As continued from Part 6
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
I quivered a bit due to my racing heart as I sneaked on the snow. I wanted to surprise Grace – she was still knocking at the door probably thinking I was napping upstairs.
It came back to mind that I had gone to see Detective Howell about that I had seen Grace along the road in brown boots, grey long skirt, zebra coat and a brown scarf. Evidently I was right.
My heart beat stronger as I drew closer. Just before climbing the steps to the veranda I screamed, “Surprise.”
She let out a brief scream and dropped her cell phone. I thought of Karen and Jane. They would think I was killing another woman when they hear the scream. She turned, “You almost killed me.”
But it was not Grace. It was Chloe, our previous house-keeper.
My stomach shrunk. And pain and confusion claimed their positions again. I ran my hands through my hair and gazed at Chloe. “It’s you, Chloe. I thought you were Grace.”
The reality struck me, Grace was still missing.
Chloe said, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I saw the story on TV and thought I needed to give you a hand, more especially on Kimberly – taking care of her and stuff.”
I climbed the steps and opened the door. “Ok, thanks, Chloe. That was kind of you,” I said, recalling how we badly fired Chloe. That was after Grace thought Chloe was seducing me with her short skirts and funky yoga pants. “Very kind of you, really. Come in.”
She put her handbag and bag on the couch and scanned the living room. “A lot has changed here. I’m sure you got an interior decorator.”
I glanced at her, “No, Grace did all the changes you see.” I went to the kitchen. She followed me. I found it hard welcoming Chloe back. I had to talk and be nice to her – in a way apologize for the way we fired her. But I was disappointed by meeting her. Not that I didn’t want her help, but I thought she was Grace. So every word I attempted to speak was suppressed by the acute disappointment. Such depressing moments should find you alone, so you just run to bed and grieve properly – without any disturbance. “Let’s have some coffee.”
“Oh no. Have a seat,” Chloe said as I opened the cabinet to take the chocolate chip cookies Grace baked about four days ago. “I will make the coffee. Just sit down.”
“You sure?” I said.
“What do you mean? Of course I’m your housekeeper. I’m back and at your service,” Chloe said already at the sink filling the kettle with water.
I stared at her unsure what to think. Yes, I needed and appreciated her offer, but what about Grace’s feelings. How could she feel if she could come back and find her not only back, but staying with me in the house again? She made Grace extremely insecure, yet Chloe seemed harmless to me. Yes, she was beautiful, but she never ever seduced me as Grace feared.
I said, “Tell me. Why did you buy all these clothes you are wearing?”
Chloe put down the cheese and knife. She turned, smiling, “You have forgotten, aren’t you? Grace gave them to me whilst I lived with you guys.”
“Oh yes. You were also there with Leon watching… Oh sorry.”
“It’s okay. In any case I must get used to living without my boy. I just hope I won’t need to get used to living without Grace.”
Chloe said, “Don’t say that. Grace will be back home. We are a team now. I will take care of the house and Kimberly whilst you help the police.”
“You are God sent, Chloe. Thanks for your kindness.”
She put the coffee, the cookies and the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich in front of me. Then she sat on the other side of the table.
“Thanks. Nice breakfast.”
Chloe smiled, looking at my face, “Breakfast? This is lunch.”
I looked at the wall watch. It was 2:10. “It’s breakfast for me. I didn’t have it.”
“That’s bad. But…”
“I didn’t even sleep one second.”
“Oh no! That’s bad. But I’m back now. You will eat and sleep well.” She took a bite of the sandwich and sipped the coffee. “Kimberly is in which grade now? First?”
“She comes home at what time?”
“Around two thirty. She doesn’t come, we fetch her from school. But I don’t know now – Grace was driving our car when she went missing.”
“No problem. I will fetch her with a cab.”
I raised my eyes and looked at her face. “Is it the amnesia thing or you changed your hair? Didn’t you have blond her when you lived with us.”
Chloe smiled. “It ain’t amnesia. This is a wig. Look.” She grabbed the top of her hair and pulled off the brown hair wig. Her blond hair crashed nicely on her shoulders.
The telephone rang in the dining room. I jumped and ran, praying it’s her. Fear cut through me as I thought of the mysterious calls, but I hoped it’s her. “Hello.”
“Mr. Turner. It’s Detective Howell.”
Chloe stood in front of me, gazing at my face also hopeful. But the fear multiplied in me as Detective Howell’s voice wasn’t promising any good news.”
“Please come to the station. We will talk when you get here.”
My stomach burned. “What is it? Did you find her?”
“Mr. Turner, I don’t want to discuss this over the phone. Please come here.”
I screamed, “Just tell me. You found her or not.”
Detective Howell sighed. “We found a body. We…”
My hand lost grip of the receiver and it fell off. I staggered. Chloe drew close and supported me with a firm reassuring hug. She made me sit on the floor. I cried hopelessly. My fear had caught up with me, finally. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe me. I couldn’t believe I had to live without Grace. Grace dead. Dead. Dead. Jesus.
Grace and I were like a glove and a hand. Without the glove the hand is bare and cold; and without the hand the glove is useless. I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to live without Grace.
Chloe sat next to me on the floor and hugged me. She made me cry on her small chest like a baby. She was crying too.
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