Shady Grove Ch. 12
Two months later…
It was a warm night for late fall, and the giggling from Abigail’s apartment could be heard across the courtyard. Inside, Abigail and Quinn were sharing a bottle of wine; Madeleine, who had a bottle all to herself, slouched in Abigail’s recliner, wearing her cashmere sweater stitched with a scarlet “F.” They were watching Entertainment Tonight. “I’d do Deborah Norville in a heartbeat,” Madeleine said, causing the women to burst into laughter.
“Ditto,” Abigail said quietly, again sending them into hysterics. “Quinn?”
Staring at them as seriously as possible, Quinn answered, “No doubt.”
It had only taken a few days to clear the air between them, but, following doctor’s orders, they waited until now to celebrate. And confess. Madeleine admitted to Abigail that she had sex with Gerald, but didn’t divulge that the “disruptive fornicator” was Gerald, plus an unknown number of women. She side-eyed Quinn as she spoke, and Quinn raised her eyebrows only as far as she needed to. And that, for now, was good enough.
“So, Abs,” a drunk Madeleine said, “How’s Marty in the sack? I would’ve thought we’d have another nine-one-one by now.”
Quinn scolded her, half-seriously, before Abigail replied, “A work in progress. He didn’t respond to the Viagra, so he’s moved on to Cialis. Doctor says it might take some time.”
“Cheers to that,” Madeleine said, and the women raised their glasses.
“You seem happy,” Quinn said, “and that’s the important thing.”
“No it’s not,” Madeleine said. “He’ll get there, Abby…he’ll get there.”
Quinn refused a top-off of wine, reminding the ladies that she needed to keep her wits about her. She looked to Abigail’s dining room table, on which sat a beautiful chocolate cake with red icing that read, Happy Birthday.
“How old did you say Clint is?” Madeleine asked.
“Twenty-six,” Quinn said.
“What a babe,” Madeleine said, belching. “I mean baby. I mean…so young!”
The timer buzzed on Abigail’s stove. Quinn bounded to the kitchen and removed a bubbling lasagna.
“I’m nervous, Abby!” she squealed. “Clint said lasagna was his favorite, but I’m competing with his mother.”
“Don’t you worry about a thing, dear,” Abigail said over her shoulder. “Nobody beats my lasagna. He’ll love it. And now you know how to make it yourself. And how to bake your own cake.”
“I don’t know how to thank you, Abby. I’ll repay you someday.”
“Repay me? You’ve done enough!” All three heard Abigail slurring her words. “I’m alive, bitch!” Quinn’s abdomen ached from laughter.
“And how’s Clint in the sack?” Madeleine prodded.
“We’ve been taking it slow, so I don’t know,” Quinn said, blushing. “Maybe I’ll have an answer tomorrow.”
“Birthday sex?” Madeleine inquired. Quinn didn’t acknowledge that birthday sex was becoming her specialty.
“You don’t want to be late, so it’s time for you to run along,” Abigail said maternally. “And get busy.”
“She’s only going up one flight of stairs, Abby,” Madeleine said.
“No, I’m taking this to Clint’s,” Quinn said. “We’re going to celebrate there.”
“Ah, shit,” Madeleine said with a wink. “I thought me and Abs were gonna hear all the action!”
“That’s why I’m going to Clint’s.”
“Well I’m outta here too, then,” Madeleine said. “Catch you tomorrow, Abs.”
Madeleine followed Quinn out the door, carrying the cake. As they left the building, Quinn saw Gerald crossing the courtyard. “Fuck, it’s Gerald. Hide!”
“Heyyy, Gerald!” Madeleine called, and Quinn felt her cheeks burn. He passed by silently, tipping his cap and heading through the door they just came out of. Quinn narrowed her eyes at Madeleine. “Abigail’s freezer is busted,” Madeleine said with a shrug. “Even if she doesn’t know it.”
“Madeleine…what did you do?”
“I just thought…Abby could use a…service call.”
“But what about Marty?” Quinn said seriously.
“Like I said, he’ll get there eventually. But until then…”
Quinn stomped her foot and looked to the sky. “She’s sixty-five-years old! She just had a heart attack!”
Madeleine gave a reassuring smile, and said, “Gerald knows what he’s doing.”
They stood in silence, looking across the courtyard. The decorative lamp posts had just flickered on. “I’ve never told Marty how much I love these lights,” Quinn said.
“You should. It would make his day.”
On the far side of the lawn, Linda Williams walked hand-in-hand with her limping husband. “Linda broke it off with her special fella,” Madeleine said. “Confessed to the whole thing, and they’re working through it.”
Quinn squinted at two figures sitting beneath a tree. “Is that Crystal? Who’s she with?”
“That’s the boy whose mother dragged him to all the community meetings, saying how they’d help him grow into a decent man.”
Crystal laughed from afar. “I’ve never seen Crystal smile before,” Quinn said. “She reminds me of someone, but I haven’t been able to figure out who.” She turned to see Madeleine staring at her, smirking.
“I know exactly what you mean, Quinn. Keep thinking about it. You’ll get it eventually.” She pinched Quinn’s cheek like she was her niece. “Don’t keep Clint waiting.”