TORNADO Part 3 by Karen Uffelman
Rebecca gave one of her best big smiles as she surveyed the living room.
“I’ve heard so much about you, Janet, and am so glad to finally meet you in the flesh!”
“Oh?” asked Janet, handing cups of coffee to her newest visitors, “Good things, I hope.”
Rebecca nodded her head vigorously, burning her mouth on the hot, stale coffee.
“Thank you so much for putting us up like this,” Jackson ran a dusty hand through his equally dusty hair. “I’m not sure where else we would have gone.” He looked around for a place to sit, but decided against it. Both he and Rebecca were covered in bits of broken plaster and dirt, and the cream-colored furniture in the Bell’s living room didn’t seem up to the job of accommodating him. He and Rebecca had already disturbed the vacuum tracks of the pale blue carpet with their dusty shoes. Rebecca didn’t seem too concerned, however, and was already at home on the loveseat.
“Yes, the whole county’s a mess, isn’t it,” Janet carefully slid a coaster under the cup Rebecca had balanced at the edge of the coffee table. Rebecca was staring at Maura who refused to return the attention. “Rebecca told me that your building was razed, almost taking the two of you with it. Thank God that you survived in one piece!”
Jackson winked at Janet, “Aw, it’d take more than a tornado to carry me off!”
“Oh!” Janet smiled at Jackson and then looked over at Andrea. Andrea was staring at Rebecca who was staring at Maura who was looking at the ceiling.
“Um…Andrea, you know where everything is – can you show Rebecca and Jackson where they’ll be staying? Rebecca, you can take Mr. Bell’s study, upstairs, and Jackson can have the den in the basement. I hope you’ll be comfortable. Maura, could you help me get dinner started?”
Maura shook her head but followed her mother into the kitchen, giving Andrea a sharp look as she walked out but still refusing to acknowledge Rebecca.
“I can understand why you like that girl,” Jackson said, pulling Rebecca up from the loveseat and trying to brush off her dusty imprint. “She’s got a terrific ass!”
“Cut it out, Jackson – it’s not just her ass I like. And please remember that it’s totally uncool to flirt with your sister’s girlfriend. Got it? I’m not joking.”
“I can show you to your rooms if you want.” Andrea looked carefully at her feet.
Jackson grinned at Rebecca. “Sure, sure, we’re being jerks here. Please, Andrea, give us the tour.” Jackson put his arm around Andrea. Rebecca rolled her eyes and Andrea stood still, confused about what she should do next. “Uh – this way.”
Jackson let her sidle out of his embrace, but kept his hand lightly on the small of her back as they climbed the stairs. After installing Rebecca in the study on the top floor, Jackson followed Andrea down to the basement. She could still feel the spot where his hand had rested, just below the waistline of her baggy pants.
She pointed at the pullout couch and said, “I think that’s for you. Mrs. Bell said there are pillows and sheets in the closet in the bathroom down here.”
“Ah, bathroom, that’s what I need. I’ve been dreaming of a shower all day!”
Andrea turned to go, but not before Jackson was half-naked. He reached behind his head and pulled his dusty shirt off with an easy tug. Andrea stood there, frozen mid-step, staring at his chest. He was a little on the skinny side, definitely not a candidate for the firemens calendar, but not totally devoid of physical charm. When he put his hand on his belt buckle, the spell was broken and Andrea fled the room with, “Don’t use all of the hot water, other people need showers too!”
“I’m willing to share, if you want to double up,” he called after her, laughing.
She could hear his jeans fall to the floor as she took the stairs two at a time. She ran past Rebecca to Maura’s room and pulled the door shut.
“So friendly,” Rebecca muttered.
Maura backed out of the kitchen with a stack of plates, and Andrea poked her head back out of the bedroom. “Maura, do you mind if I borrow something else to wear?”
“If you can find anything in that closet that fits, go crazy.”
“How come you don’t mind if she wears your clothes?”
“Shut it, Rebecca. Why don’t you go help my mom with dinner? You were always so eager to spend time with my family.”
“Maybe I’ll do just that!”
Andrea called from the bedroom, “Maura?”
“Okay, Andrea, I’m coming. And Rebecca, no joke. My mom needs help but she’s driving me insane – go in there and sing for your dinner or something.”
Maura walked past Rebecca and into her childhood bedroom. Andrea was kneeling by the dresser with a bunch of pastel sweaters piled beside her. “Is it really okay if I wear one of these? They look brand new.”
“Yeah, my mom picked those out and I never really wore them. They might be kind of small, though. I think they’re from junior high.”
“Well, I’m supposed to wear more fitted clothes than I do.”
“Oh really? Who told you that?”
“When I was trying on the bridesmaids dresses, earlier today. The women at the store there. Said I shouldn’t hide myself in big sweatshirts.”
“Dear lord,” Maura laid back on the bed, looking tired and miserable, “I can’t really believe this day.”
Andrea turned carefully away from Maura and pulled on a very small pink sweater. She turned around. “What do you think?”
“I think it looks a little tight,” sighed Maura.
“Okay, but in a good way?”
“I don’t know, Andrea. If you like it, you should wear it.”
Andrea waited for further advice, but Maura just lay there.
“Jackson thinks you have a nice A-S-S.”
“What?” Maura sat up. “How do you know what he thinks about my ass, or anything, for that matter?”
“Because he said he liked it, right in front of me. Actually he said it was terrific. Your A-S-S, that is.”
“Why would he say that to you?”
“Well, he wasn’t saying it to me. He was actually saying it to Rebecca, but I was RIGHT there. I guess that would only make sense, him being attracted to you, since he’s related to Rebecca and all.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but feel free to find a bigger sweater if you like. I’m going to see what kind of disaster is going on in the kitchen.”
Jackson strolled by the open door dressed only in a towel, “Whatever is cooking, it smells delicious!”