When I went out to the kitchen, I could see Deena talking to her father in the big sun room. John stood by the wet bar, pouring himself a Jack Daniel’s. When I approached, they quit talking. I noticed how un-kept the house looked, with baseballs and bats and other sports stuff strewn in the big sun room like the boys had been playing inside the house.
I smiled politely at Deena. “Hasn’t Olivia been here?” I asked. Olivia was the live-in housekeeper/babysitter who had taken care of John’s youngest child, 13-year-old Jack. Olivia had lived with the family for three years since the death of John’s wife, Gloria. When John and I decided to marry, we needed Olivia’s room for my boys. Although she’d moved to a relative’s house in Moraine, she was going to remain on as our housekeeper.
Deena was a young woman with dishwater blond hair, freckles, and a piggish nose. In her soft voice, she said, “Oh, I thought we wouldn’t need her any more with you here now, so I let her go.”
I looked at John. There was no reply on his part. He just stood rooted to the spot, downing his drink.
“Why would you do that?” I asked as politely as I could. “I think with the addition of three people, there is more need for a housekeeper, not less.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I guess I should have thought of that, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, she got a job elsewhere.”
I stood mute, my mind suddenly grasping the true meaning of her act. I was not the wife of her father, but a live-in housekeeper who shared her father’s bed. My step-daughter had flung me a gauntlet, and I asked myself how I should respond considering I had been in the house less than fifteen minutes.
“That’s OK, Deena,” John said, covering quickly for his daughter. “I’m sure we can find someone fairly soon. I’ll ask around.”
I was castrated, and I knew it. “Well, then,” I said as I pointedly looked around the huge room, “you need to do that as quickly as possible, John. This house needs cleaning.”
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