When divorced Wade Middleton meets wealthy Diana Buchanan, a beautiful horsewoman who relocates to Palo Alto, California, from Texas, he is introduced to the world of horses and the fox-hunt, and a whirlwind romance spins out of control. Problems arise in the relationship when Diana can’t let go of her high-horse lifestyle, nor entirely separate from her powerful husband. Wade’s love of poetry isn’t exactly embraced by Diana, either, and they are worlds apart. Yet for some reason, the two are saddled by an attraction to each other neither understands.
Add to this Wade’s unwillingness to help his friend Jorge when he needs it most, and the guilt that ensues from his having the hots for his friend’s wife, a desire he admirably suppresses to an extent. Wade has his own demons to wrestle down, but he is unprepared for the troubles to come.
Once they saw Cliff to the elevator, his leather jacket slung over his shoulder, Wade and Diana were alone. Wade helped her move a few more dishes into the kitchen, hesitant to start a conversation. “We can leave the rest on the table while the dishwasher runs,” she said over the whir of the machine. “Let’s sit down.”
She led Wade to an alcove next to the window overlooking Stanford and the lights of the houses in the foothills.
“Sorry about that scene,” he said. “A bit of a mess.” After he said it, he wondered why he was always apologizing.
“Yes. An embarrassment,” she answered tensely.
“That Billy’s a piece of work, for sure.”
“Billy?” Diana asked incredulously. “It was that woman. She was half-naked in my dining room. And who knows what went on in the kitchen. That laugh!”
“I thought Billy was a little overwhelming, too,” Wade said, wondering again if, even if it wasn’t rational, Diana might be jealous. Even more, he thought, could there be a tinge of racism? Was Marita meeting some stereotype Diana had placed on Latina women?
Diana took a deep breath. “That’s just who Billy is. He flirts, There’s no denying that. I’ve had long discussions with Jolene. She says she’s come to grips with Billy’s flirting. First she told Billy to look but don’t touch. ‘But now,’ Jolene told me, ‘I figure whatever he does is okay. He works so hard, and he’s always treated me as the most important thing in his life, so let him have some fun.’”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Diana told Wade. “That would never meet my standards for a marriage, but remember Jolene comes from a different background. I’m not sure what the Catholics believe. But I support her, I do. And Rob absolutely loves Billy. He was best man at our wedding.”
Wade frowned. He walked to the window and stared out into the darkness. He wished Diana could finish two sentences without talking about Rob. He said, “I see, so even with what you’ve been through, you can overlook Billy’s faults?”
“Yes, absolutely. I don’t understand you. Sometimes it seems you go out of your way to make me uncomfortable.”
Wade wasn’t sure what to say. From all of their conversations, he knew Diana was a warm person. But sometimes she could be so cold. He didn’t feel he’d intentionally made her uncomfortable, so what could he say? He didn’t dare look at her when he said, “I’m thinking about taking a trip back to the Midwest.”
Diana reached out to take his arm and turn him to face her. “Where’d that come from?”
“I haven’t been back in . . . whew, over twenty years, and SnyderSound has a sales prospect in Chicago. Ray found some hot potential customer. It may be time for me to return to where I grew up. I have a lot to figure out.”
Diana looked out toward the lights in the hills. “About us, you mean?”
Wade didn’t want to say yes, and resorted, for good or ill—to poetry. He recited the lines that had come into his mind as he wondered what to do―
“Should I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to eat a peach?
I will wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.”
“I like you very much, Wade, you and your poetry world, but you may be right. Perhaps we both need time to think.”
Rather than respond directly, Wade took the coward’s route and quoted the next of Eliot’s lines: “I do not think that they will sing to me.”
They sat silently for a few minutes overlooking the foothills until they both stood up at the same time and she walked him to the door. They stepped into the entryway. Without touching, Diana walked Wade to the elevator. After he pushed the button, they hesitated before they embraced. Wade half-expected to feel a brass breastplate, but she was as soft as his memories of her.
She gently pushed away, slowly. “Part of me is dying to invite you back in.”
She felt wonderful in his arms, but Wade kissed her on the forehead, dropped his hands from her waist, and left.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the US Navy, Kevin has published fifty stories and poems. He earned his Master’s in Fine Arts from San Jose State University in 2007, the same year he helped found Gold Rush Writers. He has ridden to hounds since 1999, earning his colors with the Los Altos Hounds, also in 2007. He served as President of Poetry Center San Jose for twelve years. Kevin is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA. The San Francisco / Peninsula California Writer’s Club recently named him Writer of the Year.