© 2017 by Jean MacIntyre
Cover design by Jean MacIntyre
Published by Jean MacIntyre at Smashwords
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.
Smashwords Edition License Notes
Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share
it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and
distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in
its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return
to Smashwords.com to discover other works by this author. Thank you
for your support.
to those who read my books and short stories. Thank you!
Girl, City Boy
in the Library
Little Tractor That went AWOL
Girl, City Boy
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!
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
“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
“I guess that would depend on
the problem, Ian.” And she grinned at him.
in the Library
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
“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,
cowboy walks into a bar – Ooops! Wrong story!
cowboy boots, long legs clad in dark blue denims which had ironed
creases (Who does that???),
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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
“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?”
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
“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
“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
“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!!!
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
* * *
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
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
“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
“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
“That sounds good. I’ll
bring dessert.” Chrissy was already planning an apple crisp.
They met, they talked, and they fell
* * *
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
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
Sandy signaled to a passing waiter and ordered a
bottle of champagne.
“Let’s celebrate your good news. You
“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
“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
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
He winked at her, and that’s exactly what
To my readers:
These little stories
are excerpts from Sweet Nothings – Volumes One, Two and Three.
Each volume contains fifteen short stories.
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