December 2007 – Colorado Springs
Faith watched Danny's slender hands as he steered the Saab 9-5 down the darkening highway from Denver to Colorado Springs. They had spent the weekend in Aspen, celebrating the finalization of Mae's adoption of Tamika. Faith had to admit the car made up for in comfort and practicality what it lacked in sex appeal or style. Of course, Danny had both – sex appeal and practicality, of course. At least, that was Faith's opinion. She was surprised by him all the time. Like Giles, he was both intelligent and gentle, but he lacked the Ripperish icyness that Giles could project when he was angry. She'd seen Danny mad, hell, they had rows from time to time, but he never seemed as calculatingly cold as Rupes could be. And Danny never walked away from her. He would stand his ground and work through whatever issues they had together.
Faith had invested some her modest inheritance from Maureen Patwick in a small but attractive boutique hotel at the base of the slopes in Aspen. The hotel was pricey and profitable, but in the shoulder season, which included early December, she could stay in the upscale hotel for a pittance. The four of them – Liz had already returned to Maryland to visit her family – had eaten at the nice restaurants and browsed the outrageously upscale shops. As luck would have it, the first snow of the year dropped six inches on Aspen their second night, and it had been possible to hit the fresh powder the following morning. Tamika had been afraid of skiing for the first part of the morning, but with a little coaxing from Mae and Danny, and some gentle bullying from Faith, she'd graduated from the bunny slope to the easier trails in short order.
It was a clear night, and the stars twinkled brightly over yesterday's snow that was still piled two feet deep on either side of the highway. Faith didn't remember snow seeming like a silvery blanket in Boston. All she could remember of snow in Boston was that it was a dirty gray and slushy and cold. Maybe the city had made the snow ugly, or maybe her circumstances had. Snow in Boston meant standing on the street corners in high heels and a miniskirt was colder and more miserable than usual. Her mother, at least, had let her wear a jacket in the winter. J. hadn't bought her a new jacket after she outgrew the one her mother had received from the Salvation Army. But zipping down slopes in a fleece-lined jacket and snowsuit with Danny chasing behind her laughing was a whole different experience. It made snow appealing. And sitting by the hotel fireplace drinking Irish coffee and roasting marshmallows for s'mores with Mae and Tamika was a piece of heaven.
Speaking of rows, Danny was miffed with her. Well, hurt. She didn't mean to hurt him -- she never did. She needed ten more classes to graduate from UC Colorado Springs, and four had to be taken on campus. Danny wanted her to live with him while she finished. He'd even said the “M”-word, sending a cold chill of panic down her spine. He'd mentioned a ring he'd picked out – he actually had it! It was beautiful, a nearly two carat flawless oval diamond with half-carat triangle cuts on either side in platinum setting. She was wearing it now – Danny had said to he had bought it for her to enjoy, even if they didn't get married anytime soon. She had been too stunned to do anything but put it on. Now, she knew she had to tell him most of her secrets – and she was afraid that if she did, he would not want her anymore.
“We need to talk.”