It happened in Biology when Troy, the kid who liked to chew paper, blinked at me through his Stephen Hawking glasses and said he would be honored to go to the dance with me. If it had just been Troy, I wouldn’t have been so mad, but Troy was the final paper-chewer who sent me over the edge. Earlier, I’d learned I had supposedly also asked Harrison, the kid who wore a Justin Bieber button on the lapel of his school blazer, and Frankel, the lead singer of the Wanna-be Lounge Lizards, a band that serenaded the Hartly cafeteria every Friday with Sinatra tunes.
Three dates to Homecoming. I didn’t even want one.
And so when I found out Melissa Blankley was to blame, I lost it.
Rage is like that. It builds up inside of you, like pressure in a teapot, until finally when the steam is so hot, so big, you let go—because really, there isn’t another choice. And everyone lets go differently. Some people use body language—tight lips, a simple eye-roll. Others swear and name call. A few actually become violent, and throw punches or people.
Some of us burn stuff.
Although, not always intentionally.
Don’t ask me how everything caught fire. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before.
And because it was so frightening, I hope nothing ever happens like that again.
“Teenage girls are genetically wired to be unkind to each other.” Uncle Mitch adjusted his glasses and met the hostile gaze of Dr. Roberts, making me proud. Uncle Mitch rarely met anyone’s gaze head-on, not even his students at Yale. “It’s in their DNA. They have to compete for mates.”
“But they do not have to burn down the science room.” Dr. Roberts tapped his pencil on the pile of papers on the desk in front of him and fixed me with his cold stare. He had an uncanny resemblance to manikins: plastic-looking hair, too perfect teeth, and flawless skin.
“But I didn’t—” I started.
Uncle Mitch sent me a warning glance, and I bit back my words. Before our meeting with the principal, he had made me promise not to speak. You are your own worst enemy, he had said. I silently glared at Dr. Roberts.
“As I told you before, we have several eyewitnesses—”
“But teenage girls—” Uncle Mitch began.
“Not just the girls,” Dr. Roberts interjected, “but several of the students including the son of the president of the school board. And Mr. Beck,” Dr. Roberts added.
I liked Mr. Beck, and I hated him to think I would do this. Even though maybe I had. Not that I had meant to.
“It was an accident.” I refused to be hushed by Uncle Mitch’s foot pressing against my leg. “I don’t even know how it happened.”
Dr. Roberts tapped, tapped, tapped his pencil.
“According to Mr. Beck,” Dr. Roberts looked down at his papers, “sparks flew from your fingertips.” Tap, tap, tap. “Can you explain this?”
“Would it matter if I could?” I folded my arms, leaned back in my chair, and kicked Uncle Mitch with my saddle shoe. Ditching the Hartly uniform was the only upside of expulsion I could see. Goodbye, tartan plaid pleated skirts. So long, itchy red sweaters, and knee-high socks. Adios, clunky black and white saddle shoes. But as I thought of what changing schools really meant, I blinked back tears and hoped no one would see.
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Roberts said. “Evelynn is an excellent student—a credit to Hartly and a reflection of the outstanding academic program we here at the academy espouse.”
He sounded like he was giving a speech at a school fundraiser and begging parents for more money. I glanced at the papers on his desk and saw my name at the top with a red slash through it.
“Of course, she’s an excellent student!” Uncle Mitch exploded.
I gaped at him. Uncle Mitch never exploded—except when he accidentally ate dairy—but that was a different, smellier sort of explosion.
“Which is why I’m sure she won’t have any problem adjusting to the public school,” Dr. Roberts continued.
Public school? Yes, please.
Uncle Mitch gave a small, almost imperceptible shake of his head.
“Because I was fairly sure you would feel that way,” Dr. Roberts leaned forward, “I took the liberty of speaking to Evelynn’s grandmother.”
Uncle Mitch blanched and refused to me my questioning gaze when I kicked him. I kicked him harder.
He didn’t flinch, but continued to give Dr. Roberts his best death stare. Uncle Mitch doesn’t have x-ray vision like superman, but with his dark hair, blue eyes, and square jaw, he sort of looks like him. Not that he would ever wear tights. He mostly wore button down plaid shirts with a pencil and small notebook in the pocket, khaki pants, and leather penny loafers. Today, in an effort to dress up for the occasion, he’d worn his favorite wool sports jacket with the frayed cuffs.
Dr. Roberts placed his elbows on the table. “As you are aware, Faith Despaign Academy is an excellent school, and as a former trustee—”
Uncle Mitch pushed to his feet. “This meeting is over,” he said through tight, white lips.
“Have you consulted with Evelynn’s parents?” Dr. Roberts also stood.
Uncle Mitch gave Dr. Roberts a silencing look. “I am Evie’s legal guardian.”
“I just thought Mr. Marston would like to know. I rather hoped to meet him.”
Of course, he did. Everyone wanted to meet my father. Money makes insta-friends.
“I had hoped to see Sophia, Mrs. Marston, as well,” Dr. Roberts babbled, flushing, obviously trying not to look like the money grabber that he was. “Is she—”
“Still in India,” I said.
“I’m sure she’ll want to be appraised of this situation.” He paused and smiled at me. “I knew your mother when we were kids. You remind me of her.”
For a moment, he looked almost human. I tried to picture him with his heavily starched suit and slicked back hair standing beside my mom’s red corkscrew curls and random freckles. They didn’t belong in the same room. Maybe not even on the same planet. They were definitely different species.
“We grew up together,” Dr. Roberts continued. “That’s why I felt comfortable contacting Mrs. La Faye.”
Uncle Mitch headed for the door.
Dr. Roberts scrambled after him. “I would have hesitated to dismiss Evelynn if I hadn’t known she had a place at Faith Despaign.”
Uncle Mitch spun on his heel. “Did Beatrix set this up?”
Dr. Roberts reeled back. “No-o,” he stammered. “How could she?”
Uncle Mitch studied Dr. Roberts through slit eyes.
“Arson is a serious crime.” Dr. Roberts visibly wilted and slunk behind the safety of his desk. He shuffled the papers that wore my name. “Again, I’m very sorry about this, Evelynn and Dr. Marston, but I’m sure you’ll find Faith—”
With an angry grunt that sounded a little like the noise Scratch, our bulldog, makes when he has to move, Uncle Mitch headed for the door.
My uncle stalked down the deserted hall, out the door, and down the steps. The acrid smoke smell still hung in the air even though the fire had been put out days ago. I tried not to look at the black cavernous hole that had once housed the science department.
I hurried to stay next to him. “Do you want to tell me about my grandmother?” I asked, my voice shaking.
“No,” he said without looking at me. “Do you want to tell me how the fire really started?”
Uncle Mitch increased his speed, and I trotted beside him in my clunky saddle shoes. “But—don’t you think having a grandmother is something I should have known before now?”
He stopped and met my gaze. “No.” He strode away.
I stared at his back, realizing I had never seen him angry before. Never. Not even when my friend, Bree, accidentally backed into his 1958 T-Bird with her 2000 Toyota Corolla, or when Scratch was a puppy and chewed up one of his loafers, or when I accidentally knocked over his moth habitat, and we had larvae everywhere in the house for months. Mrs. Mateo had been really mad, but Uncle Mitch hadn’t said a word and just went back to recreating the moths’ home.
Thinking about all the many ways I’d disrupted his solitary life made me once again grateful I’d gotten Uncle Mitch in the divorce. Dad got Maria, Mom got Fred, and I got Uncle Mitch. I had definitely won. But at the moment, my curiosity was having a face-off with gratitude, and curiosity was winning big time.
“I’m sixteen years old!”
“Fifteen,” Uncle Mitch corrected. “Your birthday isn’t until January.”
“I know when my birthday is. What I don’t know…or didn’t know…was I have a grandmother!” I stopped chasing him and watched him stalk away from me. “Isn’t that something someone should have told me?”
“No.” He didn’t turn around, but marched toward his car.
I ran, afraid he would drive off and leave me in the nearly empty parking lot. I climbed in the T-Bird, closed the door, and stared at him.
After sticking the key in the ignition and putting the car in gear, he met my gaze. “I promised your mom and dad.” He lifted his shoulder in a defeated shrug. “You’ll have to ask them.”
“Did my grandmother know about me?” It stung that not only would my parents and Uncle Mitch keep such a huge secret from me, but that the mysterious Beatrix grandmother hadn’t even wanted to know me.
Uncle Mitch, grim faced, didn’t answer, but steered his ancient car out of the parking lot and down the tree-lined street. Red, gold, and yellow leaves fluttered past the window.
“Do I have a grandfather I don’t know about?”
“Aunts, uncles, cousins?”
He didn’t answer.
“So, I do.” I chewed on this. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Anger, frustration, and curiosity built like a dark cloud. Growing warm and agitated, I curled my hands into tight fists.
Taking three deep breaths, I looked out the window and watched the familiar landscape flash by. I had lived on Elm Street my entire life. I had started Hartly in kindergarten. I didn’t even know anyone who went to Faith Despaign.
“Where’s this school?”
For a moment, sympathy flashed in his eyes. “North Harbor, off the Merit.”
“It’s expensive, then.” I knew my dad had money, but I’d always assumed my mother’s family was poor. I don’t know why, except my mother was always, as Grammy Jean used to say, a free spirit in sandals. Mom wore long gypsy skirts and gauzy blouses even in the winter when everyone else wore itchy wool.
A thought struck me. Maybe Mom’s clothes were more than just a fashion statement! Maybe, like me, she had a temperature problem.
I scrounged through my bag, looking for my phone. Then I remembered. Sticking out my hand, palm out, I said, “I want to call my mom.”
Uncle Mitch glanced at me before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his phone.
“Aw, come on! I can’t even have my phone for two minutes?”
“By orders of your dad, you’re grounded.” He slapped his phone into my palm.
“Ugh.” I started to press Mom’s number, then froze.
“What’s the matter?” Concern touched Uncle Mitch’s voice.
I shook my head, blinked back tears and stared out the window. How could I ask my mom—or anyone, really—if she sparked, too?
I sat on my bed with a book propped up in front of me. I’d read Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent a hundred times. It was my go-to book—a paper and ink equivalent of comfort food—but today Emory Ravenswood held no, or at least less than usual, charm. The words on the page swam before my eyes and refused to form into nice, understandable sentences. I flipped ahead to my favorite chapter where Emory takes Petra to the gypsy camp.
My gaze landed on the words, “Tell me, my lady Petra, if you were given the choice to shun the captivity of walls and ceilings and roam the earth, unburdened by possessions as the spirits directed, would you choose to stay at home?”
But I had no choice. I had to stay at home. Without a phone, computer, or car. I rolled onto my back and held the book in front of my face, trying not to worry about where I was going to go to school on Monday, and even if I was going to graduate. Would Uncle Mitch let me take the GED? If so, I could start going to a community college next semester—but that didn’t start until January. What would I do until then?
Get a job?
Knowing my dad would throw a hissy fit and my uncle would dance right along beside him if I quit school in tenth grade, I tried to refocus on my book.
Right before she died, Grammy Jean said there comes a time when you have to decide to turn the page or close the book. If I could choose—and going back to Hartly wasn’t an option—which it looked like was the case—where would I go? Easy, public school.
A knocking sounded on the window.
I put down my book and went to let Bree inside. We’d been climbing in and out of each other’s windows ever since my parents’ divorce eight years ago when my dad and I moved in with Uncle Mitch. I lifted the sash.
Getting from the huge branch of the maple tree and into my room was never painless. Bree leaned forward, balanced her belly on the sill, and fell into the room head first with a bang.
“Ev—ie?” Mrs. Mateo called from the kitchen. Our housekeeper always managed to make the second syllable of my name an octave higher than the first, making me think she had missed her calling as an opera singer.
“I’m okay, Mrs. Mateo,” I called. “I just dropped my…stuff.”
“Brilliant,” Bree whispered, as she climbed off the floor. “You’d be great at improv.”
“I know, right?”
“How long is your imprisonment?”
Bree tried to brush off the twigs and leaves clinging to her favorite jeans and Imagine Dragons t-shirt—probably the same clothes she had worn to school. You could wear whatever you wanted at Norfolk High. Which was a good thing, because Bree would probably rather burn down a science room everyday than have to wear saddle shoes.
“I don’t know. My dad is coming to discuss the situation.” I made air quotes around the word situation.
“Wow. Is he bringing Maria—or anyone?” She climbed up on the bed beside me.
I knew for Bree, anyone was code for Marcus, my gorgeous, but almost as self-righteous as his mom, stepbrother. Maria was a Brazilian beauty, and Marcus had her dark, almost black eyes, thick lashes and curly hair. They also shared chiseled jawlines, dark red lips, and strong moral values which were more obnoxious than charming.
I shook my head. “Just Dad. He’ll be here soon.”
Bree’s lips twisted in a sympathetic grimace. “Why is there a situation? Wasn’t it an accident? I mean, no one can really believe you intentionally set the science room on fire, can they?”
I lifted one shoulder in a shrug.
“And it’s not as if they found gasoline or anything,” Bree said.
“It is—or it was—a science lab. There were plenty of things to catch on fire and explode.”
Bree tried not to laugh, but her lips twitched.
“It’s not funny,” I said. “I feel badly for the snakes and rats.”
“Yeah—all those poor rich kids…and the lab animals, too, of course.”
“No one was hurt—except Lizzy, the iguana.” I did feel badly about her. Although, I hadn’t intentionally killed her.
“Yeah, but now you might get to go to Norfolk High!”
I flopped down on my back and looked at the ceiling. “I hope so, but I kind of doubt it. Dr. Roberts talked about Faith Despaign. Seems my grandmother is a trustee.”
“Wait!” Bree straightened her back. “What?”
“I have a grandmother, and no one even told me!”
Bree gave me an open-mouthed stare. “But Faith Despaign?”
“Did you hear me tell you I have a secret grandmother?”
“Okay, that’s weird, but your whole family is a little weird. I mean, I love you, and I love Uncle Mitch, and I really want Marcus to love me, then we can truly be sisters, but your mom is so out there, and then your dad married Maria, who is like her complete opposite.”
“I know.” I sighed, thinking about my stepmother. Often when I was with her, I felt like she was watching, waiting, and praying for the opportunity to crack open her Bible and call me to repentance. Fortunately, arson didn’t violate any of the Ten Commandments. In fact, God seemed to like using fire himself—Moses and the burning bush being a classic case in point. Although, I knew my dad and stepmother wouldn’t see things that way.
“I don’t know how or why my dad shifted from my mom to Maria. It’s like there’s a missing puzzle piece to that story.”
“Okay, you have a grandmother. Do you know anything about her?”
I shook my head. “She’s coming, too. Uncle Mitch isn’t happy. He really hates it when he’s ejected from his science cave.”
“Okay—but Faith Despaign!”
“What about it? Do you even know anyone who goes there?”
“Yeah. Dylan Fox.”
She said his name as if I should know who he was—as if he was someone to be revered, like Prince Harry.
“So—I would love to go to Faith Despaign, just so I could breathe the same air as Dylan Fox.”
“Who is he?”
“A friend of Josh’s.”
She bounced off the bed, went to the window and pulled back the curtain so she could watch her house. “In fact, he went with Josh to the comic book store this morning. I wanted to go, but they wouldn’t take me. Even when I swore I was a huge Spiderman fan.”
“They didn’t believe you?” I rolled off the bed and went to stand beside her. I loved that I could see Bree’s house from my room.
The Hendersons lived in a giant Victorian which must have been added onto a hundred times. It had jutting gables and a crazy-wampum roofline. The original house had been built sometime before 1820, like ours, because both houses had plaques from the Woodinville Historical Society stating they had been there when the town was incorporated. But that was where the similarity ended.
Our boxy colonial had perfectly symmetrical windows and a boring roofline. The Henderson’s house had a turret, a widow’s walk, and a mishmash of dormer windows. Our house was white with black shutters and a cranberry colored front door. The Henderson’s house boasted about ten different shades of blue with splashes of white thrown in. Our house was quiet. Bree’s house rang with the noise of eight kids, two parents, three dogs, five cats, and a couple of rabbits. Although, to be fair, the rabbits didn’t live inside the house with everyone else. They had their own cages in the backyard. They were the only creatures in the Henderson household that didn’t have to share a bathroom.
“They asked me a trick question.”
“The name of Peter Parker’s uncle.”
“How’s that a trick question?”
Bree shushed me when a red convertible BMW pulled into their drive. “They’re back,” she breathed in an awestruck whisper. Car doors slammed, and Josh, Bree’s brother, and a tall, lean guy with bronze-colored hair climbed out. Actually, Dylan Fox was hotter than Prince Harry, although not as hot as Bree’s brother—but I couldn’t tell Bree that.
Bree grabbed my arm and squeezed.
“Hey, I thought you liked Marcus.”
Bree blew out a sigh. “I do love Marcus, but he’s in Virginia, and I’m here. And so is he.” She nodded at Dylan. “You got to love the one you’re with. Someday, I’m going to marry Marcus, but until then…Mr. Fox.”
And as if he could hear her, Dylan Fox turned and looked directly in my window. Our eyes met briefly.
Giggling, Bree tugged on my hand as she dropped to the floor. I landed next to her with a thud.
“Ev—ie?” Mrs. Mateo called from the kitchen directly below.
“I’m okay, Mrs. Mateo,” I called through the door.
Bree sat up and inched toward the window.
Dylan was in the exact same spot, staring in our direction.
Laughing, Bree put her hand on the top of my head to push me down. “How can we get him to pay attention to me?”
“Why not stand up and wave? Wouldn’t that be better than scrunching and hiding?”
Rolling her eyes, Bree frowned at me, looking exactly like her mother did when Bree forgot to take out the trash. “You can’t be so obvious.”
“What if you fell out the window? Maybe he could run over and catch you.”
She blinked at me. “You’re joking, right?”
“He’d have to sprint really fast to get here in time.”
“I’m serious. How can I make him pay attention to me?”
“Just think how romantic it would be. You’d flutter down, calling for help like a damsel in distress—”
I stopped mid-sentence when from the opposite side of the house came the familiar hum of the opening garage door. “My dad. You have to go.”
Bree nodded. Standing, she threw one leg over the sill.
From inside, I heard Bree fall. I ran to the window to watch her flailing arms and hands searching for a hand-hold. Branches and twigs snapped beneath her weight.
“Bree! Are you okay?”
She gaped up at me, her mouth a perfect O as she tumbled backward. She landed on the grass.
Josh and his friend, followed by the Henderson’s three dogs, sprinted across the lawn.
“Gabby! Go get Mom!” Josh called to his little sister over his shoulder right before he vaulted over the hedge separating our yards. He landed with a one-footed thud.
Feeling a little like Rapunzel, I leaned out my window. “Bree?”
She moaned without opening her eyes. With her arms spread out wide, she lay flat on her back. If not for her left leg sticking out at an odd angle, she looked like she could be taking a nap on the lawn.
Her brother and Dylan stared down at her as if she was a strange fish washed up on shore. Josh looked up and frowned at me. Dylan met my gaze with a smile.
“Hi,” he mouthed without noise.
I waved. Heat crawled up my neck, and I hoped he couldn’t see my blush. We stared at each other until the back door screen opened and shut with a bang.
“What happened here?” My dad strode onto the porch and stopped when he saw the two boys and three mulling dogs surrounding a moaning Bree.
Riddler, the German Shepherd mix, tried to snuffle in Bree’s hair, but Josh pulled him away and held him by the collar. Joker, the half-terrier with pieces and bits of lots of other breeds, poked Bree’s hand with his snout. Without opening her eyes, she swatted at him. Gabby, her baby sister, grabbed Joker and Penguin, an ancient black and white Boston Terrier, and hauled them back a few feet.
A door slammed shut at the Hendersons’ house, and Diana, Bree’s mom, raced across the grass, barefoot. She stopped short of Bree, worry and anger battling in her expression.
“Mom?” Bree peeked open an eye. “I-I-I think my leg is broken.” She stuttered through obvious pain.
“For once, we agree on something,” Diana said as she squatted down beside her. “We need to get you to the doctor.”
Bree rolled her head so she could see Dylan. Batting her eyelashes, she looked at him through her tears. “Will you take me?”
“Don’t be silly!” Diana said, placing her hands on her hips. “Josh, go and get the van. Then call your father. Tell him to meet us at the emergency room. Again. Honestly, that place needs to name a wing after our family.”
Josh shot his sister a pitying look before he turned and jogged toward the barn where the Hendersons kept their large collection of motley cars. All three dogs followed, because, obviously, Josh was the leader of the pack.
But Dylan stayed. He grinned up at me, but his smile faltered when he met my dad’s glare.
Dad shot me a glance before returning his attention to Bree.
“Want me to help you up?” Dylan asked.
“Yes, please,” Bree said through white lips. She tried to smile at him, but it looked painful and off—lots of teeth, but no happiness.
“Let’s wait for the van.” My dad sounded growlier than any of the Henderson dogs. He focused on Dylan. “Who are you? You weren’t in my daughter’s bedroom, too, were you?”
“Huh, no sir.” Dylan brushed off his hand on his jeans before extending it. “Dylan Fox.” He nodded at the Henderson’s house. “I was hanging out with Josh when we saw Bree fall.”
My dad grunted.
Mrs. Henderson knelt on the ground and brushed the hair out of Bree’s face. “Sweetheart, you’re going to be okay.”
“Oz-z-z,” Bree moaned.
“I know, sweetie,” Mrs. Henderson said.
“She can’t be in the play!” Gabby squealed, as the thought hit her. She rose to her toes and twirled. “I can be Dorothy!”
Mrs. Henderson silently shook her head.
“Whoever heard of an eight year old Dorothy?” Bree said through gritted teeth.
Gabby stopped spinning. “But—who else can step in—into the red shoes—at the last minute?”
“We don’t need to discuss this right now.” Mrs. Henderson climbed to her feet as Josh pulled the jacked-up van down the driveway.
“Mom,” Bree grabbed her mom’s hand, “promise me, you won’t let Gabby be Dorothy.”
“Let’s just see what the doctor says,” Mrs. Henderson said.
Dylan knelt down beside Bree and gathered her into his arms.
She winced and blinked. Tears rolled down her face.
“You’ll be okay,” Dylan said, smiling down at her.
Mrs. Henderson pulled opened the van’s sliding door and moved aside so Dylan could load Bree into the back seat. He fussed over her leg, propping it up beside her. Backing away, he shot me another glance and his smile went from being pitying and kind, to something else, something warm, smooth and promising.
Mrs. Henderson climbed in the passenger seat and rolled down the window. “Gabby, you’re responsible for getting dinner on the table,” she said. “Meredith will be home from swim at five. Lincoln isn’t done with soccer until 5:30. The twins are at piano until almost six—Mrs. Rochester will drop them off. I don’t know where the boys are. I’m sure they’ll show up when they get hungry. You can cook a couple of frozen pizzas, but make sure you put out some sort of vegetable.”
Gabby put her hands on her hips. “Okay, I can do all that, but only if I get to be Dorothy.”
Mrs. Henderson rolled her eyes, and Gabby seemed to realize she’d gone too far. Her shoulders slumped as she headed toward home and frozen pizza.
Dylan, his confidence stuttering under my dad’s glare, said, “Maybe I should go and help her.”
“That would be good,” my dad said.
Seconds after the Henderson’s van pulled away, a strange car, maybe even older than Uncle Mitch’s T-Bird, turned down our drive. Baby blue and white and as long as a hearse, the car looked a lot like the one I’d seen in the film clips of JFK’s assassination, which meant it was about the same age as my dad.
“This day just keeps getting better,” my dad mumbled, watching the car approach. He turned to me. “You better get down here, Petunia.” Then with about as much enthusiasm as he would say the city is overrun with rats, he said, “Your grandmother is here.”
I leaned out the window, resting my forearms on the sill. “Don’t you think you should have told me about her before now?”
He grunted and turned away.
“No! You don’t get to be mad at me! I’m mad at you!” I called after him.
He didn’t answer, but banged through the back door.
I ran down the stairs, wanting to confront him before the mysterious grandmother arrived.
I stopped short when I saw her standing in the almost never used living room. She stood on the tapestry rug, small, trembling, fuzzy-haired, and bright-eyed. Despite the warm autumn air, she wore a long crimson velvet skirt, a brown wool blazer, and a pink feather boa. She came to me with her arms extended.
“There you are, beautiful!” She pulled me in for a warm, lavender-smelling hug. She felt fragile and brittle in my embrace, and the boa tickled my nose. “You must be very brave, dear,” she whispered in my ear.
Her words fanned my neck, and a trill went down my back.
Pulling away, she took hold of both of my hands. “You look just like your mother did at your age.”
“Sophia has strawberry blonde hair,” my dad said. He stood in the center of the room, frowning at us, and looking, for once, awkward.
“And Evelynn’s hair is the color of honey,” my grandmother quipped without looking at him, “both delicious and edible.”
Uncle Mitch, who must have shown up some time during the hug, snorted.
My grandmother threw him a nasty look over her shoulder. “What’s that, Mitchel?”
She said Mitchel, but for some reason, it sounded like Michelle. I had never noticed how similar sounding the two names were until just that moment.
Uncle Mitch bit his lip and looked away.
“Shall we all sit down so we can discuss my granddaughter’s education?”
Interesting, officially the house belonged to my dad and uncle, and yet this tiny woman acted like she owned the place. She had the two grown men, both well-respected and exceptionally successful, shuffling into their seats. What was there about her? She had to weigh less than a hundred pounds. She looked about as old and as harmless as Penguin, the Henderson’s Boston terrier. Sitting on the sofa, she smiled at me and patted the cushion beside her.