Monday, April 29, 2013

TRULY by Summer Day (inspired by Persuasion) chapter Sixteen: "Man in the cafe"

Chapter Sixteen
Man in the Café
I picked up another fortune cookie from the pile in a bowl on the countertop. This is what it said: A tall handsome newcomer with links to the past is a sure thing. I’d earmarked Tom Winchester for Liz and had resolved to play matchmaker. They shared the same good looks, the same questionable values - they were, without a doubt, a perfect match… Confessions of a Post-teenage Hermit
     After they left the room I went over to the new guy only to see up close, that it was Tom Winchester, who’d briefly dated Liz at school and still held a torch for her if his occasional emails and conversations with me were anything to go by.
    “Good morning, Tom,” I said in my happy waitress way.
    He looked up at me and smiled. His looks had improved along with his personality over the years.
    “Hi Jane,” he replied, “I’d like coffee please and… an egg-white omelette, oh and maybe you could tell me the rules on how to get your sister Liz to become exclusive.”
    Obnoxious. Whatever.
    When I took him over his plate, he explained he was helping a friend, a director at one of the studios, who was scouting for locations nearby. He asked me about the properties that dotted the coast. His friend needed to hire one, if possible, to shoot some location scenes.  
  “As you know, I grew up here,” I said. “And this promenade is the best stretch of real estate in the area,” I said wistfully. I had a sneaking suspicion he hadn’t heard about the family finances. 
   “I have no idea why you work here, Jane. I’m sure your dad could have found you somewhere better. By the way, do you think Liz would know any good real estate agents in the area?”
   “Well… actually, Liz finds properties for friends…”
   He looked at me closely.
   “Do you think I would qualify?” Tom had been in New York working as a stockbroker. I knew this because he’d always stayed in touch with both Liz and me. He’d told me on more than one occasion he was “so into” my sister. Too much information, Tom, but he wouldn’t stop talking about her until I’d agreed to help them get together.
     It was obvious how much he liked her.
   “Okay,” he replied. “Please ask Liz to call my office since I’ve tried to get her card before and she wouldn’t give it to me.”
    I was kind of floored. 
    “Uh… okay,” I smiled.
    “Actually, Jane, I was hoping you’d help play matchmaker.”
    “I said I would and I meant it, Tom. You and Liz are made for each other.”
     He smiled. I wanted to add… that’s if you like vipers, ‘cos I was pretty sure Liz had had Tom’s measure since high school. But then Liz always said, “Like attracts like.”
     Me? I’d always had this rule not to chase boys but it seemed all the social laws had changed in my absence from the dating game. I smiled and pocketed his card. I had an idea a surface friendship with Tom might actually prove useful in some way. He wasn’t my type but let’s face it, his obsession with finance would make him perfect for Liz and she could show him as many properties as he wanted.
     I heard my cousins tittering as they came out of the bathroom where they’d changed from swimsuits into street clothes.
      As I showed my cousins the door and promised to meet them for lunch and to go to the bonfire party (I couldn’t believe I was considering this but it was better than putting off the inevitable), they too left an invitation for me on the counter and added smiley faces.
   “Look at all the new talent in town this summer,” Lia whispered.
   I looked at her and paused.
   “He’s interested in Liz.”
   “Did he go to the same high school as you and Ben Wentworth?”
   “Hailee, you gotta stop mentioning Ben. I haven’t seen him in six years. It is highly unlikely he even remembers me, but, yes, Tom did go to the same high school; and you’re right, I can’t spend my life avoiding Ben. He’s on my turf now.”
   “Oh, Jane, everyone remembers you… you’re special.”
   I shrugged. Today I felt plain, bland and not very special. It was moments like this with my adorable cousins that were gold, and kept me in Wentworth where I belonged.
   “Lia’s right,” Hailee added, “You are especially smart and very pretty… and kind inside which is the most important thing of all. See you at eight tonight, Jane.”
    I smiled at my younger cousins. I’d spent years babysitting them and our bond was close and true. They waved girlishly as they left the café and I wondered if I’d ever feel as light and happy as them again. Probably not, but then maybe I wasn’t meant to. Maybe I’d grown up, a lot.