Secrecy

Secrecy by Belva Plain Read Free Book Online

Book: Secrecy by Belva Plain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Belva Plain
I don’t know yet what he’ll do with it, but something remarkable, I’m sure. Cliff thinks so too.”
    There was no doubt that Ted was going to amount to something. Yes, he could be a bit headstrong sometimes, like a colt or any other young male creature, but what did you expect? He
was
a young male creature.
    And Claudia, feeling an inward smile as any mother would, hoped that her son might get through life with as few obstacles as possible in his way. A good, intelligent, and kindly wife, she wished for him, as mentally she raced into the future. Someone, perhaps, like this young Charlotte, who was now surveying the books again.
    “This is so interesting,” Charlotte said, taking a book from a shelf. “I was thinking, in fact I have thought, I might like to be an architect. I love to look at houses. But then, I’m sure you have to know a lotof math, and it’s not my best subject. I’m not like Ted.”
    “If that’s what you really want, you’ll master the math. It might be hard, but nothing worth fighting for is easy,” Claudia said stoutly. “You want to borrow the book, don’t you?”
    Charlotte nodded and smiled. It was her first wholehearted smile of the day. “You make me feel cheerful, Claudia,” she said.
    They had progressed. And Claudia felt as if she had won the first round in a tournament.

FIVE
    O ne Saturday morning Charlotte decided to take the long walk over to Claudia’s house.
    A month had passed since the day of the lemon tarts, and she had been there several times since. It pleased her to know that Claudia wanted her company.
    “Because she has no daughter,” said Emmabrown, who, Charlotte guessed, would have liked to add, though she did not, “and because you have no mother.”
    Rob and Roy came rushing and barking to the door, which was opened by Ted. Startled and absurdly flustered, Charlotte bent to stroke the dogs.
    “They know you,” said Ted.
    “Yes, I’ve been visiting your mother.” Still flustered, she displayed a book. “I’ve come to return this. Is she here?”
    “No, they’ve gone to Boston for a couple of days.”
    “Well, then, I’ll just leave this for her.”
    “Why don’t you come in, anyway?”
    He stood surveying her as if he had never seen her before. Actually, he had not seen her very often. She had put on the pink skirt and top that had come in Elena’s latest package from Florida. For no reason at all she had simply felt like dressing up. And now she was glad she had.
    “Come on in,” he repeated. “I’m just having a sandwich. Want one?”
    The fact was that Charlotte had taken lunch for granted, as Claudia expected her to do.
    “I wouldn’t mind,” she said.
    “Make a sandwich for yourself. There’s bread and there’s sliced turkey. Coleslaw, potato salad. My mother left enough for an army.”
    He had a rough way of talking, sort of slapdash and careless, that was interesting. And she thought how ridiculous it was to have no brother, to go to a school for girls, and not even know how to talk to a boy or what to expect from him.
    He wasn’t a boy, though. He stood ten inches above her. He was a senior, old enough to vote or be in the army. No doubt, barging in like this, she was being a nuisance to him.
    She made a sandwich and sat down at the kitchen table, wondering how to begin a conversation, since he had not begun one.
    “Have a beer,” he said, shoving a glass and another bottle across the table.
    “I’ve never had beer,” she said.
    “Well, there’s always a first time. Here, I’ll open it for you.”
    She sipped and shuddered. It was awful, sour enough to make you want to spit it out.
    Ted was amused. “Takes getting used to, like olives.”
    “Oh, I like olives.”
    “Good, I’ll get some. And a Coke.”
    When he had set these out, there came a silence, made deeper by the small clicks and clinks of plates and forks. The dogs scratched and thumped. Ted’s chair squeaked when he tipped back on it. Elena would say

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