No Cognitive Defect - XII

When she saw Wilson that very first time, eyeballing her as she trudged up the hill with her groceries, she immediately disregarded most of what Evan had ever told her about him. It was the way he stared down at her, as if she was a peasant storming the castle. The way he stood, ramrod straight, head slightly elevated, nose just slightly up as his eyes bore down into her. Yet there was something between them that clicked almost from the start, despite their being nearly polar opposites. She sensed a thin wire of strength at Wilson's core, but it was buried beneath layers of bitterness and self-pity, buried so deeply that Evan was blind to it. She'd decided immediately to treat Wilson like she'd treat anyone else, and she could tell immediately that Evan disapproved. "I promise I won't break him," she'd whispered in Evan's ear just before he left for Mississippi. "But I refuse to treat him like's he's the center of the Universe."

"Well, I hope you know what you're in for. Dad can be a handful. And don't cuss around him," Evan whispered. "He really hates that. You've kept the expletives in check so far. You've been talking like a nun, in fact."

"I'm no nun," she'd said, pulling him close and whispering something startling in his ear. "There …it's out of my system. Just hurry back or I might say something that makes him blush."

While she refused to cut Wilson any slack due to his physical condition, she did make allowances for his grief. He was clearly overwhelmed at the loss of his wife, she could see that. It was like a piece of him was missing, a piece she'd never seen, and that saddened her a bit. She would have liked to meet the two of them together, to see how they notched into each other's lives.

Erica's unexpected death had devastated Evan as well. He was in his apartment in Los Angeles when the call came from the State Police in Massachusetts. She'd been in the kitchen making them fresh salsa. She saw the color vanish from his face as he sat on the couch holding the phone to his ear. It was like someone had opened a tap under him and Evan was draining into it. She knew something terrible had happened. His first words after hanging up the phone had been: "Dad needs me. There's been an accident in Glennon. Mom's dead. Start packing."

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