This scene from Her Daughter’s Dream is a longer version of the one that appears in chapter 17 and would begin on p. 150. In it, Carolyn, who has left home to stay with Boots during her pregnancy, gets to know Boots and some of her friends.
Carolyn expected to hide out until the baby was born, but Boots dispelled that notion over a gourmet breakfast the next morning. “I’ve invited some friends over this afternoon. They’ve been a great comfort to me through some rough times. Kept me accountable. You’re going to like them, and they’re going to love you.”
The women started arriving just before lunch. Boots introduced each exuberantly. “Maeve O’Connor. Married, children grown and flown the coop, husband retired from his medical practice and now spends his time playing golf and working at a free clinic.” Maeve looked to be in her sixties, saucy in her red-belted white summer dress and red heels, dyed dark hair in a French roll, dangling earrings. “Lovely to meet you, Miss Caroline.”
“Car-o-lyn, sweetie.” Boots corrected her with a grin. “Miss Maeve hails from the South and tends to put on airs.”
Lada Zakutney arrived a few minutes later. She couldn’t have stood more than five feet tall with short straight white hair cut around her face. She wore black pants and a gem-colored embroidered shawl draped around her shoulders despite the heat. “I knew you’d have the air-conditioning on.” She shivered.
“Lada is a piano teacher.”
“Was a piano teacher. Young people want to play rock-and-roll songs or ballads these days. They have no interest in Chopin or Bach or Beethoven.”
Boots leaned toward Carolyn and spoke in a stage whisper. “She’s eighty-two and crotchety as an old drill sergeant.”
“You needed a drill sergeant.”
Someone tapped and walked in the front door. “Hello, everyone!”
“Deborah Casey,” Boots told Carolyn as she greeted the much-younger woman in belted jeans, white blouse tucked in, penny loafers, and short, streaked blonde hair. “The only chick among all us old hens, always late, always has a good excuse. What is it this time, Deb?”
Deborah Casey laughed easily. “I had to drop the boys off for tennis lessons.”
“In this heat?”
“They’re young. They can take it.”
Boots clapped her hands. “Now that we’re all present and accounted for, to the dining room table, where everything is waiting!” She’d already set out serving plates with chicken salad sandwiches cut in triangular wedges, and thin-sliced ham. A platter with slices of honey dew, watermelon, and cantaloupe was on the sideboard along with a chocolate cake, lemon cookies, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. “Prayers first, ladies, before we fall upon the food like starving barbarians.”
They joined hands around the table. Carolyn worried her palms were sweating. After grace, they sat. Carolyn’s heart kept pounding like a locomotive, her hands clenched tightly in her lap. Maeve smiled and started putting sandwich wedges on Carolyn’s plate. “How’s that? You and the baby need good nourishment.” Carolyn felt her face go hot. Maeve winced. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Rudy, my husband, is going to be your doctor.”
Boots came in with a pitcher of iced lemonade. “You’ll meet him on Monday.”
She worked her way around the table, filling glasses. “Deborah is a Lamaze instructor. Lada has connections with an adoption agency, not that she will push you in that direction. Will you, Lada?”
“Girls usually decide to go that way when there’s no father or means of support.”
Carolyn wanted to crawl under the table and hide.
“Let’s not rush things, Lada.”
“I’m not going to rush her. It’s just something to think about.”
“Forgive her, Carolyn. She adopted two boys, then turned them both into classical musicians. One writes scores for the movie studios and the other plays for the San Francisco Symphony. She’s also had a dozen or more foster children.”
Lada sniffed. “Unfortunately, those days are over. I’m too old.” She pulled her shawl up around her shoulders. “Do you have to set your air-conditioning below zero?”
Boots laughed. “I’ll get you a flannel blanket if you ask nicely.” She waved at the sideboard as she took her seat. “Eat up, ladies. I don’t want all this stuff going into the garbage disposal.”
“That’ll be the day!” Deborah laughed. “If there’s anything left, you can put it in a doggie bag and I’ll take it home.
“Children are a big responsibility.” Deborah ate half of a wedge of ham sandwich. “As much as Jack tries to help, I’m running like a squirrel in a wheel most of the time. I don’t know how I got through the early years. Sore breasts. Sleep depravation. If Jack so much as looked at me with romance in mind, I was ready to punch his lights out. And now they’ve hit their teens. Monica wants designer jeans. Twenty extra bucks just to put someone’s name on her butt? I don’t think so! She’ll just have to find another way to climb up the school’s social ladder.”
They all talked openly of problems, shooting comments and advice back and forth. “Well, don’t buy your son a car.” Lada put a chocolate-covered strawberry on her plate. “Make him work for it.”
“A car would make it easier on me.” Deborah shrugged. “I wouldn’t have to run Mike to soccer, football, baseball, wrestling, or whatever practice he has.”
“Why so many activities?”
Deborah snorted indelicately. “To burn off testosterone!”
They all laughed.
Deborah left first. She had to pick up Monica at the mall. “Are you bringing Carolyn to the Thursday meeting?” she asked quietly on the way out the door.
“I haven’t mentioned it yet.”
Maeve and Lada left a few minutes later. Boots asked if Carolyn would like to sit with her on the covered patio and have another glass of lemonade. As they settled into chaise lounges, Boots smiled at Carolyn apologetically and poked at her ice. “They all have strong views about everything, especially child rearing, and don’t mind sharing their opinions. You’ll get used to them.”
“I’ve never had many friends.”
“Hildie said you had one that meant a lot to you.” Boots looked at her.
What else had her mother told Boots?