I walk away from lunch with my family, through the living room with the large windows facing the Chesapeake Bay, up the open stairway, turn right, and walk toward the open door at the end of the landing. I sit cross-legged on the beige carpet, my back against the wall, staring at a white book shelf filled with books from my childhood: the Winnie the Pooh series, Frank Peretti’s Christian YA adventure novels, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries, all stacked on top of each other, spines pointing every direction.
I answer on the last ring. “Liz, dear,” Karen says.
“Hey,” I say.
“I don’t have much time to talk, but just thought I’d call to check in. How are you?” she says.
“Well, I miss you,” I say. “And everyone.”
“Jeremy?” she says.
I sigh. “I can’t stop thinking about him,” I say.
“Aw, Liz,” she says. “I know it kind of sucks, but I’m really happy you like him so much.”
“Yeah, well, I have mixed feelings about it,” I say. She laughs. “So, how are you? How’s Brad?” I say.
“Brad asked me out to dinner. And then he asked me out to movie. And then he asked me out again, and again. I think we’re finally dating, Liz!” she squeals.
“How exciting!” I say.
“I just can’t believe it. And on top of that, I got a job offer – you know the one I was telling you about, at that church? It’s been a super fantastic week,” she says.
Then she says, “Jeremy already knows about me and Brad, by the way.”
My breath catches. Then I say, “How do you know?”
“We ran into him at Chick Filet yesterday. We were pretty obviously not just a couple of friends out to lunch – we were holding hands,” she says.
“What’d he say?” I say.
“He was so gracious, as always. He just said hello,” she says.
“That’s it?” I say.
“Well, he asked ‘Who’s your friend?’ and I said, ‘This is Brad.’ He nodded, and we just stood there for a bit while people stepped around us to get in line – you know how busy that one off of Academy gets around lunch. It’s so nuts!” she says.
I nod by habit, hoping it makes me more calm, not wanting to push for the information, but needing it desperately.
“So then Jeremy said, ‘Well, enjoy your lunch’ to me, and then I said, ‘Yeah, you too,’ and Brad nodded at him, and Jeremy walked out, since he’d already ordered, and that was it,” she says.
“Okay,” I say.
“Like I said, total gentleman,” she says.
“Yeah,” I say.
“So, just to be clear: he knows you’re taken?” I say.
I can hear Karen smiling as she says, “He knows.”
I am writing and serially publishing scenes from my falling-in-love memoir, about the anguished, beautiful, and spiritual way that my husband and I met, fell in love, and married. Read about my plans for this in-progress writing project here.
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