Adam took the hint and stood, and Jazmine rose with him. “Is there any special time you want her back this evening?” he asked.
“No…anytime is fine,” she said, then quickly reconsidered. “On second thought, Jazmine has school tomorrow so she shouldn’t be out too late.”
“I’ll have her here by seven.”
“Thank you.” Shana waited by the door as they left, her heart going a little crazy as she tried to regain her composure.
“Bye, Aunt Shana.”
She closed the door. She’d hoped to put the mighty naval officer in his place and all she’d managed to do was amuse him. Depressed, Shana sank into the closest chair and hid her face in her hands—until she realized something. For the first time since Jazmine had arrived, she’d called her Aunt Shana. Twice.
Apparently her status had been sufficiently elevated that the nine-year-old was no longer ashamed to be related to her. That, at least, was progress.
Adam waited until they’d almost reached Tacoma before he mentioned the scene at Shana’s. Jazmine had barely said a word from the moment they’d left. Now and then she glanced in his direction, as if she was afraid he was upset, but really he had no one to blame but himself. He did know women who were lost without a relationship, although he didn’t think Shana was like that. Intentionally or not, Jazz had misunderstood his remark and used it for her own purposes.
“You really did it this time,” he murmured.
“Are you mad?”
“No, but your aunt was.”
“I know, but don’t you be mad, okay?”
“I shouldn’t have said anything. You and I should not have been discussing male-female relationships.”
“Did you mean what you said about my aunt being beautiful and all that?”
“Yes.” This was only the second time he’d seen Shana; again, he’d come away wanting to know her better. He might have ruined any chance of that, but he hoped not. When he’d started out from Everett, he’d considered inviting Shana to join them. But it hadn’t taken him long to decide that today probably wasn’t opportune.
“What I told your aunt is the truth. She is a beautiful woman,” he said casually as he headed south on the interstate.
“She likes you.”
“No, I’m serious. She’s got the hots for you. I can tell.”
“I don’t think so.” Back to reality. Shana might be attracted to him, but she’d never admit that now.
“I know so!”
“Okay, but can I say what I want to first?”
Apparently she was taking lessons from her aunt Shana. “Fine.”
“I was thinking about what you said—about not feeling sparks with Mom. But I thought you might with Aunt Shana.”
“Jazmine, you’re far too interested in matters that are none of your concern. How do you know about this stuff, anyway? MTV?”
She groaned. “Why do adults always say things like that?”
“Because they’re true.”
“All I want is for you to marry her and be happy.”
“Has the cat got your tongue?” Jazmine teased. “Adults say that, too. No, really, I am serious. If you married my aunt Shana, everything would be perfect. She needs a husband and you need a wife.”
“I don’t need a wife,” he argued. “And it’s none of—”
“But you’d like to be married one day, wouldn’t you?” she broke in.
“Yes,” he said reluctantly. He’d had the very same thought just recently, but he’d credited that to feeling sorry for himself after the surgery. Granted, Shana was attractive but he didn’t need a nine-year-old playing matchmaker. Although…He smiled involuntarily. Shana appealed to him, and he was more and more inclined to pursue the relationship. On his own schedule and in his own way.
“I can help,” Jazmine offered.
“It would be best if you left this between your aunt and me. Agreed?”
After a moment, Jazmine nodded. “Agreed.”
“Good, now let’s have a wonderful day, all right?”
Jazmine turned a smile of pure joy on him. “All right.”
A surprise awaited him when they arrived at the Museum of Glass. The Dale Chihuly exhibit was in the Tacoma Art Museum and Union Station, not in the nearby Museum of Glass. Jazmine and Adam took the guided walking tour of his permanent display and were awestruck by the Bridge of Glass. The five-hundred-foot pedestrian bridge linked the Tacoma waterfront to Pacific Avenue.
Originally Adam had gotten information about Chihuly over the Internet when he was researching a destination for today’s outing. Chihuly was known for his massive glass installations, but the man’s talent was even more impressive than Adam had realized. Both he and Jazmine loved his vibrant use of color and unique style. Following the walking tour, they stopped at the Museum of Glass. Adam was in for a surprise there, too. The museum was huge: it contained thirteen thousand square feet of open exhibition space. Jazmine was enthralled by the Hot Shop Amphitheater, which was the building’s most striking feature. Cone-shaped, it leaned at a seventeen-degree angle, and was ninety feet high and a hundred feet wide. The theater included a glass studio where a team of artists blew and cast glass. Afterward, Adam and Jazmine ate sandwiches in the museum café and visited the gift shop. When Adam had suggested this, it had seemed like an entertaining thing to do, but he’d quickly become caught up in the excitement and drama of watching the artists work.
By the end of the afternoon, he needed a break, and sat with a cup of coffee while Jazmine leafed through a book he’d bought her.
Before they left, Jazmine bought a postcard of the Dale Chihuly glass flowers displayed on the ceiling of a Las Vegas casino to send her mother.
“Are you ready to go back to your aunt’s?” he asked, sipping his coffee.
“I guess,” Jazmine said. “But only if you are.”
Adam recognized a trap when he saw one. If he appeared too eager, little Jazmine might suspect he wanted to see Shana again. He did, but he sure wasn’t going to admit it, especially to her.
For Shana, having an entire Sunday to herself was sheer luxury. Catherine was working at the restaurant and this was the first day she’d taken off since she’d purchased the business. Shana intended to take full advantage of this gift of time.
Working as many hours as she did, she’d been putting off a number of tasks and spent two hours doing paperwork. The Olsens had trained her well in every aspect of owning a restaurant, but they’d failed to warn her how much paperwork was involved. Getting everything organized wasn’t difficult but it was time-consuming. After working all day and handling the closing in the evening, she was exhausted, and making sense of anything more than the remote control was beyond her.
Once the paperwork was up-to-date, she polished her toenails, and between three loads of wash, she luxuriated in a new mystery she’d been trying to read for weeks. She’d been reading at night in fits and starts, but couldn’t manage more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. The author was one of her favorites but to Shana’s surprise her mind kept wandering away from the page. She supposed it was because she felt guilty about all the things she should be doing.
When she wasn’t fretting over that, her thoughts were on Jazmine and Adam. She knew they were going to the Museum of Glass, but that couldn’t possibly take all afternoon. Well, maybe it could; she didn’t know.
Finally Shana gave up and shut the book. This was Adam Kennedy’s fault. Even when he was nowhere in sight, he wouldn’t leave her alone.
When she could stand it no longer, Shana logged on to the computer and left her sister a message.
Sent: Sunday, June 12
Subject: Adam Kennedy: Friend or Foe?
Just checking in to let you know that despite our rocky start, everything’s going well with Jazz and me. She’s a great kid.
The upcoming week is the last of the school year. I’m thrilled at how quickly Jazmine has adjusted and how fast she’s made friends. I guess she’s had lots of practice. She’s a tremendous help at the ice-cream and pizza parlor and insists on taking pizzas to the customers’ tables, which I appreciate.
The other reason I’m writing is that I’ve got a question about Peter’s friend, Adam Kennedy. I must have met him at Peter’s funeral, but if so I don’t remember. Jazmine seems to think you’re romantically interested in him. Are you? You’ve never mentioned him before—at least not that I can recall. Before you make anything of this inquiry, I want it understood that I find him arrogant and egotistical. Jazmine, however, thinks the guy walks on water. They’re off this afternoon to explore some glass museum. I’d be grateful if you’d tell me what you know about him. For instance, has he ever been married? If not, why? I don’t want to give you the wrong impression or anything—I do find him arrogant. But he sort of interests me, too. Fill in the blanks for me, would you?
At six Shana tossed a salad for dinner. The house seemed terribly quiet, and she turned on the television for company. That wasn’t like her. In all her years of living alone, she’d never once felt this lonely. At first she wondered if it was due to the breakup with Brad, but all she felt when she thought about him was regret for all that wasted time—and anger. She was just plain glad he was out of her life. In fact, she rarely thought of him at all and that surprised her.
Jazmine had been with her for only a few weeks, and already Shana couldn’t imagine life without her. She missed Jazmine’s energy—blaring her music or talking on the phone, or plying Shana with questions about all sorts of things. The difference between the unhappy nine-year-old who’d arrived on her doorstep and the girl she was now—well, it seemed nothing short of astonishing. She’d become extroverted, interested and…interfering.
A little after seven, Jazmine burst into the house. “I’m back!” she shouted.
Before Shana could issue a word of welcome, Jazmine regaled her with details of how they’d spent their day. She talked about the walking tour and chattered excitedly about watching the artists work in the Museum of Glass. She’d fed the seagulls along the waterfront on Rustin Way and then Adam had taken her for a quick visit to the zoo at Point Defiance Park. Shana could hardly believe the girl could talk so fast and breathe at the same time.
“I guess you had a completely rotten time?” Shana asked, teasing her. Shana realized as she spoke that the lieutenant commander was nowhere in sight. “Where’s Adam?”
“We were kind of late and he had to get back.” Jazmine’s smile widened. “Did you want him to come inside?”READ MORE >>