn’t until Jade’s fifteenth birthday party that they got together. He had seen her sitting all alone under the gazebo and went to see if she was okay. She had told him she didn’t want a party, but her father had insisted on it. Her father was the reason for the secrecy, and Luke had been more than happy to keep it from him as Luke didn’t like Charles one bit. He saw him as a self-obsessed and arrogant man.
This weekend had taken a lot of planning, but at last they were alone for two whole days.
Luke grabbed hold of Jade and kissed her. “This is a great place.”
Smiling at him she took his hand. “This is where we will be sleeping.” showing him the tiny room she occupied when coming here. Her Great Grandmother’s quilt she had made herself from her children’s old clothes lay on the bed. An old rocking chair sat in one corner of the room, and there was a small wardrobe.
Pulling off his dark blue t-shirt he pulled her over to the bed. Nervously she sat on his lap as he slowly took off her baby blue spaghetti top revealing a lacy blue bra that he removed. Gently he rolled her over onto the bed and straddled her. She watched as he bent toward her, his lean body on top of her. They kissed long and passionately as Luke gradually removed her tight stone washed jeans reveling matching panties. God she was beautiful he thought as he drank in her flawless skin, her tiny waist with rounded hips. Removing her panties he gently pushed her legs apart. “Are you sure?” he asked. Getting as ‘yes, yes he then very slowly rolled his tongue down her stomach and into her private area, her pubic hair was soft and the same color as her hair. Finding her clitoris she moaned grabbing his hair telling him not to stop as she arched her belly.
This was the first time for both of them and Jade was nervous, but he couldn’t wait he had to be inside her. Gently her pushed her legs wider, ready to enter he asked her one more time if she was ready. “For the love of God just keep going,” clawing at his back while arching her body. He entered her slowly, and then frantically began thrusting up and down as Jade grabbed at his back and buttocks telling him to go harder which he did. They moaned in unison, then she screamed as he came lowering his head to kiss her.
When it was all over he stayed on top of her breathing heavily, kissing her softly on the neck. Eventually he rolled off, but stayed holding her as she looked up towards the ceiling. He asked her if she was okay. She nodded, unable to speak. She had no idea that it would be so good. Her girlfriends had given her all kinds of versions, but this was completely different from what she had heard, and apparently it got better the more you did it.
After having shared a long shower together they were now in the kitchen. Jade was seated at the old and very worn oak table. Everything in the cabin was old which is how everyone liked it. All the appliances were old, there was no microwave, and when they all went as a family all screens were taken away for the duration of the stay.
Luke place a mug of coffee in front of her and then finished off the lasagna he was making for the two of them. As he put cheese on top of the lasagna he asked. “Have you decided when we are going to tell everyone about us? We have been seeing each other for a year and ten months, not that I’m counting,” he grinned. “But I’m not sure how much longer we can do this. Plus, I want to tell the world about us, I want to brag to everyone that I have an amazing girlfriend,” walking over to where she was sitting he pulled up a chair and straddled it. Jade watched him, dressed only in grey sweat pants she could see his lean muscular body and found herself wanting him.
Instead. “I know we have to tell people Luke. And I want to tell the world about my amazing girlfriend,” smiling. “But I’m scared.”
Frowning at her, “Scared? Honey I know your father is a control freak and completely self-obsessed, but there’s nothing to be scared of, what can he do, we are nearly seventeen.”
Lowering her head she stayed silent as she tried to tell Luke the real reason she didn’t want her father to know about them. Luke poured himself a cup of coffee while he waited patiently for her to talk, but she stayed silent, her head bowed.
“Honey, you’re worrying me. You know you can trust me right?” she nodded but didn’t look up. “So tell me then. Whatever it is we can sort it out together.”
Eventually she lifted her head and looked at him. “He spanks me,” this was said so quietly Luke wasn’t sure he had heard her correctly.
“What did you just say?” disbelief in his voice.
She was so ashamed and embarrassed but she repeated what she had just said. Tears streaming down her face she told him that her dad had been spanking her since she was thirteen having received a B on a science test. Luke looked at the only girl he had ever loved filled with fury at the man who had done this to her, was still doing this to her. He had never liked Charles, but now he wanted to kill him. Jade could see this and threw her arms around his neck. “I’m so sorry Luke, you are the only person I have told. It’s all so humiliating, I hate it so much. I don’t know anyone that gets spanked at seventeen.”
Taking her face in his hands, making her look at him. “You have nothing to be sorry for sweetheart, this must be really hard for you. I know we’ve said we should never have secrets from each other but I totally understand why you didn’t tell me before now. I am however fucking furious that he does this to you and it needs to be sorted out.”
Looking at him desperately, “Please don’t tell anyone about this.”
What I don’t understand is why your mom is okay with this, why she lets him do this to you because it seems so unlike Piper.”
“She doesn’t know.”
“What do you mean she doesn’t know?”
“I’ve not told her,” replied Jade whishing the subject would go away. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore, it was all so humiliating.
“Sweetheart you have to tell her. I know this is hard, but she has to know what’s going on so that it can be stopped.”
Again she lowered her head not saying a word. Luke watched her, waiting for her to speak. Why hadn’t she told her mom about this, Piper would have stopped it immediately. Then it clicked. “He threatened you, didn’t he?” Fury emanating from every vein in his body. Putting his hands on her shoulders he asked her what he had threatened her with.
Looking up at him, tears streaming down her face she told him what her dad had said if she ever told her mom. Unable to take in what she had said he held her in his arms for a long time. “Tomorrow we go back home and tell your mom everything.”
Piper was now back at Molly’s house having driven home and quickly thrown a suitcase together of things she would need for the weekend. She was so desperate to get out of the house she didn’t take much care in what she was putting into the case. Once she was done she took a quick look round then ran to her car and went back to Molly’s looking forward to her warm kitchen. As always it was loud and there was a lot going on, Molly had asked her to go and change baby Carrie. She was in the middle of making silly faces at the baby when he phone rang. It was Carla. The two women had known each other since their children had started Kindergarten and for a long time they had spent hours together talking, both of them lonely.
“Hi Pipe, it’s Carla, thought you’d like to go out tonight, paint the town red.”
For some reason Carla always insisted on calling her Pipe and it irritated her. Letting go of the baby’s legs. “Sorry Carla I’m busy tonight,” putting Carrie’s legs into her onsie. Then picking her up and holding her close she could smell that lovely baby smell as she walked along the corridor back to the kitchen.
“Sorry Carla but I’m busy tonight.”
“What can be more exciting that going out into North Bend on a Friday night?”
Piper could think of many things that were more exciting than a Friday night in North Bend. “I at Molly’s for the weekend, we are going to hang out tonight and have a few drinks.”
Sarcasm dripping from her voice. “Sounds exciting, oh for God’s sake blow them off and come out with me.”
Now back in the kitchen Piper had placed her phone on the table and pressed speaker phone so she could cuddle the baby. “Carla, I don’t want to blow them off.”
“Are you serious, you would rather spend time with that family than me. You used to jump at the chance of going out and having a few drinks.”
Horrified, Piper gave the baby to Dee place her hands either side of the phone and bent towards it. “What do you mean when you say ‘that family?”
“It’s nothing personal, I just find them rather dull and I thought you and I were friends. We haven’t spent any time together lately.”
Through gritted teeth. “Well tonight I have things I need to sort out and these guys are going to help me, it will have to be another time.”
“Are you serious, you are such a bore Piper.”
“Way to go in convincing me to go out with you,” pressing the end button.
Carla turned towards her husband who was laid out on the sofa, throwing her cell on a chair. “Did you hear that Tyler? Can you believe that woman, she has turned into such a bore lately.”
Tyler was dressed in dark blue jeans that hung from his slim waist and a black t-shirt a size too small showing off his A shaped body. “I heard your side of the conversation. If you ask me Carla you shouldn’t have said what you did at the end about THAT family. It was really rude.”
“Well no one did ask you did they?” she replied tartly, as she lit a cigarette. “I can’t understand why she would want to spend time with Molly and her parents rather than go out, she’s thirty four for God’s sake, not eighty four.”
“Why wouldn’t she? I’ve spent time with Molly and her parents at the parties Piper has thrown over the years and I’ve found all of them great company, especially her father Frank, he has great stories to tell,” picking up his paper again that he had been reading when interrupted by his wife’s explosion.
Carla sighed heavily and walked into the kitchen to make some of her favorite fruit tea. From the living room Tyler asked her what she was going to do now that Piper couldn’t make it. He was hoping she would suggest that the two of them go out for the evening.
“Take a long hot bath, light up my candles and relax for the evening I guess,” walking back in holding a steaming cup in both hands. “Ty, we really need new furniture,” looking at the black and very worn leather chair she had sat on.” Everything is so worm. And we don’t have to pay for Luke’s college anymore since you parents have so kindly given him the money for that,” this was said with a sneer, it was a bone of contention between them.
“Then get a job Carla. Our son no longer needs you to be here when he comes home from school, he is nearly seventeen. He has a job which has allowed him to buy his own car, pay for the insurance and gas. He was also saving for college until mom and dad gave him that money. If a sixteen year old can do it I’m sure a thirty nine year old can,” sounding cold, unhappy that she hadn’t suggested the two of them go out.
Sneering at him. It wasn’t the first time he had suggested that she get a job. “Fine, I’ll start looking, but what I don’t understand is why we can’t now spend the money we have saved to Luke’s college,” giving him one last glare as she stormed up the stairs.
Tyler watched her go. She was so beautiful with her shoulder length blond hair, baby blue eyes and tiny body, she turned heads wherever she went and he had always been proud of that. But when she sneered as she did often, her beautiful face became all twisted and ugly. He didn’t believe for one minute that she would look for a job, she had just said she would to shut him up.
Molly’s home was in total chaos, the three older children were running around the rambler with toy guns yelling their heads off while Dee and Molly made the dinner. The Robert’s and Linton family spent a lot of time together, but Friday nights were the one night they always go together to have dinner. A lot of time and thought went into these dinners. Both Molly and her mom worked easily together totally unfazed by the noise around them. They had refused Piper’s help so she had hold of the baby, any chance she go she would have the baby in her arms. Suddenly they heard the children shout Grandpa, telling him to join in the game. Frank, at the age of sixty two loved being a grandpa and was more than happy to run around with a toy gun, also yelling at the top of his voice.
After twenty minutes had gone by Dee looked up as Frank came into the kitchen with a broad smile on his face. “So you’ve decided to join us then? Honestly Frank you’re a bigger kid than your grandchildren.”
“Keeps me young,” walking over to kiss his wife and daughter. Frank had been retired for six years after having made a lot of money on the stock market, much to the delight and surprise of his family who thought he would never retire, let alone at such a young age. He had said there were much more important things to do that work. He had always wanted to travel Europe, especially Paris. Together Frank and Dee had now travelled to many countries and they weren’t done yet.
Sitting down he saw Piper for the first time, laughing at himself, “How could I miss such a beautiful face? Getting up to kiss her on the cheek. “How is my lovely Piper?”
Smiling at Franks familiar face, “Not bad Frankie,” she replied winking at him. She was the only one allowed to call him Frankie.
“Frank, the dinner is nearly ready, why don’t you and Piper set the table?” said Dee.
Frank held out his arms for his granddaughter to get a quick hug before they did so then put her down in the crib. Winking at Piper he said to Molly. “Which set is it tonight? my Lady.”
“We are using the poppy set, it’s all kept in the right hand side of the dresser,” Pointing, choosing to ignore her father.
As Frank and Piper began to set out the brightly colored plates, all a different color with bright poppies on them Pipers’ cell rang. Pulling it out of her back pocket she saw it was Tara. Looking at Molly she asked, “Do you mind, it’s Tara?” Receiving a smile Piper walked through the French windows and into the back yard, most of which was still in full bloom because of the Indian summer they were having.
Piper and Tara had been best friends ever since they’d been born because their parents knew each other. “So what’s up?” Asked Piper.
“Nothing, that’s why I was calling you. I wondered if I could come round, I’ve got two good bottles of wine.”
“Sounds great. Look I’m at Molly’s, why don’t you come over, you know she wont mind. We will be sitting down for dinner in about two minutes, why don’t you grab those bottles of wine, jump in your car and you will make it just in time.”
“See you in two.”
The three women were very close. Molly and Tara had been introduced when Piper had held the jewelry party at Molly’s house. The two of them quickly became friends and now all three of the were inseparable. Smiling, Piper walked back in and told Molly, Tara would be joining them. Just as she was going to help Frank her phone rang again. Looking at the screen she saw it was Charles. She debated whether or not to answer it and decided not to . pressing the end button she put her phone in her purse.
Charles looked at the screen annoyed. It wasn’t like his wife not to answer the phone when he called. What was she up to which meant she couldn’t speak to her. She had said she had nothing to do this weekend and would be in ordering merchandise for her silly business because she had a festival coming up. Honestly, the way she talked about it you would think it was a proper business that earned money.
Looking up as he heard Serena’s voice asking if everything was okay he threw his phone of the hotel chair and walked towards her, stripping of his clothes as he did so, showing off his muscular body. At the age of forty six he could pass for someone much younger, but he was beginning to go round the middle.
“Everything’s fine, now come here and let me ravage that beautiful young body of yours.”
At last everyone was seated around the table. Molly’s husband Joe had arrived a few minutes before Tara, kissed his wife and mother-in-law and sat down. Joe was a college professor at UW in Seattle. He was on of the very few that didn’t see his work as a job. He taught English which was his passion. He was very good at his job and loved by all his students and work colleagues. He really was tall dark and handsome, being African American, six foot four with broad shoulders and a big smile for everyone.
Piper was sat next to Tara who as always was dressed beautifully. He long black hair had been put up in a ballerina bun, elongating her pretty café au lait face. Her grandparents were Mexican, they had moved to America when her mother was fifteen. She was dressed in black sweat and a loose fitting pale green -shirt. Both women watching the scene in front of them. So much laughter and talking. So different from Piper who would be sitting at home alone in he nine thousand square foot home that was supposed to be filled with children, but instead it was cold and lonely. And Tara who live alone in a small, but very lovely house with a beautiful courtyard. Both women felt privileged to be part of this wonderful and welcoming family.