Jose Benjamin was happy about the upcoming media event. Not that she would normally be interested and avoided them like the plague, but this was important and necessary to bring awareness to the changes that were required to assist the town’s continued growth.
Although they were small with a population of only eight thousand, it was a bustling community that offered a diverse set of opportunities for visitors. Everything from scuba diving, surfing, water sports to baking competitions to several well known artists offering classes whether it was painting, pottery knitting or drawing. A large number of artists had made Pleasant Town their home and reveled in its untapped beauty, serenity and quiet solitude.
What people saw when they noticed Jose, was a five foot four dynamo with vibrant auburn hair and blue eyes, and the only word you could use to describe her was firecracker. She had passion, verve, compassion and determination. When you had Jose in your corner, things got done. Not one to settle for halves, she went all in when she was behind a project.
So to see her in a tizzy and flustered was new to anyone that knew her well. And she definitely exhibited a higher than normal level of excitement and confusion now. The question was why! Amy looked on with interest. Well well, she thought, what’s up here?
Jose on the other hand, knew quite well why her emotions were in a tither. She was about to make her case before the city council and one man in particular she expected would be opposed instantly to her designs and ideas. Marrick Johanson was that man. At thirty-two, he’d made his mark, was an exceptional architect, smart, handsome, well-spoken. An adversary of the first order. If anyone was likely to poke holes in her ideas and suggestions, it was him. He was habitually against any changes to the town, preferring the old-world charm as he put it. Jose agreed with him for the most part, but the town had lost some of its lustre and required a refurbishing in her mind and that of many of the other town folk and would attract visitors. Since they’d become a tourist attraction of sorts, it was the general consensus of most of the town that they needed to enhance that attraction.
Jose’s ideas weren’t radical. In fact, on the grand scale, she was suggesting tame changes, not more but better signage, and the amalgamation of two parks with a pathway between and picnic tables along the banks of the river. Small but necessary changes that would encourage visitors to sit and relax and perhaps stay longer.
The camera crew was set up and the reporter, Henry Jones, showed her where to stand and they did a few test runs with sound and camera. Jones did an excellent job, Jose thought, hitting all the highlights and the important information she’d hoped to convey in her message.
Only when they were finished and had shaken hands did she stumble as she spotted Merrick standing off to the side. Surprised he hadn’t interrupted and asked leading questions, and that he was there at all, she hesitated before acknowledging his presence.
“Merrick, this is a surprise.”
He smiled, “Pleasant or otherwise?”
“Depends…” she left the sentence hanging deliberately.
“Interesting speech,” he acknowledged.
She cocked her head sideways in doubt. “Hmm. Not what I would have expected from you.”
He grinned in return, “What makes you say that?” he inquired.
Laughing out loud, she said, “You’ve always taken exception to my suggestions, I wouldn’t expect any less now.”
“I’m interested in hearing more; this is something I could get behind.” Then he added after looking at his watch, “it’s nearly dinner, how about continuing our conversation at Monty’s.”
She stood silently for a moment, pondering what was behind this sudden change of heart. “Sure, why not?”
“Amy, I’m headed out, you head out too. We’ll reconnoiter in the morning, say ten?”
Amy looked quickly at Merrick and just as quickly turned to Jose and said, “Sure thing. Later!” she hid a grin as she disappeared. Now this was an interesting scenario. There were sparks between the two, always had been, and it seemed to Amy there was something more than differing opinions causing those sparks. Alrighty then!
Jose made a production of collecting her purse, cell phone and papers before walking back to stand beside Merrick, “Shall we?”
“You know, I’d forgotten how petite you are,” he held his arm out straight, and it was well above her head.
“Yeah, rub it in.” She rolled her eyes.
“I thought you were ‘above’ that sort of thing.”
He grinned at her, “Apparently not!”
She took a swipe at his arm before saying, “God only lets things grow until they are perfect, Some of us just take longer than others.” She smiled broadly up at him.
“But then there’s always, ‘there’s a reason giraffes aren’t the king of the jungle!’ which I always enjoy.
He laughed despite himself. Before he could respond she quickly added, “The best things come in small packages! I can vouch for that, personally!”
He was laughing delightedly when he finally said, “Have you been saving those up?”
“Oh no, I find new ones daily. I could go on forever!”
Holding his hands up in supplication Merrick quickly stated, “Ok, I give. How long before forgiveness?”
“Hard to say, depends on the insult! It could take a loooooong time, or just a wee bit of time.” She emphasized the comment by raising her arm from as high as she could reach to as low as possible. “Take your pick. Sometimes short is good!” She couldn’t help by be amused.
“Shall we take separate cars?”
“I didn’t bring mine. It was a ‘short’ walk so I left it at home.”
“Well then, we’ll definitely take mine…I could so say something here, but I will refrain,” he commented.
“Please, don’t hold back on my account.”
“Perhaps later. For now, I’d rather concentrate on getting there in once piece. You have a quick wit and a delightful one at that.”
Merrick opened the passenger door and after she got in thought, yeah, this could be real interesting.