Sophie laid in her bed looking up at the dark ceiling. Her body memorizing the event that consumed her every thought since it happened earlier.
Cason coming to her, and his rough hands touching her in ways she’d never realized she wanted to be touched. Casey, had been wrong, sometimes a good rough bout with a strong man against a tree was just what the soul needed. Thinking of the way he’d filled her, had kissed her and eventually given himself to her had her smiling and turning over onto her side.
She couldn’t wait to see him again. Tomorrow, he’d be there at her mother’s for lunch. Would they know that something changed? Would her mother see through it all?
Sophie didn’t care, she just smiled into her pillow and let the memory of Cason’s body against hers escort her into sleep.
It had been an intense last month, Sophie thought as she gathered her things and headed out to her new ride. She was glad though that things were starting to look up. Work was busier than ever, and finally her personal life was looking less and less like a train wreck. She slipped her sunglasses on and locked up. Tossing her things onto the passenger seat of the exact make and model SUV of her previous one - purchased new and delivered to her - she headed toward her mother’s house.
In the end, she thought, it was better that she and Cason came together as they did, this way there were no secrets and their care for each other had seen it’s worst. It was all downhill on a bicycle from there.
Before pulling into the side street off the main avenue into her mother’s suburb Sophie checked her teeth in her rear view mirror. Small butterflies of anticipation filled her belly, she wanted to see Cason in broad daylight. To see if, somehow, the night before had changed him.
When she pulled into the short drive of her mother’s ranch-style house she realized she was still early, Cason hadn’t arrived yet.
“Get a grip Sparling.” She admonished herself when the first licks of disappointment set in.
Grabbing her purse from the side seat and the new jar of pickles her mother requested she headed in.
Doctor Lowe had already arrived and was setting the table as her mother was putting the finishing touches on the massive spread she’d created.
“Wow mom.” Sophie said as she closed the door and hung up her purse on the hat rack. “Hi Doctor Lowe.”
“Hi there Sophie. How’s your morning going?” he asked warmly coming over to take the pickle jar from her.
Sophie smiled at him, “Good.” She said following him toward the kitchen.
“Oh good! You remembered the pickles.” Helen said as she came out from the kitchen with another plate of food to set on the already laden table said, “we’re almost set.”
Sophie took in the spread. Warm rolls with whipped butter, a spiral ham, cheeses, fruit, small muffins, quiche and now pickles.
“Are there many more people coming?”
“No, honey it’s just us. Why, did you invite more people? Do we need more food?”
Doctor Lowe chuckled and said to her mother over the counter, “No I think she means that we have so much food we could eat for days! You’ve done a splendid job Helen.”
“Oh.” Helen beamed then paused, “I have mimosas in the refrigerator, too.”
“I’ll get them,” Sophie said thinking of Cason as she headed into the kitchen, “I did invite Cason last night to join us. He’ll probably clean out the rest of this.”
“Oh you did! Good, I barley got to talk with him last night with his General bending his ear all night.”
“Yeah?” she said pulling out the pitcher of mimosas, glad there was no fluffball of fury barking its head off on the couch just then. “Do you know what they were talking about?”
“Not really - Martin, will you be a dear and take out another place setting for Cason?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said and headed to the side board to retrieve them.
Helen added a few more touches to the table as she continued, “Oh just the old days. I did hear that he wanted Cason to re-enlist, said that they could use a man of his skill set. I don’t think Cason gave any serious thought to it but then again he’s feeling much better since his surgery. He mentioned that an anonymous donor had paid for his surgery, the surgeon’s office didn’t say who it was when he pressed, but they did say it came from a veterans relief fund.”
Helen and Martin were both busy with their tasks that they didn’t see the smile cross Sophie’s face. Mrs. Mathers was a crafty gal, Sophie would have to thank her for keeping it discreet.
Sophie took the pitcher to the table and thought on Cason, he was still not there. Trying not to think about it she instead thought of why Cason had been in the woods the previous night. More than likely trying to clear his head and figure out whether or not he should re-enlist.
When the last of the prep work had been done Helen asked Sophie, “When did Cason say he’d be here?”
“He said he would make it if he could, he had something to take care of today so it was going to be a long shot anyway. Let’s eat.” She said lying. He’d kissed her again at the door to her car the night before and said he’d see her there at her mother’s house. She remembered the way he’d been soft with her, his promise had been sincere. Then again, she mused, a lot can happen in twelve hours.
Through brunch and into the parlor games later Sophie struggled harder and harder not to feel as if she’d been stood up. As if the night before was simply a one-off for Cason. Eventually she had to leave and said her goodbyes smiling and waving at her mother and her Doctor Lowe. She was happy for them and stayed smiling for them until she hit the end of the block. Then she got angry.
As she made it toward her condo Sophie replayed every part of the night before and the days before. She remembered then what he’d said to her in the garage, “You’ll hate me again Sophie. I promise.”
And she did, all the way home and all the way up her front steps and into her condo where she threw her purse down and cursed his name. The condo felt cold and empty and the hollow space inside of her gaped open. Pressing her palm to her chest she headed into the shower and tried to close it.
The next morning came and Sophie dove into her work. She drove to clients houses and in between debated showing up at Cason’s concrete firm to have it out with him. No, she’d find out where he was living and show up there. Then she could say everything she had to without tarnishing her own reputation.
She was at the Mathers home, the remodel had started and so far the schedule continued to be tight like clockwork. She made a mental note to use the contractor on that job for all future major remodels.
Sitting in the kitchen, the only space not tarped or plastic’ed off, she closed her portfolio as Mrs. Mathers came in from the back gardens.
“Oh hi.” She said smiling at Sophie, “Just trying to escape the noise in the front, I didn’t hear you arrive.”
Sophie smiled back, “Not to worry Mrs. Mathers, I don’t need entertaining when I’m here. The job, however is going well and I can safely say that we’re on target for our six to eight week window for project completion. Barring no major catastrophes.” She said and knocked on the wood top of the kitchen table.
Mrs. Mathers had set her basket down and was pulling off her gloves, “Well that’s great news, so just a few more weeks then we will be better than new.”
“Absolutely.” Sophie said and tucked her portfolio into her case and hesitated then plowed ahead with what she’d been meaning to say, “I do want to personally thank you for what you did in keeping my payment of Cason McPherson’s surgery anonymous.”
“Ah, yes. Well, not a problem and it didn’t seem to far of a stretch to say it was funds for veteran’s relief.” She said and winked.
“That’s very true.”
Sophie shouldered her case and made her goodbyes, as she headed out to her SUV Dr. Mathers drove up. He waved a hello and rolled down his window, “Good to see you Ms. Sparling - all going well here?”
“Couldn’t be better. I’ll be by tomorrow to check on the shipment of tiles, they’ll be arriving this afternoon.”
“Great! Oh and if you’re headed into town for lunch, you’ll want to take the back way out of here. There’s a small accident blocking the main road in.”
“Good to know. Have a good afternoon Doctor Mathers.” She said and waved.
“You as well Ms. Sparling.”
Sophie got into her car as he pulled past. She thought it amusing that she’d have time to be having lunch. She barely had time to get her coffee in the morning.
The rear road up into the Heights took Sophie past the old historic part of the Heights area. Old Money was what her mother called it. The first wealthy settlers in the late 1700’s had built there and as a result the architecture was true to it’s era and the trees planted along the road were towering and filled with green streaming moss.
As she drove down the road, dappled sunlight washing over the car, she slowed down and admired the original structures. The lawns were all well maintained and some of them had workers trimming and mowing as she rolled by. Despite the money in the neighborhood the road was bumpy with the tree roots trying to buckle the asphalt and return it to soil.
Sophie’s phone rang halfway down the Height’s hill and she pulled off behind another car just before a small bend in the street.
It was work, sending her to another appointment that afternoon.
“No, it’ll be seven at night before I can get there. It’ll have to be Monday.” She said and watched the cars go past as they checked her online schedule for a time.
Ahead several houses down a newish gray truck, like the one Cason drove pulled into a driveway to a more rundown home on the block.
Expecting a contractor to get out, Sophie said “Holy shit.” When it was Cason McPherson instead.
“Will Monday not work?” the voice on the phone asked.
“No, book it for Monday, text me the details when you fill in my calendar.” She said then hung up.
She watched as he strode familiarly up the sagging front steps and right into the house. Sophie took out a pen and paper and jotted down the address. She waited, and a few moments later Cason emerged with some tool in his hand. He locked the door this time and bounded back down the steps and into his truck. He wasted no time in reversing and heading back out onto the road.
She had another appointment to go to, back to back in fact, it would be later that night before she could look into it. For a wild moment she considered, though, simply canceling the rest of her day and wait there until he came back. Or rather, get out and break into that house, which from the set of the front door, looked like it would be easy.
She put her hand to her door to get out and paused. She knew this neighborhood, the older wealthy in habitants and young stay a home parents all watched each others homes. While she might be stealthy, her activities would no doubt be reported back. No, it was best to keep calm and wait. She had a hunch that Cason’s new home was this wreck and not some bachelor pad in town as she’d imagined. Reluctantly she started her car and continued on. As she passed the home she slowed even further, and despite her anger for it’s new owner, the bones of the old home she admitted were good. It needed love and a full remodel, but it held the promise that it could be stately once again.
Throughout the day Sophie thought on that house, and thought on Cason’s living there. She assumed for a time that it could have been a friend’s home and he was just picking up a tool. But the way he’d pulled into the drive, the way he’d come and gone, was as if he were familiar with it. Owned it.
At home, later that evening, Sophie allowed herself a few seconds to pour herself a glass of wine and take a bite of take-out before starting her laptop’s search engine. Online she typed into the Parish’s records office website the address she’d taken down earlier that day. The owner was listed as a bank, but the title was in transition. Sophie knew that everything at the Parish level ran thirty-days late so she went with her plan B. Opening another window she pulled up the website for Real Estate listings in the Heights area and searched all recently sold.
There, on the list, was the house she’d seen Cason go into. Checking the agent in charge she saw it was an agent she’d worked with in the past. Sophie barely finished reading her name on screen before opening her work email and sending her a note.
Sophie crafted an email saying she had a friend who’d just bought a house in the Heights and she wanted to surprise him with a house warming gift. The only problem was that she had misplaced his address, she remembered it had been in the Heights and that he was doing massive remodeling to it. Sophie just located an address online and could she confirm that Cason McPherson was at that address? She’d just hate to send a $500 steak knife set to the wrong home.
Sophie hit send and got up from her computer to refill her wine glass. She wasn’t sure if what she was doing was healthy, but after seeing him again and having a glass of wine the floodgate of questions had opened and she needed answers. Had to have answers. No one pinned Sophie Sparling to a tree, made love to her like she was the last good thing in their life and walked away. No one, and the harder piece to admit was that she wanted him, needed him. Needed to have that moment with him again, it was as if she’d come up for air and taken a life saving breath, but just as it infused her body with sustenance she was plunged back under water to drown.
She sat at her kitchen counter trying to work on schedules and paperwork for the next day’s clients, but her mind came back to him like a tongue to a sore tooth. She pushed him out of her mind and worked instead on her notes on the clients that day. She’d seen the Mathers, then Cason.
Cason, she thought and sighed. That was when her computer pinged. Sophie looked over her shoulder at it on the living room coffee table and saw that there was a new email.
Slipping off the barstool Sophie stumbled as she rushed the laptop. She grasped it up and sat on the couch speed reading the two lined response from her realtor friend. Yes it was Cason’s home and would she love to catch up over lunch the next week?
Sophie sent a thanks and affirmative for lunch then closed her laptop. Her mind would not rest now on anything else save for Cason McPherson and his new home.