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He had believed in it. Edwin J. Hardesty hadn’t been the kind of man who had fantasies or followed dreams, but sometime during his quiet, literary life he had looked for a pot of gold. From the information in the reams of notes, the careful charts and the dog-eared research books, he thought he’d found it.
In the panelled study, a single light shot a beam across a durable oak desk. The light fell over a hand—narrow, slender, without the affectation of rings or polish. Yet even bare, it remained an essentially feminine hand, the kind that could be pictured holding a porcelain cup or waving a feather fan. It was a surprisingly elegant hand for a woman who didn’t consider herself elegant, delicate or particularly feminine. Kathleen Hardesty was, as her father had been, and as he’d directed her to be, a dedicated educator.
Minds were her concern—the expanding and the fulfilling of them. This included her own as well as every one of her students’. For as long as she could remember, her father had impressed upon her the importance of education. He’d stressed the priority of it over every other aspect of life. Education was the cohesiveness that held civilization together. She grew up surrounded by the dusty smell of books and the quiet, placid tone of patient instruction.
She’d been expected to excel in school, and she had. She’d been expected to follow her father’s path into education. At twenty-eight, Kate was just finishing her first year at Yale as an assistant professor of English literature.
In the dim light of the quiet study, she looked the part. Her light brown hair was tidily secured at the nape of her neck with all the pins neatly tucked in. Her practical tortoiseshell reading glasses seemed dark against her milk-pale complexion. Her high cheekbones gave her face an almost haughty look that was often dispelled by her warm, doe-brown eyes.
Though her jacket was draped over the back of her chair, the white blouse she wore was still crisp. Her cuffs were turned back to reveal delicate wrists and a slim Swiss watch on her left arm. Her earrings were tasteful gold studs given to Kate by her father on her twenty-first birthday, the only truly personal gift she could ever remember receiving from him.
Seven long years later, one short week after her father’s funeral, Kate sat at his desk. The room still carried the scent of his cologne and a hint of the pipe tobacco he’d only smoked in that room.
She’d finally found the courage to go through his papers.
She hadn’t known he was ill. In his early sixties, Hardesty had looked robust and strong. He hadn’t told his daughter about his visits to the doctor, his check-ups, ECG results or the little pills he carried with him everywhere. She’d found his pills in his inside pocket after his fatal heart attack. Kate hadn’t known his heart was weak because Hardesty never shared his shortcomings with anyone. She hadn’t known about the charts and research papers in his desk; he’d never shared his dreams either.