Updated: Sep 24, 2020
This will be the last one, but every scene from Kerri's POV, I rewrote when I began writing her story. Which could be why those scenes are either better and more descriptive or just plain confusing. And, technically, I just realized I'd never had a reason for Opa's sudden departure, but I'm going to assume he wanted to be buried alongside his wife in Germany. 🤔
A tear fell from Arielle’s eye.
Opa was leaving. He’d packed his bags, and now he was saying goodbye. Goodbyes were hard. Especially this one. This goodbye didn’t mean that she might would see Opa in town later that week, that he might visit come Christmas. No, this goodbye was lifelong. Arielle knew that once Opa made it back to Germany, it would only be a matter of time before he took his last breath. That was a hard realization. But Arielle would always cherish the time she had spent with Opa, no matter how short it was, at least she could say goodbye and knew what was to come.
With her parents she had no warning. No one told her that her parents were to be swallowed by the powerful red-orange flames right before her very eyes. She had never been able to tell her mother and father how much she would miss them and that she would never stop loving them.
At least she had this moment with Opa.
She stood on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck, suddenly feeling just like that seven year old girl that hugged her grandfather goodbye on her last day in Germany.
The past week had been wonderful, and Arielle almost forgotten all her heartbreak. Opa’s joy seemed to have rubbed off on her. But now wasn’t the most joyous moment in Arielle’s life, but when Opa died, he would go to be with Jesus, Vater, mother, and Oma.
“I’m going to miss you a ton, Opa,” Arielle said, swallowing the lump in her throat and trying not to choke on the tears that were streaming down her cheeks.
Opa reached out to wipe them, letting his finger trail across her face and brush a wisp of hair behind her ear. “I shall miss you too. And I want you to remember that God will never leave you nor forsake you,” he told her, a teardrop slipping from his eye.
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a long golden chain, from which a ring hung at the end. He took hold of her hand, turned it over, then pressed the necklace into her palm. “I want you to have this. It was your oma’s. I love you, Sunshine.” Opa kissed her check as he lifted his bags off the ground and walked across the dock towards his boat. He waved farewell, then boarded the ship.
Arielle stood on the dock, and watched the ship sail away until it was as a speck over the horizon. She slipped the chain around her neck, and released a sigh. Opa was gone...forever. And the necklace was all she had left of him.
She turned to go as a drop of rain descended from the cloudy, gray sky and fell upon her hair. Slowly the light drizzle became a heavy rain, but by then Arielle had made her way back home.
She wiped the mix of tears and raindrops from her cheek as she opened the ocean blue door she’d painted earlier that year in August when she was bored out of her mind. Cade stood in front of her, almost as if he’d been waiting for her. “Are you okay?” he asked like he was afraid she would fall into his arms and soak his shirt with her tears.
She released a breath that she didn’t know she had been holding. “I’ll be alright,” she assured him, though not entirely sure she wouldn’t burst into tears eventually.
Arielle brushed a strand of hair behind her ear before she removed her coat and hung it on the coat rack beside her. “Did you get everything on the list?” she inquired, hoping Cade’s grocery shopping had gone well, and that didn’t include a surprise visitor.
Cade nodded, then walked into the kitchen, where a delicious smell filled the air. She looked around the room, searching for the source of the aroma. “What did you do, Cade? It’s not supposed to smell good in here,” she said.
“I only bought you a pie, Sunshine. Don’t be such a scrooge about dessert,” Cade teased, yet Arielle was caught on the word pie.
“You bought me a pie? Ahh. If only you knew how much I love pie. What kind is it? Cherry? Blueberry? Apple?” Arielle spat out all of the questions faster than she’d ever talked before. How long had it been since sh’d tasted of that amazing flaky crust filled with gooey fruit? Too long.
Before Arielle knew it, she was sitting at the table savoring a mouth-watering slice of peach pie. Just when she thought the day would be forever remembered as a heart-breaking goodbye, she was given pie.
“Thank you so much, Cade! I don’t know how I’d live without you,” Arielle said, her voice laced with a strange longing. What she’d meant to be a playful statement sounded more like the aching of her heart. But it wasn’t, was it? She pushed aside her silly concerns over the sentence, and instead focused on the food before her. She lifted her fork to her mouth and devoured her last bite of dessert.
But in the back of her mind were those eight words.
Cade watched Arielle finger the golden necklace around her neck. She’d told him it was her grandmother’s, and Cade figured it would hold a lot of memories come a few years, as well as heartbreak.
He felt quite upset for her, for he knew what it was like to have lost one’s parents, even though the circumstances were different in Cade’s case, the pain was the same. If only Arielle would accept the comfort he’d tried to give.
Cade was surprised at how well she had handled herself. He’d half expected her to collapse from an overwhelming amount of heartbreak, but she was still alive, well, and standing.
“Cade, what was it like to have lost your mother?” Arielle asked, almost as if she’d read his thoughts. She stopped washing her plate and turned to face him, her icy blue eyes sparkling with unshed tears.
Cade set the towel he was using down as he hoisted himself on top of the counter. “I thought you would never ask. It was hard. Still is. Sometimes I wonder if there was something different that I could’ve down to stop her from dying, but then I tell myself that it was her time to go, that no matter what I did or didn’t do, she still would’ve died. I think the hardest part for me was how it affected Dad. At first he wallowed in self-pity, never leaving the house or even his room, leaving me to tend to Kerri. Then he started getting mad and throwin’ things whenever we made a sound. A couple years later, Dad was drowning out his sorrow by drinking. I didn’t really have that much time to deal with my grief. But, through all of the stuff I had to deal with, I knew I could trust in God,” Cade told her as he stared off into space, allowing himself to relive those days of hurt and sorrow. He soon drew his thoughts away from the past, and looked to Arielle, who he found intently gazing at him, her azure blue eyes bright with interest.
She grabbed his hand and held it tightly. “We’ve both been through quite a lot, haven’t we?” Arielle asked, tempting Cade to turn the conversation towards her and ask about her parents, but since he already knew what her response would be, he resisted the urge.
“Yes, we have,” he said, leaving it at that, and meeting her gaze.
Arielle was unlike any other woman he’d ever met; kind, beautiful, and fun to be around. She didn’t mind his endless teasing, or the fact he waltzed into her life and took it over, so to speak. But what Cade loved most about her was her playful spirit. Though sometimes it was a pain―like when she’d painted his face while he was sleeping―the way she could tease him back and make him laugh was what made her all the more lovable. Lovable. Yes, she was. Maybe that was why Cade cared so deeply about her, because he loved her. Did he actually love Arielle Myers? Maybe he just felt bad for her because of all she’d be through? No, he really, truly loved her. The thought warmed him. Never had he felt feelings like the ones he had for Arielle before, and now that he realized he did, he couldn’t imagine what life would be like if he didn’t. He sighed. Perhaps Arielle felt the same? Cade hoped she did.
Arielle smiled to herself as she ran across the shore of Lake Huron, Blessing at her heel. Three days had past since Opa had left, and though Arielle would forever miss him, her heartbreak over him leaving wasn’t too bad. So far, she had managed not to fall into Cade’s arms crying, which sounded quite nice, but as he said the day they had met, Cade’d had more than enough of her tears.
Blessing walked up beside her, panting and wagging her tail. Arielle plopped down on the sand as Blessing sat down beside her. “Schöner tag, hmm?” she asked the dog, rubbing her behind the ears.
Days at the lighthouse were good, but what made them better was Cade. Before he’d showed up, things were boring and days were slow, but now that he was here, Arielle didn’t feel so closed off to the rest of the world, and fun would describe each moment. And it was wonderful to be able to watch the light shine through the dark at night, and to have someone to laugh with, and when she was sad she had someone to comfort her. Arielle didn’t want that to change, not now, not ever. She wanted to be able to fall into Cade’s arms whenever days were difficult, laugh and banter with him with she was happy, talk with him when she had something on her mind. Why did that sound like what someone would think about somebody they were in love with? Was she in love with Cade?
Rochester, New York
Deep breaths, Kerr. Deep breaths.
Gripping her dress so tight the fabric creased in such a way she was sure the wrinkles would never disappear, Kerri-Leigh walked through the hallway leading to her husband’s office in what she hoped was a slow, sedated pace. Though, of course, she felt like turning right back around and bolting straight into the library, where a world so unlike her own awaited her. But not now.
Five more steps, and she arrived at the door. What a wonderful door it was, with its dark cherry color, ornate designs, golden doorknob…Focus, Kerr. You’re trailin’ off. Steeling her shoulders and her expression, not that even three extra feet of height could give her a smidgen of control over her husband, she laid her hand on that doorknob, wishing her sweaty palms weren’t getting fingerprints all over the handle. She’d have to clean it later, or get Lissa to. Then, slowly but surely―slow and steady did win the race, right?―she turned the knob, creaking the door open.
A huff came from the head that was bent over a sheet of paper, as well as a roll of piercing gray eyes, probably. “Come in, Kerri-Leigh,” was the mumbled yet still just as sharp voice of her husband Marcus from behind his desk.
And what a wonderful desk it is… Oh, there she went again. She needed to concentrate on the task at hand, not the doors and furniture. She could drool over them later, when she wasn’t about to confront her husband.
Don’t get her wrong, she’d gotten used to her husband by now. Two years of marriage would do that to you. But no matter how many years they’d been together, how many times he’d spoken to her, or the amount of time they had spent together, she was still just as terrified of the man as she had been the day she’d met him. Which wasn’t at all. So she was just as scared of him as the day they’d married, for she could remember that rather well. So much that her teeth were chattering, her hands were clammy, her pulse was beating frantically, and she couldn’t breathe to save her life. It was as though he could suck all the air out of a room just by being in it.
Why am I doing this again?
She cleared her throat, told her heart to calm down, and said, “Well, um...I, uh...” Oh, this was going just dandy. Spit it out already. Kerri closed her eyes, took in a deep breath, and did just that. Spat it out. “I just so happened to receive a letter―oh, what was it?―three days ago, maybe. Which is absolutely crazy, you see, because I never get mail. Never. And it was from a detective. A real, live detective! Isn’t that just crazy? So, I opened it, of course, and it was a job offer. A real, live job offer! See, it’s not everyday that you get one of those. And, well, I was wondering how exactly I should respond to such an offer. I mean, what an honor! So...did you have any ideas?” She opened one eye carefully and peeked at her husband.
Still bent over his desk, Marcus’ chest heaved up and down in a long breath. A breath that she prayed wasn’t an angered one. “What do you think?”
Yes? “No. Very well, then. Thank you.” And with that, she scurried out of the room, ran at top-speed through the hall and into the library, shutting the door behind her. Why did I do that? She wasn’t all that sure of the answer, but she certainly knew there was no changing Marcus Cannon’s mind. That was for sure.