Sweet Anger(4)

By: Sandra Brown

And now Thomas had been taken from her, too.

She went through the rites of burial feeling nothing but a deep hollowness inside her. It was only when she was returning home, riding in Pinkie’s car with him and Bonnie, that she began to weep. Bonnie silently passed her a box of tissues.

“Do you remember when we got married?” Kari asked them rhetorically. “People were shocked.” Her voice, she noted, was husky. Maybe she had cried more than she remembered.

“People are always shocked when a couple doesn’t fit the norm. There was over thirty years difference in your ages,” Pinkie said.

“Thirty-two years to be exact. But I never felt there was any difference.”

“Thomas didn’t look as old as he was. He certainly didn’t live like most men in their sixties.”

Kari smiled at Bonnie. “No, he didn’t.” She turned her gaze out the window. It surprised her to see so much activity. To most people this was an ordinary workday. Life was going on.

“I was distraught over my father’s death,” she said reflectively. “I remember coming to work at WBTV with the sole intention of making that my life’s focus. My work was going to be all I lived for. Then I met Thomas. He gave purpose to my life again. I don’t know what I would have done without him. We were so happy.” She sighed. “Is fate jealous of one’s happiness?”

“Sometimes I think it is,” Bonnie said kindly. “You’re beautiful and talented. Thomas Wynne was rich and successful. The two of you seemed to have it all.”

“We did,” Kari confirmed as Pinkie turned his car into the lane that led up to the house she had shared with Thomas. “Please come in.”

“You sure?” Pinkie asked. “We don’t want to impose, but I could sure as hell stand a shot of something.”

“I have a stock of your brand,” Kari said, taking her key from her purse and opening the front door. She had dismissed the servants for the day so they could attend the funeral. And she had known she would only want her closest friends around her afterward. “No one else would drink that rotgut you prefer.”

Pinkie appreciated her attempt at humor. He knew she was cracking up on the inside. She had worshipped Thomas Wynne. Privately he hadn’t thought their relationship was healthy, but he had never dared mention that to Kari. She couldn’t abide even a breath of criticism of her husband.

The house was chilly and gloomy, though a weak sun filtered beams of light through the mullioned windows. Kari turned up the thermostat as she entered the living room. She took off her coat and hat, then seemed uncertain what to do with them. They were finally dropped into a chair.

“I’ll get the drinks,” Pinkie said, crossing to the antique liquor cabinet. “What’ll you have, Bonnie?”

“Whiskey straight.”

“That’s my girl. Kari?”

“Oh … whatever.” Dispiritedly she sank into the sofa.

Bonnie Strand leaned forward from her place in an easy chair and took Kari’s hand. Pinkie had unflatteringly referred to her as a prune. She wasn’t. Not by a long shot. The strands of silver in her brown hair seemed to soften her features. Her face had character lines, but they added to rather than detracted from her expressive face.

She was a well-maintained woman in her mid-forties whose husband had left her after giving her three sons in rapid succession. From the time she was twenty-two, it had been an uphill climb to support herself and the three boys. But they were now grown, through college, and successfully on their own. Bonnie was tough yet kind-hearted. In Kari’s opinion, Bonnie Strand was one of the most “together” people she knew.

“I’ll have to move from this house,” Kari said, breaking the silence.

“Why?” Bonnie asked, incredulous.

“Sweetheart,” Pinkie said as he came toward them with two drinks in his hands, “you’re in no shape to be making that kind of decision.”

“If I don’t concentrate, if I don’t think, I’m afraid my brain will atrophy and I’ll slip into a coma.” She had to force herself to go on living, couldn’t they see that? No, she didn’t feel like doing anything, certainly not planning the future, though she knew she must. “I’ll move out as soon as I’m packed.”

“You sure you want to do that?” Pinkie asked, shoving one of the glasses into her hand.

It was brandy. She sipped it and savored the burning elixir as it slid down her throat into her stomach. “Yes. This was Thomas’s first family’s house. You met his son and daughter today. They could have been hostile when we married. But they weren’t. Their mother made this house a home. They grew up here. I never wanted them to feel like I was taking over something that didn’t belong to me.” She sipped again at her drink. “After we married and Thomas altered his will, I insisted that the house be left to his children.”

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