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     Sandy turned left out of her driveway and wound her way to O Avenue where she headed west to Edgewood Road. “It’s really nice to have you with me all day,” she said with a quick smile and a squeeze of Bryan’s hand. “This has literally not happened for us before, has it? You could make me neglect work if I’m not careful.”

     “Yeah!” Bryan exclaimed. “How does that work? You seem like you hardly ever work!”

     “Ha! Too funny! ‘A man may work from sun to sun but Realtor’s work is never done.’ A lot I can do at odd hours and I show clients houses when you’re sleeping. I’m not sure if you getting off third shift will increase or decrease our time together, at least our awake time. It’ll be nice to have you share my bed more though. I like feeling you next to me when I sleep.”

     “And I like feeling you too,” he responded with a triple eyebrow raise.

     Sandy rolled her eyes skyward, exhaled and said, “Prurient. Well, I guess I must be rubbing off on you.”

     “And vice versa.”

     “Oh, crap!” she exclaimed, putting on her right turn signal and moving from the left lane of Edgewood over to the right. “How could I forget about the Highway 100 construction? I was going to take Edgewood to Blairs Ferry and then zip over to the library at 2nd Ave but that bridge is a mess. I’ll go down 42nd Street and then turn on Center Point.”

     “We’ll go right by Fitzgerald High,” he said softly. “I haven’t been back in there since Mom and Dad were killed. I should stop by.”

     “Yes. You should. Hey! After we see Marian the librarian I’ll scoot north on C Avenue and get to Pinicon Ridge via Trentham. We’ll go by George’s old school, too.”

     The library was a hopping joint. “Wow,” Bryan said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this busy. At least not since I moved out of my parents’ house.”

     “School just let out, didn’t it? I bet a lot of kids come here to study or because they don’t have anybody at home. Or to pretend to study!” she added with a laugh.

     “Yeah, that makes sense. My old elementary school is maybe a third of a mile that way and Aiionwatha is probably about as far the other direction.”

     “That’s right,” Sandy said. “You said your parents lived just south of Vilagon, right? A lot of kids in my neighborhood went to Millhouse. Boy, talk about freedom of choice! Three elementary schools to choose from, one in Marlin, Millhouse and Trentham.”

     “Yep. Not even a mile from Vinewood to Millhouse. And sidewalks the whole way. Only bummer was when people didn’t shovel the ones behind their houses and I had to trudge through the ice and snow. Sometimes I’d come home on the frozen creek, though. That was fun. Me and Bruns and McQuaid. I should try to reconnect with those guys.”

     “You should. It sounds like it’s time. Okay, take me to Mrs. Struttmann.”

     It turned out that Pat Struttmann was pretty busy. She saw Bryan, waved excitedly, did a double take toward Sandy and excused herself from a group of prepubescent girls who were crowded around a computer monitor. “Well,” she exclaimed. “Look who’s still alive! Too busy saving lives to stop by?

     “Hi,” she continued, speaking now to Sandy. “I’m sorry, I know we’ve met but I can’t place your name?”

     “Cassandra Priam. I used to do some acting at TCR and I’ve seen you and your husband Len there. I’m not sure if we’ve ever met before,” Sandy answered, offering her hand.

     “That’s it! And you were in the news with Bryan about that poor little boy who got impaled! I knew I recognized you! I’ll be sure to tell Len. Did you need some help finding something, Bryan or are you all set? A lot busier here now than during the mornings, isn’t it?”

     “I’ll say! No, I’m good. I just haven’t been by since last Friday and figured you might be worried, or at least curious,” he said.

     “I was a little worried until I saw you and Marcy Jones on Channel Two. Then I figured you were running around like some sort of super hero! Hey, don’t be a stranger. I’ve got to go help these girls. It was great to officially meet you, Cassandra. Take care of our boy wonder, won’t you?”

     “Nice to meet you too, Pat. Please give Len my love. Oh! And tell him he looked great with his beard shorn!”

     “Did you see him in ‘Arsenic’? I’ll tell him! Bye!”

     “Did you need anything here,” Sandy asked Bryan.

     “No. Just wanted to say hi. I’ve been coming here since before I could read. She’s always been super helpful. And friendly.”

     “It was nice of you to think about her. It’s important to remember to give kindness. Okay, then on to hiking?”

     “Yep. Pinicon Ridge via Trentham, right?”

     “You got it,” Sandy replied. “Let’s roll.”

     They turned left onto Center Point Road and took that north to County Home Road. “I’m going to take us north on C Avenue Extension. I’d usually go east to Highway 13 but I want to drive by George’s school and also check out C Avenue extension. It is chip and sealed all the way to Roosevelt Street and that takes us right into Trentham. Early spring a chip and seal could be ugly, so I want to check it out. Sometime when we want to do a little longer ride and get off the bike trail we can head north on the Cedar Valley to Alice Road then take that south like a quarter mile then head back to C Ave extension via E28 which is Roosevelt. It’s nice and there is very little traffic.”

     “Cool. I’m always up for a little adventure!”

     “I know you are. It’s one of the many endearing qualities you possess.”

     Roosevelt took them east through Trentham and they passed the Trentham school complex. “Speaking of stopping by, I should too. A lot of teachers were heartbroken when George died. Another day,” she added as she turned north on Alburnett Road, made her way to Central City Road, Highway 13 and Pinicon Ridge via Horseshoe Falls Road where they had their choice of parking in the nearly empty lot.

     “Pretty, empty,” Sandy said. “That’s nice but I guess we’re a little early as far as any foliage is concerned. Pretty barren still.”

     “Yeah, but the grass has greened and there are lots of little buds. It’s pretty. Besides, the day is gorgeous and so are you,” Bryan responded, giving Sandy a small kiss. “You know, I think we came here with V1846 to go sledding one year.”

     “You are sweet. Wouldn’t surprise me. Okay, it is four o’clock, give or take, so we have three hours to hike. This is the long trail here. I say we head where the trail goes and then swing around in an hour and a half. That’ll give us an hour to get home, showered and dressed before we head to dinner and the ‘Imitation Game’ at 9:25. Copacetic?”

     “Perfect. This sunshine is lovely. ‘Lay on MacDuff, and damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’”

     “Yes, well, let’s hope things turn out better for us than they did for King Duncan,” she answered, taking his hand in hers and heading onto the empty, beckoning trail.

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