Sarah sat alone on the balcony watching the shrimp boats in the distance. She’d slipped away from the party in search of a quiet spot. It was wonderful having everyone there but she was exhausted. Closing her eyes, she leaned back to simply listen to the sounds of her family.
Hearing the door open, Sarah said, “Took you long enough.”
“It’s not Howie,” laughed Kryss.
Surprised, Sarah opened her eyes, “I’m sorry. I just figured….”
“That it was Howie….stands to reason. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you since you came out here.” Kryss sat in the chair beside Sarah and looked out at the boats. “Can I talk to you….about Dusty?”
“Kryss, I don’t think….”
“Please? I know he probably told you that I’m obsessed with Howie but I swear, it’s not what you think.”
“Yeah, he has told us.”
Kryss hung her head, red creeping into her cheeks.
“Is it true?”
“I can’t lie to you. I do adore Howie but I would NEVER come between you two.”
“You couldn’t if you tried.”
Kryss nodded acknowledgement and stared at the boats. Several minutes passed before Kryss spoke. “Dusty is cheating on me.”
“Why do you say that?”
“One night, after we’d made love, he fell asleep before me. As I lay watching him, he began to talk…at first, I couldn’t understand what he was saying but then it became clearer. He was calling for Tammy, telling her how much he loved her, that she meant everything to him. I asked him the next morning about her and he got really distant and wanted to know how I knew about Tammy. When I told him he was talking in his sleep, he got really defensive and told me I was never to mention her name again and that she was none of my business. That’s when I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. I did all those things…crying when I didn’t see Howie and calling his name when Dusty and I were together…to make him jealous.”
Sarah shook her head. “Kryss, Dusty wasn’t cheating on you. He’d never do something like that.”
“Then who is Tammy?”
“Tammy was his first wife.” Sarah saw that this wasn’t helping Kryss. “I take it he’s never told you about her?”
Taking a deep breath, Sarah said, “Tammy and Dusty had known each other all their lives and dated when they were in high school. They’d been married for almost five years when she was killed in a car accident.”
“I had no idea.”
“I was thrilled to death when Dusty got involved with you. You were the first woman he’d allowed to get close and he started to live again.” Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she looked up to see Howie smiling at her. “Hey you!”
Leaning over, he kissed her. “Are you okay, ‘Angel’?”
“I’m fine…just talking to Kryss.” Sarah slid forward to allow Howie to sit behind her and then leaned back into his arms. “Kryss, Dusty doesn’t talk about Tammy because it’s too painful.”
“Can I ask what happened?”
Her voice dropped to almost a whisper as she remembered that time in their lives. “She was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when her car was run off the road.”
Hearing the tremble in his wife’s voice, Howie hugged her tight and finished explaining. “Tammy had just found out she was pregnant with their first child and Dusty took it really hard.”
“It wasn’t too long after Chrissy had run Sarah down so Dusty thought he’d lost his sister along with his wife and unborn child. The whole family was reeling from it all.”
“I never realized all this.”
Sarah watched Kryss, then asked, “Do you love him?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then you need to talk to him…make him see he’s the only one you’re obsessed with.”
“Do you think he’ll listen?”
“It’s worth a shot.”
“He’s still here…playing with Kaleb and Jesse.,” offered Howie.
“Go for a walk on the beach,” suggested Sarah. “He’s a sucker for walking along the beach.”
Kryss laughed, “From what I hear, it runs in the family. Thank you for listening….and not firing me.”
“I promise, the thought crossed my mind,” smiled Sarah. “Look, I just want my brother to be happy….and my friends. If you need me to talk to him, I will.”
“I think I can handle it.”
“Oh, if he gets too hard headed, just grab him by the ear. He HATES that.”
Kryss laughed heartily. “I’ll remember that.”
“Go on…and don’t worry about Kaleb. There are plenty of people here to watch out for him,” said Howie.
“Thanks, both of you.”
Kryss left the couple alone to go find Dusty.
“You’re tired, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am. Think I can slip into the bedroom and take a nap?”
“It’s almost time for the babies to nurse again. Why don’t you just stay in the bedroom after they’ve nursed?”
“Thank you,” and she gave him a kiss.
The couple stayed where they were for a little while longer wanting to enjoy the quiet but it wasn’t to last long. Only a couple minutes and they were being summoned back into the party to open more gifts. Howie helped Sarah up and as they were headed back inside, they spotted Kryss and Dusty headed across the dunes to the beach. Smiling at each other, they went back to their friends.
Chapter 76 Index