Home > Requiem (Providence #2)(5)

Requiem (Providence #2)(5)
Author: Jamie McGuire

“Hey, Nina,” Sasha gushed. “I was just tel ing Jared that we should double date sometime.”

“No,” I snapped, my patience far beyond its limit. Jared walked me to the passenger side and opened the door.

“I can get into the car on my own,” I said acerbical y.

“Nina….” Jared smiled, amused at my mood.

“Don’t Nina me,” I said, looking straight ahead.

“Wel ,” Sasha call ed from the other side of the SUV, raising her eyebrows. “I guess I’ll see you on Monday. It was nice to final y have a chance to talk, Jared.”

Ignoring Sasha’s final attempt for his attention, Jared watched me for a moment, trying to decipher my emotions. Final y, he walked around to his side, and slid in beside me. He watched Sasha trot across the street and then shook his head. “You don’t honestly think I was—,”

“No. I don’t think you were flirting with her,” I grumbled.

Jared pul ed away from the curb and nodded. “Good, because that is completely ridiculous. Not only am I madly in love with you….she’s….”

Jared shook his head, making a series of disgusted faces as he tried to think of the correct description. “She’s something else.”

“That’s a word for it,” I said, crossing my arms.

“How was your meeting?” he asked.

“You mean you don’t know?”

“I kept tabs, but it was difficult to get the details with Sasha two inches from my face. Is Grant stil a jackass?”

“Yes,” I nodded.

“What’s wrong?” Jared paused a moment and then his eyebrows shot up. “Oh.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. I didn’t mean anything,” Jared said, trying not to smile.

I shook my head, watching the trees pass by the window. Eli had once told us that when we made a commitment in a physical way, Jared’s senses concerning me would be heightened. I stil wasn’t sure what that entailed. Jared never let on that anything had changed, but when his former urgent curiosity about the motives behind my moods or feelings had al but disappeared, I knew something was different. I cornered him on more than one occasion to explain his new attunement, but he always seemed to maneuver his way out of the conversation with an efficient and irresistible diversion.

“Do we stil have lunch plans?” I asked, my attention stil focused on the passing landscape outside the window.

“Absolutely. I have a surprise for you,” Jared said, taking my hand and pul ing it to his mouth.

My mood quickly changed as the warmth from his lips shot up my arm. “I love surprises.”

“I know,” he said against my skin.

Chapter Two


“Carved your name. In a tree? That’s so sweet!” Beth squealed.

“Yes, in a tired, done-three-bil ion-times kind of way,” Kim droned, unimpressed.

I ignored her, smiling at Beth. “He brought me to a field that had a lone Oak tree in the center. We rol ed out a blanket for the picnic lunch he packed. It was perfect.”

“You’re up,” Kim said, elbowing me.

“Oh,” I said, briefly glancing to the menu hanging from the ceiling. “Large coffee. Black.” The girl behind the counter nodded, and punched the buttons on the register, waiting for my check card. I nudged Beth. “Did you want anything?”

“Nah, not today.”

I rol ed my eyes. “SHe’ll have a Large Skinny Mochachino, please.”

“I said I didn’t want anything,” Beth said, feigning annoyance. “And since when do you drink your coffee black?”

“We’re not going to have our morning coffee talk on the first day of school without coffee,” I said, “I know things are tight for you and Chad right now. Moving is expensive. It’s not a problem.”

“I’m not a mooch.”

“Southern hospitality. Isn’t that what you call it?” I winked.

“You’re a Yankee,” Beth muttered.

The girl turned to make our drinks, and Beth leaned in. “So the tree….”

I smiled. “The carving was amazing. Bril iantly detailed. I’ve never seen anything like it. He walks me to the other side, and his parents initials were carved there, too, from like…years ago.”

“No way!” Beth shrieked. She looked around, settling down before her next question. “So have you guys set a date? For the wedding?”

I looked down. “Er…no. But it was a nice lunch.”

“A nice lunch?” Kim asked.

“He didn’t mention it,” I said.

“Wel , that’s a first,” Beth teased.

It wasn’t hard to guess why Jared’s questions about a wedding date had tapered off—he was worried about the nightmares, and he didn’t want to make them worse. I knew Jared wanted to set a date. As the weeks passed and I was stil reluctant to discuss it, he had begun to get anxious.

Once the sleepless nights began, the wedding was the farthest thing from his mind.

We took a spot by the window, and updated each other on our summers. Beth and Chad had cut back on their hours at their jobs because of the fal semester. Money was scarce, but they were enjoying playing house. Kim had traveled to see family, but returned early.

“My dorm room missed me,” she smiled.

“How did you get them to let you in?” Beth asked.

“I have the gift of persuasion,” Kim said, rubbing her fingers together.

“So you traveled most of the summer, didn’t work, and you had enough money to bribe the powers that be at Brown University?” I asked. “Right.”

Kim shrugged. “I robbed two banks and a liquor store on the way to Chicago.”

“Nice,” I said, taking another sip.

“So Ryan’s in the Army?” Kim asked.

“Kim, Jesus,” Beth said, shaking her head.

I nodded. “Wrote me a letter, and just popped in the mail on his way to war. Like it was nothing. Like a freakin’ birthday card.”

“Or a post card,” Kim added.

“With soldiers on it,” Beth said. She looked down, trying not to smile.

“With green and black faces, and big guns,” Kim smiled.

Beth waited a moment, and then spoke again. “In camo speedos.”

“Lying on a hammock on the beach, with ‘Greetings from War’ in big, yel ow, bubble letters,” I frowned.

Beth giggled before making a poor attempt at a straight face. “It’s not your fault.”

“It’s completely my fault. I should have stopped him.”

Beth’s smile disappeared. She touched my arm. “Nigh, you didn’t know to stop him.”

“No, I sure didn’t,” I said under my breath, knowing Jared could hear.

We tossed our empty cups into the trash before making our way to campus. The walk seemed longer than the years before. I remembered walking down the same street, wondering if I would run into Jared, hoping I could steal another moment with him. A smile touched my mouth as I looked behind us. The Escalade was parked across the street, half a block away.

So much had changed since I sat on the park bench. Life had gone from bad to worse, to wonderful to unbelievable, and now my days were as mundane as any other col ege sophomore. If only I could close my eyes without seeing my father, but that was asking for too much.

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