The Story of Us - By Susan Wiggs Page 0,1

future. A Hunt, my mother had railed in exasperation. You could be marrying a Hunt, becoming one of the most important women in Texas. My grandmother, whom I’d always regarded as an ally, had been disappointed, too, though she tried to hide it. My father pointed out that as a Hunt, I’d be set for life, never being subjected to the worries of a mortgage, a family. I could have had a life of leisure.

You don’t talk to a twenty-year-old about being leisurely. I was full to bursting with restless energy and vague but colorful dreams that were trying to take shape in my imagination. My parents didn’t understand that I wanted…more. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but there was this sense inside me of reaching, of burning, of embracing the richness of life as it unfolds. I just hadn’t figured out what that meant for me. Believe me, it made for pretty weak dinner-table arguments.

I steeled my nerves and dove into the lake, hoping the shock of cold water would wash away the bothersome thoughts. But the water was even too cold for that, so I howled and scrambled back onto the dock.

“Lordy, that’s brutal,” I told RaeLynn and Trudy, vigorously scrubbing myself dry with a towel. Then I pulled on my cutoffs, lay back on the warm wooden planks and looked out at the stark majesty of the hill country. Sandstone crags and grasslands covered with wildflowers framed the intensely blue, mirrorlike water, the surface as blank, vast and empty as an unwritten page. “That didn’t help at all.”

“Help what?” asked RaeLynn.

I combed my fingers through my damp hair. “Still thinking about my parents. I try not to let them bother me. But in their eyes,” I confessed, “I’m a failure already.”

“Listen to you, Grace,” Trudy said, putting her shades on and leaning back on the heels of her hands. “Here it is, 1985, and you’re still expected to be the little woman. It’s like you’re in a time warp or something.”

“That’s my parents. They mean well, I suppose.”

“I wish you had a racy big sister to get in trouble so you could fly under the radar,” Trudy said. “Having Paulette pave the way always helped me enormously.”

Last I heard, Paulette had turned vegetarian and was living in Austin with two guys, both of whom were honky-tonk musicians. She embodied my parents’ great fear that if I didn’t find an appropriate man, I would wind up in some terrible situation like that.

I tried not to think about the disappointment in their eyes and the displeasure in their voices when I told them that not only did I not wish to marry Travis Hunt, but I also didn’t intend to move back to my sleepy little hometown after graduation. And finally, when I made it clear to them that the likelihood of me marrying a man they approved of was slim to none.

Yet I did want things. I wanted a husband and family, I wanted a life filled with passion and purpose. Unfortunately for me, I had no idea how to go about finding it. I just knew it wasn’t waiting for me like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right here in Edenville.

Braving the chill water, Trudy and RaeLynn went swimming to wash off the heat of the day. I wandered back to the car to get the novel I was reading, Lucky by Jackie Collins. I sank into the story, wanting to be Lucky Santangelo, prowling the glittering casinos of Vegas and having all sorts of imaginative sexual adventures. Heavens, who wouldn’t want that?

Far in the distance, up on the county road, the rumble of a powerful motor intruded into the quiet lapping of the lake upon the shore.

I remember glancing up in the direction of the road, seeing the dark silhouette of a motorcycle rider, backlit by the late afternoon sun. The girls were still paddling in the water and chatting, but I stayed on the shore, caught by something I couldn’t quite define.

Did I know even then, with that first glance? It seems impossible, given that we hadn’t seen each other’s faces or exchanged a single word.

But there was this feeling, deep in my gut. It was a twist of certainty and I can’t say it was pleasurable, but it was very intense. At any rate, I must have sensed something. Because at that moment, my thoughts rang crystal clear.

He’s here. At last.

Chapter Three

I felt the rumble of the