Andrew didn’t answer. He yanked on a pair of pants, then sat on the end of the mattress to pull on his socks and shoes. His shirt wasn’t buttoned as he stalked past her, toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Leah asked, running after him. Tears blurred her eyes and it was difficult to speak normally.
“Andrew,” she cried, “please wait.”
His hand was on the door, his back to her.
“Don’t go. You’re right. I’m sorry, so sorry. Please.”
His shoulders rose and then relaxed. For the longest time he didn’t move. She wasn’t entirely sure he was breathing—she knew she wasn’t. The only sound in the room was her soft whimper as she struggled not to weep.
“I won’t be gone long,” he said, opening the door and walking out.
Leah flinched when the door closed, the sound exploding in the otherwise quiet room. She pressed a hand to her flat stomach and for a moment she thought she was going to be physically sick.
How long she stood there, paralyzed with pain, she didn’t know. She couldn’t guess. After a while she turned and headed for their bedroom. Slumping onto the edge of her mattress, she opened the drawer of her night stand and reached for the temperature chart she faithfully kept. Staring at them, her eyes filled with tears. After a moment, she walked into the kitchen. Her feet felt heavy and made small scuffing sounds against the floor as she listlessly made her way across the other room.
She opened the garbage compactor and tossed it inside. Along with the spiral pad, Leah felt as if she were throwing away her dreams.
It took her a moment to compose herself before she drew in a deep, stabilizing breath and reached for a dirty plate from their breakfast. She rinsed it off and blindly stacked it into the dishwasher.
Chet wasn’t anywhere in the audience, at least not where Monica could see him. Relief swept through her as she looked out over the crowd of Christmas shoppers from her stance on the top riser. She hadn’t approved of this Sunday afternoon outing. To her way of thinking a performance on Sunday wasn’t proper for Christians. The way she interpreted the Bible, the Sabbath was a day of rest. Those who opted to spend their time shopping were breaking the observance of the Lord’s day. She’d tried to reason with her father and Michael when they’d first planned this performance weeks earlier, but her objection had been overridden. Her father had claimed their singing was a way of spreading the message of love and joy. As usual, Monica had no argument.
Now she was pleased it had been overridden because it gave her an opportunity to see Chet again—if she did. It didn’t feel good to admit that, but Monica was tired of fooling herself. She needed to see him again, just once more, to banish him from her mind, to prove there could never be anything between them.
The performance went well, although Monica was preoccupied searching the sea of faces for Chet’s. No doubt he was entertaining himself in the Blue Goose, the bar he chose to frequent. It would serve him right if she walked right in there and demanded to talk to him. She could embarrass him the way he had her.
Sneaking away from the others, however, proved to be more difficult than she anticipated.
“Are you coming?” Michael asked her. He was tall and so thin the first thing she thought of whenever they met was that someone should feed him.
Monica looked up at him, her mind a blank. She hadn’t been listening to the conversation and hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.
“To Sherry’s,” he elaborated when she didn’t respond right away. “She’s invited the ensemble over for hot cider and cookies.”
“I . . .” Her gaze darted to the Blue Goose. “I have an errand to run first, but I’ll be there shortly.”
“An errand,” Michael repeated. “Downtown?”
She said in a no-nonsense tone, grateful he didn’t quiz her about what she was doing, especially in light of her earlier protests about abusing the Lord’s day. “I won’t be long . . . you go on ahead with the others. I’ll be at Sherry’s within the hour.”
“You mean you aren’t going back with everyone else?”
The man seemed to have a comprehension problem. “Yes,” she said forcefully. “I already explained I have an errand I need to run.” Then feeling mildly guilty for the outburst, she added, “I won’t be long.”
“Perhaps we should wait for you.”
“No,” she said quickly. She could well imagine what the others would think if they saw her walking into a tavern. “I appreciate the offer, but that isn’t necessary.”
Michael looked as if he weren’t sure what he should do, which only served to irritate her further. “Perhaps I should stay with you.”
“Michael, please, that isn’t necessary.” The man seemed intent on thwarting her, which aggravated her so much she was barely civil. “I’ll see you within the hour.” Not waiting for any further arguments, she turned and abruptly walked across the street to the Westlake Mall.
The crowds were thick and the moment she was free to leave, she escaped the shopping mall and hurried across the street. Making certain none of the other choir members had lingered, she walked purposefully toward the Blue Goose.
Her hand was on the door when she realized what she was doing. She was willing to walk into an establishment that practiced iniquity in the lowest form, in order to locate Chet. A man who plagued her thoughts from the moment they’d met. Something was dreadfully wrong with her.