Don't Hex with Texas

Page 7


My oldest brother, Frank, showed up then, and his presence settled things down. “Hey, Mom,” he said, giving her a hug and a quick kiss. “What brings you down here?”
“I was out running errands and thought I’d drop by to see if y’all wanted to come over tonight for supper after you get done with work. Are Dean and Sherri around?”
“Sherri left a little while ago,” I reported. “Dean was here before lunch, but I have no idea where he went.”
“I guess I’ll have to track them down and make sure they’re coming. It wouldn’t be a family dinner without them. I’ll see everyone around seven-thirty.”
Beth turned to me once Mom was gone and said, “Now, I believe you’re off duty, if you want to hand Miss Priss back to me.”
I gladly handed over the baby, who clung to my T-shirt with damp fingers until she realized she was going back to her mother. “I’ll check my e-mail and handle a few orders before I go, now that the network’s fixed.”
I had one message in my personal in-box, a chatty message from Trix, the MSI executive receptionist, catching me up on all the office gossip I was missing. Most of it was complaining about my replacement, Kim, and what Trix would do to her if Kim weren’t immune to magic. There was no mention of Owen. I updated orders with our major suppliers, then logged off and headed home.
The house was empty when I got there, which meant Mom was probably at the grocery store. I probably should have offered to help her, but I’d be helping make dinner, so I needed to take what time I could get to myself. I’d also hauled home some of the office paperwork so I could actually get it done without the typical interruptions I faced at the store.
One way my current life beat my New York life hands down was in living space. You could have fit my entire New York apartment into my family’s living room—and three of us had shared that apartment. Funny, though, that I felt less crowded sharing that small apartment with two friends than I felt living at home with my parents.
I’d barely settled onto my bed with a stack of receipts when I heard a voice from downstairs. “Yoo-hoo! Anyone home? I thought I saw Katie’s truck outside.” It was my grandmother.
Perhaps this house felt more crowded because it was kind of like living in the middle of Grand Central Station—spacious, but you couldn’t get a moment to yourself.
I put my work aside and headed downstairs to find my grandmother in the kitchen. “Hey, Granny,” I said. “Did you need something?”
“Just dropping by. I was out running errands. Is your mother around?” Without waiting for an answer, she darted into the living room. She carried a cane, but I couldn’t remember her ever leaning on it.
She mostly just waved it at people.
“I think she’s at the grocery store,” I said as I ran after her. “She should be home any minute.”
She whirled and headed back to the kitchen. “You wouldn’t happen to have any coffee ready, would you?”
“I don’t think so, but I can make you some if you like.” Before I finished speaking she was already putting a filter in the coffeemaker and dumping in some coffee. “Or you could make yourself at home,” I finished under my breath.
“Katie!” my mother’s voice called from outside. I detected a hint of panic, probably because she’d seen my grandmother’s block-long old Oldsmobile parked in the driveway.
“There’s Mom now,” I said cheerfully. “I’ll help her unload the groceries while you make the coffee.”
Without waiting for a response, I ran out the kitchen door and down the steps from the back porch to the driveway.
My mother looked like she’d swooned against the side of her car. “Please don’t tell me my mother is here,” she said.
“Well, then I’d have to lie. She’s making coffee.”
“I did not need this today, not with everyone coming over for dinner tonight.”
I reached into the trunk and grabbed a few grocery bags. “Weren’t you going to invite her?”
“Of course I was. But I wasn’t planning to have an audience while I cooked. She’ll criticize everything.”
“Why don’t I call Molly and tell her to bring the kids over when they get out of school? They can distract Granny.”
“Oh, you’re brilliant. How did I have such a brilliant little girl? It’s too bad you haven’t had children yet so you could pass on those brains to the next generation.” It was a sign of how long I’d been back home that I let the remark about children roll right off my back. When you’re hassled about marriage and children on a daily basis, you tend to get used to it.