Fumbling for words, he asked her out, with no expectation that she would ever accept. He was thrilled when she did. Then self-doubt began to emerge. Why would she agree to date a loser like him? Brendan wasn’t like the other guys. He was endowed with sense and sensitivity, enough to recognize how fortunate he was. How did her parents know to name her Ruby? She was his gem. All through school he never looked at another girl.
When she miscarried, he felt the pain, rubbing her back as their waterfall drenched the sheets. How many unworthy had been blessed to have a family? How many parents had failed to protect and provide? Why was this happening to them? The doctors said that it would never be. Brendan and Ruby needed a new plan.
It was years before they found Amy, abandoned and afraid. Now she didn’t have to be frightened anymore. She was Daddy’s girl. And Mommy’s. Amy had the very best Mommy in the world. Father and daughter adored her. And so did everybody else. Ruby was that proverbial sun that lit up every room she ever entered.
They were no longer young when it happened. Youth had been so much wiser than middle age. Brendan never saw it coming. When Ruby broke the news, a volcano took residence in his heart, spewing its lava smack dab at the center. He was just some guy up the street—innocuous and anonymous until now. What black magic had invaded his Ruby Flower? What toxin had infected her soul?
Brendan was not like other guys. He never had been. Broken hearts are not a man’s dominion. He was supposed to be tough—yell, slap, hire a high-priced lawyer to ruin her life. But begging supplanted his pride. He didn’t know how to man up when the little boy inside him was crying. Who cares if the whole world knows? Maybe someone can tell me what to do.
As the lovebirds drove into their purloined sunset, Brendan and Amy struggled to inhale. The most they could manage was an awkward, alternating rhythm. It would be a long time before they were able to breathe on their own. In retrospect, nothing had changed.
From the time he first saw Ruby, she had taken his breath away.