“Look, I told you. I’ll get it wrapped up tonight.” Out on the front porch, Precia tapped her nail impatiently on the side of the phone. The front door had opened and there was a woman there, in her fifties, grey hair, terrible wrap dress, staring at her. “I have to go, Rog. I’m at the hotel. Yeah, yeah. I’ll call you back in five minutes.” She stuffed the phone in her pocket and tried for a smile. “Hello. Checking in?”
The “hotel” was really a Victorian home with pink shutters in the dead center of a long, tree-lined street. As soon as Precia had driven up the narrow drive and glimpsed the house, she’d felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. It was a B & B. A damned B & B. She’d pulled into the parking spot in the back and told Roger to hold while she tapped a note in her Reminders: Kill Janie when I get back!! B&B? WTF?
The woman had a long, lean face and serious eyes. She leaned on the door and studied her. “You going to be on that cellular telephone the whole time you’re here?”
Affronted, Precia stared back. “I’m working,” she replied and hefted her rollaway so that it was poised for takeoff, back toward where she came. “I can find another establishment if it bothers you.” She wanted to add that she was allergic to cats but bit her tongue- you can thank my life coach for that, lady.
The woman looked unbothered by the prospect of her guest leaving. She raised an eyebrow. “Just a question. Come on in.” In two quick movements, she hefted open the door, grabbed Precia’s bag and ushered her inside.
“My name is Helen and welcome to the Stafford.” Helen looked out of place in the opulent sitting room. It was comfortable, cozy and filled with glossy antiques; Precia’s eyes fell on a writing desk from the early 1800s, impeccable condition. And there wasn’t a doily to be found, she admitted to herself grudgingly. “Your room is still being cleaned. You’re early, you know.” Precia let that one slide. “Take a seat, make yourself comfortable and I’ll bring you a drink.” The woman turned back on her way out and Precia wondered if she had just remembered to take her guest’s drink order. But no. “No cell service in the house.” She pointed toward the back yard. “There’s a spot in the woods out back, about twenty feet from the main house. You walk down that path, you see a log. You’ll get five bars of cell service right there but that’s it.”
Precia stared at her. “You’re joking.” She sat down on the leather divan, sank into it really, and it sunk in for a moment, just a moment, how tired she was. Oh, she was tired. Tired in her bones.
“No, ma’am.” Helen studied her for another moment. “We’ve got hot baths though. And books. And television, up in your room. We get the Bravo, don’t worry. Business ladies always coming in here, asking if we get the Bravo.” Helen shook her head, bemused. “And good food, my daughter Tracy is an excellent cook. We get warm cookies from the bakery down the road, they pull them out of the oven and little Frankie drives them over on his bicycle, he should be coming around soon, you keep an ear out for the bell on his bike. But no, no phones here. If it’s a deal breaker, there’s a Best Western about sixteen miles north of here. Let me go get that drink while you think on it.” She slipped through a door in the back and was gone, leaving Precia in a room that had gone blessedly quiet and still.
Who needs a drink?
Oh, you do? I thought you might. Here, drink this. It’s a glass of ice cold, Sweet Whiskey Lemonade. Aka Sweet Nector of Life. Aka This Too Shall Pass. Aka Sunshine That Kicks Back.
Take two and call us in the morning. (Later) in the morning.
Sweet Whiskey Lemonade
2 Ounces of triple sec
2 Ounces of whiskey
1 and 1/2 Ounces of fresh lemon juice
2/3 Ounces of lime juice
1 Teaspoon of granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of apricot preserves
3 Ounces of tonic water
1. In a shaker, combine all ingredients except tonic water with ice and shake well.
2. Fill two glasses with ice and strain half of the drink mixture into each glass.
3. Top each glass off with 1 and 1/2 ounces of tonic water. Serve immediately.