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What a Lovely Way to Burn

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Chapter 1

Ding!

The kitchen timer pulled Waverly away from the Good Housekeeping magazine she’d been reading again. Probably for the best since the article on “Calorie Bargain Barbecue” was getting tired, and she’d already read the fiction pieces so many times that she had them memorized.

Closing the well worn magazine and placing it just so on the coffee table, Waverly stood up and walked into the kitchen. Her cherry red heels clicked against the linoleum of the kitchen as she walked to the oven. She bent over to look in and saw her pie, perfectly golden brown and clearly done.

With a satisfied hum, she picked up her oven mitt and slipped it onto her hand. She smiled momentarily at the mitt, decorated with bright cartoon illustrations and ‘Niagara Falls’ embroidered in swirling letters across it. A gift from Wynonna when she came back from her honeymoon three years ago.

Waverly had been so envious at the time, dreaming of her own honeymoon and where she and her husband would go to celebrate their nuptials. She imagined somewhere tropical and exotic. Like Hawaii. Or somewhere old, with history, where they could peruse the museums hand in hand. In each of those daydreams, she held hands with a faceless person with soft hands. She didn’t know what her perfect partner looked like, but she would dream anyway.

When she started going steady with Champ, she tried to shove him into that picture. After all, he was handsome and sweet and all the other girls wanted him. Sure his hands were sweaty and rough. But it looked like he would join his dad working at the bank and would be a great provider. So when he asked Waverly to marry him, she said yes.

Then she imagined Paris and Italy and even New York with Champ. Just to see something beyond their little pocket of the world. Purgatory wasn’t the smallest town, but it felt like it was getting smaller and smaller each year.

Waverly just wanted to see something different for once. And the honeymoon was the time to do it.

She tried to get Champ to let her plan it, but he insisted that he wanted to handle everything. She could plan the wedding while he planned the honeymoon. Fine. She had told him multiple times about her hopes and dreams for their honeymoon. There was no way he could mess that up, right?

Wrong.

Waverly got excited when he told her to pack a swimsuit. But it turned out, he booked them a weekend stay at the motel just outside of town with the new hot tub and a little casino. Waverly had never been more disappointed in her entire life. Well...until the wedding night.

Chrissy had told her how her first time with Perry was “magical” and Wynonna more than implied how nice sex was. But for Waverly it just seemed to fall...flat. Champ, half drunk on the champagne the old lady at the front desk had given them in congratulations, fumbled with all of Waverly’s clothes. His hands were clumsy and rough, grabbing at her in ways that were not pleasurable. And when they finally got the the main event, he just kinda flopped around on top of her for a few minutes before rolling off and passing out, leaving Waverly lying there in an uncomfortable motel bed, staring up at the water stain on the ceiling, and feeling wholly unsatisfied and thoroughly disappointed.

But Champ was her husband now, and she had to be a dutiful wife. Waverly did not half-ass anything, and she certainly wasn’t going to half-ass her wifely duties.

Waverly shook her head from her thoughts and opened the oven, reaching in and carefully taking out the pie. She set it on top of the stove and took a deep whiff. Apple brandy pie. Champ’s favorite.

She reached behind herself and undid her canary yellow apron, hanging it on a hook inside the pantry. With a glance at the clock, she saw her day was right on track. Wynonna would be over in a little bit for a visit and she could help her with dinner before Champ came home.

Waverly paused when she glanced at her reflection in the mirror across the way in the living room. She flattened her hands down the front of her white dress, the red piping along the edges making the tiny red polka dots on the fabric pop, and matching the shade of her shoes perfectly. Her hair was up and out of the way, a pony tail tied up with a red ribbon. She patted down an imaginary stray hair on her head as she took her oven mitt off and set it aside.

Ding dong

For some reason, the bell always felt more aggressive when Wynonna was behind it. She walked to the door, the clicking of her heels silenced as she moved from linoleum to the carpet of the living room. She opened the door and Wynonna stood there with an exasperated look on her face. The collar of her red house dress was slightly turned up. Waverly gasped at the sight. She ushered Wynonna in and led her to a seat in the kitchen.

“Want some water? You look exhausted,” Waverly said, already getting a glass out of the cupboard.

“What every woman wants to hear,” Wynonna said, smoothing her palms over her thighs. “You’re just supposed to tell me how motherhood suits me and I’m glowing.”

Waverly smiled and pulled out one of the jello molds that was gifted to her at her wedding shower before turning to Wynonna.

“You’re glowing and motherhood suits you,” Waverly said as she set the mold on the counter beside Wynonna. “Is that the one you wanted to borrow?”

“Yeah,” Wynonna said begrudgingly, pushing it a little with her finger. She turned back towards Waverly and cocked her head. “So how’s Chump?”

Waverly gave Wynonna a look. “Champ is fine, thank you very much.” She pulled out a second mold along with a box of lime jello, shifting uncomfortably for a moment as the sanitary belt around her waist pinched. Her stomach dropped and she leaned against the counter. “But I got the curse this month. I’m not...pregnant. Again.”

“Thank god,” Wynonna said, standing up and walking over to the alcohol cabinet. She pulled out a glass for herself and poured some whiskey into it before turning back to look at Waverly, arm tucked around her waist and elbow resting on her arm. She spotted Waverly’s crestfallen look and nodded towards her as she took a sip of her drink. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Waverly sighed and smoothed down her already perfect dress. “I don’t know, I just...he wants a baby.”

“Doesn’t mean he should have one.”

“A son...specifically. He’s made that clear many times-”

“Like a kid raising a kid-”

“And we’ve been married two years now,” Waverly muttered, biting on her lower lip and probably smudging her ruby red lipstick. “I feel like it should have...happened by now. You weren’t even married a year when Alice came along.”

“Maybe even the stork knows that Hardy should be the last person with a kid,” Wynonna said, chuckling at her own joke. “And trust me. You don’t want kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love Alice to death but...I don’t know. They’re little parasites, aren’t they?”

Waverly gasped, scandalized. “Wynonna! That’s my niece you’re talking about.”

“Oh, come on, you know I would die for that kid,” Wynonna said, going over to the counter where she had set down her purse and searching through it. She pulled out a box of Philip Morris cigarettes and handed one to Waverly. “But they’re…kids. All they do is complain and cling to you and they’re dirty and...well I’m just saying, I say you ride that no baby train as long as you can.”

Waverly took the cigarette mindlessly and hummed. “Since when did you stop smoking Lucky Strikes?”

“The doctor said these were better for my throat,” Wynonna shrugged, lighting it and taking a long drag. “Anyways. I get that you want a kid. But if you want you can keep Alice for a whole week. Get the real experience.”

Waverly didn’t bother lighting her cigarette, just instinctively putting her hand on her stomach instead. “I suppose.”

“Trust your big sister, baby girl,” Wynonna said. “You’ll have a kid and they’ll be the light of your life or...whatever. But your husband will be too busy running around and doing god knows what at night instead of being there to help raise their spawn.”

Waverly didn’t miss the bitterness in Wynonna’s voice as she started some water on the stove for the jello. As the water was left to boil, she pulled out an onion and grater. “Still don’t know where John Henry goes sometimes?”

Wynonna scoffed and tapped the end of her cigarette into the sink. Waverly rolled her eyes and pushed the kitchen ashtray towards her pointedly.

“That son of a bitch is really testing my patience these days,” Wynonna muttered. “He thinks he’s James Dean or some shit.”

Waverly couldn’t help but chuckle as she grated her onion into a bowl. There was a knock on the door and Wynonna stood straight up.

“Is that the milkman?” she asked, craning her neck to peer out the kitchen window.

Waverly glanced at the clock. “Probably-”

“I’ll get it,” Wynonna said, already starting towards the door. Waverly watched in amusement as Wynonna smoothed out her hair and answered the door with a big smile.

“Hello ma’am,” came the deep voice of the milkman. Waverly waved to him from the kitchen and he tipped his hat at her, his skin contrasting handsomely with his starched white uniform.

“Hello, Xavier,” Wynonna said, voice lower. “I’ll take those for my sister.”

He handed her the six crate of milk and smiled widely at Wynonna. “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Wynonna said, not so subtly scanning his body as he turned around and headed back towards his truck. Wynonna groaned obscenely and shut the front door once he was back in the truck. “He is somethin’.”

“Keep it in your skirt, Wynonna,” Waverly admonished playfully.

“I can’t help it,” Wynonna complained. “I’m so bored at home all day while John Henry gets to live it up.”

Waverly hummed and put the gelatin powder in the water, mixing in some cold water, vinegar and the grated onions before stirring. “Is he still coming to the boy’s poker night tonight?”

Wynonna sighed. “Like he would miss that for the world. All he talks about is how good your cooking is and that I should let you teach me.”

“And you’re coming to the book club?” Waverly asked.

“As if I would miss my one day of socializing,” Wynonna said. “What does Rosie want me to make this week?” Waverly raised her eyebrow at Wynonna as she poured half the jello mixture into the mold.

“You know Rosie never asks you to make anything.”

Wynonna pouted. “She asks everyone else!”

“She knows you can’t cook,” Waverly pointed out, putting the mold and pot of remaining jello in the fridge to set. “Just bring those cookies from the bakery like you always do.”

“Fine.”

The sound of a large car driving down the usually quiet suburban street drew their attention to the window where they could see a big moving van parking in front of the house next door. The two sisters went to the window and peered out behind the sheer curtains. The passenger door opened and a small, thin man with slicked back hair slid out. He was very sharp looking, a black turtleneck under a houndstooth jacket with thick black glasses on his face.

“Dweeb,” Wynonna said under her breath. Waverly elbowed her lightly.

“Be nice. We don’t even know him yet.”

Wynonna just hummed as a tall red-headed woman got out of the car, black cigarette pants hanging neatly from her hips with a checkered shirt tucked in. Waverly found her eyes wandering up those long legs, throat closing up and mouth going dry as they made their way up to her pale throat and the curve of her jaw.

“Damn,” Wynonna said as the woman pushed her sunglasses up from her head and squinted at the house. “How did the dweeb score her? He must be rich.”

Waverly cleared her throat and stood back up. “Alright, no need to be nosy neighbors.”

“Too late,” Wynonna said, still staring out the window as she took a sip of her whiskey.

Waverly ignored the uncomfortable pressure low in her stomach and the gnawing need to look back outside at her new neighbor. She checked the consistency of the jello in the pot and pulled it out along with some cottage cheese to fold into it. But she positioned herself at the counter so that she could look up every once in awhile to catch a glimpse of the redheaded woman as she watched the moving men unpack the van.

***

Rosita let the cleaver come down quickly on the whole fish lying on the chopping board in front of her. It landed with a heavy clink, the head of the fish coming off cleanly from the rest of its body.

“Gross,” she whispered to herself as she delicately dropped the head into the boiling pot of vegetables on the stove besides her. She sighed and looked into the pot of soup, already regretting eating it even if it hadn’t touched her lips yet.

“Man the cannon!” came the frail, grizzled voice of her husband in the living room.

“Dios mío ayudame,” Rosita said under her breath as she stirred the soup. She craned her neck to look around the corner of the kitchen to see him sitting in his usual chair, dressed in his grey Confederate uniform and armed with a scabbard strapped to his side. On television, Lassie put her paws on a well, and he yelled something unintelligible.

Admittedly, this was not what Rosita was expecting when she agreed to marry him five years earlier. She was young, working as a cigarette girl at the Gus Stevens Seafood Restaurant & Buccaneer Lounge where he was a regular patron. She was used to the men there staring, gawking, and generally being rude as she pranced around in her short red skirt, and pillbox hat. A sad excuse for a bellhop uniform. But she would just grin and bear it, hoping for higher tips and a quicker ticket out of town.

She was saving up to go to school and just make something of herself. She knew it was uncommon for a girl, let alone a girl like her to go to college for science, but she was determined. She was smarter than all the boys in high school, something that had gotten her mocked and ridiculed by everyone. But her mother always told her, ‘No dejes que te digan quién eres’, and Rosita took that to heart.

The problem was...money. Something she didn’t have.

So she took on two jobs, one as a receptionist at a local lab and one at the supper club. Oddly enough, she got more respect flouncing around in short skirts with her Camel Cigarettes box, than covered up and taking calls behind a desk.

There was one man that would always come in who everyone referred to as The General. He was shrunken and elderly, partially curved over as he hobbled in with a cane. He was always decorated in some kind of military get-up and never seemed to bother with putting in his teeth. Every night, he would hit on Rosita, buying boxes upon boxes of cigarettes just so she would come to the table. He would make her sit on his lap and tell her how she looked like a girl he fell in love with during the war who took a cannonball through the stomach. He told Rosita that he thought he’d never love again...until he saw her.

It was no secret that The General was rich. Everyone knew.

All the other girls were jealous that he was giving Rosita all the attention because he tipped so well.

At the end of every night, he would leave Rosita a big tip, take her hand, and ask her to marry him.

Rosita rejected him every time, nicely of course, in the way that you reject someone when you’re not entirely sure if they were serious or not. Especially someone who smelled like mothballs and menthol rub.

Until she started thinking...he was rich. Really rich. And clearly only had a little more time left on earth. He seemed harmless enough and obviously wouldn’t be expecting children. So if she married him...maybe he would kick it soon and she would inherit all his money so that she could finally go to college. No more working multiple jobs and having guys try to peek under her skirt all day.

So she said yes.

Little did she know, he would still be hanging on five years later.

Not only that, but his house smelled exactly like he did, despite how much Rosita aired it out. And he could only eat soup. Weird...lumpy soups that Rosita then ate because her mother didn’t raise her to waste food, and she didn’t want to bother making separate meals for the two of them every day. His speech had devolved to mostly different war phrases that she tried to ignore, but she couldn’t completely complain.

Everyone knew she was married to an ex-military man, which meant she could take out all the scientific books in the library without being questioned as why a woman was checking out such books. Plus, he had an oddly large supply of old artillery stored in the basement that Rosita had been using for her experiments.

The stink of the soup was making her stomach turn, so Rosita opened up the kitchen window and went to the phone. She dialed Waverly’s number on the rotary phone and leaned on the sink to be closer to the fresh air outside.

“Hello?” Waverly answered.

Rosita breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t Champ who answered. He was always a pill when she called asking for Waverly.

“Hello, Waves, it’s Rosita,” she said. “Book club is still on for tomorrow, right?”

“Yessiry it is!” Waverly said cheerfully. “What do you want me to make?”

“Your pot roast, please,” Rosita gasped desperately, mouth already watering at the thought. “I crave solid foods. And tell Chrissy to make her potato salad.”

Waverly giggled. “She’s going to be mad you’re asking her to make that again.”

“I don’t even care,” Rosita said looking over her shoulder at The General. “I just need my night away and to indulge in solid foods. Our book clubs are the only night I can feel like a human.”

“Don’t worry, Rosie,” Waverly said. “You’ll have your solid foods in no time.”

“You’re an angel,” Rosita said.

“Hey, did you...by chance see the new neighbor today?” Waverly asked innocently.

“New neighbor?” Rosita asked, squinting out the window. “Where? Next to you?”

“Yeah.”

“No, I missed them. Why?”

“Oh just...wondering.”

Rosita sensed a story and opened her mouth to respond before she was interrupted.

“Maria!” The General called from the next room.

Rosita closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I gotta go. The General calls.”

“Night, Rosie,” Waverly chuckled.

“Goodnight,” Rosie said, hanging up the phone. Just one more day, she thought to herself as she scooped some foul smelling soup into a bowl, one more day and I can eat my solid foods.

***

Let me know where I stand from the start. I want you, I need you, I love you. With all my heart-

Waverly turned up the volume on the record player a little bit so that the boys could hear it over their loud chattering. The smoke from their cigars stung Waverly’s eyes and she knew that the smell would cling to her clothes for far longer than she cared, but there was nothing for her to do about it.

She looked over at the round table in the dining room where they all gathered. Champ was three drinks in and already looking sloppy. His face was red, eyes glossed over as he slapped John Henry on the shoulder over something he’d said, head tipped back in loud laughter.

Perry sat next to John Henry, leaning back and sipping quietly on his own drink as he observed. Besides them, there were two of Champ’s buddies from work whose names Waverly could never remember. Two buffoons who laughed at dirty jokes and leered at Waverly in a way that made her want to slap them. But whenever she brought it up to Champ, he’d just play it off.

“It’s because you’re a looker,” he’d say. “Be flattered. My friends don’t like ugly dames.”

After Waverly turned up the record player, she tried to make her way back into the kitchen unseen as the boys played their poker, when she felt someone grab her wrist roughly. She clenched her jaw and looked over to see Champ sneering up at her.

“Hey, baby,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows. “Why don’t you come here for a second.”

He tried to tug her towards him but she resisted. Still, she kept her good, wifely smile on her face.

“I’m making you boys some food in the kitchen, Champ,” she said cheerfully.

I thought I could live without romance-

Champ grunted, tugging on her wrist again. His grip barely tightened, but it was on the edge of being too tight. Waverly felt a flare of panic start in her chest but she pushed it down. She kept her eyes on Champ but could feel the other guys looking at her.

“Just for a minute, Waves,” he insisted. “You’re my good luck charm.” He tugged on her wrist again and she stumbled towards him. She squeaked in surprise when he pulled her into his lap, looping his arms around her waist as her cheeks burned. Waverly kept her eyes glued to the cards in Champ’s hand instead of looking anywhere else. To see the other men at the table leering.

Except maybe John Henry. He was a scoundrel in his own way but Waverly knew he felt protective towards her since he started dating Wynonna.

Won't you please be my own? Never leave me alone-

“This is a good hand,” Champ said, as his teeth chomped down on the end of his cigar to keep it in place. He held it and let out a puff of smoke that went right up into Waverly’s face as his sweaty hand gripped her thigh possessively. Waverly could feel the heat of it even through her dress and petticoat as he squeezed.

Waverly covered her mouth with her hand and let out a small polite cough, eyes watering from the smoke. The oven dinged in the kitchen and she sighed in relief.

“Oopsie, I have to get the oven before I burn the place down,” she said airily, brushing Champ’s hand off her thigh and standing up before he could protest.

'Cause I die every time we're apart. I want you, I need you, I love you. With all my heart.

Her heels clicked against the floor with a renewed vigor as she hurried to the kitchen. When she was finally in the kitchen, the noise from the dining room only slightly muffled but still feeling a million miles away, she let out a shuddery breath.

Waverly leaned against the counter for a moment, hands gripping the edge of the yellow tile, the cheery pale buttery walls and sunflower adorned curtains soothing her slightly. The smell of cigar smoke still stung her nostrils but she stood up straight and stepped over to the oven to turn it off.

She pulled the jello mold from earlier from the refrigerator, now complete with folded in cottage cheese to the top jello ring and seafood salad in the middle. Setting it on the counter, she pulled her butcher knife from the drawer and gripped the handle tightly. The light of the kitchen caught it in just the right way to make it gleam so brightly that Waverly swore she could see her reflection in it.

She heard the clicking of the poker chips and deep laughter of the men in the other room. She looked down at her carefully made jello mold and rolled her shoulders.

Like a mantra, she repeated in her head, I love my husband...I love my husband.

Waverly lined her knife up with the top of the mold and pushed down far harder than necessary. The knife make a satisfying ‘clunk’ as it hit the plate and Waverly let out a deep sigh.

She loved her husband.

Clunk.

She heard Champ’s voice slurring from the next room. “She loves it when I win. I won’t be able to keep her off my dick tonight!”

Clunk.

She loved her husband.

***

Waverly set out her pot roast on the kitchen counter when the doorbell rang. She did another quick check at the set-up, admiring her little appetizer plates and forks sitting on the counter next to the pot roast. She smiled to herself as she walked over to the front door, feet silently thanking her for wearing flats with her light yellow house dress today instead of heels like the day before. Champ always asked her to wear heels when people came over. He’d make his eyes big and stick his bottom lip out. His arms would snake around her waist and he’d talk about how sexy she looked with the heels.

It was a look that used to make Waverly melt. She’d smile and kiss him sweetly. But it got old very quickly.

She opened the front door and Rosita was barging her way in before Waverly could even say hello.

“I could smell the pot roast from out there,” she said, already heading towards the kitchen.

“Hello to you too!” Waverly called after her. She waved her hand over her shoulder dismissively as Waverly turned back to where Wynonna was standing with a box from the local bakery.

“Baby girl,” Wynonna greeted, kissing Waverly on the cheek briefly before following Rosita into the kitchen. Chrissy was behind her holding a large ceramic bowl in one hand and her little dog under her arm, its small legs dangling uselessly in the air. Waverly’s smile faltered only momentarily when looking at the dog, pointy-faced and rat-like with the typical fluffy white fur cut into odd round shapes that Waverly assumed was supposed to be stylish. The dog yipped at her and she turned her attention to Chrissy.

“Rosie is going to be very pleased you brought the potato salad,” Waverly said with a wide smile, taking the bowl.

Chrissy beamed back, perfectly waved hair bouncing on her head. “My pleasure,” she said. She lifted one of Pierre’s paws with her finger, her enormous diamond wedding set gleaming, and made it look like he was waving. “Say hello, Pierre,” she cooed before walking in. She followed the other girls to the kitchen and Waverly followed behind.

“Waves,” Rosita stepped in front of her as soon as she walked into the kitchen, holding up one of the small plates that Waverly had laid out. “These are adorable but...I haven’t eaten solid food in a week.”

“Bigger plates are above the stove, Rosie,” Waverly said.

“You’re a doll,” Rosita said, already going into the cabinet for a big dinner plate.

After everyone got their food, they settled in the living room like they always did, Waverly and Wynonna on the couch while Chrissy and Rosita sat in two armchairs facing them. Everyone ate daintily while Rosita sat with the plate on her knees, body practically hunched over her plate, shoveling bite after bite into her mouth and making almost obscene moaning noises.

“For goodness sakes, Rosie,” Chrissy said, seemingly not noticing as Pierre, sitting daintily on her lap, took a piece of her pot roast. “You’re a lady.”

Rosita made an indescribable sound as she spoke through a mouth full of food. “Well this lady is starving,” she said, pointedly putting another forkful of potato salad into her mouth.

Chrissy huffed, bristling in her chair at the impropriety of it all. Waverly stifled a chuckle behind a cough. Pierre, however, seemed to notice and growled lowly. He tried to bark but it just sounded like loud squeaks.

“What is it, muffin?” Chrissy cooed. She balanced her plate on her knee and picked Pierre up so he was level with her face. His tail began to wag, tongue reaching out to lick Chrissy’s lips as his legs hung in the air.

Everyone watched in horrified fascination as Pierre licked Chrissy’s mouth and she cooed at him like a newborn baby. This wasn’t an...uncommon occurrence, but terrifying just the same.

“Chrissy, can you wait until after we’re eating to get fresh with your dog, please?” Wynonna said bluntly. “If I wanted to watch you make out with a dweeb I’d go over to yours and Perry’s house.”

Chrissy snatched Pierre to her chest, squishing him against her bosoms as she gasped in scandal. “Wynonna, the implications-”

“Yeah yeah,” Wynonna said, waving Chrissy off and taking another bite of her food. “I’m just saying, you can’t call Rosita improper when you’re frenching your dog over here.”

Chrissy sputtered and Waverly quickly decided to change the subject. “So, did anyone actually read the book this week?”

“Oh...we still do that here?” Wynonna asked. Everyone else seemed very interested in their food suddenly.

“Well, it’s probably for the best,” Waverly sighed. “We never actually talk about the book anyways.”

The sound of a door slamming next door grabbed Waverly attention and she sat up a little straighter. Just enough so that she could more easily see the new neighbors out the window on the side of the house.

The husband was in basically the same outfit as the day before, and was walking out, a suitcase in his hand. A few moments later, his wife walked out the front door in a royal blue polka dotted house dress and Waverly wasn’t even aware of how her eyes seemed drawn to her immediately. Her hair, Waverly couldn’t help but notice, contrasted perfectly with the material of her dress. For some reason it made Waverly want to...reach out and touch it.

The wife looked irritated as she followed behind her husband, putting her hand on the top of the car door as he opened it. Her jaw tensed as he turned to talk to her.

“New neighbor?” Rosita asked, having finally slowed down her consumption long enough to focus on something else.

Everyone else’s eyes turned curiously to the window Waverly was looking out of. Waverly shifted a little uncomfortably for a reason she didn’t understand and nodded. “Yeah. Moved in just yesterday.”

“Have you talked to her yet?” Chrissy asked, Pierre licking the crumbs and gravy off her plate.

“Not yet,” Waverly said, setting her plate on the coffee table and folding her hands neatly on her knee. “Maybe I’ll take something over tomorrow.”

“Husband seems a little queer. Doesn’t he?” Chrissy said.

“What about him?” Wynonna asked, setting her plate on top of Waverly’s.

“I’m not sure...” Chrissy trailed off.

Waverly tuned out the rest of their conversation as she continued to stare. The wife said something back to the husband and he nodded. They hesitated a moment before leaning forward and giving each other chaste pecks on the cheek.

She watched the husband drive away in his light blue Bel Air while the wife watched on. Waverly’s eyes followed long fingers as they came up and pushed red hair behind her ear. They continued down the curve of her jaw and -

Waverly cleared her throat. What kind of cookie would the new neighbor like?, she wondered. Maybe something with vanilla.