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The Heart's Solemn Cry Chapter 2
Not For Sale
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Amy Garrison had been looking forward to meeting with Laveda ever since their chat three days earlier. When Laveda had called to set the time and place, Amy heard the hesitation in her voice. She hated to be coddled, but Amy knew her friend would need someone to ask the right questions and listen to her. She’d known Laveda for nearly ten years, meeting during their freshman year at the University of Idaho. She never would have guessed that the young, vibrant, popular college girl would have turned into an uptight, lonely, and isolated woman. Laveda had hurried through school and graduated at 20. She went right into law school and passed the bar exam the first time around. Amy had always admired her work ethic and discipline. When she was determined, there was nothing that could stop Laveda. But there was an element of mystery to her friend that Amy had never been able to figure out. She was a complicated woman that much was certain.
Amy herself had graduated a bit late, taking time off to work, and moved to Lincoln to pursue a career in journalism, but had instead found herself working at the courthouse. Funny how life re-directs a person, she thought. She did not know where she was going from here, but was determined to make the best of where she was. She’d never been married, and at 32, her chances were growing scarcer every day. Unlike Laveda, Amy’s problem had never been too much focus on her career. Her problem was that she was everyone’s friend and no one’s love. Dozens of friends had sought her counsel as they moved into dating relationships, and then to marriage. That fact often puzzled her, as she had no real experience in romance. She’d been infatuated many times, but had yet to win at the timing game. Amy’s hope of one day being married never dwindled. She started each day wondering if today was the day she’d meet him. This thought provided Amy with the ability to hold on to that vitality and excitement from her younger days.
She walked into Café de Rencontre, located in downtown Pleasant Dale, and found a table by the window. Laveda would be here soon. The waitress greeted her and she ordered two flavored coffees. It wasn’t very busy today, with just a few couples sipping coffee and talking quietly. The Café had become a favorite of theirs when it opened earlier that year. It brought a taste of Paris, France, where the two women had vowed to travel someday.
“Okay, you can stop worrying now. I’m here!” Laveda joked as she sat down.
The two friends started chatting about the latest happenings at work, their respective families, and pop culture. But eventually, conversation turned toward Brice and Melinda. When it was clear that Laveda wasn’t going to mention him, Amy started, “So, Laveda, what’s going on inside that heart of yours?”
“Oh, Amy, it’s nice of you to think of me, but I’m fine. Really. It doesn’t bother me that he’s back or that he’s found another girl. So soon. I’m okay with being alone. It’s always been this way and always will be. I understand your concern, but I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”
“Don’t give me that speech, woman, you know I know you better than that. And I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. You’re not okay. And you won’t always be alone. You may feel that way right now, but it’s just not healthy to think that way!”
“How else am I supposed to think? I’m nearly 30 and if I’m not married by now, I probably never will be! And I don’t mean to make an issue of age…” she ended the thought before she hurt her friends’ feelings. “Amy, that’s the only way I can think. I will always be alone.”
Amy sighed and closed her eyes. Here we go again, she thought, but maybe this time we’ll get somewhere. “Listen. You are not too old to lose hope of getting married, so let’s not even discuss that. You have a lot to offer, and any guy would be lucky to have you,” she gathered her thoughts and braced herself for the backlash. “But you cannot ignore your feelings. One day you’re going to blow up. I’ve seen how you acted when you were dating Brice. Yes, you were dating him, by the way. You were alive and having fun! I saw a side of you I thought had died a long time ago. I was always worried for you, though, because I could tell he was just a means to an end. Laveda, you used him to reassure yourself you were valuable.”
Now it was Laveda’s turn to sigh. She, too, closed her eyes momentarily. When she opened them, she turned her head to look at the people passing by. “Amy, you don’t understand. It’s not that simple. In a way, I did use him, I know. But on the other hand, I think I really did care for him….” She trailed off as something outside caught her attention. She drew a quick breath. “Amy, is that...?”
Amy turned to look out the window and when she did, she groaned. Well, speak of the devil. And his little woman. Right on cue, just like in the movies, came Brice and Melinda. They were jay-walking across the street and heading right for Café de Rencontre. Amy didn’t know what to do. How would Laveda react to this meeting? Would Brice humiliate her? Did Melinda know about Laveda? Amy, watching as they approached the café door, breathed a silent prayer. Laveda looked sick and hid her face from the entering couple. Amy tried to do the same, but too late. Brice had seen Amy and noticed the woman sitting with her. He turned to Melinda briefly, and then made his way over to their table.
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