As it happened she got to the stationary bikes along with the Katar crew.
“Saw you with George Friday,” said Arlette. “He going to be number three?”
“I fucking wish. We spent the weekend together and I’m still shaking. I have never been made love to like that. Compared to it, I’ve only been fucking all my damn life.”
“And here everybody thought Dan was right when he called you the ice bitch.”
“I guess it took the right man to melt me.”
“Well you certainly look melted,” said Vicky. “You never smile, now you don’t seem to be able to stop.”
“Let alone you’re blushing,” observed Katie. “Something else you’re not famous for.”
“Ridiculous, isn’t it? First damned time I’ve walked around in damp panties since I was in high school.”
“Ol’ George is that good?” asked Sherilyn.
“I’m forty-eight. Twice I’ve been married, and still spent most of my life single and available. You’d think that no man could ever get to me. Yet here I am acting like a schoolgirl in the middle of her first crush. How good is that?”
“So, what’s the next step?” asked Arlette.
“Not really sure there is one. We’re both older, I’m comfortable, he’s rich. We could just stay where we are. Friends with, at least for me, really significant benefits.”
“I rather doubt it,” said Katie. “I’ve known George for quite a while now. He is strictly old school. If you two got into it, with George that will be a commitment.”
“Nice to think about,” said Alana, “but I really doubt it. I’ll get three stepchildren who will reprise my gold digger rep every time I turn around, and I think I have shown pretty clearly that marriage isn’t exactly one of my talents.”
She reluctantly accepted Kevin Fredrickson’s invitation to lunch. Kevin was George’s oldest, and the only son. She was understandably leery of Kevin, even though he had been married almost eight years; he invariably hit on her. He wasn’t unattractive at thirty-two and she did pull an errant fantasy or two out of his crude advances, but being a friend of both his parents and having dropped him off at school some years before she never acted on them.
“Can I ask,” said Kevin, after they were seated with cocktails,” what’s going on with you and my Dad?”
“I’m just helping an old friend through a rough patch. Something that, I should mention, your mother asked me to do. What Kevin? You afraid Aunty Alana is trying to become Mommy?”
“Can you blame me Alana? You’ve been around about as long as I can remember, and you always had a man paying your bills. I just want to see if Dad is next on your list.”
“I don’t have a list Kevin. Between Harold and Dan, I really don’t need one, they left me on the wealthy side of comfortable. What strikes me here is that you should be asking your father, not me. When I prey on men I choose weak ones, sons or grandsons of strong men, not strong men like your father. If I was looking for a victim the Fredrickson I would choose would be you, not your dad.”
“That’s a pleasant thought. You’ve had openings.”
“First, I don’t do married men, the first wife gets the plums. Second, I was your baby sitter more than once; I don’t do that kind of kinky.
“Kevin, if your father asked me to marry him I’d melt into a little puddle at his feet, woman like me never get a chance with men like George. If you really think I can influence your father in any way, you haven’t been paying attention your whole damn life.
“What do your sisters think?”
“That should be obvious. Elle has been trying to be you since she hit puberty. Chloe just feels inferior around you, but then she feels that way around most people. I don’t think either would mind if you became step mom.”
“But you would?”
“Actually, that’s what I’m trying to gauge here. You’ve authored your share of wet dreams since I hit fourteen. How does that play with mommy? I am way too old for an Oedipus complex.”
“Maybe you can tell me; why is it that everyone and their grandmother’s cat are assuming that George and I are headed to the altar? Neither of us has ever mentioned it, it isn’t really on the table.”
Kevin chuckled a bit before answering. “You were Mom’s best friend, and you don’t know? You don’t remember her last year, after she got the diagnosis? You went everywhere with us, and she threw you together with Dad whenever she could arrange it. My mother damn near arranged a marriage here. The rest of us are just waiting for you and Dad to catch up.”
Alana couldn’t stop thinking about what Kevin said. Had Adele set her up to take over the Fredrickson household? She looked back over that last year of Adele’s life. And well, yes, she was very much a part of it. But wasn’t that just being a friend? Okay Adele did beg off most social functions and ask her to escort George, but should she read into that as much as Kevin had? And wouldn’t George know? Maybe she wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box, but nothing got by George. Still, thinking back on it, it would be just like Adele.
She and Adele had done a lot of talking about when they grew up. Surprisingly, they had a great deal in common. The cheerleader and the math nerd seemed to approach everything the same way. Govern the people and events around you without seeming to do so. Was she really being manipulated by Adele’s dead hand? She really hoped so and resolved to stop by the graveyard with some ‘Thank You’ roses.