Spencer flicked on the TV in the room just for noise before he unpacked a few things for the night. He thought about the conversation earlier with Kate and wondered about the impulsive comment he made about her being adorable. It just came out. He hadn’t planned to say anything like that, so why did he? Too late now.
An hour later, they found a hotel several exits down the road from the children’s home. Kate went in first and got a room for her and Sarah and then Spencer went in to get his. They got settled in their rooms on the same floor, but not next to each other. Then they decided where to eat dinner.
They settled on a Cracker Barrel nearby when Kate asked Sarah if she liked pancakes and got a yes. “Okay, pancakes it is.” Pancakes weren’t exactly the healthiest thing on the planet, but Kate was already caving in to comfort food after a stressful few days.
Kate walked back to the lobby area with Sarah toddling alongside her, holding her puppy. Kate noticed Spencer tapping a magazine on his leg. Kate wondered if he was nervous. But why would he be the nervous one? Wasn’t she nervous enough for both of them? Spencer stood up as soon as he spotted them. Kate looked down at Sarah and said, “Sarah, honey, this man is Spencer, a friend of mine and he came with me to get you. We live in a different town.” Kate looked up at Spencer, who was staring at Sarah. “We’re going to stay here for a day or two until we go back to where we live.” Her voice wobbled as she spoke.
Kate nodded, listening. This was it. They walked out of Mr. Miller’s office and passed Spencer who gave her a quick wink when he saw them. She gave him a nervous smile before following her guide down a long hallway through double doors that led into a large rectangle room painted in red, yellow and blue. Short built-in shelves along two walls held many toys, books and games. Several girls in coordinated outfits were having a tea party with bears at a little table for their height. Kate smiled, remembering her own days having tea with her bear. The children all seemed happy and were playing with a variety of things. Some were doing puzzles, some coloring, others watching a video.
“Hello, Ms. Langston. I’m Mr. Miller, the director here.” He held out his hand and Kate shook it. His grip was solid without being too strong. “Come on in and have a seat.” Kate turned back to Spencer for a moment and saw him nod before she followed Mr. Miller into his inner sanctum. Mr. Miller walked back into his office and stood behind his desk, gesturing at one of the upholstered chairs for visitors before sitting in his own. His desk was immaculate except for a pile of papers and folders on one corner. A business phone, notepad and pencil cup were the only other items on the desk. A display of family photos in silver and brass frames adorned a credenza behind Mr. Miller’s desk.
Spencer pulled into the parking lot of the children’s home where Sarah lived. The directions Kate printed out before leaving on their trip made it easy to find. Kate took a deep breath.
It was now mid afternoon and sunny but a north wind blew. Kate’s lunch from earlier still sat like a watermelon in her stomach.
Spencer stretched his arms before opening his door. “Kate, don’t worry. This is what the trip was all about.”