that one girl and life is sweet

Epilogue: Your Kisses Are Sweet

September 29, 1957

Honey sighed as she watched the dark blue sedan head down the driveway. She could barely see it as the sun was getting lower in the sky, but then Tom must have turned on the headlights, for she suddenly saw the flash of light as it turned the corner.

Miss Trask put an arm around her shoulder. "You really like him, don't you?"

"I do, Miss Trask." Honey smiled at her former teacher and governess. "I really do. Do you think I'm too young to feel like this, though? I know that's what Mother would say."

"You are young, Honey. But that doesn't mean you're too young." Miss Trask smiled back at her. "And if you're feeling, well, whatever you're feeling, then you're not too young to be feeling it."

"Why, Miss Trask, I think you're learning how to speak my language." Honey winked at her governess. "But I guess you're right."

Miss Trask turned toward the front door, keeping her arm around Honey to effectively guide her along. "Let's go inside and have some hot chocolate. And then maybe I can convince you to share more details about your bike ride earlier today with Regan's nephew?"

Honey giggled. "I'd like that. I don't feel comfortable talking to Trixie about boys because she's just not interested in hearing about it. And Di is great, but she's stressed out right now between Harrison and Trixie, but, Miss Trask, I'm dying to tell someone about it all, and I always could talk to you about anything."

Miss Trask's blue eyes filled with the warmth of love for Honey. "You could, and I hope you feel you still can." The two made their way to the kitchen and the older woman soon had milk warming on the stove and the chocolate mix ready nearby. "So, where did you go?"

"First, we rode around the reservoir and then we had our picnic lunch in the park, the one on our side of the reservoir, just at the end of that one bike path." Honey smiled dreamily. "And, oh, Miss Trask, he's so nice. But he's been through so much, and I just think it would be so easy for him to have turned mean or bitter, but somehow he's not either of those things."

"Of course he's not." Miss Trask snorted somewhat unbecomingly for a lady. "Do you really think I would let you go off alone with him if I thought for a second that he was going to be mean, rude, or disrespectful?"

"No." Honey giggled. She watched as Miss Trask poured the hot chocolate into two mugs and then added miniature marshmallows to each.

They took their cups and sat down at the table in the breakfast nook.

"He's so easy to talk to and he really seems to understand me." Honey glanced out the window at the gardens—almost too dark to see now, with the sun setting on the other side of the house—and then turned back to Miss Trask. "Do you think it's okay if Dan and I called our picnic a date?"

Miss Trask's blue eyes twinkled merrily. "Was it? I thought you were too young to date."

"I am. Aren't I? But it was just the two of us and it was kind of romantic ... well, until I ruined the mood." Honey put her elbows on the table and rested her chin on the heels of her hands. "And I did ruin it, even if he says I didn't."

Miss Trask tilted her head and regarded Honey carefully. "He says you didn't, so, doesn't his opinion count?"

"He was just being nice." Honey frowned.

The other woman blew gently on her cup, cooling down the liquid. "Why do you think you ruined it?"

Honey shrugged her shoulders and then sat back in her chair. She reached for her own cup and stared into the chocolate-marshmallow goodness, drinking in the aroma first. "We were talking, and he told me something, and, well, it reminded me of something that happened at Briar Hall." She sighed and took a tentative sip of the hot liquid.

Miss Trask drank from her cup, too. "Briar Hall," she murmured after a few seconds, encouraging Honey to continue her story.

Honey nodded, "I didn't say anything about it right away. I didn't mean to tell him anything at all. But the more we talked about ... other things—"

"Other things?" Miss Trask sounded worried. "I don't want you to betray any confidences, but what did you two talk about?"

Honey responded somewhat timidly. "Just some things about his past. About when he was homeless. And how he decided to join the gang." She started to smile. "And ... and then—" She felt her cheeks getting warm as she remembered. "—he kissed me."

"I see." Miss Trask's eyes twinkled. "I was under the impression he'd already kissed you before."

"He had, but this was ... different." She blushed even more, remembering the fullness of the kiss. "And then I ruined it. I mean, not the kiss, at least, I don't think I did, but ...."

"What happened?" Miss Trask's voice was filled with concern.

"After we kissed, we were talking some more and then we stared up at the clouds together and," Honey's voice dropped to a whisper, "and, I told him."

Miss Trask regarded her curiously. "Told him what?"

"I told him about not eating." Honey frowned.

"I see." Miss Trask took another sip of her drink.

"We'd been talking before that about how he struggled to find enough food to eat. And I didn't want to compare myself to him but I couldn't help thinking about ... it." Honey blinked back a couple of tears. "I felt like he should know for some reason."

"That was very brave of you, Honey. I know how hard it is for you to talk about those days." Miss Trask gazed at her kindly. "How did he react?"

"I don't know." Honey shrugged. Then she looked up at Miss Trask and gave her a small smile. "I mean, he reacted fine. He just held me and let me talk and then he told me that he was glad I'd told him."

"So how is that ruining your date?" Miss Trask peered at her over her cup of chocolate. "Nowhere in there did I hear anything that sounded like you had."

"But I was crying, and before that we'd been happy and having a good time and then I made it all melon-mela—sad." She frowned.

"Melancholy," Miss Trask supplied. "And when you were talking about him being homeless or in the gang, that wasn't sad?"

"I don't know. He didn't cry." Honey chewed on her bottom lip nervously. "I suppose it's 'cause he's a boy and boys don't tend to cry as much."

Miss Trask sighed. "Honey, you and Dan both have troubled pasts. And it's good that you talk about them. Keeping that stuff inside, it can cause that bitterness you mentioned earlier. But the fact that you were able to talk to each other, that you feel ... hmm, what's the word I'm looking for?" Miss Trask put her finger to her lip and thought for a moment. "That you feel safe with each other, that's really important. And it seems like you do feel safe with him, or you wouldn't have opened up about that painful time in your life."

"I guess so. I know he won't tease me or tell me what I went through was nothing." Honey smiled again, remembering something Dan had told her once before. "When we were in Manhattan last month, he even told me that my feelings were important and that I shouldn't compare my life to his or anyone's."

"He's a smart boy." Miss Trask chuckled. "He's right. Your feelings are important, Honey. You are important."

"I know," Honey answered obediently, but, even to her own ears, she didn't sound like she really believed it.

"I never thought I'd say this about a teenage boy, but you should listen to him." Miss Trask brought her cup to her lips again. After a short pause, her expression turned serious. "Just don't listen to him if he pushes you into a physical relationship. You're both too young for that."

"Oh, I know." Honey made a face. "That all sounds kind of disgusting, anyway. I wouldn't ever do that. But I—" She blushed furiously. "I like kissing him. Is that okay?"

"Perfectly natural. But I'll admit I'm relieved he lives far enough away that you can't see him every day." Miss Trask winked.

"I wish he did live here. I miss him already." She gave Miss Trask a sheepish grin. "And don't look at me like that, Miss Trask."

"Oh, Honey, I don't mean you shouldn't miss him. But you're young. And even if you weren't, it wouldn't be good for you to spend all your free time with him. You have Trixie and Di and other friends and other interests, don't you?"

Honey nodded. "Of course, I do. And I don't think if he lived here that I would spend all my time with him. I didn't even spend all that much time with him this weekend. But I do think I'd feel different—better—if I knew that if I did want to see him, I'd just have to run over to Regan's apartment or the stables and he'd be there." She grinned at her governess. "Unless, of course, he were hanging out with one of his other friends or involved in one of his other interests."

"Other friends and outside interests are an important part of any healthy relationship, be it romantic, platonic, or familial. I'm glad you understand that." Miss Trask drank down the last of her chocolate. "Do you know yet when he'll be back for another visit?"

"Either in three weeks or four. He said the next two weekends he can't because of holidays, but if Brian ends up having a party for his birthday, he'll come for that." She grinned widely. "So ... do you think we can throw Brian a party?"

Miss Trask laughed heartily. "I think that's up to Brian and his parents."

Honey fake pouted. She took a sip from her cup and grimaced. "It's gotten too cold."

"I'll warm it up for you, dear." Miss Trask took the cup and headed to the kitchen.

Honey sighed, as she stared dreamily out the window. Somehow, when Dan was here, when she was with him, life was just ... sweeter. Like one of those miniature marshmallows. Or like his kisses. She touched her fingers to her lips, remembering the sensation. Yes, that's it. Sweet.

The End