The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again
night, inquiring about her homework and other school activities. He’d attended her recitals and high school and college graduations. He’d even taken her out to dinner occasionally. But though they lived in the same house, an emotional distance stretched between them. When her father started dating, Carolyn felt both relief and jealousy. She knew it was good for her father to have a life away from the company, she even understood, intellectually, that her father might be happier if he remarried, but she worried that any woman replacing her mother might eclipse Carolyn in his heart. Ashamed of such thoughts, she kept them to herself.
    Over the years, Aubrey Sperry had squired a variety of elegant Bostonian social swans. How odd that he would marry this plain little partridge, Heather. As Aubrey lifted the heavy silver carving knife and fork to the roast, Carolyn studied her father’s face, thinking what a mystery people are to each other, for here was this man who shared her DNA and her daily life, and there sat his new wife, someone Carolyn would never have expected Aubrey to so much as glance at.
    Whatever the reason for his choice, Aubrey looked happy with his new wife, seated wide-eyed on his left. The candlelight illuminated Aubrey’s hands with their age spots and ropy veins and his wrinkled, jowly face. Her father was aging. The years had reversed their roles; now she was the one who should protect him.
    For her part, Heather looked rather cowed by the silver candlesticks, thick damask napkins, and gold-rimmed Limoges bowls of rice and vegetables. In a high, little-girl voice, she tittered, “This is an awfully big table.”
    “Too big for comfortable modern family meals,” Hank agreed. Rising, he went around the table, serving the food with the panache of a butler. “I don’t want to ask Mrs. B. to do it,” he explained. “It’s enough that she had to cart all this stuff in here.”
    “The house was built by my grandmother,” Aubrey explained to his new wife, “back in the days when people had lots of help. Cooks, maids, young boys to do the heavy work.”
    “It’s a beautiful room.” Carolyn glanced around the grand chamber. “But impractical. We usually eat in our own dining rooms, or in the kitchen, with Mrs. B.”
    “Does she live here?” Heather asked.
    Carolyn answered, “Mrs. B.’s got her own home just a short drive away, down in Sperry, where her husband lives. He’s retired from the post office, a classical-record fanatic. She loves working here in the day so he can play his music full blast. She goes home in the evening, unless the weather’s terrible or we have a big party that runs late. There’s a small bedroom off the office, between the kitchen and the family room, which is hers.”
    “You know, we haven’t had a party for years,” Aubrey remarked.
    “Let’s have one,” Carolyn suggested. “Hey! How about a gala cocktail party to announce your marriage and introduce your new wife?”
    Heather looked round-eyed with terror.
    “We’ll discuss it,” Aubrey said, patting Heather’s hand.
    Hank finished serving the roast, potatoes and asparagus and returned to his place at the table. “So, Heather, tell me about yourself.”
    Heather replied meekly, “There’s not much to tell.”
    Hank kindly prompted, “Did you grow up around here?”
    Heather nodded. “In Arlington.”
    “That’s a nice suburb,” Hank said encouragingly.
    Heather bent her head and concentrated on cutting her meat.
    “Heather’s parents are both dead, unfortunately.” After Heather’s shy utterances, Aubrey’s voice seemed to boom. “Her father was a plumber, her mother a housewife. Heather and her brother, Harry, inherited the house and lived in it together until our marriage. Haven’t met Harry yet.”
    “You’re lucky to have a brother,” Carolyn told Heather. “I always wanted one.”
    Heather smiled but said nothing.
    “Is he older or

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