It was Sally Wagoner who interrupted Elloree’s thoughts about Wishes and Mark Williams later that morning. Her familiar voice came cheerfully across the phone line. “Hi, El, you didn’t forget the Art League committee meeting, did you?”
“Oh God, no, Sally. I mean yes, I really did. Was it this Saturday morning? I’m sure I put next Saturday down on the calendar. Shows where my mind has been lately, doesn’t it?” Elloree apologized.
“Oh, El, we’re counting on you. It’s at Aggie Marsh’s house at 11:00. You can make it, can’t you? There’s a light lunch planned right after. I don’t think I can get through it without you,” Sally implored.
Elloree started to protest but decided it was useless. Besides, she liked Sally Wagoner and hated to let her down. “Okay, I’ll be there, Sally. Anything I need to bring?”
“Only your notebook. Marge Lewis and Ann Downs are doing the lunch this time. See you there, El. Bye.”
“Bye-bye, Sally. Thanks for calling to remind me.” Dejected, Elloree put down the phone. “The last thing I need is a committee meeting this morning,” she muttered. “How long ago did I get myself into this?” She shook her head, trying not to remember.
Tom had smiled his approval when she’d told him of her election to the Art League’s executive board. “It will be a great creative outlet for you. I know how you’ve needed something other than the boys and the house,” he had said.
She had looked at him sitting at his desk in the library comfortably, surrounded by his books and antiques. “But I don’t want to do this, Tom. I’d much rather—”
His words cut across hers. “Not everyone in Oak View is invited to sit on the board. It’s something of an honor for someone so young and new to the group to be asked.” He shifted in his seat under her steady gaze.
Elloree studied Tom for a long moment. She suspected that he had discussed the matter with his mother, but knowing she would be resentful, he never would admit that he had. The senior Mrs. Randall had spent her lifetime building a network of important friends through her dedicated involvement with prestigious and influential groups. Although her disapproval of her daughter-in-law had been obvious to Tom from the start, he had reluctantly allowed his mother to be more involved in their daily lives than Elloree cared to admit.
But now, although she knew it was useless to disagree, she still questioned,“Did your mother arrange this?” Then, disgusted, she answered her own question, “Never mind, I guess I knew the minute I opened the invitation, or perhaps I should call it ‘the summons.’”
“You’ll enjoy it,” Tom assured her, and the subject was closed between them.
The Randalls were community leaders and patrons of the arts, giving of themselves unselfishly by serving on committees and boards as well as by making substantial financial donations. Although Mrs. Oliver J. Randall III was dismayed by her son’s choice in a wife, she felt it her familial and civic obligation to see that Elloree was properly guided into the correct channels. The younger Mrs. Randall needed to be made aware of her family and community responsibilities.
The senior Mrs. Randall’s arrival at the house on Pilgrim Road the next day had not been entirely unexpected. Elloree ushered her in graciously, but she was immediately aware of the reason for her mother-in-law’s visit. She floated like some exotic bird into the living room and perched herself on the edge of the antique sofa. A faint scent of Chanel followed her into the room, and her perfectly manicured hands fluttered as she spoke. A large, emerald-cut diamond on her ring finger caught the morning sunlight, sending tiny prisms dancing across the Aubusson carpet.
“My dear, this seat on the board is such an opportunity for you. You’ll meet some of Oak View’s most distinguished women from the oldest and best families. To turn this down would be an insult, out of the question,” she added with finality.
Elloree shifted her position on the sofa next to her mother-in-law, struggling to maintain outward composure. An insult to whom? You? Tom? This is not an invitation for me; it’s for you. My service on the board isn’t a request; it’s a command. She longed to say them, but the words stuck in her throat, and she could only stare silently at the older woman.
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Genre - Women’s fiction
Rating – PG-13
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The author is giving away 1 soft cover books and 3 kindle books in this tour.