Evvie Drake Starts Over - Linda Holmes Page 0,2

she thought. Monster, monster.

“LILLY CHUCKED HER MILK AT the floor.” Andy took a sip of coffee. “I’m in trouble with her teacher.”

Andy and Evvie’s Saturday breakfasts at the Compass Café had started four years ago when he got divorced, and they’d never stopped. Some husbands might have minded, but Tim hadn’t. “I have plenty of work to do, so as long as you’re not complaining to him about me, I don’t care,” he’d said.

Andy would have the ham and cheese omelet, and Evvie would have the blueberry pancakes, a side of bacon, and a large orange juice. They drank at least two pots of coffee and reviewed the weeks past and ahead. They stayed as the place filled and emptied and filled again. They eyeballed the tourists and tipped extravagantly, and locals they knew wandered by and said something about the weather or asked what Andy’s little girls were up to. And, for this last year or so, people would stretch their necks to peek, or happen to stand at a politely investigatory distance, to check on Evvie and satisfy themselves, just make sure, that the death of her husband hadn’t turned her into a shriveled little husk, sitting at home humming ballads to Tim’s favorite shirt as she rocked back and forth, clutching it to her chest.

“Why did Lilly chuck her milk at the floor?” Lilly was Andy’s younger daughter, who had recently started kindergarten.

“Good question. The teacher says she just threw it. No warning. Yelled, ‘Milk is melted yogurt!’ ”

Evvie smiled. She could picture it, including the face full of fury Lilly had worn on and off since infancy. “I see how she got there, I guess.”

“So the teacher tells me she gave her a time out. I say, ‘That seems fine.’ And the teacher says, ‘I think it would also be good to follow up at home about respect.’ I say, ‘Respect for you?’ And she says, ‘Well, yes, but also for property.’ And I’m thinking, Are we talking about teaching my daughter respect for milk? Because I can’t figure out what else she wants me to teach her. What she means by ‘respect for property.’ ”


“Maybe. Anyway, I’m working on it. I’m working on teaching Lilly to have more respect for her teacher. And respect for milk.”

“Lacto…reverence? Lactoreverence? Is that something?”

“No.” Andy paused to push his coffee cup out to get a refill from Marnie, a young mom with a grown-out stripe of purple in her hair who had been their regular server for a couple of years. “I’ll tell you, she was a biter when she was little, but I don’t know what this is. Even when she’s loving all over me, she’s so mad. I went to pick her up the other day, and she goes, ‘Dad! Hug me!’ But she shrieks it, like a howler monkey. Very take-charge, if you want to think about it that way, like she’s…”

“Jerry Orbach.”

He frowned. “In Dirty Dancing?”

“In Law & Order.”

“Fine, Jerry Orbach.” He paused. “My point is she’s bullheaded, which I think is great, but I don’t want to be bailing her out of jail when she’s nine.”

Evvie smiled again. “I can’t wait for her teenage years.”

“She can come live with you.”

“Oh, no. I’ll do periods and bras and birth control, but I live alone.”

“Well, for now,” he said. “I meant to ask you, are you still thinking about renting out the apartment?”

She chewed on a piece of bacon. “Maybe. Eventually.”

“You’re not using it, right?”

“Not except to lie on the floor in the middle of the night and contemplate my existence.” He stopped chewing and his eyebrows popped up. “I’m kidding,” she said. He wouldn’t understand. He’d just worry. “I never go in there.”

“I was thinking, you know, it’s money you’re leaving on the table if you let it sit empty. Finance-wise.” The logic was impeccable. It was probably a trap.

“I suppose that’s true,” she said suspiciously.

“It is true.” He pointed. “Your sleeve is in the syrup.”

She dabbed at a sticky dot on the cuff of her shirt. “Do you want me to rent it to someone in particular? Are you evicting Rose now?”

“Ha.” He didn’t laugh. “No, I think the kids should be at least ten before they’re fully independent.” He took a slug of coffee. “By the way, before I forget, Rose has a dance recital a week from tomorrow, and she told me to tell you that she’d like you to come over and do ‘the hair with the swirly braids.’ ” Rose was