“So the reporter says to Kent, ‘Crosby said in an interview last night that he doesn’t think you have enough respect for the game. What do you think?’ And then Kent looks this reporter square in the eye and tells him—I swear to God—‘I really don’t think of Crosby much at all.’ Straight up savage.” Jeff Troy shook his head, grinning, and he slung an arm over Kent’s shoulder.
Kent didn’t hesitate to lean into the touch; it didn’t even seem like it was a decision for him, just a reflex. He and Jeff were exceedingly comfortable around one another, Alicia had noticed. But that was to be expected, she supposed. They’d been teammates and close friends for years and were now engaged.
Engaged. Alicia’s heart twisted to think of it.
The knowledge never quite left her mind, almost like a flashing warning sign constantly crawling across her thoughts, but Alicia pushed her unhappiness aside to join in on the chuckles from Bob and Kent. Truthfully, she was glad to hear a story of yet another one of Kent’s escapades. Listening to tales of Kent’s life in Vegas was always entertaining, and what's more, in a bittersweet way, they made her feel close to him again. She wished Kent didn’t live so far away. It truly was like being in different worlds.
“Me and the guys could barely believe it,” Jeff went on. “We were looking at each other like, ‘Did he really just say that?’ But he absolutely did. Parse totally went there.”
Alicia could believe it. Kent was witty and funny, and he could be downright cutting when he wanted to be. She could remember when he was billeting with them and he could have all of them, even Jack, laughing out loud at the dinner table after games with his frank assessments of parents or coaches from the opposing team. Now, she caught Bob’s eye and traded a smile with him; she knew he was thinking back to the same times.
Her spirits faltered rather than bolstered, however, when Kent turned in his seat to give Jeff a fond but exasperated look.
“You almost didn’t believe it?” Kent repeated incredulously. “Jeff, you’d known me for almost three years by then. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that I gave the media a juicy soundbyte that everybody who knew anything about hockey freaking the fuck out for days afterward. That’s just a below average Tuesday for me.”
“Hey, I didn’t say I was surprised at what you’d said,” Jeff defended himself. “It just so happened that it was the moment that I knew you were the one for me. And it took a few minutes to process.” His grin turned devilish, and he leaned in to give Kent a lingering kiss closer to his lips than his cheek. “Besides, you know I got my act together after that.”
While Alicia had never considered herself a prude, her stomach churned somewhat at the remark, and she hurried to sip her wine before anyone could notice the expression on her face.
She didn’t want to think of Kent and Jeff being together that way. If she had to think of Kent, practically her son, having a physical relationship with anyone, it was Jack. Her actual son.
They’d been broken up for close to a decade. And Jack claimed it was for the best, and both he and Kent seemed to have moved on—but. Alicia still couldn’t help but long to see them reunite, for them to realize that they needed each other. Kent had been so good for Jack back in Juniors, teasing life and light out of Jack that Alicia hadn’t even known existed. And that Jack, that Jack that blossomed around Kent, was the boy Alicia had come to view as her son.
But since that awful night, he hadn’t been the same. And she understood; she knew it was only logical that if Jack had gone to such a dark place, he wouldn’t be the same person once he returned from it. College had definitely been positive for him, and he’d been thrilled to finally go into the NHL once he’d graduated, but Alicia wanted the Jack he’d been as a teenager alongside Kent to return.
But she wasn’t going to get that, not with Jeff arriving in the picture and taking Jack’s place at Kent’s side.
Alicia drained her wine glass and found herself reaching for the bottle to fill it up again, an indulgence she rarely allowed herself outside of the holidays. But it was white wine, not red, and she saw no reason she couldn’t make an exception just this once.
Jeff began regaling them with another story of Kent’s media antics, one Alicia was vaguely familiar with, but she found that she couldn’t bring herself to care about the details, instead focusing on the gentle glug-glug of the bottle as she emptied the last of its contents into her glass.
Idly, she wondered what Jack was doing now. Rhode Island was in the same time zone as Montreal, and Jack hadn’t had a game tonight. Maybe he was out with teammates, or maybe he was visiting Bitty back at Samwell as he so often did. Or maybe Bitty was visiting him at his apartment and they were having a picture-perfect five-course dinner party with some close friends—it seemed like a very Bitty thing to do. He liked to entertain, Alicia knew, to such an extent that she was always surprised Jack had gone for someone so outgoing.
But then again, she knew that he’d loved Kent. So maybe his romance with Bitty wasn’t such a stretch.
“—so then Kent tells the dad, ‘Oh, I’m not a hockey player. I’m just a lacrosse player they’re sponsoring to help find a better sport to play’!”
Alicia laughed along with the others, even though she had no idea what the lead-up to the punchline was supposed to be. Then she excused herself to retrieve a new bottle of wine from the armoire, ignoring the growing concern in Bob’s eyes as she did.
Normally, Alicia took a little bit of time to read before bed, putting aside her phone after checking her calls and emails to see if her agent needed to let her know about any changes or updates. She liked to relax with a book, even if for only ten minutes, just to focus her mind on something outside of herself.
That night she couldn’t bring herself to pick up the latest of her mystery novels, and instead just crawled beneath the covers, pressing her face into the pillow and waiting for Bob to join her. Her bones ached with tension and weariness, and she wanted nothing more to fall asleep instantly. But her mind refused to rest, and she was already tossing and turning when her husband came in to lie down on the other side of the bed.
“I quite like him,” Bob remarked mildly as he pulled the goose down duvet back over them both. “Jeff, I mean.”
The comment was obviously intended to be a segue into a larger conversation, and, in all honesty, there were plenty of things to say about Jeff, all of them nice. He was handsome, he was good-natured, and it was obvious just from the way they looked at one another that the depths of he and Kent’s devotion to one another knew no bounds.
But since all of these qualities of Jeff’s were so obvious, since he clearly complimented Kent in so many ways, Alicia couldn’t bring herself to respond. She didn’t move from her position of facing away from Bob.
Bob persisted despite her silence. “It’s plain that he loves Kent,” he continued. His voice took on a particular gentleness. “I’d never ask for much more than that from the person Kenny marries. He’s devoted to Kent. To their organization, too. Some players can be pretty reckless in their personal lives—but Jeff’s never been, not in all the years since Kent was dr—has been on the team,” he hurried to correct himself.
At that, she flipped over to look at him directly. “You can say ‘drafted’, Bob,” Alicia told him, bluntly but not unkindly. “I’ve had some time to adjust to the idea of Jack not being a part of the draft, after all. I’m not going to fall to pieces at the mention.”
Bob’s expression shifted, going from determinedly optimistic to apologetic. “Oh, Leesh, I didn’t think you were. I just know—listen—oh, Jesus.” He scrubbed his face with a hand for a moment before sighing. “This has got to be hard on you, I think. Because I know you were hoping for Jack and Kent to begin dating again.”
For a moment, Alicia froze, her heart skipping a beat. She’d never told anyone of her secret wish, avoiding anything that would even hint at it, simply because of how silly it seemed when spoken out loud. And yet, it was important to her, a fantasy that filled her with longing every time she imagined it.
Perhaps she hadn’t given Bob enough credit when she thought he’d never be able to guess. He probably knew her too well.
Letting out a huff, she offered Bob a wry half-smile. “What gave me away?”
Bob reached for her then, outstretching an arm to hook around her waist and draw her close. The only sound was the rustle of her silk nightgown across the Egyptian cotton sheets. The bed was too soundly and solidly constructed to creak with their movements.
“It took me a little while,” Bob admitted, his voice soft, looking directly into her eyes. There was only maybe six inches between their faces. “That second Christmas, though, when you were trying so desperately to convince Kent to come and celebrate with us, though, that sealed it. I’d wondered if you were just still upset that he’d missed the previous year, but even back then, I was . . . impressed. And a little surprised, maybe, that you were ready to see him so soon.”
“It wasn’t his fault,” Alicia replied instantly, automatically. “What Jack did—that wasn’t Kent’s fault.”
That was what she’d always believed, what they’d always believed. To blame Kent when the true blame rested on themselves? It would have been cowardly. It wouldn’t have helped Jack in the slightest.
“Preaching to the choir,” Bob replied, a hint of sadness in his voice. “I know Kent’s not responsible. And I’d wondered the first Christmas, but that second one, that’s when I knew for sure that you wanted to get Kent and Jack in the same room together, get a little reunion going. Have them get back together.”
Unbidden tears pricked at the corners of Alicia’s eyes, and she impatiently forced them back.
“Can you blame me?” she challenged him. “You saw how alive Jack was with Kent. The day they met—Bobby, I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone before or since who could make Jack smile like he did. He was so happy with Kent. They were so happy! And Kent was so good for him.”
It was true. Jack had always been a quiet, serious child who was better at performing to high expectations in academics and athletics than he was at making friends. By the time he entered Junior-level hockey, he seemed to exist constantly in a state of low-key stress not quite disguised by a continued attempt at stoicism, shutting out anyone who tried to ask about it. Alicia had been frequently contemplating if she’d be better off taking a break from her career to try to reach out to him, try to stop him from constantly barricading himself away from her and Bob. But Jack didn’t really like anyone attempting to understand him, clamming up even further the more anyone tried to get inside his head, preferring to simply exist unquestioned even when he was clearly upset. She would see the tension he’d carried in his shoulders, the stressed scowl on his face, and feel like a failure as a parent for not being able to solve the problem or pinpoint the source of his stress in the first place.
And then Kent had swept into their lives right before Jack’s junior year of high school, a quick-witted, too-skinny teenager who had an easy laugh and was able to have Jack laughing, too, after just a few minutes of meeting him. And from that point forward, he and Jack were inseparable, getting along with an ease Alicia hadn’t thought Jack capable of. Suddenly, Jack was laughing, he was joking, and he was smiling, all because Kent had transformed him.
Selfishly, Kent’s fast friendship with Jack was perhaps one of the reasons that she and Bob had so swiftly rescued Kent from his hellhole of a home life and brought him to live with them in Montreal permanently. Even more selfishly, Alicia had been relieved to have Kent in the house, because as long as he was there, she no longer had to worry about Jack, no longer had to worry that she was an incompetent or inattentive parent.
She hadn’t meant to be selfish, honestly. She’d just wanted Jack to be happy. And maybe to feel like his unhappiness wasn’t her fault, wasn't because of some impossible standard that she and Bob had created.
Looking at Bob now, she searched his face only to find that she couldn’t read his expression. But there wasn’t any kind of judgement in his tone when he responded.
“Jack was happy then,” he replied quietly. “But that was almost a decade ago at this point. He’s not the same person, and he’s not with Kent anymore. He’s happy with Bitty.
Bitty. Just the ever-so-cutesy nickname had Alicia gritting her teeth.
Bitty, who had come to her house for Christmas, glanced around at the living room, and then asked her, “So, will you be changing the curtains for spring?”
And later, when she’d dug the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer to go along with his pie, he’d commented, “Oh, my Moomaw had a recipe for home-churned ice cream. It’s delicious. I’ll have to give it to you for next time.”
Finally, during Christmas dinner, instead of sitting down to eat with them like a normal human being, he spent most of his time in the kitchen, fussing over the desserts he had baking there, popping back out only to fret over if the almond-flour crust on the pies had set well enough or to ask Alicia when the last time had been that she’d had the oven calibrated.
She would have so much rather have Kent. Kent, who was so warm and rambunctious, who greeted her and Bob with delighted cries of “Ally Cat! Bad Dad!” and always eagerly returned their bear hugs. Who sat down and ate meals with them and seemed so enthralled when just hearing about their day or could simply unwind with them after a long week and didn’t try to slip passive-aggressive little jibes into the conversation.
But most of all, she wouldn’t have had to worry about Kent and Jack’s future like she currently did for Bitty and Jack. Bitty hadn’t yet graduated college, but she’d never heard him mention any plans for a career once he did, and when she’d broached the topic with Jack, he’d just shrugged.
“Bitty says he wants to stay home and take care of me,” he’d said, sounding fairly defensive. “I don’t see a problem with that.”
Alicia, however, saw a problem right away. Because even putting aside the issue of Bitty being completely dependent on Jack as far as finances were concerned, there was another issue entirely: expecting Jack, as he was now, to be the main source of emotional support for someone as young as Bitty was, in her opinion, unrealistic. To say the least. She loved Jack dearly, but he could be continually distant and inscrutable even to those closest to him.
Could Bitty truly make Jack happy? Maybe. But Alicia didn’t want maybe. She wanted certainty.
So, now, Alicia could only shake her head in dismissal. “Bitty is a child.”
Bob sighed slightly at that. “He’s the person Jack chose.”
“It was a bad choice,” Alicia stated flatly. “Is Bitty going to stick with him through thick and thin? When the media is on Jack’s case because of a point drought and Jack is so upset that he refuses to talk? When he’s been injured and is lashing out and is struggling to recover so he can get back on the team? Will Bitty be there then? Or is he going to turn tail and run, leaving Jack on his own?”
Those same tears pricked at her eyes again, this time at the thought of Jack needing to rebuild his life again after already putting himself through it once, and this time she had more difficulty pushing them back.
“We won’t know the answer until it happens,” Bob told her softly.
“But we already know what Kent would do,” Alicia insisted. “That’s why I want them together, Bobby. Because Kent tried his best to stand with Jack even through the overdose. Even after he was playing in Vegas, he tried to get in touch with him, let him know he wasn’t alone. Jack once told me that when the season started, Kent called him every day for a month to try to speak with him, to make sure he was okay. Is Bitty going to do that? Is Bitty going to make that effort? Who the hell knows? It’s not like their relationship has been tested like that. And Jack—Jack deserves to be with someone who loves him as much as Kent does.”
“Leesh.” It was more of a breath than a word. “I love Jack. You know that. But Kent deserves to be with someone who’s not going to ignore his calls every day for a month.”
Automatically, Alicia went to open her mouth to retort, but when Bob’s frank statement registered, she found herself clamping her jaw shut without speaking. Stunned both at Bob’s words and the revelation they brought to her, all of her arguments for why she so desperately wanted Kent and Jack back together flew out of her mind. She could only lie there, her breath coming in gasps like she’d just been punched in the stomach, as she contemplated just how little she’d considered Kent’s feelings in this plan of hers.
“It’s not fair,” Bob said, his voice barely above a whisper. “It’s not fair to Kent to expect him to be the glue that holds Jack together. We made the mistake of assuming he could do that once, and it wasn’t fair then and it isn’t fair now.”
A strange sensation overwhelmed Alicia, as if she were trapped outside and caught in a hailstorm. She felt as though these new realizations swirling in her mind were the dangerously high winds surrounding her and bringing her eyes to water at the intensity, while each slowly dawning inkling of just how short-sighted she’d been was the small but stinging impact of hailstones hurtling against her skin.
For years she’d chastised herself for selfishness for seeing Kent as the solution to her family’s difficulties. But in all that time, she’d never truly realized the true extent of how self-serving her ambitions for Kent and Jack actually were.
She’d wanted so much for Jack and Kent to reunite to help Jack. But she’d not once pondered, not even idly, the effect the reunion would have on Kent, other than to reassure herself that of course he’d want to be with Jack again. Of course he’d want those happy times from Juniors again, just like she did.
But he didn’t. He wanted to be with Jeff. Kent was engaged to Jeff, not Jack.
And Jack couldn’t have been all that happy in Juniors, not really. Not if he overdosed on his medication and left Kent to find him.
This time, Alicia didn’t have the strength to suppress the moisture surging forth from her eyes.
“I’m a fool,” she choked out, the tears coming down thick and hot and ugly. “I’m such a goddamn fool, aren’t I?"
Bob held her tightly, pressing a kiss to her forehead and then to her tear-stained cheek. “We’re never fools for wanting our children to be happy.”
Alicia pressed closer to him, wanting to hold as much of him as she could. “For so long, I just wished our lives could go back to the way they were then, because Jack was so hopeful and the future looked so bright. But I’ve been lying to myself about it. This whole time.” Her voice cracked at the end.
“Oh, sweetheart.” Bob stroked her hair, but let her go on.
“He wasn’t happy, was he?” Alicia gasped out. “I just wanted to pretend that he was, because it’s easier to look back and convince myself those were good times than it is to admit that I wasn’t seeing what I was supposed to see.”
“I didn’t see it, either.” Bob gave her shoulders an extra squeeze. “Neither of us did then, Leesh. It’s not just your fault. But you know what? Jack’s doing better now, and so is Kent. They’ll both be okay. We’ll all be okay.”
Not wanting to cry any longer, Alicia just nodded, gulping down her tears as best she could, wiping at her face.
Bob waited until she was done before gathering her into his arms again, tucking her head beneath his chin.
“Kent will always be a member of our family,” he murmured. “No matter what. Even if he’s not our actual son-in-law, that won’t stop us from loving him.”
And Alicia knew that, she’d always known that, but she appreciated Bob speaking the words out loud. It was reassuring to have the man who’d stood by her side through every hardship, who’d never blamed either Jack or Kent for their family’s problems, state plainly that he would remain solid, that he wouldn’t be changing his mind anytime soon.
“It won’t,” she agreed, her voice a little bit hoarse. “Of course it won’t. It never has before.”
She kissed his throat, then, and he spread a wide hand across her back, and she drifted off to sleep under the warm press of his fingers, already thinking furiously about how she could prove to Kent that she trusted his choices.
Jeff and Kent were set to depart for the airport at half-past nine the next morning, and before they left, Alicia presented them with a small, elaborately carved cherry jewelry box. After taking a moment to run her fingers across sprawling tree embossed on the wood in an attempt to calm her thudding heart, she pried open the lid to reveal the duo of antique rings tucked into the velvet-lined interior.
“These belonged to my grandparents,” she explained to an open-mouthed Kent and a quizzical Jeff. “I’d already married by the time the both of them passed away. And I know the two of you haven’t selected your rings yet, but I’d be honored if you’d accept these from me.”
A wide grin spread across Jeff’s face; he obviously liked the idea. He turned to Kent excitedly, but Kent just stared at Alicia, stunned.
“You—you want us to have these?” he croaked. “But—what about—what’s Jack going to do? Shouldn’t he—?”
“Bitty has already informed me that when Jack proposes, he wants to go shopping together and pick out their own rings,” Alicia replied, keeping her voice carefully neutral. “And Jack . . . wants what Bitty wants.”
Truthfully, she'd never actually offered the rings to Bitty or Jack. But Bitty had arrived with Jack for dinner last month gushing over details for a wedding, musing out loud about centerpieces and invitations, while Alicia stared at Jack, wondering just what he'd said to give the impression to Bitty that he was interested in marriage when Alicia had never even heard him contemplate the idea. In turn, Jack had studiously avoided her gaze, and Bob confirmed to her later that no, Jack hadn't proposed. But he must have given Bitty some kind of confirmation, because throughout the entire visit, Bitty had chattered ceaselessly about his plans, including heading to the jeweler hand-in-hand with Jack for the ring selection.
Alicia had decided in that very instant that while she didn't know what was taking place between the two in that moment, she wasn't going to donate her family heirlooms to whatever disaster was brewing. No matter how much of a trial she found Bitty, she wasn't going aid Jack in deceiving him.
Now, Bob clapped a hand onto Kent’s shoulder. “Whaddya say, kiddo? You going to carry on the family legacy?”
“I . . . I . . .” Kent blinked several times as if he still didn’t quite believe it, but then a smile broke through the confusion on his face. “Of course. No other rings could compare.” He cast a quick glance at Jeff, checking to make sure it was okay. “Right?”
“None could even come close,” Jeff said staunchly, bending over slightly to press a kiss to Kent’s forehead.
Kent flushed happily; he really and truly did love him, Alicia noticed, suppressing a bittersweet pang and instead concentrating on her newfound approval of Jeff. After all, any man who could be so supportive of Kent was a man she could learn to like. And she knew instinctively from Bob’s glance his way that his respect for Jeff was only rising as well.
Carefully, tenderly, Jeff slid one of the rings onto Kent’s finger. This band had been Alicia’s grandmother’s, gold and silver engraved with filigree and no stone. Grandma Elsie had been a practical woman, a specialty seamstress who hadn’t wanted any type of diamond interfering with her sewing.
The ring got caught halfway down Kent’s finger, not wide enough to fit over his knuckle, but Alicia assured them it would be all right.
“We can take it to a jeweler and have it widened,” she told them. The lightness in her heart as she thought of the wedding caught her by surprise. “Jeff, try the other one on. Let’s see what it looks like.”
Jeff obediently slipped on the ring and splayed his fingers; this time, the gold ring fit snugly, the gleaming metal winking on his hand.
“A perfect fit!” Alicia exclaimed, genuine excitement surging through her and overtaking any kind of nostalgic yearning.
Jeff shot her a smile before flashing his hand at Kent. “What do you think?”
“It’s a little bit dignified for you,” Kent said, a mischievous smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “But who knows, maybe you’ll grow into it.”
“Hmph.” Jeff rolled his eyes at Kent, but nevertheless reached for his hand and laid a sound kiss to his ring finger. “Whatever you say, captain, my captain.”
An instinctive old dissatisfaction surged at the sight of them, but Alicia pushed it aside. That wasn’t her anymore. Jack and Kent wasn’t what she wanted anymore.
An alert on Kent’s phone chirped then, and he looked down at it with a regretful expression.
“We have to get moving if we want to catch our plane,” he said ruefully. He spread his arms. “Come on, Zimmerdad, Zimmermom, hug me like we just got into a fight on the ice.”
Neither Alicia nor Bob wasted a moment before grabbing Kent and squeezing as hard as they could, and as always, he didn’t hesitate for a moment before squeezing back. As he did, she couldn’t help but think back to the days in Juniors, when Jack was too cool to be seen hugging his mom but Kent never hesitated, which she’d always appreciated in spite of the god-awful body spray he’d worn by the bucketload at the time.
Now when she inhaled, she found he mostly smelled of citrus and soap, but she also picked up a hint of the woodsy cologne that always faintly clung to Jeff’s skin. And in all honesty, Alicia didn’t even have to tell herself not to mind.
Still, she was the first one to slip out of the hug, leaving Bob and Kent to share the embrace, and instead turned her attention to Jeff. He shot her a friendly smile, and she didn’t waste a moment before seizing him and giving him a hug as well. He chuckled and returned it easily.
“I believe Kent when he says he doesn’t think a lot about Crosby,” she told him warmly when they broke apart. “But I also believe he thinks of you a lot, and that he thinks highly of you as well.”
A slight flush spread in Jeff’s cheeks, and he glanced over at Bob and Kent, an unconscious smile creeping over his face before he looked back at her. “I’m glad. He values you and Bob so much—I knew I’d have to win you two over if I wanted to win him over.”
“You’ve already done both,” Alicia said, and wasn’t even startled to find that her words were completely sincere. “I wish you both the best, Jeff. And I couldn’t have picked someone better for Kent, or someone I wanted to become a part of my family more.”
Obviously overwhelmed, Jeff said nothing in return, just grinned uncontrollably and reached forward, briefly grasping her hand in silent thanks.
She and Bob saw the two of them out to their rental car, and she swiped one final hug from Kent before he climbed into the passenger seat.
“Thanks for everything, Ally Cat,” he said lowly, his blue-green eyes suspiciously bright. For a moment, he clung to her, like he was still back in Juniors and alternately anxious and anticipatory of just what exactly the future held. “I’ll make you proud where those rings are concerned, I promise.”
“You already make me proud,” she said without reservation, looking at him squarely. “All I want from you now is for you to be happy.” Her throat felt tight as she spoke, but it wasn’t because of regret.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Kent said with a watery smile. He glanced over at Jeff, his expression impossibly soft and fond. “I already am.”
Trying to disguise her own gathering tears, Alicia reached up to try to smooth his cowlick as she had attempted so many times before, a futile effort but a soothing one. “I know,” she said, giving Kent a smile of her own.
Both she and Bob waved goodbye as the rental car turned to descend down the long driveway. As she watched the taillights vanish into the treeline, Alicia snaked an arm around Bob’s waist, drawing him closer to her, and he looked down as her with a smile.
“You doing all right?” he asked her quietly, his eyes sweeping over her with an assessing gaze.
Alicia considered the question. She wanted to say yes, but it was both a little bit overwhelming to consider the new reality of a permanent Jeff and Kent and Jack and Bitty. Part of the reason she’d been fixed on the idea of Kent and Jack was because of how welcoming and familiar it was.
But there was a sense of relief, too, now that the burden of her impossible dream had been lifted off her shoulders.
“I think a new beginning is maybe what we all need,” she replied, deliberately keeping her voice light. “Besides, I think you might need me on your side when Kent decides on wedding colors and then you try to wheedle your way into changing them,” she added impishly.
He just laughed and hugged her shoulders. “Glad to have you in my corner, Leesh.”
“Happy to be there,” Alicia told him, which was true. Career woman to not, she’d always fought for her family and always would.
And as glad as she was to be in Bob’s corner, she was even more proud that she’d finally found her way back to being in Kent’s.