Author's notes: I wrote this story because I had been writing “dark” for quite a while and wanted to move to the other side. I saw the original movie with Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw and it broke my heart. The lyrics in here are from the soundtrack (Francis Lai) and I purposely left them out of my CAW writing competition entry because I had used lyrics before in stories, and one objective of the CAW was to remain anonymous. I felt the use of lyrics would help identify me as the author. As it was, no one guessed that I was the author. This story was originally posted by CAW SOP as part of the CAW, and now I'm posting it under my name. One recurring theme in comments on the first posting was that I seemed to end it abruptly, perhaps ran out of time. Not true. I was done two weeks before the CAW postings began. As death is often a sudden event, I wanted to mimic its abruptness with a surprise, sudden ending. I did not change one word of this from the original, save for adding in the lyrics. Final note...there is not much graphic sex in this story. If you are looking for that, I suggest one of my other stories. That again seemed to be a trademark in my stories, and I wanted to try something different. But if you are looking for a sweet story that might jerk a tear from you, then enjoy...
Where do I begin
To tell the story of how great a love can be
The sweet love story that is older than the sea
The simple truth about the love she brings to me
Where do I start...
Before this evening, I had never thought much about murdering another person.
As the widowed father of two young children, I was always on the go. If it wasn't work, it was the kids. Jessica was 12, and Nicholas was 10. Jessie looked so much like her mom, Rebecca. Nick, well, he had her blue eyes but my darker hair and skin color. Both kids were enrolled in private school, so it was a challenge each day getting them ready and off to school, running a full day at work, and then getting back home to work with them on their homework before bed. We had an au pair from Finland who helped by picking up the kids after school and getting dinner together. Milla had been with us for four years. Occasionally our neighbor, Mrs. McGarry, would watch the kids too.
Work wasn't easy. I was a stock broker on Wall Street, and while that might seem exciting to some, to me it was often pure hell. I wasn't one of the silver-tongued devils who could charm money out of little old ladies. No, it never was that easy for me, and frankly, I could never live with myself if I preyed on people like that. No, I had to struggle for each investment.
Being one of the brokers with the least seniority in the firm, I was given the slush pile. It's a printout of a mish-mash of contacts from investment websites, IRA inquiries, and then just names and numbers of supposedly wealthy individuals. I was technically allowed to look for corporate investments, but for the most part they were handled by the heavy hitters in our firm. I was barely providing enough for us. Rebecca had been a lawyer so she had made good money; a double income household was really needed in New York City these days. She had a life insurance policy, but I was trying not to dip too much into that money, hoping to save it to help the kids go to college. Dipping was becoming more commonplace.
My murderous thoughts reared their ugly head today when I had a meeting with the private school that my kids attended. I had been semi-working on the business manager for a couple of years to let me take a look at their portfolio to see if I could help. Initially there was that look of partial mistrust and disdain, but over time, he must have seen the good in me. Or perhaps he just felt sorry for me for losing my wife in a freak accident. Regardless, he finally relented and agreed to meet with me.
This was a potential breakthrough account for me. The school was pretty well endowed, and the size of the account would have been larger than all of my other accounts combined. It was because of this that my supervisor assigned a Senior Corporate broker to "assist" me with the meeting.
I really didn't see it coming. It might have been me feeling giddy over just getting the appointment, and the potential windfall from the account. I didn't know much about Gerald Forkth, other than he came from "old money" as it was told to me, and he was just working for a few years to get seasoned enough to take over his old man's investment banking firm.
So it wasn't as if he needed the money, yet, that's exactly what happened. The meeting started out well enough I thought. Gerald had apparently met Mr. Whitstone at some politician's house in the Hampton's at New Year's Eve, and then as they shook they both noted the "H" on the ring, you know, the Harvard ring, so they had that to talk about.
I brought the meeting back on-track and began my presentation. Sure enough, the school's internet went down in the middle of my online presentation. Thinking quickly, I excused myself to go back to my vehicle to get a USB wireless device so we could get back online.
It took about 20 minutes for me to get to the car, find the device, and then get back to the business manager's office. When I returned, Gerald was sitting in front of my laptop and showing Mr. Whitstone HIS presentation. Apparently the internet came back up a minute after I had left. Gerald's plan was somewhat more conservative than mine, and he presentation was much slicker. Mr. Whitstone apparently approved, because he rose, shook my hand, thanked me for bringing along my supervisor (which Gerald wasn't) and for recognizing that an account as large as theirs needed a more experienced broker at the helm. Mr. Whitstone then looked at Gerald and asked him if he would accompany him to dinner, that he was meeting with several of the school's Trustees, also Harvard graduates, and would like to introduce him around.
I was dismissed, dissed, and ultimately pissed!
Instead of the full commission, which by my calculation would have probably been in the $50,000 to $60,000 range, and would have taken the financial pressure off of me, I was going to get a 10% finder's fee.
Gerald and Mr. Whitstone left, and I stood there, speechless. It took me a minute to realize that I wasn't alone, that Mr. Whitstone's assistant, Amanda, had been sitting quietly in the room, taking notes as she apparently always did during his meetings.
As she gathered her papers and began to leave, she stopped, put her hand on my arm, and looked at me.
"Hello, and, I'm sorry...that was really shitty," she said in a lowered voice, and with that, she left.
All I noticed was that she was not wearing a ring on her finger.
With her first hello
She gave new meaning to this empty world of mine
There'll never be another love, another time
She came into my life and made the living fine
She fills my heart
It started out innocently enough. It was time to set up tuition payments for next year, so I needed to stop by Whitstone's office. Thankfully, I didn't need to see him. Instead, I got to see Amanda. My heartbeat quickened a bit when I did and it was totally ridiculous.
"Mr. Rivers," started Amanda, but I quickly interrupted her.
"Please," I said smiling, "it's Jacob."
Amanda smiled warmly, and my heartbeat upped a little bit more.
"Jacob," she started again, "I have your paperwork prepared from the information that you sent in last week. I'll just need your signature here," she continued, leaning forward to point out on the paperwork where I needed to sign, "and here, and here."
When she looked up, she caught my eye and saw that I had been gazing at her exposed cleavage. My eyes just naturally gravitated there when she bent forward. All I saw was the swell of her breasts, but, that was enough for me to blush when she caught me.
This was absurd. I loved my wife. Deceased wife.
"I'm sorry." I scribbled my signature three times and then practically dashed out of the place.
The next week was filled with running the kids to the dentist, working on homework, including a science project with Jessie, and other assorted tasks. Mrs. McGarry asked me if I would help her hang a picture of her late husband, Leo. The kids loved to go over to her apartment because it contained a treasure trove of historical items that she took great pleasure in talking to the kids about.
Then there was the weird incident with Milla. It happened a couple of nights ago. Both of the kids had showered and gone to bed. After saying goodnight, I went downstairs to fix a cocktail to settle me down from some stress at work and Milla was in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher.
"I'm going to fix myself a cocktail. Would you like something?"
Milla turned around, her long, dark curls flipping around as she spun.
"Mr. Rivers, you startled me!"
"Milla, remember, we talked about this, when the kids aren't around, it's okay to call me Jake."
She smiled coyly. "Okay, Jake. Yes, may I have a glass of wine?"
I poured Milla a glass of White Zin and tossed a double splash of Peach schnapps into a glass for me.
We settled into the living room on the sofa, Milla angled toward me. She told me a few things about the kids, nothing important, just details that I miss while I'm at work.
Milla was wearing loose shorts and a t-shirt. Maybe it was the way she was sitting, or perhaps it was just the type of fabric the shorts were made of, or it could have just been the angle of how we were sitting and the lighting, but, I noticed two things.
First, the shorts gapped, so I could see along her thigh right to her lower abdomen, and it looked like she wasn't wearing panties.
Second, the erection I developed very quickly made me realize that I hadn't had sex for, well, since Becca died. Milla's sexy good looks weren't helping.
She must have noticed my erection and my feeble attempt to hide it.
"Jake, I know it has been really tough on you, raising Jess and Nick and working so many hours. You haven't been out on any dates, and, well, what I want to say is if you, I mean, if you want to, hmmm, I just want to say that my room is just down the hall."
With that, Milla blushed, tipped her wine glass up and finished off what I had poured her, then got up and left, heading toward her room.
I finished my drink, poured a second, and stared down that hallway for a long couple of minutes, finished my drink, and went off to bed.
My dreams that night were off the wall bizarre. I was in a meadow with Amanda, laying on a blanket, making out. It grew more passionate and clothes began to fly. When I looked down at her again, it was Milla's face I saw. Startled, I began to pull back but she reached up and grabbed me, pulling me down onto her naked body and kissing me hard. When she rolled me over and was on top, I again opened my eyes and first saw a pair of breasts that looked familiar.
I looked further up and saw Becca's face. It was then that I awoke in a cold sweat.
That morning I dropped both kids off and was ready to exit the lot when I noticed Amanda standing next to her car, looking distraught, then kicking it! I pulled over next to her and got out.
"Amanda, what's wrong?" I asked, walking toward her.
"Jacob, oh, I did something totally stupid. I got out of the car with it running because I wanted to check my turn signals and the door closed and I must have pushed the "lock" button on the door and --" she was running out of breath and my heart was once again racing.
"Slow down there, Amanda. Bottom line, you locked your keys in the car and you don't have a spare set handy?"
"Yes," I could see the frustration getting ready to boil over into tears any second now.
I moved to her Camaro, peered inside, and announced "I've got this, relax." Then I walked over to my Tahoe, got inside and activated my OnStar. Within a minute, after verifying my identity and Amanda's, we heard the "click" of her door locks being opened.
She clapped her hands giddily and opened up her car, shutting off the engine, and re-appearing. I had just finished up the call with OnStar and got out of my vehicle. Amanda came over and gave me a hug and said "Thank you, Jacob. Thank you so much!"
"Oh, it was nothing, really. OnStar did all of the work, I just made the call."
"Yeah, but if you hadn't have stopped, I would have had to call a locksmith, and that would have cost me $150 here in the city. Let me take you out to dinner to thank you."
I looked at her for a moment, not sure what to say. She saw my reticence and then gasped a bit.
"Oh, Jacob, I'm sorry, you aren't ready, and oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean anything--"
She stopped talking and looked at me, her head cocked just a bit to one side.
"Did you just say 'Yes'?"
I smiled, just a little smile, and nodded.
"Great. Will Friday night work?"
I thought for a moment, mentally going over my schedule, the kid's schedule, and Milla's schedule. I knew Milla would be busy, but I was sure that Mrs. McGarry would be willing to take the kids, and they'd love a night away.
"Yes, Friday is good."
"Great. I'll pick you up at 7."
I started reaching for something to write my address on.
"Here, let me give you my address--"
"I know where you live, Jacob," she said with an impish grin, and then turned and walked away.
I would bet dollars against doughnuts that she swung her hips extra because she knew I would be looking. To her credit, she never did look back.
There's nothing wrong with being a bit nervous I kept telling myself. It was just a date.
"Dad, I have a question."
I heard my daughter's voice through the door.
"Can I come in?"
Without thinking about what I was wearing, being somewhat distracted by my impending date, I told her she could enter.
"Dad," she said, opening the door to my bedroom and walking in, "I have a question about...uh, Dad, what are you doing?"
"Getting dressed, Jessie. What's your question?"
"Where are you going?" It was night, and I rarely went anywhere at night, let alone dressed up in a tie and sport coat.
"I, um, I'm, I'm going out, I have ... do you have your homework done?"
"Dad, it's Friday night. I have all weekend."
"Oh, yeah, good point. Well, it's never too early to get it done." I was stumbling.
"Dad...are you going on a date?"
Oh shit, I thought. This was not how I wanted this to go.
"Jessie, it's not really a date, I'm just going out to dinner with ... someone, not a date, no, just..."
"Dad, it's okay," she said, looking up at me with just the hint of a smile.
I looked at her for a few, long seconds.
"Are you sure, Jessie?"
Now there was a smile.
"Yes, Daddy...it's totally cool. Who is she?"
"Is it someone that I know?"
Great. This was getting worse.
"Is it Miss Lakes?"
"Miss Lakes. She works for Mr. Whitstone at school. She's the one who you helped in the park--"
Are. You. Kidding. I don't blush often, but once in a while...
"It IS Miss Lakes, isn't it!"
"What makes you think it is Miss Lakes?"
"Well, you blushed when I told you who she was. I saw her hug you."
I went back to fiddling with my tie. I just couldn't get the knot right tonight, even though I tie one every day of the week, every week of the year.
"Here," said Jessie, walking over with her hands out, "let me help you, Daddy."
I relinquished control and watched as my daughter took matters into her hands, pulling and sliding her hands, flipping it around, pulling on it, and then...success. A perfect Windsor!
"Jessie," I said, looking down at her as she stepped back, "where did you learn to do that?"
"Jessie...did Mom teach you that?"
This brought a little water to her sparkling eyes.
"Yes. Mo--Mom taught me a while ago. I've been practicing lately, wanting to surprise you. For work. " She rubbed her eye.
"Thank you, Jessie," and I hugged her. "Are you sure this is okay?"
"Totally, Dad," she said, her voice muffled by my chest, where she had her head buried, "totally okay."
Amanda picked me up at 7pm sharp and swiftly moved through traffic, talking a blue streak which was good since I was a little tongue-tied. She seemed a little extra bubbly tonight. Probably nerves, I thought. The kids were spending the night at Mrs. McGarry's, so if things developed tonight, I was covered.
The place she picked out was La Casa Dario, a small family-owned Italian restaurant on West 47th Street. I liked the choice she made because it was small, quiet and the food was authentic.
It was about halfway through dinner that she dropped the bombshell.
“Jake,” as she cut a piece of pork cutlet, “I have a confession to make.”
“Oh, what’s that?”
“A confession? It’s an admittance by one person regarding something that they’ve done, but, that’s not important.” She flashed me a cheeky grin.
“Seriously, I’ve had a crush on you ever since I first saw you.”
I had just taken a large sip of wine and that totally caught me by surprise. So I had a split-second choice of spewing, or swallowing and risk it going down the wrong pipe.
I chose not to spew, so instead I coughed and choked and tried to breathe, unsuccessfully, and a waiter came over and asked if I needed help. All through this, Amanda tried not to laugh at my plight, to no avail.
“A crush?” I said, still sputtering.
“Yes, it's a brief but intense infatuation with someone--”
“Hush,” I said, cutting her off. She grinned again, and I could feel a rustling in my pants.
“Well, since we're just talking brief, then--”
We were sitting at a table for four, next to each other, not across from each other. Amanda cut me off by leaning across toward me, her hand behind my head, pulling me into the kiss. As we backed apart, and I looked into her eyes, two things were apparent to me.
First, she was a great kisser.
Second, there was no further rustling in my pants. There was simply a tent.
We finished dinner a little quicker than normal with a little less conversation. She paid the bill, the waiter giving me a quick look before we rose and departed.
I didn't even dare ask where we were going, but it turned out to be her apartment, not too far from the school, in a nice, quiet, older neighborhood.
“Would you like something to drink?” she asked, setting her purse down just inside the door.
“Sure, glass of wine, anything--”
Amanda was in my arms before I could finish my sentence, her mouth pressed against mine, her tongue seeking mine out. She tasted great, the subtle flavor of the wine we had for dinner returning.
I pushed her back against the wall, returning the kiss and hearing her moan softly at my taking charge. Her hands busied themselves, first pushing the sport jacket off of my shoulders, which I then wiggled out of, and second, working on removing my tie.
I opted for a less patient approach.
“Gawddd...” she moaned into my mouth as I reached up and squeezed her breasts with both my hands. Then I began unbuttoning her blouse.
With clothes flying askew, I picked her up and began carrying her.
“Oh Jake...I don't know if I'm ready for this!” she said, looking down at me.
I stopped moving forward, stunned. Then she broke into that devilish smile of hers.
“I'm kidding, you idiot! Onward!” she said, leaning down to kiss me again.
As I began to move forward once more, she broke the kiss for a second to say “Left!” and I turned left, then more kissing followed by a “Right!” and that found us in her bedroom.
Depositing her on the bed, I finished getting my shirt off as I felt Amanda working on my belt and pants. In seconds all I was wearing were my boxers. She pulled me down on the bed and I rolled her on top, reaching behind her to get at her bra.
“Mmmmmmm...” she said, wiggling around on top of me, “I feel something nice, Jake,” she continued, smiling down at me.
I was struggling a bit with the bra, out of practice and never adept at that task.
“Let me help before you break it,” she laughed, reaching around with one hand and deftly removing it.
As her breasts came into view, it was my turn to moan, then hers, as I reached up and brushed my thumbs across her nipples, which continued to harden.
I pulled her down once again for a kiss, and a tongue hockey match broke out. Once again I was using my hands on her breasts, eliciting yet more sexy sounds. Gently, I squeezed both of her breast points, causing her to break from the kiss and arch her back, moaning louder.
She backed away, causing my fingers to release her nipples, and started moving down my body. Her face was just scant inches from my boxers. My tented boxers.
Amanda smiled and with both hands took hold of them and pulled them down my legs and off my feet, leaving me totally naked before her. She looked at me for a moment, my crotch, then up to my eyes, then back to my crotch once again.
Her hands got busy with her jeans, unbuttoning them, and then pulling them down and off. The understated black thong was next, and then she too was naked. My eyes widened a bit as I saw a narrow strip of dark hair shaped like an arrow, pointing downward.
“I thought you might like that,” she said, huskily. As she moved again to the bed, she leaned forward, a breast grazing one leg, her lips gently kissing my knee.
I sucked in a little air as she continued the light kisses up my thigh, moving toward her final destination....
She fills my hear with very special things
With angel's songs, with wild imaginings
She fills my soul with so much love
That anywhere I go I'm never lonely
With her around, who could be lonely
I reach for her hand – it's always there
Sated, we lay in bed together, her head on my chest, my arm draped over her shoulder and onto her back.
“Wow,” I said quietly out loud, no further explanation needed.
The next six months were nothing short of a whirlwind. We were careful around school so as not to make it obvious, but come the weekend, we'd go on excursions into the upstate, more often than not bringing the kids with us. Jessie really took a liking to Amanda, and Nick, well, he was fine with whatever we did so long as he could bring along his iPad.
Amanda spent many nights over at my place, often helping Jessie with some homework while I'd look over Nick's assignment. Often she'd be home long before I dragged my butt up the elevator and would have dinner cooking or cooked.
Sometimes at night we'd all gather in the living room and watch a movie. Occasionally Milla would join us, though more often than not she'd retire to her own room. On occasion I'd come home and find Amanda and Milla sitting in the kitchen, enjoying a glass of wine and having, as they called it, “girl talk”.
Even work was getting better. That prick Forkth got caught cheating on his fiance and that ended badly for him. Rumor had it that his father was so displeased with him that he was going to make him wait an extra few years before turning over the firm to him. News of that put a big smile on my face.
I had made my peace with Becca, too. I went to her plot a month ago and sat and talked to her, laughed, and cried, and came away with what I had hoped was a clear mind. I had made up my mind that I was going to ask Amanda to be my wife. I decided that I'd pop the question on New Year's Eve. It was only a few weeks away, and I planned to make it a very special occasion.
It was the 19th of December, a Friday, when I went to pick up the ring. Just over one carat in size, it was heart-shaped, and stunning. I couldn't wait to give it to her. I had made reservations weeks ago at the Four Seasons. I knew one of the managers there from my work and snagged a great table. I dialed her number.
“Hey,” she answered, her voice not nearly as chipper as typical.
“Hey babe, you okay? You sound, I don't know...tired?”
“I feel yucky. I may be getting my period a few days early. I think I'm gonna' go home. I'm sorry, I know we were gonna' go upstate for the weekend, I just don't think I can make it.”
“Hey, don't apologize, Amanda. I'm just sorry you can't go. You want me to call it off and get Milla to watch the kids and I'll come over and--”
“No, no, don't come over. I'll be fine. You take the kids, they've been looking forward to this trip. I'll be fine, babe.”
“Okay. I'll give you a call tomorrow and see how you are. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
On Saturday, the kids and I started the morning with making a snowman, which quickly degenerated into a snowball fight, the two of them against me. I lost. Then after some hot showers we went skiing in the afternoon. I called Amanda early in the afternoon and got her voicemail. She called back later in the afternoon.
“Hey Jake.” She sounded no better than the day before.
“Still feeling yucky, babe?”
“Yeah, I don't know, this is unlike me. I don't get sick. Didn't get my period yet. Haven't eaten much either, just not hungry.”
“Maybe the flu?”
“I don't know. My stomach hurts, so that's probably what it is. It sure is annoying. But hey, give my love to the kids, and I'll see you when you get back.”
I called Amanda late on Sunday when I returned but just got voicemail. I called again later in the evening when I didn't get a callback, and again got voicemail. This was atypical of her, so, with Milla available, I decided to take a ride over to her place.
I knocked on her door, and when I didn't get any response, I used the key she had given me and let myself in.
“Amanda,” I said, tentatively, not wanting to scare her.
I thought I heard her voice in the bedroom, but it sounded distant. I walked over to the closed door.
“Amanda?” and I listened.
“Jake...help me,” she cried out softly.
How long does it last
Can love be measured by the hours in a day
I have no answers now but this much I can say
I know I'll need her 'till the stars all burn away
And she'll be there
I don't know if I've ever been quite as scared in my life as when I walked through the door to her bedroom and saw her laying there.
Her skin was jaundiced, a yellow color, and even her eyes too. I'd seen this twice before in my family.
I lifted her up out of bed and carried her out of her apartment, down the elevator, and out to my car. I went back in and quickly grabbed a few essentials and got back in the car, heading for Mount Sinai Hospital at a fast clip.
Doctors confirmed that it was cancer the next day. As if that wasn't bad enough, we were told for all stages combined, the 1-year survival rate was 25%, and the 5-year rate was 6%.
As the doctor's departed, I pulled Amanda into my arms and let her cry.
The nurses gave Amanda something to help her sleep since she hadn't slept well all weekend. I went home that night and upon entering was descended upon by both kids wanting to know where I had been, was Amanda okay, and a dozen other questions.
I brought both kids into the living room and sat them down.
“Amanda is, well, she's pretty sick. She's in the hospital, and--”
“What's wrong with her, Dad?” asked Jessie, now sitting forward.
“Well, they are running tests, well, ran some, but they're gonna run some more, you know, they need to double check results, can't ever be too careful--”
“Dad?” said Jessie, cutting me off.
“Is it c-a-n-c-e-r?” she asked, spelling out the word and nodding toward my coat pocket. I saw a cancer brochure peeking out of it. Shit!
“You idiot, Jess, I can spell cancer!” blurted out Nick.
Both kids were focused on me with laser-like precision. I looked up and to the left a bit, and saw that Milla was standing in the hallway, in the shadows, listening.
I looked at both of my kids. They were young, so young, to have to go through this again.
And then I sat down between them, and held them, and the three of us cried.
Over the next week Amanda and I met with a number of different doctors. Not one really had anything good to say. You could see it in their eyes if you looked carefully enough.
It was inoperable, so, chemotherapy was the only choice available, unless we wanted to consider other non-traditional options. We said we were open to pretty much anything. The two doctors in the room exchanged glances, then looked back toward us. One began to speak in hushed tones.
It was apparent quite quickly that what they were suggesting was not entirely ethical, and would require more than a degree of careful handling.
It was at that point in the conversation that Joshua Whitstone entered the room. I felt my anger start to rise.
“Settle down, Mr. Rivers,” he said in a solemn tone, removing his hat and nodding toward Amanda, “I may be the one person here who actually can help you.”
I remained seated, but somewhat agitated, as the old man began talking to Amanda, asking her what she knew about her father.
“I know very little about my father, sir. I know that he left my mother when I was young and then she died two years later. After that I was raised by my grandmother. Why do you ask?”
Whitstone looked over at the two doctors and they got up and left the room.
“This is somewhat of a long story, Amanda.”
“I'm not sure that I have a long time to give you, Mr. Whit--”
“I am your father, Amanda,” he said, interrupting her.
Amanda and I looked at each other, and then back to him.
Epilogue – The Funeral
Going to a funeral on the first day of Spring just didn't seem right. Neither did it seem right that my kids would have to once again be a part of this macabre ritual. There are those who say that it is part of the healing process, of closure. Personally, I think all of it sucks, especially when it is someone that you care for.
Appropriately, it was raining, though lightly. Both kids were noticeably quiet as I took them down the elevator to the car. Both were dressed politically correct. Milla had left earlier this morning to handle things like making sure the flowers were all set, and other arrangements.
As we drove to the church, it was Nick who spoke up first.
“Dad, I'm really going to miss her.”
“I know, Nick. I'm going to miss her too.”
We drove in silence the rest of the way. Once inside the church, we moved forward and I saw Whitstone. He nodded at the empty pew where he was sitting, and I motioned for the kids to take a seat. Milla soon joined us, helping Amanda. She sat next to me, with Milla moving to the end, nearest Amanda's father.
“How are you feeling?” I whispered to her, holding her cold hand in my warm one.
She smiled and I could see that familiar twinkle in her eye.
“I'm good, babe. Last night was a good night.” I knew she was referring to sleep, sleep which was a source of her strength these days.
I squeezed her hand just a little harder, and she tried to squeeze back, but just didn't have the strength. Not yet, but, it would return, we were told.
Through the influence of her father, Amanda, after undergoing extensive chemotherapy, received a pancreas transplant. The organ came from a young woman who died of complications from a traffic accident who was in a foreign country but had affiliation to the school through one of the trustees. A large sum of money was paid to the donor's family, the money coming from the personal estate of Amanda's father. It wasn't illegal, but nonetheless, the school and all involved wanted to keep the details confidential.
Amanda was still coming to grips with the details of why her father didn't tell her who he was, but, they were making steady progress toward reconciliation.
Me? I was just thrilled that the second woman that I loved, one whom I was so worried would be taken from me, was alive and that the prognosis was very optimistic. We were planning a June wedding.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate the life of Jenny McGarry...”
I bowed my head, and as a tear formed in my eye, I reflected upon the changes that had taken place in my life, and in those around me, and gave silent thanks.
When I looked up, I looked a little higher, to the ceiling, and then beyond, and, hugging the kids, I hoped that Becca was watching and approving.