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Monday, July 9, 2012

          Surveying the dining room table, Elizabeth could tell that Cassie felt bad about the early morning incident.  All Liz's favorites were laid out on the best china...home made waffles with sliced strawberries, clotted cream, thick cut bacon, nice and crisp, and a chilled pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice.  It was a breakfast fit for angels, and no doubt meant to replace the apology that was so desperately needed.

         That's the way it had always been with Cassie.  From the time they were little, her older cousin would tease and hurt with brutal pinches and unkind words, causing Elizabeth to break down and weep until her eyes were swollen.  Then, when she tired of playing alone, Cassie would present her with some extravagant token...a cherished doll, her new bike, a handful of the prettiest hair ribbons...and act as if nothing had happened between them. This had gone on throughout their childhood, and into their teens, the gifts getting more expensive as the years went on.  It appeared nothing had changed, and she was once again being bribed to ignore her cousin's nasty behavior.

          Cassandra McKreedy floated into the room, carrying a plate of warm beignets.  "Look Lizzie, I made beignets from a recipe I found.  Remember how you loved them when we were down in New Orleans?  I made them special for you, my most favorite cousin in the whole world."

          It was just like Cassie to remember the only good memory of their time in New Orleans.  She had obviously blotted out the fact that she had run out on Elizabeth when the deal had turned badly, leaving Liz to dig herself out of the pile trouble she'd caused.  Not wishing to set her cousin off again, she nodded and agreed with her,  "Yes, Cassie.  I remember all the hours we spent at Cafe Du Monde, watching the world pass by."

          "Come on..sit down and enjoy.  I've been slaving over a hot stove for hours."

           Seating herself at the table, Elizabeth began piling the food on her plate, when she noticed Cassie still standing.  "Aren't you having any?"

          "Oh, I'd love to, but I haven't got the time."  She pulled out her cell, and checked the clock.   "I need to hop in the shower and get ready."

           "Ready for what?  Are you thinking of going out this morning?"

           "Don't be ridiculous.  You know I'm not ready for outside excursions.  Really, Elizabeth, do you always have to point out my disability?  Geez...that's really kind of bitchy considering I just made you this fabulous breakfast.  Just for that, I shouldn't give you this gift"  Casie picked up a small box from off the side board.

            Another gift always meant an incoming injury and bribe, and Elizabeth was leery of what might come next.  "You don't need to give me things, Cassie.  I appreciate just staying here with you, I really do."

           Paying her no mind, Cassie shoved an ipad and a pair of headphones across the table.   "This is for you.  I've already downloaded a bunch of your favorite music, a few novels, and some magazines I thought you'd like.  You can sign up for NetFlix if you get really bored, and download movies too."

            "That's really sweet of you Cas, but honestly, I really don't want you buying me things.  I'm fine with the ways things are, so all these gifts are... too much."

            "Take the ipad, Liz.  It will give you something to do while I have my date."

            "What date?  With who?  You just said you're not going out."

            " Of course not, silly!  He's coming here!  And I need you to stay out of sight and be silent, okay?  Just for a couple of hours or so.  That means no walking around either.  It wouldn't do to have my date hear footsteps above his head, especially this one.  That's why I gave you the headphones.  We won't hear won't hear us.  Pretty clever, huh?"

            "Can't I just slip out for awhile?  I'll go hide out at the mall, or something.  No one will see me, honest.  I'll lay low."

             "Damn it, Elizabeth!  Don't start all that again!  We already went through this.  Eat your breakfast and skedaddle upstairs like a good little girl...and take the ipad with you."

             Elizabeth pushed the food around her plate, no longer having much of an appetite.  She watched Cassie scurry around the house, picking up and straightening things in advance of her guest.
"Can you at least tell me who it is that's coming over?"

            "Not that you need to know, Lizzie, but his name is Teddy. He's a perfectly nice man, and I'm a perfectly big girl, okay.  So don't you worry about me."

             "Do you think it's such a good idea to get involved with someone now, Cassie?  When we're almost ready to leave town?

             " Listen, I know what I'm doing.  This date is a total necessity...kind of like mixing business with pleasure.  Now please, stop arguing with me, and get yourself settled upstairs.  He'll be here in less than an hour.  And, Liz... promise me you'll stay off the radar?   I'd really hate to have to lock you in." she said with a smirk.

              "I'll be fine, Cassie."  Elizabeth took her plate to the kitchen, and scrapped the uneaten food into the garbage.  She thought about telling Cassie what she could do with the ipad, but fearing another outrage, she grabbed it and headed upstairs.  Maybe it would be better to drown out the fact that Cassie was downstairs having a life, and she was stuck in that room, a virtual prisoner.


               An hour later, Cassie lit several scented candles in the living room to cover the scent of frying beignets, and fluffed up the pillows on the sofa.  Looking at her appearance in the hall mirror, she pinched her cheeks for color, and added a bit of gloss to her lips.  "Lookin' good Cassie girl!" she murmured to herself.  As she readjusted her skirt, she heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway.  "Showtime, girlfriend." she stated to the mirror.

             She opened the door to welcome her visitor, and tossing her hair said, "Well, it's just so nice of you to come see little ole' me, Sheriff"  Grabbing him by the bicep, and leading him into the house, she added, "And you brought the nice rope like I asked.  How very lovely of you."  She looked up at Sheriff Beckett, and gave him her most dazzling smile.




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