Heart’s Choice

Chapter 2


Lois Kay

After she had entered her quiet apartment, Emma had shed her clothes and taken a long, hot shower. With the warm water cascading down her body, she closed her eyes and thought back on a long, but very satisfying day.

"Amazing how fast things can change," she mused. "This morning I really was the new teacher, at a new school, in a new town, not knowing a single soul and this evening I’ve made a friend. Two," she added with a smile, thinking about the cute little boy that was Kyra’s son. "It was a good day."

Involuntarily Emma’s thoughts constantly traveled to Kyra Hartman and ever so often, she had to force herself not to think about a pair of beautiful, deep green eyes, or how the long, thick curly hair danced around a beautiful face, or the gentle smile that created a little dimple in Kyra’s right cheek, which made her look absolutely adorable.

"Get a grip, Altena," she angrily scolded. "Get your butt out of the shower and call your sister, before she organizes a search party."

Ten minutes later Emma sat curled up in a comfortable chair, with another cup of hot tea in front of her and a cordless phone in her hand.

She missed her family, especially her eldest sister and her mother, because those two women kept her sane when her life had taken an unexpected one hundred and eighty degree turn. Her whole family had supported her, each and every one in their own, unique way. But her mother and Hester had been the ones who had stayed up for hours and hours, listening to Emma talk, or just sitting around the huge kitchen table, lending silent support and a shoulder to cry on.

With a small sigh Emma decided to call her sister first and after dialing the number the phone only rang once before it was already picked up.

"If that is you, sis, I just want you to know I’ll kick your butt as soon as you get home again. You kept me waiting for hours and I’m dying to know how your first day was. If you’re not my sister: Hi, this is Hester Jansen," a cheerful voice greeted.

Emma laughed and immediately heard a deep, exaggerated sigh.

"Emma Louise Altena, where have you been, girl? Don’t you know you shouldn’t worry older people like that? It’s bad for their hearts."

"Yes, you’re ancient," Emma remarked with a snort. "What are you? Thirty eight? Wow, sis, you’d better sign up for a nursing home."

"No thanks," Hester replied. "I already warned the kids that as soon as they have a family of their own, David and I will move in with them."

"I bet they were pleased," Emma grinned.

"Christian basically told me I was crazy, Marianne just rolled her eyes and pulled a face, but Peter said: ‘Sure, Mom’ and made my day," Hester dryly stated. "But, tell me dearest, how was your first day at school?" she added with genuine interest.

"I had a very good day," Emma answered. "It was nice, really nice. There are a lot of kids in my class, more than I’m used to and a few of them seem to be real rascals, but I’m pretty sure I’ll love it here."

"Good, I’m pleased to hear that," Hester’s voice sounded full of affection. "But did they make you stay late on the first day?"

Emma never had kept secrets from her eldest sister. In the past she had tried to keep some things to herself, but somehow her sister possessed the talent to see straight through her, even from a distance, which could be very annoying at times.

So, knowing Hester would find out one way or the other anyway, Emma told her the story about Kyra Hartman forgetting her purse and all the things that happened after that.

"You stayed for dinner? She invited you?"

"Well, yes, I sure didn’t invite myself," Emma answered dryly.

"Hummm," was the insinuating answer, followed by silence and Emma could picture her sister’s blue eyes, almost identical to her own, staring in the distance while her brain was processing the information and trying to fill in some blanks.

"That’s interesting, Emma," she finally spoke again. "Is she…nice?"

"Yes, she is," was the short, casual answer.

Emma could hear Hester grin and she braced herself for a modern day inquisition.

"So…she is single, huh? Divorced?"

"I don’t know."

"You didn’t ask?" Hester teased.

"Of course I didn’t ask! Hester, we met this morning and even though it seems like we might become friends, I don’t want to subject her to the investigation you like to bestow on me."

"Oooh, Emma. I love your protective streak," Hester laughed. "She must be pretty special. So tell me, is there a potential for more than just friendship?"

Emma had expected her sister to come up with a question like that and even though she knew Hester was only teasing her, the question stirred something deep inside of her that she could not put her finger on. But it left her feeling a little sad and lonely.

"Hester," she sighed. "Please!"

"I’m just yanking your chain," Hester’s voice sounded in her ear. "I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. But seriously Em, it’s about time you start to live again. I want to see you happy, we all do. It’s been five years, sweetie."

"I want to be happy as well, Hester, of course I want that. But moving here is a first step to get back on track again. I don’t want to rush things."

"I understand, sis, I guess I’m just impatient to see you happy. You are the only single one left in the family and we are all dying for you to bring someone home one of these days."

"Things like that can’t be forced," Emma sighed. "Besides, maybe I am pretty comfortable with my single status. Have you ever considered I could be happy this way?"

"No," was the blunt, but honest answer. "I’m sorry, Emma, but I know you. You’re definitely not the type of person to spend your life alone."

"I’m twenty eight, Hester, I’d like to think I have some time left before desperation sets in," Emma remarked dryly, making her sister chuckle. "But I appreciate all the concerns. So, how are David and the kids?" Emma changed the subject and to her sister it was clear she did not want to talk about it anymore. Hester accepted Emma’s evasiveness, but she was determined to find out more about her sister’s feelings towards Kyra Hartman. One way or the other.

The next few days were quiet and uneventful. With the spring season rapidly setting in, the long winter was soon forgotten when the sun started to gradually get warmer and the tulips and narcissuses bloomed in abundance in the many gardens and parks across the city.

Both Kyra and Emma had been cautious about their developing friendship. They had not visited each other after that first evening together, but in the days after, Kyra always made sure to pick up Simon a tiny bit late, so she could go to his classroom and talk with his teacher. She knew she did it on purpose. Every time she stepped into the school building her heart seemed to skip a beat in anticipation of seeing Emma again.

Kyra also knew that Emma saw straight through her, she could tell by the gentle twinkle in those deep blue eyes, but her friend seemed to ignore her obvious strategy, she just showed a gentle compassion and patience that warmed Kyra’s heart.

In the days that had followed after Emma had returned her purse and she had invited the teacher to dinner, Kyra had spent long hours thinking. Usually at night, when she was in bed. Staring at the ceiling she had just wondered what it was about Emma Altena that made the school teacher so special.

Kyra already had decided it could not be physical attraction. True, Emma would be considered an attractive woman. But that was not something Kyra usually paid any attention to. Was it?

No, of course not.

But Kyra had to admit Emma was a very nice person and she could not remember ever having felt so at ease with anyone else before. Not even with her father. It was utterly confusing and it made her want to spend more time with the auburn haired woman. To talk to her and hear her talk. Or to just relax in comfortable silence. Or maybe even watch a movie together.

It was frightening.

Kyra had always been a very independent person. That had partly been caused by her parent’s divorce, when she was still a little girl. She had to do a lot of growing up in a short period of time. Her pregnancy with Simon and the fact that she was a single mother had also contributed to her independence. At times it had been very hard, especially emotionally, but she had learned to cope and she was proud of the way she provided for herself and her son.

But now, ever since she had met Emma, the school teacher invaded her thoughts at the most unexpected moments. A longing, tucked away for a very long time had made itself known.

Often she caught herself wondering what Emma was doing and she had to force herself to focus on other things. Finally she decided there could only be one solution to silence her rebellious mind. She would ask Emma for dinner again. That way she could see for herself that, even though Emma Altena was a nice person and probably a great friend, it was ridiculous to lose any more sleep over the pretty school teacher.

It was Friday morning, four days after the two women had first met and Kyra had decided to get up early, so she could catch Emma before the class room would be filled by twenty five active, rowdy children.

As soon as she had opened her eyes, Kyra had felt a massive headache coming on and when she looked in the mirror she winced.

"Not good, Kyra Hartman," she whispered to her tired looking reflection, noticing the dark circles underneath her eyes.

The whispered words painfully reverberated in her head and immediately Kyra felt a nauseous feeling settle in the pit of her stomach.

"Migraine day," she groaned. "Perfect! I have three meetings and a conference call today. Lousy timing, Kyra. Maybe a shower will help," she mumbled, dropping the t-shirt she used for sleeping on the bathroom floor and stepping into the shower stall. She shivered when the water hit her bare skin and goose bumps erupted across her entire body. She knew from experience that hot water would make the headache even worse and gritting her teeth she quickly showered, using lukewarm water.

"If I ask Emma for dinner looking like a zombie, she might run screaming."

Oh, since when do you care about what Emma thinks about the way you look?

"I don’t, so shut up," Kyra sighed, stopping the flow of water and quickly grabbing a huge, soft towel to briskly dry her skin.

Wrapped in the crimson colored towel, she walked back to her bedroom and grabbed the clothes she had picked out and draped over a chair the evening before. A few minutes later she was dressed in a dark green linen pant suit with a cream colored silk blouse underneath the suit’s jacket. Not in the mood to fiddle around with her hair, she just tied the long curls back into a pony tail, using a dark green leather strip to keep the thick hair neatly together.

"That’ll do," she tiredly mumbled when she looked into the mirror again. "If they don’t like it, they will just have to look the other way."

She left her bedroom to cross the hallway and open the door to Simon’s room. Her son was still fast asleep. He was lying on his stomach, with his head almost stuffed underneath his pillow, while his comforter was only partly covering his small body.

Kyra smiled and perched herself on the edge of the bed, lifting up the pillow and putting it aside. Her fingers tenderly brushed away some disheveled curls and she bent down to press her lips against Simon’s temple.

"Wake up, honey," she softly spoke, seeing the long, dark lashes flutter. "It’s time to get up, Simon."

The sleepy five year old turned on his back and while his eyes were still half closed, he reached out his arms to his mother, who picked the little boy up and pulled him in her lap. They sat like that for a few moments, both enjoying the other’s close presence.

Simon had his arms wrapped around Kyra’s neck and his face pushed in the crook of her neck, which always seemed to be his favorite thing to do whenever he cuddled his mother.

"You smell nice, Mom," his voice sounded, still a bit rough from sleep. "You always smell nice."

"Well, thank you son," Kyra smiled, squeezing the little boy a bit closer and closing her eyes against the pounding in her head.

"We need to get moving, Simon. What do you want for breakfast?"

"I want oatmeal with an apple and banana," he decided, after a few moments of quiet deliberation.

"All right, if you get dressed, I’ll make us breakfast, okay?"

"Okay," Simon mumbled with a yawn, slowly disentangling himself from his mother and walking towards the bathroom, pulling up his Spiderman pajama bottoms.

Kyra neatly folded the comforter at the food of the bed and slowly rose to her feet, fighting the wave of dizziness that made her reach out her hand and lean against the wall for support. She took a few deep breaths and shook her head to get rid of the throbbing pain that had taken possession of the inside of her head.

"Whew," she softly exclaimed. "This is definitely going to be a very long day."

An hour later Kyra parked the car in front of the school, wondering why her stomach was roiling uncomfortably. It could not have been something she ate, because the only thing she had been able to stomach was a dry cracker and some tea. And she only forced that meager meal down, because she knew that taking aspirin on an empty stomach was a bad idea.

Quietly she took Simon’s hand and crossed the street to enter the playground. The breeze that blew from an easterly direction, made her shiver and she pulled her jacket closer, trying to keep the cold away.

With a nauseous feeling in the pit of her stomach she opened the big door and stepped inside, enjoying the warm air that enveloped her in a welcome embrace.

"I’m the first one at school today, Mom," Simon happily announced, skipping alongside his mother who was still holding his hand. "Maybe Miss Emma will let me finish the picture I’m making for granddad."

"He’d like that, honey," Kyra smiled, glancing down at her son’s joyful expression. "We could go to the post office tomorrow and mail it to him."

"Yeah!" Simon exclaimed, pulling his hand out of his mother’s and running towards his classroom.

The door was open and as soon as Simon disappeared inside Kyra could hear his little boy’s voice greeting his teacher.

Kyra entered a few moments later and answered Emma’s welcoming smile with one of her own. But as soon as she stepped closer, the teacher’s smile disappeared to be replaced by a worried frown.

"Are you all right?" she asked in a concerned voice, quickly approaching Kyra and forcing herself not to reach out and touch the other woman’s arm.

Kyra rubbed her forehead and did her best to make a casual impression, but she failed miserably.

"Just a bit of a headache," she sighed, shrugging her shoulders.

"A bit?" Emma echoed in an unbelieving voice. "Kyra, you look sick."

"Oh, wow, thanks," Kyra wryly answered, mustering up a tired smile.

"Just being honest," Emma replied, with a touch of humor in her voice. "Why don’t you sit down for a moment?" she suggested, giving in to her desire to touch the other woman, by grabbing her elbow and leading her to the chair behind the desk.

Kyra did not protest, but she let Emma guide her to the chair and sat down with a heartfelt sigh.

"I took some aspirin," she explained, wishing the fuzzy edges that blurred her vision would disappear. "I’m sure they will kick in soon."

"Hummm," was Emma’s only comment, perching on the edge of the table.

Her blue eyes took in the appearance of the woman who was sitting in her chair and again she frowned.

"It’s none of my business, I know, but why didn’t you call in sick? It looks like you are not in good shape to go to work, Kyra."

"I can’t, I have a busy day with a few meetings. I need to be there," Kyra answered. "I’ll be fine, Emma. But thanks for your concern."

Emma bit her lip to keep herself from a making cynical remark that she knew was on the tip of her tongue. But it was just because she was worried about her friend. However, Kyra seemed determined to go to work and Emma felt she did not know her well enough to make further objections.

"Can I get you something?" she gently asked, stuffing her hands underneath her legs to avoid making a fool of herself by brushing away a reluctant curl that was dancing across Kyra’s forehead.

"No, thanks Emma," was Kyra’s soft answer. "I came by early to…I wanted…I was wondering…"

Kyra bit her lip and inwardly cursed. What was wrong with her? Had her headache robbed her of her ability to form coherent sentences? Goodness! What would Emma think about her adolescent stuttering?

She took a deep breath and raised her green eyes to meet a pair of blue ones that shone with a mixture of amusement, concern and curiosity.

"I was wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner again," Kyra hastily asked, blushing lightly after seeing the surprise on Emma’s face.

For a few moments it was silent and casting down her eyes to hide her disappointment, Kyra already decided that Emma probably had other plans. And why wouldn’t she? The teacher might be new in town, but that did not mean that she would be locked up in her apartment during her days off and pine away. It might have been a little presumptuous to think Emma would be free this weekend to….

"I’d love to," was the unexpected, but warm answer. "When?"

Emma Louise Altena!! This is the mother of one of your pupils! Do you really think this is a good idea?

"Tonight?" Kyra tentatively asked.

"Sure," Emma smiled. "If you feel up to it," she hesitantly added, seeing the dark circles underneath Kyra’s eyes.

"I do," Kyra answered with determination. "I know I look lousy, but believe me, it’s just a headache. I sometimes get them, but a few aspirins usually take care of it."

"Okay," Emma smiled, her eyes warm and gentle. "Do you want me to bring something?"

"Just yourself," Kyra answered, slowly standing up from the chair, grateful to discover the nausea and dizziness had gone away.

"What time?"

"Whenever you feel like it," Kyra smiled. "Simon and I usually eat around six, but you’re welcome to drop by after school. Just do whatever suits you best. I’ll be home anyway."

"Good, I’m not sure what time I can leave here, but I’ll make sure to be there before six."

"Great," Kyra answered, already looking forward to the evening. "I’ll see you then."

"You sure will," was the soft answer.

They exchanged smiles and Kyra walked towards Simon’s little desk, where her son was coloring a picture he had drawn for his grandfather. The tip of his tongue poked from his lips in concentration and he looked adorable.

Kyra bent down and pressed a kiss on his unruly, curly hair.

"Have a nice day, honey," she said.

"Bye Mom," Simon answered, looking up at his mother with a beaming smile.

"Bye," Kyra smiled back.

She cast another glance at Emma, who was standing next to the desk, her denim clad hip resting against the sturdy wood and her hands shoved inside her pockets. The blue eyes were regarding her with an intensity that made her heart skip a beat.

Oh, my goodness, Kyra inwardly sighed. What in the name of everything that is sacred is wrong with me?

She sent another shy smile towards the schoolteacher and quickly headed towards the door.

It was going to be a long day, indeed.

It was raining when Kyra drove home that afternoon. The sun had disappeared behind a fluffy looking blanket of thick, gray clouds and a steady drizzle had coated the roads in a shiny layer of moisture.

Automatically steering her car through the busy Friday afternoon traffic, Kyra felt exhausted. Her day had consisted of continuous meetings that had drained her of all energy. Knowing she would have the next two days off had kept her going and the realization that she had to pick up her son from school in time, had helped her to keep the meetings short and to the point.

With a tired sigh Kyra glanced into the mirror and winced when she saw the reflection of her drawn face looking back at her. She wrinkled her nose in disgust and just hoped that Emma would not object to looking at her for a few hours.

She saw you this morning, goof ball. She didn’t run screaming, but accepted your invitation, so stop being so darn insecure!!

Kyra inwardly chuckled and pushed away the hair from her forehead. As soon as she had left the office, she had given the curls free reign, sighing in relief when she had removed the constricting band around her hair.

I guess I could always have it cut, she mused. That would be so much easier to maintain.

But her mother’s disapproving voice already sounded in the back of her mind and Kyra grimaced. She was not ready to give her mother more ammunition yet. The woman was already convinced her daughter just lived to aggravate her. She did not want to make matters worse. Not yet anyway.

"Maybe I should wait until Jasper introduces his girlfriend," she considered with wry humor. "I doubt she’d notice a new hair style then."

Maybe Emma likes your hair the way it is now, the annoying little voice sounded in the back of her mind.

"So?" Kyra replied aloud. "As if I would care."

Wouldn’t you?

"I don’t know," was the slightly desperate answer. "I’m confused. She confuses the heck out of me. I don’t know what to think anymore. Listen to me! I am even talking to myself!"

Annoyed with herself, Kyra steered the car into a parking space across the school and killed the engine. Again she glanced in the mirror to see a pair of pensive dark green eyes stare back at her.

"You like her," she mercilessly stated, feeling a blush creep up her cheeks.

"I do,’ was the whispered answer to her reflection. "And I don’t know what I am getting myself into here."

Cancel dinner!

"Are you kidding?" she snorted. "We’re only friends."

She ignored the burst of laughter in the back of her mind and quickly stepped out of the car, glancing at her watch to see that Simon would be walking out of the building in less than two minutes.

Five minutes later mother and son were on their way to the grocery store to pick up a few items Kyra needed to cook the meal she wanted to prepare for Emma. She wondered if Emma would like what she had in mind.

Casting a look in the rearview mirror she smiled at her chattering son, who was telling her all about his day’s adventures.

"And then Brian asked Chris if he could play with his Game boy and Chris said ‘no’ and then Brian tried to take it away from him, and Chris started crying and Miss Emma told Brian to stand outside the classroom and Chris had to put away his toy," Simon rattled happily. "Is that why I am not allowed to bring my Game boy to school, Mom?"

"Well, I just think it’s an expensive toy, Simon and you need to take care of it. Besides, at school you need to learn, right? And I don’t want you to play with your computer games all day long. You can do that after school."

"I don’t mind, Mom. When Ibrahim and Jesse come over we play with the Game boy, because Ibrahim doesn’t have one. He says his dad doesn’t have the money to buy one. Can he borrow mine, Mom? Just for a little while?"

"Sure honey," Kyra smiled, pleased with her son’s willingness to share his toys.

"Is Miss Emma coming to dinner, Mom?"

"Yes, honey, she is. Do you think she likes chicken?"

"I like chicken," Simon laughed, bouncing up and down in his chair with a delighted smile. "Everybody loves chicken. Will you make spicy chicken, Mom?"

"We had that a few days ago, buddy. What about that stew, Grandpa Albert showed us how to make?’

"Yes, Mom, I think Miss Emma would like that a lot."

Kyra chuckled and steered her car into a vacant parking spot in front of the grocery store.

"Why do you think that?" she curiously asked.

"Because it tastes like vacation," Simon explained.

Laughing Kyra killed the engine and turned around in her seat to look at her son. With a raised eyebrow she cast him a curious look.


"Yeah," Simon answered, looking at his mother with innocent gray eyes. "Because Grandpa Albert taught you when we were at Aruba."

"Well, there’s a logic I can’t argue with," Kyra smiled, lovingly ruffling Simon’s unruly hair. "Let’s go get that chicken then, huh?"

After the last child had left her classroom, Emma had made quick work of tidying up the place, making sure the cleaning crew would be able to vacuum and mop the floor without risking stumbling or falling over the variety of toys that somehow had ended up on the floor.

"I’m clearly not with it today," she mumbled, picking up a book and putting it back on the shelf against the wall. "When did I stop telling the kids to clean up after themselves?"

After Kyra Hartman invited you for dinner this morning?

Emma bit her bottom lip and silently acknowledged what the little voice in the back of her mind was telling her. It was true. The effect Kyra Hartman had on her was simply devastating.

She basically just met the woman. Really. They had known each other for a grand total of four whole days!

Wow! Has it only been four days? It feels so much longer…

Emma sighed and carefully sat down on one of the little tables, not aware of the fact it was Simon’s. Her dark blue eyes stared at a colorful painting that decorated the wall. It had been a class’ project and all the children had participated in painting a mural. The theme had been ‘Friendship’ and the children had gone to great lengths to put their thoughts about the subject into something visual.

Emma grinned when her eyes fell on the painfully bright goldfish that she just knew was Simon’s. The little fish sported a bright smile and his goggled eyes were slightly crooked, but held a happy expression just the same.

"Friendship," Emma sighed, allowing the image of a pair of beautiful green eyes to invade her senses.

"Is that what this is? Then why does it feel so…different? Why can’t I get you out of my head? What is it about you that is holding me captive, Kyra Hartman?"

Well, for starters, she is an incredibly good looking woman. Face it Emma, you have a bad case of raging hormones.

"No," Emma shook her head vigorously. "I’m not like that! I mean, she is very attractive, but…there’s something else there. I just can’t seem to put my finger on it."

Slowly getting to her feet again, Emma walked towards the windows to check if they were all properly locked. She leaned her head against the cool glass and stared outside, without seeing the little yard and its colorful spring flowers. Her head was filled with images of a dark curly haired woman and she let out a frustrated breath.

"I’m confused," she groaned. "What is happening with me?"

Could it be you are falling in…

"No!" Emma almost cried out angrily, turning away from the window and walking towards her desk to grab her purse and head for the exit.

"No," this time she whispered the word, with a sad expression in her dark blue eyes. "I can’t be. That’s impossible."

You are so pathetic, Emma, a voice that had haunted her dreams for a long time made its presence known again. Do you really believe in ‘happily ever after?’ Wake up, you dreamer. This is the real life. People take advantage of each other. They use each other. Big deal! I’m sure one day you will see it my way..

Closing the door behind her with a soft click, she quickly left the building, not aware of the lone tear that was sliding down her cheek.

Hardly half an hour later, Emma Altena was sitting in her favorite chair with the phone clenched in her fist, talking to her best friend, who also happened to be her sister.

"I think I’ll cancel."

"Calm down, sweetie," Hester’s voice sounded. "Just take a deep breath and tell me why you have to cancel dinner."

"I…I am afraid I can’t handle this, Hester," Emma whispered and she sounded so much like a frightened little girl that her sister’s heart clenched.

"Why not, Emmie? I thought you and Kyra were just friends?"

"We…I’d like to think we are, or, at least becoming that, friends I mean," Emma stammered.

"Then what’s the problem?" Hester gently inquired, hoping she would be able to reason with her sister and help her not ruin a chance to, at least, gain a new friend.

"I don’t know. It’s…it’s something I don’t understand yet. I wish I did though," Emma honestly answered. "She…it’s…she confuses me…"

Hester had to smile at the childlike tone of her sister’s voice and unseen to Emma she gave her husband a thumbs up.

"Em, can I be honest with you? Completely honest, I mean?"

Emma swallowed hard, knowing that her sister’s honesty was dreaded by a lot of people. For some reason Hester had the uncanny ability to see straight through people and confront them with things, feelings, they never even knew they had.

"All right."

"Listen to me, Emma. I have known you all your life. Duh, I am almost ten years older than you are," Hester chuckled. "I know you. I think I know you better than anyone else, except maybe for Mom. We both know you had some very bad experiences in the love department, honey. I’ll be the last one to deny that. But don’t let those things of the past color your future, Emmie. I honestly think that you and Kyra are genuinely attracted to each other. And like you, I don’t know the outcome of that either. But don’t you think it’s worth giving it a chance, Emma? If this Kyra person is as attracted to you as you are to her, would it be fair to shy away from her? Don’t you want to stick around and find out what could develop between the two of you? Even if it would be nothing more than friendship, don’t you think you deserve that chance? Don’t you think Kyra deserves that chance?"

After Hester’s words there was a long silence and the older Altena waited patiently for her younger sibling to reply. She knew Emma would be staring into the distance, with a pensive look in her dark blue eyes, mulling over everything her sister had just told her. But eventually she would answer and Hester just hoped that her sister would grab the chance of friendship. And she prayed she wouldn’t get hurt. Not again.

"Maybe you are right," finally the soft answer came. "Maybe I should…just see what happens."

"I have a feeling you won’t regret that, Emma," Hester replied.

"I hope you’re right," Emma sighed. "I’ll go to dinner at Kyra’s, but I’ll try to keep a safe distance. I need to know…I don’t want to put my heart on the line, Hester. You understand that, don’t you?"

"Of course I do, honey," Hester replied with warmth. "Just buy the lady a nice bottle of wine, have some dinner together and enjoy yourself. Just see where this leads to, all right? If things go wrong you can always yell at me later," she added with a chuckle.

"That might not be necessary," Emma smiled. "Thanks, Hester."

"Anytime, sis. So, tell me, what will you be wearing?"

To be continued in part 2

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