Aaron, Nathan, Heather, Wendy, and Kepler came into the Union and stood in the doorway of my office. I had been trying to get some work done before my last day and I hadn’t been home since Melissa rejected my proposal and that was two days ago.
“You have to go home sometime,” Nathan said.
“Only to pack up my stuff. I have to get this work done anyway because you can’t trust Sam with anything because he…”
“Is the best replacement for you. Go home, Jefferson,” said Heather.
“I can’t Heather. If I see her face, I’ll want to kiss it and beg it to take me back,” I said putting away my papers and writing utensils. “You guys obviously didn’t come down here just to try to get me to go home so what’s up?”
“We’re gonna miss you, Bosco,” Kepler blurted out. Everyone looked at him. I stood up and walked over to the group. I hugged Heather and clapped Kepler on the back.
I fished the set of keys out of my pocket and unlocked Darrell’s office. “What are you doing, Jeff?” asked Wendy.
“Darrell has a Polaroid camera in here so I’m gonna take a picture,” I answered and opened Darrell’s top desk drawer. I pulled out a camera and we all went back out into my office. I fiddled with the timer and we all got huddled together and the picture took. “I want to thank you guys for making me belong. You are my family and I will never forget you.”
“We love you, Jefferson,” Heather hugged me again and then everyone else moved in for a group hug. In the middle of our hug, the phone rang.
“That’s probably the schmaltz police,” I said walking over to my desk. “Hello?”
“Hey, I heard you’re leaving Baldwin. Going to that Big, bad Apple,” said the voice on the other end.
“Yep, that’s right. Who is this?” I asked.
“This is Emily and I want to call you on that favor you owe me.”
I looked at the group and apologized. “I’m sorry, guys, I got to take this. I’ll see you all tomorrow though.” Everyone said their good-byes, left and I went back to talking with Emily. “That favor was for keeping quiet about Heather and me and since everybody now knows about that…”
“Favors are non-negotiable so you still owe me.”
“Okay, fine. What is it?” I laughed.
“Sleep with me.”
“What? Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“Stop making excuses, Jeff. This is a one-time offer so take it or leave it. What’s your decision?”
Emily and I were silent on both our ends as I tried to decide what to do.
Sam, Aaron, Wendy, Heather, Katie, Alyson, Nathan, Kepler, Wanda and I were all sitting around a booth in the Café on my last day here. My flight left at 3:45 and it was now eleven in the morning. “I have to get going guys since I have to go through all that security crap.”
“Jeff, can I talk to you in private?” Wendy asked, sliding out of the booth and pulling my arm.
“Yeah, sure,” I slid out of the booth and Wendy and I went outside and stood on the steps. “What’s up?”
“Remember when you took me to the Old Castle Dance?” she asked.
“Of course. It was one of the best nights of my life. Why?” I smiled.
“To me that was the best night of my life and I want to thank you again for that incredible evening and what makes it even more special is that no one else knows about it,” Wendy teared up and started to open the door to the Café.
I stopped Wendy from leaving but just looked at her. I reached over and brushed some hair behind her ear. She opened the door and we went inside. “Look, I’m glad you all love me and want to stay but I need to, nay, want to leave. So as much as it pains me to do so, I must take my leave. Are you ready, Heather?” I asked.
“We understand, Jefferson. Come on, we’ll go,” Heather got up and took my hand.
“Oh, wait. Melissa wanted me to give you this to read on the plane or something,” Sam handed me a piece of paper that was folded over.
“Thank you. Look, you guys have been wonderful. I love you all,” Wendy and Kepler stood up to hug me and I shook the guys’ hands. I put my arm around Heather and led her away from the group. “Take me to KCI, Jeeves.”
Heather and I left Baldwin in my Jimmy with Heather driving. The radio was playing softly but I couldn’t make out the song. “So what does Melissa have to say?”
“I didn’t even open the note,” I unfolded the paper and read over it.
“Read it out loud, you jerk!”
“’Dear Jeff, I am sorry that I wasn’t completely honest with you. You deserve someone who can offer you what I can’t. I cannot have children and I learned that shortly after you proposed to me the first time but I didn’t tell you. I do love you but you need someone who can offer you a chance at a happy family and I cannot offer you that. I do apologize and I wish you all the luck and happiness in New York. Love, Pussycat.’”
“Melissa is barren?” Heather was stunned.
“I can’t believe she put us through all that grief and heartache because of that,” I said folding up the paper and slipping it into my pocket. “That wasn’t important to me and we would’ve had the rest of our lives to show the world how much we loved each other.”
“It was important to her and I’m glad she finally told you what was wrong,” Heather said.
“I was seriously hoping it was a brain affliction.”
Heather and I stood in front of the security gate and held each other. “This is it,” Heather said with her voice quavering.
“We promised no crying,” I said looking down at Heather.
“I have to admit that I want you to stay and be my boyfriend and…” she sighed and we looked into each other’s eyes. She leaned up, closed her eyes and tilted her lips toward mine. I took hold of her chin and turned her away from me. “What’s that for?”
“I want to remember you lying next to me in bed after making love with your Mona Lisa smile, not as some failed attempt at keeping me here.”
“Flight 103 from Kansas City to JFK-New York now boarding,” a woman announced over the PA system.
I gave Heather one final hug and headed down the long corridor. She leaned against the wall and watched me leave. She had tears rolling down her face as she waved in my direction. “And off you go…” she said, her voice cracking.
I never looked back.
Part Seven begins. We meet Jeff's new girlfriend and are introduced to his new friends. Jeff also finishes his first book.