Yet beneath all the bravado Maddie had a heart of gold.
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It was supposed to have been a secret, but everyone knew the two were secretly engaged. Gretchen did likewise, and then all three sat down, with Gretchen in the middle. The three were silent for several moments. Caught up in the wonder of years past, Gretchen suspected. Her foot swayed so hard she created a draft.
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A short awkward silence followed while Gretchen absorbed the information. I suspect it was one of the shortest engagements on record. Gretchen watched as her two college friends exchanged glances. It seemed they were as shocked by her news as she was by theirs. She leaned back on her hands and smiled softly.
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The day was memorable, all right, but it would be forever marked as a day of pain and betrayal. Emotion clawed at her throat, and she battled tears. She wanted her mother, but her parents had already left the campus. She stood at the far end of the sweeping veranda of her sorority house, out of view of her friends. She could hear their tearful farewells, their promises to keep in touch. She held her stomach and raised her chin in an effort to forestall the brewing emotion. Her long blond hair cascaded down the middle of her back. Roger loved her hair long, enjoyed playing with it, brushing it, burying his face in it.
Standing directly behind her, he cupped her shoulders and nuzzled her neck. As far as she was concerned they had nothing to discuss. He wove his fingers into it and brushed his lips across her crown. My only excuse is that I was drunk. His hands returned to her shoulders and squeezed. You said so yourself, remember? I was with the guys, celebrating, drinking, and the next thing I knew, Didi was coming on to me. Ask anyone. She was all over me and…you know how those fraternity parties can get.
I need to. This is going to stand between us unless you know it all. The only reason she came on to me was to hurt you. He paused. I told you everything. I just bet Didi took delight in letting you know what happened.
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Not without giving the matter a great deal of thought. It amazed Gretchen how desperately she wanted to forget what Didi had taken such pleasure in telling her. I told you, I need time to sort everything out. Stella Lockheart was a forceful woman who generally got what she wanted. Both Roger and his father catered to her wishes rather than risk dealing with one of her explosive outbursts. Now he was impatient and frustrated. Fine, so be it. This was her life, and she was determined to take a long hard look before making a decision about the future. He lingered a moment longer, his gaze boring into hers.
Gretchen almost felt sorry for him. He was visibly relieved as he turned and hurried toward the parking lot. As Gretchen watched him go, the knot in the pit of her stomach tightened. Needing to do something, anything other than stand there on the veranda, she moved down the steps and began walking. She soon found herself by the fountain, and with a heavy heart, she lowered herself onto the concrete rim.
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The urge to bury her face in her hands and weep was nearly overwhelming, but she had too much pride to publicly display her pain. Most of the activity around the school had stopped. Graduation was over, and the majority of students had already left the campus. She was grateful for the quiet, a rarity at the university. Every time she tried to make sense of the cold ugly facts of his infidelity, distance herself from them, she stumbled over the pain. Again and again, Roger had told her how much he loved her, how she would be the perfect wife for him. But at the same time, Roger was full of regret.
Despite her own pain, she could sense his. He was genuinely sorry. She wanted, needed, to believe that. Didi had never made a secret of how attractive she found Roger. Nor had she bothered to disguise her dislike for Gretchen. It was probably that dislike that had prompted Didi to confront her. The roar of an engine shattered the peace.
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Gretchen glanced up to see Josh Morrow speed across the campus parking lot on his Harley, a plume of dark exhaust in his wake. Josh was a loner, a known troublemaker, a rebel.
He stood apart from everyone, watching, studying. The outsider, looking in. She supposed it was natural to feel a certain attraction toward Josh. She suspected a lot of the women at Queen Anne did. Maybe it was the black leather and the motorcycle, the sense that the love of a good woman would tame him. Now her gaze must have lingered on him a second longer than was prudent, for he eased his huge bike to a stop, placed his feet on the road to maintain his balance and stared at her.
After what seemed an eternity, he revved the engine, then roared over the cement curb and onto the narrow walkway, directly toward her. He pulled to a stop right in front of her.
http://nn.threadsol.com/79088-what-is.php His smile was decidedly off center.