Racing for Love Chapter 36

Chapter 36
Natasha and Sally had got into the community fundraising experience, and prepared a gymnastics show. 
“I’m not sure about this,” whispered Harriet as she queued with Liam.
“Me neither,” he replied in amusement. “But at least they’re doing something. And it looks like they’ve sold a lot of tickets.”
“That’s because we all need a good chuckle,” she muttered. He laughed, as did the couple behind them. 
The church hall was filled as everyone awaited the arrivals of the gymnasts.
“Eva would’ve loved this,” said Harriet.
“You know my sister all too well.”
Katy Perry blasted out and leaping onto the stage came Natasha and Sally.
“No, Deirdre and Patsy?” Whispered Harriet.
“I don’t think they’re fans,” he whispered back. Natasha did a very impressive no hand cartwheel whilst Sally twirled on one foot. 
“I take it back, they’re not bad.”
“Thank god,” he mumbled. It was her turn to snicker. 
The show ended in box splits, and a lengthy round of applause. 
They permitted people who purchased a blue ticket to stay for wine and cheese, and those without soon left. 
“Good turnout,” said Liam to Natasha.
“Pastor Liam, it’s nice to see you here. Did you come with anyone?” She smiled at Harriet. 
“Harriet invited me.” He replied. 
“Did she? How’s that gorgeous boyfriend of yours?” 
“Ex,” she frowned, avoiding the ‘you helped celebrate my break-up’ speech. It was pointless, Natasha needed her kicks wherever she could get them.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” smirked Natasha. 
“So now you’re free, you’re making a move on Pastor Liam?” Giggled Sally. 
“That’s enough,” said Liam. 
“I can’t blame you sweetheart, he is unbelievably attractive,” she touched his arm, but he instinctively pulled away.
“I need some fresh air,” said Harriet, and walked off. Liam was about to rebuke the women, when they swanned off to receive compliments from their admirers. He put his wine down and went after Harriet. 
“Pay no attention to them.”
“I’m not, but they’re only saying what others will say – I’m trying to make a move on you.”
“And is that such a bad thing?” He smiled and moved closer.
“No,” she hesitated. “It’s awkward though, you’re a man of god, and I’m just a…”
“Very beautiful woman.”
“I was going to say millionaire,” she scoffed in good humour. “You can see how this will get awkward?”
“I’m not a priest, I can get married.”
“Married!”
“No, no, I didn’t mean it like that, I wasn’t proposing. Shit, now this is awkward.”
“And would you?” She asked earnestly. 
“In a heartbeat.”
“I think I should go home. I’ll call you.” She said, her heart thumping in her chest. If he had proposed to her right there in the street, she probably would’ve accepted.
What on earth is wrong with me?
“Okay,” he replied, and watched her walk away. “I’m such a bloody idiot,” he mumbled to himself.
Nathan called to let Harriet know that Viking’s Cider, and Sanders Soaps had agreed to sponsor the race.
“That’s fantastic.”
“Frieda suggested that Golden Ice creams should also sponsor the race.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“How’s things?” She asked, wanting to hear his voice for a few more minutes, anything to distract her from Liam’s non-proposal.
“Not bad. It feels weird packing up my office.”
“You’re still coming to race next month?”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
“40 people have signed up now.”
“That’s amazing!”
“I know, I’m almost gave up several times, but if it wasn’t for Liam’s enthusiasm.”
“Glad to hear it,” he said, genuinely pleased for her. “Well, I’ll see you on the big day.” He rang off and followed Lori out of the room.
                                                              *
Liam hoped to see Harriet in church, but once again she wasn’t in attendance. He suddenly wondered if the thought of being a pastor’s girlfriend or even wife repelled her, maybe he repelled her? No, her kisses suggested otherwise, so why had she ignored his calls. Surely the M and L words didn’t scare her that much? 
“So you and Mr handsome have definitely broke up?” Asked Natasha as they stood in the shop queue behind Patsy.
“Yes,” replied Harriet. 
“Do you think I stand a chance?”
“Nope!”
“Pity. Hey Pastor Liam’s a free man.”
“I guess so.”
“I think I’d make a gorgeous pastor’s wife. You know the whole tarts and vicars thang?” she chuckled. Patsy turned and frowned at her. “What?” She hissed. “Nosey old bag.”
“I don’t think we should discuss Pastor Liam’s private life in public,” said Harriet.
“I couldn’t agree more,” replied Patsy. “You should be more careful of the company you keep, Miss Golden,” she said firmly, and left. 
“Liam doesn’t have a private life,” smirked Natasha and waited for Harriet’s reaction. “Or does he?” Harriet said nothing. She paid for her shopping and headed home. Natasha dashed after her.
 “Come on, spill the beans. I know something’s going on between you two. The chemistry is sizzling.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” She blushed.
“He talks about you all the time, he’s totally besotted.”
“I’m sure he’s only mentioning me because of the bike race.”
“Stuff that! He likes you, why can’t you accept that?”
“I don’t know.”
Natasha took hold of Harriet’s hand and said.
“I’d give anything for a man to look at me the way Liam does with you. Don’t run from him, he’s a good bloke. And not because of all the boring church stuff.”
“I don’t mind the church stuff,” whispered Harriet. 
“Then what’s wrong?”
“When I moved here, I was looking for a fresh start, away from dramas, but as usual I’m in the middle of one.”
“It’s only a drama if you want it to be.” Harriet smiled and hugged her. “Thanks for organising the race, we’re looking so forward to it. Even misery guts herself.
“Glad to hear it,” she replied. “How is Stacey?”
“Cheered up a lot now she’s on the payroll, and has a boyfriend. It’s nice to have a relationship with my daughter again.” They said their goodbyes and went separate ways.
Harriet was going to head home, when she felt it was time to call in on Liam.
“Hi,” he said in surprise. “I wasn’t expecting you.” His hair was damp and spiky as he had just had a shower.
“Can I come in?”
“Of course,” he stepped aside. “Are you busy?”
“For you? Never.”
“You really mean that don’t you?” She choked.
“Yes I do, and,” before he could continued, she stopped him with a kiss.

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Don’t tell me (lyrical poem)

human fist
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

(Inspired by people who romanticise staying in a rut)

I don’t want to know about your vision board,

Your morning practice, or your time with the Lord,

I don’t want to hear about nature,

Grounding rocks, or healing creatures,
Stop!
No mindfulness please,

Life isn’t a magical breeze,

Don’t give me that look hippy,

You wanna a piece of this?

Oh who’s getting lippy?

Keep your peppermint, nettle and sage,

I use elbow grease for my wage,

Laptop lifestyle! What a joke!

Why don’t you try being a real bloke?
I don’t care about your Oms and pranayama,

Or the so-called wisdom of the Dalai Lama,

Don’t tell me about your new blender,

My head’s throbbing from last nights bender,

Give it a rest with your strong will,

I just need a shag and an ecstasy pill.

Racing for Love Chapter 35

Chapter 35
Liam carried Eva’s suitcase as he descended the wide, carpet free staircase. She thanked him, then took the handle and wheeled her pink case to the front door.
“It’s been lovely having you don’t leave it so long,” he said.
“I won’t, and hopefully my next visit there will be wedding bells?” She eyed him with cheekiness, but he gave her a perplexed look.  “You and Harriet? She told me about the kiss,” Eva giggled. “And she went as red as you are now.”
“You’re reading too much into it,” he frowned. “Plus, she’s avoiding me.”
“Oh, really?” She put her suitcase in the boot of her car. “Let’s go see her now.”
“We can’t do that, she might be busy,” he said. “Plus, you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, do you?”
“Sod the traffic, there’ll be enough of that once I reach London.” She opened the passenger door for him. “You only live once Liam, and even if there is a Heaven. Remember that this in now. Carpe diem!”
“Seize the day, yeah, I know,” he grumbled. “I should take my car.”
“Nonsense, that will give you a reason to escape sooner, but a lady likes to be warmed up first.” His mouth fell open. “Well, it appears you have more than scripture on your mind.” She laughed. He climbed into the passenger seat. “Harriet won’t like this.”
“I think you’ll be wrong.”
“We’ll see,” he replied, gazing at the passing greenery.
“Have courage Liam, Harriet likes you, I can tell.”
I know, she told me.
                                                              *
Harriet was reading when the door knocked. She left the book open, face down on the coffee table, and went to open it. 
“Hello?” She grinned. “What are you two doing here?”
“Is this a bad time?” Asked Liam.
“Of course not,” she stepped aside to let them in. Eva turned to Liam and gave him a knowing smile. Liam felt his temperature raise slightly. If only she said she was busy, then Eva’s theory would’ve been tossed out of the window. He prayed that Eva wasn’t going to show him up with her boldness.
“I came to say goodbye, I’m heading home now.”
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you. I hope I’ll see you again soon?”
“I’m sure you will.” Smiled Eva. 
“I’ve made a pot of coffee.”
“I’d love one.”
“Same here,” replied Liam, relieved that so far so good.They followed Harriet to the conservatory and waited for her to bring the coffee. 
Perched on the Welsh dresser was a painting of a moonlit beach with a couple walking along it, holding hands. He instantly thought of that night with Harriet. Harriet came in with the tray and saw Liam looking at her painting. She immediately wanted to shove it inside the drawer. He couldn’t take his eyes off it.
Please stop staring at it.
“Did you paint that?” He turned to Harriet. 
“That obvious is it?” She sneered to mask her embarrassment.
“It’s lovely,” he smiled, picking it up and admiring it. Her heart thudded. If only she had been brave enough to gift it to him like she had planned to, but she could hardly give it to him now. That would be odd. 
“So what did you think of the ballet?” Asked Eva. Liam frowned at her, because he knew what she was leading up to.
“I think they did a wonderful job. It was a very ambitious production, but very well done.”
“I’m sorry I missed most of it, I hope my brother wasn’t too boring company for you?”
“Not at all,” blushed Harriet, thinking of their kiss. “He never is.”
“Perfect,” grinned Eva, and finished her coffee. “I better get going, I don’t want to hit traffic.”
“But you both just got here?”
“Liam can keep you company.”
“Eva!” Blurted Liam, “You can’t say that Harriet’s probably very busy.”
“No, I’m not, I was only reading when you arrived.”
“You see Eva, Harriet was busy reading a book.” Eva rolled her eyes and Harriet giggled. 
“Don’t be so soppy, Liam. Harriet has already said she isn’t busy, so are you two lovebirds going to see me off?” Liam cringed at Eva’s bold assumption.
Lovebirds, oh dear.
Harriet gave an unexpectedly hearty laugh, the type of laugh that rarely leaves adult bodies. It was infectious and put Liam at ease. 
When Eva clipped her seat belt in place, Harriet whispered to Liam.
“Subtle, isn’t she?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“No need.” She took his hand. 
“Bye you two,” waved Eva, and grinned at the sight of them holding hands.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Racing for Love Chapter 34

Chapter 34
Nathan made it clear to Lori that she wasn’t his rebound, but instead of acting like the wallflower he created in his mind, she pushed him onto the sofa, and said life was too short to be petty. 
“So, no more Miss Golden,” she said, lighting her cigarette.
“We’ll still keep in touch, plus I promised her I’d help with the bike race.”
“It’s become quite the obsession, hasn’t it?” She said, then offered him the cigarette, to which he declined. “Wise, I’ve been trying to quit for years.”
“Well, let me help you,” he took the cigarette from her, dropped it into the ashtray.
                                                               *
Eva and Harriet were enjoying lunch in the garden, when Natasha and Sally strolled past.
“Oh god, those two,” hissed Eva under her breath. 
“Eva darling, you avoiding us?” Asked Sally.
“Not at all.”
Harriet felt torn. What was she supposed to do? Tell them it was a private lunch? So far they hadn’t invited themselves in.
“We just saw your lovely man.”
“Who?” She asked in amusement.
“Pastor Liam, of course.”
“He’s not my man,” she blushed, more because of the presence of Eva.
“I think Pastor Liam has something for you,” and with that last cryptic message they left, leaving her with a wandering mind. 
“Those two need to grow up,” said Eva.
“Do you know them well?”
“Well enough to keep my distance, and you’d be wise to do the same.”
“Thank you. So what do you think Liam has for me?”
“I honestly don’t know, well nothing he’s shared with me, and if he hasn’t shared with me, then he definitely hasn’t shared with them.”
“You two are pretty close?” 
“He’s the only family I care about.” She replied. 
“Can I tell you something?” Said Harriet in a low voice, as though the entire village might hear.
“Sure, what is it?”
“We kissed. Properly kissed.”
“Wow! And?”
“Crikey, nothing else happened. It wasn’t planned.”
“I sensed a spark between you two.” She smiled. “I’m so pleased for you, for you both.”
“Let’s not get carried away,” she laughed. “I don’t know if it even meant anything to him.”
“Are you kidding me? He’s besotted, I’ve never seen him like this about anyone.”
“Not even Melissa?” Harriet knew that was a cheap shot. Eva raised her eyes to the heavens.
“Melissa had her good points, but she was irresponsible and immature in so many ways. She lived off the bank of mum and dad, and obviously Liam was expected to take on that role after they married.”
“I wouldn’t have thought he would’ve minded?”
“He didn’t, so I had to step in.”
“Oh?”
Eva gave a hearty laugh and exclaimed she wasn’t an overly, interfering sister. “I simply asked her what she was planning to do for work, and would she be content to be a pastor’s wife? She said no.”
“Did Liam take it hard?”
“No, but I think he knew her heart was elsewhere – probably in a shoe shop.” Harriet laughed and Eva joined in.
                                                                       *
Nathan called Harriet and after initial words of politeness, he said he handed in his notice.
“Oh?”
“Yeah, I start my new position in Swindon next month.”
“So you’re having a complete change?”
“It’s for the best,” he replied. “I’ve made some phone calls about getting your bike race sponsored. I know how much it means to you.”
“Thank you.”
“No problem. I’ve also been looking at places, I’ll move out ASAP.”
“Hang on, I’ve been thinking.”
“I don’t need your charity, Harriet.”
“I know that, but you love that place, how about rent?”
He gave a hollow laugh. “It’d be too weird. thanks love, but I need a clean break.”
“Don’t be like that,” she breathed. “Hows Lori?”
“Okay. Hows your friend? What’s his name again?”
“Liam.”
“You like him, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she choked. 
“Well, don’t let your walls of concrete ruin things again. Bye Harriet.”
“Bye Nathan.”
She waited for her heart to smash, for tears to fall, but nothing came. She wished Liam was with her now.
Her phone pinged, prevented her from crying. It was a message from Belinda.
The advert is finished, and awaiting your approval.
Harriet opened the link:
Scene one
A slender, average looking woman was waiting at the school gate. Two children ran up to her, she hugged them both.
Scene two: Inside a normal-looking kitchen, complete with dishes on the side, and school bags on the floor, whilst the children do their homework, ‘mum’ opens the freezer and takes out the newest Golden flavour: Hawaii swirl.
Scene three: Mum says, “You’ve worked hard enough. Time for a treat.” (Upbeat music plays.)
Scene four: Children tuck into their well-deserved tub of ice cream. Music fades.
I approve.
*
“So you’re leaving us?” Asked Frieda.
“Yes, I’ve handed in my notice,” replied Nathan.
“I’m going to miss you,” she hugged him.
“Same.”
Lori lowered her face with a smile. She had hoped to ruin Harriet’s business, but instead, she had ruined her relationship. Revenge comes in all shapes and sizes. Plus, she had been at Golden ice-creams long enough to exploit a few trade secrets. Lori was also leaving, but wasn’t going to hand her notice in.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Racing for Love Chapter 33

Chapter 33
Harriet was armed with brushes, palette and watercolours, and a child-like enthusiasm to learn. 
“It’s lovely to see so many faces,” said the middle-aged, ruddy-cheeked lady. “Is there anyone new to watercolours?” Harriet raised her hand. She hadn’t risen her hand since school. 
“That’s okay, it’s fairly easy to learn, some snobs like to make a big deal out of watercolours, but there’s no need.” On the table, she laid several postcards and photos of beautiful scenery, and encouraged everyone to come and have a look. 
“I’ll paint this,” said Natasha, picking up a mountain range. “I’ll just paint some triangles.”
“Sounds marvellous,” replied Sally, rummaging through the pictures, looking for something easy. 
“Got anything in mind, Hatty?”
“No,” and then she spotted a picture of a couple walking along a moonlit beach – surely that wasn’t too obvious? She reached over and picked it up. 
Perhaps I’ll hang onto my masterpiece.
“Nice to see you two here,” chirped Natasha, leaning onto Patsy and Deirdre’s desk.
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Deirdre, turning to face Patsy. “Kidwelly Castle, and lunch in Carmarthen tomorrow sounds wonderful. I’ll pick you up at 10?”
“Sounds incredibly dull,” groaned Natasha.
“What are you painting, dear?” Patsy asked her friend.
“A field of tulips, hopefully my art skills will do justice to my memory of Holland.”
“I’m sure they will,” smiled Deirdre.
“And you?”
“I bought this,” she took out a Degas print from her large leather bag. “I won’t do it justice, but it will be fun trying.” The two women laughed, a strained sort of laughter, as if they didn’t know how to.
“I know what else is fun,” grinned Natasha, but they refused to look at her.
“Can everyone take their seats now, so I may begin the class?” Said the teacher. Natasha groaned and sat next to Sally and Harriet.
An hour later, the paintings were finished.
“Not bad,” said Sally, glancing at Harriet’s piece.
“Thank you,” she looked over at Sally’s art, it was worthy of a five-year-old, and all Natasha painted was blobs.
“Modern art,” she grinned at the puzzled look on the teacher’s face.
“As long as it makes you happy,” she said, and walked over to Harriet and asked her how long she had been painting.
“Never, this is my first time – not including school, obviously.”
“But this is wonderful,” she turned to the class, and beckoned everyone over. “You see what you can achieve if you listen and concentrate. Well done, Miss Golden!”
“Thank you,” she replied awkwardly.
“Perhaps a career in the arts and ice-cream will be in store for you.” She smiled and went to the next artist.
I doubt it.
The following day, Harriet walked into Mavis’ store, but quickly walked out again when she spotted Liam. She got into her car, intending to drive half a mile through the valley, and then return to buy her groceries. Surely he would be gone by then?
“I just saw Harriet,” said Mavis, when Liam reached the till.
“Did you?” He looked towards the window, to see if he could spot her.
“Looked like she saw a ghost,” said Mavis, calculating his order. “Was there anything else? The special today is bread and butter pudding.”
“I’ll pass,” he replied politely, still distracted by view outside the window. He took his items and left. It had been a week since he last saw Harriet. A week since Swan Lake, and a week since their kiss. She had even cancelled Friday’s training. He had his suspicions, but now she was definitely ignoring him.
Harriet pulled into a turning place, allowed farmer Bruce to pass in his tractor, then swung her car around. Surely he would’ve gone by now? Liam had a house call to make, so he headed into the valley, and came face to face with Harriet.
Shit
They both stared at each other, neither moving, until Liam came to his senses and reversed into a passing place. Harriet drove up next to him, and slowed her car down, but every cell in her body was urging her to drive on. Liam wound down his window, as did she.
“How have you been?” He asked cordially.
“Fine, you?”
“Okay. Are you avoiding me because of our kiss?”
Wow, that was direct!
“No,” she stammered. “Well, maybe.”
“Why?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Actually, no,” he frowned.
“It’s too soon after Nathan, and I like you too much for that.” She drove off, her heart beating.
So, she’s not avoiding me, she just afraid. Liam smiled, grateful that there was hope for them.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Racing for Love Chapter 32

Chapter 32
Harriet, Liam and Eva climbed the staircase, and waited in line for the school boy usher to check their tickets. 
“If you go up there, you’ll find your seats.”
“Thank you,” said Liam, and followed the women to their seats. Ten minutes later the orchestra took their places, violinists, cello and flute players and a pianist. Eva whispered something inaudible to Liam and he nodded approvingly.
“Welcome to our performance of Swan Lake, we sincerely hope you enjoy yourselves.” The music teacher spoke for several more minutes about student’s dedication and hard work, and she left to the sound of polite applause. The orchestra began to play, as the curtains opened revealing on Act one: Scene one: A park near Prince Seigfield’s castle.
The students had clearly taken the performance seriously, and it proved worthy of a generous round of applause. Eva rubbed her head a few times until Liam nudged her and gave her a look. 
Don’t you dare leave me.
She smiled. 
 During the interval, Eva said she was going to head back home.
“Are you okay?” Asked Harriet.
“Slight headache,” she sighed.
“I’ll take you back,” said Liam.
“Don’t be silly, you can’t leave Harriet. I’ll call a cab” Harriet smiled, she could see straight through the little ‘you two should be alone trick.’ It was funny how Liam seemed to be completely oblivious to it.
“Harriet will be fine, won’t you?” She nodded. “I’ll drive you home, and I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”
“My over protective brother,” she groaned. 
“Come on.” He opened the door for his sister and promised Harriet he would be back soon. Harriet queued for tea and wondered who these people were, as she had never seen most of them around. She guessed they must’ve come from neighbouring villages.  She returned to her seat and anxiously awaited Liam’s return. 
“Drop me by the post box, I’ll walk the rest of the way, you need to get back to Harriet.”
“It’s pitch black.”
“I have a torch on my phone, plus it’s a full moon, so it’s not exactly ‘pitch black.’”
“Okay, but I’ll drop you past the postbox.” True to his word, after passing the post box, he stopped the car, and she got out.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, now get back to Harriet before the interval is over,” she grinned. He smiled and turned the car around. Eva watched as her brother drove a little faster than usual. 
“Sorry,” whispered Liam, as he squeezed past a few people until he found his seat one away from Harriet. After a few seconds, she leaned over and whispered.
“You can sit closer.” He had been so tempted to sit in the seat next to her, but didn’t want to appear too full on. He moved closer.
“Thank you for inviting me,” she smiled. 
“My pleasure.” 
“Is Eva ok?” she asked, leaning into him. He took in a breath of her perfume, light and subtle in fragrance. 
“She’ll live,” he sighed.
“Subtle, isn’t she?” She smiled.
“Oh.” They stopped and stared into each other’s eyes, then returned their focus to the stage. Soon the curtain was raised on Swan lake, and everyone clapped. For the entire performance, all Liam could concentrate on was a plausible excuse to give to Harriet about why his sister scarpered.  When the show ended, half the audience, including Harriet and Liam, gave a standing ovation. He prepared an apology about Eva, when she interrupted him,
“I’ve had such a lovely evening, thank you.” 
“Me too.”
“I almost don’t want it to end.”
“Well, all good things must,” he chortled, opening the car door. He turned around to see her gazing at the beach where below a few couples were walking in the moonlight. 
“You’re not in any rush, are you?” She asked.
“No,” he locked the car, and they descended the stone steps to the beach. When they reached the bottom, there was a huge puddle of water.
“Hang on, I’ll jump over, then help you,” he said. “And no hero compliments please.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she giggled. He leapt across the puddle, just missing it. He turned around to help Harriet, but she had already made the leap and collided into him. Without thinking, he kissed her. Their hearts pounded together as the kiss became more intense. He stopped to apologise, but she pulled him closer and continued.
They walked along the beach, hand in hand, hearts racing, until they found a spot to sit. The moonlight flicked and danced over the gentle ripples.
“Why do I feel so differently about you?” she snuggled into his arm. 
“What do you mean?”
“Like I can be myself, not Harriet Golden.”
“And what’s wrong with Harriet Golden, I think she’s lovely. I always have done.”
“When men see me, they see pound signs. But you see me, don’t you?”
“Yes.”
“Sometimes I wish I was born poor.” She picked up a handful of sand and let it crumble between her fingers. “Actually, I don’t, being poor would suck so much.” He laughed, she nudged him and joked. “You’re not supposed to laugh, you’re supposed to throw scriptures at me.”
“When they come to mind, I will.” He kissed her again. 
“Nathan turned up.” she blurted.
“Oh?”
“Just to excuse himself and accuse me.”
“Of what?”
“Being ashamed of him, which I wasn’t, but maybe if I hadn’t been so secretive, I wouldn’t have lost him to another woman.”
“We all make mistakes, I have.”
“Such as?” she nudged him. 
“Melissa, my fiancé, wasn’t impressed with my calling, she thought I’d gone mad. Anyway, she gave me an ultimatum – her or God.”
“And you chose God?” He nodded. 
“Wow, I guess I’ve always chosen Golden Ice creams over every partner, but it’s my only true love.”
“I think you’re capable of loving more,” he said softly, brushing the wisps of hair from her face.
 “I think I should get home,” she said, standing up.
“Yes, of course. I’ll drive you.”
“I’ll walk. I hope things won’t get awkward between us now,” she said, dusting the sand off her clothes. 
Wow! Is she already giving me the brush off because of the L word?
“Not at all. I’ll see you on Friday for training?” He walked off, suspecting that her mouth had fallen open in order to receive a taste of her own medicine. 
Harriet lay awake thinking of Liam, and he lay awake thinking of her. He genuinely didn’t seem bothered that she owned one of the most successful ice-cream business in the world. She wondered if the kisses meant anything to him. They seem to. Although it was one in the morning, she wanted to call him, but she knew that would seem needy. So she sent him a smiley face. He opened his message, smiled, waited a few seconds, then sent a smiley face back.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

The Difficult Child

His teachers don’t expect much of him,
He’ll end up jobless,
A loser walking the streets,
A bully in prison,
He’ll live in total defeat

They say ever child matters,
As long as you’re not a pain.
He sits outside the classroom
Again…
Thinking about his life.

He may not be a whizz at school,
Or even average at listening,
In fact he’s mediocre at everything.
But it’s pushing boundaries that gets his brain glistening.

According to the Telegraph, Richard Branson’s headteacher said, he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.

Racing for Love Chapter 31

Chapter 31
Eva was slender and almost as tall as her six foot brother, just stopping at below his earlobe. She had corkscrew blond curls, which made her look like she stepped out of a renaissance painting. 
“I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you, I swear to god I love your ice-cream so much. If I could I’d bath in it, I would.” Her accent was delightfully ‘The Queen’s English.’ Liam’s accent was much softer, and lightly Welsh. 
“Perhaps a little painful,” Eva clasped her hand over her mouth, both woman had the exact same image in their minds, and burst into laughter, Liam tutted and turned away, before they could see him smile too.
“Sorry,” called Harriet.
“Oh, never mind the stuff shirt, let’s talk ice-cream.” She looked over her shoulder, “Liam, get the Martinis and those tarts you picked up.”
“As madam wishes,” he replied with sarcastic humour. 
“Well, it all started in this house, daddy was always messing up my mummy’s kitchen, but all that mess produced the most delicious ice-cream I ever tasted.”
“Mmm, same here.” She touched her good arm. “I can’t believe you’re here in the flesh, it’s amazing. When Liam said you had moved here, I was like, no fucking way!”
“Honestly Eva, do you have to be so over the top?” He passed them each a glass of Martini and a slice of chocolate lemon tart.
“And do you have to be so stuffy?” Harriet lowered her face to hide her smile. “We’re going to see Swan Lake on Saturday, you’re welcome to join us. It’s just an amateur production at the school.”
“I’m sure Harriet is busy,” said Liam, feeling slightly embarrassed by his sister’s boldness.
“I would love to,” smiled Harriet. 
“Fantastic!” Cheered Eva.
They sat in the garden under the warm evening sunshine. Liam gazed at the mountains, then stopped mid conversation.
“I never realised how beautiful this place is.”
“That view has been in my dreams for years,” said Harriet dreamily. “I honestly thought I’d never see it again.”
“That must’ve been hard for you leaving such beauty, for whatever your view was.”
“Other houses mainly and yes it was difficult.”
“So what brought you back here?” Asked Eva, and before Harriet’s guard went up, she spilled the beans.
“I had a suspected heart attack, literally the worst moment of my life. I knew I had to make drastic changes.”
“Crikey, wouldn’t a holiday have sufficed?”
“Probably, but I had been so unhappy for so long, and when I lay in the hospital bed, all I could think of was this place. I hoped it would be for sale, but the current owner wasn’t budging.”
“It was you!” exclaimed Liam. “I wondered why I kept getting phone calls asking me if I was interested in selling. I must say when I was offered 2.5 million, I was tempted.”
“You should’ve taken the money,” laughed Eva, lightly slapping his arm.
“Certainly not, this is the best home in the world.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Harriet.
“Hey, what if you two fell in love, and Harriet moved in here, it would be a dream come true!” She clasped her hands to her heart and dramatically fluttered her eyes. Liam glanced at Harriet to see her eyes twinkle. Maybe there was still a chance between them, maybe the kiss did mean something to her.
“You watch too many Jane Austen films,” he replied, and then to his surprise Harriet said 
“That sounds like a wonderful idea.”
“You see!” cheered Eva. “You two are perfect for each other, you’re both gorgeous and rich and wonderful.”
“I would say I need fresh air, but we’re already outside.” Liam stood. “Coffee anyone?”
“I should get going, I’m sure you two have plenty of catching up to do.”
“Not at all.” said Eva.
“I should still go home though,” she stood. “It’s been lovely meeting you, Eva.”
“You too, Harriet. Count me in for the race.”
“Are you sure?”
“Now that I’ve met you, most definitely.”
“Thank you.”
“I’ll take you home,” said Liam.
“It’s okay, I’ll walk. The fresh air will do me good.” she turned to Eva. “You’re always welcome at mine.”
“Thank you,” they lightly embraced each other, to not place pressure on Harriet’s arm. Liam escorted her as far as the front gate. He would’ve like to have walked further with her, but suspected she needed to clear her head after the kiss and Eva’s assumptions. 
“About early,” he said nervously, thinking about the kiss.
“Hmm?”
Crap, she’s already forgotten!
“Eva is a pain, but she means well.”
“I think she’s great.”
“I’ll let her know.” He smiled, taking in her slightly flushed, yet relaxed appearance. She was a totally different woman from six months ago. There were no hugs goodbye. As she walked down the path, he called out, “About the theatre, don’t feel pressurised.”
“I’m not, I’d love to come. See you soon.” She turned on her heel and headed home across the fields.
“She is beautiful,” said Eva knowingly. 
“Stop it,” he rebuked.
“What?”
“That was so embarrassing, you trying to match make. Please don’t do that again.”
“Well, you’re obviously not going to get things moving.”
“I have a calling – remember?”
“You’re a pastor – not a priest. You can get married!” She snapped.
“Married!” He gasped. 
“Figure of speech,” she rolled her eyes.
“She kissed me,” he blurted. “Please don’t tell her I told you.”
“Wow! This is perfect,” she beamed. “Okay when we go to the theatre, I’ll make my excuses and leave during the interval.”
“Don’t you dare!”
“You two need to be alone.”
“We’re always alone.”
“Discussing the bike race – I know,” she sighed. “No, you must be alone in a more romantic atmosphere.”
“And you honestly think an amateur production of Swan Lake is going to work?”
“Anything’s possible sweetie, plus I know she likes you, I could sense it.”
“Connecting with your spirit guides again?” He mused.
“Ha ha – but you know I’m right, don’t you?” He blushed. 
“Thing is, it was only a quick kiss, less than a second.”
“And how did you feel?”
“Alive.”
“Then she’s the one. I know it.”
“Before I forget,” he said, abruptly changing the subject. “Natasha and Sally asked for you to meet them at the Three Ducks tonight.”
“I’ll give it a miss,” she groaned.
“I thought so.”
                                                                      *
Harriet was enjoying her stroll home, when her phone rang.
“Harriet.”
“What do you want?” she groaned.
“I just want to speak to you, to apologise and to tell you I made a mistake.”
“In other words, the gorgeous Lori isn’t interested in you anymore, maybe she only likes attached men?”
“Actually, she thought I was single.”
“You coward!” She snapped.
“Hang on, you didn’t exactly tell anyone about me, did you? For all I know, you’ve probably slept with dozens of men.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Or maybe it’s one man – dozens of times. Liam perhaps?” She ended the call. If it wasn’t unprofessional, she would fire him and his floozy. She climbed over the fence, and continued home.
Once home, she called Natasha and invited her over to finish a bottle of wine.
“Well, we were going to the Three Ducks, but we’ll come to you first.”
“Hey, why doesn’t she come with us?” Suggested Sally.
“What do you think Hatty?”
“The Three Ducks isn’t my scene.”
“I thought as much,” replied Natasha. “Okeydoke, we’ll be over in five minutes.”
They arrived ten minutes later carrying two canvas bags filled with crisps, chocolates and wine. 
“So what’s the celebration?” Asked Sally.
“My official break up.”
“No! My god that guy was so hot,” breathed Natasha.
“I know, but it turns out someone else thought so too.” Harriet refilled her glass. “I was going to drink alone, but how sad is that?”
“Very,” chuckled Sally. 
“Nice flowers, secret admirer?”
“Perhaps.”
“There’s no need to be coy, you can tell us,” grinned Natasha. Harriet sighed and said they were from Liam.
“He’s really taken a shine to you, hasn’t he?” Said Sally.
“He’s just looking out for me, that’s all. So what have you two been up to?”
“Well, business is booming – well, sort of,” began Natasha. “I’ve had four new clients in the past month.”
“That’s excellent.”
“I’m hoping for more though.”
“Of course,” sympathised Harriet. 
“We’ve missed you at the group,” said Sally. “We thought you’d come back?”
“I meant to.”
“Come this Thursday,” said Sally, then turned to Natasha. “What’s happening?”
“Watercolours. Boring! I won’t be there.” Harriet thought about Liam’s art collection, and although she was no artist, she could follow instructions, and maybe he would hang her art in his home. 
“It sounds lovely, I’ll be there,” she blurted, before her rational mind could convince her otherwise.
What am I thinking? Painting a ‘masterpiece’ for the pastor in the hopes he’ll hang it up? She felt embarrassed for herself. 
“Well, if Hatty’s going, then so am I,” said Natasha.
“You said it was boring,” giggled Sally, taking a gulp of wine. 
“A girl can change her mind,” she grinned. 
They continued drinking and chatting until nine, when Sally stood and reminded Natasha about the Three Ducks.
“Yeah,” replied Natasha, standing. “We need to do this more often.”
“Yes, but maybe with not so much wine,” smiled Harriet as she saw them to the door. 
“By the way,” whispered Natasha loudly. “A little bird confessed that Liam likes you.” She put her fingers to her lips, “I mean really likes you! But ssh, it’s a secret,” she giggled and followed Sally through the front gate. Harriet closed the door, her heart heavy in her chest. She had suspicions about Liam, and now it was confirmed – well, sort of. 
Are the words of a drunk troublemaker to be trusted?
Perhaps attending the theatre and the art class would give him the wrong impression, because after the umpteenth failed relationship, she knew the Universe was telling her to remain single forever. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get Liam off her mind.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020