He took her arm as they walked through the snow to the edge of the water, whether to steady her or himself he wasn't sure. They reached the falls, a mysterious tidal churn of seawater that reversed direction with each turn of the tide. It must have been slack tide; the water milled in the narrows between the near and far shores as if uncertain which way to turn. Natalie threw a stick into the water, and they watched it drift irresolute on the swell.
"Your life is not over, Natalie. You will meet someone new."
"Will I? I want what you had with Grandma. That kind of great romance. The first time you saw her, you knew."
"Did I? How interesting. Tell me, what did I know?" He could see that he had shocked her.
"That, you know. That she was the one."
"The 'one.' " He shook his head. "Grandma wasn't the one?"
"Your grandmother was a beautiful woman with a good heart, and I loved her very much. Was she 'the one '? That I don't know. That strikes me as awfully simplistic."
"What happened with Daniel wasn't too complicated, Grandpa. He loved me. Then he didn't. Or maybe he just loved her more."
"Perhaps. Or maybe he is just a little shit."
"Is that simple enough for you?"
She laughed so hard that she was obliged to take a Kleenex out of her pocket and blow her nose.
"Look," he said, pointing to the water where a seal's slick head had popped up. "That 's how seals sleep. With their bodies below and their heads like snorkels just above the surface."
"Oh, my God," she said. "You never liked Daniel."
"I never liked Daniel."
"Why didn't you say something before we got married?"
"I didn't think you were very likely to listen."
Though she had been going out with Daniel Friedman for years with marriage a frequently discussed, oft-deferred possibility, in the end they had married on an impulse, without advance notice or, as far as Jack could tell, any discussion at all. Daniel's parents were on their way to a vacation in Nova Scotia; Jack had offered them his guest room and a chance to break the long trip from New York before they headed up to catch the ferry in St. John. Natalie and Daniel were already scheduled to spend the week with Jack, along with Neil. It was on realizing that what remained of their respective families was going imminently to assemble in the same house for a day and a night that Natalie had abruptly decided to get married. Jack thought it was a rotten idea, but he held his tongue, figuring that the young man would find a way to weasel out of it. But Daniel, true to his weasel soul, had allowed the ship to sail knowing that its hull was ruptured, and so Jack had found himself hosting a pretty little ceremony by the seaside, at which Natalie 's and Daniel's immediate families were joined by a haphazard collection of acquaintances who happened to be in the vicinity of Red Hook, Maine, on the afternoon of June 20. When, a mere three months later, Daniel had stunned poor Natalie by confessing to having been, for the last two years, sleeping with a junior associate, Jack had not been surprised.
"You're right," Natalie said now. "I wouldn't have listened, because I'm an ass." She kept her gaze fixed on the seal, and Jack saw a worried look come into her eyes, familiar to him from the time she was a toddler. "If a shark comes up while he 's sleeping, does he wake up?"
The chills began a few miles from home, and by the time they reached the pair of whitewashed posts that marked the entrance to his long gravel drive, Jack's whole body was shaking, legs shuddering, teeth clacking together. He grasped one hand with the other to keep them from flopping around in his lap like fish on a line. The car crunched through a blue-white canyon of banked snow up the drive. As Natalie pulled all the way to the front steps of the house, Jack closed his eyes. He did not have the strength even to open his door, let alone to get out of the car. He waited, listening to the creak and slam of the trunk lid, the banging of her bags against the steps of the porch.
Excerpted from Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. Copyright © 2014 by Ayelet Waldman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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