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Elouise followed Albee down the streets and smiled as he stopped at the bakery. She watched him through the window and waited till he came out with a large brown paper bag. He looked over and motioned for her to follow, and then he hopped in his truck. Elouise pulled out behind him and followed at a close but not too close distance. He drove on, making a few turns in town and then headed out towards the beach. He parked in the farthest end of the lot and she pulled in beside him. Albee grabbed the bag off the front seat, reached around in the back and grabbed a blanket and a hat.
I like to come here when I need to think a spell, normally quiet this time of day, what with the kids in school. Come on, I’ll show you my favorite place. He handed Elouise the bag and they walked a path through the dunes and came out at a curved part of the beach. A palm tree had fallen over and provided a nice shady spot. Albee shook out the blanket and laid it out on the sand and Elouise sat the bag down on the corner. Sit down El, please, he said with a kind smile. She eased down onto the blanket and removed her shoes, digging her toes into the sand, sighed contentedly. Albee sat down beside her, took off his work boots and socks, put his hat on and leaned back. The breeze was blowing gently and Elouise could feel herself decompress just by sitting in this paradise.
I haven’t been to the beach in ages she said to him and he just smiled and stared out at the sea, letting her talk. This is a nice place you’ve found, I can see why you come here, it does feel like a healing place, something I think I really needed right now. Albee reached out and took her hand and she stared at it for a moment contemplating pulling it away and then just let it rest in his. It had been too long since she’d had her hand held by a man she thought, not since her husband passed fifteen years ago.
Albee looked at her and then asked the question she had been dreading. Why the tears back at the shop Elouise, and what’s going on? I was worried you was avoiding me and then you come to the shop and turn on the tears. I’m not saying you’re not as beautiful as you always are, but you seem almost tired and if I’m not mistaken, almost downright sad. She pulled her hand back and turned so that she was facing him. She told him the story of the ring, how and why she had hidden from him back at the store, what was happening with Gert and ended it with an apology.
I’ve been lonely so long Albee that I don’t know what to do with a man in my life, been so very long, too long and I’m afraid. I’m sorry for earlier, I shouldn’t have acted that way. Please, accept my apology. Albee listened without interrupting and then smiled gently at her.
Don’t worry Elouise. My feelings for you have been there awhile and they ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Take all the time you need. Seems I’m the least of your worries today and so we will set the “us” aside and deal with what could be bad news if I heard you right. What do you think Miss Gert’s gonna do with the ring? If she keeps it, Lord only knows whats gonna happen, and if things is happening to you by being near her, darn El, I’d hate to see anything bad happen. I know you two is tight as twins. If you need anything in the meantime, you know you can count on me, you know that right? We’ll just have to see how it plays out and we will keep on praying that Gert will make the right choice. Now we should get something in you, you’re wasting away to nothing little bird, here, got you a dark chocolate croissant and a nice ginger tea blend to wash it down with.
He handed her a tissue wrapped package in petal pink with the bakery sticker on it and Elouise slowly opened it up, delighted with the beautiful creation she found within. She took a tiny bite and felt the buttery chocolate goodness in her mouth, smiling like a child, she took another bite and then more until it was gone. Albee was watching her. See, I knew I’d pick the right one for you my friend, can’t go wrong with French pastry goodness, especially when it’s got the dark chocolate inside it.
I never knew you had such fine taste Albee, but that had to have been the best piece of heaven I ever tasted. She took a sip of her tea and gazed out at the sea. A pair of dolphins in the distance came up for air and she pointed them out to Albee. I’m just gonna lay here for a few moments and relax, if that’s okay with you? and he nodded and watched the dolphins move past. She lay down on the blanket, closed her eyes and drifted off into an afternoon dream.
to be continued…..