Rick and Abby grew up together, became best friends, and ultimately fell in love. Circumstance tore them apart in their early teens, though, and they went on to lives less idyllic than they dreamed about in those early days. Rick has had a very successful career, but his marriage flat-lined. Abby has a magical daughter, Paige, but Paige's father nearly destroyed Abby's spirit.
Now fate has thrown Rick and Abby together again. In their early thirties, they are more world-weary than they were as kids. But their relationship still shimmers, and they're hungry to make up for lost time. However, Paige, now nine, is not nearly as enthusiastic. She's very protective of the life she's made with her mother and not open to the duo becoming a trio. Meanwhile, Rick has very little experience dealing with kids and doesn't know how to handle Paige. This leaves Abby caught between the two people who matter the most to her. What happens when the life you've dreamed of remains just inches from your grasp?
PRESSED PENNIES is a nuanced, intensely romantic, deeply heartfelt story of love it its many incarnations, relationships in their many guises, and family in its many meanings. It is the most accomplished and moving novel yet from a truly great storyteller of the heart.
A mix of playful conversation and alcohol set the night’s happy mood. Rick was tipping his third beer at the season’s final bash when he looked up and saw her. He nearly choked on his drink. She was his age, pretty with an athletic build. She had gorgeous wavy chestnut hair with beautiful dark eyes that matched. She had a mysterious confidence about her and a smile that men would die for. Rick swore she had an aura from her head to her feet. At that moment, he thought, I have to meet her. His mind filled with questions that needed answers: Who does she know at the party? Who can I get her background from? Who can introduce us? As his mind raced, Carol walked over with the beauty. And as they got closer, it hit him. “Oh, my God!” he said.
“Rick, this is…” the friendly hostess began to introduce with a smile.
“Abby!” Rick interrupted. “I can’t believe it.” It was her. It was Abby Gerwitz, his childhood sweetheart. He searched her eyes and a thousand memories—happy childhood pictures—flooded his mind. And then he recalled the pain he’d felt on the day they were forced to say goodbye.
After an unforgettable summer, Abby and the neighborhood gang received the terrible tidings. Rick—then known as Richard—gathered the gang in his backyard. He felt ready to cry. “I’ve got some bad news, guys,” he said.
“Oh, God,” Tracy blurted.
“Yeah?” asked Vinny.
“What’s is it?” Grant asked.
Richard looked at Abby. She was frozen.
“My dad was promoted to lieutenant, and he has to transfer to another prison across the state.” There was a long, painful pause. “We’re going to have to move away…next week.”
It was a lie. They were moving, sure enough, but Richard’s dad hadn’t been promoted. The hospital bills from his mom’s car accident—where a drunk driver had stolen away her life—had finally broken them. It was a matter of money or more precisely the lack of it. Richard silently vowed that he’d never be put in the same position—ever. No matter what I have to do, he swore to himself.
While the rest of his friends hung their heads and complained, Abby burst out crying and ran for her house.
As Rick recalled, it was well past midnight when he finally surrendered to the tossing and turning. Rolling out of bed, he maneuvered past several moving boxes, stepped up to the window and pulled back the curtain. Wilbur Avenue was deserted and silent. From left to right—as if he was branding the picture into his mind forever—he carefully scanned every detail of the place he could no longer call home. Although one good memory after another played out before him, a sharp pain pricked his heart. No one was watching, so he allowed the tears to flow. Once he’d arrived at the farthest reaches of his vantage point, he forced his swollen eyes to work their way back and absorb more of his past. “Why do we have to leave?” he muttered. “Why?” Before long, his shoulders rocked back and forth to the rhythm of his quiet sobs.
The very next morning, gray clouds hovered over Wilbur Avenue. Richard’s dad and grandma made their goodbyes quick and waited in the overstuffed station wagon for Richard.
Richard had never said goodbye before. The pain was alien. It hurt something awful to face Abby. Overwhelmed with emotion, it took him a while to speak. It was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.
“Well, I guess…” Richard muttered, and choked on the words. Not knowing what else to do, he pulled the curled brim of his ball cap down further over his eyes.
Through sniffles, Abby finally said, “You can come back and visit, right?”
“Sure.” Richard was fighting to be strong and dared not speak more than a word.
Abby lifted the brim of his hat. “Goodbye, Richard,” she whimpered.
Richard placed his hand on her shoulder and shook his head. “No Abby…I’ll be seein’ ya,” he whispered, and with one surge of courage kissed her on the lips.
While Abby’s eyes went wide, he pulled his baseball cap back over his eyes, jumped into the family station wagon and never looked back. One cruel moment later, the Giles family drove away.
Though Richard and Abby promised to keep in touch, frequent phones calls and detailed letters gradually became an occasional event until adolescence rearranged priorities and their communication ceased altogether.
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