A forbidden affair, a simpler time, and the universal regret of the path not taken, all make for a love story that has us all yearning for the innocence and freedom of fiction. Sandra J. Eastman’s characters are as unique as they are typical, and her tale takes our emotions on a ride through the unpredictable forces of fate, where happy endings are never guaranteed.

Welcome. And, enjoy!

To Be Free

by Sandra J. Eastman

I pressed my forehead against the window of the airplane and watched the billowy white clouds float by.  I pulled down the shade and closed my eyes as we were pulled upward.  How many times as a child did I lay with my sister on a blanket and watch the sky, pretending the clouds were castles, or unicorns, or just about any fantasy that would make our own world so much better?   Eventually, our sore backs forced us to trudge back to our shack that sat just adjacent to the alleyway.   Our meager home was the best Mama could afford after Daddy abandoned us.   I vowed one day to be a great writer and travel all over the world to see all the beautiful places I knew must exist.  Of course, I would take my entire family with me – even the dog and the cat.  I thought life was so simple then, but soon I realized that wasn’t the case at all. 

It would be two hours until we landed in Seattle.  I decided to forego Vancouver and rent a car for the trip to Port Angeles and then take the ferry straight to Victoria.  I didn’t think it would take me forty years to get back there, but then I didn’t think I would be going alone.   When I first married I thought it would be a lifetime of happiness.  But two children later and a husband who abandoned me became my lifetime struggle.  I was following in my mother’s footstep; I had married a man just like Daddy.  If only I had done things differently, but then I would never have met the true love of my life …….

At age 30, I was a young divorcee and ready for fun.  My egotistical husband had convinced me that I was the last woman any man would ever want or need.  I thought myself pleasing to look at with short auburn hair and green eyes, but he had done such a good job of convincing me of my ignorance and ugliness that I was sure I must be related to Cinderella’s sisters.  Not only would I lose the prince, he wouldn’t even look at me in the first place. 

After I filed for divorce, I fought to prove my worthiness to someone – anyone would do.  My first conquest was a young struggling mechanic seeking to prove his own self-worth to the world.  He needed a friend, and I needed a lover.   He was the very best at both.  He wasn’t handsome like Mark; even a little dowdy, if men could be dowdy.  But he was the best lover I ever had.  I think there’s a song that says, “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, make an ugly woman your wife”.  I think the same is true in reverse.  Roger drove me crazy in bed, so much so that I counted the days between our meetings.  Sex was suddenly a pleasant experience that could be so good.   Mark’s ego was so overblown, he thought himself the cat’s meow of ladies’ men.  Perhaps it was the excellent job I did of faking it; he never knew how lousy in bed he really was – far inferior to that of my young mechanic.  

Of course, when Mark discovered my little affair, he threatened to get Roger fired from his job or even send someone to beat him up.   I was so stupid and scared that I foolishly believed him and broke things off with Roger.   To his credit, Roger didn’t give up easily, and he still pursued me for many months. 

When my divorce was final, both Mark and Roger thought a new marriage was in the mix.  In fact, Mark set up the divorce settlement with half child support and half alimony.  He was so confident that I couldn’t divorce him without having someone in the wings.   His stunned ego wasn’t my only victory as he’d set himself up to pay alimony for 20 years.   Roger was devastated when I told him I wasn’t ready to re-marry, and we finally went our separate ways.  After that, it was on to more men and more affairs, but no heartbreak for me.  I wouldn’t allow myself to fall in love again.  I concentrated on raising my children and enjoying life as best I could.  I had been single for five years when things suddenly changed in my world.                                                                                                   

* * * * *

It was the summer of 1980, and we all had high hopes for a new president and a new beginning for the country.   Jimmy Carter had made a mess of things and everyone knew it.  My divorce had been final for several years, but I was still determined to stay single and to be the very best mother I could be.   During the summers, Mark would often take the children for a weekend so my friend Mary and I drove up to Lake Darling resort in Alexandria, Minnesota, for a weekend get-a-way.    

We enjoyed a Saturday of lounging by the pool and just plain relaxing doing nothing.  It was a nice treat for me.  After a leisurely dinner in the dining room we were on our way back to our room when we heard Bee Gees’ music coming from the bar.  It was so authentic; we thought it could have been the Bee Gees themselves.  As ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ rang out through the bar, I noticed the three handsome musicians on stage appeared to be black or Hispanic.  I joked to Mary that it seemed strange music for such a composition.   We laughed and sat at a table in the back of the room.  I couldn’t help but notice the young man playing the base was extremely handsome with a wide smile that you could see from across the crowded room.

I was immediately drawn to him and giggled inside thinking about the chorus of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ from ‘South Pacific.’  Who was I kidding?  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.   Needless to say, I was shocked at the break when he came over towards our table stopping to play the foosball game that was adjacent to us.   I wondered if he even knew what a foosball game was.  As he stepped closer to our table, I commented, “You guys do a great job.”

His broad smile boasted of pearly white teeth, but when he opened his mouth to speak, it was I who was speechless.  He could barely speak English.   My jaw dropped, not knowing what to say while Mary snickered quietly next to me.   Finally, seeing I was so dumbfounded, she picked up the slack.  “So are you visiting in the United States?” 

The smile had never left his face, and he reached out his hand.  “I am Eduardo from Mexico City, but in America I will be called ‘Edward’.   Our band comes here to sing and be famous.”

I could see Mary’s mouth curving into a smile and she took his hand.  “I am Mary and this is Katherine.  We live in Minneapolis.”

He reached for my hand.  “We sing in Minneapolis next week at Radisson Hotel. You will come?”

Still having a great deal of trouble with my effort to speak, I nodded.  “Which Radisson Hotel will you be singing at?  There are many.”

“It is in the Bloomington city,” he answered in broken English.  “It is first place we sing in Minneapolis.  You must come to see us.”

I nodded slowly as he walked back to the stage.  I turned to Mary.  “Wow.  I’m not sure if he even understood what we were saying.”

Mary laughed.  “Oh, honey. He has no problem at all communicating.”

* * * * *

It was about two weeks later when Mary and I ventured over to Radisson Lounge after dinner.   The three piece band was singing as we walked in, and Edward nodded at us.

We smiled and waved and took a seat close to the stage.   When they had finished their set, I was taken aback when all three of them promptly approached our table.   Edward reached for my hand and brushed his lips over the surface.  He did the same for Mary and then introduced his friends Alvero and Jorge.  The other two band members responded in kind to both of us.   Mary loved every minute of it and just couldn’t stop grinning at me.

As they left to get their drinks from the bar, Edward, said, “I’ll be right back.”  I found myself nodding in agreement, not knowing whether I was happy about the turn of events or too stunned to do anything different. Just before their next set began Edward kept his promise and returned to the table.  

We stayed for several hours enjoying the music.  I marveled at their style and how they actually sounded exactly like the artist whose songs they were singing.   They did a lot of Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, and Billy Joel.

As we rose to leave, all three men came to the table. “Thank you for come,” they said unison. 

“I loved your songs, especially ‘Just The Way You Are,'” I said.

Edward smiled widely.  “It is good song.  I will sing for you again.  We want to make many friends, many fans.  It is good to be in America.”

We walked slowly towards the car, neither of us speaking.   Finally, Mary broke the silence.  “You’re hung up on him already, aren’t you?”

I shrugged.  “Don’t be silly.  I barely know him.  But I do love their music.”

“Ok, sister, if that’s what you call it.  Go ahead and lie to yourself but you can’t fool me.  I’ve seen that look before, but this time I think we’re headed for real trouble.”

* * * * *

I did a lot of thinking about Mary’s comments and gave myself at least two weeks before visiting again.  As both Mary and I lived in Stillwater, a suburb across town, I invited a friend from work to meet me there.  We ate dinner at Friday’s and then drove over to the Radisson.  I hoped they were still playing.  I was in luck and they were all elated to see us.  Debbie and I had worked together for a long time and she was gorgeous.  She caught their eye right away, and it was evident that not just Edward was interested in pretty women.   I glanced around the room and noticed several tables of women.  In just a few short weeks they had developed quite a following.  I found myself feeling a little jealous.  But then Edward was keeping his promise:  he was making many fans.

This time I was greeted by a kiss on the cheek and a huge smile.  At break time Edward sat down and visited, but was careful to stop for a brief time at all the tables.  He was definitely working the room.   Debbie was quickly in awe of them and asked me when we could come back again.   I shrugged, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.  I didn’t want her to catch on to my innermost thoughts as Mary had.   

“Let’s come back on Saturday.  I can have my niece stay overnight; that way I won’t have to hurry home.”

Debbie smirked.  “Ok, kiddo.  Let’s meet here about 7:00.”

Saturday couldn’t come soon enough for me.  I found myself sorting through my closet to find just the right thing to wear.  Yikes!  What is wrong with me?   I haven’t felt this way since high school and my first crush.  But I’m 35 years old, not 16!  I must be losing my mind.

We arrived in time to get a table upfront.   Edward was on stage preparing for the first set.  He quickly came over the table and bent to kiss me.  This time he by-passed the cheek for a brief kiss to the lips.  Debbie glanced at me out of the corner of her eye.  Boy was I glad that Mary had been too busy to come along with us. 

The first song in the set was my Billy Joel favorite, ‘Just the Way You Are.’  I noticed Edward seemed to be singing it directly to me; then glanced around the room at all the girls and tried to compose myself.   At break time, he came over to our table.

“You come over to my house tonight for dinner?” he said with a wide smile.

  I stared at him for a moment in stunned silence.  Wow, these guys move really fast. I found myself nodding, yes of course.  What was this incredible charisma he had? 

After the last set, I heard him speaking in Spanish to his friends.  Nodding and smiling, they came over to say goodnight to me and Debbie.  Edward took my hand and asked me where I was parked.  I guess I am driving him home.  We walked to the car in silence, but on our arrival, he seemed in awe of my new Oldsmobile.  

“Your car is beautiful,” he said.  “Our van is very old but it is all we can have money for now.  Someday when we are famous, I will have a nice car like this one.”

I smiled and unlocked the door.  “My ex-husband bought it for me so I would have safe travel with my kids,” I answered. 

He seemed surprised.  “You have children?”

I laughed at the shocked look on his face.  “Yes, two of them – a boy and girl.  My daughter is nine and my son is twelve.”

He rolled down his window to bring in the warm summer air.  “You do not look old enough to have children these ages.”

I laughed.  “I’m an old lady, you know.  I just turned 35.”

“You are 35 years old!”  It was obvious I had shocked him.  I was guessing that he was somewhere in the twenties.   Then he smiled at me.  “People worry too much about age.  This means nothing to me.  It is what comes from the heart that is most important.”

I swallowed the lump that had suddenly popped up in my throat.  This suave debonair ladies’ man was anything but shallow inside.  I knew then that Mary was indeed correct. I was in bigger trouble than I could ever imagine. 

His house was in Lakeville and several miles from Stillwater.  I was glad I had an overnight sitter planned.  I took him for a ride around the lakes before getting on the freeway.  He seemed to enjoy it and we talked about many things. 

“I want to make many friends in America,” he said.  “I do not wish to have a steady girlfriend because my music must come first.  I must be free to make many fans.”

Was this a preface for what he had planned?  Little did he know that the last thing I wanted was to be someone’s ‘girlfriend.’ My children were my first priority just like Edward’s music was his.  It was getting easier to communicate as he did so much speaking with his eyes and his hands.  Gentleness and kindness emulated through him and his deep laugh always brought a smile to my lips.   

It was 2:00 a.m. by the time we arrived at his house: a large two story, split entry with a wide driveway that housed the van. Everyone appeared to have eaten dinner when we arrived.  Edward escorted me to the kitchen, but I quickly declined his offer of food.   My stomach was already in knots and I was sure the Mexican cuisine would do little to improve upon it.  In fact, Edward didn’t appear hungry either but helped himself to a small bowl of what appeared to be a stew of some sort.   He ate quickly and then poured me a glass of wine as we sat at the table.  I could hear a television in the background.  

Edward leaned over to kiss me ever so gently and I felt his hand caress my breast.  What was happening to me?  Never in my life had I been approached so simply and yet so cavalier.  I swallowed hard and chose my words carefully.   “Is there – somewhere – somewhere we could go,” I stammered.  “I mean, your friends are right in the next room.”

He must have thought I was asking for an engraved invitation, but he didn’t flinch.  Smiling broadly, he reached for my hand.  “Come, let me show you my house.”

We ended up downstairs in a large room practically empty with exception of one large sofa.    He sat down and pulled me next to him.  Without speaking a word, he took my face in his hands and kissed me ever so softly.  As his warm tongue mingled with my own, I knew I would not refuse him.  I wanted him as much as he wanted me.   I could sense his urgency, yet was not rushing or pushing. I just got the feeling that he had not been with a woman for a long time.    We were wrapped in ecstasy, neither of us thinking beyond our need to feel our bodies together as one. His gentle touch brought me to an arousal I had never felt before and as he entered me, I knew I had found something different in this man over all others. 

He apologized when it was all over so quickly.  “It has been too long for me.  I am sorry.  Next time I promise it will be better.”

This is the first time a man has ever apologized or even worried about my feelings.  Is he really thinking about us being together again? If he is the real thing, will I ever be able to let him go?   

* * * * *

The weeks went into months and we shared so many happy times together.  I tried to teach him English and he in turn taught me Spanish.  It was quite comical at times.  Refrigerator was a word beyond his capability and we roared in laughter when he tried to say it.   I, on the other hand, had picked up a few slang phrases that he warned me against using in public.  To this day, I don’t what they mean.   Hand in hand, we walked on the pier in Stillwater while sharing our dreams together. 

“This place is nice,” he said.  “So calm and peaceful.  I like it here with you.”

I smiled and squeezed his hand.  “You know when I was married we lived in Washington State, very far from here, my husband and I would often take the ferry boat over to Vancouver Island in Canada and the city of Victoria.   There is a beautiful garden beyond anything you have ever seen here.  To walk through Butchart Gardens in morning sunlight when the flowers are still covered with dew, is like walking through a sea of glistening colored diamonds.  The quaint shops that line the harbor are so opposite of the beautiful hotels.  Someday when I’m old and my kids are grown, I will retire there and write novels.”

Nodding, he answered, “This place I will come and see with you one day.  I will be famous musician and have many fans.”    I smiled.  Why can’t I shake this feeling that our time together will be so short.  

That weekend was the first time we made love in my bedroom.  My children were gone for the weekend, and  our family dog couldn’t get enough of Edward.  Pooh climbed on our bed and began to kiss Edward as he began to kiss me.  When I reprimanded the dog, Edward just laughed.  “It is ok.  I like her. She knows I will never hurt you.”   He reached to pet her.  

Whenever I had been with a man, I was self-conscious of surgery scars from my daughter’s birth.  Edward just put his hand on my cheek and bent to kiss my stomach. 

“These things do not matter to me,” he said.  And somehow I knew he really meant it.   Our bodies became entwined together that night as he took his pleasure ever so slowly as his lips lingered on my skin, his tongue bringing me to a height of ecstasy that I had never known before.  As I cried out in pleasure after pleasure, he moaned in the joy of my fulfillment.  “I am happy I could do this for you as you have done so much for me,” he whispered.  

In time, my children soon learned to adore him and laughed at the way he ate, putting Tabasco sauce on everything he put in his mouth.   Both of us were content in our relationship as he didn’t want a steady girlfriend, and I was not ready to marry again.  My children were my first priority and by now he knew that.   Edward was easy to be around and was respectful of my family.  He was not like any man I’d ever known.  

The following summer, I joined him back at Alexandria for a weekend.   It was then he told me of his involvement with a young girl who lived in Minneapolis.  Angela was beautiful, with long blond curls and a figure far surpassing any woman I’d ever known.   From the moment Edward told me about her, I could see he was enamored with her beauty but hesitant about the relationship.  

“I know I tell you I do not wish a girlfriend but she has offered to help me stay in America.  The band is not doing so well, and I am afraid if we break up I will have to go back to Mexico.”  He hung his head, unable to look me in the eye.  “Mexico City is a very bad place.  I never want to go back.  I must do this to stay in America.   I hope you can understand.”

I was devastated of course, but I couldn’t offer him what she could.  I knew that, and so did he.  And so, we remained friends.  On his 29th birthday the following March, Edward told me it would be his last.  He didn’t want to turn 30 because that would mean he was growing old.  We laughed together and planned a birthday party with the children.  For his birthday gift I gave him a beautiful plaque that read “If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back to you, they are yours forever.  If they do not, it was never meant to be.” 

Edward’s eyes filled with tears as he read the words and kissed my cheek. I was glad that Angela did not attend the party.   It was the last night I would ever have him completely to myself. 

* * * * *

Angela didn’t seem to mind our dinners together at my house nor when I would come to see him perform.    It was as if she knew she had to accept me just as I had to accept her.   Sometimes I could see the jealousy in her eyes, but she always treated me kindly.   I noticed Edward would sing my favorite song when she wasn’t around.  He would change up the words to make light of meaning, sometimes injecting ‘…don’t change the color of your car…’   For my birthday two years after we met, he made me a beautiful recording of many songs, and included the Billy Joel favorite.   

As his relationship with Angela progressed, his relationship with his fellow band members fell apart.  There was bickering and hard feelings.   They knew that Angela was not always honest with Edward and even lied to him about their relationship.  She wanted to marry him, but she also wanted a life that included dating other men.   His friends encouraged me to speak with him, but I refused.    I knew that telling him the truth would dash his hopes of the infamous “green card”, and I could not offer him hope of anything. 

About six months before the wedding, Edward left the band and asked two friends from Mexico, Miguel and Je`sus, to join him in forming a new band.   It was difficult for Miguel as he left a large family in Mexico, but Je`sus had no one at all so he was very happy to be in America.   I agreed to let them practice at my house.  This was not a happy turn of events for Angela, especially when Edward would bring me flowers and stay late in the night to visit with me.  I knew that I loved him with all my heart, and he had the same feelings.  I fought with myself and almost weakened to the point of telling him I would marry him, yet I knew I could not do that to my children.   His lifestyle was not conducive to fatherhood and we both knew it.  

Angela soon began to show her true colors, and would throw temper tantrums in front of the band members.  When they would tell me the stories of her tirades I cringed in agony for Edward.    The new band was going on tour and when they returned, Edward and Angela would marry.  Broken-hearted, I decided it was time to let go, so I lied to Edward, promising him I would attend the ceremony.  

I was in unbearable agony, the night we said good-bye.  Clinging to him, I buried my face in his shoulder.  As we stood embracing, the sultry smell of his leather jacket filled my senses; my mind tasting his body from the scent of his cologne.  “I love you, Edward.  I wish things could be different,” I cried.

He kissed my forehead and wiped my tears with his fingers.  Gently he put his lips on mine.   For a moment we stood locked in time, with only our memories to sustain us.  He whispered.  “I do love you too my pretty old lady.”  He turned and walked out the door and out of my life forever.  

* * * * *

It wasn’t long after he left town that he called to apologize for accidentally picking up the tape he had given me as a gift.  He was using it to help the new band members learn new songs.  “I have good news.  Alvero and Jorge will be joining the new band as Miguel is going home to Mexico.  Now things will be good again.  After the wedding we will go on tour to Canada.  I promise I will give you the tape at the wedding,” he said.  

When I don’t come to the wedding, you will be so hurt that you’ll never speak to me again. “That will be nice,” I responded.

The wedding came and went, but I never heard from Edward.   Then one day, Miguel called to say good-bye before he returned to Mexico.  I could hear sadness in his voice.  “Edward is very sad these days.  Angela she sees other men when he is away.  In March the band will go to Canada for a tour, just two weeks before Edward’s birthday.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about Edward’s pain. I wanted to call him, but I knew if I did I would quickly become “the other woman” and he didn’t need that.   I hadn’t been sleeping since he’d gone, but that night I had a frightful dream.  Edward stood at my door, his flesh decayed and torn.   “Help me, please help me,” he whispered.   I awoke with a start, trembling from the horrible dream.  The dream just kept playing over and over again in my mind.  It was then that the phone calls started.

Every day when I would come home from work, the children would tell me that Edward had called but didn’t leave a message.   I thought it strange but then I received a call from a friend of mine who had seen the story in the paper.   “Mexican musician killed during a robbery of a liquor store.”  I slammed down the phone and rushed to grab the paper.   Edward had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was sitting in his van when someone robbed the liquor store that was attached to the motel.  The thief needed a get-a-way car.  He pulled Edward from van and shot him point blank in the face. He died immediately.   His friends had been trying to reach me for days.

Suddenly little mattered to me. The love of my life was gone, and I had allowed him to slip through my fingers.  Unable to speak, I fell to my knees sobbing, pouring out my soul over the loss of the only man I ever truly loved.   

* * * * *

It is the most difficult thing in one’s life to want to scream and cry and mourn but be forced to swallow the pain and agony, to sit and weep in silence among those who could grieve openly.  The casket had been shipped straight back to Mexico as the body could not be viewed.  That beautiful face was no longer.  Now his remains would rest in the one place he never wanted to go again.   My heart bled for him as tears swelled up in my throat.  I fought to contain my sorrow as the words of  Ave` Maria echoed through the great church.   

After the service, I spoke briefly with Angela.  My tape was the only one made of Edward singing so his family wanted copies.  As soon as they were made, Angela promised the original would be returned to me.   I knew in my heart I would never see it again.  All that was left of Edward was gone forever and only my memories would remain.                                                                       

* * * * *

I opened my eyes when I heard the seatbelt light ding and the captain’s voice.  We had arrived in Seattle.   I left the plane a bit sad from reliving the sorrow I had suffered those years ago, but determined to make a new life for myself. The rental car was a white Honda, and small compared to the Oldsmobile I’d always driven.   As I drove the car onto the ferry, my mind began to wander.  I smiled to myself recalling Edward’s words about Victoria:   “It sounds like a beautiful place to spend the end of your life.”   For the past twenty years I had mourned for him every March.   At first I would dream of him nightly.  He would come to me with his beautiful smile and say, “Don’t worry, my pretty old lady, I am not dead. I am alive”.   Not seeing his body in the casket, there was no closure for me.  It was an emptiness that scarred my very soul.  

When the ferry docked, I showed my papers to the authorities and retrieved my white car.  I drove around town until I found a small bed and breakfast close to harbor.  Tomorrow I would drive to Butchart  Gardens and perhaps visit the tea room.   Tonight I would have a light dinner and go to bed early.  

A small bistro was a short walk from my bed & breakfast.  It was about 8:30 when I finished dinner and noticed a sign pointing to bar area.  There was live music starting at 9:00.  Sighing, I closed my eyes.  I have avoided music for 20 years.  Now I am in a place where maybe I can forget. I am 57 years old and will never love again.  

A musician began to strum his guitar and sing the words of an old Neil Diamond song.  I closed my eyes and listened as the voice was mellow and so in tune.  I buried my face in my hands.  I was even imaging the singer was Hispanic.

“The music is not pleasant for you?” A waiter stood looking down at me.

I shook my head.  “No, it just reminds me of someone.” 

He nodded.  “Je`sus is a good man.”

 Quickly, I looked up.  “Je`sus? I haven’t heard that name in many years.  I thought he sounded Hispanic.”

“He moved here from Ontario about five years ago, but keeps to himself.”

I felt better knowing my imagination wasn’t playing tricks on me, and I left the Bistro tired and ready to begin my new life. I spent the next few days looking for housing, but came home exhausted and disappointed.   I couldn’t stop thinking about Je’sus and how much his voice reminded me of the past and Edward.  It seemed an odd coincidence that Je`sus appeared to sing some of the same tunes Edward always sang.  I resolved to face the past and my sorrow, and soon found myself wandering back toward the Bistro. 

As I walked in, I heard the singing as words echoed through the small bar, “when will our eyes meet, when can I see you, when can I touch you, when will this strong yearning end, and when will I hold you again”.   It was the old Barry Manilow song Edward sang often when he visited me at my home. My breath was caught short as I forced my numb legs to carry me into the bar.  My stomach was churning yet I was compelled to see the face of this stranger.

Je`sus sat at the front of the room with the base over his lap. I began chewing on my lip so hard I feared it would bleed. People in bar began to stare as I walked closer until I stood stock still in front of him.   Streaks of silver flowed through his black hair, his slender frame showing a small paunch reminiscent of a man in his fifties.   He suddenly stopped singing and looked into my eyes.  I watched his face twist as he smiled through teary eyes.  It was a smile so familiar. A smile I could never forget.

 I swung around, my knees shaking as I stumbled towards the door.   I suddenly felt hot tears on my face; my head was throbbing so hard I thought I would faint. 

Then he began to sing, “Don’t go changing to try and please me…..”  Trembling and crying, I stopped in my tracks.   He continued singing until the words came like a knife to my heart, “don’t go tryin some new fashion, don’t change the color of your car”.  

I heard the guitar fall to the floor as I swung around to find him standing behind me, tears running down his face.   I began to shake my head, muttering, “No, no you can’t — you’re you’re dead….”

He grabbed my arms and tried to pull me towards him.  “Katherine. I have been waiting for you.” 

Sobbing, I pushed him away. “No!” Close to hysteria, I was screaming at him, “The Edward I loved would never have put me through all this pain!”      

“Please— please give me a chance to explain.”  I could see the desperation in his eyes as he pulled me to a table.  “I told you I would never go back to Mexico.  My marriage was a failure, but I knew we could not be together.  You were not ready.  Je`sus was shot that night   He did not have any family and would never be missed.  Angela was too upset to view the body, so my friends identified him as me.  They told everyone that Je`sus was so broken up over my death, he left the band.  I took his name.   I wanted to tell you, but knew I could not.  A few years ago, I decided to come to the one place that I knew you might come someday.   I’m so sorry for your pain.”  

I looked into his face and saw the years of agony he had endured knowing he could not come to me.  But how can I forgive all the years?   I touched his cheek with my fingers and brushed back the tears that rolled down his face.   Nothing else matters nowEdward is here and alive and I still love him with all of my heart. 

I could taste the tears of our reunion as our lips joined together and he pulled me into his arms.   

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