A short story featuring characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries. In this story, Belinda’s grandmother pays a visit.
Nothing gave Belinda a heart attack like seeing her grandmother standing in the doorway of her house first thing in the morning.
No knock. No doorbell. No phone call beforehand.
Granted, her grandmother owned the house and Belinda and her twin brother, Kyle, rented it from her, but still. A little warning would be nice. Kyle had left early to play on his sailboat before work at the marina, so Belinda was on her own. Of course, she’d been on her own handling this woman anyway. But she was exhausted with the game playing and relieved to have a break.
“I see you’re up and ready to face life,” her grandmother said. She strolled in the side entrance, setting her tan bag on the bench, her pistachio-shaped eyes examining each crevice as she made her way into the kitchen.
Belinda took a deep breath, ignoring the sarcasm in her grandmother’s tone. Belinda was still in her PJ’s, taking it easy that morning after a busy weekend of selling cupcakes to hungry tourists in her home of Portside, Rhode Island. She had accounting work and other odds and ends to deal with, but she was happy not to rush. “Coffee?” Belinda waved toward the French press on the counter.
Her grandmother looked a little surprised that she offered, but accepted. Belinda filled two proper coffee cups, with saucers, to appease her grandmother’s etiquette standards, and ushered her into the living room. She even had fresh apricot scones.
Belinda sat on the couch next to her, calming down after the initial shock. “What can I help you with?”
Her grandmother produced a crisp white envelope addressed to Mrs. Russo, arching her reddish brown eyebrows. Belinda hid her smile behind her coffee cup. “Congratulations are in order,” her grandmother said. Belinda thought apologies were in order, but this was Madame Russo. She’d take what she could get.
“I promised I’d get the job done.” And she had. Crisp white envelopes bearing invitations to one of Portside’s more prominent annual summer parties had arrived for each member of her family. That one gesture essentially cemented their acceptance back into society.
“Well, I have to say I’m impressed. I didn’t believe you.”
Her grandmother looked taken aback by her bluntness, and Belinda realized she wasn’t usually herself with Madame Russo. At least, not her unguarded self. So it was likely her grandmother didn’t know how she could really be.
“I’m sorry,” Belinda said, “but it was pretty clear you didn’t think I could do it.”
“You have to admit, it was a big task, especially considering recent history.” She looked at Belinda pointedly, no doubt alluding to Belinda’s recent negative local media exposure. “But, I see now that I should have taken you seriously.”
It was hardly “I’m sorry,” but it was still a lot coming from her grandmother. She’d curled up on the couch, resting her coffee cup on the top of her knees. “I appreciate that you didn’t entirely dismiss me, either. You held up your end too.” Belinda still didn’t know if her grandmother had called off the hunt on Bennett, or if she should thank Alexa Dupuis for that. But she would give her grandmother the benefit of the doubt and assume she was responsible.
Her grandmother didn’t flinch, just gazed back at Belinda thoughtfully. “I realize you think we’re very different people, and I suppose that’s true in many ways. But by sticking to your guns on this one, you’ve proved we’re more alike than you think.”
“What do you mean?” Did her grandmother’s grandmother threaten to ruin her boyfriend’s life?
“Your grandfather wasn’t exactly welcomed into my family with open arms either.”
Belinda tilted her head to the side. Her grandfather passed away when she was young and she had no memory of him, so she mostly knew him through her mother’s stories. Her grandmother had hooked her curiosity. “What happened?”
A mischievous twinkle lit up her grandmother’s eyes. “He was a thief.”
Belinda’s head jerked back. “What?!”
“Don’t get excited.” Her grandmother waved her hand dismissively. “It was petty nonsense when he was a young man. But it was known in our neighborhood, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled when we started dating, even though that was history by then.”
“Why has no one told me this before?” Belinda might be mistaken, but she thought a detail like that was worth sharing.
“It’s not like he stole the crown jewels.”
“So what are we talking about – candy bars?”
Her grandmother stared up at the ceiling. “I believe his worst offense was a car, but then again, he did love to exaggerate. He may have told me that to impress me.”
Was stealing a car impressive? Well, she was impressed by Bennett’s breaking and entering skills. Turned on, actually. So maybe it was…
“I married him,” her grandmother continued, “so I guess it worked.” She pushed off the couch, smoothing down the front of her pants. “You should come stay with me this winter, when your cupcake business slows down for the season. There’s probably a few more things I could tell you about your grandfather that you didn’t know.”
Belinda smiled. “I’ll definitely think about it.” Despite everything, the notion intrigued her. After all, Belinda had rarely spent much time alone with her. It might be a good experience.
“Good. Well, I’ll let you get back to your busy schedule.” She looked over Belinda’s PJ’s with disapproval.
Belinda escorted her out, swiveling around to find the kittens, Aria and Poseidon, sneaking back out of whatever hiding places they’d scampered into when her grandmother showed up. “Smart felines,” she muttered.
On second thought, staying with her grandmother was probably a bad idea.
~ * ~
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