DATING A SILVER FOX
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SERIES: NEVER TOO LATE, BOOK FIVE
PUBLISHER: CREATESPACE PUBLISHING
FORMAT: TRADE PAPERBACK & EBOOK
LENGTH: 274 PAGES
RELEASE DATE (PRINT): JUNE 28, 2011
E-BOOK ISBN: 978-1-988358-24-7
PRINT ISBN-13: 978-1-466207-22-6
It really is never too late to fall in love.
Widowed and over sixty might not sound like the perfect life to some people, but Lydia intends to remain single. Book 4 of this humorous romantic comedy saga finds the dashing and sexy Morrison Fox trying to woo the reluctant and sassy Lydia McCarthy. The results are as funny as they are surprising.
Lydia McCarthy didn’t want any man in her life, much less an incorrigible old flirt like Morrison Fox. Widowed since her forties, being single has suited her. She truly can’t see any sane reason to risk her peaceful existence for someone who says he wants to make wine out of her one minute and then embarrasses her the next. Does it matter at her age that Morrie might be her last chance to find true love?
Read Chapters 1 and 2
“Good evening, Mrs. McCarthy. I have a table for one available right now if you’re ready.”
Lydia nodded at the hostess, deftly avoiding eye contact with the curious gazes of two couples waiting for a larger table. Widowed in her mid-forties, she had long ago grown accustomed to the pitying looks she received when dining alone. At sixty-seven, the remaining discomfort was minimal.
She drew herself up to her full five-foot-six height and exhaled loudly at their rudeness, making sure they heard. Normally, she would have said something to dissuade them from openly expressing unwanted sympathy, but miscellaneous confrontations tended to ruin her dinner.
“Red wine, Mrs. McCarthy?” Andrea asked pleasantly, stepping around the hostess who had fled after pulling out the older woman’s chair.
“Yes. Thank you, Andrea,” Lydia replied formally, stiffening in her seat as the two couples from the lobby ended up at the table for four next to her. She shook her head over the bad judgment of the hostess, steeling her nerves to deal with the distraction they were sure to cause. Their current jabbering and laughter did not bode well.
“Chicken Alfredo, Mrs. McCarthy? It’s excellent tonight,” Andrea suggested, already writing it down because this was Tuesday and she had long ago committed the meal rotation to memory.
“Fine. I’ll have the Chicken Alfredo. Please make sure it doesn’t sit too long before you bring it out this time. It was practically iced over when I got it last week. There’s nothing worse than hardened Alfredo sauce on cold, slimy pasta,” Lydia said, her attention drawn once more to the laughing group at the next table.
“Yes, Ma’am. I will watch the timing tonight,” she said, turning with a quiet sigh of relief to leave.
“Andrea?” Lydia called, rolling her eyes in exasperation.
“Yes?” Andrea asked, turning back and hoping like hell her irritation over the delayed escape wasn’t showing because she needed her job.
Lydia handed her distracted server the folded menu that she’d forgotten to take away. “Are you feeling okay this evening? You seem a bit preoccupied.”
“I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” Andrea said politely, biting the inside of her jaw.
“Try to get some extra sleep, dear. You young people don’t realize how much a lack of sleep affects your mental capacities,” Lydia said, eyes darting again at the loud, bright laughter just beyond her as the sommelier arrived to pour the first glass of wine.
“Yes, Mrs. McCarthy. I’ll keep that in mind,” Andrea said, turning again and walking quickly away.
Lydia frowned at the noise level caused by the incessant laughter that kept erupting from the group next to her. With their gray hair announcing their aging process, both couples looked to be close to sixty.
Not that being gray had obviously brought any true maturity to them, Lydia decided, watching the one couple being embarrassingly demonstrative with each other. They were holding hands like teenagers as they ate. The man had even leaned over and kissed the woman several times, once after he’d fed her a bite of something from his plate. The next time he leaned into her, he kissed her neck and the woman giggled.
Disgusting, Lydia thought. How could they act like that in public? People their age ought to have more of a sense of decorum.
She sipped her wine and tackled her dinner with gusto when it arrived hot and steaming perfect. But the laughter, the giggling, and the loud, bragging conversation were just too much to ignore long enough to enjoy her food. What was it going to take for her to finish her dinner in peace?
Finally, Lydia stood and laid her napkin beside her plate. Hoping a trip to the ladies’ room would erase her unease and perhaps prevent her the unpleasant necessity of asking them to keep the noise level down at their table, she gestured to Andrea and held up two fingers. Her server nodded at the familiar signal indicating how long she’d be away and Lydia quickly walked to the bathroom with her purse tucked under her arm.
She had just chosen the last and cleanest stall of three when the two noisy women from the table next to hers came into the room. They were sighing and laughing as they filled the other two stalls. Lydia sat in the stall, staring at the ceiling, and wondering why she was being punished this evening.
“Lana, you’re not going to let that woman ruin your anniversary are you?” one woman asked. “She kept glaring at you and George all through dinner.”
“Ruin it? Are you kidding?” Lana answered. “I feel sorry for her. She’s eating her dinner all alone, pretending like it doesn’t matter. Seeing her only makes me more grateful for my marriage. God, sixty-two is old, but most of the time I don’t care about time passing. I’ve been with George half my lifetime and still think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
Lydia heard the first woman laughed before she answered.
“I know. I admit I’m jealous. You two are so great. Have George talk to Len for me, will you? I think Len has forgotten what romance is. I can’t remember the last time he kissed my neck and made me giggle. Maybe if I held the TV remote for ransom, he might get motivated.”
There was more laughter, the sound of the stall doors opening and water running, and finally hands being washed. The rustle of paper towels filled a momentary silence without further chatter. Lydia sighed with frustration when they started talking again.
“I don’t get it. I bet she’s not even our age. Why would someone as good-looking as that woman not have a man in her life?” Lana pondered.
“Lord—that’s an easy answer, which you would have figured out yourself if George hadn’t scrambled your brain kissing you on the neck,” non-Lana answered. “She’s obviously a total bitch to live with. Did you hear the way she talked to her server? Who would want to put up with that bitchy criticism all the time? No one looks that good. Her last man is probably even now in bed with an ugly woman who talks all sweetie, baby to him.”
“You don’t even know her story. That’s an awful thing to say,” Lana said, laughing at her slightly drunk friend’s joke.
“Yes—awful to say, but also probably true,” non-Lana said with a snide self-confidence, bumping open the door. “Come on, I’m ready to go dancing. The guys are waiting. It feels like prom all over again.”
Their laughter faded as they walked out the door and away.
Inside her hiding place, Lydia stared at the back of the stall door and breathed through the discomfort of what she had heard. The pain was familiar, but it had been a while since she’d overheard such a sharp critique of herself. Normally, criticism like that only came from her daughter, but even Lauren cloaked her displeasure in innuendo instead of cold words.
As she tidied her clothes, Lydia ordered herself to shake it off. What did it matter if strangers thought she was a bitch? It wasn’t the first time she’d accidentally heard terrible news in a bathroom. Gossiping women was how she had discovered William had taken his first mistress. Hearing bad news had hurt then too, but the pain had dulled by the time the other two long-term mistresses had come along. William had told her about them himself.
It had been many years since she’d found herself thinking about William’s indiscretions. After the first one, talk among their social group and friends had spread so badly that divorce had seemed the only dignified option at one point. Her mother’s stinging reprimands about the social scandal had doused the flames of the personal anger that had flared inside her at living with a man who showed little remorse for replacing his wife with multiple bed partners. Lydia had long ago decided her sense of fairness had been beaten back by her parents focusing on what everyone else thought about her circumstances. It was the only time in her life she could remember her mother ever pleading with her not to do something. It had been one more convincing reason to try to salvage her relationship, but it had cost her to win her mother’s approval.
Choosing not to divorce a man she hadn’t wanted in the first place had required she and William come to a civilized agreement about their relationship—or rather lack of one. He had told her that he intended to have his needs met and she could either deal with it or divorce him. If she had loved him, things might have turned out very differently, but she’d never really felt that about any male—or at least not that she could recall.
Now she was certain that she had done the right thing socially by staying and ironically becoming a more virtuous woman for her own lack of looking outside her marriage. But how could she see herself otherwise with her husband’s insistence that she was frigid echoing in her mind? His sexual criticism lingered still today, refusing to be banished even by his death and the passage of more years of widowhood than she could bear thinking about at times.
Maybe she should have sought another relationship, but she had never come across a man that had seemed worth the effort. Or the risk of failing again and maybe with someone who would have told everyone she knew about it.
Not that she considered her efforts to be a good wife a failure. Hadn’t she always submitted to William’s occasional attempts to be intimate, regardless of how they made her feel? Hadn’t she done everything her husband had asked? It hadn’t been enough–had never in all their years together been enough.
Nothing she had done had made him any happier with her. In the end, there had only been more and more women. By the time he had his first heart attack, all compassion for him had fled in the face of how miserable she was to be his wife. Though she’d kept him in the house for many months of his sickness, Lauren had visited him more than she had in the hospital during those last days. His death had been a sad liberation for her. She’d not had it in her to grieve him.
At William’s request, they had kept the truth from the child they had created. Lydia had done all she could over the years to confront the wagging tongues, and hurtful stares with the appearance of normality, but Lauren had found out about it in college anyway. The daughter of a woman William had dated ended up telling Lauren the truth about her father’s philandering ways.
Lauren’s confrontation with her about her part in maintaining the illusion was still one of Lydia’s most painful memories.
And then history repeated itself. Everyone always said that it would, and it certainly became the case with the women in her family, Lydia decided.
When Lauren had married, she had ended up with the same kind of bed-hopping husband. Like William, her son-in-law was not a bad man, just a weak one. Fortunately, Lauren hadn’t had a child with Jared. If she had, she’d likely still be in that relationship and not have managed to find anything better.
Lydia frowned as she waited three more minutes, then walked out of the stall and to the sink, automatically running water and washing her hands—hands Lydia couldn’t help noticing were trembling. Thinking about why, she decided it was the bitch remark that had stung the most. No one had ever said it to her face, though she imagined several had thought it, especially when she spoke up to defend something.
But then any woman who spoke her mind eventually got tagged with that moniker. Gone were the days of polite filtering. Look at the two women Lauren kept company with the most. Their language was punctuated with swearing. It wouldn’t surprise her to learn Lauren adopted it herself when she was with them.
Really—when Lydia thought about it—what else but vitriolic words could be expected from the two laughing women at the next restaurant table? They had been drinking bottle after bottle of wine at dinner. They were probably just drunk and out of control.
Lydia studied her reflection but saw only the same person she always did. Her carefully streaked hair was still in place and her lipstick was fading appropriately with dinner. Her gray eyes held no more pain than she was accustomed to seeing in her gaze.
Ignoring the nagging voice inside her, shaking her head over the rationalization, Lydia was careful to avoid staring in the mirror as she finished up. As she left to return to the table though, she realized her appetite was completely gone. In its place was a knot in her stomach that felt like she’d swallowed a baseball.
“Everything alright?” Andrea asked, not meeting Mrs. McCarthy’s gaze in case her own was not properly sympathetic.
“The food is fine. I just got really tired suddenly. I’ll take the check and the rest to go,” Lydia said.
Andrea boxed her food in record time. Lydia signed the check for dinner with a frown, then dug a twenty out of her purse and placed it on the table too.
The exorbitant tip was not out of guilt, she assured herself. The girl had been exemplary this evening and deserved to be rewarded. It was certainly not to prove the laughing women had been wrong about her, though Lydia did briefly wish they were still there to see her being gracious so they could find it out for themselves. That might teach them not to gossip so much.
She nodded briefly at Andrea’s wide eyes landing on the cash and the softly spoken good-bye she received from the startled girl, not at all happy with the thoughts pushing forward in her mind.
From her position under her desk, Jane Fox Waterfield glared up in disbelief at her sixty-two-year-old father, Morrison Eli Fox, wondering if she needed to have him tested for mental disorders. It was the only rational explanation for his latest obsession.
“Haven’t you ever just looked at someone and been interested for no logical reason? There’s something about the woman that intrigues me. I like the way she looks so prim and proper in her expensive clothes,” Morrie joked, laughing at his daughter’s pained expression. “What? Don’t you think I can charm her?”
“Right Dad. Don’t make me laugh,” Jane said, doing just that as she traced power cords and cables. She finally found one with a broken plastic connector that would have to be replaced before she could gain access to her back-up drive.
Jane crawled back out, straightening her slacks as she stood to face an unapologetically masculine male grin. She rolled her eyes, but knew the gesture was lost on her father.
“Dad, your charm is not the reason I’m cringing, though maybe it should be. I saw you chatting up Dorothy Henderson and where your hands were,” she declared.
Now it was her turn to smile when her father looked away, chagrined about being caught way more than he was embarrassed. While she never passed up a chance to tease him about it, her father’s flirting didn’t cause her any serious concerns. Her father had gone through a long dry spell of not being his normal outrageous self when her mother died. It had forced him into an early retirement and changed his life. Now he was finally more like he used to be when she was younger. How could that be bad?
Besides, how could someone thirty-eight, divorced, and who hadn’t had a real date for almost ten months judge anyone who was actually going out and taking chances. Truthfully, all she felt about her father’s love life at the moment was freaking envy. Hating her own singlehood, Jane hadn’t figured how her brother Elijah stood his self-imposed monastic existence. But even the “celibacy-is-righteous” Elijah hadn’t found fault with their father’s serial dating lifestyle.
Unlike the adult children of some of the residents of the luxurious North Winds Retirement Community for the elderly rich of Falls Church, the Fox siblings didn’t want their still-independent parent to resign himself to being lonely and alone without their mother. Jane would be the first to admit that when she had taken on rejuvenating North Winds, she had only been intending to flip the business and sell it, not provide her father with a whole new dating pool. Still, regardless of where Morrison Fox found his women, both Jane and Elijah definitely wanted their father to date.
Jane’s only problem was that she didn’t want her father to waste his time on a dried-up woman like Lydia McCarthy, who rarely had a kind word for anyone. Sure, the woman looked really good for her age, but that was about her only redeeming quality. Thinking of her father being on the receiving end of Lydia’s bitterness was enough to give Jane nightmares. It was already challenging enough to deal with Lydia herself when she showed up to volunteer—or as Jane had come to view it—showed up to insult the residents she tried to help.
“There are tons of nice women looking for a great guy like you, Dad. Go home and watch the movie The Taming of a Shrew. You can stream it from the video rental software we set up last weekend. It’s Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. I guarantee that movie will cure you of the urge to ask Lydia McCarthy out,” Jane said, grinning at her father.
“Jane, I’ve seen that movie. And when have I ever not been up for a challenge? Did you ever think maybe Lydia just needs a little fun to loosen her up?” Morrie demanded, not bothering to hide his laughter.
“Dad, ten pounds of prunes couldn’t loosen that grumpy old woman up,” Jane said frankly, laughing back.
“Well, I like prunes,” Morrie said as reasonably as he could, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing himself. “I eat them most mornings for breakfast.”
“That better not be more crass innuendo, old man, I’m scarred enough already,” Jane threatened, even as she laughed. “Thinking about you chasing Lydia McCarthy makes me want to get a bunch of cats and give up men altogether.”
“Why would you do that? You hate cats,” Morrie declared, not fighting the grin that lit his face. “Buy a mean dog—a big one. Then I wouldn’t worry so much about you living alone.”
“For pity’s sake Dad, this is Falls Church, not downtown DC. I’m almost forty and fine by myself. If I buy a dog, it would be too tempting to have him trained to attack Nathan Waterfield on sight,” Jane said. “I don’t want to go to jail.”
“Nathan been giving you grief again?” Morrie demanded, his grin sliding away at the mention of his former son-in-law who had recently taken an interest in Jane’s life again.
“Personal grief? No. Nathan popped by last week on some lame excuse that the house in the Hamptons had problems. I called the management service. There are no problems. He’s just creating drama to get my attention, but I’m not biting. Do I look desperate enough to settle for taking that cheating bastard back?”
“Definitely not,” Morrie said with both confidence and great relief. “But I have been a little concerned that his renewed interest might be the reason you gave up dating. Or is there something else you’ve been meaning to mention to me, baby girl? You know I’m open-minded about any sort of relationship. Or lack of one in Elijah’s case.”
Jane’s derisive snort had her father chuckling, a reaction she tried not to resent. If they hadn’t been at her office, she’d have blasted the irreverent Morrison Fox with a solid round of swearing over his teasing accusations about her sexual orientation.
“Why is it that when a mature woman chooses to stop dating for a few months, everyone automatically assumes she’s turned into a lesbian? I’m just straight and picky. It’s a whole new kind of sexual problem to have. I doubt you’d find it in those Dr. Logan books you brag about reading,” Jane teased, giving her father a look that warned him to change the subject before the conversation went places he didn’t want it to go.
“Dr. Logan is an amazing woman, Jane. You ought to run down to Princeton to hear her speak. She guest lectures every few months. Maybe you could pick up a young college boy while you’re there who could remind you that life is supposed to be fun. Just make sure you throw him back afterward and don’t get too attached,” Morrie warned, having learned that from the first few hearts he’d broken.
“Spoken like a true womanizer. Just don’t turn into Nathan. I’d hate to have to kill my own father,” Jane teased back.
“I’ve learned to set dating ground rules up front, but Dr. Logan makes me believe there’s real hope for all of us—even Lydia,” Morrie emphasized with an ever-widening smile as he noted his daughter’s frown and wrinkled forehead.
Jane gratefully pushed her chair away from her desk, enjoying her father’s husky, unrepentant laugh, even if it was about Lydia McCarthy.
“Do you realize we’ve talked more about our private lives in the last five years than the whole time Mom was alive? This new honesty of yours creeps me out sometimes. I’m at least trying to date now and again. Go lecture Elijah on his total lack of a love life,” Jane said.
“Elijah is on a spiritual journey,” Morrie recited, a twinkle in his eye. “I don’t know what happened between him and Shira to send him off on it, but it must have been pretty bad to drive him to celibacy.”
“He’s as well rid of her as I am of Nathan. Shira got engaged to another man like the second she broke up with Elijah. If he was upset about her defection, he sure has a funny way of showing it,” she said. “Most men just jump into serial dating and sleep around to get even.”
“People genuinely in love do strange things,” Morrie said, hoping he sounded wise enough to mollify his daughter. “Or at least they often seem strange to the other people in their lives.”
“Come on, I’ve had enough of this. I’m done for the morning until I buy a new cable. Let’s go to lunch,” Jane said briskly, desperate for a change of subject.
“Good,” Morrie said, clapping his hands together. “I’m starved.”
“You know, I hate to shut down access to your current dating pool, Morrison, but I’m completely ready to move on to other work. It was fun saving this place, but I will be nothing but happy to sign the business over to a buyer in the next few months,” Jane said, gathering her things. “The realtor said there’s been two inquiries already, and we still haven’t had the open house yet.”
“Do me a favor, Jane. Make sure the next business you rescue isn’t so demanding of your time. You really do need to start dating again,” Morrie ordered firmly, grabbing her hand as she swung her purse over her shoulder.
“Stop worrying about my love life, Dad. It’s not my fault all the good men in Falls Church are either married or gay. I mean as in really gay, not assumed to be by their fathers,” Jane emphasized, laughing and squeezing his hand as they walked to her father’s beloved royal blue Mercedes convertible.
“Hey, I have an idea. Save a dating service next time,” Morrie teased as they slid in, happy when Jane’s initial snort over the idea turned to a laugh. “Or better yet—start one from scratch. You’ll meet tons of straight men that way.”
“Clever idea, Mr. Business Genius. Maybe I just will,” Jane said sharply, looking sideways at one of the most handsome men she had ever known.
She had married her ex-husband because he had that same kind of rugged handsomeness, but Nathan sure hadn’t been like her father in any other way. That had been good at first, but bad during the last three years that he’d starting sleeping with his employees and clients.
“I think if I started a dating service, it would be an over forty one. Of course, we’d be competing with some major online services, so we’d have to be unique in our offerings. You can run the sixty and up group since you’re gaining all kinds of senior dating experience.”
Morrie sighed and laughed as he swung the car into the restaurant parking lot.
“Dating is easy honey, but it’s hard to find love at my age,” he said softly.
“It’s not easy to find love at my age either, Dad. I can hardly remember how it was to trip over it when I was younger. Now I’m too cynical and on-guard to want to date. How does anyone over forty ever do it?” Jane asked.
“Not sure. Fortunately, you still got a couple of years before you reach the age of needing prunes to loosen you up,” Morrie teased, hugging her as they walked into the restaurant laughing.
It had taken Lauren almost a year to be willing to come back to this particular restaurant where her mother used to make her attend their required lunches. She had occasionally missed the great Italian food but not her mother’s negative company while she ate it.
If Regina hadn’t planted a seed of forgiveness by encouraging her to give her mother another chance to be her friend, Lauren doubted she would be here even now. Well, Regina’s encouragement, and maybe a whole year spent watching Lydia McCarthy miraculously becoming an outstanding grandmother.
Lauren supposed such a dramatic effort merited a public lunch date together to see if her mother had maybe changed in other ways. Even Regina admitted her mother’s grandparenting skills were a good sign that her mother was evolving. Into what, Lauren wasn’t sure, but she had accepted the lunch invitation to try and figure it out. She well knew Dr. Regina Logan was rarely wrong, but there was always a first time. It was highly unlikely that Lydia McCarthy would ever willfully choose to be redeemed of her vitriolic past.
But at the very least, Lauren imagined she’d have quite a bit to talk about this Thursday at dinner. She was sure Alexa and Regina were both tired of hearing about how wonderful her son was being.
“Mother? Who are you staring at?” Lauren asked, digging into her pasta, amazed at the flavors dancing along her tongue. She had forgotten how great it was.
“Jane Waterfield just came in with her womanizing father,” Lydia said with a sniff. “I don’t feel safe going to North Winds to volunteer anymore with that man roaming about the place all the time.”
Lauren laughed. She couldn’t help it. “Why? Has that man done the unpardonable and actually asked you out?”
“Absolutely not,” Lydia said, huffing at the idea. “I would never tolerate that kind of thing from some strange man I don’t even know.”
Lauren turned around to take a look at the womanizing, strange man in question, whom she saw was happily chatting and laughing with his daughter. She felt a tug of envy for their easy family conversation, then sighed and told herself to just let it go.
“Well, you can relax, Mother. I don’t think he’s interested in you,” Lauren said flatly, returning her attention to her plate.
“It’s no wonder you stayed single all those years,” Lydia said, giving her attention to her food while keeping a watchful eye on Morrison and Jane. “Of course, Jane’s single too. Harrison Graham knows her and still lives at North Winds. He said Jane was divorced from a wealthy guy who owns a whole string of carpet cleaning services. Women just can’t seem to hold on to their men these days.”
Lauren rolled her eyes and sipped her wine. “Maybe her ex-husband wasn’t worth the strain on her arms.”
“You’re so droll in your humor, dear,” Lydia remarked.
“At least I have a sense of humor, Mother,” Lauren said, smiling back tightly. “Could I maybe enjoy the rest of my pasta without hearing running insults of people I don’t really know? I try only to insult people I’ve actually met.”
Lydia sighed. Lauren wasn’t calling her bad names but it was getting close to the comments she had heard. This was not how lunch was supposed to go. “You’re right. I apologize. The disgrace Morrison Fox makes of himself is not a proper topic of conversation for our lunch. Tell me about my grandson instead. Is JD liking his daycare?”
Lauren snickered about her mother using her son’s nickname. They had named him James Davis, but her mother had been calling him JD almost from the beginning. Calling him Jamie or Dave hadn’t even had a chance to happen.
“Because of his bigger size, JD plays with the two-year-olds instead of toddlers his own age. He has now learned to yell at the top of his lungs and does so at every opportunity,” she reported, amazed when her mother genuinely laughed. Her son was the only human on earth who seemed to have that kind of effect on her mother.
“I agree JD is quite the spirited child for only seventeen months,” Lydia said. “Do you think he likes going?”
“What’s not to like? You and Jim have him enrolled in the most expensive, fun-filled daycare in town,” Lauren grumbled.
“Jim and I both agreed that the security they offered at that daycare was needed. After all, Lauren, you married a very wealthy man. You need to take a few more precautions in your life now,” Lydia said.
“Martha was doing just fine with JD at the house. We could have brought kids in to play with him,” Lauren said sadly. “I miss him popping in on me even for those three days.”
Lydia’s heart warmed. Lauren was such a good mother. It made her hopeful that she hadn’t made a complete mess out of her daughter’s life with her own haphazard parenting. Without stopping to think, she reached over and rubbed Lauren’s hand.
“You are a wonderful mother. Those three days are good for both of you,” Lydia said sincerely.
Lauren’s mouth dropped open in shock. “You think I’m a good mother?”
Lydia nodded and swallowed a bite of her excellent pasta. “One of the best I’ve ever known. Much better than me, actually. I had no idea what to do with you when you were born. Thank heavens your father could afford a nanny to help me.”
“Mother—you just gave me a compliment,” Lauren declared, still in shock.
Lydia laughed softly. “Of course, I did. I compliment you all the time,” she said.
“No—no you certainly don’t, but this one makes up for the past,” Lauren said, reaching across the table to take her mother’s hand and squeeze it. “Thank you for saying it. Sometimes I don’t always feel like a good mother.”
“Darling, you’re a poster child for the best mother and wife in Falls Church,” Lydia said expansively, teasing in her exaggeration, but it also held a lot of truth. Lauren was truly wonderful at both.
Lauren let go of her mother’s hand and reached for the wine glass by her mother’s plate, lifting it to her nose and taking an exaggerated sniff. “What kind of wine is this? Did the waitstaff slip a happy pill in here? I wouldn’t be surprised if they were plotting against you.”
It was a cloaked comment not much better than the bitch remark, but it was the teasing affection in Lauren’s eyes that softened it. Knowing her daughter loved her made her slightly giddy with relief. What started out as a choked giggle, turned into a full-blown belly laugh that embarrassed Lydia when it echoed loudly through the entire restaurant. Fortunately, it was starting to empty of the lunch crowd that had filled it for the last hour.
“Will you stop going on and on?” Lydia demanded. “You’d think I never said anything nice to anyone. Maybe I’m getting mellow in my old age. If so, you can thank JD for it. I love being a grandparent. Make me some more grandchildren like him and maybe I’ll think of more nice things to say.”
Lauren shook her finger. “I knew you were up to something. I want to wait until JD is two before I go through all that again. That’s not that long from now.”
“Then you might want to go easy on the pasta until you get pregnant again, dear. You know how hard it is to lose baby weight. Good thing you’re tall enough to hide that extra twenty pounds you gained with JD and still haven’t lost,” Lydia said.
Lauren sighed and laughed. “I knew it was too good to last. I should have recorded you being nice with my new phone. No one is ever going to believe me, and tomorrow I won’t even believe it myself.”
When Lydia laughed at her daughter’s teasing again, she felt strange eyes on her. She looked across the room and straight into Morrison Fox’s interested gaze. Her smile fell away, turning to a frown when the man smiled back knowingly and waved.
Morrison always gave her the impression that he knew things about her no one else did. No matter how preposterous such a reality seemed, Lydia still kept her guard up when he was around, just to be safe. She couldn’t imagine why in the world the man was so interested in her.
Lauren looked over her shoulder and was treated to a wave as well. She returned it with a smile before turning back to her mother’s shocked face. “Okay—maybe Mr. Fox is interested. He looks nice, Mother. How old is he? Around sixty?”
“Several of the women residents say he’s a touchy-feely kind of guy—likes to hug—that sort of thing,” Lydia said stiffly. “They seem to find his behavior appealing. It’s definitely not for me.”
Lauren looked over her shoulder at Morrison Fox talking to his daughter, and then turned back to look at her mother. “Why not? He’s handsome and looks fun. I think you should date him if he asks you out.”
“Don’t be silly,” Lydia said firmly. “Why would I?”
“I don’t know,” Lauren said thoughtfully, knowing better than to mention again that the smiling man looked like he’d be fun, which really left only one reason her mother might actually say yes. “Is Mr. Fox wealthy? Maybe he’d be a good catch.”
Lydia snorted. “Darling, at sixty-seven my ‘catching’ days are well over.”
“Mother, you need to look in the mirror more often,” Lauren said. “You exercise. You have your hair done. You know you look much younger than you are, and you’re still very attractive. You’re going to look great for another two decades at least if you keep up what you’re doing.”
“Thank you, dear,” Lydia said, pleased that her daughter thought so highly of her. God knew it cost her enough money and effort to keep it true. “Let’s just eat and hope the rude man stops staring.”
Morrie turned his attention to his pasta again with a smile. He could all but feel Lydia keeping a discreet eye on him. That had to mean she was interested on some level. What would it take to get her to go out, he wondered?
“Stop plotting,” Jane ordered, fighting not to laugh at the determination in her father’s gaze. “Your flirting is bad enough. The woman with her might be her daughter.”
“So? I’m just waving,” Morrie said easily. “Haven’t you ever waved at a friend across a restaurant before?”
“Morrison,” Jane said, using his proper name and tilting her head as she glared at him worse than Lydia had. “That woman is not your friend. She barely nodded to you when you said good morning to her earlier at North Winds.”
Morrie laughed at his daughter’s consternation. “Well, we’re not friends yet, Janie, that’s why I waved,” he said, fighting to keep his tone reasonable. “No wonder you’re not dating. You’ve forgotten how to send out friendly signals.”
Jane pinched off a piece of breadstick and threw it at her father who had already turned back to stare at Lydia McCarthy with longing on his face. “If you don’t stop looking at her that way, Lydia will be in my office tomorrow demanding I do something about you,” she whispered in mortification, leaning her head on her hand in exasperation when her father caught Lydia’s gaze again and winked. “Holy hell, Dad.”
Morrie turned back to his swearing daughter with a broad smile. “I believe that’s an oxymoron dear. If you’re going to swear, you need to learn to just let it rip.”
“I only swear around you when you’re acting this way. Now stop.”
Jane rolled her eyes when he didn’t turn around, but knew there was nothing she could say that would actually make him cease until he was ready to do so. Once obsessed, it was hard to turn Morrison Fox’s attention away from his goal.
She shook her head, hoping some other female caught her father’s interest soon before he did something to Lydia McCarthy they were all going to regret.
Sexy, single, and sixty. Oh my! Yes, you can be sexy well into your sixties and beyond. McDonald got it right in her mature woman romance DATING A SILVER FOX. ~ Katherine Lowry Logan, 62-year-old widow and author of THE RUBY BROOCH.