I kissed and hugged Victoria affectionately the way a boyfriend would, but still didn’t feel the heat . . . the passion I’d felt for Robin. Robin. I wanted to get married and have a family. I didn’t have my first choice of a woman– maybe someone like Robin was a once in a lifetime shot. But Victoria was a good catch; the blending of our families would be a good one. I couldn’t go on living in the shadows of the things that might have been. I slipped out of the man that belonged to Robin like a snake shedding its skin.
In my bedroom at Villeneuve on Thanksgiving night, I reached behind my neck and released the clasp on the St. Thomas medal. It was warm in my palm from lying against my heart. For a moment I pictured Robin’s face again as she gave it to me. My heart squeezed with a long familiar pang. I went through my chest of drawers and found the things I was looking for. I put them in a shoebox and taped around it with masking tape. With a magic marker, I wrote on it DEAN’S and slipped out to hide it in my secret boyhood cubbyhole in the barn.
At Christmastime, Leslie helped me pick out a sparkly half-karat diamond ring and I asked Victoria Babbitt to marry me.