“Turn around. I want to get a good look at you,” she said.
He did as he was told with military precision.
She pushed her sunglasses on top of her head and looked him over. He hadn’t slept; she could tell from the weary lines around his eyes. And he had that twitchy adrenaline thing going on again.
“Hold out your hand,” she commanded.
“Either. Please.” When he stuck out both arms, she saw that his hands were shaking. “Britt,” she said, “have you eaten anything today?”
He opened his mouth, and then closed it. Looked up to the right. He had no idea.
“I made pimento cheese; it’s in the fridge in a white bowl. Fix yourself a sandwich,” she told him.
She watched as he clicked his heels, turned, and marched up the steps. After three months of marriage to the man, she was just getting a handle on his odd body rhythms. It occurred to her that in some very basic ways, Darrell had probably been a better wife to Britt than she was.
Dena put the shovel aside and stripped off her gardening shirt, under which she was wearing a bathing suit top. After rinsing her face and arms with the hose, she set to work weeding a long-untended flower garden.
She looked up to see her husband standing on the steps of the house, shirtless, lighting a cigarette as he watched her. That was a first. He kept a pack in the drawer with his undershorts, but she had never actually seen him light one. When he started toward her, she asked, “Did you eat something?”
“That cheese stuff you made didn’t look edible,” he stated.
Apparently he was serious. Another first. Any previous commentary on her Southern cooking had always been accompanied by a wink.
As he walked closer, he said, “I had a chunk of unadulterated cheese and a pear; thank you for asking.”
He came to a halt directly across the flower bed from her, and she squinted up at him, looking into the sun. Perhaps it was because his face was in shadow, but he had a rocker’s hard, road-weary look to him today. He was studying her through narrowed eyes above his cigarette, closely assessing her, it seemed. Well, she thought, if you want to know my mood, Mr. Jordan, just stick around.
He squatted opposite her, the flower bed between them, just as a breeze began to stir from the lake. “Is there something on your mind?” he asked.
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