Jason turned slightly as he heard movement from the back of the house. There was Katherine, staring at him from the other end of the hallway. She seemed frozen in time; wispy black hair and sometimes-too-skinny frame. Only the line around her eyes seemed new.
Then she took off running.
Jason struggled to focus on the proposal being presented. He struggled to focus on something, anything, other than the presenter. What sardonic twist of fate had the adjoining group on this new venture being led by the very man whom he’d left the country to avoid having to face? Was this some sort of test to see if he’d gotten over those old feelings? Was God just snickering in the background at this turn of events?
The presentation ended with applause, startling Jason out of his reverie. He quickly caught up with what he hoped were natural movements as he prepared to leave.
“Jason? Jason Shaw?” Oh God. Jimmy stood right behind him. Jason turned around nervously.
“Yeah –– hey Jimmy. It’s been a long time. I wasn’t sure you’d recognize me.”
“Well, I usually don’t forget a face, especially of Kate’s friends. It’s good to see you in town; looks like will be working together on this project.” Jimmy’s smile was genuine. Jason prepared to relax, until the next words came out of Jimmy’s mouth.
“Say, you aren’t headed back to your office right away, are you? If not, I do have a question I’d like to ask you.”
He barely had time to stretch out his arms. She hit him full-force, knocking the breath from his lungs and his feet back a few steps as she wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight. He hugged her back just as tightly. After all the pain and anger, their friendship remained. His heart flooded with relief.
All he could do was smile as he heard, muffled inside their embrace, the first words from his former best friend in over two years:
“Just so you know, you are never allowed to leave home again.”