NOTES: Here we go, then, with the final instalment. Thanks for reading!
TITLE: Old Wounds
(Six weeks later.)
Terrorists never seemed to care whether it was Saturday morning and she wanted to sleep in.
The phone started ringing again for the second time in fifteen minutes as Frankie hastily buttoned up her blouse. She finished the last button and checked in the mirror on the wall above the phone to make sure she'd gotten them all as she reached for the receiver.
'Frankie? It's Joyce Kilmer here.'
'Hi Joyce,' she replied after a slight hesitation. 'How are you?'
She had been expecting another, perhaps even more urgent, call from work, not this. She was very conscious of the fact that this was not the best of times to be chatting with Kilmer's mother.
Just then, she noticed the sound of the shower being shut off, and a moment later the bathroom door opening.
Joyce's reply to Frankie's polite inquiry, meanwhile, was shaping into a rather lengthy testimonial, which Frankie had to cut short.
'I'm sorry, Joyce,' she said apologetically, 'I'd love to talk but I'm afraid you've caught me at a bad time. I've just had a call from work...'
She frowned suddenly and turned. A series of muffled thumps and curses was coming from the bedroom.
'And I was just about to walk out the door, actually,' she finished distractedly, wondering what on earth was going on in there.
'On a Saturday? You poor thing. Well, I'll let you go. I was just calling to see how you were. I've spoken to John a few times since I saw you but you know how he is, and -'
'Frankie!' came a shout at that moment from the bedroom. 'Where the hell are my pants?'
She cringed. That was quite possibly the very worst thing he could have said.
She prayed that it hadn't been audible on the other end of the line.
'So I hope you don't mind my calling like this, out of the blue,' Joyce was saying.
It seemed Frankie's prayers had been answered. She heaved a mental sigh of relief as she assured the other woman that, no, she didn't mind at all.
'It's lovely to hear from you,' she added.
Meanwhile, she moved as far as the phone cord would allow so as to come into view of the open bedroom door. She waved her arms in the hope that the person currently still tearing apart her room, by the sound of it, might notice, and shut the hell up.
She couldn't very well yell back, 'they're under the coffee table,' after all.
'Just a case of bad timing, I'm afraid,' she finished.
He appeared from the bedroom then, wearing just his shorts with his hair still wet and sticking up everywhere from the shower. It would have been adorable, if he wasn't still so clearly oblivious to what was going on, and she hadn't felt like strangling him.
As he passed she finally managed to catch his attention and gestured at the phone she was holding to her ear.
'I'm sorry, Joyce,' she added extra emphasis on the name for his benefit, 'I really do have to go.'
She shook her head as he winced in sudden understanding.She held up a finger at him then, silently indicating he was not to go anywhere.
'All right then, dear. I was just calling to see how things were.'
'Why don't I call you back?' she suggested.
'Yes, good, sometime when you've got time for a nice long chat.'
'Okay,' she said, relieved that this awkward conversation was coming to an end, 'Well -'
'Oh, and Frankie?' Joyce broke in.
'Tell that son of mine he needs to keep a closer eye on his things, will you?'
'All right,' she replied weakly. 'I will.'
Joyce said goodbye then, the amusement clear in her voice.
Frankie hung up and glared at Kilmer.
'Well that was a nice, humiliating way for your mother to find out about us.'
'What? How'd she know?'
'You're in my apartment at nine-thirty in the morning yelling about your pants. Somehow, I think she put two and two together.'
'Well, I was planning on filling her in sooner or later, anyway,' he shrugged.
'Oh I think you took care of that quite effectively just now.' She sighed and gestured. 'They're over there, by the way.'
He moved around the sofa and retrieved his pants, and then went to get dressed.
'Hey,' he said as he reappeared less than a minute later, this time fully clothed, 'You're pretty much guaranteed an invitation to Christmas in Texas, now she knows.'
She followed him down the hall to the front door, and watched as he slipped his shoes on.
'Won't that be weird,' she said uncertainly, 'Me showing up on your arm again after all this time? Not to mention that your mother will no doubt have spread this little telephone incident to your entire family by then, too. That will be fun.'
He came over and wrapped his arms around her, giving her his most disarming smile.
'Come on, public humiliation is what the holidays are all about.'
She considered it for a moment. It would be awkward, there would be questions, and she would have to face people she had once called family -people whom she had not seen since before she walked out on her marriage. And this was still new, between them. She wasn't sure she was ready to face all of that yet.
'I'll think about it,' she said. 'I'm not promising anything.'
His smile widened - she knew that conceding even that much was half the battle won for him - but he didn't press her, he just shrugged.
And this, she thought, was why it might just work between them, this time.
'I've gotta go,' he said then.
'I'll see you in there.'
She hooked her fingers in the collar of his shirt to pull him down for a kiss.
'Bye, Mrs Kilmer,' he called as he ducked out the door.
She smiled as she went back into her bedroom to finish getting ready. For some reason, it didn't bother her nearly as much now when he called her that.
Feedback is good karma.