Fifteen minutes later, she started the car and drove on autopilot to her home in Hyde Park. Walker’s car was in the driveway, and she felt annoyed. She didn’t feel like conversation. She wanted a nap. And she didn’t want to go to Pedro’s later on either.
As she passed the windows of the kitchen that ran along the driveway, she heard Walker’s voice. When she entered the kitchen, Walker’s back was to her, and he spun around in surprise. Past him, sitting at the kitchen table, was a woman with a coffee mug in her hand. The woman had blond streaks in her hair, Camille would remember later, that were beautifully done in several colors, and she wore a pale pink silk blouse and an ivory colored skirt and spiky, ivory-colored heels. The fingernails on her delicate hand which held the mug were painted the same shade of pink as her blouse.
Camille looked away from the woman toward Walker’s face.
“What are you doing home?” she asked.
In her peripheral vision, Camille noticed the woman put down the mug, one of a set that Camille and Walker had purchased five years before at the Pecan Street Festival, and stand up.
She stepped toward Camille with an outstretched right hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dusty Hamilton.”
Automatically trained in years of Southern manners, Camille shook the woman’s hand, getting a whiff of perfume. Camille hated perfume.
“Pleased to meet you.”
As Camille had not stated her name, Walker mumbled, “This is my wife, Camille.”
“How do you do,” Dusty Hamilton said, with the smile of a homecoming queen. “I’m a real estate broker. I’m working with your husband on an auction that’s coming up on Monday. We’re picking the best properties to bid on.”
Camille stared at her, thinking that all this sounded reasonable. Wondering if Fastbinder’s Mortgage Company had ever done business with Dusty Hamilton.
“I was going to surprise you with my extensive knowledge on Monday,” Walker said with a little boy’s grin. “And buy you a warehouse for your birthday.”
Camille had been with Walker long enough to know that he would pass a lie detector test with that statement, but for some reason that Camille would always ascribe to a heightened perceptiveness and brain chatter silence due to the shocks she had already received that day, Camille asked Dusty Hamilton, “What time is it?”
Dusty Hamilton instinctively turned her right arm and pushed at her sleeve to find that her watch was missing.
“Oh,” Dusty Hamilton said. “I’ve lost my watch.”
Walker pushed at his right sleeve and said, “It’s almost three o’clock.”
Camille said, “Miss Hamilton, your watch is on the floor by your feet.”
Dusty Hamilton leaned over to pick up her watch, exposing to Camille a bit of her cleavage and pink lace bra.
When Dusty had righted herself again, Camille said to her, “Please leave my house.”
Dusty Hamilton flinched just a bit, taking her smile down a notch from homecoming queen to runner-up, then she looked at Walker.
“Now!” Camille said, raising her voice.
Dusty Hamilton was out of the room in a millisecond, gliding quickly into the dining room where her purse lay next to Walker’s briefcase on the cherry wood dining table, the one that Camille and Walker had purchased at an estate sale.
Walker rushed past Camille saying, “What’s the matter with you?”
With her watch in one hand and purse in the other, Dusty Hamilton walked through the dining room into the living room, approaching the front door of the house, where she waited for Walker to unlock the door and let her out. She never once looked at him.
“I’m sorry about this,” he mumbled as Dusty Hamilton slid out the front door.
Camille stood in the doorframe between the kitchen and dining room.
Walker closed the front door and turned to Camille, yelling, “What the hell was that!”
Camille ignored him and headed for the bedroom, whether to lie down as she had originally planned or to smell the sheets, she was never sure, but it was automatic. Walker chased after her, grabbing her arm, which she yanked away from him.
“What’s the matter with you?” he said to her back.
She kept walking until she reached the bedroom, where she saw that the bed was neatly made and wondered if she’d misunderstood why Dusty Hamilton’s watch had come loose. Walker came up behind her. She turned and quickly slapped him across the face.
He’d never looked so stunned.
“Take as much time as you need today to pack up and move whatever you want out of this house and then never come back here,” she said evenly.
“What? Are you insane?”
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself. I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
“You’ve lost your mind! I’ll have you arrested! I’ll have you committed!”
“Whatever you choose to do, you can know that when I am released, if you are still in this house or ever return to it, I will burn it to the ground.”
He just stared at her. She was talking about the two-story Victorian house with the gingerbread trim on the porch, circa 1902, that she had loved from the minute the realtor had showed it to them.
“We will get divorced and you will lose this house to me because of your affair.”
“Do you honestly think I’m having an affair?”
“Burn it to the ground.”
She was talking about the house with the stained glass panels at the top of the bay windows in the living room and the porch swing on the front porch and the picket fence and the detached one-car garage.
“Do you honestly want to live here now?” he asked with a sarcastic smile. “Sleep in that bed?”
“Take the bed with you or I will put it on the curb. Take the dining table, the kitchen table, and the mugs as well or I will put them on the curb. Take all your clothes, all of your office furniture and anything else that you want. You will sign away your rights to this house to me or I will burn it down. Call anyone, a friend, a family member, the police, and make an issue of this and I will burn this house to the ground.”
She was willing to destroy her house with the twelve-foot ceilings and five-inch oak plank flooring and original wainscoting, and Walker knew it.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13
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