Murder at the Book Group

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Authors: Maggie King
that—thirty-three years? We were seniors in college.”
    â€œAnd how long did you stay together?”
    â€œTwo years.”
    â€œI imagine your parents weren’t too happy about your getting married before you graduated.”
    â€œThat’s putting it mildly. Mine weren’t crazy about the whole idea, but they accepted it. On the other hand, Evan’s parents were very unhappy when we married and very happy when we divorced. At the wedding they wouldn’t speak to me or anyone else in my family. I never knew why. Fortunately for Carlene, they both died before she and Evan met so she was spared hostile in-laws.” Then I added, “That’s assuming their hostility wasn’t reserved for me in particular.” An image of them meeting Kat sprang up in my mind and I tried to hide my smile.
    But Kat seemed to divine my thoughts. Giving me a shrewd look, she said, “I’m sure you’re thinking ‘What if Kat met Evan’s parents?’ I know I’m not the kind of woman a guy brings home to Mom. But we live with our choices, don’t we?” I reminded myself that I’d best cease thinking in her presence. Or in any book group member’s presence. She laughed, then asked, “If you don’t mind my asking, why did you and Evan split up? Was it the hostile parents?”
    â€œThey contributed somewhat, but I didn’t see them very much even though they didn’t live far away. The real reason, I guess, was . . . youth.” I was going to leave it at that. I limited discussions of my past, preferring, like Carlene, to move forward. But I found myself continuing. “I’m serious—we were too young. And, like I said before, he wasn’t possessive when we were married. Quite—” I stopped before saying “quite the opposite.” I didn’t want to get into Evan’s open-marriage phase.
    Kat and Lucy waited for me to continue, but I didn’t satisfy their curiosity. Finally Kat asked, “But you and Evan are friends now. Did you stay in touch over the years, or did you meet up here in Richmond?”
    How much did I want to reveal? If Kat was so gung-ho that Carlene hadn’t committed suicide, I didn’t want to give her any reason to suspect me of doing the evil deed. If I could suspect Kat, she could examine my motives as well. I caught Lucy watching me with her pewter eyes. Would she come to my rescue and change the subject? But she just clicked away with her needles, and I couldn’t wait indefinitely, so I said, hoping I wouldn’t let something slip, “We always kept in touch. Like I said, I lived in L.A. for years, so we only saw each other when I came back east to visit. Dinner mostly. We sent each other Christmas and birthday cards, and occasionally talked on the phone.” I didn’t add that the cards had stopped once Carlene came on the scene. As had almost any contact with Evan.
    Kat wore a “well, that’s interesting” look on her face. “I’m sure it’s none of my business, but I have to ask. Did you ever want to get back together?”
    I felt like agreeing that it was indeed none of her business, but I controlled myself. “I thought about it from time to time, but always came to the conclusion that we were meant to be just friends—definitely not married.”
    Lucy offered, “Hazel’s mother always liked Evan. She wanted them to remarry.” She continued. “She didn’t like any of your other husbands, especially that one you were married to for thirteen years. Then there was that other guy you went around with in L.A. She didn’t like him either.”
    â€œBill Mason. Funny, I thought she did like him. She confided her true feelings to you more than to me.” Funny, because my mom never really got along well with Lucy. “But let’s move on. We don’t need to rehash my failed marriages.”

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