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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:52

“It’s fine.” Savannah sighed. “But I’m having nothing to do with him.”

“Sure you are,” Margot said, her voice rich with a feminine knowledge that put Savannah’s teeth on edge. “I’m not.”

“Who’s this?” Katie asked, picking up one of the files. She twisted it so Savannah could see the photo.

Savannah’s blood momentarily stopped in her veins.

The beauty in the picture was the mother she hadn’t seen in twenty years.

It was Vanessa as Savannah remembered her, getting into a car. Her eyes hidden behind glasses, her hand lifted in a merry wave that seemed to say, “I’ll only be gone a few minutes.”

“Your grandmother,” Margot said, when Savannah couldn’t seem to find the words.

“How come she’s not here?” Katie asked in the simple way of kids. “And why don’t Uncle Tyler and Uncle Carter come visit?” Katie pulled up pictures of Carter and Tyler.

All of the reasons seemed lame. Stupid. Years seemed to go by so fast.

“I’m going to make sure Carter and Tyler come home for Christmas,” Savannah said. “It’s time.”

“That would be lovely,” Margot said. “But we’d have more luck if we accepted Carter’s invitation to spend the holiday in Baton Rouge. You know he doesn’t like his past getting mixed up with his present.”

“I don’t think coming home for one Christmas is going to kill his professional career,” Savannah snapped.

Margot eyed her. “It also wouldn’t kill you to leave Bonne Terre.”

“I’d like to go to Baton Rouge,” Katie said, her eyes bright with the prospect. Katie hadn’t been out of the parish since she was a year and a half and Tyler had paid for tickets for the two of them to go to Vegas. Baton Rouge was like going to Mars.

“They can come here,” Savannah said, closed up tight against the idea of going to them, the deserters. “This is their home.”

Margot shook her head. “Not to them, it isn’t.” Savannah didn’t say anything. She knew what Margot was trying to do, but this was their home, Savannah, Tyler and Carter’s. The home they made after Mom left them here. The home that kept them safe, protected. Together.

“I don’t understand why you take it as a personal betrayal that they left.” Margot sighed. “Or why you think this house will fall down if you go. I asked you to come to Las Vegas last year. And last month, in the Far East, Anthony would have been delighted to have you—”

“Right, I’m going on a trip with you and your boyfriend.”

“Just friend, honey.” Margot smoothed back white hair from her forehead. “Boyfriends are for children.”

This conversation was slipping from uncomfortable to ridiculous.

“I have to get some work done,” Savannah said and stood, freeing herself. Margot had been obsessed lately with Savannah’s lack of travel. Like she should take off every few months for foreign lands the way Margot did.

She wasn’t that kind of person. Foreign lands were not for her.

“Honey?” Margot asked. “You don’t suppose Matt was right, do you?”

“About Vanessa hiding the gems here?”

Savannah swung incredulous eyes to her grandmother. “Do you?”

Margot pursed her lips. “I guess not.”

“There are no gems in this house.” Savannah laughed. “Please. We would know. I would know. How would she get in and out without me knowing it?”

“High schoolers,” Savannah said. “Just like it’s always been.”

MATT HEAVED down another square of sod, lining up the edges.

Bugs swarmed. Sun burned.

Not about his father.

Savannah in the moonlight.

His world was reduced to the stretch and pull of his muscles, the river of sweat down his back.

He didn’t look up. Didn’t stop.

The files were gone, his obsession over his father’s setup deflated with one sharp, wounded look from Savannah.