A Star Tribune serialized novel by Jane Fredericksen 

Chapter 3

The story so far: The sailor feels a storm coming, and Gina prepares for the engagement party.

Gina’s cream-colored cocktail dress, stiletto heels and pearls gave her a vintage early-sixties look. Her copper hair was upswept and pinned in place by a gardenia hairclip.

“You look like a redheaded Audrey Hepburn,” said Thea.

“Who?” Kacie asked.

The two women stared at her.

“Never mind,” sighed Thea.

“I helped with the nails,” bragged Kacie, pointing out the cherry-red polish. Gina wiggled her fingers and Bernie’s ring glittered in the light.

At the sight, Kacie felt her stomach dive like a seagull on a thermal wind. Remember, he makes her happy, she told herself. She deserves to be happy. Kacie shoved aside her own mixed feelings and turned away.

She spotted a gauzy white wrap and pounced on it with a cry. “We almost forgot the pièce de résistance!” She tossed the wrap over her own head, like a wedding veil, and pranced around the room.

Gina intercepted her near the couch. “OK, Cinderella. Hand it over. It’s my pumpkin ride.”

“Always a bridesmaid.” Kacie sighed. She pulled the wrap from her head and arranged it around her mother’s shoulders.

Gina smiled. “I have something for you, too.” She handed Kacie a silver gift bag stuffed with glittery tissue paper.

“For me? What is it?” Kacie tore through the wrappings. She hauled out a white canvas hat, embroidered with the words, “First Mate.”

Delighted, Kacie pulled on the cap, adjusting the fit. “I’m so wearing this at the wedding. Thanks, Mom!” She hugged her mother tightly.

Gina laughed. “You are my first mate.” She gave her daughter a heartfelt kiss. “You’re always there for me, kiddo.”

“Watch the lipstick,” warned Kacie, as she scrubbed her cheek. “You better get going. It’s 7:55.”

“They’ll wait,” said Gina. “They’d better. This is my night.” She picked up a pearl-colored clutch from the chair and marched toward the door. She pulled the door open, stopped and turned.

“You two better be good while I’m gone,” she ordered.

Kacie and Thea stood side by side. Thea’s hand slipped to her jacket pocket. “We will,” they chorused.

“Good,” answered Gina. She held up her cellphone. “Call if you need me. Love you.”

She slipped out the door and shut it. Kacie and Thea both exhaled. Kacie grabbed Thea’s arm, pleading. “Come on, come on! Let me see!”

“Just hold on!” Thea slid two DVDs from her pocket. “Why I let you talk me into this stuff, I’ll never know. Gina’d kill me if she knew I let you watch this trash.”

Kacie grinned and read the covers. “Teenage Vampire Mutant Zombie Slashers … One and Two!” She hugged her sitter. “Thea, you’re the best!”

“Don’t tell me you’ve seen them already.”

Kacie nodded. “They’re pretty good, though. The first one has a great spot where they cut off this guy’s hand and it starts crawling away …”

Thea rolled her eyes. “Please. Don’t spoil it for me.”

* * *

Three blocks away, Gina stood at the door of Lakeside Pavilion, at the edge of City Dock.

I hope I’m doing the right thing, she thought.

A sudden breeze made her shiver. Gina pulled her scarf tightly around her shoulders and gazed over Lake Superior.

The wind had started to turn. There’d be a squall; Gina could feel it. Not the way he used to be able to tell.

Gina caught her breath. She hadn’t meant to let him back into her mind, but there he was, as persistent as the waves lapping at the shore, as elusive as the wind. Twelve years she’d waited, with no word. Wherever he was now, she hoped he was happy. And she hoped he understood.

“Forgive me,” she murmured, barely conscious that she’d spoken out loud. “I did what I had to do.”

Determined, she turned back to the door and swung it open.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 3 continues.