Authors: Robin Jones Gunn
Copyright Â© 2000
Robin Jones Gunn
Cover illustration and design by Lookout Design, Inc.
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Scripture quotation on page 119 is from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Copyright 1946, 1952, 1971 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.
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For Luanne, who said in the spring of our twenty-first year, “Why don't we go to Europe this summer!” And so we did. (I still have the wild flowers we picked in Adelboden, Lulu.)
For Laurie, who shared her rationed cotton balls and 1006 lotion that sweltering night in the Paris youth hostel.
For Carol, who led us laughing all the way on our journey to find the statue of the
For Laraine, who kept us searching until we found the best gelato in all of Florence. (Remember, Lola? You said the Amaretto at Vivolli's was “exquiz.”)
And for Chuck, who told me to close my eyes right before we entered the Blue Grotto. Thanks for paying for the pizza that night at the train station in Roma. I think I still owe you.
“Old friends are as close as a memory when the heart is always young.”
Robin Jones Gunn
The morning light had not yet tinted the June sky with the promise of a new day as Christy Miller hurried down the cobblestone street of Basel, Switzerland. With long-legged strides, she turned the corner and realized that her heart was racing toward the train station faster than her legs.
This time I'm not going to cry when I see him
Christy remembered how weak and awkward her endless stream of tears had made her feel last Christmas when she had gone home to California. Todd had just stood there as if he didn't know what to do with her.
I'm a stronger person than I was at Christmas. I won't cry
At the end of the street she turned left. Only six more blocks to the station.
And I won't let Katie talk me into anything I don't want to do, either. If Katie, Todd, and I are going to get along while we travel around Europe for the next three weeks, then everything needs to be a group decision
Christy grasped her long, nutmeg brown hair to check how wet it was after her hasty, early-morning shower. She reminded herself that in a month she would celebrate her twentieth birthday. Certainly at twenty she should be facing life as a strong, independent woman, right?
It's time I take a stand for myself. Katie will not rule my choices. I won't let her
Decision making had never been Christy's strength, which was why she felt determined to make a fresh start with her closest friends. She would show them how much she had changed and how strong she had become during her school year in Switzerland.
The fragrant aroma of freshly baked bread floated her way from her favorite bakery, or
, at the end of the street. Every Saturday morning Christy would make a trek to this special pastry shop. It had become her way of treating herself for making it through another difficult week of classes and volunteer work at the orphanage.
A much better “treat” will be arriving on the 6:15 train from the ZÃ¼rich airport
, she thought with a smile.
The first thing Todd and Katie and I will do is come back here to my Konditorei, and I'll treat them to some Swiss pastries
Christy tilted back her head and drew in a deep breath of the delicious aroma. She stood still a moment, quickly folding her hair into a loose braid and fastening it with a clip she had stuck in her jeans pocket. The sky had just begun to lighten with soft shades of lavender and gray. Glad-hearted songbirds twittered in the trees.
Christy hurried the final stretch to the station with light steps. Smiling at the two large stone lion statues that guarded the entrance to the Basel
, Christy entered and checked the schedule. Todd and Katie's train was to arrive in seven minutes on track four. She rushed to the platform so she could be there the moment they stepped off the train.
Christy was surprised at how noisy and crowded the station was compared to the quiet streets she had just walked. She arrived on the platform facing track number four only moments before the train pulled in. Carefully positioning herself in the middle so she could see Katie and Todd no matter
which part of the train they exited from, Christy waited for her two best friends.
Throngs of early-morning businessmen and businesswomen exited the train. Christy thought she heard a familiar squeal over the roar of rushing footsteps. She looked right and left, expecting at any moment to catch a glimpse of Katie's swishy red hair. But Christy didn't see her in the crowd.
Turning her head to check the other end of the train, Christy felt everything around her slip into slow motion. She didn't know if she was experiencing a dip in the adrenaline she had felt pumping through her veins on her walk to the station or if the crush of people rushing past her made her feel dizzy. One thing she was sure ofâthe screaming silver-blue eyes she had spotted could only belong to one person.
“Todd!” Her lips formed the name she had held in her heart for half a decade. Pushing her way through the crowd, Christy rushed to her favorite blond-haired surfer boy.
Todd quickly unclasped his backpack and grabbed Christy's arm, pulling her close. In an instant his arms were around her, his eyes locked on hers, and his lips were only inches away.
“Kilikina,” he murmured right before his lips met hers.
Christy melted whenever Todd called her by her Hawaiian name. Absolutely melted. Add to that the sweetness of his kiss, and she couldn't take it all in. Uninvited tears coursed down her cheeks.
Todd pulled away from their reunion kiss, his expression hesitant.
“Hi,” Christy said, quickly wiping her damp cheeks.
“Hi,” Todd returned. His smile widened, showing his dimples. His solid jawline was rough with stubble, and she smelled chocolate on his breath.
Christy playfully brushed the back of her fingers along his jaw. “Hard day's night?”
Todd ran his thumb under her left eye, catching the last tear. He seemed to be studying her, trying to read what she held behind her clear, distinct blue-green eyes. His eyebrows raised as he said, “You all right?”
Christy nodded and smiled warmly. “I told myself I wasn't going to cry.”
“And I told myself I wasn't going to kiss you,” he said with a teasing grin.
His eyes were locked on hers. Christy felt as if Todd could see right through her, all the way to the secret place deep in her heart.
A settled peace came over her in the noisy station. The peace seemed to cover the two of them like an invisible canopy. They stood completely still, holding hands, basking in each other's presence. Christy wondered if she would spend the rest of her life gazing into those silver-blue eyes that now seemed to be searching her soul.
“Sorry, Todd, to interrupt,” a male voice with an Italian accent said, breaking in between Todd and Christy, “but I am parked for only a short time.”
Christy pulled herself away from Todd and was stunned to see Antonio, an Italian friend of theirs who had been an exchange student in California.
“Christiana,” Antonio said, reaching for her shoulders and planting a kiss on each cheek. “So good to see you. You are surprised?”
Christy felt off-balance. “What . . . how. . . ?” Before she could form her question, she heard a squeal that could only come from Katie. Christy's ever-exuberant best friend pushed her way past Antonio and threw her arms around Christy. As Katie did, the frame of her backpack hit Christy's forehead.