Things I Never Told You(8)

By: Beth Vogt


“I did notice we missed lunch together because I had no reason to take a break.” Geoff paused. “And I called to say I can’t make it tonight.”

“What?” Jillian pressed the can against her heart. “Why not?”

“We ran into some additional problems and I have to work late.”

“Geoff, really? You’ve been putting in so much overtime as it is.”

“I know. I know. But this project is my responsibility. Besides, what with the engagement party this past weekend, I wasn’t around as much as I should have been.”

She shouldn’t complain. One thing she loved about Geoff was his determination and commitment. Yes, he liked to laugh and joke, but he worked hard. “I understand.”

“You know I’d rather be there with you, right?”

“Yes.”

“Once we help the company recover from this incident, my hours will be back to normal.” His voice lowered. “And besides, in nine months, we’ll be married and coming home to each other.”

“Now that’s a nice thought.”

“Yes, it is. I think about that a lot. You sure you don’t want to skip all this wedding stuff and just elope?”

Jillian set her soda on the counter and went in search of a bag of white cheddar popcorn. “How many times are you going to ask me that? I’m beginning to think you’re not joking.”

“Hey, I’d elope with you tonight.”

“Now I know you’re joking. You’d never elope in the middle of something like this.”

Geoff’s burst of laughter warmed her, dissipating the shadow that had lurked alongside her all day. “You know me so well.”

“I do. And you understand I want a fun wedding to celebrate with our friends and family.”

Or was a big wedding the chance to prove to so many doubters how wrong they’d been about her chance of ever getting married?

“All right. No more talk of eloping. We’ll do this getting-married thing up right—and then party all night long.”

“I like the sound of that. But first, you get back to work.”

“And what are you going to do?”

“Me? I’m going to relax. Maybe read a good book.”

“I’ll call you later.”

“Only if you have time.”

“I’ll make time.”

Jillian’s apartment was too quiet after she ended her phone call with Geoff. Her secret hung suspended in unspoken words between their hello and good-bye.

Should she have told Geoff? Shifted the weight of her diagnosis off her shoulders onto his?

No. Not yet. Geoff was already worn-out with work. It was just over a week until she saw Dr. Williamson and confirmed Dr. Sartwell’s optimistic outlook. It was worth waiting to be able to tell him and her family there was nothing to worry about.

Jillian stuck the business card to her fridge door, holding it in place with a colorful fish magnet her parents had brought her from their last vacation to Mexico.

It was a doctor’s appointment, not an inquisition. If anything, she’d be the one asking questions. She knew how to listen, how to take notes. More than likely, they’d hand her a pamphlet to take home. The surgeon would confirm what Dr. Sartwell said about the cancer being caught early and then outline what needed to be done. Jillian would have one more appointment before she had to tell anyone else. One more appointment before she had to admit that, yes, she had cancer.

Before she had to help everyone else be okay.





3


MY CLUTTERED DESK and Kimberlee’s even messier one greeted me as I flicked on the overhead light in the back office. Coming to work was like a walk back in time—straight to our college days, when we shared a small, disorganized apartment. Except we’d abandoned the white twinkly lights, beanbag chairs, and textbooks in exchange for a messy but more businesslike decor that included file cabinets, desks, rolling chairs, and a full-size fridge.

Did I ever wish that my workplace was a gym—on a volleyball court with a team?

I’d made my decision about that question a long time ago.

Dumping my purse on the floor beside my desk, I stocked the fridge with coconut milk yogurts and fruit and stashed the reusable cloth bag in the supply closet. It took less than two minutes to make a cup of coffee, thanks to the office Keurig, and the caffeine and jolt of sugar would shove away the last remnants of sleep. Despite seeing me on Sunday, Nash had insisted on coming over last night, too, and then stayed too late, despite my not-so-subtle hints to leave.

Almost as if on cue, my phone buzzed.

Nash. He wouldn’t appreciate how his phone call brought up similar feelings to my family interrupting me while I worked Jillian’s engagement party four days ago.

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