Gaining Visibility(7)By: Pamela Hearon
The lack of segue caught Julia off guard. “You did not,” she challenged.
“Yes, I did.” Hettie’s eyes twinkled as she looked back again, and her cheeks took on a rosy hue that wasn’t only from the heat of the sun. “It was before I met Lon. I was there with my aunt. His name was Carlo Panicci, and he was the most handsome man I’d ever laid eyes on.”
Julia couldn’t believe she’d never heard mention of this man’s name from Hettie’s tell-all mouth. “Well, what happened? You can’t start a story like that and leave me hanging.” She pushed the wheelchair over by a bench and took a seat. This story needed face time.
Hettie shrugged. “I came back home and met Lon. I stopped answering the letters, and eventually they stopped coming.” She smiled slyly. “But those Italian guys are amazing in the sack.”
“Hettie!” Julia had always assumed her mother-in-law had only been with Frank’s father, so this shift in the paradigm hit her from out of the blue.
“Does that shock you?” The glimmer in Hettie’s eyes dared her to deny it.
“Do you think less of me?”
“No.” Julia touched her forehead to her mother-in-law’s. “It gives you more . . . dimension.”
“Helps you see me in a new light, eh?”
“Good.” Hettie held up her right hand and extended her little finger. “Now pinkie swear the story will never go any further than us.”
They hooked pinkies and swore their oath, but when it came time to pull apart, Julia held on. “By the way . . .”
“What?” Hettie’s eyes narrowed to wary, thin slits.
“You remember the last time we pinkie swore?”
“Yep.” The silver head bobbed curtly. “My eightieth birthday.”
Julia kept her face straight, not giving in to the smile that tugged at her lips. “And do you remember what we swore?”
Another nod. “Yep, to get tattoos before we died.”
Julia gave a triumphant chuckle. “Ha! My dear Hettie, my reconstructed breasts now sport two of them, so it’s your turn.”
Hettie’s eyes took on an impish gleam, and she crooked her finger tighter. “Okay, so I want to modify the oath a tad. The new agreement is to not only get a tattoo, but to bed a sexy Italian before we die.”
Julia protested. “But you just told me you’ve already done that.”
Hettie squeezed the pinkies together and then gave them a quick jerk apart to seal the bargain. “And you just told me you already have a tattoo, so we’re halfway there and even steven.”
Julia slouched down low enough in her desk chair to rest her head on the back. She ran her fingers into her hair, grasping the roots for a quick squeeze. “How did people travel to foreign countries before the Internet? If I hadn’t read the comment on that blog, I wouldn’t have considered taking a bus from La Spezia to Lerici. It’s a lot cheaper than a taxi and runs every twenty minutes.”
Her business partner, Camille, glanced up from the catalog she was ordering from. “Will a bus take you to the hotel, though?”
“No.” Julia rolled her head from side to side to loosen the tight bands of muscles in her neck. “But I checked that out, too. It’s only a short walk.”
“Two miles is short to you.” Camille jotted something on the paper in front of her. “Remember, you’ll have luggage.”
“I’m packing light.” Julia sat up and stretched her arms over her head. “The heaviest item will be my hiking boots.”
“You’re sure your boobs are ready? It’s only been six weeks. What’s going to keep the friction from rubbing those new nipples completely off?” Camille flipped the pencil she was holding and rubbed the eraser roughly across the paper. Then she lifted it to her lips and blew away the debris. “Like that.”
“Thanks for that visual.” Julia shook her head as she covered her eyes. “Only you would come up with that comparison. The doctor says I’m already good to go, and the trip is still two weeks away. Trust me, the girls are ready.” Grasping a breast in each hand, she bounced in her chair. “And so am I.”