Cole Cameron's Revenge(6)

By: Sandra Marton



Faith rose from the dressing table, walked briskly to the closet and opened it. She ran a hand along the clothing hanging from the rod, pausing when her fingers brushed over the pink suit she'd worn for Ted's funeral. People had stared at her openly, condemnation glittering in their eyes. The hell with them, she'd thought. The suit was for Ted, who'd hated black.

But today wasn't about her love and respect for Ted. It was about Peter's future. She had no idea what it took-if, in fact, it took anything-to set in motion the things that would set the two of them free of Liberty. She knew nothing about the financial aspects of the life she'd lived as Mrs. Theodore Cameron. Ted had handled all of that.

She chose a cream silk blouse, then a black silk suit. Silk, on a day like this. She'd probably melt from the heat, but it was the right outfit to wear. She dressed quickly, grimacing as she pulled on panty hose, a bra, even a half-slip. The blouse stuck to her skin almost as soon as she slipped it on but at last she was ready, her skirt zipped, her jacket buttoned, her feet jammed into the confines of a pair of low-heeled black leather pumps.

She took a deep breath. "Ready or not," she said softly, and turned to the mirror.

The suit was fine, businesslike and purposeful, and so long as she kept the jacket buttoned nobody would know that beads of sweat were already forming beneath the blouse. The shoes were okay, too. But her hair...

"Dammit," Faith muttered.

It was reacting to the humidity the way it always did, by spinning itself into gold curls instead of lying in the soft, ladylike waves she wanted. Her face was shining, too, despite its unaccustomed dusting of powder.

So much for looking cool and confident. She looked the way she felt, uncertain and grief-stricken at the loss of the only person who'd ever truly cared for her. Perhaps, she thought wryly, the mirror was determined to reflect a portrait of the inner woman instead of the outer one.

"Mommy?"



Faith swung around. "Peter?"

Her son pushed the door open and came into the bedroom, his face solemn-too solemn for a boy his age. Her heart swelled with love at the sight of him. She squatted down and opened her arms wide. Peter walked toward her and when he was close enough, Faith reached out and drew him close, sighing as she felt the tension in his stiff body.

"Mommy? Alice says you're going to town."

Faith drew back, smiled and brushed his silky chestnut hair back from his forehead. "She's right."

"Do you have to go?"

"Yes. But I won't be long, sweetheart. Just an hour or two, I promise."

Her son nodded. He'd taken Ted's death hard. Lately, he didn't want to be away from her side.

"Would you like me to bring you something?"

Peter shook his head. "No, thank you."

"A new game from the computer store?"





"Dad bought me one, just before... He bought me one." Peter's lip quivered. "I wish he was still here, Mommy."

Faith gathered her son tightly into her embrace. "Me, too." She held him for a minute, inhaling his little-boy scent. Then she cleared her throat, cupped his shoulders and held him out in front of her. "So," she said briskly, "what are you going to do until I get home?"

Peter shrugged. "I don't know."

"How about phoning Charlie and asking him over?"

"Charlie isn't home. Today's Sean's party, remember?"

Damn, Faith thought, of course. She was so wrapped up in her own worries that she'd forgotten her son's distress at being the only boy who hadn't been asked to his classmate's party.

"Why wasn't I invited, too?" Peter had said, and she'd come within a breath of telling him the truth, that the town was already reassessing her position and his in Liberty's rigid social order.

"Because Sean's a ninny," she'd said with forced gaiety, "and besides, why would you want to go to his old party when we can have a party right here, all by ourselves?"

"It's a good thing you reminded me," Faith said. "That means today is our party, too. I'll pick up some goodies on my way home."

"Uh-huh," Peter said, with polite disinterest. "Let's see... I'll get some liver..."

"Liv-er! Yuck. I hate liver."

"And some Brussels sprouts..."

"Double yuck!"

"Or maybe lima beans. That's it. Liver, and lima beans, and tapioca pudding for dessert-"

"The stuff with the eyeballs in it?"

"Sure. Isn't that your favorite meal?"

"No way, Mommy! Lima beans and liver and eyeball pudding isn't a party!"

"Isn't it?" Faith grinned. To her delight, her son grinned back. "Well then, I guess I'll have to pick up some yucky stuff like hamburgers and French fries and chocolate malteds at the Burger Pit."

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