Authors: Julia Barrett
Beauty and the Feast
By Julia Barrett
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Beauty and the Feast
Copyright © 2010, Julia Barrett
Edited by Chantal Depp
Cover art by Les Byerley
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-130-2
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic release: March 2010
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
I would like to thank Resplendence Publishing and my editor, Chantal Depp for her hard work and wonderfully minute attention to detail.
Table of Contents
I believe in love at first sight. I’m convinced each of us does indeed have a soul mate. We may not always be so lucky as to find them in our lifetime, but that doesn’t negate my belief in them. My husband and I knew each other for fourteen years before we married. During those fourteen years, we spent perhaps a total of five weeks in each other’s company. There were two extended periods of time, one period that lasted for three years and another for six years, during which we had no contact whatsoever. Yet, when I received a phone call at
and the man I loved but hadn’t seen or heard from in six years asked if he could come see me, I answered
Eight hundred miles later, he emerged from his vehicle, took me in his arms and carried me off to bed. That same day, he asked me to marry him. It’s been twenty-six years and we’ve never looked back. Still in love, still soul mates.
“Jesus Christ, Jason! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Ah…ah…ah…” The teenager wiggled a finger. “You know how my mom feels about cussing.”
“Who cares how your mom feels about cussing? This is the fifth week in a row you’ve gotten me wet.”
Jason stood grinning at her, a hose with a spray nozzle in his hand. He waggled his eyebrows.
“That’s not the kind of wet I mean and you damn well know it,” Eva grumbled. “What are you doing home anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”
“I’m a senior,” Jason replied with a shrug, “I’ve already got my college acceptance. I’m free to do what I want.”
“Yeah, well, why does what you want have to include drenching me every Monday morning?”
“Because it’s a wet tee-shirt contest in my own yard. I mean, c’mon Eva, you’re hot. I’m eighteen years old and horny and you’re like, my fantasy.”
“Why can’t you look at me as more of a big sister?”
Jason snorted, “I don’t think so.” He waved the hose in Eva’s direction.
Eva jumped sideways. “Look, Jason, we’re going to have to come to some sort of arrangement.”
Without hesitation Jason replied, “I’m open to that.”
Eva rolled her eyes. The kid was quick and he had a one-track mind. “Not that sort of arrangement. Do you want me to complain to my bosses about this? I will and you know what they’ll do? They’ll send out Miriam. You want them to send out Miriam?”
Jason’s grin was replaced with a look of flat out horror. “Hell no! She’s old and blows her nose all the time and she cleans under my bed and her food tastes like crap.”
“Okay then,” Eva began, “If you don’t want Miriam, stop soaking me.”
Eva walked into the garage and opened a cabinet. She knew where Mrs. White kept her worn towels. Jason trailed behind her. Eva noticed the young man watching her as she toweled off. He grinned at her, unrepentant. She saw his eyes focus on her black bra beneath her white, now transparent, tee shirt.
Eva pointed an accusing finger at him. “Knock it off. Don’t you have a girlfriend?”
“So how come you don’t turn the hose on her?”
“Are you kidding? She’d smack me up one side of the street and down the other.”
Eva gave the young man as stern a look as she could manage. “Then why would you treat me so disrespectfully?”
Jason pretended to consider her words for a moment. “I don’t know,” he answered with another shrug. “Like I said, you’re hot. And you put up with me.”
Eva sat down on a step to remove her shoes. Even her socks were wet. She decided it would be better to just work barefoot.
“Jason,” she said to the young man, “Get out of here. Go back to school.”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied agreeably. “Hey, leave my bed alone and don’t clean beneath it.”
“I never do,” said Eva with a sigh. “You want anything special for supper tonight?”
“Oh, yeah,” answered Jason. “Some of that spaghetti, you know, the stuff that takes all day to cook. The red stuff.”
“Yeah, and I’ll eat a salad as long as you make it with real lettuce and creamy Italian.”
“Since when are you so picky about food?” asked Eva.
Jason winked at her. “Since you started cooking for us. And garlic bread. Remember the garlic bread. Like you made it last time, with lots of butter and parmesan cheese.”
“Anything else, your majesty?”
Jason ignored Eva’s sarcasm and he thought for a moment. “Brownies would be good. A big batch. The cream cheese kind. I can take some of those to practice this afternoon. Everyone on the soccer team is addicted to them.”
“All right,” sighed Eva. “Get out of here. I have to dry my clothes and do some grocery shopping. It’s a good thing your mom’s my only client today.”
Jason headed toward his car. Eva saw him turn back to look at her. She was still drying off her feet.
“Hey,” he called. “I’m sorry for spraying you. I’ll try to control my hormones in the future.”
Eva grinned crookedly at him. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Eva watched Jason drive away and then entered the White’s house through the garage and stopped in the laundry room. She stripped off her wet tee shirt and tugged down her soaked jeans. She threw them, along with her socks, into the dryer. She hoped they’d be reasonably dry within thirty minutes. She figured she had at least that long before Jason would dare show his face again.
Barefoot, wearing her old black lace pushup bra and boy shorts, Eva jogged through the family room and up the short flight of stairs into the kitchen. Eva always started in the kitchen. As far as she was concerned, a clean kitchen was the foundation of a clean home. She was obsessive about it. There was nothing more satisfying than thoroughly cleaning a kitchen. After her clothes were dry, she would tackle the rest of the house.
Eva snorted as she imagined exactly what Jason had stashed under his bed. The only girl in a family of five children, Eva had a pretty good idea of what she’d find if she dared to look under there. No way. Eva wouldn’t touch that shit with a ten-foot pole. After living so closely with growing teenage boys for so many years, Eva considered herself a bit of an expert on what young men kept under their beds. At least Jason was considerate enough to throw his dirty clothes in the hamper she’d stashed in his closet.
Eva finished in the kitchen. She returned to the laundry room and pulled her clothes out of the dryer. Her tee shirt and socks were completely dry, unfortunately, her jeans were still tacky. Nothing worse than hot, sticky, damp jeans. She wriggled her way into them, cursing Jason. Eva decided she’d better get started on the Bolognese sauce so it could cook slowly while she cleaned the rest of the house, washed the linens and watered the garden. She took a quick look in the pantry and in the fridge to make sure she had everything she needed for the brownies. After taking stock, Eva headed out to her car.
Mrs. White had contracted with ATAP for Eva’s services. ATAP stood for
Things to All People
. It was an acronym the owners of the company, Tom and Marcus, had come up with one night while soused on chocolatinis. Eva, Miriam, Byron, Jose and Ruth were contracted out to pre-screened households to be all things, within reason, of course. Miriam worked as a housekeeper, seamstress, nanny, and she was frequently hired to provide companion care for shut-ins. She could cook in a pinch. Ruth’s area of expertise was interior design, but she could also hang a light fixture, paint, paper a wall, lay decorative tile, stencil, and texturize a ceiling if the occasion called for it. Bryon and Jose were gardeners, closet specialists and handymen. They could turn a vacant lot into something out of House Beautiful, but they could just as skillfully clean up the mess from a backed up septic tank.