JANIE leaned over Maura’s shoulder and gasped at the photo of Brickell and Bay Condominiums on Maura’s laptop screen.
“Holy Cow! Look at that ocean view! Look at that pool!”
“That’s where I’ll be staying, temporarily. Andrew owns a condo there. And it’s fully furnished. That’s technically Biscayne Bay.”
“Whatever the name is, I’m coming to visit.”
Maura tilted her head up to Janie.
“You better. I thought you would talk me out of this, tell me this is a mistake, admonish me that I hadn’t thought this through, that this isn’t the time to make a major decision.”
Janie hugged Maura from behind and rested her chin on Maura’s head.
“I don’t need to tell you any of that; you’ve already argued every point with yourself.”
Janie was right.
“I promised Sean I would take care of you. I’m keeping my word. Maura, go. If you don’t like it, come back. If you don’t come back, I’ll have to move to Miami. Boom! Problem solved.”
Maura powered off her computer. It was time to put it away. She would log onto it on the road and check her email in case Andrew sent her any additional messages. Although she doubted it. They’d covered everything. He had overnighted the key to the condo, and she confirmed she’d received it. He said they would meet when she arrived. Maura smiled. Would he be driving the Jeep, or something else? He was unpredictable.
Maura and Janie devoured the last of the pizza since she had eaten the remaining frozen funeral food and emptied her refrigerator. She’d just stuffed the cardboard carton in the trash when the doorbell rang.
“I knew they would show up for a last stand.”
“I know you love them, but don’t cave. I’ll smooth things over while you’re gone. They’ll get used to it.”
Maura opened the front door. Annie and Dennis Kelly stood on the other side with a snowflakes on their shoulders and sour looks on their faces.
“Aren’t you going to let us in?” her mom asked pointedly.
Annie Kelly was the queen of Catholic guilt.
She rushed them inside and closed the door on the cold wind her parents drafted with them. Miami was looking better by the moment.
Maura took their ice-cubed coats and hung them on the coat stand.
“I can’t believe you’re going to leave in this weather,” her mom said, flatly.
“Annie, we talked about this,” her father countered. “She would have to wait until summer to keep you from worrying about the weather on the road.”
“And what’s wrong with that?” Then, on cue, her mom went for the Hail Mary pass. “You don’t have to go. We’ll hire a lawyer to get you out of any contract.”
“Mom, I had a lawyer review the contract. It’s all good. There’s nothing hidden. It’s only for three months.”
No way would she even hint she’d considered moving away. Her mother would melt.
Annie Kelly took advantage of Janie’s silence.
“You’re her best friend,” she said pleadingly.
“That’s right. I am, Mrs. Kelly. But Maura’s a grown woman. I want to see her happy. Don’t you?”
Annie shrugged in surrender. She was outnumbered.
“I guess.” Annie stared at Maura with moist eyes. She waggled her finger at her. “Three months.”
Maura opened her arms. Annie Kelly tumbled into her daughter’s embrace.
“Mom, I’ll be all right.”
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