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Melisandre carried in the boxes of necessities she had packed with her in car, and went to work setting up her new kitchen. Or rather poor old Alexandru’s kitchen. God guard the old salt, wherever his soul had ended up. With Neptune or Poseidon or whoever it was that welcomed mariners to their final resting place.

Coffee was the most immediate priority, and she soon had the kettle singing. And before long, she heard the sound of tires crunching on the gravel of her driveway, and the beeping of the reversing removal truck.

The movers worked quickly and efficiently. And with Mel directing the incoming furniture and boxes, everything was in its place and they were on their way again in less than an hour. There simply wasn’t much by way of substantial material possessions left from her old life to be unpacked.

Mel had decided to keep most of the precious few items of furniture, which Alexandru had left behind him. A sturdy old kitchen table with six matching chairs, a beautiful old sideboard. And a threadbare but gorgeous armchair, which she intended to have reupholstered. And also several beautiful old mahogany wardrobes and some matching dressers.

But apart from these items, her dear uncle had left precious little by way of personal effects behind him. Old Alexandru’s life must have been Spartan indeed. The clothes he stood up in, the chair in which he took his ease and the bed in which he slept, were all that remained to offer any reflection of his personality.

The only items of furniture Mel had discarded, were Alexandru’s bed and the old bed in the spare room. These she had replaced with the biggest and most luxurious bed she could justify spending money on for herself, and another smaller bed for the guest bedroom.

The local lawyer, Blaire Perry had been tremendously generous in helping Mel settle Alexandru’s affairs. There were various legalities associated with the transfer of the property and the execution of Alexandru’s will. And Blaire had been genuinely compassionate to the old fellow’s memory, as well as Mel’s fond attachment to him.

It hadn’t really struck Mel until after her last meeting with Blaire, that the lawyer had been a little more curious and compassionate than she would have expected. Maybe she was just being friendly, but Mel got the distinct impression that there was more to it than that.

Blair seemed rather fascinated with Melisandre, and a good deal more attentive than professional diligence required. Which friendly overtures were confirmed, by Blair’s indispensable assistance in cleaning up Wake’s Peak cottage.

She had assisted Melisandre in dealing with the various utility providers, local repairers, contractors and cleaners. Which assistance was provided gratis, Blaire claiming that such was no more than any good local lawyer would do.

But Mel wasn’t a fool, and she knew that Blaire was acting far beyond her professional obligations. And it buoyed Mel’s sense of opportunity and adventure, to know that she had captured the woman’s attention to whatever extent.

And there was a spark there for sure, an easy rapport and a distinct sense of easy familiarity and attraction. And Blaire was cute, early thirty something, smart and infectiously animated and cheerful.

A real live wire, with an easy smile and a heart as big as a whale. But with an intelligence, and sense of moderation and propriety to keep it all in balance. A kind of emotional awareness, a gentleness of soul which Mel had felt from the outset.

Her tanned face was bright and obviously much accustomed to laughter. And her athletic build and broad shoulders suggested a love of swimming.

And she was generously proportioned in a way which some might describe as maybe a fraction overweight. But which suggested to Mel, that here was a woman who loved life’s pleasures. And who wasn’t necessarily prepared to sacrifice enjoyment, in favour of a narrow waist and perfectly flat tummy.

And that kind of attitude to life was just fine with Mel. And the thought that Blaire’s interest might possibly transcend professional courtesy, was a very compelling notion indeed.

Perhaps Mel’s fresh start at Whaler’s Rest, held more in store for her than she imagined. But even if Blaire was gay, and even if she was interested, Melisandre wasn’t ready to go there quite yet.

She needed a little time to find her bearings and get settled in. And she wanted to take the time to get to know the people of Whaler’s Rest, before getting involved with anyone.

Blaire had gone over the will with her pretty thoroughly, and Mel ultimately found herself the recipient of a surprisingly large sum of money as well as Wake’s Peak cottage. It wasn’t a fortune by any means, but it was certainly substantial. Enough to give her a little breathing space for a while, should she strike any problems while establishing her new life.

And In addition to the cottage and the money, there was also a rather cryptic letter from Alexandru. The content of which was rather rambling and oddly mysterious. Old Alexandru wrote quite vividly of the fathomless mysteries of the sea.  Speaking obliquely of the secret hazards of the ocean, suggesting somewhat vaguely that there were unseen influences beyond the ebb and flow of the tides.

The old mariners mind was apparently haunted by sirens, neirads and mermaids, and all manner of preternatural creatures. And haunted also by mysterious and unspeakably ancient secrets, which abided entirely hidden from the ken of mortal minds.

Mel couldn’t decide whether it was the onset of senile dementia, or simply the romantic meanderings of a lonely landlocked old mariner. Ultimately she chose to believe that it was poetic sentimentality, rather than intellectual decay. Inclined as Melisandre had always been, to think fondly of her Uncle. Especially so in light of his generosity in departure.

But putting such speculations aside, Melisandre spent the rest of the day unpacking her belongings, and getting accustomed to the old cottage.

Blaire had helped her organize some local cleaners, and a handyman cum gardener to give the place a thorough going over. And they appeared to have done a fantastic job. Everything was in good order and spotlessly clean, the lights were on and she had hot running water.

Mel unpacked all of her clothing first, and finished setting up her kitchen before finally establishing her work space. The spare bedroom enjoyed plenty of light as well as a spectacular view of the open ocean. And Melisandre decided that it would serve admirably as her office. And sharing her workspace with the spare bed, offered the happy prospect of afternoon naps.

Mel had arranged for the telecommunications company to come out, and bring the place into the modern age. And everything seemed to be in perfect order. She was linked to the worldwide web, and a few cursory tests indicated strong connectivity.

And Melisandre could see where the electrician she had hired to bring the place up to code, had replaced wiring and various outlets and switches here and there. The work hadn’t been cheap, but Mel had no intention of living in the penury of her apparently skinflint hermit uncle’s thrift. For as attractive as a life of romantic solitude was, Melisandre had no intention of living as Alexandru had.

Mel moved a few items of furniture from one place to another, sometimes moving them back again. But before long she was satisfied that everything was in its proper place.

There were of course a number of boxes containing the sundries and miscellanea of life, and her extensive collection of far too many books. But these Mel had directed to the garage, which aside from a useful selection of tools, was solely occupied by Alexandru’s bicycle. Apparently his only method of transport on dry land.

There her boxed up memories could stay, until she could deal with them at her leisure. For now, there were far too many ghosts contained in those crates to deal with just yet. Too many sad memories and unhappy reminders of dreams gone unfulfilled.

The afternoon was drawing on, but evening was still some time away. The bulk of the work was done and everything had gone wonderfully smoothly. In fact Mel felt at something of a loose end. She had expected problems but there simply hadn’t been any. Everything was perfect.

Eventually Melisandre decided to visit one of the secluded little beaches, at the bottom of the cliffs. So changing into her bathing suit and grabbing a towel, Mel set off on the short trek to the ocean.

And before long she was walking a narrow path, through the dense brush and tall grass to the beach below. Mel couldn’t imagine that the path was created by human foot traffic, it was too far removed from any roads or parking spots to attract visitors. And she speculated that it was probably created naturally by rain and erosion, and by the creatures which made their home amongst the undergrowth.

It was a pleasant walk to the beach, although she did find herself scrambling to maintain her balance once or twice when the descent became steep. And after perhaps ten minutes of walking, Mel emerged onto a gorgeous little secluded beach.

This isolated stretch of coastline was created by a natural shelf, bordered on each side by insurmountable cliffs. Soft warm sand stretched from the cliffs and disappeared into the ocean. Blanketing most of the area save for boulders and rocks which had broken free of the cliffs.

There were several natural sandy rock pools here and there, all remarkably clear and free of seaweed and ocean litter. The inviting little tidal pools appeared to be home only to little silver fish which darted about in small schools, temporarily imprisoned by the receding ocean.

Mel checked the time and realized that she would have only an hour or two, before the tiny creatures were released once again by the rising tide. And she was not aware of the presence of the girl for some time, not until she spoke.

“Hi.”

Mel started in fright and searched about in confusion until she located the source of the voice. She held her hand to her racing heart and laughingly replied.

“Oh my goodness….”

“….you startled me….I didn’t see you there….”

 

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