Jamil had made a trip to Crystal’s home and helped her put together a work wardrobe. He’d laughingly told her that it was perfectly normal to have a different work style from your private style and still be herself. So Crystal had started dressing differently for work. Her co-workers complimented her on the change. At least everyone did except for Misty.
“Who are you trying to impress?”
Crystal continued walking, barely pausing to answer Misty. Misty never failed to irritate Crystal. Crystal had given her last serious discussion with Keith a lot of thought and decided that she still wanted to date him. It wouldn’t hurt to get to know him better and see where it led.
“I like your new look.”
He frowned and Crystal apologized. Keith’s strategy had worked on Crystal.
“I’m sorry. I was just… I’ve been thinking about what you said. I think it would be nice to take our time and really get to know one another better. Would you like to go get a drink after work tonight?”
Crystal nodded and Keith walked away. Crystal asked him again the following week, and they started back dating. Crystal was still unsure if she’d be able to make a commitment to him, but she knew that she did have strong feelings for him.
June and Angelo were waiting downstairs for Crystal to finish dressing so that they could leave for the stadium. Angelo was lead guitarist for a small band and his band was performing that night. His band was beginning to be very successful and soon Angelo would be leaving for a tour. June was standing very close to Angelo and despite her plan to take things slow, she tried to kiss him. Angelo was completely caught off guard and shocked!
“No, you’re my homegirl, June. We’re not like that.
Angelo hesitated because he didn’t know what to say to June without revealing his feelings for Crystal. Even though Crystal was dating Keith, she was still having a “relationship” with Angelo. She didn’t see anything wrong with doing that because she hadn’t made a commitment to Keith yet. However, Angelo didn’t know that she was dating Keith.
“I’m sorry June. I just don’t see you that way.”
Something about the way he hesitated answering made June think that there was more to it than what he was telling her. She started paying closer attention to how he behaved when he’s around her.
A couple of weeks later, June, Crystal and Angelo were in Crystal’s loft, listening to a new song that Angelo had composed. He composed the songs that his band played and liked to play them for June and Crystal to get their reactions.
Crystal is shocked at June’s outburst of anger. She hadn’t told June about her and Angelo because she hadn’t thought it was anyone’s business but hers and Angelo’s. She didn’t understand why June was so upset.
June was still shouting at her. “You pride yourself on not having a steady romantic relationship with a guy as though it’s some badge of honor. What do you think you’re doing with Angelo! He’s one of your best friends and you’re sleeping together! If that’s not a relationship then I don’t know what is! You’re blind if you don’t realize that he’s in love with you. Why do you think he hasn’t dated anyone else for the last year.”
June saw Crystal’s confused and hurt expression. June was still upset and heartsick that Angelo is in love with Crystal.
“You don’t know how lucky you are, Crystal! I’ve gotta get out of here!”
She rushed from the apartment. Angelo left too. He wasn’t ready to talk with Crystal about his feelings. He didn’t think that this was the right time. Nor did he know if the right time would ever come.
“Crystal, I really want to commend you for taking my advice. I’ll announce it during the next staff meeting, but I just want to let you know that I’m giving you that promotion. Come to my office before you leave today and we’ll go over the details!”
“Congratulations! You did the work and you deserve it.”
Crystal went back to her desk. There was a message from Keith. He was cancelling their date again tonight. He’d been doing that regularly now, and Crystal didn’t know what to think, but she was getting a very uncomfortable feeling.
June overheard Keith on the phone having a romantic conversation with some woman whom he called Sharon. She knew that Crystal and Keith were dating. Despite being angry with Crystal, June still cared about her and knew that they would get past their differences. Their friendship was too great just to end it this way. She confronted Keith.
Keith didn’t answer and June took that to mean no. “I didn’t think you were that kind of a guy Keith. You disappoint me. You’d better tell Crystal or I will!”
“Crystal, my old high school girlfriend contacted me a few weeks ago, and we’ve started dating again. I never meant to hurt you Crystal, but Sharon and I are at the same point in our lives. We want the same things. She’s divorced, but she doesn’t have any children. She wants a family just like I do. The spark that she and I had in high school is still there. I hate to hurt you, but I think it’s better to break things off between us now.”
She stood up and opened the door. Keith left. Crystal tried to pretend to herself that she didn’t care, but she does. Her confidence was shaken. She still hasn’t spoken with Angelo, and she and June haven’t really talked since the blow up. At work, they were just professional with each other. She decided that she needed to go and spend some time with her big Sis, Alissa to try to figure some things out. She called Lionel and asked for a few vacation days off.
She was still upset about Miki and Jamil splitting up too. They were really like parents to her. So when she went to see Alissa, Alissa helped her to dig and see how she really feels about Keith, and how she really feels about Angelo. Would she have to change herself too much to conform to what either man wanted or would they appreciate her for who she truly is. Alissa helped her to question whether she really wants to make a commitment to anyone. She liked being a single woman. Did she want to change that?
Now that she knows that Angelo is in love with her, how will that change her relationship with him? Before she knew that he loved her, hadn’t she noticed any difference in the way he treated her especially when they slept together. Crystal realized that, yes, there had been a change, but she hadn’t known what it meant. She had liked the change though. How will Crystal feel if Angelo isn’t a part of her life anymore and she isn’t a part of his? How will she feel if June and Angelo start dating or if he starts dating someone else again? Alissa gave her a lot to think about. She stayed with Alissa for a couple of days and then went back home.
Skylar toddled out from the nursery. Not long after she started crawling she’d begun pulling herself up and learned to walk. She was still a little unsteady but walking whenever she could. She stopped in front of Noah.
Reading to Skylar, singing to her and talking to her while she was still in the womb had paid off in a big way. Although she sometimes mixed up her vowels and her nouns, Skylar could speak very well now. She was extremely advanced for her age and her parents were very proud of her. Noah leaned over and picked her up.
“When Joy was sick, your Daddy and I felt very helpless. If it hadn’t been for doctors who specialized in the areas needed to get Joy well, we might have lost her. Those parents in the country where your Daddy and I are going need your Daddy’s specialized skills so that their children will get well too.”
“Yes, I’m going. I want to help them as much as I can too. I’m going to volunteer at the clinic and I’m going to do a story for my show about the plight of the women and children living in those refugee camps. I think that the more people are aware of the desperate need the more help will be provided.”
“We’ll take safety measures and we’ll be gone for three weeks. I’m sure that you all know children at your schools who have parents that serve in the military. They provide a necessary service for us that sometimes places them in dangerous situations. However, they are gone for months at a time. Compared to that and the dangers that they face, your Mom and I will have it much easier. We’ll be just fine.”
He paused looking at each of them to gauge their reactions. Working with this organization was important to him, but he didn’t want to do it if it was too much for his own children to handle. They seemed to be accepting of the news and not unduly concerned.
Alissa continued, “Your Grandmother Valerie and Grandfather Robert are coming to stay with you while we’re gone. Yes, we realize that Cara and Shawn are old enough to take care of things alone, but we thought it’d be easier this way. You have your part-time job, Shawn; and Cara we didn’t want to put too much on you either. Joy and Aidan have their activities and need to be driven back and forth. So your grandparents are coming.”
Dale and Alissa talked with them for a while longer and then they dispersed.
Cara stayed to talk with her parents. “Mom and Dad, I want to go with you. Please don’t say no right away. Soon I’ll be eighteen and going away to college. I want to help those people too. Mom, I can take pictures for you to go along with your story. I’m not a little girl anymore, and I know that I could help.”
Dale and Alissa told her to let them talk it over. Alissa didn’t want her to go, but Dale talked Alissa into it. He said that Cara was right. Soon she would be old enough to go away do something like this without their permission. This way she would be with them, and they could make sure that she stayed safe. He was proud of Cara for wanting to help even when it required so much of a sacrifice of her time and energy. Alissa agreed and they started to make the arrangements for their trip.