By Larry Hammersley
Contemporary Romance, 322 pages
Cover art by Artist: Richard Stroud
Leroy Doyle and Jody Stinson suffer unhappy relationships while in school and plan to avoid that when they get to college. Leroy scraps that resolve when he meets Jody, but she won't let him into her life. It takes her six years to wake up, but is it in time?
Jody thought about Leroy during the New Year's holiday weekend. She tried calling his apartment but got no answer. She regretted not permitting him to speak his piece about leaving. Allowing the plant operations to interrupt them infuriated her. She wouldn't allow work to interfere again.
On the Monday after the holiday weekend, she danced up the steps to the main plant to look for Leroy in the lab. Jensen hadn't seen him. She checked the batch process lab downstairs. Finnegan hadn't seen him. She rushed back upstairs, expertly balancing on her high heels and took the hallway to Gretchen's office. Empty. Exasperated, she plopped down in the chair facing Gretchen's desk, figuring she had gone for her morning coffee.
"Jody?" Gretchen said, entering behind her.
"Oh, Gretchen, I can't find Leroy anywhere. I wanted to talk him out of leaving," she said, anxious to learn his whereabouts.
"You're too late. He's already gone."
"What? When? Why didn't you tell me at least this weekend?" She leaned forward in her chair.
"He tried to tell you December thirtieth was his last day. He wanted to be the one to tell you."
"He's gone back to Indiana?" Jody had a sinking feeling.
"Yes. He sold his car, his apartment rent is paid to the end of this month and he asked me to handle shipping of his furniture out in a couple of weeks. He said he had a couple of interviews back there."
"Didn't you try to talk him out of leaving?" she asked but not in anger.
"Several times. I think you already know his reason for leaving." Gretchen's wrinkled eye brows and frown stung Jody once again.
"Oh, Gretchen, what have I done?" Tears swelled in her eyes and she gritted her teeth.
"Or, what have you not done might also be appropriate." She accepted Gretchen's chastising tone. Besides that tone of voice, Gretchen should be horse-whipping her, too.
"I should have listened to you all along. Better than that, I should have listened to my heart." Jody despaired. Gretchen handed her some tissues which she accepted and dabbed her eyes. The tears continued.
"I do have his home phone number." Gretchen scribbled on a notepad and handed it to her. She looked at it through her blurred vision, then stuck it in her purse.