State College, Pennsylvania
"Nice? You call that nice? You said the same thing about Byron the bore."
Leah put down the pen and leaned against the straight back of her chair. Andy was standing at mid-room, her mouth still open, her sandy hair dripping rain over solid shoulders jacketed in red. "A doorway encounter changes my entire concept of man," she continued, "and you think he's . . . nice."
Leah envisioned Jonathan, probably just now getting back into his car. "He doesn't know I'm Jewish."
Andy stared. "Oh, right. With your family, worry." She unbuttoned the windbreaker and took it off.
"Andrea, I've been hurt before." And not just once, she thought. "If he calls, I'll tell him."
"Leah Rachelle Beaumont," Andy articulated airily with a not too bad French accent, "you inspire me."
How long had Andy know her, Leah thought. Eight months? Ten? They had lived in this apartment together all of September and for four months last spring, and still Andy did not comprehend what it meant to be Jewish, that it was in the blood and in the brain and in the bone. She could not allow a relationship to develop with any man without his understanding that. Besides, she was reminded twice a week from home that there were good reasons to wait, as Mama put it, for "the right Jewish boy." How many times did she have to explain it?
"There is one thing about you that isn't 150 percent honest, Beaumont," Andy groused. "Make that two—your name and your nose." She laid the jacket like a fan over the foot-end corner of her bed, and Leah saw mischief in the curve of her mouth.
Let it alone, Leah thought. She made a face at Andy, rose to look into the mirror above her dresser and frowned. The glow of summer, long days of working the Saddlebreds for Aunt Claire and Uncle Paddy, had become her complexion. She ran her fingertips through her casual "breezy" cut. The wavy auburn hair was close to blonde now, the eyes all the lighter for her tan. The preacher's son today asked if she was named for the Leah of the Bible, and she had said it was not the first thing she told people. He understood—not just that, in conversation, she would avoid immediate reference to religious matters, but also that Leah of Haran had not been Jacob's first choice, or his selection at all, for he had fallen in love with her younger sister, Rachel. Although he as tricked into marrying both, and they and their maidservants mothered the twelve tribes of Israel, Rachel forever remained his true love. Leah could still see Jonathan's face as he looked at her and said he believed that delicate eyes were not the flaw but he forte of Jacob's Leah and that, emerald as her own were, he could look into them all day. "For Leah was tender-eyed," he quoted as he touched her cheek, and his voice itself was tender and filled with wonder.
"Are my eyes green?" Leah asked unblinkingly of the mirror.