Sara's Promise(78)

By: Deanna Lynn Sletten

As Annie balanced Lizzie and the plate of food in her arms, she thought about how blessed she was. After years of being alone, she now had a loving husband, a family, and a career she loved. Over the past three years, her photography business had transitioned from architecture magazines to travel photography. She traveled all over the country, taking photos of prominent places where people vacationed, and she loved every minute of it. In fact, she had become so in demand, she could now pick and choose her jobs, so she could spend more time with Lizzie. And William was wonderful about the travel, often accompanying her with Lizzie in tow. His own business was so successful that he could also handpick his projects, so he worked less now and spent more time with family.

Annie caught sight of William across the room and once again a smile touched her lips. He loved her, this she knew. Once he had let go of Sara completely, he was able to open his heart to her fully. The day after they'd reunited on the beach, as William had gazed into Annie's eyes, a strange look had crossed his face.

"What's wrong?" Annie had asked him.

"Your eyes. They're different."

Annie had run to a mirror and looked at herself. No longer were blue-green eyes staring back at her. Her eyes were hazel blue.

"They've changed back," Annie had said, amazed.

"Back?" William asked.

"My eyes were hazel before my surgery and then turned blue-green afterward. Now they're back to their original color," Annie had explained.

William looked confused. "How could that happen?"

Annie had walked back over to William and looked up into his eyes. "It was Sara. She must have known you would notice me if my eyes were the same as hers. Now that you've let her go, they've changed back."

William had gazed down at her a long time, digesting what she'd said. When Annie couldn't stand the silence between them any longer, she'd asked in a soft voice, "Do you mind that my eyes are no longer like Sara's?"

William slowly shook his head, then smiled. "No, not at all. I think your eyes are beautiful. They are exactly how they should be. It's you I love, Annie. And everything that makes you who you are."

It was at that moment that Annie knew for certain William had let Sara go completely, and loved only her.

Annie looked up, brushing away her thoughts and saw Cherise come through the door, looking beautiful in a dress the color of a sunset. She waved her over and gave her friend a hug.

"Hey sweetie," Cherise said to Lizzie, tickling her side. The little girl giggled, then went back to eating her treats.

"Wow, what a crowd. Sandy's showing is a success," Cherise said. She'd seen the paintings earlier, when she'd delivered the desserts for the caterers to pass around later in the evening. "You must be so proud of her," Cherise added. "The paintings are phenomenal."

Annie nodded as the two women gazed around the room at the crowd of people. Cherise accepted a glass of wine from a server, and after taking a sip, she pointed toward a man across the room. "Hey, who's that guy? Do you know him?"

Annie looked in the direction Cherise pointed. Standing beside William was a man about the same height with short, auburn hair, strong shoulders, and wearing a dark tan suit. "That's Jeff," she said matter-of-factly. When Cherise looked at her with a confused frown, she added, "Jeffrey Hanover, William's partner. Haven't you ever met him before?"

Cherise shook her head. She'd been to many family dinners and evenings out with Annie and William, but she had never met William's partner before. "Married?" she asked.

"Divorced," Annie answered. "Several years now."


"No kids."

"Bitter?" Cherise asked.

Annie turned, looked at her dearest friend, and laughed. "No, he's not bitter. It just didn't work out. He's actually a very nice man. Why? Are you interested?"

Cherise rolled her big, brown eyes, which made Lizzie laugh. "Do you even have to ask? You've been hiding this cute guy from me for years, and you want to know if I'm interested?"

Annie laughed. "Would you like me to introduce you to him?"

"Are you kidding? Of course, I want you to introduce him to me." Cherise grabbed hold of Annie's arm and began dragging her toward Jeff. "It's time we start working on my happily ever after, don't you think?"

Annie looked up at William across the room and locked eyes with him. They both smiled. Happily every after did describe their life perfectly. Annie had never believed in fairy tale endings, or soul mates, or even fate and destiny before she met William. But now she believed in it all. She was living a fairy tale life, thanks to Sara, and she sent up a little prayer thanking her again for leading her to not the perfect ending but the perfect beginning.

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