Lilly could be such a venomous bitch! The problem with Maurice and her money was not Fran’s fault. He’d tricked her, saying that her house would be used for collateral to expand his plumbing business. Fran loved him. Of course she transferred the title, that’s what married people did. Not Lilly.
Lilly treated every situation like a damn transaction. It had taken her nearly two decades to start filing married on her tax returns for the love of god! Fran didn’t know how Neil stood her yet he did. It was obvious that he was as smitten now as he was in the beginning. Lilly was a fine one to point fingers about affairs and sex. In her twenties she’d been quite the girl. She was happily married now; however, she’d had more than one ride on that carousel too!
Fran knew who Lilly was. Her family moved back to town after her mother’s marriage failed and her father, the original deadbeat dad, left her mother with all those kids to support, the youngest ones not yet potty trained. Lilly was a misfit. She was awkward. Her bedroom was plain and she didn’t have a single Barbie. Instead, she had books that she lent out like a librarian.
Fran was a Thaxter with all the implied prominence and responsibility. Lilly was her first social cause. Her mother forced Fran to include Lilly in her group. When Fran was prom queen, Fran’s mother insisted that she lobby her friends to include Lilly in her court. Lilly, nerd that she was, refused to be part of it, saying she didn’t want to perpetuate women’s subjugation. She wasn’t interested in being popular. Oddly, Lilly was popular. She was the girl others confided in; the girl most likely to get birth control pills for her friends and the girl who knew how and where to terminate a pregnancy. Lilly took care of things and she didn’t mind doing it. If you told her a secret, she kept it.
Lilly had good points, which gave her no right to lecture Fran, no right at all. How was Fran to know that all men were basically the same? Greg had loved her. He was ordinary, happy to go along to get along. Every day was the same as the day before and the same as the day to come. He got up and had breakfast, the same boring granola with one cup of coffee, every morning. Showered, brushed and flossed, he headed out the door to work at 6:30 each day, no deviation, ever. He returned in the evening, drank a beer and read the paper, talked only of facts and never speculated about anything. He had no dreams beyond his home and family. The predictable domestic routine made Fran want to crawl out of her skin.
Lilly was mean and rude about Woody. As though Fran failed to notice that Woody had let himself go. Fran was not the blind one, after all. Woody understood her. If she hadn’t been so mad at him, that she’d hurled his promise ring off the cliff and into the drink at Sunset Cove, they would have been married and things would have been much different. Mae Lee had no idea who Woody was; she’d never seen his potential. The poor thing didn’t even suspect.
Lilly warned her about Maurice from the beginning. She didn’t trust him. Lilly was right. Fran didn’t know how someone, who was so socially inept, could recognize people for who they were. Lilly was too direct. She refused to waste her precious time on social niceties. If she didn’t like someone she wouldn’t lower her standards, under any conditions. Fran had been mortified the time that Lilly refused to shake the mayor’s hand, in front of the press, at the annual Booby Ball. The ball had been Lilly’s idea and a reaction to Fran’s breast cancer. Lilly was more than just her cousin.
Fran had been between husbands when she found the lump. She’d called Lilly first thing. Lilly hadn’t hesitated for a second. She’d held Frannie’s hand through the whole ordeal. She and Neil had moved into her house so that Lexie’s schedule wouldn’t be disrupted. When her work had been less than supportive, Lilly had quit, on the spot, told them to cram that servile little job. Fran had no health insurance so Lilly took care of all the paperwork for her. She’d stayed many nights at Fran’s hospital bedside when things had been the worst.
Lilly didn’t know that Fran knew the battles she’d fought for her. An unsuspecting nurse had mentioned Fran’s charity care status; Lilly went off like a rocket. She’d dressed that nurse down in a hissing rant in the hall outside Fran’s room. She told her that the hospital would have closed its doors, decades ago, if not for Thaxter money. There would be no nursing jobs, where the staff was clearly not busy enough, if not for the Thaxter legacy. She went on to say that while the hospital was in sound financial condition, it certainly wasn’t Fran’s fault that the estate trustee had robbed the heirs of their inheritance. Fran had heard the whole thing. She’d cried to hear Lilly defend her.
Lilly was a venomous bitch. She was also Frannie’s dearest friend. Fran knew that she had erupted from worry. She forgave her.