Upload Опубликованный материал нарушает ваши авторские права? Сообщите нам.
Вуз: Предмет: Файл:
Colleen - At First Sight.docx
329.73 Кб

Chapter 2

"Jamie," the sweet voice called again.

A hand on her arm brought her back from the memory. "What? I’m sorry, I drifted away for a minute."

The melancholy in her voice was unmistakable, but again Erin didn’t pry. She didn’t want this woman to bolt because of her curiosity. "That’s okay," Erin said. "I just wanted to give you a little hint." She leaned in, as if to tell a secret. "Leave some room for the desserts," she whispered. "There is a chocolate cake over there that you just have to try."

"That good huh?"

"Its fantastic." There was a hesitation before Erin continued. The adorable giggle sounded again. "But chocolate is one of my weaknesses," she admitted.

Jamie ran her tongue along the inside of her mouth. "You didn’t happen to make this fantastic cake did you?"

A blush flew to the blonde woman’s cheeks and she dropped her head. Jamie suddenly saw how the sun highlighted the vague red accents in the Irish woman’s short-cropped hair. Feather like hair that framed an angelic face. She didn’t want to be caught staring, so she took a quick sip of her soda. Jamie had been a notorious tease since her teen years, although then it was just used to get something, but she still loved to do it. Now, the only recipients of that facet of her personality were the older people who shared her apartment building. Watching the cute reaction of the woman in front of her meant only one thing… more teasing was in order. She cleared her throat. "Gee, I’d really like to try that fantastic cake, but there's so much food here and I wouldn’t want to insult Bridgett."

Erin teased back. "Oh, she wouldn’t be insulted…but I might." She flashed that one thousand-watt smile.

I think I just met my match, thought Jamie. "Well in that case, I’ll definitely have some later."

Their conversation turned to the normal getting to know one another questions. Erin was very open about herself, but Jamie tended to give short non-descript, although honest answers. Lying made her feel horribly guilty, but there were still things that she couldn’t tell anyone and to those questions she simply said she’d rather not talk about it.

"So what do you do at GB Scrolls?" asked Erin, as she sipped her cool drink.

Between bites of the good cuisine, Jamie explained that she was a proofreader and did some data entry. "I’ve always loved to read, so it seemed like something I could do. The computer work, I’ve only learned since I’ve been there, but it was pretty easy for me to pick up. So what occupies your workday?"

Erin gave a small ironic chuckle. "As a matter of fact, I’m a writer."

That little fact piqued Jamie’s attention. "Really, what do you write?"

"Don’t laugh," begged the little blonde.

"Why would I do that?"

"Because my literary endeavors run a wide trail of interests and genres. I started out writing children’s books."

"Well that’s certainly nothing to laugh about. In fact I think early childhood is the best part of any of our lives."

Erin detected a hint of sadness in her response. "I agree," she said. "I love kids. My niece and nephew, over there, have me wrapped around their fingers and they take every opportunity to exploit that fact."

Jamie took a long glance at the children, playing tag across, the yard. She had seen pictures of Bridgett’s children sitting on her desk at work, so it was easy for her to pick out the sandy haired, seven-year-old, whose name, she knew was Conner. His three-year-old sister, who was now hugging, practically riding the big dog, was named Caitlin. Unlike her brother, mother or her father, she had hair the color of bright corn silk. She was a miniature version of her favorite aunt. "And you really love it," said Jamie.

Erin drew a lop-sided smile over her face. "Guilty as charged."

Jamie finished her last bite of food, at least the last she dare take. "If you’ll excuse me," she said, carefully balancing her plate in one hand and her cane in the other. "I’m going to get a piece of that fantastic cake, before it all disappears. Can I get you something?"

"No thank you. I’m fine."

You certainly are, Jamie’s mind shouted as she walked away.

What a totally mysterious person you are Jamie Sheridan, thought Erin. Even though we just met and you certainly didn’t give up any personal information, I feel like I’ve known you forever. It’s odd, but nice.

Jamie stood at the desert table slipping a piece of the chocolate confection on to her plate. She couldn’t help but to look back at the blonde author, who seemed deep in thought. She tried to be inconspicuous in her study of the young woman. I wonder what color her eyes are? Blonde hair, hmmm, most people would say blue, but they’re green, I just know it. Brilliant green. I wish she’d take off those glasses. Damn California sun. Jamie returned to her seat and started to dive into her desert. "So what’s the next trail you ventured down on your literary adventures?"

Erin hesitated only a moment before answering. "Poetry."

"Romantic or otherwise?" Jamie asked, with a sneaky lilt. "And this cake is fantastic by the way."

"Romantic, of course and thank you." Erin shifted in her seat, stretching out her stiff legs. Her right foot struck something hard.

Jamie gasped and pulled her foot back.

Erin sat straight up in surprise. "I’m sorry Jamie, was that you!?"

"Sort of," she chuckled. "I broke my ankle four weeks ago. I hate this damn cast. It’s gotten in my way and kept me from doing more things then I can count."

"Did I hurt you?" Erin asked with obvious concern.

"No. No, its fine."

"You’re sure?"


Erin released a relieved breath and relaxed back into her seat. "How did you do it?" The proverbial cat had nothing on Erin Brienne Casey.

Jamie dismissed it with a casual wave of her hand. "Oh, it was a silly accident. Maybe I’ll tell you about it some other time. Right now, I’d much rather hear more about you. You’re right, children’s books and poetry are certainly different."

"As they say, you ain’t heard nothing yet. My latest project was science fiction."

Once again the fork stopped halfway to Jamie’s mouth as the bells and whistles went off and connections ran around her brain, finally deciding she couldn't be that lucky. But she had to ask anyway. "Are you E. B. Casey…who wrote The Noah Factor?"

A warm smile answered her question before the words did. "Yes, I wrote that."

Jamie was momentarily stunned, trying to form every word she’d ever wanted to say to this woman. "I apologize before hand, because I’m about to gush and most likely make a fool of myself. But I swear, every word will be true."

Children’s laughter ran in circles, sounds of nature abound and conversations were all around the small table, but they all filtered down to a whisper, as all Erin could seem to hear, was the rich voice of this new…friend.

Yes, this woman was fast becoming a friend.

Jamie told her it was her all time favorite book. How she’d read it three times and every time she’d found something new that touched her. She failed to add that the words on those pages pulled her back from the brink of self-destruction. But Erin read between the lines, so to speak and caught a hint of the unspoken meaning. Jamie’s comments went on for several minutes until she finally had to stop and take a drink.

Erin was incredibly heartened at all the kind words. She didn’t know what to say except a simple, thank you.

A force that she couldn’t even put a name to compelled Jamie; she reached out to cover the author’s hand and with a deep breath, garnered the courage to make the hard confession. "No, thank you. That story literally saved my life. I read it at a time when I was totally giving up on myself. I saw something in your words that no counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist or spiritual leader could have shown me in a lifetime…hope."

The blonde author pushed aside the lump in her throat to release her response. "Well," the word came out as a small breath. "I’m supposed to be that good and I can’t think of a thing to say. Actually, yes I can. I have never in my life been so glad to put words to paper. I knew there had to be a reason for the accident. Now I know, because I never would have written that story if I hadn’t had that loss. Thank you for being here."

Both women sat back with a heavy sigh. Jamie seemed to have missed last part of Erin’s comment; her emotions were just too high. "I didn’t mean to make every thing so serious here."

"Yes, I think we could both use a little diversion," the author suggested. "What time is it?"

Jamie checked the leather-banded watch, around her wrist. "Its 8:08."

Erin considered a moment. "Would you like to take a walk in the gardens?"

Jamie mirrored the smile on the other woman’s face. "Sure, that sounds nice." Before Jamie could stand, she heard the smaller woman release a piercing whistle.

"Arte, Artemis. Come here girl," Erin called, enthusiastically. In the next second, the big dog that had been playing with the children came lumbering over to her owner. Erin leaned down and vigorously rubbed the dog’s head and scratched behind the floppy ears. "Did you have a good time playing with the kids, huh?" The canine responded by painting the woman’s face with affectionate doggie kisses. Erin grabbed the leather harness around the dog’s body with her left hand and with her right she reached for the handle that had been lying over the arm of her chair. She attached the two ends to the harness and let the dog lead her away from the table. After just a few steps, Erin could tell that her friend wasn’t following and she turned back. "Is something wrong Jamie? Is your ankle hurting?"

Jamie felt like a total idiot. Why didn’t Bridgett tell me? How could I not have…? She knew Erin was waiting for an answer and that her silence had probably already insulted the gracious woman. "No. No I’m fine. It’s just…I’m sorry…I didn’t realize…"

"That I was blind?"

"Yeah." Jamie kicked her self mentally. Well you did it again, chased away another friend. Then something totally unexpected happened. A smile greeted her when she looked back up.

"That’s okay," said Erin. "I didn’t know you had a broken ankle, until I kicked it. Let’s go."

The gardens consisted of meandering, embedded stone pathways bordered on one side by a perfectly sculptured green hedge. The inside area of the walkway, greeted its visitors with a rainbow of petals of all shapes and heights. A spectacular rose garden of white and red was the next area they quietly passed through.

The charming Irish author with a smile that could chase away the world’s cares quickly alleviated the earlier feelings of embarrassment Jamie had felt. Now a comfortable silence fell between them. Besides the occasional birdcall or clicking insect, their footfalls were the only comforting sounds, having left the bustle of the party behind them.

Lilac permeated the air as they walked through the lavender budded bushes. Jamie was content to follow wherever the other woman would lead her. They rounded a curve and encountered a footbridge over a small water garden, complete with falls and floating water lilies. Jamie was actually quite surprised with herself as she took in all the beauty around her. Normally she wasn’t one to stop and smell the roses of life, but being in the present company and the nature that surrounded them, she felt...alive.

Finally they arrived at their destination. Erin seated herself on an intricately carved, stone bench and invited her guest to do the same. Artemis sat obediently at her owner’s feet, looking tired after hours of chasing after the children.

"These gardens are absolutely beautiful," said Jamie, wistfully.

"Yes, they are. Bridgett and I used to play here when we were kids. She says they're exactly the same, except for the water garden that they added."

"Was this your parent’s house?"

"No, it belonged to a family friend and when they were ready to sell a few years ago, Bridgett jumped at it." Erin pointed to the huge expanse directly in front of them. "This is my favorite spot in the whole place. As much as I like the scent of roses and lilacs, this wildflower patch is the best." Erin sat there, enjoying the perfect moment, listening to the quiet, slow breathing next to her. "Are the butterflies here?" she asked softly.

"Yeah." An unconscious smile formed on the tall woman’s face as she watched the delicate, winged creatures flitting about, their colors rivaling the blanket of petals below them.

A few minutes passed before anything else was spoken. "You can ask," Erin finally said.

Jamie feigned ignorance. "Ask what?"

"You would like to know what happened. How I lost my sight. It doesn’t bother me. I know its only human curiosity. And if it wasn’t for curiosity, no one would read my books."

"Well, I guess I was wondering."

The blonde head nodded. "It was an accident. Almost four years ago, I was in Houston, meeting with a new publisher about some illustrations for my children’s books. I left the appointment and was walking back to my car. I had to pass by this chemical plant...they had a spill and then an explosion. Bad timing. I was right in its path. When I finally woke up, a few days later, it was gone."

"With all the advances in medical science, they couldn’t do anything?"

"Then, no. But as a matter of fact, a doctor doing research on injuries like mine, contacted me recently. He’s made some breakthroughs with a new, experimental treatment and surgery. But it also requires an organ donor. I do want to try it, so I went to the bottom of a very long list of other people waiting for transplants. Unfortunately not enough people think about organ donations. But I can’t really blame them. Before this happened, I never gave it a second thought."

Jamie looked away with guilt. "Neither have I…until now. Maybe you could give me some help on how to do that."

Erin smiled. "I will." This time it was she who reached out to put her hand on Jamie’s arm. "Thank you. You know, I actually consider myself lucky. Four other people died in that explosion." Again the mood was getting to heavy. "It should be just about time."

"Time for what?"

The author turned to the other side and pointed in the direction of the sky. "For that."

Jamie’s eyes drifted to the area. What she saw immediately sent her back to the pages of Noah Factor. Her mind re-reads the last passage.

Simeron Noah slipped her hand into Jessie’s. Her faithful horse, Star, nudged Sim’s shoulder with her white muzzle. Star’s new colt Sierra, asked Sim to explain, what was happening in the sky ahead of them.

Sim smiled and her pale blue eyes glowed with the reflection of the beginning sky show. "The sun that provides us with light during the day, moves away from us, pulling the darkness across the sky, behind it," she explained. "That means that this day is coming to an end. When you go to sleep in the dark and wake up again in the light, it will be a new day."

The little horse didn’t fully understand the meaning of her words. She was only a week old and the big world and all of its simple and complex happenings were proving to be overwhelming. But Sierra knew that her mother’s best friend Sim would be patient and teach her everything she needed to know. What she didn’t realize was that she would need to pass on her knowledge to her own offspring. She was the first in line of this new evolution of the animal species. Sierra didn’t know enough yet to be proud of this. But her first friend, Simeron Noah, smiled with that emotion, as she hugged the little horse’s brown neck.

Sim, Jessie and mother and child, peered out over the edge of the canyon. The glowing ball of fire was just beginning to dip between the tall mountain peaks. The surrounding sky swirled, gently painted with the almost indescribable colors of flaming red to fluffy pink to wispy purple. All draped over a sky of pale blue and dotted with puffs of ivory. The peace it ignited in every soul who gazed upon it, man and animal, was enough to insure a beautiful future for all the planet’s new inhabitants.

The shimmering edge finally disappeared completely, beyond the horizon, signaling the close of the first day of a new life on Terra Two.

"That’s where you got it." Jamie’s whispered voice dripped with awe.

"I thought you might recognize it."

Jamie sat there watching, until the glowing sphere completely sank below the horizon. She looked to see that Erin was still facing in that direction, not knowing that the amazing show was over and Jamie didn’t quite have the heart to mention it. A single butterfly lit on the tip of her shoe before it took off to find cover from the coming darkness. "We’d better get back," Jamie said quietly, as if the previous moments had been constructed of glass and would shatter upon the sound of her voice.

Erin reluctantly agreed. "Knowing Bridgett, she’ll come hunting us down before long."

Dusk settled over the fragrant gardens as the three visitors, two humans and one canine, slowly made their way back to the party. Small talk passed between the two humans, but after the dramatics that dominated the previous conversations, Erin and Jamie both wanted to end the night on a pleasant note.

Notes of a melodious kind greeted them upon their return. Soft strains of music floated through the yard and tall torches lined the perimeter of the party area. Dancing flames provided a sensual shimmer, as the stone patio became an impromptu dance floor for three couples. The hostess and her husband were one of the swaying pairs, so involved in each other that Bridgett didn’t even notice her sister’s return.

Jamie watched the romantic scene with a profound sadness; a self-imposed ache, but somehow that didn’t seem to ease the pain any. Suddenly a warm hand slipped around her upper arm. Usually an unexpected touch would startle her, but not this one. It did however send an even stronger pain, accompanied with a sense of guilt, straight to her heart.

"Jamie," said the silky voice she’d been listening to all evening.

"What? I’m sorry, is something wrong?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing. You were so quiet, I just wanted to make sure you were still here," Erin said with a smile. Even though she couldn’t see it, she just knew that it was returned.

"I was just listening to the music, I guess," Jamie said, as she looked over the group.

"Is Brig around?"

"Yeah, she’s dancing."

"Well, that figures. My sister is a hopeless romantic."

"And you’re not?" The words left Jamie’s mouth before she could stop them. Why did I ask that?

The torchlight, behind Erin’s head, softly highlighted the slight blush that rose to her cheeks. " Of course, I am." Or at least I want to be.

The next song started and that shudder went up Jamie’s spine again. Damn! What is it about that song? It makes me feel so strange. It’s a love song, so it obviously has nothing to do with me, but...

And I’m meeting you again for the first time

Two hearts, but one soul

Two halves are now whole

Cause you know who I am

And you know what I need

Тут вы можете оставить комментарий к выбранному абзацу или сообщить об ошибке.

Оставленные комментарии видны всем.