Crook Takes Pawn Part 26

Julie provides a distraction from their high-strung emotions, and a way to connect to each other as well. Julie seems to remember Greg. She allows him to brush a strand of hair from her cheek without being bashful. Julies introverted smile has widened to perk up her chubby cheeks. Greg understands it is important to connect with Julie. The bond between mother and daughter is strong. Julie is obviously Rebeccas priority.
    I like your booties, Greg says, pinching her shoe and waggling it playfully, So shiny and pretty.
    Julie giggles and withdraws her face into Rebeccas neck. The sun beams pierce through the window, bathing Rebecca in a soft yellow glow. She looks radiant and blissfully happy.
    You gals sure are dressed up nice, Greg comments, Whats the occasion?
    We actually just came from her Baptism, Rebecca explains, I never thought about it before theBefore what happened, but since then Ive got a new outlook, you could say.
    Yeah, Greg says with a sigh,I hope never to have to experience anything like that again. It was awful.
Rebecca glances around at the showroom.     He really tore up your place, Rebecca says, referring to Jessie in reference only, not by name.
    Yeah, that jerk did a number on everything, Greg says, wishing suddenly that he had spent more time cleaning,This store has seen better days.    Are youGoing out of business? Rebecca asks cautiously,It looks pretty empty in here.    Greg laughs off what could be considered an insult.Believe it or not, Greg says humorously, Business actually picked up after the shooting. Ive sold off half my stuff, and need to regroup.    Thats great!! Rebecca says enthusiastically, shifting Julie on her side,Im happy to hear that!! You deserve success.
    Greg had surmised as much, but to hear this from a beautiful women meant something special. It helped cement his confidence in his own abilities.
    We can sit down, if youd like, Rebecca, Greg offers, motioning to a Lazy Boy on display. The chair was one of the last remnants of a failed attempt to sell living room sets. Greg had slowly bargained the living room away piece by piece.
    Rebecca carefully sits back into the chair, with Julie on her knee. Julie occupies herself with her thumb, which she sucks with a soft puckering sound. Julies dress cascades across Rebeccas lap, creating waves of velvet and lace. Greg pulls up the battered stool and perches his fat self upon the top. Greg finds himself consciously sucking in his gut, to prevent the possible splitting of his new chino pants. His black chambray shirt also looks similarly taxed to its limit because of the way he sat on the stool. Greg knew he was not much to look at, but so far the chemistry between them was good. Rebecca certainly didnt seem repulsed by him. Quite the opposite, in fact. She, like Greg, was quickly becoming enamored.
    It has been a long time since shes had a man to take care of her, to steer her and those overzealous emotions. It would be a relief to have guidance through the world once again. He could take control, he could take the wheel. Rebecca knows Greg is tough. He has proven himself to be made of stern stuff, through blood and pain. She could submit to him, if thats what he wanted. Let him take over, let him inside, he had the best intentions.
    So, Rebecca, Greg says,What do you do for a living?Rebecca pauses. She bites her lip slightly and laughs nervously.
    I dont actually work, Rebecca says, After I divorced my ex-husband, the settlement worked out pretty well in my favor. They considered him to have breached our marriage vows.    This was important. Greg listened intensly to what she says. Her former past could prove her future actions.
    May I ask, Greg says quietly,How did he break your vows?    Infidelity, Rebecca says with traces of scorn, He cheated on me with my once-best friend. I came home early from work, and caught them in bed together. Julie is my exs child.
    As distasteful as it sounds, Greg was celebrating internally. Although it was bad news for Rebecca, it played into Gregs hand nicely. Rebecca had been betrayed, by a man very close to her. Greg couldnt think of anything more intimate than having a child with someone. And the fool had discarded Rebecca entirely.
    Surely Rebecca felt dejected and possibly unattractive now. Women seemed to always have a constant self-esteem battle. And others views, especially mens, seem to gauge their self-perception. This divorce mustve proven a devastating blow to Rebeccas view of herself. Rebeccas pedestal had been knocked down a couple levels, and Greg felt he could meet her there halfway between despair and resurrection.
    How long were you married for? Greg asks.
    3 years Rebecca says, We had Julie in the second year of marriage, and she was almost 18 months when we split.
    And how old are you? Greg asks, innocently enough.Rebecca leans back and opens her mouth in comic shock. Shes really hamming it up.    Youre not supposed to ask a woman her age, Rebecca scolds,Especially if shes a mother.    Sorry, Greg says, backpedaling,Didnt mean any offense.Im 25, Rebecca answers, Im just giving you crap, Greg.    As she says this, her hand reaches out on impulse and pats his leg. The jitters run up Gregs spine at her light touch. Also on impulse, Gregs mind conjures up less than innocent thoughts of Rebecca. She appeared to be frisky today. Her energy was infectious.
    I have a son, Greg says, But he and my ex live out of state.Rebeccas soft blue eyes crumple with sympathy, and her thin eyebrows frown together.    Oh, Rebecca says ,That must be hard.    Greg nods and sighs audibly. Greg did not specify his relationship with his son Raymond. Rebecca did not pry, which Greg was grateful for. She, on the otherhand, seemed more than willing to divulge everything. It was surprisingly easy to let things fall into place. Evidently Rebecca viewed Greg as part of circle now. Things were moving fast, but Greg was used to the frantic pace of random events.
    No customers came in while they were engaged in their conversation. Rebecca had begun taking classes at the local University. She was majoring in philosophy and English. Greg feigned interest, but inwardly he was belittling such a major. Thats not a career. It seemed Rebecca was killing time. She had all the money in the world. Rebeccas ex had been a lawyer, and Greg knew all about how hard attourneys work for that dough.
    Greg got the impression that Rebecca felt detached from the outside world. She was still young, and surely there was a side to her that longed to get out there and celebrate. Not that there was anything wrong with that. It just seemed Rebecca was struggling between girlhood and womanhood. It was almost a midlife crisis in some ways. Greg should know, he himself had the symptoms for a while, leading up to that fateful shootout. Rebeccas road may have diverged from its current path at the same time Gregs did.
     Julie slowly drooped with sleep as Rebecca prattled on and on, eventually falling into a light doze. Rebecca was in the midst of telling a story about one of her girl friends, when she gestured with a shake of her hand and awoke her sleeping daughter. Julie began bawling. Rebecca held Julie and bounced her knee in an effort to calm the cries. Greg extended a hand towards Julie and waved, trying to cheer her up. Julies tears paused momentarily as she glanced up at Greg. Unexpectedly, Julie reached out with both arms towards Greg, in a pick-up gesture. Rebeccas heart melted. It was such an endearing moment. Rebecca offered up Julie to him, and Greg held her close.
     Julie smelled of Baby lotion and mango infant shampoo. Gregs beefy arm held her aloft, while Julies other hand clutched at his fingers. Greg could feel the tiny tykes grip on his index finger. Julie watched in fascination as Greg gently wiggled his finger, trying to wrest her grip loose.
    somebodys cranky Greg says, in what he hopes is a c
Uploaded 02/05/2012
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