Chapter 1 The car drives away with a chorus of cheers and well wishes being sung as the bride

dangles out of the window, wildly waving goodbye. I know it isn't forever. But the empty house waiting for my return makes it feel as though it is. “Mom, are you ready to go or do you want to stay and help clean up?” Blake asks from behind me as he pulls his jacket off. I quickly take a deep breath to push away the forlorn shudders before they force the tears to come that I desperately tried to keep in check. The crowd mills around chatting and laughing as if this is the most joyful day in the world. It
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should be. My daughter's dreams just came true. She married the man that stole her heart away years ago. I never dreamed the relationship would have survived through high school, let alone four years of college. But if anything, Austin proved to be dedicated to Jocelyn. He's a good boy. He has a good head on his shoulders and as I have been reminded on almost a daily basis for the past several years, a very handsome head. Jocelyn was swept away by him when she was only fifteen years old and I don't think she has ever found her own feet since. But she's happy. “Mom, are you alright?” Blake asks again. “I'm fine.” I said as I turned to give him a reassuring smile.

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Blake is three years older than Jocelyn. He married the love of his life two years ago. Carrie is a sweet petite, very quiet, little thing that I don't quite understand, but that could have a lot to do with the fact that I never really had the chance to get to know her. They met in college and as soon as they graduated they married and moved away to California where they both had jobs waiting for them that had something to do with computer programming. It isn't exactly easy driving from Indiana to California for a quick visit. Austin and Jocelyn on the other hand are moving to Florida. They're on their way now to spend their honeymoon traipsing around getting familiar with their new home for two weeks and
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then Austin will begin his new job as an engineer for some company that makes nautical equipment. Jocelyn has yet to find a job but they're not concerned about it. She's even talked about having children and staying home with them rather than working. Both of my children turned out far better than I ever dreamed. At least that's what I keep telling myself over and over again when all it feels like their doing is flying away from me to far off lands. I've had to say far too many good byes in the past few years. I expected the children to leave eventually. That's what children do. Marty and I worked hard so when this time came they had everything they needed to begin a new

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life on their own. But I never dreamed I would be saying these goodbye's without him. “Come on Mom, are you hungry. I'm starving. You would think they would at least have had a short reception after putting us through this crap.” he grumbled as he loosened his bow tie. “Well, they needed to get moving as quickly as they could to get settled before Austin started work. They don't even have a house to live in yet.” I said as we headed back into the church. “Oh, I'm sure his father has some kind of surprise waiting for them when they get there. That man is loaded.” he said quietly so no one could overhear.

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“How long are you and Carrie staying? You just got here this morning and I haven't had more than five minutes to talk to you.” “We're heading back tomorrow. I have a deadline looming over my head that I have to get finished before they end up firing me.” “You're not having any problems at work are you?” “Not as long as I keep pumping out those codes. Everything is actually going really well and if I get this project taken care of then they're talking about possibly giving me a promotion to project manager. That's why I want to make sure everything is finished and tested before I turn it over.”

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“That's great.” “Yeah, it means more money but of course it places a lot more responsibility on my shoulders, but I'm ready for it. I'd like to start my own company one of these days. There are a million different areas out there just waiting for some kind of computer program to come in to simplify things. If I can keep this up for five more years then Carrie and I both may be able to take on that new adventure.” “You have more courage than I do.” “Yeah right. Who do you think I got this enterprising gene from? You're the one that started your own business from a tool shed, and now look at you.”

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“It wasn't just me, honey. Your father had more to do with that than I did.” “Remember all that faith you kept telling us we needed to have in ourselves. You never did find your own, maybe now it's time you did. We all miss Dad, but even he said you were the brains of the operation. He just had that unique ability to talk people into anything. While he was out there chatting it up, you were home working your fingers to the bone, making sure he had something to sell. You still have your customer base. If you don't want to keep making business websites, then do something else. Advertising can be a very lucrative business and you have the skills to make a good go at it. But there are a million other things you can do as well.”
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“I know. I thought about going back to work. The past five years have been a whirlwind. First with your father's illness and then you two graduating college and getting married. I guess now that it's all over with I'm going to have to find something to do.” “I'm not trying to be nosy, I just want to make sure you're alright, but, how are you doing on money?” “Oh, I'm fine. You don't need to worry about that.” “Why don't you sell the house? It's a lot of responsibility to take care of. I know you've managed it all our lives but you don't need to have all that unnecessary work to do if it's just

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you living there. I don't want to impose but I don't like you living out there in the middle of nowhere all alone.” “Well maybe you and Carrie can move back and I'll give it to you.” I said jokingly. “Mom, don't keep it for us. You can sell that place for a good chunk of money, buy something smaller and have all the rest of the money to do whatever you want with.” “I know. I guess I have a lot of things to think about. But let's not worry about that now. I only have a few hours to spend with you and I want to enjoy what little I do have.” I said as I turned to look around the sanctuary.

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Jocelyn made sure she had a whole crew working to clean up the church after the wedding and as we walked around it seemed like everything was already being taken care of. Blake took off to find Carrie so I sat down in one of the pews in the middle section and simply stared up at the baptismal. So much has happened in this little country church. It seems like my whole life could be found it its record books. I grew up here. I was saved, baptized, married; my children were saved and baptized here. My parents were the same and their lives ended here with a memorial service after their car accident. Before Marty's death I looked to this church as a support to get me through the highs and lows in life, but now, it's difficult even walking through the doors. It
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seems like every time I do step foot in the door it's to say good bye to someone. Even the church itself is changing. The old guard that made this church a strong beacon of light are moving on to their everlasting homes and leaving us with a smaller congregation of semi-dedicated parishioners that want to be given forgiveness for their weekly sins each Sunday, and move on to do them all over again. Oh, what am I complaining about? I'm no better. I never could reach the level of integrity and morals in which those old standards held as they walked in every Sunday with their heads held high, looking over the congregation, just waiting to single a sinner out and help them learn

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the errors of their ways. It was those very eagle eyes I spent most of my life avoiding. Even now, as I'm about to turn fifty, I can still hear my mother warning me, every Sunday before we walked in, to sit still and be quiet and don't interrupt adults when their speaking. But most of all, do not fall asleep or fidget with the hymnals when the pastor is preaching. Then the parade down the pews would begin where I always felt as if every eye was watching and judging me according to my behavior and how clean my dress was. Even as an adult I felt that way. But I have to admit, walking in here alone on Sunday mornings is frightening because of those old lingering feelings. Marty was the one that gave me the confidence to walk with my
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head held high because marrying him was one of the best things I did in my life. But now that he's gone and my family is all gone, I feel like my legs have been cut out from under me. I haven't been going to church as often as I should. I'm reminded of it every time I run into someone from our church in town. Even the pastor has given the job of updating the church's website to someone else. He was kind about it and didn't want to make it appear that my lack of attendance was the cause, but I know better. Right now I'm the wounded sheep that is on the verge of walking out of bounds and everyone is trying to love me back in, but most of the time, it feels more like judgment then love and I've found myself avoiding it as much as possible.
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But there are so many other memories that plague me even more so now that I have so much time to reminisce over the past. It always seems to be those old feelings that never go away no matter how many years have passed. What little time I did get to have with Marty and the amazing life we shared never seemed to make those feelings go away. He loved me to no end, and I knew it every day of my life with him. I loved him too. I never questioned that. But I've never been able to extinguish an old fire that if given only the slightest thought to, would flare up feeling like a burning inferno inside of me. It has felt like a demon has taken root inside of me, and instead of dying away, it continues growing,

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plaguing me with all the memories I wish I could scrape away from my brain forever. I used to console myself with the thoughts that everyone has a lost love in their past that they feel this way towards. I'm not unique and I shouldn't feel guilty, or even that I've done something wrong. But it's only words that could never quench the desire for forgiveness. It isn't as if I hadn't had hundreds of other relationships throughout my life that have ended sourly. But they don't plague me. In fact I most often feel like a better person for ending them. I do tend to be a little too judgmental towards others and have a horrible disposition when it comes to offering my own forgiveness. It's not that I necessarily hold grudges; I just don't associate myself with people
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that have wronged me in one instance or another. I don't need people like that. I'm far from perfect and obviously have my own long list of mistakes but I'm not a glutton for punishment either. At least, I don't think I am. I try not to be, but these memories seem to be just that, and no matter how desperately I try to push them away to the land of forgetfulness, they refuse. Then you have poor Marty. I don't think he ever knew. If he did he never spoke of them. He was far better of a man than I ever could have deserved. Perhaps it was because he wasn't a native of our fair town of Fairmount. He wasn't filled with the predetermined opinion of me like so many of the others in our community. Not that I necessarily had a bad reputation, I was never a
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person of any particular interest to much of anyone. Not even my family thought I would make my life anything worthwhile. Marty changed all of that for me. He swept into town after taking the position of the new third grade teacher in the elementary school and was an instant hit with everyone. He was such a happy person, it was contagious to anyone he was near. Even the children adored him. He was so completely opposite of me I never dreamed of even catching his eye. I wasn't trying when it did happen. But I was so conflicted at the time I didn't even notice that God had sent me a saving grace. I was only eighteen at the time, fresh out of high school, and lost to my future. I grew up in a
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family that survived. We had everything we needed but little for anything else. Both my parents worked long, hard hours. I have a brother that is four years my elder, but there was never a particular close relationship that ever developed between us. In fact, today was the first time I have seen him since Blake's wedding. We're congenial to each other and always promise to make an effort to see each other more often, but we never seem to keep those promises. He lives in Columbus, in Southern Indiana, and has a full life with three children of his own, and eight grandchildren that adore him. He's always had a beautiful family, and his wife, Lizzy, is a sweet kindhearted person. For all intent and purposes, they feel more like acquaintances than family. I
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think it has a lot to do with the fact that we both grew up with the importance of being selfresilient, and not depend on others to carry our weight, being pounded into our heads. But it created a void when it comes to maintaining personal relationships. I think it has inadvertently carried on to my children as well, hence their need to conquer the great frontier of our modern day world. I've tried to instill in them the importance of maintaining a strong sibling relationship, but without having my own example to prove that fact, I'm afraid it was more words to them than necessity. Their relationship is far too similar to that of mine and Jared's. Well I can only hope the good far outweighs the bad, just as I can only hope that Marty's life
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was as happy as the life he gave me. So many hopes, and so many regrets. Life simply passes by far too quickly, and yet, mine seems to be at a standstill now. “Come on Mom, Jared was able to reserve the party room at Ryan's for us. Let's go get something to eat. They're just about done here.” I took his hand and stood up just in time for the lights to shut off in the sanctuary. I'm not exactly sure why but it stirred a little bit of fear inside of me. It was almost as if someone was closing the curtain on the first act of my life and forcing me to move on to the next act of the show. But I was allowed a short intermission that was far more than I expected.

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While we were eating a new plan was formed that held a bittersweet blessing. When Jared discovered that Blake and Carrie were flying home the next day he and his wife decided to stay the night rather than head home that evening. So instead of having me drive them to the airport, Jared would simply drop them off on his way home. I was excited to have them all stay the night, but at the same time, it meant I was going to lose a few more precious hours with my son. Driving in a car with him was the best time to converse because there was nothing else around to distract him. While growing up his teachers were bound and determined to convince me that he had Attention Deficit Disorder because he always appeared to be distracted by
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something other than what the current topic of discussion was. But I knew better. He's one of those kids that has such a brilliant mind that he's easily bored and is constantly looking for something to occupy it. All I had to do was make them look at his grades to prove that he was simply not being challenged enough. They eventually created a program for “gifted” children and I never heard a complaint about him again. He and I used to spend hours talking about computers and learning new design programs until his comprehension exceeded mine, and he became my teacher, until I could no longer follow what he was attempting to teach me. Oh, how I miss those days. Blake took after me in so many ways, we always had that certain
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understanding of each other, where Jocelyn was the opposite. She took after her father and loved to be around people. She has a very strong and intelligent mind as well, but she is one that enjoys discussing just about anything anyone has to talk about, simply for the sake of conversation. I don't know if she ever had a sour relationship in her life with anyone. If she did then she simply let is slide off her back and moved on without a second thought of it. Just like her father. Having her around the past few months has almost been as if Marty never left us. Saying good bye to her is almost as if I'm saying my final good bye to Marty. But I won't think about that now. The time will come when I'll be surrounded by silence and I'll have no other choice but to confront the pain
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and loss. But now my home will be filled for one more night. I'm going to try to make the best of it and enjoy it as much as I can. I wish I could bottle up some of the laughter that is spreading around the table as they all eat and talk about what's going on in their lives. “Oh I almost forgot to tell you who came in and applied for the supervisor position at work, Jenna. When I first saw the application I thought it was just a coincidence, but when he came in for an interview, it was like seeing a ghost from our past.. Jared said with his rotten grin that made me want to cringe without him even saying a word. “Who was it?” I asked hesitantly.

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“You're not going to believe it. I swear the man has barely aged, in what has it been, around thirty years now?” “Who, Jared?” “Brad Harris, of all people, I swear, I was speechless. He walked into my office, and all I could do was stare at him in amazement. We talked for over a half hour before we even got to the actual interview.” It was if someone punched me right in the chest. My heart stopped. Of all people why did it have to be Brad? “Who's Brad Harris?” Blake asked. “That's one of your mom's old boyfriends. They were pretty serious for a while, until your
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mom dumped him. A few months later she met your father. I always liked Brad. We went fishing together a few times when I came home for the summers. I never did understand what happened. I figured they were going to get married the way they both talked about each other when they weren't together. But I guess it wasn't meant to be. But he seems to be doing really well for himself. He's got a couple of kids. One is married and the other just enlisted into the army.” “Really, that's interesting. I've never heard Mom talk about any of her old boyfriends.” Blake said with a devious tone. “Why would I talk to you about my old boyfriend? Do you talk about girls you dated

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before you met Carrie?” I asked a little more pertly than I intended. “Calm down I was just making an observation. It's interesting to hear about when your parents were kids. You never talk about your past. Dad used to talk about when he was a kid all the time, but you never do. I'd love to know what you were like.” “I didn't have the life your father led. I didn't even have many friends. There isn't anything worthwhile to talk about.” “How many boyfriends did mom have in high school?” Blake asked Jared, choosing to ignore me.

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“I don't really know. I started college her freshman year so I wasn't really around to know much of what she did. Brad was the only one I ever met, other than your father.” “Oh, now that's no fun. There isn't anyone around to give us any dirt on what she was really like. It's not fair.” “Well, maybe you can stay at my house the next time you fly in, and if we hire him, I can invite him over so you can get all the dirt you want.” “Did he ask about Mom, or talk about her?” “Not really. I didn't broach the subject. That can be a touchy subject sometimes and I didn't want to make the interview uncomfortable.”

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“So did he know it was going to be you that would be giving him the interview, or was a it a surprise to him as well?” “He seemed pretty studied up on our company, so I'm sure he knew it was me. The company website has all of the management and administrative personnel's pictures posted next to our contact info.” Thankfully the waitress came to clear the dirty plates and the subject was dropped. We left for my house soon after, and the conversation transitioned to some new hunting spot that Jared had discovered and he wanted Blake to come in the fall to hunt with him. Then moved forward to us all celebrating Thanksgiving at Jared's house this year and by the time we reached my house
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they were already looking on their cell phones for airline tickets. I didn't join in with the conversation. That fear that began to twinge in the church was starting to settle in like a lump lodging itself permanently in my throat. I desperately wanted to know what Jared and Brad talked about but I was afraid to ask because I didn't want the topic to be open for public discussion again. There was so much that Brad didn't know about. There was so much that no one but Brad new about, and I wanted more than anything to keep it that way. I've managed to move forward in my life, and even though I've never been able to shake it off completely, I've managed to live beyond it. I knew Brad still hated me. We never had a chance
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to even see each other after everything fell apart. What he does know is only a very small part, and if it was even hinted at, my life would fall to pieces. I don't even know if my children would want anything to do with me if they were to ever learn about the secrets I have locked up ever since. As we walked up to my front door I started fumbling through my purse to find my keys. It seemed like no matter what I did, my hands simply would not function properly. Everything I touched seemed to jump out of my purse until I was so frustrated, tears were filling my eyes. “Mom, are you alright?” Blake asked as he started helping me pick up everything.

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“I'm fine, I'm just tired from all the excitement today, I guess.” “Here, just put everything back in your purse, I'll unlock the door. I still have a key. That is, unless you've changed locks trying to keep me out of the house.” “No dear, I'd leave the door wide open if you would only come back.. I said as I managed a smile. Blake unlocked the door and held it open for me. The old familiar smell enveloped me and hit me, like it so often does these days, like a warm breeze from the past. There are times when I find myself expecting Marty to come walking out of the kitchen with some left overs he found in the

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fridge, with that silly grin on his face. I could feel myself growing weaker by the second. These were the times when I needed Marty the most. He was like my crowbar that would force away any rock that held me down. If he couldn't move the rock then he would blast away the hard places with his booming laughter until the rock rolled away. I don't know if anything every bothered him. That is until the day we found out he had prostate cancer. He tried to keep his spirits up for me. I think that was his biggest battle. Oh, I have to stop thinking about these things. I have family here now, and I need not waste my time with sorrows when I get to have a house full of laughter, for a little while. I walked into the kitchen, quietly thanking God for giving
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me the foresight to go grocery shopping the previous day so I could have enough drinks for everyone. The others went into the living room to sit down and enjoy the air conditioning. The poor old central air unit sounded like it was pumping it's lungs out trying to keep up with the heat of this sweltering June day. I grabbed the pitcher of Iced Tea and some glasses to take into the living room for everyone. “You didn't have to do that. We could have gone to the kitchen to get our own drinks. Sit down and relax.” Blake said as he took the tray from me. “Jenna, you have those old photo albums of Mom's, don't you?”

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“Yes, they're in that cabinet behind you.” “I was just telling Blake about that bear hunt I went on with Uncle Peter and he said he never met him before. I wanted to see if I could find that picture of us with the bear.” he said as he got up and walked over to the cabinet. “To be honest, Jared, I only remember seeing the man once in my life. I guess he was around a lot when we were little, but I don't remember it.” “He moved to Alaska when I was around seven, I think, so you were probably too young. He used to take me fishing all the time. I think that's where I got the bug from. I made Dad's life a living hell the next few years, begging him to

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take me. Finally, he just started planning the trips just to keep me quiet.” “That, and so he could take a nap in the shade of a tree in the peace and quiet.” I said jokingly. “He never really was the outdoorsy type. I guess he didn't really have a lot of time for those things. We drove by the old place on our way to the church. It looks so strange now that they have flowers in the yard. All I could think was how quick Dad would have mowed those down. It took less than a half hour to mow that little plot of yard, but by golly, if there was just one little thing that he had to mow around, it was gone in a flash.”

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“I begged and begged Dad to let me have a little flower bed. He let me as long as I kept the grass mowed and the yard cleaned up. When I moved out, he mowed over every flower in that bed. I had mulch in it, but he didn't care. He mowed over it too.” “He was a little peeved at you for moving out and not going to school.” he said as he stood up and glanced over the top of the album towards me with that curious look he gets when he's being nosy. “Why didn't you go to school?” Blake asked. “I didn't want to at the time. I had other plans.”

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“Dad swore up and down it was Brad's fault. You two broke up around that time, and he swore you were sticking around, hoping to mend things with him. Then he up and disappears. Did you know he went into the Air Force? He was a pilot. He just retired a few months ago. I have to admit, that impressed me. They don't just let anyone fly those jets. They have to have a good solid head on their shoulders. I went to school with his older brother, and I hate say it, but he was a loser. I wasn't too enthused hearing Jenna was dating his little brother at first. But I guess you can't always judge people by the family they come from.” “I thought you guys were talking about hunting.” I said frustratingly.

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“Sorry, I forgot you didn't want to talk about him. Anyway, here's the picture. Man, I forgot about all the pictures in these albums. They sure do take you back.” he said as he sat down next to Blake. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, trying to force all the old feelings away before they started choking me. When I raised my head back up I noticed Lizzy eying me suspiciously. I simply pretended not to notice. I'm sure this subject had given her and Jared plenty to talk about through the years. I should have made up a lie to stop all the suspicion. It wasn't as if breaking up with a boyfriend was completely unheard of. I could have simply said he was moving away, and we decided to end the
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relationship. But, I was always a terrible liar, and frankly, at that time, the mere hint of his name was like someone stabbing a dagger into my heart. Apparently, it hasn't lightened its effect on me through the years. They moved on to looking through the rest of the pictures and Jared began his story telling down memory lane. I knew if I continued to be too quiet then everyone was going to continue growing more and more suspicious, then I would end up having to have this discussion all over again, so I started adding in my portions of the memories in hopes it would carry us well into the night, and then bedtime, and possibly fill their heads with too many other subjects for them to place any focus on the forbidden one. One thing I
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was certain of, Brad obviously did not tell Jared anything, otherwise, he would have not even bothered coming to the wedding. That, or he would berate and interrogate me this very minute, demanding to know why I would disgrace the family in such a way. He was always one that was more conscious of his reputation and making sure I did nothing to tarnish it. As I had hoped, Jared's stories lasted long into the night until Lizzy decided she'd had enough and was ready for bed. Carrie and I followed her upstairs to make sure the rooms had everything they needed for the night. Just as I was about to shut my bedroom door, I heard Blake and Jared laughing hysterically. I stood there for a moment simply soaking in the sound,
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when Lizzy opened her door and peeked out at me. “Jenna, I was hoping you and I would have a chance to talk alone. Do you mind, or are you too tired?” she whispered across the hall. I smiled and motioned for her to come to my room. After she walked through the door, I shut it behind her. She sat down on the end of the bed and patted the spot next to her for me to sit. “I know this isn't a conversation you want to have. You've made it quite clear, but there is something I've wanted to ask you for years now. I always wanted to ask you in private, but have never had a chance because the few times we do get together seem to be only at funerals or special

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occasions where everything is too hectic. Jared mockingly calls these your family reunions. I have always thought it was sad, but I know your family is very different than mine. Granted, I can't claim to know you as well as I would like, but I can't forget the very first time I met you. I can't shake that there was something terribly wrong that day, and I tried to cast it away because no one else seemed to notice, and maybe I'm wrong, but am I? Everyone has things that they would rather not discuss in their life, and they have the right to keep it that way. I don't want to pressure you. But even now, when that man's name is mentioned, I see a pain in our eyes that reminds me of that very first meeting of ours.”

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I suddenly felt as if was going to get sick. My saving grace has always been the lack of my family's focus on these kinds of things with me. This subject hasn't even been broached since before I met Marty. Now it's like everything is being resurrected, and I have no idea how to deal with it. I shouldn't be. It was something that happened so long ago, and there is a span of thirty years of other things to talk about. Why do I have to be so sensitive and revealing when I should have just been able to cast it off as nothing by now? “I really don't want to pressure you, honey. My intention is really to protect you. Jared has spoken about that man almost nonstop since the day of that interview. He's acting as if he met a
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long lost friend from his childhood. If this man did something to hurt you, then I would rather tell Jared to back off and forget about him rather than risk him coming back into your life. I won't give him any specifics, if you don't want me to, but I don't want him hurting you because of something he doesn't know about. Regardless of how it appears, he really does think the world of you, and he worries about you. I know he would never intentionally hurt you.” A million things were swirling around in my head. I didn't want to say a word, but it was quickly becoming apparent that if I didn't say something, then this whole mess would end up falling right back into Brad's lap, and he was the innocent one that didn't deserve any of this. I was
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the one at fault. I was the one that hurt him. I never dreamed I would have to face this again. “No, Brad didn't hurt me. In fact I was the one that destroyed everything between us. Brad was an amazing young man that treated me better than anyone has ever treated me in my life, barring only Marty, of course. There were a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings, that Brad had nothing to do with, that I mistakenly accused him of. I always wanted to ask him for forgiveness because it still plagues me to this day, but I never got a chance to speak to him again. He left so soon after our argument that it was as if he just disappeared from my life. But there is more to it, and I really don't want to resurrect things that should be long dead to us all. The last thing I
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want to do is put him through this mess all over again. We've both moved on in life. It's simply not worth it.” “What if you don't get to be the one decides whether or not this mess remains buried? People can be very vindictive, this may be your one chance to clear yourself before he starts speaking of the past. Some people harbor pain inflicted by others simply with the intention of getting them back the first chance they get. This has obviously caused you great pain all these years. What if it's the same for him? You have to admit, it is very strange that he chose to apply at the very same place your bother will be the one responsible for giving him the interview.” “What if it was just a coincidence?”
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“Jenna, you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as coincidences. We may not understand why things happen at the time they occur, but hindsight usually gives you the answer later. No, I believe this was intentional, and maybe he is only doing it in hopes of reconnecting with you. I know you loved him, and from what I have heard, he loved you too. It could be innocent intentions driving this, but even those could turn against you if you're not careful. You've gone through so much with losing Marty, and I know how difficult it is with your children moving off into the world, leaving you behind. I don't want you to be hurt anymore, and if I can prevent it, I would rather ask Jared to drop it right now before things grow worse for
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you. What's going to happen if Blake does happen to meet him? Jared is crazy enough to do it just for the entertainment it would offer. Right now, he thinks he's just teasing you and there is nothing more to the breakup than your typical youthful experiences. Is that all this could be construed as, or was it more?” I stood up and started pacing trying to control the rage that was building up inside of me. This was ridiculous. I can't, I simply cannot tell her. Everyone will despise me and think that I have lied to them all these years. I didn't, but that's not what it's going to appear as. This was completely personal, but yet, it affects everyone it shouldn't.

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Before I could even make a decision, there was a knock on the door as then Jared slowly opened it and peeked in. I quickly tried to collect my composure and smile as much as I could. “I just wanted to say goodnight or good morning rather. We just realized it's already after one and we have to be on the road by six to make it to the airport in time. Time sure does fly by when you’re having fun.” “It sure does.” I said quietly. “Well I guess I better get to bed too.” Lizzy said as she looked at me with a mixture of disappointment and sorrow. “Night, Sis.” Jarred said and then walked across the hall.

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“There's still time if you want to talk.” Lizzy said quietly. “It's fine. You need to get some sleep. You have a long drive tomorrow.” She walked over and gave me a hug then quietly walked out, shutting the door behind her. All I could do was stand there. There was no such thing as time. My life is crashing down around me. Even if I did want to tell her, five measly hours wouldn't be nearly enough time to thoroughly explain and attempt to redeem myself before they left never to speak to me again. I feel like I've been running away from this my whole life, but I've never ran away from anything. I never left. I've lived in this town my whole life. I dealt with everything the only way I knew how. I
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confronted my responsibilities, and never asked anyone to take care of them for me. I can't help that it didn't turn out the way I expected. But the one thing I do know is that everything my life has been since that day will be forever tarnished, and I can't do that to my children. They deserve to have a life they can be proud of. I don't want their past to be shattered because of something they had nothing to do with. I certainly don't want them to feel guilty, or cheated, and I'm afraid that's exactly what will happen. I've thought this over so much, that I don't think there could possibly be any other way they could view it. No, this needs to stay covered up, and if I simply stay here and clear of Brad, then most likely the subject will not be brought up. Hopefully, he'll be
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too concerned about keeping his job rather than bringing up damning information from the past that simply can do nothing to further him in life now. Three in the morning came so quickly, I decided to change clothes and go downstairs to start fixing something for breakfast so at least they wouldn't be starving on their trips. I couldn't believe that the time had gone by so quickly and I couldn't help but feel cheated. This was supposed to be time I got to spend with my family, not trying to dodge and avoid them. If Jared had just kept his mouth shut, none of this would have even been brought up and things would have been as they should be.

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Regrets of the Heart
By Stephanie Laws Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. Cover photo courtesy of: stock.xchnge®vi “ki” by Andy Reis ___________________________________________________________

Also by Stephanie Laws THE KNIGHTINGALE SERIES Knightingale Gale Swept Knightime (Coming Soon) Source Key (Coming Soon)

For more information Please visit Stephanie’s website at www.authorstephanielaws.com

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