"Ah," I said, mildly crushed. My pain was slightly mitigated by the word first.
"He can't compare to you," she said. "Never could've, never would've, though I had no way of knowing that back then. Remember two years ago just after we met? I told you then I had known another guy long ago who collected books. I guess I've always been attracted to book people. I couldn't imagine I'd wind up with Tarzan of the Bookmen, swinging from one bookstore to another on vines attached to telephone poles."
"It was written in the stars."
"I'm not complaining. But that was then, this is now. He was my first real love and she was my best friend. More than that. She was closer than a sister to me, we marched to the same heartbeat. I would have trusted either of them with my life. And they had an affair behind my back."
I said "Ah" again and I squeezed her hand. "Jesus, why would anybody do that to you?"
She shrugged. "It was a long time ago."
"And people do things," I ventured.
"Not things like that."
"So how'd you find out about it? He break down and tell you?"
"She did. Her conscience was killing her and she had to make it right between us."
I took another guess. "So when did you find it in your heart to forgive her?"
"You're assuming facts not in evidence, Janeway." She looked at me across the table, and out of that superserious moment came the steely voice I knew so well. "I'll never forgive her."
"Why doesn't matter. Look, will you do this for me or not?"
I really didn't need to think about it. The answer would have been the same with or without the particulars. All I needed to know was that it was important to her.
"Sure," I said.
Copyright © 2005 by John Dunning
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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