Its Not Summer Without You Chapter 28 Free Read Online

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Its Not Summer Without You Chapter 28: My father rarely came to the summer house, for a weekend in August maybe, but that was pretty much it. It never occurred to me to wonder why. There was this one weekend he and Mr. Fisher came up at the same time.

As if they had so much in common as if they were friends or something. They couldn’t be more different. Mr. Fisher liked to talk, talk, talk, and my dad only spoke if he had something to say. Mr. Fisher was always watching Sports Center, while my dad rarely watched TV at all —and definitely not sports.

The parents were going to a fancy restaurant in Dyerstown. A band played there on Saturday nights and they had a little dance floor. It was strange to think of my parents dancing. I’d never seen them dance before, but I was sure Susannah and Mr. Fisher danced all the time. I’d seen them once, in the living room. I remembered how Conrad had blushed and turned away.

I was lying on my stomach, on Susannah’s bed, watching my mother and her get ready in the master bathroom.

Susannah had convinced my mother to wear a dress of hers; it was red and it had a deep V-neck. “What do you think, Beck?” my mother asked uncertainly. I could tell she felt funny about it. She usually wore pants.

“I think you look amazing. I think you should keep it. Red is so you, Laure.”

Susannah was curling her lashes and opening her eyes wide in the mirror.

When they left, I would practice using the eyelash curler. My mother didn’t have one. I knew the contents of her makeup bag, one of those plastic green Clinique gift-with-purchase bags. It had a Burt’s Bees chap stick and an espresso eyeliner, a pink and green tube of Maybelline mascara, and a bottle of tinted sunscreen. Boring.

Susannah’s makeup case, though, was a treasure trove. It was a navy snakeskin case with a heavy gold clasp and her initials were engraved on it. Inside she had little eye pots and palettes and sable brushes and perfume samples. She never threw away anything. I liked to sort through it and organize everything in neat rows, according to color. Sometimes she gave me lipstick or a sample of eyeshadow, nothing too dark.

“Bel y, you want me to do your eyes?” Susannah asked me. I sat up. “Yeah!”

“Beck, please don’t give her hooker eyes again,” my mother said, running a comb through her wet hair.

Susannah made a face. “It’s called a smoky eye, Laure.” “Yeah, Mom, it’s a smoky eye,” I piped up.

Susannah crooked her finger at me. “C’ mere, Bel y.”

I scampered into the bathroom and propped myself up on the counter. I loved to sit on that counter with my legs dangling, listening in on everything like one of the girls.

She dipped a little brush into a pot of black eyeliner. “Close your eyes,” she said. I obeyed, and Susannah dragged the brush along my lash line, expertly blending and smudging with the ball of her thumb. Then she swept shadow across my eyelids and I wriggled in my seat excitedly. I loved it when Susannah made me up; I couldn’t wait for the moment of unveiling.

“Are you and Mr. Fisher gonna dance tonight?” I asked. Susannah laughed. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Mom, wil you and Dad?”

My mother laughed too. “I don’t know. Probably not. Your father doesn’t like to dance.”

“Dad’s boring,” I said, trying to twist around and get a peek at my new look.

Gently, Susannah put her hands on my shoulders and sat me straight.

“He’s not boring,” my mother said. “He just has different interests. You like it when he teaches you the constellations, don’t you?”

I shrugged. “Yeah.”

“And he’s very patient, and he always listens to your stories,” my mother reminded me.

“True. But what does that have to do with being boring?”

“Not much, I suppose. But it has to do with being a good father, which I think he is.”

“He definitely is,” Susannah agreed, and she and my mother exchanged a look over my head. “Take a look at yourself.”

I swiveled around and looked in the mirror. My eyes were very smoky and gray and mysterious. I felt like I should be the one going out dancing.

“See, she doesn’t look like a hooker,” Susannah said triumphantly. “She looks like she has a black eye,” my mother said.

“No, I don’t.” I appear enigmatic. “I look like a countess.” I jumped off the bathroom counter. “Thank you very much, Susannah.”

“Anytime, sugar.”

We air-kissed like two ladies who lunch. Then she took me by the hand and walked me over to her bureau. She handed me her jewelry box and said, “Bel y, you have the best taste. Will you help me pick out some jewelry to wear tonight?”

I sat on her bed with the wooden box and sifted through it carefully. I found what I was looking for—her dangly opal earrings with the matching opal ring.

“Wear these,” I said, holding the jewelry out to her in the palm of my hand.

Susannah obeyed, and as she fastened the earrings, my mother said, “I don’t know if that really goes.”

In retrospect, I don’t think it really did go. But I loved that opal jewelry so much. I admired it more than anything. So I said, “Mom, what do you know about style?”

Right away, I worried she’d be mad, but it had slipped out, and it was true after all. My mother knew about as much about jewelry as she did about makeup.

But Susannah laughed, and so did my mother.

“Go downstairs and tell the men we’ll be ready to go in five, Countess,” my mother ordered.

I jumped out of bed and curtsied dramatically. “Yes, Mum.” They both laughed. My mother said, “Go, you little imp.”

I ran downstairs. When I was a kid, anytime I had to go anywhere, I ran. “They’re almost ready,” I yelled.

Mr. Fisher was showing my dad his new fishing rod. My dad looked relieved to see me, and he said, “Bel y, what have they done to you?”

“Susannah made me up. Do you like it?”

My dad beckoned me closer, regarding me with serious eyes. “I’m not sure. You look very mature.”

“I do?”

“Yes, very, very mature.”

I tried to hide my delight as I made a place for myself in the crook of my dad’s arm, my head right by his side. For me, there was no better compliment than being called mature.

They all left a little while later, the dads in pressed khakis and button-down shirts and the moms in their summer dresses. Mr. Fisher and my dad didn’t look so different when they dressed up like that. My dad hugged me goodbye and said that if I was still awake when they got back, we’d sit on the deck awhile and look for shooting stars. My mother said they’d probably be back too late, but my dad winked at me.

On the way out, he whispered something to my mother that made her cover her mouth and laugh a low, throaty kind of laugh. I wonder what he said.

It was one of the last times I remember them being happy. I really wish I had enjoyed it more.

My parents had always been stable, as boring as two parents could be. They never fought. Taylor’s parents fought all the time. I’d be over for a sleepover, and Mr.

Jewel would come home late and her mom would be really pissy, stomping around in her slippers and banging pots. We’d be at the dinner table, and I would sink lower and lower into my seat, and Taylor would just go on talking about stupid stuff. Like whether or not Veronika Gerard wore the same socks two days in a row in the gym or if we should volunteer to be water girls for the JV football team when we were freshmen.

When her parents got divorced, I asked Taylor if, in some little way, she was relieved. She said no. She said that even though they had fought all the time, at least they had still been a family. “Your parents never even fought,” she said, and I could hear the disdain in her voice.

I knew what she meant. I wondered about it too. How could two people who had once been passionately in love not even fight? Didn’t they care enough to fight it out, to fight not just with each other, but also for their marriage? Were they ever really in love? Did my mother ever feel about my dad the way I felt about Conrad—alive, crazy, drunk with tenderness?

Those were the questions that haunted me.

I vowed never to commit the same errors as my parents. My love shouldn’t have vanished one day like an old scar. I wanted it to burn infernally long.

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