Salem Falls

“I don’t like Rachel Covington. You know, I mean, I like her… I just don’t like her. I don’t like any girl.”

“They were teasing you about that?”

“All’s I did was stick up for her because she was too scared to do it for herself.”

“Then it’s no wonder she’s fallen for you, querido.”

Jack leaned his cheek against his hand, heedless of the mark of flour he left behind. “Cora, what makes girls like that? Why can’t they just say thanks and get out of your hair?”

Cora smiled at him. “You know how your mother keeps her Christmas card list? How she sends to people who send her one, and that list gets longer and longer every year?”

“Yeah,” Jack muttered. “I have to lick the damn stamps.”

“Watch your mouth,” Cora reprimanded. “See, love’s like that. Once you give it, even by accident, you’re on that list forever.”

“What if I don’t want to send Rachel a card back?”

The housekeeper laughed. “You never know. Maybe she’ll keep them coming anyway. But maybe one day she’ll go through that list and cross you off.”

“I don’t want her to be in love with me,” Jack muttered. “I’m gonna tell her to stop.”

“You can tell her, but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna change anything.”

Jack punched at the dough. “Why not?”

“Because it’s her heart,” she said, “and she gets to choose where it goes.”

— Jodi Picoult


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