Valentine ‘09
Lois Kay

Fingers restlessly drummed on the smooth surface of the desk, making a dull thrumming sound that seemed to go unnoticed by its creator. With a pensive look, a pair of blue eyes intently stared at the soft glowing monitor of a laptop. The window, displaying a recently received email that only consisted of two sentences, was not what the eyes were focused on. They stared at a phone number, written in a bigger font than the rest of the email and emphasized in bold.

The eyes traveled from the monitor to the phone on the desk and back again. Brows slightly furrowed and a soft sigh filled the air.
The restless fingers stopped their rhythmic dance and moved to the phone, softly tapping the receiver.

“Come on, Ingrid, it’s just a phone call,” a female voice spoke, filled  with annoyance.

“Sure it is,” the same voice answered with a sigh. “If it’s just a phone call, then why am I”

“Apprehensive?” the same voice continued. “That’s because you’re a chicken, who hasn’t gone out on a date for...for...for a very long time and who buries herself with work all the time and always has a ready excuse to decline any offer to go out on a date, or even meet anyone.”

With a soft groan, Ingrid Petersen leaned back in her office chair, tempted to delete the email and continue working, but somewhere in the back of her mind a nagging voice kept her from doing just that.
Her eyes traveled back to the screen and scanned the text in the email she had just received.

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. If you’re  interested in a date, call me, followed by a phone number.

“It’s time to have some fun, Ingrid. Besides, it will only be a date, not a life-long commitment.”

Again the eyes traveled from the computer screen to the phone, but this time a hand picked up the receiver while fingers quickly punched in a phone number.

“Thompson Real Estate, this is Mary Newport. How may I help you?” a pleasant voice answered.

Thrown off a little, because it was not the voice and the name she had expected, Ingrid hesitated for a moment.

“Um...hi. This is Ingrid Petersen. I am looking for Frances Billings.”

There was a brief silence on the other side, but then the smooth voice answered.

“I’m sorry, Frances is ...unavailable right now. Would you like to leave a message?”

Ingrid sighed. Figures. She finally mustered up the courage to dial the number that had been staring at her for at least ten minutes and then Frances was in a meeting, or something.

“Um...I guess...not,” she drawled, trying to compose her thoughts. “I’ll try again some other time. Do you know if there’s a time that would be better?”

The soft laugh in her ear made Ingrid smile.

“Not really, Miss Petersen,” was the answer. “There are so many people working here, it’s hard to keep track of them all. And the market is in such a bad shape right now, that our agents are willing to make unexpected appointments at all times of the day.”
“I understand,” Ingrid nodded.

“Did you want to make an appointment?”

“’s...not business related,” Ingrid answered. “I’ll call back at some other time, or I’ll drop Frances an email. Thank you, though.”

“You’re welcome,” was the answer and Ingrid could hear the smile in the other woman’s voice. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Um...I...not really, thank you,” she replied politely.

“You don’t sound too convinced,” there was a hint of amusement in the voice and Ingrid laughed.

“Convinced is not exactly the word I would go for right now,” she chuckled. “I appreciate your help, Mary. Thank you. Have a nice day.”

“Thank you. You, too,” was the answer, before the connection was broken.

“Oh, well. I tried,” Ingrid muttered, clicking the away the email on her screen. “Back to business,” she decided, pulling up the spreadsheet she had been working on all morning.




 Frances Billings entered the office building and smiled at the woman who worked at the front desk.

“Good morning, Mary. Nice day, huh?”

“If you like snow and ice, yes,” Mary replied with a chuckle. She looked up at the real estate agent, who was dressed in a slate gray suit.  Frances was a stunningly attractive women and deep down inside it pleased Mary to know that the shining blonde hair that haloed Frances’ head was artificial in its color.

With a sigh, Mary turned back to her computer to look at her schedule for that day when she suddenly remembered something.
“Oh, Frances, did that woman ever call you back?”

“Which one?” Frances grinned, sending Mary a playful wink.

“The one who called last week, Ingrid Petersen,” Mary explained.

“Oh, Ingrid,” Frances nodded. “, I don’t think so. If she did, I missed her call. I’ve been so busy.” Frances frowned and looked at her watch. It was still very early and she knew Ingrid was probably not at her office yet. With a smile, she remembered the flirtatious emails she had sent her over the last few weeks. It would be fun to see if the accountant would respond to it.

“If she calls again, put her through to my office,” Frances decided, before turning around and disappearing into her office at the end of the hallway.

“Of course,” Mary nodded, staring at the closed door with a pensive look in her brown eyes.



‘What the...?” Ingrid Petersen mumbled, scanning the print-out in front of her with squinted eyes. For some reason, the numbers didn’t make sense and, with more than a little annoyance, her eyes flew over the lines. It did not take her long to notice a trend that was wrong and with a grunt she raked her fingers through her hair.

“For crying out loud, Jim. This is basic stuff,” she grumbled, not very pleased with the quality of her co-worker’s work. “Now it has to be redone and guess who’ll be stuck with that? Right. Me.”   

The computer on her desk chimed softly and with an impatient gesture Ingrid tapped the mouse in order to bring up her inbox. When she noticed the newly arrived message was from Frances, she rolled her eyes.

“That’s right, I’m supposed to call back,” she muttered. “I should just forget about this whole date thing. It’s so not worth the trouble. Yes, she’s attractive and funny, but it’s such a hassle.”

Ingrid clicked the highlighted line on the screen and brought the message up in a new window.

One more week before Valentine’s Day......Do you have a date yet? Call me.

“No, I don’t have a date yet and I’m not sure if I still want to,” Ingrid muttered, very aware of the bad mood she was in. Maybe she should really forget about the whole thing. Besides, it was impossible that someone like Frances was attracted to her anyway. Ingrid was of average height, weight and looks. It was not like she would turn heads or stand out in a crowd. The only thing about her that was a lot more than average was her brain, something she did not flaunt, especially not, since in the past, it had scared off more than one prospective date.
Frances had the whole package: looks, wits and brains. She was charming and funny. And she turned heads wherever she went; both men’s and women’s.

She realized Frances, whom she had met through mutual friends, was probably only trying to be nice. Or maybe she, Ingrid, was the subject of a bet. The thought alone made her grow cold. Who would be able to get the stuffy, boring CPA out on a date?

Ingrid shook her head. No, she didn’t know Frances very well, but the real estate agent didn’t seem to be mean. But then, one never knew.

“Better call, before I really chicken out.”

Ingrid dialed the number, aware of the increased beat of her heart. The whole situation made her nervous and she detested that feeling. Maybe that’s why she was an accountant; numbers were logical and easy to work with. So much better than people.

The phone only rang twice before it was answered by a voice she had heard before. Unconsciously, Ingrid smiled.

“Good morning, Mary. This is Ingrid Petersen. Is Frances in?”

“Oh, good morning,” Ingrid could easily hear the smile in the other woman’s voice. “I’m sorry, miss Petersen, but Frances just walked out the door.”

“Oh, great,” Ingrid groaned. “And here I was thinking I was catching her in the office, since she just sent me an email, asking me to call her.”

“She did?” Mary asked, frowning at the sleek BMW that was leaving the parking lot in front of the office.

“You sound puzzled,” Ingrid remarked.

“Um...I...oh, I was just wondering what...Never mind. Frances has a meeting outside the office and I guess she forgot about that until the last moment.”

“So she just ran out?” Ingrid said with a wry smile.

“Um...sort of,” Mary answered hesitantly.

“It’s okay, Mary. You’re loyal to the people you work with. I appreciate that. The last thing I want is to put you in an awkward situation. I’ll just have to call back some other time, although I’m running out of time.”

“That doesn’t sound very good. Is there anything I can do? Do you...Would you want me to take a message?” Mary felt sorry for the woman she was talking to and she wondered what Frances had been thinking when she sent that email, just before she had to leave. Normally, the real estate agent was a lot more organized.

“Is there anything you can do?” Ingrid repeated with a sigh. “I don’t know, I think I desperately need some advice on dating.”

Mary, who had just taken a sip of coffee, almost snorted it out and immediately started coughing.

The unexpected response made Ingrid feel bad and she winced when she heard the other woman struggle to catch her breath.

“I am so sorry,” she was finally able to apologize. “I just blurted that out. I know not everybody is comfortable with...”

“It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with it,” Mary answered with a laugh, wiping tears from the corner of her eyes. “But is was a very unexpected reply. Unexpected and funny.”

In spite of her embarrassment, Ingrid chuckled. She had to agree it had been a very off-the-wall remark and she was glad Mary was taking it so well.

“Advice on dating? I’m not sure I am the right person to talk to,” Mary smiled.

“You can’t be worse at it than I am,” Ingrid replied, leaning back in her chair. Her blue eyes stared out of the window, noticing how intense blue the early morning sky was. “If it’s not too bold of a question;  when was the last time you went on a date?”

There was a brief silence, followed by a soft laugh.

“You really don’t want to know.”

“I do, that’s why I asked,” Ingrid answered with a smile.

“Okay, well, let me see...I think it was around the Fourth of July, so that’s about eight months ago. It was a blind date and not very successful.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t be,” Mary laughed. “One of my cousins had set me up with a friend of a friend and I basically went along to do her a favor. The date was...enlightening.”

“Oh, you can’t just leave me hanging,” Ingrid teased when Mary paused. “I’m looking for advice on dating and, if you would be willing to share your experience with me, I would be aware of at least one less pitfall.

“That’s very smooth, but not very subtle,” Mary smiled. “Alright, I’ll share. I consider myself pretty well-rounded and educated. I have brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and even know a thing or two about sports and video games. But having to spend three hours listening to a person swoon about a computer game called ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ was a little too much.”

“Oh, ouch,” Ingrid winced. “Three hours?”

“Three hours,” Mary answered solemnly. “I sent my cousin a copy of the restaurant’s bill and she had the grace to take me out for a nice dinner after that.”

“You deserved it,” Ingrid laughed, thoroughly enjoying her conversation with Mary Newport. “Thank you for sharing. I’ll make sure not to get stuck on a single subject for three hours.”

“Good. I’m sure your date will appreciate that. So, when was your last date?”

“I was hoping you’d forget to ask me that,” Ingrid sighed, smiling when she heard Mary chuckle in response. “Let me see, yours was eight months ago. I think I’m the winner here, because my last date is more than a year ago. Probably closer to a year and a half.”

“Wow, that is a long time. I take it that date didn’t go as well, either?”
“Not really,” Ingrid answered, her fingers playing with a pencil that had been laying on her desk. “I spend a few hours with a very sweet person who was...very sweet,” Ingrid sighed. “I didn’t find our conversation to be very...,” she paused and let out a sigh.                        


“Exciting?” Mary helped and Ingrid could hear the amusement in her voice.

“That, too. Interesting, I guess is the word to use. I might sound like a snob and who knows, maybe I am, but I enjoy conversations that encompass multiple subjects, not just tv shows and the latest Oprah show.”

“Snob,” Mary teased and Ingrid laughed.

“It sounds really terrible when I say that aloud,” she confessed.

“I know what you mean, though,” Mary replied. “I’ve been on dates like that. The person is very nice and sweet, but that’s just it. No sparks, not much depth.”

“I’m glad it’s not just me,” Ingrid smiled. Reluctant to end the conversation, she cast a look at the little clock on the bottom of her computer screen.

“I guess I need to let you get back to work,” she thought she detected a hint of regret in Mary’s voice. “What kind of work do you do anyway?”

“I’m a CPA,” Ingrid answered. “Not very exciting, either, but I promise I will not bore any future dates with what I do. That is, if I ever get another date.”

“Have faith,” Mary smiled. “And for what it’s worth, being a CPA doesn’t sound that boring to me.”

“Thank you. You’ve restored my confidence in humanity,” Ingrid joked.

“Great, that means I’ve done my mandatory good deed for this day,” Mary quipped. “But, to return to our earlier conversation; do you want me to give Frances a message? She’d probably make a better date than the one you had a year and a half ago or than the one I had.”

“I’m tempted, but no,” Ingrid, who had almost forgotten about Frances exhaled slowly. “It would be weird to have you arrange a date for the two of us. I’ll try again later. Do you have any idea when she’ll be back?”

“Probably around noon, unless something else comes up,” Mary answered.

“I’ll try again then.”

“Would you mind if I tell her you called? That’s the least I can do.”

“Sure, thanks,” Ingrid smiled. “It was nice chatting with you, Mary. I’m sorry I kept you from your work.”

“It was a nice distraction,” was the answer, which made Ingrid’s eyebrows rise. Was that a flirtatious comment? “Have a nice day.”

“You too. Bye, Mary.”

“Bye, Ingrid.”

After she had put down the phone, Ingrid leaned back in her chair again, her  eyes staring through the window, taking in the blue sky and the  show- covered hills that stretched out behind the office building. Her bad mood had evaporated.


Mary had just finished a report when she saw Frances walking into the lobby of the building. The blonde was wearing an immaculate navy- colored suit and looked her usual professional self.

“Before you disappear again, I have a message for you,” Mary spoke up as soon as Frances came within speaking distance.

“Please tell me I sold the Wrights’ ranch house,” Frances replied, perching herself on the corner of Mary’s desk.

“You might have, Evan took that phone call,” Mary answered, smiling when Frances’ eyes lit up. “Listen, Ingrid Petersen called. Apparently, just after you sent her an email in which you asked her to call you?”

“I did?” Frances frowned. Her brown eyes were puzzled when she looked at Mary. “That wasn’t very smart of me,” she sighed. “I take it she called.  Ingrid, I mean?”

“She did. I asked her if I could take a message, but she told me she’d try again later.” Mary leaned back in her office chair and sent the woman on her desk an inquisitive look.

“You’re not leading her on, are you?”

Frances looked genuinely surprised and quickly shook her head when she noticed the stern glance that was sent her way.

“Oh, no. I would never do that to Ingrid. She’s way too nice to do that.”
Frances paused and played with the cord of the phone, twirling it around her fingers. “Besides, Mary, you should know me better than that.”

“I do,” Mary sighed. “It’s just that...never mind. She’ll probably call back sometime today. So, you’re trying to go on a date with her?”

“I’ve been trying to get her to date for a while now,” Frances confessed. “I think she’s finally caving in, which is good.”

“What’s she like?”

Frances looked at Mary, who answered her glance with a curious one and she smiled.
“Ingrid is very smart and very funny, if she lets herself. She can be very guarded and it’s not always easy to see through that. She’s a very sensitive soul and having gone through a very bad relationship a few years ago didn’t really help matters a lot. She’s been working almost seven days a week and it’s time for that to end.”


“So, you’re trying to get her out more? It’s not that you’re attracted to her? You are leading her on then.”

“No, I’m not,” Frances defended herself, almost laughing when she noticed the fire in Mary’s eyes that had gone from brown to almost black.

“Ingrid doesn’t believe it when she’s told, but she’s actually very attractive. I find her to be very cute. She’s a little shorter than I am and has thick, brown hair. She has the most amazing blue eyes and a beautiful smile.  I’d like her to smile more often.”

“Hence the date,” Mary concluded with a sigh.

“Hence the date,” Frances nodded. The real estate agent cast a look at her watch and slowly rose from her spot on the desk.

“If Ingrid calls back and I’m not around, tell her any restaurant is fine with me. And seven o’clock is a perfect time.”

“Is there a day attached to all this information?” Mary asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Valentine’s Day, of course,” Frances grinned, disappearing in her office, well aware of the, almost angry look Mary was sending her.


“Let me guess, she’s left. Again,” Ingrid said, after Mary had answered the phone.

“I’m sorry, Ingrid. The only defense I have for her is that she really is very busy right now. She’s closing a deal on a house.”

“That’s important,” Ingrid acknowledged. “Well, will she back this afternoon?”

“Probably, but I have no idea what time that would be,” Mary answered with genuine regret. “She did tell me to let you know that any restaurant is fine with her and seven o’clock is a perfect time.”

“Oh,” Ingrid muttered, surprised. “So, I guess she still wants to do this then.”

“I’m pretty sure. Especially after hearing her sing your praises this morning,” Mary smiled.

“This whole thing is not exactly as a Valentine’s date should be, though,” Ingrid mused. “Isn’t it all supposed to be a bit more romantic?”

“Preferably,” Mary laughed, appreciating the other woman’s sense of humor.

“Oh, well. Frances is nice company and at least we’ll get a good dinner out of it. I’m surprised though, I’d expected someone like Frances to have a hot date for Valentine’s. Are you sure she wants to go ahead and meet on the 14th? We could have dinner some other time.”

Mary noticed the switch from ‘date’ to ‘having dinner’, but decided not to mention that.

“What restaurant would you suggest?” Mary heard Ingrid ask and for a brief moment she felt like whacking Frances in the back of her head. What an insensitive way of dealing with her friend.

“Well, there are a few choices,” Mary mused. “I guess it all depends on the atmosphere you’re seeking. “The Prince” is a good place to eat, but it’s very expensive and the setting is very romantic, so it’s probably a place where you’ll see a lot of couples on Valentine’s Day. “In the Inn” is good and very casual. And then there’s “John and John”, which is always a good place to go. You’ll find a lot of couples there on Valentine’s, but they would not look at you funny if you just want to have dinner with a friend.”

“John and John”, I don’t think I’ve been there yet.”

“You’ll  like it. John French and John Caper are the owners. They’re actually friends of mine. It’s a busy place, so you’d want to make reservations.”

“Okay, I will,” Ingrid smiled, wondering why having dinner with Frances seemed less and less appealing. She refused to ponder why.

“Let me know if you have a problem getting a table. I could give them a call.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you, Mary.”

“You’re welcome, Ingrid. Bye.”


Ingrid slowly put down the phone and realized she felt a little lost. For a long time, her friends had encouraged and, sometimes pushed her to go out on a date, to try and meet someone and she finally caved in and accepted Frances’ offer. But it was something she now regretted. She knew Frances was good company and she would have a nice time having dinner with her, but why did it feel wrong to go ahead with this Valentine’s Day date that really did not feel like one?

Ingrid sighed and opened the internet browser to search for “John and John’s” phone number.


It was late Saturday afternoon, Valentine’s Day, and Mary Newport’s eyes were dark when she stepped inside the office. She was ready to tell Frances exactly what she thought about her and then some. How could she do a thing like that? On Valentine’s Day. Knowing she had a date. How incredibly insensitive.

“You look like you’re ready to breathe fire,” an amused voice sounded and Mary whirled to face the owner of it.

“Frances May Billings, you should be flogged!” Mary almost spat. “What the heck do you think you’re doing? It’s almost six.”

“I know. I can tell time,” Frances answered with a shrug. “It’s not like I did this on purpose, you know. The business is so bad right now, I’d take anything at anytime. Even on a day like today. This client is not going to wait. If I can make this deal tonight, our numbers will stay out of the red. You know the reality of it.”

“I do,” Mary sighed, taking off her coat and throwing it on the back of her chair. “But that doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“Oh, come on. It’s not your date that’s ruined,” Frances teased. “In fact...” the blonde paused and shot the other woman an pleading look. “I’ve got a favor to ask of you.”

“You mean me coming in on my day off is not enough?” Mary joked with a wry smile.

“Apparently not,” Frances chuckled. “Listen, I’m supposed to meet Ingrid at ‘John and John’ at seven, which is within an hour. I tried to reach her, but I don’t have her cell phone number and...”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Mary interrupted with blazing eyes. “First of all you’re impossible for her to get a hold of, then you let her set up the entire date, then you have to cancel and you don’t even have her phone number. Remind me never to date you.”

“You’re my cousin. I wouldn’t date you,” Frances replied dryly.

“You’re infuriating.”

“I know,” Frances nodded with a serious expression. “All you said, it’s true. I’m guilty. I need to be flogged, but not tonight. I promise, I’ll try to make it up to her.”

“You’d better,” Mary. “Or I disown you as a family member.”

“You wouldn’t. I’m your favorite cousin,” Frances smiled and there was a twinkle in her eyes.

“Don’t push your luck,” Mary responded with something that almost sounded like a growl.

“Mary, my cousin who is almost like the sister I’ve never had, would you, please, please, please, go to ‘John and John’ in my place? I’d hate to think Ingrid is just sitting there, waiting, feeling lonely, embarrassed and stood up.”

“Do you know you have a way with words?” Mary snorted. “Yes, I’ll go. But only because Ingrid sounds too nice to be treated this way. Scumbag.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you too,” Frances said, throwing her arms around the other woman to give her a quick hug.

When the blonde took a step back, she pulled an envelope out of her coat and handed it to Mary.

“Would you, please, give this to Ingrid? Tell her I will talk to her later. Please?”

“You’re too charming for your own good,” Mary muttered, grabbing the envelope. She pulled her coat from the chair and stuffed the envelope in its pocket. “I’ll make sure to charge dinner to our corporate credit card.”

“Please do,” Frances smiled. “Thank you, Mary. I mean it.”


Ingrid looked around the invitingly lit room. She had to admit, as she looked around, that the venue was very charming. ‘John and John’ looked like a log cabin and was situated just out of town, on top of a hill, surrounded by tall pine trees. The view of the distant hills and frozen lake was spectacular. The wait staff was genuinely friendly and the owners seemed to know everybody.
Ingrid had been a little early, but it had been no problem to seat her. The restaurant’s policy was that a reserved table was available the entire evening. From her cozy spot in the corner, she had a good view of the entire place and she amused herself with watching the staff taking care of the variety of guests. There seemed to be all sorts of couples, gay and straight and even families with children. The place was relaxed and exuded a sense of peace.

Ingrid sipped her tea and her eyes lit on a new guest just arriving. A woman whom she estimated to be somewhere in her thirties. She was casually dressed in a pair of jeans and a comfortable looking fleece sweater. Her short, dark blond hair framed a face with a sensitive looking mouth, a slightly upturned nose and a pair of attractive  brown eyes.

When the woman caught her observing her, Ingrid quickly cast down her own eyes. Ingrid thought that the woman looked vaguely familiar, but she could not remember where she might have met her before. The woman was not stunningly beautiful, but her face was very pleasant and Ingrid didn’t think she would have forgotten her face if they had previously met.

When she looked up again and noticed the woman was walking straight toward her table, Ingrid felt herself grow warm. She did not understand why her approach made her feel so apprehensive, but it did. But then, maybe she only looked  like she was heading to her table.
Ingrid kept her eyes cast down and her attention on her tea, determined to fight the temptation to look up again.

“Ingrid?” a familiar voice sounded, hesitant and with a slight quiver.

Ingrid looked up into the pair of brown eyes, watching uncertainly and she quickly nodded.

“Hi,” the woman now smiled and extended her hand. “I’m Mary Newport.”

For a moment, the world seemed to freeze and so did Ingrid Petersen. She was aware of the fact that her face must have had the strangest expression, but for a few very long moments she felt too paralyzed to do something about it.

“Mary,” she finally managed to say, her voice barely audible. Then her manners finally kicked in and she quickly pushed back her chair and jumped to her feet, so she could grab the extended hand.

“Yes, it’s me, I’m Ingrid Petersen. Hi. Mary. What a surprise.” A broad smile lit up Ingrid’s face. “It’s so nice to meet you. Face-to-face.”

“It is,” Mary replied with an answering smile. “Frances asked me to take her place. Some closing deal had come up and she really couldn’t get out of it. She tried to get a hold of you, but couldn’t and...” Mary took a deep breath, feeling she was babbling. “Anyway, here I am.”

“There you are,” Ingrid smiled. “Sit down, please,” she invited the other woman, gesturing at the chair. She looked up and nodded at the waitress who smiled and approached the table.

“Can I get you anything to drink, Mary?” she asked.

“A glass of water for now, please, Jenn. Thanks,” Mary smiled. “I told you I know the owners,” she added with a laugh when she saw the surprise on Ingrid’s face.

“You sure did,” Ingrid nodded, not able to stop smiling. “Wow, I’m still trying to get over the surprise.”

“A good one, I hope,” Mary tried, glancing up at Ingrid and realizing why her cousin had been so enthusiastic about the color of Ingrid’s eyes.

“Very good,” Ingrid nodded, very pleased with the unexpected flutter in her stomach.
“Frances gave me a note for you,” Mary remembered, pulling the envelope from her pocket. She handed it to Ingrid, who opened it, revealing two small cards. One had Mary’s name printed on it and with a quizzical frown she handed it to the woman across the table.

Ingrid, her card started, I apologize for my devious actions, but you have to admit, setting you up for a date is almost impossible. I sincerely hope the plan worked this time. I promise Mary, my cousin, will be a better fit than the sweet girl with the Oprah Show obsession. I have wanted to set the two of you up for the longest time and I think I finally managed. Enjoy your dinner and enjoy the company. Mary is very dear to me and I hope that, in time, she’ll become special to you as well. Love, Frances

“We’ve been set up,” Ingrid said softly, handing her card to Mary to read.

“I know,” was the soft answer. A pair of brown eyes looked up at her and Ingrid could not help smiling.

“I wish I could be mad at her, but I’m not,” Mary confessed. “I’m glad it’s me who is sitting here with you and not my cousin.”

“I am too,” Ingrid nodded, the smile on her face painting her eyes even bluer. “I’m very glad. More than that,” she added in a soft voice. “I’m very happy about it.”

“I feel we’ve got a lot to talk about,” Mary said, her eyes filled with a mixture of excitement and amusement.

“Except ‘Dungeons and Dragons’‘, Ingrid remarked and they both laughed.


The end       
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