Time went by as slowly as a hot summer day and she questioned whether or not Grant was right. When she looked at it clearly and honestly she had to admit she had run. There was no doubt about that. But what if she had stayed? Maybe in time he would have been able to share his feelings. Grant was just getting adjusted to his new life as a single father. A lot had been thrown at him at once. Could she have remained if he had said he loved her? Her friends cared for her and would have welcomed her as a favorite aunt to Emily but she had run from them. She didn’t want to run anymore. No longer push the good things in her life away.

Three weeks after leaving Grant, she and her father were having dinner when she blurted out, “Dad, why did Mother leave?”

“We’ve talked about this before.”

“No, we haven’t. I’ve asked and you’ve never answered. I’d like to know. Was it because of me?”

He looked grief-stricken. “Where did you get that idea?”

“You never would say. Is it because I’m too much like her?”

He took her hand. “Oh, little girl. It had nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. She always had a fragile personality. When she left it wasn’t the first time. You just don’t remember the others because you were too young. I would cover them up by saying she was visiting a friend. Your mother wasn’t a happy person. She started taking drugs to make her feel better but that didn’t work. I never wanted you to think badly of her so I thought it best you didn’t know. As you grew older, you stopped asking.”

“Do you know where she is?”

“The last I heard she was in a halfway house for drug addicts and not doing well. I think she left us because she loved us, not because she didn’t. She just couldn’t control her life. I’ll never forgive her for the way she did it because she scared you. That was wrong. But what I do know is that she loved you dearly.”

The moisture in her father’s eyes matched that in Sara’s.

“My greatest regret is that I couldn’t have helped her more.” He squeezed her hand. “You, Sara, are my true joy. You have cared for me, and more people than I can count as well. My fear isn’t that you’ll be like your mother but that you don’t care enough about yourself.

“As your father, I say it’s time for you to get out and live your life, not take care of me. Or anyone else, for that matter. You need to think of yourself for a change. Stop running from life and start living it. That big heart of yours is special but it can be your undoing.”

Wasn’t that what Grant had told her?

* * *

Later Sara sat in a chair on the deck, looking up at the night sky. Only a few weeks ago she would have never sat in the dark. She could only see a few stars but her heart warmed with the knowledge that there was a star named after her. Grant had given her more than she could have ever imagined. A place to belong, ease in the night, a child to care for, a home for her father and a taste of happiness beyond any she’d ever known.

She would make some changes. Starting with contacting her friends and seeing how they and their child, Emily, were doing. It was the first time she’d thought of her as belonging to them.

It was also time to figure out what she wanted out of life, then be prepared to grasp it and hold on.

* * *

Grant had been well aware of how much Sara had taken care of Lily and him but never more so than throughout the weeks since she had left.

There were no words enough to describe how much he missed her. He enjoyed sex as much as any red-blooded male but what he missed the most was having her against him in bed. More nights than not he prowled around the house then ended up sleeping on the couch.

He’d removed Evelyn’s portrait from the living room, storing it away for Lily if she wanted it someday. He would adopt her when he could and would eventually tell her about her parents, leaving out the part where he was involved.

Looking around the den that he always thought of as his father’s, he now saw it as his. It didn’t hold the negative connotation it once had. One of last things Sara had done before she’d left had been to place on a bookshelf a framed photograph of him and Lily she’d taken.

Everywhere there were reminders of Sara. This den, in the kitchen, Lily’s room and the bedroom. She had permeated his life and found her way into his heart.

That hadn’t happened before. But could he really trust Sara? He’d given what he’d believed was love before and had had it thrown back in his face. Could he take a chance of that happening again? It couldn’t be any worse than the misery and loneliness he was living with now.

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