Today's Reading

"I'm too cute to sleep outside. Camping was never my cup of tea. Speaking of tea, would you like some hibiscus tea?" Naomi asked as she sauntered down the hallway leading to the kitchen.

"Yes, that sounds good," Ruth said as she followed behind Naomi. She hoped to look as good as her mother-in-law did in fitted jeans when she turned sixty-nine years old.

"By the way, I'm thinking of redecorating. I've got an appointment tomorrow with an interior designer. I think it's time for another project. I feel like I need something to do."

Ruth pretended not to be affected by the revelation that, as always, Naomi was a step ahead of her. "Okay," Ruth said, the last syllable dragging out as the muscles tightened at the nape of her neck. Before they reached the kitchen, the doorbell chimed. "I'll get it," she said, angling to buy some time to regroup. "Go ahead. They'll want some tea too."

Ruth entered the foyer and peered into the large oval mirror opposite the door. Why didn't she tell me my hair is a mess? Although the natural curls gathered at the top of her head were already neatly coiffed, she pulled and fluffed them while she inspected her makeup.

The doorbell rang again as she lowered her face to the peephole. 

"Open up. It's us, your favorite nieces," a muffled voice said.

Even through the peephole, their flawless deep-brown skin, pouty lips, and prominent eyes made the sisters look like models in a Doublemint gum commercial.

Ruth took a deep breath and opened the door. Greeting Mary and Martha with a quick hug as they entered the foyer, Ruth marveled at how much the sisters looked more alike as they got older. Although sometimes confused for twins, the women were two years apart. They had such similar taste that they bought the same clothes even when they didn't shop together.

"Hey, Ruth. Do you know you left your golf cart running? Are you okay?" Mary asked, handing Ruth her keys.

"Oh, I was rushing to get inside. Thank you. I have a lot on my mind. I&I guess I'm more distracted than I realized," she said, lowering her voice to a whisper. "So, I think she suspects we're up to something. Which one of you told her? She's talking about renovating. How can we convince her to move in with me if she's planning to update the house? And she baked snickerdoodles too. She knows."

"I bet Aunt Naomi is making tea. I'm going to go help," Martha said as she scurried past Ruth.

Ruth's head swung toward Mary. "Martha told her, didn't she?" she whispered. "A lot is going on at the company right now. I need everything to be perfect for the Christmas party. I don't have time for this."

Mary shrugged and followed her sister without answering Ruth's question.

Ruth sighed. I'm gonna have to clean up their mess, just like when they were kids. She followed the sisters into Naomi's kitchen, like ants following the scent left behind by their leader. Ruth pointed to the dry-erase board sitting on an easel in the center of the kitchen table. "Look at this," she said as she walked closer. "The honor of your presence is requested at high tea. Please join me in the dining room." Ruth shook her head. "I told you she's on to us."

Martha dismissively waved her hands. "I didn't tell her, but she probably figured it out because we don't get together much anymore and we asked if we could come over today even though we have the Gardin Family Enterprises board meeting at your house tomorrow. You have to admit that a bunch of family time all of a sudden is a little strange. She put it together and realized we were up to something."

Martha nudged her sister.

"Yeah, that makes sense," Mary said as she backed away from Martha.

"I guess," Ruth replied. "You can say it. You're busy at the hospital and don't have time for us."

"That's not true," Martha said. "I—"

"Martha, remember when Aunt Naomi used to have us over for high tea in Atlanta when we were kids?" Mary asked. "We never wanted to stop playing when she called us to dinner, but we were interested when she called us to high tea instead."

"And then we would race to see who could get to the bathroom first to wash our hands," Martha said, then laughed.
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