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somebody like you comes along and renews my faith in mankind. Womankind, too. People who
give always get repaid for it, Mary.”
She wiped away the tears. “Bev went out of her way looking for that house, didn’t she?”
He nodded.
“What a kind thing for her to do.”
“I’ll tell her,” he said with a laugh. “For now, you just concentrate on getting better, and out of
She let out a long breath, thinking what an odyssey her life had become. It was a journey, an
adventure, an obstacle course. But she’d become strong and self-sufficient and independent
because of the hardships and challenges.
“Deep thoughts?” Matt probed.
She looked at him. “I was thinking that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. I’ve heard that
all my life. I never really understood it until I ended up in a shelter with my kids.”
He nodded. “The journey is the thing. Not to mention the exciting and interesting people you
meet along the way.” He gave her a devilish wink and brought her hand to his lips.
Warmth flooded through her. “I never expected that people would be so kind to me, when I was
about as low on the social ladder as a person could get. Even the people I work for have been
supportive and generous. And you were the best surprise of all,” she said softly.
“Right back at you,” he said gruffly.
She laid back on the pillows. “Thank you, Matt, for everything. And you’ll be happy to know
I’m listening to the doctor. I’ll speak with my employers when I get out of here. And I will slow
“That’s a really good idea,” he mused. “I’ll be back with the kids first thing tomorrow.”
After Mary kissed the kids good-night and exchanged a highly charged look with Matt that was
ripe with possibilities of what the future could hold, she was left alone to rest. Closing her eyes,
she thought about the changes she was going to have to make. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad after
all, slowing down. Well, slowing down just a little, she amended.
MARY HAD A LONG TALK with three of her employers about giving up her work. They were nice, but
she knew they didn’t really understand why Mary had to quit working for them.
One asked if the money wasn’t enough, and offered a substantial raise if Mary would stay on.
That was just too hard to turn down. Mary agreed to stay, but she was adamant about the other
two jobs. She explained that if she had another stress attack, it could be much worse, and she had
her kids to think about. She had to stay healthy so that she could get them all through school. Her
doctor had insisted that she had to give up some work. In the end, they accepted her decision and
even gave her severance pay.
Matt was delighted that she was following doctor’s orders. “We get to keep you around for a
while, right, kids?” he asked them when they were all enjoying hamburgers after a particularly
great fantasy movie on their Saturday out.
“Right!” they chorused.
“It’s been a super evening, Matt. Thanks again.”
He smiled warmly at her. “It’s only the second of many,” he said easily, finishing his
hamburger. “I see a pleasant future for us.”
“Us?” she teased lightly.
“Us,” he agreed. “We’ll be best friends for a couple of years and then I’ll follow you around
Phoenix on one knee with a ring in my hand until you say yes.”
She laughed delightedly. “I just might hold you to that,” she murmured.
“We can carry your bouquet,” Ann enthused.
“And tie tin cans to the bumper of the car we haven’t got yet,” Bob added, tongue-in-cheek.
“We can take care of him when he’s sick,” Ann added in her sensible way.
Matt gave Ann a beaming smile. “And I can take care of all of you, when you need it.”
“I might be a policeman one day myself,” Bob mused.
It was nice to see that the children liked Matt as much as she did. It wasn’t wise to look too far
down unknown roads. But she felt comfortable and secure with Matt. So did the children. He was
truly one of a kind. She had a feeling that it would all work out just perfectly one day.
“Deep thoughts?” Matt mused.
“Very nice ones, too,” she replied, and she smiled at him.
Her new job was more fulfilling than anything she’d done in her life. She felt a sense of
accomplishment when she and her volunteers—many of them, now—carried food to the legions of
hungry people around town.
More newspaper interviews had followed, including stories about her co-workers, which made
her feel like part of a large, generous family. Which, in effect, the food bank was.
“You know,” she told Tom one afternoon, “I never dreamed that I’d be doing this sort of job.
It’s like a dream come true.”
“I understand how you feel,” he replied, smiling. “All of us who became involved in this work
are better people for having been able to do it. The more we give, the more we receive. And not
just in material ways.”
He nodded.
She glanced at her watch and gasped. “Goodness, I have to get on the road! Mr. Harvey, did I
ever tell you how grateful I am to have this job?”
“Only about six times a day,” he murmured dryly. “We’re happy to have you working for us,
“I’ll get on my rounds. Good night, Mr. Harvey.”
He smiled. “Good night, Mary.”
She went out the door with a list of her pickups and deliveries in one hand, her mind already on
the evening’s work. Matt was on duty tonight, Bob and Ann were at sports competitions, John was
with Tammy, who’d agreed to pick up Bob and Ann at the games—her kids were playing, as well.
Mary could pick them up on the way home.
Home. She thought of the neat little house she was now living in with her kids, rent free, and of
the nice used compact car she’d been able to afford. It didn’t seem very far away that she and the
children had been living on the streets, with no money, no home, no car and no prospects. Life had
looked very sad back then. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]