Zoey leaned against Miranda’s desk after break. “So, are you going?”
Surprised by Zoey’s friendliness, Miranda raised her eyebrows. “Going where?”
“You, know, to the party. It will be fun.”
Miranda straightened a pile of papers and shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Aw, come on Miranda. Everyone will be there. You’ll be able to rub shoulders with the bosses. And you’ll get a free dinner.”
Miranda leaned on her elbows and played with her pen. “I suppose that’s true.”
Zoey leaned closer and whispered, “There are people here who call you the ‘Lone Ranger’ because you keep to yourself so much.”
Miranda opened her mouth to defend herself, then snapped it closed. Being alone had become a habit while she cared for her father. She loved him dearly, and she wouldn’t hesitate to be his caregiver over again. But her social life had become almost non-existent during those two years.
“I’ll think about it,” she promised. “I’ll have to go home and check my social calendar first.” She smiled at Zoey.
“Social calendar?” Zoey frowned, then laughed when she saw Miranda’s smile. “Right.” She pointed her index finger at her co-worker. “Okay, I have to get back to work.”
Miranda nodded. “Thanks, Zoey.” A lighter heart accompanied her the rest of the day.
That evening she carried home a couple of Christmas gifts she had purchased for family members. She had just place her turkey TV dinner in the microwave when her phone rang. She checked the screen. D MacAllister.
He chuckled. “I always forget about caller ID. It takes me back when someone answers with my name. How are you,my dear?”
“I’m fine. I had a good day. And you?”
“I’m well, thank you. Miranda, I would like to make dinner for you on Sunday. Will you come?”
“I’d like that.”
“Good. What do you like to eat?”
Remembering her conversation with Nate, Miranda leaned back on her futon and curled her legs up. “Your cooking comes highly recommended, especially the lasagna, the baked chicken, and the pot roast.”
He chuckled again. “Nate’s been telling on me. My wife was a good teacher. I gave her a break from time to time by cooking a meal for her.”
“She must have felt treasured. You choose, Duncan. I promise to eat whatever you fix.”
“That’s a dangerous promise, young lady. What if I have a senior moment and burn dinner?”
She chuckled. “Oh, I’ll take my chances. Can I bring anything?”
“No, just yourself. This will be entirely my treat–this time.” He paused. Miranda didn’t say anything, sensing he wanted to say more. “Miranda, I’d like to ask you something else, if I may.”
His tone indicated this was important to him. “Yes, Duncan, go ahead.”
“I don’t know if you attend church, but if you don’t go anywhere else, will you come with me Sunday morning?”
She hesitated. Her family had been faithful and active church goers during her growing-up years. At college, away from her family, her faith had become unimportant, church crowded out by other activities. By the time she became a caregiver, God had already been tucked away into a corner of her heart. Although she believed her father to be in heaven now, she kept God in the background of her life.
Miranda held the phone to her cheek and thought. Her father would be pleased for her to go. “I’d be glad to go with you on Sunday,” she told Duncan.
“Thank you, Miranda.” He named the time of the service and the address of the church. “I’ll put roast beef in the crock pot, and it will be ready when we get back from the service. I’ve invited two of my neighbors for dinner as well.”
This man had a big heart. “I’ll look forward to meeting them. And to the roast beef dinner. Thank you, Duncan.” She had eaten a lot of lonely TV dinners since moving to Center City.
“Good night, Miranda. I’ll see you Sunday.”
She resisted the urge to ask him about Nate. “‘Bye, Duncan.”
During the next three weeks Miranda volunteered several times at Shepherd’s, helped with their annual children’s Christmas party, practiced with the church choir for the church’s Christmas Eve service, and attended her company party with Zoey. She finished Christmas shopping and mailed the gifts to her family. Each Sunday she met Duncan at church, and he fixed dinner for them afterwards. He always invited one or two neighbors as well. Miranda cleaned up afterwards.
She never asked about Nate, but she listened eagerly to anything Duncan had to say about his grandson. Often, especially alone at night, she thought about him. She wished he lived in the city, and she wondered if he ever thought about her.
Miles away, Nate wished for time to get back to the city. He day dreamed about his grandfather’s pretty young friend during evening college classes. Her sparkling eyes and sweet smile invaded his thoughts at work and at home.
He pulled the paper with her telephone number out of his wallet several times a day. Would she welcome his call? He put his phone down and returned the slip of paper to his wallet.