Pour Timing: A Short Story
“Oh, Clem, this is portent! I knew it the moment you stepped in the room!” Daisy wrung her hands together, a sign of nerves but the smile playing at the corners of her mouth said otherwise.
Clem, Clement Tilling, rolled his storm-grey eyes and lowered himself in his favorite recliner. He said, lifting his ebony brow, “Important, you mean?”
Daisy frowned. “No. I am literate, thank you.” She gave a sweep of her arm directing his gaze to the rows of books that lined her walls, many of them dictionaries. Daisy had buried herself in learning ever since she’d married. Her husband was older by more than two decades and extremely indulgent, yielding to her whims even if that meant filling half his spacious home with dusty old books.
“Ah, using your word of the week-”
“The word of the day. And are you certain you are using it correctly?” Shifting with the hope of moving the focus from himself he tried a slight jab at her. Picking at his cousin usually got her feathers ruffled enough that she’d lose her train of over-the-top thought. It didn’t work this time.
Instead, Daisy’s full-lipped smile spread across her face. “I’m still working on my structure of sentence where the word is concerned, however, I am confident that I have effectively used it in line with its meaning.”
He shrugged and leaned back as the maid-Eillee, Eillee Dennett was her name- entered the room carrying a tray of treats and tea. He has hardly in the mood for any of it. Still, he allowed her to pour him a cup, three lumps of sugar and enough cream to cover them before drowning it all in dark, fragrant brew. She was always so attentive.
She smiled at him and he returned the gesture feeling his suddenly, foul mood slip. Eillee seemed to have that effect on his nerves. She had the effect on everyone he supposed. He even knew her name. That could have been because at one point they were closer in social standing. that was before his mother married his step-father.
Vernice Cavanaugh had an effect on him too, one that made bile rise up each time he thought about her.
He took a sip of the tea savoring its sweetness before Daisy slapped his arm causing a bit to splash onto his saucer.
“It’s a sign, Clem! You being there just as Vernice arrived. And right after your break up with what’s her name.” That dreamy look washed over Daisy’s face.
What’s her name? Her name was Agatha!
Clem frowned. The scent of too much leather and ink had clearly addled her brain the way that too much laudanum could. None of this was a sign. It was actually just poor timing.
Setting down his tea he took hold of her hand, “It doesn’t matter that she is here,”
“But you said Hell would freeze over before you two would ever be in the same room together again, let alone at the same time. And she said the moment it happened you’d both know the truth, that you were actually meant to be together.
“And you were just in the same room! A sign and a right good one. I mean the thought of Hell had my hide burning.” She gave a shudder. “I am a bit naughty at times you know and the heat gives me hives.” She winked at him and squeezed his hand. “It’s a sign. Portent. You ought to pursue it. Fate will flay you if you don’t” She took a bit of a fig cookie before frowning and setting it back on the table, snatching up a brownie instead.
Clem let out a sigh. “It’s not possible. I can’t even bring myself to entertain such a thought.”
“Can’t or won’t, Clemmy?” Vernice’s voice, once so smooth, it dripped honey, now made the hairs on his neck stand on end and his eardrums feel as if they were bleeding.
Clem shot to his feet with such speed that Daisy nearly choked. Ire rose in him like lightening. With a bit too much force he whacked Daisy’s back all the while piercing Vernice with a heated glare.
Daisy grabbed his hands, “Well, Vernice I didn’t expect you to call on us so soon. This is indeed portent.” She gave Clem another wink.
Clem felt his flesh go hot and cold. Every hateful word he’d practiced against Vernice in his head seemed to slip into dark oblivion leaving him to stand there clammy and quiet boiling over without an answer. It was a good thing to have lost those thoughts, he reasoned. None of them were those of a gentleman.
Mustering his nerves with a silent prayer he forced himself to calm. “I hate the name Clemy, Vernice. If you cared one wit about me you’d have honored that.”
Vernice took calculated steps into the room. “My apology. Seeing you only reminded me of old times…times when we were friends.” She gave a coy smile.
What was she playing at? Not willing to find out, Clem tossed the hot tea down his throat and sucked it back as if it were liquor. “Well, we are certainly no longer that.” He forced a smile of his own which only made her come closer as if she could woo him into submission the same way she had seven years ago when she’d shamed him and broken his heart. She wouldn’t get the chance to do so today.
“We could be again. I’d like that. I mean I understand that I deserve nothing short of your temper, especially after what I did. I was young and foolish.”
Young! By all accounts she was considered an old maid at five and twenty and that was seven years ago. She most certainly knew better than to toy with an honest man’s affections especially after accepting his suit.
“I no longer hold you in my temper,” he lied. “Still, I can’t offer you friendship.”
Vernice’s blonde brow rose. Daisy’s mouth dropped open. “But it’s portent,”
“Daisy!” He gave her a warning look. Daisy stuffed her brownie in her mouth.
Vernice finally frowned. Her gaze challenging. The threat of it made his heart give a wild tattoo. “On the matter of friendship or anything else with you, for Daisy, I can’t. For you, I won’t.”
That made Vernice take a step back. She suddenly looked desperate. Clem had no idea why nor did he have any desire to find out. He only wanted to be left alone!
“Why!” Both women sang just as Eillee entered the parlor. It was as if a ray of light from Heaven shined down upon her.
Before he knew what he was doing, Clem drew her to him and anchored her there, his hand cementing itself to the curve of her waist. Her closeness sent a sizzle through his every nerve. “I can’t and won’t because Eillee Dennett and I are in love and are engaged to be married. I asked she accepted and that is that!”
Eillee took in a deep breath, her protest ready to be vocalized. Clem did the second dumbest thing that came to mind, besides announcing their false engagement. He quickly covered her full lips with his and kissed her until she all but swooned then he towed her from the room while her wits were as tangled as his, closing the parlor doors behind them.
He’d worry about her killing him later.
*I have to say ‘The Beginning’ because I intend to visit this story again away from my blog. I hope you enjoyed my entry to Week 78 Blog Battle. This week’s KEYWORD: PORTENT and my GENRE: COMEDIC ROMANCE. My word count was 1200 words. To read the entries of others, you can do so by following this LINK.
*Image taken from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/tea-cup-pocket-watch-time-classic-599911/
~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!