“Thanks.  I appreciate that.  It’s what I was striving for.  I take care of most of it myself, but when I run out of time, I call a local landscape artist who owes me a favour and between us, we usually manage to keep it under control.”  They walked on.

“I fell in love with the property the moment I laid eyes on it.  When my grandfather died, I came into a fairly large inheritance which afforded the opportunity to build my ranch.  Believe me, I couldn’t pass it up.”

“I can see why.  This is exquisite and so untouched.”

“Look, the moon is putting in an early appearance.” Paul pointed up at the sky.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s winking.”

“Your right. Normally that would seem fanciful, but it’s true.”

As they walked back to the house, Paul speculated on who and why someone had it in for this lovely woman!  She’d mentioned a divorce and he wondered if her ex-husband or an ex-lover could be responsible.

He noted a quiet dignity and gentle reserve some might mistake for snootiness but in reality, he saw it as a cloak of self-preservation.  Obviously, she’d been hurt and her kids were a priority but he hoped she was interested in taking a chance, with him.  He was eager to find out.

She was edgy.  The kid’s earlier response told him a lot.  She obviously didn’t do things like this.  Then too, the threats she’d alluded to were taking their toll; after all, she’d been trying to handle this business alone, and it was scary.

Eilea was surprised by the effect his presence was having on her. She was a little nervous but mostly excited,  curious and even a little lustful truth be told.  It seemed like forever since anyone had excited her as much.

She loved his dark brown hair, slightly silvered at the temples, and the way his eyes twinkled when he smiled.  He was a handsome man; his features were symmetrical and the way he carried his body, exuded confidence.  He was an absolute dish.  She hoped he didn’t know how attracted she felt.  Nothing said he had feelings one way or the other toward her, on the other hand, he’d invited the clan to stay and that seemed promising.

It was more than a physical attraction, she was drawn to his steadiness, solidness, determination, all of which bespoke strong character.  She liked that too. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have even considered accepting his invitation to stay in his house!  No wonder the kids were teasing her, they were probably as stunned as she was at her actions!

Everyone seemed to converge in the front room at the same time.  Paul showed the girls and Andrew to their rooms pleased at their obvious delight for they were quick to express their glee over the colours Paul had used.

He’d had relationships but never married.  The one thing he missed, was having kids of his own.  As a result, he was very involved in the “Y”.  Although he’d teased her about the clan factor, he was impressed with hers.

During his musings, a thought struck him regarding the phone calls she’d mentioned.  Someone was able to reach her at home which meant they’d gained access to the telephone company’s records because it was an unlisted number.  He’d better check on that tomorrow.  It could be a viable lead.

. . . . . .

Frank Walsh was tired.  He’d endured another late night of complaints and pulled fire alarms.  He really didn’t want to go downstairs and face a barrage of questions or assign repairs, but he’d made an appointment to show an apartment and the family was due to arrive at nine.  He was in the habit of unlocking the office and making a pot of coffee to share with workman and renters alike.  He peered at his watch.  It was eight-thirty.  Just enough time to finish his early morning ritual, a walk around the building, checking on emergency lights, exit lights, doors, etc. before heading to the office.

Starting on the fourth floor, he worked his way down to the first and the office, thereby eliminating the need to retrace his steps.  Sometimes he figured he was too old for this job and at others, he was grateful for a respite from the dreary monotony that came with retirement.

He’d just finished his rounds on the first floor and was turning the corner intent upon reaching the office when he spotted a repairman standing out front, jamming at the buzzer.

Whoever he was ringing, clearly wasn’t home and yet he persisted.  He seemed agitated too.

Page 26                                                                                        Page 24

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