With special thanks to Christy Lake & Misty Dawn
The powerful car had no more than pulled away from the curb, when the phone in Rebecca's hand signalled that her call was ringing. It was answered after the third ring.
"Hello? Bob Arnold here."
"Bob. It's Rebecca."
"Where are you?" he asked politely, "Martin has been standing by waiting for your call. I thought you would be at the hotel by now."
"Bob, the reason I'm calling is... Well... I'm going to have to cancel for tonight. It's been a really rough day... and all I really want to do is slide into a nice warm bath and relax. I still have to pick up the key at the landlord's yet, and unpack... and well, to be honest Bob, I would not be very good company tonight."
"That bad a day huh?" he grimaced. "Okay, I understand. I don't blame you. If my day was half as stressful as yours has been, I'd probably feel the same way... Perhaps another time then?" he hinted sadly.
"I would like that very much Bob," Becky replied sincerely.
Realizing that she isn't giving him the brush off after all, he quietly began the offensive again. "Listen. I have a bit of business to take care of in the morning, and then I was going to drive back to Renton in the afternoon. I could put that on hold and maybe we can do something tomorrow. I don't have to be at The Lab until Wednesday afternoon... Why don't you go have your bath, relax, and give me a call later on tonight, after you've had some rest? Okay?"
"Okay Bob. I can do that," the little voice replied. Why am I making it so easy for him?
"Okay I'll talk to you in a few hours from now then. Bye for now."
"Bye" she replied, ending the call.
While Becky had been on the phone, Jeffery had been piloting the car towards the Kerrisdale district to pick up the key for her new home. Winding along the street they made their way past the old stately homes, Rebecca thought that this looked like it was probably one of the very nicest of the city's neighbourhoods. Soon the houses give way to a little commercial area. And once again impressed by the architecture of the area, she wondered silently, "There are some nice and very interesting little shops around here. I'm going to have to come back and do a little window shopping of my own."
As the Beemer slowed at a cross walk, the spirited woman noticed the busy afternoon shoppers trying to tidy up those last minute things one recalls to pick up on the way home, and smiled at the resemblance to an ant colony. Turning right off of Fourteenth Avenue they pulled up in front of an Edwardian styled building and stopped.
"We're here." Jeff announced as he turned off the car.
Making their way into the shop that Jeff had conveniently parked in front of, Rebecca thought, "Too cute," smiling at the pleasant sound a little brass bell announced their entrance. They were met by the receptionist, who greeted them with a cheerful, "Good afternoon welcome to Doman Management. My name is Miss Sabrina. How may I help you?" She barely took her eyes off her typing.
Clearing his throat Jeffery announced, "Yes. My name is Jeffery Stewart and this is Rebecca Stewart. I believe we have an appointment with Herb."
"One moment, I'll see if MISTER Doman is available," she returned haughtily, then, at her own time, halted her typing and lifted the phone from its cradle with a small flourish. After punching a few buttons, she spoke meticulously into the receiver. "Excuse me, MISTER Doman, but there is a...a couple out here who say that they have an appointment with y..." she paused as though just she had been interrupted, "Yes, Sir!" her eyes flicked over the odd couple as she paused again, "Right away, Sir!" With a curious look at the headset, as if in disbelief of the something just said to her, she cradled the instrument and looked at the mismatched couple. "If you would please have a seat, Mister Doman will be right out to see you."
"THANK you," Jeffery snubbed, deliberately turning his back to her.
"Jeffery!" was all Rebecca needed to say to him while giving him that "one eyebrow raised" look all irritating children soon learn to recognize as, "That's enough!"
Moments later Herb Doman bursts forth from his office and greeted the pair. "Jeff! How you doing, you old hacker?" he shouts exuberantly, startling the prim Miss Sabrina, while rounding the corner from his office.
"Not bad, Herb. Not bad at all... If you please, Herb, this is my cousin Rebecca." Jeffery introduced her to the man as he is shaking his hand.
"Oh yes. I am very pleased to meet you, Rebecca. Wish it were on better circumstances. Sorry to hear about your illness." he soothed as he deftly lifted and kissed the back of Becky's petite hand.
"Thank you Mr. Doman... You are very kind," she replied with cordiality uncommon. Noting the very proper Miss Sabrina watching with a disapproving eye, Becky smiled and was unable to resist a sly wink. The girl huffed and turned back to her duties.
"Call me Herb... I reserve that Mr. stuff for the staff and the flunkies." the rotund man announced, then led the way into his office.
"Sabrina! Hold ALL my calls! I will out in a few minutes. Thank you." He directed the stunned receptionist as he walked away without waiting for her to answer. True to his word not 15 minutes later they are back laughing and joking as they walk.
"Okay Jeff. I'll call you with our tee-off time for Saturday... Oh, by the way, it's your turn to buy lunch," the jolly owner informed the couple.
"Herb, I knew there was a catch doing business with you," the cousin quipped lightly.
"All in a days business, Son... And Rebecca, nice to meet you." he offered and once again reaches for her hand.
"Thank you for your time Herb. I do so appreciate you taking the time to find me a place on such short notice," the ever polite, Becky stated.
"Not a problem, Rebecca... it's what I do. I should thank your cousin for bringing you here today. It is always much more pleasant working while helping friends."
The tinkle of the bell was heard once again and they were off. Back in the car, headed back along Fourteenth Street, back towards the hospital again, Jeffery remarked, "That wasn't all that bad now was it?"
"No. He seemed like a very nice man." Becky had been impressed.
Very soon the car slowed down and finally came to a stop in front of one of the most impressive of the very old homes lining both sides of the lane that Rebecca had been appreciating earlier. She stared in astonishment at the very large three-story house. "Jeffery are you sure this is the right address?" she asked wonderingly.
"Yup! Checked it out my self. You are going to like this Beck. I guarantee it."
With the woman trailing slightly in awed disbelief, they make their way along the flagstone path, and up the columned stair to the impressive veranda. Standing before them was an immense solid oak door with brass knocker and handle. Taking the keys from her purse Rebecca fumbled for the correct one and slid it home. An impressive "click" was heard and she pushed down on the tongue of the door hardware to release the catch and thrust inward. The three inch thick door opened effortlessly, as if suspended on air, and they quietly entered into the vestibule. While Jeffery turned to close the door Rebecca noticed several touches that had been added to make the place seem even more impressive. The inlaid marble floor, the solid brass gang mail box recessed into the wall, the bevelled glass door leading into the main part of the apartment building. Smiling she fits her next key into that tumbler as well.
The expanse of the incredible house was suddenly becoming apparent. Her eyes lifted skyward at the arced stairwell with its carved wooden banisters that rose majestically to the third floor. Amazed eyes took in the crystal chandelier that was hanging some thirty feet above her head. "Not bad digs, eh?" Jeff remarked laughing softly. "Wait till you see your apartment... Come on it's on the second floor," he announced, bounding lightly up the stairs in front of her.
Still awed at the house she follows him taking in every detail as she toils behind him. Upon reaching the second floor Rebecca spoke to herself, "God, I'm glad I don't live on the third floor... I'd never make it."
Catching her breath, she took a good look around and quietly proceeded down the wood paneled corridor to a large wooden door, in front of which Jeff had paused and stood waiting, impatiently. Inserting yet another key into another lock mechanisms, she turned it and heard that distinct click all high quality security locks make. With a positive gesture, she pushed down on the brass door lever, and this very large and impressive door also opened as quietly and with as little effort as the main door downstairs.
Giggled like an excited debutante, Rebecca felt like skipping through the door onto the hardwood floor at the entrance. Gazing at the large mirror hanging on the wall above the Sheraton hall table, she found she was faced with the decision of which way to proceed, left or right?
Choosing left, she rounded the corner into the parlour. This suite is indeed fully furnished. In front of a tastefully detailed mantle and fireplace, two overstuffed chintz love seats had been placed facing one another across a space, which included an antique highly polished replica Queen Anne coffee table between them. Her eyes wander over to the inset bookshelves along one wall and stop on the ten foot tall double French doors that lead outside to her own private little balcony. She makes her way over to them and gazes out side at the courtyard and gazebo she noted on the neatly trimmed lawn below. "I am very impressed," she commented silently. "Jeffery has earned a big hug and kiss for this one."
Jeffery returning from the bedroom adjacent to her position suddenly broke the dawdling daydream. "Okay, I put those bags on the bed and I'll just nip back down and grab some more...back in a tic," he announced, striding masterfully across the room.
"Hold on, and I will give you a hand," she called, following him as fast as she could in her sharp heels.
"No. You just stay here and explore a bit.... I'll be right back...it won't take me long, and besides, from the expression I saw marring that beautiful face when you reached the top of those stairs... you could use a rest."
Unable to come up with a valid argument to counter Jeffery's point, she conceded and nodded her head in agreement. "I'll just start putting everything away." Becky replied, meekly giving in as she waved her fingers in the air towards the bedroom.
The extremely feminine action puts a smile on Jeffery's face and he once again resumes his quest.
Entering the bedroom she was awestruck with the sheer beauty of this old mansion. The bedroom was very tastefully decorated with what appeared to be an antique triple dresser with gilt bevelled mirror above it. And up against the wall was a honest-to-goodness four-poster bed complete with curtained canopy and step stool. She slid both hands over the ornate, carved woodwork and quietly appreciated the remarkable Old World craftsmanship, certain that only a journeyman jointer had produced such a work of art. She settled her pert buns onto the raised mattress surface and smiled as her eyes once again drifted over the room's accouterments finally coming to rest on the curtains covering the windows.
Sliding off the bed onto the thick carpet she makes her way over to the tall window and pushes back the curtains to let in what is left of the afternoon light. Giggling like a little schoolgirl, she hugged her arms to her body and twirled around with delight. Next, Rebecca made her way into the master bath to see what had to be the largest soaker tub ever made. "Oh, my god!'' she exclaimed aloud. " Am I ever going to put that gorgeous creature to good use," she thought, smiling broadly, quietly imagining how it will be.
Becky then wandered across to the ornate vanity, her tall spike heels echoing on the Italian tile floor, and minutely inspected the area for the prerequisite plugs, lighting, and adequate counter space every girl needs to make her self look beautiful. Her search was interrupted by a loud 'oomph' coming from Jeffery slinging another load of he suitcases upon to the bed.
Rushing over to her cousin, Rebecca made good on her promise of earlier and rewarded Jeffery with a huge hug and a kiss. "Thank you, Jeffery!" she stated suddenly shy. "This place is beautiful."
The tender moment was sudden rudely broken by the soft, but insistent chirping of Jeffery's cell phone. Flipping open the cover he lifted the aggravating device it to his ear and snapped, "YO!" into the microphone. "Oh, hi, Dave. How's it going? Nope not tonight... got a hot date... none of your business who... you don't know her, I just met her... No! She's a nice girl, and damn cute too... Ha, ha, ha! Very funny... You wouldn't know what to do with a nice girl, you big slob!
"Listen, do you and Paul still want to go to that Wrestling thing at the dome tonight? Yes the one with Britney, and Little Katie. Well...what if I told you that I have two tickets for the main vent in the blues just off centre? No... I really don't think I would want to be kissed by you... but thanks for offering anyway. Nothing... All you have to do is go to my house and pick them up....
"They're pinned to the corkboard in my office... No... You don't have to... really... they're comps'... just enjoy.... okay? Okay, How about this? You owe me a beer or two, our next pub night. How's that? Right. Catch ya' later tater'." Ending his session, he abruptly flipped the cover closed and deposited the intrusion back into his jacket pocket.
Turning, he saw that his cousin had already begun unpacking and hanging away clothes in the large armoire dominating one entire wall. Jeff once again resumed his journey to retrieve the rest of Rebecca's belongings.
Once the chore had been completed, the cousins grinned at each other in the small, but functional, in-suite kitchen. "I'd kill for a cuppa' right about now," the older cousin stated. "You want me to run you to the Safeway? So you can pick up a few things?"
"That would be really nice if you would. I would really appreciate it, Jeffery. I'm all but knackered," she stated flatly, silently refusing to budge.
"Hey. Not a problem, just add it to the list of favours you already owe me. Besides I got a couple of hours to kill before I pick up Prue, and it's not worth driving home now, just to turn around and come back... Come on an' grab your bag then, geil and we'll motor!" he ordered, assuming a soft Scottish roll with his words.
Rolling her eyes with a pained expression, the pretty pixie pranced away toward the bedroom. "Just give me a moment to get out of these heels and I'll be right with you." Rebecca firmly closed the door behind her, and in what had to be the all-time-land-speed-record-for-a-woman-changing-clothes, emerged in mere moments wearing a white, angora sweater, a pair of very tight, designer blue jeans, with a pair of tennies, on her feet. "Just let me run a brush thru my hair and we will be off." Becky then snatched up her purse from the end table and disappeared back into the room. Again in just mere moments, she reappeared, freshly made up, her hair tied back with a ribbon adorning the perky ponytail.
"Well? Are you not ready?" she asked the bewildered cousin as she made her way towards the massive front door.
"Ah... Ya," he replied, while returning to earth, and realizing he had been staring at his very striking cousin. Quickly making sure everything is secure, they made their way down the ornate staircase and out to 'The Bondmobile.'
"There's a Safeway on Twelfth and Cambie,'' he told her as the powerful little big-boy-play-toy accelerated with determination down the busy city street towards their "Gastronomic Aide Station" destination.
Jeffery knew there would be no problem parking his vehicle this time, and cruised directly thru the entrance of the underground arcade. Quickly taking the escalator up to the shopping concourse they enter the mega food giant. Years of shopping experience came in extremely handy in the bustling unfamiliar store and Rebecca soon had a respectable pile of goodies on the conveyer belt.
The clerk smiled cheerfully and expertly rang everything in. Returning one of her own smiles, Becky picked up the December copy of Cosmo and idly leafed thru through the gaily-printed pages while waiting for the final tally. Just before the clerk totalled everything, Rebecca added the magazine to the procession and then opened her purse and held her Safeway Points Card in readiness of the pronouncement of the damage to her checking account.
"Thank you, Ma'am. Your total is one hundred, eighty-six dollars and seventy-three cents, please?"
Wistfully wishing there was a less expensive way of providing nourishment to the body, the experienced shopper handed the cashier her Debit Card, then returned both cards to the pocket provided in her petite purse for them when the business was finally pronounced transacted.
Jeffery just looks on, awed at how this small pile of food and accessories could possibly total $186.73.
The beautiful blue jeaned bagger with bouncing breasts pushed the shopping cart carrying plastic bags bursting with their purchases. As the gorgeous girl wheeled the wonky cart towards the elevators, Rebecca announced, "Twenty minutes... Not bad time, considering it was a new store."
Throughout the whole ordeal Jeffery had said less than two words, like all men, detesting the entire suggestion of any sort of shopping trip.
When they had returned to the 'estate', as Jeff called it, they pulled around the corner, located an almost hidden driveway, and motored into the protected garage where Jeff parked his car and pressed the clicker to shut the large door.
"You even have your own parking spot," he told her with a small laugh and lifted the boot lid to retrieve the fortune in foodstuffs.
Rebecca, unsure of where to go, followed Jeff's lead while he led her through another doorway and in to the main part of the building. "Key please," he requested of his cousin, who was forced to put down her bundles to dig in her handbag for the second-to-last key. Inserting it into the lock, turning it, hearing that now familiar sound assured them both that this passageway is now open.
Stepping through the door, Becky asked, "What's the last key for?"
"Oh, that is for that door right there.'' He indicated with his head as he walked past it.
"What's in there?"
"Oh that's just the utility room, and the pool." Jeff answered with a nonchalant shrug. "Oh! And I think there are an exercise room and a sauna in there as well. Herb said something about it the other day."
After the climb to the second floor Becky performed the turnkey function ahead of her now struggling cousin. Putting the bags on the counter he looked at his watch and announced that he still has lots of time. Being the ever-perfect hostess Rebecca offered to make him a sandwich while he waited.
"Naw! That's okay," he says. "I'll be having dinner in a couple of hours and I hate to spoil it."
"Okay. How about I make you a pot of tea?" she asked, looking in Jeff's direction for the answer. A non-committal shrug was all she got back. "Probably rather have a cold beer. It I know Jeffery. Well that is just tough, because I do not have any... and besides, he is going out tonight. If it was I, and he showed up with alcohol on his breath, I would not be impressed. All of this was running thru her head as she put the groceries in their new homes.
Searching the cupboard she found a serviceable stainless steel kettle with the whistle on it. Half filling it with water from the tap she half cursed aloud for not picking up a Brita water filter while at the shops. "Next time!" she reminded her reflection in the shiny surface as she placed the kettle on burner, getting it started. Turning the handle on the gas stove, she searched for a teapot and filled it with hot water from the sink.
"Jeffery? Where are you taking Prue tonight?" she asked, suddenly noticing the younger cousins absence.
"Eh?" Jeffery from the other room, as a sport broadcast began to erupt from the monster-screen television he had managed to locate and activate. "Oh... I don't know how about the Silver Dollar Cafe."
"I've never heard of it." Rebecca shouts back.
"It's a coffee shop near Main on Hastings." Jeff shouts back, as he is watching a talking head give the rundown of latest NHL stats.
Although Becky had never heard of the cafe, she was familiar with the area that her cousin was referring to, and realized it just happened to be one of the most unsavoury neighbourhoods in Vancouver, if not all of Canada. "That ought to really impress a nice girl like Prue," she retorted snidely.
With out removing his eyes from the sports news and his finger never leaving the remote button, "Yup," he returned rather distractedly, "That's what I thought."
In the kitchen, lofting big eyes heavenward, his cousin had to wonder if he had even heard what she had said. At that point the kettle began to sing its head off. Taking the teapot and emptying the hot water out she plops two bags of Tetley's into before silencing the now frantic kettle. Filling the pot she called back to Jeffery.
"Okay Wise Guy! Where you really taking her?" The older cousin wriggled her way out of the kitchen with a tray, complete with two cups and saucers, teapot, cream, sugar, a couple of spoons and a small plate filled with Burns Scottish Shortbread Cookies. She sat the presentation on the table between Jeffery and the television and purposely stands in a manner blocking his view and then repeated her question. "Where are you taking her? I hope it's someplace nice?" she added.
Trying to see around her, he twisted the upper portion of his body in futile effort to continue watching the program. "It's a nice little tapas bar just off Richards... and then I'm taking her to a little blues club I know of and watch Jim Byrnes play for a bit. After that my plans are open... we'll just play it by ear. Okay, you happy now?"
"Yes dear." Becky replied, just like a concerned mother would. "Now have a piece of shortbread and fix your tea."
Watching him with humour mixed with curiosity, picking up the sugar bowl, and then grimacing as he proceeds to put three heaping spoonfuls of the white sugar into his tea. Giving it a half-hearted, distracted stir, he than added a huge dollop of cream to it and then with a small smile of triumph, pronounced it ready. Finally adding the ultimate capper, he, grabbing a piece of the short bread, even as Becky attempted to hand him a napkin to put it on, then shoved the whole thing into his mouth and mumbled, "FANX!"
Shaking her head, the delicate female spat, "Men." It seemed the only correct epitaph coming to her mind at that moment.
While sitting across from her cousin, Rebecca slowly sipped her tea; she smiled as she is taken in the elegant decor and the near-regal layout of the room. Her eyes followed the crown moulding around the room, until her attention directed back to the inset bookcases. Carefully rising, with teacup and saucer in hand, she smoothly made her way over for a closer inspection and discovered hard covers by James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Minette Walters, even noticed some Dick Francis and some old Robert Parker.
"Wow!" she sighed softly, but aloud. "Who ever put this collection together sure knew what they were doing in the mystery department. There are quite a few heavy weights in here!" Becky discovered more authors from days gone past, some old Chandler, and even a sizable collection of Earl Stanley Gardner. She smiled as she began dreaming about the nights she would spend curled up on the loveseat, rereading some of these fine old, "Whodunit's", in front of a roaring fire built high purposely to take off the autumn chill.
A few minutes later, when both cousins had finished their tea she smoothly collected the debris, stacking the delicate china carefully in the dishwasher and placing the rest of the pieces of the welcome repast in the appropriate spots in the small kitchen.
"What time are you picking Prue up?" The inquisitive girl, still unable to believe a girl as intelligent as Prue would FALL for such corn as her cousin had dished up, asked, when leaving the kitchen on her way to the linen cupboard, to get some dish towels for the wash up.
"Gotta leave after the news is over," the cousin announced, in a robotic voice, his eyes never leaving the TV screen in front of him.
Completing the kitchen chore with little effort, she returned the bedroom to finish putting her things away in the appropriate places. Hefting the last case up on the bed, she was slightly startled when Jeff stuck his head around the corner to ask if she needs anything more before he leaves.
"You off then Jeffery?" she asked. Jeffery mumbled something unintelligible and bobbed his head up and down at the same time.
"Here," he said shoving a tiny phone at his much smaller cousin. "Take this... Just in case...for emergencies."
"But... I don't need this. I'm not going anywhere," she argued.
"Darn it, Becky, I checked. The phone isn't connected, so you can't get a hold of anybody if you need help... and besides I have my beeper... If anybody needs me they can page me... I'm sure Prue will let me use hers if need be."
"Are you sure?" she queried again.
In his best Aussie imitation, Jeff remarked, "No worries mate!"
"Okay. You have fun... and I will see you tomorrow... okay?''
"Ya... I'll be here at the crack of dawn in the morning to pick you up... NOT!" he joked. I'll stop in when I get here... It probably won't be too early though...depends what tonight brings," he grinned wolfishly and shrugged, while walking towards the door. Somehow the posture, his attitude, something about his manner, conveyed the message that Prue was going to have to be on her toes or wind up looking at him across a breakfast table.
Rebecca followed him to the door. "Okay. Really, you have fun tonight, and don't get too loaded... You might need your license for work, and it would not be a good thing if you lost that in a stop check."
"Yes, Mother." Stepping confidently thru the door, he was quickly on his way down the carpeted hall to the stairs and around to the back exit.
After locking and bolting the apartment door, the classy lassie turned and strode purposefully back to the bedroom. She sighed, "that is the second time today someone has compared me to his or her mother. I wonder if I am behaving like a mother?'' Some how she found that thought not only amusing but also exciting, a sort of self-acceptance of her 'womanness.' Breaking out of her trance, she quickly finished off the task of stowing her clothes away, humming "I Am Woman". At last, she placed the last of the suitcases at the back of her closet and then eagerly reminded herself of the gigantic soaker tub.
~Next: Part # 5 [Reflections]~
More [Hot Crossings]
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