Home > Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(12)

Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(12)
Mary Kay Andrews

“I didn’t know her well,” I said, trying to sound cool. “She was more a friend of my Uncle James. I just tagged along as company.” I lowered my voice. “To tell you the truth, Merijoy, the real reason I came was out of concern for Beaulieu. Such a historic landmark. Losing it would be a blow.”

“Lose Beaulieu? What do you mean? Do you know something I don’t?”

Caroline had zeroed in on me now. Her eyes were shooting off hateful little sparks from across the room. She said something to Gerry Blankenship. Now both of them were staring at me. Caroline could probably read lips. She did everything else. Easy, girl, I told myself. Be sweet.

“You know Savannah. I’ve just been hearing rumors, that’s all.” I did a little sidestep to put my back to Caroline, so she couldn’t read my brain waves.

I leaned in toward Merijoy.

“Paper mill.” I breathed the words, hardly moving my lips at all.

“No,” Merijoy said. She clutched at her scrawny chest and rolled her big dark eyes as though she might have a cardiac infarction. “There is no way in this wide world that could happen. Do you hear me?”

I’d really pushed a button.

“I talked to Miss Mullinax,” Merijoy explained. “For months and months now. We had dinner at Elizabeth’s on Thirty-seventh back in February. She showed me some of the original land grant documents for Beaulieu. She as much as promised Beaulieu would be left to the preservation league. We talked about a living museum. I’ve already started inquiring about grant money for the restoration. The place needs a massive infusion of cash. There are several foundations that’ve expressed interest. The plantation outbuildings would be restored, a small-scale rice-growing operation. She would never…”

“Maybe there’s been a misunderstanding,” I said hastily. “Please forget I said anything, Merijoy. If you say Beaulieu is safe, I’m sure that’s right.”

Merijoy pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Gerry Blankenship is Miss Anna Ruby’s attorney. I thought it would be sort of, well, grasping, to call on him any earlier. Out of respect for Miss Anna Ruby. But I’ve been phoning his office, leaving messages, to find out about the will. And today, I’ve tried to get a moment with him ever since he got here. He won’t look me in the eye. Do you know that woman he’s been talking to? I’ve seen her around town, I believe.”

“I know her,” I said, my stomach twisting into knots. “Her name is Caroline DeSantos. She’s an architect in Tal’s firm. She’s his new fiancée.”

Merijoy winced. “Then it is true. I’d heard things weren’t going well between you two. I’m sorry, Eloise.”

“I like to be called Weezie,” I said, lifting my chin. “The divorce was final last month.”

“What about your house?” Merijoy asked, her inner alarm going off.

Merijoy knew every inch of every house in the historic district. She was always peeping in at people’s windows and sneaking around in lanes.

“Your house,” Merijoy said mournfully. “All your hard work. That place was a ruin before you bought it. I used to ride by there all the time and I’d say to Randy Rucker, ‘That place is a disgrace. Somebody needs to buy it and rescue it before there’s nothing left but a pile of brick dust.’ You’re not going to sell the house, are you? Because Adelaide and Malcolm Osborne have been looking for something around Troup Square for months….”

“The carriage house isn’t for sale,” I said, from between gritted teeth.

Really. Some people are such vultures. Ever since word of our divorce had gotten out, people had been stopping me on the street. “So sorry about the breakup—does that house have a full bath on the ground floor, or is it just a powder room?”

“Tal got the big house in the divorce settlement,” I explained. “But I got the carriage house. That’s where I’m living. It’s actually ideal for me. Two bedrooms, two baths, a study, and I got half the garden too.”

“And that adorable little kitchen. I hope you didn’t do anything to cover up those exposed brick walls.” Merijoy cocked one eyebrow. “So you’re living on the same property as Tal and his fiancée. How unusual. I’ve got to give you credit, Weezie; you’re much more open-minded than I would be if my husband left me for another woman. Why, if Randy Rucker so much as looked at somebody else, I swear, Weezie, I’d have to take the law into my own hands.”

Caroline and Gerry Blankenship were walking toward the front door. Caroline stopped once, looked over her shoulder at me, trying to figure out what I was doing.

Merijoy saw where I was looking. “I swear, Weezie, don’t you want to just kill her?”

Chapter 7

Right after Tal announced he was in love with somebody else and wanted a divorce, I was so depressed, all my friends were afraid I was suicidal.

I ran around and did all the things women do when their lives are shattered into little pieces.

I talked for hours on the telephone to all my girlfriends. We speculated on who the other woman might be. BeBe offered to pay to have Tal followed by a private detective. When I wouldn’t let her, she offered to do it herself, for free. BeBe loves intrigue.

I couldn’t afford a therapist. Instead, I started reading a lot of self-help articles. The best ones are in the magazines they have at my hairdressers’.

“Picking Up the Pieces after Your Divorce” was the article I was reading in Women’s World magazine during the time Tal had moved out of the house and was supposedly living with his college roommate. I didn’t find out until much later where he was really staying.

The beauty-shop article said women going through a divorce should undertake something they called a “life skills inventory” so that they could snap out of any self-destructive postdivorce patterns.

Life skills. Like what? Accounting? Taxidermy? Automotive repairs?

For a few years, while Tal was clawing his way to the top of the firm his grandfather owned anyway, I’d worked in the usual assortment of jobs I’d gotten through relatives, friends, and friends of friends. In Savannah, that’s how everybody I know had always gotten jobs. You didn’t need a resume, certainly you didn’t need any “life skills inventory.” You just needed to know somebody.

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