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Authors: Elaine Cantrell

Rest Thy Head

BOOK: Rest Thy Head
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Rest Thy Head

by Elaine Cantrell

Published by Astraea Press

www.astraeapress.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

 

 

REST THY HEAD

Copyright © 2014 ELAINE CANTRELL

ISBN 978-1-62135-339-3

Cover Art Designed by AM Designs Studios

 

In memory of my mother Bobbie Evelyn Trotter Pace.

 

Chapter One

With an air of reverence, Eleanor O’Malley passed her hand across the white damask tablecloth in the box. “This is very nice, Peyton. Feel how heavy it is. It should last you a lifetime.”

Peyton opened and read the card that accompanied the gift. “Best wishes for a long and happy marriage. Henry and Anne Williams.”

Her mother flashed her best high-wattage smile. “Can you believe it? The Williams family sent you a wedding gift! They’re one of the nicest families in town.”

“Considering the fact they’re best friends with Drew’s parents, I sort of expected a gift from them.” Peyton tossed the card back into the box. “I’m not as happy with the tablecloth as you are. I’d rather give a barbecue and eat outside.”

Peyton frowned when she noted the patronizing smile on her mother’s face.

“Darling, that’s fine for right now, but later on after Drew goes to work with his father, you’ll be expected to entertain his clients and business associates. I imagine they’ll expect more than a barbecue in the back yard.”

Peyton rolled her eyes at her mother. “Yuck.”

Eleanor glanced at her watch. “It’s three, and we have to meet Ashley at three thirty; we’d better get going.”

Peyton picked up her purse, which sat beside an antique trunk her mother used as a coffee table. It had belonged to some famous Civil War general, a fact her mother repeated over and over to anyone who visited them. Eleanor hadn’t come right out and said so, but she had given Drew’s parents the impression her family was related to the famous general. Peyton sighed. “Mother, I really want Ashley to be in the wedding. Be nice to her.”

“I admire your loyalty to your sister, but frankly, I think it’s in poor taste to let her be a bridesmaid.”

“I wanted her to be the maid of honor, but thanks to you she refused when I asked her,” Peyton complained with a scowl.

A pained expression came to rest on her mother’s face. “I’m so tired of having to explain things to a daughter who should understand but refuses to do so. The Roberts would not appreciate someone like Ashley serving as your maid of honor. Be grateful you have Roberta to fall back on.”

“Roberta is Drew’s sister, not mine,” Peyton cried. “I don’t even like her.”

“She’ll grow on you. Now, we’d better hurry.”

Peyton ran to put the tablecloth on the dining room table with her other wedding gifts. Pausing for a moment, she stroked the table’s smooth, gleaming surface. Her mother had found it in a second hand shop and spent a long time refinishing it. No shabby chic for Eleanor! It now looked like a prized family piece, which was exactly what her mother had wanted.

Everything in this house looked old, elegant, and well-tended. She didn’t think anyone would guess most of the furniture came from thrift stores and junk shops.

“Peyton? Where are you?”

“Coming, Mother.”

As they drove across town to meet Ashley, who was having her bridesmaid dress altered, her mother chatted non-stop about the wedding. Like that wasn’t all she’d talked about for months! Peyton didn’t have to contribute to the conversation; all she had to do was nod and say
uh huh
at the appropriate time.

Bet if she’d gotten engaged to Willie Lucas her mother would’ve killed her. Willie’s father worked at a local convenience store and lived on the edge of a not-too-nice neighborhood, but Willie had had quite a thing for her in high school.

She turned up the radio when her mother started talking about Ashley. There wasn’t any use getting into a quarrel with her mother now when they were on their way to a fitting. Of course, there was no reason why she and her mother had to go at all. Ashley was capable of getting herself to the shop and taking care of business.

Why did her mother treat Ashley like a red-headed stepchild? Yeah, Ashley had made a few mistakes, but that didn’t make her a bad person. Whether her mother liked it or not, Ashley was her daughter, and families needed to stick together.

Peyton’s heart sank the moment they entered the alterations shop. Ashley hadn’t been able to get a babysitter. She’d had to bring her little boy Griffin with her, and Griffin was not a happy camper. His wails and cries grated on Peyton’s ears and brought two round, red spots to her mother’s cheeks. “Griffin,” Eleanor snapped. “Stop that horrible noise at once!”

Ashley took a deep breath and pushed her chestnut hair behind her ear as though she was trying to hold on to her patience. “Mother, he’s little. He can’t help getting bored. If you’ll just play with him while Mrs. White pins my dress, we can get out of here a lot quicker.”

Eleanor’s lips thinned, but she held out her hand to the small boy who tearfully clung to Ashley’s legs. “Let’s go and find you an ice cream, Griffin.” The child smiled and took his grandmother’s hand. “We’ll be across the street at The Ice Cream Parlor. I must say this isn’t what I expected.”

The two of them crossed the street to the restaurant, leaving Ashley and Peyton alone with Mrs. White, who smiled at Ashley. “We’ll be done soon.”

A look of relief crossed Ashley’s face. “I’m glad. Mother isn’t too good with children.”

Mrs. White removed a pin from her mouth. “Yes, I noticed. Your mother and I went to school together way back in the dark ages. She wasn’t good with people then either.”

Peyton cringed. She could only imagine how her mother had probably treated Mrs. White.

When they finished pinning the dress, Peyton and Ashley crossed the road to The Ice Cream Parlor. “Hey, sugar,” Peyton cried when she saw her sweet nephew licking a chocolate covered ice cream cone. “Do you feel better now?”

Griffin nodded and smiled at Peyton, but he reached for Ashley and accidentally smeared Eleanor’s new silk blouse with sticky ice cream. “Oh, Griffin!” Their mother’s piercing cry reverberated around the room, causing several people to look their way. “Look what you’ve done!”

Ashley grabbed a pile of napkins and tried to wipe the spot off her mother’s arm, but the chocolate wouldn’t budge. “I’m sorry, Mother. I hope the blouse is washable.”

“It isn’t, but never mind that. I take it you got the dress pinned.”

“Yes, I did.” Ashley paused to wipe Griffin’s sticky hands. “Mrs. White promised we’d have it by the end of the week.”

Eleanor sniffed. “I hope so, but she never was too reliable. That’s why I wanted to come today. I wanted her to understand how important it is for the dress to be finished on time. The wedding’s in two weeks. If you’re going to be in it, you need the dress.

Peyton rolled her eyes, and Ashley bit her lip. “We’d better go, Mother. Griffin’ll be getting hungry soon.”

“Hey, how about a burger for dinner?” Peyton exclaimed, remembering that Ashley had had to work today and was probably tired.

Eleanor frowned. “You’re supposed to have dinner with Drew’s grandparents.”

“Oh, I can…”

“You go home and get ready, Peyton. You and Ashley can have a burger later.”

Eleanor picked Griffin up and carried him to Ashley’s car, leaving Ashley and Peyton to trail along in her wake. “Sometimes I’d love to choke her!” Peyton whispered to Ashley, whose eyes sparkled wickedly at the very idea of it.

As her mother drove past a local farmer’s market, Eleanor decided she needed something fresh for dinner. “I’ll drop you off at home first, Peyton. I want you to have plenty of time to get ready for your dinner engagement. It won’t take a minute for me to circle back.”

Peyton sat home alone for all of fifteen minutes before she got bored and decided to go over to Drew’s apartment. He’d said he would pick her up at six, but she wanted to see him now. It would be fun to surprise him.

She skipped outside and got into her car, a dark blue Mini Cooper that she bought for herself after she graduated from Tri State Tech. Drew always said the car matched her eyes, and it did. If she did say so, she had beautiful eyes. She laughed aloud. Drew thought the rest of her looked okay too, especially her long, slim legs. In fact, that’s what he said attracted him to her in the first place.

They had met at a fraternity party two years ago. Peyton’s date, a creep by the name of Josh Pope, got drunk and tried to put the moves on her. It had made her so mad when he wouldn’t take no for an answer that she took off her shoe and beat him until he let her go and ran for cover. She still smiled when she thought about it.

Drew had witnessed the whole thing from the safety of the bar. “Boy, I’d sure hate to make you mad,” he exclaimed when Peyton came to get something to drink.

“Yeah, well, that jerk deserved what he got.”

“How about we leave the party and find something to eat?”

Peyton hadn’t thought she wanted to go off with a stranger, even one who looked like a Greek god come to life, so she cornered her roommate, and the three of them went to an IHOP for pancakes. Drew had called her the next day, and from that time on they had spent virtually all of their free time together.

Her mother loved Drew. His family had both money and social standing, while Eleanor had neither and wanted both.

She did wish her mother had been nicer to Ashley this afternoon, but that was probably expecting too much. Once Ashley got pregnant without the benefit of a wealthy husband, their mother was done with her. Why couldn’t she see a sweet grandson was worth more than social position and money? Griffin was adorable, but it looked as if he’d never have a grandmother who’d love and spoil him.

That dress had looked like a million dollars on her sister. Ashley imbued grace to every movement she made, just like Eleanor, but she was short like their father. Both of them had the same dark chestnut hair, though. Ashley had blue eyes too, but hers were much lighter in color than Peyton’s.

What a beautiful day to be alive! Milford always looked its best in the spring as sunshine flooded the little town with warmth and new life and chased away the chill of winter. Peyton popped a CD into the player and sang along with Garth Brooks. Drew hated country music so even though she loved it, she only played it when he wasn’t around.

As she turned into Drew’s apartment complex, she paused to comb her hair with her fingers before she went in. She had let the windows down to take advantage of the balmy, spring breeze, but it had almost blown her hair away. Oh, well; Drew liked the tousled, casual look.

She got out of her car and strolled down a winding, concrete walkway to Drew’s apartment. To her surprise the door stood open a small crack. Peyton frowned. Did he think robbers would pass by so tempting a target? True, this upscale complex had excellent security, but really!

The living room was deserted, but she heard voices coming from the kitchen. She tossed her purse onto the sofa and went in search of her man. As she rounded the corner into the kitchen, she froze. Megan Thomas, whom Drew used to date, was with him in the kitchen, and the two of them were hugging each other so tightly it was a wonder either of them could breathe.

Peyton gasped, and when Drew saw her he shoved Megan away, causing her to fall against the stove. “Peyton, I can explain!”

Peyton could hardly speak around the rage that almost choked her. “What’s to explain, Drew? I’m not an idiot. You don’t have to say a thing.”

She spun on her heel and ran from the kitchen with Drew right behind her. “Peyton, wait.” He grabbed her arm and brought her to a stop before she could escape.

“Peyton, don’t! Don’t do this. We’ve been together too long for you to throw everything away.”

Pain penetrated her anger. Did he really think a couple of sentences would fix this? What was she supposed to do? Forget she caught him in Megan’s arms? Peyton bit her lip hard to hold back tears as the reality of his betrayal started to sink in.

Drew was right about one thing. They had been together for a long time. She’d promised her heart and her future to him, and he had promised the same to her, but he had betrayed their love. He had betrayed the shared life she’d expected to have.

She had seen Drew as the best thing that ever happened to her. He was the one who had her back, the one who’d stand between her and the world, but she had been wrong about him.

At that moment, Megan peeked around the corner. The little smirk on her face sent Peyton’s temper soaring.

BOOK: Rest Thy Head
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