BEGINNINGS: 'A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT'
George looked out the back window past the deck and out into the yard. It was the filthiest weather that he'd seen in a long time, he mused to himself. Then with a characteristic chuckle he said:
"Yes, this is certainly the night about which I could write: 'It was a dark and stormy night!'"
He had a laugh about that and took another sip from his drink. Then he was watching as a huge burst of wind, a kind of micro burst, occurred.
George, for a while, had been worried a bit about the big dead elm tree in his back yard. If the wind would catch it, he knew, it might just do some real damage out there.
As if to echo what was in his mind, the huge gust of wind took the big tree and pushed it over, as if by invisible hands. George watched, wide eyed, as the tree slowly went down and, although doing no more damage, did crush one section of the fence between the neighbor's property and his. It was a fence that had been built by the previous owner over there but now there as a big gap in the fence.
George set down his drink and went out to see if there had indeed been any other damage to the woman next door's property. He pulled on his barn boots, kept by the back door in the laundry room for just such occasions and then his rain slicker. He still had on a pair of shorts and didn't bother about a tee shirt. He was anxious to see what the damage might entail.
Next door Germaine Ward was also watching the storm, and, for her part, had been also thinking about the big tree. She gave a little shriek, when she saw the tree twisted by the micro burst of wind and toppled, taking out a section of her fence.
She was wearing a night gown and having a glass of wine before bed, having worked on some briefs in her downstairs office, when the tree was felled. She hurried to the utility room and got her 'wellies' and an old coat and went out to explore the damage too.
They met out there very briefly.
"Hi," George said, and although they had seen each other at times, since the new neighbor moved in a few weeks earlier, they hadn't had a chance to meet.
"George Sweet," he said to her holding out his hand, which she took.
"Germain Ward," she said back to him.
"And I'm the owner of that tree," he said ruefully.
"Oh it's too bad, it was so big and lovely," she said wistfully.
"I already had an appointment with the tree guys to take care of it," he went on. "I will, of course, personally see to the damage done to your fence. I can take care of that."
"Oh, thank you," she said. "That will be fine."
"Well," she went on, "It's really nasty out here; I need to get back inside before I get drenched."
"Yes, uh, Germaine," he said, "Maybe meet again under better circumstances."
"Yes, nice," she said and turned to go.
Just then there was another micro burst. It had the effect of pushing her off balance. She tried to catch herself but the wind kept her off balance. In the process, her coat caught on the tree and, from the violent movement, it being old, was torn up one of its seams. The same snag caught her nightgown material and down she went.
It happened so fast that George didn't have a chance to move and help her.
Quickly enough, Germaine was down and the only thing showing was her butt,.
George did take time to stare at her for a moment before going to her aid.
She tried to move but groaned.
"Oh, my ankle!" she said, and he was at her side.
"Here let me!" he said.
"Damn coat," she complained, "I'm getting soaked."
Then, despite her protests, he took off his slicker, and, though he was only wearing shorts, put it around her shoulders and picked her up in his arms. She involuntarily put her arms around his neck.
"But you're getting all wet!" she said.
"The virtuous never catch colds!" he said triumphantly.
She laughed in spite of herself, "So that's what you are, the virtuous?"
"No, I never said that," he answered with a smile, causing another smile in her.
"Does it hurt bad?" he asked.
"Not terribly but it did, when I first tried to walk on it," she said.
He got her home and got her settled in a chair in her kitchen. With her directions, he went for a set of towels right away. When he'd dried her hair, and, at her insistence, dried himself a bit, she let him take off his rain slicker and then she saw the tear in her own coat.
"Oh my god!" she moaned. "I was out there in the rain showing almost everything all the while!"
He grinned but then said: "But I did cover you up!"
"Be right back," he said, grinning and left, wearing his slicker on his way home.
When he came back, it was with some bandages that he used to wrap her ankle, giving it more support.
"Oh, that feels better!" she said. "Where'd you learn to do that?"
"Bit of sports medicine in my days," he said in response. "Can you take care of yourself?" he asked then.
"Think so, don't know," she said.
"Have a friend you can call?" he asked. "If need be, I could camp out on your couch but I know that you don't know me at all."
"Know you, heck," she said, before thinking, "I flashed you already!"
"Yah," he said, "That was the cool part of the accident!" He hesitated and said:
"Oops, sorry, counselor!"
"You'd better!" she said, and then: "Yes, I can call my assistant, my legal assistant. Could you please get me the phone?"
He gave her the phone and waited until her legal assistant, Betty arrived to take care of her.
"Betty, this is George my next door neighbor. He and I were out in the storm checking out damage to that fence from his tree falling, when the wind blew me over."
He began to grin and she said: "Don't you say it, Mister!"
"What," Betty wanted to know.
"Don't!" Germaine said again and he put up his hand in front of him, as if to ward her off.
"Really, George," she said, "I owe you here; thank you for taking care of me; I appreciate it. Hope you don't catch a cold."
"Well, you know," he began, "The..."
"Yes, yes," she interrupted, "The virtuous don't catch colds but we have never established that you are virtuous!"
"No," he went on, grinning more broadly now, "But we have established that you're wearing..."
She gave him a withering glance and he held up his hands again and made as if to go.
"Thank you, George," she said, and Betty accompanied him to the door.
"Are you okay?" Betty asked.
"Yes," he said, "Hope I don't catch a cold!"
Betty giggled at that and went in to take care of Germaine.
AN OFFICE SURPRISE: FATE INTERVENES
George discovered a very strange fact about the lawyer with whom he was going to consult about his writing.
(George was, you see, a prolific romance novel writer, very successful but under the name 'Shirley Love'.) He needed to do something for his two nieces' futures and thought that now was the time. He'd only used the law firm for a few things but was going there now and was that pleased at what he discovered about his appointment with Germaine.
Betty met him, as he entered the office.
"George," she said, "Isn't it?"
"Yes," he said with a smile, "Here to see the boss lady."
"Sorry, George," she said with obvious difficulty, "Germaine has a writer coming to see her, by all the stories that we've been told a prima donna and really doesn't have the time now."
"Oh," he said, "A writer, prima donna?"
"Yes," Betty said, "Some babe named Shirley Love. Pretty big stuff in the romance novel industry, I guess."
"Ah," he went on. "Shirley Love; well, Betty, that's me!"
"What?" she said, as almost a squawk.
He only grinned but then said: "That's me, prima donna!"
She only grinned back at him and said: "Don't start with me, Mister; I'm not the floozy type that shows you my butt end in every storm that passes!"
They both laughed and he said: "So, you heard about that?"
"Yes," she said, "And the dragon lady was properly chagrined."
Again, they laughed but then Betty went on:
"Thanks for taking care of her; I love that lady with a passion. But hey, it's your time; let's surprise the boss."
"Good plan!" he said.
Betty went into Germaine's office, knocking first.
Germaine looked up with a pained look on her face: "Do I really get 'Shirley Love' in the shuffle?"
"Seems like your turn, boss!" Betty said happily.
"Well, you needn't be so cheerful about it, is all!" Germaine complained, making a face at her assistant.
"But I have George Sweet for you right now," Betty said.
"Oh, good! How nice, let him in, and hold up Ms. Love, when she gets here; she's probably going to be late, and I hate that!"
George went into the office and Germaine was on her feet and smiling:
"My hero! How are you, neighbor?"
"Not bad," George said.
"I'm afraid that I have only a few minutes, I'm waiting on an author, of romance novels. We take turns around here being assigned to walk in kinds of cases and this Shirley Love is my turn. So, not much time."
"That's okay," he said, "Maybe another time."
Germaine smiled at him and said: "I certainly hope so; we are neighbors but see one another seldom."
"Well with the fence broken down now, maybe we'll see each other more often," he quipped. Then added: "I will be fixing that soon."
"No real hurry, George," she said and got up to show him out.
"Oh, by the way," George said, "I need to tell you; I work out of my home."
.... There is more of this story ...