Her Secrets & Mine - Chapter Twenty Six

Anna arrived at the beach house just as Penny and I were about to head out for our daily walk on the beach and my daily tumble in the waves. Everyday I got a little bit further past the pier, I almost felt like I was tempting fate. “Throw on a suit and come on out!” Penny demanded. “You’ve missed days and days of tanning time.”

“Tans are unhealthy.” Anna, the doctor in training, proceeded to state all of the latest facts about sun damage. I stood and listened, but knew that it wouldn’t keep me from the salt and sand. “Put on sun block!” She fished through her purse and handed me SPF 80.

“Eighty? Holy cow!” I held up my hands in protest. I didn’t need a suit of armor!

“We wear eight.” Penny sprayed my shoulders with the warm coconut smelling oil. “Sorry doc.”

“You might as well lather your body up in Crisco.”

“I did that years ago. Brownest brown you ever saw!” Penny knew how to push nearly everyone’s buttons. I was just grateful that they weren’t my buttons for a change.

“We’ll be out there when you’re ready.” I smiled, grabbing a towel and heading out through the back.

Just as Anna had warned, the sun was high and the beach was scattered with umbrellas and canopies. It was the weekend and people crowded the beaches, taking full advantage of their time away from their mundane weekly routines. Small children laughed and built sand castles, tanned teenagers looked like tipped over statues basking in the sun’s rays, and lovers held hands as they strolled-- heading nowhere-- in the waves. It was a perfect day, the kind of day where you almost forgot that your life was a mess. The kind of day where I could almost imagine that Mama was alive, back inside reading one of her books, and turning down the corners every so often to take a nap. I sank my toes into the sand and wiggled them around. Penny came and sat beside me, and as usual we just sat in silence watching the tide.

“Ouch ouch ouch!” Anna wasn’t used to the hot sand and pranced about like she was enduring hot coals. She hurried down to the water’s edge to cool her steaming soles and Penny and I laughed. How could someone be so much like Mama yet so entirely different at the same time?

“What are you two laughing at?” she was smiling. One thing about Anna was that she never had a problem making fun of herself.

“Oh nothing!” I lied, leaning back on my towel and breathing the salty air that my lungs were getting quite accustomed to. “Thank God Mama died when the weather was warm.”

“Adeline!” Anna’s jaw dropped.

“It’s Addy.” I corrected. “I can’t imagine coming to terms with her death at the cabin in the mountains, on the farm, or at the estate! I think she timed it just right.” I didn’t mean to mock Mama or her death in anyway, I was just observing what I felt was obvious.

Penny shot Anna a glance that warned her not to push the subject further, and we all settled in for a lazy day of people watching and baking in the sun. “Look over there!” Penny pointed toward a man who was walking our way, I didn’t feel like watching Anna flirt and woo her twelve millionth man and stood up to go play in the waves. I watched from the water as the man came up to them and sat in the sand to chat. Penny and Anna laughed, I could tell even from that distance that the man was handsome and charismatic. If I had to guess, I would think he was in his early thirties, but it was hard to tell about men.

My sunglasses were sucked off of my head and into the under current. I cussed like a sailor and headed back up to my towel to sulk. Those were my favorite sunglasses. The man was gone, and I was glad. I wondered if he and Anna had set up a date, but didn’t ask.

“You have raccoon eyes.” Penny laughed.

“Too bad my glasses are lost at sea, guess now I’ll have to cover all but my eyes so that they can catch up to the same shade!” I could see the humor in it.

“I have a pair you can borrow.” Anna, who was usually very territorial and protective of her things offered.

“Maybe so.” I nodded. Hell, we were both coming a long way from the girls we used to be.


Summer storms were rolling in and it seemed like the perfect time to nap. I had always loved the peace that came with a violent summer storm. I climbed into bed after opening the curtains, and almost immediately drifted off to sleep.

“You can’t sleep!” Anna jumped on my bed, jolting me awake.

“Why not?” I swatted at her.

“Junior is coming!” Anna didn’t feel the need to explain who Junior was, so I didn’t even ask.

“Well I’m sure Junior will be okay with me taking a nap. You can baby sit him.” I yawned, a clap of thunder reminding me why I wanted to sleep the afternoon away.

“Get up and get dressed!” Anna insisted.

“Give me thirty minutes okay?” I didn’t feel like fighting, I felt like napping.

“Okay, but not a second more.” she headed out and filled Penny in on my requests. I rolled over and found the warm spot under the covers again and reminded myself that the new Addy wouldn’t even complain about baby sitting on a perfectly good Saturday night.

“I thought she said thirty minutes!” I heard Penny and Anna arguing in the hall.

“She did!” Anna knocked on the door and called my name.

“It has been two hours!” Penny sounded frantic.

“What? What’s wrong?” I was still confused.

“Get up! Junior is already here!” Anna called as she scurried down the stairs.

I stood up, stretched, adjusted my now dry bikini bottoms and headed out to meet the little terror. I tripped on the last step and cracked a joke about still being half asleep. Anna and Penny’s faces filled with terror. They were fully dressed for a night out on the town, and I wondered if they were going to leave and stick me with baby sitting. It seemed like a scheme they would concoct.

“Oh no no no!” I was going to set them straight. “I am not baby sitting while you two go out. Not happening.” I looked around the room for Junior. When my eyes reached the couch, they were met with the biggest brownest eyes I had ever seen. There I stood in a crooked bikini, meeting the man from that afternoon at the beach for the first time.

Penny, who obviously found the whole ordeal humorous said, “Addy meet Junior. Junior, this is Adeline.”

“Hi, Adeline.” He smiled and stood up to greet me. Now I had met a lot of Anna’s boyfriends in a lot of different ways, but never had I given a crazier first impression.

I extended my hand and laughed. “Well, I guess I was confused. Looks like Anna will be the one baby sitting. Nice to meet you, Junior.”

“Nice to meet you, Adeline.” He smiled, a brilliant white smile. Anna had hit the jackpot this time!

“Go upstairs and get dressed.” Anna shooed me away, probably embarrassed to call herself my sister. It wouldn’t be the first or the last time.

I headed upstairs, collected my thoughts, and hopped in the shower. I had a lot to prove after stumbling half naked down the stairs like a drunk, ranting and raving about baby sitting grown men. I dried my hair, put on makeup from the new kit that Penny had bought me, and put on a white sundress and flip flops. My tan looked bronzer than ever against the white straps, and my honey colored hair had blonde streaks running through it from my time in the sun. I stared at myself in the mirror, surprised at how beautiful I looked. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that I looked a little like a blonder goofier version of Mama. I smiled, and headed down to reintroduce myself to Anna’s new friend.