And tell them I couldn't help myselfI am sober, unpacked and rested when I am summoned back across the driveway for a post-mortem on the trip and also because Caleb can't decipher my drunken scrawled expense notes and he wants to on Sunday morning. Mother's Day for crying out loud.
And tell them I was alone
Oh, tell me I am the only one
and there's nothing left to stop me
I appear in the kitchen and he hands me a fresh mug of black coffee which I take, gratefully.
How is he? He, meaning Lochlan, who understandably doesn't do so well with these trips, or my absences in general.
I wouldn't know, I haven't had much time to see him yet. I am cross at Caleb. Good coffee doesn't change that. If he's going to monopolize my time then I'm going to let myself out of our contract so ungracefully he'll wish he never met me.
Let me know if he gives you any problems, please, Bridget.
What? No. This is none of your business.
It's my business, he assures me. Speaking of which, I have your renumeration here. He hands me a white envelope. It's sealed, monogrammed. Thicker than it should be for a single cheque.
Your wages plus stipends for each day plus a bonus for the short notice and the efficient work.
I nod, slowly. I don't understand, though.
I need you with me, Bridget. I work better with you around.
Oh. I'm around.
I mean when you work here.
Sorry, Boss. Not going to do that again.
Let's wait and see, shall we? Good luck with Lochlan. As usual, he doesn't deserve you, and you're the quintessential hybristophiliac, running after him anyway.
You've got a lot of nerve, you know that?
Yes. I'm aware. He grins. Take that back to him and open it together and someday you can tell me why I entertain this charade so generously.
He steps toward me, kissing my cheek roughly before opening the door for me. I hand him my still-full mug and he takes a sip. Thanks, he says. See you tonight for dinner.
(The kids planned a big Mother's Day dinner. Guess who they invited?)
I realize I didn't explain my notes to him the moment I stepped onto the deck. I go back to the house and find Lochlan. He is stirring slowly, still in bed, his tousled curls making him look chaotic and beautiful and insane. His hair grows like grass in the rain. I wish I had that problem.
Where'd you go? He mumbles, eyes still closed.
To get my paycheque. I open the envelope and pull out three cheques and a handwritten note. I look at the cheques and my eyes get wider and wider. Then I look at the note.
Well? Loch says. He hates this but at the same time, this is the con, alive and well and executing perfectly, with everyone understanding who is conning who.
Except me, I've lost track.
I pull one of the cheques out to show him. The smallest one. The rest I fold back into the envelope, pretending it is trash to be thrown away.
That isn't a paycheque, Bridget, it's a purchase. I think he just bought you. What in the hell is this?
If only he knew.