Eternity of Love
Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 23
by E. N. Ginerd
She wiped her brow with her forearm and shifted the cello that she hauled on her back. With a heavy exhale, she finished climbing up the remaining stairs in the narrow staircase to her small apartment. As she fumbled for her keys in her pocket, her neighbor and landlord, Mrs. Crumtree opened her door a crack and peaked out from beneath the chain.
"You're running late, aren't you?"
"Hello, Mrs. Crumtree," she said, shifting uncomfortably under the weight of her instrument as she patted another pocket for her keys.
"Couldn't you play a flute? That guitar is bigger than you are," she gruffed, seeing the small woman finally get her keys.
"It's a cello, Mrs. Crumtree," she corrected the curmudgeon warmly, as she did every day. "And if I played the flute, it would be rather hard to recite my poetry at the same time."
"Poetry, ppffft," she said dismissively. "Do you have the rent?"
"The end of the week, as we had agreed, Mrs. Crumtree."
She grumped. "Just don't forget." Her door slammed.
"Yes, Mrs. Crumtree," she said patiently to the door as she had every day since she moved there. The old lady wasn't so bad. She didn't require references and was very agreeable to taking cash. Something the blond tenant required in all her financial transactions. You can't trace cash.
She tossed her keys onto the small table and carefully shed her heavy instrument, also known as her bread and butter. She sighed with relief as her shoulder became unburdened. Setting the stringed instrument in the corner of honor, she smiled and went to the kitchen to figure out what she would have for dinner.
Opening the refrigerator, she stared at the contents. Ketchup, mustard, various bottles of hot sauce . . .
She knocked on Mrs. Crumtree's door. On the fourth knock she heard a muffled "what do you want?"
"Mrs. Crumtree, it's me . . . G. . Grace," she said, rolling her eyes at forgetting which name she used this time.
The door opened an inch, the chain still securely on. "What do you want?"
"I was going food shopping and wondering if you needed anything," she said with a patient smile. Brown eyes narrowed at her.
"You'd get me something at the store?"
"Well, I was going . . . " she said patiently, with a shrug. The light from the TV flickered in the dark room behind the odd woman.
"Yes. Tea. Are you deaf?"
"Any kind you had in mind? Green? Earl Grey?" She asked.
"Huh? Just tea. None of that fancy stuff. Tea," she said, then frowned when the young tenant's eyebrows furrowed. "The kind you get in bags."
"Ah," she said, nodding her head absently, starting to walk away.
"Cat food, too. A bag of that EOL© Kitten Chow for Terry. The 'Savory Seafood' flavor," The old woman called out as an afterthought. Though she had never seen the old woman's cat, it was obvious old woman loved the feline for EOL© Kitten Chow was the most nutritious pet food, with 100 % of the vitamins and minerals a growing kitty needed to stay healthy not to mention a variety of cat-pleasing flavors to choose from.
"Gotcha. Tea. In a bag. EOL© Savory Seafood Kitten Chow," she said with a firm nod, and started to leave.
"And milk . . . " the old woman blurted, as another afterthought. "Oh, and some crackers. How about some butter too. . . "
As she pushed the shopping cart down the last aisle, she gazed at Mrs. Crumtree's long shopping list and shook her head with a smirk. It took almost twenty minutes, but she convinced the old hermit to just make a list.
Heading towards the checkout, her head popped up in shock when her cart was side-swiped by another, driven by a handsome woman. Her hair was the color of dark chocolate, falling over her shoulders in luscious waves.
"Sorry about that," the stranger said with an unrepentant smile and a sparkle in her dark blue eyes.
She just smiled politely and moved her cart around the woman, who's smile fell. "Uh . . . I'm Sandy," she said, sticking her hand out, which the pretty blond just looked at. Sandy awkwardly retracted her hand.
Gazing into suddenly uncertain eyes, she asked curiously "Do you always deliberately crash into shopping carts?"
"Only when I don't know how to get someone to notice me," Sandy said honestly, a shyness quickly replacing her roguishness.
"Please, I find that hard to believe," she said with a laugh. The woman was certainly noticeable.
"You're the cello player at the poetry place. You've been coming to this store for a month now," Sandy said with frustration.
"Oh." She cringed.
"Since I'm not noticeable to you - plan B," she said motioning to her cart with a heavy sigh. After another awkward moment, the dejected brunette started to pull her cart from the accident scene and leave.
"Glad you didn't decide to meet me in the parking lot. It might have been painful," she said, getting the self-conscious woman to reluctantly smile. "Especially since I walk."
"I'm sorry for bothering you," Sandy said honestly and a sad smile and started to leave.
"Wait. I'm sorry. I'm . . . eh, Grace . . ." she said and smiled, holding her hand out. After a split second of hesitation, Sandy clasped onto Grace's hand and shook it briskly.
"Pleased to meet you, Grace," Sandy said with a happy smile. "Your name suits you," she said, glancing over the woman's form.
"Sandy," she said with a disappointed sigh.
"You carry yourself with Grace, Grace. You're beautiful," she said. "And I want us to have sex," Sandy said, prompting Grace's eyebrows to shoot up. "But I can tell you are the kind to want to take things slow, so I'm willing to wait," Sandy said magnanimously.
"How thoughtful," Grace said flatly, getting a smile from the woman.
"Are you sure you don't need help with your groceries?" Sandy said, noticing Grace leave the store with the cart. "I can drive you. My Explorer is right there," she said, pointing to the black SUV in the parking lot.
"That's ok, Sandy. I like walking. Alone. Time to think, you know." She said with a big, polite smile and pushed her shopping cart down the sidewalk.
"I said something to offend, you didn't I?" Sandy said with frustration, catching up to the pretty blond.
"What makes you say that?" Grace said dryly, battling her cart which tended to veer left ever since the collision with Sandy. She hated when that happened. Finding a cart that would actually go straight was not a small feat. With so many out there that veered, she wondered if there was a manufacturing defect that no one bothered to mention to the shopping cart plant.
"I don't know. You just seem like you want to get away or something. What did I do? So I won't do it again." Sandy practically begged. That was even more annoying, Grace thought.
"Look, Sandy," she said patiently, eyeing the eager woman. "I'm sure you are a decent person, but you are really creeping me out," she said plainly, getting a frown from the brunette.
"My shrink says I need to give people more space. I tend to smother them."
"I think your shrink is onto something," Grace said and felt bad for the woman who frowned again. "I know meeting people can be scary, Sandy. And you want to put your best foot forward, but you need to see how the other person is responding and act accordingly," she said. "You have to know when to back off, when not to blurt out what's on your mind, like wanting to have sex when you first meet someone." She cringed after she said that. Well, I never really said much to her, she thought back to the tall, raven-haired woman she practically boinked on the dance floor. But that was different. As soon as I saw her, I knew she was my soulmate.
"Yeah," Sandy said with a thoughtful sigh. "How come you know so much about this stuff?"
"Let's just say, I spent a few sessions in a psychiatrist's office myself," Grace admitted still wistfully thinking of the tall woman, wondering where she was. What she was doing . . . .
"I've been going a while. I wonder if it's really worth the money," Sandy said, putting her hands in her pockets as they walked down the sidewalk
"That depends on what you getting out of it," she said with a shrug, still struggling with the cart that veered right into a patch of grass and got stuck. "Damn!"
"You sure you don't want a ride?"
To be continued
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