Amy had been on vacation for the past week, visiting her sister, Lucy, a family counselor who lived in Aspen. They had hiked in the mountains, shopped in the cute boutiques, lunched in the tearooms in town, and they had talked into the night after Lucy’s husband had fallen asleep.
Amy had always been able to talk with her sister. That was not unusual. Everyone—family, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers—would tell Lucy anything. She was good at her job.
She and her sister were enjoying one last quiet evening talking.
Lucy placed a hand on Amy’s arm. “So, how are you holding up?”
“Pretty well.” Amy looked out over the mountain that loomed behind the house. “We had, you know, drifted part, as they say. That phrase has always sounded so dumb to me, but it’s accurate.” She sighed.
“What now? Dating yet?”
“You’re not planning to spend the next forty years alone, are you?”
“Forty years? That’s a bit optimistic.”
“Forty, thirty, twenty, whatever. Alone?”
“I’m not alone. I have Cathy, and Elaine, and—”
“They are wonderful children, but you know what I mean.”
Amy swirled the wine around her glass. “I haven’t thought about it.”
“Maybe it’s time.”
“But I feel stupid when I talk to men I don’t know. What could I say that would interest some random guy?”
“You start with something trivial and non-threatening then you build on it. Let’s practice.”
Amy expelled a loud breath, knowing that she would have to play along.
“I’ll be you,” Lucy said. “Okay. We are in the terminal waiting for our flight to be called. It’s tomorrow. Ready?”
“Go ahead.” Amy’s voice was flat.
“Waiting for your flight to Chicago?”
Amy did not respond.
“If you ask a question,” Lucy said, “most likely the other person will respond.”
“Oh, all right. Yes, I’m going to Chicago. That’s why I’m here at gate fifty-two.”
Lucy sighed. “I’m trying to help. At least you could cooperate.”
“But that’s what I would want to say.”
“But you wouldn’t. Neither would any other non-jerk. He would say, ‘Yes, I’m going to Chicago.’ Then you could say, ‘What’s the weather like in Chicago today?’ or ‘Going on business?’ or ‘Are you from Chicago?’”
Amy cocked her head to one side. “Or I could cut to the chase and say, ‘You’re a guy. I want to have your baby.’”
Lucy threw one hand in the air. “You’re simply impossible.”
“I know what you mean, Lucy.” Amy sighed. “I’ll do it. Promise.”
Lucy smiled. “Good. Your assignment, tomorrow, is to talk to a man, one you do not know, for ten minutes. Talk about something other than the weather.” She laughed at the expression on Amy’s face. “You’re not trying to pick him up, not looking for a date, just being friendly.” She gave Amy a playful pop on the shoulder. “You’ll never see the guy again, so it’s all right if he thinks you’re crazy.”
Title: To Fall in Love Again
Author: David Burnett
Drew Nelson did not plan to talk with anyone that morning. He did not plan to make a new friend. He certainly did not plan to fall in love.
He resisted all of Amy’s attempts to draw him out− at the hotel, at the airport, on the airplane− giving hurried responses and burying his face in a pile of papers. It was only when the flight attendant offered coffee, and a muscle in Amy’s back twitched as she reached for it, and the cup tipped, and the hot liquid puddled in Drew’s lap that they began to talk.
Earlier in the year, each had lost a spouse of over thirty years. Drew’s wife had died of a brain tumor, Amy’s husband when his small airplane nose-dived to earth, the engine at full throttle − an accident, it was ruled.
They live in the same city. Both have grandchildren. They are about the same age. Consciously, or not, they both are looking to love again.
But relationships do not exist in vacuums. Drew is wealthy, and Amy is middle class. Amy is “new” in town – she and her husband moved to Charleston twenty-five years ago – while Drew’s family has lived there for three centuries. Drew lives below Broad, a code word for high society, old families, power, and money. Amy’s home is across the river.
Class warfare may be less violent than it was in the past, but when Drew invites Amy to the St Cecelia Ball, battle lines are drawn. In a city in which ancestry is important, the ball’s membership is passed from father to son, and only those from the oldest families attend.
Family, friends, co-workers all weigh in on their relationship and choose sides. Allies are found in unexpected places. Opposition comes from among those who were thought to be friends. Though they are gone, even their spouses − through things they have done and things they have said − wield influence in the conflict that follows.
Amy begins to suspect that Drew is one of them, the rich snobs who despise her, while Drew concludes that Amy neither trusts him nor cares for him. As each questions the other’s motives, their feelings for each other are tested, and Drew and Amy are challenged to consider if they truly want to fall in love again.
I live in Columbia South Carolina, with my wife and our blue-eyed cat, Bonnie. I enjoy traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches.
We have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During one trip to Scotland, we visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen.
My photographic subjects have been as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, and a Native American powwow.
I went to school for longer than I want to admit, and I have graduate degrees in psychology and education. I was formerly director of research for our state education department.
We have two daughters and three grandchildren. To Fall in Love Again is my third novel.
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