She grinned and patted his leg. "I know Brad. I just have to keep tabs - you know that. It makes me feel useful, gives me something to think about."


I played with the dogs in silence, eavesdropping. Richie, the male dachshund, starting humping my bare foot. Ewww. I moved it away from him but he followed, his tongue hanging out and eyes bugged. I sat, Indian-style and tried waving the rubber toy in his face.

"You been getting the deposits?"

"Yes, honey. Like clockwork on the first."

"Why don't you get out of this place; move to one of those active senior living places?"

"You say that every visit and my answer hasn't changed. I like it here. This is home. I'll stay here till they carry me away in a coffin; you know that."

"Julia."

I looked up, caught off guard by Evelyn's beckon.

"Yes?"

"We've been awfully rude dear, talking business. Tell me about yourself. How did you and Bradley meet?"

"Julia is an intern at my office." Brad answered the question for me.

"Oh." Her "oh" said volumes and I arched my brow at Brad.

"It's not like that Evie. Julia and I are friends, nothing more. She is Broward's intern, not mine." Kind of not like that. Sort of exactly like that.

"I wasn't judging you dear." Sure she wasn't.

"How did you two meet?" I said, trying to steer the conversation anywhere but where it was currently headed.

"Oh, Bradley helped me with my first divorce."

"And your second." Brad reminded her.

"Hush now Brad! No need to air all my dirty laundry! I just met this nice girl."

"Are you married now?" I had looked around for evidence of a man, children, or grandchildren, but couldn't find evidence of anyone but her and the dogs.

"Oh no, dear. I learned after the second one that men and me don't mix. I can only see the good, and they can only see the bad."

"I didn't think you practiced law in Nevada," I said to Brad.

"I am licensed here, but don't make a habit of taking on cases. In Evie's case, I had represented her sister in a big suit back home. Once Evie's marriage took a bad turn, her sister asked if I would represent Evelyn."

"And no one can say no to Ruth," Evelyn sniffed.

"And that was what, 11 years ago?" Brad asked.

"Yes, thank you for making me feel old. Eleven years ago. And Julia, this man has been driving me crazy ever since! Why I let him come by and visit me is a mystery." Brad grinned at me and I fought to smile back. The man was so damn charming it was criminal.

"Evelyn, when are you visiting Ruth next?"

"Thanksgiving, I suppose. Haven't heard from her yet, but she came here last year, so I will probably go there. Will you join us for supper?"

"I would never pass up your turkey and dressing. As long as I am not a burden, I will be there."

"Julia, do you live with your family?"

"Ah-- no. My family is in Georgia. I live with roommates - other college students." Brad listened closely. I realized this was the most he had heard about my background.

"What do your parents do?" This seemed to be of high importance to her.

"My mother is a nurse. My father is retired, was a science professor at UGA - the University of Georgia."

"A bulldog."

I grinned. "Yes. You don't want to see our home. The only theme Mom decorated in is red, white, and black."

"Well, my first husband, scoundrel that he was, was an Alabama fan. Now I rout for anyone else in the SEC."

"You didn't win his season tickets in the divorce?" I said with a straight face.

"Honey, what can I say? I guess my attorney wasn't as good as his."

We looked at each other, and at Brad, and laughed.

After two helpings of lemon squares, and three rounds of ice water, we rose to leave. Richie had finally abandoned my foot and I had finally endeared myself to Evelyn, and her to me. We all hugged in the foyer, Evelyn clasping Brad with both hands and seemed on the verge of tearing up.

"I will be back in about six weeks. Will you come and stay at Bellagio? I can send Leonard with the car."

She waved her hand irritably. "I guess. You know I hate going to that god-forsaken city. And don't send Leonard in that big car! A normal town car is all I need."

"Deal. I will take you to see Mystère."

"I don't want to see those double-jointed Cirque freaks. Celine Dion?"

"Only for you, Evie."

"You know they say this year is her last!"

"I've been hearing that from you for four years now - I'll believe it when I see it."

"Well, behave yourself. And drive carefully in that death trap!"

She gave him another quick hug and turned to me. "Oh wait!" she cried, throwing up her hands and running to the kitchen as fast as her old lady hips would take her. "I almost forgot your lunch. I packed you some sandwiches and drinks." She returned carrying a blue small cooler, with "Taylor" printed on the side of it. "There are some other snacks in there too. Don't you worry about that cooler - you keep it or throw it away. I've got plenty." She passed Brad the cooler, and kissed him on the check.

"Thank you Evie."

"Can't let you kids get hungry. Julia, will I see you again?"

"No, Evelyn, I think this is it. This was a one-time trip." She surveyed me wisely, her brows set. She leaned forward and hugged me tight. Whispering, so soft I almost didn't hear, she said, "You be careful girl. That man is a big hole to fall into."

She pulled back and squeezed my shoulders merrily. "Now you guys leave! I got a lot of stuff to do today and can't be watching after you two all day long!"

I got in my red beast, Brad in his - he set the cooler on the seat next to him. He pulled out first, and I followed, us both waving and honking our horn at the tiny blue-haired lady on the tiny front porch of the house at the end of the cul-de-sac.

CHAPTER 25

The day had gotten hot, and I blasted the air on high. I cursed the Dodge designers who’d put black leather in this car, the hot material burning my ass and legs. I couldn't even imagine being in shorts; my jeans were barely protecting me as it was. The highway was flat and narrow - just two lanes. Beautiful and quiet scenery flew by - mountains on one side and valleys with water on the other. "Back in Black" by ACDC blared and I put on my sunglasses and let my hair flip in the wind, feeling like the ultimate badass. Barely out of the city limits we came to a sign for the Hoover Dam and followed a long curving road up. The Viper's engine roared and the car felt glued to the road as we whipped up the curves. I loved shifting high and low and feeling the vibration and the power beneath me.

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