The next day, Kim came to visit Brielle on one of her days off from the salon while Hank was at work. Brielle was also off work for the next few days, devoting her off time to preparing for Autumn by planting marigolds along the side and back of her house, under the huge, tall shade trees.
It was the middle of August and the weather was unusually cool for that time of year.
Kim got down on her knees and helped Brielle as she scooped dirt and filled the holes around the newly planted bushes. Brielle than took her gloved hands and patted the loose dirt down before pouring more soil into the hole.
Kim spoke up.
“Hey, Brielle. You and Bill are legally divorced, right?” Kim asked.
“Yeah,” Brielle answered.
“Good. Because there’s someone, I want you to meet,” Kim gushed.
A Friend’s Offer
“No thanks. I don’t do blind dates, Kim. I appreciate your friendship and all. But I just don’t do blind dates,” Brielle said, shaking her head and putting her hand up, “Besides, I’m not looking for a relationship right now. I just got out of a bad marriage a year ago and I have no desire to chain myself to another man anytime soon. Nope!”
“Oh, jeez, Brielle. I’m not asking you to marry the guy, I just want you to meet him. That’s all. You need to get out and meet people. I have some friends coming over for dinner and I’d like for you and the girls to come too.”
“Okay. We’ll be there. Thank you for inviting us over for dinner,” she said sweetly.
“You’re welcome. You work for Atticus, and you have three girls. So, I can imagine you get tired of fixing and serving food to people all the time. So, take a break and come eat with us.”
“You got it!”
And Brielle and Kim hugged each other.
Brielle’s Friends Come Together
When the evening of the dinner at Kim’s house arrived, many people showed up, including Brielle’s best friend Raina and her husband Paul. Popeye, Alvin, and Eartha were there also, as was Jo and Atticus.
There was also another man who looked to be around Brielle’s age but no one Brielle had ever met. He was an average-looking guy with medium brown hair and broad shoulders and chest. He was a tall, long-legged man. He reminded Brielle of Clark Kent, only he didn’t wear eyeglasses or slick his hair with hair gel like the man behind the superman cape had. He would gaze at Brielle any time her back was turned.
When he finally worked up the nerve, he smiled warmly as he introduced himself to Brielle.
“Hi, my name’s Malcolm Malone,” he greeted as he stuck his hand out.
“Brielle Markowitz,” Brielle greeted back as she shook his hand.
After feasting on a dinner of barbecued ribs, baked beans, corn on the cob, and coleslaw, Kim turned on the stereo to catch the middle of Slash’s “By the Sword.” The kids, except Jane, played outside, running, and loudly cheering as they chased each other in the yard. Jane sat on the porch watching the younger ones as they tore through the yard, either running or on bicycles.
Brielle walked around in the yard, enjoying the evening sunset, and Malcolm caught up with her. Brielle smiled.
“Hi,” she greeted with a smile.
“Hello,” Malcolm greeted back.
“Beautiful fall evening, huh?”
“Absolutely. I love this time of year.”
“Me too. Fall is coming and it’s my favorite season. So, what do you do?”
“Correctional officer. And you?”
“Waitress. I work for Atticus, he and Jo are inside.”
“Ah Bobtail Buds! Great food. The best. And Atticus is a good man. He and I go back a long time.”
Brielle was surprised to find that she liked Malcolm. The guy had a magnetizing charm and wit that was next to irresistible. She didn’t want to be drawn to him, but she was, and she couldn’t help it.
Later, before everyone went home, Malcolm and Brielle exchanged numbers.
Malcolm couldn’t stop looking at Brielle.
“Maybe we can go somewhere and have dinner and catch a movie,” he offered.
“Sure. I’d like that,” Brielle told him.
“Great. I’ll pick you up tomorrow evening at six,” Malcolm told her.
“I’m afraid I have to work tomorrow night. But I’m off next weekend,”
“Okay. Next weekend then.”
The following Monday, Jane arrived at school and went straight to the library to sit down and study. Roxie joined her.
“Ugh! Another Monday,” Roxie sighed as she pulled out a chair and sat across from Jane.
“Yeah! I hate Mondays,” Jane related.
Roxie Puts a Bug in Jane’s Ear
“Look. I have something to tell you, Jane. That fight you and Bruce had with those arrogant idiots last week? People are talking. They’re saying that Daniel ended up in the hospital for a couple of days after you nailed him in the nads. You crushed one of his testicles and it may affect his ability to have children. And Breanna and Audrey, they’re recovering at home. Chandler went to the ER but he’s home. Ashley is here though, as is Ron and Bryson. Now, the sheriff knows about it, but they’re keeping it quiet because the clique don’t want their parents taking you to court. They know that word will get out that they got owned by you and Bruce and they’re afraid for their reputations. Can’t you believe it?” Roxie informed her.
“Yeah, I can. Those creeps have images to keep up. They have to keep everyone believing that they’re the baddest mothers on the block. Otherwise, they’ll lose face and people will lose respect for them. It must really suck to be them- having to walk around scared of getting knocked off their little pedestals. It’s such a pity,” Jane said tauntingly.
“Serves them right! Hell! They can’t go on treating people like shit and expect to get away with that forever. You know? What goes around eventually comes back around.” she said.
The Bullies Lay Low
“Yep. Karma’s a bitch,” Jane agreed.
“It was last week!” Roxie chuckled, “Girl! You and Bruce really beat the breaks off those jokers, didn’t you! God, I wish I’d been there! I’d have paid big money to have seen that! You gotta teach me some of those MMA moves some time.”
And with that, Roxie did an air karate chop with her hands.
“I just might do that,” Jane said with a smile.
“But Jane, listen. I’d keep my eyes and ears peeled. The powers that be in this town are a little too quiet about this shit and that’s usually not a good sign. Just watch out. Okay?” Roxie warned in a concerned voice.
“I’m already knowing it,” Jane assured her.