“You’re really going to take him up on his offer?”
“Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”
“This is turning into your prom all over again.”
“Don’t start with me Brice. I can clearly see how sincere Lincoln is. He was even nervous to ask me out for Christ’s sake.”
“You’re can’t go out with him.”
“Because he sells pots for a living.”
“Which you probably buy. That is an idiotic excuse not to date someone. And as I recall, you’re the one who said things have changed for the better in Janice, correct?”
“That’s what I thought. You’ve already met Lincoln, so you shouldn’t have any objections.”
“Well I do. He’s still a man at the end of the day.”
“Amanda, this is what you have to look forward to. You’ll be a forty year old spinster if you let your father have his way.”
“Amanda and I have already had this conversation. She’s not going to date until after I’m dead.”
“I’m sure you were the only one to agree with those terms.” Amanda chuckled and gave me the thumbs up as she pushed my coffee table in front of the couch.
“Is this alright?”
“And another thing-”
“Please. just. stop.” A knock came at the door and I wonder who it could be. I look through the bare window and find Sean and Derrick waiting at the front door.
“I’ll get it.” Cameron volunteered.
“Hey kiddo.” he says giving Cameron a fist bump.
“Hi uncle Sean!” Amanda ran into her uncle’s arms and playfully gives him a jab to the ribs.
“How ya doing Andy?”
“I’m good. London is our new favorite aunt.”
“She said we can call her that.”
“And how does your father feel about that?”
“I don’t like it one bit.”
“Is anyone going to acknowledge my presence?”
“Hi uncle Derrick.” Everyone said in dry unison.
“Pricks. Minus my niece and nephew of course.”
“How’d you two find me?”
“Brice.” They both accused.
“Why am I not surprised?”
“I brought you help. You should be thanking me right now.”
“You two are still at each others throats.” Sean added.
“Just like old times.” Derrick lamented.
“He doesn’t know when to let things go.”
“Like this Lincoln character?”
“You mean the guy on Rockhill Manor?”
“Yeah, he’s the one.”
“He’s an alright guy to me. He sells pottery, but hey, he has to make a living somehow.”
“Thank you Derrick. You hear that Brice, Lincoln’s a nice guy.”
“I’m sure he’s very zen like.” Sean joked and earned a smack on his shoulder. “What? I’m just sayin’ he lives like a monk. We barely see the guy in town unless he’s selling or buying something.”
“All the makings of a serial killer if you ask me.”
“Well no one asked you Brice. I’m going on a date with him and that’s final.”
“Whoa. You’re dating this guy? You just got back in town.”
“Thank you Sean,” Brice mimicked, “it’s too soon for you to start dating, let alone a complete stranger.”
“Amanda, be glad you only have one brother, these three are a hassle to deal with.”
“We love you is all.”
“Well, love gettin’ to work. And don’t break anything.”
After everyone filed out of my home, I run over our conversations again. I’ve learned I have additional niece’s and nephew’s and except for Brice, everyone else is married. Shelley and Maria hadn’t showed which was a blessing. Earlier my house was in chaos with bodies flitting around invading my space. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the help. Now it’s just Lucas and I. He’s responding to his name now. I push my lazy bones from the couch to fetch towels for a shower that I deeply deserve. There’s nothing like a hot shower to soothe this aching body.
As I undress, I look myself over in the full length mirror attached to the back of the bathroom door, admiring myself. There isn’t saggy skin or a stretch mark in sight. I have the perfect body of a woman who has yet to live. I’ve never been married, never had a child and I’m a forty year old virgin. How could things get any worse than that? The upside is, is that my jeans from fifteen years ago still fit like a glove. Sighing, I step into the shower and turn on the nozzle, letting the spray of hot water beat against my skin. Despite what Brice says, I’m going on this date and if it turns out to be nothing, then so be it. I’ll never know unless I try again.
I woke up this morning well rested with Lucas staring me between the eyes. What a wonderful beak to wake up to. He’s made his home between the valley of my breasts, and I stroke his head gingerly.
“Okay little guy, it’s time for breakfast.” Lucas hops down my stomach onto the couch cushion. I scurry back to my room and pulled out jeans and a white shirt and crawled into them while searching for my shoes. I swipe up my white vet jacket and toss it over my shoulder as I leisurely make my way back to Lucas. “Ready to go?” I’ll stop by a fast food drive through for breakfast and beat it to Redemption. I bend down for Lucas to perch on my shoulder and we step out of the house locking the door behind me. Today is going to be a good day, I can feel it.
I pile into my car as Lucas hops to my other shoulder. Shoving the key into the ignition, I roll down the windows a scant then put the car in drive. As we’re driving along, Lucas hops and settles on my head screeching out noises only he can understand. I just think he’s enjoying himself nesting in my hair. The scenery is as I remember it. Houses, trees, houses, stores, houses…you get the picture. But Brice was right, there are more mixed families than when I left. It almost brings a smile to my face until foul childhood memories flood my mind. I just hope these people haven’t experienced the same discrimination and hatred that I went through.
It’s said time heals all wounds, but in my case, I still have a bit of trauma and resentment left behind. I admit I’m bitter, but I don’t want to be. I’d like to look of the positive side of things, but when I muster up the courage, some moron proves me right. I’m skeptical, and sometimes illogical, but for now that’s the best I can do, the best I’m willing to do. The short answer is, is that I’m afraid. Afraid to fully open up to anyone who poses a threat to me. But here I am having this mental conversation with myself about the past while I possibly have something good to look forward to later this evening. It’s just like me to overthink or sabotage my future prospects. But I’ll try to be good. I have all day to work the kinks out of my speech. Be ladylike, let this man lead me and I’ll follow. Who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m about to be led, I have way too many control issues. Stop, stop, stop! Just let things go the way it’s supposed to.
Once I settle the debacle in my mind, I pull into Sonic and place my order for a breakfast burrito, french toast sticks and an Ocean Water to round out the order. After about a seven minute wait, Lucas and I were on the road against heading toward the clinic. Lucas is poking his beak into my bag and looking at me in question. “Yeah, I know. Your food is at the clinic and we’re almost there.” By the time we arrive in front of the clinic, Lucas is screeching away his frustration with me like Brice does with any decision he disapproves of. Men, they’re all the same. Hopping back on my shoulder, we exit the car with my breakfast bag and jacket in hand and walk toward Redemption’s entrance. Pulling the door back, we step inside to blessed air conditioning.
“That you London?”
“Sure is. I have Lucas with me and he’s hungry.”
“Who’s Lucas?” she called from the rear of the clinic.
“The bird I told you about. I named him Lucas.” Lisa appeared around the corner with a smile.
“Looks like you two have really taken to each other.”
“Yeah. He’s a cutie.” Lucas resumes his squawking and I beat to the break room and pull open the mini fridge door to search for fresh fruit and berries. I grabbed two plastic bowls and filled one with water and the other with his foot. This should keep him quiet for a while. “Hey, did Wildlife leave a message?”
“No. I’m not sure what’s taking them so long to respond. They are usually all over cases like this.”
“I’ll shoot ’em another call later.”
“Good. So I hear you and Lincoln will be going on a date this evening.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Janice Field is a same place and besides, I overheard Brice complaining about it.”
“He doesn’t know anything about boundaries. Anyway, I saw you and Lincoln chattin’ it up yesterday. Unless you two have something going on, I’ll gladly back off.”
“Nonsense. Lincoln is a good guy so you’re in safe keeping.”
“Tell that to Brice.”
“You just keep torturing him like you always do. But I have been wondering though, why you came back. You could have easily bypassed Janice.”
“It’s like I said, there was a mix up in the application process.”
“You don’t think I believe that do you?”
“I wouldn’t lie.”
“In any case, you really should think about putting down roots here. You’re not getting any younger.”
“Thanks for the advice but is this coming from my boss or an old friend?”
“Both. It’s okay to start over, wipe the slate clean. Settle down and have some babies. And besides, I need you here at Redemption. I only can get volunteers every now and again, so it would help business if you stayed here.”
“Nice to know it’s all about you.” I chuckled.
“Girl’s gotta put the guilt trip on any way she can.”
“Seriously, I don’t know what all made you leave, but it would be nice if you stayed on a permanent basis.”
“Everyone is so worried about what I’m going to do more than I am.”
“It’s because we care London.”
“Yeah well, I’ll decide what’s best for me. But thanks for wanting me to stay.”
As the day wore on, domesticated animals came in by the droves. Who knew our furry feline and canine friends could get into such a mess. I even had to leave Lucas behind to tend to a sick horse. Those eyes got me every time. What was God thinking plastering eyes on the sides of a horse’s head?” All-in-all, everything went well, no animals died and I can end my work day on a positive note. I file out of the clinic as Lisa locks up and traces her way to her car.
“See ya London.”
“Alright now.” Before either of us could get in our vehicles, a familiar truck pulls beside Lisa’s.
“Hey Lincoln. How’s Roman?”
“Better than ever, thanks to London.”
“Well you two have fun now.”
“How was your day?”
“Productive and yours?”
“Not bad. Got a few pots and an oil painting completed.”
“Yeah. So, you must be starving by now.”
“Dinner’s waiting for us back on the Manor.”
“We’re going to your place?”
“Yes, unless you’re uncomfortable with it.”
“No, no it’s fine. Lead the way.”
“What about that bird on your shoulder?”
“Oh Lucas, he’s coming with us. I can’t leave him alone.”
“Hmmm, well I’ve never had a bird join me for dinner but there’s a first time for everything.”
“I’m glad you think so.”
“Alright, follow me.”
Once in the car, I turn on the ignition and follow behind his truck. ‘Follow me‘ he says. We’ll just see how this night turns out if I don’t do what I always do. I’m really going to have to learn to cap my thoughts from spilling out of my mouth. Not long after, we pull into Rockhill Manor which I see has had a facelift. With Lucas on my shoulder, we step out into the humid air and make out way to Lincoln.
“You’ve updated the place.”
“Yeah. Restoration took about three years. Let’s go inside.” We climb the stairs in silence as I admire the place I’ve dreamt about owning since I was a child.
Rockhill screamed luxury and I wanted it to spite all those racists who looked down on me, and there was the fact that it was breathtaking. Romance wrapped it’s loving arms around the place and I can only imagine what the inside looks like. I wouldn’t have to wait for long. As I stepped through the threshold, I look around like a child enraptured at Disneyland. The place was huge with a myriad of rooms, enough for babies! Babies? Cool your eggs London, I chide myself. But I can’t help it, the Manor has a way of reeling the heart into a false lull. “I see you’re quite taken with the place.”
“That’s an understatement. I’ve always wondered what the inside of this place looked like.”
“Used to be wallpaper in the foyer and all the rooms. Now just about every room is painted eggshell white or cream colored. Follow me into the kitchen, dinner is all set.” As I match his steps, I’m floored at all the space and elegance the kitchen exudes. I’m kind of jealous right now. I’m in my dream home but don’t own it.
“Where exactly do you work? You have so many rooms to choose from?”
“When I’m sculpting pots and such, I’m in the basement. As for painting, I’m in the backyard or the porch and sometimes I stand right here in the kitchen by that window over there overlooking the hills in the distance. The sunrise and sunset are beautiful if I can catch the light just right. But enough about me, what about you? Go ahead and take your seat.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Brice is your bother correct?”
“Yes. He and Derrick are fraternal twins, they’re 42. A year later Sean and Shelley also fraternal twins were born, both 41, and last came Maria who is the same age as me, 40. ”
“Tell me how you ended up in that family?”
“I can see you’re curious for obvious reasons. The short story is my parents died and the Forsythe’s adopted me as one of their own. I could have ended up lost in the system had they not been so kindhearted. Dad said they’d all been friends so it was a no brainer for him to make me apart of their family.”
“That was indeed a selfless act, especially having kids of their own.”
“How close are you with my family?”
“Not at all. We’ve crossed paths when I’m in town selling my art work or ceramics. Brice actually bought a few pieces.”
“Not kiddin’?” I smirk. “You must produce quality work for Brice to depart with his hard earned dollars.”
“I do the best I can. Let’s eat.” I lift the stainless steel dome lid from over my plate to luscious steak, baked potato and mini corn on the cob. “I hope this isn’t too much for you.”
“No, this is perfect. I could eat a horse right now.”
“Isn’t that against your vows of being a Veterinarian?” he teased.
“Depends if food is scarce or not. A woman has to eat. I am curious as to why you wanted me over for dinner.” I watch as he cuts a block of steak and stabs it up on his fork and pops it into his mouth. He seems to be thoughtfully considering his answer.
“I am curious about you, that’s why I invited you to share a meal with me.”
“I wish it were this easy with other men.”
“For the sake of saying, I’m not like other men. I like to take my time with my work and with people. Can’t get to know the heart of someone overnight.”
“Amen to that. But I hear you live unto yourself, quietly here in the Manor.”
“It’s mostly true. I mingle with society when I choose. When I’ve had enough, I always know where I can go for peace and quiet.”
“Some would say your reclusive lifestyle is all the makings of a serial killer. I mean there are so many ways to kill someone. Death by pot, or perhaps a teacup.” Lincoln chuckles and shakes his head digging into his baked potato.
“I can assure you, I’m no serial killer. Well, I may have garroted a few pieces of clay in my time, but that’s all.”
“Have you always been into the Arts?”
“No. After I quit my job as an attorney and the death of my wife, I figured I had nothing else to lose by trying something new. It came in the form of trashing my house with interior paint. I’d been so angry with life that somehow I ended up in my garage chucking paint at the walls. In my rage somehow those mixed paint splatters caught my attention. There was something beautiful in it and it calmed me down a bit. As for pottery, I just wanted to beat something when painting didn’t do the trick. So here I am an artist.”
“So your manhood has never been challenged?”
“Not to my face. Working with clay isn’t as easy as people may think. For me everything is imagination based and my hands follow the image my mind as created.”
“Suppose it can be.”
“I’d like to experience something like that.”
“I can teach you. It’s up to you of course.”
“That’s very kind of you. Perhaps this weekend?”
“Sure, I’m free. But I will warn you, I won’t be taking it easy on you. There will be moments when you want to give up. And I won’t let you. So think carefully if this is what you really want to give all your energy into.”
“Once I’m committed, I see things through until the end.”
“We’ll see London. I expect you at my doorstep no later than eight in the morning.”
“You already backing out?”
“Not at all. I can do eight. What time do the sessions end?”
“That’s determined by me. And wear something that you won’t mind getting dirty.”
“Saturday it is. Now let’s finish eating, dinner’s getting cold.”
Read next part here, Mold Me (4)
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