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Do You Know What the Problem Is?

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October 2013

“Do you know what the problem is?”

Nora gave Ed a funny look. “No, what?”

“Our best friends own our two favorite restaurants in this town. There’s no way that we can be sneaky or subtle about going on our first real date.”

“We could always go somewhere else. We could go to a restaurant in Mansfield.”

He nodded. “Or we could go to Tres Hermanas, if you’re up for that.”

She shook her head. “I’d rather go to Mansfield, but you have to pick the restaurant.”

“Oh, I do?”

Nora smiled. “You asked me on a date. You have to pick where you take me.”


September 2000

Nora Dashwood first met Ed Ferrars when she was eighteen and he was twenty. He was a gawky college junior, living with George Knightley and Will Darcy in an off-campus apartment. She was a shy freshman living in the dorms with Jane Fairfax, a roommate who’d been arbitrarily chosen for her by the university’s housing department.

Nora and George had grown up together in Highbury, Michigan, but she knew him mostly through their mutual friend, Emma Woodhouse, and his cousin, Alice Knightley who was one of Nora’s best friends. It was Alice, then a sophomore at Lambton University, who had dragged Nora over to the guys’ apartment the first week of school and made her hang out with “the three accounting nerds.” Alice, being the daughter and niece of accountants, apparently knew a thing or two about the profession.

During Nora’s first visit to 1776 Reynolds Lane Apt C4, Ed quickly won her over with his easy smile and his light-hearted conversation while George and Alice bickered about the details of some movie that they’d watched with their respective siblings over the summer and Will was reading Sports Illustrated.

“They’re always like this,” Ed said in a clear attempt to reassure her.

She grinned. “Oh, I know. I grew up with them. This is mild compared to some of their younger arguments.”

“Do tell,” Will inserted. Nora was intrigued by Will’s quietly intense personality. She didn’t really know him yet, but she knew that George counted him as one of his best friends.

“Well,” Nora replied awkwardly. “They once got into an argument over which kind of ice cream George would allow Alice to order at the Dairy Shack.”

“Was he paying for it?” Ed asked.

Nora snorted. “No.”

“Of course not,” George inserted. “I just didn’t want to be seen in public with a fifteen-year-old who would order a sprinkle-coated vanilla cone with double sprinkles.”

“I like sprinkles!” Alice protested. “And I really like them on a vanilla ice cream cone. And if it’s only fifty cents to add double sprinkles to a cone at the Dairy Shack, I’m going to shell out those extra fifty cents.”

“For sprinkles, Alice? You’ve got to be kidding me. What? Are you five?”

She sighed and flopped back into the couch cushions. “I’m nineteen years old, and I like sprinkles. Sue me. Dairy Shack has really good vanilla ice cream.”

“They do,” Nora agreed. “I like it with a chocolate dip.”

“Suit yourselves,” George sighed. “I prefer to stick with the orange sherbet bars.”

Alice faked a yawn. “You really know how to live, don’t you, Knightley?”

“Hey, at least, I’m not a nineteen year old ordering double sprinkles, Knight-LEE.”

Nora looked at Ed. “I grew up with these two. This was my childhood.”

Ed winced slightly. “Wow, and I thought growing up with Will was bad.”

“I wasn’t that bad,” Will said from behind the magazine.

Nora shrugged. “I didn’t grow up with you, and I don’t know what you were like. But I doubt you were as bad as George and Alice or George and Emma.”

“Emma Woodhouse,” Will sighed. “Now that’s a name that we’ve heard a million times of the past two years.”

George shook his head. “Emma makes Alice look like a walk in the park.”

“Yeah, she likes a chocolate cone with a chocolate dip and sprinkles.”

“Excessive,” George sighed.

Will shrugged. “George, if the worst thing that you can say about her is that she likes chocolate ice cream.”

“In a waffle cone,” his friend added dismally.

“Chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone with a chocolate dip and sprinkles,” Will continued. “If that’s the worst thing that you can say about her, I don’t think that’s too bad.”

“Will, you’ve known me for years. You listened to me coach her through physics all last year. You’ve listened to me rant while editing her English essays last year. Her ice cream preferences are one of her lesser faults.”

“But you still love her,” Alice reminded him.

“She’s the little sister I never wanted.”

Ed inserted himself. “Where is she going to college?”

“Highbury College,” Nora told him. “And Henry is making her live at home.”

“Is that normal for kids from Highbury?”

She shook her head. “Not really, Elsa and Annie are going to Highbury too, but they’re living in the dorms.”

“Yeah, but the Great Mary Frances wants Elsa out of the house,” Alice said. “And Annie’s parents wouldn’t notice if she was in their house or not.”

“They haven’t gotten any better?” George asked.

Nora shook her head. “I don’t think that it’s possible for them to get better. But they make me really grateful for my family. Jack might kind of suck, but the rest of them aren’t anything to complain about.”

“Wait,” Ed said. “What’s your brother’s name?”

“Jack Dashwood,” she replied. “He’s my half-brother. He’s about five years older than me.”

“Is he dating a girl named Anna? They met in college?”

“Yep.” Her voice was soft and uncertain.

“Wow,” Ed said with an odd nod. “Your half-brother is dating my sister.”

“You’re Anna’s younger brother?”

“Yeah.”

“Weird, that’s just weird.”

“Hey, Will, Nora is Jack’s younger sister.”

The magazine came down. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” she queried nervously.

Ed cleared his throat. “My cousin can be a little too blunt for his own good.”

“I hope I didn’t offend you,” Will added.

“No, no,” Nora began. “It’s just that…it’s just that Anna is your sister and Will’s cousin.”

“That means that we have to love them,” Ed told her. “It doesn’t that we have to like them.”

“Hey, at least, Anna isn’t dating someone that we like,” Will told Ed.

Nora started. “You don’t like my brother?”

“I’m sorry?” Will began.

“No, I don’t like him either. I know. That sounds awful. But he’s so boring.”

“The iceberg lettuce of humanity,” Alice said.

Nora nodded. “Yeah, that’s how our sister Marianne describes him.”

Ed snorted and Will shook his head. “It’s just so apt.”

“Are we horrible people?” Nora asked nervously.

“We love them like we’re supposed to,” Ed told her calmly. “We just don’t like them. And my uncle always says that I didn’t have to like my siblings, I just have to love them.”


2013

For their first date, Ed took Nora to Salvatore’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in Mansfield. “Did you know that I worked here when I was in grad school?” she asked after they were seated.

“I didn’t. I just picked it because I remembered how much you loved the food when we were in Italy for Jack and Anna’s wedding.”

She smiled. “I do love Italian food. But that wedding was before I worked here.”

He shifted awkwardly from foot to foot. “But you still love Italian food?”

“Oh yeah.”

He grinned. “Oh good, I’d hate to have gotten something that big wrong right off the bat.”

“Oh, if I didn’t like Italian food, I would have told you. We’ve been friends for too long for me to lie to you.”

“After more than ten years, I’d hope that you wouldn’t lie to me anymore.”

She smiled. “Ed, I don’t think that I ever could have lied to you.”

“Maybe never lied to me outright, but there are definitely things that you haven’t told me over the years.”

Nora looked at him. “You, on the other hand, have never hidden anything from me.”

He pressed his lips together and looked down at his lap. His jaw was clenched, and she almost felt bad for him. Almost. It was hard to feel bad for him when she was reminded of seeing Lucy Steele with him at his aunt and uncle’s funeral when she was twenty-one.

“Look, Ed. That was in the past. That’s over. I don’t want to spend the night sitting here and rehashing past wrongs and hurts, and that goes both ways. You can’t pick at the fact that I kept my crush on you hidden for ten years, and I won’t talk about how you hid your relationship with Lucy from me and let me think that you were single for years.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t know what…”

She raised her hand. “We are not doing this tonight. I have a lot of things that I could say about what you did, but there’s no use picking at the person you were ten years ago or even five years ago because that’s not who you are today.”

Ed lifted his eyes slightly. “You’re too kind to me.”

Nora shook her head. “We both made mistakes.”

“Yeah, you never married George Knightley despite at least five different people telling each of you to go do that.”

She snorted. “I’m not his type. At. All.”


June 2002

Anna Ferrars and Jack Dashwood had gotten married on the Amalfi coast of Italy the June that Nora was twenty and Will and Ed were twenty-two. The boys had just graduated from college and were focused on passing CPA exams. Nora was looking for any excuse to avoid her sister who was trying to meet a hot, Italian guy. That didn’t mean that she wanted to avoid the beach; it just meant that she didn’t want to watch her eighteen-year-old sister try to flirt with Italian men.

Instead, Nora spent most of her week in Amalfi sitting on the beach with at least one of the two boys who had their noses buried in CPA test prep books. She spent more time with Will than with Ed because Catherine Ferrars (“the devil’s second wife,” as her nephew titled her) liked to keep her children at her beck and call as much as possible while George and Anne Darcy didn’t mind their son spending time with his friend. They did prefer that he brought his twelve-year-old sister, Gina, with him when he went to the beach, but Nora liked Gina and didn’t mind her tagging along-as long as Gina didn’t mind Nora’s ten-year-old brother, James, tagging along as well. Mercifully, Gina and James got along amicably enough. So Nora read and dabbled in the water, Will studied for his exams, and the preteens enjoyed summer on the beach.

“How did Ed get to be so nice?” Nora asked the day before the wedding.

Will looked up from his book. “What do you mean?”

“Well, your aunt and Anna and Rob are all kind of…you know? Disagreeable?”

He smiled. “That’s a word for it.”

“They’re all kind of conceited, I guess? And he’s just so kind. He’s one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met.”

“He’s like my uncle,” Will told her. “His dad was my mom’s brother, and they were a lot alike. He was a very mild disposition; my mom might say he was too mild given what my aunt is like.”

“So Catherine is your dad’s sister?”

“And as unlike him as bagels and bananas are,” he replied.

“Bagels and bananas?” Nora repeated.

Will chuckled. “My dad isn’t a big fan of his sister. He’s the origin of the whole ‘you have to love them but you don’t have to like them’ logic that Ed uses.”

“I like that.”

“Ed’s always been close to my parents, and he’s gotten really close to my dad since his passed away.”

“He’s really lucky to have your dad then.”

Will nodded. “I think that my dad is pretty great.”

“I mean,” Nora replied. “I think that my dad is the greatest dad in the world.”

“We can fight about that later.”

“Nah, let’s just find a consensus. I hate fighting.”

He sighed. “Boring.”

“What can I say? I’m happiest in a blanket fort.”


2013

“Do you want to talk about what happened with Lucy?” Ed asked.

Nora set her wine glass on the table cautiously. “Tonight? No, not really.”

“Do you ever want to talk about it?”

She thought for a moment. “Honestly, Ed? There are elements of it that we need to discuss. I don’t want to discuss it tonight, but we’ll need to at some point.”

“You want to know why I hid her from you when we were in college.”

“Let’s just say that I was completely surprised to see her hanging all over you at your aunt and uncle’s funeral.”

Ed blushed. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that.”

“I know. It was a long time ago. We’ve all made mistakes, Ed. It’s how we move forward that matters.”


March 2003

Nora paused. “Hello? Will? Are you there?”

“There was an accident,” he said faintly. “Last night, my mom and dad, they went to a concert. And then…”

“Will? What happened?”

He took a choked breath. “There was an accident, Nora.”

“Oh, Will!”

“Nora, they’re gone.”

She gasped “Oh, Will, I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah,” he said.

“What can I do for you?”

His breath shook. “I don’t know. I don’t know what to do, Nora.”

“I’ll be there for whatever you need.”

“Thanks, Nora. I really appreciate you.”


A few days later, Nora, George, and Alice were at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lambton. Will and his sister, Gina, were seated in the front surrounded by family. Catherine Ferrars was seated next to Gina along with Jack, Anna, Rob, and Ed. A tall blonde woman sat next to Ed at the end of the row.

“Who is the blonde with Ed?” Alice whispered to her cousin.

“His high school girlfriend,” he replied.

“His high school girlfriend? What’s she doing here?”

George shook his head. “I don’t know. I know that she used to bug him a lot. I’ve never met her, but she, I don’t know. From what I’ve heard, they have a weird relationship.”

“I’ve never heard about her,” Nora whispered.

“Me neither,” Alice agreed. “Well, I knew that he had dated someone in high school, but I just figured that it was over.”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” George nodded.


A bit later at the luncheon, George, Nora, and Alice were sitting with a few of their other Lambton friends. The chair next to Nora was empty, but she was talking to Alice. “Yeah, so Oliver is planning to spend a month in Highbury this summer.”

“Oh, that’ll be nice,” Nora said. “You must be excited.”

“I am.”

“Excuse me,” a new voice said. Nora turned to see the blonde woman in the formerly empty chair next to her.

“Can we help you?”

“I’m Lucy Steele.” She stretched out a bony hand. “I’m Eddie’s girlfriend.”

“Eddie?” Alice repeated.

“Yep, Eddie, your friend,” she answered. “I know all about you. You’re Nora, and you’re Alice. And he’s George.”

“You got us,” Nora said. “What can we do for you?”

“Well, I just wanted to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you from my dear Eddie over the years. He’s such a sweet, friendly boy.”

“That’s a way of describing him,” Alice returned.

“He’s very good with woman. He has a way with the ladies.”

“He does?” Nora queried. “I’ve never seen him like that.”

“He knows how to flirt with a lady without her even realizing what he’s doing.”

Nora did a double take. “Are we talking about the same Ed Ferrars?”

“Of course.”

“Well, personally, I’ve never seen him as flirtatious or charming. I’ve mostly seen him as awkward and gawky.”

Lucy sniffed. “You clearly don’t know him as well as I do.”

“Or maybe we just don’t know him in the same way that you do,” Alice herself.

“I love my Eddie.”

“I’m sure you do,” Nora told her. “But maybe your Eddie isn’t our Ed.”

Lucy slammed her fist on the table. “My Eddie is the only Eddie. You don’t know the real Eddie.”

“Okay, got it,” Alice said. “So why did you come over here again?”

“I just wanted to be sure that I met all of Eddie’s little friends and that they knew that I’m his girlfriend.”

“We got it,” Nora told her flatly. “Thanks.”

Lucy looked like she had more that she wanted to say but didn’t know how to say it. She shifted awkwardly in her seat until Alice looked directly at her. “Did you need something?”

“Well, uh, I guess not?”

Alice nodded. “Well, right, you should probably head back to your Eddie’s side. You wouldn’t want that cute young thing sitting next to him to steal him away.”

Lucy yelped and hurried back to the table where Ed was sitting next to his thirteen-year-old cousin.

Nora looked at Alice. “You’re evil.”

Alice wiggled her eyebrows mischievously. “I know. That’s why you love me.”

“I think you scared her.”

“Good, I don’t like her.”

“I think that she was trying to scare me.”

Alice shrugged. “Ed probably talks about you too much or something.”

“He doesn’t like me like that.”

“That’s because he’s dumb.”

“You’re very sweet. You’re a good friend.”

“And Ed Ferrars is dumber than a brick,” Alice replied. “I’m fairly certain that my dad’s dog is smarter than him.”


2013

“I should have told you about Lucy.”

“Probably,” Nora agreed after a bite of chocolate mousse.

“Heck, I should have told Will and George what was going on with her.”

“And you probably never should have introduced her to Rob.”

Ed smiled. “I don’t know. At the time, that seemed like a dumb decision, but in retrospect, I think that it worked out well for me.”

She laughed. “So your girlfriend cheating on you with your brother for literal years and only telling you about it when she got pregnant with his kid worked out well for you?”

“When you phrase it like that, no, but overall, I think I’m better off without her.”

“I might be a little biased, but I think that you’re much better off without her.”

Ed smiled. “I think that I know a few people who would agree with you.”

“Yeah, Will and George really didn’t like her.”

“I kind of worry about what would happen if Gina ever dated a guy who Will didn’t like.”

Nora raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure that I want to know what would happen. In fact, if I were Gina, I’m not sure that I’d want to date because I’d be so scared of how my brother would view my boyfriends.”

“That’s something that my sister has never cared about.”

Nora shrugged. “Well, thankfully, she’s married to someone relatively harmless.”

“Is my brother married to someone harmless?”

She gave him a firm, level stare. “Ed, please allow me to point out that you do not interact with anyone in your family except when Jack and Anna choose to interact with my family. At this point, your entire family is mostly harmless to you.”

He smiled. “I think that you’re right.”

“And as I see it, Lucy is completely harmless to you. You’re no longer in contact with her. But more than that, she’s not interested in you anymore.”

“That kind of stings.”

Nora’s face was quizzical. “Do you want her to be interested in you?”

He flinched. “Honestly? I think that the last time that I really wanted her to be interested in me was my senior year of high school. I think after that she was just something familiar and comfortable in my really confusing life.”


2011

“Do you know where Chris is?”

Nora blinked. “Chris? As in, Chris Brandon?”

Ed nodded. “I need to talk to him.”

She leaned against the door to her apartment. “He has a phone. Call him. Don’t show up on my doorstep looking for him.”

He sighed. “I need to talk to you too. I need to talk to you and Chris.”

“At the same time?”

“It would be the easiest way to do this.”

Nora opened the door a bit more. “Come on in. And call Chris yourself. Why would I know where he is?”

“I don’t know. You guys are close.”

She closed the door. “We’re not that close. I don’t, like, keep tabs on him or anything.”

“Yeah, but you’ve been spending a lot of time around him lately.”

She looked at him. “When exactly have I been spending time with Chris?”

“Well, last Friday,” he began.

“At movie night? The movie night that you also attended?”

“But you two arrived together.”

Nora sighed. “Edward, we live down the street from each other. Sometimes, it’s easier for us to carpool to movie night so that we’re not taking up as many parking spots by the KW.”

“That’s all?”

She sighed. “There’s nothing between Chris and me. I don’t know why you’d think that there is.”

“Well, you’re both single,” Ed began. “You’re both smart and funny and good people. And you’re both single. And you probably think that he’s good-looking. Most women seem to.”

Nora rolled her eyes. “Ed, if you want to talk to Chris and me together, then please just call him. I’ll put on the kettle. Tell Chris to bring whiskey.”


Ed went into Nora’s living room while he called Chris. When he returned to the kitchen, the electric kettle was almost boiling. “Chris said that he’ll be here in seven minutes, and he’s bringing both rye and bourbon.”

Nora smiled. “He’s a good man.”

“He is. And the world needs more good men.”

“I know people who would call you a good man.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know about that.”

“Then trust me,” she replied.


Chris arrived shortly after that. Libations were poured, and the trio settled themselves in Nora’s living room. “So,” Chris said slowly. “What brings us all together at nine o’clock on a Sunday?”

Ed ran his hands through his already messy dark brown hair. “Okay, before I say this, I have to tell you that the only person that I’ve said this out loud to thus far is Will. He’s supposed to tell George and Elsa for me. But I haven’t said this out loud to anyone else yet.”

Nora nodded. “Okay, what’s going on?”

He took a deep breath. “Lucy called me today and told me that she has been having an affair with my brother for over two years.”

“What?” Nora spat.

Chris grabbed Nora’s hand. “Let him finish.”

Ed took another breath. “Apparently, they met at some event that I didn’t go to, and she decided that he was more fun than I am. Also, he makes more money than I do, and yes, she chose to tell me that. Anyway, instead of breaking up with me at any point in the past two years or even when I decided to move here last fall, she just kept seeing both of us. And he knew about me, but I didn’t know about him.”

“Fuck,” Chris breathed. “That’s a lot.”

Nora asked the most obvious question. “So why did she decide to come clean?”

“She’s pregnant. Lucy’s pregnant with Rob’s kid, and they’re getting married.”

“When?”

“When are they getting married? Saturday.”

“Saturday as in this coming Saturday?” Chris queried. “They’re getting married in six days?”

“Yes.”

“Wow,” Nora breathed.

“Yeah.”

“Should I ask how you’re doing?” Nora hazarded.

He shook his head. “I don’t know. I can’t believe this is real.”

“Should I just go get you the whole bottle of bourbon from the kitchen?” Chris offered.

Ed snorted. “I’m trying to decide whether or not I should go to the wedding.”

“Are you serious?”

“I just feel like…since he’s my brother? You know?”

Chris stared at him. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“You went to your brother’s wedding when he married your ex-girlfriend, didn’t you?”

“My brother started dating my ex-girlfriend well after she and I broke up.”

Ed sighed. “It’s just that he’s my brother. I want to do the right thing.”

“They didn’t do that right thing to you!” Nora exclaimed.

Chris leveled his gaze at Ed. “What is Will doing?”

“My cousin?”

“The only Will I know.”

“You know him. He’s not going.”

Chris nodded. “Good man, you should follow his lead.”

“Rob is my brother.”

“Who had an affair with your girlfriend for two years,” Nora added. “Good lord, Ed! Not even Mother Teresa would go to that wedding.”

“Would Annie?”

Nora looked at him like he had three heads. “What?”

“Annie is the closest person in my life to Mother Teresa.”

Chris snorted. “I’m not certain about this, and maybe Nora knows better than I do since she grew up with Annie. But I’m pretty fucking certain that even Annie with as good of a heart as she has wouldn’t go to this wedding.”

“She has intentionally never met Maya’s kid,” Nora added.

“Has she even ever visited her mother in jail?” Chris asked.

Nora laughed. “Nope, not even once.”

“Wait,” Ed inserted. “Are you serious?”

“I am,” Nora replied. “Annie has never visited that woman.”

Chris took over from there. “And if Annie feels that she doesn’t have to visit her fucking mother, then you don’t have to go to this damn wedding.”

“Okay, fine, I won’t go.”


2013

The long-expected first date continued back at Nora’s apartment. “I still can’t believe that you thought that Chris and I were dating.”

Ed leaned back in his chair. “It made sense to me.”

She shook her head. “I don’t get that. You know how I call you one of my best friends?”

“Yeah.”

“Chris is another. Chris and I became really close when I was going through some really hard stuff and I learned that he’s a really good listening ear, a really good friend. But he and I wouldn’t be happy together if we lived together every day and had to build a life and family together. For one thing, I’m not feisty enough for him.”

“You’re not feisty enough for him?”

“Oh no,” she replied. “Think about Alice or Elsa. That’s the kind of feisty that Chris likes.”

“Not Emma?”

Nora laughed. “Emma is probably not the kind of feisty that Chris is looking for.”

“But she is George’s kind of feisty?”

“There are few men in this world who could handle Emma Woodhouse’s particular brand of feisty, but George is decidedly one of them.”

Ed nodded. “He has known her since she was born. He’s definitely had time to get used to her particular brand of sass and spunk.”

“And given the way that his mom took care of Emma after Mrs. Woodhouse died, I feel like Mrs. Knightley unintentionally created George’s perfect mate for him.”

He chuckled. “I never thought about it that way.”

“I don’t think that Mrs. K or George thought about it that way either. But going back to Chris, he likes to bicker. Have you ever listened to him talk to Elsa?”

Ed thought about the numerous times he had walked into the Kit Wit to find Chris sitting with a cup of tea and debating some point that could have been about anything ranging from politics and literature to the best kind of cabbage for cole slaw or what was the best Mel Brooks movie. “That’s a good point.”

“He’s a great guy, but he and I are not meant for each other.” She paused before asking a question. “Is Chris the only reason that you waited more than two and a half years after things ended with Lucy before you asked me out?”

Ed hesitated before answering. “He wasn’t the only reason. I obviously had things that I needed to work through before I was ready to date anyone.”

“So that took you two years?”

“What happened with Lucy was really hard on me, and I needed to work through a lot of things. I think that you know that I’ve been attracted to you in various ways since college.”

“Sometimes I thought that you were, but I couldn’t figure out why you wouldn’t do anything about it.”

“I was,” he admitted. “I’ve been attracted to you since, well, pretty much since I met you.”

She pressed her lips together and leaned back into the couch cushions. “I guessed that for a while, but when you didn’t do anything for years and after I found out about Lucy, I just figured that you were just always going to treat me like that. And I tried to get over you. You were a good friend, and I really tried to accept that you couldn’t be anything more than my friend. And Elsa tried to tell me that you were kind of a jerk.”

“That hurts.”

“She always thought that you did what you did to me unintentionally.” Nora had not meant to have this discussion with him on their first date. She really hadn’t. “Elsa thought that you didn’t know what you were doing to me.”

“I never thought about how it impacted you,” he confessed.

“That was obvious.”

He flinched. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” she replied simply. “I know that you’re not cruel or selfish. You’re not a bad guy, Ed. It’s just that sometimes you can be really oblivious to the world around you.”

“You’re not the first person to tell me that.”

Her face was unreadable as she replied. “Will is a better friend than you deserve.”

“I know, but I’m glad that he’s been my friend. And I’m really glad that he’s been there for you.”

She smiled. “I’ve been really lucky the past few years.”

“Nora,” he asked cautiously. “Do you think that we can make this thing work-in spite of our history?”

“Absolutely,” she replied without a moment’s hesitation. “I think that we both like each other and respect each other. And I think that we want this to work. So we’re both willing to put in the work. It won’t be easy, and we do have a few things that we need to work though together. But there’s no reason why we can’t make this work.”

“Good,” he grinned, feeling at ease for the first time all evening. “Nora, I really am going to try to do better.”

“So am I, Ed.”


The End...for now!