I tapped away at my keyboard, frowning ponderously at the chicken saltimbocca recipe I had just finished. Was that the right amount of olive oil? What did I usually use? The original recipe I’d adapted had used two tablespoons…
Putting together my own cookbook wasn’t as easy as it had sounded at first. I didn’t always necessarily follow a strict recipe, so it was a little challenging to put everything into defined measurements. I’d have to test all of these to make sure they came out as I intended them to.
A knocking on the door pulled me away from my computer. I turned and looked through the window overlooking the front yard and saw Alison at the door. Smiling, I saved my recipe and put the computer to sleep before heading into the front room to let her in. It had been a while since I’d seen her.
“Alison, hey,” I started with a smile. Then I saw her face and my smile disappeared. “Oh no, what’s wrong?”
“Josh and I broke up a few days ago.” She came inside and dropped down on the couch.
I sat down next to her. “Oh, my Watcher, Alison, what happened?”
“It’s my fault. I didn’t tell him I was going to France with Luc until I was about to leave. I told myself I did it because I didn’t want to fight, but I think I did want a fight.”
“You wanted to break up,” I said with a frown. To be honest, I couldn’t say I was very surprised by the news of their break up. Anybody with half a brain had been able to see the cracks in their relationship for some time now. They had been all smiles at my wedding, but everyone had been on their best behavior for that, even Cody.
“Yeah, I guess I did.” Alison wiped under her eyes. “You know what’s awful? I’ve been crying and crying and it’s not even about the break up. It’s because I miss being friends with Josh. We lost that a long time ago, and now it’s too late to get it back.”
“Oh, Alison, it’s not too late.” I reached over and squeezed her arm. “With some time, you two can go back to being friends. You’re Josh and Alison for crying out loud.”
“I don’t think we are anymore. There’s too much water under the bridge, you know?” She sighed, twisting her fingers in her lap. “I mean, how can I look at him the same way after he asked me if I was cheating on him with Luc?”
I blinked at her in surprise. “He actually said that?”
“Not in those words,” she said wryly. “His language was a little more colorful.”
Ah. Yeah, that sounded like Josh.
I looked over at Alison. How best to ask this… “I mean…are you?” That…probably was not the best way.
She gave me a hurt look. “No matter how bad things got with Josh, I would never have cheated on him. I’m not like that. Luc and I kept to our separate hotel rooms while we were in Champs Les Sims.”
I couldn’t help but notice that Alison never actually said she wasn’t interested in my brother. I didn’t mention it, though. Maybe after she had moved on from Josh. “Well, there’s that, at least. So, I guess you’re looking for a new place, huh?”
“Yeah.” She smiled a little. “Know a good place?”
“There’s always a room at Chez Thoreau.”
She snorted softly. “I think I’ll pass on taking your old room.”
“Psht, you couldn’t have mine anyway. It will remain untouched as a shrine to me. You can have one of the others. Maybe the one in the attic.”
“How generous.” She laughed softly. “Actually, I’m going to wait to look for a place until I hear back from some interviews I’m going on soon. I’ve got things lined up here, in Newcrest, and back home. I can’t really afford to move anywhere until I get a job anyway; that internship didn’t even pay enough money to fold.”
“You should move here! Then I’ll actually have someone to visit besides Aunt Chastity and Tito.”
“As appealing as that is,” she said with a genuine smile, “I think I’ll go wherever I get a job. Because, you know, my future and money and stuff.”
“Oh, that nonsense.” I grinned and got up, heading into the kitchen. “I assume you’re staying for lunch?”
Alison stayed until the late afternoon. She seemed to be feeling more like herself by the time she left, which was good to see, considering how depressed she had looked when she got to my house.
I sat down after she left, feeling thoughtful. So, Josh and Alison had broken up. It was a surprisingly hard pill to swallow. They had been together just a couple of years less than Tommy and I had. For a while, I’d thought that they were going to make it. Of course, the flaws in their relationship had been apparent for a several years, especially after Caleb was born and what could only be described as baby fever started showing up in Josh. They had seemed like they were determined to make things work, though.
I thought back to how perfect Josh and Alison had been at the beginning. They’d actually been a little insufferable to be around for about the first year or so, they’d been so blissfully happy. Looking at them, no one would’ve thought their relationship would fail.
Would mine fail too? Were there cracks that everyone else could see, but I couldn’t?
Just as I was starting to hit full panic mode, Tommy walked in the door. “Hey, baby,” he said with a broad smile.
I got up and wrapped my arms around him. “Hi.”
He held me tightly before leaning back to smile at me. “What’s this? You look upset.”
“I was just all in my head.” I laughed, shaking my head. My relationship was nothing like Josh and Alison’s. “Promise me we’ll never grow apart.”
He smiled and kissed me softly. “I swear, Loralee, we will never grow apart. I’m yours for life.”