I opened my eyes and lifted them back to the room. Kat was standing with the broom still in her hand, staring right at me. My eyebrows shot up in surprise as our gazes connected, but she quickly lowered her head and went back to sweeping.

Gam turned from the counter and set a plate in front of me.

“How do you do this? You’re magical,” I said in awe, staring down at the chicken salad sandwich on a flaky croissant and the watermelon salad right next to it.

Gam laughed and sat down in the chair next to me. “I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I got up and used my leftover chicken to make chicken salad.”

I shook my head but didn’t respond. I was too busy trying to fit as much of the sandwich in my mouth as I could.

“Mermelon?” Maura asked, clapping her hands together.

“You want some watermelon of your own, Little Mo?” Gam got up from the table and scooped a small pile of watermelon, cucumbers, and feta cheese into a plastic bowl and set it in front of her. Just as I suspected, Maura scrunched up her face as she picked the pieces of cheese out of the bowl and set them on the table.

Gam gazed at Maura with a smile and shook her head as I continued stuffing my face. I hadn’t felt all that hungry when I got to Gam’s, but suddenly I was ravenous.

Gam told me all about her lunch date with Phil a few days before and how she needed to get bird seed from the store since winter was on the way and she wanted her cardinals to be fed. I listened to her happily as I ate. We talked about everything and nothing . . . and it was amazing.

After I’d finished eating and it seemed like we’d covered just about everything we could cover for one day, I glanced down at my phone.

“Crap!” I yelled as I jumped up, startling Maura. “I totally forgot about Matthew. He gets out of school in a little bit. I gotta run.” I carefully dropped my plate and Maura’s bowl in the sink and hurried toward the front door with Gam following along behind me as best as she could. I zipped Maura’s jacket as Gam let out a heavy sigh.

“What was that about?” I asked her as I stood and lifted Maura onto my hip.

She swallowed and stared at me for a second. “I’m just worried, that’s all.”

“I’m fine,” I reassured her.

“I know you are. You’re an amazing woman who will get through anything, but I’m worried for Viper, too. He’s making a huge mistake, and I’m scared he’s going to lose the best thing that’s ever happened to him.”

Taking a deep breath, I gathered my thoughts. I was furious with Viper, but that didn’t mean I was done with him. I also didn’t want to give Gam false hope that everything would be fine, because I had no idea what the future held. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with us. Right now, things are definitely strained, but I’ll tell you this much . . . I haven’t given up yet.”

A tight smiled grew across Gam’s lips. “Good. Because as dumb as I think he is, I really think you two are meant to be together.” She wrapped her arms around me and Maura, squeezing us both at the same time again. “Every pot has a lid, just remember that.”

“Huh?” I said as she let go and pulled back.

“Every pot has a lid,” she repeated in a firmer tone.

Gam had many quirky phrases and sayings that I’d heard many times over the last year or so, but that one was new to me. “That’s a new one.”

“It’s one of my favorites,” she added as her eyes drifted out the front door and went somewhere deep in her mind. “My mom used to say it to me when I was younger, and when I met Don all those years ago, I just knew he was my lid.”

“Every pot has a lid, huh?” I said with a sigh. “Well, hopefully my lid gets his head out of the dishwasher before he warps his brain.” I lowered my head and planted a quick kiss on her cheek. “All right, off to get my little man. I’ll call you soon.”

“Please do!” she called out as she leaned against the door frame and waved.

 

I made it to Matthew’s school just in time and we went straight home. Nap time had never sounded more appealing. Matthew hopped out of the car and ran to the front door as I took Maura out of the car and walked to the mailbox. As I pulled the tiny stack of envelopes out, something caught my eye. A folded up piece of paper was lying on top. I frowned as I switched the mail to my other hand and unfolded the paper.

Just thought I’d give you my cell number in case you ever need help with anything, or a babysitter, or someone to come and drink your beer.

 

 

Joel

 

 

I blinked a couple times and stared down at the piece of paper, reading the words and phone number over again. It was just a silly note from a helpful new neighbor, and I knew that, but then why had a teeny, tiny little butterfly started floating around in my stomach?

 

 

“Lawrence Finkle. This is your grandmother. I would like to have a word with you. Be at my house tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. If you have something else going on, cancel it.”

 

Gam’s voicemail from the night before played over and over and over in my mind as I drove to her house. She was pissed. She was pissed, and she knew. Her tone was cold and hard, something I rarely heard from her, and she didn’t say good-bye. Gam always said good-bye. I pulled up to her house and my stomach twisted into the same knot I used to get as I made my way through the empty hallway toward the principal’s office, usually with a teacher glaring at me from behind.

The porch was empty when I pulled up, but that damn car was in the driveway. Worst case scenario. While I’d finally made peace with Kat helping Gam, I still didn’t want her hearing all the details of my personal life, and if I knew Gam, there was going to be nothing quiet about the next little while.

I crept quietly up the wooden steps of the porch, hoping to look through the door and see where she was before I went through . . . kind of like spotting my enemy before they could strike.

I held my hand up to the screen to shield my eyes as I peeked in and looked to the right.

Nothing.

My head turned to the left and my eyes connected with Gam’s. She was standing in the kitchen doorway with her arms crossed over her chest, watching me like a hawk with narrow eyes.

“Oh! Hey!” I tried to sound casual as I pulled the screen door open and went in.