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Lavers o sot grav clouds laced with shades o laender and
pink played peek-a-boo with the sun as they stretched lazily across
the eastern Wyoming sky.
Twenty-six-year old Jessy Kalender stepped quietly onto the
wrap-around porch of Brad Sheldons sprawling single-story
ranch house. She clenched her jaw, hoping Brad wouldnt wake
up as the screen door squeaked in an array of off-beat rhythms.
This morning she needed time alone. Time to think. With a mug
o coee in hand, she sat on the steps and stared pensielv at the
horizon.
It`s been oer e vears,` Jessv whispered as she set the co-
fee mug down. She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled
out a crumpled enelope that had been opened more than a ew
times oer the past seeral davs. She opened the enelope once
again, and pulled out a letter.
Jessys eyes watered as she read quietly to herself. She breathed
in and exhaled slowly, then refolded the letter and stuffed it back
into the enelope. Why now, Uncle Frank? When Im trying so hard to
EHKDSS\"$QGKRZGLG\RXQGPH"Damn!` Jessv muttered as she
clutched the enelope tightlv in her hand, causing it to crinkle
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that much more.
Her thoughts were broken by the sound of the screen door
being opened, then closed. A strong, sturdy hand touched her
shoulder. She looked up at the man she had tried to loe, the man
she`d wanted to loe but couldn`t, not the wav he desered to be
loed.
Morning, Brad. Did I wake you? I tried to be quiet when I
got up.`
Brad Sheldon was six-oot-one, handsome, with a rm square
jaw, sandv-brown hair, and sot hazel eves. I heard vou get up,`
he said as he sat next to her on the step. Brad glanced at the letter
in Jessys hand, then looked straight into her eyes. We need to
talk, don`t we`
Jessys eyes shifted toward the horizon, then back to Brad.
\es, I guess we do.`
1his has been a long time coming,` Brad said quietlv, but I
knew it would, eentuallv.`
A tear trickled down Jessys cheek. I dont know what to say
except that I do loe vou.`
I know vou loe me, Jess, but vou and I both know something
is missing, and has been or most o the e and a hal vears that
we`e been together. \hen we make loe, vou gie onlv hal o
your heart and part of yourself. The other half of your heart is
three hundred miles north, in Deer Creek, Wyomingwith Matt
Donoan. \ou`re alwavs going to loe him, no matter who vou`re
with. \ou haen`t let Loing, \voming in oer e vears . . . but
vou`re still running. It`s time to stop. It`s time to go home.`
\ou read the letter` Jessv asked.
Yes. You left it lying on the table. I dont pride myself on
that, since it was addressed to vou.`
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Jessy tenderly laid her hand on Brads arm. Its all right. Maybe
thats why I left it there, for you to read. I couldnt face telling you
straight on and gured that was the easier wav to deal with it.
Actuallv, I guess vou could sav it was a coward`s wav out.`
Brad smiled. No, honey, not a cowards way out. Youre too
softhearted, thats all. Im sure you just didnt know how to say it,
that vou`ll be leaing. 1hat vou are going home. It`s time vou nd
Matt and get the answers to those questions vou`e been asking
voursel or so long.`
1he tears that had lled Jessv`s eves now rolled steadilv down
her cheeks.
It`s okav, sweetheart.` Brad pulled Jessv close and wrapped
his arms around her. I loe vou enough to let vou go. I won`t
pretend that it doesn`t hurt, because it does.`
Brad, I`m sorrv. \ou desere someone who can gie vou her
whole heart, the wav I couldn`t. I tried. I honestlv tried.`
I know vou did, and I`ll neer orget that.` Brad tilted Jessv`s
chin up. But vour eves hae alwavs said more to me than words
could eer sav.`
\ill vou go to the cemeterv and put nowers on the grae`
Jessy asked.
\ou know I will.`
1hank vou.` Jessv raised her eves and met Brad`s as she ran
her orenger gentlv down his cheek. I want more than anvthing
or vou to nd that special someone.`
I will, Jessv. I`e stopped bv Marv`s nower shop a ew times
just to see how she`s doing. \e`e had some good conersations
oer coee. I`e known her or a long time.`
She`s a good woman, Brad, and I think she`s been in loe
with vou . . . probablv oreer.`