"Lisa?" Doria Holwood stepped into the kitchen at Tabor Christian Church, where Lisa was busy scooping ice cream, assembly line-fashion, onto dozens of paper plates holding slices of apple and cherry pie. The Autumn Fellowship luncheon for the senior citizens of the church was nearly over for another month. "I haven't seen Todd anywhere. Isn't he helping today?"
"He had to put in a command performance at his father's house, as far as I know," Lisa said, summoning up a smile.
Obviously, that smile was even less steady than it felt, because concern creased the older woman's dusky features and she came further into the room.
"That man," she said on a sigh, then pressed her lips together as if to hold back angry words, and shook her head. "Then can I give you a ride home? Rance just stepped outside to help Mrs. Sommersby out to her car, and he said that threatened storm is about to hit."
"Thanks, but I'm practically home already." Lisa felt her smile grow a little steadier and warmer. She adored her new little apartment, despite the mess of boxes and bags everywhere. She had awakened to the delicious aroma of baking bread and donuts from downstairs, and had actually laughed at the whimsical thought that she would gain fifty pounds during her pregnancy, just from breathing the air.
"And that means?" Doria slid three plates at a time onto the wheeled cart to take the desserts out to the seniors who had stayed for the musical program.
"I'm renting the apartment over Rick's. One hundred yards down the hill from the post office, and I'm home. I won't even feel the cold by the time I'm inside again."
"That's a very small apartment." She chuckled and paused in sliding more plates off the counter. "Rance and I stayed there when we were first looking for houses in Tabor, and he had to start teaching before we found anything. Why did you and Todd move?"
Lisa sighed. She adored Mrs. Holwood, and she had dreaded telling her former advisor's wife that she had left Todd, just because of the disappointment she would cause the woman.
"I moved out… before Todd could move us in with his father." She held her breath, waiting for that moment of comprehension and disappointment.
"Oh, sweetheart," Doria whispered, and stepped around the cart to put both arms around her, almost making Lisa's legs fold in shocked relief. "What you must have been suffering from that self-righteous old man."
"I'm sorry," slipped out before she could think. In retrospect, Lisa thought that was the best reaction. Her only other choice was a gusher of tears.
"For not coming to you."