Chapter Nine

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"How's the patient?" Gwen asked.

"Marta's soup was a hit. He finished off the whole bowl." Mary Grace placed the large tray on the kitchen counter. "He moved into Nolan's room. They're watching a movie together."

"How's the nursemaid then? You've done a week's worth of step-aerobics going up and down those stairs today."

"What?" Mary Grace grinned. "Oh, I'm fine."

"Well, I think you deserve a little break." She pulled a bottle of wine from the chiller. "What do you say we take advantage of that view for a while?"

"That sounds wonderful."

They stretched out on the same pair of chaise lounges on the veranda. The air was just as cool as it had been that morning and the breeze relaxed her almost instantly.

"It's too bad the whole world doesn't have a view like this."

"Isn't that the truth." Mary Grace agreed. "Is this your first time over here?"

"On Rhodes? Yes. But my late husband and I vacationed in Athens years ago. I fell in love with everything Greek. We only came the one time though."

"How long ago did you lose your husband? If you don't mind my asking, I mean."

"Oh I don't mind. He's been gone almost five years now. Ironically, he was taken by the same cancer as Dale."

"Really?"

"I think it's helped me to help Nolan, having gone through the same thing, you know."

"He's told me many times that you've been his saving grace through everything."

"Well, I try to be there when he needs me and stay out of his way when he doesn't. That was Dale's number one rule. Know your place, Gwen, he said."

"You know I've been meaning to ask you...how did you and Dale meet?"

"Actually, we were all on the same cruise about a year and a half ago. I was on a girls trip with my sisters and he was there with Nolan and Joss. I didn't recognize him as Dale Drayton. He introduced himself at Dale Crawford, so I had no idea. I think that's why he liked me so much--I didn't get all caught up in his celebrity."

"So you were pretty close then?" Mary Grace hinted.

"We were close, but just friends. It was never romantic."

"Well, it's obvious that he saw something very special in you."

They sipped their wine and moved on to other topics. Beach reads. Travel. Her grandchildren. At one point she retrieved her phone and shared several pictures of a beautiful brother-sister duo.

"These are my daughter's children. You met her at the luncheon. Caleb is twelve. Cassidy is nine." She said proudly.

"They're gorgeous." She studied the image for a moment. "How nice to have them all with you in Nashville. Are they your only grandchildren?"

"No. My son Kevin has a seventeen year old boy. Joshua. They live in Memphis. He owns a landscape architecture firm there. I don't think I have any recent photos of him." She swiped her screen with a frown. "He reminds me a lot of Nolan actually. My son, I mean. He's a single dad too, raising a son by himself."

"Well, I know you're proud and you have every reason to be. You have a very beautiful family."

"They're pretty special."

The conversation quieted as Gwen turned her face back toward the water. Mary Grace took advantage of the moment and closed her eyes. But the silence didn't last long.

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