Sharon looked at me and said gently, “Jim’s been gone almost two years.”
“So you’re thinking how can you love another man? How can you betray Jim like that? Right?”
Surprised, I looked at my friend and said, “What? No, Jim and I just sort of drifted into it ... we were friends, remember, and he graduated from law school and it was just the right time to settle down. So we got engaged, got married. You know, we were just right for each other.”
Sharon dropped her eyes and poked at her salad.
“Yes, and I knew you loved him in a way, and I know you were happy with him, but I never did think it was true love.”
“More than happy? What does that mean?”
“Like you and me and Carol?” I asked tentatively.
“If the Blue Fairy had asked me to choose,” Sharon said quietly, “I would choose Doug.”
Does it exist between my sons and their wives? I hope so. I’d have to look closer.
Colin hadn’t called me — in fact it had been several days since I’d seen or heard from him, the day my family left. Maybe the problem had solved itself. I thought perhaps he’d lost interest, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the “more” — about whether it might be there or not. It hurt — to love and not be loved in return — to a much greater extent than I imagined it would. Another lesson learned, right Lord?
Problem was, it wasn’t working.
I gulped, then took a deep breath. Okay, I thought, we’ll see where this goes. “I did. Right up front, on the other side. He looked good. Shouldn’t you be up there with the Tramps or something?”
“Yep. You already have plans?” He sounded surprised and a little hurt. He should have asked me sooner, should have called right after Thanksgiving, but then he was too busy brooding.
He’d brooded for a week over wanting her, over the surprise feelings of wanting to be with her when her family was there — of wanting to be a part of them all. To shake that wanting, or so he’d hoped, he’d called Dixie for dinner last week, but much to the lady’s chagrin, he hadn’t talked much and dropped her off at her door before 9:30. It hadn’t felt right, and he was more miserable than ever.
“Definitely before Christmas break. What about this weekend, though?” I said boldly. If he could ask, I could, too. And I did want to see what developed.
He turned to smile at me and confirm their date, and something caught his eye. He looked back up at the source, and in the darkened campus found a light coming from just above the trees ... an orange glow.
I turned to look too, and seeing the distinctive light, knew immediately what it meant.
Colin grabbed my elbow, steering me toward the Administration Building, even as I turned and headed that way. As we pushed through the crowed, I pulled my phone from my belt, pushing the speed button I’d programmed after Halloween, and said, “Fire ... East tower of the Admin Building. Hurry!”
“Hold the Tramps there, next to the stage,” he told Jamie. “I’m coming through the crowd. Who’s in charge of the renovations? Josh? Okay, the fire captain will probably need to speak to him. Thanks.” He disappeared into the crowds as I looked for the best place to set up the media area. What a mess, with all the spectators for Carol of Lights!
Yes, they were home now, too, he said. Sharon had been a little shaken, but he’d put her to work helping him get musicians and their unused instruments back to the music building and all accounted for, so they were not around to watch the fire being put out. She’d gone to bed, and Doug was sure she’d be fine. Maggie promised to call her in the morning.