“Blossom, you’re not wearing a micro-miniskirt and heels to the wedding. I didn’t even know you owned high heels.” Mary wouldn’t go near those three-inch stilettos. Her center of gravity was most comfortable in a physician’s down-to-earth loafers. “The outfit is too much.”
Stalking across the bedroom, Blossom was deaf to the comment. She zipped up the skin-tight dress. The fabric looked glued to her hips. It also revealed most of her thighs.
On the bed, her friend Snoops helpfully put in, “She bought the shoes yesterday at the mall. We looked everywhere before she found the perfect pair.”
“You went shopping?”
Blossom opened her jewelry box. “It’s not like I could wait for you to take me. All you do is work.” She pulled out three beaded bracelets and slid them on her wrists. “Dads chill. He doesn’t care what I wear tomorrow. Why should you?”
Good question, and she searched for a suitable reply. “You’ve shown him your outfit? He thinks it’s fine?” She tried adding disapproval to the query, but wasn’t sure if she’d succeeded.
“I described it to him.”
“So . . . he hasn’t seen it?”
“What’s your point?”
Anthony sauntered down the hallway. He paused in the doorway behind her.
“What haven’t I seen?” he asked Mary. Winding his arms around her waist, he dropped his head on top of hers and took a gander at his daughter’s outfit. She listened with relief as his breath wheezed to a startled halt. “Hold on, muchacha. You aren’t wearing that get-up tomorrow. It’s got ‘call girl’ written all over it.”
Channeling a testy runway model, Blossom glided a brush through her curls. “What’s a call girl?”
Mary eased out of his arms and faced him. “Tell her no,” she whispered. “I have to decide what I’m wearing. Not many options—can I throw together an old skirt and a blouse? It’ll take an hour digging through my closet to come up with something remotely suitable for a wedding. I don’t have time to arm wrestle Blossom until she relents.”
Anthony dragged his hand through his hair. Splotches of grease from the Gas & Go peppered his shirt. Not that Mary cared. A year of marriage wasn’t enough to sate her hunger for him. She never tired of his easygoing nature—or the well-toned muscles shifting beneath his tee shirt. If Blossom slept over at Snoops’ house tonight as planned, there was time to seduce him before she left for the hospital.
Guilt ate at her composure. Better to get him naked before mentioning she was driving to the other end of the county and working late at Jeffordsville Hospital.
Catching her lurid glance, he telegraphed the well-rehearsed message: Time out. Blossom will notice. Their daughter picked up their more carnal thoughts like radar. Blossom had nearly caught them in the act a humiliating number of times.
Mary’s beeper went off. “I should take this,” she told her husband. “One of my patients was admitted to the hospital with chest pains.” The man had a history of heart trouble. He was scheduled to spend the night under observation.
Blossom climbed into the stiletto heels. “Yeah, take the call.” She took a few steps and nearly toppled over. “You’ve been home for, what? Twenty minutes? Don’t kill yourself breaking a record.”
Anger rippled off Anthony. He stalked into the bedroom. “Kiddo, apologize right now. Mary’s a doctor. She has to care for her patients. You know the drill.”
“You don’t work stupid hours. Why does she?”
“I own a gas station. It’s not like I get emergency calls if someone needs an oil change. A lot of people depend on Mary.”
It was time to diffuse the situation before a family squabble ensued, something that happened much too frequently.
“I’m sorry I didn’t take you shopping for the wedding,” Mary said, wondering if this was the promise Blossom thought she’d broken. “I’ll make it up to you. We’ll plan something nice, just the two of us.”
“Like you’ll find the time.” Blossom flounced to the mirror and fluffed her mass of curls. “You live for your patients. Shouldn’t you also take care of your family? You don’t, you know.”
The accusation stung. Most nights Anthony made dinner, cleaned up and helped with homework before Mary dragged in from her practice. If the flu struck Liberty, she worked six days a week. On Sundays, more often than not, she dozed on the couch while Anthony entertained Blossom with a game of Risk or took her and Snoops on an outing. If they made plans for the roller rink or the movies, Mary usually begged off. After caring for patients all week long, she didn’t have the energy.
“I don’t mind if you can’t goof off with us every Sunday,” Blossom said. They’d grown close, and most days she seemed capable of mindreading. “It’s okay. I don’t always want to hang with Dad on the weekends, or you either. But that doesn’t mean I like how you’ve let me down.”
“How have I let you down?”
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