Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 72

“Yes, ma’am, I know that very well, but Samantha is, as far as anyone can tell, just like her grandmother. Sassy is what Jubilee calls her, and she wanted to show you her photographs, so we’re here. She had an idea that if her grandmother were still alive Maxie might like to see what she’d missed, might like to see her son and her daughter-in-law, see her grandchild growing up, and she might like to see her husband as he grew older. Think Maxie would have liked to have seen that?”

“Yes,” Abby said softly. “She would have.”

“Oh heavens!” Samantha said. “You’d think this was a funeral. We’re having a party! Michael, pour the drinks and roll those pancakes. And…” She hesitated. “I don’t know what to call you. If Maxie were alive, what do you think she’d like me to call her?”

“Nana,” Abby said instantly. “I think she said that was what she wanted her granddaughter to call her.”

“Would you mind very much if I called you Nana?”

“I wouldn’t mind at all. Now, where is my drink? I haven’t had a sidecar in years.”

Samantha climbed on the bed beside Abby, pulled the box of photos across her knees, and opened it, while Mike rather awkwardly rolled thin pancakes around red caviar and sour cream, then served them to the two women with crystal glasses of the cognac mixture.

Within thirty minutes all awkwardness between the three of them was gone. After the first drink, Abby got very sloppy at saying that Maxie would like so and so. Instead, she was saying things like, “I remember that. We kept the lawn mower in that old shed. Did Cal ever tear that thing down?”

Mike teased Samantha mercilessly about pictures of her when she was a child, laughing at one where she was obviously furious and hadn’t wanted her picture taken. Abby defended Samantha, saying she had been the sweetest baby alive.

Refilling Abby’s glass, Mike said in the most mournful tones imaginable that, for all he knew, Samantha was still the sweetest baby alive.

“Michael!” Sam snapped.

But Abby took Samantha’s side. “You mean, a big, strapping hunk like you hasn’t persuaded this dear little thing to go to bed with you yet?”

The words, as well as the sentiment, were so very funny coming out of the mouth of an eighty-four-year-old woman that Sam and Mike laughed uproariously.

“Why does every generation think it’s invented sex?” Abby asked in mock exasperation.

“Why don’t you tell us about sex in your generation?” Mike said encouragingly. “At least, that way, I’d be able to experience somebody’s fantasies.”

“You’ll get no lessons from me, Michael Taggert. You’ll have to find out on your own.”

The evening got more funny when Samantha showed pictures of herself, as promised, nude on a rug. Both Abby and Sam giggled at Mike’s heartfelt groans at Sam’s “pinup” pictures.

When Raine entered the room, Samantha knew that the party was over and so did Abby. For a long moment, they clung to each other, Samantha’s strong, healthy young body holding the frail, weakening body of her grandmother.

“Don’t come back,” Abby whispered. “I’m not sure it’s safe.”

Pulling away from her, Samantha acted as though she hadn’t heard her. “I’d love to return. Thank you so much for the invitation. Are you ready, Michael?” She left the room without looking back, not seeing Mike kiss Abby’s cheek, then slip a piece of paper with his phone number and the private numbers of some of his family members on it into Abby’s hand before leaving the room.

On the drive back to the East Side and Mike’s town house, Samantha was quiet.

“Enjoy yourself?” Mike asked.

“Mmmmm,” was all she answered.

“Are you okay?”

“Certainly. I couldn’t be better. It was great spending the evening with my grandmother. I’m just a little tired, that’s all. I think I’ll go to bed early tonight.”

Mike didn’t say any more on the ride home and at the house, she went inside while he stayed outside talking to Raine. When he entered the house, Samantha was nowhere to be seen so he assumed she’d gone to bed. For himself, he was a little too wound up to go to sleep, so he fixed himself a sandwich and a beer, took it into the library, and turned on the TV.

Samantha walked in so quietly that he didn’t know she was near him until he looked up and saw her standing there, wrapped in his bathrobe, her face shiny clean, looking about twelve years old. He could see that she had something she wanted to say to him. Instantly he turned off the television and looked up at her.

Tentatively, Samantha sat on the edge of the couch a few feet from him.

“Mike,” she said hesitantly, looking down at her hands in her lap. “I want to ask you something.”


Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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