For the first month or so of the new semester, I spent afternoons in the little house on the hill with Joseph and faithfully returned to the Hanwell's house in the evening, going back to Joe's house only in the morning to get ready where all my stuff was.
It was working out swimmingly until the way-too-much that I had bitten off to chew caught up with me. I was taking 8 classes, and wedding planning. It was exhausting.
So, I made a mistake. I reasoned in my head that (since my Camry broke down, Joseph had gotten himself a car, and my aunt had given me her old Honda Civic) three cars in the driveway looked less scandalous than the two that would be left each evening when I drove back to the Hanwell's. I thought to myself, "Those who don't know me will think there are three people here, and those who do know me, know me. They'll know that I really am literally only sleeping here."
It was a naive thought, in all honesty, but I was staying later and later trying to keep up with my homework, and with my body craving rest, I talked myself into a wrong choice. I decided to give up and just stop going to the Hanwell's to sleep. Joseph tried and tried to get me to go, but, seeing how famished for sleep I was, he couldn't resist making me a bed on the couch night after night before he left to sleep on the floor in the bedroom.
I should have gone over in the afternoon and talked to Genevieve about my struggle. I don't know why I didn't. So many mistakes can be thwarted by a little open communication, if only I could remember to try talking. But, I was afraid of the failure I was displaying, and I didn't want to face it.
As a result (and also due to the insane amount of work I had buried myself under), I was seeing the Hanwells less and less. I was secretly sad and I missed them so, so much.
Once I realized that we were technically living together, we had a talk about resisting temptation. As ridiculous as that sounds. Obviously we had failed at resisting temptation not to sleep in the same house, but the reason people don't sleep in the same house before they marry is so they don't destroy their physical boundaries - we thought was probably the case. So we drew other lines in the sand. We quit kissing. I traded my dresses and leggings (that Joseph so adored) for T-shirts and jeans. We wouldn't even sit on the couch together and snuggle while we watched movies. One of us would be on the floor. Aim small, miss small was our motto in that regard.
It was hard, but not as hard at it would have been if we stole something that was meant to be received with jubilation at the right time. And that's all it was. Just a matter of time.
One afternoon, I was sitting in the living room working on some homework when my phone rang. It was Eddie Kindle. Thinking that was odd, he didn't really call me, ever, I answered and went outside to sit on my car.
"Hey, what's goin on?"
"Not much, I just wanted to say hi... "
"Oh... okay... well hi. How are you?"
"I'm alright... I broke up with my girlfriend..."
I held the phone in front of my face and blinked at it. What...?
"Huh. I'm sorry!"
"So, I just wanted to tell you that I was making a list of character traits that I hope to find in the girl that becomes my future wife."
"Yeah... And the very first thing on my list was... here, I'll read it to you... 'Someone who is a princess who would take off her crown and give it to a little child.' "
"Awwwe, that's really sweet!"
"And I thought to myself, 'That. Is Sarah Whitlock.' "
I was speechless for a moment. What was he saying? Or did he just want me to be encouraged?
"Thank you, Eddie. That is a very sweet compliment and I shall keep it for always."
"Did you get a wedding invitation yet? I think I sent you one..."
"Yes. Yes I did."
When I got off the phone, I went straight to the internet and sent Genevieve a message. I always felt like I should tell her when I talked to Eddie. Since we were all so connected.
She wrote back with one question: "Sarah, are you sure you are over him?"
Joseph was in the room when I received this question, and I told him about it and the phone call.
"Well, are you?", he asked softly.
"Of course I am! I love YOU!"
"I know you love me. But are you over him?"
Oh no. I had to really think about it.
"I... YES! No. Yes. I mean..." I had started to tear up a little, "I mean... Joe... you are the one that I love. You have like 98% of me. But I think he might still have this little 2%. He took it and he never gave it back. I mean, I let it go with him. I don't know, I don't know!"
Joseph hugged me, "I think you need to talk to Genevieve."
He was right. Boy did I ever need to talk to Genevieve. Not just about this, but about everything.
When I went to see her, she was in the kitchen with Banjo and Scarlett's newborn daughter in her arms, pacing to and fro to help her sleep. We spoke in hushed voices to maintain the quiet.
Genevieve asked me the same question Joseph had asked. I had responded similarly. She was worried to see that I wasn't in my usual style. Not that I didn't often wear T-shirts and jeans normally, but she hadn't seen me in a dress all semester. She was afraid Joseph was controlling something so personal about me. I explained that it was my idea, not his, and she looked relieved.
I wanted to talk about my absence there at night, but I didn't know how to start talking about it.
I told her that I didn't think I had any right to be questioning whether I was over Eddie or not. Because I was engaged.
She whispered back that engagement is absolutely a time to be asking those questions. More than appropriate, I had to work it out. She said that she thought I should see Eddie again before I got married. As soon as possible, in fact.
And as dreadful as that sounded, I knew that she was right.
I also knew Eddie. He was one flighty fella if I ever met one. I didn't know if it would happen.
I decided to suck it up and call him anyway. When he answered, I told him that we had an assignment from Genevieve and then went on to explain.
"You have my 2% and I want it back."
"Well..." he mused, "an assignment from Genevieve is an assignment from Genevieve. I'll see you next weekend! How's Saturday sound?"
I was almost too shocked to speak. "Sure, Saturday sounds great."
And that is how it happened that I made plans to see Eddie Kindle again.