CALVIN'S HOME - KITCHEN
"You've outdone yourself,"
Ruby said in between
bites of dinner. "Honey, you really are a wonderful cook."
"I had a little help," Calvin confessed
Ruby's eyes immediately went to Naomi. Certainly she
"I owe any cooking skills I might have to Mamma," he explained before taking a sip of his tea. "I always
spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen and she insisted that I learn how to
cook. She sent me some new recipes in the mail today and I thought that
I'd try one of them out."
"Well, you've clearly learned from the
best." Ruby reached out, took his hand, and smiled. "To be
honest, I'd thought for a minute that Naomi had been the one who'd helped
"What's that supposed to mean?" Naomi snapped as
she glared at Ruby.
"I...I didn't mean anything bad by it," Ruby
blushed and then quickly turned to look at Calvin, frightened that she'd said
something wrong. "I just assumed...."
"Well, don't you ever assume anything about me!
"Naomi, that'll be enough," Calvin spoke up as
he shot his sister a look of warning. "She only guessed that you were
the one who'd helped because you're here. Why do you have to assume that
everything's always about you?"
"Because she's always trying to find some kind of
fault with me!"
"With you?" Ruby's eyes grew wide, not
able to believe what she was hearing. "You're the one who's always
trying to find fault with me!"
"I don't really have to look hard for that, now
do I?" Naomi smugly leaned back into her chair.
"I said that will be enough!" Calvin's
eyes burned with anger and disappointment. He'd prayed that they'd be able
to have an enjoyable meal without incident, but clearly Naomi was determined to
make sure that that didn't happen.
"Oh, sure! Take her side!" Naomi
jumped up out of her seat in anger. "Take her side like you always
take her side!"
"I'm not taking sides!" He banged
his fists onto the table as if he were trying to drive the point home.
"There aren't any sides to take!"
"Please, Naomi. I didn't mean anything by
it." Ruby looked up at her and bit her lip.
"Now, could you please sit back down so that we can
finish dinner in peace?" Calvin gave his sister a stern look that she
knew better than to ignore.
"Oh, alright," Naomi muttered in defeat and
then again took her seat.
"Naomi, I'm...sorry if I said something to upset
you," Ruby apologized softly. "I didn't mean to. I'd
really like for us to be friends." She paused and inhaled
deeply. "So...how's the baby? He's been awfully quiet
"Aubrey's a good boy," Naomi explained with a
hint of pride. "He's never any trouble. In fact, you almost
forget that he's even around."
"If I had a baby, I don't think I'd ever be able to
forget that he was around. I don't care how good or quiet he
was." Ruby sighed wistfully at the prospect of motherhood someday.
"Are you trying to say that I ignore my
baby?" Naomi eyed her suspiciously.
"No, I wasn't," Ruby replied cautiously.
"I was just saying...."
"Naomi, just settle down." Calvin glared at her. She'd
promised not to start any trouble. "That's not what she was implying
and you know it!"
"Oh, all right," Naomi muttered with a
scowl. After a few moments, she allowed herself to relax a little and her
features began to slowly soften. "So, Ruby, let's talk about you for
"Yes." Naomi put her elbows up
onto the table and leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands as she looked
directly at Ruby. "Tell me about your life working for the Stokes
family. Is it really as exciting as it sounds?"
Ruby furrowed her brow, not quite understanding what Naomi was asking.
"I wouldn't exactly call it exciting. It is work, after all. I
mean, Mrs. Stokes -- err, Rutherford -- is a very nice and fair employer -- her
husband and daughter can be a little over demanding, though -- but it is
work. I have my duties to perform and I try not to get involved in their
"I see." Naomi smiled slyly as she
leaned back in her chair and sat up straight. "I guess it's hard to
find much excitement in mopping floors and scrubbing toilets."
winced slightly. "I'm sure you understand. You do many of the
same duties for the Manchesters."
"My job is absolutely nothing like
your job!" Naomi snapped. "You're just a common maid!"
what's that supposed to mean?" Ruby glared at her. "You're
a maid, too! I don't know how you can act so high and mighty when you and
I are exactly alike. We have the same job and do the same chores
"You and I are nothin' alike," Naomi laughed.
"I don't know whatever gave you that idea. My job is much different
from yours. You're just a maid. My job is much more than that."
Calvin spoke up with a warning shake of his head.
are you going to realize that you're not good enough for Calvin?" Naomi
continued, completely ignoring her brother's eyes. "He deserves
better than you." She turned to address him. "Whatever
happened to that nurse you wrote me about last spring? She sounded like
just the perfect girl for you."
"She and I were just friends,"
he explained calmly, his eyes darting to Ruby. "She got married last
summer and moved to Huntington."
"Oh, Calvin," she sighed with
disappointment, "why are you always letting the good ones get away?"
really don't have to sit here and listen to this." Ruby threw her
napkin down onto the table and jumped up out of her seat. "I think I
need to go home."
"Ruby, I'm sorry," Calvin said as he quickly
followed her out of the kitchen, throwing his sister an angry look in the
process. "I sorry about Naomi and..."
"No, Calvin, you
don't have anything to be sorry about," she explained as she headed for the
door. "It's that horrible sister of yours who should be sorry.
I don't know why she doesn't like me, but I'm surely not going to sit around and
listen to her try to deliberately insult me and get under my skin."
if I have a talk with her she'll..."
"A talk with her?"
Ruby laughed weakly. "All you've been doing for months is talking to
her. She doesn't listen!"
"Ruby, I..." He reached
out to take her into his arms, but she threw up her hands, pushing him away.
I really need to go."
As soon as the front door closed behind Ruby, and
angry Calvin spun on his heel and stormed back into the kitchen.
the devil do you think you're doing?" he snapped angrily, a fire in his
eyes. "You promised me that you'd be on your best behavior!"
was!" Naomi shook her head as if she didn't know what he were talking
about. "I was friendly and chatty and attentive and...."
set out to make Ruby feel uncomfortable and inferior ever since we sat down to
"Oh, I did not," Naomi laughed as if what he was
accusing her of was the most preposterous thing in the entire world.
"It's not my fault that she's so thin skinned that every
little thing I say upsets her," she grumbled as she folded her arms across
her chest and then stuck out her bottom lip in a pout. "Maybe she
really isn't good enough for...."
"You listen to me," Calvin
said firmly as he grabbed his sister's arm, dragging her to her feet,
"don't you ever-- and I mean ever -- talk that way to Ruby
again. I love her very much and I will not have you treating her like
"Oh, I see how it is! You're taking some total
stranger's side over your own sister!"
"She's not a
stranger!" Calvin inhaled deep as he tried to calm himself down
before speaking again. "Listen to me, if you can't treat Ruby with
any kind of decency, then maybe you should stay away from her."
you should follow your own advice. Stay away from Ruby," Naomi
advised sternly. "That girl's trouble with a capital 'T.' I'm
certain of it!"