His One and Only

By: Theodora Taylor

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, trying not to let her mind go to Wayne. “I thought she told you.”

“No, she didn’t fucking tell me.” His jaw set and his left hand clenched and unclenched, a move she recognized from his high school days, a sign he was holding his anger in check while figuring out what to do next. “Where’s the guy who drove me here?”

“Right here, sir.” The limo driver stepped up. “My name is Miguel, and I’m at your service,” he said as if it were a first time introduction, and even though he’d probably already told Beau his name when he picked him up at the airport. “What can I do for you?”

“Take me in the house,” Beau bit out.

The driver, who had probably been given instructions to hand Beau over at the front door, looked askance at Josie.

“Okay, I can just lead the way. No problem,” Josie said, scrambling to reconcile this situation with the research she’d done to prepare for her new job as Beau’s caretaker.

“Okay, Mr. Prescott, we’re at the steps now,” she said, as the driver guided Beau toward the front door. “There’s four of them, I’ll count them out for you.”

Beau didn’t answer, so she counted the steps as he and Miguel took them one at a time.

“Now we’re in the foyer,” she said when they got inside. “You want to sit down for a spell? I could bring you something to drink, or some food if you’re hungry.”

“No,” he answered, his voice sharp and hard. “I want to go to my room. Now.”

“All right. That’s totally fine,” she said, throwing Miguel an apologetic look. The poor man had definitely not signed up for this. “If you could just lead him to the big staircase over there.” Then to Beau: “Mr. Prescott, we’re at the big staircase now. Lots of steps, I’ll count them as we go up.”

“No.” His voice was colder than a decade of Northern winters. “No more telling me where I am, no more counting.”

Josie’s face fell. “But the counting is so you can get used to moving around the house on your own,” she said. “Counting the stairs out might seem silly now, but it will help you memorize the numbers when I’m not around.”

“Why’s my mom paying you if you’re not going to be around?” he asked. Then, before she could answer, he waved Miguel forward. “Take me upstairs.”

She thanked Miguel profusely after they’d arrived in Beau’s old room. Another thing her mother had taught her was to be twice as kind to the other help as she was to the Prescotts. “Let me just go get a tip out of the mad money…”

But Miguel shook his head, “No, ma’am, that’s already taken care of,” he answered.

“Oh no, I couldn’t let you leave here without something.”

“Really, it’s all right, ma’am. I was paid a tip in advance.”

“Yes, but—”

“He said it was taken care of, Josie,” Beau said. “Let him go already.”

She pursed her lips, about ready to tell Beau what he could do with his edicts and commands, but then she remembered how much she needed this job and her room with it’s little amenities—like heat and electricity.

“Well, then I hope you know how grateful we are for your assistance,” she said to Miguel, pasting a tight-lipped smile on her face. She then decided to wait for the driver to get all the way out the house before she attempted to reason with Beau again.

While she did so, she looked around the room, realizing if Beau could see, this probably would have been the first time he set eyes on his old bedroom since college. Before Wayne had moved Loretta into her own apartment in Birmingham, she had told Josie that Beau never came home after he went pro, preferring to occasionally fly his parents out to visit him in L.A. rather than come back to Alabama.

“Guess he too good for this place now,” her mother had said.

But Josie hadn’t been able to judge him. She’d started staying away from Alabama herself by then, too, mostly at Wayne’s behest. He’d claimed he couldn’t do without her but also that he couldn’t get away from work to go home with her.

At first she’d been flattered by his desire to keep her by his side, but eventually, she’d come to see Wayne’s supposed devotion for what it really was: his way of keeping her separated from the people she loved, the people who might have helped her.

Maybe it was a good thing Beau couldn’t see this place now, she thought to herself now. She’d suspected Mrs. Prescott wouldn’t be the kind of woman who would leave a room as a shrine to her son, even one who had been as good at football as Beau had been from the start, and she’d been right. His former bedroom now looked like it belonged in an upscale bed and breakfast with its large four-poster bed, an expensive looking Persian rug on the floor, wallpaper covered in a delicate fleur de lys pattern, a crystal chandelier, and lace curtains adorning the huge bay window that looked out onto the back lawn and the woods that lie beyond it.

It was definitely fussier and decidedly more feminine than what Beau was probably used to. She’d once run across a feature on him in one of Wayne’s sports magazines. It had a photo of Beau in an ultra-modern and very masculine penthouse surrounded by lots of windows, sleek black and red furniture, and ample white space. A far cry from his current surroundings, that was for sure.