It was all thanks to Charles Lamb that Sarah and Katherine even met in the first place. Before that, Sarah Jacobs hadn’t been much more than a vague placeholder in Katherine’s life. She was simply David’s sister; the subject of a few of David’s stories or the reason Jack remembered to wear gloves, but nothing more.
When Katherine asked David if she could borrow The Essays of Elia, he very nearly prevented them from meeting altogether by offering to bring the book to her the next morning.
“I’ll pass your building on my way home,” Katherine pointed out. “Would it be terribly intrusive of me to just swing by and pick it up?”
“Well, I’m not going to be home until late tonight, so I won’t be there when you stop by,” David replied, glancing toward Jack, “but if the prospect of meeting my family doesn’t put you off, go right ahead.”
Mrs. Jacobs was the one to answer the door when Katherine knocked, and she greeted her with a warm smile.
“You must be Katherine! David’s told us all about you,” she beamed as she ushered Katherine inside. “Mayer, did David tell you that his friend was such a beauty? He certainly never told me.”
Katherine recognized that tone. It was the one her mother used whenever she asked about men from the office. She squirmed uncomfortably — David was a good friend, certainly, but she had no intentions to marry him.
“Mama,” a pleasant voice scolded, “don’t scare her away before she’s even had time to warm up.”
“I’m just here to pick something up.” Katherine insisted, turning toward her new ally.
It took a great deal of effort not to stare. Whenever David or Les talked about their sister, Katherine had always just pictured a more feminine version of David: a frazzled, mother-hennish sort of figure who never left the house. Instead, Katherine found herself face-to-face with the very epitome of loveliness.
“Oh? And what might that be?” Sarah asked, absentmindedly tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She had the kind of hair most girls would kill for – a rich, glossy brown that fell across her shoulders in waves.
“Just a book,” Katherine said, flushing. “The Essays of Elia?”
Sarah’s face lit up. “Charles Lamb?” She asked excitedly, “Oh you’ll love him!”
She led Katherine into a small, cramped bedroom, placing her hands on her hips as she glanced around.
“It should be around here somewhere,” she murmured. “Why don’t you look through the desk while I check under his bed?”
“Under the bed?!” Katherine laughed.
Sarah shrugged. “There’s not much shelf room in here,” she explained with a small smile.
Katherine walked over to the little desk in the corner and began pawing through a neat stack of books. Most of them seemed to pertain to David and his schoolwork, but when she slid open one of the desk’s drawers she found herself staring down at a battered, bookmarked copy of Jane Eyre. She lifted the book carefully, curious to see which passages had been deemed worthy of marking, when something else caught her eye.
In the back of the drawer was a neat stack of newspaper clippings, all tied together with a green ribbon. With a shock she realized that the article on top was one of her own.
“I found it!” Sarah exclaimed triumphantly as she emerged from beneath the bed.
Katherine turned to her and wordlessly held up the stack of articles. Sarah’s eyes widened like those of a child caught telling a lie.
“Are these all mine?” Katherine asked finally.
Sarah blushed rather prettily and clutched David’s book to her chest. “I’m … a fan of your work, Miss Plumber,” she stammered out, eyes fixed on the floor in front of her.
Katherine set the stack of clippings back down, placing the book on top of them and sliding the drawer shut.
“Katherine,” she corrected with a grin, “and thank you.”