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    Parker Owens
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Double Concerto - 29. Contrapunto

There's a Heinrich Senior advisory out, but not much bluster is expected.

Rick glanced out the kitchen window as he poured the last of the coffee from the machine into a careworn, grey travel mug. Sunday’s rain was a memory. Early Monday sunshine washed across the grass like a wave racing up the beach. It lit up the pines and hedge and glittered on the lake beyond the trees. Rick hadn’t stopped smiling since he woke up. He’d had an unforgettable weekend.

Once again, he looked at the last photo Gus had taken on his phone before the boat had capsized. Gus smiled back at him from a perfect day, relaxed and happy. He missed the man already. They hadn’t made any plans for the evening, but the man promised he would find a way to call. Rick smiled and felt a warmth that had nothing to do with July.

He checked his ever-present notepad: only a couple of routine items to take care of. It promised to be a nice, quiet start to the week. Rick wanted to start his day early, so he could knock off work sooner. There were more important things to think about.

Maybe Gus will be free before supper.

He grabbed his keys from the counter and stuffed the pad into his shirt pocket.

A sharp rapping at the kitchen door from the garage startled him. Who would be knocking at his door, and this hour? The noise repeated itself; whoever awaited him wasn’t very patient.

He opened the door to find the diminutive form of his neighbor smiling up at him, holding a rectangular foil-covered item in both hands.

“Morning, Mrs. Lee.” Rick couldn’t help but return her smile. “What gets you up so bright and early?”

“Hello, Rick. I get up this early every morning.” The old woman bustled into the kitchen without further invitation. “I don’t sleep like I used to. You just don’t see me in my nightclothes.”

“Is there a problem?”

“No, there isn’t anything wrong.”

“Are the chickens okay?”

“They’re fine, why?”

“I just wasn’t expecting a visit this morning.”

“Oh, well, I wanted to thank you and your friend, Gus for helping me round up the birds yesterday. I baked a surprise for you two last night.” She peered around the kitchen, searching for the other man. “Where is he?”

“I’m sorry, but Gus left yesterday evening. I had to drive him home.”

Caroline Lee tried to hide her disappointment. “You did? That’s such a shame. I thought he was staying over.”

Rick felt his neck begin to flush. He hadn’t wanted Gus to leave.

“No, he needed to get back to the lodge. The old Kohler place, where he’s staying.”

“Yes, of course. I remember.”

“I had to get him back before Joey and Marta’s parents returned.”

“Were those children all by themselves?”

“No, no. I think they went away with their mother this weekend.”

“And she would have minded if he stayed over another day?”

Rick shrugged. “I guess so.”

“Anyway, you both were so nice to take pity on a thoughtless old woman.”

“Don’t mention it. We were glad to help.”

“I just don’t know how those birds keep getting out.” The old woman smiled an apology.

“I could replace the latch on their run, if you like.”

“No, no, you don’t have to go through that kind of trouble. I’ll be more careful next time.”

He stifled the impulse to raise an eyebrow in disbelief. “I don’t think we much minded going on a neighborhood safari.” Rick smiled, remembering how Gus laughed at the whole situation, making fun at his own attempts at stealth.

For a moment, scenes from the previous day replayed themselves in his mind – Gus making a game of chasing stray fowl down the street, arms flapping; watching him duck into a hedge and coming out wet from the morning’s rain, only to shake the moisture from his black hair like a shaggy dog emerging from the lake; lowering the landing net over his head and pulling Gus in to steal a kiss behind a neighbor’s fence – Sunday might have been grey, but memories shone like gold in his mind.

“Gus is such a nice man.” Mrs. Lee broke into his reverie.

“Yes. He is.” Rick seemed to blush a little more.

“And so funny! I liked his story about chasing chickens when he was a little boy.”

He scratched his head. “Gus told me he was born in a tiny little village.”

“I remember him saying something about that.” The old woman placed her offering on the counter. “But he was a good friend to join our chicken catching crew.”

He smiled wider. “A very good friend.”

“A very, very special friend.” She fixed him with a penetrating eye and held his gaze.

“Um, uh …” The air seemed to disappear from the room and Rick suddenly felt himself grow uncomfortably warm. His vocal cords refused to function. His ability to deflect a conversation deserted him. The kitchen clock ticked steadily into the quiet.

Caroline Lee’s eyes narrowed. “You remember what I said a while ago? About how I thought something was going on with you this summer? Now I think I know.”

“You do?” His voice cracked. A sweat broke out on his brow and neck.

“I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before. You’ve been seeing someone.”

“Well, everyone knows Rita –”

“Stop that. I may be old, but I’m not blind.” The old woman spoke sharply. “At least, not anymore,” she muttered.

Rick stared like a startled deer.

“Let’s be honest. You don’t much like Rita do you?”

“No. Not really.”

“And certainly not like that.”

He shook his head.

“But you like Gus, am I right?”

Rick could only nod.

Caroline smiled and patted his arm. “It’s all right, dear. I really don’t care who you choose. You’re a grown man, for heaven’s sake; it shouldn’t matter to me. But it makes my heart glad that you seem happy. Both of you.”

Rick seemed stunned. His heart felt as if it was slipping, stumbling, trying to regain its balance. Years of hiding, decades of pretense, all gone. “I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything. I’m still your old friend, and that’s not going to change.”

Rick managed to nod. “Thank you.”

“But I’m wondering what you’re going to tell Rita.”

A bitter bark of laughter escaped his lips. He looked away. “Jeez Louise, what a mess. You think I have to?”

The grey head nodded. “It seems only fair.”

He made a face. “I’ll figure something out. I doubt she’ll care much. She’s in love with her big project, whatever it is. I don’t think I can compete; I’m not sure anyone could.”

“You may be right.”

“She seems to have half the Chamber of Commerce falling all over her, anyway.”

“Heinrich Senior will be disappointed.”

Rick blanched. “Oh, God. You’re not going to say anything to Dad, are you?”

She shook her head, smirking a little. “Not me. That’s definitely not my business. I can keep my mouth shut.”

Rick knew this to be true. Caroline Lee could make small talk with anyone, but didn’t trade gossip.

The old woman shrugged and continued. “Anyway, your father’s your problem. I’ll let you be the one to tell him. But if you take the advice of an old woman, you won’t put it off too long.”

“Thanks.”

Now it was Caroline’s turn to laugh. “You’re welcome. I don’t want to be within a hundred miles of that phone call.”

The corner of Rick’s mouth twitched. “You’ll probably hear him yelling anyway.”

“He’ll get over it.”

“I doubt it.”

“If he doesn’t, Heinrich will give himself an ulcer or burst a blood vessel. It’s such a pity he’s never taken the time to see how good a man you grew up to be. Isn’t that all a parent really should hope for?”

Rick blinked; his vision seemed clouded. “You’ve been the best neighbor, Mrs. Lee; now and for all these years. I just can’t believe you figured me out.”

The old woman laughed; the tension seemed to ease. “After spending time with you and Gus yesterday? It wasn’t hard at all once I thought about it. I’m surprised it took me so long.”

“Oh. So, what did you bring over?” His pulse appeared to have stabilized. It seemed okay to change the subject.

“It’s a lemon crumb coffee cake. I thought maybe you and Gus would like it.”

“That’s incredibly thoughtful of you.”

“The recipe was one of your mother’s. We used to trade them now and then. Anyway, you’ll have to save him some, for the next time he comes over.”

Rick swallowed, then smiled. “Yeah. For the next time.”

 

His drive over to the shop saw Rick’s smile begin to return. Caroline Lee isn’t going to blab all over town about you and Gus. She’s not Irene Inksater.

He’d hated having tongues wagging over him and Rita all summer. Rick didn’t want to imagine the gossip he and Gus would endure if everyone in town knew. However, as he wheeled into his parking spot at the shop, it seemed almost natural to wonder if the chatter really mattered, as long as the pair of them could be together.

But what would Dad think?

Rick shuddered, his smile vanishing. The plan had been to arrive at the shop early, grab the necessary tools, and get the jobs on his list done before noon.

He started to push open the shop’s front door, only to discover it was still locked. A quick look around the lot revealed that Irene’s burgundy Malibu wasn’t in its usual spot. Rick frowned.

That’s odd. Irene’s usually here by now.

Fingers rummaged in his left pocket for keys. They jangled as he inserted the shop one in the door and spun it. Rick walked inside, flicking on lights. When he peered into the office, Irene’s phone flashed angrily, indicating a voicemail.

He sighed while punching the numbers on the keypad. But the message was not some frantic emergency call, pleading for assistance. It was Irene.

Her voice blared from the speaker. “I’m not coming in today. I’m taking some mental health time. You can handle things yourself for a day, maybe two. That’s if I decide to come back at all.”

Rick blinked. Irene’s tone sounded seriously pissed off. True, she could be grumpy, just like his father, but this message seemed harsher, more significant.

His fingers flew as he called Irene’s home number.

I hope she and Harold haven’t been fighting. Or maybe Dad called and said something stupid.

Her phone at the other end of the line sang its monotonous song in his ear as it rang on and on until her voicemail picked up.

Rick spoke into the phone: “Irene, it’s Rick. I got your message at the shop. I’m worried. What’s going on? Call me back on my cell, okay?”

He’d barely replaced the handset when the instrument rang.

“Hello, Irene?” Rick answered immediately.

“Um, no. Is this Ernst Plumbing?” A male voice asked uncertainly.

“Yes, it is. Sorry, I thought you might be someone else.”

“I’m calling about a pipe that’s broken in my basement. It’s spraying water all over the place.”

Rick took a deep breath. The day just got longer.

 

“Everything okay?” The bespectacled, unshaven homeowner asked for the hundredth time.

“It will be,” Rick replied, trying to smile through his exasperation.

“I just wish I knew what caused this.” For the past several hours, this was the alternate bit of anxious conversation the man had tried to make when he hadn’t been inquiring about the progress of the job.

“Like I said earlier, it’s nothing you can predict. This kind of pipe was popular back in the eighties. It’s easy to cut and glue together, but it can crack and split open without any warning; no rhyme or reason, it just fails.”

Rick stepped back and rolled his head from side to side, trying to relax the muscles in his neck. He smiled to himself, remembering long, brown fingers working magic on his back and spine the day before.

“But it’s going to be okay?”

“Yes.” Rick sighed. “I’m replacing this whole section, plus all the section running from the T-junction back there to the upstairs feed. I’m also putting in a new shutoff here and back there, so if there’s ever a problem with some other pipe you can cut the water supply to those places without stopping the supply to the rest of the house.”

This was not the first time he’d gone over what he’d planned to do.

“I wonder what made it decide to crack open.”

It seemed wise to disregard this. He went back to work on a pipe joint that ran overhead.

“If I knew who installed this cheap stuff, I’d give him a piece of my mind.”

Rick suppressed a wry smile and continued fitting in a new section. He recognized the failed plumbing as the handiwork of Heinrich Senior; neat, spare applications of glue were the dead giveaway. He didn’t really blame the old man. From what he could tell, everyone jumped at using the new plastics. It was easy to work with, didn’t accumulate deposits, and above all, it was cheap. The elder Ernst must have been swayed by that last argument.

It wasn’t until later that the drawbacks became evident.

“How long is this new pipe is going to last?”

It was easier to ignore the man by thinking on his other problems as he worked.

What was Irene’s problem? Did I say something wrong? Why didn’t she call to say something? Maybe she tried to over the weekend and I missed it. That must be it. She thought I was ignoring her.

The phone in his pocket pinged. If he’d had a hand free, he’d have looked at the message right away. He still had a more than a few minutes on this part of the job, and then the new valves to install. Whoever was pinging him would have to wait.

“Damn.” Rick muttered a curse as a tiny grain of dust fell from the dull brown floorboards overhead and into his eye. “Happens every time.”

He blinked furiously to clear the eye while his hands were engaged.

“Everything okay?”

“Oh, fine,” Rick said with teeth clenched. “Just fine.”

 

By the time Rick had finished up with the emergency repair, the sun had already passed its zenith. He emerged from that damp basement into the warm blast of a July afternoon. He pulled his phone out, expecting a message from Irene.

Instead, he found a text from Jerry Guttmacher:

Congrats Rico! I think.

Rick frowned. What the heck was Jerry talking about? His blood ran cold in the summer heat. Had Caroline Lee been talking? It seemed impossible, but he still felt unsettled.

The message was over an hour old. He paused for thought, then typed back:

You think? Since when did you start thinking?

That would deflect Jerry until they could talk at Jahnke’s over breakfast in the morning. For the moment, he had lunch to grab and jobs to finish for the afternoon.

 

Much later, as he drove along West Forest Road to his final job on the list, the muffler on the old van decided to part company with the main body. One moment the vehicle was the picture of solid, if faded, reliability; the next, it was a bellowing, blaring heap of metal, with a trail of scrap that screeched as it dragged beneath. By the time Rick had pulled over, cut the rusted exhaust assemblies free, and tossed the remains into the back, he was hot, frustrated, and well behind schedule.

The company van now announced its presence in a way that anyone could hear for miles.

Worse still, it attracted the attention of the State Patrol on his way back into town. Rick only realized he was being pulled over by glancing in his side mirror and noticing the lights flashing behind. He’d never heard the siren.

He released a long, unhappy sigh as he watched in his mirror while the dark-uniformed Trooper emerged from the black, late model Charger, adjusted her holster, and approached.

“Evening, Rick.” The greeting was affable.

“Hiya, Lisa. How are you and Greg doing?” At least the woman in the uniform was someone he knew; he recognized her despite the wraparound shades and campaign hat she wore. Still, he kept his hands in plain view.

“We’re good. Haven’t seen you around town much.”

“It’s been a busy summer.”

“With work or romance? My sources tell me that things are getting hot and heavy with that real estate lady.”

Rick shook his head. “Sorry, Lisa. I think your informants are gonna be wrong on this one.”

“That’s not what Greg says.”

“And he’s always right?”

“I never said that.” The corners of her mouth turned up. “License and registration?”

“Sure thing. You mind if I grab the papers from the glove box?” It was always important to ask first, even if one knew the person carrying the gun. At least he and Lisa Kruger had stayed friends.

“No problem.”

“Here you go.” He handed over the items requested.

“You’re making one hell of a racket, you know that?”

“Sorry.” He shrugged apologetically. “The muffler fell off on the way to a job. I threw it in the back; you can look if you want.”

The Trooper walked around back of the truck but did not open the back. She appeared to be examining the license plate. Returning, the woman pulled out her official citation book with a wry smile.

“I hate to do it, Rick, but I have to write you a ticket and a fine.” She scribbled on her pad.

“How much is it?”

“With the noise you’re making, I ought to make it a couple of hundred.” She flashed a grin. “Seeing as it’s you, I’ll suggest fifty.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”

“Hey, what are high school pals for? We had a couple of dates, remember?”

“Yeah, I do.” Rick tried to smile. “Those were the days, huh?”

“I don’t know. Life’s pretty good right now. Might even be in line for promotion.”

“Wow. Congratulations.”

“Don’t shake my hand yet,” she laughed. “Anyway, about that ticket: get the muffler fixed in ten days, and bring the receipt for the repair to court. They’ll dismiss it and cancel the fine.”

“Oh, right. Thanks, Lisa.”

“Glad to help an old friend. You take care and drive safely.” She turned to go. “And get that muffler fixed!”

 

The sun was making its way westward when Rick finally returned to the shop. He felt plain worn out, and not just because his ears were ringing. There was no evidence that Irene had been back to the shop in his absence. The flashing message light was lit up, however.

He sighed and got a pencil and writing pad out.

The first couple of items were from customers asking for help with one problem or another. He’d phone and arrange visits later.

The third was missed call was different: “Rick, it’s Walter Heinemann. Can you call me back? I’ll try you at home, too.” His longtime mentor’s voice sounded agitated, unsettled. Rick wondered what the problem could be. He’d return the call after he’d finished going through the rest of the recordings.

Another work request from one of Rita’s renters was noted on his pad. He skipped past a junk robo-call as quickly as he could. The last message made him jump.

“Boy! It’s your father.”

Rick winced. It was possible Heinrich Senior’s voice was louder than the old van.

All I have to say is it’s about damn time. There’s a lot to discuss. Call me when you get in.”

He frowned. The elder Ernst’s message was similar to so many he’d heard. But this time, there was something different in the old man’s voice. Some of the crotchety irascibility was missing; perhaps his doctor had finally insisted on heart medication.

Whatever the cause for the call, Rick had no reason to look forward to returning it. What he really wanted to do was go home, shower, and maybe canoe around the point after dark. He bit his lower lip. Ignoring his father would just set up a bigger argument later. Rick sighed and reached for the handset.

In that same instant, the phone rang, startling him.

He lifted it with apprehension. “Hello? Ernst and Son Plumbing and Heating.”

“Rick? It’s Gus.”

Rick relaxed; all other thoughts fled his mind. “Hi. I’ve been thinking about you all day.”

The other man chuckled. “Great minds think alike.”

“Why did you call me here?”

“I found this number in the phone book. This house actually has one, though it’s ten or twelve years old.”

“Golly, I don’t know if I still have one at home.”

“Sorry, but I don’t have much time. I’m on the house landline. Is there some way I can see you tonight? I’ve missed you.”

Gus’ question made his heart beat faster.

“Yes. Sure. No problem. Can I come pick you up for supper?”

“I’d love that.”

Rick smiled, and in that instant imagined a pleasant dinner together while they talked about everything and nothing.

“But you’d better not.” Gus continued.

He noticed for the first time that Gus was speaking in a hushed tone.

“Magda is still annoyed with me about this last weekend, and she tells me Zoltan is too. He’s coming home tomorrow.”

“So going out on a date would put their noses out of joint?” Rick tried to hide his disappointment.

“Probably. I’m sorry.”

“No, I get it.”

“But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t slip out of the house for a little stargazing.” Gus suggested.

“What time do you want me at the end of the dock?”

I wish to thank @AC Benus and @Carlos Hazday for their invaluable help in making this a better story than what I originally wrote. Please leave a comment, cavil or critique. I appreciate everything you might have to say.

Copyright © 2020 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



46 minutes ago, weinerdog said:

I think a lot of us figured Mrs.Lee knew in the back of her mind what was up and it's no surprise she's cool about it.

 I think all the mysterious messages Rick got like Irene implying she may not return to work Jerry's text saying "Congrats Rico.I think"And Heinrich on the voicemail saying "It's about damn time" It all sound like as if it's a reaction to Rick and Rita being official.If that's the case did Rita herself plant this nonsense?

Speaking of Rita it's been about 5 chapters without her.It feels like the calm before the storm.I'm getting more and more afraid to read the next chapters because she's due.Kidding I'm looking forward to it

Rick has had a trying day with the various demands on his professional attention. Gus at the end of the dock under the stars is a perfect antidote, letting him forget about the odd messages on his phone and the need to have hard conversations with his father and Rita. At the same time, he has been getting used to the idea that Caroline Lee knows his secret. Thanks very much for reading and for your observations. 

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2 hours ago, Danners said:

Something tells me Irene’s anger and the numerous congratulatory messages are about Rita and Rick being in business together. Either Rita partnering with the plumbers or signing them exclusively for work on her new development.

I’m guessing it’s business related because I refuse to accept her laying any kind of claim to Rick socially. Especially when Rick publicly rebuffed her. Constantly. Unerringly. Bluntly.

I mean, if she did imply she and Rick are in bed together — meaning business but allowing for the implication of sex — I can only hope someone has the good sense to invite her home for a quiet, intimate dinner . . . and then feed her a hand grenade. Or a chainsaw.

Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Rick, Gus — we’re rooting for you!

Something is definitely up, but apart from Irene's sudden departure, Rick has no idea what's going on. It doesn't help that the day has been terribly busy. At the end of the day, he chucked the chance to do some investigating for the opportunity to stargaze with Gus. Then again, Rick would forego quite a lot to spend time with Gus.  Rick's repeated rebuffs and denials haven't done much to slow the gossip mill; I think you're right that a hand grenade might be the only thing that would do the trick. Many thanks for reading!

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2 hours ago, 84Mags said:

It looks like the plan Rita is scheming has picked up speed. Knowing small town life, she most likely let it be known to just the right folks that she and Rick are in an exclusive business deal, thanks to the meeting with Heinrich, but also alluded to and encouraged the belief there is something ‘romantic’ going on, as that also serves her purpose. 
The interaction with Caroline Lee made me smile. What an endearing way to be a bit of a nosy neighbor, but ultimately a supportive friend! I’m glad Gus can slip away for star gazing, but that conversation reminded me just how much influence Magda and Zoltan have over his life. Between that, Irene’s snit and the congrats messages, there are a lot of ‘trouble ahead’ warnings.    

There are too many signals flashing, too many straws in the wind, for them to pass unnoticed. Rick senses something untoward is up, but is unsure. The tremors running through the small town indicate some kind of seismic shift is in the works. You've counted a number of worrying items, from phone messages to whatever Heinrich Senior is up to.  However, Gus is much more diverting, much more interesting, than any worrying Rick might do. Thank you very much for reading, and for your observations.

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2 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

A lot appears to have happened of which Rick is blissfully unaware. Unless he calls Walter back this evening - probably not now Gus has issued an invitation - I guess all will be revealed by Jerry when they meet for breakfast at Jahnke's tomorrow.

Am sure that chapter will need a LARGE Rita warning!☣️

As long as Gus is nearby, Rick will remain blissfully, cheerfully happy. You're quite right - Rick isn't going to call Walter back, now that he's headed over to see Gus. I'll have to see if there's a new bulletin with Rita Warnings out yet...  thanks for reading!

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1 hour ago, pvtguy said:

Truth has a way of surfacing eventually.  Once done, it does make it less stressful mostly, though the haters will always be there.  I am eager to find out what is going on with Irene and H-senior!  Another wonderful chapter!

And in a small town like Eagle Lake, truth can surface quicker than it takes your eye to flicker. Perhaps there are fewer haters than Rick suspects. That's the problem: finding out whether things really are as bad as you thought they might be. As to Senior and Rita, their truths are even more apt to come to the surface. Thanks for reading, and for your thoughts.

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Everything I started to comment, I had a spoiler. I decided to simply enjoy the guessing from other readers this time

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2 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Everything I started to comment, I had a spoiler. I decided to simply enjoy the guessing from other readers this time

🙂 Stargazing with Gus is the best thing Rick can do. If the clouds ever lift around here, I might go out, too.

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1 hour ago, Headstall said:

Look how you have everyone in an uproar! Clever writer, and mean, to leave us guessing. :P  It's finally occurred to me Gus and Rick have something very important in common. Their lives have been in someone else's control for way too long. Their love is such a guilty pleasure, and they need to enjoy it with all life allows. They deserve this, and whatever Rita has said or done, I don't think anything in the world can stop it... right, mister author? Oh, and I loved the line about Sunday being gray but the memories were golden. Just beautiful. Cheers... G 

You're absolutely right - both men have been under someone else's thumb to one degree or another for some time. They haven't come out and said so, but at some level, both Rick and Gus must recognize this. I'm very glad you liked that line about golden memories from a gray day. Whatever else occurs in Rick's life, he will never forget that weekend he and Gus chased chickens, capsized a boat, and made love. Thank you so very much for reading, and for your insights.

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Poor Rick.  Nothing seemed to go his way.  Mrs. Lee is awesome!  We all knew she knew, but it's got to be such a relief to Rick to know how accepting she is.  It was a huge step forward for Rick, that he could imagine everyone knowing and thinking it didn't matter as long as they could be together.  Now I'm curious as to what's going on with all the congratulations and Irene's snit.  I think Rita is probably spreading rumors again.  I have a feeling the next chapter will be a doozy! 

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56 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

Poor Rick.  Nothing seemed to go his way.  Mrs. Lee is awesome!  We all knew she knew, but it's got to be such a relief to Rick to know how accepting she is.  It was a huge step forward for Rick, that he could imagine everyone knowing and thinking it didn't matter as long as they could be together.  Now I'm curious as to what's going on with all the congratulations and Irene's snit.  I think Rita is probably spreading rumors again.  I have a feeling the next chapter will be a doozy! 

After a weekend in which everything turned out all right (despite events that could have ruined things), the Monday after just has more jarring and puzzling occurrences. Caroline Lee's guessing Rick's long-held secret came as a great surprise to him. How reassuring she was in telling him that she knew. Rick might have chosen to investigate matters further, but Gus gave him something far better to do. These things can be looked at later... after stargazing... and other things.  Thank you for reading!

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Job

Posted (edited)

Great chapter, so the rumors going around again ey? Has Rita opened her big mouth again? I wonder if the city will find out that the real estate lady is 
is nothing but a dishonest lady busy with a big scam. I do not trust her. I really like this story, I have read other stories of you and I can say that they are always very good. When I see you name and a new story, I just know that i am going to enjoy the story. Oh, I love the romance of Rick and Gus they definitely deserve a happy ending.

Edited by Job
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42 minutes ago, Job said:

Great chapter, so the rumors going around again ey? Has Rita opened her big mouth again? I wonder if the city will find out that the real estate lady is 
is nothing but a dishonest lady busy with a big scam. I do not trust her. I really like this story, I have read other stories of you and I can say that they are always very good. When I see you name and a new story, I just know that i am going to enjoy the story. Oh, I love the romance of Rick and Gus they definitely deserve a happy ending.

You're very kind in your comments. I'm so glad you are reading Rick's story. The rumors have been more or less continuous since the previous winter. No wonder Rick is tired of them. Instead of having a long, long work day, he'd much rather have spent the day with Gus, or at least dreaming about the man. That probably made the day seem even longer than it already was. Small wonder that Rick leapt at the chance to do some, erm, stargazing on the Cedarcrest dock. As for Rita, she has been blissfully absent from Rick's life for the past few days and chapters. However, Eagle Lake is a small town, so she is likely to turn up again sooner or later. Thanks again!

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I believe the calm before the storm has expired and Hurricane Rita is becoming a category 5 disaster!!   Seriously, between Heinrich, Magda and Zoltan's controlling personalities - our boys cannot get a break!!  Lots of intrigue Parker!  Thank you.

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