Charlie wrote every week. She read the letters to the kids. They loved listening to his adventures. He was happy even though his attempts to convince the Mormons that exotic dance could be done to the glory of God had so far proved unsuccessful. He sent CDs of hot Rocky Mountain Latino music for Ferguson.
It was good and genuine and not romantic.
Each letter made Amy feel wistful and regret that her life's lessons dovetailed so closely with self-denial. But she and Charlie had agreed before he left. No strings. Long distance relationships were too difficult. With his body, long distance fidelity would be near impossible - even in the land of Moroni.
Initially, he had disagreed. He believed they shouldn't second-guess the future - especially when they hadn't even seen if they were sexually compatible. Every man's relationship litmus test.
For her part, there were times when she was as randy as any man. And she had no doubts about their ability to mutual enjoy each other. That's what worried her. She didn't like the idea of starting something that they couldn't continue. He felt they needed to start to see if they wanted to continue, and then they could make it up as they went. She could see his point. But in the end, it was an intuition thing. She was right. She felt it, and she had to stay true to that.
And she did.
Except for the night before he left for Utah. But that was his fault. He offered to brush her hair with the stiff-bristled brush and they ended up in the shower naked together, ostensibly so he could use the coconut-kiwifruit de-tangling conditioner and follicle rejuvenator.
None of the kids woke up once.
It was a mind-altering experience, of course. Just not mind-changing. In spite of the spectacular sex, and its intense sweetness coming after all the years in the wilderness, she felt content to say goodbye. And he had his exotic choreography to focus on.
For a while, she wondered why she wasn't heart-broken and missing him madly. It seemed so odd after their courtship and the fantastic night-before farewell. Then after several weeks, she understood.
Her lack of attachment was itself the point. She liked him a lot. But he wasn't a must-have. The point was this: she wasn't desperate. Not even for a bronze god who liked kids.
She wondered about Quentin, what his angel was, why he had done what he did at the beach. But he never called.
Some time later, though, he did knock on the door.
Autumn. Blue skies, no smog, neither cool, nor warm. Charlie had been in Utah for months. She came to the door expecting nothing. Bartlette came with her. She was walking now. And falling. About every third step.
Amy opened the door and found an exquisite pair of butter-smooth mocha leather Qools on the door mat.
Bartlette fell down on them immediately, triggering a mother-daughter wrestling match. Quentin stood five paces away at the mailbox and chuckled.
Amy held the shoes above the grasp of her daughter and caught the shoemaker's eye.
"I'd say thank you," she said. "But I'm not sure you can hear me at that distance."
He stepped to the side, and behind him in order from smallest to biggest, were a set of Qools for each of her children. Amy felt her heart skip. Ferguson and Carmen by this time had come out to see what was happening. They rushed into the front yard and then descended on the shoes from either side in a pincer movement. Bartlette followed them as fast as she could fall, get back up and fall again.
"They're beautiful," said Amy. She felt her eyes welling with tears. "They're all so beautiful."
The kids were trying the shoes on. Quentin was helping them. Naturally, he had a shoe horn in his pocket.
"If they're not the right size," he told them. "I can adjust them."
He looked up at Amy. "What about yours? Try them."
She swallowed in an effort to gain self-control and stem the tears flooding her eyes. "Sure," she said. "But first, please come in."
She turned to go inside, but he stayed where he was. The children ran around in their own worlds of excitement on the dry lawn. It had been a long time since they had got new shoes from any where but the discount footwear outlet.
"Won't you come in?" she said, feeling that familiar sense of impending rejection coming on.
"Maybe," he said. "I mean, it depends." He looked at her with an unwavering gaze. "How long can I stay?"
She didn't answer. The question, coming as it did, and when it did, was a kind of emotional chiropractic adjustment. She felt issues click into place like vertebrae. She smiled. Tears now tracked down her cheeks.
Unexpectedly, she had nothing to say. Joy can be like that. But some questions required clear answers. So she put on the posh shoes he had made and walked out to Quentin in Qool comfort.
She stopped a moment and looked down. The shoes did feel like gloves for her feet. Then she looked up, took his face in both her hands and kissed him.
As Ferguson would relate for days and months and years to come, it was right on the lips and right in front of everyone.
Later, over coffee, he told her what he thought the movie with Nicholas Cage was really about.
"Choosing love," he said. "No matter the cost. In spite of the doubts and the dangers. Because, if you don't, you deny yourself."
"But you set me up with Charlie at the beach," Amy said.
"Part of my plan. You needed to taste that apple."
"Risky plan," said Amy. "That apple tasted really good, you know."
"And you could have chosen to stay with that apple," Quentin replied. Then he shrugged like he was shaking a leaf from a shoulder. "My point is - who are you having coffee with right now?"
She squeezed his hand. The one she'd been holding across the table throughout the entire conversation.
"You're very confident of yourself, aren't you?"
"No," he said. "Just the opposite."
Bartlette wandered up, climbed into Amy's lap and lifted her shirt. She started nursing her daughter without even thinking about it. Quentin smiled.
"I am," he said, "very confident about you, however."
"However," she answered and raised an eyebrow. Then she leaned towards him to collect the kiss he was already in the process of delivering.
For those who are new here, A is for Amy & Adonis is a serial internet novella which tells the story of the romantic redemption of Amy Franklin. The aim is to provide a fun and fast read with characters you can connect to emotionally. And, as you probably noticed, it's all free.
The chapters are short. So it's easy to catch up.
READ EARLIER POSTS (just click on the one you want)--
Chapters E & F
Chapters I & J
Chapters L & M
Chapters U and V
Nota Bene -- All the chapters are archived on Huffpost so people can now read the entire novella.
If you like what you read here, stay tuned with Huffpost email alerts or follow me on Twitter. I have a new project brewing and I'll let you know when it launches.--Steven
Follow Steven Crandell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stevencrandell