This weekend is the anniversary takeover celebration for Eclectic Bard Books. In honor of that, my snippet today will be from Red Wine & Roses.
This is from Chapter 20 Wine Women & Jackowski:
“What do you see in her Derek?” Ashleigh took another bite of the chicken.
“The future.” He cleared his plate and added it to the stack of dishes piled in the sink.
Her fork stopped halfway to her mouth. Was he serious? A future with Julia? She was nothing. She was less than nothing and by the time she was finished with her plan, he would see it as well.
Derek wasn’t about to make it any easier on her end of the bargain. He reached under the sink for the detergent and the scrubber, and then set out the drainer. “Oh, did I forget to mention that my apartment doesn’t come with a dishwasher?”
“You mean I have to wash all of those by hand?”
“Afraid so princess.” He grabbed a beer and headed to the living room.
She took another couple of bites then scraped the rest into the trash. With a big showy sigh, she stepped out of her platform heels. “I did agree to clean in exchange for the place to sleep.
“That you did.” He clicked through the channels. She was already annoying him. He had forgotten the little things that Ashleigh did that got on his nerves. The constant sighing over anything that took a little effort on her part, the way she would flip her hair over her shoulder in an exaggerated movement to draw attention to whatever it was that she did, the running dialog when he wanted peace and quiet, they were still there and annoying as ever. Nothing about Ashleigh had changed in their time apart. It was apparent in the contrast of how he felt around her and the way he felt around Julia. When he was with Ashleigh, he couldn’t wait to get time away from her with his friends. With Julia, he lost track of time and often wanted to forego time with his friends to stay with her.
“You know, I don’t mind doing this. I was prepared to do this with you.” Ashleigh slowly transferred the dirty dishes from the sink to the counter, holding them delicately in her hands as if they were poisoned with a disgusted expression. “Does she know what a slob you are? Or that you are afraid of long term commitments?” She turned towards him as she filled the sink with water and began with the glasses.
“I’m not a slob. It’s been a long hectic week and I have barely had time to eat and shower. You asked for a place to crash and offered to clean so have at it. As to the scared of commitment, I’m not. Never have been. It was you that accused me of it because I didn’t want to rush things.”
“This is disgusting, I’d call it being a slob. you worked all the time and never had time for me.” She turned towards him, her best doe eyes and added. “I still love you Derek. I was frustrated that I was never at the top of your priorities.”
“Yeah, I know. You’ve told me, repeatedly. Right before you ripped my heart out. Oh, and moved to New York with that photographer.”
“How many times do I need to say I’m sorry? How many times do I have to admit I was wrong? You and I were great together Derek. We can be again.”
He slammed the rest of his beer down. “You don’t need to apologize anymore. You have said it enough. I’m going to run out and get some wine. You want anything while I’m out?” He grabbed his keys and stuffed his wallet into his jeans.
“Wine? Could you get white zinfandel?” She reached for the towel to dry her hands but he was already out the door.
Ashleigh walked to the door, opening it to catch him before he got on the elevator.
“White zinfandel, I heard you. Anything else?” He glanced sideways at her, his hand on the elevator door.
“No that’s all. Thanks.” She ducked back into the apartment and retrieved her phone.
“Hey it’s me. I’m in. He is going down the street to get some wine for us for the evening. Score!” Ashleigh made a fist pump with her free hand. “OK, well I have to get back to the dishes. I think he dirtied everything up just so that I would have to clean them. No, it was part of the deal of him letting me stay. Hey, if it works then it will be worth the dishpan hands. Keep your fingers crossed. Talk later.” She smiled moving back to the kitchen, tossing the towel in the air and catching it.
“Yes, indeed. If this works, it will be worth every dirty dish that he can throw at me.”
Derek jammed his hands into his pockets and walked down the sidewalk. Not sure where the sudden animosity came from towards Ashleigh, he figured it was best if he got out of there before he started a big fight. He didn’t want to fight with her, he didn’t even want her to suffer for the pain that she had caused him. Perhaps it wasn’t too late for him to give her the cash and send her to the hotel. He kicked a rock out into the street. It seemed strange that he resented her presence.
What was he afraid of anyway? If he didn’t have any desires for Ashleigh, then her staying there shouldn’t be a big deal. Jogging across the street to the bench that sat facing the water, he sat down. His feelings were for Julia, not for Ashleigh. It wasn’t even a matter of testing his resolve. He dialed Julia.
The phone rang several times before connecting to her voice mail. “Hun it’s me. I was thinking about you, about that picture you sent me, and thinking how much I miss your kisses. I can’t wait to have you in my arms again. Missing you Jules.”
It wasn’t a test of his character; there wasn’t a desire for Ashleigh. He was simply helping a friend. That was all.
Derek rose and walked the next block to the corner market. He grabbed a bottle of the red moscato that was Julia’s favorite and a bottle of the white zinfandel for Ashleigh. He grabbed a bunch of bananas, a couple of apples and a package of brownies from the bakery, wishing that they were some of Julia’s. “You’ve released my inner fat man Julia. It’s your fault. I’m probably going to need to buy bigger suits when we get married.” He grabbed the package of apple strudel for in the morning as well. Moving toward the front check out, the weight of what he had absentmindedly said registered. “Married.” He turned down the next aisle, glancing over the shelves as he thought.
When had he mentally made the decision to marry instead of move in together? He grabbed a box of snack crackers. The words that Kevin shared from his father’s advice had made an impact to be certain, but how did that translate to marriage? He knew his parents wouldn’t be in favor of moving in together, they were of the old-fashioned sort.
Do you have an elderly man in your life that has given you sage advice?
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