Secrets, Surprises and Sofas: Mysti's Girls

by Sam Ruskin

Gillian was so excited she could scarcely wait to drop Max off at work that morning. It was all planned. The men were coming today. She told a little white lie about having a business lunch scheduled, but she knew Max would understand once she knew about the surprise. Gillian smiled as she carefully watched her lover enter the building before turning the car to go back the way they came.

On the short drive back to the home they shared, Gillian found herself thinking about her big surprise. It was indeed a hard decision. She admitted to herself how attached she was to the worn, old sofa. Funny but she could still recall the day her Father purchased it. How she teased him about his cumbersome choice of furniture. He was not to be moved. The salesman saw him coming, she grinned. All these years later, she admitted, many sweet memories of cuddling next to him while he read Dr Seuss or even vocabulary words flooded her with smiles. Yes, the pit group was a keeper of a kind of scrap book and it would be hard to say goodbye. Still, she reminded herself, it was old and the nice new sleeper sofa and matching Loungers made far more sense. The added features of heat and massage were especially for Max, who often overdid it and had trouble unwinding at times.No, she chastised herself. No sadness over a piece of furniture. This was a gift for Max. A gift of love. And she was absolutely fine with it, too. Right up until she walked into the living room.

Dont look at me like that. Youre just a sofa. A piece of furniture, for crying out loud. Gods, Gillian. Youre so in trouble, girl. Nowyoure talking to the damn thing. The giggling blonde shook her head and sank into the soft warmth of the couch. 

Closing her green eyes, she sighed as the lingering magic of Maxs cologne drifted toward her nostrils. A smile lifted the edges of her lips as she recalled the first time she and the love of her life sat together there. Tears threatened. Her resolve to bid the couch adieu wavered as memories of Maxs first I love you tipped the scales.

BRRRRRRINNNNNNNNG!

Hello? Gillian was somewhat startled by the telephone.

Um. Ms. Montgomery?

Yes.

This is the delivery from Aurhaus Furniture. We were asked to call when we got close. We are about five minutes away. What would you like us to do? 

The voice was deep with a very young quality to it. She wondered if her image of a college kid would turn out to be accurate.

Yes, please. I would like to get this done and it is about lunch time already.

The man nodded, wondering what lunch had to do with delivering furniture. Sure thing, Miss. Be right there.

Emotionally charged emerald eyes swept over the beloved sofa once more. 

Well, goodbye old friend. I wish Ithought this through better and found a place to put you instead of sending you away. You hold so many pieces of my life, large chunks of my heart and soul. Welp, no time for that now. They will be here any minute.

Gillian knelt and buried her face into the sweet, spicy scent of her best friend......and kissed the sofa goodbye. Then she went to open the door as she could already hear the heavy slamming of truck doors.

Max hurried into her office so she could open the blinds and wave to Gillian before she pulled away. Watching the sexy blondes car turn and go in the WRONG direction, Max lifted her brow and wrinkled her forehead.

Now what do you think youre doing there, Emmy? Keeper of my soul. I knew you were up to something. Now just who is it you are having this secret lunch with, my love? Should I be worried?

The secretary peeked around the corner. Excuse me. Max?

Turning from the window overlooking the busy street, the tall brunette grinned. Its all right. I was just talking to myself. No need to call the nut squad just yet.

The nut squad? Me? No way. They might grab the wrong nut.

 Both women laughed. Oh really? Max finally interjected. And which nut would that be? Up went that well sculpted brow.

Not a chance boss. Im not about to answer that one. I may be a nut but I DO know who signs my paycheck. The secretary snickered slightly and blushed.

Good answer, came the quick witted reply. Now, Im assuming you have another reason for wanting my attention. Not that Im complaining, mind you, she winked.

Oh. You are such a tease. Like I stood a chance. I just might have to tell small, blonde and sexy just to see you squirm, the redhead snickered.

Um. About that paycheck. Both eyebrows lifted on that one.

Paycheck. Right. Well, I will file it away for a later date then. Max, you have a client waiting. He doesnt have an appointment but youre not booked and I think youll like this one.

Mmmmm. Okay. Just give me a minute and then bring him in, Peg.

The man was in his early fifties but his eyes looked older, somehow.His salt and pepper hair look distinguished against the gray pin-striped suit with the navy shirt. Max found his color choice interestingly conservative and then laughed out loud when she spotted the Mickey Mouse tie.

Her newest client chuckled softly. Yeah, the tie. Its a gift from my cardiologist. She said I needed to laugh more; that I took things too seriously and the stress would kill me if I didnt learn to lighten up. She was nearly prophetic.

Im sorry, Max said.

Dont be, smiled Dan Haulderman. I said nearly. I beat the heart attack. Now I have lots of stress buster ties. It keeps me, and others, from taking life too seriously. Too often, my bank balance seems to preceded me into a room.

Putting on her most professional, but not overly serious, face, Max spoke. Now that you mention it, Mr. Haulderman...

Dan, please, he interrupted.

Nodding, she acknowledged the request. Very well. Dan it is. Dan, she paused for a moment to study his expression. Dan, it occurs to me that a man with your money and influence could have easily hired a regular and far more well know detective agency. Why me? Why my firm?

Well, Ms. Murray, as you have probably surmised this is personal business, not company business. Besides, you did some fine work for my personal assistant a few years back. You might say you come highly recommended.

Oh? Who is your assistant, if I may ask?

The mans countenance lit as he spoke her name. Whoever she was, reasoned Max, she was way more than an assistant.

Her name is Gwen Worth. That is her name was Gwen Worth. Now it is Gwen Haulderman.

Ahhh, a lot of understanding rested in the brunettes smile.

You helped her find her brother a few years ago. They were separated as toddlers when their parents were killed in a train wreck?

Yes. Gwen. I do remember her and her brother. Gary, wasnt it?

Why yes, it was. It is. I must say, I am impressed. With all the people you help locate I did not expect you would remember my wife and her brother. You are exactly the way she said you were.

What was is that, if I may ask? Max queried.

One in a million, came the brief but clear reply.

The meeting took all morning but it promised to be a most intriguing case, Max thought as she drove toward home. Her afternoon client rescheduled at the last minute and lunch at home seemed far better than stewing in the office. She knew, at least she TOLD herself she knew, there was no reason to feel so jealous just because Gillian was having lunch with someone else. After all, she said it was business. Still, Max never totally managed to exorcise her demons and niggling self doubt continued to taunt her almost daily.It had been over a month since Gillian agreed to marry her and the joining was planned for a special date, only weeks away.The thought of the joining ceremony brought a smile to worried lips.

Max, what are you so worried about? You know Gill would never cheat on you. For Zeus sake, the woman loves you. Hell, she might even love you as much as you love her. Whod a thought that could happen? To ME, that is. 

Adjusting the radio once more, the tall worrier grinned to herself. Tonight, my love. Dinner and dancing for you. I love you too much to cook for you, so it is chicken curry from Jacks. I have something very special in mind for us to dance to....in the living room. And when the music stops on the stereo well make some of our own on that wonderful sofa. What was it your father called it? Ah yes, the pit group. Couch, sofa, pit group. None describe it so well as heaven. I found heaven on that oversized, well-worn, faded, wonderful sofa. Gods willing, tonight we will go there again.

Turning the corner of their street, Max crinkled her brow when she saw the Aurhaus truck in the drive BEHIND her lovers vehicle. Before she could even begin to run terrifying scenarios through her jealous brain, two young men stepped out the front door wearing Colorado State University tee shirts and carrying THE SOFA!

What the hell!!?! Max burst from the car before the engine even stopped rumbling.

Gillian was looking at the new furniture and trying not to cry. Already she missed the pit group. She felt the hot tears build in her eyes as she blinked hard, struggling for control. This was for Max. It was just a piece of furniture. Wasnt it?

Um, Ms. Montgomery? the confused student/mover called into the open door.

Max pushed past him, Gillian? Gill? Honey what is going on with the....? Her lovers tear streaked face stole her words. She practically leaped the remaining distance between them, taking the love of her life into her arms.

Max! Why arent you at work? Nevermind. Just hold me. Gillian crumpled into Maxs strong embrace.

By this time the other mover came to the entrance. Both young men stood, spellbound.

Gillian, honey? What happened? And what are they doing with the pit group? Max softly stroked the blondes face, awaiting an answer.

Sniffling hard, the shorter woman glanced about the room. It was at that moment Max noticed, for the first time, the new furniture. A light of comprehension clicked inside her head. She closed her blue eyes briefly, nodded and smiled.

Let me guess, Max began. You bought new furniture. Her sexy lover nodded against her breast. Its a gift, a surprise. Another nod. You made up the thing about the business lunch to keep the secret. Yet another gentle nod. She was batting a thousand. And big bad Max comes home yelling and makes you cry? The soft nod became a vigorous shaking. No? Then why are you crying sweetheart?

The carrot topped tee shirt leaned toward the other one. Sweetheart?

The sandy haired tee shirt scowled and shook his head at his companion. Theyre a couple. Get a life.

Max lifted the chin belonging to the other half of her soul. Gillian, honey? Whats wrong? Why are you crying? Blue eyes flared larger. They didnt ..

No. Max, honey. No. Theyre fine.

A low growl. Lucky for them. And their kinfolk, too.

Gillian couldnt help it. Tears still sneaking down her cheeks she laughed. Max, you are priceless. You know that?

Me?

Yes, you. Look at them. Theyre just kids. And theyre still standing. Do you really think I would let anyone else touch me and live?

Now it was Maxs turn to laugh. Gods, baby. You are so good for my ego.

Green eyes danced with mischief. Oh? Thats what Im good for, eh?

Gulp.

I thought that might be your response. Oh Max, I wanted to surprise you with the new furniture but its not just a piece of furniture. Not to me. Not at all. Gillian only just managed to get it all out before the crying started in earnest again.

Sweetheart, of course it isnt. Its more than a sofa, a couch, a pit group. Its where we first made love. It is a piece of heaven right here in our living room. Now lets bring it back in here where it belongs. OK?

Sniffling, the artist kissed the silk blouse she just soaked with salty tears. But what about the new stuff?

Moving her lips into a pucker and off to the side, the tall investigator wrinkled her brow and thought a moment. How about if we put the pit group in the old family room we just cleared out?

But I thought we were going to turn that into a work out room so we didnt always have to go downstairs to the gym?

Oh we are, my love. We are. Up went that brow. Then a quick waggle of both brows and crystal blue eyes melted into emerald green.

Mmmmmmmmm, was all the illustrator got out before her lips were captured and the room was filled with stereo moans.

The college kids/movers, to their credit, didnt wait to be told. They found the room in question, moved the pit group into it and were gone before Max or Gillian noticed anything outside their own embrace. When they realized what happened, Gillian blushed and Max calledAurhaus and authorized a tip that matched a full weeks salary for each of the young men.

Honey. Dont you think that was a bit much for a tip? Gillian questioned.

Are you kidding? I would have emptied my account to save that sofa.

I love you, Max Murray.

I love you, Gillian Montgomery.

Max?

Hmmm? asked the tall one who was, even then, lifting the artist into her arms and moving toward the work out room.

How do you feel about the name Gillian Montgomery Murray?

Max very nearly dropped her smiling lover. You serious?

Yes. You mind? Gillian licked a lobe.

Depends. How do you feel about Maxine Murray Montgomery?

Gillian, who was standing in the doorway now, on her own feet, absolutely beamed. Reaching out, she took Maxs hand in her own and pulled them toward the sofa. Not knowing where to put it the tee shirts left it in the middle of the otherwise empty room. Crystal blue and emerald green looked at the piece of furniture that became so much more to both of them. It was Gillian who spoke first.

It sounds like the perfect blending of two souls who, perhaps, are meant to be together, always.

I like the way you think, my soul. I truly do. Max pulled Gillian atop her on the sofa and they snickered as the timer started the stereo.

Well, here we are again

I guess it must be fate

We've tried it on our own

But deep inside we've known

We'd be back to set things straight

I still remember when

Your kiss was so brand new

Every memory repeats

Every step I take retreats

Every journey always brings me back to you

After all the stops and starts

We keep coming back to these two hearts

Two angels who've been rescued from

the fall

And after all that we've been through

It all comes down to me and you

I guess it's meant to be

Forever you and me

After all

When love is truly right

This time it's truly right

It lives from year to year

It changes as it grows

And oh the way it grows

But it never disappear 

After all the stops and starts

We keep coming back to these two hearts

Two angels who've been rescued from 

the fall

And after all that we've been through

It all comes down to me and you

I guess it's meant to be

Forever you and me

After all

Always just beyond my touch

Though I needed you so much

After all what else is living for

After all the stops and starts

We keep coming back to these two hearts

Two angels who've been rescued from 

the fall

And after all that we've been through

It all comes down to me and you

I guess it's meant to be

Forever you and me

After all

I love you Gillian. I always have. I always will. Can we make a deal?

I loveyou too, Max. What kind of deal?

I like surprises, honey. Your surprises. I really do. Im even learning to appreciate your little secrets.

Yeeeeeeees?

Well, I was just thinking. No more secrets, surprises and sofas, OK?

By which you mean, No getting rid of our first love nest, right? Asked the smirking and completely grateful bejeweled blonde.

Exactly, grinned blue eyes.

       As the stereo did what it was trained and carefully programmed to do, it replayed the couples favorite song and the dance of love began anew. Lucky Max. Lucky Gillian. Lucky sofa.

= )
*More adventures with Mystis girls to come and the next book is not far off. Thanks for reading. samanthaeruskin@gmail.com

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