Part 206 – Meeting Mom

She arrived in bright yellow palazzo pants, a black scoop necked tank top, and black gladiator sandals. A necklace with a black rose pendant hung around her neck. Her lips were coral pink. Her hair a decidedly frosted yellow.

She strolled over to Elsie and Hildreth and smiled. “Hello, lovers.”

Elsie broke out of Hildreth’s embrace. “Mom. You made it.”

“And right on time, I might add.” She gave Hildreth a quick look over.

He held out his hand. “I’m Hildreth Mayhew.” He twitched a smile at her. “It’s pleasant—I mean, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Vansing.”

She shook his hand. “Call me Clarice, you good looking beast you.” She grinned at her daughter. “You didn’t tell me he looked like that. You should have told me. I would have worn my silk stockings.”

Elsie hugged her mother. “I’m sorry I haven’t visited you sooner.”

“Don’t be. I know you got your hunter stuff to do and places to be. You could call me more often, though.”

She released her mother and smiled. “I will from now on.”

Clarice nodded her head. “Good.” She noticed the empty table. “You haven’t ordered yet?”

“No, Mrs. Vans—I mean Clarice. We were waiting for you.”

“Mm. I like you. You make me feel all happy inside. Like I just know you’ll take good care of Elsie here.”

“I will.”

“Good.” She settled down in the closest chair. “Let’s order something. I’m starving.”

***

“And then—Boom! You should have seen her face.”

“Mom!”

Hildreth laughed and Elsie smiled despite herself.

Clarice smiled at her daughter. “It’s so good to see you happy. You were always so serious and business minded and straight-line. No curves. No squiggles. No unneeded loops.” She looked at him. “You must be a good influence on her.”

“I try.”

“Keep trying and never stop.” She frantically waved the waiter over. “Hey there, sweet lovin’.”

“Who? Me?”

“Yeah, you. Get me another strawberry daiquiri. And put more strawberries in it. That last one was too stingy with the strawberries.”

“As you wish, miss.”

Clarice guffawed. “I haven’t been a miss in years. Call me Ma’am or call me Clarice.” She winked at him. “Or just, you know, call me.”

“I’ll get your drink.”

“That’s a good boy.” She turned her attention to Hildreth. “So, tell me some about yourself.”

“Well. I’ve been a hunter for—-”

“No. No. No. This isn’t a work interview. I don’t want your stinkin’ resume. I want to know you.”

“Uhh, I don’t understand.”

“I want to know what makes you tick. What makes you a worthy match for my Elsie?”

Hildreth slowly sipped his iced tea as he considered his answer. “I’m a hunter. Just like her. I know…this isn’t the information you wanted to hear, but it’s my starting point.”

“Well, if you started it, keep on going. I want to know more.”

He smiled. This time, it was a genuine smile. “Okay.”

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