At age 26 Sandy has accomplished much. Now a rising Executive at Starlite Advertising Agency, soon to be an Attorney receiving her law degree after four years of night school. Looking forward she envisions a successful career, possibly time for a family. It was her time, she knew it, she could feel it, right in her heart.
Life, however, brings the unexpected, in events, in our hopes and plans. Some are hurtful, some beneficial but all provide a change in what we believe is our future. Sandy encountered this truth as she left her final law class before graduating. As usual, she followed an expected route from Metro Law to her home.
Though normally alert for any unusual events, this night she walked with her focus elsewhere. After all, this is a path home she takes most nights, but tonight, it was different, it was especially dark.
In the Blink of an Eye
It was dark on Oak Lane. Any faint light diminished quickly when encountering overgrown shrubs hugging the sidewalk. The reason this stretch of sidewalk was dark at nine o’clock at night did not matter. What mattered is the darkness created a perfect backdrop for anyone wanting to engage in devious mischief.
Sandy chose this route almost every night, returning from her evening classes. Even without light, she knew each crack to step over, every hole to avoid, in the aged sidewalk. The bright side of her dark walk tonight is it would be the last one. After four years of night classes at Metro Law University, her required courses were complete. Graduation would be this Friday when she obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. The goal of becoming an attorney, following in the steps of her deceased father, motivated her through many tough times.
Pulling her loosely fitting sweater on her shoulders closer to ward off the evening chill, Sandy smiled, as she remembered her Dad. She knew he would be excited, when she took the short walk on stage to obtain her degree, after such a long journey. He would be proud; he would encourage her to continue if he were here. As her thoughts relived the sadness of losing her Dad, her friend, coach, and guide, emotions wrapped her heart when completing the few remaining steps to her home.
Each night walking this dark stretch Sandy remained alert to any potential danger, though none ever occurred. Tonight, lost deep in personal thoughts about her Father, Sandy did not hear the steps approaching rapidly from behind. Awareness arrived just before a hand grabbed her shoulder. The hand spun her around, facing a man grinning wide enough for her to see a missing upper front tooth even in the limited light. “What? What do you want.”
The man said nothing, just reached for her purse which she resisted by stepping back, swinging her arm carrying the purse, behind her. For only a moment, the aggressor halted, but for only a moment, then he struck Sandy across the face. Knocking her into the bushes, while reaching again for her purse. As she fell, Sandy did what she trained for years to do, pulled the Lady Smith & Wesson into her hand. When she felt the blow, she dropped the purse to the ground but not the S & W. It remained firmly where she needed it to be. In her hand.
The attacker dove for the purse, stepping on Sandy’s leg, but not before she yelled for him to stop. He looked at her, the smile now becoming a laugh, as he raised his hand to hit her again. His hand pulled back to strike, her gun came up to shoot. The smile, spreading across his face, disappeared in an instant. “You ASSHOLE!" “Get Back! You scared me, you hit me, that is done.” "If you move I will shoot you." “Do you understand?” “Do you understand?” The man did nothing. He looked at Sandy, his hand flinching a moment, then looked at her steady hand holding the gun aimed directly at him. Without a word, he turned running off leaving her purse still on the ground.
Sandy immediately called 911. Now feeling her gun hand start to shake while she waited for the police to arrive. She kept the gun handy just in case. It did not take long for flashing lights to approach. Her Dad had many friends on the force. When word spread of the call and the caller, more than one car responded. Sandy knew what to do, putting the gun back into her purse holster, before the police approached.
The sirens wail grew louder, coming to a sudden stop, with the police car angled toward Sandy. "Sandy, are you ok?" She heard the familiar voice of her Dad’s close friend Sgt Murphy. “Ben, I am fine.” He ran to her side, noticing in the headlights of his squad the red spot where the assailant hit her. Ben felt her face, looking closely at any other marks. “Did he hit you, girl?”
Sandy recanted the story as other cars arrived all with lights pointing in her direction. She noticed that even in daylight she never saw the sidewalk that bright before. “Ben, I came close to shooting that guy. I mean very close. If he had taken another step, toward me after he hit me, I would have put two in his chest. It was close.” While she was talking another policeman walked up, remaining a short distance away as she told her story. Ben noticed the officer motioning him to come closer. “Sandy, this is Todd Williams, he just transferred in from the south precinct.”
“Give Todd a description of this guy. Sandy, we want to get him before he gets too far away.” Todd took down her report quickly, putting out a bulletin to pick up anyone matching that description. While they were still talking, the call came through that a viable suspect was taken into custody. He was being taken to the station, and Ben asked if she would come to identify him in a lineup. Sandy agreed to ride with him to the station. The identification took little time as she confirmed they had the right guy. After filling out necessary reports, Sandy got up to leave. “Hey, Sandy. You want a lift home? Todd walked up smiling at her when he asked. It only took a moment for her to accept.
As they drove the 10 minutes to her house, the silence punctuated with friendly chatter. “So, Sandy, what were you doing walking down that dark sidewalk, this late at night?” Sandy explained she was coming from her law classes which peaked Todd’s interest. “You want to be an attorney?” Sandy did not reply immediately thinking about how she wants to answer his question. “Guess the short answer is yes I do, but there are times when I think joining the force might be my direction. For now, we are going to say become an attorney since I graduate Friday.”
They arrived at her home, Todd accompanied her to the door, to assure there would not be any other problems that night. They said goodnight as Sandy went inside, locking the door behind her, Todd drove away thinking about Sandy. Knowing her only from the stories he heard at the station about her dad and his help for street cops.
When things went south from a shooting or some other criminal act, where citizens think the police over-reacted, it was not uncommon for civil actions to be filed, investigated, and damages sought. The policemen were always represented by the local public authority’s attorney. However, if any of them felt a need, Sandy’s dad would represent them pro bono, making him a real friend of the force. Wonder if she will be like her dad? He was startled by the one reference to joining the force. That would surprise all the cops at the precinct.
It sure surprised Ben Murphy when Todd told him about the trip home and that part of the conversation. “Todd, that really surprises me on one side, but on the other, not so much. She has been around here for years, and we mostly adopted her after her dad died, kind of like the precinct’s daughter. As I think about it having her on the force with her law degree would be a big bonus. You know, it will be a good thing if she chooses to join us, yes it will.”
Looking out the door glass watching Todd walk back to his car, Sandy stood there a moment, thinking about how long it has been since she had a real male friend. A lot of the men at work wanted time with her, dinner, drinks, maybe more, but with her schedule at school, it made more than a casual date difficult. Todd seemed like a good guy, noting that Ben appears to like him. Knowing Ben as she did, even his tepid approval about someone, went a long way with Sandy. Turning from the door, she decided a snack was in order. Suddenly starving after her adrenalin subsided from the events of the evening.
Still mentally perusing the subject of men she viewed the open refrigerator trying to find something satisfying. Maybe after graduation, she would have time to ramp up her social schedule. Not realizing she was smiling, until Sandy caught her reflection in the mirror hanging next to the frig. Guess the long grind worn more than she acknowledged. “How about a date Todd? What would you like to do?” This time, she glanced into the mirror on purpose to see a broader smile now gracing her beautiful face.
Some people born with beauty or handsome looks know it and use it for various reasons. Sometimes they just get stuck on themselves. That never happened with Sandy. She was beautiful, in all ways, a man or woman would describe as beautiful. Not unusually tall, a slender yet firm body, skin softly tanned, face striking with sculptured lines from the slightly upturned nose too high cheekbones. This beautiful face capped with long, soft, flowing hair cascading past her shoulders. Never stringy, always glowing a soft blond, reddish hue embellished by natural highlights flashing when any stray light rays found her.
After choosing frozen yogurt to satisfy her cravings, it really was time for sleep. She said goodnight to the kitchen, her reflection in the mirror then mostly in jest, to Todd. Relaxing in bed, Sandy drifted back in time to when she graduated from Midstate. Going back to the time, she decided to take her Marketing, Advertising degree back to her hometown. Her hometown was not as large as New York or Chicago yet large enough that a thriving advertising business existed. She landed a job, as assistant to one of the ad executives, at Starlite Advertising. It was a good start.
Within six months she progressed to having her own accounts. Exceeding goals set for her, finding she earned a fast track to an executive position, with two account managers reporting to her. During this time, she never forgot the goal of becoming an attorney. She lost her father during the Senior year at Midstate. Being left without a father or a mother, she found it tough to finish the year. She did finish, doing so mostly on will and determination. Her peers at Starlite thought her success came easily due to being so attractive. That was easy to understand. When she entered a room filled with men or women, they all stared at her. Eyes following her until she sat. It had been like that for Sandy for as long as she could remember.
Even when a young teenager she noticed the stares asking her Dad why people looked at her. It made her feel uncomfortable. He tried to explain it but at 13 years is difficult to understand. He decided not to set in her mind her physical beauty dwelling on other attributes. Still, she had trouble understanding. This was one time she heard her Dad mumbled, “Wish your mother was here.”
Sandy’s mother is not someone easily remembered. Faint memory comes, a few photographs of a young, attractive woman that her Dad said was her mother, but Sandy did not remember her. For reasons never explained to her satisfaction by her Father, her mother abandoned them when she was only four years old. She was just starting to build a memory of all things. In a brief time, that memory of mother faded induced then only by pictures and stories. Her last thought before falling asleep was of her Dad smiling when she graduated High School. In her mind she thought, I graduate from Metro Law Friday Dad, wish you were here, Goodnight, I love you.
Crossing Many Paths
Arriving at the Starlite offices earlier than most employees, Sandy wrapped up anything left from the previous day then planned the current day. Her work usually uninterrupted by other employees until at least 8 o’clock, providing an hour of time to focus on details. Those attempting to place the reasons for her rapid success, on her beauty should have viewed her dedicated work ethic. She had that drive instilled by her Father from an early age. That is why attending law school while holding down her current job did only one thing, messed up a good social life. Sandy knew that would come later and at this point as she approached her 26th birthday, she had set the stage for her future.
Sandy’s day moved quickly including a meeting with unexpected new clients. Clients who could not wait to hear from her how she would help increase their sales. Specifically, how could they penetrate the millennial segment of their market? This was a quickly set meeting not allowing any prep time. She listened to John and Katy Tilly as they walked through their sporting goods line of clothes. John glanced at his wife then turned to Sandy, “We are struggling with growing our customer base, increase sales to new clients. We hired a research team to evaluate where we were failing. Their summary was we failed to capture the millennials in our ads. We need to do better, we need to bring them into our client list. How do we do that Sandy, how?”
Sandy listened to John as he finished, pausing a moment before responding, she glanced at Katy who appeared to be somewhere else. “Katy, you have another opinion on your problem?” Katy looked surprised that Sandy asked her anything. “My mind was elsewhere Sandy, what did you ask?” Sandy repeated the question, and Katy looked at her husband. “Sandy, John and I do not agree on the cause of our sales problems. He thinks it relates to just Millennials, but I believe that it goes beyond that. There is nothing I can imagine that would cause us to lose a significant part of clients due to years of age bracket. I think we have an old product line, that’s what I think.”
John listened to Katy, while Sandy observed this was not the first time this discussion occurred. The color adding to his complexion indicated this also was a heated disagreement, which Sandy needed to know before accepting them as a client. He was starting to fume inside, and she expected it would not be long before it came out. She was correct. “Sandy, Katy and I disagree about this subject as expect you can tell. I just do not think we need to change our product line as it is still attractive to a majority of our buyers. We need to look elsewhere for the cause of our sales dip.”
At this point in the discussion, Sandy knew there was no way she could help this company until they found a way to get over the wall they created between them. Delaying her comments, while making notes she put the pen down, “John, Katy, I am not sure I can accomplish what you want with the information provided. I can see you both have sincere, honest differences concerning the problem and solution. No ad campaign can address a proper solution to help you until we know with some degree of certainty what we face to find a solution. If you want Starlite to help, we need to do an assessment independent of any outside sources you hired previously, to determine our ability to provide you what you want. If that is agreeable I will get back to you within the next week, if not I appreciate your time today and wish you success in your business.”
Neither Katy or John expected that response from this stunning ad executive. They said nothing for a moment then Katy reached for John’s hand, “Honey, what Sandy says makes sense. Listening to us would leave her no choice but to tell us we need to let them decide how they can help. I am all for that if you are.” John squeezed her hand, “Sandy, we do want to work with you. Do what you must, we will do what you ask and would love it if we become your clients.” The rest of the meeting involved Sandy outlining what she needed to do, how the clients could help her. Her goal would provide the clients a presentation on approach for them within two weeks from when they started the analysis. The meeting ended with SportAire becoming a new Starlite client as Sandy moved to the next item in her day.
It was close to eleven o’clock as Sandy prepped for an afternoon session with her boss. She knew that someday soon she would give him her notice to leave. Today was not that day, but it would come fast. Her secretary buzzed, “Sandy there is a Todd on the line asking to speak with you. Do you know him?” Sandy laughed, “Yes I do, put him through.” She answered the line immediately, “Hey Todd what can I do for you?” The answer surprised and pleased her, “Have lunch with me at noon. Pick you up in my squad and give you a policeman’s view of the town.” Sandy laughed openly not sure what to say, but her voice did, “I sure will Todd see you out front at noon.”
When she hung up, she wondered what she just did and why she was doing it. I have a meeting with my boss at one o’clock and leaving for lunch with Todd at noon. I must be crazy. She was smiling crazily when Tina stepped into her office, “Todd huh? Old boyfriend Sandy, did not think you have time to date?” Sandy mockingly tossed a notepad at Tina. “New, not old and not a boyfriend, not yet anyway. Todd is a policeman I met last night when I got hit by that guy.” She smiled broadly again, “I guess I like him Tina, suppose I do.” Tina gave a big wink, a nod, shaking her head as she left.
For the first time in a long time, Sandy watched the clock tick slowly creeping toward noon. At five minutes before noon, she took care of necessities and headed down to the lobby to meet Todd. She anxiously awaited as the elevator doors finally opened to the front of the office. Todd stood looking directly at her, his cruiser at the curb. Approaching her lunch date Sandy smiled at this man who did not move just stared at her. “Todd, are you OK?” He rapidly turned a shade of red recovering, “Yes, I am fine Sandy, but my goodness I thought you were beautiful the other night but honestly cannot imagine someone with your looks riding in my squad car. I need to go find a limo.”
She punched him in the arm moving toward his car. “Get in Officer Williams, I do not have long today so need to be back at 12:45.” Officer Williams did as she requested, and they drove off toward the Cock Robin a couple of blocks away. “Have to be back early huh? Big meeting or something like that?” Sandy mentioned it was a meeting with her boss. Todd nodded at that realizing he would make sure she was not late, not today anyway even if he would like to just ride around town so people could see his date. Keeping his eyes on the road today was a challenge as he really wanted to make sure this was the same person he walked to her door the previous night.
“OK, Sandy, let me just say this and get it out of the way.” She looked at him wondering what he was going to say, tell her she’s too short, too fat, he’s married. Her mind spun down the road. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen Sandy, ever. I mean you must get that all the time, but I am kind of in awe of you right now.” Sandy looked over at Todd not glancing her way just keeping his eyes on the road. He was a good-looking guy, chin jutted a bit but gave the appearance of strength, granite jaw strength. Good profile and facial structure. She responded after running this evaluation, “Well, Todd if a handsome guy like you thinks I am that pretty I take it as a compliment as I believe that you are also pretty.”
The squad car almost hit a pole as Todd brought it to a stop in front of the restaurant. He just looked at this woman who right now made him speechless, and that never happens. Todd got out moved quickly to open Sandy’s door, standing still after taking her hand which had the effect of her stopping to look up into his eyes. “Sandy, it’s early I know, but I do like you and want to find out more if there is more. Ready for lunch?” As he pulled her hand leading her forward, Sandy started laughing out loud. He stopped looking at her, “What?” She shook her head sideways started forward then stopped, “It is early Todd, but I also want to know.”
This time, Todd let her walk ahead as his feet did not move quick enough but caught up just in time to open the door for his lady. Fortunately for Sandy, there was no wait, and they were seated quickly. It took little time to order or receive their food. For both eating, the food became the secondary reason for this shared time. Both had known before they met in front of the office that their interest in the other was more than casual. Expressing that interest verbally for the other to hear, eliminated much of the foreplay necessary for people exploring a relationship to become more than casual. Though their conversation, enjoyment of the food was real, they both left with a comfort, that this lunch, moved their interest forward more than either expected.
Todd escorted Sandy to her building door as her boss walked by speaking to her and nodding to Todd. After he had left, she leaned close, “That’s my boss who I will see in a few minutes and expect he will want to know if you were here to arrest me.” She smiled while saying that. Todd glanced after the boss, his hand moving slowly to the handcuffs on his belt quickly removing them looking at Sandy, “So, if I put these on you can I just take you with me?” Sandy moved away quickly, “Not right now Todd, maybe later.” She stepped into the foyer heading to her office to prepare for the meeting.
Todd watched her walk away putting his cuffs back in the holder, Oh, you have no idea what I want to do with you in handcuffs Sandy. Then entering the car realized she probably did. That brought a big smile and made the citizens he encountered the rest of the day have a much better afternoon.
Tina waited for Sandy handing over the folder with a summary of her meeting earlier with SportAire landing them as new clients. Always good to have something like new clients to open a meeting with the boss and she was ready. Though she had some work to do to get John and Katy to realize what they needed to do so she could help them, the result was excellent. David, her boss, owned the agency, had 20 years’ experience in the advertising business and brought his small firm up to become the largest in the city. More than once Sandy thanked her lucky star for helping her land a job there when a recent graduate from MidState.
They usually met in David’s office as he reserved the conference room for larger meetings. Sandy like the more intimate setting of his office especially not to have to compete with others to discuss her work. “What was that policeman doing with you today Sandy, something from your Dad’s previous work?” She expected the inquiry as she normally is not with anyone, especially a policeman. “That was Todd one of the officers who helped me when I was assaulted by that guy last night. He seemed like a nice person and asked me for lunch. We had fun.”
David looked at his rising star. “Sandy, we never talked about this as not my business but cannot help, but notice is I never see you with anyone. Always seems to be running from here to Law School. Happy to see you take time for yourself for a change.” Sandy appreciated David’s words and understanding. “Thank you, David, and not sure you know I finished school this week, graduating on Friday evening.” David did not remember that. He is certain he did one time but forgot. “Congratulations Sandy, that is quite an accomplishment, successful ad executive and now an attorney. It must be a record for a woman with your success here, to grind out your law degree over a four-year period. You really do have drive Sandy, real drive.”
When Sandy heard those words, they may have well been spoken by her Father as that is precisely what he would say. She smiled at David, nodding her head affirmatively. She did not think he would ask but did, “Are you going to sit for the bar and leave us, Sandy?”
David’s comment caught her by surprise, and for a moment she had no answer, as her blush began. She knew she had to say something. “David, I have not thought about what I will do with my degree as from the start I did that for me and probably in part for my Dad. He knew that nodding his head in approval. “Well, whatever you do it will go well for you as the drive you have, is not learned in school, it is taught in childhood. Expect your Dad is the teacher of your life. He would be proud of you, and I am proud of you. Just hope you can find a way to stay with the agency as you are too damn good to lose.”
The meeting continued as Sandy went over the meeting with John and Katy and them coming on board as new clients. This pleased David and supported what he wanted to cover with her next. “That is great news Sandy, good job on bringing them around as knew a little of what they were going through. I thought you would be the natural fit for their concerns.” He reached under his folders to find the one he wanted. “Sandy, we are losing Jack next month to an agency in New York. I have thought about this a lot and decided I wanted to promote you to take his Vice President position, pick up his clients with your current load and his 4 account managers. That will be quite a responsibility and will also bring a pretty good increase in salary. Are you interested?”
Sandy sat there in shock never expecting this offer. It was her dream along with getting her JD for a long time. She never thought she was ready for such a promotion, never felt she made enough sacrifices to properly earn such a promotion. Again, she knew she had to say something and started to cover what she might be doing after graduation but did not. “David, I did not expect that offer. Actually, doubt if I am qualified but so glad you feel otherwise, however, realize it is a big job, a big responsibility and a lot of pressure.” He looked at her almost fidgeting in her chair, “Well is that a yes?”
She stood up, started nodding yes with her head, “Oh, yes David it is a big yes. I am so excited don’t know what to say except thank you, and I will not let you down.” David knew that last part was right. Sandy might do a lot of things, but one of them would not be letting the agency down. It was not her nature to do that. David stood walked around the desk and hugged his star ad, manager. “Sandy, I am as happy about this as are you I expect. I love it when good people take an opportunity and make it successful. You have done that during your career many times, and this will be nothing more than another step for you as you grow and succeed.”
David returned to his chair. “Sandy, I will put together a news release for our industry, our community, and the agency. Expect to release it on Friday, probably just before your graduation but can I mention your degree in that notice?” She listened to the timeline and the request for mentioning her degree, “Expect that part will surprise a lot of people who really do not know me well. I see no reason not to say it if you want. The grad ceremony is just that. I have my graduation letter confirming my degree from the Law School so that part is accurate.” David said he would proceed as outlined. The meeting over Sandy almost ran back to the office to call Todd.
Suddenly she realized her impulse was to call Todd. Why in the world would he be the first name that popped into her head to call? She knew the answer to the question, surprising her even more. The interest she felt before they had lunch had grown, grown a lot and so far, no physical contact except touching of hands. What is wrong with me?
She still mulled that over when she arrived at her office motioning Tina to come inside. Motioning to close the door and take a seat. “Tina, OK, now I had no idea about this, none but in my meeting with David he told me that Jack is leaving for an agency in New York.” Tina nodded as the rumor mill had been correct about that. “Then he offered me Jack’s job, his managers, a promotion to Vice President which means we are moving upstairs next week if you want to go with me?”
Tina said nothing, but Sandy could see tears forming in the corners of her eyes, “Tina, is everything OK? Are you alright?” Tina said nothing, stood as Sandy thought she was going to leave. Instead, she motioned for Sandy to stand up and rushed around the desk to hold her boss. Though difficult to understand her sobbing words she said, “Oh, Sandy that is so wonderful for you as nobody knows how hard you work, how very hard except me, well maybe David also. Thank you for wanting to take me with you, but I really like Rita, Jack’s secretary and don’t want her to lose her job.”
Sandy liked a lot of things about Tina in her work, but the trait she always admired about her was always placing herself behind anyone else. Her interest was never self-centered putting others first. Sandy pulled her close whispering in her ear, “Do not worry about Rita she will be OK. David is adding her to his staff, and his current support is inadequate for current business volume. You and Rita both will be alright.”
Tina hugged Sandy back, “Yes boss I will go with you anywhere you want, just point the way.” After finishing the conversation with Tina and filling her in on the announcement details, Tina said the news remains secret for other ears until the announcement.
Settling back into her routine as much as possible Sandy kept playing David’s words over in her ear as the questions she had about the future started overlaying his comments. What am I going to do? What? She knew that taking the position would directly affect her decision for either joining the police force or working as an attorney. This was not going to be easy, but she needed to let David know before the announcement as that was only fair to him and the agency. The rest of the afternoon the wrestling match continued without a solution. Nearing 5:00 o’clock as the office drew down for the day Tina stepped to the door. “Boss, there is this guy on the phone named Todd who wants to speak with you? Interested?” Tina stepped aside quickly as the pencil sailed over her head.
Answering the phone, she did not wait to hear his voice, “Todd I need to talk to you tonight, I need some advice, a sounding board, can we get together?” He started laughing which she did not need to hear right then until he stopped long enough to say, “How about dinner, you want to join me?” She did.
Life Sometimes Happens
Just before seven Sandy heard a car pull into the driveway. She sat waiting not wanting to appear anxious, giving him a few moments to reach the door. When she heard a knock, she paused for a second before opening the door. “Hello, Sandy how are you tonight?” She opened the door wider inviting him inside. “I’m fine Todd but really needed someone to talk to tonight about something at work. That made him smile. “Well, got to say I am glad to hear that, as I was looking for a reason to see you again. If you want to talk about work, that is fine as long as that discussion doesn’t include me getting lost.”
She led him to the family room. “Want a beer, wine or something else? I have some Glen Levit, Skyy vodka, and Jack.” Sitting on the sofa as he looked around her house, ‘Nice place Sandy, fits you I think, and a beer works fine as do plan on driving later.” Sandy poured a white wine, handed Todd a beer and joined him on the sofa.
She noticed him looking at her face, specifically her forehead. “Have I got something on my face?” She reached up to touch the area wincing a bit as it was still sore. “No, my goodness no Sandy, just wanted to see if where that guy hit you was still sore and appears it is. As I said at lunch, you are the prettiest woman I have ever met and don’t think anything you do would distract from that.”
She took a sip of wine, “Drink your beer Todd, you are making me blush.” He drank his beer. Leaning forward, “So what’s up that you need to talk about? Hope it’s something I can help you with.” Sandy became uncomfortable, not due to Todd, but she never vocalized her thoughts about her future with anyone before, and forming the words came harder than she thought.