The "invitation" lay untouched on her kitchen counter
top where she'd dropped it. She wasn't going to go, she thought
for the twentieth or so time. Why should she go? All that
was behind her now. The past.
She wasn't going to go. That was that.
But it wasn't "that". Camryn Donovan, one of
Nashville's most popular songwriters, could not get the invitation
to her high school reunion out of her mind.
Texas was a long way from Nashville, and she'd never been back,
once she left. She didn't want to go back now. She wouldn't mind
seeing Janey, her best friend, or the others, she'd grown up with.
It would be exciting to see how they'd changed, and what they were
She just didn't want to see "him".
She should be over him. She "was" over him she
assured herself. It had been 10 years. Water under the bridge and
all that. He was probably married with a houseful of kids. And if
she'd never married, well, it wasn't because she'd been pining for
him all these years! No way! She'd just concentrated on her career
and had not had time for serious relationships. That was all.
No. She did not give Colton Sumner the least bit of thought
anymore. She didn't even dream about him! Okay...maybe she dream
about him once or twice in a blue moon, but that was IT!
The phone rang while she sat staring at the
"invitation". She picked it up and said hello.
"You're coming aren't you?" Janey Smith said without
so much as a How are you?'
"No." Camryn didn't pretend to not understand.
A heavy sigh sounded through the phone line. "You are so
stubborn, Camryn! Everyone wants to see you. And Colt...."
"You know that I don't talk about him," Camryn
"I know you don't. But, today, I am and you're going to
"If you're going to tell me how well he's doing and who he
married and where he works I don't want to know."
"He's not," Janey said.
Camryn leaned wearily on the counter and rubbed her forehead
with her free hand. "He's not what?"
"He's not married, Cam. He's never been married. All he
does is work. After you left town, he went to college at Baylor
and immediately started working at his fathers bank when he
graduated. Then, he took over the bank presidents job after his
father retired about two years ago."
Camryn found herself listening with more interest than she
cared to admit. "I didn't know," she said almost to
herself. Colt had never married? It seem so strange that such a
handsome, well connected man would not take a wife. Isn't that
what his parents harped on when Colt had told them he wanted to
marry her? That he needed to marry one of the girls in their
"circle" and not a factory workers daughter? In the end,
it was apparent that Colt had given in to them, because he
practically left her at the alter.
"You don't know, because you would never let me tell
you!" she said with exasperation. "Anyway, I doubt that
he'll come. He never comes out to the homecoming games or anything
like that so why should this be any different. But I want to see
you, Cam. I know that you always fly your parents up to see you,
but I'm also sure that they would want you to visit them, just for
Camryn found herself actually considering it. She did want to
see her old hometown again. It had been just too painful to ever
think of going back. To painful if she ran into Colt.
But he's not married...... That irritating voice in her
head kept reminding her over and over.
That was NOT the reason that she wanted to go back home. It
"I'll come," she said. Oh lord! Did she really say
"Great! Oh, Cam, well have so much fun!"
Camryn smiled wistfully into the phone. "Sure. Fun."
What had she gotten herself into?
Camryn stood for a moment outside Rylan High School gym and
just let the memories wash over her. Nothing much had changed
here. Except for a few portable buildings added for extra class
space, everything was pretty much as it had been ten years ago.
She'd played basketball in this gym, and then cheered Colt on as
he lead his team to victory.
They'd been so much in love. At the time, it had seem so
precious, they seem to share something so rare and beautiful. But
it all must have been one sided. Because the night they'd planned
to elope, Colt hadn't shown up. They'd plan to meet at a covered
school bus stop off Thornbird Street. She'd waiting there for 2
hours and he never came.
She did have to admit that they'd made a pact with one another.
If one of them changed their minds about getting married, the
other would have to go on with their life, and forget about their
And she'd done just that. She went to Nashville to pursue her
dream of becoming a songwriter. She'd worked day and night, and
pushed her way into the "inner core" of the country
music industry. She did just what they'd promised to do. Got on
with her life and forgot about him.
Well...she got the honored the first promise anyway. The second
Taking a deep breath, she opened the gym door and walked
An hour later, she was glad she'd came. She'd missed her
childhood friends more than she realized. Some still lived in
town, others had moved away, but nearly all her small graduating
class was in attendance.
Except for one.
Colt wasn't there. And she was relieved. And she was
disappointed. Camryn hated the mixed emotions that kept swirling
threw her. She now knew that, once and for all, she had to see
him. She'd smile, be polite, ask him how he'd been and that it was
great to see him. Then she'd leave and he'd be laid to rest in her
That was going to be the key to this whole mess. She had to see
him one more time.
Then suddenly there he was.
Colten Sumner stood at the entrance of the gym and quickly
scanned the festive decorated room. He didn't know why he'd let
himself be talked into coming. Janey had been so insistent that
his presence was important. And the fact that she'd been
mysterious about the whole thing, just made him the more curious,
so he'd come.
As he looked about the room, he saw many of his friends and
business colleagues. They were all laughing and having a good
time. He felt a strange detachment as he watched them, just as he
always did. Sure he could get right in with them and laugh and
pretend to be having the time of his life, but his heart would not
be in it.
His heart had been stolen from him years ago. There was nothing
left to feel with.
He felt someone's eyes on him and he turned to the corner of
the gym. He looked away, then quickly looked back again.
Ever muscle in his body froze. For a moment he did not even
take a breath.
Camryn. His Camryn. But...no. Not his anymore.
It was like having a dream and a nightmare at the same time.
Part of him wanted to run to her. The other wanted to run away.
He did neither, because the choice had been taken from him.
She was coming towards him.
He was still just as handsome as he'd ever been. Dark silky
hair that still refused to lay down tamely in the front. Instead,
a lock falling on his forehead. His face, though older, still had
the strong jaw and the piercing sea-green eyes. His body...well
you could tell that he was no couch potato.
She stood in front of him and couldn't find the will to pull
her gaze from his. "Hello, Colton," she said, her voice
slightly strained. She didn't feel like being polite, though. She
wanted to yell at him and demand that he tell her why he didn't
show that night. Why had he destroyed something so beautiful as
Colt's jaw clenched and then after a great deal of efforts, he
forced it to unclench. "Hello, Cam."
For a long, strained moment, they stood their and stared at one
another as if waiting for the other to say something that would
make them more comfortable.
Camryn was the first to look away. "Umm, I was hoping that
I would run into you while I was here."
Colt studied her anxious features and wondered what she was
trying to say. He'd gone over their relationship and the night
they were supposed to meet, so many times that he wasn't in the
mood for guessing games. He was blunt. "Why?"
Her eyes flew to his and she was momentarily taken aback at his
grim face. "I...I thought we could talk." She stopped
and took a deep breath. "I need to talk to you."
What did she want? Did she want to reminisce? Did she want to
remind him of what he'd had to do without for ten years since
she'd left? He wanted to tell her no and then leave as fast as he
could. The protective wall that he'd built around his heart was
practically crumbling with just a few words from her lovely lips.
But he could not say no. He never could, to her. He nodded
briefly, grabbed her hand , then headed towards the door.
"What....what are you doing?" she whispered
frantically, trying to keep up with him to prevent him from
dragging her across the floor. He opened the door and waited for
her to go through it. "You want to talk. I'm taking you to my
Colt watched Camryn as she looked about his living room. He
found himself hungry for her approval. After all, he'd built the
house that they'd dreamed about.
Camryn, with her back to Colt, blinked back tears as her gaze
lovingly touched on each object in the room. She'd recognize this
house anywhere. It was their house.
She had to know. His answer seemed very important.
Slowly she turned to him, not bothering to wipe the tears that
streaked down her pale cheeks. "Why, Colt? Why would you
leave me at that bus stop, and then turn around and built OUR
He frowned in confusion, momentarily forgetting his concern for
her tears. "Why did I leave you? If memory
serves correctly, it was I who was left waiting at the bus stop. I
waited there for three hours!"
Camryn's head felt as though it was spinning. She shook it to
clear it. "Colton Sumner, I know what I did and where I was.
I got there at ten o'clock, just as we said. I waited their till
midnight! I remember distinctly that YOU were not there!"
"Honey, you are living in a dream world!" he
practically yelled at her. "You did not come to that bus stop
on Mockingbird Street! I was there till ONE!"
"Don't yell at me!" she shot back. "You.."
She paused, where his words penetrated her ire. "Mockingbird?" she
His brow creased. "Yes, Mockingbird. What..."
"Oh God!" she cried, putting her hand on her forehead
in disbelief. She stumbled towards his sofa and sank down into it.
"I can't believe this," she murmured.
Colt stared at her, not understanding. Slowly her walked over
to her and sat beside her. Gently he pulled her hand away and
brought her face up so that he could see it. "What is wrong,
New tears begin to fall down her face. "Oh, Colt. We've
been such fools." He looked so confused that she smiled at
him and reached out to touch his face. "Remember when we made
plans for that night?" He nodded. "You couldn't remember
the name of the street? You could only remember it being
something-bird? A name of a movie, you said?" He nodded
again. "What are you trying to tell me, Cam?"
Anxiousness mingled with hope began to blossom in his chest.
"The only movie with "bird" I could think of was
The Thornbirds. So that's where I went. To Thornbird
"Thorn... Oh no! You mean... All these years..." He
shook his head helplessly. It would be funny if it wasn't so
tragic. All those years!!! Unbelievable!
Gently he placed his hands on her shoulders and looked into her
eyes. "You came."
She nodded. "I wanted to be your wife more than anything.
But I though you didn't want me."
"Not want you?" he said hoarsely as tears begin to
clog his throat. "Cam, when you didn't show up, I thought my
life was over. I didn't want to go on. I dated now and then after
a couple of years, but my heart wasn't in it. I the kind of man
who loves only once. I love you, still."
"Oh, Colt," she sighed with tearful joy. "I
never stopped loving you either. To think of all the time..."
"Shhh..." he soothed, and leaned over and placed a
sweet kiss on her mouth. "We here now and that's all that
matters. We've got ten years to make up for!"
Passionately they embraced. His mouth covered hers, each greedy
for the taste and feel that they'd craved for for ten years.
When they finally broke apart, he placed his hands on either
side of her face and smiled. "You know what else we have to
She grinned, dizzy with happiness. "What?"
"A wedding. Will you marry me, Camryn? I mean, I know that
we need to get to know one another again, and you have a career to
think of and..."
She stopped his nervous prattle with a soft touch of her hand
on his lips. "Colt, I'll enjoy getting to know you all over
again, and I'm a songwriter. I can write anywhere. And Colt?"
She paused for dramatic effect. "Yes."
"Yes?" he repeated, his grin a mile wide.
"YES!" she yelled and squealed when he jumped up and
yanked her up with him, spinning her round and round.
Their laughter came to a halt when the phone rang. Quickly Colt
yanked it up and said hello.
He listened a minute, then laughed. "Okay," he said.
"I'll tell her." Then he hung up.
Camyrn arched her eyebrow. "What was that all about?"
"That was Janey. She wanted to tell us congratulations."
Laughing they embraced again.
They'd loved and they'd suffered, but love had once again found
them, and they were going to take care that it never left them