Kerry teetered on her good leg while she unlocked the door, the late October wind doing its best to knock her over. She slipped inside and shut the door behind her, then dropped her umbrella, briefcase and the pair of oversized binders she'd lugged all the way from the car.
"Kerry?" Kim's voice from the kitchen.
She turned and Kim was there, holding a glass of red wine. She wordlessly handed it to Kerry, then kissed her and helped her off with her coat.
"Malucci was what?" Kim prompted.
"Oh, it doesn't matter," Kerry said, "it wasn't any different than any of the two million other boneheaded things he's done this year." She followed Kim into the kitchen where the cooking smells intensified. "I swear to God, some days I feel like I'm running a day care not an ER." She perched herself on a high stool at the island and propped her crutch beside her. "My God, something smells good. What are you making?"
Kim chopped red onion for the salad. "I'm making a vegetable and beef stew and I'm baking bread."
Kerry raised an eyebrow and took a long, soothing sip of red wine. "I'm impressed. I think you should have more days off so you can do this."
"Be your wife, you mean?" Kim said with a mischievous smile.
Kerry considered this. "Well, no, I meant relax and cook, but now that you mention it ..."
Kim shot her a look and resumed chopping.
"So how was your day?" Kerry said.
"Very nice, actually. I went to the gym this morning and this afternoon I did the groceries and cooked. And then I wanted to catch up on my journal reading ..."
"Ah," Kerry said and sipped her wine. "How long did you sleep?"
Kim chuckled. "About three quarters of an hour."
"Well, it sounds like a perfect day off," Kerry said.
"Oh!" Kim said suddenly, wiping off her hands. "We got a letter today." She reached to the end of the island and plucked an envelope off a pile of mail. She handed it to Kerry with a grin.
Plain white envelope, child-like script. She glanced at the return address.
"Finn!" she said.
Kim grabbed her wine and pulled up a stool beside Kerry's while Kerry got the carefully folded loose leaf out of the envelope.
Dear Kim and Kerry,
Hi! This is Finn. How are you? I am fine. Thanks for writing me the letter Kerry. It was the first real letter I've ever gotten, like in the mail and everything. How is your leg, Kerry? You probably have your cast off now. I hope you can walk okay. And remember to do your exercises okay? I guess you don't know but I changed schools this year. I didn't have to go back to Blackburn Academy. Now I go to a much better school. It's called St. Joseph's. The only bad part is that we have to go to mass a lot, like every month. But I like almost everything else about it. The kids are a lot nicer there and the teachers are really nice too. I'm getting mostly B's and A's so far, so even Gran can't say that it was a bad idea to change me. I was so glad when Grandpa said he thought that maybe Blackburn wasn't a good idea for me ...
Kim laid her hand on Kerry's. Kerry looked over.
"You talked to his grandfather, didn't you?" Kim asked.
Kerry hesitated. "Well, I didn't talk to him directly."
"What did you do?"
"I wrote him a little note, reminding him that he had once told me that his family owed me a great debt." Kerry shrugged. "He seemed like the kind of man who always pays his debts."
Kim pulled Kerry closer and kissed her cheek. "I like your style, Weaver."
...so now I can live at home with my dad and walk to school and everything. And my dad let me join a soccer league and he and I are taking Tae Kwon Doe together on Saturdays. It is so fun! My dad says one of these days he and I will have a fight and I will kick his butt!! Anyway, the other reason I am writing is to tell you that I have a three week vacation at Christmas time. Gran and Grandpa are going to Europe for my Grandpa's business and except for the first week (when Christmas is) my dad probably has to work a lot. He said that if it was okay with you guys, I could take a plane all by myself and come and visit. But only if you wanted me to. Because I'm not supposed to invite myself he said. Except I didn't know how to ask you without sounding like I was inviting myself. Is that okay? Anyway, you guys should write back or something and tell me if it's okay. I would really like to visit with you and remember, Kim you said sometime you would take me to a hockey game? Maybe we could do that . I've been saving my allowance and it could be my treat. Anyway, I have to go because I have to go to bed now. I'm on the fourth Harry Potter and my dad lets me read for an extra half hour before I have to turn out the lights. Please write back really soon and tell me if it's okay about Christmas. And I really hope it is. I miss you guys. A lot.
Love, your friend
P.S. I looked up a lot of words, so I hope the spelling is good. P.S.S. Kerry, my Gran wants to know what hospital you work at because she would like to make a donation from you. To say thank you and everything. P.S.S.S. Kerry, remember: Goodness in our hearts, strength in our limbs and truth on our lips!!!
Kerry folded the letter and put it back into the envelope. Kim watched her attentively, gauging her reaction.
"Pretty good spelling, wasn't it?" Kerry said, reaching for her wine. Kim saw the glint of tears in her eyes. She rubbed Kerry's arm affectionately.
"I miss him, too," Kim said and all Kerry could do was nod. "In fact, I was thinking ... how hard could it be to track down Finn's father's number? So that we could call and talk to him tonight."
Kerry pursed her lips. "If we couldn't get it through standard channels, I know a certain resident who comes from a very well-connected Chicago family. Maybe they could help us."
Kim nodded. "Then I think we should try to call him tonight." She slipped off her stool. "Why don't you start trying information while I put dinner on the table? If we haven't gotten the number by dessert then you can call in a favour from Carter. Not that you'd need a favour to call in. The boy has a soft spot for you the size of Wisconsin."
Kerry didn't move, instead sat there watching Kim putter around the kitchen, slicing bread, assembling salads. She followed every move with her eyes until Kim paused, two warmed bowls in hand and looked over at Kerry, a hint of concern in her expression.
"Kerry?" she asked. "You okay?"
She'd almost lost this. Almost lost her. Because she'd been afraid.
She was never going to let that happen again.
"I'm fine," Kerry said, sliding down off the stool. "I'm just fine."