Mary pulled a set of candlesticks from the box. “I’m curious to know what we’ll find. We’ve been so busy I’ve hardly had a chance to investigate.” She wagged one of the candlesticks before Ethel Lynn’s nose. “Every time I look around I find more decorations for the restaurant.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” Ethel Lynn sniffed. “Your Aunt Meg and I rarely set foot in here. She’s allergic to dust, and I live in mortal fear of spiders.”
In the last half hour, the topic of spiders had come up repeatedly. “I haven’t seen any.” In truth, she’d seen several. “If I do, I’ll take care of them.”
“Heavens—I’ve seen leaping spiders too,” Ethel Lynn said, ignoring the reassuring comment. “Jump ten feet, they do.”
Blossom froze. “You’ve seen spiders that jump? Mary, do you have leaping spiders in here?”
Amusement tickled the corners of Mary’s lips. “Of course not.”
“You’re sure?” Blossom dug her fingers into her curls. “Check my neck, will you? I feel something itchy.”
Ethel Lynn snatched her hands from the box of china. “Heavens to Betsy!”
Blossom twitched. “Really. Someone look.” She grabbed at her shirt collar and yanked herself in a circle. “Oh. Oh, no. Is something crawling down my back?”
Ethel Lynn clenched her fists to the sagging indentations of her breasts. “One’s got the child!” she screamed as Blossom gyrated wildly.
Laughter popped from Mary’s mouth. “Would you both calm down?” The unexpected amusement was a balm for her torn emotions. “Insects prefer damp places. This room is as dry as a bone. Try visiting Louisiana or Florida. The cockroaches are big enough to masquerade as house pets. Believe me—you’re perfectly safe here.”
“Bugs as big as pets?” Blossom shivered. “What if their smaller cousins are camped out here?” She hurried over to Mary. “Check out my neck, will you? To make sure.”
She stuck her hand down the back of the girl’s shirt. “Oooh—spiders!”
Giggling, Blossom jerked free. “Stop!”
Mary tousled her dark, curly hair. What would it be like to watch Blossom enter high school? Or send her from the house on her first date?
To become a part of her life forever?
Blossom said, “Last time I trust you.” Her eyes full of merriment, she self-consciously rolled her shoulders then straightened her shirt.
There was something fetching about a girl’s eleventh year. The changeable quality of her face and personality—Blossom appeared childlike one moment, a woman the next. Now, she eyed Mary with a hint of worldly sophistication, one woman to another. They shared a private moment that ferried volumes between them. Mary winked.
“You’re bad, Mary. What if there had been a spider in my shirt?” The girl crossed her arms with mock sobriety. “Would you have let it crawl all the way to my butt?”
“I’d never let a spider near your butt.”
Ethel Lynn produced a handkerchief and patted her brow. “The world is going to hell in a hand-basket when a young woman calls her fanny a ‘butt’.”
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