While an impending explosion was brewing in the log cabin, the Sarah Kingsley was experiencing a personal problem.
“Sharon, dear,” Sarah began, leaning over to her daughter with effort to be discreet. Unfortunately the winter had not been kind to our Sarah. Before she departed to warmer climes, Sarah had slipped on a patch of ice fracturing her hip. She obeyed her doctors and therapists which helped her to heal well, but on uneven pavement or lawns, Sarah still felt a little unsure of her footing.
“Yes, mother,” Sharon dutifully replied.
“Would you escort me to the restroom,” Sarah whispered.
“Of course, mother.” Sharon assisted her mother up out of her chair, handed her an elegant looking walking stick then walked with her to the nearest port-a-potty.
“What is this?” Sarah demanded to know.
“It’s a restroom,” Sharon explained as she opened the door. The port-a-potty, aside from its pleasing exterior, had a spacious interior that included a sink and all necessary accoutrements.
“Sharon, dear, I will not do my business in this shack!”
“Oh Mother, please, it’s not so bad. The soap is rather nice and there’s a nice selection of hand lotion.”
“I don’t care how nice the soap is, I will not use this, this…”
“Hi, Mrs. Kingsley, what’s wrong?” Bree noticed the commotion and decided to find out what was going on.
“Briana, dear, where did you come from?” Sarah asked, slightly startled. Bree seemed to appear out of nowhere.
“I…” Bree began but was cut off by Sarah Kingsley who was becoming desperate.
“Briana, I really need a restroom,” Sarah stated.
Bree glanced at the port-a-potty then back at Sarah. Taking a chance, Bree held out her hand. “Please come with me,” Bree said gently as she led both women into the conjoined cottages and directly into Bree’s own bedroom. “Mrs. Kingsley please use my bathroom anytime you wish,” Bree graciously offered.
Sarah looked around the cozy bathroom all tastefully done in varying shades of pink and purple and not a speck of dirt or dust to be found.
“Oh, thank you so much, my dear dear child. And please call me Grandmama Sarah,” Sarah gushed as she quickly closed the door. A moment later, Sharon and Bree heard Sarah’s muffled command. “Sharon, you will wait for me.”
“Of course, Mother!”
Sharon and Bree exchanged a smile before Bree offered Sharon a seat then left her to deal with her mother.
Bree continued smiling as she left the cottage, proud of how she helped to defuse that particular bomb.
Sometime later that afternoon the Sarah Kingsley smiled beatifically at Bree and reminded her of her Grandmama status.
“Why is he here?” Lindsay whispered to Mel as the two of them tried hard not to stare at Ben and his 'friend'.
“How should I know,” Mel grumbled back trying to ignore the obvious sparks between Ben and Armand.
Both men were tall and with stunning good looks. They appeared to be made for each other.
“What are you two doing?” Brian asked as he stuck his head in between the women. Both jumped with a gasp.
Mel swore as she spilled some of her iced tea down her t-shirt. “Fuck, Brian, wear a bell, will ya!” Mel growled. Brian smirked as he handed Mel a bunch of napkins.
“We were uh, just wondering if, um…” Lindsay wasn’t very eloquent at the moment.
“No they’re not fucking,” Brian stated flatly. He lent his glare to Mel’s. “I have a feeling this may not end well today.”
“Why?” Lindsay asked.
“Michael was planning to stay a few days,” said Brian.
“Yeah, so what’s the big deal? He’s staying with Debbie, right?” Mel asked. Brian shook his head.
“Oh. Oh!” the ladies said together.
“Yep. I don’t think Ben was planning to stay overnight but…” Brian shrugged his shoulders. “Well, ladies, I have to go mingle. Keep an eye on them for me and have plenty of ice water on hand.”
“Why? I didn’t think it was going to get too hot out today,” Lindsay commented as she looked up towards the sun.
“Not that kind of heat,” Brian snarked as he moved on to another part of the garden.
“John, we all set for tonight?” Brian asked his brother referring to the fireworks display that was turning into a lane annual tradition. Brian caught up with John in the yard of the B&B.
“Yup, all set.”
“More dignified than simple but I’m sure you’ll like it,” John said with a smirk.
“What?” Brian asked with suspicion.
“You do know you’re just a big old softy,” John said with a wide grin. Brian had started this little tradition after Candy lost her mother.
“Two of my all time favorites words,” Brian grumbled as he pinched his nose.
“Old and soft,” Brian complained making John laugh. Brian walked faster in order to get away from his annoying brother.
“I’m on to you, you know,” John called out to Brian’s back. John received a one finger salute for his troubles. That only served to make John laugh harder.
“Hey, what’s going on? I just bumped into Brian who mumbled something about pain in the ass older brothers. I’m assuming that’s you,” Bobby said to his recalcitrant spouse. He reached up on his toes to peck John’s lips.
“Just pulling his chain. He was asking about the fireworks show.”
“It’s becoming an annual thing. Not that I’m complaining, but he only started it because he wanted Candy to feel more at home with the family,” Bobby said reasonably.
“I know, I just called him out on it.” They both chuckled.
“You just like playing with fire, don’t you,” Bobby commented.
“It’s my job to keep him on his toes. That’s what older brothers do,” John said smugly. They kissed again just before walking back to the yard.
Michael and Debbie were sitting at the kitchen table in the log cabin. They had mostly made small talk since Emmett had scuttled away. Debbie took a sip of her Pepsi and Michael did the same.
Finally Debbie drew in a deep breath. "Michael, what the fuck is going on with you?" she demanded. They really needed to sort this out.
"I...I'm trying to make some changes in my life," Michael said hesitantly.
"About fucking time," Debbie mumbled to herself. "I hope these changes include Ben. He's the best thing that ever happened to you."
"You didn't think that when I first met him."
"I know, but then I got to know him."
"And he's just perfect and ... and I'm not," Michael stated. His face showed some of the distress that he was feeling.
"Why would you say something like that?"
"Because that's what you were thinking. Don't deny it." Michael waited for his mother to deny any such thing, at least that's what he hoped she would do.
"Well Ben is pretty damn close to perfect," Debbie said with a chuckle.
"See, I knew that was what you were thinking. You think I'm not good enough for him anymore," Michael accused. The hurt in his eyes was obvious to anyone who looked.
"I always thought you were too good for Ben. He was ... is HIV positive. That's a lot to take on, and you were willing to do that," Debbie said softly. "You're a good man, Michael."
Michael stared at his mother. He was holding back what he really wanted to say.
"What?" Debbie asked. "You look like you're going to explode."
"You always do that," Michael spat out.
"Do what? What are you talking about?"
"When I really need to be honest and face things, you tell me I'm a good man and that effectively ends the conversation. Well, not this time," Michael stated emphatically. "I haven't been a good man this last year or so. I've been wallowing in ... in self pity." It was hard for Michael to say this, but he knew it was true. This was one of the things Hunter had helped him face. "You always encouraged me to go after what I wanted. That isn't a bad thing until it takes over your life. I became selfish - never thinking about anybody but myself."
Debbie's mouth hung open in surprise. She had never heard her son express any such feelings. She couldn't believe her ears. "So now this is all my fucking fault," she practically yelled at her son. "I screwed up your life, not you! Well thank you very much for that fucking piece of information. I'll make sure you never get any advice ... or ... anything else from me ever again!" Debbie stood abruptly overturning the chair she had been sitting on. She stomped toward the front door.
"Maw," Michael called. "I thought you were going to listen. We need to talk about this."
"Go fuck yourself, you selfish little brat!"
Debbie slammed the door behind her, leaving Michael staring at the door in disbelief. What the hell had happened?
Bree and Ashley were sitting on the steps of the Wendy house. Beau lay on the porch next to them. They were watching the adults who were moving around the yard or greeting newcomers or drinking beer or laughing or having serious conversations.
"This is a pretty boring party," Ashley observed.
"Yeah," Bree agreed.
They watched people milling around for a little longer.
"Why do you think adults like beer so much?" Ashley asked.
Bree shrugged. "I don't know."
"Have you ever tried beer?"
"No, have you?"
"I had a sip of my mother's beer one time. It tasted yucky."
"Hm," Bree said.
"Maybe we should try something else other than beer," Bree suggested.
"Most of the ladies are drinking white wine. We could try that."
"Wouldn't your dads be mad if they knew?" Ashley asked.
"Probably, but if they didn't know..."
Ashley giggled. "...it wouldn't hurt them. How are we going to get wine without them knowing?"
"They have a whole bunch of wine and beer in the fridge," Bree explained. "We could go to the kitchen and wait till nobody's around."
"Okay," Ashley said with a grin.
Bree looked at her friend in surprise. "You usually don't want to do anything risky," Bree observed with a frown.
"I know, but I'm tired of being a good little girl."
"Me too," Bree agreed standing up. "Let's go."
The two girls made their way to the kitchen of the Kinney-Taylor conjoined cottage. Nobody was in there so the girls grabbed a bottle of white wine from the fridge and headed for Bree's bedroom. They went inside and locked the door.
"We should have got some glasses," Ashley said as they sat down on the edge of the bed.
"There's a glass in my bathroom," Bree suggested.
"But we need another one."
"Okay, I'll go back and get a glass," Bree offered. Ashley nodded. "Stay put till I get back." Ashley nodded again.
Bree made her way back to the kitchen. Just then Emmett came sauntering in.
"Hello, sweetness," he said cheerfully.
"Um, hi, Auntie Emm," Bree said hesitantly.
"Whatcha up to?"
"Up to? Nothing. Why do you ask?" Bree hoped she didn't sound too guilty. She wasn't good at lying, or in this case just fudging the facts a little.
"I thought you'd be outside enjoying this fine day," Emmett said with a smile.
"I was but ... um ... I got thirsty," Bree said using a bit of the truth to make her story plausible.
"What can I get you to drink, my lady?" Emmett asked.
"Um, just some water," Bree replied.
"Water? That sounds pretty mundane. I thought you would be after something more exotic, like a cocktail," Emmett joked.
"Oh, no, no cocktail for me - just water." Bree was cringing. Her Auntie Emm had hit too close to home with his joke. She wasn't sure how much longer she could keep up this pretense if he kept asking questions.
Emmett took a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with ice from the fridge. He was about to fill it with tap water when he remembered the pitcher of lemonade that was in the fridge. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather have lemonade than water?" he asked.
"Oh sure, lemonade would be good," Bree agreed hoping this would speed things up. Anything to get the glass and escape.
Emmett filled the glass with lemonade and handed it to Bree. She took a big gulp. It tasted great since her mouth had suddenly gone so dry.
"Where's your bestie?" Emmett asked.
"Ashley. How come you two aren't joined at the hip?"
"Oh, she's around somewhere," Bree said trying to sound casual.
"Is everything okay with you?" Emmett asked with a frown. Something was definitely off with the little princess today.
"Everything's fine," Bree stated firmly. "Um, shouldn't you be getting back outside to make sure that everything's going okay?"
"Yeah, I guess I should. Ta ta," Emmett said as he exited the kitchen. He glanced back over his shoulder to see Bree make a beeline down the hall. Something was definitely up with that girl.
"What took so long?" Ashley asked as Bree flew into the bedroom. She quickly closed the door behind her.
"Auntie Emm was in the kitchen and he was asking me all kinds of questions," Bree blurted out.
"Does he know what we we're doing?" Ashley asked with fear on her face.
"I didn't tell him anything, but he was kind of suspicious."
"Maybe ... maybe we shouldn't do this," Ashley said softly.
"I thought you were tired of being a good girl," Bree snapped. She knew if Ashley backed out she would too.
"I am. Let's see what wine tastes like," Ashley stated standing up straighter. "I got the other glass out of your bathroom."
"Auntie Emm gave me lemonade and ice cubes. Do you want to mix it with the wine? We can split that and then fill the glasses up with wine?"
"That sounds good," Ashley agreed as they divided up the contents of Bree's glass. The two girls struggled to twist off the cap of the wine bottle, but finally were able to get it open. Bree filled up each glass.
"Cheers!" Bree said with a giggle as she clinked her glass against Ashley's. That's what she had seen adults do with their drinks.
Each girl took a sip from her glass. They looked at each other and took another sip.
"Do you like it?" Bree asked.
"It tastes like weird lemonade."
"Yeah. Maybe we shouldn't have mixed them together."
"Let's finish this off and then try it without the lemonade in the glass," Ashley suggested.
"That's a good idea. Then we can see what wine really tastes like."
The girls quickly emptied their glasses except for the remaining ice cubes. Bree filled the glasses with wine from the bottle.
"I hope this tastes better," Bree said as she took a sip. "Yuck! It tastes worse."
"It's so sour. It tastes like it's gone bad? How come people like to drink it?"
"I don't know. Maybe you get used to it after you drink enough," Bree suggested.
The girls each took another drink.
"It doesn't get much better," Ashley said making a face.
"Yeah, let's try one more mouthful and see if that makes a differench," Bree slurred.
"It still tastes awful, but not quite as bad as ... as it did afore," Ashley managed to get out.
They nodded at each other and took another drink. They stared at each other for a couple of minutes.
"I think I've had enough," Ashley said as she put her mostly empty glass down on Bree's nightstand beside the bottle of wine and its remaining contents which weren't much.
"I don't feel so good," Bree said placing her glass beside Ashley's.
"Me either," Ashley agreed,
"Let's lie down on the bed and see if that makes it better," Bree suggested.
The two girls laid down on the bed side by side. They stared at the ceiling trying to focus.
"If wine makes you feel like this, I don't get it," Bree said.
"Me either," Ashley agreed.
"I think we made a big mistake. This wasn't a good idea," Bree stated.
She waited for Ashley to reply, but there was no answer. She looked at her friend who seemed to have fallen asleep.
"Lightweight," Bree whispered. She giggled to herself. That was something she had heard people say about someone who couldn't hold their liquor. Apparently Ashley couldn't hold hers. That was Bree's last thought before she fell asleep too.
"Have you seen Ashley?" Susanna asked Justin as they met in the yard of the conjoined cottages.
"I saw her a while ago sitting on the porch of the Wendy house with Bree. But I haven't seen either of them for quite awhile."
"I don't know where they could have got to," Susanna said with a frown.
"I'm sure they're around here somewhere," Justin said. "Maybe they went to the Thinking Rock or down the lane. They'll turn up."
"I hope you're right. I think I'll walk down to the stream and see if they're there. I'll feel better when I know where they are."
"Good idea," Justin agreed. "Tell them to get their butts back here when you find them."
Justin watched Susanna head past the Wendy house and down the path to the rock. He had a vague sense of unease.
Return to Fireworks