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“I’m okay,” I said. My mind was reeling. How had he gotten my phone number? I didn’t recall putting it into the e-mail or ever giving it to him when we were seeing each other in Albany. I didn’t want to sound annoyed about it, so I didn’t ask. “How’s your father?”

“Oh, he’s doing really well since the bypass. Finally, we got him to stop smoking. We’re all our own worst enemies when you get right down to it. So, what have you been up to? Planning on college or what?”

“I might go to work for my uncle Perry. He’s in charge of a number of things, including teen fashions under our trademark.”

“Sounds very interesting. I always had a feeling you’d get involved in your father’s empire one way or another. Can’t blame you for that.”

“What about you?”

“Oh, as I told you, I’m taking my time, looking at my options,” he said. “With all that happened, I feel like I need a bit of a breather before looking at possible employment.”

“I’m sure you need to catch your breath. Sometimes it all seems to happen so fast.”

“Absolutely. Which is really why I was so happy to hear from you.”

“Oh?”

“I was thinking of taking a drive out there. I’ve never been to Kentucky. Maybe I could spend a few days nearby and see you. What do you think?”

My heart began racing with the possibilities. After what Cassie had done and the birth of my daughter, I thought the chance of my ever having a relationship was slight to none. Ethan’s initial reaction to my revelations had convinced me that was true, and when he hadn’t shown up or called for my graduation, that belief had been solidly confirmed, which was probably why I was so reluctant to get back into any social scene, no matter how much Lucille prodded.

Now I wondered, could I be wrong? Could I get past Dr. Ryan’s comment that I might become “somewhat” normal? Was there a chance for me to have a life full of happiness, too? If Daddy, after all of this family tragedy, could resurrect his optimism and hope, why couldn’t I?

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, Ethan. In fact, I think you should stay here. We have plenty of room.”

“Are you sure? Would your father approve?”

“I’m sure he will,” I said. “But if you like, I’ll ask him as soon as I can and call you.”

“That’s great, Semantha. I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.”

“And I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

“Okay, I’ll wait for your call,” he said. “ ’Bye.”

“Wait.”

“What?”

“You forgot to give me your telephone number.”

He laughed. “I guess you got me so excited I can’t think straight,” he said, and gave me the number.

When I hung up, I realized how Lucille’s accidentally burying my letter in her pile might have led Ethan to believe I wanted nothing to do with him. I had Mrs. Dobson to thank, but I was too excited to dwell on being angry or annoyed. I quickly tried to reach my fat

her at work. He was in a meeting, so I had to wait almost an hour, but he finally called, obviously worried that something was wrong. When I told him what I wanted, he laughed.

“Sure, he’s welcome,” he said. “I can’t wait to tell Lucille. She was more worried about you than I was. She’ll be happy to hear that you’re doing something social.”

“Thanks, Daddy.”

“See you later,” he said.

As soon as he hung up, I called Ethan.

“That’s great,” he said when I told him my father had said he was eager to meet him, too. “You know what? I think I’ll fly instead of drive and get there tomorrow by late afternoon. I’ll rent a car at the airport.”

“You will?”

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