But there’s no mistaking her inner beauty shining through when she recognizes me. Her face transforms from its I-just-woke-up snarl to a thing of joyous wonder as Sarah’s breath catches and she throws her arms around me.
“Heather!” she cries, squeezing my neck so tightly I can barely inhale. “Oh, Heather! Thank you!Thank you! ”
“Um,” I choke. “You’re welcome?”
“You don’t know,” Sarah breathes into my hair. “You can’t even imagine what you’ve done for us. But because of you catching Owen’s real killer, all the charges against Sebastian have been dropped. He’s free… free to go back to his classes… to his teaching position… everything. You saved him, Heather.You saved him. You were the only one who believed in him. The only one! I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to pay you back. He spent the night with me last night… I mean,really spent the night with me. And it was heaven. I’d given up on the idea of my ever finding a man with whom I could have a really satisfying physical as well as intellectual relationship—but with Sebastian, I’ve found it. I’ve never been happier in my life. And it wouldn’t have happened if we’d had that hanging over us, I think. But thanks to you… I don’t know what we’ll ever be able to do to thank you—”
“Well,” I say. “You can start by not strangling me.”
Sarah lets go of me at once.
“Oh,” she says, backing up and looking embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay,” I say. “I’m glad things worked out with you and Sebastian.”
“Worked out,” Sarah says, with a laugh. “Worked out!Oh my God! They’ve so much more than worked out. I can’t even tell you—it’s like a dream. I just came down to get bagels and coffee. Then we’re going to continue making sweet love all day to celebrate our victory over the criminal justice system as well as the president’s office.”
Magda and I exchange glances. Neither of us is having much success at keeping a straight face.
“Okay,” I say. “Well, good luck with that, Sarah. Safe sex, right?”
“Of course,” she says, with a sniff. Then, because apparently she can’t help herself, she darts forward and gives me one final hug before turning around and running for the bagel bar. “Oh, Heather,” she says. “I just hope someday you can find the romantic happiness Sebastian and I have!”
“Yeah,” I say, patting her on the head. “Me, too.”
Then, to my great relief, she drifts away to the bagel bar.
“She is such a pill sometimes,” Magda observes, as she fluffs up her already enormous hair.
“Tell me about it,” I say, with a happy sigh.
“Well,” Magda says. “You’ll never guess.”
“No,” I say to her. “You’ll never guess.”
“I already know about you,” Magda says, waving a heavily manicured hand. “You caught Dr. Veatch’s real killer, and she tried to shoot at you, and you nearly died. So what else is new? I got something really important to share.”
I put one hand on my hip.
“Fine,” I say. “That’s not what I was going to tell you. But go ahead. Tell me your news. I’m sure it’s a lot more important than mine. Not.”
Magda looks right, then left, to make sure no one is eavesdropping. Then she leans forward across the register to whisper, “My news is… you were right!”
I raise my eyebrows, surprised. It’s not very often that someone tells me that I was right about something. So this really is news. “I was? About what?”
“About Pete!” Magda cries, leaning back. She’s grinning ear to ear. “You told me I should just tell him how I feel. Well, last night, after the pizza, I finally worked up the courage, and… I did. And… ”
I am not generally a squealer, but letting that sentence trail off like that is just plain cruel, and has me squealing.
“And what?” I shriek.
“And he said he feels the same way about me,” Magda whispers, happily. “We’re going out now.”
I stare at her. “You’re lying.”
She grins at me. “I am not lying. Oh, we’re not—what did she call it? Making sweet love all day? — yet, like Sarah is. We’re taking it slow—you know, because of the kids. But we’re definitely right for one another. Now. What do you have to say about that, Miss Heather Wells?”