“She did mention that Real Housewives is her favorite show,” I admit, feeling like a tattletale. “But she said it’s a guilty pleasure!”
“I think all of them?”
“Lara Jean, promise me you won’t let her get her hooks in Daddy. He doesn’t know the first thing about dating in the twenty-first century, and she’ll just eat him alive. He needs to be with someone mature, someone with wisdom in her eyes.”
I snort. “Like who? A grandma? If so, I know a few from Belleview I could set him up with.”
“No, but someone who’s at least the same age as him! She should be sophisticated, but also enjoy nature and hiking and that kind of thing.”
“When’s the last time Daddy hiked?”
“Not for years, but that’s the point—he needs a woman who will encourage those kinds of interests. Keep him active, physically and mentally.”
Giggling, I say, “And . . . sexually?” I simply cannot resist the joke, or the opportunity to gross Margot out.
“Ew!” she screams. “You’re depraved!”
“I’m just joking!”
“I’m hanging up on you right now.”
“No, don’t. If Ms. Rothschild isn’t the one, I was thinking he should try online dating. I’ve found a dating site for him and everything. He’s a handsome guy, you know. And at Thanksgiving, Grandma was bugging him about dating more. She says it’s not good for a man to be alone.”
“He’s perfectly happy.” She pauses. “Isn’t he?”
“I think he’s perfectly . . . content? But that’s not the same thing as happy, is it? Gogo, I hate to think of him being lonely . . . and the way Kitty’s so bent on setting him up with Ms. Rothschild, it makes me think she’s longing for a mother figure.”
Margot sighs and takes a sip of tea. “Okay, work on his profile and send me the login info so I can weigh in on everything. We’ll handpick a few and present him with a really curated selection so he doesn’t get overwhelmed.”
Impulsively I say, “Why don’t we hold off until we see how this thing with Ms. Rothschild plays out? We should at least give her a chance, don’t you think? For Kitty’s sake.”
Margot sighs again. “How old do you think she is?”
“Like, thirty-nine? Forty?”
“Well, she dresses much younger.”
“You shouldn’t hold that against her,” I say, though I will admit to feeling slight discomfort when she said we shop at the same places. Does that mean she dresses too young or I dress too old? Chris has called my style “granny meets little-girl chic” and “Lolita went to library school.” Which reminds me. “Hey, if you see any cute kilts, will you bring one back for me? Red tartan, maybe with a big safety pin button?”
“I’ll keep my eyes open for you,” she promises. “Maybe I can find matching for the three of us. Actually, the four of us. It can be next year’s Christmas card.”
I snort. “Daddy in a kilt!”
“You never know, he might be into it. He’s always talking up his one-quarter Scottish heritage. He can put his money where his mouth is.” She wraps both hands around her mug and takes a sip of tea. “Guess what. I met a cute boy. His name is Samuel, and he’s in my British pop culture class.”
“Ooh. Does he have a posh accent?”
“Indubitably,” she says in a posh English accent. We both giggle. “We’re meeting up at a pub tonight. Wish me luck.”
“Luck!” I shout.
I like seeing Margot like this, so light and happy and unserious. I think it must mean she’s really and truly over Josh.
“DON’T STAND IN FRONT OF the tv,” Kitty snaps.
I’m dusting the bookshelves with a new feather duster that I ordered online. I don’t know the last time anybody dusted in here. I whirl around and say, “Why are you being such a mean little crab apple today?”
“I’m just in a mood,” she mutters, stretching her string-bean legs out in front of her. “Shanae was supposed to come over today and now she isn’t.”
“Well, don’t take it out on me.”
Kitty scratches her knee. “Hey, what would you think about me sending Ms. Rothschild a valentine on Daddy’s behalf?”
“Don’t you dare!” I shake my feather duster at her. “You’ve got to stop with this meddling habit of yours, Katherine. It’s not cute.”
Kitty gives me a deep eye roll. “Ugh, I never should have told you.”
“Too late now. Look, if two people are meant to be, they’ll find their way to each other.”
“Would you and Peter have ‘found your way to each other’ if I hadn’t sent those letters?” she challenges.
Point one for Kitty. “Probably not,” I admit.
“No, definitely not. You needed my little push.”
“Don’t act like sending my letters was some altruistic act on your part. You know you did it out of spite.”
Kitty sails right past that and asks, “What does ‘altruistic’ mean?”
“Selfless, charitable, generous of spirit . . . a.k.a. the opposite of you.” Kitty shrieks and lunges at me, and we struggle briefly, both of us breathless and giggling and bumping into the shelves. I used to be able to disarm her with not much effort, but she’s gaining on me. Her legs are strong, and she’s good at wriggling out of my grasp like a worm. I finally get both her arms behind her back, and she yells, “I give, I give!” As soon as I release her, she jumps up and attacks me again, tickling under my arms and going for my neck.
“Not the neck, not the neck!” I shriek. The neck is my weak spot, which everyone in my family knows. I fall to my knees, laughing so hard it hurts. “Stop, stop! Please!”
Kitty stops tickling. “And that’s me being altru . . . altruistic,” she says. “That’s my altruicity.”
“Altruism,” I pant.
“I think ‘altruicity’ works too.”
If Kitty hadn’t sent those letters, would Peter and I still have found our way to each other? My first impulse is to say no, but maybe we would have kept going down different paths and converged at some other fork in the road. Or maybe not, but either way, we’re here now.
“TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR young man,” Stormy says. We’re sitting cross-legged on her floor, setting aside pictures and mementos for her scrapbook. She was the only one to show up for Scrapbooking to the Oldies today, so we moved it over to her apartment. I’d worried Janette would notice the low attendance, but since I started volunteering, she hasn’t so much as popped her head in. All the better.