Home > Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(4)

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(4)
Author: Robyn Carr

But none of that was Adele’s fault! Now she feared Justine would go back on her promises and take advantage of her again.

She thought about canceling the movie date with Jake because she knew she wouldn’t be good company, but she didn’t have the heart after he’d been so sweet to offer. So she got dressed and was ready when he picked her up. “What are we going to see?” she asked when she got in the car.

“Anything you want. There are plenty of sexy leading men for you to choose from,” he said. Then he grinned.

“Anything is fine.”

So they chose the latest hit movie, bought popcorn and drinks, and she stared at the screen blankly. He asked her three times what was wrong, and three times she said she just had things on her mind. The movie was over before she’d really let herself enjoy it. Jake grabbed her hand and said, “Come on.” He pulled her up and out of their row, out of the theater into the dimly lit hall that led to the lobby. “We’re going to Maggio’s. We’ll get a dark booth in the back and talk. Whatever it is, it’s better to get it out.”

“What makes you say that? I’m a little moody, that’s all. You’ve seen me—”

He was shaking his head. “You’re not just moody,” he said. “Any time you don’t stare with big cow eyes at Bradley Cooper, the man you hope to marry, we’ve got us a problem. So, we’ll go have a little wine. Maybe some pasta or pizza but wine for sure.”

She raised a brow. “You think you’re going to get me loose and talking?”

He nodded. “As only a good friend could.”

They drove to Maggio’s, a little hole-in-the-wall Italian pizzeria. It was one of his favorite places. Jake pulled his truck into a small parking lot behind the restaurant. They did a huge takeout business, but there was a small dining room with only eight booths. It was compact, each booth could hold six people so the maximum they could serve wasn’t even fifty, and in all the years Adele had known about the restaurant, it had never been full. The front of the store, where people picked up their meals or pizzas, was always hopping, and there were a couple of tables on the wide sidewalk where people could sit outside in nice weather.

Adele and Jake entered through the back door because Jake knew the owners and most of the staff. People hollered “Hey, Jake” or waved a hand in their direction. They slipped into the restaurant and found a booth near the back. Adele loved that it was dimly lit and decorated with plastic grapes. They slid into the booth and sat across from each other.

“Hey, Jake,” the waitress said, slapping down a couple of napkins. “Haven’t seen you in a long time.”

“It hasn’t been that long, has it?” he returned. “You know my friend Adele, don’t you?”

“Yeah, sure, how you doin’? And what can I start you off with?”

“A glass of cabernet for me,” Addie said.

“Same,” Jake said. “And we’ll look at the menu for a while.”

“I bet you know it by heart, Jake,” she said, smiling prettily into his eyes. “I’ll be right back.”

“All the women in town like you,” Adele said. “Why don’t you ever take any of them out?”

“They don’t all like me,” he said. “And Bonnie, there, I think she’s been married a bunch of times.”

“Really?” Adele asked.

“Well, at least twice. Been there, done that.”

Adele remembered too well—it was a scandal in the neighborhood at the time. Jake was in his midtwenties, Adele still in high school, when he married Mary Ellen. It didn’t go well. Jake’s mother complained to Adele’s mother that there was a lot of bickering, and in no time Mary Ellen had become Jake’s unhappy wife. Though she never missed a word of their mothers’ gossip, the only thing she actually saw was that her friend Jake was suddenly alone, miserable, brokenhearted and inconsolable. Mary Ellen left him after a year, and they were divorced by two years. She had now passed her third divorce, been with numerous men she hadn’t married and was said to be keeping company with a much older guy who left his wife of almost forty years for her.

“Yeah, I’d love to know what happened there, if only to understand it,” Adele said. Jake was handsome, sweet natured, smart and most importantly, kind. His market was like the cornerstone of the older section of Half Moon Bay. He’d served on the city council for a couple of years and was greatly respected. By comparison, Mary Ellen was attractive but not very smart. But she must have some serious skills—she certainly had no trouble getting a guy though she did have short attention span. Adele suspected an abundance of pheromones. She also seemed to be cunning.

“Maybe when I understand what happened, I’ll share,” Jake said.

Their drinks came, they ordered a pizza to share and Jake went in for the kill. “How about if you tell me why you didn’t drool over Bradley,” Jake said.

She told him Justine had come by for a brief visit, complaining about having some job and therefore financial issues, and that she might not be helping out as much as Adele had expected. “It emphasized all the things I haven’t done,” she said. “I was going to change my life, you know—starting with a makeover of myself and the house. Neither has had much attention for the past few years. I was waiting for the inspiration to kick in.”

“We’ve been over this,” Jake said. “You have plenty of time for all that. And you don’t need a makeover. The house could use a little paint, but other than that...”

“I haven’t even made a list,” she said. “I kept thinking I was making plans but they were just fantasies. Plans require at least a list. Not to mention the purchase of a bucket of paint...”

“Well then, let’s talk about what you’d like to do and you can go home and make a list, but Addie, stuff like this doesn’t usually cause you to ignore a good movie. Or—” The pizza arrived just as he finished his thought. “Or ignore your best guy, Bradley.” He peeled off a piece of pizza and gestured toward her plate. “I can help with this, you know. I remodeled my mother’s house, and I’ve done a lot of my own work in my house.”

“You’re so busy,” she said, chomping off a mouthful of pizza.

“Even if I’m not available to pound nails or paint trim, I know a lot of contractors, who to call, where to find them, and if you ever run into a problem—I know how to talk to them. You never saw my mother’s house after I did the kitchen and both bathrooms. Damn good for a grocer, if you ask me.”

“I’m sorry, Jake. I should have gone to your mom’s to see your work. I’ll be sure to go now. She always came to see my mom, to read to her.”

“You know she enjoyed that,” he said. “Sometimes she spends an hour at the store, visiting, talking to shoppers. I’d see one thing in her cart, but just couldn’t get her to leave. I told her I could bring her what she needs, but walking to the store is good for her. I won’t complain until she starts coming in five times a day, and then—”

His voice faded to a low buzz as something caught Adele’s eye. The couple in the front left booth, sitting together so they faced the front door, backs to Adele, leaned their heads together for a deep kiss. The man’s reddish-brown hair curled around his collar, just a little long. The woman’s short white-blond hair was teased up all spiky in a slightly dated style.

Then Adele’s brain started to play tricks on her. It looked like Scott, her brother-in-law, his tongue down the woman’s throat, his hand cupping the back of her head. They broke apart, laughed into each other’s open mouths and she stroked his cheek briefly, saying something that made him kiss her open mouth again. It was Scott. He must think that even though Adele lived in Half Moon Bay, she would never be out on a Saturday night, having a pizza. It was a good bet, since that was a very rare occurrence. Adele would have pizza delivered. And a date? Forget about it.

Then Scott and the unknown woman became other people as a very old and painful memory rose to the surface. Hadley and his wife materialized in their place. Hadley, her psychology professor, with whom she’d had a steamy affair. She’d taken the class because he was so hot. Hadley, the father of her baby. He had told her it was impossible for him to leave the wife he claimed to hate, to marry Adele. He told her the university might fire him for falling in love with a student. They decided she would terminate the pregnancy. He would then divorce his wife, they’d have a fresh start, begin to date as if the affair and the baby had never happened. They’d marry and eventually have a family. Everything would be fine and they’d live happily-ever-after. And she’d been naive enough to believe him.

She did what many a woman her age would do—she drove by Hadley’s house a dozen times a week. Then one morning she saw what she should have known she would see. He stood in the doorway with his beautiful blond wife, an arm around her waist. She still wore a robe or dressing gown. There was a small blond child holding on to his leg. The child was also beautiful. Angelic. Hadley’s wife had a small baby bump. Hadley pulled her against him and covered her lips in a loving kiss. A deep and long kiss. One of his hands cradled her head while the other ran smoothly over the bump.

Hadley wasn’t kissing his wife as though he was planning on getting a divorce.

Adele was supposed to have an abortion while Hadley got the gears moving on his separation and divorce. He said he’d try to scrape up some money for the procedure, but he couldn’t be obvious about it or his wife wouldn’t let him go. They would have to be discreet.

Eight years later, she still couldn’t believe she’d bought those lies. She didn’t go through with the abortion but her baby slipped away, stillborn. And Hadley never came looking for her. While she cared for her parents and mourned the loss of her son, she’d heard he was suspected of other affairs with students.

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