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Kit heard his phone ringing as he lay in the sun soaking up the last rays of the central Texas summer. He had ignored a previous call, but this caller seemed more determined. After the tenth ring, he pushed himself to his feet and went down the steps to the living area of the boathouse. He didn’t want to talk to anyone and spoil a perfectly good funk.
“Hello, Morgan residence.”
“Lazy boy, why don’t you answer your phone when it rings instead of just lying in the sun almost naked.”
“Theda! How did you know I was sunbathing?…Oh, you can see me.” Theda Pullin lived in an apartment across a narrow arm of the lake. From her balcony she had a view of Kit’s living quarters.
“Yes, I can see a great deal of you. Is that a yellow belt you are wearing?”
“No, it is a swimsuit that Sophia bought for me. It’s called a Speedo, and if you want to come over and sunbathe with me, you can see it. It is not exactly for public wear.”
“Kit, you know that part of our relationship is over and I am involved with someone else now.”
“Yeah, Carter. Theda, he is too old for you.”
“He is not, but you are definitely too young. I need a favor from you.”
“Sure, do you want me to come over and move you? Do you have some heavy lifting for me?”
“Keep your double entendres to yourself. Do you remember Sandy Rhoades? My assistant in the placement office. She is a petite blonde..”
“With a really bad temper. I don’t think she was too impressed with me that one time I saw her in the office.”
“Just be quiet for a minute and listen. She was having a bad day that day. She is a single mom raising an adorable five-year-old daughter. Katie, the daughter, had an accident at daycare that day and Sandy was stressed about that. She asked me the next week if she should call you to apologize for being snippy. Actually she has had quite a string of bad days. The worst was losing her husband in a flying accident while she was pregnant with Katie. He was Air Force and training for combat. They are not sure what happened as the plane went down off the California coast and neither the plane nor the bodies were recovered. She came back to Texas to live with her in-laws as she had no close family of her own. Then her father-in-law died of a heart attack two weeks after she moved in.”
“Man, that is rough, but that was five years ago.”
“And she has not made any real effort to move on with a life of her own. She still lives with her mother-in-law, and she devotes herself completely to Katie. She doesn’t date or have any friends to pal around with. And that brings us to you and the favor I need.”
“Wait, Theda. Don’t go there. I am not going to let you set me up with a grieving single mom. I would be totally out of my depth. I am not in any position to get serious about a relationship and I may need therapy more than I could provide it.”
“Oh, what’s wrong? Is there a problem I can help you with.”
“I guess I am just depressed. School has started and I am totally out of athletics. I guess I am feeling abandoned, too. No Mom: Dad in west Texas; Sophia back in her life; you and Carter have paired up…I just go to school and work on my tan.”
“Kit, I think you need a project and that is what I called you about.”
“Theda, I told you I am not up for any widow ladies.”
“How are you with five-year-olds and carnivals?”
“I like kids and I like carnivals. Where are you going with this?”
“I have become kind of an honorary aunt to Katie. The last few months, she has begun talking to an imaginary friend. She says he stays with her most of the time and watches over her while she sleeps. She will interrupt a conversation with Sandy or me to tell us what her friend says or thinks about the situation. We are worried that she is unable to ell the difference in fantasy and reality.”
“Theda, it is not unusual for only children to have an imaginary companion. They often need someone to validate their identity and provide support. Someone who is just theirs.”
“You sound like you have experience with this. Did you have a friend, Kit?”
“Yes. Jo-Jo was my friend from about three until I started pre-school at five.”
“What happened to him?”
“I don’t know. My mom said that once I had more human playmates, I quit mentioning him. I don’t remember.”
“Katie has lots of friends in preschool. She is very social and her friend just showed up a few months ago. When her grandmother tries to convince her that “her man” is not real, Katie becomes very frustrated that no one except her can see “her man.”
“Theda, it’s nothing to worry about. She will outgrow her little friend.”
“It’s not a little friend, Kit. When you ask Katie what her man looks like, she always goes to a picture of her dad in his flight suit. Sandy had kept it on her nightstand until Katie began saying that was “her man.” When Sandy hid the photo in the closet, Katie went to the closet canlı bahis and demanded that “:her man” be returned. Sandy has tried replacing the photo with others, but Katie gets upset and breaks them. And then goes to wherever the flight suit picture is and demands its replacement.”
“Katie breaks any picture except the one of her dad in his flight suit?”
“Well, that is part of the problem. Katie says that she doesn’t break the pictures. She says that “her man” does it.”
Kit chuckled. “That is a handy way to get out of trouble. My mom said that I accused Jo-Jo of writing on the walls and shutting the cat up in a drawer. How does Katie’s man break the pictures?”
“Some are thrown against the wall; some have the glass smashed right there on the nightstand; and one of Sandy and her high school sweetheart looked like it was burned inside the frame on the nightstand. It scared Sandy to death that Katie would play with matches.’
“I can understand that, Theda, but what do you want me to do? Sounds like the kid might need a child psychologist, but again I would be way out of my comfort zone trying to counsel a five year old girl.”
“Kit, I want you to take her to the Huaco Fair. She has been talking about seeing the animals and is fascinated by the rides and games at the carnival. As the honorary aunt, I will foot the bill—the tickets to the fair and rides, money for the games on the midway and junk food. You might even enjoy it.”
“Why don’t you and her mother and grandmother take her? Why me? I don’t know anything about little girls. What if she has to go to the bathroom? Don’t little girls have to go potty? This could be a real wreck. Man, what if she started crying. Theda, I can’t do this.”
“I think I hear a six foot five inch ex-jock being panicked by the thought of a five year old blonde angel with blue eyes and dimples.. I need you to go because we have been talking and it has occurred to us that Katie has absolutely no real male influences in her life. She is totally surrounded by females. Maybe “her man” is just a projection of what she feels is missing in her life. We want to give her just a taste of a maleness to see if there is any change in her imaginary relationship. Also, all three of the grown women in her life would rather handle live snakes than be caught on carnival rides. Being a jock, you might win her a teddy on the midway. I talked to Dr. Dotson in psychology; he said it wouldn’t hurt, and we might get an insight into what Katie is thinking. You wouldn’t counsel, just listen and report back to us. And to calm your fears, Sandy will be with you in case of tears or potty duty. I will give you $200 that you can use for expenses. You can keep whatever you don’t spend. The answer to “Why me?”is that I trust you. I know you have the intelligence and sensitivity to do this.”
“Wow! Who else is going to be going—you-the grandmother?”
“Just you three. Eva, the grandmother, has a church retreat this weekend and I am flying to Houston to play mixed doubles with Carter. I thought you might go on Friday night so it will be slightly less crowded—high school football, you know. So, how about it?”
Kit paused to formulate his refusal. He really had nothing going for the weekend, but as much as he liked Theda, he couldn’t see himself spending an evening with an edgy widow and her neurotic kid. He might go to the fair by himself. He would tell Theda he had to study to prepare for the next week’s classes. He opened his mouth to start the explanation, but what came out was, “OK.”
“Thank-you, Kit. Thank you so much. I know this is not something you would really want to do, but you are doing it for Katie and for me. If you will come by the placement center before Friday, you can get reacquainted with Sandy and I will give you the expenses. Katie will be thrilled and this may really be good for her. Thank you. I just love you. If you were twenty years older, I’d throw Carter away and marry you.”
Kit heard the connection end as Theda hung up. He stammered into the dead line, “Theda, I didn’t mean OK, I meant NO. Somebody else said that—maybe Katie’s man, ha, ha. Oh, hell, she’s not there and I’m stuck.”
Kit hung up the phone and stood there-77 inches of dejection in a yellow Speedo. “How am I going to manage a night with a pert, snippy blond mom, a wired tot, and “Katie’s man?”
He thought he heard a chuckle, but Kit didn’t laugh and he was sure that he was alone.
Kit’s last class on Thursday dismissed at 2:00. He pulled the Camaro into the parking lot of the placement center where both Theda and Sandy worked. He smiled at the memory of Theda on the hot leather seats. He had spent two days searching for a way to abort what he was sure was going to a train wreck. But short of outright lying or openly disappointing a woman he cared a great deal for, there was no way. The smile faded from his face as he walked to the door. With a deep sigh of resignation, Kit forced a bahis siteleri happy face as he opened the door.
The petite blonde swiveled from her typewriter to face the door. An automatic smile of welcome on her generous lips widened when recognition kicked in.
“Oh, good, Mr. Morgan, you’re here. Let me buzz Theda.”
As she pressed the intercom and spoke into the microphone, Kit refreshed his memory of Sandy Rhoades. Strawberry blonde hair parted and swept down with an inward curl at the jaw line. A sharp upturned nose with a scattering of freckles. From beneath unfashionable heavy brows, cobalt blue eyes flashed up at him. The mouth was probably too wide for such a small woman, but it brought a sensuous impact to a face that would otherwise just be cute. She stood and moved around the desk with her hand extended. As Kit stepped to shake her hand, Sandy tripped and fell toward him with both hands flying. Kit instinctively made a cradle with his arms and caught Sandy before she could hit the floor. Her arms locked around his neck to steady herself as his hands stopped her fall with a small firm breast in each palm. When he lifted her up, he felt her nipples swell into hard nuggets. Sandy’s arms remained locked around Kit’s neck as he lifted her back upright and he slid his hands from her chest to the tiny waist just above a surprisingly abundant swell of hips. Kit looked around as again he thought he heard a soft laugh.
“Are you OK? You didn’t hurt yourself?” he asked.
“I am fine. I don’t know what I could have tripped over: She looked back at the smooth uncluttered floor. “I am not usually so clumsy. I hope you have not come to tell us you have backed out. When Theda told me Tuesday that you agreed, I made the mistake of telling Katie. She said she already knew—her man told her. She has been bouncing off the walls every day looking forward to this trip.”
“I’m looking forward to it.” Kit glibly lied, “We’ll have a great time. I thought I might run a basic itinerary by you. I don’t know much about little girls and I’m afraid I might choose an activity that you would consider inappropriate.”
Theda came into the room in time to hear the last comment. She walked over to give Kit a hug and a big smacking kiss on the cheek. Kit was slightly abashed by the open show of affection. When he shifted uncomfortably, Theda snickered and reached around his waist with both arms. She pulled him tightly to herself and grinned.
“Quit trying to get away. Kit. Sandy and I are best female friends. We have very few secrets from each other. She knows what we were to each other and what the relationship is now. Just because we are no longer lovers doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy hugging that hard body of yours.”
Sandy was pointedly looking out the window with a small smile on her face. Kit’s embarrassment spiked even higher when Theda patted him on the rump. “OK, I’ll quit teasing you. You’re doing us a favor and I hope you will bring some sunshine to a little girl that I treasure very much.’
“Oh, yes, Mr. Morgan” said Sandy. “If you can help us understand what Katie needs and why she has this obsession with “her man”, I will be so grateful.”
“As well you should be, and I think he will be more comfortable with Kit than Mr. Morgan,” said Theda. She handed Kit a handful of folded bills. “Take this and spend it on a good time for my girls and yourself.”
Kit took the money and looked silently at the two women. Sandy was in full mother mode and took everything Theda said to be referring to Katie. Theda had a glint in her eye which made Kit wonder which of the blondes Theda thought he should tend to. He knew that Theda was a highly intelligent and subtle woman. He suspected that he had just received Theda’s blessing to give any attention to Sandy that seemed right.
Still in mother mode, Sandy asked, “What did you have in mind for tomorrow, Kit?”
Kit’s male mind immediately returned to those hard nipples and perky breasts, but he said, “I thought I might meet you at your home after you pick up Katie. That would give you a chance to change into casual clothes and get anything done you need to at home. Then we could go in my car—Katie might like riding in a convertible. We can either get something to eat on the way or eat at the fair. We can wander through the animal exhibits and if it is still hot we can go in the equestrian center to watch the horses until it cools off. Then on to the midway for games and rides until our youngest member wears out.”
Theda said, “That’s a great plan, but I’m afraid that you two may wear out before Katie. I wish I could go, but this is an important tournament for our ranking. If Carter and I can get to the semifinals, we will move up to a top five ranking and if we win, we could be as high as number two in the state.”
“Hard to give up the competitive rush, isn’t it?” said Kit.
“Yes, I am so glad that Carter reintroduced me to tennis. It fills a part of me that I had been bahis şirketleri missing.”
“And Carter fills another part of you that I have been missing,” thought Kit.
“I usually get home about 4:30 on Fridays,” said Sandy. “We usually eat about six so we can decide where to eat tomorrow with Katie’s input. It is her night out, but I admit that I am looking forward to what I have been missing.” Kit and Theda’s eyes flew open in surprise at the double meaning. Sandy continued, “A totally frivolous evening out entertaining my baby.” She handed Kit a folded note. “Here’s my address, I hope you can find my place without any trouble. Theda said you know the area really well, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right place.”
“I am sure that I can handle it.” Kit managed with a straight face.
“Let me walk you out, Kit.” said Theda.
“What do you want me to wear tomorrow, Kit? Is there anything I shouldn’t wear?”
“I’ll just wear jeans and a knit shirt, Sandy. Very casual. Wear comfortable walking shoes.”
As Kit and Theda closed the door behind them, she said, “Do you think you can provide what she has been missing, Kit? What about finding her place? You were pretty good at finding my places and I didn’t even know I had them. And what about what you want her to wear or not wear? Hmmm!” Theda collapsed in laughter.
“Theda, please, I don’t think she meant any of that the way you are insinuating.”
“No, of course not, but it seems that most of her Freudian slips are under her skirt. Take care of her and her precious baby. I trust you to help them find their path to a new life. Just like you helped me find mine. ” Kit received another big hug and kiss before he drove off wondering if he was always to be a temporary solution.
When Kit pulled the Camaro convertible up to the address Sandy had given him, he was impressed with the sprawling ranch-style home. On a generous corner lot in an upper-end development, the house and grounds were well groomed and cared for. The three car attached garage was closed so Kit parked in the street and walked up to the front door. He rang the doorbell twice, but got no response and could hear nothing inside. He decided to wait in the car and listen to his new 8-track tape of Led Zepplin. As he fell into the music, he noticed the branches of the lush shrubbery swirling in the wind. The leaves moved in a manic pattern until they seemed to form an outline of a face that turned toward Kit. In Kit’s fanciful mood, the hissing and rattling of the wind in the bushes sounded like words. The face in the shrubs seemed to speak, “Looove her. Sheeee neeeeds…”
Kit’s reverie was broken by an older model maroon SAAB turning into the driveway He recognized Sandy’s pert face behind the wheel and a smaller version of the same peered out the rear window. Kit got out of his car and noticed how still and warm the day was. He wondered where the wind had gone.
When Sandy opened the rear door, a three and a half foot tall blonde tot jumped from the car and ran to meet Kit halfway across the lawn. “You’re Kit and you’ve come to take us to the fair and help Mom.” Her blue eyes took in his lanky frame and a huge smile beamed on her face.
“You’re absolutely right,” he responded. “We can go in my car with the top down if you like. I think we will have a great time, but I don’t know what I am supposed to do for your mom.”
“You’re spoze to lay her, but I don’t know what that means, but my man says you will.”
Sandy had been retrieving her and Katie’s paraphernalia from the car and had not heard Katie’s opening salvo. She arrived with an armful of purses and bags and said, “Katie, I see you have been making friends with Mr. Kit. Let’s go in the house and get ready to go to the fair.”
“I know,” Katie said to her mother’s back. “My man told me.” She reached up to take Kit’s hand. “Come on in the house and I’ll show you something.” She pulled Kit past her mom waiting at the open door. Leading Kit to the atrium doors leading onto a brick patio and a large privacy fenced back yard. Beneath the large live oak trees were play areas—swings, slides, sand piles, and a tot-sized playhouse. “This is my best place.” Katie said, motioning to the yard.
“I see why.” Kit said. “You have everything there to have a great time.”
“Katie,” said Sandy, “run to the bathroom while I talk to Mr. Kit for a moment, then you can show him your yard while I get dressed.” As Katie headed off in a run down the hallway, Sandy said, “She is usually more reserved with strangers, but she seems very taken with you. That’s good; maybe she will open up about this imaginary man to you. I’ll change into some more casual clothes when she gets back. I asked her where she wanted to eat and she said she wanted corny dogs at the fair. I guess she has been talking to the other kids at day care because we have never had a corny dog in the house.”
Katie arrived back at that time and grabbing Kit’s hand said, “Come on in the yard, Kit. I need to show you something.”
“Mr. Kit, Katie. You should call him Mr. Kit.”
“My man said his name was Kit, not Mr.Kit.” flashed the golden haired child.
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