Butterfly Soup

Butterfly Soup

by Nancy Pinard

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459235892
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 03/15/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 1 MB

Read an Excerpt

The phone rings so early on Saturday morning, Rose Forrester tears herself from sleep and runs to the kitchen, the dread of dire illness or accidents propelling her down the stairs to the rhythm of the Hail Mary repeating in her head. "Yes?" she pants into the receiver.

"Rosie? You'll never guess what!" Helen Slezac's voice is squeaky with excitement. Rose hears the swoosh of washing machines in the background.

"Helen? It's only six-fifty. We're sleeping in," Rose whispers. She hopes her descent didn't waken the household. Everett has been looking tired. And Valley came in late from her date.

"I know. I know. But this one can't wait. I had to tell you." Rose tries to chase the edge from her voice. Poor Helen has been divorced so long, she's forgotten the pleasure of drowsing in bed. "Tell me what?"

"I got in early and was waiting for the dryer to quit tumbling to yank Jed Peterson's stuff before it wrinkled — you know how picky he is — when I looked up to see an old friend walking into Millie's."

Rose's heart has slowed to match the glub-dub of the washers. She pictures Helen at her usual post — at the pay phone by the Laundromat's front window, spying on the donut shop. "Who, Helen? Tell me."

"Rob MacIntyre."

Rose mouths the syllables. Her third finger finds her mouth, and her teeth search for loose cuticles. Rob's is the one name she'd hoped never to hear again when he disappeared from town seventeen years ago.

"Rosie? Are you still there? Is something wrong?"

"Everett's calling," Rose says so softly she can barely hear herself. "I've got to go." She hangs the receiver on the hook and lingers a moment, as though still connected to Rob by Helen's voice. Her mouth tastes metallic, as if she's been sucking on nickels. She tiptoes into the bedroom, looks to make sure Everett is still sleeping, slips a dress from its hanger, and hurries to the bathroom.

She must have brushed her teeth, combed her hair and zipped the dress, but she only remembers turning the car key and wanting to hush the engine.

Her Galaxy heads toward town, slowing abruptly where the speed limit drops from fifty to twenty-five. Chief Dudley waits in his cruiser behind the same bush every day, clocking all the residents. She salutes as she passes him, then coasts toward the three downtown blocks of Eden proper, lurching from one corner to the next. It's silly to have so many stop signs in a one-bank town.

In the middle of one block she pauses for old Mr.

Cockburn to cross to Millie's Dunk 'n' Sip from the loading dock at the Feed and Seed. She forces a smile and tells herself to nod and act normal, though stopping directly in front of the donut shop is last on her list. Mr. Cockburn dodders in front of her car, his left hand trailing across her hood for balance. Rose oh-so-casually glances to her left. The hunched backs of the Saturday-morning regulars show through the window, middle-aged men straddling counter stools in their John Deere caps, chugging hot coffee as if June temperatures didn't faze them. She can hear them in her head, chewing on predictable topics between swallows —  whether Reagan's new agriculture secretary will favor Ohio or if the plate ump in last night's Reds game was on the take. But even squinting she can't make out one back from the next. Can't tell if one of them belongs to Rob. Helen sounded certain, but Rose needs to see for herself.

At the corner one of Eden's single mothers leaves DudsIn-Suds with a laundry basket balanced on one hip. The woman brushes the hair off her brow, and two raggedy kids with green mouths come straggling behind her, sucking on lollipops. Rose slows, remembering the days when Valley was small and wakened early, when Rose, too, had finished her housework before 8:00 a.m. The woman steps into the road, then stops to make eye contact with Rose. The children bump into their mother's back. Rose takes note of the kids' health, as though she's assigned to watch over fatherless children everywhere. Welfare brats, Everett calls them. Rose winces every time he says it, his judgment slashing at her insides.

There's a parking spot one block up where she'll have a good view of Main Street but Helen can't see her. She turns around in the alley next to the theater and parallel parks facing Millie's. Then she pulls her checkbook and a pen from her purse, so if anyone wonders why she's sitting there, she can pretend to be balancing her account. But no one is outside except for the single mom, who piles the kids into her rusty boat of a Chevy. Rose strains to see if she can make out car seats through the windshield, though maybe the kids are too old for that. The Chevy cruises by, the kids standing behind the broad bench seat while their mother flips through radio channels. "Seat belts!" Rose hollers, but then is instantly ashamed. Everett regularly reminds her what's none of her business. Luckily the Chevy radio is blaring, so no one heard.

The street is quiet for long minutes afterward, and Rose considers where Rob might stay if he were really back in town. His mother's house sold — she saw the sign — so if he's there, he can't stay long. She once heard Phil Langston mention Rob's name in Millie's. She can't remember that they buddied around in school, but those things changed, judging from herself and Helen anyway. The two of them had hardly spoken until after graduation. Helen had smoked in the woods behind the school with the fast crowd, while Rose, who didn't own her own clarinet, had stayed after school to practice in the band room. Everett had hung out in that hallway, so she hadn't really been by herself. Rob had always been on a ball field of one shape or another, with all the girls going gaga from the stands. Since Rose hadn't been one of them, their night together was all the more miraculous.

Just then Millie's screen door swings open. A bunch of the regulars ramble out, turning and talking to the person holding the door, jostling each other and laughing. Then Rob steps onto the stoop in jeans and a tucked-in T-shirt. "Sweet Jesus," comes from Rose's lips unbidden, and she fingers the rayon of her dress, rubbing its silky softness over her bare thighs. Rob stands with his hands in his hip pockets, rocking slightly from heels to toes. She'd know that stance anywhere — a man version of the boy who, in the warm water of Kaiser Lake, first freed her body from more than her bathing suit. Rob's a little broader for all these years, but so is she. Still, gravity's been kind. His hair is shorter now, freshly washed and combed, and he's grown a mustache. He turns from the doorway, waves to the guys going the other way and heads up the street toward her. Her first instinct is to duck, and Rose finds herself sprawling across the front seat, wishing the hot-pink flowers on her dress would die. The plastic upholstery grabs at her legs, and the titillating mix of exhilaration and danger that kept her awake those long-ago summer nights grips her once again. Never mind she's thirty-five and runs a household. Her schoolgirl foolishness is back. He still has that power.

She hears his boots on the sidewalk and can't resist opening her eyes. He glances down. Valley's smile flits across his mouth and eyes. Dimples pinpoint his cheeks. If she looks familiar, he doesn't let on. He walks on by. She blows the bangs off her forehead and assures herself he didn't miss a step. He smiled, yes, but anyone would smile at the sight of a woman lying on a car seat. She needn't feel foolish. It made perfect sense to lie down in your car when you didn't feel well.

But that's nonsense, and Rose knows it.

When enough time has passed that Rose is certain Rob is farther down the street, she sits up and searches her rearview mirror. She can't help noting how Rob's shoulders preside over his narrow waist and firm buttocks. Her hands cup as if around his bottom. Her palms remember.

Rob disappears around a corner, and Rose checks her reflection. She sees crow's feet, but her brow is still smooth. It's the one advantage of carrying a little extra weight. Her skin is young-looking, even if her hips and thighs make it hard to find a bathing suit. She stretches her mouth in a grimace to exercise her neck muscles, then relaxes again. Her chin looks tighter for it, she's sure, and she does the exercise a few more times. A double chin would spoil her looks.

Two car doors slam behind her. She watches Woody Mansfield and his son get out of the Mansfield Plumbing truck and jaywalk to Millie's, Woody catching the sleeve of Billy's Little League shirt to hurry him across. Everett has been working on a new house with Woody this week, making sure Rose has a good life and she wonders when she'll realize that Rob's good looks are no match for Everett's hard work. Whatever brought Rob back to Eden, concern for her welfare wasn't it. He probably doesn't even know Valley is a girl —  except that he's been in touch with Phil. She wonders what Phil knows and if he has ever talked to Everett. They've never been close, she's certain of that, but there was no controlling who sat down on the next stool at Millie's. At least Everett isn't in there this morning. She needs to get home before he realizes she's been gone.

Rose starts the engine and pulls out of the parking space.

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Butterfly Soup (Harlequin Next Series) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
mlakers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished Nancy Pinard's BUTTERFLY SOUP the same day that Buffalo was hit by what is being called the "October Surprise Storm" as if it were a game show prize. Fortunately, where I live, we were only out of power for 12 hours, while some in the heart of Buffalo were out for 12 days. But that time spent powerless gave me extra time to consider Nancy Pinard's second book (Shadow Dancing being her first). And consider it I did. The characters have yet to leave me.Butterfly Soup is peopled by a very engaging cast. Although there are many aspects of the book to love--like the fine writing, the study of our human obsessiveness, the unflinching examination of the frailty of the body, the damage that secrets can do, and the many lyrical descriptive passages--it was the characters I most adored.Rose Forrester opens the book for us, and even though we "intimately visit" with her husband Everett and her teenaged daughter Valley in successive close-third-person chapters, it is Rose and her big secret that drives the story. Fortunately, it isn't a secret from us, the readers. We learn right off that Rose's daughter Valley is actually the product of a brief fling with a high school heartthrob who has just returned to the same small town where Rose lives with her husband and daughter-that-isn't-his.There are a number of flashbacks that give us backstory, but the bulk of the story takes place in the present tense on a crazy weekend that for Rose begins with a Saturday morning phone call from the town gossip who tells her that Rob McIntyre (Valley's real father) is back in town. Rose dresses, jumps in her car, and drives into town to see for herself. From there, her disparate emotions gradually merge into an all-consuming religious-inspired exile. When Rose makes an impulse purchase of a used nun's bed (auctioned off in the grocery store parking lot of her home town), the bed (placed in her downstairs office) becomes a makeshift sanctuary that shelters her from what she knows will be the inevitable repurcussions from her sixteen-year-old sins.Everett's secret is a recently diagnosed medical condition that threatens to render him physically helpless in a few years. Already his legs are going numb and disobeying what his brain commands. To avoid acknowledging his body's impending self-destruction, Everett takes off on a Saturday adventure: an attempt at parasailing that has disastrous (although somewhat humorous--and familiar--for those of us who have ever thought we were still young enough to try something rash) results. Along the way he finds a beagle dog that helps to keep the whole story turning in her own right (and has her own secret, too, as it turns out) and a woman who first makes him question his marriage and then helps to reassure him of the value of said marriage.Valley is a wonderfully rendered teenaged daughter. As a mother of two of my own, and a former teenaged daughter myself, I can tell you that Valley's depiction and deceptions are spot-on. She sneaks out that same crazy Saturday that her family seems to be self-destructing and winds up on a deserted road with a juvenile delinquent (appropriately named Snake) who happens to be a charge of Rob-the-heartthrob--MacIntyre.All of these twists combine to create a dizzying plot of secrets-kept and secrets-revealed while life and limb hang in the balance for more than one of the protagonists. The ending? You'll have to read the book yourself to get that--I'm no spoiler--but I can tell you that the final chapter of the book seamlessly weaves together a puppy, a quilt, a belly tattoo, a box of chocolates, and Sister Mary Theresa's bed.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The call from her best friend came at o¿dark informing Rose Forrester that her former lover Rob MacIntyre was back in town after years of being away. Rose panics, as no one knows that seventeen years ago when she was a teen she made love with the town¿s golden boy resulting in a pregnancy. Her family, neighbors, husband Everett and her teenage daughter Valley think her spouse sired their offspring Rose knows better.--------------------- - She would prefer for Rob to leave, but her desperate efforts to drive him out of town fail and only alienate her spouse and daughter. Rose concludes she must tell first Everett, then Valley, and finally her dad the truth about her biological father. All she can do is pray that they are forgiving of her hiding the truth from them not realizing each one of them also has secrets that they should reveal but fear condemnation by their loved ones.--------------- BUTTERFLY SOUP is an insightful relationship drama that is at its best when readers feel the mental anguish suffered by the protagonist when the story line turns frenzied with a desperate irrational activity it adds excitement, but loses its focus of a deep psychological study when an individual struggles with difficult choices. The cast is solid and seem real (except that those times when Rose is an out of control thorn) as each has secrets they conceal, but none has the steel to reveal even piecemeal.-------------- Harriet Klausner