A Different Blue Page 48

“I found a roll of film when I was cleaning out some old filing cabinets the other day. I had it developed. I have something for you.” She pulled an 8 x 10 frame from a plastic Walmart sack and handed it to me. “I thought you would like this.”

I stared down at a picture of Jimmy and me, our eyes squinting against the sun, the cafe in the backdrop, Icas at our feet. I drank it in, speechless.

“I had just purchased a new camera and was taking shots of all my regulars that day. There were pictures of Dooby and Wayne having their morning coffee, same as they've done for the past thirty years. Barb and Shelly were waitressing for me back then, too. I have a cute one of them in their aprons keeping Joey company in the kitchen. Barb's gotten fat. So have I, for that matter.” Bev patted her stomach ruefully. “I forgot that she used to have a pretty cute little figure. I haven't shown her the pictures. Thought it might depress her. I don't know why this roll didn't get developed, but you know me, always moving a mile a minute.”

Beverly tapped the glass, pointing at an unsmiling Jimmy. “He turned up that day, out of the blue, which was the way it always was with Jimmy. I got lucky, I guess. I ordered him to pose for a picture. You were so cute, smiling and thrilled to get your picture taken. I remember thinking what an old codger Jimmy was. He wasn't thrilled about the picture at all, even though he didn't say much. He just made me promise that I wouldn't display it in the cafe. At least he put his arm around you. It's easy to see that you belonged together – just two funny peas in a pod, you and your daddy, huh?” Her words were like a slap, especially because they were so heartfelt.

“You think so?” I whispered around the memories that clogged my throat. “You think we belonged together, Bev?”

“No question about it, honey,” Bev declared, nodding her head as she spoke. I managed to smile, hugging the picture to my chest. I'd never shared the fact that Jimmy wasn't my father with Beverly. In fact, the only person who knew, besides Cheryl, was Wilson. The realization struck me. I'd told Wilson things I had never told another soul.

Bev cleared her throat and straightened her blouse. I could tell she wanted to say something more, and I waited, almost certain that she had noticed the changes in my figure.

“You're changing, Blue.” Her words echoed my thoughts almost verbatim, and I held the picture tighter, mentally shielding myself from the discomfort of the topic.

“You've softened up some, and it looks good on you. And I'm not talking about the weight you've put on.” She eyed me pointedly, pausing for effect, letting me know she was on to me. “I'm talking about your language and your appearance and your taste in men. I'm talking about that cute Sean Connery you're friendly with. I hope you keep him around. And I hope to hell you've told him about the baby, 'cause I'm guessing it ain't his.”

“It's not. We're not. I mean . . . we're not in a relationship like that,” I stammered. “But yes, he knows. He's been a good friend.” But Bev was more right than I wanted to admit. Something was happening to me, and it had everything to do with Darcy Wilson.

“That's good then.” Bev nodded to herself and straightened some papers on her desk. “I'm your friend too, Blue. I've been where you are, you know. I was even younger than you are now. I made it through. You will too.”

“Thank you. Bev. For the picture, and . . . everything else.” I turned to go, but she stopped me with a question.

“Are you keeping the baby, Blue?”

“Did you keep yours?” I asked, not willing to answer her.

“Yes . . . I did. I married the baby's father, had my son, and got divorced a year later. I raised my boy on my own, and it was hard. I'm not gonna lie.”

“Did you ever regret it?”

“Regret keeping my son? No. But getting pregnant? Getting married? Sure. But there's no way to avoid regret. Don't let anybody tell you different. Regret is just life's aftertaste. No matter what you choose, you're gonna wonder if you shoulda done things different. I didn't necessarily choose wrong. I just chose. And I lived with my choice, aftertaste and all. I like to think I gave my boy the best life I could, even if I wasn't perfect.” Bev shrugged and met my eyes steadily.

“Knowing you, I'm sure that's true, Bev,” I said sincerely.

“I hope so, Blue.”

Chapter Sixteen

“But the fourth of July is an American holiday.” I wrinkled my nose at Wilson. “What in the world are a bunch of Brits doing celebrating Independence Day?”

“Who do you think celebrates more when the child moves out, the parents or the kid? England was glad to see you all go, trust me. We threw a party when America declared their independence. Bravo! Now go, and don't let the door hit you in the arse!” Wilson growled.

“I'm not buying it. Does the Revolutionary war ring any bells, Mr. Professor?”

“All right then. Actually, Mum is in town, along with Alice and Peter and my three nephews. It's too blasted hot to barbeque, but Tiffa's flat has an amazing view of the strip – so the fireworks are brilliant – and best of all, there's a pool on the roof.”

It had averaged 118 degrees all week. Hot didn't even begin to describe it. The thought of a pool was almost too wonderful to contemplate. Then I thought of how I would look in a bathing suit and felt my enthusiasm wane.

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