Tense

Oooooh, what will happen when Robin arrives in Blackwood after being away from Annabelle for so long?

These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

Strained Relations

Blackwood Gossip

The Older Sister Act

Complicated

chris dreams about annie.jpgChris opened his eyes and tried to mentally grab hold of what he realized had just been a dream. It had been so real, and he’d felt happiness gripping his stomach. She’d been right there with him. He had dreamt about Annabelle before, well more let his mind fantasize about her. But this was a dream that had started when he was fast asleep. To wake up and lose her brought a wave of disappointment and irritation.

He stood up from his bed and felt tension come back into his neck and shoulders. Glancing over at the pendulum clock that was sitting on top of a chest of drawers, he saw that it was still early. He had plenty of time to tidy up before Burt and Annabelle arrived with Robin. Besides, why should he make a fuss? He was determined he was not going to go to any extra trouble for Annabelle’s boyfriend. Gina had already changed the bed linen before she’d driven home the night before. Why should he do anything else?

chris punchingChris needed to let the tension in his body escape. He headed down to his garage to take out his stress on the punchbag that hung there. Chris wondered how on earth he had allowed Gina to talk him into offering his spare room to Annabelle’s boyfriend. Although, if he was back with his ex-wife – that was a complete game-changer. He didn’t know whether to be angry or glad or jealous anymore. All Chris knew was that he was doing this for Annabelle, and if Robin was coming all the way here to break her heart face to face, Chris was going to make sure Annabelle could rely on him.

promBurt and Annabelle were on the way to the airport at Appleton, aiming to arrive early. Burt had noticed Annabelle seemed to be shivering. He had asked if she was cold. But she had shook her head and admitted she felt very warm. Burt touched Annabelle’s hand and with a laughter in his voice, “last time I was shaking like that was when I was on my way to meet Pearl at her home before I took her to our high school prom.”

Annabelle smiled, “I feel sick with nerves Burt. I can’t wait to see him, but my insides feel like they are on a roller coaster.”

As they drove into the airport and headed towards the parking area for arrivals, Annabelle called out, “That’s him. Burt, he is standing over by the Arrivals sign. Burt applied the brakes gently, and as the the car came to a halt, Annabelle unclipped her seatbelt and slipped out of the car. Burt turned to watch her long legs stretch out, as she ran towards the man she had been pointing to. Burt chuckled to himself that her nerves seem to have vanished rather quickly.

robin and annie5“Robin!” Annabelle started to call out as soon as she thought he would hear her. The nerves had well and truly vanished. On reaching Robin, Annabelle flung her arms around him and embraced him tightly.

“Belle! My Belle!” Robin’s hand held the back of Annabelle’s head close against his shoulder and he nestled his face into her hair.

“I can’t believe you’re here Robin.”

“Baby, look at me.” Robin gazed into Annabelle’s eyes, “it’s been too long, I know. I feel terrible.”

“Shhhh. All that matters is that you are here now.” Annabelle buried her face into Robin’s shirt again.

robin and annie9Robin wrapped a large chunk of hair in his hand and gently pulled her head back. The memory of Robin tugging her hair during steamy nights together made her neck tingle. He wanted to look at her. “So pretty, so so pretty. How are you Belle? Apart from being furious with me for taking so long to come back here.”

“I am not furious silly. I am very very happy now you are here.” Resisting the tug on her hair, Annabelle pushed her face back into Robin’s chest and breathed in the scent of his aftershave. “Wood Essence.”

“Yeap, I wore it for luck.”

Annabelle let out a deep sigh, “I am so glad you are here.” She turned as the toot of Burt’s car sounded.

“Is this our ride?” asked Robin.

lug carAnnabelle opened the boot of Burt’s car and Robin lifted his cases into the trunk. Within minutes the three were heading back to Blackwell. Burt asked Robin how the flight had been and if he had been waiting long before they had arrived. Robin chatted pleasantly, with mundane details about the food on the aeroplane and the turbulence they had encountered. Robin told Burt how Annabelle had often written about him and Pearl. He expressed how grateful he was for them making Annabelle feel so welcome. Annabelle was quiet and content as she sat in the back of the car. She loved listening to the tone of his voice. She frequently put one of her hands on his shoulder or played with his hair.

Burt told Robin that Pearl was preparing dinner for them that evening. He then asked if he would first prefer to head to the home of Christopher Ward, the friend of their’s who had offered his spare room for Robin. Robin turned to look at Annabelle, who turned her face away and knotted her eyebrows. Robin admitted he would like to freshen up after the long journey and change his clothes. So it was agreed they would drive straight to Chris’ home.

chris homeOn arriving at Chris’ home, Annabelle was slow to unbuckle her seatbelt. Burt realized she may still feel useasy, so he climbed out of the car and strolled over to the front door, while Robin and Annabelle unloaded his suitcases. Before Burt had reached the porch, he heard the voice of Chris calling out as he walked across the garden with a paint tin in his hand.

Burt greeted Chris very warmly, stretching his hand out, “Very good of you Chris. We all appreciate it, especially Annabelle of course. He seems like a nice enough chap. I’m sure he won’t cause you any trouble.”

“No problem Burt. How is Mrs J?”

“Mrs J won’t sit still for more than five minutes, she’s been baking and cooking, making jam and pickling.  She sends her regards Chris.”

robin and annie7Chris turned towards Robin and Annabelle and his heart sunk. They did not look as if they had wasted any time patching up whatever they needed to talk about. Robin did not look like he was going to let Annabelle go, nevermind end their relationship because of his ex-wife.

Chris cursed under his breath. He marched towards them and grabbed the large case next to the car and started walking back towards his front door. He felt a kind of resentment building up in him. He knew only too well it was jealousy. He couldn’t even look at them. Not at him anyway. It was hard not to shoot glances at Annabelle. Her face lit up with joy. He wanted to see her smiles.

annie wisps robinBurt excused himself saying that he needed to pick up some groceries for Pearl. He asked Annabelle what she was going to do. Annabelle whispered into Robin’s ear and he nodded. She then addressed Chris, “would it be alright if I stayed here while Rob gets ready Chris?”

Chris told Annabelle that she was welcome to stay. Burt asked Annabelle to call when they were ready to come over for dinner and he would drive by to collect them. As soon as he had left, Chris grabbed the case again and headed towards the stairs, “I’ll show you the spare-room.” Robin followed Chris, while Annabelle lingered downstairs in the hallway. When Chris came back down the stairs on his alone, he thought Annabelle looked sheepish.

“I’m putting the kettle on Annie. What do you want to drink?”

“Chris, I just wanted to say thank you. It is so kind of you…”

“It’s nothing Annie. Are you happy he is here?” Chris told himself mentally that he had just asked a stupid question.

annie trying to talk to chris.jpgAnnabelle couldn’t help but smile. “Sure am.” She looked down at the floor and her fingers fidgeted with her sleeves. “I wanted to talk to you Chris.”

Chris looked at Annabelle. “Please don’t feel awkward Annie. You look as if you want a run a mile. Just relax.”

“I know this must be awkward for you though, isn’t it?”

“Well, yeah, kind of. The last time we spoke you told me I was crazy. You said you couldn’t trust me. And you haven’t answered your phone when I tried to call to apologise.  I thought we were friends.”

“I ought to have called you. I have been busy, but I should have called. My head has been all over the place recently. I didn’t want you to think I was angry about anything. I was annoyed that night, but only because I wanted to read Robin’s letter,” Annabelle was too embarrassed to maintain a lot of eye contact with Chris, who had that adoring gaze in his eyes, “But Chris, a few days later, someone told me that people were talking about the two of us. People saw what happened. Talk was that you and I were making out on the high street. I tried to make it clear that we are just friends, but people just want to believe whatever they like. I just thought it best if we made sure the gossip didn’t get any worse. You know, for Robin.”

chris seriousChris looked sternly at Annabelle. “Nobody would have known anything about it if you had just called, or even texted, to tip me off. I thought you were mad at me. You – my best friend here in Blackwood, I thought you were just cutting me off. I’ve been pretty moody lately because of you avoiding me.”

“That was wrong. I didn’t think. I am sorry, I have just been wrapped up in getting ready for Rob to come. I just didn’t think about how you would be feeling. I should have called.”

“Ok, so we have both apologised. Does that mean we are friends? Because it’s pretty lousy thinking you want to bail out on me.”

“We are friends Chris,” smiled Annabelle, “I am really grateful that your sister came over yesterday. She’s so lovely.”

annie and chris“She’s great. Best sister in the world,” Chris looked at Annabelle with an eyebrow raised, “but you know this was her idea, offering to put up Robin. She kind of bullied me into it.”

“Oh dear, oh I am sorry Chris. If you aren’t really happy to have him, then…”

“No, it’s cool. It’s cool Annie. I’m just saying it because it does feel a bit weird. You know how I feel about you. There you go blushing again. I’m only saying it because I would do anything to help you out, but I confess, him being here is going to be hard for me – probably the last person on the planet I would want to be hosting.”

Annabelle nodded, “I think Chris, that out of all of us, Rob is the one who is going to find the next few days the hardest.”

“Maybe. But he is going to be spoilt by Pearl Jennings, which should make up for it.”

“Oh I forgot, Pearl wanted me to ask you to join us for dinner. I am supposed to ring her to say if you are coming.”

Chris was hesitant, “do you want me there Annie?”

Annabelle found she couldn’t look at Chris, although she realized he wanted her to, “Please come Chris” she said softly.

“Well, ring and tell Burt I’ll drive us over then.”

_____________

Another part coming soon…

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

 

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Complicated

Well…what is going to happen next with Annabelle’s story. I will admit to you, I am not even sure at the moment. These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

Strained Relations

Blackwood Gossip

The Older Sister Act

Gina Ward drove back over to her younger brother’s home trying to make sense of everything she had heard. The blonde with the boobs was one complicated chick! You couldn’t help feel sorry for her, but Gina’s main concern that her situation made her the wrong girl for her brother Chris. Whatever she decided to tell Chris about the conversation she’d had with Annabelle Riley, she would emphasise that it was a very good thing that Annabelle was in love with someone else.

USA, Utah, Salt Lake City, young woman gardeningWhen Gina had driven over to the home of The Jennings, she was doubtful she would received a warm welcome. Pearl had answered the door to Gina. Neither of them had met, so Gina had given her name and enquired if it was possible to speak to Annabelle. Pearl had immediately replied that she was sure that Annie would be glad to see Christopher’s sister. She told her that Annabelle had been helping her to do some gardening, but invited Gina to follow her through to the garden. Pearl was right. Annabelle had appeared very pleased at Gina’s visit.

Lemonade in the jugAfter Pearl had brought a jug of iced-tea and an ooozey lemon drizzle loaf, the three ladies sat outside in the garden. In the few minutes that Pearl had been preparing things in the kitchen, Gina had told Annabelle that she was visiting Chris and was concerned about his low mood. She told Annabelle that Chris seemed preoccupied with a misunderstanding between the two of them. Annabelle didn’t have a lot to say, but she had nodded a lot.

Once Pearl had joined them though, the tone of the conversation had changed. Pearl had mentioned that they were preparing for the arrival of Robin.

party3Gina had been frankly amazed at how open Annabelle had been. Annabelle had related in detail what Chris had referred to briefly. She heard all about how Annabelle had met Robin at a party in New York and had ended up spending that night and the following day and the following night with him, before they were both back at work on the Monday. She said that from then on there didn’t seem a reason not to be together whenever they could be.

She related that when Robin returned to England over a year later, they had both agreed to allow time to settle their feelings. Annabelle had found it hard without Robin. She said he had been very busy once back in England and starting a new demanding but very well-paid job and being back with his family and his circle of  friends. Weeks after he had left, she had realized she was pregnant. Not long after she was on a plane to London so she could share the news face to face. The next thing she knew she was in a hospital with Robin by her side holding her hand.

ex2Pearl Jennings was a very hospitable lady. She seemed to be constantly offering more refreshments to Gina. Each time Pearl had left them for a minute or so, Annabelle had slipped in some detail to her own account of her situation that perhaps she did not want to say in front of Pearl. She had whispered to Gina that before Robin she had only ever had one boyfriend, a guy she’d met when she was seventeen. She said he  was a guitarist. but when his band had become famous he had started drinking heavily and taking drugs and had one day hit Annabelle. But when Pearl returned, Annabelle changed the subject.

mourning.jpgAnnabelle related to Gina that the head injuries she had received during the traffic accident started to cause her challenges. These were heightened when her daughter had been born. Her account of the loss of her baby girl was so moving, Gina had a few tears escape her own eyelids. Annabelle tried to describe her own grief, but became so red faced and upset as she was speaking that Pearl rushed off to the kitchen to fetch some Rescue Remedy.  When Pearl had left them, Annabelle looked straight at Gina with wide eyes and told her, “Robin’s family wanted to have me sectioned.” As soon as Pearl came back, Annabelle started relating how supportive Robin had been and had decided it would be best to leave England and take Annabelle back to the States to be near her family and friends.

Annabelle spoke highly of Robin and told of how when it was clear that she could not cope with the noise and crowds of New York, he had started looking at other possibilities.

angry.jpg But Annabelle’s family did not want him to take Annabelle anywhere. They had felt that they were enough support for Annabelle and actually Robin may be to blame for Annabelle’s emotional state. In their minds, this trouble had all started when Annabelle had travelled to England to follow Robin. They tried to tell Annie that she should never have gone to England, that they would be better off without Robin. They blamed English roads, English hospitals and Doctors, and even the English weather for the changes in Annabelle. There had been months of friction and stress between Annabelle’s family and Robin. Eventually after a huge argument between her parents and Robin where they demanded he do the best thing for Annie and everyone and go back to England, Robin had decided to take the first chance to move to a quieter area he could.

couldn't copeThat’s how they had arrived in Blackwood. That’s when Annabelle became aware that Robin was having his own challenges. She had not realized how much Robin was struggling. It was only when they arrived in an area where either of them knew anyone that Robin seemed to give up trying. He lost energy, he lost interest in everything. Annabelle admitted that she had not understood until Robin said that he had to go back to England to be with his family for a while because he thought he was losing his mind. She had been very alarmed at this. It seemed incomprehensible to  her that Robin would leave her alone. She was adamant she would return to New York to hear her family criticise Robin over and over. He had pleaded with and persuaded her. She had confessed she liked the quiet of Blackwood and would stay there until he returned. He had arranged for her to have the live-in carer job.

annie worrying.jpgTwenty months had passed since he had gone to England. Annabelle explained that she was nervous about Robin’s arrival, because so much time had passed. She had been all consumed with thinking about his visit to Blackwood. She was very happy Gina had come over and she expressed that she did not want Chris to be worried about anything. She considered him a good friend. She indicated to Gina that some folk in Blackwood had observed that they had been together a lot recently and that some had jumped to conclusions about their relationship. She wanted to make sure that nothing was going to make Robin uncomfortable when he returned. It was already a huge step for him to come back to a place where he had become so despairing.

While she was driving back over to her brother’s home, Gina thought about everything Annabelle had told her. Should she tell Chris exactly what she thought? Should she relate everything that Annabelle had said about him? There was one thing she knew she had to let Chris know.

gina2“Well?” asked Chris pushing a mug of tea towards his sister, “You’ve been gone for hours. I’m hoping that the Jennings didn’t rope you into a game of scrabble.”

“Nope, monopoly actually.” Gina took a sip of tea and looked at her brother, “You didn’t tell me they had a baby who died.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No, and that they lived together for two years. What they’ve had is pretty serious, as relationships go. You do understand that don’t you?”

Chris sat down at his kitchen table and started running his hands through his hair. “I think so.” he said with a sullen tone in his voice. “Dis she say anything about me and her?”

“She said…she said you have helped her a lot. You’ve been helping her study haven’t you?”

Chris nodded.

Chris talking to Annie“She mentioned that, and she also mentioned you have helped her to understand what Robin may have gone through. Apparently you have been telling her all about your experience with depression. She said she was wrapped up with her own mental health for a long time. These injuries she had in a car accident, they had a sudden and dramatic effect on her moods and emotions. But she said what happened with her partner was different, for him it was the gradual build up of stress and grief. She said that a lot of things you said to her were almost the same as things that had Robin had told her when he was trying to explain his feelings – things like “trapped”, “cornered” “drowning” “suffocating”. She found hearing you explain your experience calmly helped her to think back and make sense of what Robin had been trying to tell her before he left for England.”

“I’ve helped her understand him?” Chris took a large gulp of tea.

chris drinking.png“The point is, you have helped her a lot. She is extremely grateful to you Chris and you are an important friend to her.”

Chris thought about what Gina was telling him, “But she doesn’t want to talk to me? That says a lot about how much of a friend she thinks I am!”

“She said, and by the way, she didn’t mention you kissing her, so I didn’t mention it either, that people in Blackwood have seen you two together and jumped to conclusions that you two are a couple.”

Chris raised his eyebrows in a mixture of surprise and doubt, “Nobody’s said anything to me, well, not really. I had a strange text message from a a girl called Jenna. She told me to ask Annie if she was into threesomes. I just deleted her message.”

robin nervy.jpg“What! I hope Annabelle isn’t getting those kind of comments. Chris, she is really worried about how her partner is going to cope with Blackwood. He was really at his lowest point when he was here. And apparently he has some difficult stuff he wants to talk about with Annabelle.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“She didn’t say.” Gina hesitated as she wondered to herself whether she should share with Chris what Pearl Jennings had whispered to Gina.

“Is that why she’s giving me the cold shoulder? Because she is worried about what other people in Blackwood think?”

“She is worried about her boyfriend Chris. The man she has been in love with these past few years, the father of her child.”

chris stretching.jpgChris stretched his arms outward, flexing his shoulders, “Ok Gina, I get it. I get it.”

“You can still be a good friend to her you know. She is really worried about the neighbours who have agreed to put Robin up. She said they’ve been asking a lot of questions about Robin and she is frightened that they are going to interrogate him.”

“I think most of the folk in Blackwood are kind of curious about newcomers. I felt as if folk were interrogating me when I moved here.”

“Well, why don’t you offer to have Robin stay here?”

robin and annie8“What! You must be kidding! Why would I have the woman I love and her boyfriend sleeping together under my roof?”

“Annabelle wouldn’t be here. It would only be him. I get the picture nobody would approve of her spending the night with him. I am sure that couple Pearl and her husband would disapprove. He just needs somewhere to stay, with someone who is not going to stress him out. All you would need to do is let him sleep and shower and you can grunt at him when you see him or whatever.”

“Oh I don’t know. I think it’s a bit nuts of you even to suggest it Gina.”

“Would you think about it?”

claudia1Chris shook his head. “I don’t think I could. I mean the fact is I am jealous as hell of this guy. Why do I care if he has a hard time while he is here?”

“Look, I don’t know if I should be telling you this, and you have to promise me you are not going to do anything crazy because of this. But, what if I told you that it sounds as if he has got back with his ex-wife?”

“Seriously? Did Annie tell you that?”

“Actually it was Pearl. Annie had gone to use the bathroom. Pearl said that Annabelle is very anxious about it and they are guessing that is what Robin is coming here to tell her face-to-face rather than in a letter.”

awful“Oh. Oh wow. Annie is going to be devastated. She is devoted to this guy.”

“Would knowing that help you to be a friend to Annabelle now by offering to put him up for a few days?”

“Maybe I’ll think about it.”

“Well you don’t have long to think about it Chris. He arrives tomorrow.”

Annabelle put down the phone and took a deep breath.

“Is everything alright Annie?”

weird calls“That was Chris, Pearl. He called to offer his spare-room for Robin to stay in.”

“That’s very kind of him. Christopher is such a nice young man. And it might be easier for your Robin to be with someone his own age rather than with Frank and Olive.”

“Maybe I should pop over there now and let them know Pearl.”

“Yes dear, I think you’re right, before it gets dark. Olive might be making a fuss preparing the spare-room.”

Annabelle rose to her feet and made her way out of the house to go and speak to the neighbours to let them know Robin would be staying somewhere else now. Pearl carried on knitting smiling to herself. When Burt came in with a tray carrying three cups of tea, he asked her what was making her smile so warmly.

burt and pearl1.jpg“I really like that young man Christopher Ward. I think he would really look after Annabelle. I mean only if her Robin let her down.”

“He hasn’t even arrived yet. Give him a chance. Pearl Jennings – ever the matchmaker. Tut tut tut!”

____________

Another part coming soon…

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

 

 

The Older Sister Act

I have been working on more of Annabelle’s story. But I thought I should turn my attention to poor Chris for a moment. These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

Strained Relations

Blackwood Gossip

gina and chris.jpgGina Ward knew when there was something wrong with her little brother. She had always felt closer to her younger brother than her older two. And through the years she had become the family member Chris could lean on the most, especially as adults. She had kept a worried eye on him since his college days. He had become majorly depressed when their parents had divorced. It was a tough time for all of them, but Chris was the youngest of the four siblings, he was eight years younger than Gina.

chris parentsGina had noticed the signs for years. It wasn’t just the arguments. The arguments stopped and instead there was a chronic state of silence between her parents. they could barely tolerate each other. She could see her parents had become emotionally distant. Once her father had taken up drawing and was always trekking out to the countryside with his art materials and her mother had started to spend weekend’s away with various friends, Gina suspected something would happen. But she was immersed in her career in Chicago. It was a bustling city. She had dated a very good looking colleague named Nick. He had got her through the worse of her sadness over their parent’s divorce. But she knew Chris had been pretty much alone, and the news came at a bad time, right as he was cramming for his exams.

chris4It was Gina who had insisted that Chris see a doctor. But his depression was not going to go away over night. Whenever she visited, she grew more concerned about how much weight he had lost and noticing the amount of empty bottles in his trash can, she lectured him. He may have been irritated by her, but she felt gratified that it was because of her being the best sister in the world that he had turned a corner and started to get his life back in order. She pressed him to sort out his finances. She felt the debt was like a heave chain binding him. That burden was draining him. In the end the idea to leave the city where rent was so high and move out to the sticks seemed obvious.

chris8And as well as helping Chris to clear his debt more quickly, she felt that being out in the countryside was really good for him. He enjoyed working as a joiner. And the benefits of physical work were clear. He was eating more and his arms and torso had become muscular and toned. He was often working outside and whenever she saw him she noticed how bronze his skin was becoming, which suited him. In fact she had teased him a lot about what a stud women would find him. He didn’t talk about his love life. She didn’t expect him to. Her older brothers never had either. But it would be nice to think of him finding a nice girl. She was optimistic that there would be more chance of him settling down with someone in a country town than in the city.

blackwood danceIn fact when she had stayed over in Blackwood and gone to a barn dance with her brother, she noticed that one young woman was the object of Chris’ attention all evening. She recollected Chris had introduced her to a very pretty slim woman with wavy golden hair and fantastic boobs – typical eye candy. What was her name? Annette? Amelia? Something like that. That girl had turned out to be very friendly, she had chatted for some time to Gina and had clearly made it her mission to make sure Gina had plenty of dance partners that night. But Chris didn’t seem to receive such warm conversation from her. In fact she remembered Chris being disappointed when he had asked her to dance, but she told him she had promised that next dance with an older man named Larry who was trying to dance with a walking stick. Chris had sulked for the rest of the evening.

ginaGina smiled as passed the “Welcome to Blackwood” sign and noticed the quaint town houses. This was a better place than the stress of the city. Cheerful gardens and bright store fronts made the town so picturesque. After pulling up outside the house her brother had been renovating, she prepared herself for the bossy big sister act. As she was walking up towards his porch, she checked the trash cans, a couple of empty bottles of beer. No spirits. That was a good sign. At least he wasn’t drinking.

“It’s a woman isn’t it?”

“No.”

“You haven’t mentioned having a girlfriend, so I don’t think it’s a break-up. That means you either had a one-night stand and someone is pregnant…or it’s unrequited love. Is it someone who you like who doesn’t return the interest?”

“Gina! Come on! I said it isn’t a woman.”

annabelle8“Is it the blonde with the boobs you introduced me to at that barn dance last summer?”

“Damn! Are you psychic?”

“Because she was clearly not that keen on you back then. She hardly spoke a word to you. Is she still playing hard to get?”

“Oh thanks Gina – I needed that. And anyway you are wrong, she and I have been hanging out for the last couple of months, almost everyday.” Chris raised his voice as the kettle on the stove let out a piercing whistle.

“So you do have a girlfriend?”

“Tea or coffee?, asked Chris, “No. I have a friend, who is a girl.”

“And has great boobs, tea for me.”

mugIgnoring Gina’s synopsis of the object of his affections, Chris poured water into two mugs and stabbed the tea-bags in them, before adding just a splash of milk into both mugs. He passed one over to Gina with a smile, “She has the most amazing smile in the whole town. And an amazing body. But she is such a wonderful person. She’s like…I don’t know, she’s like dessert – applie pie or chocolate fudge cake. Or some kind of beautiful flower, or just something that makes you feel great.”

“Aaaw little brother is going all poetic! You are serious about this one aren’t you?”

“She’s the one Gina. I have never felt this way.”

“That’s fantastic. So why are you down?”

“I messed up. I think I have ruined it.”

“How exactly did you do that?”

chris at annieStaring into his mug of tea, Chris muttered, “I kissed her.”

“OK…last time I heard, kissing was a healthy part of a relationship. How was that a bad thing?”

“She’s involved with another guy.”

“Woah! Chris! You were trying to steal her from some other guy? Are you trying to make a name for yourself in Blackwood? Do you want to get beaten up?”

“He is not even around. He left her to go off and get over a nervous breakdown. Almost two years ago. But she is totally wrapped up in him. She doesn’t get how badly he has treated her. She was hanging out with me, but she didn’t want anything to happen between us, she made that quite clear. And I respected that. But I kind of lost it one day, and I kissed her.”

Gina looked at Chris sternly, gina1“And she didn’t want that?”

“No, not at all.”

“Ok, end of story. No means no. don’t push it. Just accept she is not interested and move on. Try a dating website or, or join a gym, women at they gym are always checking out the guys there.”

“But we were friends, we have been really close these past couple of months Gina. It’s not like I was some guy in a bar trying to pick her up. We were really good friends.”

“Well, if you two are as close as you think, surely she would get over it. I am sure even if she was a bit embarrassed or didn’t want that attention she will get over it. So long as you accept that no means no. Sometimes you can be too intense. She might be frightened by that.”

“It’s not as simple as that Gina. I chose the worst possible moment to kiss her. And she hasn’t got over it. She won’t answer her phone or respond to any messages I have sent her. I have been over and left a note to apologise and left flowers. The couple she lodges with told me she thinks it’s best that we don’t see each other.”

chris with fl.jpg“Oh dear! Do you hear yourself? What did I just say about you being too intense? You need to back off Chris. If she wants to be sure that you understand that “no” means no, sending her flowers and harassing her with messages is not going to give that impression.”

“I don’t know what to do Gina. Do I just wait and do nothing and hope she starts speaking to me?”

“Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard when I don’t know this girl to be sure. But if you give her the impression you are obsessed with her, she is not going to let her guard down. So maybe you do just need to wait a while before you try speaking to her.”

“But how long? I hate her ghosting me like this. I just wish she would let me talk to her.”

“Be patient Chris. You need to be careful, real life is not like the movies. Try not to get a court order taken out against you for stalking her. If she has strong feelings about what happened, you might need to let them settle before you do anything. Let her cool down. If she is as nice a person as you think she is, there might come a point when she will see things from your point of view. If she wants to be friends with you, let her make the first move.”

chris3Chris still looked really glum. “Have you eaten today Chris?”

“I had coffee.”

“But no food. It is really hard to think straight on an empty stomach. Well, I am hungry. I have driven all the way down here to check up on my little bro. I need feeding. Come on let’s pick up a pizza or something.”

Chris nodded. “Food would be good. There’s a new Chinese restaurant that has opened up on the high street. We could eat there, or I have a take-away menu somewhere. We could pick up some thing and bring it back here if you like.”

“Let’s get take-away. I’d love some spring rolls.”

take awayAfter calling the Chinese and placing an order to collect, they jumped in Chris’ truck and headed into the town centre. That evening, while eating their Chinese banquet for two, Chris told Gina all about the friendship that had been developing between him and Annabelle before he had kissed her. Gina listened to her brother and felt a mix of sympathy for him and concern that he had not been reading the signals Annie had sent out. It was clear to Gina that if a woman insisted on arranging for chaperones everywhere they went, she had no romantic interest. But this was her brother acting on emotion. He was a man of deep feelings. He could be impulsive at times and make rash decisions. Maybe this Annabelle had overreacted to him kissing her. But she surely would get over it, if she believed that Chris would not do that again.

chris cryThe brother and sister chatted until the early hours of the morning. Gina could tell that Chris was enormously frustrated about the situation with Annabelle. It was a long time since she had seen her younger brother in tears. He was perplexed and wanted to do something to regain the friendship that had become such a big deal to him.

Gina kept on telling Chris he needed to hang out with other friends and not be so focused on this blonde bombshell. Several times Gina asked Chris if he thought he could really commit to a platonic friendship and be sure he would not try to make a move on Annabelle again. Chris always looked awkward on that point. But he claimed that he would rather have a platonic friendship with her than not be a part of her life at all. The thought of her avoiding him and not speaking to him at all made him feel very gloomy. He even mentioned he didn’t think he could stay in the same town as her if she was going to shun him.

Just before Gina confessed she needed sleep and headed up to Chris’ spare room, she made a suggestion that seemed to make Chris brighten a little. “Would you like me to try to talk to her? She might be more comfortable hearing about the way you feel from a woman.”

robin leavingRobin was not looking forward to the journey ahead of him. He would have to catch the train to Zurich International Airport, and then wait for his flight to Amsterdam and then on to Detroit, before the final flight to the airport in Appleton where he would see Annabelle again after twenty months away from her. Twenty months was a long time. He had never intended it to be this long. But life had got in the way. Now he had so much he needed to confess to Annabelle.

annabelle waiting.jpgThe mix of feelings in his heart made him quite tired. She was a beautiful woman, full of life and excitement, when he met her, she had become the mother of his child, and he had made many changes, giving up his career and his home for the sake of her mental health. Finally he himself had needed help with his own desperate feelings. But he had never intended to be away from Annabelle for so long. When he left her, he had no intention of causing so much trouble for himself, making his life so complicated, so that now, his reunion with Annabelle was going to be so extremely bittersweet. He had an idea that the mix of feelings was going to keep him wide awake throughout the journey. But he was convinced that it was time to tell Annabelle what had happened, no matter how she would react. She would be there waiting for him at Appleton Airport. Just less than seventeen hours of travelling ahead of him.

_____________

Another part coming soon…

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

Blackwood Gossip

If you are sticking with Annabelle’s story, thank you so very much for being patient with me on my first ever long fictional project. These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

Strained Relations

Woman ringing door bell apartment buildingAnnabelle had rung the doorbell at the home of Ralph Crabbe a couple of times already. She could detect a rich meaty scent wafting from the kitchen that made her stomach juices start flowing with anticipation. Perhaps Ralph was in the middle of something that prevented him from hurrying to the front door. She tried the handle but it was locked. She waited for another minute before ringing the doorbell again. When there was still no sign of Ralph she decided to talk around to the back of the house. She passed two windows and could see the lights were turned on. Ralph never left the house without checking lights were turned off and windows were shut.

ralph.jpegAs she entered the garden she could see that the sliding glass doors that led out onto the patio were slightly open. Stepping into the living room, she called out Ralph’s name. She called a couple more times before turning towards the kitchen. The oven was on and there was a pan of vegetables on the stove. The stove was not on though. There was no sign of Ralph. She turned back out into the hallway and headed towards the front door and the stairwell, perhaps Ralph was upstairs. It was then that she noticed an arm sticking out from behind stairs. Annabelle grabbed her phone and dialled 911.

While she was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, Annabelle was greeted by a familiar face.

“Well, if it isn’t Annie Riley, how are you doing Little Miss Mysterious?”

“Oh hey Jenna. I’m fine. Just waiting for some news on Ralph Crabbe. he had a fall tonight.”

Smiling woman getting her hair styled and hair salon.“Oh dear, poor Ralph. I am sorry sweetie. I know he’s one of your best pals. Now don’t keep me in suspense. You were the talk of the salon today. What is going on with you and that hottie Chris Ward?”

“What do you mean? We are just friends.”

“It’s all I heard at the salon today, you two were making out in the street outside O’Flanagans. When did this happen?”

Annabelle became rigid and in an almost hostile tone she demanded, “Who told you that? Whoever it is they are wrong.”

“Oh don’t be embarrassed sweetie. I am rooting for you, He is a real nice guy. Great kisser. He’s been sweet on you for almost a year. You’ll be the sweethearts of Blackwood, Everyone loves a romance.”

“Jenna, we were not making out. That’s a lie. And there is no romance, at all. Please tell whoever told you that they are very much mistaken.”

amber and margo“Whatever you say Annie But you don’t need to be coy about it, Margo and Amber saw you two kissing and said you looked so sweet together.”

“Margo and Amber. I’ll speak to them myself Jenna. We weren’t kissing. They’ve got the wrong idea.”

Margo and Amber were fleshly sisters. They were the main source of gossip that was spread via the Blackwood Zumba group all over the town. When she had first started living with Ralph and Barbara Crabbe, Annabelle remembered the two women inviting her out for coffee to get to know her and asking an array of personal questions which Annabelle could not possibly answer. Eventually, they had lost interest in her as not being interesting enough for them to keep making effort with her.

anxious annie.jpgAnnabelle felt mortified at what Jenna had told her. If people who lived in Blackwood heard this they would assume there was something going on with her and Chris. She was expecting Robin to arrive in Blackwood in a couple of weeks. What if somebody said something to Robin about Chris kissing her. Well, she would tell Robin the truth But still, it wouldn’t make it any easier for Robin if people were staring at them, now that Annabelle seemed to have become a subject for gossip in Blackwood.

For the first time since the night he had tried to kiss her, Annabelle felt annoyed with Chris. She had not thought about him until now. She had noticed his calls and messages, but she was so consumed with planning for Robin’s visit, she had procrastinated replying.

ralphWhen she could finally go in and see Ralph, he was delighted to see her. For an hour Annabelle was able to forget her worries and concentrate on cheering Ralph up. Her hopes of asking Ralph if he could host Robin had of course faded. She contented herself that it would be fine to ask a neighbour instead, as Burt and Pearl had suggested. Poor Ralph. His hip was fractured. He would have quite a stay in hospital. There was talk of possible surgery, and physiotherapy to follow before he could even think of returning home.

Burt Jennings appeared on the ward and spent some time chatting to Ralph, before the nurses indicated that visiting time was now over. Annabelle and Burt promised to return the following day with a few items he would like to have with him.

passenger.jpgAs Burt drove home, he noticed Annabelle was very quiet. “You must have had quite a shock finding Ralph like that. Thank goodness you had gone over there.”

Annabelle nodded but remained silent. Just a few minutes from the Jennings home, Annabelle who had been deep in thought, told Burt that she was concerned that she had been spending too much time with Chris Ward and that some may have jumped to wrong conclusions about their friendship.

burt1.jpgBurt stared at the road, wondering whether to mention that Chris had been over again that afternoon hoping to speak to Annie. He advised Annabelle not to be too worried about what people thought, but asked if there was any reason she felt uncomfortable with Chris.

Annabelle seemed reluctant to answer, but she said to Burt, “Chris has been very helpful Burt. He really seems to understand depression. He has been good for me. But I really do think that from now on we should not spend so much time together. Especially with Robin coming. I don’t want Robin to overhear anyone mentioning something that isn’t true about Chris and me.”

burt and pearl.jpgBurt nodded and wondered what else Annabelle might not be telling him. “I’ll have a word with Pearl, shall I? I know she thinks highly of him. Perhaps she ought not to be inviting him to join us for dinner so often.”

“Burt I feel bad. I don’t want you and Pearl to change the way you are with Chris. But I think I will have to avoid him from now on. At least until Robin comes. I don’t want to create an awkwardness, but I think it’s best if Chris and I, well, if we keep a distance from each other, for a while.”

“Annabelle, you a grown woman. I am not one to pry. But I can’t say the same for Pearl, so it might be best if you and she had a talk about this some time. You seem tired now. But speak to Pearl tomorrow and make sure she understands what to do if he comes asking for you, like he has been doing for the past five or six weeks.”

Young man lying awakeRobin opened his eyes and glanced at the time on his alarm clock, 3:08am. He had not slept a wink that night. How was Annabelle going to react was the subject of his thoughts?

He had not seen her for twenty months. But before that there had been just over two years of challenges. He had never thought it was her fault. The head injuries she had received in the traffic accident. They seemed to be behind the terrible mood swings. Her feeling overwhelmed by becoming a mother. Their daughter Lucy crying throughout the night, disturbing Annabelle’s sleep so often. She suffered when she didn’t sleep enough. The loss of Lucy – no wonder Annabelle had felt anguish and despair.

robin comfort annieRobin had wanted to find the right words to comfort her, but he struggled. Annabelle had refused to eat. And then there was the bruises, scratches, and deep nail marks he found on her. The numerous times she had left the house in the middle of the night to go for a walk around the streets of Chelsea. Worry for Annabelle had consumed him. Over two years of stress and then grief. She felt everything so deeply. Never far away from tears and emotional outpourings. Robin had been completely exhausted, “burn-out” was what a Doctor had said to him. He had lost all taste for life. It was not that he had lost his love for Annabelle. He just couldn’t feel anything, he was entirely numb, completely withdrawn.

robin.jpgThese past few months he had finally started to feel positive and well again. Claudia had kept a close eye on him and pushed him even when he had no motivation. He had energy, he was working, he enjoyed his relaxation time. He was reading and swimming. There was so much that interested him now and he enjoyed talking about his interests and getting to know colleagues and neighbours.

But now the thought of how Annabelle was going to react when he told her what he had been hiding all this time weighed on his mind. Was he ready to see her distraught again? Could he deal with her being upset? Robin glanced back at the clock 3:56am

_______________

Another part coming soon…

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

Strained Relations

Annabelle’s story is still giving me lots to think about at the moment. It has surprised me how much I am enjoying it. Here is the next part and these are previous posts:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

pearl and annie.jpgAnnabelle found Pearl’s reaction to the letter very helpful. Pearl Jennings was so calm and composed and steadied Annabelle’s fears. “He is coming all the way here Annabelle. That is very promising. That is what you must focus on. Don’t be anxious about whatever it is he wants to talk to you about.”

Burt and Pearl had suggested that one of their neighbours would be happy to have Robin stay over night especially as he would be out all day with Annabelle. Annabelle suggested offering some money to whoever might be willing to provide accommodation for Robin, but Burt and Pearl suspected that any of their neighbours would be more than happy to help out. Annabelle also had the idea of asking Ralph Crabbe if he could accommodate Robin in his spare room. After all Robin had met Ralph before.

robin and annie1.jpgShe kept on recalling how withdrawn Robin had become when they had moved out to Blackwood. Hardly anybody even knew that they had been living out on the Cricklebrook Road. Robin could not face people. His nerves were shattered. Annabelle was doing everything for him. But he was provoked continuously by any noise she made. He seemed to have lost all enjoyment in life, he hardly ate the meals she prepared for them. He would shout at her over trivial matters. Annabelle would be in floods of tears and sometimes found herself screaming back at him. Robin didn’t seem to want anyone to know about the strained relationship he and Annabelle had. He didn’t want any attention, just to keep a low profile in this new town full of strangers.

stressedRobin had become used to Annabelle screaming. Her moods since she had left hospital in England had upturned Robin’s life. He had given up work to help with their daughter. He had supported Annabelle through her grief when their baby Lucy had died, barely allowing himself to grieve at all. Her distraught sobbing was unbearable. He would hold her in his arms and try to calm her down, “Shhhh, everything is going to be alright Belle.” Sometimes she would settle in his embrace. Other times she would push him away, vehemently demanding, “How?”

NY.jpgThey had left England, and had moved with Annabelle back to New York so that she could be nearer to her family and friends. Then, several months later, realizing that she was only becoming more unstable in New York, he had moved to the first country town where he could find somewhere to rent. He hoped the peace and quiet would help them both.

Annabelle didn’t argue with Robin about leaving New York. They had flown out to Appleton. Then a taxi had taken them out to Cricklebrook, to meet the owner of an old house on the road that led to Blackwood. He drove them over there and showed them around, before handing over the keys. The house was plain, but had all of the basic ammenities. Neither of them had ever even heard of Blackwood. Neither of them knew anyone in Wisconsin. At first he thought that might be a good thing. He craved peace.

annie and robin1.jpgBut his mind darkened rapidly. The woman he loved was becoming a burden to him. The love was still there, but he felt he had lost control. They would argue fiercely about such little things. Sometimes it ended with them sleeping in different rooms. But those nights he would lie wide awake, thinking about everything, and feeling highly alert to every noise from the house, wondering if Annabelle was going to harm herself.

Legs of man and woman intertwined in bedOther times in the heat of an argument he would grab her and pull her close and start to kiss her hungrily. The emotional turbulence seemed to heighten the intensity of passion between them. There was never any dampening in the hunger they had for each other’s physical affection. The more emotionally wound up they were, the more ardent their sensuous moments became. Those nights which ended in Annabelle’s naked body entangled with his were the nights he would fall asleep with the comfort that while he had her close, things would get better, she would get better. Surely peace would return at some point.

The new day would bring more friction, more yelling, more hurtful words. Between them household chores were virtually neglected.

couldn't copeRobin just didn’t see his own descent into depression. It came so quickly and paralysed him. He did not want anyone to know how miserable the life he shared with the woman he loved had become. The overwhelming feeling that he was trapped, cornered and the despair that there would be no improvement. He knew he needed help. But what he felt he needed more was to be removed from the situation that was strangling him. He loved Annabelle so much, but the change in her personality and moods since the car accident when she had received major trauma to her head, had tested him. The tremendous grief over the loss of their daughter, it was blackening everything. He just longed for some relief. If he could just go away for a while for some sort of respite. He didn’t know where he wanted to go.

robin calling parentsBut over time he became convinced that right now he needed to be with those who knew him best. He had tried to discuss his mental health with Annabelle. She could not accept that he wanted to be away from her. He called his parents being more honest with them than ever before in his life. On hearing about his state of mind, they too felt urgently that he should return to England. But before he had to find somewhere for Annabelle. The advert in the newspaper for a live-in carer to start immediately had been his answer. He remembered pleading with Annabelle that she had to give this a try.

annie and robin2She was so mournful about the thought of Robin going away without her. They had watched the sunset up on Blackwood Hill and every time she had become tearful he had smothered her face in tears. He had held her tightly in his arms as darkness descended and noticing her shivering had stroked her arms and legs.  In the darkest part of the night he had expressed his passion for her making love tenderly and gently, intent on Annabelle having exquisite memories of pleasure. When Robin had reached England, his parents were surprised that Annabelle was not with him. But as soon as they realized how ill their son had become, they focused on helping him.

Meanwhile, Annabelle had improved steadily once her mind and emotions were focused on supporting Barbara Crabbe in her illness. Somehow, empathising with the challenges that someone else was dealing with, had lifted her from the quagmire of her own trials. When Barbara died, she realized that everyone expected her to move out of the home of Ralph Crabbe. She was able to pick up jobs ironing and cooking and doing odd-jobs for other residents of the town. The Jennings, who were good friends of the Crabbe’s invited her to start lodging with them. When she had first told Burt and Pearl about her relationship with Robin, they had told her that it was best not to tell Blackwood folk that she had been living with a man unwed. Blackwood was so different from New York.

chris with flShe settled that she would head over to Ralph Crabbe’s house to ask him how he felt about having Robin sleep in his spare room for a few nights.

Not long after Annabelle had left the Jenning’s home, Chris pulled up outside. He had not been able to think about anything else for the last couple of days. He had tried to call Annabelle’s mobile phone several times and left a couple of voice-mails. That was in addition to several text messages that had also remained unanswered. The night before Chris had rung the landline at the Jennings household. Burt had delivered the message that Annabelle was very tired and had already gone up to her room to sleep. Now he stood outside the Jennings front door with a bunch of flowers to try to appease Annabelle.

When Pearl answered the front door she greeted him warmly, and invited Chris straight in to the hallway, offering him a drink. She commented on the flowers. Chris looked rather embarrassed saying they were for Annabelle and asking if he could have a word with her.

“You’ve just missed her Christopher. She will be out for the rest of the evening.”

Chris looked sullen. “Could I leave a note for her Mrs J?”

pouring.jpgPearl poured hot tea into a cup, “Of course you can. Is everything alright Christopher? You don’t seem yourself today.”

“Did Annabelle mention what had happened?”

Pearl hesitated, she wondered if Chris was aware of the contents of the letter he had seen arrive for Annabelle, “Are you talking about the letter she had from Robin? Because that is all she has talked about all day.”

Chris looked up at Pearl Jennings with his eyebrows knotted in pensive tension. “Was it good news?”

“Yes, for the most part. Annie will probably tell you all about it when she sees you. You might try calling her so that you don’t miss her again.”

chris phone“I have been trying to call her Mrs J. She doesn’t seem to want to speak to me.”

“Oh. That’s odd. Well, perhaps that is because she is so excited about Robin’s letter. She is probably just distracted, she forgets things all the time. I am sure she will be in touch to share her news.”

“I’m not so sure. I think I made her angry.”

“Angry? How’s that dear?” asked Pearl feeling rather puzzled.

“Well on Sunday night, I went after her. And, erm…well, something happened. And I think she is mad at me now. She has not answered her phone or any of the messages I have sent her. I feel terrible. I just lost control for a moment, but she doesn’t seem to want to talk about it.”

“Annie hasn’t mentioned anything at all about you Christopher. What happened? Why were you provoked with Annie?”

chris9.jpgChris was finding it really awkward to explain how he had left things with Annabelle, “No, it wasn’t like that Mrs J. I wasn’t provoked, not exactly. I was just afraid of what that letter would change. I guess I was afraid of losing her. She was so excited by that stupid letter, and I could see in her eyes that nobody else mattered. I could see that I didn’t matter at all to her. I felt like I was about to lose her. I went after her to try to tell her I was not alright with that. She wouldn’t listen.”

“Christopher, it’s been a long time since she heard from Robin. She has been very anxious about him. Surely you know from all the time you have spent with her that Robin means the world to her.”

“I know Mrs J. I guess I have been kind of envious. It doesn’t seem fair. I have always felt this guy, Robin, has been selfish. He’s abandoned her to go off take care of himself. But she is still so devoted to him. I just wanted her to look at me, just to give me a chance to…well, I don’t know, to try and make her as happy as she makes me.”

lucy“But I told you Christopher, there is so much history between them. They had a baby daughter together. They were planning to marry, before so many challenges came their way. They have been wrapped up with each other for some years now. I know how much Annie enjoys your company. She values your friendship and all of your help with her coursework. But as far as her heart is concerned, there is only one man in the world. I am sure you must have seen that.”

“I just hoped. Yeah, I have been an idiot Mrs J. Annabelle just wanted to go and read her letter and I was holding her back. I felt as if I had to tell her how I felt before she opened the letter for some reason. It felt like it was my only chance. I was just so frustrated. I kissed her, and she completely freaked out.”

no chris.jpg“Oh dear, oh dear. She hasn’t mentioned any of this to me. Annabelle is a good girl Christopher. She wouldn’t want to play with your emotions or lead you on, I am sure of that. I can only imagine that if she is not answering your calls, it is because she wants to make it very clear that she cannot return your affections.”

“I realized as soon as I saw her face. She was angry with me Mrs J. But now I feel terrible. I’ve risked losing one of the best friends I’ve had. I wish she would talk and let me apologise properly.”

“I’ll have a word with her Christopher and tell her how you feel. But it might be best if you don’t keep ringing her. If she is at all angry then let her settle down. But I honestly think that at the moment, her head is just full of her Robin.”

claudia and robin1.jpgClaudia poured two glasses of wine and passed one over to Robin, “You will call me as soon as you arrive?” which sounded to Robin more like and order than a request, “And don’t wait too long until you tell Annabelle. She needs to know the truth.”

Staring into his wine glass, Robin expressed his agreement, “I know Claudia. I have been thinking about how to break the news.  I can just imagine her face. I don’t know how I am going to cope with her being upset again.”

“But you have to tell her Robin. It’s the right thing to do. And going in person is the right thing to do. She will respect you more for that.”

“Yes, I am convinced of that. It won’t be easy though. To be honest I am scared of how she will react. She doesn’t need to hear this.”

“These things never are easy. But darling, you can’t keep hiding away, it is long overdue.”

___________________

You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story soon:

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

A Romantic Weekend Break

I was scrolling through the posts from other bloggers displayed in my WordPress Reader today and I came across the writing prompt from Paula Light, creator of Light Motifs II. I have had a busy few months and I don’t think I have actually participated in a THURSDAY INSPIRATION prompt before.

https://lightmotifs.wordpress.com/2019/08/08/thursday-inspiration-16/

Fair
Photo found on Pixabay

 

But this great photo gave me lots of ideas. So I have tried to stick with just one. But I will be honest with you…my baaaaaaad poetry style took over and I have ruined my idea. There was potential there, but I feel disappointed with the results. Oh well…never give up hey! Keep on trying to develop your writing. Here is my attempt to write a clever poem in response to Paula’s fantastic writing prompt:

 

Seeing the caravan I could have cried

Bob must have thought my face quite a sight

When I realized the bed was four foot wide

But that was nowt compared to my fright

As the caravan swayed from side to side

The fierce wind blowing throughout the night

Worrying we’d be swept out with the tide

I curled up and held onto Bob tight

“Isn’t this romantic?” said Bob

 

Morning came and the cliff-top was still there

Excited by his plans for the day

Bob led the way off to Scarborough fair

The sky overhead gloomy and grey

A stick with candy floss for two to share

Ferris wheel first, up and away

Bob gave me a squeeze and played with my hair

I tried my best to be droll and gay

“Isn’t this romantic?” said Bob

 

Into my ear Bob started to sing

“Your kisses are sweeter than white wine.”

Bob knelt on one knee and out came a ring

“We don’t need perfect skies or sunshine

Together we can face what life may bring

Because I am yours and you are mine”

“Sorry Bob, to me you’ve been just a fling

But this weekend you have crossed the line

This is not remotely romantic”, said I

 

It was clear to see I’d broken Bob’s heart

He asked me why? I exclaimed “Oh Gosh!”

He told me he hoped that we would never part

His romantic drivel seemed such tosh

“The caravan and the fair for a start

Quite an ordeal for someone so posh

I like the classics, music and art

You simply don’t earn nearly enough dosh

You are not remotely romantic”, said I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Letter

Well…I did not expect that Annabelle’s story would occupy so much of my attention!  All of last week I was thinking about my fictional character, whose life bears some similarities to Caramel’s. These are previous posts:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

Annie had forgotten about Chris’ unexpected invasion of her walk within moments of continuing her trek up to the Blackwood Hill. Although she had been horrified at the time, she didn’t dwell on Chris kissing her. All she wanted to do was read the letter she clutched. She was more distressed by the fact Chris had slowed her down. She felt anxiety coming up into her throat and an urgency to be on her own up on Blackwood Hill where she had said her goodbyes to Robin. It was a special place to them, that provoked treasured memories.

VENEZUELA-THEME-LOVE

Annabelle read Robin’s letter and wept. She lay down on the dry grassy brow of the hill and curled up into a ball. She held her knees close. It was around that spot that he had last made love to her, underneath the stars.

robin and annie6Then the following morning he had ordered a taxi to take them both over to the home of Ralph and Barbara Crabbe. Barbara’s health was declining rapidly, and Ralph had advertised in the local newspaper for a live-in carer. Robin had made all the phone-calls and arranged everything for Annabelle. It had been hard to persuade her that he needed her to let him go for a while. He had kissed her forehead tenderly and left her with his parting utterance, “everything is going to be alright.” She had not argued when he said those words. Rather, she had buried her face into his chest and sobbed, “ok Robin.”

accident.jpgThen Robin climbed back into the taxi, which took her to the airport. Watching him disappear in a cab had brought back to her mind what she could recall of the horrendous crash she had been involved in. That awful day she had arrived in England, and climbed into a taxi to take her from Heathrow Terminal 5 into the center of London. A lorry and a horsebox had collided. The cars nearest to the collision were pretty much pulverised and there had been no hope for those within the vehicles. The driver of the taxi she was in tried to steer into the hard shoulder but another car behind them had already done the same. That car was moving at such speed, he had driven right into the side of the taxi. Annabelle’s memories of the shock and the confusion and the sirens all merged into one huge wave of distress as she watched the taxi Robin was in disappear.

barbaraRalph and Barbara were a relative haven of peace for Annabelle. She became devoted to Barbara those next few months before cancer took her last breaths. Annabelle’s emotions churned, the memories of caring for a baby, who was so dependant on her, became vivid in her mind. Which provoked more grief at the loss of her daughter. The huge sense of inadequacy and failure that had lead to self-condemning guilt and anger against herself were still so rife. But somehow caring for Barbara helped to appease the bitter cocktail of damning thoughts she had about herself. All her thoughts were on making Barbara comfortable and preserving her dignity. She rose above her own grief and made it her mission to brighten each day for both Ralph and Barbara. It slowly healed gaping wounds in her heart and bolstered her self-esteem.

blackwood group.jpgSince Barbara’s funeral, Annabelle had lodged with Burt and Pearl Jennings, but she had remained a loyal and invaluable friend to Ralph Crabbe. She would drop by regularly and offer to go shopping with Ralph. She realized quickly that shopping for him might not be in his best interests. She wanted him out of the house, and with people. She would take him out fishing, to have tea and cake in Penny’s Pantry, she helped him research his family history at the local library and then finally convinced him to join the rambling group. Ralph had presumed that the walkers would be young and fit. He was pleasantly surprised that there were so many golden-oldies like him. The rambling group soon provided a constant source of social events for Ralph and Annie alike. She was especially popular amongst the mature walkers. They all doted on her like a daughter.

Depressed sad man sitting on couch holding head in handsRobin had called and e-mailed regularly for a year. At first he spoke to Annabelle every day, but gradually their contact had become less frequent. He had explained to Annabelle that he was becoming more and more busy. But then suddenly he had seemed to vanish. She had felt frantically distressed. The terrifying thought that something tragic had happened overwhelmed her. She had written to his parents as she did not have a phone number for them. It was only when Robin’s father had called Annabelle and told her that Robin was safe but “he really needed space and time to sort out his head”. Yet Robin’s father, Stephen Grainger, had assured her that if anything was seriously wrong he would contact her immediately.

annie up blackwood.jpgReading Robin’s letter provoked a huge sense of relief that she had finally heard from him after a silence of four whole months. There were phrases that made her anxious, but it was as if a huge dam suppressing her worst fears had lifted, and for now, Annabelle felt nothing but exhausted. She fell fast asleep up there on the hill, only waking in the bright light of sunrise. She immediately realized that Burt and Pearl could be worried. Annabelle strolled down the hill back towards the town centre, and then turned onto Mason Street which led up to Turner Avenue.

Senior Woman Sitting OutsideWhen she arrived back at the Jennings’ home, she was greeted by a huge embrace from Pearl. “We were so worried Annie!” Good heavens you are freezing. Where have you been?”

Pearl called to Burt to put the kettle on, ushering Annabelle into the warm sun room at the back of the house, and then sat down opposite her. “You look tired dear. Have you been awake all night?”

Annabelle admitted she had been asleep up on Blackwood Hill, but she felt very tired. Pearl was very concerned that Annabelle had been outdoors all night, but she expressed her relief that Annabelle was safe. Before Burt came in with a tray, carrying a pot of tea and cups and saucers for all three of them, Annabelle assured Pearl that the letter from Robin had brought her much relief. She asked Pearl if she could think over it a bit longer and perhaps talk to her later that day. Pearl smiled warmly at Annabelle and agreed that she should take her time.

annie readingAnnabelle managed to dampen down any fuss, explaining that she was just very tired. She promised Burt and Pearl she would speak further to them, but needed some time to think about the contents of Robin’s letter. She excused herself, and went up to the bedroom she slept in at the Jennings’ home. Laying within her bed wrapped up under soft blankets, she read Robin’s letter again.

Certain phrases played on her mind. In the first half of the letter, Robin had written beautiful words assuring her that he loved her and missed her. Re-reading his tender words cajoled tears in her eyes and stabs of emotion in her chest. He apologised for his silence, he knew it would have been hard for her to bear. But he had also confessed there had come a point when he could no longer face reading her e-mails or answering her calls. He explained she was too intense. He found was starting to dread her pleading or read her emotional outpourings. That stung Annabelle. Robin indicated that he had been deeply concerned with Annabelle’s well-being. He had felt like a failure having to walk away from her after all she had been through. He still felt he had more progress to make in his own recovery, but that he was doing much better than he had been. He felt stronger.

robin writesThen he had written about his intention to come over to the States and visit her in Blackwood. He promised to e-mail the exact date and times of his flight. He asked Annabelle if she might be able to ask the couple she was lodging with if would be happy to have him join Annie for a few days. Robin stated that it was only a short visit he was planning. He had booked one week off work. He promised to tell her about his job when he arrived. Robin wrote that there was a lot he needed to talk to Annabelle about, things he couldn’t say in a letter. He said there were things that she might not be happy about, things that would make her angry, but he felt it would be best if he told her in person. He closed the letter saying he was looking forward to seeing his beautiful Belle.

robin and claudiaWhat concerned Annabelle the most were sentences towards the end of his letter, “Claudia has been helping me get back on my feet. She has been tremendous. I never expected Claudia to be the one who would come through for me at my lowest point.” That was hard for Annabelle to read. It confirmed what she had assumed when she had seen the Switzerland stamp and post mark on the outside of the envelope. Robin was with his ex-wife Claudia. Robin and Claudia had been married and lived in Switzerland. But they had divorced around four years before Robin had met Annabelle in New York.

blonde tearIt was the thought of Robin returning to Claudia that produced streams of tears from Annie’s eyes. It was wonderful that Robin was feeling better. He was working. He seemed positive. Had he got back with Claudia? Was that what he wanted to come out to America to tell her in person? Was he trying to prepare her? It would make sense. Yet his opening words had been so warm and affectionate, it was hard to understand.

Perhaps she should show the letter to Pearl and ask her to read it. Maybe someone else would be able to make sense of the letter and not read in between the lines so much. But for now Annie just wanted to sleep. She was overwhelmed.

robin computerRobin read the e-mail from Annabelle in his inbox. She seemed to have understood his letter. There was no intense flurry of emotion. She wrote simply and factually. He appreciated her changing her style of writing for him. She wrote that The Jennings were not comfortable him staying overnight in their home as he and Annabelle were never wed. But that they looked forward to meeting him and having him as a guest for meals. They had pledged to make other arrangements for accommodation for Robin. Burt Jennings had offered to drive Annabelle to the airport, and would bring Robin back to Blackwood. Annabelle closed by saying how pleased she was that Robin seemed to be doing so well and that she was looking forward to seeing him. She also made it clear she understood that he had indicated to her to be prepared for some difficult conversations. Robin sighed. Yes, it would be awful. It was going to break her heart he was sure. But it was better to do so face to face and not in a letter or over the phone.

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You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:

Strained Relations

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels