Tuesday, October 14, 2014


 Stacy Belmont's feet were damp and cold for the first two hours of work. Part of that could be blamed on the age of the administration building at BWU -- well past a century, and still relying on steam heat. Those marble floors were gloriously cool in the summer and fought the humidity, but in the winter they made for slippery walking and chilly rooms. Part of her discomfort could be blamed on the fact that she cut through the Ashcrofts' backyard after dropping off her present for Dinah.
It was ridiculous, she knew, to have put the present down and fled. Mrs. Ashcroft would have welcomed her, and she missed seeing the woman, who had been like a mother to her. With Mr. Ashcroft ill over the holidays and Dinah living and working in Norfolk, there had been few holiday celebrations, and she hadn't felt like celebrating or seeing much of anyone, this being the first Christmas without her grandmother. Stacy knew Mrs. Ashcroft would have pulled her into the house and insisted on feeding her.
But she would have either apologized for Dinah not including her in the wedding party, or she would have insisted that Stacy take the day off work and join the crew anyway. Stacy couldn't stand that. She had gone to too many parties in her childhood where she learned after arriving that she had either been invited at the last minute, or had been included on the list as a pity invitation -- the token motherless child, or whichever other detail in her life was uppermost in the mind of the high society matron throwing the party. By the time she was ten, she had learned to discern which birthday girl or slumber party hostess really wanted her there, and which one only invited her because her mother made her do it -- or didn't even know Stacy was on the list. By that time, she had come home with enough headaches and upset stomachs that her grandmother let her refuse the invitations and stay home. Dinah's parties had been the only ones Stacy always went to, because she knew without a doubt Dinah wanted her there.
           But Dinah didn't want her there now.

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