Kate had been back in New York for two weeks, and still the feeling of heaviness had not lifted from her. She’d thought that after she’d regaled the editorial staff with her wild tale of her trip to Seattle, she would fall into work and everything would fade into a warm, soft memory.
Maybe it would have, had Kate and Joe not spoken regularly.
She knew the head guy at his new company seemed impressed by Joe, and that he had a corner office. She knew he liked running in Discovery Park and he didn’t like that it rained so much. He knew she had finished editing the novel he’d read and had just closed a deal for another one. They were talking, but Kate could feel a distance developing there, the inevitable flow of life carrying them away from each other. The further they drifted, the heavier the weight felt to her.
And yet, she couldn’t seem to shake him. She walked to work and envisioned the dangerously handsome man who had appeared at Lisa’s wedding in a dark suit, clean-shaven, and with that cute little pocket square. She walked home from work and looked at each man who passed her, trying to find one who would appeal to her the way Joe had. None of them did.
Kate still didn’t know if she believed in fate, but if she did, she would want to know what exactly it was trying to do to her. Right now, she hated fate. She wanted to kick fate’s ass.
One morning, seated in her cubbyhole between stacks of manuscripts and books, Kate was making herself especially crazy. Lisa was back from her two-week honeymoon and had bombarded Facebook with pictures of a tropical paradise. There was Kiefer looking toned and buff, Lisa tanned and slim.
They looked so damn happy, and that made Kate even sadder. Before she’d gotten on that plane, she wouldn’t have said that marriage or commitment was at the top of her list. It hovered there somewhere, she supposed, but she’d been too focused on the move to New York, on her job, on settling in. Now, that idea was front and center. Now, she knew the void that existed in her life. It had taken the trip to show her just how much she did want love and marriage and more.
After work that day, Kate was coaxed into happy hour with a couple of people, and then to a sushi bar. She recognized the name of it—Joe had told her about it.
She returned home to her tiny walk-up apartment and looked around. Why did she think this would be so great? It looked small and dingy and… and empty. So damn empty.
The next morning, Kate more or less dragged herself to work and spent a day in meetings. By the time she was ready to go home, it had started to rain. Perfect, she thought morosely. Rain was perfect for her black mood.
She found her battered umbrella at the bottom of her bag, said good night to the security guard, and walked outside. She stood under the awning for a long moment, debating. Which would be crazier? A very crowded subway? Or trying to hail a cab?
She decided the subway was her only hope and started down the street, almost colliding with a man just standing there. Why was he standing there in the rain? Kate shot him a look—and then came to an abrupt halt.
She was so surprised that her umbrella dropped. He caught it with his hand and propped it back up over her head. She couldn’t speak; her heart was in her throat. He looked as amazing as he did in her mind’s eye, every inch of him, every bit of blue in his eyes.
“Hey,” he said, looking her up and down. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Kate stepped closer, her heart beating wildly. “Weren’t you the guy sitting next to me on the plane, totally hogging the armrest?”
“Right, right,” he said, smiling down at her, his eyes dancing with delight. “I remember you now. You were clogging the aisles with a big pink raft.”
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I came to ask if you believe in fate.”
Kate’s breath caught.
“Because I do,” he said.
“Yeah, I do. I believe fate put me on that plane, and I think fate led me to the best few days of my life. I think fate knocked me over the head and showed me that maybe the greatest opportunity of my life was standing right in front of me in a hideous bridesmaid dress. And I couldn’t ignore her, because fate is one persistent bitch.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” Kate said, nodding furiously. “She’s really awful.” Her heart was filling up with wild, crazy hope, filling up so fast that she could hardly breathe. “So you leaped across the country to tell me that?”
Joe shook his head. He slipped his arm around her waist and drew her in to him. “I leaped to be with you, Kate.”
Her heart was beating so wildly she feared she would sink to her knees. This was crazy, insane! “Wait… what about your job?”
“You know, it was an amazing opportunity,” he said. “But it’s not so amazing without someone to share it with. So I called my old boss and asked him for my job back.”
“That call turned out pretty well. He was so thrilled to have me back that he gave me more money. Turns out, my position is pretty hard to fill.”
“But what about your new job?”
Joe winced. “They weren’t quite as thrilled. I think it’s safe to say they were pissed. Words like ‘lawsuit’ and ‘breach’ were tossed around.”
“Not to worry,” he said. “I hadn’t signed the contract yet.”
“You’re moving back to New York?” she asked, afraid to believe it.
“Baby, I’m already back,” he said with a wink. “And I could use a place to stay for a couple of nights.”
It was a dream come true, a private hope brought to life. Kate dropped her umbrella and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. She kissed him hard, with all the weight she’d been feeling these last few weeks. She was oblivious to the rain, oblivious to the people sailing past them. If this were a movie, little stars would burst over her head and blue birds would flit about them.
Joe was laughing when she lifted her head. “I guess that’s a yes,” he said.
“I love you, Joe. I know I’m not supposed to say that because I just met you, but I do, Joe, I do. I love you.”
“God, Kate, I love you, too,” he said, burying his face in her neck. “I should have told you two weeks ago. I should never have gotten in that cab. Come on, let’s get out of the rain.”
He stooped down to pick up her umbrella. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her into his side. “What about ESP? Do you believe in that?” he asked.
Kate laughed. “It depends.”
She believed in love. That much, she knew, and here it was, delivered by fate to her, all six feet, two inches of it.