Las Vegas Surprise


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Las Vegas Surprise

Sarah and Jeff had been living together for just over six months and were planning a September wedding. With July 4th just a few weeks ahead, Sarah suggested they have a small get together so she could finally meet her future in-laws.

“Babe, tell me about your dad,” she requested.

“Let’s see. He’s moving back from California in about a week and moving back in with Lori.”

“Who’s Lori?”

“His ex-wife. They were married for about twenty-five years. Then she shit on him.”

“Cheated?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised. One day about four years ago, she told him she was getting her own apartment and left. Dad was devastated. I saw it coming but he hadn’t. Anyway, after the split, he divorced her and moved to California. He’s retiring the end of June and coming back to Texas.”

“So, they’re getting back together?”

“Dad said they’re going to see. She apparently realized; a bit late, how bad she fucked up. I don’t think it’ll work. She really hurt him. Besides, he’s still in love with Heidi.”

Sarah chuckled. “So, he was cheating on Lori?”

“No, dad wouldn’t do that. Heidi was his wife from many years ago. He never got over her.”

“Why did your dad and Heidi split up?”

“They were on and off for several years. They’d be together for six months or so, then she’d just leave. A year or so later, she’d show up again and pull the same shit.”

“Why in heaven’s name would he keep taking her back?”

“Dad loved her. We all do.”

“Do? Not did?” Sarah asked.

“I stayed in touch with her over the years. Dad doesn’t know that. When I told her that dad and Lori had split, she contacted him. They lived together in California for a few months when he first got there, then pulled her disappearing act again.”

“Is your dad hard to live with?”

“I don’t think so, but it’s been thirty years since I lived with him. He’s a great dad and an amazing grandpa. The kids adore him.”

“What should I call him?”

“Dennis, Dad, Grandpa, he’ll answer to about anything. Call Lori by her name though. The kids call her grandma, but to everyone else she’s Lori.”



At the July 4th get together, Sarah got to spend time with both Dennis and Lori. They were both friendly, but as different as night and day. Dennis was outgoing and spent much of his time with Jeff’s two kids, and Sarah’s three preschoolers. He made quite an impression on them and was their new grandpa before the day ended. Lori was quiet and spent much of her time looking at her phone. Other than acknowledging the little ones when introduced, she paid them little attention. Sarah decided she’d have to be the one to get to know her.

“How did you and Dennis meet?” Sarah asked her.

“He was my teacher in college. My first impression was he was an arrogant asshole.”

“From what I’ve seen, so far, that doesn’t fit him.”

“He’s not like that at all. He took over for a teacher that our whole class just loved. Dennis was brilliant and essentially scared the crap out of us with his first lecture. It was about two months later before I saw the real him.”

“What happened?”

“Our classes were taught in modules. One of them was interpersonal communications. The class was all women and pretty much all of us were divorced. We’d all been hurt one way or another. Someone, during the module, asked him why he was single. We were all curious, I guess. He was good looking, nice body, smart. He admitted being hurt by a someone, then told us the story. When he began talking about Heidi, we could see how much he still loved her. I think I fell in love with him that evening.”

“When did you start dating?” Sarah asked.

“I started flirting with him, but it got me nowhere. After I graduated, I came back to pick up some papers. I stopped by just to say hi to him. He asked me out. We were married about a year later and stayed married until I screwed it up four years ago.”

“But you’re back together now,” Sarah replied, smiling.

“Physically, yes. Emotionally, I’m fairly sure I’ve ruined it.”

“I don’t know. He seems happy to me.”

“What you’re seeing is the public Dennis. When we’re at home he’s different now. I married my first husband when I was still in high school. We divorced while I was in college. Dennis and I married a year after my divorce. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband. Somewhere in the back of my mind I began wondering if I hadn’t missed something by being married all my adult life. I decided that when the last of the kids moved out of the house I needed to find out. I started buying stuff to furnish my own place two years before I ever told him. I stored everything at my sister’s house and planned to tell him when we sold ours.

“It was the day after the kids left, that he surprised me and asked what we were going to do since we didn’t need the big house anymore. casino siteleri That’s when I dropped the bomb. He was shocked. I really blindsided him. He could have talked me out of it, and I knew that. I asked him not to try. He agreed to respect my wishes.”

“So, you divorced him?”

“No. I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted to stay married. He moved out of our bedroom and into the guest room that day. I hadn’t seen that coming. I guess I thought we’d just go along as we were. I had convinced myself he’d just go along with it. I was wrong. He never got angry. He just pulled away. He wouldn’t let me do anything wifely. He cooked for himself, took care of his own laundry, everything. About a month before the house was to close, he asked me to go with him to New Orleans for a few days. When we got there, he told me that he wasn’t trying to talk me out of leaving. He wanted us to do this to celebrate my new life. I spent most of the trip crying. I knew I’d really messed up. I should have tried right then to put things right, but I didn’t. After I moved out, we went out to dinner every week. He would never come in my apartment. We’d talk outside after dinner. I always cried when he left. Three months later he presented me with divorce papers. It was my turn to be shocked. I asked him not to do it, but when he asked me for a reason not to, I couldn’t give him one.

“We still went to dinner sometimes. Over the next few months, I learned that I hadn’t missed a thing being single. The divorce went through uncontested. We were having dinner one evening. It had been one year, to the day since I moved out. That’s when he told me he had bought an RV and was moving to California. I cried. He asked me, when he dropped me off, if I had found what I was looking for. That’s when I told him that what I had learned was that I wanted my old life back. He didn’t say anything in response. After he’d gone, I heard from one of our granddaughters that he and Heidi were seeing each other again.”

“Jeff said that didn’t last long,” Sarah replied.

“No. I asked Dennis when we spoke on the phone. She just up and left again. Knowing I’d done the same thing to him, I didn’t say anything.”

“So, how did you get back together?”

“Dennis had to have surgery. I went to California to help him for a few days afterward. I asked him to come home and promised him he wouldn’t regret it. He seemed surprised but agreed to think about it. The day before I came back home, he agreed. That was four months ago. He arrived last week.”

“I’m glad.”

“So am I, but he’s not the same. What I did to him killed the love he had. I’m doing everything I can, but the Dennis I left is gone.”

“Give it time, Lori.”


The back yard wedding was beautiful. Dennis and Lori sat together but otherwise it was the same as it had been on the 4th. He was in the middle of the kids and Lori was looking at her phone.

Jeff and Sarah hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Lori came to neither. He told everyone she was working both holidays. Dennis was quieter at Thanksgiving, and at Christmas was withdrawn, spending much of his day sitting alone on the back patio. Jeff and Sarah were both concerned and joined him.

“Why so quiet, dad?” Jeff asked.

“Just thinking.”

“About what?” Sarah asked.

“I’m almost finished with my second book. Just contemplating how to finish it.”

“You finally started writing?” Jeff inquired.

“I started in California and finished number one just before I left.”

“What kind of stories are you writing?” Jeff asked.

“Would you believe it, romances?”

“I figured that you’d write Star Trek or something,” Jeff chuckled.

“I’m as surprised as you are. The last few years have made me experience emotions I didn’t realize I had.”

“Can I read your book?” Sarah asked.

“You can read the first one. No one reads the second until it’s finished.”

“Fair enough. Can you e-mail it to me?”

“Sure. I’ll do that tonight when I get home. Is Word format, okay?”

“That’s great.”

“I want you to give me an honest critique when you’re finished.”

“Promise. How are things with Lori?”

“We share her house. That’s about the extent of it.”

“Dad, we’ve got plenty of room here. You’re always welcome to live with us,” Jeff offered. Sarah nodded enthusiastically.

“Thanks, but you don’t need your old man hanging around.”

“You can get another RV and park it in the yard. We’ve got five acres.”

Dennis thought for a moment. “Maybe, we’ll see. Talk it over for a while. Make sure you’re both okay with that.”

“We’d love to have you,” Sarah said.

“We’ll see. I’m not ready to do that just yet.”


Sarah read the book and loved it. She suggested that he publish it. He was considering doing that sometime in the future.

Dennis came by on occasion for visits. Lori was never with him when he did. In early October, he came by unexpectedly to talk to Jeff and Sarah.

“Did you two discuss the güvenilir casino RV issue?” he asked.

“The offer still stands,” Sarah replied.

“I’m thinking it’s time to move on. I moved into a motel yesterday.”

“Dad, get your stuff and come out here.”

“No, I need a few days alone. I bought an RV and can pick it up the day after tomorrow.”

“Where do you want to park it?”

“I’m thinking out behind your pond.”

“No water, electricity, or sewer there. If you park just west of the pond, we’ve got all three,” Jeff replied.

“That works for me. Is Saturday, okay?”

“Saturday’s great. We’re looking forward to having you,” Sarah said, excitedly.

Dennis pulled in towing his RV around noon on Saturday. By mid-afternoon he had setup housekeeping. Over the next week he popped in for a few minutes but spent almost all his time at the RV. Sarah visited him regularly. He was always writing but welcomed her.

“Did you finish your other book?”

“I did. I’m about halfway through number three now.”

“So can I read number two?”

“Sure. Same format as last time?”


He opened his laptop and sent it to her right then. Sarah began reading that evening. She couldn’t put it down. Jeff had told her enough about his dad’s time with Heidi that she quickly realized this was their story. It was beautiful at times and heartbreaking at others. She could feel their love. Even being written from Dennis’ perspective she could feel how much Heidi had loved him.

Two things troubled her. Heidi, on each occasion when she left, did so suddenly and without explanation. The other was how it ended. Heidi left California, leaving everything but her clothes and cats behind. She texted him for the next two days as she drove back to Arizona, then out of the blue, she verbally assaulted him and told him never to contact her again. The book ended there. Neither of these made any sense. There had to be more to the story. Even if she was bipolar or something he would have recognized it. Hell, he was a clinician with nearly fifty years of patient care experience. He would have known.

She thought about it for several days and finally asked Jeff to read it. He reluctantly agreed. Once he started reading, he couldn’t put it down.

“Sarah, this is the story of dad and Heidi. He’s changed the names and places, but it’s them.”

“That’s what I thought. I’d love to hear Heidi’s side of the story. A lot of what she did made no sense,” she said.

“I’ve asked her a couple of times why she kept leaving. She always changed the subject. I never did get an answer,” Jeff replied.

“I got the feeling from the story that she loved him as much as he loved her.”

“She still loves him. Every email she sends she asks about him.”

“Is she married?”

“No. The guy she was living with died about a year ago.”

“I wonder what she’d think if she read this?” Sarah asked.

“Babe, dad was crushed the last time she dumped him. I think we’d be better off staying out of it.”

“It can’t hurt to let her read it. If I had someone who loved me enough to write a book about me, I’d want to read it.”

“Don’t say anything to dad about sending it. His heart and soul have been bared in that story,” Jeff cautioned.

“Can you email it to her?” Sarah asked.

“No way in hell I’m doing it. I’ll send you her email address.”

“Chicken shit,” she grinned.

“Plausible deniability, my love.”

The following day, Sarah composed an email and attached the book.


My name is Sarah. I’m Jeff’s wife. My father-in-law wrote the book I’ve attached recently, and I thought it should be shared with you. Dennis doesn’t know I’m sending it. I thought it was a beautiful but heart wrenching story.


After a short hesitation, she clicked send. It was three days later, on Thursday, when she received a reply.


Thank you for sending the book. I agree. It was beautiful and most certainly, heart wrenching. Dennis is a wonderful, loving man. The book only tells part of the story. There’s more to it and I’d like to finally give Jeff the explanation he’s asked for over the years.

I live in a motorhome now and spend my time traveling around the country. At the moment, I’m staying near Memphis. According to the GPS I’m about seven hours from Dallas. I’d like to meet with you and Jeff on Saturday and give you the rest of the story. Just the two of you please. I don’t want to interfere with Dennis’ life. I’ve hurt him enough. Let me know. I’ve attached my contact info to this email. Let me know.


Sarah immediately showed the email to Jeff. He was thrilled at the opportunity to see her again. Sarah called Heidi.

“This is Heidi.”

“Heidi, this is Sarah, Jeff’s wife.”

“Sarah, thank you for sending the book. I loved it.”

“I suspected you would. Jeff and I are both free this weekend and would love to see you.”

“Wonderful! I’ll break camp tomorrow morning and hit DFW before nightfall. canlı casino What area are you in?”

“We’re in Rockwall. It’s east of Dallas.”

“I’ll Google campgrounds near you and call when I get there. How’s noon Saturday?”

“That’s perfect. I’ll let Jeff know.”

“We’ll decide where to meet then.”

“Okay,” Sarah replied.

“Sarah, how is Dennis?

“I’m not sure how to answer that. We try to include him in our lives but mostly he stays at home writing. He seems content, but lonely, I guess.”

“That’s not like him. He’s a people person,” Heidi replied.

“That’s what Jeff said.”

“I’ll give you a call Friday. Don’t say anything about this to Dennis.”

“I won’t. Till Friday then.”

“Bye, Sarah.”

“Bye, Heidi.”

Heidi called around dinner time on Friday. They picked her up at the RV park on Saturday just before noon and went to lunch. After returning her to her RV they went inside to talk.

“The description of you in the book didn’t do you justice. You’re gorgeous,” Sarah said.

“I still look surprisingly good for a sixty-one-year-old. Jeff didn’t do you justice either when he described you. Ready for the rest of the story?”

Both Jeff and Sarah nodded. Over the next hour Heidi explained why she had run so many times. Sarah understood better than Jeff but at least he had some answers. Her reason for leaving the last time shocked them both, but they agreed with her decision.

“You’re both single. You love each other. What’s keeping you apart now?” Sarah asked.

“Guilt on my part, mostly. I’ve hurt him so many times in the last thirty plus years I doubt he has any interest in risking that again.”

“Heidi, dad wrote this book in the last year. You’ve read it. He loves you as much today as he did the day he first saw you,” Jeff said.

“The Pete issue is resolved and you’re free now. I think you’re making a mistake by not trying again,” Sarah added.

“You have no idea how bad I’ve wanted to reach out to him. I’ve been afraid he’d reject me.”

“Not a chance in hell he’d do that. He’s not going to instantly drop everything and run off with you this time. He’ll take his time and try to make sure you’re serious,” Jeff told her.

“I can’t fault him for that.”

“Heidi, don’t do it if you aren’t serious about staying. Remember when dad used to read all that Buscaglia stuff?” Jeff asked.

“Leo. We both loved him,” she said.

“Dad used to have a poster about risk on his wall. Remember that?”

Heidi smiled and walked to her bedroom, returning with a picture frame, and handed it to Sarah.

“He gave me this when he left Houston.”

Sarah read it aloud.

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.”

Leo F. Buscaglia

“Wow, that’s impressive,” Sarah said.

“Dad’s always been willing to take risks. That’s how he is,” Jeff said.

“And I failed him every time,” Heidi admitted.

“You did what you felt you had to do. You took risks too,” Jeff replied. “Take one more.”

Jeff and Sarah both smiled at her.

“Go for the gold, Heidi. You know you want to,” Sarah said.

Heidi thought for a moment. “If I’m going for the gold it’s gonna have to be spectacular. Any ideas?”

“I think I have just the thing,” Jeff said, grinning.

Jeff, Sarah, and Heidi stayed in touch over the next month. There were occasional calls, but most of their communication was done by email.

Dennis’s seventieth birthday arrived in early December and a small celebration was planned at the house. Jeff asked if he should invite Lori and his dad told him not to; that was over.

After lunch, the traditional cake, and song, they gave him his gifts. As he opened them, he realized that everything had something to do with the Beatles. There was a t-shirt, a button with their pictures, and finally a CD of their love songs. He already had the CD but said nothing. Jeff handed his father a final card. It contained flight reservations for a first-class flight for two to Las Vegas. There was a reservation for a luxury suite, for two, at the Mirage. The last thing was two tickets to Beatles Love.

“Dad, you and I are leaving Saturday morning. The hotel is just for one night. We’ll see the show later that night and fly back on Sunday with a breakfast stop at the Eggslut before leaving,” Jeff told him.

“Now this is a gift,” he said grinning. Heidi and I were going to see that show when we went to Vegas, but it was sold out. God, it’s been years since you and I went somewhere together. Thank you. This is exciting.”

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