The more miles he put behind him, the better Peter felt about his decision. That he’d chosen the least likely option, that he’d bailed on much of what he’d built in St. Louis over the past twelve years, should at least make sense to those who knew the truth of his situation. Why waste time trying to salvage ruins, when he could move on immediately to rebuilding well out of Kara’s reach? Even Harry hadn’t seemed surprised at his announcement last week, but of course, he knew the reasons behind the divorce. If the truth were known, Peter’s boss and father-in-law likely had some regrets, but he was too loyal to his daughter to ever voice them. The severance package had been more than generous, a sign of Harry’s respect and good wishes. Words had been unnecessary.
When the sun was high overhead, Peter stopped for gas and lowered the top on the car. With the wind in his face and the sun on his shoulders, he turned his thoughts ahead. The prospect of working in a new place—getting out of an office and a suit—fit with his desire to reinvent himself. From Walnut Springs he could explore his options, investigate the feasibility of starting his own firm. He could have taken some time off. Money wasn’t an issue and what he had now was his own. Kara had taken her share, granted the largest share of their combined assets, but she couldn’t take any more. He had everything he needed. The rest he doubted he’d miss.
On his one brief visit to Kansas, to assess the CentAir site and meet with the clients, he’d been unimpressed with the area. Early spring, he’d been told, was typically a cold, gray time. He hoped there would be enough Indian summer weather in the next few weeks to allow him to explore. He’d do some research, play tourist in his free time. Find the best places to run. Search for himself.
His brother Klaus had been appalled at his choice. Why not come home? Their parents would be thrilled. He had family in Holland, including a niece and nephews he’d never met. The kids would love to get to know their Oom Jan Pieter. How could he explain that seeing his brother’s brood would only remind him of what he’d never have? That sounded appallingly self-centered, even to Peter. But the other truth, which he tried to explain to Klaus, was there were things he wanted to do with the rest of his life, things he meant to do before he’d met Kara and been swept into her world. All those years ago, he’d planned to join forces with a girl who shared his ideals, who wanted the same simple life dedicated to making some kind of difference. He might have lost the girl forever, but there was still time enough to find the path he’d once been so certain led to fulfillment. What he hoped to do in the next few months was shrug off his failures and set his feet in that direction again, even if he had to do it alone.
Idealistic clap-trap? That’s what Kara called it when he told her his plans. She’d accused him of running away, of being afraid to face their friends without her beside him. He’d resisted the urge to tell her he never considered them his friends, only hers. He had no problem facing them, even less turning his back on them. Maybe his plans were idealistic, but hadn’t he once taken pride in his idealism? He’d been surprised and pleased to discover Kara hadn’t stripped him of that along with his sense of self and his manhood.