Family Feudalism

Chapter 16

Emily walked into the Dragonfly on Tuesday afternoon. Lorelai wasn’t standing at the counter, so she proceeded to the dining room, where her DAR meeting would take place shortly. She was happy to see Rory sitting at one of the tables. On the occasions Emily had seen her there, she was usually in front of her laptop with papers all around. However, that was not the case today. Rory had her laptop with her, but it was closed as she simply read a book and sipped a cup of coffee. Emily sat down next to her.

“Grandma, hi,” Rory said with a small smile as she marked her page and sat the book on the table. “I was just taking a break. I was actually looking into graduate programs.”

“Education programs?” Emily asked.

“Yeah. I could start in the fall.”

Emily was thrilled Rory wanted to find a different job—one with benefits and steady pay. At her last birthday—her real birthday—Emily was sure her granddaughter was going to be a free spirited journalist for the rest of her life, living with her mother and go wherever the news took her. She was glad Rory had gone out and followed her dreams, but she was even happier Rory wanted other things out of life now. Emily hoped she wasn’t getting her hopes up for nothing.

Rory looked down at her book and played with the bookmark. “I can get a Master’s in just a year and I’d be all set.”

“That’s wonderful,” Emily said. “Are you going back to Yale?”

“I’m not sure, but maybe,” Rory answered.

Around them, the wait staff was getting the room ready for the upcoming meeting. Some of the other DAR members were trickling in, waving at Emily and Rory as they passed.

“You know,” Emily said. “You can stay for the meeting. Everyone would love to have you.” This was perfect, Rory was really going to have a normal schedule, Emily thought. She could join some committees if she was interested.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Rory said, not enthusiastically.

“You’re always welcome to join us.”

“Thanks,” she said. “But I’m probably going to get out of your way.”

Before she could get up though, something near the dining room entrance caught Rory’s attention. Emily glanced over to see Cecilia Dugray walk into the room. She’d recently started attending DAR meetings and functions again. Emily had to admit she was an asset to the group. She had excellent connections.

When Cecilia saw Rory and Emily, she approached them. She joined them at the table and smiled as greeting to Emily before saying, “Rory, how are you? I haven’t talked to you in quite a while.”

“I’m fine,” Rory answered, sitting up a little straighter, suddenly looking anxious. “How are you?”

“Very well, thank you.”

Emily couldn’t deny the blond woman had always been receptive of Rory. They’d remained friendly and Rory seemed to measure up to whatever expectations they had for Tristan.

Rory asked, “Did Quinn mange to talk you into coming back to the DAR?”

“Yes,” Cecilia said. “She told me how she’s been having a good time with all the ladies, so I moved some things around in my schedule and found time. I must say, I did miss the Daughters of the American Revolution. I’m afraid I was a bit lapsed.”

“Oh, yeah, I am too,” Rory said.

“Cecilia sponsored Quinn for the symphony committee,” Emily added.

“Right, I heard about that,” Rory said. She turned back to the blond. “That was nice of you.”

“I think Emily will agree she’s a lovely addition to the organization,” Cecilia said.

“Yes, she’s almost as enthusiastic about the symphony as you are.”

Cecilia asked a passing waiter for a beverage, then nodded in agreement. “She is. She and I are organizing a trip to Italy. Imagine,” she said dreamily, “the birthplace of opera. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It’s been years since I was there last.”

Rory didn’t share the woman’s smile. Instead, her brows were moving closer together. “If you’ll be traveling, you’ll stop in Japan for a visit, too, won’t you?”

“I suppose we could,” Cecilia said musingly. “I’m not much for Kabuki Theater, myself. But it could be an interesting study of Far East culture.”

“No,” Rory objected.

“Well, yes of course, Kabuki was influenced by Noh. So we could compare the two.”

Rory shook her head and scowled. “No, not Noh opera—”

“It’s actually dance drama.”

“Whatever,” Rory said impatiently. “I wasn’t talking about Japanese dance. I was talking about Tristan—you know, your son? He lives in Japan for now. You’ll go visit him, won’t you?”

“Oh, yes I guess we could,” Cecilia said flippantly.

Rory shook her head in amazement at the woman again. Even Emily frowned a little at Cecilia. She could show an ounce of maternal instinct once in a while. Emily knew Tristan’s name would come up eventually. Though she assumed his mother would have been the one to mention him first. It was obviously why Rory had stayed to talk with her.

“Speaking of Tristan,” Cecilia said, looking through her purse. She pulled out an envelope and handed it to Rory, whose face had grown pink. She was looking more anxious than before. “Could you give that to your mother? I didn’t see her at the front desk when I came in.”

Rory’s shoulders relaxed. “Oh, okay,” she said, a bit flat. “What is it?”

“Plane tickets. She was supposed to ride his jet to a concert, apparently.”
“Right, the U2 concert. It was her birthday present.” Slowly, Rory asked, “What are the tickets for though? His plane doesn’t need tickets.”

“He doesn’t have it anymore,” Cecilia answered.

Rory stared for a second. “Why not?”
“He sold it. He doesn’t need it anymore.”

“But he will—when he comes back,” Rory protested. “It was a business investment. So he’ll need it again later—when he comes back to Connecticut again.”

“Actually, he quit.”

“Quit what?”
“His job at the firm.”

Rory paled, not unlike Tristan had before leaving Emily’s after dinner—stricken with bad news. Rory asked, “But . . . when did he quit?”

“Right before he left for Japan,” Cecilia answered. “It was quite a surprise. He came over to the house and Mason told him to go work at another firm to be merged when he returned, but Tristan didn’t want to. So he quit, just like that.”

“Oh my,” Emily said. So much for Francine’s wishes, she thought.

“No,” Rory said, shaking her head. “Tristan isn’t supposed to quit. He’s supposed to come back and work for Mason. And Mason wouldn’t force him to do anything, he thinks Tristan would—.” Rory stopped and gasped, eyes wide.

“I know,” Cecilia said, not noticing Rory’s odd reaction. “Mason doesn’t even have plans to expand more. I honestly don’t know what either one of them was thinking.”

Rory took a moment to recover before she asked, “Where will he work when he comes back?”

Emily had lost count of the number of times Rory had inquired on Tristan’s return—and instance that it would happen. She must have intended on seeing him again when the time came.

“I asked him the same thing,” Cecilia said. “He was rather cryptic, saying he already has a job.”

“But that job tells him where to go,” Rory protested, a hint of desperation in her tone.

“Yes, it does,” Cecilia said with a frown. “We always thought he was going to resign from the JAG Corps when his commission was up. But now I’m not so sure. Mason said Tristan changed his mind.”

Rory looked down at her hands and meekly said, “He didn’t even want to go.” She blinked faster and Emily saw her chin trembled a little. She swallowed hard and took a shaky breath.

Cecilia went on, “So he sold his plane, and the last time his grandfather talked to him, he’s going to have realtors look at his house.”

Rory’s eyes flashed back up to Cecilia. “What? Why?”

“To sell it. I suppose he won’t need it.”

“What? He can’t sell his house,” Rory said, holding back tears.

“I don’t care for its location,” Cecilia said, oblivious of the effect all this was having on Rory. “But I thought he was at least going to settle down finally.” She turned to Emily. “There were so many nice girls at Rory’s party. I don’t think he even gave any of them the time of day.”

Rory looked down at her hands again.

“I’m not sure about that,” Emily said. She wondered what party Cecilia had attended.

Rory glanced at Emily quickly and then back to Tristan’s mother.

“I have no idea what he’s looking for,” Cecilia continued, frustrated. “I don’t know where he got such impossible standards.”

Again, Emily had no idea how the woman could be so blind. Tristan quite obviously wouldn’t be distracted away from Rory. Emily could tell that from the moment she saw the two of them in a room together. And on that note, she really couldn’t find fault in his high standards if Rory was the only one to come out ahead.

It struck Emily that no one was getting what they wanted, not just Francine. Rory was succumbing to how miserable she really was about the whole situation.

She sniffled and lifted her head then. “What if he goes on inactive duty again? Won’t he need somewhere to live?”

“If guess we’ll find out if it ever happens,” Cecilia answered. She was distracted by a younger blond woman walking into the dining room. “Oh, there’s Quinn, excuse me.” She got up and joined the other woman.

Emily turned back to Rory, struggling to hold back her emotions in a room filling with people. Lorelai had been right. She looked as though she lost someone she loved. Emily hated to see her granddaughter in such pain, she knew it was an awful emptiness.

“I should get out of your way,” Rory said, standing up. Emily picked up her belongings and walked out to the front desk, where her daughter was now stationed.

“Hey, did you kick Rory out?” Lorelai asked. “She just made a beeline for the front door.”

Emily quickly recapped what Cecilia had just told them and handed over the envelope with plane tickets.

Concern etched Lorelai’s face as she looked toward the door. A couple entered and approached the desk. She looked to the Frenchman next to her. “Michel, I’m going to step out for a few minutes. Can you handle things here?”

“No,” Michel drawled. “I cannot function without you by my side constantly.”

“I’ll be back,” she said, walking around the counter and heading to the door.

Emily followed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

In the horse stable, Rory sat on a wood bench with her face in her hands. The damn had finally broken, and she cried openly. When her mother stepped into the barn, she quickly wiped at her cheeks. Her grandmother was there too, though she stayed near the open door.

“Hey,” Lorelai said gently as she sat down. “Are you okay?”

Rory swallowed hard and nodded. “Mm-hmm.”

“I heard what happened.”

“I like Tristan’s house,” Rory explained, as though that was what she was really upset about. “I just—I like it. I helped him paint it. He just finished it. But now he might sell it.”

“Since he quit?”

Rory flinched. “I guess.” The lump rose in her throat and renewed tears filled her eyes. “It’s my fault, I meddled. I thought something needed to be fixed,” she continued, describing her conversation with Mason before she knew Tristan had his orders.

“It isn’t your fault,” Lorelai said when she’d finished.

“Why would Mason do that though? He had everything figured out, and after that he did what he said he wouldn’t do. I don’t understand.” Guiltily, she added, “I taunted Tristan about working at Straub’s firm. I was out of line.”

“If you think he worked with his dad for the wrong reasons, then it’s good he quit,” Lorelai said.

“But what if he never comes back now?” Rory asked.

“You were mad at him anyway,” Lorelai reminded her.

“I might not be mad by the time he got back,” Rory said pitifully.

“That could be years,” Lorelai said with a frown. “Were you banking on that?”

Rory didn’t answer. In the back of her mind, he wouldn’t be gone forever.

“Is that why you didn’t want to move anywhere? You wanted to be around when he got back?” Lorelai asked in a tone of concerned awe.

Again, Rory was silent. Did she? She hadn’t consciously planned on it, but staying in Connecticut was the only option that didn’t make her uneasy. She was starting to get used to the idea of a career change. She looked into graduate school, and turned down a reporting job in Massachusetts without a second thought. Every time she glanced at her books she’d take one down because she thought every high school student needed to read it. She had a stack of at least a dozen so far.

She was going to have time for a life. What was she going to do, she asked herself, march up to Tristan when he got back and brag about the normal hours of her job and her own place to live? And maybe by then he wouldn’t be mad at her for what she’d said at the airport.

Rather than answer or admit to any of this, she crossed her arms and said, “He didn’t have to quit and sell his house. He wants a life anyway, not just a job. Where will he put his family if he doesn’t have a house?”

“His parents were going to live with him?” Lorelai asked. “I know you thought he had Oedipal issues, but I didn’t think they were that severe.”

“No,” Rory said, not in the mood for her mother’s jokes. “His family. You know, his wife and kids.”

After a brief pause, Lorelai said, “He can still have that, even if he isn’t in Hartford. There are houses on military bases. His family can go with him.”

Rory had to swallow down another lump. She brushed some stray hair behind her ear. “Oh, right. Good.” He’d be somewhere else, with someone else.

This was just like waking up from one of her dreams. Tristan would be out of sight soon, so it should be better once she couldn’t see him. Instead, she woke up short of breath every time, blinking back tears. The farther away he got, the worse she felt. He wasn’t coming back, she kept thinking over and over. She’d never see him again. Their good bye was permanent.

“I’ll have to start going to DAR meetings,” she muttered absentmindedly.

“Why?” Lorelai asked.

“He won’t be in Japan forever.” He’d have to go wherever he was sent, and Rory wouldn’t know where he was. He’d be lost to her. Tears filled her eyes just thinking about it. “I’ll have to find out from his mom where he is.”

Lorelai blinked. She opened her mouth, but closed it. “Uh, I need to get back inside. Are you going to be okay?”

Rory nodded solemnly. “Yeah. I’m going to go home.”

Lorelai stood and went to the entrance of the horse stable, where Emily was no longer standing. Rory wondered how long she’d stayed to listen before going in to her metting.

“Mom?”

Lorelai stopped and turned back. “Yeah?”
“Can we eat junk food and watch sappy movies tonight?”
“Definitely,” Lorelai said before she continued out the door.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

A few days later, Rory was sitting with Lorelai in the diner at a table near a window. They were waiting for Emily, who for reasons unknown, wanted to have lunch with them. Rory rested her chin on her fist. She was tired. She’d spent two days moping around the house.

Lorelai kept glancing out the window.

“You look paranoid,” Luke said as he poured them coffee.

“I am,” she said. “Always be suspicious of Emily Gilmore, especially when she comes to our turf.”

“Maybe she just wants to have lunch with you where you’re comfortable,” he suggested.

“Not likely. She’s a woman with an agenda.”

“If you say so,” Luke said. He turned to Rory. “Can I get you something to eat?” He had a sympathetic tone.

“No,” Rory said, only accepting the cup of coffee. “I’m not hungry.”

Luke glanced at Lorelai, and Rory averted her gaze. They were worried about her, and they pitied her. She hated it. She’d gone ahead and stupidly fell in love with someone she knew might have to leave. And now he wasn’t coming back. Or maybe he would, she thought. Surely he’d come back home to see his family at some point, like holidays.

She kept playing scenarios in her mind. She’d run into him randomly somewhere—a party perhaps, or a charity event. She imagined driving past his house and seeing a light on. That wasn’t going to happen if he didn’t keep it. She couldn’t believe he was going to sell it.

She’d barely slept the past two nights. If she didn’t sleep, she wouldn’t know how far Tristan had got in her dream. She wouldn’t know if he’d turn if she’d called out his name. She wouldn’t know if her feet would move if she tried to take a step. She willed the tears to not fill her eyes.

When Luke had moved to the next table, Lorelai said, “You should eat something.”

“I said I’m not hungry.”

“We’re always hungry.”

“Well today I’m not,” Rory said impatiently.

The bell above the door chimed and Emily joined them a moment later.

“Hi Mom,” Lorelai said.

“Hello, how are you girls today?” Emily asked with a smile.

“We’re,” Lorelai started, eyes darting to Rory, “fine. We’re fine.”

“Good. Have you already ordered lunch?”
“Of course not, we were waiting for you,” Lorelai said, gesturing for Luke to come back to their table.

After Lorelai ordered a burger and fries and Emily a salad, all eyes fell on Rory. She sighed and grudgingly asked for macaroni and cheese. She might as well get comfort food if she was going to continue wallowing.

“So why did you want to meet?” Lorelai asked her mother.

“Can’t I just have lunch with my daughter and granddaughter without an ulterior motive?”

From a couple tables away, Luke said, “That’s what I told her.”
“All right, I guess,” Lorelai conceded. “Is there anything new going on with you, Mom?”

“Why yes, thank you for asking. I have new maid—”

“Shocker.”

“She’s Hungarian. Last night she made goulash for dinner.”

Lorelai blinked. “Good story.”

Rory stared down at her coffee cup.

“It’s been so nice out lately, I’ve been out working in my flower beds for hours.”

“Fun,” Lorelai said.

“I went ahead and planted new tulips. It’s a bit late in the season, but there’s no harm in trying.”

“That’s nice.”

“I didn’t appreciate them at first, but I think they’ll look nice in with the zinnias.”

Luke brought their food over then, and Emily commented, “That didn’t take long. I’ve wasted so much time in five star restaurants, where they cook everything so slow.”

“Yeah, well, we’re fast and cheap here,” Lorelai said, turning the ketchup bottle upside down.

“Charming,” Emily said before taking a bite of her salad. “Rory, I wanted to ask you if you’re for sure interested in teach English.”

Rory nodded, shoveling her macaroni around the plate. “Yeah. I think I’d like to try it.”

“There’s no harm in trying,” Emily said approvingly. Then she asked, “Have you considered teaching overseas?”

Rory looked up from her plate slowly. “What?”
Emily nodded. “Overseas. There are American schools all over the world. The State Department supports schools in other countries. You could teach at one. Then there’s the Department of Defense, they run schools everywhere too.”

Lorelai asked, “How do you know all this?”

Emily glanced at her daughter. “I Googled it.”

Scandalized, Lorelai said, “Mom, we don’t need to know how you spend your alone time.”
Emily shook her head grimly and turned back to Rory. “Diplomats and ambassadors from America live with their families, and their children have to go to school.”

Diplomats, Rory thought. They weren’t the only ones living abroad, as Lorelai had pointed out a few days ago.

“You would be perfect for it,” Emily continued. “Your grandfather always wanted you to see the world. This way, you could see more than the hotel rooms—I know he always hated that part of traveling for work.”

Rory stared at her grandmother.

“Of course,” Emily continued, “there is a downside. Everyone wants to go to Europe, so you’d have to be open to going somewhere else.”

Rory’s heart had started to beat faster. Slowly, she asked, “Somewhere else, like . . . Asia?”

“I suppose so,” Emily said, concentrating on gathering lettuce leaves with her fork prongs.

Lorelai stopped eating and looked across the table at her mother.

Rory hesitated for a beat. “That’s crazy,” she argued. “Just leave—just like that?”

“Is it crazy?” Emily asked. “I thought you said you would go anywhere. You didn’t mean it?”
“I meant it—but—that’s really far,” Rory stuttered. Then, “What about Friday night dinners? When would we see each other?” Her hand was shaking slightly, so she put her fork down and clasped her hands in her lap.

“Do you think we wouldn’t visit you wherever you lived?” Emily asked, offended. “I’ve traveled to Europe a disproportionate number of times in my life anyway. It’s about time I see what else is out there.” She added, “And your mother and I will manage just fine on our own for dinner on Fridays.”

Rory looked to Lorelai. “What do you think about all this?”
Lorelai slowly lifted one of her shoulders. “Grandma made some good points. But you know it’s your decision.” She added, “You said you would go wherever it felt right. Only you know what that is.”

“What if it doesn’t work out?”
“What if it does?” Emily countered. “But you could be right. Maybe you should just stay here at home, where you’re comfortable and happy with the status quo. You’re the one who has to live with yourself and not knowing if you could have been a big success out in the world.”

Rory couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her grandmother innocently ate her salad, as though she hadn’t just suggested Rory move to the opposite side of the world. The idea wasn’t met with the same resistance as all the other places she was ‘free’ to go. It had felt comfortable to stay where she was, where she could keep a watchful eye on any developments that arose. But there might not be any.

Rory’s gaze drifted outside to the town square, where Taylor and Kirk were hanging a banner for the Spring Fling. Kirk’s side was too low and Taylor was yelling and gesturing. If she left, she’d miss all the town festivals and contests. But then she had to admit to missing many over the years anyway. She hadn’t been to several winter carnivals, and even when she was in town for the last one, she’d been asleep from jet lag.

She could go wherever she wanted, nothing was stopping her. She turned back to Emily and Lorelai. “I think I’m going to go for a walk . . . to think.”
“Of course,” Emily said. “Take all the time you need.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Luke came to their table and refilled Lorelai’s cup with coffee. It was probably her eighth for the day, if Emily had to guess. She glanced out the window and saw the town selectman and that Kirk fellow arguing over a banner advertising some silly festival. They must have one every week. How any work got done around here, she didn’t know.

“Rory didn’t eat her macaroni and cheese,” Luke commented. Emily heard concern in his tone.

“No,” Lorelai said. “But can you bring a box? I’ll take it home for her. I think she might be hungry later.”

“Sure thing,” Luke said. “Can I get you anything else, Emily?”

Emily looked up at him. “Yes, I’ll have more tea.”

He nodded and headed back to the counter.

Lorelai leaned in and said, “That was some of the finest manipulation I’ve ever seen you do.”

Emily turned to her daughter with a haughtily arched brow. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But Lorelai nodded her head. “Bringing up Dad like that, it was a nice touch.”

“What? He always said she had things to do and places to see.”

“Mm-hmm.”

Luke came over with the pitcher of tea then, pouring more into Emily’s glass. Lorelai asked for pie as she took the box from him.

“I didn’t do anything,” Emily said again. “I just made a suggestion. There are many opportunities out in the world. I don’t want Rory to let any . . . get away, if it’s what she wants.” And she certainly didn’t want to see her granddaughter attend DAR meetings to hear an occasional mention of Tristan. It was the most ridiculous thing Emily had ever heard. Rory was obviously having trouble thinking clearly. Grief did that to a person, Emily knew.

“Sure,” Lorelai said.

Emily pursed her lips after taking a sip of tea. “It’s not like I’m going to live forever, you know. I want to be around to see—”

“Asia?”
“Yes. Asia,” Emily said. “I don’t know what you’re making such a big deal about.”

“It is a big deal. It’s a very big deal.”

“Well, just let her make the decision on her own,” she said sternly. “I know you like to nudge her in whatever direction you think is right.”

Lorelai looked nonplussed. “I do not.”

“Please,” Emily said grimly. “You probably want her to live with you forever. She can leave the nest if she wants.” She stood and tucked her chair in. “Just let Rory decide what to do. I will see you tomorrow night.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Tristan woke up in the dark to the sound of the phone ringing. He squinted at the glowing digital clock on his nightstand as he picked up the phone.

“Hello?” he asked in a low voice, laying his head on his pillow.

“Tristan, is it a bad time?” his mother asked.

“Yes. What time do you think it is here?” he asked, incredulous.

“Let me see, you’re already on tomorrow, aren’t you? And it’s two-thirty in the afternoon here. Oh dear, did I wake you?”
“Yes,” Tristan deadpanned. “What do you need?”
“I’m coming for a visit.”

Tristan was silent. It was too early for his brain to process information. “You’re coming where?”

“To Japan.”

“Why?”

“I told you. To visit.”

“You’re coming here to visit me in Japan?” he asked slowly. His mother had never visited him before—with the exception of school graduations. She definitely never came to see him when he was on base in Bahrain. He scrunched his forehead up at the ceiling.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“You’re my son. Can’t I just visit?”

“I guess.”

“I want to see where you work now,” Cecilia continued. “And I thought we could go see Kabuki Theater while I’m there.”

“Oh.” Now it made sense, marginally. “Okay, will it just be you?”

“Yes. I need you to come pick me up,” she said quickly, “from the airport—Narita International.”

“Sure,” Tristan said, throwing off the blanket and sitting up. He walked out of the bedroom and to the kitchen, where he found something to write with. He switched on a light and squinted down at his sheet of paper. “When?”
“Next Tuesday.”

“Tuesday? That’s in just three days. When did you decide to come?”

“Today. I just thought it would be nice to see you. It was a bit spur of the moment.”

“I think that’s the definition of spur of the moment.” Frowning at this development, he asked, “What time is your flight getting here?”

“Six forty-five in the evening. Tuesday evening. Does that work for you? Will you be able to be there?”

“Yeah,” Tristan said as he wrote down the information. “And if I can’t for some reason, I’ll make sure someone else does,” he added absently.

“No, it has to be you.”

His pen stopped at her odd insistence. “Fine. It’ll be me.”

“Good.”

“How long are you staying?”

“Oh, uh, just for a short visit.”

“So, what, a few days?”

“I’m not even there yet and you’re trying to get rid of me?”

“I just want to know when you have to be back at the airport. I assume you don’t have a one way ticket.”

“Don’t you worry,” Cecilia said. “It’ll be a surprise.”

“I’m already surprised,” he muttered. He shook his head as he finished writing the information down, including the location he needed to be waiting. Then he asked, “Didn’t you start going to DAR meetings again? When do they meet?”

“Tuesday,” she admitted. “But don’t worry about that. They got along without me for so long, I think they can spare me a day.”

“I know you have the Symphony Committee meetings on Wednesdays. And those are at your house.”

“They’ll have it somewhere else,” Cecilia said. “I’m flattered you think Hartford can’t function without me.”

“So, you just decided out of the blue to drop everything and come to Japan,” Tristan stated.

“If it upsets you so much, I don’t have to come,” Cecilia said impatiently.
Tristan shook his head. “No, sorry. It’s fine.”

“Don’t be late to the airport.”

“I won’t.” Speaking of flight information, Tristan slowly asked, “Did you give those plane tickets to Lorelai?”

“Uh, yes,” Cecilia said. “She was at the inn Tuesday.”

“Probably because she owns the place,” he said dryly as he walked back to his room and sat down on the bed.

“Right, so I made sure she got the tickets.”
“What do you mean?” Tristan asked. “You didn’t give them to her directly?”

“Well, no. But I left them in good hands.”

“The French guy at the front desk?”
“No.”

Tuesday, the DAR. “Emily?”

“Not exactly.”

A second ticked by. “Was Rory there?” he asked, wondering why his mother didn’t just come out and say it.

“She was, actually. We chatted a bit and I left the tickets with her.” Cecilia quickly added, “That’s such a funny little town where she and Lorelai live, isn’t it?”

“Mm-hmm,” Tristan mumbled his agreement. “A real loony bin. I think Lorelai’s husband might be the warden.”

“There’s even a dance studio there,” his mother continued.

“I know, Miss Patty’s,” he said, not caring.

“Yes, that’s it. And does she have some stories,” Cecilia rambled. “I peeked in on a ballet class. It’s so nice to see young people taking an interest in the performing arts.”

“Yeah, great,” he said. Then he couldn’t help but ask, “How was Rory?”

“Oh, she was fine. In fact, last I spoke with her she was in high spirits.”

Tristan clenched his jaw. “Good. That’s good.” So she was happy and moved on, he thought. Good. That’s what she was supposed to do. Life went on.

“I’m going to have to let you go,” Cecilia said. “Don’t forget, Tuesday night.”

“Tuesday,” he said tonelessly. “I’ll see you then.” He hung up the phone after they said good bye. He lay back in bed, but after five minutes, he knew sleep was not going to come. So he got up and went to his closet to get ready for his day.

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