Lacy touched the ragged scar on her cheek and winced. The pain, long since faded, lingered only in her mind. “Z for Zorro.” She bit her lip. “No mask or mascara in the world can fix this, honey.”
“Mom?” Jason stood in the doorway and peered at the reflection of his mother.
She glanced in the mirror and met her son’s worried, forlorn eyes. “Nothing, kiddo. Just—” She couldn’t think of a quip fast enough. Lord, she was weary.
Jason stepped into the room. “It’s not so bad. I mean, you’d have to really look carefully to even notice.”
A laugh jerked in her middle, tumbling over the tears she wanted to free. “Yeah. It’s practically invisible.” A quick swipe and her eyes were nearly as dry as her tone. She turned around and squared her shoulders. “You ready?”
Jason lifted an armload of books and grinned. “Mr. Baxter will love these. Vintage Hardy Boys.”
Lacy ran her fingers through her son’s tumbled locks of curly hair. “No doubt. Being as rugged as the hills himself, he loves the old and familiar.” She grabbed her keys, swung her purse strap over her arm, and led the way to the bookstore.
A bell tinkled as Lacy entered. Old man Baxter glanced up from a table crowded with paperbacks.
Jason hustled ahead of his mom, a grin spreading wide across his face. “Look what I brought, Mr. Baxter.” He edged a stack of mysteries aside and placed the Hardy Boys securely in the center.
Mr. Baxter lifted one book, his gnarled hand clasping the cover with gentle care. Rifling through the first pages, he whistled low and glanced up at the boy. “These are a special find, son. Collectors always looking for vintage pieces.” His gaze strayed to Lacy.
On autopilot, Lacy offered a little wave. The scar seemed to stand out more when she smiled, so a flashed grin sped by.
Mr. Baxter rose with a nod. “So glad to see you’re up and about again. Car accidents—dreadful affairs.” He waved to the back of the room and swept his gaze to Jason. “I’ve something to show you.”
Jason jogged in the direction indicated, his eyes growing wide at the sight of a glorious double bass standing in the corner. “Oh, man! Can you play it?” He ran a finger along the polished curved wood.
Mr. Baxter ambled up grinning from ear-to-ear. Cradling the instrument in his arms, he hefted it out the back screen door and held the frame with his foot. “Come into the light, and I’ll play a little something.”
Jason jogged forward and slipped into the sunshine. Lacy, an ache tugging on her heart, stepped outside and backed into a shadow.
Mr. Baxter plucked the strings, his body swaying to a nightclub melody.
Blocking the bright light with her hand, Lacy watched her young son and old man Baxter as the music floated over the air like a sweet memory. Focusing on Mr. Baxter’s face, it suddenly seemed as if years evaporated: his eyes brightened, his mouth turned up in a happy grin, and his skin smoothed. The man stood in his prime, his back arched just so, his legs sturdy, his hands strong, and his vigor restored.
Swallowing back a gasp, Lacy blinked and dropped her hand. Jason and Mr. Baxter could be brothers, their love of books and music binding them stronger than the years that divided them.
As they returned to the car, Jason buckled himself in and glanced at his mom. “You okay?”
Lacy turned the key in the ignition, and the car roared into life. With one hand, she passed her fingers over the scar. “I never realized; we all have scars. Age brings them on in multitudes.”
Jason shrugged. “I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for.”
Lacy pulled into traffic and glanced aside. One eyebrow rose.
“Well, if you look beyond the scar, you might find happiness.”
Peering ahead, Lacy smiled.
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend
OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00