“No. You have a life too. You have a chance to make it right with Janie.”
“Celia, that’s not why—”
“You never got over her. I feel guilty Hank and I had a part in breakin’ up your marriage.” The phone rattled and beeped twice. “Sorry. My cell is about to die. I’ll be fine. It probably is the Jim Beam talkin’. Thanks for listening. You really are the greatest. I’m lucky to have you.”
The line went dead.
“Goddammit.” He redialed her number. It immediately kicked over to voice mail. Maybe her battery had crapped out, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Abe dialed and counted the rings while he paced in the kitchen.
Kyle finally answered with, “What have I done to merit a phone call from Abe Lawson?”
“I need your help. Are you and Celia at the same CRA event?”
“Yeah, we’re in Taos. Why?”
“Because she just called me. She’s drunk, crying, depressed, her phone died and I’ve no way to get in touch with her. So I need you to track her down.”
“Look, Abe, sending me ain’t the best idea.”
“Why the f**k not? I know you and Celia have your differences, but this is serious.”
“So am I. I suspect I’m the reason she’s actin’ this way.”
“What the hell? I don’t have time for cryptic bullshit. Explain that.”
Kyle sighed. “Without pissing you off . . . I don’t know if I can.”
“Try,” Abe snarled.
“Celia and I . . . f**k, we had a big goddamn fight earlier today, okay? It’s the second time this week we’ve gotten into it. She warned me if I show my face anywhere near her truck she’ll aim that shotgun she keeps under the seat at me and blow me straight to hell.”
“That’s a chance I’m willin’ to take.”
“Not me. Besides, I’m not your sister’s keeper.”
“If you’re partially responsible for her acting this way, then you better find her, Kyle, before I find you. And if you don’t get back to me within the hour, I’ll call the cops in Taos and have them track you both down. Hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
Abe tossed his phone and braced his hands on the counter, trying not to panic.
“What’s going on with Celia?” Janie said behind him.
He whirled around. “Ah. Nothin’. I’m handling it.”
“Not very well.” Janie shuffled closer. She’d wrapped herself in his old terrycloth bathrobe. Something loosened in his chest. He’d forgotten how she used to slip on his shirts and steal his socks and how much he’d loved it. “Talk to me, Abe.”
Janie had always complained that Celia was a drama queen, and Abe wouldn’t put his sister in a bad light when she was so obviously hurting. “I was talkin’ to Celia, we got cut off and I called Kyle, who’s on the CRA tour with her, to check on her. He was a little reluctant. I insisted.”
“I heard. Is Celia still following him around like a puppy?”
Abe frowned. “What makes you say that?”
“Oh come on. You had to’ve noticed. The way Celia was always chasing after Kyle. She adored him.”
“I never noticed. All’s I remember is them fightin’ like crazy. Drove us all nuts.”
“It was one-sided. Kyle never gave Celia a second glance. To add insult to injury, he treated her like a pesky little sister just like you and Hank did.”
“Well, it’s a good damn thing he didn’t act on her signals or I’da strung Kyle up, family friend or not. He’s too goddamn old for Celia.”
Janie lifted a brow in that annoying, imperious way of hers. “Seven years is a gap when she was eleven and he was eighteen. But now that she’s twenty-four and he’s thirty-one? Not such a big age difference.” She stood on her tiptoes and tried to peer into the big soup pot. “Whatcha cooking?”
“Chicken noodle soup.”
“Yeah.” Abe dumped the noodles into a strainer in the sink. “Bet you thought I’d never learn to cook.”
“I figured you’d marry a proper ranch wife, who’d gladly whip up hearty meals for you three times a day and you’d never have to learn.”
“How long did you give me before I remarried?” he asked lightly.
He shook the noodles with extra force. “I must’ve been a real ass**le if you believed I’d need so little time to mourn our marriage, Janie.”
“At the time, I didn’t think either of us would mourn the end of it.”
You were wrong. I mourned that loss longer than I did the loss of my parents. Not that he’d admit such a thing to her or anyone else. He said, “Watch out,” and carried the noodles to the soup pot. “We’ll be ready to eat in about five.”
“I’ll set the table. Where are you keeping bowls these days?”
“I knew you’d change things back to the way your mother had arranged them after I left,” she accused.
“Another thing you’re wrong about. Lainie made changes when she moved in. I’ve never cared where the dishes were just as long as I could find them.”
She set the bowls on the woven placemats. “Were these Lainie’s?”
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