Day twenty-one: I’ve been getting feedback from some readers of Letters To Myself that it ended too quickly. They want to know what happened to Cassie because I left her happy and rebuilding her life, but with a few story ends left untied. I did this because I will be writing the follow up book to Letters, about Saffron who – for those of you who haven’t read Letters yet – is Cassie’s closest friend. I plan to set that book a year or two in the future and tie up Cassie’s loose ends there.
However, since I am currently writing the second book in the Zora series, I decided to write a bit about the intervening time with Cassie so that I can keep her fresh in my mind. Every Monday I will write a segment in Cassie’s story, to fill in the year or two between books. This is not in Letters and will not appear in the next book so it’s only for you guys to read. It won’t matter if you haven’t read Letters, you will still be able to follow this story as it will be a stand alone. So here is the first installment. Oh and the other questions I am asked: I am Australian and we use English spelling, hence colour etc, and the story is set in a fictional town that exists only in my head, but I have put it on the north coast of Queensland in Australia. That makes it on the east coast and that's why the sun rises over the Ocean (the Pacific) and sets inland over the mountains.
It was the barking that alerted me to our visitor. I sighed, and dusted the flour off my hands. This was becoming a habit. Flicking a glance to the oven where my savoury muffins were baking I hurried to the front door to check that it was what I thought. It was. There running around the front garden with a huge smile on his furry face was Barney, the red setter belonging to my neighbour and friend, Matt.
Gamboling along with him was our chocolate mix BamBam, while running behind them as fast as her little legs would go was Pebbles, a small black and white dog of indeterminate breed. Yes I know, you’d think the Flintstones were out there. It’s not my fault, the attendant at the pound clearly watches too much television and he named them all. As I watched, Barney tripped over his own feet and fell head first into our little pond, hitting his head on the watering can fountain in the middle. He shook his head and stood looking around him with a confused expression. BamBam looked at him in astonishment and Pebbles, who was panting heavily from all the running, threw herself down onto the grass.
I opened the door, the click it made causing all three heads to turn in my direction. Barney looked overwhelmed with joy and ran at full gallop towards me, my two at his heels. I smiled at him in affection – who could stay mad at such a lovable hound? From experience I knew he still had trouble with his brakes when he was excited, so reached for his collar to stop him from hitting me at full gallop. I’d had that before, and it was not a pleasant experience to be knocked to the ground by a panting red dog which takes the opportunity to lick your face with a lot of enthusiasm and slobber.
“Is that Barney again?” Mark’s voice came from the back of the house. He’d been out weeding the herb garden so I was not surprised to see him dusting dirt off his hands as he walked through the house.
“Mark! You’re leaving a trail of dirt all through the house!”
Mark looked behind him, then down at his hands. I saw him glance guiltily at his feet and knew that he’d forgotten to wipe them at the back door.
“Sorry mum, I’ll clean it up.”
I shrugged. “Later, ok? Stay here with Barney will you? I’ll go call Matt and let him know his errant creature has broken free again.”
Mark gave me his evil small boy grin. “That attendant should have called him Houdini, not Barney. He sure does like it here.” His smile turned angelic as he tacked on, “Matt does too.”
Feeling a blush coming on I spun on my heel, cursing my fair colouring as I did. Even though I preferred to call my hair strawberry blonde, it was really a light red and I had the complexion to go with it. I hurried into the kitchen to check on my muffins, sliding them out and putting them on a cooling rack when I saw they were ready. Then I pulled my phone from my bag and called Matt. As a policeman he worked some odd hours, but I knew he would have put Barney in his back yard enclosure if he had gone to work.
“My favourite neighbour! Do you have some new delicacy for me to try? Or a new coffee blend?” Matt’s voice was hopeful and I smiled again. Really, he and his dog were both lovable and food oriented.
“Not this time, although I have just made some savoury muffins and there is a raspberry slice cooling.” As the owner of Coffee My Day, a mobile coffee van, I often tried out new recipes on Matt, and different coffee blends. He was a useful guinea pig and besides which I owed him a debt of gratitude I could never repay.
“Hmmmmm, then you are calling because you miss me and you want me to come see you?” There was a smile in his voice that told me not to take his words seriously, but I still blushed, and was grateful he couldn’t see me.
“Try again Romeo,” I replied in as grave a voice as I could manage.
He sighed, the sigh echoing down the phone line. “I’ll come get him. Is there coffee?” His voice went from doleful to hopeful in two short sentences and I laughed.
“Yes, there’s coffee. Come and have a snack while Barney gets the visit out of his system. Then he might stay home the rest of the day.”
“I really don’t blame him, your place is much nicer and more welcoming than mine, and it always smells so good.”
“Stop wasting time with flattery, the coffee will go cold.”
“On my way.” So saying he hung up and I quickly prepared the small counter top coffee machine I had bought with some of my earnings. The business was doing so well that I had recently completed the purchase of a second van which was being fitted out. I still had not hired anyone to drive it even though I had advertised. I was not worried, the right person would turn up.
I went back out to the front and saw Mark running around with the dogs. I stood at the door and watched them, enjoying the sight. It had been difficult to get to this place in my life and at times I had thought I would not make it. But I had, and life was good. As I watched I saw Matt approaching down the footpath. He stopped at our fence and, reaching over, picked two of my red roses. Then he continued to the gate and let himself in. Barney greeted him joyfully, as though he hadn’t seen him for weeks. Matt stopped to chat to Mark, patted Barney and then walked to the front door where he handed me my roses with a flourish.
“Beautiful roses for the beautiful lady.”
I snorted. “Those are my roses, and that’s a corny line. Can’t you do better than that?”
“Give me a minute and some coffee, and I’ll try again.” Matt ambled after me into the kitchen, snaffling a muffin as he went past the counter.
Come back next Monday for the next installment!
Pics were a bit tricky today. In the end I decided on these:
I chose a red setter as the pet for Matt because I used to have one. He was a great dog but clumsy.