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"It was painful for me just watching…and my heart went out to her. It went out to her and it never returned."

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03 – Mark

The next several months were an experiment in the power of money.  My cut was nearly twenty thousand dollars per month.  Twenty thousand!  I couldn’t believe my good fortune with this situation.  Much of my job was conducted from the convenience of my own, exceptionally nice, fully furnished home office, for which I paid no mortgage.  When I was off duty, I was free to do as I pleased in a town that had many pretty places to visit and interesting things to do.  This included a world class swimming facility which I had joined so that I could re-engage that aspect of myself, dormant now for a number of years.  The airport was about twenty minutes away, so I could be in Europe or South America within a few hours after my shift ended, if I wanted.

But after about a month I was ready to walk away—and perhaps walk straight into a mental institution.  I felt like I might be going insane.   For my first two weeks on the job, our mark, Ellery Mayne, the fabled teenager who supposedly lived in the house caddy-corned to mine, never left her home and I never even saw her.   This included times while I was on duty and periods while I was supposed to be off duty, but drawn in by the growing mystery of this important, highly reclusive person.  Watching for her under these conditions began to feel like being at the brunt of an elaborate joke—a very well paying but insanity inducing sick joke.

I was beginning to doubt her existence when I finally got my first glimpse of her one evening.  I was sitting in the dormer window seat of the princess room with my laptop and a beer alternating between staring at her house and searching the internet for employment opportunities when it finally happened.

It looked like the Montgomerys (apparently her mother had remarried) were having guests over for a grill-out.  The step-father was busy fiddling with the grill and wiping off the patio furniture.  I could see the mother in the kitchen, working at the sink and moving back and forth between the refrigerator and the stove.  A corn-hole game (a game I didn’t learn about until later) was set up in the back yard and a flame had been lit in the fire pit.  They worked together to lug a heavy looking cooler, no doubt filled with ice and drinks, onto the deck, placing it next to a long and narrow table draped in white.

Cars eventually arrived and three other couples joined them for dinner and a visit in the back yard.  It looked nice.  Everyone seemed comfortable and relaxed.  These guests must have been close friends.  Dishes of food were brought out to the draped buffet table positioned opposite the table and chairs.  Meat was removed from the smoking grill and placed on a platter next to the rest of the food.  Then the mother disappeared inside, for what seemed like a very long time to me.  It seemed kind of rude, too, to leave her guests like that, just before dinner.  But when she returned, I understood what must have happened—her actions and the cause of the delay.  Crossing back out onto the deck, hand in hand, she returned with her daughter, towing her actually.

I picked up the digital camera with the powerful zoom capability and used it to get a close up of the girl.  I don’t know what I had been expecting, maybe just someone who had changed or grown a little since she had posed for her State ID photo as a tween.  She still looked like a twelve year old, not a junior in high school.  She was adorable, though, and tiny, and very…natural looking.  She wore no make-up and had her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail.  She was dressed in a brown tee-shirt and blue jean shorts with flip-flops on her feet.  She was young and beautiful, obviously, but it was her demeanor that captured my imagination.  She radiated body language that shouted, or perhaps ‘whispered’ would be a better way to describe it, her extreme shyness.  I was instantly drawn to that.  I always felt a secret kinship with any shy person.  It’s a struggle that can only be understood from personal experience.

She braced herself as all the adults dropped what they were doing and moved quickly to surround her, giving her hugs and asking her questions.  It was like throwing gasoline on a fire.  Was I the only one who could see that all the attention focused on her was obviously painful for her?  It was painful for me just watching…and my heart went out to her.  It went out to her and it never returned.

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Chapter Index | 20 Comments

20 Comments (Leave a comment »)

  1. This is so very sweet!! Just to think that he almost bailed on finding his love!!! that is crazy

    Comment by rebeckah — February 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm

  2. If Ellery doesn’t love Ash, I sure do!
    I adore these personalities great job done by a great writer

    Comment by Mona-Lisa Plaza — January 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm

  3. “…my heart went out to her… it never returned” What a brilliant play with words! If you don’t totally love this guy after these words then you have no heart ;)

    I have to admit I was a little bit scared that once we see things from a different perspective that Ash might have been a less honorable character. I’m really glad that he does seem genuine – I don’t think my heart could’ve handled it if he wasn’t!

    Comment by Lee-Anne — August 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

  4. I love this concept can’t wait to read more. Excellent

    Comment by Margaret — June 29, 2012 at 2:26 am

  5. I absolutely love it! Ash is an amazing character and I’m fallin in love with the story all over again! Ann your doing amazing keep it up and all your dreams will come true!

    Comment by Tina — May 18, 2012 at 8:16 am

  6. I am intrigued with this concept…delightful. I look forward to the next book or your full, rich characters. The beginning of the book is hanging there in my mind, & I can’t wait to see who those two guys turn out to be. Ash & all the characters are quite real! Thanks for the great read, & the others to follow.

    Comment by Marilyn — March 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm

  7. Ash is wonderful–and real.

    Comment by Phyllis — March 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  8. I am in love with Ash. ” my heart went out to her. It went out to her and it never returned.”

    Comment by JKS — February 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm

  9. I love hearing about things from Ash’s perspective. Any idea when the next book will be released?

    Comment by Amy Mitchell — January 23, 2012 at 12:10 am

  10. I loved this excerpt!!! I already read In The Spotlight and I am desperately waiting for the other two especially this one with Ash’s point of view.

    Comment by Diser — October 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

  11. Nothing like falling in love.

    Comment by Ginny Alward — September 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

  12. I have to say that I loved “In the Spotlight” and as I am reading through the chapters here, I am extremely excited and looking forward to the completed story and series. I think it is a great idea about different points of view.

    Comment by Sarah — September 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

  13. And Thus he fell in love… gonna cry.

    Comment by Biji — August 5, 2011 at 1:53 am

  14. So gutted next book not available yet please mail me when it is published- absolutely loved this book & can’t wait to read it from the boys viewpoints

    Comment by Krystyna — August 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

  15. That is such a cute moment! I am also glad for the description of Ellery.

    Comment by GraceWinfree — June 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm

  16. Is there a date that these other two books are going to be ready I hope soon read the frist one loved it but to long of a wait for the next two thanks hope they come out soon can’t pre-order from amazon so please send notice when they can be bought thanks

    Comment by Jennifer — June 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

  17. I love this and can’t wait to see what happens in Ellery’s life.

    Comment by Ronda Maynard — June 7, 2011 at 12:08 am

  18. I’m in love!

    Comment by Sarah — May 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

  19. The last part is absolutely cute!!! AWW moment!!!

    Comment by Enjoli — February 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  20. “It was painful for me just watching…and my heart went out to her. It went out to her and it never returned.” Major AAAAW moment going on!!

    Comment by Danielle — June 20, 2010 at 4:57 am

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