Tarts and Lights

April moved in to May and I was attending my therapy sessions regularly. By regularly, I meant that I was regularly avoiding them until the last-minute, when Murphy and Jude would inevitably haul me to the car and drive me there themselves. They insisted that I’d been cleansed properly and that any left over depression I was having was because of something that I was not dealing with the right way.

They were right, of course. I wasn’t dealing with anything. I just didn’t want to. Dealing with it meant that I had to drag up unpleasant memories and left over feelings of hurt and betrayal.

I don’t know about you, but crying in the middle of my therapists office while shouting that I wasn’t a bad person, was not something that I looked forward too on a weekly basis. I felt wrung out at the end of it all. At least Murphy and Jude left me alone to sleep it off after we got home.

As much as I hated their actions, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hate them. They wanted what was best for me and were trying their hardest to do it while I kicked and fought back. They’re my Moms in every sense of the word. Jude especially. She’s happier than ever helping to take care of her grandsons while her daughter fights her inner demons. Though I get the feeling that she’d rather be back on the dig site sometimes.

I guess that’s what she’s used to after being shoved out of Ben’s life for so long. People tend to get used to the way things are done, so that when change comes along, they fight like hell to stay where they’re at or move on. I’m still stuck at the crossroads, deciding if I want to trust my therapist or not.

Yes, I talk to her. Yes, I tell her things. Do I trust her? All signs point to eventually.

So when I found myself eating ice cream while walking downtown with her, I started to warm up to the idea that trusting her wasn’t so bad. She didn’t bother to get me to talk until we got back to her office and I’d finished my ice cream.

“So when do you want to talk about the abuse?” she asked at the end of our session.

“Next to never.”

She laughed. “That’s a pretty long time. Are you sure?”

“No. I’ll let you know next week,” I said as I was putting on my jacket. May was still a bit chilly.

“All right, then. Next week.”

I paused with my hand on the door. “You’re not bad, for a shrink.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad, either. Bit stubborn, though.”

I smiled. “You should have heard my grandmother when she was upset with me. Stubborn was the most positive thing that would come out of her mouth.”

“You’ll have to tell me next week, then.”

I nodded and stepped out of her office. Waving at her secretary, I let myself out on to the street to meet Ben. A rumble of thunder had me looking up at the sky and mentally cursing at myself for not remembering an umbrella.

I made my way to Indulgence Bakery. Waddling was as fast as I went these days, so Miss Maggie met me at the door and rushed me in just before the rain started. Maisy led me to an open table and ignored my protest as she pushed me down onto a chair.

“Hush now and sit. It was a smart thing, you coming here to wait this time,” Maisy said as she handed me a cup of tea. The smell of chamomile drifted up and had me sighing. She nodded when she was sure I wasn’t getting up and went back to helping customers.

“You holler if you see Ben’s car, yeah? My cell phone is about dead,” I said as I eyed the tart that Miss Maggie was dishing up for me.

“Will do, hon. Unless you want me to call his office and leave a message,” she said as she came over with the tart and pulled up a chair.

“No point,” I replied as I forked up a piece of cheese tart. The flaky crust melted in my mouth and I let out a sigh. “He’s out in the field today. Something about missing cows and burn marks.”

Maggie watched me like a hawk as I polished off the tart and then cleared away the plate for me.

“All right then. So how was your session?” She asked.

I looked up at her, a little annoyed. She put her hands on her hips and gave me a stern look. I kept my expression the same.

“Don’t you give me that, young lady. You’re every bit as precious to this town as Ben is. Of course we all know what’s going on and we all want to make sure that you’re doing better, not worse.”

“Then you know it’s intensely private and all I’m going to ever say is that it was good. Exhausting, but good.”

She waited for a minute, then when she realized I was serious about not giving up anymore information, she nodded.

“That’ll do, then.”

I watched for Ben out the front windows as I sipped my tea and rubbed circles on my belly. I was getting restless when Ben finally pulled up out front. Miss Maggie saw me motion out the window and hurried to step out and call to him before he went to my therapists office. He jogged over and managed to get in to the store without getting too soaked. The storm didn’t look to be letting up just yet.

“Hey, Salt-of-the-Earth,” I said with a smile as he bent to kiss me.

“Hey back, Trouble,” he replied as he sat next to me. Miss Maggie dropped off a cup of coffee, doctored just the way he liked it, and another tart for me.

I smiled up at her and turned back to Ben.

“Things go okay?” I asked as I took a bite of the tart.

“For the most part. There’s about a dozen missing cows, scorch marks that are bigger than George’s, and a broken fence. The new Sheriff is worried.”

News of there being a new Sheriff didn’t surprise me. We’d all voted in the interim election held last week. Jon Jones had won by a landslide because Captain Miller wanted no part of the office on account of his last name and the fact that he’s pushing sixty. I yawned a little and started rubbing my belly in circles again as I thought about what Ben said.

“He kicking?” Ben asked when he noticed what I was doing.

“SHE is playing soccer today,” I replied.

Ben laughed. “You know, we could always stop this and find out.”

“Then we’d have to find something else to argue about,” I pointed out.

“Good point. I like arguing with you,” Ben said as he picked up my hand and kissed my palm.

I smiled and was about to say something when the street lamps in front of the shop exploded. I curled in around my stomach and hid my face in case the window went next. Ben was already pulling me to my feet and pushing me towards the back of the store as more lights started to explode inside the store. I hustled as fast as I could towards the backdoor when Ben pulled me off to the side and pushed me into the storage room. There wasn’t a working light, it had already exploded.

“What the fuck was that?” I shouted.

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet its our friendly neighborhood terrorist,” Ben replied as he hustled more people in to the room.

“I am so sick of this bitch and her stupid ass fear mongering!” I shouted at his back as he went out to investigate. Miss Maggie rubbed my back and shoulders as I calmed down. As I waited for news that we could come out, Maggie and Maisy tried to get me to sit down, but I wasn’t having any part of what they wanted. If I was going to be attacked, I wanted to be on my feet.

Ben finally came back, telling us that it was clear. I stormed out of the storage room and headed for the car. I had no interest in staying any longer. Ben settled up with Maggie and met me at the car. He didn’t say much as he helped me inside and then went around to get behind the wheel.

“I’m sick of her too, ‘Lowe.” he finally said after starting the car and getting us pointed in the direction of home.

“Something must be done,” I said firmly.

“Something is being done. We have Alvin here, he’ll figure out what’s wrong.”

“He’s been here for more than a month. Doesn’t he have any clue what’s going on?”

Ben shook his head. “He says that she’s covering her tracks really well.”

“Everyone has a weakness, Ben. They have to find hers.”

“They will, Marlowe. In the meantime, just worry about the baby and getting better.”

“There may come a time when I’m not pregnant and I have the chance to end it,” I said. “When that time comes, I will end it.”

Ben didn’t bother to reply. He knew I would do as I said. I’d feel guilty as hell for taking another life; but if I had the chance to end it, I would.

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