“Hey gang! Glad you all could make it. Welcome to the first annual Amazing Treasure Hunt!”
Why had she agreed to this?
Tami Griffith scowled at her best friend, who seemed unnaturally gleeful today. For some reason Kim thought this treasure hunt was a big deal, and she’d hounded Tami about joining in until she’d agreed just so she could get a moments peace.
“Here are the rules. Each of you will be given a series of clues. Figure out the clue, find the checkpoint and get your next clue. The first one to finish wins. It’s not a million dollars, but I’ll be jealous of the winner. Good luck, everyone.”
Tami grabbed the envelope handed her and ran to her car. Okay, so she’d always been a sucker for treasure hunts. Why not just have fun?
After buckling in, she checked her first clue. Where in the world is a medieval castle in Toronto?
Oh, please. Casa Loma, of course. Hopefully all the clues wouldn’t be so simple. There should be some challenge involved!
She made it to her checkpoint in good time. The guy in the neon green “Amazing Treasure Hunt” t-shirt was easy to spot. “Hi. I’m a contestant.”
“Here’s your next clue.”
“Has anyone else been here yet?”
Tami’s only answer was a smile. Hookay. Moving on.
She tore open the envelope. Where in the world can you lie back and watch a screen in a dome?
Hmm. The JumboTron at the SkyDome? No. You didn’t lie back.
By the time she reached her car, she’d figured out the answer. The Omnimax Theater at the Ontario Science Centre, with it’s reclining seats, and a domed screen in the ceiling.
As she drove there, a ball of unease settled in Tami’s belly. Something nudged her brain, but she couldn’t quite grasp it. What?
Oh, well. Whatever. She was having fun, and the clues were easy. Maybe she’d win the prize. Having something good happen would be a nice change.
The last time she’d thought something nice was happening to her it had turned out to be the biggest heartbreak of her life.
She sighed. She refused to think about that-about him. Kim had forced her into this, but Tami was enjoying herself. She wasn’t about to let thoughts of the past bring her down.
When she arrived at the Science Centre, she scoped out the people around the front entrance. When she caught sight of another neon green shirt, she pulled to the curb, put her hazards on, and ran up to her contact. “Hi. I’m Tami, here for my next clue. This has been easy so far. Am I winning?”
Another smile, another envelope.
Where in the world do Princes — or is it a Princess? — stand guard?
No challenge here. The Princes’ Gates stood guard at the Canadian National Exhibition.
In the car again, a thought struck, and she gripped the steering wheel. Is this why she’d been feeling uneasy?
Most people in Toronto mistakenly referred to the Gates as the Princess Gates, instead of the Princes’ Gates. She’d discussed it with one person in her life. And if she ever saw him again she’d…she’d… Well, she hoped she never saw him again.
This had to be nothing more than an eerie coincidence.
But her stomach remained in knots, and when she read the next clue, she nearly lost her breakfast.
Where in the world can you find peace in the middle of the square?
In the centre of Nathan Phillips Square stands a tiny building, part of the Peace Garden. Its pitched roof appears to be damaged, signifying conflict, its structure seemingly supported by an eternal flame, a symbol of hope and regeneration.
Justin had to be behind this. Every stop had been something they’d shared. He’d proposed at the Peace Garden.
No, this has nothing to do with him. You’re letting him haunt you.
In trepidation, she continued. Like the driver who can’t look away from a roadside accident, she felt compelled to carry on.
Justin Taylor sat on a concrete block at the Garden. His face remained devoid of expression as she approached him. He stood up, but didn’t say anything.
Without conscious thought, her palm sailed toward his face. “You ba…”
His hand caught hers. “I deserve that, but I know you. You’ll feel guilty.”
She sneered. “You don’t know me. I’m not the same person you walked out on a month before our wedding.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Will you let me explain?”
“No. You should’ve explained five years ago.”
He closed his eyes and blew out a huge sigh. “I know. But…but something happened. It messed me up. I knew how much you wanted to be a mother, and I… I couldn’t take that away from you.”
“What? You left because you suddenly decided you didn’t want children? I don’t want to hear any more of this.”
She started to turn away.
“No. Please. I left because…because I might not have been able to give them to you. I found a lump…”
Tami gasped. She’d spent years conjuring up reasons for his leaving. None of them came close to this. “Oh, my God.” Her eyes drifted down. “Are you okay?”
He grimaced. “I’m cancer free. It was five years last week. I’m lopsided, but I can still give you kids. If you want them.”
She chose to ignore that. For now. “Let me get this straight. You just walked away from us? You didn’t think to discuss it with me first?”
“I told you. I… You wanted kids. What if I couldn’t…?”
“So what if you couldn’t? I wanted your children. I wanted us to be a family. You were the foundation I wanted to build on, and you walked away. You had no right to make that decision for us.”
She glared. “And today. How could you set me up like this?”
“I had to. I knew you wouldn’t agree to see me.”
“So you decided to go to all this effort to force a meeting. Stop taking my choices away.”
“I’m sorry. I know I didn’t do the right thing five years ago. And I’m willing to concede forcing this on you wasn’t fair, either. Tami, please. I had to see you. Tell me what I need to do to make this right.”
She looked at the eternal flame. Hope and regeneration. Could they rebuild? Did she want to? This man had nearly destroyed her.
Although… Maybe she would have done the same thing in a similar situation.
“We’re not the same people, so it may never be right. If we try this, we start over, not from where we left off.”
“Then let’s start over. Hi, I’m Justin Taylor…”
Aspiring romance writer Nan Donahue is web shy, so we don’t have a site to lead you to. Nan has been writing short stories for Woman’s World magazine, and hopes to be published by them in the near future.