Mrs. Perfect(2)

By: Jane Porter



Suddenly Annika reappears on the pool deck, dashes to a table near the baby pool, and rifles through the stack of beach towels they brought earlier. She’s looking for something, and it’s got to be her car keys or her cell phone—she couldn’t survive without either.

It’s her cell phone.

I’m not surprised. What twenty-two-year-old girl doesn’t live on her cell?

Annika leaves again, and I watch her dash back out. She’s worked for me for over a year now, and we almost never talk. I leave her to-do lists, and when she goes home at night she leaves the lists behind, everything done, all the chores checked off.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for not ever having a proper chat, but what would we talk about? My girls? My house? My laundry? No, thank you. I have enough on my mind without having to discuss the above with a foreign teenager.

What a day. Not bad, just long and busy. Pilates nearly killed me, I killed my opponent in tennis, and the committee meeting . . . well, that went so much better than I expected.

“Have you been here long?” I ask the group at large, dropping my sunglasses back onto my nose.

“An hour,” Patti answers.

Monica grimaces. “Since two.”

“Noon,” Kate adds.

Noon? I make a face. I can’t imagine sitting here for five hours. My God, doesn’t she have anything else to do?

“You should have gotten a sitter,” I say, glancing at my children, praying they’ll be content for another half hour at least, an hour if I buy them an ice cream. Tonight I would buy them ice cream, too, if it meant I could just leave my feet up for a while and relax.

Kate sees my grimace. “I couldn’t get a sitter,” she explains. “Labor Day weekend. Everyone’s going away.”

True. We were going away, too, and then Nathan begged off at the last minute, said all he wanted to do was stay home, enjoy the girls, and maybe get in a round of golf.

“Actually,” Kate continues, crossing her legs, tugging down her straight twill skirt that looks like Eddie Bauer but I know is Ralph Lauren, “I feel like I got off easy. The kids really wanted to go to Wild Waves, but I convinced them they’d be better off just spending the day here and saving the money.”

Saving money? Kate?

I struggle to keep a straight face. Kate Finch is loaded, one of the area’s old money, and then she married Microsoft money—and not one of the little Microsoft millionaires who pop up everywhere, but Bill Finch, head of the games division—so the Finches are set for life.

“How did you convince the kids to do that?” Patti asks, leaning forward to get out of the sun’s rays. Petite and brunette, Patti Wickham has endless energy, a vivacious personality, and the inability to take no for an answer.

“Bribed them.” Kate sniffs. “Told them I’d give them the cost of the admission ticket and what I would have spent on gas if we could just come here. Worked like a charm.”

Thank God for money.

Hate to admit it, but I’d do the exact same thing. Who’d want to make the drive from Bellevue to Federal Way—what is that, forty minutes each way?—and then spend hours worrying about the kids getting lost or abducted before driving back home in rush-hour traffic? No, Kate’s right. Far better to take advantage of the Points Country Club pool before it closes for the summer.

My youngest daughter, Tori, who has just recently turned four, remembers I’m at the pool and comes running over to give me a wet hug. “Mama, Mama, Mama! I missed you!”

I hug and kiss her back. “Having fun?” I ask, rubbing her bare tummy.

She nods, her blond curly ponytails like piggy corkscrews in the sky. “I’m hungry.”

“We’re having dinner soon.”

“Can I have some French fries?”

“We’re going home in twenty minutes—”

“I want French fries.”

“Honey.”

“I’m starving.” Her lower lip thrusts out. “Starving.”

Oh, why not? It’s Friday. Labor Day weekend. I’m tired and don’t want to get up. If French fries will keep her happy, let her have them. “Tell Brooke to go with you to order. She’s right there, in the shallow end.”

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