Selected Excerpt from The House Guest

The screen door on the back porch closed, and the kitchen door swung open with a purpose. Lee’s expression was one of irritation as she looked at Anna. “Well, are you ready to go?” She narrowed her eyes before continuing with her suspicious inquiry, “Pray till, what are you up to now?”

Anna was more than closemouthed about the intent of her trip into Tilden to visit longtime friend and attorney Bertram Knutson but had nonetheless requested that Lee drive her to town for her 10 o’clock appointment. “If you stop pressuring me I might consider treating you to breakfast at the café.”

The prospect of the daily special was sufficient cause for Lee to back away from her nosey inquisition. “I’ll get the Lincoln warmed up and we’ll head to town.”

The Continental made its eventual roll down the frosty lane and onto the main road in front of the manor. There was little conversation during the three mile trip to town, and this time it suited Anna perfectly.

Lee was fortunate enough to locate a parking space directly in front of the café, and was obviously pleased with her unusual find. “This, my dear Anna, is what I call providential.”

As expected, the café was crowded at this time of the morning, but when Jeanne saw them both stroll through the door she pointed to a table near the front window. “Coffee this morning, ladies?”

Once seated, Lee studied Anna intently, disturbed that she was still unable to sway her into divulging the purpose of her appointment. “Well, it appears that whatever you’ve decided to do this morning your mind is more than set.” Her upper lip twitched, and she wasted no time in expressing her concerns. “For heaven’s sake, I do hope it’s not against the law.”

Anna glanced at Lee over the rim of her glasses and stated flatly, “First of all, if breaking the law was my intent, I would probably be meeting with someone other than my attorney.” Anna sipped her coffee, and then opened the menu. “You best be deciding what you want to eat this morning, Lee.”

After making her breakfast selection, Lee decided that some light chatter would help to ease her irritation at remaining uninformed. “Someone made a monogamous donation to the Women’s Missionary Society,” she shared, “I can tell you one thing, it certainly is going to help with our budget next year.”

Monogamous donation?” Anna questioned, barely able to contain herself.

“You know, when you prefer that the contribution source is unknown,” Lee clarified, irritated that she was already being challenged – before breakfast, no less.

“You must mean an anonymous donation?” Anna was hoping to diffuse the touchy situation.

“Had I meant anonymous that’s what I would have said,” she argued, placing her menu at the edge of the table. “For mercy sake, Anna, put your menu down or we’ll never get waited on.”

“Lee, the word monogamy refers to the practice of having only one mate.” Anna was not about to allow a change of subject.

“You’re missing the point, Anna.”

“Which is?”

“The point is, our Women’s Missionary Society has some money to work with this year.” Lee considered the conversation over.

They ate their breakfast in silence, and it seemed to suit them both. Anna drank the last of her coffee before informing Lee of her soon departure. “I think it’s about time that I head over to Bertram’s office for my appointment,” she said, placing more than enough money on the table for their breakfast.“I’ll be back shortly.”

Lee was clearly pouting at this point, but begrudgingly agreed that she would wait at the café for Anna’s return. “I guess I can just keep drinking coffee until you get back,” she complained, her upper lip twitching uncontrollably. “Maybe I’ll have a big piece of pie with ice cream, too.”

“They’re your hips, Lee.” Anna turned to walk out the front door.

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