If you missed the previous installments, begin here.
Laurie hadn’t gotten the full story, of course. There are some things you don’t tell your children. There are things you don’t tell your spouse.
After my epiphany, I called Jodie’s house and got the answering machine.
“I’m leaving tomorrow for a month’s vacation in Hawaii. So if you’re listening to this message, come on down to Rockies for a bon voyage party.”
Rockie’s Bar and Grill wasn’t the romantic setting I’d hoped for, but I had to see her before she left. Although the bar was almost empty, sounds of laughter and light banter spilled from the dining area beyond the flimsy room divider. I decided to stay in the bar and sat at a table near the divider. I could hear the conversation and catch her before she left. A familiar voice caught my attention.
“Oh those poor wolves.”
Peals of laughter were followed by other voices.
“I don’t poison my body with sugar and caffeine.”
“What’s an er-el? This is so confusing.”
“Did he give up after three temps, Jodie?”
“I doubt it. He probably tried the second agency. That one was legit.”
My heart froze. She had set me up. I got up to leave, but paused as conversation resumed.
“What’s wrong, Jodie?”
“I miss him.”
“Oh, Jodie. You love him?”
“I wish he could see that. He’s probably forgotten me by now.”
Is that how she treated someone she loved? I walked out of the bar without a backward glance. My furor lasted for almost five minutes before I began to acknowledge the humor in her prank. I drove towards her house.
Jodie’s voice jolted me back to the present.
“The night before my vacation, I came home and found your father sitting on my front steps. I postponed my vacation and we went together on our honeymoon.”
I’d never told Jodie what I’d heard that night. She thought it was her little secret and I’d never said a word. After all these years, I knew how to handle her.
Jodie couldn’t repress a smile as she remembered that night. She had instantly recognized Dan’s profile through Rockie’s room divider. That thin separation had given her the courage to admit her feelings. She remembered her despair when he left the bar and her joy at finding him on her doorstep. They had fumbled for words and then fumbled for her keys. Shortly thereafter, the fumbling had ceased.
He never knew that she had seen him at Rockies. He thought it was his little secret and she’d never said a word. After all these years, she knew how to handle him.