Olivia was passionate about everything. She just wasn’t passionately in love with James. Although they experienced some heady moments in exquisitely romance settings, something was missing. They’d done it all together. Skiing, climbing, touring country after country, sailing. They’d exchanged everything meaningful about their hopes dreams and beliefs. They clicked. Really clicked. For all that, it didn’t quite feel right. No matter how hard she’d tried, she couldn’t figure out what it was.
Just as she knew he was about to propose and knew she was about to refuse. There was no rhyme or reason but for her, it wasn’t in the cards. Olivia was throwing away five great years and some of her most precious experiences. but still, she held back.
James was fantastic on every level. Smart, witty, rose to any challenge, had saved her skin on numerous occasions, been there for her through whatever ordeal she’d faced, but still, she held back.
What the hell was wrong with her? Dropping her head on her palm she tapped it. “Come on girl, think. This is the deciding moment of your life. You know it. What is it?” she asked herself aloud.
Passion. He wasn’t passionate. He merely went along for the ride. She was the ring leader, the decider the adventurer. She needed, wanted more. An equal, someone to fight passionately with who took turns taking the lead who could make decisions.
Sadly, she stared at her reflection in the windows. She had her answer.
Maria’s staff was holding together well, optimistic to the end. Heads held high, they continued their work as per normal. Today was D-day. Except for a select few, no one knew what the board’s decision would be. They held the fate of all the employees working at Lord’s in their hands.
Although a well-known name, their product had taken a nose-dive with the advent of the latest upcoming “upstart” as her boss called Fjord’s.
Maria had to give their advertising department credit. Although pandering to the younger market with trendy new and promising motivational speaches had managed to steal away several of Lord’s top accounts. “Reach the Unreachable” was their motto.
Lord’s catered to the experienced seasoned climbers, those with chutzpah and panache who climbed some of the noblest of peaks and conditions considered unscalable.
The marketplace had grown exponentially over the last 10 years but was currently experiencing a down-turn no one could explain therefore the market place was smaller.
All heads turned expectantly when her boss walked through the door. No one was more surprised than she at witnessing his companion. A hush fell over the entire group for standing beside her boss was none other than Damian Ranguild, head of the advertising department of the “upstart” company and bain of their existence.
As eye-candy went, he was luscious. Some women smiled coyly but his eyes continued to scan the room until his eyes met hers. She wasn’t sure whether to walk to greet him or make him suffer the walk of shame to her desk. Maria waited. Her boss’s face was flushed and he huffed and puffed behind the long ranging gate that was Ranguild.
Interesting, she thought. Standing she held out a hand. Instead of shaking hers, he held on firmly and kissed her fingertips. If he meant to surprise her, he succeeded. A knowing smile lit his face.
Normally Lanna had nerves of steel. Nerves weren’t an issue. Once she chose a direction, she went for it, she was on her way. Sometimes it worked well, at others she’d changed paths but change was good and never threatening to her. Normally.
Today she was nervous. She hadn’t seen the next door neighbour in several days. He was a healthy male between 26 to 30 she guessed. He was buff, tanned, handsome and wow, just wow, dare she think it? Sexy. He made her drool every time she watched him watering plants, cutting the lawn or frolicking with the dog. He seemed laid back, relaxed and happy. That made him more appealing than the physical attributes which were needless to say outstanding.
Having toyed with the idea of dropping by with one of her famous casserole dinners he could cook whenever she’d been too busy and involved with work to think anymore about the prospect.
It struck her earlier when she finished her morning job that he’d been M.I.A. for four days and counting. It was the neighbourly thing to do wasn’t it? Checking to see if he was alright? Heaven forbid he’d fallen and couldn’t get up! Needed “her” assistance.
Finally, breathing deeply, she grabbed the freshly made casserole and headed over. Ringing the bell elicited no response. She couldn’t hear movement, music, or sound of any kind. Then she heard the dog bark. Ok, this is a start. Pulling open the screen, she knocked again and called through the closed door, “Anybody alive in there?”
She tried the doorknob and finding it unlocked, pushed the door open calling again. Hearing a faint answer she pushed past the dog and headed to the kitchen and lay the casserole dish on the counter.
“Hi, I’m the neighbour. Just brought dinner for you. Um, you ok?”
“Come in,” he called from the porch.
Lana walked toward the sound the dog at her heels. “Hi.”
“Hey,” he nodded.
“Wow, glad I stopped by. You look like you could use a hand.”
“I’m managing, but a friendly face is always welcome.”
After offering to freshen his lemonade, he bid her sit. Ok she thought, she had reason to be nervous as up close and personal he had a major effect on her senses. Wouzers. Good job Lana!
Gabe had never met the woman he was teaming up with. She’d run through a gamut of partners. He’d heard she was capable reliable and brilliant. That’s what her file indicated. Some men couldn’t handle that in a woman. Too few who could accept a woman could be strong determined powerful in her own way and were threatened by that strength. He wasn’t.
In fact, they were requirements he expected, in any partner, on every level of his business. Failure meant they put everyone at risk. That he would not tolerate.
Since her file was a mile thick, he decided to take a look at this woman himself. Partner with her for the six months she’d signed on for.
The six months had passed and as he sat writing up her review he was pleased. If she wanted the job, it was hers, she’d earned it. Her candor, wit, charm, capability, and reliability were outstanding. She was beyond brilliant in her performance and in sizing up any given situation. Then there was the mischievous side he’d come to know. She’d pull tricks and pranks, that sparkle rarely left her eye. The only time it disappeared was on the job. Her eyes dramatically changed the sparkle was gone, they were flat, perceptive intuitive.
Today it was his turn. He’d towed her car to the impound plastered it with your fired slogans with balloons hanging out every conceivable space doors, windows, trunk, bumper, you name it, he’d added balloons. They said “Yours” “If” “You” “Want” “It!” Then he’d stood back and awaited her arrival. She was a picture. Annoyance turned to shock to stunned to a smile a mile wide. She scanned the area searching. When she found him her eyes twinkled and she gave him a thumbs up. She was in.
Rae was an expert on love. You could ask her anything. She proudly spouted the differences between each and the qualities pertaining to all eight kinds of love. Having written an in depth article about how each kind of love affected a relationship and having taken the assignment to heart, she understood what the differences were.
Some were happy with erotic love but she knew that wore thin, most of her married friends agreed. Her greatest hope was that she’d fine someone to be affectionate with first, so later on in the relationship, they cared about one another. Of course, playful love was a must in order to keep a relationship going.
Yet love had escaped her. You’d think she could find love easily, knowing what to look for. Still she constantly mistook a man’s friendly affection for romantic love especially since she was the outdoorsy type who’d grown up with brothers and felt comfortable around men. Most seemed to accept her as “one of the guys”. Which she didn’t mind, it was good having guy friends to hang with, experience hiking, climbing and other scary activities a lot of her female friends couldn’t handle.
According to her mother who constantly ribbed her, her ideals were too high, she was looking in all the wrong places and she needed to stop behaving like one of the guys if she wanted to attract one.
What she truly wanted was a man who knew the differences and could communicate them comfortable within to be himself to display affection, love and tenderness too.
Rae wasn’t into trapping a guy (one of her mother’s suggestions). She wanted someone who wanted her, who sought her out in order to spend time with her whether she was at her worst or her best. Did this kind of package come in the male species she wondered.
Rae bounced between the two ideals. One having that special someone to share everything important with, and staying single thereby remaining free of any kind of restriction on when and what she wanted to do. It was a solitary life. Somehow it wasn’t enough.
Jenny was delighted when she found a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting in a lovely glass vase beside the front door awaiting her arrival. Unlocking the shop door, she picked the vase up and carried it inside with her. A magnificent vase of tulips, with pinks, reds, purples, yellows even a few orange flowers elegantly displayed. She looked for a note and found none.
Placing the vase on a table by the front door so everyone could enjoy it’s magnificence, she wondered. For the third time in as many weeks, someone had popped by early in the morning as she arrived to open shop at 8 am, to leave a gorgeous vase of flowers.
It was a delightful mystery. A kindness she wanted to express her gratitude for. Perhaps she’d have to become a PI and question neighbouring shop owners or failing that arrive early.
The following week, two more vases appeared, each containing a different variety of flowers. She was no closer to finding out who the generous and kind individual was. It remained an unsolved mystery. She’d followed up, questioning the other shops nearest but no one had witnessed their arrival. Since she was no closer to answering the question, she arrived earlier and earlier but was still unable to answer the question. The days she’s arrived early, there were no flowers.
Obviously whoever was leaving them was as determined to remain a mystery as she was at finding out. So, the following morning, she left a present of her own. A beautiful handmade card expressing her unending delight.
The following morning an even larger bouquet of flowers was left on the stoop. Surprised delighted but concerned she pondered the situation. It could be a client, perhaps a shop owner. Perhaps it was a friend.
Across the street, standing just inside the stationary store, stood a gentleman watching the perplexed then delighted look flash across her mobile features. He smiled. She’d once handed him a coffee as they’d shared a seat. He’d been down on his luck having lost his job, his apartment and wasn’t sure what the future had in store for him. Her generosity in that one thoughtful moment buoyed his spirits and he’d renewed his efforts found work, a new apartment and moved. He simply wanted to reward the thoughtful consideration that moved a stranger to offer him a moment of her time, a welcomed coffee and a few heartfelt but kind words.
A mystery was good for the soul. He again smiled as he wandered away.
Maxxy was jealous of everything. It didn’t matter what it was or who was involved or what they had. She didn’t! That’s all she saw. Someone else had something new different, whether it was physical or a brainstorm, she wanted it and set about taking it. She had no close friends. She was cruel, vicious, mean-spirited and aggressive. Then sat back and commiserated with herself about what a miserable horrible unfair world it was.
Many had tried, some hung in there longer than others, but eventually, they all left realizing it was a lost cause. Their efforts met with cold austere dislike as she plunged a knife into their back desiccating eviscerating unappreciative and without any love or affection to redeem her shortcomings.
Today was her come-uppance as it were. She’d had her eye on a new man who was smart attractive appealing. For the first time in her brief life, she desired someone who wouldn’t give her the time of day.
Then surprisingly, he did. Delighted with the turn of events, she made room for him in her life. Progress. They shared delightful blissful dinners, evenings and nights. Until she woke up and he was simply gone. And with him, everything she had. Her bank account was empty. Her room ransacked and anything of value was gone. She was empty.
Binoculars trained on her window he watched and applauded. His sister, who’d been one of her victims was avenged. He turned, smiled and walked on.
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Jazzy felt impotent. This was new! Having always taken the bull by the horns and pushed on through whatever blocked her way and cramped her style, she was experiencing something she’d never before experienced. She didn’t like it, at all.
The cause of that impotence was Jason. He was adorable, fun, gentle, sweet and slow moving. He planned every last thing! Her fate was in his hands! If he gave her project the go-ahead, she could begin implementing the necessary changes in the sound room. If not, it was back to square one. Making do with what they had.
Surely the money they’d made through the last six months could be fed back into the company. They desperately needed a decent “live room” so vocalists and instrumentalists could blast away without interfering with others. An additional isolation booth would be a brilliant addition too, allowing more than one vocalist to perform simultaneously.
Once the powers that be heard what they had to offer, there was no end in sight to the possibilities to their grown. Word of mouth in this business was everything after all. If one artist found you accommodating, and their sound enhanced, they told others.
The door opened and she looked eagerly at his face, hoping his expression would give away what he thought. He grinned. Jazzy was out of her seat and dancing across the room. “It’s a go, isn’t it?”
He hugged her close, “Yep, you got it in the bag – wait wait!” He held up his hands, “Within reason! We can’t afford to go crazy but we can get started on both projects, or you can choose whichever feels right and we can go all in.”
Jazzy’s eyes lit up. She knew exactly which project to choose! “Onward and upward, Jason. You’ll see, it’ll make a huge difference!”
As Jazzy bounced back to her desk, Jason smiled. Jason long ago learned to trust her judgment. He was gambling on that. She knew her stuff. Counting on that, he’d taken every last cent from his personal bank account to make this happen. He knew she was right. He knew she’d make it work. More he knew she’d make it a success!
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“Why is Jenny in handcuffs and why are the cops taking her away?” April asked stunned.
“There was a theft in her department and they think it was her,” Dawn’s smile held acrimony.
“That’s not possible, she’s the most honest woman I’ve ever met. Honest and fair!”
“Yeah, says me and everyone that knows her. She’s not capable of deception let alone theft. There’s a mistake. She’s been set up.”
“Why would anyone want to do that?” Dawn looked sideway through eyes the size of slits.”
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll leave it alone.”
“Are you threatening me, Dawn, are you responsible for this?”
“Leave it alone, April. There’s more where that came from.” She nodded toward Jenny.
“So, it was you then.” Dawn walked away, a strut in her step, one of those walks that carried a threat.
April waited until she’d disappeared before heading to her boss’s office. “Max, you know this is a mistake, right?”
“Yeah, it is and we’re going to do something about it.”
“What?” April asked, eyes wide with fear, concern, and excitement.
“Leave it to me, April. I’m pretty sure I know how this went down but it’s going to take me time to place the puzzle pieces in order and clear Jenny.”
“Want me to watch Dawn?”
“Furtively, if you can, but be careful. She has more irons in the fire. She’s as dishonest as it gets and not without the power to follow through as you’ve just seen.”
“What’s she going to do, take the entire office down one by one?”
“She has connections, willing and able to assist her.”
Dawning realization hit. “You’re in love with Jenny.”
“What of it?” Max asked as he stood confidently.
“Good to know she has an honest caring man on her side. And a best friend that will go to the mat for her. We can do this, Max. We need to do this. She’s never done anything to deserve this.”
“No, and we’re going to free her. When the chips fall, they’ll fall hard, where they belong.”
They watched as Dawn poked her head in the outer office door. “That one needs a take-down.”
“It’s coming. And the fall is going to hurt for a long time,” Max promised.
Guenevere was furious, stomping around the room raving and ranting. How did this happen? Why hadn’t she seen it coming? She was green with envy. Her twin sister Julia always ended up with the man. This time she was marrying him, the man, the one and only, the one she’d dreamed of daily for over a year and a half.
It was Julia he preferred even though it was she that had made the move, daring to approach him and introduce herself. Even then he’d had eyes for Julia now that she thought about it. How she hated her – her sister’s betrayal stark in her mind. Fired, her anger raged out of control. They’d both pay!
They were polar opposites with Julia being softer, gentler, calmer, brilliant in word and gracious in deed. While her twin was brash, often cruel, with a wall a mile high around her. On occasion, Julia managed to break it down and get inside to the real sister the one she loved wholeheartedly.
Her love for Dom knew no bounds. It had been effortless, freeing, empowering, special. She recalled their meeting as if it were yesterday. He’d bypassed her vivacious bold attention getting twin, the one everyone flocked to, instead stared endlessly at her until he’d made his way to her side and introduced himself.
Immediately she’d been lost, or found. They’d become inseparable, spending hours wandering town looking at art, graffiti, attending art shows, galleries, or simply sitting on a blanket at the beach, as long as they were together, they were happy, ecstatic.
On this their wedding day, her heart was filled to overflowing wit emotions from hope, happiness, joy and excitement that threatened to overwhelm her, their intensity so great.
The one sad moment that hurt beyond measure was her sister’s absence. She was to have been her bridesmaid but clearly that was an impossibility.
Cards were piled on the entry table and as she was about to walk out the door on her father’s arm, when a note was delivered.
She wasn’t sure why she stopped to open it, but she did. Inside, four words, “Murderer! You shall pay!” Dropping the note, shocked as she recognized her sister’s handwriting she stumbled and raced down the steps to her car. There was no standing against what Guenevere would do, was capable of. To protect her love, she fled.