Jill stood in the bathroom of her apartment, trying to hide the puffy redness of her eyes. She couldn’t believe she was going to see Ed Kendall. After she’d hung up on him he’d called back, several times, and in her misery over Ted’s departure she’d agreed to see him. A pitifully small voice was screaming in the back of her mind about how he had hurt her, about how she still loved another man, a better man.
A man who chose someone else, she thought angrily. Or was that even true? It was hard to remember if he had left or if she’d driven him away. And Ed…cocky, smooth Ed Kendall, Sigma Nu legend and the creep who had walked out on her when she was pregnant with Abby.
He’s her father. That was the painful truth of it. Green eyes, still rimmed with pink despite her best efforts, stared back from the mirror. No matter how much of a jerk he’d been then, no matter how much it had hurt when he’d left, he was the girl’s father. Jill had always thought she wouldn’t need one, that they were fine, just the two of them. But in the past weeks she had seen how Abby had seized hold of Ted, how she clearly had been longing for that presence in her life. And for the first time, Jill truly realized how lonely she had been herself, how much she needed it, too.
But Ted was leaving, leaving them both, and Jill had broken her own heart to set him free of this town that was strangling him. The prospect of being alone again was too much to face, and Ed was in town. I don’t need to forgive him, she thought. God knows I don’t have to love him. The simple truth of it was that he was here, in Stockbridge, begging to be a part of her life, while Ted was running away to better things than Jill Ward. That has to count for something.
Jill turned off the bathroom lights and gathered up Abby. She hadn’t told her daughter what she was doing that night, only that Mom was going out and she’d be staying at Mike and Lisa’s. With her parents out of town it was the only place she felt comfortable leaving Abby for a couple of hours while she met with Ed. It would be a while, she thought, before she introduced the two. So soon after the loss of Ted she had no desire to let any man hurt her daughter again.
“Come on, honey,” she called, taking Abby’s hand. Her daughter looked up at her, and as always she was astonished at how like her own eyes her child’s were.