I filled two glasses and placed them on the table. We drew up mismatched chairs and drank. Tristan finished first and sighed with pleasure.
I eyed him over the top of my glass. He gazed out the back window toward his house, the line between his eyebrows deepening. I put my glass down and asked, “So?”
“Really, Tristan? Do you enjoy playing these guessing games?” My mouth hitched up on one side.
“Maybe.” There was a teasing undertone in his voice, but the crease between his eyebrows was still present.
“We’re married now. I think you can tell me anything.”
He whisked his eyes away from the window and met mine. “There’s nothing I could tell you that you don’t know already.”
“I find that hard to believe,” I joked, then grew serious. “But something’s off about you today.” As happy as I was, doubt poked at me.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d be married again.”
I took his hands in mine. For a moment, I stared at his large, rough hands–hands that could fix anything, from a house to a car, but also had typed and penned thousands of poetic prose, weaving those threads into the fabric of three novels. I met his eyes. “I think this will taking adjusting on both of our parts. We weren’t exactly social butterflies before we met.” I laughed.
The line between Tristan’s eyebrows lessened, and crinkles formed around his eyes as he smiled. “That’s the understatement of the century.”
After the moment of levity passed, I said, “So, enlighten me, O Talkative One.”
“Going through all my things, it’s like digging through the past.” His eyes shifted to the box on the table. “Maybe it would be better if I got rid of most of these things and be more like you. You know, completely start over.”
The tea kettle whistled. I stood and went to the stove, turned off the burner, and added a teabag. I gave a little snort. “My house is filling up quickly, but throwing away everything from your past isn’t the answer, Tristan. You can see how well that served me.” I joined him at the table.
“My stuff is taking over in here. I’m letting go of the house. It’s time I let go of other reminders, too.”
“Of Julie?” I asked quietly.
“Yes, of Julie.” He stared out the window toward his house again, as if his wife’s ghost were looking back at him out one of the windows.
“Hey.” I placed my hand on his arm.
He slowly turned his head, but his eyes were on the table.
I moved my hand to his cheek. “You wouldn’t be forgetting her.”
Eyes so empty and so full lifted from staring at the tabletop. “I know that here.” He pointed to his head. “But here, well, that’s another matter.” He gestured toward his chest. “Pain and pleasure mixed.”
My lips quirked. “We make quite the pair, don’t we? I can hear Macy asking now, ‘Why can’t you two just be happy? Why do you always have to complicate things?’”
Tristan half-smiled. “Your best friend doesn’t know the half of it. Messy people are like that…complicated.”
Note: Rocks and Flowers in a Box is the sequel to my second novel, Lorna versus Laura.
LIKE WHAT YOU’VE READ? PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG, WHERE I POST AN EXCERPT EVERY SATURDAY. ALSO KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH MY WRITING PROJECTS!
My novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, is available for $5.99 here.