From The   Ghost Writer

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Fred picked up Carla and Murph at eleven-thirty. Carla had planned to work in the morning but had changed her mind and taken the whole day off. Rose was ready and waiting when they got to her house and off they went on their adventure: the two senior citizens and Rose, herself nearing sixty. Fred drove fast, but not too fast.

Rose and Carla spent the entire ride plotting the weekend. Murph read, eavesdropping on the conversation, wondering how he had let himself get roped into this craziness. He heard them planning: a Saturday shopping spree with lunch out, then a late afternoon swim and sauna, a cozy, intimate dinner with candlelight and lots of wine, and finally a late night swim followed by lounging in the hot tub.

He had to admit to himself that it sounded really good, too good, he thought. But it was no longer up to him and it certainly was not in his control. The control part had slipped away when despite his inclination and better judgment he’d succumbed to Rose’s insisting he introduce her to Carla.

That had happened a week ago Sunday when they all had brunch at Rose’s house in Bayside. Murph was hoping they’d go out for the meal but Rose, as she almost always did, ordered in. Keekah, the housekeeper, picked up the food and handled everything from setup to cleanup. After the meal, they sat at the table chatting over coffee, Murph and Rose occupying the same seats as when they worked, and when they all finished their coffee, instead of adjourning to the salon Rose took Carla out to the yard to show her her flower corner.

Murph sat by himself in the salon. Keekah brought him another coffee then sat with him a moment.

“She seems to be taking to your Miss,” Keekah said.

“You think?”

“Oh, definitely.”

“Well that’s good, I suppose.”

“My word, it surely is. Miss Rose doesn’t have a single friend that I know of. And that woman’s a saint, let me tell you. When my sister and I came here and she hired us, she paid us weekly, not maid’s wages but five times that. Then she helped us bring our mother here and she paid out of her own pocket for us to have medical insurance. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, Miss Rose sent us to the best cancer hospitals, paid all our expenses and paid our salaries even when we didn’t work. Isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for her.”

“Loyalty is a great quality,” Murph said.

Keekah had left him and when he, Carla and Rose were together again they drank iced tea out on the sun deck, Rose talking about the twins and her quiet life despite the flats she owned in London and Paris. After the iced tea, Rose took Carla by the hand and led her through the house showing her the antiques she owned.

That night, Carla told Murph she and Rose had made plans to spend the next weekend out on the Island. Then she fell off to sleep. Murph hadn’t been able to sleep and ended up on the living room sofa.

They were almost there when Rose told Carla her plans for the afternoon. They’d get settled, have a snack, take a swim and a sauna, have a late supper. It sounded great, just not what   Murph wanted.

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