Home > Every Breath(14)

Every Breath(14)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

“You have a sister?”

“Two,” she said. “Robin and Joanna.”

“Do you see them often?”

She nodded. “We try. The whole family lives in Raleigh, but it’s harder these days to get everyone together except on holidays or birthdays. Both Robin and Joanna are married and they work, and their kids keep them constantly on the go.”

“My son, Andrew, is the same way.”

The waitress dropped off the two bottles of beer from a tray filled with other drinks. Hope tilted her head in surprise.

“I didn’t know you had a son.”

“He’s ten. Because of my work schedule, he lives with his mother most of the time.”

“Your work schedule?”

“I work for six weeks straight, then go home for two weeks.”

“That has to be hard for both of you.”

“Sometimes it is,” he agreed. “At the same time, it’s all he’s ever known, so I tell myself that he’s used to it. And we have a lot of fun when we’re together. He wasn’t pleased when he learned that I would be coming here for a week.”

“Have you spoken with him since you’ve been here?”

“No, but I’m planning to call him tomorrow.”

“What’s he like?”

“Curious. Bright. Handsome. Kind. But I’m biased.” He grinned and took a sip of his beer.

“You should be. He’s your son. Does he want to become a guide one day, too?”

“He says he does, and he seems to enjoy spending time in the bush as much as I do. But then again, he also says he wants to drive race cars. And be a veterinarian. And maybe a mad scientist.”

She smiled. “What do you think?”

“He’ll make his own decision in the end, like we all do. Being a guide means leading an unconventional life, and it’s not for everyone. It’s also one of the reasons my marriage ended. I just wasn’t around enough. Kim deserved better.”

“It seems like you and your ex get along well.”

“We do. But she’s easy to get along with, and she’s a marvelous mother.”

Hope reached for her beer, impressed by the way he spoke about his ex, thinking it said as much about him as it did about her.

“When do you fly back?”

“Monday morning. And you leave?”

“Sometime on Sunday. I have to work on Monday. When is your meeting?”

“On Saturday afternoon.” He took a drink before slowly lowering the bottle to the table. “I’m supposed to meet my father.”

“Do you mean visit?”

“No,” he answered. “I mean meet for the first time. According to the letter I received, he moved from Zimbabwe before I was born, and he learned of my existence only a short time ago.”

Hope opened her lips, then closed them again. After a moment, she ventured, “I can’t imagine not knowing my father. Your mind must be going a hundred miles an hour.”

“I admit it’s an unusual circumstance.”

Hope shook her head, still trying to grasp what he’d told her. “I wouldn’t know how to start that conversation. Or even what to ask him.”

“I do.” For the first time, Tru glanced off to the side. When he spoke again, his voice was almost lost in the sound of the rolling waves. “I’d like to ask him about my mother.”

She hadn’t expected that and pondered what he could mean. She thought she saw a flash of sadness in his expression, but when he faced her again, it was gone.

“It seems we both have memorable weekends ahead,” he observed.

His desire to change the subject was obvious and she played along, despite her growing curiosity. “I just hope it doesn’t rain. Ellen would probably burst into tears.”

“You mentioned you’re a bridesmaid?”

“I am. And thankfully, the dress is actually pretty stylish.”


“The bridesmaids wear matching dresses, picked out by the bride. And sometimes the bride doesn’t have the greatest sense of style.”

“You sound like you speak from experience.”

“This is the eighth time I’ve been a bridesmaid.” She sighed. “Six friends and both my sisters. I’ve liked maybe two of the dresses.”

“What happens if you don’t like the dress?”

“Nothing. Except you’ll probably hate the photos for the rest of your life. If I ever get married, I might pick ugly dresses just to get back at some of them.”

He laughed, and she realized she liked the sound of it—deep and rumbly, like the beginnings of an earthquake.

“You wouldn’t do that.”

“I might. One of the dresses was lime green. With puffy shoulders. That one was actually for my sister Robin’s wedding. Joanna and I still tease her about it.”

“How long has she been married?”

“Nine years,” she said. “Her husband, Mark, is an insurance broker, and he’s kind of quiet, but very nice. And they’ve got three boys. Joanna has been married to Jim for seven years. He’s an attorney, and they have two little girls.”

“Sounds like you’re all very close.”

“We are,” she said. “And we live near each other, too. Of course, depending on the traffic, it can still take twenty minutes to get to each other’s houses. It’s probably nothing like where you’re from.”

“The big cities like Harare and Bulawayo have traffic issues, too. You’d be surprised.”

She tried to imagine the cities but couldn’t.

“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but when I think of Zimbabwe, all I can picture are those nature shows on cable. Elephants and giraffes, things like that. What you see every day. I know there are cities there, but anything I imagine is probably wrong.”

“They’re like all cities, I suppose. There are nice neighborhoods, and others where you probably shouldn’t go.”

“Do you feel culture shock going from the bush to the city?”

“Every single time. It still takes me a day or two to get used to the noise and traffic and number of people. Part of that, though, is because I was raised on a farm.”

“Your mom was a farmer?”

“My grandfather.”

“How does a kid who grew up on the farm end up being a guide?”

“That’s a long and complicated story.”

“The good ones usually are. Care to share?”

As she asked, the waitress arrived with their meals. Tru had finished his beer and ordered a second one; Hope followed his lead. The food smelled delicious, and this time, the waitress was prompt with the drinks, returning with two more beers before either had taken a bite. Tru raised his bottle, indicating that she should do the same.

“To enchanted evenings,” he said simply before clinking his bottle to hers.

Maybe it was the formality of a toast amid the informality of Clancy’s, but she realized that at some point, her nervousness had slipped away without her even noticing it. She suspected it had to do with Tru’s authenticity, and it reinforced her impression that too many people spent their lives performing a role they thought they were supposed to play, as opposed to simply being who they were.

“Back to your question. I don’t mind speaking on the subject, but I wonder if it’s appropriate for dinner. Perhaps later?”

“Sure.” She shrugged. She sliced off a piece of crab cake and took a bite. Amazing, as always. Noticing Tru had sampled his tuna, she asked, “How is it?”

“It’s flavorful,” he said. “Yours?”

“It’s going to be hard not to eat both of them. But I have to get into the dress this weekend.”

“And it is one of the stylish ones.”

She was flattered that he seemed to remember everything she told him. Over dinner, they settled into a conversation replete with familiar stories. She told him a little about Ellen, describing some of her friend’s devil-may-care exploits while whitewashing the worst parts of her past, like the drug-dealing ex. She mentioned her other sorority sisters as well, the talk eventually drifting to Hope’s family. She told him what it had been like to grow up with teachers for parents, both of whom insisted that their children learn how to schedule and complete their homework on their own, without help. She described running cross-country and track, expressing her admiration for the deft way her dad had handled coaching all of his daughters. She reminisced about baking cookies with her mom. She talked about her work, too—the fierce energy of her days in the emergency room, and the patients and families who touched her heart. Though there were times when images of Josh broke into her thoughts, they were surprisingly few and far between.

As they talked, the stars slowly spread throughout the sky. Breakers sparkled in the moonlight, and the breeze picked up slightly, carrying the briny scent of the sea. The tiki torches sputtered in the breeze, casting an orange glow over the tables while other patrons drifted in and out. The ambiance grew quieter, more subdued as the evening progressed, conversations interrupted only by muted laughter and the same songs cycling from the jukebox.

After their plates were cleared, the waitress came by with two slices of lemon meringue pie, and it took Tru only a single bite to understand that she hadn’t been exaggerating when touting its virtues. While they lingered over dessert, he did most of the talking. He spoke about the various camps where he’d worked and told her about his friend Romy, and the way Romy would sometimes badger him to play his guitar after their long day was over. He told her a bit more about his divorce from Kim, and spoke for a long time about Andrew. She could tell by the longing in his voice that Tru already missed him, and it made her think again how much she wanted a child of her own.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Every Breath
» Tarian Outcast (New Tarian Pride #3)
» Tarian Silver Lion (New Tarian Pride #2)
» Tarian Alpha (New Tarian Pride #1)
» Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5)
» Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss
» A Curve in the Road
» One Day in December