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The front doorbell sounded its gentle Westminster Chimes and the thumping on the door started before Hazel even put her pen down on the papers she was working on intently. More curious than annoyed, she stopped writing, shrugged and started for the door.

 Hazel was put together well in both mind and body. Her toned physique, attractive high-cheeked face, sharply sculpted short blond hair wasn’t frightened by many things. She was more interested in what was happening so noisily at her door. The banging was continuous and, as she crossed the gleaming hardwood floor of the foyer, now a voice joined in which she knew well, Charles Braswell, the husband of her friend, Sally.

She opened the door just as another beat was about to thump her door. The cold wind blew in. "Well,  hello, Char…"

"Is Sally here, Hazy?" Charlie’s face was a map of hardly controlled anger. His tall thin-running-to-soft body seemed rigid with tension, his camel-hair car coat open and blowing in the wind.

"I’ve asked you not to call me Hazy."

"Where’s Sally? I’m looking for Sally."

"I don’t know, Charles." Hazel held her spot in the cold entrance, her hand fixed on the broad, heavy door to prevent any move to come through.

"Don’t call me Charles. It’s Chuck." A clipped, crude remark.

She tilted her head with a slight smirk. "Well, don’t call me Hazy. It’s Hazel...Chuck. -Zel, -zel, =zel."

"What’s the difference, for crying out loud?"

"Hazel is the color of those beautiful eyes of Sally’s. Hazy is how your eyes get after the second Martini."

"Oh, you're always so clever. Where’s Sally is all I want to know. She’s always with you."

"No need to raise your voice. And ‘yes’, we like each other. That’s why we’re friends. But she’s still not here."

Charlie ran his hands through his hair which he must have been doing a lot. It was such a mess. "Geez! Everything’s a wreck."

"How, a wreck, Charlie?"

He spun around on the porch as if he didn’t know where to look, his hands floating around, his coat spreading with the cold wind. He was a picture of exasperation. "Everything. This has gone far enough. She’s not home. There’s no dinner ready. Beds aren’t made. The doors weren’t locked, for god sakes. She didn’t even pick up my shirts at the cleaners. Everything!"

"Did you call the police?"

"I don’t know. And tell them what? And then have her come waltzing in the door."

"Were you fighting?" Hazel almost said ‘again’. His silence meant that he was at her – again. She wanted to clock him right there on the front porch. Beautiful Sally. Yep, she had those mysterious hazel eyes. That slightly Asian looking face and a figure to die for. And a brain that could fascinate someone for hours on end. An intelligent someone. And stupid Charlie was worried about his shirts. He should be thinking of a warm night on a veranda in Mexico with strumming guitars, stars in a midnight blue sky…..and Sally explaining love and marriage to him, while the candles flickered in a gentle sea breeze. "Maybe she’s working on the boat."

"The boat's not there. Gone."

"Maybe she took it out. After all that restoration she’s done, she has to try it out. That’s the professional thing, Charlie. You know she’s practically famous for exacting restoration on boats. And she loves to do it. And she loves to be on the water."

"I’m almost famous, too. I married her to get her away from all that nutty stuff. Scruffy dockyards, oil slicks and orange peals floating in the water." He growled angrily. "She has my whole house to take care of. That’s all she has to do, that’s her job. How does she look at the country club with her hands all stained with dirt and paint?"

Hazel stayed cool and gazed at Charlie still looking and turning on the porch. If he’d had a hat, he’d be twisting it in his hands. "Do you have any idea how rare her talent is, Charlie? A real talent that people from all over the world want. She could do restorations on any one of the continents."

"That's a lot of bull." Charlie was facing the street, not moving. "Her talent. Hah!"

"Yes, her talent." Hazel's voice took on a sharp edge. "She loves it. It's her art, her profession."

Charlie spun around, his face crimson with rage, his nose an inch from Hazel's and shouted, "You promoted all this stuff. Her art? Her profession? I'm her profession! Me!" He pounded his chest. "Yes, Hazy, me!"

Hazel stared him boldly in his angry eyes as she backed away a step and moved her hand to the door handle, ready to close him out. "Who do you think you're shouting at, Charles? Some nobody. Or is everyone a nobody...but you? That's it isn't it, Charlie? Jealousy. Sally's little hobby has turned into big business, huh? She's getting it all, isn't she? Doing her art all over the world, fame and even fortune." Hazel gazed at him as her words tore at his angry agitation. "Jealousy, Charles, huh? And you know what else she gets? Respect, Charles, respect for her talents, respect for being Sally."

"Tell me where she is, Hazel. I think you know. Your best friend forever wouldn't do anything unusual without telling you, would she? The boat's gone. Where's Sally?"

Hazel looked at him while she decided what to do with this wild man. God help Sally. How to do it? "Okay, I'll tell you." 

He stood with his hands shoved into his car-coat pockets. "Maybe I can get some supper tonight. So, where?"

"She's on the boat."

"What the hell is she doing on the boat?"

"She's sailing to Ireland."

For a second Charles was frozen, mouth half open. "Ireland! In Europe?"

"Yes, Charles. That one. That's the true story and you're stuck with it."

"Oh, yeah! Well, we'll see about that. I can get there before she does. I'll be waiting when she lands. I'll fix this...and I'll fix her, too"

"You might have a long wait. She said it's sturdy ship, but a slow boat." Charles swung away and went down the steps two at a time. Hazel added as he climbed into his car, "And it's all about your, babe." Hazel closed the door, walked to the bottom of the second floor staircase and looked up.

*          *          *

The sensuous touch of skin against skin was enhanced by soft music of the guitars at the far end of the veranda and the gentle feel of the warm aromatic breeze. Under the star-filled night sky the hushed rush of the Pacific Ocean against the Mexican shore touched the evening with a promise of subtle excitement.

They shared a luxurious double lounge, body to body with their fingers entwined. Low tables on each side held the empty glasses of their last round of margueritas. A half-roll toward each other and they were face-to-face with their bodies pressing, their ankles entwined and their lips an inch apart.

"Another drink?"

"No. A kiss."

"Is this what you wanted?"

"Better than a dream."

"Not Ireland?" There was a little teasing in the question.

Sally smiled a slow contented smile. "No, Ireland doesn't come close. It's far, far away. All of that, far away. Hold me tight and kiss me again. A long kiss."  They finished face-to-face, their lips still touching lightly.

"You lit a hot fire in me when I first saw you, Sally. And your piercing look, those hazel eyes."

"My hazel eyes. These hazel eyes couldn't stop watching you."

"And this is our life now. You and me. No Ireland, no shirts."

Sally wriggled closer, seductively. "Chuck all that."

"Cute choice of words," said Hazel.



Bio:  Who ever ran over a whale and what happened? I grew up in the endlessly fascinating New York/New Jersey Metro area. It was a big playground united by tunnels, trains, bridges and ferry boats. My adult territory grew until my zig-zag adventures took me half way around the world. What intrigued me were the revealing behaviors of people I met, the unexpected. Except for running over the whale, everything was people action, all kinds, with all kinds of results. I think that shows up in my stories and books. Life is not neat, everything doesn't turn out just so.




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