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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
“Sure. I might as well do something for you since you cooked it,” he replied good-naturedly.
I followed Susan down the hall to her bedroom. When she closed the door behind us, she smiled at what must’ve been my apprehensive expression. “You’re not in trouble, Abigail. The reason I brought you in here is that I wanted to give you something.”
I followed her over to the dresser. She raised the lid on a glass jewelry box that had a ballerina etched into the top. The theme to Swan Lake began to play. Her fingers delved inside, and she took out a strand of expensive looking pearls. “My parents gave me these to me for my high school graduation along with this jewelry box. I’ve worn them through so many major events in my life.” She held them out to me. “I want you to have them.”
My eyes widened as I shook my head furiously back and forth. “No, I couldn’t. You should leave them to Sally or your nieces.”
She patted my cheek. “But I don’t want to leave them to anyone but you. There are some other things I want you to have as well, but these, along with the jewelry box, are the most special to me.”
Realizing how serious she was, I finally relented. “Susan, you can’t imagine how touched I am that you want me to have them.” Although I tried fighting them, tears burned and blurred my eyes. “They’re beautiful, and I’ll treasure them always.”
“Good. Maybe someday you can pass them on to my granddaughter.”
At my gasp, she laughed. “Don’t think that I can’t see you for exactly who and what you are. I’m thrilled that Jake has found a girl he can marry and raise a family with.”
“I would love nothing more,” I answered honestly.
“Then let me say this as well. I know Jake is hardheaded and stubborn, and I know he’s going to make some mistakes in the future like he has before. But promise me that you’ll give him a chance and try to forgive him?”
Even though it was hard, I bobbed my head. “I will.”
“Good. Because when it comes down to the end like it has for me, you don’t want to live with the regret of not forgiving the man you loved with all your heart and soul.”
I furrowed my brows. “But I thought you had forgiven Jake’s father?”
A flush entered Susan’s pale cheeks. “This is a secret just between you and me, but Mark wasn’t the love of my life.”
“Although he gave me the greatest gift of my life, Jacob, I could never feel for Mark what I did for Yuri. He was a dancer in one of the traveling companies I was in. We dated for years, and when I refused to marry him because I thought we were too young, he went out and slept with another dancer to hurt me. Although he apologized for weeks and months, I was stubborn, and I wouldn’t forgive him. He finally gave up and moved on, and I’ve regretted it all this time. A couple of years after Yuri is when Mark came into my life.” She gave me a wry smile. “Jake’s never been able to understand how I could forgive Mark for leaving me, but the truth was I just didn’t love him like I should, so it didn’t hurt as much.”
Speechless, I could only murmur, “Wow.”
She smiled. “So in the future when there are times you want to strangle Jacob or he’s tested your love, just remember that forgiveness is so much easier than regret.”
“I will. You have my word.”
She pulled me into a tight embrace. Both her words and her emaciated frame caused tears to prick my eyes. She rubbed wide circles over my back. “Sweet Abby, you’re an answer to a prayer. My Jacob is very, very lucky to have you. Don’t doubt for one second that I won’t constantly remind him that for as long as I have left.”
With tears streaking down my cheeks, I couldn’t reply at first. Finally, I choked off a, “Thank you.”
As she pulled away, she cupped my chin. “Do you know there’s an old saying that for every tear you shed for someone else’s grief, it takes one off of their suffering?”
“Really?” I hiccupped.
She nodded while swiping the tears off my cheeks. “So you’ve just managed to take a few off of Jacob.”
“I’m glad. I’d do anything for him,” I replied.
Susan smiled. “But no more tears, honey. Let’s just enjoy the time we have left together. Okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed.
“And speaking of time, I’m pretty sure it’s time to go check on how many little ‘presents’ Angel might’ve deposited in the house.”
I laughed. “Let’s give that job to Jake since it was his idea to give me a puppy.”
Susan’s eyes widened. “Oh honey, I do like your thinking!”
Lounging on an old patchwork quilt, I reclined my head to get a better view of the blackened sky encrusted with twinkling stars. With her back against my chest, Abby signed with contentment. “Gosh, that is so beautiful,” she remarked.
“You’re so beautiful,” I murmured into her ear.
She rubbed my arms that were wrapped tightly around her before tilting back to bestow a kiss on my cheek. “Aw thank you baby. You say and do the sweetest things for me.”
“So you like this surprise?”
Glancing over her shoulder at me, she grinned. “Yes, this was another good surprise.”
It was our last night together before Abby had to leave, and I had intended to make it as special as I could. I wanted it to be just the two of us—no friends or crowds. So I had decided on a twilight picnic down by the lake on my grandfather’s property. It was miles and miles off the main road, and you had to get to it either with an ATV or a Jeep. Nestled within a few rolling hills, it boasted breathtaking views of the mountains.