Sweet Little Thing(4)

By: Abbi Glines

“Three, plus Jasper,” I told her as I glanced up from the last omelet in the pan.

“The little shit. He could have told me he was bringing friends home. I wasn’t prepared to entertain anyone.” She paced back and forth a few moments and then took a drink from the glass in her hand. The glass was from the bar—a whiskey glass with amber liquid in it. I didn’t see what the big deal was, but I had learned Portia was a dramatic woman. “Are they all out at the pool house?” she asked as she stared at the door that led in that direction.


She sighed. “Well, there is that. They can drink and throw their parties out there. I thought his days of bringing home his fraternity brothers were over. That it was time he assumed his responsibilities. But no. He brings home,” she waved her drink in the direction of the pool house, “them.”

There were several questions that flew through my mind. Like why was it bad Jasper brought his friends home? Didn’t she expect Jasper to stay for a short visit and leave anyway? What responsibilities did Jasper need to assume?

I held my tongue and didn’t ask any questions. Their issues were not my business and she’d let me know that if I asked.

As I added fresh berries to the plates with their omelets, the guys walked back into the house. The sound of their voices carried our way from the dining room.

I would serve them, find out what they wanted to drink, and then I’d go about the rest of my day cleaning and anything else Portia asked of me. Hopefully, I didn’t have to clean the pool house.

“Go feed them,” she said with a sour look as she pointed in the direction of the four loud guys. “While they’re eating, head outside and prepare the pool house. When you are done with that, buy them food and stock the bar out there as well. The less they have to come inside the house the better.” With that she spun on her heel and sashayed out of the kitchen but not before putting her drink down. Guess she didn’t want Jasper to see her drinking before noon.

I took the first two plates and followed behind Portia to the dining room.

“Hello, Jasper. I’m sorry I wasn’t prepared for your early arrival,” Portia said as if she were thrilled to see him. “Sterling, Tate, Winston. I’m so glad you boys could come for a visit. I trust you’re all doing well.”

Jasper, Sterling, Tate, and Winston? Did these people not have any Henry, Chad, Jack, or Tim’s? I’d never heard names like theirs. However, my senior class had three Chad’s, three Hanks, three David’s, and two Jacks.

Then again, my name was Beulah, so who was I to talk. My sister got the better name. Which fit because out of the two of us she was the best. Heidi was perfect. If the world could love like her, find joy the way she did, and smile her smile, we’d all be so much happier.

“Yes, ma’am,” Jasper’s ginger-haired friend said. I wasn’t sure what his name was. “Mother said the two of you won your tennis match last week. Congratulations on that.”

Portia played tennis daily. It was one of many activities she did with her friends. She beamed at his recognition. I noticed Jasper rolling his eyes. Then his eyes locked with mine and he winked. I jerked my gaze away, and sat the food down in front of the ginger and the dark-haired elitist guy, who was still quiet and seemed to be looking down his nose at everyone. As if no one were on his level, or could ever hope to be.

“Thank you, Tate. We deserved it of course. Camille and I have worked so hard.”

I left the room for the other two plates of food. The small talk continued as Portia went on and on about her tennis game. When I returned with the last of the food, Portia had taken a seat at the end of the table opposite Jasper.

“I’ll need a fresh cup of coffee,” she informed me.

“About that. What happened to Ms. Charlotte? And who is she?” I didn’t look his way although my entire body went taut. He wasn’t pleased I was here. I’d done everything he’d asked of me so far but that didn’t seem to matter.

“Charlotte retired. She moved to be near her grandchildren. She was getting up there in age, Jasper. I needed more help than she was able to provide.”

“You didn’t think to ask me before replacing her?” The tone of his voice wasn’t what I’d expect from a son talking to his to a mother. It was more of a threat. Or correction. As if he were the boss and she was an employee.

“Don’t be so damn rude to your mom,” Tate said, dressing Jasper down. I had to agree. Portia wasn’t the nicest woman I knew, but she’d taken Heidi and me in without a question or any explanation. She just did it. I owed her so much for that.