“Did you hear your sister-in-law’s back in town?”
Clay Foster’s receptionist watched for his reaction from her seat across the front counter of his veterinarian clinic.
This was his dead wife’s sister’s first trip home in two years. “She must have blown in for a quick visit.”
“Pfft, so much for making it big,” Sybil commented with a glance at her computer screen.
“Out with it, Sybil. You look too delighted for this to be anything but juicy gossip.” Mercy was a Hollywood success story. Everyone knew it.
Sybil crossed her arms and leaned forward. “She came home with boxes. Lots of boxes.” Sybil’s husband, Bud, worked at the bus depot and shared all the comings and goings of Welcome’s population.
Clay leaned in to glean every nuance of meaning from Sybil’s face. “Out with it,” he repeated.
She licked her lips as if each morsel of gossip was filet mignon. “When Bud asked if he could call her a cab, she said no, she couldn’t afford it.” She hefted a disbelieving sigh and muttered, “Of all the nonsense. So”—she stretched out the word because Sybil loved telling a good story—“Bud called Nate, who showed up half an hour later. Nate didn’t say a word, which, of course, is just like him, and tossed all the boxes into his pickup. Mercy didn’t explain a thing, just looked miserable, Bud said.”
He nodded, at a loss. It still came as a surprise that he was related, if only by marriage, to Mercy Talbot. Welcome High’s golden girl: the blond, beautiful, leggy, and untouchable Mercy Talbot. The Talbot daughter who’d made a real success of her life, unlike the one who’d ruined her life by marrying him, the town hell raiser.
“That Mercy is a real glamour girl. Dilly’s gonna love her. All that prettiness and sunshine wrapped up in one girl.” Sybil sighed as if just knowing Mercy Talbot had somehow blessed her.
At the mention of his daughter, Dilly, Clay frowned. “Mercy won’t be here long,” he said. “Dilly won’t get attached.” Women like Mercy always had an exit strategy and somewhere more important to be.
Mercy Talbot had been as angelically perfect as his wife, Janna, had been hell-bent on personal destruction. Two sisters: impossibly different, forever at odds. He used to wonder if Janna’s darkness was in counterpoint to Mercy’s bright flare. But none of that mattered anymore.
It was Dilly who mattered.
“What child wouldn’t get attached to a beautiful actress?”
A pulse pounded in his temple. He dreaded seeing Dilly’s eyes light up when Mercy played the caring auntie. But she’d barely held Dilly as a baby. He doubted she’d show any interest now.
“I have nothing to worry about,” he told Sybil.
“Still, makes you wonder why she’s back in town.”