Jamie and Brad had planned to meet right after supper, but Brad was called to the phone again. He took the call in his study, but this time Jamie didn’t wait for him. Her parents had eaten in their quarters so she wanted to check on them and make sure everything was okay. While she was walking down the hall, she passed the library where apparently, Steve and Dina had gone to discuss something. Jamie couldn’t help but overhear them.
“I plan to ask her about it tonight,” she heard Steve say. “If Jamie doesn’t want to lease the farm to me, then it’s a mute point anyway. I just want to know where I stand with you, Dina. Are Katie and I going to be getting our own place by ourselves, or are you coming with us?”
“Steve, we haven’t talked about anything except what’s best for Katie. We’ve gotten along fine and Katie is thriving. I don’t understand why you would want to move her from the ranch now while she’s so involved in her dancing and singing. The dancing has helped her strength and coordination immensely.”
“I know,” Steve said. “But I think we could work it out. The school bus can still drop her off here every day and you can bring her home after rehearsal. I don’t think you understand, Dina. I want us to be a family and I need us to have a place of our own. You think about it and we’ll discuss it again after I’ve had a chance to talk to Jamie.”
Jamie knocked on her parent’s door and her smiling and rosy cheeked mother let her in.
“What’s the matter Jamie? You look distracted. Let me get your father. He should be here if there’s something you need to talk about.”
“I’m pretty close,” her father said. “Of course close only counts in horseshoes. Your mother is right. You’ve got a heavy heart and a full mind…or is it a full heart and a heavy mind. Anyway, what can your mother and I do ya for?”
“Since you didn’t come down for supper, I thought I’d better check on you and make sure everything is alright.”
“We’re fine.” her mother said. “We had a long day of rehearsing so we decided we just wanted to say here and put our feet up. Right dear?”
“We’re right as rain, honey.”
With that all settled, Jamie went to see if Brad was still in his study. After hearing Steve and Dina’s discussion, now she really needed to talk to him.
Arf and Annie were watching squirrels out the window, but Brad wasn’t in the study.
“Do you to know where Brad went?”
They both immediately got up and led her to the garden. She found Brad sitting in one of the patio chairs, but he didn’t appear to be relaxing.
“Am I interrupting?” Jamie asked. “You look like you’re deep in thought about something.”
“I just talked to Tom. Our mother has taken a turn for the worse. They’re not at all hopeful that she will recover.”
Both Jamie and Brad sat quietly for a few minutes before Brad finally spoke.
“Did I ever tell you why I didn’t go with my sister and brother to Ireland to see my my mother?”
“No you didn’t,” Jamie said. “I figured you had your reasons and if you wanted to tell me you would.”
“That’s what I love about you, Jamie. You let people do things in their own time. Like your parents…and me.”
“You know that anytime you want to talk, I’m willing to listen, and I’m very discreet.”
Brad gave her a smile before he went on.
“One of the reasons I didn’t go was because of you. We’re just getting to know each other and I didn’t want to go off to Ireland, for God knows how long. I couldn’t leave the ranch for very long, either. I’ve poured my life into this place. It’s a big part of who I am, but now that I know my mother is dying, all I feel is sadness and guilt. She was two people, you know. She was a government agent and a wife and mother. I only knew her as my mother and she was a good one. I had wonderful parents.”
“It was a shock to find out that Mom was still alive. I went twenty years without knowing. Gloria kept her a virtual prisoner for all that time while I struggled to make sure Tom and Barbie were taken care of. I sure made a mess of that didn’t I? Barbie was raised by Gloria and Tom was mistreated by our Aunt and Uncle.”
“May I speak?” Jamie could tell where this was going and it wasn’t s good place.
“You’re being a little hard on yourself don’t you think? You were only sixteen. You thought your parents had died in the fire. You saw your twin sister burned beyond recognition, but she lived to be the beautiful woman she is today. Tom is a fire rescue pilot. He saves people from fires. And you have helped so many others, Brad. You’ve brought us all to your beautiful ranch and showered us with kindness. Now, have you made arrangements yet to go to Ireland?”
“What? No…I hadn’t planned to go.”
“Of course you’re going. Let’s go to your study and call and see when the next flight to Ireland leaves.”
Arf: I guess that means we’ll be left to take care of the horses. Do you know how to take care of them, Annie? Cause if you don’t, I’ll teach you. You work from sun-up till sun-down….and
Annie: Will you shush Arf? I want to know what Jamie was going to talk to Brad about. Let’s follow them into the study and pretend we’re looking at squirrels.
A little later, Arf and Annie left the study without learning anything. Jamie and Brad were on the phone arranging Brad’s trip and then they called Tom and Barbie. When Brad finally asked Jamie what she wanted to talk to him about, she said they would talk when he got back.
Arf: I hope Brad gets back in time for our performance.
Annie: He’ll be here. He made the reservations to fly back in a week.
Arf: You’re a real sleuth, Annie
Annie: Yeah…I have a pretty good idea what is on Jamie’s mind, too.