“Well, here’s to lost causes.” Caleb held up his glass of punch and reached over to Paul. They clinked their glasses together in a solemn toast as they stared wistfully across the room at the girl they both loved dancing in the arms of her new groom.
He wasn’t sure why they’d even come to the wedding reception. It had been mere weeks since Ashley had dumped both of them and they were still in shock. But they were family now. It was too late.
Paul in particular had always been family, having lived next door to the Hardman’s all his life. Caleb had just been part of their lives for the past two years, but it was enough that he’d probably always feel comfortable with them.
He’d been surprised to receive the invitation. He never would have expected to feel this resigned about watching his ex-girlfriend get married. He and Paul had decided to go to the reception together in an act of camaraderie and joked that they might meet some nice women there. Unfortunately, Ashley didn’t have any girlfriends and there weren’t many people in attendance who were the right age. They were stuck with each other and were seriously considering ditching early.
“What the heck are we supposed to do with our lives now?” Paul’s question wasn’t really a question.
“Well, what would you have done if I’d married Ashley?” Caleb asked him.
“I hadn’t gotten that far,” Paul admitted sheepishly.
“Well, I’m going to Germany,” Caleb declared.
Paul raised his eyebrows. “Why?”
Caleb backpedaled to explain himself. “I used to live there, remember?”
“Uh, I guess I don’t know that much about what you did prior to meeting Ashley,” Paul admitted. “I think Ashley was always trying to shield me from knowing too much about just how rich you really are. She knew how intimidated I was by you, and everything I learned about your wealth made me that much surer that I didn’t stand a chance next to you.”
“Well, my parents are wealthy beyond either of our imaginations.” Caleb rolled his head around to look over at Paul. He was starting to sound like a man who had spent the past few hours drinking himself into a stupor. He was slouching back in his chair and his face was forlorn. “My dad’s a retired CEO from the North American Division of Porsche.”
“Seriously?” Paul looked over at him with a slacked jaw. “No wonder she didn’t tell me.”
“I really don’t know what the big deal is, but maybe that’s just because I grew up with money.” Caleb was almost slurring his words. “I spent half of my childhood traveling back and forth to Germany. I think I’m going to go see if I can find that angel who introduced me to the Church.”
Paul started laughing kind of loudly and Caleb joined in even though he wasn’t sure what they were laughing about. He reached his glass up again and they toasted to their own laughter. People at the tables around them politely looked over at them in curiosity.
“Who is this angel of whom you speak?” Paul spoke with a lilting Shakespearean accent.
“I thought she was asking me on a date.” Caleb shook his head and chuckled. “But I didn’t speak enough German to realize that she was taking me to church.”
They both laughed loudly again and this time they caught the attention of more people at the surrounding tables. Their behavior was beginning to draw a few dirty looks. People probably thought that they’d been drinking.
“Maybe if I can find her again, she’ll see that I’m a strong, upstanding returned missionary who can take her on a real date!”
“Hey, I like going to church,” Paul said. “I think that sounds like a great place to meet chicks.”
“It probably is, actually.” Caleb sat forward and looked at his young friend more seriously. Even though Paul had only been a member of the church a few weeks, he had embraced the gospel so fully that Caleb could already tell how important it was in Paul’s life.
Paul shifted his gaze away from Caleb’s. “I still think I should have changed the shape of that pretty boy’s nose the day he stole her from us.”
“I was very impressed by your restraint.”
“Yeah—” Paul smirked. “That’s only because you were standing in between us holding me back. If only you hadn’t…”
“Their wedding pictures would have looked a little different,” Caleb mused. They grinned at each other conspiratorially.
“Here’s to meeting someone new at church,” Paul said, holding up his glass again.
“Here’s to a second chance with my angel in Germany.” Caleb reached over and clinked Paul’s glass. “Yeah… here’s to a second chance.”
Book Club Discussion Questions: This chapter is an edited version of the epilogue for The Farmer's Daughter. Not really a question, just a notation.