By Geri Krotow
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Books S.A.
Val chose her words carefully. “Kind of—I mean, yes, you were. I dated other boys, went on with my life. But I always wondered…”
“I’m sorry for any hurt I caused you. I wasn’t worthy of you back then, Val.”
“We were both so young.”
She started to walk down the trail, away from where they’d embraced.
“Let’s head back. There’s a lot that needs to be done before our first session at ten.” Professional Val, fearless team leader of BTS, was in charge again.
As they ran down the hill, Val explained that she’d decided to keep the schedule on a timetable more akin to that of a resort or cruise, so the vacation ambience permeated the family’s stay.
“What if they don’t come up with a plan for when they leave?” So far each family he’d worked with had, but he didn’t assume that was always the case.
“That’s okay, too. The point is, we gave them an opportunity to think about their lives away from the identity of being a Gold Star Family. Not to invalidate it in any way, but we try to help them form their own dreams and aspirations.”
“Has it ever been hard for you to let them go at the end of their week?”
“Truly? No. I don’t get as close to them as you and the other counselors do. BTS is set up so that I’m the go-to person for anything they need to facilitate their time here. But I made a point of putting all the right experts in place to handle the various aspects of the retreat. Life-mapping, journaling, motivational speakers, resumes—there are folks more trained in these things than I’ll ever be.” She slowed to a walk in front of the office. The sun was beginning to send a few rays up over the horizon, dissipating the fog they’d left in.
“As I’m sure you’ve already observed, I’m the back-up. If one of the counselors gets sick or takes vacation time, I can step in. But it’s essential that I remain a bit more detached, so that I can support the counseling team.”
“Don’t you miss using your social work skills?”
“Sometimes, but not as much as I thought I would.” A shadow crossed her face. He wanted to whisk it away and bring the sparkle back to her green eyes.
“It was a long haul, losing Chet. Not as hard as it was for Erin or my nephews, of course.” She pursed her lips. “I was burned out from social work when I went to help Erin and the boys. The wall of grief that we all had to push through—watching them go on, day after day— well, let’s just say it was enough to last me a lifetime.”
He was quiet, humbled that she’d shared so much with him, so soon.
You kissed her too soon.