Meadow had read in the paper there was going to be a neighborhood block party and the date was this weekend. Now she mentioned it again to Brian who shook his head doubtfully.
"I don't see how we can go, it's a Friday night and you know I work weekends.
"Um, well, to tell the truth I already checked with Dylan. He says you can have the night off and in fact he and Elaine are going to come, too. He says Wayne has a friend who can cover for you and Josh Burb is assistant manager, so it will be fine."
Brian looked at her for a long moment that almost made her squirm. Finally he asked,
"You know it's possible Lonnie and his wife will show up, right?”
"Yes, I know, but...I'm not worried about him seeing me, remember? Only that he might see Heath and Mama said she and your dad would come over and stay with the kids while we party. Heath will be in the house."
"You know on Friday and Saturday we always let him stay out until dark. He'll wonder why he can't catch fireflies."
"Mama and Daddy will be here--he won't mind at all, just this once."
"I don't know," Brian was still doubtful, "Now that there's Willow, it's just a handful for my folks to take care of a toddler and a newborn—don’t tell them I said that, though."
"So you don't want to go, period?"
"It's not that I don't want to go--"
"I talked to the Neighborhood Association; it turns out that the party will be right in front of our house anyway. Also they want you to play your guitar along with some other people who will be coming to play drums and piano," she cut in.
"What? I don't even know these other guys--"
"Well, one of them is Dylan, so that should ease your mind. He told me he’s looking forward to it, in fact, and he'll be playing bass. Anyway, you won’t have to entertain the whole time; they’ll have CD’s playing first--although no disc jockey, unfortunately."
"You're too fast for me, beautiful," he looked defeated, "You’ve thought of everything. I guess I have no choice."
Meadow said stiffly,
"I don’t want to force you.”
“The heck you don’t.”
“Are you sure the reason you don't want to go isn't because Lori Ferguson might be there with Harvey?" Meadow teased.
"Yeah, that's it," Brian said sarcastically, "I'll totally freak if I even see her. Probably attack her right in front of the neighbors. Gee, maybe we should move to another town or something."
Meadow only laughed,
"I love it when you get tough, babe. Well, maybe she won't even come and if she does maybe it's time to put out that ‘old flame’ stuff anyway; seeing her happily ensconced on her husband's arm and her seeing you with me may just douse the fire and exorcise that ghost."
Brian swore under his breath; something he rarely did, then barked,
"Would you let it alone, Meadow? You hardly ever irritate me but when you start on that ‘she haunts you stuff’ it really chaps my butt."
Meadow shrugged and went off to survey the clothes in her closet.
She thought the block party had all the earmarks of a night to remember. She hoped she wasn't being foolhardy insisting that they go. But she hadn't been anywhere fun in a long time. She wanted to have a “date” with Brian so to speak. They wouldn’t be alone, but at least they’d be with other adults and no kids around. Just once. In her mind, she began running over what to wear. It was deep summer and she need to wear something that would keep her cool, but look very hot. Very.
The night before the street dance, Heath learned that his beloved grandparents were going to be taking care of him and his baby sisters that evening—that was always good news to him. Also Brian told him if they wanted a swim they should do it early in the morning before things got hectic; Meadow had volunteered to help out with refreshments and was going to busy in the kitchen roasting a turkey and Brian had to make sure his drums were in working order and get them moved downstairs with Dylan’s help. Brook and Willow had to be taken care of; fed, dressed and bathed. Nana and Papa would not be there until about 5 pm. It would be a busy day.
When Heath heard his parents stirring around just before dawn he hopped out of bed, fairly humming with anticipation.
Brian kept his word and they had that morning swim. It looked like it would be a beautiful day and so far there was no hint of rain according to the weather channel.
People began to gather before dark, and Brian and Meadow went out to join them. Most of these party-goers they already knew; they were neighbors and friends. Brian was naturally gregarious, while Meadow was a little shy. It was a trait she’d developed while a child trying to cope with two alcoholic parents, which mostly meant covering up that fact to the world. The more people she got close to the more she’d had to fear they would find out her family’s secret. By high school she’d managed to become a little more outgoing by becoming a cheerleader, but she still was hesitant to this day to talk much to someone she’d just met.
Tonight though, Meadow was determined to let go of her inhibitions and get out there and mingle—while still paying attention to her husband.
Most of the people who were already here were married couples but there were a few single people and one lone unaccompanied wife. It was Grace Lassiter Brecht, Lori's older sister. Brian knew her well from high school days when they’d gone steady for a week or two but he had probably only seen her a couple of times in the years since. Maybe her author husband, Devon, was on tour with a new book or something.
Meadow saw that Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Hammond were there. She knew by now that Lonnie’s wife was the former swinger, Jenny Lomax, and was surprised to realize she'd met her years ago and even had lunch with her once, back when she was married to someone else. That's why Meadow had recognized her easily when she went to Goth’s the last time. It had been a weird experience—they hadn’t talked but here she was looking at the wife of her son's father. Of course she knew now that daughter Loni Faye Hammond was unmistakable as Heath’s half sister, at least in Meadow's eyes. They both looked so much like Lonnie.
It would have been earth-shaking if Meadow hadn’t told herself for two weeks that it was likely the Hammonds would come. This party was to foster neighborhood good will, but was mainly expected to attract adults in their twenties, thirties and possibly forties and the Hammonds were in that age bracket.
A glimpse of Pleasantview life could be gleaned from various snippets of conversation going around:
“Oh, my gosh,” Lori Ferguson said to her husband, “Would you look at my brother? He seems to be thunderstruck by that fabulous brunette. She looks like Louise Brooks! She’s certainly dressed provocatively enough.”
Harvey refrained from saying “Look who’s talking.”
She went on enthusiastically,
“Naturally David made a beeline over to be bartender to fix drinks so he could meet any unattached woman. And naturally the most attractive woman hurried over to meet him. He’s such a player. I thought he was still seeing Belinda Candeloro, but who knows?”
“Louise WHO?” Harvey, as usual, had to unravel her rambling conversation by asking questions one by one.
“Oh, Louise Brooks was this mysterious looking actress in the 1920’s.”
“Okay, Brat. First; I know you think everything is a movie and that everyone looks like some movie star or another, but could you at least stick to celebrities I might know? Like from the last two decades?”
Lori laughed, “I know, I know; I get it from my mother, Daddy says the same thing about her: ‘Everything’s a movie with you, Melora!’ So I just can’t help it. And Mom encouraged us to watch tons of old movies, especially me because I was the only one who really liked them anyway. She had all those old movie star coffee table books and I knew them by heart.”
“Next, as for your brother, I assume you mean David and not Trey,” Harvey commented, “Because Chelsea is so crazy about Trey she might put up with a lot of things, but I doubt flirting with a gorgeous stranger is one of them.”
“No! Of course I mean David. Trey isn’t even here yet.”
“Well they look so much alike I can hardly tell them apart sometimes. They might as well be twins, Trey looks more like David than he does you.”
“I know but—and I say this with relief—it’s definitely David. I can tell them apart. Wonder who she is?”
“I have no clue; she must be new here. But then again we’ve only been back from University for two years. Maybe she moved in before that during the four years we were gone. Maybe Elle would know, she knows everything that goes on in this town.”
“Yes, but she and Corky aren’t here and neither are Trey and Chelsea. Odd. They told me they were coming for sure. And what’s Grace doing here without Devon? It’s not like he has a job or anything,” Lori scoffed.
“Lori, he writes novels. So yes, he doesn’t have a nine to five job, but he works and makes money.”
“I know. I just don’t get why she ever married him in the first place. It’s not like she wants kids or anything and she already has a house of her own which is more than I could say for him.”
Harvey just nodded, he wasn’t about to get into a discussion with Lori about his new sister-in-law’s marriage. He hardly knew Grace, anyway, she was the same age as his sisters, Gillian and Margo. Jody Broke and Grace were the Co-Chiefs of Staff at Pleasantview Medical Center. She was a workaholic and didn’t always attend the family get-togethers at John and Melora’s place.
“Well, there’s Brian and his wife,” Harvey pointed out, “and they’re sitting with Grace, of all people.”
Lori glanced over and saw that the wife was, indeed, a gorgeous blond, just as Harvey said. Of course she was. Why would Brian marry a hag?
Harvey took her hand,
“Honey, I told you this would happen especially since the party is located here in front of their house.”
“I know,” but she looked apprehensive, “I just haven’t seen or talked to him in a couple years, if he came up I wouldn’t know what to say. I was such an idiot when I chased him around years ago.”
“You’ll survive it. I’m sure he remembers you were just a kid—and, that, frankly, he did nothing to discourage you in the beginning. In fact,” Harvey grinned, “If I hadn’t found out he was a fairly nice guy with a wife and kids, I might have had to go over and punch his lights out.”
“Oooh, Harvey!” Lori exclaimed with a giggle, “You’re so masterful!”
Melanie and Gareth had arrived as well as her sister, Lalique, who came dateless. A man not many people recognized sat down at their table and introduced himself as Jacob Black. He said he lived in a cabin-like house almost at the edge of town near the foothills. Vague about his occupation he told them he didn’t know many people in Pleasantview. He spent a lot of time outdoors and often camped up in the mountains near Three Lakes. It was rare when he socialized in town except when he was dating Renesmee Cullen who lived even farther out of town than they he did. He and Renesmee had decided to cool their relationship for a while, but were still good friends. He’d known her parents for years…and years.
Gareth’s hair might be short now, but he was wearing the leather and denim that he was most comfortable in to this day. He was watching Brian and then watching Lori and longed to make some comments about this to Melanie, but of course, he could not do that with other people at the table.
Since Brian knew Grace, and Meadow remembered her as a popular upper classman, they invited her to sit at their table. They were quickly joined by Bob Blackford, another single man about town who had dated Lalique for quite a while at one time. With Lori here and her brother David, too, it seemed to Brian that there were Lassiters everywhere.
Brian's brother, Dylan, and his wife, Elaine, plopped down at Lonnie and Jenny’s table and introduced themselves. Running a business that included socializing with just about anyone who came to the club; they were both adept at starting a conversation and making fast friends.
So far, the Hammonds didn’t know many people at the party—although more and more neighbors were walking down the sidewalk to join the festivities—so they were happy to have Dylan and Elaine sit down and start conversing. The men got talking about running a restaurant--which Lonnie hoped to do soon--and running a club and compared the ups and downs.
There was salsa music playing and David Lassiter led the exotic woman in question over near the music to dance. Once it was dark, it was easier to be brave and get out there to dance so Lalique and Jacob joined David and this woman who seemed to be keeping the long-time playboy mesmerized. By now most people were aware that her name was Barbara Bel Geddes (pronounced Bell-Geddies) and she’d lived here for five years. This news was stunning as hardly anyone here had seen her before.
“No one knows who I am,” Barbara laughed, “I guess it’s because my job is out of town and I don’t socialize much. Mostly I shop in Bluewater rather than Pleasantview and my home and job keep me pretty busy the rest of the time. Guess that’s part of it, anyway.”
“Barbara, they are fascinated because you are probably the most beautiful woman we’ve had in Pleasantview in years and years. You’d have to go back a generation to Olivia Flynn or Heather Simmons-Ferguson to find a woman as attractive. My mother was kind of a knock-out when she was young, too, but Olivia and Heather were amazing. Just like you,” David assured her.
“Wow, what a line! I take it you’ve been getting results with this?” she teased.
Barbara might be beautiful and a little offbeat, but her sense of self was grounded in reality and she accepted her good looks as a fortunate gift from her parents and grandparents, but nothing for which she could take credit. David laughed easily,
“Okay, you got me; I flirt a lot and always have. But in this case, I’m absolutely speaking the truth.”
The party was starting to get in full swing so Lori, never the most patient of people, finally phoned Elle and Corky and then Chelsea and Trey,
“Where are you? You’re going to miss everything!”
The two couples assured her they were on the way. Lori glanced up as she ended the call and saw that Brian Ottomas was coming directly toward their table. Her whole being snapped to attention and her heart lurched in a most disconcerting way so she decided she needed to get some distance by walking over and studying Brian's family pool for a moment.
Meanwhile, Brian had come up to Harvey and was saying,
“Man, that was some great casserole you brought over! Meadow really appreciated it. I was going to thank your wife in person, but where is she?”
“Yeah, she left for a moment; she’s a little…well, I’ll just cut to the chase; my wife is Lori Lassiter—she knew you when she was in high school,” Harvey grinned then, “I don’t know if you remember her, but not many people who meet her can forget her. She’s a little embarrassed at her behavior back then.”
Brian nodded with a rueful smile, his eyes scanning the crowd,
“I remember her, of course, but she shouldn’t worry about it, it's all good. She told me she was engaged when I ran into her in town a couple years ago, but I didn’t realize she was actually married until you came over that day and introduced yourself,” he paused, “She was a great kid, really, as I recall. Say, you've met my wife, but when Lori gets back I’d really like to introduce her to Meadow.”
I’ll buy tickets to that, Harvey thought dryly. But he said,
“I’ll do my best, I’m sure she would really like to meet her.”
Meanwhile Gareth Caswell was keeping an eye on Brian and overhearing the conversation between him and Harvey. He was sure that Harvey just didn’t realize the gravity of the whole situation. Gareth continued to think of Brian Ottomas as a lecher who was still after Lori. In point of fact, to this day Gareth thought of his childhood friend as remaining a tender young teenager. His wife, Melanie, had grown up, as had Elle, Chelsea and Holly, but somehow, even though she was married now, Lori remained a sweet innocent girl in his eyes and Gareth was still protective of her. Even though she was married.
He didn’t like Harvey making friends with the guy. Was he blind? Gareth had seen the look on Lori’s face before she headed across the yard.
Next update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 5 Neighborhood Block Party Pt. 2