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Only the Lonely

My days are pretty busy. Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is grocery shopping, and the rest of the week involves all the other tasks of housekeeping. Every other Wednesday was a card party day and I did manage to squeeze in a few calls to my squad during the week; some days I barely had time to sit down with a cocktail by 3 in the afternoon. I wondered about Edie’s days and how she spent them. There couldn’t be much work for just two adults and Artie was away flying a couple of times every week. I would have shopped more or even visited museums with my extra time if I were Edie, but she didn’t seem to leave her home very much.

I know she reads because there is a big stack of books from the library on her side table in the living room. Her home is exquisitely clean but she never mentioned baking too much. A regular round of sweets would ruin her terrific figure anyway. Edie was a little mysterious; not as mysterious as Zettie Louise, but still, I was hoping that she wasn’t suffering from the curse of the suburbs – loneliness.

Yesterday, I baked a batch of Lemon Ricotta Muffins and placed four into a cute little basket with a brand new tea towel. I scoped out Edie’s house off and on all morning and didn’t see the car move, so after lunch I walked down with my basket of goodies. After answering the door, she invited me in and I told her that I should have called first to see if she was busy, but she waved a hand and told me to come on in. We sat at her all white kitchen banquette, sliding into opposite sides. I presented my muffins and Edie gratefully thanked me and offered to make some coffee. Her gleaming percolator was already set to go on the stove. Wow, I would have had to dig the grounds out of the top and pour out the old coffee for a new batch. It must be great to be always company-ready. We made small talk while the coffee perked. I didn’t really want to beat around the bush for my information, so I took a deep breath and blurted out my question about what Edie did all day. She was momentarily shocked by my question but regained her composure. Edie quietly got up and silently returned to the task of getting our coffee ready. She filled the creamer and placed the sugar bowl next to it on the table. She poured coffee into a porcelain cup and placed it quietly in front of me. The saucer held a dainty spoon. I could live like this. My mug of coffee at home usually got a splash of milk and a teaspoon of sugar but sometimes the teaspoon was from an old set of cutlery that might not match the everyday set. I silently fixed my coffee while trying to figure out if I should apologize for the question. Edie looked thoughtful as she fixed her cup, sat down across from me, smoothed down her skirt and said “Well.” I told her that I didn’t mean to insult her and she motioned for me to wait. We stirred and sipped for a few minutes. I could tell she was thinking about something important.

Edie rose and asked me to join her. We left our cups and I followed her into a small sunroom off the back of the house. It was bright and warm with peach walls and filled with white shelving and furniture. There were a couple of shelves of paperback novels on the bottom of one of the units that seemed out of place, but I wasn’t concentrating on the titles. Edie had redecorated the sunroom as a ladies office. It was dainty and beautiful. On the little desk was a typewriter and a stack of paper, a pile of typewritten pages and some large envelopes. I looked at Edie.

She reached over and handed me the first few typewritten pages of a manuscript. The name of the book was Virtuous Venus and the author’s name was R.L. Newquest. I read the first three paragraphs and realized that it was a dime store romance novel. I looked at Edie and asked her if she was typing someone’s books for them. She smiled slyly and answered that they were her books. It took me a moment but I smiled and then laughed with surprised. Edie laughed too. Mystery solved. Edie was a romance writer in hiding!

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