~ Along Came Sally ~

JM Dragon


© by JM Dragon 2005

e-mail:  jmdragon


Love/Sex: This story features relationships between adult women. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live or if you are  under the age of 18, find something else to read. There are loads of general stories out there.

Language: No strong language.

Violence: There is violence in this story.

Hurt/Comfort: There are scenes of heartache to be dealt with by the characters.

Part Two

Saturday had turned out to be better than I'd hoped. My interest in the Maguire family skeletons had diminished when reaching my house and switching on the lights the fuse box in its wisdom decided to short on me. Three hours later, after failing in my attempts to fix the problem, I called in George Sheffield the electrician from the next town. For many years George's father was the electrician for our town, but died of a heart attack and George, who already had a thriving business of his own, decided to close up his father's business. I guess it isn't until you need the services that you realise that maybe a resident electrician in town is a good idea. George made his appearance around six in the evening giving me the opportunity to be decadent by reading by candlelight and watching the surf for several hours. I have to confess the relaxation of doing absolutely nothing had been a boon.

"I take it that someone who isn't a professional electrician has been dabbling with the fuses?" George said as his flashlight scanned the fuse box. George was a nice man - nothing striking at all in appearance or personality he was just…nice. He was my age and we had attended the same high school, which meant that he knew…

"George, do you recall a girl back in high school named Sally Maguire?"

Needless to say by his melting expression I figured he was another who had a crush on her back then.

"Oh sure. Who in their right mind wouldn't remember her? She was the best looking girl in school. Why do you ask?"

"My parents happened to mention the family recently that was all." I tried not to show my interest but even George wasn't fooled.

With a wink he grinned, or was it smirked, as he replied, "Shame the family had all those problems back then. Still, I guess if she came back here we'd recognise her. No one that good-looking could change that much."

"I guess not." He had known about the family problems too. How is it that I managed to be the only one in town who didn't know anything about this?

An hour later my electricity was back to normal and George left me with a very reasonable bill for his efforts. I helped him and his family find their current home at a good price and he had always indicated if I ever needed any work done it would be at a sensible cost. He was true to his word.

As I flicked through the paper I was contemplating what to do with my Saturday evening now it was back on track. Usually I went to the cinema or Sharkie's bar for a few drinks. Collecting my house keys, I checked that Ferdy was happy - when isn't he? My cat has the life of luxury - then, I walked the five minutes towards Sharkie's. On Saturdays you could always rely on several locals being there at any time you might drop in. Tonight was no different as I smiled at Christie the barperson and ordered my beer and sat down on a stool. I was in the middle of two regulars to the bar, Andrew Regan, who owned the local garage, and Dan Forester who managed the bank branch in town.

"Hi guys, how's business been this week?"

Dan sipped his beer and smiled warmly at me. He was what I'd call a sensible guy who didn't take chances in anything, not even his private life. He'd married his childhood sweetheart at twenty-one and now had two children who attended the local high school. He drove a small sedan and wore off the rack business suits most of the time. When he didn't, pressed slacks with a shirt slightly open at the top button was his fashionable taste. Basically, he was mister average. He might moan like many about living in a small town, but he had never made any plans that I knew of to live elsewhere.

"The usual Angela. What about you? I imagine it's kinda slow this time of the year I suppose."

"Hmm, yes. It means I get to do some of the mountain of paperwork that I generally hate doing." I could feel myself gritting my teeth at the thought.

Andrew Regan, grinning toothlessly at me, poked me gently in the arm. He had lost his four front teeth in a bar brawl after a football meet several years earlier. He refused to have the dentist make him look presentable. He called them part of his rakish looks which didn't appear to deter the ladies. He always managed to have a woman on his arm at any of the local festivities. He was about ten years younger than me and had tried his natural charm on more than one occasion on me. He failed dismally of course - he was definitely not my type. But, we were good buddies instead and I would listen to his woes of financial troubles and love triangles more often than I care to remember.

"Hey Angi, Jane was showing the Grey House to someone today. Don't tell me that old place has finally found a buyer?"

"Yes, we had an enquiry yesterday from an ex-local," I finally managed to say in my best realtor voice. It was the one that indicated you were very knowledgeable about something when in actual fact you didn't know a darned thing. Yes, I suppose Jane could have called me and there were times yesterday when I would have dearly loved to drop by and see how she was doing. Or more what was happening. However, we had a made a pact that unless it was absolutely imperative that we need contact each other on our days off it was taboo. Obviously Jane thought that yesterday was just another day.

"An ex-local hey, anyone we know?" Dan asked peering up from his beer. His interest peaked at the change in conversation.

"I can't say for sure who it is. I wasn't at work today. Jane knows the criteria for the house sale and won't show it to anyone who doesn't fit the bill." I desperately wanted to ask them if they knew the Maguire family in any way. But, I dare not break my professional oath and speak out of turn about who might be interested in the property.

"Can't understand why anyone would want to head back here if they had a place in the city," Dan said with a degree of bitterness. In my eyes he only had to blame himself if he was still in the town. Surely his bank will transfer him elsewhere if he enquires about it. They have branches everywhere.

Andrew gave out a low wolf-whistle which was pitched differently from the norm since his missing front teeth changed the whole tone. Knowing him as well as we did, Dan and I both turned to look at the object of his interest. There has to be a female involved somewhere.

"Will you both take a look at what has just floated in this joint?"

Dan and I both did. Then Dan let out a slow breath of appreciation as the woman, who had walked in alone, stood at the entrance of the bar scanning the tables. It appeared as if she was looking for someone and then she turned her attention to the bar. I didn't steer my eyes away fast enough as the most brilliant blue eyes caught me staring. I was trapped and my heart began beating as fast as it had ever done in my life, as she continued to stare directly into my eyes.

"Do you know her Angi?" Andrew whispered as he saw the woman's attention locked on my seat.

"No, at least I don't think so," I managed to reply and then the gaze dropped as she began to walk towards the bar.

"Well, we'll know soon enough she's heading in this direction. Maybe it's gonna be my lucky night."

I wanted to kick Andrew for his crude remark. As my eyes followed the fluid movement of the woman heading towards us I couldn't move. When she stopped next to Dan I thought a good move on her part. We all smiled inanely as she stared at us briefly before she gave us a small smile of her own.

I discreetly studied the woman's face. Her bone structure appeared to have been sculptured and her face, which had a few lines around the eyes, was flawless. She had the most magnificent golden hair which was cut short. Her athletic looking body moved considerably more graceful than anything I could ever hope to accomplish. There was definitely something about her profile that was familiar. My eyes wandered to her hair again and it dawned on me exactly what was recognisable. Can this be Sally Maguire?Oh my god that woman is on my mind again. I really have to stop this sudden obsession with the woman. It was all a long time ago.

Andrew chose that moment to move off his chair, gallantly offering it to this stranger who, much to my surprise, accepted. She then ordered a beer and sat down next to me. Her perfume was subtle and mesmerising allowing my thoughts to drift to a field full of summer flowers where I was alone with this beautiful woman. I almost asked her the brand but changed my mind at the last moment. It was apparent to me that she was deep in thought as her eyes were focused on her drink.

Andrew once more spoke to the stranger. "Hi, I'm Andrew. Are you passing through?" Although I thought he was rather heavy handed in his approach, I had to applaud him for asking exactly the one question I would love to know the answer.

The woman gave him a thoughtful look and then diverted her gaze back to the drink she was nursing before replying. "Yes, passing through…at the moment." Her voice was well-spoken and quiet, verging on a shy tone. Now that term could never be associated with the Sally Maguire I'd grown up with.

"At the moment huh? You interested in moving here?"

"I might be."

My mouth dropped open as Andrew continued speaking. "Well you're in the right place. Angi here owns the local real estate agency in town. Isn't that right Angi?"

Clear blue eyes gave me the once over measuring the information in her mind as she waited for my reply.

I finally croaked out, "Yes." Then I picked up my empty glass and tried to drink from it. I felt foolish and placed it on the bar attempting to catch Christie's attention for a refill.

"Ah, you must be Angela Barossa. I saw your colleague today."

Andrew broke in then. "Was it you at the Grey House today with Jane?"

Why can't some people just keep their thoughts to themselves? I felt totally ashamed of my friend for invading the woman's privacy in such a blunt way. Although to be honest, I wanted to know the answer a darned sight more than Andrew did. He was just better at taking a hammer to crack a nut than I was, or dared to be.

The woman peered passed me to stare at Andrew who was smiling that ridiculous toothless grin of his. "Yes, that was me. It's a beautiful house that has that cherished feel about it."

Her words echoed in my realtor brain. She was interested! By god she's very interested. This can be a grand sale for the business. As my business brain drew its own pictures my heart was tapping me on the shoulder reminding me of who this potentially could be. For a few moments I wasn't listening to my heart, and when I did, it jumped in my mouth. Standing next to me after thirty years was the girl who had been my nemesis through school. One I'd had a crush on since I was five years old. If I continued to stare at her as I was, I would be hard pressed to say I still didn't have that crush.

"Yes it was. Muriel Grey loved the house, the town too. It was stipulated in her will that it could only be sold to an ex-local. Were you the one that sent the fax yesterday? As I asked the question, Dan whispered goodnight and headed home to his wife and family. Andrew, by coincidence, left too when a couple of guys at the other end of the bar called him over. That left me alone, or as alone as I was likely to be in this setting, with the stranger. If she was who I hoped then she certainly wasn't unknown to me.

A wide smile was my reply before she held out her hand. "Sally Maguire." Then she returned to her contemplation of her beer glass.

Christie appeared at that juncture and I asked for another beer. "Would you care for another?" I asked courageously.

With quiet gratitude she accepted with a nod of her head.

We remained silent until the drinks came our way. "Thanks for the drink, I appreciate it." Her voice held a warm intonation that told me she was genuinely grateful.

"My pleasure." And it is a pleasure. After all these years Sally Maguire was actually sitting next to me for real. What an up turn for the books.

"It seems strange to be here after all this time. I've walked around the town today and nothing much as changed except for the people, I guess." Her tone was melancholy.

In all the years that I remembered her voice in my head, it had never been other than lively and happy. The woman beside me wasn't happy, that much I felt. Perhaps that is the reason for her return. "Well, you know small towns…it takes a miracle to change anything. I should know I've been here all my life barring the odd vacation of course."

"Lucky you." Her wistful tone had my heart aching for her. She drank from her glass emptying the beer in almost one mouthful. Then she stood up and smiled at me. "Thanks for the drink. I need to go, perhaps we'll meet again."

My mouth was hanging again. I knew it. She left the bar, before I could say even a goodnight.

Andrew was beside me in a flash. "What did you say to her Angi?"

"Nothing, absolutely nothing."

* * *

Sunday morning couldn't arrive fast enough for me. I was up as soon as the light peeked through my curtains. Even the relaxing sound of the surf lapping on the beach, which usually set me up nicely for the day, wasn't of interest. I showered, picked out the most attractive business apparel I possessed and arrived at work an hour before the agency was due to open. Quickly walking over to my desk, I saw a note placed strategically in the centre to avoid me missing it. Picking up the note, I read it quickly and sat down heavily in my chair. In her neat script Jane had left me a message.

Angela, I presented the Grey house to the prospective client who contacted us Friday. Everything went well. I think she liked the place. Might call back today for another look - she wasn't that communicative. If you need me etc.

Have a great day, Jane.

If I needed her…yeah right. Of all the days to need Jane, Sunday wasn't the day. She had that many commitments with the church that I doubted she had a minute to relax. I often teased her about the Sabbath being a day of rest.

What if Sally Maguire does come back for a second showing? What would I do? Yeah right. I'll do what I always do. I will take a very professional approach...after all this is business.

My mind was a jumble of scatterbrained thoughts. I needed caffeine and not the instant stuff that I had in the small kitchen in the back room. The Coffee-Break across the street was opening for the breakfast crowd so I picked up my purse, locked up and headed for the café. Once inside, I saw I wasn't the first to arrive. Tucked away in the corner of the room was a woman who was staring at the menu. I held my breath as I recognised her immediately. I was of two minds as to what to do next. Should I go over and say good-morning? Ignore her and take a table farthest away from her as possible, or ….

"Hey there Angela, you're early this morning. Couldn't you sleep?" Rowan grinned at me as he caught my attention and that of the woman sitting in the corner of the room. I dare not look in her direction for fear of what I might see…disinterest probably.

"Morning Rowan. Something along those lines I guess." I walked over to the counter were he was busy reloading the coffee machine and gave him a warm smile. "How's Dave? Busy in the kitchen as usual?"

With a ready smile Rowan winked. "Yep, he has a slave driver for a partner, what can I say. Have you heard from Alex recently? She telling mom that she might visit real soon."

I chuckled at his mention of Alex. "We both know that Alex will not visit during winter. She always did hate it here when the sea breezes had that extra bite to them. She emailed me the other day actually. Said she and the family were going on vacation to Cancun; asked me if I wanted to join them for a week or so."

Rowan laughed out loud as he replied, "yeah that's true. Maybe mom only heard what she wanted to hear. You know what parents are like? Are you going to go to Cancun with them, that is?"

I grinned. "I might." I smiled at him and said, "I'll have the usual Rowan." He nodded, passing me a number and left to take the order to the kitchen.

Turning, I was shocked to come face to face with Sally Maguire. She had apparently left her seat when I was talking with Rowan and was now waiting at the counter behind me.

"Hello again." Once again I was surprised by Sally's quietly spoken words. Perhaps my memories were out of kilter because I was sure she always had a much more vivacious tone.

"Good morning. I'm not the only one up early." Argh is that the only thing I can think of to say? What a dope I am.

"Apparently so. Do you recommend anything from the breakfast selections?" Sally pointed to the menu she held in her hands.

This was something I knew very well and enthusiastically waved my hand over the paper and said ridiculously, "everything!"

I was given a wry smile for my efforts. Then Rowan appeared and asked what Sally wanted. I walked over to a booth and sat down. Damn, I wish I had brought a copy of the Sunday paper so I would look like I was reading.

Then another unexpected turn of events happened. Harriet Downing entered the café holding a valise and rushing over to Sally. I didn't have to strain to hear Harriet's side of the conversation as the local gossip could always be counted on to speak loudly.

"Sally, you forgot this. I didn't want you to get back to the city before you noticed. Have a safe journey dear and keep in touch." Amazingly she kissed Sally's cheek and left hurriedly not taking notice of anyone else in the café.

I wasn't privy to what Sally replied because her words were spoken in a whisper compared to Harriet's. How on earth did those two locked up together? Maybe that explains Harriet's reluctance to gossip about the family…intriguing?

I watched as Sally returned to her table and had half a mind to ask if she wanted to join me. A part of me was still that gawky shy child who hid behind the blanket of fear that I once held against the most popular girl in school.

Forty-minutes later I was back in my office after having enjoyed a lovely breakfast complete with my caffeine fix. Now I needed to file away that mountain of paper-work that irritated me at times like these. Prior to entering the back room, I unlocked the office door. It was opening time, and although I didn't expect too much activity early on it was prudent to have the door unlocked at least. If someone did enter the building the bell would ring loud enough for me to hear.

After pouring over the files and placing them in order for half and hour I was satisfied that I could get down to the basic process of filing them away in the cabinet. I was about to begin the task when the bell rang above my head indicating that someone had opened the door. My mind adjusted from a filing mentality to one of professional realtor. With a genuine ready smile for the initial introduction, I dusted off my hands out of habit and walked sedately into the outer office.

My jaw dropped slightly as I stared at the Sally Maguire standing in the middle of the room. She was presumably looking around for any sign of life. Gathering my scattered wits, I re-located my jaw to the correct position and began to smile cheerfully saying, "Good morning again."

The startling pale blue eyes had a twinkle in them that should be banned especially this early on a Sunday morning. A small smile flirted around her full glossy lips which were adorned with a flattering coral pink lipstick. The golden head of hair bounced around her shoulders as she answered, "Hi, good morning again. Did you enjoy your breakfast?"

Small talk this is small talk! Wow, I'm in heaven. For the second time in the space of twenty-four hours I was having a conversation with the woman who I had always decreed my nemesis. I had called her that for no other perverse reason than I had fallen for her when I was five years old and she didn't know I was alive. Isn't life strange at times?

"Yes, Rowan and his partner make a wonderful breakfast. You should try lunch there sometime." My eyes tried to disengage from the eyes that held them captive, and as much as I tried they refused to escape.

"Perhaps I will in the future. I guess you want to know why I'm here."

Finally moving away from the spot I'd been glued to I wandered over to my desk and picked up the file Jane had left from the previous day. "Jane left me a note that you might want to see the Grey house again. I have all the details for you and will gladly give you the key if you want to take a trip out there to see it alone. I know that having a realtor with you isn't always a good thing if you want to take a really good look around. Sometimes people feel restrictive…" Yes, I was babbling and the amusement in Sally's eyes indicated as much. But, for some reason, my tongue refused to quit its jabbering seemingly deciding that this might be one of the few opportunities that it would have to converse with the woman. If she did decide to live here, her circle of friends would probably end up as elite as they had when she was younger.

"Actually, I wouldn't mind the company. Perhaps you might furnish me with a little more background."

About what? Ok, silly thought. She wanted the background about the area. After all, as far as I knew, it had been thirty years since she was last in the area. Surely Harriet, and her wealth of gossip, would have filled in the blanks. "I'll be glad to. Give me a minute please. I need to switch my phone to auto."

Ten minutes later we were heading to the outskirts of town in my car. I felt it was safer to concentrate on the road instead of the shapely thigh that kept attracting my attention as Sally's skirt rode up to show a very fine length of flesh. Get back in the box naughty libido. Thank god no one can read my mind - especially Sally.

In no time at all we arrived at the destination. Grey House, in its time, had been the most prestigious property for miles around. However, as with everything, money had flooded the area and larger more luxurious properties had taken that title away. Although, in my mind, its a hundred and fifty year history outshone the newer properties being built. I loved the old gabled windows and solid wooden wrap around porch. Jasmine wrapped strong knurled roots over the timber frame that swathed like an outer skin on the decks to the front and back of the house. In the summer, the scent and beauty of the jasmine was both a lovely sight and fragrant. The front garden was simple in design. There was a plain white picket fence surrounding the border of the property. The neat as a pin lawn marked the front visage with an odd shrub to give colour during the growing seasons. In all it was easy to maintain but complimented the aspects of the building perfectly.

We walked onto the porch and I turned to Sally in an attempt to offer her the keys. I sucked in a deep breath as I discreetly watched her profile. This was one of the reasons I loved my work, you could tell when someone really had fallen in love with a place. To me, watching the tell-tale signs of pleasure cross Sally's face told me that, if everything fell into place, this was home to her. A part of me was jealous for two reasons; the fact that an inanimate object had the power to bring that kind of expression to her face and secondly, that she might own this super house. There was going to be no hard sell here. Jane had been right in her initial reaction - Sally Maguire wanted this house.

"Want to go inside?" My hand outstretched offering her the keys. I'd found in the past, that actually allowing the potential buyer the opportunity of unlocking the door and entering the house in their own time had an added bonus. Her slim fingers accepted the keys and I watched from a few steps behind, as she slipped the main key into the lock. With a gentle snick the door was unlocked. A faint creek of old wood transmitted through the still, silent air as Sally opened the heavy door and entered the home.

With a heavy sigh, I leaned against the balustrade on the decking and closed my eyes. A sense of complete satisfaction filled me because in my heart and mind I knew that Muriel Grey, if she was watching, would be pleased at the potential new owner. Or, perhaps it was just that I was!

As with all day-dreamers eventually you are found out. Unfortunately for me, the woman of my dreams just happened to be the one to wake me from mine. I felt like a fool as I gaped open-mouthed at her for a split second.

"Hi, I thought maybe you'd gone. I've been around the inside and I am going to the beach front. Want to join me?" I saw the amusement in her eyes and the twist of her lips. Sally was laughing at me and I probably deserved it. How the hell long had I been in my fantasy land?

"Sure. There's a small gate leading to the beachfront on the side of the house." I pointed to an alcove covered in ivy indicating the entrance to the walled patio area.

Nodding, Sally waited a few seconds before walking in the direction I indicated. I suspect she was waiting to find out if I was really going to join her. As we walked to the gate, she turned to me with a charming smile. "Do you do that often?"

Do what ? "Do what exactly?" I asked in a whisper. My confidence was blown out of the water at her question. What is she trying to say? All my hidden insecurities about this woman emerged at the top of my emotional tank and were about to drown me.

"Oh daydreaming I guess. It must have been a good one too by the expression on your face."

Sally passed through the gate first before I answered her. The question, for me though, was, if I was going to tell the truth. "Not really. I love it here though and that must have been why. If the house hadn't sold soon I was going to buy it myself. I have a place on the beach already but this place is so special." She doesn't want to know my life story. What an idiot I am.

Sally spun oh her heels and stared hard at me. It was one of those all-enveloping gazes that keep you transfixed to the spot waiting for a verdict…any verdict. "You're one of the lucky ones. I envy you."

I stood there unable to move, did I hear right? Had I? Sally Maguire, the most popular girl in school, actually envied me something. This is a first. To make matters worse, the only thing I could do was stand like a statue in disbelief. My eyes, however, followed her every move as she touched each item of patio furniture. The sight sent my mind into overdrive. What must it feel like to have those same hands touch me?

I stumbled against the wall for support. It had been erected to give a degree of privacy without deterring from the wonderful ambience of being by the beach. Thankfully, I was at a safe distance and she couldn't see me hanging onto the wall. Sally seemed mesmerized by the view, and I had to admit, even after living here all my life, I still had that thrill rush through my veins at the sight of the ocean.

My voice felt dry and I was sure I croaked out my next sentence. "Do you like the view?" Apparently it must have sounded okay because Sally smiled at me and nodded her agreement.

I had to strain to hear her softly spoken words as the surf surged against the beach threatening to drown her out. "I've always loved the ocean. I missed living here for an awfully long time after we moved away, It is strange how you can get used to other places and the things you miss fade into the background. Then, something happens in your life and you begin to wonder if any of the old things you loved long ago can be rekindled."

In truth, I wasn't actually sure what she was talking about although I attempted to respond. "I guess it must have been hard for you to leave back then." Lame, lame what an idiot thing to say she probably thinks I'm prying.

I was glad Sally didn't answer me at first. She seemed to have lost herself in the joy of watching the ocean. I could understand this emotion perfectly as I did the very same thing everyday. Finally she spoke, "My dad used to listen to Frank Sinatra a lot in the old days. One song that I'll never forget reminded me of this place. I guess in many ways it was typical of what happened."

I was enthralled. Sally Maguire, for some reason that was best known to her, appeared to be trying to tell me something important and I hadn't a clue what that was. "Which song? I confess he's one of my favourite crooners. I guess finding the music your mom and dad enjoyed when they were young catches up with you." I grinned. It was true; I think the older you get the mellower the music you listen to is. Of course I still enjoyed the classic seventies music I raved about when I was a teenager. Though I must admit, I wouldn't ask for anyone to bring back Donny Osmond or David Cassidy. I'd rather remember them as they once were.

"You've changed Angela. I don't remember you as gregarious as you are now. In fact you were rather a mouse if I recall correctly. I like it."

She remembers me! How amazing. Had she not thrown in the, I like it part, then I think I would have wanted the ground to open up and swallow me right where I stood. As it was, I felt a sense of achievement and a glow that even back then she remembered me…even if that recollection was rather negative. "I decided to take voice lessons in college. It helped a lot particularly in my line of work. It wouldn't be good for business if I was silent when it came to extolling the virtues of a property."

"You probably didn't need them. I think you just had a shy complex. It happens to lots of people. My kid sister's oldest son is going through a similar phase. I keep telling her he'll grow out of it."

I turned to gaze at the view wondering if I ever would have changed without help. Would I still be that same timid person had it not been for Stella my rather determined lecturer, who not only had designs on me romantically but actually cared enough to help me? As my thoughts turned to my ex, a warm feeling passed through me. She was my first and only lover who, even now, I am still have contact with. Many years ago we mutually went our separate ways since she wanted to travel and I was content to stay here in my small town. "Yes I'm sure you are right." I glanced at my watch. We'd been there for over an hour and although I didn't want to rush the process, I hated to have the office closed for too long after church. "I'm really sorry about this Sally, but I need to get back to the office. If you want to stay longer please do. When you are finished call me and I'll come back for you."

With a faint furrowing of her brow, Sally apologised for keeping me. Explaining she had to leave herself. If she didn't get on the road soon she'd be late arriving back in the city and end up with the rest of the commuters in the traffic jams after a weekend break.

I felt awful. This wasn't a good way of doing business and my parents, not to mention Jane, would be appalled. Have I blown the sale? A short time later we arrived outside my office. Sally quietly thanked me for my time and said goodbye as she got out of my car. I was left immobile in the front seat of my car wondering if I should go after and apologise for my rudeness. I didn't. Taking in a deep breath to suppress the tears that threatened to fall, I climbed out of the driver's seat. My eyes caught sight of Sally opening up a gleaming silver jeep and in seconds had set off on her journey home.

I walked inside the office, sank into my seat at my desk and wished that I hadn't opened my big mouth. Why didn't my old shyness return when I needed it the most? As I wallowed in my own selfish woes, my thoughts drifted to something Sally hadn't told me. It would pry on my mind until I knew…what had been that Sinatra song?

* * *

"You know Angela I really thought Ms. Maguire would have been hot on the phone Monday morning with an offer for the Grey House. She was very keen when I showed her the place Saturday, she returned Sunday for another viewing and appeared, as far as you could tell, positive. All I can say is you can't figure some folks out can you." Jane sighed despondently as she peered into her coffee cup before flicking, in frustration, several leaflets into her out tray.

"No you can't," I murmured as I fumbled with the Grey house file. Thank god I didn't mention anything to the mayor about our prospective buyer. It now looked increasingly as if there wasn't a sale on the table. Jane was right, we had both hoped for the sale and I held my breath with every phone call or fax that entered the office. It was Friday, late morning, and we had both reached the same conclusion - Sally Maguire had decided against the property. The worse thing was, that it most likely was my fault. I didn't dare admit to Jane that I had rushed the woman on Sunday. She would have given me a lecture on how to treat a potential customer. As it turned out, only two people came into the office late in the day on Sunday to enquire about properties. Therefore, I had been as dumb as a plank to mention my need to get back to the business.

"I was thinking of taking a vacation Jane, would you mind holding down the fort for a few weeks?" Where that came from I didn't quite know. However, as soon as I'd uttered the words it felt the right thing to do.

Jane gave me a thoughtful look and smiled. "You know that's not a problem, especially this time of the year. I've always considered you too generous when it came to this time of the year by never cutting back on my hours."

I returned Jane's gaze with a puzzled one of my own. I'd never considered cutting her hours at any time. She was a full-time employee and if things were slow, so be it. That was always a risk when you employed people. "Never fear about that Jane. It means I can take off at a moment's notice knowing that you are here." We both knew that propably wasn't going to happen. I had never taken any sick leave in my life and vacation times were always well planned. Until now.

"Do you have anywhere in mind?" Jane enquired. The sparkle in her eyes showed she was genuinely interested.

Placing several documents in my out tray, I smiled slowly. "Not really. For once I'm going to see what happens."

"When do you plan to leave?"

"How about this evening?" I had to chuckle at the expression on Jane's face. She was shocked as she scrambled to speak.

"Really? Have you been thinking about this for long?"

I gave that some careful thought before replying. "It's a spur of the moment decision. Do you mind that I'm leaving you on such short notice?"

Jane stood up and walked over to my desk placing a friendly hand on my shoulder. "Sometimes it takes an old memory to show us that we need a break to think about where our life is taking us. I don't mind in the slightest. Don't forget to send a postcard on your travels."

I didn't need to question her comment, for we both knew she meant the resurrection of Sally Maguire in my life. I'd hardly been the same person since the woman had contacted us a week ago. Jane was one of the most intuitive women I knew and she had noticed my change in mood. However, her respect for me precluded her actually asking directly what the problems were. When I was ready to talk she knew I would.

"I'll do that with pleasure."

The rest of the day turned out to be remarkably busy, but still no contact from Sally Maguire. If she had called or sent a message to say she was willing to present an offer would I have gone on vacation? That I'll never know. As I locked up that Friday evening, I decided that other than the postcards to Jane, I wasn't going to make contact with anyone in town until I arrived back.

Later, I drove thirty miles out of town to the nearest mall to buy a few last minute items for my trip. I also made a decision to call Stella. She was working in Hong Kong as a translator for a large corporation.

"Well its about time you took the time out to visit me and Kara," she remarked when I called her. "You know this is the only place in the world that you could arrive alone but feel crowded. You're gonna love it, Ang."

I decided to spend a few days with Alex and her family before I booked a flight to Hong Kong. Then…who knew. All I wanted to do now was forget that Sally Maguire had ever entered my life again. She had woken up so much pent up emotion inside of me I was finding my day to day routine that I normally loved, tedious and stifling. Yes, I was in need of a vacation big time!

Concluded in part three

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