"First she invites me to lunch like she didn't just completely insult me last week, but two can play that game, then before we've even ordered she just has to tell me your cousin sold a waterfront listing. Can you believe Val's flying over to Vancouver tomorrow just to go shopping with her for new clothes on Robson Street? Designer clothes." Nice one, Aunt Val. I struggled not to laugh.
"Good for Tamara, but she looks great in anything." I hadn't actually seen my cousin in person since she moved to the mainland right after high school, but Aunt Val was always emailing just-look-what-my-amazing-kids-are-up to-now photos.
"I told Val you have some nice things too. You're just… conservative."
"Mom, I have lots of nice clothes, but I—"
I stopped myself. She was baiting me, and Mom isn't the catch and release type. Last thing I wanted to do was spend ten minutes debating appropriate business attire with a woman who wears four-inch heels and a dress to get the mail. Sure as hell wasn't any point. Mom may be small, barely five feet, but I was the one always falling short.
"Before I forget," I said, "can you drop off my cappuccino maker later?"
She was quiet for a moment, then said, "You want it today?"
"That's why I asked, Mom."
"Because I just invited some of the ladies in the park over for coffee tomorrow. Your timing is perfect, as usual."
"Oh crap, sorry, Mom, but Luke's coming over and I want to make him a cappuccino with breakfast. I thought you were going to buy one, you just wanted to try mine?"
"We were, but your stepdad and I are a little behind right now. I'll just have to call the girls this afternoon and explain."
Great, now I felt like a jerk.
"Don't worry about it, I'll get it next week or something."
"Thanks, Annie Bear." Now I was Annie Bear.
"You're welcome, but I still need it—" She hung up.
I groaned and shoved the phone back in my purse. The woman never let me finish a goddamn sentence if it wasn't something she wanted to hear.
At the corner gas station, I stopped to grab a coffee and a couple of magazines. My mom loves trashy magazines, but I only buy them to give me something to do if no one comes in to an open house. One of them had a picture of some poor missing woman on the cover. I looked at her smiling face and thought, she used to be just a girl living her life, and now everyone thinks they know all about her.
The open house was a little slow. I guess most people were taking advantage of the good weather—like I should have been. About ten minutes before it ended I started packing up my stuff. When I went outside to put some flyers in my trunk, a newer light tan-colored van pulled in and parked right behind my car. An older guy, maybe mid-forties, walked towards me with a smile on his face.
"Shoot, you're packing up. Serves me right—saving the best for last. Would it be a huge inconvenience if I had a quick look around?"
For a second I considered telling him it was too late. A part of me just wanted to go home, and I still had to get some stuff from the grocery store, but as I hesitated he put his hands on his hips, stepped back a couple of feet, and surveyed the front of the house.