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“I get so bored with nothing to do all day,” Faith confessed. “I feel like I'm wasting my life. The girls have their own lives, Alex has his work. I don't know what to do with myself now that I'm not taking care of them. All I have to do is show up and cook dinner at night. I can only go to so many museums, and have lunch with so many friends.”

“You definitely should go back to school,” he sounded firm. “Unless you want to go back to work.”

“And do what? I haven't worked since before Ellie was born, and I was really only a glorified gofer then. You can do that at twenty-two, you can't at my age. It doesn't make sense. The trouble is I'm not sure what does anymore. But Alex is going to have apoplexy if I go back to school.”

“Maybe it threatens him,” Brad volunteered, as Faith thought about it. “Maybe he likes knowing you have nothing to do and are dependent on him. I think that was part of it with Pam. I think she liked knowing I worked for them. It made me feel claustrophobic as hell. I'd much rather screw up and go down the tubes on my own.”

“I'm sure that won't happen,” Faith said reassuringly. “It sounds like you're doing fine, or at least you're doing the right thing. And it doesn't sound like the money is really an issue for either of you.” It was a nice position to be in.

“The money is a major issue to her. It's how she measures herself, by her success, and the money she brings in. I don't think that in the end that's what counts. When I die, I want to know I made a difference to someone, that I changed a life or two, that I saved a kid, and kept them from destroying their lives. I can't tell myself that by saving tax dollars for people who have too much money anyway.”

“I think Alex and Pam may be twins.” Faith smiled at him. She had always loved his values and views, even when they were kids. And she was sorry when Allison reminded her that they had to give up the room at five o'clock, and she was leaving for the airport at six.

“I think it went off pretty well,” she said to Faith. They all looked tired, but a lot of Charles's old friends had come by, and it had been an afternoon of affection and respect.

“You did a lovely job,” Faith said, wondering suddenly if they would ever see each other again, and although they had never even been friends, thinking about that saddened her. “Charles would have been pleased.”

“I think he would,” Allison said, as both women got their coats, and Bertrand signed the check. He had insisted that they wanted to pay for it. Faith had paid for the flowers at the church, which had come to almost the same amount.

Brad walked to the elevator with them. Allison and Bertrand were going upstairs to pick up their things. And Faith had to go down to the lobby to get a cab.

“When do you leave?” Faith asked Brad as they waited for the elevator with Allison and Bertrand.

“Tomorrow morning,” he said as the up elevator arrived and Faith and Allison embraced, while Bertrand held the door for them.

“Take care of yourself, Faith,” Allison said. She appreciated everything Faith had done for the past two days. They both had the same sense that their paths might not cross again.

“I will, you too. Call me sometime.” They were the words of people who had nothing to talk about, but who shared a sliver of history.

They got in the elevator and Faith waved as the doors closed, and she turned to Brad after they had, with tears in her eyes. “I'm so tired of losing people … of saying good-bye … and people who leave my life and never come back.” He nodded and took her hand in his as their elevator came, and they rode in silence on the way down.

“Are you in a rush to get home?” he asked as they crossed the lobby to the Park Avenue doors.

“Not terribly. We're going out tonight, but not till eight o'clock. I have time.”

“Do you want to have a drink somewhere?” he asked even though they had just spent the entire afternoon eating and drinking in the room upstairs.

“What about walking me home?” It was twenty-four blocks, a decent walk, and she wanted some air. Brad liked the idea, and they went through the revolving door and headed north up Park Avenue arm in arm.

They were quiet for a little while, and then both spoke at the same time.

“What are you going to do now, Fred?”

“What are you working on when you go back?”

They laughed and he answered first. “I'm trying to get a kid acquitted who accidentally shot his best friend. Possibly not so accidentally as it so happens. They were both in love with the same girl. He's sixteen, and charged with attempted murder in the first degree. It's a tough case, and he's a nice kid.” It was routine stuff for him.

“I can't compete with that,” she said, as they walked in easy stride side by side, in spite of his long legs. He was remembering how to adjust his steps to hers. They had gone on a lot of walks together in the old days. “Actually, I'm not doing a thing.”

“Yes, you are,” he said easily, and she looked surprised. “You're going to call Columbia and NYU and whatever other school appeals to you, and get the catalogs and registration forms for the law schools. You'll have to find out about the exams you have to take. You have a lot to do.”

“You've got my work cut out for me, don't you?” She looked amused, but she had to admit, she liked the idea, and so did he.

“I'm going to call you next week and find out how much progress you've made. And if you've dropped the ball, I'm going to raise hell with you. You've got to get off your ass, Fred. It's time.” He had walked back into her life as a stand-in older brother. Just like the old days. She didn't disagree with what he was saying to her, but she still didn't know how to sell Alex on it, or if she could. And she also didn't know if she was brave enough to defy Alex entirely. That didn't seem like a good idea, and challenging him had always frightened her. Some lingering memory of her father's criticisms and betrayals of her had always made her hesitant about standing up to men. At some deep, hidden level, she suspected she was afraid. The only men who'd never frightened her were Jack, and of course Brad.

“Do you have e-mail, by the way?” He was matter of fact as he asked, as they moved into the Sixties. It was getting dark, and Park Avenue was brightly lit, as people went home from work.

“Yes, I do. I just bought a laptop so I could e-mail Zoe. I'm getting pretty good.”

“What's your address?”


“You should change it to Fred,” he said, smiling down at her. “I'll write to you when I get back to San Francisco.”

“I'd like that, Brad,” she said, it would be nice to stay in touch with him this time. She hoped they would both make the effort. If he had time. His life was far busier than hers. “Thank you for being there today. You made it a lot easier for me.”

“I had some good times with Charlie a long time ago. I figured I owed it to him.” She still had trouble thinking of Charles in that context, but clearly he had been a lot more interested in Jack and Brad than he had ever been in her, or Allison. “And I wanted to see you.” His voice became gentler as they walked along, they were halfway to her house. “How are you doing without him?” They both knew who he meant, he was talking about her brother.

“Not so great sometimes,” she said, looking at the pavement as they walked, and thinking of him. He had been such an extraordinary person. There had never been anyone else like him, and never would be in her life again. “Other times, better. It's weird, sometimes I'm fine about him for months, and then all of a sudden, it hits me. Maybe it will always be like that.” She had spent a lot of time alone, wrestling with her grief, since he died. That had been another thing that had isolated her from friends. Grief was a solitary thing. And she had often gone to church alone, to pray for him. It was comforting. She had tried to talk to Alex about how much she missed her brother, but it made him uncomfortable, and it was awkward discussing it with him. He didn't like hearing about it. She had gone to see a psychic once, who had “channeled” Jack, and Alex had had an absolute fit when she told him, and forbade her to ever do it again or discuss it with him. He said it was a sick thing to do, and the psychic had taken advantage of her. But actually, Faith had liked it. She had gone back two more times, and never told Alex. And as they walked, she told Brad about it. He wasn't convinced of its veracity either, but saw no harm in it if it made her feel better. There seemed to be nothing wrong with it, to him.