Read When Light Breaks Online

Authors: Patti Callahan Henry

Tags: #Romance

When Light Breaks (5 page)

BOOK: When Light Breaks
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“Like a dream, a dream about an angel.” She winked at me, and I rolled my eyes. She knew I’d had dreams about angels since I was a young child, since Mama died.
Gretchen snorted. “She’s worried Jack won’t like it.”
Charlotte raised her eyebrows, then dropped her chin as her tongue curled out into the corner of her mouth. “What?”
“She”—Gretchen waved her hand at me—“needed—”
I held up my hands. “Whoa, everyone. Gretchen . . . this is my best friend, Charlotte.” I nodded toward Charlotte. “Charlotte, this is Gretchen. She made this amazing creation from my sketch.”
Charlotte held out her hand and shook Gretchen’s.
“Nice to meet you,” Gretchen said. “Now, who is Jack?”
I groaned. “Long story.”
Charlotte looked up at me on the podium. “Please tell me you’re not talking about Jack Sullivan.”
“Can we please talk about this later?” I nodded toward Gretchen.
“No, we cannot,” Charlotte said.
Gretchen laughed and poked more pins into the dress.
“It’s not a big deal,” I said. “The Irish woman at Verandah House asked me about my first boyfriend and . . .” I stood as still as possible beneath Gretchen’s pins.
“The woman the league assigned you?”
I nodded. Gretchen finished and glanced at her watch. “Girls”—she clapped her hands together—“Enough. I have a schedule to keep.”
Charlotte and I looked at each other and stifled a laugh. Then she mouthed, “Jack?”
I shrugged my shoulders and stood taller, shook my head. “It’s nothing, really.”
Charlotte took two steps backward, sat down on the cream velvet couch and crossed her legs, then shook her finger at me like one does at a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
But I hadn’t gone into anyone’s cookie jar. Not at all.
I left Charlotte and Gretchen and returned home, parked the car in the drive and glanced at the red numbers on the dashboard clock: 11:45 a.m. I had exactly fifteen minutes to grab a snack and the papers I’d left printing on my home computer, then get to the PGA TOUR offices by noon, as promised.
Our family’s white plantation-style house sat on a slight hill, an incline you might only perceive if you were mowing the lawn and had to push up, like I had to when I was a teenager. Evenly spaced oaks lined the driveway and the edge of the lawn. There was one gaping hole, like a missing tooth, on the left edge of the house, next to Jack Sullivan’s old house, where a tropical storm had torn the tree from its roots, leaving all the other oaks untouched.
Yes, Jack’s old house was next door. You’d think that would make me think of him all the time. But I’d gotten so used to its being there, and it had changed hands so many times that I hardly noticed it at all—like a scar on someone’s face that you can’t ignore at first, but you stop seeing once it’s familiar to you. If someone mentions it, you say, “Oh, yeah, I don’t even notice that scar anymore.” Five families had lived there since Jack had left, and each family had repainted, added to or subtracted from the structure.
A long time ago, I would stare at the Sullivan house and imagine a million ways in which Jack would come back, come find me. He’d stand on my front porch with a thousand peonies, or find me reading a book on the beach, or just show up and sit next to me on the dock, take my hand like he’d taken it the first time. And nothing would have changed, he wouldn’t have left. But those were the immature dreams of a girl who hadn’t yet grown up. Even if Jack walked up to me today, his smile eager, his strides long, he’d be a different person.
I deliberately turned away from the Sullivan house and walked to my front porch. I opened the door to the muffled sounds of someone on the phone: Deirdre. I groaned. I needed to get in and out as quickly as possible, not become caught up in a discussion with my sister.
I took a left out of the foyer into the library and grabbed the papers off the printer, then moved toward the kitchen, almost tiptoeing to be quiet.
“Hey, Kara. What are you doing home?” Deirdre’s voice came from behind me.
I turned. “Hey, back at you. I had to grab a couple quick things before I head for the office.”
“Where were you?” She lifted her eyebrows.
“I had to visit a woman at the nursing home, and then I went to a fitting.”
Deirdre rolled her eyes; her voice followed me into the kitchen. “The wedding, the wedding, the wedding. Can you possibly think about anything else?”
I would’ve slammed the kitchen door on her words, but it was a swinging door and emitted an ineffectual swooshing noise. She stepped into the kitchen.
“Really, Kara. Is there anything else going on in your life?”
“Deirdre, I don’t have time for this—I’m late for work. What are you doing here anyway?”
“I have the day off and I thought I’d meet Daddy for lunch, and in case you forgot—it’s family dinner night.”
“I’ve never forgotten, Deirdre.” I found a protein bar in the pantry, slipped it into my purse.
She leaned against the kitchen table; the circles under her eyes looked as though a child had drawn them with blue crayon.
While separated from her husband, Bill, Deirdre was working at a local boutique for a family friend. My oldest sibling had been angry for so long that I barely remembered her any other way. Daddy had once told me that her hostility started when Mama died. But I’d loved Deirdre since the day she woke me in the middle of the night, took my hand and led me down to the ocean’s edge under a full moon. She told me to hush as we watched baby turtles crack open their shells, which looked like iridescent Ping-Pong balls, leave their sand nest and crawl through the sand toward the ocean.
I don’t know how old I was, but it was before Mama died, and my heart could barely tolerate the knowledge that the mama turtle had left these eggs behind, hoping, maybe not even hoping but assuming, that they would hatch and make it to the water. How could any mama leave her child? At that age I believe I already knew Mama would leave us. But memory is a cloudy, disjointed thing—like disconnected dreams with images scattered and thrown to settle where they please. There is no filing system for memories, no place to slot them by year or name or category. They are either wispy and soft as twilight dancing on the water or hard as the jagged edge of the oyster bed slicing your feet to shreds before you know you’ve been cut.
I’ve held on to that memory of Deirdre and the baby turtles, knowing her heart is full and good and her hands soft and firm. I just haven’t seen that piece of her since. She married a man named William Garner Barrett IV. You must always say “the Fourth” when you say his name. They’d been separated for a year now and Deirdre lived by herself in their two-bedroom home, but often came to our childhood home to spend the night in her old bedroom.
My heart softened with this memory of the beach. I reached across the space between us and hugged her. “I’ve got to go, Deirdre. We’ll talk later.”
“Yeah,” she said with a vain attempt at returning my hug. “When you’re done planning the social event of the year.”
When I arrived at the office, all chaos broke loose like an unexpected hurricane. I plugged my left ear with my index finger, and held the phone receiver to my right ear as I attempted to hear the manager of the Upswing Band. Caroline, my new intern, and Frieda, my boss, were both talking at once as I held up one finger to let them know I couldn’t hear them. My cell phone buzzed on the desktop just as the computer rang with more incoming e-mail. An overwhelming need to scream washed over me.
“What do you mean you can’t play the benefit?” I spoke into the phone through clenched teeth. “You committed to this event six months ago.”
The manager’s voice sounded scratched, as if he’d been smoking since he was eight years old. “There was an internal miscommunication and we are double-booked that weekend.”
“No,” I said. “Something better than a benefit for tuberous sclerosis came along and you thought you’d grab it, yes?”
“No.” He seemed to speak through closed lips. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience and hope you’ll think of us for your next event.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then glanced over at Caroline and Frieda, both wide-eyed and waiting for me to finish. “Yes, thank you,” I said, and slammed the phone down.
Frieda leaned against my desk, palms flat on its surface, and stared at me. “What just happened?”
“The band for the benefit canceled.”
“The tournament is in four weeks, Kara. Four weeks. Where are you going to find a band in that time?”
“Don’t worry about it. I will take care of it.”
Caroline shuffled her feet, as though she wanted to leave the room.
“Well, you better figure it out very, very quickly,” Frieda said. “Since you seem to have your wedding, which is a full two months away, completely and utterly organized, why don’t we use that band?”
I took a sharp breath. “What do you mean?”
“I mean”—Frieda stood straight and looked down at me—“if you spent nearly as much time working on this tournament as you do on that wedding, we wouldn’t be scrambling now.”
“That is not true.” I stood up. “I have worked incredibly hard on this benefit. I can handle it, Frieda.”
She held up her hand. “No excuses, just a band. And now.”
I nodded, then sat back down as Frieda turned on her heels and walked out of my office. I motioned to Caroline to close the door. My office was as organized as the rest of my life: the mahogany desktop uncluttered, with files in separate slots, and a picture of Peyton in a silver frame. Wingbacked chairs in matching pink and green fabric were arranged in front.
Our PGA TOUR office was located in an old wood-slat house across the street from the Palmetto Pointe Golf Club’s tenth green and iron front gates. The older woman who’d previously lived in the house had not appreciated the golf course taking the place of the wild nature once spread before her window, so she’d gladly sold the house to the PGA TOUR. The pink-and-brown bathroom stayed, but I’d had the walls in the other rooms painted and the green shag carpets yanked up, revealing antique heart-of-pine floors.
My office was located in a back corner in what had been the woman’s bedroom. A large window overlooked the front lawn, with a sweeping panorama toward the golf course. I loved my view—it was the green where I’d met Peyton, where my new life had started. Over the past six years, I’d done well enough at my job to be put in charge of the first ever Palmetto Pointe Open—a huge honor and responsibility that had, unfortunately, coincided with planning my wedding.
When the door clicked shut, I glanced up at Caroline. She twisted her watch around her wrist. “Kara, what are we gonna do?”
“We’ll find a band. It’s not that hard, Caroline. Let’s go over the checklists, make sure everything else is in order, then we’ll figure out the band situation.”
Caroline pulled up a side chair, sat down and tilted her head sideways to glance at the papers on my desk.
“Okay . . . did you line up the table rentals?” I tapped on the folder.
Caroline nodded. “Yes, and the caterer is confirmed, but she needs you to decide among the menus.” She stood and walked toward the filing cabinets. “I put them in here.”
I nodded and scribbled a reminder on my desk blotter just as a knock resonated on the office door. I didn’t look up until Peyton’s voice said, “Hello, can I come in and get a kiss from my girl?”
I was thrilled it was Peyton and not Frieda at the entranceway. His curls were wild from a day on the golf course, his shirt clinging to him in all the right places. I jumped up and went around the desk, hugged him and gave him a quick kiss. He pulled me to him; I motioned toward Caroline. “We’re working here.” I lifted my eyebrows at him.
He glanced at her. “Oh . . . I didn’t see you.”
She nodded, but didn’t answer.
“It’s okay,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Nothing . . . just coming in from a practice round.”
I nodded. “You feel ready to take this tournament in a few weeks?” I smiled at him.
He grinned. “I hope so.” He backed toward the door. “You remember today is the day I shoot that commercial for the tournament. You’ll come, right?”
“I wouldn’t miss it. See you there.”
“Perfect,” he said, nodded, and left the room.
I took my seat at the desk and glanced at Caroline. “Okay, back to the menus.”
She lifted her pen in the air and waved toward the golf course through the window. “They’re filming a commercial today?”
I nodded. “Yeah, Palmetto Pointe GMC just signed on as one of the tournament sponsors and Peyton is in the commercial.”
She lifted her eyebrows. “I’m sure he loves that. . . .”
“What do you mean?” I stared across the desk at her.
“I just mean it’s a big honor. . . .”
“Okay,” I said, “back to work.”
We spent hours making sure every element was in place for the inaugural Palmetto Pointe Open. Nothing, absolutely nothing could go wrong. We’d prove to the PGA TOUR that they hadn’t made a mistake in giving us this tournament. We’d added a benefit for tuberous sclerosis on the last night: an event to raise money for charity, meet the players, and party with the winners.
I rubbed my eyes with my fingers; smudges of mascara came off. “Okay, Caroline . . . it looks like everything is in order.” I handed her a folder. “I’ll go hunting for a band if you’ll talk to Palmetto Pointe General Motors about which truck they’ll donate for the hole-in-one contest.”
She nodded. “I’ve got it under control.”
“Yeah, just wait until advance week—the week before the tournament—when there’s no such thing as ‘under control.’ ”
Caroline laughed, stood and stretched. “Great, I can’t wait.”
“There’s no way to explain it . . . just experience it.”
BOOK: When Light Breaks
4.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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