Paul stood and held out his hands to her, and Bethanne watched as Angela approached him. Paul kissed her on the cheek and she sat down next to Bethanne. She’d met Angela briefly a couple of months back and it had become obvious to her then that this woman was special to Paul.
“I understand congratulations are in order.”
Angela nodded. “We’ve decided on a winter date, and it would mean the world to both of us if you’d plan our wedding.”
Bethanne smiled. She’d only arranged one other wedding—Elise and Maverick’s—and if this one went half as well…Nothing would give her greater joy than to be involved in the wedding of her dear friend.
“I’d be delighted,” she told them both.
“And like I said,” Paul insisted with his arm around Angela’s shoulders, “you’re next.”
Still smiling, Bethanne shrugged off his words. The divorce hadn’t disillusioned her about love and marriage. If anything, it’d confirmed the importance of family and commitment. Remarrying wasn’t a priority, but an option—something that might well be part of her future.
In the meantime, she had her children, her friends, her work. She’d rediscovered herself, become the woman she wanted to be, and found new pleasure in the things she loved to do—like gardening and reading and above all, knitting.
It was enough.
Elise glanced at the recipe again, adding flaxseed and blueberries to the mix. She’d taken it upon herself to see to it that Maverick ate healthy, nutritious meals. She believed this would help in his fight against leukemia.
So far, his progress had been encouraging. Maverick was quick to credit her and the meals she so carefully planned. Elise, however, demurred at his praise; yes, a proper diet played its part, but it was love that had kept Maverick alive this long.
“What are you baking now?” Maverick asked from where he sat in the condo living room, the newspaper on his lap. The view of Seattle was spread out before them.
“The boys love your goodies, you know.”
Elise grinned. He wasn’t referring to their grandsons, although Luke and John were quite impressed with her baking skills. The minute they walked into the condo they went directly to the cookie jar, anticipating a treat.
“What time will the boys get here?” she asked, and slid the muffin tin into the preheated oven. These “boys” were Maverick’s cronies, who stopped by two and sometimes three times a week for a friendly game of poker. He’d met them at the local poker parlor where he’d first played in order to win a slot in the tournament.
“They’ll be here at three,” he said. He was apparently well-known in the gambling world. His initial failures, during their marriage, had made her angry and fearful. In her fear—and self-righteousness—Elise had preferred to think of him as living from hand to mouth. In reality, he’d become a success. But he didn’t encourage anyone else to choose the life he’d lived, and in fact, dissuaded others from becoming professional gamblers. In retrospect he wished he’d made a different choice.
Elise joined her husband in the living room and sat on the arm of his chair. He held her around the waist and sighed, his eyes closing. He was tired, she knew. A session of tests at the doctor’s office that day had drained him, but the most recent news had bolstered both their spirits. The progression of the leukemia had slowed considerably. They’d gotten a reprieve. Elise didn’t know how long this would continue, but she figured every single day with him was a blessing she hadn’t anticipated.
“Why don’t you take a nap before the game?” she suggested.
“I think I will.”
She slipped off the chair and sat across from him as Maverick lay back in the recliner. Reaching for her white wicker basket, Elise unfolded her pattern. She was knitting Maverick a lap robe for times like this. The needles made small clicking sounds. Comforting sounds.
They’d been together a year now, and not once had she regretted remarrying Maverick. Every day since then had been a honeymoon. She loved the way he loved their daughter and their grandchildren. He’d seen to Aurora’s future and David’s, and to those of Luke and John with trust funds.
The matter of Elise’s lawsuit had been resolved. A portion of her down payment had been refunded; it was more than she’d expected and less than she would’ve liked. The money she’d received was currently invested. That chapter of Elise’s life was closed, and she was grateful to have survived it financially.
She’d never told her knitting friends that Maverick was the one responsible for their good fortune. It’d been tempting, but she’d kept quiet. As Courtney described her beautiful dress and shared the details of the Homecoming dance and the visit with her sister—thanks to the generosity of her fairy godfather—Elise had listened and silently cheered. Tears had gathered in her eyes as she tried to remember each and every word so she could repeat it to Maverick.
The difference his gift had made to Bethanne was even more striking. She’d told Elise privately about the stranger who’d given her a head start on her business, and how much those few thousand dollars had meant to her. That money had changed everything and had come to her when she most needed it.
Bethanne had an impressive business vision. Elise wouldn’t be surprised by anything she undertook. A few years from now, Bethanne’s party business could well become a franchise. Her ideas were original, fresh, inventive. Maverick’s generosity had contributed to Bethanne’s success, and someday her friend would give a similar gift of money and encouragement to another struggling entrepreneur. Elise found pleasure and pride in knowing that.
Not once in all the weeks afterward had Bethanne breathed a word about the money to the women in the knitting group. That was just as well. If Bethanne had said something in addition to what Courtney had already mentioned, their friends might have figured it out. Maverick didn’t want any thanks or displays of appreciation; he preferred to remain anonymous, unacknowledged.
Elise smiled to herself as she continued knitting. She suspected Lydia knew. She’d never come right out and asked Elise, but she’d casually said one day that there seemed to be a fairy godfather at work in their group. Elise had tried to suggest it must’ve been Courtney’s dad, but Lydia just shook her head. Thankfully, she didn’t bring it up again. Elise didn’t want to mislead a woman she considered one of her best friends.
She heard the timer on the stove and set aside her knitting to check the cupcakes. Turning off the oven, she took out the muffin tin and placed it on a cooling rack. The scent of warm blueberries filled the kitchen. She intended to slather the cup-cakes with a cream cheese frosting and serve them to Maverick and his friends. Little did the “boys” realize how healthy these desserts were.
A half hour later, Maverick woke, looking noticeably rested. He glanced at his watch; the game would start in less than twenty minutes.
Predictably enough, the phone started to ring at three o’clock and Bart, the first of the boys, arrived. He was quickly followed by Al and Fred.
“Smells mighty good in here,” Bart said, sniffing the air. He winked at Elise. “No one bakes better’n you, no sir. I’ll bet those taste as good as they smell, too.”
Elise smiled at the blatant flattery. “I’ll see what I can do to make sure you get one, Bart.”
He grinned. “I do appreciate that, Mrs. Beaumont.”
Al and Fred weren’t far behind, staggering playfully toward the kitchen, led by their noses.
“You been baking again?” Al asked, hat in his hands, eyes comically wide.
Maverick shared a secret smile with her. “You’re spoiling my friends,” he murmured.
“Those for us poor old men?” Fred rubbed his hands together. “Us poor hungry old men…”
“Would you three stop it,” Elise said, halfheartedly attempting to hold in a laugh. “You know darn well I always bake on Tuesdays.”
Bart poked his elbow in Al’s ribs. “That’s the reason we’re here, remember?”
“I thought you came for the poker,” Maverick teased.
Chuckling, they gathered around the kitchen table. Maverick pulled out a deck of cards and shuffled. Each one bought in for twenty dollars; the winner of the “tournament” took home the pot.
Within minutes, they were involved in their game. Elise frosted the cupcakes, then went back to her knitting. When the men had finished, she served coffee and cupcakes to the accompaniment of much praise and fulsome thanks.
Maverick caught her eye and she smiled at the man she loved. Her husband smiled back. Being in love did something for a woman, she decided. There was no feeling, no experience, to equal it.
“Sock knitting teaches us to take one step at a time—cuff, heel, foot, toe—and not to be overwhelmed by the big picture.”
There’s a lull at the shop, and after a busy morning, I’ve decided to take a break in the office. Margaret will handle the customers while I put my feet up. It’s been rush, rush, rush all morning.
A Good Yarn is doing well—so well—and I’m grateful. I sometimes feel as if I’m living in a dream. I know I’m not, because the diamond on my finger sparkles and my heart is full of love for Brad and Cody. I’m quite possibly the happiest woman in the world. I’m engaged to marry the hand-so-mest, most wonderful man alive. Within a couple of months, I’ll be living with Brad and Cody and Chase. Whiskers, thankfully, tolerates Cody’s dog and will probably teach him some discipline.
I don’t think my life could get any better than it is right at this moment.
When I first opened the doors to A Good Yarn, it was my affirmation of life. Little did I realize, two years ago, what would happen and all the friends I would make. Jacqueline, Carol and Alix have become very dear to me. They were the three who gave me my start.
I’ve held several classes since the baby blanket class. All of them were good, but none of those relationships matched the closeness I felt with my first three students. Until recently, with the sock class. That was when Elise, Bethanne and Courtney entered the shop and my life. I didn’t think it was possible to feel as close to another class as I did my original one, but again life has taught me a valuable lesson.
I recall how difficult Elise was that first day, fretting over her ex-husband’s coming visit. And Bethanne, with her self-esteem shattered by her divorce, and Courtney, a lonely, over-weight teenager struggling with a loss of her own. The four of us connected through knitting—who would’ve thought a pair of socks could change your life? I treasure each one of these women as a true friend, the same way I do Jacqueline, Carol and Alix.
Then there’s my sister. I never thought the day would come when I’d claim my sister as my very best friend. Well, that day has arrived. We’re closer now than at any other time in our lives. And that special understanding started when she first came to work at the shop.