Sweet Nothings Sampler
Copyright © 2017 by Jean MacIntyre
Cover design by Jean MacIntyre
Published by Jean MacIntyre at Shakespir
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Dedicated to those who read my books and short stories. Thank you!
Table of Contents
The color of Katy’s hair had been called dirty blonde during her high school years. Today it was just dirty, soaked in sweat and chaff. Pulling the straw hat off her head, she fanned herself with it, and then gathered the stray curls that had escaped from the ponytail. She secured them again, hoping they would stay put until she was finished cleaning.
Looking at the right knee of her favorite denims in disgust, she couldn’t recall how she had managed to tear it so badly, but the next stop for them would be the recycle center. They were faded to almost white, so soft and comfortable she was really going to miss them.
Sticking her hat back on her head, she picked up the shovel and continued cleaning the gutters in the barn. She had only ten days left before the new owner took possession of the farm and she was doing her best to get it ready. But she was exhausted, and there were times when she just wanted to sit down and cry. However, that was a luxury she couldn’t afford.
When her mother had died of an aneurysm just as Katy had been preparing to head off to college, Katy’s dream of studying psychology had to be set aside. She stayed to help out on the farm because her dad was devastated and barely able to function. She just couldn’t leave him alone, on his own. Just her luck to be female and an only child!
And now her dad was gone too, dying of a cardiac arrest, just eighteen months ago, but she really believed it was a broken heart in the truest sense of the words.
She had thought long and hard about how she was going to deal with settling the estate, finally severing a two-acre lot at the back of the farm, one concession over. Her dad had created a farm pond back there years ago, among the cedars, and on the strength of the farm sale, she secured a loan. The next step was to contract Guildcrest Homes to prepare the lot and build her a small bungalow in their factory. The septic, well and driveway had been prepared and the house had been placed on the foundation. It was now ready for furnishings and appliances, most of which she would take from the farmhouse. So much to be done in just ten days, and she was tired to the bone.
Chin up, girl, you can do this! The livestock had been sold off, with the exception of the laying hens and the flock of sheep, at the request of the buyer. Her dad had been a general farmer with a few dairy cows, a couple of horses, some pigs, and the sheep and hens. Once the dairy cattle and horses were sold, the sheep took shelter in the barn.
She had yet to meet the new owner, all transactions being done through the realtor and the lawyers. She only knew that he had been in Scotland for the past five years, was single, and was returning to Canada in the next week or so. Handing over the keys to the house, when he arrived, was going to be the best day of her life, and she couldn’t wait.
Finished with her current dirty task, Katy left the barn and headed to the house. Next on the agenda was a long hot shower and shampoo, but as she was walking towards the house, she suddenly looked up to see a new red pickup truck driving into the yard. Oh, man, just what I need, when I look a mess! Company!
She walked towards the truck, wondering who it could be, and feeling really embarrassed by the state she was in – dirty, sweaty, and with ripped jeans. As the truck door opened, she watched as a tall, fit man in suit, tie and dress shoes stepped down and came around the front of the vehicle.
Smiling at her, he said, “Katy MacDonnell, I presume?”
“And you are?”
“Ian MacCormick. We’ve been corresponding via our lawyers and realtor, but I just got back from Scotland and I couldn’t wait to see what I had purchased.”
“Well, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Right now I’m going to have a hot shower and I’m going to put on something a little less grubby. You can go wander around, if you like, but if you wait until I’m more presentable, I’ll give you the grand tour.”
“Sounds good. See you in a bit.” And he headed towards the barn.
Thanking her lucky stars she had just finished cleaning the barn, she hurried into the house and gave up on the long hot shower, settling for a quick scrub and shampoo. She took a moment to blow dry her hair, letting the natural waves fall to her shoulders. Taking out her cosmetics, she added some lipstick, eye shadow and a little blusher. Well, what am I supposed to do? Look like something the cat dragged in? I think not! He’s gorgeous!
When she found him in the barn she asked if he wanted to see the entire farm, or just the buildings.
“I’d like to see it all, if you don’t mind. I know this isn’t quite proper protocol, but I couldn’t wait. I’ve been wanting to farm for a long time, and when I heard of your property coming on the market, I knew it was just what I was looking for.” And you are a major added bonus.
“What kind of farming are you planning?”
“Organic crops, the hens and sheep, to begin with. Then we’ll see how it goes.”
“Well, we can walk the 198 acres, or we can drive. Up to you, although you aren’t really dressed for a country ramble.”
“Drive it is. Let’s get the truck and go.”
She directed him over the laneways, past the arable fields, out through the maple bush, through the clearing, and there stood her little brick bungalow.
“I have a neighbour back here?”
“That would be me. I severed these two acres off and had the house built. I love this farm – just couldn’t farm it by myself.”
“So I can call on you when I have a problem, Katy?” And I’ll have problems for sure!
“I guess that would depend on the problem, Ian.” And she grinned at him.
Sitting at a table in the library by himself, a scribbler open in front of him, Andrew was scowling. He had come here to find a quiet environment, conducive to focusing on the task at hand. He was attempting to put thoughts on paper so he could finish the last chapter of the current murder mystery he was writing, and get it typed up and sent off to his publisher. If his eyes could shoot daggers, she would be full of holes by now.
‘She’ was an attractive, self-confident, self-absorbed piece of work. Her brown hair fell in a sweep down past her shoulders, and she kept pushing it off her face. But the thing that was irritating him past his point of tolerance, was the way she giggled, a quiet but audible giggle, every few minutes.
To make matters worse, she was sitting facing him, directly in his line of sight, so ignoring her was becoming impossible. He had promised the manuscript would be sent out this week, and today was Thursday. He knew how the story would end, but was at a complete loss as to how to write the middle of the final chapter. This was a new problem for him, and he didn’t know what to do about it.
He also didn’t know how he was going to deal with her either. Going back home wasn’t an option. His teenage nephew was staying with him for a week, while his brother and sister-in-law were away. Foolishly, he had told the lad that he could have a friend over, but one friend turned into three, the tunes were cranked up, the laughter was loud, and concentration was impossible.
Shoving his hand through his hair and making it stand up on end, he looked around for another table, but this was the only one with vacant chairs. Didn’t she know that she was supposed to be quiet in a library? Didn’t she care that she was disturbing people who needed quiet?
Finally he’d had enough. Throwing down his pen, he marched over to stand staring down at her. It was a moment before she raised big blue eyes to him, a question in them.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes. Shut the hell up. I’m trying to concentrate over there.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but you haven’t stopped giggling since I came in here.”
“Oh God, I’m so sorry! This is just so funny, I can’t help it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“This. I’m supposed to be creating illustrations for this kids’ book. It’s hilarious and it makes me laugh. I’m really sorry. I’ll do my best to be quiet.” She was still looking up at him. “Forgive me?” And he was lost in those eyes. Her smile was sheepish and flirtatious, her dimples popping out on her cheeks.
Suddenly he was tongue-tied, unsure of himself, and of how he should respond to her. He had led a somewhat solitary life, writing his mysteries, spending hours doing research, and for the most part, keeping a low profile. He wrote under a pseudonym and refused to participate in book tours and signings, using his own name on Facebook to praise his work. It had made him quite successful, and caused him to smile when friends would agree with his comments about his book, not knowing he was the author. As far as his friends knew, he was living off an inheritance, while trying to write a book. But there was something about her that was holding him spellbound.
“Am I forgiven?”
“One condition. Let me see what’s making you laugh.” He managed to get the words out without stumbling over them.
Turning the book around, he began reading, scanning the words quickly, and suddenly he was chuckling. Not just at the text, but mostly at the characters she had drawn and the ridiculous outfits and expressions they were wearing.
Looking up at her, he said, “You’re good. I can understand the giggling now, so I can forgive you. But that doesn’t solve my problem.”
“Getting the last chapter of my book finished, typed up and shipped off tomorrow.”
“What’s wrong with the last chapter?”
And suddenly he found himself in completely uncharted waters, outlining the basic story and explaining how he was stuck in the middle of the last chapter.
“Would you let me read that part? Maybe I can help.”
“Nobody reads my work until it’s published, but I am desperate. So come and have a look.”
They had been talking quietly, keeping voices low, so as not to disturb others. Gathering up her books and pencils, she followed him over to his table and took a seat across from him.
“Here’s what I have so far in this last chapter. I know how it ends. Just can’t come up with a middle.” He handed her his hand-written pages. “I hope you can read my scrawl.”
“Why aren’t you using a computer?”
“Because I like to edit as I type it up.”
“I guess that makes sense.” And she began to read. He sat quietly, trying not to fidget, and watched her face as she was reading, looking for reactions to his words.
Putting the papers down, she asked, “Does he have a love interest?”
“Wow! You just solved my problem. I forgot all about her, focusing on the plot. She needs to be in here, so now I know what to do.” He immediately began writing, and she was able to study him – and she liked everything she saw. Brown hair falling across his high forehead, deep brown eyes, tall and slim, and he was good-looking when he wasn’t chastising her.
Putting the pen down, he said, “By the way, I’m Andrew. What’s your name? I need it so I can dedicate this one to you.”
“Shannon. Does this mean I get a signed copy as well?” She was grinning at him, dimples again showing.
“Not only do you get a signed copy when the book is published, but it comes with a dinner invitation, right now. There’s just one condition – you must never reveal my identity as the writer of this, or any of my other books. Let’s go.”
“Agreed.” And, of course, she went.
A cowboy walks into a bar – Ooops! Wrong story!
Black tooled cowboy boots, long legs clad in dark blue denims which had ironed creases , light blue Western shirt open at the neck, sleeves rolled above the elbows, black cowboy hat held in front with both hands – and finally Sara looked at his face, only to realize she was caught staring at him, and he was staring back.
Blushing to her roots, she looked back down at the newspaper help wanted ads in front of her. Just back from three years working as nanny to her small niece and nephew in Scotland, she needed to find work, and soon.
Startled, she realized the cowboy was now standing beside her table.
“Excuse me, Ma’am. Are you Sara Webster? Rodney Black suggested I contact you to see if you would help me out. I’m Blake Collins, by the way.”
“Yes, I’m Sara. Why don’t you have a seat and tell me what you need?” If Rod sent him, then he had to be okay.
Sitting down across from her, he told her what his problem was and how she could help, if she would.
“I’m looking for a nanny for my little boy. His mother died giving birth, so I’m in way over my head trying to take care of him.”
“How old is he?”
He’s just twenty months. I bought the old Richardson farm last month. The house is in good shape but everything else needs fixing – fences and outbuildings – before I can move in some cattle and plant some crops. I just don’t have time to take care of Benny and get all of the rest done.”
“Where is Benny now?”
“My neighbor is minding him for a few hours a day, but she’s eighty-two and she finds it a bit too much, so I really need someone who could live in and be there while I’m out working. There’s a small apartment over the garage, attached to the house, so you would have your own space whenever I’m indoors. What do you think? Would you be able to help me?”
Sara had been watching him as he spoke and she could see the deep sadness, anxiety, and yes, hope, in his changing expressions.
“This has to be about the freakiest thing that has ever happened to me. I was just going through the help wanted ads looking for a job. By the time I got back from Scotland, my parents had sold the farm and moved to a condo in the city, so I’m presently camped out at the motel down the road. Staying there eats up money quickly. So yes, I can certainly help you. Would you like a resume and references?”
“Not necessary. Rod’s recommendation is good enough for me. By the way, the apartment is furnished, so you just need to bring your clothes and personal items. Do you have a car?”
“Yes. That was the first thing I did when I got back. It’s impossible to look for work without one.”
“So when can you start work? I’ll pay the going rate.”
“I can be there in a couple of hours. Have you had lunch?”
“Not yet. I haven’t even had time to think about it.”
“Well let’s order and you can tell me all about Benny.”
His face lit up immediately and she was captivated by his smile. Over lunch he talked at length about his little boy, and how he was now running all over the house, learning a few more words every day, and putting together some very short sentences. Sara had no questions or doubts about how much he loved his son and wanted only the best for him.
“Well, I’d better go. My neighbor will be wondering where I am. Do you know where the Richardson’s farm is?”
“Yes. I know just about every place around these parts. But I guess quite a bit has changed in the three years I’ve been gone.”
“Well, I’ll see you later. And thank you so much for agreeing to do this for me.” Going to the counter, he paid the tab, stuck his hat on his head, and left.
Sara was ecstatic. All of her worries were gone in an instant, and as bosses go, she couldn’t imagine a better one, and she couldn’t wait to meet Benny. Heading out the door, she went to the motel and started packing.
As soon as Benny saw Sara, he ran to her, arms up, asking to be picked up. She dropped her bags on the floor and swung him high.
“So Benny, are you a good boy?” He had his dad’s blue eyes, but his hair was a mass of blond curls, unlike his dad’s black hair.
“Good boy.” Touching her cheek with his hand, he looked in her eyes, his smile wide. Throwing his arms around her neck, he hugged her, and held on tight. Sara was lost. She had loved her niece and nephew, but this was different. Benny needed her, and so help her, she needed Benny. She loved children and had dreamed of the day when she would have a husband and babies of her own.
Blake watched, bemused, as the two of them became acquainted. For the first time since his wife died, he was looking at another woman, with a great deal of interest.
Over the next three months, they fell into a comfortable pattern. Sara had begun making all of the meals the day after she moved in, over Blake’s half-hearted protests.
“I’m not paying you to be cook and housekeeper – just to be nanny to Benny. I’m going to have to raise your wages.”
“Don’t even think about it. You have enough on your plate, I love to cook and I have plenty of free time when Benny is napping. You take care of the outside and I’ll take care of things inside. Okay?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Tipping his hat to her, he went out to repair some more fences, the image of her lodged firmly in his mind. She was average height, shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes, and dimples when she smiled. And he thought about her often – maybe too often.
“Hey, Bennie, did you know your daddy is a hottie?” Sara was sitting on the floor with him, by the open window, playing with blocks and balls. As she spoke, she was unaware that Blake was under the window, on his way back to pick up his work gloves, left behind at lunchtime. Grinning to himself, he went into the garage to find an old pair. He didn’t want to embarrass Sara, but he was really pleased to have eavesdropped on that particular conversation.
Blake always made sure he was in by six, in order to have dinner with them and to play with Benny until it was time for his bath, bed and story. Once Benny was asleep, Blake would sit in the living room, look for an old movie on TV and usually fall asleep within minutes.
This night when he picked Benny up, after he had cleaned up for dinner, and said, “How’s my boy?” Benny’s reply had Sarah turning scarlet and heading for the kitchen.
“Yes, Benny, Daddy’s hot. It’s a very hot day outside.”
Blake tried hard not to laugh out loud, knowing why she had disappeared so quickly. He kept the conversation running over dinner, aware that she was uncomfortable, but not wanting to embarrass her further.
Sara was worried about him, because he was out working by six every morning, and dog tired when he came in for the night. Tonight was no different. He was sound asleep, the TV on low. She hesitated for a few minutes, but she knew he would sleep better in his own bed, so she touched him lightly on the shoulder.
“Blake.” She spoke quietly, not wanting to startle him. He stirred but didn’t waken. So she put a little more pressure on his shoulder, and spoke a little louder.
“Blake. You need to wake up and go to bed.” This time, he opened his eyes, looked up at her, and then pulled her down into his arms and onto his lap.
“I was just dreaming about you, and about this. Have you got a kiss for this hottie?”
“You did hear what I said! And I thought you’d never ask. Pucker up, Cowboy, and lets do this.”
“Yes, Willa.” With a deep sigh, Bob prepared to listen to her latest silly version of a joke.
“Why did the hen walk out into the traffic?”
“To get across the road?”
“No, Silly. She wanted to commit henicide.”
“Get back to work right now, or I’ll fire you.” Trying not to laugh, Bob continued working. These conversations were a daily occurrence as they installed the electrical wiring, circuit breakers, switch and plug boxes, and everything else electrical that was required in the new home under construction. He was constantly amused and amazed at her ability to come up with these inane little quips, but he had to admit it relieved what could be the tedium of a sometimes-monotonous job.
She certainly didn’t fit the standard image of an electrician, with her small but compact frame encased in a blue coverall, and her brown hair tied back in a ponytail. She looked much younger than her twenty-four years. When he asked her once why she decided to be an electrician, she said, “Beats me! I didn’t want to be a teacher or a nurse, and I thought it would be something I could do without interacting too much with people.”
“You don’t like people?”
“Not in large quantities, no. I like my own company best, but you aren’t too bad.”
Willa was half-way in love with Bob, but she was very careful to keep her feelings to herself, because in no way did she want to mess up the great working relationship they had developed over the past year. She sneaked a peek at him when she knew he wasn’t looking, so she could admire his muscled arms, black hair, and long legs. She was very aware that he viewed her as a pesky little sister, and she was content to keep the status quo – for now.
Picking up the drill, she bored a hole in the two-by-four, pulled the wire through the hole, and moved over to the next two-by-four. She repeated the steps until she reached the site for the next plug-in box. She fastened it to the two-by-four and pulled the wire through and into the box.
“Why do they put these damn boxes down by the floor? I can’t imagine old people enjoy bending down this far to plug something in.”
“Well, Willa, I would imagine it was a woman who said, ‘I don’t want that ugly thing sitting up in the middle of my wall.’ How’s that for an answer?” He had been expecting some more of her nonsense, so couldn’t avoid getting back at her.
“For just this one time only, I may have to admit that you could be right, even if I don’t like sitting on the floor to put these wires in place.”
“Can I ask you something?” Bob continued working as they talked. Pulling wires and attaching switch plates and plug-in boxes didn’t require a great deal of concentration.
“You will anyway. Fire away.”
“Do you have any brothers?”
“Just four. Why?”
“That explains a great deal.” And he carried on working.
“You are weird, Bob.”
“So I’ve been told, by more than one person, on more than one occasion. Don’t you ever get down in the dumps about anything? You are so chirpy you could make a suicidal person laugh. What gets you down?”
“Only one thing ever did that.”
“And that was…?”
“When I had to learn about a trillion electrical definitions and acronyms in order to pass my exams.”
“And how many of them do you still remember?”
“One or two. I have my own names for stuff.”
“So I noticed. Very unprofessional of you.” Bob was grinning.
“As long as I get the job done, who cares? Now you get back to work, or I’ll fire you.”
“Since I’m the boss that would be interesting. Let’s finish this up and get out of here. It’s past quitting time, in case you didn’t notice.”
Pitching her hard hat, which she tended to do once everyone else had left, Willa donned her bright red baseball cap, pulling her ponytail through the back. He couldn’t help laughing the first time he saw the words on the back of her cap. It read, ‘My hat matches my neck.’
“Want to grab a bite to eat? You don’t have a wee wifey at home preparing a hot meal for you, and I’m sick of tomato sandwiches. So what do you say?” She held her breath, waiting to see what his answer would be.
“Hey yourself, Willa. That’s a great idea. But can we go to our respective apartments, grab showers, and get dressed in clean clothes? I’d like to go to a real restaurant, for a real sit-down meal. I’m tired of grabbing burgers and fries.”
“Brilliant idea. Where and when would you like to meet?”
“How about Maximillian’s at seven?”
“Sounds good.” Gathering up her tools, Willa could hardly contain her excitement. Dinner with Bob! What an amazing turn of events!
Sitting across from each other at the restaurant, they were both amused to see the changes a shower and non-work clothing made to their appearances. In Willa’s case, it went beyond that, to curls in her hair and makeup on her face. Bob found himself looking at a very attractive, albeit small woman, instead of a silly girl, and he was suddenly very aware of feeling an instant and powerful attraction to her.
For the first time in their so-called relationship of boss and employee, they began chatting as friends, and Bob was surprised at the range of topics she brought up, discussed and dropped. Then she was on to the next one. He found out very quickly that she was really interested in the future possibilities of free energy, and in the rapid changes in all forms of technology.
They paid little attention to the food, sipped the wine Bob had ordered, and the time passed so quickly they were surprised when they realized it was nine o’clock.
“Hey, Bob, let’s go down by the water for a little while. It’s too nice out to go home yet.”
Bob paid the tab and walked with her down to a bench by the water. Once seated, Willa quickly reverted to form, partly to cover her nervousness at being in a social situation with the man she knew she loved.
“What do you call an elephant with teeny tiny ears?”
“I have no idea.”
“Okay, Willa, there’s only one way I know of to shut you up.”
Taking her face in his hands, he leaned over and kissed her. Kissing him back, there was only one thought in her mind.
Hey, Bob, that’s awesome!!!
Finished topping up the tank on her little green John Deere garden tractor, Chrissy paused for a moment to admire her freshly-mowed lawn. She was proud of her little farm, her flock of laying hens, and her small herd of rental goats. It had been a struggle financially to acquire her thirty acres and bungalow, but she had done it, and now she was beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Getting away from office work and out into the fresh country air had made a big difference in her mood and personality. At thirty-three, she was enjoying her new life, only occasionally wondering if she should be raising a family instead of a herd of goats and a flock of hens.
The hens continued to lay big brown eggs, and because they were free range and fed organic layer mash, she was able to ask and get a good price for the eggs. Her goats were in great demand from spring to fall, clearing small acreages for farmers. Being able to provide and set up moveable electric fencing in order to confine the goats, was also a good selling point. Goats were not easy to keep in one spot, unless they had plenty to eat.
Today she was loading them up to be delivered to a farm fifty miles away, so she wanted to get an early start. The fencing materials were loaded into the bed of her truck, then the goats were settled in the trailer. They had learned early on that going into the trailer would get each of them a raisin, and they were very fast learners. Chrissy was constantly amazed at them and their antics when they were free to play. She had begun breeding some of them in the fall and selling the babies when they were old enough in the spring. It was another source of income for her.
With the truck and trailer loaded, she hitched them together and headed out to the goats’ new assignment.
Declan was busy in his aquaponics greenhouse, doing his best to keep up with the produce as it matured and was ready for delivery. He had been really fortunate to get in on the new Costco program. They had provided a loan to help him buy the small farm and set up the greenhouse, in exchange for a promise of organic produce. It had taken a year to get everything up and running – the fish tanks and fish, the filters and aerators, the trays for the seeds, and the lighting system. The lighting was a huge expense, but worth every penny because it allowed him to grow food all year. The cost was offset by the fact that he didn’t need a tractor and machinery or fuel to run them. He had a good well with plenty of water and because he was using aquaponics, the water didn’t need changing as it would with hydroponics – just topping up as required.
His first greenhouse was turning out to be very successful and he was on track to set up a second one, knowing that he would require help to establish and run it. He knew his neighbor down the road was a single female, raised goats and laying hens, and drove a green John Deere garden tractor. But that’s all he knew so far. They had yet to meet.
Stepping out of his greenhouse, he was surprised to see that same little green tractor being driven down the side of the road. He had seen her leave with her truck and trailer an hour ago, so now he was concerned. Jumping into his truck, he drove out to the road and quickly caught up to the tractor. Tooting his horn, he stopped and shut the truck off when the tractor pulled to a stop. Walking over to the driver, he was surprised to see a young teenage boy.
“Hi. My name is Declan. I’m just curious where you are going with the tractor.”
Hanging his head, the boy muttered, “Home to cut our grass.”
“Did you get permission?”
“Not exactly. I was going to take it right back.”
“But you took it without permission. That’s a felony.”
“Please, Mister, don’t call the police. I didn’t mean any harm. Our tractor is broken, and my dad was laid off last year from his job, so we can’t afford to fix it.” The boy was fighting off tears as he spoke.
“Okay. Here’s what we’ll do. You drive back and put the tractor where you found it. Then come and borrow mine, go home and mow the grass, and bring it back when you are finished. After supper tonight, I want you to go to the neighbor, tell her what you did and apologize.”
“Will you come with me?”
“Yes, if you’d like. What’s your name?”
“What kind of work does your dad do, Jake?”
“Anything he can find. He’s done lots of different jobs. He’s a hard worker.”
“Well, Jake, I think I may be able to solve his problem. I need help in my greenhouse. I’m putting up a second one so I will need someone to help with that, and then to work full time with me when it’s up and running. What are you doing after school is out for the summer?”
“Looking for work. I have to help earn money.”
“I’ll probably be able to give you a job as well, if you are interested.”
“Oh, yes, please! I’ll work really hard for you. I promise.”
“Okay. Off you go, get the tractor back, get mine and get your grass cut. Tell your dad to come and see me.”
Going back to his truck, Declan drove home, feeling really good about what had just happened. At thirty-eight, he was thinking he needed to work less and socialize more, but his vegetables kept him too busy. With some help maybe he could get a little free time and a life outside of gardening.
Chrissy had returned from delivering her goats, fed the hens, made herself a quick dinner and was sitting with a coffee out on the front porch when a truck drove into the yard. She could see a man and a boy, but had no idea who they were. As they walked up to the porch, she asked, “Can I help you?”
“No help needed. Jake here has something to tell you. I’m Declan, by the way – next farm on your right.”
“What is it, Jake?” Chrissy smiled at the teen, sensing his nervousness.
“I have to apologize to you because I was borrowing your garden tractor to cut our grass, when Declan stopped me and told me to take it back. I’m really sorry.”
“You could have called me and asked. I would have loaned it to you.”
“But I didn’t know you.”
“Well, no harm done. I think it’s time we all get to know each other in this neighborhood. I’m Chrissy, by the way.”
“Hi. Declan is going to give my dad a job so we will be able to fix our tractor soon.”
“That’s good news. Maybe you could help me out after school sometimes. There are lots of odd jobs around here that need doing.”
“I’d like that.” Jake was smiling, now that his apology was delivered.
“So, Declan. You are the greenhouse guy, right?”
“Right. And you are the goat lady.”
“I’d really like to talk to you about your greenhouse operation. I’ve been thinking about putting up a small one here so I can grow my own organics.”
“How about dinner tomorrow night? Six o’clock? I’ll cook – salad and barbecue.”
“That sounds good. I’ll bring dessert.” Chrissy was already planning an apple crisp.
They met, they talked, and they fell in love.
And so it was that the little green tractor made its way back home, and set in motion major happy changes in three households – two of which, before long, became one.
Sandy was once again perched on the edge of Brett’s desk, again wearing a short skirt, and again swinging her legs. She was grinning inside because she could tell he really wanted to look, but was trying his best to focus on her face.
“So what’s your problem now, Sandy?”
“We have another showing tonight, if you’re available. They are really anxious to sell because they found a house nearer to the city where he works. So can I count on you?”
“What time? And where’s the house?”
She told him where the dwelling was located. “I’ll drive this time. Does seven work for you?” Sandy was really hoping he would say yes, and he did.
Ever since Brett had joined the real estate office, and had taken over Shelley’s clients, Sandy had been working closely with him. He had made it clear that he wasn’t interested in a relationship because he was divorced and had support payments to make to his ex-wife. Fortunately they had had no children, but the payments were a real drain on his finances.
Two years had passed from his first day on the job and he was doing exceptionally well on sales. As his financial problems improved, so did his mood. He was much more relaxed and often asked Sandy to celebrate with him over dinner when one of them had made a really good sale.
Sandy knew she was falling in love with Brett, but she was gun-shy because of her failure to communicate her feelings in her last relationship. He had been a really good man, but because she wouldn’t open up to him, he finally broke it off, leaving her devastated. She knew now that if she was ever to have a happy and meaningful relationship with Brett, or anyone else, she was going to have to change her ways.
The showing was a success and they had a firm offer. Brett had left the room to take a call on his cell phone and Sandy noticed a big change in him when he returned to talk to the interested couple.
Once they closed up and were on their way back to the office, she just had to ask him. “What’s up with you? You look like a kitten who found an open butter dish.”
“Let’s go out for dinner when we’re finished at the office. I have something to share with you.”
“I’m up for that. One less lonely dinner at home to sit through.” Sandy was curious but also happy to have some time away from the office with Brett.
Over dinner later Brett finally divulged his news. “That call I took while we were at the showing was the best news ever. It was my ex letting me know that she got married on the weekend, so I can stop the support payments. It’s been a real drain on me but now it’s finally over.
Sandy signaled to a passing waiter and ordered a bottle of champagne.
“Let’s celebrate your good news. You deserve it!”
“If we drink that bottle, I won’t be able to drive home.” Brett had driven them to dinner.
“Ever hear of a thing called a taxi? I’ll bring you back in the morning to pick up your SUV.”
So they celebrated with the champagne and began talking about personal things, as their inhibitions slipped away. Brett told her about his failed marriage – how they had been together since high school, but had both changed a great deal over the years, to the point where they were just no longer compatible.
Sandy really opened up, telling Brett her problem with non-communication issues, and how it had destroyed her former relationship.
“You are communicating just fine right now, Sandy. Maybe all you needed was a bit of champagne.” Brett was smiling at her, happier than he had been in years. She was beautiful with her short black hair, blue eyes and great sense of humor. Fun to be around, she was also very professional when it came to selling properties. He realized he was beginning to think of her as more than just a co-worker, and it made him nervous. Falling in love with her was a bad idea, in case she didn’t reciprocate his feelings.
It was now late autumn and Sandy had another property to list.
“Brett, I need your help on this one. Too big for me to handle alone.”
“What’s the story?”
“A guy wants us to go see his cottage and list it for him. He needs a really quick sale because he’s moving west to work in the oil fields.”
“So where is it?”
“That’s the catch. It’s about two hours away from here on a pothole lake, in a private campground. He doesn’t own the property – just pays a nominal annual fee for his site. The lake is stocked with rainbow and speckled trout, there’s ice fishing in the winter for those who don’t mind the cold, and the campground is behind a locked gate. The road going in, once we leave the highway, is a forest access road that runs through crown land. It’s kept in fairly good repair by loggers, but is narrow with high hills and a few curves, and the drive in from the highway is close to a half hour. So – are you in? The owner gave me the key to the gate, as well as keys to the cottage. He’s not asking much because he needs to wind this up and head west.”
“Is it on the map? Or are we likely to get lost going that far into the woods?”
“He drew me a really detailed map and prepared a written description, but there’s no way I’d go in there on my own. If you are up for this, we should probably travel in your SUV because it has better road clearance than my car.”
“Would Saturday work for you?” Brett was now more than ready for this adventure.
“Saturday is fine. I’ll make us up a picnic lunch, and the weather is looking good – not too hot and not too chilly. It will be a couple of degrees cooler there because the lake is high up in the hills.”
“So let’s get an early start and enjoy the day. We can pretend we’re just going on a picnic in the countryside. And yes, I’ll drive because it sounds like we’ll need the extra clearance. Bring your camera and we’ll take photos to show to prospective buyers.”
Saturday morning was sunny and the directions were easy to follow. The bush road was narrow with limited visibility on the curves, so travel had to be slow. Once inside the gate, they found themselves in a little piece of heaven.
The cottage sat amongst a stand of pines with a large deck facing the lake. There was a dock with a boat and electric motor, solar panels for lights and running water. The owner had said there was a septic tank and a flush toilet, a heater for warm showers, and that everything, except for a few personal items, would be included in the price.
Not far from the cottage was a small library, built by the property owner, stocked with all genre of reading material, the books placed there by campers. There was also a sand beach at the end of a second large lake on the property. Everything anyone could possibly want in a vacation spot was there for some lucky buyer.
Once Brett and Sandy had taken photos of the interior as well as the exterior, including photos of the lake, they sat on the deck and enjoyed their lunch. It was quiet and peaceful, a family of ducks swimming on the water.
Brett finally spoke up, with a big grin.
“This is going to be the easiest sale ever. I already have a buyer for the cottage.”
“You do? I’m going to really hate leaving here. It is just so beautiful and peaceful.”
“Relax, Sandy. You won’t have to leave, except to go to work. I’m buying the cottage and we’ll come here whenever we can get away for a couple of days. This is just too good to pass up and the price is quite reasonable, thanks to my ex for getting herself a husband. What do you think?”
“I think I love it, and I think I could kiss you about now!” Sandy jumped up, so excited to find out that she was going to be able to come back here.
Getting to his feet, Brett put his arms around her and gave her a long and lingering kiss. “I don’t just love this place, Sandy, I think maybe I’m falling in love with you too. Does that scare you?”
“Not in the least, because the feeling is mutual. Wanna go catch a fish?”
“Give me another kiss, and we’ll talk.”
He winked at her, and that’s exactly what they did.
To my readers:
These little stories are excerpts from Sweet Nothings – Volumes One, Two and Three. Each volume contains fifteen short stories.
You can find my books here:
I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed writing them! Jean.
Sweet Nothings – Volume One
Sweet Nothings – Volume Two
Sweet Nothings Volume Three
Sweet Nothings Box Set
Volumes One, Two and Three
Each volume of the Sweet Nothings books contains fifteen short romance stories with various situations and characters finding love – even some who weren’t really looking for it. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.