Red was tired, worn out from helping her mother clean up the summer cottage. They had scrubbed it from top to bottom. Now that Red and her mother, Anne, were nearly done, all Red wanted to do was sit back and watch a movie with a bottle of her favourite ‘Red’ — a nice Cab-Sav or a Merlot.
Then, her mom appeared with a picnic basket, “Gina, I know you’re tired and we’ve been working all day, but I need you to take this basket of food down to your Grandma Addy’s house. She’ll be upset if one of us doesn’t at least pop by for an hour or two to visit.”
Red crossed her arms, “Mom, all I want to do is put my feet up and rest. I came out here to relax with you, Dad, and Michael, not to work even harder than I do at the firm. Besides, no one calls me Gina, just you. Call my Red that’s my name , like my hair.”
“Well who do you think your beautiful hair came from? My mother, your Gran Adeline of course. I know you’re worn out but you’re younger and have my energy than I do. I still have to change the sheets and air out the upstairs bedrooms for your father and I, and your brother’s room needs new bedding as well.”
“Make him do it.”
“Mike won’t care. I can’t have his room that way.”
Red grumbled, “Grandma’s a fantastic cook, mom. She makes amazing food for herself. She eats whatever she likes and doesn’t have diabeties even at eighty-three. How about I give her a call and tell her I’ll come by with lunch tomorrow? She’ll prefer I call before showing up,” Red reasoned.
“Err, Red, your Grandma isn’t always as healthy as she likes to think she is. I was down here earlier this year because she hadn’t been able to cook and do a lot of her usual activities. Her arthritis has been acting up. It’s not healthy for her to be too thin at her age and she refuses to take the steroids the doctor prescribed her. She needs the food tonight. I called her and she told me she’s been eating toast and jam for days.”
Red was shocked, “You should have said something earlier, I would have visited Gran Addy before now.”
Anne shrugged in apology and Red gave her mother an angry look tbefore stockng out the front door to her Camry. It was red like her hair and practical. Red was nothing if not practical. It was why she was one of the best associates at her law firm.
She drove as fast as she could down the dirt road to her Grandma’s quaint house. Red gritted her teeth as stones assaulted the sides of her car and sighed in relief when she reached her Grandmother’s front drive and bungalow.
She picked up the picnic basket from her back seat and knocked on her Grandma’s aubergine front door. “Gran, are you there? It’s Red, I have food mom made for you. It ‘s delicious and should tide you over for a few days. I can bring more when I’m over next,” she yelled through the door.
Red didn’t hear a response so she tried the door handle. When the front door opened easily Red grew cautious. She walked inside her grandmother’s front entrance, hanging up her vermillion jacket on a coat hook and putting most of the food away in her gran’s fridge. She put together a plate of chicken, potatoes, gravy, and cauliflower with cheese sauce for her grandma before heating the food in the microwave for a few minutes.
“Adeline?” Red called. “Grandma Addy? I have supper for you from my my mom. It’s Red, Grandma? Are you okay?”
She walked down the hallway and knocked on her grandma’s bedroom door holding the tray with the steaming plate of food and a cup of her gran’s favourite tea. The door swung open on its own and Red realized her Grandma Addy wasn’t in her bedroom. But who was?
Red shrieked when a half naked man came into view stretching his well defined arms and back in front of her grandma’s picture window. The man was covered with intricate tattoos, designs trailing up his well toned arms and back.
He seemed to know she was there and when he turned around Red almost drooled noticing the attractive man’s six-pack abs and mesmerizing shamrock eyes. She had to close her own cerulean eyes to gather herself and not clumsily drop the tray of food. Red felt her grip wobbling as she tried to breath.
The gorgeous tattoo covered man rushed forward to help her. Red noticed his dark hair and inhaled his fresh woodsy scent as he grasped the tray from Red’s shaking hands.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No! No I am not. What the Hell are you doing in my Grandma’s bedroom? Where is she? My mom sent me over here to bring her food. All she’s been doing is eating toast all week. So where is she? And who are?” Red yelled.
The man tried to calm her rubbing her arms and hushing her. Red didn’t back down, “You have five seconds before I call the police and tell them you’re trespassing in my Grandma’s home. Guess what else? I’m a lawyer so I’m going to make sure we sue you for trespassing and anything else I can.”
The man sighed shaking his head at Red. She followed him to her Gran’s writing desk, tray in hand. His handsome face crinkled as he gave her a genuine smile and took the tray from her. Red started to shout again but the man placed his hand over Red’s mouth.
“Just give me five minutes. I’ll clear this all up.”
Red wrinkled her nose and grasping his hand over her mouth, threw it away from her.
Then his hand was back over her mouth, “Okay, Miss lawyer. My name is Wolff, Axel J. Wolff. But everyone calls me Wolff. Your Grandma asked me to house-sit while she and my grandpa Reggie went to Hawaii. They used to go out before both of them married their respective spouses. But now your Grandpa and my Nana have died so Addy and Reggie are both enjoying life together. I’m not trespassing and your Grandma did call your mom to tell her to send you over with food for me. I’m pretty sure she wanted us to meet.”
Wolff smiled then picked up the fork from the tray and started eating. “This is amazing. Not as good as Addy’s cooking but much better than my own. Did you make it?”
All Red could do was stare at Wolff suspiciously. Something about what he said didn’t add up. Her Grandma always told her if she was going away. She would’ve mentioned something on their twice weekly phone calls.
“Wolff,” Addy said. “If your Grandpa Reggie lives here, how come I don’t know you? My family’s summer cottage is not far from here on the lake and I remember your Grandpa and even your Dad here in the summer. But I don’t remember you?”
“All the children and grandchildren came down here in the summer for at least a few weeks. I would remember you were Reggie’s grandson. Your Grandpa always gave me twizzlers, but I don’t recall you for some reason, why is that?”
The back of Wolf’s free hand grazed Red’s cheek. He smiled at her taking in her sweet appearance with a predatoral gaze. His eyes swept her face and down her body several times. Red felt her body flush responding to the hunger in his eyes. She couldn’t help but admire his fit body and perfectly structured face. Red bit her lip and Wolff echoed her reaction to him.
” I saw you a few times growing up. You’re around ten years younger than me so that’s probably why you wouldn’t have seen me. Beside, most of the time I was away at military school and then I was in the marines for a while. We didn’t get much of a summer break.”
Wolff set the tray aside and stared into Red’s dazed eyes, “What big eyes you have, Gina. Do you believe me? About Addy and Reggie?
“My name’s Red. Has been since I was eight. I hate Gina. I believe you but how’d you know my real name?”
“Addy of course. Red, would you like to keep me company?” His eyes travelled down her body and up to her mouth, devouring her as he went.
“Whose the one with big eyes now?” Red asked.
“The better to see you with,” Wolff replied.
” I don’t know if I believe a word out of your mouth,” Red said observing Wolff with careful curiosity.
Then his shamrock eyes glimmered and he held out his hand to Red. His smile was indeed wolffish and Red’s pulse raced as he took her small hand in his own.
Everyone either loves or hates fruit bread and more often than not, this stiff and solid rock like cake which sits in your stomach as if you’ve ingested a stone, is detested by many people. No matter the tradition or reason we bake/eat fruit bread at Christmas, it is a custom many of us wonder about; I can honestly say, however, there is only one fruit bread in the world I love because it tastes wonderful and is nothing like any fruit bread I’ve ever tasted before, or will ever taste again.
Grandma’s fruit bread wasn’t like traditional loaves of fruit bread because it was soft and tempting as I believe, any kind of bread should be; inside her bread was sugared and candied fruits much like traditional fruit bread, except my Grandma’s fruit bread was melt in your mouth and we used to toast a small slice or two for breakfast during the holidays and have it with becel; the buttery, sweet, soft bread was delicious and makes me hungry thinking about it; Grandma’s fruit bread was not traditional fruit bread — it was a million times better.
“Ahhhh, coffee. I love it. Would you like some?” Peter asked the woman. He didn’t remember her name.
“I don’t drink coffee, thanks Peter,” Sally said her throat feeling raw.”I could use some water, or orange juice if you have any?”
Peter peered into his fridge. It was bare. “Um, Susan, I have cranberry juice is that alright?”
“I guess. And my name is Sally, Peter.”
“Oh. Uh. Sorry Sally, I drank a lot last night.” Peter said.
Sally shrugged. “Whatever Peter.”
“Actually, you’ve been calling me Susan since your third beer last night. I kept correcting you every time but you kept calling me her name. Who’s Susan?” Sally questioned.
Peter appeared nervous. “She’s no one. Just an old girlfriend.”
“Ah,” Sally remarked, “I understand now. Got any whole wheat or multigrain bread for toast?”
Peter wasn’t listening. He drank his coffee remembering the morning Susan left.
“Where are you going?” Peter asked Susan.
“I’m leaving Peter. I’ve had enough. I can’t take this anymore.” Susan said. She had all her possessions boxed up and had hired a mover to load up the furniture she purchased.
“You have to have seen this coming.”
“No, we had one fight and now your leaving me?” Peter asked.
“It wasn’t one fight, it was many fights over three-years. You never understood. It always came down to the same thing.” Susan remarked.
“What, what did it come down to?”
“You Peter. It came down to you. You always did whatever you wanted, demanding I tag along. When it came to doing what I had to do for a work event or visiting my my friends, you never showed up.”
“Time and time again, you told me to quit my job. That I shouldn’t be spending so much time working or visiting my own friends.” Susan said, “I’m not putting up with your controlling behaviour anymore.”
“No, Peter. I have a life. My own life. I’m tired of explaining things to you.” Susan said frustrated.
Peter was speechless as the movers came, taking the furniture Susan bought, and all of her things away.
When Susan and the movers left, Peter felt the gnawing emptiness of his condo.
” Peter is there bread for toast?” Sally asked.
“What?” Peter asked lost in his head.”Oh no, sorry haven’t been grocery shopping this week. There’s cereal?”
Sally sighed. “It’s fine. I’ll drink my cranberry juice and be on my way.”
“Leaving so soon? Want to. . . ”
“No, Peter I’m fine. I don’t think I can handle being called Susan again.” Sally remarked.
When Sally left, Peter remembered the emptiness he felt without Susan. Sally reminded him, he was a failure with women. Peter returned to bed to sleep off his hangover.