John and Logan felt Etty’s words like a huge punch to the guts. Donna collapsed to her knees, tears rolled down her face, and her mouth was opening and closing silently. There was no way to tell if she was trying to apologize, agree, or offer a rebuttal. The only noise was Etty, breathing hard.
“Could you have been a little more gentle than that?” John finally asked.
Etty turned to him, and he could see the tracks of tears on her face as clearly as the matching runnels on Donna’s cheeks.
“John, I offered her my life against the day I give you harm or break your heart. How can I trust her to not decide out of malice, when she doesn’t know herself, or where her heart is?”
“She’s my friend.”
“I know. I hope, my love, she will be mine, too.” Etty looked at her husband’s friend, kneeling on the wood floor. “I think it may be some time before that day comes. I’m sorry if I harmed my own cause… on more than one count.”
“I’m not sure how I feel about this, Etty.” John tried to put his hands in the front pockets of his jeans, and missed. He looked around frantically… as if he worried that he had nowhere to store his hands, when they threatened to run amuck on their own.
“Do you wish me to go, John? I can wait for you at home, if you like.” She lowered her head, and no one would have known that she was more than a petite woman in a floral-print sundress.
He would have answered, but Donna croaked something, and Etty spun in her heel.
“No. You don’t get to go home without dinner.” Donna rasped, and cleared her throat. “Give me a hand up, skinny, little girl.”
Etty, wide-eyed and surprised, reached down and pulled Donna upright… a moment before Donna was ready to move. For a second or two, Donna hung two inches off the floor. She squeaked and unfolded her legs.
“Tiny, but strong, huh?”
“It looks that way.” Etty replied. She was unsure of what to do next.
Donna wrapped her arms around Etty, and hugged her tightly.
“You stood up to me,” Donna whispered in Etty’s ear, “and that doesn’t happen very often. Thank you for saying things that needed to be said.”
“I… I… I… want you to be happy, Donna.” Etty’s aggression collapsed, and she hugged Donna back with rib-creaking ferocity.
“God! A little less love, please!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Etty let go.
Donna laughed a little, and called out to Logan and John.
“You two: stay out of the kitchen. Your platonic wife, and John’s teeny-tiny wife are going to have bonding time. We’ll make dinner.” Donna pointed emphatically. “The two of you can clean up, and you’d better gird your loins. We’re bound to make a mess!”
She pulled Etty by the guys, and into the kitchen, leaving Logan and John to give one another funny looks.
“Do you understand what just happened?” John asked his old friend.
“I’ve got a theory or two.”
“Oh, good! Would you care to share?”
“No. They’re works in progress. I’ll tell you when I’m sure I have it figured out.” Logan said while gaining his feet. “I’m actually more worried what will happen if Patti and I get hitched.”
“More drama, I guess.” John commented with a shrug.
“Getting used to it, are you?”
“I’m not going to dignify that with an answer. I am going to go flop on the sofa, and try to let the stress go.”
“Want to watch a silly move until dinner is ready?”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”