Sunsets of Fire and Ice: Chapter One

Eric Channing glared at the TV. Pounding his fist into the tray, he turned over his glass of iced tea, spilling it onto his plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and cornbread. There stood Kristie, his ex-wife of about a month, on the red carpet at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. And with her was none other than country music’s most famous unknown, Jake McPherson. The dress Kristie was wearing looked like a replica of the dress she wore when the two of them were married a little over a year ago. This dress was solid black and floor length; whereas the wedding dress was light blue and street length.

Eric knew Kristie liked Jake McPherson, and he also felt that Jake had a thing for her. But Kristie had professed to love him and only him, even telling him on the day their divorce was final, that throughout all the drama, she had never stopped loving him.

It didn’t take Mr. Jake McPherson long to swoop in, nor did it take Kristie long to find someone else. Forget it! Eric flipped the TV back to Fox News as he got up out of his recliner to get a towel to clean up his ruined dinner.

After preparing another plate, and sitting down on the sofa to the last thirty minutes of Bill O’Reilly, his phone rang. It was Jimmy Harpo. “Hey, old man, it didn’t take “little Miss Perfect” long to find someone else, did it? And someone famous at that? Who would have thought that fat Kristie Tidwell would one day be attending the CMA awards with a star?”

“Look, Jimmy, I’m just not in the mood right now, and don’t start up with the fat thing. That’s was decades ago.”

“Are you still carrying a torch for her? I suggested that you give Kristie her marching papers after Ruthie and I ran into her in New Orleans; where she informed Ruthie and I that she hated our whole family. Talk about a hypocrite.”

“Kristie’s not a hypocrite. She was hurt by the way some of our old Wentworth gang treated her when we were in high school, and I can’t say that I blame her. She’s one of the finest people I have ever known. The fact that our marriage didn’t work out hasn’t changed that.”

“Suit yourself, but there’s still plenty of women around that would love to be with you. In fact, there is one right under your nose, and she wants you.”

“Anabelle? Get real.”

“What’s wrong with Anabelle? She’s loaded plus she’s like you and the rest of us. She fits in, unlike Kristie.”

“Look, Jimmy, I’m not attracted to Anabelle in the least. She has wrinkles and varicose veins. Plus her hair is faded and dry. Just the other day, I saw her scalp.”

“So, we’ve all aged. Just think about the knock-out Anabelle was when she and Wiley married.

“That was then, and this is now. Anabelle doesn’t hold a candle to Kristie, and I am not attracted to her in the least.”

“You’re going to be sorry you wasted so much time pining away over that snobby bitch.”

“That’s enough Jimmy. I’m beginning to think that Kristie was right about y’all. You’re narrow-minded and cliquey. Kristie’s friends were always kind to me, but I can’t say the same about the actions of my friends toward Kristie. I have to go, bye.”

Later that evening, Eric was sitting in his recliner in Anabelle’s basement watching some re-runs on TV Land, when he heard Anabelle coming down the stairs. When the door to the basement suite opened, Anabelle was standing there wearing a see-through nightgown. Eric could only stare. It was the first time he had seen a naked or nearly naked woman since Anita, the waitress at the run-down fish place in the Florida Keys.

Eric stood up as Anabelle began moving seductively toward him. The two embraced while Eric ran his hands up and down Anabelle’s body. The next morning, Eric found himself upstairs in Anabelle’s king-sized bed alongside Anabelle.

What would Kristie think, Eric chuckled to himself? His mind wandered back to Kristie and the dream she claims to have had on the night before their wedding. A dream in which she caught the two of them in bed together the same afternoon that Anabelle’s late husband, Wiley Martin, died at Wentworth Medical Center.

Jimmy Harpo was Eric’s best friend, but he could be difficult at times. Jimmy, along with Eric, was a part of a group that smoked, drank, and had sex while they were still in high school. These young people had no interested in attending college anywhere, preferring to hang out in Wentworth for the rest of their lives. It wasn’t until Jimmy was almost thirty that he decided he needed to grow up and make something of himself.

Reluctantly, he attended the now defunct St. Randolph College on the east side of Wentworth. He could get a decent education and still remain in his beloved town of Wentworth, Alabama. Jimmy was the youngest of the Harpo children having an older brother named Sam and an older sister named Jan. Jan had married high school sweetheart Jeremy Franklin and Sam had married Wentworth native Kathryn Campbell. After getting his degree from St. Randolph, Jimmy met and married Russellville, Alabama native Ruthie who was a nurse at Wentworth Regional Medical Center.

Since moving back to Wentworth with Anabelle Martin, Eric had been miserable. He was content to live in the Florida Keys and have Anabelle as a friend. He fished and swam in the warm shallow waters almost every day. While there was no desire on his part to pursue a relationship with Anabelle, he did enjoy her company.

Anabelle soon grew tired of the leisurely island life and wanted to return to Wentworth where she had been a matriarch of the small town’s close-knit society. She missed her clubs, her charity work, and her friends, notably Jan Harpo Franklin, Kathryn Campbell Harpo, and Ruthie Williams Harpo. She didn’t meet any of these ladies until after she and Wiley began seeing one another. But after the wedding, the four of them were inseparable.

Deciding the keep her house in the Keys, Anabelle talked Eric into moving back to Wentworth with her. It would be great having the gang together again after his ex-wife, Kristie, almost split them apart.

Having sold all his Wentworth County property except for a lot on Jones Lake, Eric agreed to move into the fully furnished basement of Anabelle Martin’s spacious house in Summerdale, an upscale subdivision, until he could build something on his lake property.

After Eric Channing divorced his first wife, Gina Hanover, it was the mission of the Harpo couples to find the perfect girl for Eric. They tried and tried, but Eric didn’t seem interested in any of the women they paraded in front of him.

Then, one New Year’s Eve, Eric brought Kristie Tidwell, a former classmate at Wentworth High, to a party the Harpo women were hosting at Jan’s house. Because of childhood weight problems, Kristie was not popular with the gang, even though she lost the weight and became one of the best-looking girls in school. This didn’t bode well with most of the gang because the girls who thought they were the best- looking ever, now had competition.

After high school graduation, Kristie left Wentworth to study at the University of Alabama and became a successful career woman. After leaving, she returned sparingly, only to visit family. A few years ago, Kristie decided to show up at a high school reunion. Eric Channing, single and available was there also. Immediately, the two of them started a relationship which led to marriage.

While Kathryn had graduated in Kristie’s class and hung out with her a bit, she had no desire to be friends with Kristie now. Eric was part of their group and Kristie was taking him away from them.