Font size: - +
The cab stopped in front of the empty shop and, after paying the taxi driver for the fare, Ashley staggered out of the car. Taking a car to move into the city and outside the city, still gave her some problems, especially on the mental level. It had become a habit of hers to use the subway to move into town, but today she would arrive too late for her one o'clock appointment, so Ashley chose to bend the rule and took a cab. After the car left, she breathed deeply for a few seconds and then, with her hands trembling slightly, she looked in the bag for the keys to open the shop. She had arrived a little late but still couldn't see the person she was supposed to meet.
She left her bag on the table and sat patiently on a chair. The old lady that she had met in the hospital came back to her mind... What a brief but unforgettable encounter that was! Ashley still had the image of this wonderful lady in her mind, she still could hear her soothing voice and feel her tenderness, her kindness. That had never happened to her, to be so positively affected by someone she had never met. Well, just to be totally honest, the same thing had happened to her with Justin Duke. That had been an encounter that shouldn't have happened.
Many days had passed since she left Cape Code, since she left him at that beach house, to console himself with the beautiful redhead who had arrived that morning to be with him. Ashley still recalled his sultry voice as he made love to her, the way his hands were burning every inch of her skin as he slowly took off her clothes, the taste of his lips eagerly tasting hers...
Ashley shook her head, trying to get rid those painful thoughts and return her focus on what she had to do that day. But she knew that Justin's image wouldn't be erased from her mind so easily. As much as she had tried, he was still there, in every thought, he was always there. The night she had spent with him, Justin had brought to the surface a feeling Ashley had thought she had buried in the night that she had lost Brandon. She had hoped to start with Justin a new chapter in her life. But he had chosen not to be sincere and to hide the fact that he already had a woman in his life. Justin Duke had hurt her deeply and humiliated her deeply, his behavior was cruel and meaningless. All that Ashley had imagined remained only an impression, a desire suspended in time. But even so...
"Ashley, it would be better for you to leave these thoughts alone for now," she said to herself, getting up and walking around the large, empty room. "You have other things to think about... Oh, Gracie, I hope you will forgive me for doing this to your little book store. But I am convinced that what I plan to do with the money that I will get from this sale, will make you happy and very proud of me. My sweet girl, how I miss you... This would have been the adventure tailor-made for you and me."
The doorbell rang and Ashley looked toward the entrance. There was a man in front of the door looking at her smiling through the glass door. It was supposed to be her appointment, the potential buyer who left her a message on her cell phone two days ago. Ashley walked slowly to the door and opened it.
"Hello, Mrs. Hayes! I'm Michael Williams and we had an appointment at one. I apologize for being so late," he said, extending his hand to salute her, "but today I am the victim of the New York traffic."
"It's all right, I was late too. Luckily I found a taxi driver who knew how to drive me here avoiding all the crowded streets," Ashley replied smiling gently and shaking his outstretched hand.
"I feel so much better, I don't like to keep people waiting," Michael added as he entered the shop. "Wow, this place is very large and well maintained. No renovation work required, as I can see."
"Thank you, Mr. Williams, both my best friend, and my... fiance took good care of it! My fiance wanted to add another room, but..." Ashley stopped, he had come all the way here to see, maybe to buy this space, not to hear her talking about Brandon. "Excuse me, but when I'm nervous, I start running my mouth and I forget to push 'stop' or 'pause'. But where are my manners?! Would you like something to drink? Some tea or maybe a cup of coffee?"
"Don't worry, Mrs. Hayes, it's ok," he said in a very understanding tone. "Thank you very much, I will take you up on that offer. A cup of coffee would be just fine."
Ashley excused herself and went into a very small room to prepare the coffee for both of them. She took the opportunity to take a look at the very distinguished gentleman who was pulling out some documents from his briefcase. This meant that he was here with the intent to buy the place today... wow, tomorrow her project would become a reality. She hid a smile full of satisfaction as she returned to the table with the coffee cups.
"Here's the coffee..." Ashley said putting the cup in front of him. Would you like cream or sugar?"