Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Here is the beginning of Chapter 7. It ends at a bit of a cliffie. Sorry about that! 😀
For those who missed the first post, you can find it here.
The second post is here.
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Two weeks later, Liz and Will returned from another track on a Sunday night. The race had been held on another short track, and Will and the team had had trouble all night getting the handling of the car tuned in. He ended the race three laps down and in thirtieth place. It was an awful finish to an awful night, and Will was angry and upset.
Liz did her best to soothe Will on the trip home, but eventually, his surliness caused her to turn away and leave him to stew. It wasn’t until they reached their house that Will finally realized he had pushed his best friend away.
Will put the truck in Park and reached for Liz’s hand, stopping her as she started to open the door. “I’ve been a bear. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be taking my moods out on you.”
“You shouldn’t.” Liz’s response was quiet. “It wasn’t my fault you did so badly.”
Will lifted Liz’s hand and kissed her fingers. “No, it wasn’t.” He sighed. “I don’t know who to blame, if anyone. We just didn’t get it right, I guess.” He kissed her fingers again. “They’ll analyze the data tomorrow and I’ll find out at the meeting on Tuesday. We’ll do the best we can to perform better next week.” He gazed into Liz’s eyes. “Forgive me?”
Liz stared at her husband for a full minute, long enough that she could see him begin to fidget. Her lips were in a straight line, and she knew he understood the depths of her disappointment. Finally, she gave in and said the words that she intended to all along. “Yes, I forgive you, but you need to think before you repeat that behavior.”
Will closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, his lips lifted in a tiny smile. “I promise you, I will. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Liz’s smile matched Will’s. When he leaned in for a kiss, she met him halfway.
The couple kept their kiss brief. Both were exhausted after their long day at the track and even longer weekend. Will pulled their duffel bags out of the back seat after handing Liz out, and they trudged together up the back steps and across the porch. Liz fished her key out of her purse, quickly unlocking the door and opening it. As she stepped through and moved out of Will’s way, she noticed a pile of mail on the counter.
“Martha must have checked the mailbox yesterday,” Liz noted, gesturing to the stack of envelopes.
Will looked at the pile, his brows lifting at the size of it. “It’ll keep until tomorrow. We need some sleep.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Liz quickly agreed, and the two of them walked straight up to their bedroom. Within a quarter hour, they were cuddled in bed, fast asleep.
Late the next morning, after sleeping off the effects of the weekend, Will and Liz rose together. They wandered out to the kitchen and made breakfast together, then took it out on the porch to eat it.
“I suppose we’ll have to go through that huge pile of mail this morning, so we know if there’s something we have to deal with today in it.” Liz toyed with the scrambled eggs left on her plate as she spoke. Her eyes lifted to will as she picked some of them up and took a bite.
“We will. Why don’t I go in and grab the stack and bring it out here?”
“Okay, that sounds good.” Liz pushed the plate away. She had eaten all she could, though it wasn’t as much as she usually did. She didn’t feel quite right but couldn’t pinpoint why. She looked up when Will came back outside with the pile of letters.
“Here we go.” Will set the stack on the table between him and Liz with one hand while reaching for his chair with the other. “Let’s sort them into piles – yours, mine, and ours.”
“Works for me.” Liz grabbed some of the letters, and the pair worked silently for a few minutes, ending with three stacks of mail. “Shall we begin with the ‘ours’ pile?” She looked at Will, who nodded.
“Yeah, let’s do that. We can read our personal mail later. I’ll probably take mine with me to the shop.”
Since most of the joint mail was bills, the couple got through their joint stack of letters quickly. Will piled the invoices up, scooping them and his personal mail up in one hand and his plate, with his coffee cup and cutlery balanced atop it, in the other. He dropped a kiss on Liz’s head, then went upstairs to shower, leaving the dishes in the sink on his way through the kitchen.
Liz began sorting her own letters. There was one from her sister, Mary, and another from her friend, Charlotte. Several were business letters from current and potential clients.
There was one letter with no return address. Liz thought that was odd, given that her mailing address was machine printed. She turned the envelope over, but there was nothing written on the back. Flipping the note to the front again, she peered at the post office cancellation stamp. It was marked ‘Charlotte,’ but that was not terribly helpful. All their mail went through that distribution center, no matter where it was from.
“Hmm,” Liz murmured. She shrugged and sighed, adding the letter to the bottom of the stack and rising, mimicking her husband by carrying her dishes in one hand and mail in the other and going into the house.
An hour later, after Will had showered, kissed her deeply, and drove away, and Liz had gotten her shower, she sat in her home office, taking care of some work tasks related to the business mail she had received. When she was ready to take a break, she pulled out her personal letters, leaning back in her chair with a smile. She maintained that smile through both her sister’s letter and her friends. Finally, she reached the strange envelope with no return address. Her brow creased as she examined it again. Then she sighed, slipping her thumb under the flap and tearing it open.
Liz pulled a single, letter-size piece of paper out and unfolded it. As she read, her brow creased and her jaw clenched.
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