Love Letters(10)

By: Geraldine Solon


“Mom said if I ever did that to her she’d disown me. And after not speaking to me these last few years, I believe her. I think that’s why Dad never bucked her.”

Nicole patted her hand. “So what does that tell you?”

Chloe glanced at Nicole through blurry eyes. “Maybe she never loved Dad. It was more like a marriage of convenience, if that’s what you call it.”

“It happens,” Nicole said, peering at the fog outside the window. “Look at my parents. They chose divorce since all they did was yell at each other. They’re bitter and angry with each other even now.”

“Gee, I wouldn’t want that. I still believe if you marry your soul mate you’ll be happy,” Chloe said. Yet, instead of picturing Richard, she pictured kind and funny Josh, who was down-to-earth like her. He had always loved to spend time with her – every waking moment, in fact – unlike Richard who was busy all the time.

“How do you know Richard’s your soul mate?” Nicole asked, as Chloe parked her car outside the pastry shop.

Chloe turned off the engine. She hated to admit it, but she couldn’t answer Nicole’s question. And yet when she thought about Josh she could make a whole list. They had so much fun. They liked moonlit rides at night, where they counted the stars. They even looked like they belonged together. She and Richard … well, they were different in every way.

“Chloe?”

“Huh?” Chloe wiped her eyes.

“I said… how do you know that Richard is your soul mate?”

Chloe looked outside the window then back at Nicole. “For a long time, my heart had Josh’s name engraved on it. I never thought I would fall in love again.”

“I know.” Nicole squeezed her hand. “Josh was your first love. You must have cried for a whole year when he left.”

Chloe dried her eyes. “When Dad passed away, I felt the same pain as when Josh left. I guess Josh and Dad were the most important men in my life until Richard came along.” She had met Richard two months after her father died. Although he didn’t provide the same spark she felt when she met Josh, she felt safe with him. He offered the security her mom wanted for her, and she was certain, with time, he would ease up on work and realize what was most important.

“But now Josh is back.” Nicole pursed her lips.

Before Chloe could answer, she saw a blue Ford Mustang pass by. She glanced over to see if it was Josh only to discover that it wasn’t. Did she want to see him again? She knew that she and Richard would do great … or at least she hoped so. But then again she didn’t want to wake up after thirty years and realize he wasn’t the one.

Oh no! I refuse to be like my parents or Nicole’s parents. And yet she couldn’t imagine the pain she’d go through if Josh left her again. Like Nina Taylor after her husband left her, a little voice in her head reminded her, a voice that sounded just like her mother’s. She rubbed her arms at the sudden chill.

Occasionally, they would see Nina around town and Suzanne would point her out to Chloe. “See how awful she looks?” her mother would whisper. “That’s what happens when you let your emotions get the best of you.”

Nicole snapped her fingers to get Chloe’s attention. “I’m just worried about you, girl. And I have to admit I’ll miss you when you move.” Nicole looked out the window of the Jetta and bit her lip.

“That’s so sweet of you,” Chloe said, taking her hand and giving it a squeeze. “I’ll call you every day. And who knows, you and Matt can come visit us on the weekends.”

“I’m going to miss our spur of the moment luncheons, especially the juicy gossip we have about Mrs. Hamilton.” Nicole loved to tell Chloe about her client who was having an extra-marital affair.

“You’ll always be my best friend.” Chloe stuck out her pinky finger.

“You’ll always be mine,” Nicole said, clutching her finger.

“Now, can we look at some cake?”

“Cake it is.” Nicole smiled.





***

Josh was sitting inside his office with his feet up while balancing the sales of the day when the phone rang. “Surfing Buddies, how can I help you?”