"You've got to be careful with the ghost and myself. We can't develop the relationship because there's nowhere to go. But I love the fantasy of it. I find it appealing."
Carolyn swirled her toe in the pool. Veronica cocked her eyebrow quizzically.
"Blast, this is so embarrassing." The petite blonde fortified herself with another sip of her sorority sister's cordial-flavored gin and tonic. She sighed. "Before I answer that - do you think I'm crazy?"
"You mean for taking Jon and Candy back to Maine?"
Carolyn blinked first and laughed. She reached to finger the pearls at her neck then remembered she'd taken them off after last night's dance. Pearls of not-wisdom. Pearls not there to fidget defensively with when she needed them most. She shouldn't have said anything. Kept her mouth shut. Instead, she had blabbed to the person who knew her best, knew the scores they'd secretly kept at Wellesley, knew the truth about Bobby. Knew her well enough to know even a writer wannabe like Carolyn would never concoct a romantic tale about the ghost of a sea captain.
"Ok, well, there's that," Carolyn exhaled, glad Veronica had left a little wiggle room. "But the kids are happy and the Muirs can't interfere on a daily basis when we're way up there. The schools aren't great, but they're good and the kids have lots of friends. I like Schooner Bay, Veronica. To me it's more than a summer vacation backwater. It's where I want to spend the rest of my life. By the sea. Walking on the beach. Enjoying my privacy."
Carolyn reddened and finished her drink with a gulp. Tears once unaccustomed formed in her eyes and she looked away, hoping a quick swipe of her hand wouldn't smear the mascara she'd neglected to remove after the going-away party.
"Yes," she whispered, staring too long at the hibiscus bushes lining the pool area.
"Is this why you fled Maine in June?" Veronica responded finally, offering Carolyn a hand. "Take a seat over here in the shade, sweetie. I don't want to know the details – just what pushed you over the edge – and why you're really going back in time for school."
Instead, Carolyn stood, wrapped her arms around her friend and cried, as sorrow and rage gave way to the inevitable truth underlying her so-called fantasy.
"He wrote me a song about how he couldn't touch my hand," she began. "That new guy, Tim Seagirt, he had him sing it…"