"All right, cousin. I got it, and I’m holding it in my hand this very moment."
"Open it," Lena ordered him.
Grant sighed in exasperation. He had always been a pushover with it came to his cousin. In many ways, she was more like a sister, and had been an integral part of his life growing up, since he was an only child.
The envelope had the embossed logo of Toppers Cove CSD on the upper left-hand corner. The letter had originally been sent to him at his old mailing address. Grant could see where his mother had crossed it out and written the address of his New York apartment to have it forwarded.
Grabbing a letter opener from the pencil cup on his drawing table, he ripped open the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Even as he unfolded it, he could tell it was an invitation of some sort. His first impulse was to toss it without reading it first, until a name at the top caught his attention, right underneath Lena‘s name.
Sanderly Blakeney, Vice Chairman
Vice Chairman of what? He scanned the paper.
You are invited to attend the First Annual Hearts on Fire Valentines Day Dance at the Toppers Cove Consolidated High School gym on Friday, February 14th. The dance will be from 7 to midnight. Music will be provided by J.D. Maxx and the Maximums.
He glanced back up at the name at the top, and the first thing that he realized was that she was still a Blakeney. Sandy Blakeney. Either she hadn’t gotten married, or if she had, she’d taken her maiden name back. Either way it means she’s free.
Grant frowned. It was coming back to him, and it wasn’t pleasant. It had been years since he’d felt that deep sense of longing. It was immediately followed by sadness, disillusionment, and regret.
"Well?" Lena’s voice drifted from the speaker.
"Are you coming or not?"
"I don’t know…"
"Oh, don’t give me that bullshit, Grant David! We’ve worked a lot of long, hard hours to get this thing together. Think of it as a class reunion, only with a lot more returning graduates!"
"I’ve never attended any of the class reunions," he reminded her.
"Like I don’t already know that," his cousin retorted. "Your folks are already expecting you to come up for a visit."
"Yeah. I’m still here. Let me think on it, Lena, and I’ll get back with you."
"No way, cuz. I know why you’re back-pedaling. It’s because of Sandy, isn’t it?"
Yes, Lena would bring her up, considering she was the only person in the world who knew of his history, or rather the lack of it, when it came to the Blakeney girl. As he tried to figure out a way to get out of the going to the dance, his cousin persisted.
"I told her I was inviting you."
"Hey, it’s been ten years! You don’t have to tell me you’re still carrying a torch around for her. Listen, bro…" Her voice softened. Lena never referred to him as brother unless she was speaking to him from the heart. Despite the fact that they were adults now, his closeness to Lena was his only strong familial bond, and she would forever hold an emotional attachment to him.
"When I told Sandy I was asking you to the dance, you would have sworn I’d sucker punched her. There’s something still there, Grant. When are you two going to finally have a heart-to-heart, and let bygones be bygones?"
"Lena, you know the answer to that."
"Because your folks don’t approve of her? What are you? Twelve? It’s time to grow some brass ones, bro. It’s your life, and what’s more important, your parents no longer have any say-so in it."
That was true. Since he got on with the company of his dreams, he had become totally independent of his parents, both physically and financially. Plus, truth be told, he was a bit homesick to see his home town again.
And Sanderly Blakeney.