Remember Me(103)

By: Ashlee Mallory

“Hungry?” she asked Sam when everyone returned to their conversations. “There’s plenty of food, but I expect everyone will be coming for seconds soon. We’d better move fast.”

“What do we have here?” He looked over the dishes. “Ah. My old friend, the green Jell-O with grated carrots and pineapple, and… Yep. The one with the pretzels. I may have to try it.”

“We’re a very traditional family. It’s a major event when we change the fruit filling.”

He dropped a scoop of purple Jell-O on his plate. “I understand from Jeremy you’re planning on teaching Monday. Are you sure you’re not rushing things? What does your doctor say?”

“My doctor thinks it will be good for me to get back in the swing of things, and I agree. I miss teaching. And with graduation coming up, I won’t have that much more time with many of the kids.” She thought of Darcy heading back east in the fall and wondered how things were going with Meredith. And Bryce. Allie had been immeasurably happy when Darcy stopped by to visit her in the hospital. Even more so when she noticed Bryce at her heels. She’d have had to be blind to miss the covert looks the teenagers had given each other during their short visit. Hopefully, Allie could get the scoop soon.

“Just don’t overdo it.” It was hard to miss the concern in Sam’s tone. “I’m more than qualified to finish your classes for you. It would be good experience. Considering I’ve committed to staying on board next year.”

Allie’s head felt light. “You— You’re staying? But what about your writing? Your life in California?”

He shrugged and took a bite of green Jell-O. “That’s the beauty of being a writer. You can do it anywhere. Besides, Josh and I have been looking for a change in scenery. Fortunately, California is only a short plane trip away, so he can still see his mom. I’ve already talked to him, and he’s stoked about the move. But you should know—” He looked at her. “I’ve talked to my editor about the prospect of writing my next book about Mr. Williams. He’s given it a go. But I need to check with one more person.”

“Someone else at the publishing house?”

He shook his head. “You.”

Sam was staying! That was the only thing that Allie cared about. And the book? Well, she’d had some time to get used to that idea. She should look at this as an opportunity to make sure the real story got out there. She smiled. “If someone is going to write it, it may as well be you—with my careful guidance of course. But…why would you do all this? Drop your life in California and come back now?”

“For a smart woman, you really can be obtuse.” He lifted his hand, his fingertips brushing against her cheek as he tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Because I love you, Allie.”

She stopped breathing, afraid she’d misheard him.

He smiled down at her. “I love your strength and willingness to stand up for what you believe in, your integrity and loyalty, your big heart and sensitivity to others’ feelings, and most of all, I love the way you tell me exactly what you think.”

A stupid tear slipped down her cheek, and she took a shaky breath. “Yeah?”

His thumb returned to her cheek and brushed it away. “Yeah. Well, that, and I was hoping to finagle an invitation to join you on that romantic getaway you won at the auction.”

A giggle escaped her as the whole world looked brighter, her limbs so buoyant she could float. “Sorry. I already promised them to Molly, so hopefully, I’ll be enough.”

He looked like he was going to say something more, but at that moment, Peg and Laney walked across the deck toward them. Allie suppressed a groan. They didn’t see Sam at first, and she could tell from the concern in their faces they were coming to check up on her.