Thirty-One and a Half RegretsBy: Denise Grover Swank
“You’re going to have a baby.”
Her eyes flew open, her face turning pale. “How did you know that?”
I forced a smile. “How could I not, Mary Louise? You’ve got a glow that’s hard to miss.” But that wasn’t the reason. Ever since I was a little girl, I’d known things about people. Things I shouldn’t have known. The information came from visions. I couldn’t control my ability, and the visions were always for the people next to me. They were usually mundane, about an unexpected visit from an in-law or the color so-and-so was going to paint her bedroom. But they were almost always awkward, especially since only a few people knew about them.
She twisted her hands in front of her, biting her lip. “But my husband Brian doesn’t know yet.”
“He’s going to be thrilled, Mary Louise.”
“How can you be so sure?”
I’d seen his bright smile when she told him in my vision. “I just am.”
When I finished my drawings—although I couldn’t bring myself to draw the anatomical rock structure—I checked the time and realized I only had ten minutes to get back downtown and meet my best friend, Neely Kate, for lunch at Merilee’s Café .
I parked my truck a block from the county courthouse where she worked and was putting change in the parking meter when I heard someone say my name from behind me.
I spun around, my heart in my throat. “Mason.”
He stopped in front of me, wearing a dress coat over his grey suit. The wind blew his dark blond hair around his face. His cheeks were tinged with pink, making his hazel irises even greener than usual. I hadn’t seen him in almost two weeks, and I was surprised by how nervous I felt.
“How are you?”
“Good. And you?” I brushed my hair back, suddenly very aware of how bad I had to look. I didn’t have on any makeup and my hair was in a messy ponytail. The knees of my jeans were muddy from the first job site and my tan sweater had a coffee stain.
Why on earth was I worried about how I looked around Mason? I’d never thought about it before. But I knew why. The last time we saw each other, we’d admitted that our feelings were more than just friendly. I’d told Mason I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet, that I was working with Jonah to figure out who I was now. Mason had said he’d wait.
His eyes softened. “I miss you, Rose.”
“I miss you too.” But I still wasn’t ready, and I could see in his eyes that he knew that. “I’m meeting Neely Kate for lunch at Merilee’s. Would you care to join us?”
He looked over his shoulder at the café. “I’d love to, but I’m meeting my friend Jeff for a working lunch. Can I get a rain check?”
“Do you really have another lunch date or are you avoiding me?”
“Rose.” Several people walked by and Mason grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to the entrance of an antique shop. “I’m not avoiding you. I’m giving you space. Do you really think I don’t want to be with you?”
I stared at the button on his coat before looking up into his eyes. “No. But I’m worried you’ll get tired of waiting for me.”
He released a soft laugh. “It’s been thirteen days since I last saw you. I’ve been waiting for you since the day you ran into me at the courthouse in July. Thirteen days is nothing.”
My heart stuttered. He’d been counting days. “Not that day. You couldn’t stand me that day.” I’d showed up late for jury duty and literally ran into Mason, making him drop his papers all over the hallway. He’d been furious.
“Okay, maybe not that day, but you definitely piqued my interest. It was soon after that.”
“But I was with Joe.”
“I know. And I’d never put you in a difficult situation, which is why I kept my feelings to myself.”
“If you’ve really waited that long, aren’t you frustrated?”
“No.” His eyes burned with an intensity I’d never seen before. “I know what I want, and I’m a patient man.”
My face flushed at his bluntness. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about.”
“But I hate not seeing you. Can’t we just be friends until I’m ready?”
His face lit up. “Of course. I just wanted to give you some time. And now that my feelings are out in the open, I’m sure I’ll do a terrible job of keeping them to myself.”
“I’m making great progress with Jonah.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“I’m considering selling my birth mother’s farm, but Jonah thinks I should go visit it first.” Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “Would you be interested in going out there with me?”