By Joanna Campbell Slan
Detweiler smiled at me as I handed him a tall glass of iced tea. “I think you should go.”
I turned from him to our kitchen window. Summer in St. Louis can be oppressive, and today was no exception. Each morning, moisture condensed on our windows, thanks to the A/C inside and the moist heat outside. Old washcloths worked well to sop up the liquid and clear the glass so that we could see outside. The lawn rolled on and on, a thick green carpet, perfect for welcoming bare feet. The happy shrieks of our two older children brought a smile to my face. They loved running through the sprinkler, an activity totally new to our adopted son, but one that my teenaged daughter enjoyed every summer.
“It’s a long drive.” I felt my face scrunch into a frown. “Three and a half hours.”
“Good. That’ll give you two plenty of time to catch up.” Detweiler came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. “Kiki, you two were friends for a dozen years. I know you miss your relationship with Mert. She’s offering you an olive branch. Take it.”
“Take it and drive all the way to Vincennes, Indiana?” I turned so I could look into my husband’s amazing green eyes. “That’s a long, long branch, isn’t it? Okay, she wants to be friends again. Or does she? Is it possible she needs a co-pilot, and I’m the only person available? Maybe she doesn’t really even want me to go along with her.”
Detweiler leaned in close and kissed me lightly on the lips. “If she didn’t want you to come along, she wouldn’t have invited you. Mert asked you to go with her to Indiana because she wants to spend time with you. Quit being such a cranky pants. Now tell me–what did she say you two would be doing?”
For a second, I opened my mouth to protest. He’d already decided I should go. I still had my doubts. Sure, Mert and I’d been best friends since that fateful day we’d met in the cleaning products aisle in Home Depot. But all that had changed when she blamed me for her brother’s involvement in a shoot-out. Unfortunately, the target for the bullets had been little old me. As much as Mert had loved me, she loved her brother more.
“What are your plans?” Detweiler prompted me. As usual, he smelled of Safeguard soap and light cologne. He wasn’t a guy to soak himself, but he always smelled good.
Resistance was futile. I released the tension in my body and enjoyed the comfort of my husband’s arms. “A watermelon festival. That’s what our plans are. Mert assured me that it’s a major big deal in Vincennes. In fact, the town used to be called The Watermelon Capital of the World.”
Detweiler threw his head back and laughed heartily. “Who knew?”
I agreed. “There you have it. If I decide to accompany my friend, we’ll be driving three and a half hours to gore ourselves on all the watermelon we can eat. Woop-de-do.”
Again Detweiler laughed, but this time the sound was richer. “Lighten up, babe. It’s summertime, and the melons are easy picking. I predict that you and Mert will have a blast.”
“Right.” I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. In my heart of hearts, I knew he was right. This was my chance to mend fences with Mert. I needed to grab it.
But a three and a half hour drive in a truck for the purpose of eating watermelon? That did not seem very compelling. No, not at all.
~To be continued~
In Part II, we’ll visit Vincennes, Indiana, vicariously. A heat wave is the least of the problems that the two women face. Somehow they get involved in a crime. (Or did you guess that might happen?)