DRAGONJULS' Storybook

~ Silence of Love ~

JM Dragon

JM Dragon 2002

Email: jmdragon@jamdragon.net

 

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Disclaimers

Storyline:..General storyline with the adult theme of consensual relationships between women. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live or if you are the under age of 18, find something else to read. There are loads of general stories out there.

Language:..No strong language.

Violence:.. There is violence in this story.

Hurt/Comfort:..There are scenes of heartache to be dealt with by the characters.

Dedication:..For two very good friends who have a wonderful sense of humour,Vi & Packer. This story is for you both, I

hope you enjoy it.

Acknowlegement:..My beta readers Alice, Packer, Vi and Mel as always my grateful thanks can’t do it without you all.

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List of Main Characters

 

 

Dilana R Sterling – Writer Rachael Alderman – Mute

S G Ryan – Publisher Sister Angela – Nun

Randolph Sterling – Dilana’s father Sadie Thompson – Orphan

Mrs. Drummond – Housekeeper Sam Proctor – Orphan

Celina Ratford – Patron of the Arts

 

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Saga of A Story

The Dragon had left her lair in the hands of her loyal subjectsas she toured the world over. All they needed to do was maintain the den; keeping it neat, clean and up to date. With high fives they bid the Mistress farewell and set out to do her bidding. At first, everything went smoothly for the Mistress, in her wisdom, had everything prearranged and ready for posting. But alas, when the time came for the Dragon's new story to appear, they failed.

Mails were sent out post-haste in an effort to meet the Dragon's timeline. With some luck we were able to procure the actual documents and post them here for all to see how we floundered without our Mistress to guide us.

Hi Packer,

HELP PLEASE!!! I can't seem to find the edited copy of Silence you sent to me . I have looked high and low and under every piece of furniture I have and nothing....well lots of dust bunnies but no story. Would you please be a doll and send it to me again? Otherwise, we will have one really pissed off Dragon when I don't deliver the goods and she comes back online.

You are a doll....actually a cute sexy doll...oops don't let Vi see that...she will think I have a crush on you. :-)

Love ya,

mel

The reply came swiftly as she knew it would.

knock, knock..... hey, anyone home?

silence behind the door....

vi knocked again..... "hey, houdini? are you home?....

vi was about to knock again when she heard an exasperated sigh from the bush next to the garage.... curiosity getting to her, she quietly (at least she tried.. .hehehe) walked towards the sound... lo and behold.... sarah was kneeling on the ground with her eyes closed wailing..... "if abigail finds out that I tried to levitage houdini... I am better off dead!....standing on her tip toes (don't forget vi is not that tall...) vi craned her neck to look inside the house.... There to her surprise, she saw houdini levitated about 4 feet above the floor. she was wearing this silly smile on her face and muttering (the wall was thin so whatever she was saying can be heard, although one has to surmise that she thinks she heard the words clearly and correctly).... if packer does not find that copy.... I think I am taking alooooooooooonnnnggg vacation in Hawaiii.... Julie won't know I went there......

So grasping the intensity of the current problem that her dearest friend houdini is facing, vi came to her rescue and tried to find the correct copy in her "stash"... and sent it post-haste to houdini....- now vi has a problem... is this the correct copy? this is the only copy she has...

Hey sleepy head... tell me if this is the correct one. This is dated the latest, I(the other copy I have is dated about two weeks - i think - before this one...)

Take care my friend.

Vi

There you have it, the saga of the story. Phew, it was the right copy and now you are all in for a treat as you read this touching tale. The team came through...just hope the Mistress never finds out. :-)

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Part One

* * *

"He’s dead Di, get over it!"

"I can’t!"

"Can’t or won’t?"

"It’s none of your business, leave it alone, S G."

"I’ve left it alone for too long, five years too long, it’s time to move on, Di, or you will be joining him and he wouldn’t want that would he?"

"Don’t be ridiculous there’s nothing wrong with me, I need more time that’s all. How would you feel if you were in my shoes?"

Flicking back her red hair, S G Ryan contemplated that very question. She’d already been there ten years previously when her dad had died of a heart attack suddenly. Okay in this case Dilana had nursed her father through the last months of his illness and she’d never been the same since, the parallels were there all the same. "I was. Remember when my dad died? Come on honey you know you’re wasting away here in this apartment. Why not have a change of scenery and I’ll even have the publishing house stump up the rent for three months, what do you say?"

Flashing grey eyes turned to her publisher and friend angry at the offer, she didn’t need charity. "I’m not a charity case I can pay my own way!"

"Great, because I have just the right place all ready and waiting all I need is a go from you."

Blonde straggly shoulder length hair that had seen better days, lank and partially unkempt, swung around as the woman became agitated. She hadn’t said she was going to consider it, never mind accept, what was S G up to? "What’s the catch?"

S G had watched her friend go from extremely talented, outgoing and generous of nature to morose, critical, despised and solitary, the talent was still there someplace though no one lost that kind of natural gift. She’d written three best sellers and was notching up celebrity status when her father had contracted a viral illness that within three months had killed him, leaving his only child in denial. She was about the only one of her old friends and acquaintances who hadn’t baled out and at times she’d felt like it. First and foremost Dilana was a friend and she wanted her friend back as simple as that, though it wouldn’t hurt her publishing business if the writer decided to write again.

"No catch, Di, please for our friendship take the time out and do this for me. I found this marvelous ocean villa and you know how you love the ocean. Private beach too enables you to keep your solitude."

Snaking a nervous hand through her greasy hair Dilana pulled a face and stared hard at her friend. S G was simply the only friend she had, and no matter how vitriolic she had been to her the woman came over three times a week and brought her groceries, and even cooked for them both on a Saturday night. At first she had assumed it was because she was a hot commodity and that her writing was the only thing that mattered to the publisher. Five years later she was a has-been, her money virtually dried up after the medical expenses and from her lack of work in the ongoing years. S G still came around and though they had talked of her writing again there had been no pressure. Until today her friend hadn’t asked her to do anything, and now she had how could she refuse, even if she wanted to?

"Where is it?"

"A wonderful small town a few hours away, you’ll love it. There’s a housekeeper who will look after the house and the cooking when you want it, if you like I’ll drive you there and if you don’t like it I’ll bring you straight back. Please Di, I know you’ll love it"

S G smiled warmly at her friend, even if she had let herself go the past five years, Dilana was still a very striking looking woman and had broke many a heart since they had known each other. Fortunately for her she loved the woman only as a friend, others hadn’t been so lucky, though none had stood the test of her mega breakdown. Maybe things would have been different if she had been in a long-term relationship when her father had taken ill they would never know.

"Okay I’ll go but if I don’t like it I want to come back."

"You got it girl now go pack and we’ll go today."

"What! Why the rush?"

"Hey I know you if I let you think about it you’ll chicken out. I say we go now and this way you don’t have time to think about it, so go get your stuff." Hugging the woman as she chuckled at her startled expression.

"Have a shower too, we’ll be traveling for about six hours and it’s hot out there today."

It was the best subtlety she could think of in the circumstances; didn’t Dilana think she needed to shower? "Okay, I’ll be ready in half an hour."

Watching her friend leave the room she sighed, I hope to God this is a good decision on my part. It can only go two ways I guess good or bad. Placing a call to the agent who was holding the villa for her she confirmed that they would look over the house today for a possible rental minimum of three months with the possibility of extending it to six if Di loved it as she hoped she would.

* * *

S G had prayed that the weather would hold. The forecasters had predicted a changeable day but when they arrived eight hours later; mainly because of traffic hold ups on the outskirts of the city they left, they were both ready for a drink and something to eat.

The realtor was waiting for them as they finally drove up to the beach villa. It was a medium sized property, however it had been well looked after and was very easy on the eye. Made you think you were in the Mediterranean and not small town America.

"What do you think?"

"Looks okay." The voice sounded bored, uninterested as they got out of the car and walked towards the realtor.

"Ms. Ryan?" Hands were shook as Dilana hung back she didn’t want to get involved, at the moment she wanted to go home.

Ten minutes later she had looked around the villa and longed to go back home, this had been a bad idea.

Walking towards the balcony that overlooked the private beach she rested her arms on the balustrade and took in the sight.

Great! A so called private beach and there was someone dead center.

"I thought you said this was a private beach?"

The agent looked at the back of the blonde who had said little, actually nothing at all, as she had taken the two women round the villa. Now she decides to speak and her tone was negative to say the least as she turned to await the answer to her question.

"It is why do you ask?" She had never seen such cold eyes in her life and felt a shiver pass down her back at the glacial stare.

"Well, unless my eyes deceive me someone is on this private stretch of beach. Take a look for yourself." A bored expression crossed the writer’s features she was definitely going home no matter what S G said.

As the agent looked at the trespasser the only word she emitted was "Oh."

"Oh? Is that all you can say?"

"Yes, that is… no! Sorry, it’s only Rachael. I’ll explain to her, I promise she won’t be back."

Something in the woman’s tone peaked Dilana’s interest. S G watching was fascinated this was the most conversation she’d heard from her friend to anyone except her for five years. This was progress without a doubt.

"Wait! You know who she is, is it common practice for her to invade private beaches?"

"Not exactly you see she lives at the local orphanage but she loves the sea and the owner let’s her visit when she wants."

"She’s obviously not a child, what is she doing in an orphanage at her age?"

"Her parents were killed in a boating accident when Rachael was twelve. She didn’t have any family so she made her home with the nuns and works as a teacher during the day. I’ll go now and talk with her."

As the realtor walked towards the door, grey eyes scrutinized the small figure that watched, fascinated, the waves lapping gently at her feet. The woman never moved and the sea didn’t appear to want to encroach her space either, almost as if they had an affinity to each other. Poseidon’s Daughter, now where had that spark in her imagination come from?

"Wait! Let her stay, she can come and go as she pleases, it won’t bother me."

S G grinned infectiously, "Does that mean what I think it means?"

Dilana turned sharply from her view of the beach and the solitary woman, taking in first her friend and then the anxiously waiting realtor. "Yes, I’ll take it."

Punching the air in triumph S G mouthed, Yes, making the arrangements with the realtor who was stunned but happy at the outcome, these city folks had strange ways.

Dilana turned her eyes back to observe the young woman on the beach, definitely Poseidon’s daughter she had to be. Her thoughts churning away, it occurred to her that it would make a great title for a story.

S G let the realtor out of the door observing her friend silently taking in the scene from the balcony area, a good call. Yep she’d made a good call and one day Dilana was going to thank her for it, she just knew it!

* * *

One month later…

"I don’t know why it matters, who gives a damn!" the words hit with a ferocious force every wall in the wonderfully acoustic beach villa Dilana had temporary custody of. The angry woman stalked around the room ready to rip off the nearest head had there been one, fortunately for her there wasn’t that was one murder charge she didn’t have to contend with.

Frustrated that her thoughts, which plagued her at night when she dreamed refused to come to fruition during the waking hours. Her attempts to note anything down even had the local housekeeper pulling her hair out at the untidy appearance of notes all over the house. Not that that was her normal mode of writing, it wasn’t, but when she finally did think of something to write it was usually when her laptop was snugly packed away, at one time it would have been pride of place the center of her world now it often didn’t see the light of day. S G had mentioned that maybe she should get herself a desktop and leave it on all day, that way when the urge came she could write at any time even the middle of the night.

What did S G know? The publisher had left her here hadn’t she, and it sure wasn’t working out!

Walking over to the balcony that overlooked the private stretch of secluded beach she decided that today was a good day for a run and when she came back maybe it would bring back her muse. As she looked towards the steps down to the beach she saw the lonely figure of the young woman who came to the beach at pretty much the same time every day, almost without fail. Sunday was the exception, which surprised her at first but then she did live with a bunch of nuns so religion might be a heavy part of her life as well.

Striding purposefully towards the spot where the woman always stood, she must have a mark on the beach that told her that was the precise point. Not that she had measured it or anything but as the woman stood at the exact spot on the beach so did she on the balcony. Was she a peeping tom? No couldn’t be, it was her stretch of beach wasn’t it she should be able to watch at anytime…however it wasn’t anytime. Everyday she took her coffee and watched the ocean, or so she told herself, at the same time the woman did.

Standing beside the silent much smaller person, barely reaching her shoulders with brown…no chestnut flowing hair that went half way down her back shining in the sunlight. Her eyes moved to the horizon that appeared to fascinate this daughter of the ocean, funny how she thought of her that way. Bored with her observation she decided to take the situation a step further.

"It’s a beautiful day."

There wasn’t a reply to her observation or any movement, hadn’t the woman heard her?

"I guess you’re the small silent type huh?" Di smiled wryly, what a dumb comment. Then was stunned as she received the brightest and most glorious glance from deep azure eyes, which captured hers easily as the brilliance of the sun created a hallo effect around the woman. Conjuring up a sense of peace and tranquility that the greatest painter would give his all to paint and the poet would pen a lyrical prose at the sight.

Her eyes appeared to twinkle as her delicately shaped mouth curved into a shy smile. The writer was unable to voice her words gazing into the innocent depths, was this like looking into the essence of the ocean? Feeling shaken and disturbed by this encounter, was the woman for real? Maybe all those years she’d spent in the apartment mourning her father had sent her a ticket to the funny farm rather than this idyllic hideaway. Oh god now she was definitely losing it, less than an hour ago she was cursing being here at all and now…now look at her she was a dithering idiot unable to put a coherent sentence together, at least verbally. Her mind however was drumming up scenarios for her to write and she couldn’t keep the pace.

"I guess I’ll see you around." Di virtually raced towards the villa mounting the steps as fast as she could, making for the laptop and switching it on praying her burst of muse wouldn’t depart before the machine booted up.

Settling into the seat bringing up a blank document she penned the title, In Search Of Poseidon’s Daughter her fingers flew over the keys as the jumbled thoughts vented onto the screen.

Mrs. Drummond the housekeeper chose that time to enter the house and was amazed to see the morose current resident of the house actually doing something other than moping about the place like a lost sheep. The other young lady who had employed her was far nicer, pity she hadn’t realized at the time that she wasn’t the one her services were required for, because after the initial meeting with Ms. Sterling she would have gladly never come back again. Fortunately the woman didn’t expect much of her and paid well, and at least she could make sure the place didn’t go to rack and ruin, because this young woman didn’t seem to care about anything not even herself.

"Would you like some coffee Ms. Sterling?"

A mumble came from the totally engrossed writer as she continued to stare at the screen and tap away at the keyboard. Reminding the older woman of her grandson who did exactly that, these new fangled machines confused her, what was wrong with the good old-fashioned paper and pen she wondered?

"I’ll set a pot going and fetch you a mug a little later." As she closed the door she was shocked to hear something she hadn’t in the month she’d worked for this woman, a thank you!

Pottering about the classically modern kitchen she looked out of the window towards the beach and smiled, there was young Rachael at the same place, what a pity it was for her, and such a tragedy she was a lovely person. Rachael could show that young lady in the next room a thing or two about politeness and manners even though she was at a disadvantage being mute after witnessing her parent’s deaths fifteen years earlier in a freak boating accident.

Just as Rachael arrived she left, slipping quietly away, if it wasn’t for the fact she did this virtually everyday you could convince yourself that you imagined she had been there she was so unobtrusive becoming part of the scenery.

The warmth the young woman emanated had a good effect on everyone who met her, perhaps it was doing the same on the writer, they say you never knew who your guardian angel was in this life.

Feeling generous she made the writer a club sandwich and collected a mug of coffee depositing a tray at her side as quietly as possible. Her Bob never liked being disturbed when he was reading the paper suspecting this was a similar situation, discreetly moving away to leave the room.

Once more she was shocked as she starred back at the writer. "Thanks for the food and the drink Mrs. Drummond, I appreciate it."

Smiling, confront for the very first time with a genuine note of appreciation, softening the dour features that usually etched the younger woman’s face. "You’re welcome Ms. Sterling."

Leaving the writer to her scribbling or whatever you called it on a computer screen.

* * *

Over the weeks Di wrote until she fell into exhausted sleep and ate only if it was placed directly in front of her. The muse had certainly come back full force, was it five years of unwritten fiction waiting to spill out onto the screen? She didn’t know and didn’t care as long as it carried on. S G when she arrived later in the day was going to be amazed that she had a rough first draft of her new novel for her to read.

S G hadn’t seen her in over seven weeks and in that time she had become a virtual workaholic expect for one thing, everyday at the same time she’d grab a coffee and walk to the balcony and wait for the silent woman to come to her place on the beach. For the first week she didn’t venture down again but then fascination got the better of her and on the pretext of offering the woman coffee she’d taken two mugs down with her.

Those marvelous compelling azure eyes captured hers in a hypnotic gaze making Di feel like she was out of control but wonderfully so. Eventually she called it her inspiration; yeah the silent woman was her inspiration. Now everyday except Sunday they watched the sea and drank coffee for half an hour and then the woman would turn to look deeply into Di’s grey thoughtfully quizzical eyes smile warmly, mouthing goodbye and left!

At first it was unsettling eventually Di found it restful and she had to admit it soothed her, especially when she was writing a difficult piece of her story. The aura around her ‘silent friend’ settled her down and she usually spent the rest of the day writing solidly, which was why she had something for S G so soon.

As the weeks had gone on Di had even found that Mrs. Drummond was a font of information and her heart broke as she was told the tragic circumstances surrounding Rachael and her silence, it all made ironic sense. Funny thing was to her it didn’t matter if Rachael talked or not just being with her was enough, words didn’t matter and for one in her profession that was some admission but in this case absolutely true. Rachael’s eyes spoke for her at least that was what Di thought. Glancing at her watch as she heard the crunch of gravel on the drive, Mrs. Drummond wasn’t coming over today it was her grandson’s birthday and she was helping her daughter with the arrangements, so who was it?

Opening the door to the ‘intruder’ she grinned as she saw her friend at the door. "You’re early, what did you do leave at dawn?"

S G Ryan was pleased with herself as she looked at her friend, what a change almost three months here had provided. This was her friend of old, the sparkle in her eyes, the ready smile at her lips and she looked great too, her hair was brushed to a silky gloss and actually had been styled. Not only that she had put on a little weight, Mrs. Drummond must be good for Di.

"Well, hi yourself can I come in or are you going to chat with me on the doorstep."

"No, S G its great to see you." She engulfed her friend in a hug and laughed, the sound and action bringing a lump to S G’s throat, this was good to see.

"I know I’ve been missing for a while but how are you?" Following Di into the kitchen as she watched her friend put on the coffee and select a couple of jars containing different cookies that the housekeeper had made for her.

"I feel great, what about you?"

Removing her jacket and placing her overnight bag on the counter she winked at her friend, "I’m good too, actually better than good."

"Tell me more."

"I will. Lets go and sit on the balcony I’ve been cooped up in that car too long, the view and fresh air will do wonders for me, we can trade secrets like we used to."

Smiling, Dilana picked up the coffee mugs and pointed to the cookie jars and they walked out onto the balcony. Half an hour later they were laughing at the way their lives had changed in a short time.

Looking up right on time Di discreetly saw Rachael arrive and for the first time ever the woman looked towards the villa and right into her eyes, then they moved to the woman who was animatedly talking to the writer. The azure eyes turned away towards the horizon and her normal view.

A part of Di wanted to leave S G and spend her normal time with Rachael but that would be unforgivable and she doubted she could explain away her rudeness. Oh well it was the weekend and one day wouldn’t hurt surely, sometimes she wasn’t even sure Rachael knew she was there. Tomorrow was Sunday and Rachael didn’t come over anyway, it was usually the day that dragged on the most, not that she was prepared to admit it to anyone…even herself.

"Is my company so boring you’re having to stare out to sea?" Chuckling as Di’s cheeks stained red spluttering out an apology.

"No! No of course not, whatever gave you that idea? You chose the view remember?"

Giving her a thoughtful look at her defensive rejoinder, she allowed her gaze to travel to the place the writer’s had been. "Yes, I did."

A half smile crossed her lips as she saw the figure of the young woman who had been there that first day they had arrived, perhaps Di was holding out on her, maybe she had a secret or two she was keeping to herself. Placing a hand on the writer’s shoulder she squeezed it in warmth.

"It’s a marvelous view…I’m pleased you’re happy."

"I am, thanks for finding it for me." The double meaning wasn’t lost on S G as she nodded her head at the softly spoken words.

"You’re very welcome my friend, now come on what’s the surprise?"

Dilana’s face cleared of its pensive observation of the beach as it became wreathed in smiles. "You’re going to love it, be right back."

Laughing as her friend ran from the balcony heading for the sunroom. This was wonderful to see her friend almost the woman she was before her father died, I wonder why? Her eyes turned back to the beach with the woman still in the same position she had been before.

Suddenly the woman on the beach turned her eyes traveling once more to the balcony staring at the publisher, who was sure that there were tears in the young woman’s eyes. Squinting to try and make out the features clearly. At that moment Dilana returned excitedly waving a manuscript in her hands and under the publisher’s nose.

"You did it?" Shrieked S G as she grabbed for the document.

"I did it!" As she passed over the manuscript and watched with a grin her friend turn the first page and greedily read the first paragraph.

"This is great Di, I love it already!" jumping up and hugging the woman to her happy her talent was at last returning, it was about time.

"You haven’t read it yet S G." Her face glowing with pride as her friend released her and they exchanged happy smiles.

"My friend remember I found you I know what you can do, lets celebrate shall we? Want to go out to lunch a champagne lunch no less and I’ll spring for it?"

Knowing S G she wouldn’t let it pass, "Okay, I suggest you have a shower first, hate to tell you this but you stink!"

A bubble of merriment burst from S G as she remembered that was pretty much what she wanted to say to her friend months ago when they first came here, then it wouldn’t have been possible she was too fragile, now, now well…"Anyone ever tell you that your manners are worse than a pig’s?"

"Nope!" Laughing together they left the balcony and as they did so S G glanced back to the spot where the other woman had been, it was empty. Oh well she was probably wrong in thinking that she had been crying; it was probably spray from the sea.

* * *

"I haven’t seen you this happy for oh I don’t know years." S G grinned at her friend who was pouring them a nightcap; they’d had a wonderful Mexican meal in a small restaurant that wasn’t that popular at noon, although they both suspected that in the evening it was very well populated. From there they had found a bar close to the beach villa depositing the car in the drive and walked back. Where they spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the early evening talking and drinking, reminding both of them of old times.

"I haven’t been this happy in ……oh years, five to be precise. Thank you for making me see sense, S G."

"I didn’t do anything, you had to make the big break yourself I just helped you along."

"When you rented the place was there an option to stay longer?"

Smiling S G gave her a long exaggerated look, "I think there was some mention of extending the rental…"

"No S G I was thinking permanent."

"What? You want to buy the place? I know you like it but that much?" Unable to comprehend that her friend would want to own such a place, she had always been a city girl, always.

"Yeah, why are you so surprised? For the first time in years and I don’t mean the last five I mean since I can remember it brings me peace and a place that I know I can write and enjoy the process."

"You love the city, all the parties, groupies and everything that went with being a best selling author. I never heard you complain, and you said you could write anyplace it never mattered to you. What’s changed and it has to be more than the location?"

Watching her friend she saw the struggle that vied with silence of telling her, "I’m your friend Di whatever you say to me is private and always will be."

Sucking in a deep breath she gave S G a small wry grin, how did she explain something she didn’t understand yet herself. "I’ve met someone, she’s different but I’m drawn to her in an inexplicable way. If I knew what it was I’d tell you but I don’t, I just know I can’t leave here not now, maybe ever."

"Rather dramatic Di, I know you writers can be highly strung but you sound as if you actually mean it."

"That’s it S G I do mean it. There isn’t anything in the relationship; hell the woman’s a mute so we hardly know each other. At the same time she has an aura about her that brings me so much peace and serenity its like all the guilt and pain I felt at my father’s passing is taken away for the short time we spend together. I guess I’m not making any sense."

Brushing a hand through her hair giving it a spiky look to the short blonde locks, she walked over to the balcony, if only…

"Is it the young woman on the beach?"

Spinning on her heel at the question, how did she know? "Yes, how did you know that?"

"Simple deduction my dear, she was the reason you took the place and she’s become the reason you want to stay. All I can say is if it makes you happy then I’ll call the realtor tomorrow and find out if it’s a go."

"I don’t know what I’d do without you S G you look after me so well I often wonder why."

Laughing at the observation, the brunette ruefully looked to the darkening beach, the ocean lapping gently at the shore, it was a wonderfully relaxing scene. "Truth be told so do I at times but you’re worth it."

They settled into a companionable silence for several minutes then Di spoke quietly. "Her name is Rachael, she was the inspiration for the manuscript at first then it took a mind of its own. I think Poseidon himself had a hand in it when the tide turned each day." Chuckling as she recalled the hours she had spent silently with Rachael watching the horizon and the vastness of the ocean marveling in its beauty as well as its ability to be cruel.

"Ah, so I need to thank both Rachael and the mighty Poseidon for the copy I’ve stowed away in my briefcase should you decide to take it away from me at the last minute."

"I want you to read it S G, its different to my other stuff it actually has a happy ending."

"Wow that’s a first I’ve never known a writer give their characters so many heartaches in so few pages. Have you ever allowed them an inch of happiness in any of the books?"

Scrunching up her face she pulled her tongue out at her friend, " I resemble that remark."

Both women enjoyed the banter it really was like old times and later that night as Di settled down in her bed she felt good about the day, well almost, she had dearly missed her rendezvous with Rachael. Had she been missed too? Or didn’t the other woman care? Either way it was hard to judge.

Sometimes she felt that Rachael enjoyed her presence other times it was like she wasn’t there and Rachael was in a world of her own. They rarely moved away from the beach spot that Rachael really could call her own. When they did they walked up and down the private stretch of beach and looked at shells and sea creatures that washed ashore. It was a relaxing pastime and one Di never thought she would ever indulge in but she found so much joy in putting the odd jellyfish back into the sea or listening to the sea in a large shell and wondering where the piece of sea glass originally came from. She’d talk and Rachael listened, she knew she listened because her eyes spoke for her in so many ways, could eyes ramble? She thought maybe Rachael’s did but then she was a writer and fantasized, that was it the over active imagination.

"I don’t know why it matters! Who gives a damn?" As she spoke she felt the deja vu of the situation, hadn’t she said those very same words weeks ago but in a different context and how different it was. Previously they had been uttered in anger, now it was wonder, how strange life was, so many paths and outcomes.

As she closed her eyes her last thought was she’d see Rachael Monday at their usual time and tell her about S G, after all it was only fair to share her friends around she had so few, they were both important to her and who knew next time S G came over they might arrange a meeting…on the beach of course.

* * *

One Week Later

Rachael hadn’t been to the beach all week!

Dilana wasn’t one to assume, her father had told her often enough that more wars broke out when that happened. She remembered the only time she had and he reminded her by example.

"You’re going to your aunt’s full stop."

"Dad! Please Aunt Cheryl is boring she doesn’t even have a life, why can’t I stay here I’m old enough?"

Randolph Sterling gave his daughter a glance that told her he wasn’t happy with her attitude. He knew she was spoilt and he had only himself to blame for that. However her assumptions about her mother’s only sister couldn’t be more wrong.

"Now why would you think that Dilana?"

"Oh come on Dad she never comes to see us, she lives a half continent away and I think the last time I saw her was at mom’s funeral."

"Yeah that proves what exactly? That she hasn’t a life? I think it proves that she has a rather full life because she doesn’t have time to keep a check on how I’m bringing up her only sister’s child. At the moment she would disapprove totally and I wouldn’t blame her."

Dilana pouted at the remark, "it’s okay for you to say but I don’t know her."

"Right, that’s the problem not that she hasn’t got a life. You don’t know her well enough to say one-way or the other do you? I taught you better Dilana don’t assume things about people because it’s convenient, say it how it is, you will get in less trouble trust me."

Dilana watched her father closely he wasn’t giving anything away about her aunt either, another of his sayings came to mind, make your own mind up. Her dad was a great guy, he was her best friend too and since her mother died eight years ago he’d become both parents, although now at fourteen she didn’t really need the cosseting.

"Will you tell me a little about her, please?"

Randolph Sterling loved his child, he knew every, no most fathers’ loved their offspring, and since Mary‘s death he’d felt it keener still. Cheryl had been there for them both when it happened but her career meant she was out of the country more than she was in it. Now he had to go to a conference for two weeks in Europe and fortunately for him she was actually in the States and had vacation coming, so she’d readily volunteered.

"She loves you despite the fact that you think she might not as she hasn’t been at the house every touch and turn."

"The odd turn might have been good Dad!" Dilana mouthed audaciously and was immediately censured by her parent.

"Cheryl is a very intelligent woman and if you give her the chance she’ll teach you things that your old dad never could."

"Is that all you’re going to tell me about her?"

"Yep, make your own mind up and if after the vacation together you find that you still don’t care for her I promise never to foist you on her again."

"Me!"

"Yeah you! I told her you were one smartass kid and she still wants to let you visit her." He chuckled at her affronted expression and then hugged her close kissing her on top of her blonde hair.

That had been some vacation. Her aunt was definitely not Ms. Average she was as her dad had said intelligent and lived a lifestyle far removed from her middle class suburban routine. The apartment in San Francisco was opulent and she had a couple of cool sports cars that her friends would envy her sitting in when she told them. The most interesting aspect of her aunt was that she was gay, no bones about it either. Though there wasn’t a girlfriend in tow that she knew about on that particular visit or she was keeping clear until she went home. The wonderful thing about it all was that Cheryl had opened her eyes to another lifestyle and also the prejudice that went with it, there was no pretence that it was an easy situation, tolerated by some and totally scathed by many more. Over the years she’d corresponded with her aunt and they had developed a friendship that was more akin to sisters. When she had first come out it had been Cheryl who had taken the time from her busy schedule to help her tell her father. That must have been the most difficult talk she’d ever had with her dad and the really great thing about it was he didn’t seem surprised at all.

Her aunt had moved to Europe the year before her father died and though they talked on the phone she’d never had the heart to tell her that her father was dying and how she was handling it. Cheryl had come over for the funeral with her partner, they looked so happy and making a new life in Holland that Dilana let her think it was just the initial grief that was taking its toll. When she called the apartment she would pretend to be happy and say everything was okay, unable to share her grief with anyone not even S G.

Now look at her she was pacing the floorboards as she had when her dad was ill, because Rachael hadn’t been around on the beach since Saturday a week ago!

Why?

Walking for the hundredth time to the balcony and looking out to the spot the young woman always stood at the same time, not this week. Was she ill? Had she gone on vacation and wasn’t able to tell her because of S G’s visit, had something unexpected come up? The questions and scenarios were endless.

Maybe someone in town would know what had happened to her? She didn’t know anyone in town though did she; she never went out of the beach villa except to the bank. Damn!

Mrs. Drummond, yeah she’d know, of course she would she knew everyone in town or it appeared that way with the numerous names and situations that the older woman gossiped about when she came over. Glancing down at her watch Di saw that the woman was late not by much but late, where was she?

Patience never a strong point of hers she was practically lying in wait for the housekeeper as she opened the door, pouncing as soon as she came inside.

"My goodness Ms. Sterling you frightened me!" Flustered as Dilana opened her mouth to speak then shut it quickly and opened it again.

"Sorry. Do you know Rachael Alderman?"

Hearing the breathless tone Macy Drummond wasn’t surprised, she’d watched the writer on numerous occasions this week going to the balcony looking for the young woman. "Yes, she’s a very caring child why?"

"Is she ill?"

"I wouldn’t know my dear, have you checked with Sister Angela?"

"Sister Angela?"

"Yes, she’s Rachael’s surrogate mother over at the orphanage, she will know."

"Where is the orphanage, please, Mrs. Drummond?"

"You know the bank in town?" Grinning as she saw a relieved expression cross the younger woman’s face.

"Turn right and go down a mile, take a right at Sykes street and you can’t miss it. The building is Spanish architecture and very well maintained. Did you know the nuns…?"

"Thanks… oh you can have the rest of the day off, I’ll catch up with you tomorrow." Grabbing her jacket and car keys from the side table in her haste to leave the house before the housekeeper could say anything else.

"The young today." Mrs. Drummond smiled and moved towards the kitchen. She’d make her a snack for when she came home; that girl didn’t even know how to cook.

* * *

Fifteen minutes later Dilana was standing outside the pretty hacienda style building gates. The gates looked imposing but the actual building was very welcoming, she didn’t know what to expect but it certainly wasn’t this.

Glancing around she noticed a bell pull that must be as ancient as the building itself. As she tugged on it the peal it gave off made her jump. Wow it certainly carried the decibels.

Impatiently crunching around on the dirt road at the gates muttering and wondering if it was a foolish idea coming over here, maybe Rachael didn’t want to see her, she’d never mentioned the orphanage. Then again would she? How stupid she doesn’t speak!

Berating herself constantly, she was surprised when a voice quietly asked her business.

"How may I help you?"

Slightly taken aback Dilana muttered something and the nun inclined her head to repeat the words.

"Sorry, I wanted to enquire after Rachael Alderman."

"Are you a friend of hers?"

"Well yes, I haven’t seen her all week and I wondered if she was sick?"

"I see. Rachael is fine. Who may I ask is calling?"

"Dilana Sterling I live close to the beach."

The nun smiled broadly, "ah the writer, Rachael has told us about you. Perhaps if you speak with Sister Angela."

The gates opened and the nun motioned for her to enter. Climbing back into her car she slowly negotiated the open gates and asked the nun if she wanted a lift. "No it is a beautiful day for a walk, I’ll advise Sister Angela you are on the way. Someone will meet you at the house."

"Thanks." Dilana drove off slowly down the winding drive towards the house. Wow she talks about me! It shored up Di’s sagging confidence at coming to see Rachael in her home.

A teenager with the worse pimples she’d seen on a boy met her at the front door and escorted her to a small alcove and pointed for her to sit on the bench and that Sister Angela would be with her shortly.

"Great, thanks." Placing her hands between her knees clasping and unclasping them nervously, she didn’t know what this felt like at first but then it reminded her of waiting outside the principle’s office for a detention notice. Except this felt much worse, how old was she?

The door to a room on her left opened and a nun of generous proportions summoned her forward.

"Ms. Sterling?"

"Yes. Sister Angela?"

Smiling warmly the nun motioned for her to sit in a bamboo chair that overlooked the magnificent internal courtyard streaming with all manner of flowers and shrubs. "You are admiring the view? Although I say it myself it is very beautiful."

"I can’t get over that this is an orphanage, its nothing like what I imagined." Dilana said truthfully as her eyes feasted on the fantastic colors and displays that presented themselves to her.

"Ah people who have never lived in establishments assume so much and usually wrongly. We are very happy here and hope it remains so, though funds are becoming tight as everywhere."

"My father always taught me never to assume."

"Then he’s a very astute man."

"Was, he was an astute man he died five years ago. I miss him very much." The words were out before she realized, experiencing a sense of relief as she mentioned her father. It hadn’t hurt as much as anticipated; he really had been a wonderfully astute man. Perhaps her healing was beginning as she realized she wanted to share who he was with another and a complete stranger as well.

"When you are close to people their passing can be very hard to take, it is difficult to let go and move on. Rachael has talked of you of course." Sister Angela had been fascinated ever since Rachael had told them of the writer on the beach who shared a coffee with her everyday and who had become her friend. Eventually they had managed to find out who it was and had been shocked to learn that they had a best-selling author in their midst’s.

"Talked?" An astonished expression crossed the writer’s face.

Chuckling softly, "She writes and uses sign language, we have several deaf children who attend our lessons, and you know of course that Rachael teaches here during the day?"

"Yes. I wondered if she was okay? I’ve not seen her all week and we usually share coffee around eleven most days on the beach." Dilana didn’t want to sound too anxious and looked out again at the courtyard as she spoke.

Before she answered the nun puzzled over the question silently. Rachael had been withdrawn for a week and hadn’t left the orphanage grounds at all in those days. Totally out of character but she had decided that it might be wise to let the child have space for a time to work out what was troubling her. They loved her dearly but knew also that they must allow her to make decisions on her own; she was after all a mature woman though they still considered her their child.

Dilana glanced across at the nun, as she remained silent. Panic started to settle in and her heartbeat rapidly shot up and her throat went dry, what was wrong with Rachael?

Then the nun replied in quiet measured tones that you’d expect from a religious type. At least that’s how they were always portrayed in the movies…well most anyway.

"Rachael is fine my dear, would you like to see her? She’s currently teaching one of the younger classes but it should be over," glancing at the clock on the wall. "In about five minutes, I’m sure she will be pleased to see you."

"Yeah! Great. Thank you."

Sister Angela smiled slowly as she heard the rapid agreement to her proposal. "Follow me Ms. Sterling."

"My name's Dilana, Di to my friends."

"An unusual name is it a family one by any chance?"

They walked down the corridor and Dilana could hear the sounds of children coming from the various doorways. The whole aspect of the place looked sunny and bright, it must be good for the kids to be in school with those conditions.

"Not really my mother wanted me to be called Diana after her mother and Dad wanted me to be called Lana after his grandmother. Guess I’m a hybrid but it works."

"Yes it does, it has a beautiful ring." As they passed several doors the nun slowed spying a small boy who was about three foot tall and with a mop of bright red hair, freckled face and a mischievous look in his features.

Di had to stifle a laugh as she saw him scuffing his toe to great effect on the polished wooden floors. "Sam, why have you been removed from Ms. Alderman’s lesson today?"

The nun asked the boy who looked up guiltily from his toe inspection of the floor and color flooded his cheeks as he opened his mouth to speak and nothing came out but a squeak. Di had to put a hand over her mouth to stop the laughter this time.

"I can’t believe this Sam Proctor lost for words this must be a first. What have you been up to today Sam, this time I’d prefer more than a squeak or is your voice breaking?" The nun turned to Di and grinned very briefly before she gave the boy a mock stern glance.

"Nothun."

"Ah, so your voice is breaking and Ms. Alderman was giving you a break?"

"She didn’t tell me why," the boy said obstinately and looked at the tall figure at the side of the nun, he hadn’t see her before who was she? Maybe someone who wanted to adopt a kid could be his lucky day he saw her first as he puffed out his chest in six-year-old importance.

"Oh then I must ask. I’ll be right with you Ms. Sterling, I wont be but a minute." As the nun knocked on the wooden door and entered, leaving Di and the small boy facing each other.

Both eyed each other for a few moments and then the boy gulped and spoke. "Are you looking for a kid to adopt?"

Taken by surprise at the question Di immediately replied, "No!"

At the tone of the rejection the boy looked disappointed and his brown eyes looked despondent. "Thought you might, I’m looking for a Mom and Dad."

Di felt terrible, as she realized how tactless her no must have sounded. What did you say to that statement? "I’m not married so I don’t have a dad figure in my life."

The boy thought he heard hesitation so he moved slightly closer as he whispered to her, "No problem, you don’t always need a dad, one parent is better than none. I haven’t got none at the moment and I’m a good boy too, so if you want to take me home I’ll be good."

A deep smile crossed Di’s face, and as she was about to reply the door to the schoolroom opened and Rachael stood looking at her, a startled query on her face. "Hi Rachael, Sam and I were getting acquainted."

Rachael continued to look puzzled at the appearance in her domain of the writer but turned to the boy with a small smile on her lips. Her hands rapidly moving as she used signals as words and the boy nodded his head, he then turned to Di and gave her a cheeky grin and skipped off down the corridor.

The innocent eyes the writer loved to watch when they were together on the beach turned back to her as the young woman held up her hands indicating why was she here.

"I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d look you up, I didn’t know you were working I’m sorry about that."

Self-consciously Di was looking at the spot the small boy had been watching with interest as she waited for a response and noted the scuffmarks on the polished floor. Then realized that Rachael couldn’t speak so how was she to find out what the other woman thought if she didn’t watch her expressions.

Before any more communication on any level could be gained the door to the schoolroom opened and the children bustled out almost knocking over the teacher; Sister Angela was patiently signing to a small pig-tailed girl who had her front two teeth missing and was quite adorable in the purple gingham that was the uniform for the school hours.

"Why not take Ms. Sterling into the courtyard Rachael it’s beautiful at this time of the day and I’ll have Sam bring you over some refreshments."

As Sister Angela moved past them she handed Rachael a notebook with a pencil and left them both ill at ease as she followed in the children’s direction.

Opening the notebook Rachael scribbled a few notes and passed it to Dilana.

Do you want to go to the courtyard Dilana?

Quickly retrieving the pencil from the other woman Di wrote one word.

Yes

Rachael smiled and nodded in the opposite direction to where everyone else had gone and they walked towards the doors that opened onto the courtyard. Glancing around the younger woman pointed to a wooden bench under a wooden arch encrusted with honeysuckle that was not only pretty to the eye but smelt great as well.

"It’s beautiful here. I wonder how you can leave it for the beach."

The beach is beautiful too, very beautiful, I miss it dreadfully.

"Why haven’t you been over this week, I’ve missed you?" There it was out she had missed her new friend more than she cared to admit but if she didn’t at least try who’s to say Rachael would ever come by again. Something or someone must have spooked her; had she been accosted on the beach on her way home that day they hadn’t met up? What if she had been having fun with S G and Rachael had to defend her honor, was she likely to admit anything to anyone; she didn’t exactly live in the spoken world did she?

There was a slight hesitation before Rachael replied.

I was busy here with the teaching.

"Does that mean that you will be coming over next week? I kind of thought maybe we could have a picnic on the beach, we talked about it but haven’t done it yet?"

I’m not sure of my plans yet; perhaps your other friend can have the picnic with you?

What was she talking about? She didn’t have any friends except for Rachael in this town. You couldn’t exactly see Mrs. Drummond sitting on the beach with her work apron on enjoying a picnic, though the thought did make her chuckle. Rachael starred at her wondering what she was laughing at.

"Sorry, I was picturing Mrs. Drummond on the beach having a picnic with me, I guess I thought the scenario amusing, she’s about the only other person I know except you here in this town."

Scribbling something else down the woman handed her the notebook and turned her head to watch young Sam carefully walking towards them with a tray, containing juice and fruit. He was mischievous, cheeky but a wonderful character that you couldn’t help but love. Today he’d excelled himself by pulling Sadie’s pigtails until she cried and although the young girl could take care of herself and probably would find some trick to play on the boy later he had had to be punished by being sent out of the room.

Dilana glanced across at the boy and winked at him before turning to the note in the book.

You have other friends, I saw you with one last week.

Di was puzzled, which friend? Trying to wrack her brain she really didn’t know anyone else…ah!

"S G? Oh she’s a friend but from the city; you know the city types don’t stay long in the small towns." Smiling as she realized that should really cover her too but somehow it didn’t, not now at any rate.

S G? What a strange name what does it stand for?

Chuckling as she smiled warmly at the woman by her side, S G was going to kill her but what the hell she might never know, Rachael wasn’t exactly the gregarious type. "Saffron Gracie, my friend went through some ribbing at school and eventually it was easier for the kids to call her S G, it stuck."

A wonderful smile crossed the younger woman’s face, this was what Di had missed the warmth of that smile and how it made her feel inside, a marvelous glow that went from the tips of her toes to the top of her ears.

She has a beautiful given name her parents must be sad that she doesn’t use it?

"Don’t worry her mom still uses it. I’ve heard her that’s how I know, otherwise I doubt that S G would have confided in me."

Rachael smiled as Di thanked Sam for the refreshments with a bewitching twinkle in her eyes.

"Thanks Sam, are you out of the dog house now?"

"Nope, not until Sadie gets her silly revenge." The small boy tipped his head to one side and looked closely at Dilana summing her up but not very discreetly.

"Do I measure up?" Di scratched the back of her neck as she asked the boy he was looking at her as a father figure would a suitor for his daughter.

Freckles jumped out at you as his face beamed bright red and he stepped closer to Rachael who placed an affectionate hand on his shoulder as she steered him to place the tray in a safe place.

"Might, not sure yet."

Di was amused and she allowed the amusement to curl her lips into a gentle smile as her eyes bounced from the child to the young woman who had a protective hand on the boy’s shoulder.

"When you know please be sure to tell me won’t you?"

Nodding his head seriously the boy left the two women as he skipped off in the direction he came.

Turning to the boy’s teacher she smiled ruefully. "Not sure if I passed his test."

What test?

Yeah what test idiot you’re not exactly a suitor just a friend… only!

"Who knows with kids that age? How many orphans are there here?"

Sipping on the fresh fruit drink that Rachael had handed her as she scribbled down the next message, it tasted pretty good she really must do some research about this kind of institution sometime.

Thirty. The nuns are not a large order in this area and most go to the cities where the local authorities care for them.

"How many nuns are in this order?"

Fifteen, but only two teachers so it helps when some of the orphans can help out. Because of the various ages it is hard to cover all subjects but we manage.

"Do you want to stay here for the rest of your life?" Di knew that some people who were institutionalized were happiest in that type of environment; somehow she didn’t see Rachael that way did the woman herself?

A bubble of laughter escaped the woman at her side and Di grinned at the sound, it made her happy…this woman made her happy, happier than she had been…ever! Now she knew it, what could she do about it?

No, I want to have a home by the sea like your beach house.

Dilana whispered a reply; her mind preoccupied with her thoughts, "I hope you do one day Rachael I really do."

Both women became silent as they turned to their own thoughts. Some time later Rachael looked at her watch, she had another class and had to go.

I have to go.

"I’m sorry I didn’t realize. I guess I’ll see you around soon." Standing quickly embarrassed that she had kept the woman longer than she obviously wanted.

Rachael stood too and came up to the writer’s shoulder. She had heard the uncertainty in the comment and knew it was up to her to take the next step.

Scribbling on the notepad she handed it to Di and smiled slowly, a smile that Di thought she used only for her at least that’s what her romantic heart wanted to think anyway. Get a grip girl get a grip!

As she glanced down at the notes, Rachael left her walking towards the main building which housed the schoolrooms.

Picnic on Saturday, I’ll bring the food and see you at our usual place, same time. Bye Dilana.

It was a fantastic feeling of having wings on your feet as Di left the orphanage grounds; the notebook securely tucked in her glove compartment, as she drove back to the beach house and the contemplation that in two days time she and Rachael would get back to normal or as normal as one could when she felt like this.

Grinning as if she’d been given the world Di wondered what ‘this’ was? Who cared as long as it lasted forever!

 

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to be continued

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