Phillip’s Path

Written by: Darlene G. Snyder

Copyright @ 2011

Permission must be received from author before publishing this story elsewhere.

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Her first impression of Phillip was that he was oblivious – to everything.

His tomcat like grin slightly irked her. His blonde curly hair and baby blue eyes threatened to still her heart. How could this be? She thought. How can this man cause such a range of emotions? I don’t even know him, yet I feel heat under his intense scrutiny. Evidently, he has no idea the effect he had on her. good thought Myra.  Either that or he’s a great actor. Myra shifted uncomfortably in the doorway.

Stop it! She silently shouted, sticking her hand out to Mr. Phillip Hammond as he approached her. Myra barely noticed the contemporary office setting, but she did notice his strong grip and the glint in his blue eyes.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Hammond,” she said, “I am Myra Sue Banks, I believe you were expecting me.” Was it her imagination or did he hold her hand slightly longer than necessary?

“Sit down, please call me Phillip. I don’t like formalities,” he said, sitting in his stiff chair behind his desk. “Any friend of my mother’s is a friend of mine.”

“Ah, well thank you, do you know why I’m here?” she stammered, sitting in the sleek chair he nodded towards. Myra took a moment to take in her surroundings. The desk sat in the middle of the spacious room with a large area rug resting underneath. Probably to keep from scratching the shiny hardwood floor; she couldn’t help notice the modern, yet comfortable sitting area just in front of the large floor to ceiling window. It looked a little out-of-place midst the contemporary setting.

“Yes, of course. Mother told me to expect you. You want to rent the space above the garage, right?”

“Yes, but only temporarily, she said forcing herself to look into his eyes. Your mother said it was completely furnished. That’s exactly what I’m looking for, a place move in ready. I don’t have time to worry about furnishings. I really am in a hurry to get in and get settled.”

“Mother said you are a writer. Are you writing one of those all important great American novels I’m always hearing about? Every writer wants to write one, don’t they?”

There’s that stupid grin again. He is making fun of me. “No, they don’t,” she replied coolly, “but if I were, would that be so bad?”

“Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,  what do you write?” He replied apologetically.

“Nothing important,” she responded, not wanting to give him any more information than needed. “Is the apartment still available?” he likely already knows, she thought, his mother probably told him what she was writing, How can someone this gorgeous, be so irritating?

It was obvious to Myra that Phillip noticed her frustration. He stared at her intently for a moment.

“Yes,” he finally answered, “but I was looking for someone on a more permanent basis; someone who could check in on mother when I am out-of-town. I need a handyman type person. I’m not very good at fixing things and I hoped to rent to a, ah…”

“Man?” she said, unable to mask the sarcasm oozing out of her mouth.

“Well, yes. I’m sorry if that insults you, but yes I was hoping to rent to a man who could help around the house. That’s been my intention all along. I wondered why mother sent you here.”

“For your information Mr. Hammond, I was raised along side four brothers. I learned a lot from them and there is nothing I can’t do or wouldn’t try to do. Therefore, I am sure I am the man you are looking for. Besides, your mother likes me. She and I get along fabulously. She knows me well and I believe I could lessen the seams of your repair needs.” Myra’s red face glowed. Her fierce, determined eyes dared to meet his pleasant smiling eyes.

“Hum,” he said, rubbing his chin, “What did you say, ‘lessen the seams of my repair needs’?” His face held a slightly bemused grin as he responded, “That certainly sounds interesting, rather writerly, I must say. Mother told me I would find it hard to say no to you. I believe she was right.”

Myra watched his smile breakout into a full grin. Is he laughing at me? She wondered but said, “I’m sorry if I seem so stubborn, but as I already said, I am in a hurry to find a furnished place and to get settled as quickly as possible. The apartment your mother described sounds perfect. Does this mean you will rent the space to me?”

“Stubborn isn’t the word I would have chosen,” he mumbled under his breath, but quickly asked, “Aren’t you in the least bit concerned about the price? I haven’t even told you the rent

Myra could feel her face growing warm, he must think I’m really stupid “yes, I mean, I thought we could work something out,” Her face glowed a crimsoned red, quickly realizing how that must sound, but Phillip appeared ignorant of her unintentional meaning.

“I mean, ah, well I thought I could work for you or your mother around the house. You will be happily surprised at my  skills. Besides, I was hopeful for a break in the price because of my willingness to help,” she finally managed to get the words out. Great, I’m really making a grand first impression, Myra was really upset with herself. She really needed to watch her temper. It always seemed to flair at the most inopportune times causing her to stumble over her words.

After negotiating her rent and obtaining her signature on a rental agreement, Phillip led Myra outside, across the back patio, and up the stairs to the apartment over the garage. Myra knew they did things backwards. Renting it – sight unseen. But she trusted Phillip’s mother and knew it would be beautiful.

Myra fell in love with the apartment as soon as she walked in the door. Mrs. Hammond had decorated and furnished it perfectly. The kitchenette and dining area was together in the same room as the living space. The soft muted colors of the walls and matching furniture suited her perfectly. The delicate curtains made the place seem like a doll house. A doll house she never had as a child. She was too much of a tomboy for that, but she wasn’t a tomboy anymore.

The small bedroom separated only with a partition, was directly across the only bathroom. She was pleasantly surprised at the queen-sized bed. She expected something much smaller. The pink pansies and lacy bed coverlet was lovely and feminine.

Her favorite spot though was in the back of the apartment. A big L shaped desk sat in front of a large bay window. The window overlooked the back yard. A perfect place for writing, she thought. A door on one side of the desk led out to a deck furnished with patio furniture. The place was decorated as if Grace had read her mind and adorned it so. It was everything Grace had promised. Had Grace really thought of her? Surely not, she thought.

After Phillip left, she stood looking out the bay window into the yard. Grace’s flower garden blooming with assorted colors swaying in the gentle breeze and the tree-lined yard had a small creek running through the back of it. It looked very inviting and Myra looked forward to discovering where the little creek lead. I could stand here all day staring out this window, she mused. If only I had the time. The desk really did suite her perfectly. She knew she could complete writing projects sitting there. The scenery in front of her would serve only to motivate her creativity in her writings.

After taking time to visit with Grace, Myra left Phillip and his mother working on a schedule of odd jobs for her to complete later. In the meantime, she was free to wander around and get to know her new home. They agreed to give her the weekend before assigning her to any jobs around the house.

Mrs. Grace Hammond was a beautiful seventy-five year old woman with soft waves of white hair and an upbeat personality in spite of her obvious pain from her arthritis. Myra and Grace met at a commissioners meeting at city hall a year or so ago. They bonded and fast became friends, both interested in the same cause for different reasons. Concerns over the rampant under age drinking in the city, Myra came to the first commissioners meeting seeking information, in part needing to research the issue for her novel, but she became concerned and involved after hearing from many parents about their teenagers. She wanted to help curtail the problem by writing and reporting for The Gazette. So far, her articles gained attention favorably.

Unlike Myra, Grace was not interested in curtailing the problem, she was adamant about putting a stop to it all together. Her youngest grandson arrested in a downtown bar, was only eighteen when served alcohol. According to the local law,  twenty-one was the age limit. She wanted to know why and how he received the drinks in the bar. She was unrelenting in her efforts to put a stop to the problem.

Their friendship grew and it was over lunch last week that Myra learned of the apartment for rent over her new friend’s garage. Grace followed through with her promise to speak to her son about Myra. That’s how she came to be in Phillip Hammond’s office this morning.

Phillip Hammond, Myra liked his name. She really liked his looks. Watch it girl, you are here to work. Don’t think about getting involved with this man. Concentrate on the book. Myra chided herself. She really didn’t know why she was having these feelings. Myra felt as if she already knew Phillip. Grace spoke of him often, describing his hopes and dreams to Myra daily. She hadn’t met him before and now she wondered if  Grace was behind this. Myra didn’t count on Phillip catching her off guard as he did; he ambushed her heart. Never had she felt so drawn to a man before. Why Phillip? Why now? She thought.

After that first day, Myra caught herself looking for Phillip. She slaughtered any conversation they held, and Myra knew she must appear ignorant. She always messed up the good things, always had been clumsy when it came to men. Her writing even had suffered, unable to concentrate, her thoughts always returned to Phillip.

A week later, Myra left with time on her hands, grabbed a pad and pencil, choosing to leave her laptop behind, she had to finish her article before her editor called to ask for it. Myra ambled down the stairs leading off the deck into the backyard. Discovering a path running along side the creek, Myra decided to take a walk to try clear her head.

She loved the outdoors, her brothers all made sure she did. They took her fishing, hunting and never treated her with kid gloves. They taught her as much as she was willing to learn about the farm. That was the one thing about leaving home she missed the most, her brothers and being outdoors. The walk brought back all of those happy feelings.

The apartment she shared with her friend, Susan served its purpose, affording her a place to stay when she first moved here from the family farm. Susan was getting married. Her fiance’ was moving in with her after the wedding. Myra knew she had to get the rest of her things out as soon as possible. All that was left was to go back to the apartment and get the rest of her clothes. She planned to do that later that afternoon.

Myra was truly thankful for her already furnished apartment. Comfortably settled after one week, the work they scheduled for her had been manageable. She believed this setup was going to work out great for her.

Spotting a log, she decided that was a good place to sit and write. She wanted to make notes and organize her ideas for her book. She began her list, schedule an interview with the mayor, try to get some interviews with a couple of the bar owners, go to the police department and get their take on underage drinking. Before long, she was lost in her writing.

She didn’t hear Phillip approach. “Um, Hum,” Phillip cleared his throat loudly.

Jumping to her feet, Myra dropped her pad and pencil and just about fell backwards into the creek. “Oh,” she managed to say as Phillip grabbed her, jerking her into his arms.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he apologized.

“You can let go of me now,” Myra said . “I’m alright,” bending to retrieve her pad. “Shoot, I can’t find the pencil,” she said aloud.

“Here, let me help you look for it,” He spotted the pencil, picked up and handed it to her. “What are you doing all the way out here?” he asked.

“I wanted to be outside and spotted the path. I wanted to begin organizing my notes and I thought I could do it outdoors. What are you doing out here? She asked.

“I jog this path every day,” he replied.

Myra’s face reddened again when she noticed his jogging shorts and the white, wet tee shirt clinging to his body. “Oh, um, I see,” she spluttered, wondering why she hadn’t seen him out here before.

“Come on, I’ll show you around. Leave your notepad and pencil on the log, we’ll pick them up on the way back through. OK?” he asked.

She hesitated only for a moment. “I really would love to see everything. but I don’t want to interrupt your run.”

“Come on.”

Myra knew  there wasn’t a woman on the planet, who wouldn’t want to be standing right there in here shoes. She placed the notepad and pencil where he indicated and followed Phillip down the path.

Forgetting about writing, editors and deadlines Myra spent the rest of the afternoon  walking with Phillip; talking and getting to know one another. She learned that he loved to fly fish. Even though she loved fishing, she didn’t know anything about fly-fishing. He promised to show her how. Myra told Phillip about her brothers, her country roots and about her love of outdoors.

“What about your book? You never said what you were writing.” He absently took her hand to help her over the rocks in the creek.

Myra liked the feel of his strong hands holding hers; she didn’t try to retrieve her hand. She told him all about her idea to interview as many town officials as possible about underage drinking. She also planned to do research on underage drinking across America. It will be a novel but the underage drinking will be an issue for the main character. The more she talked about her ideas for the book, the more excited she grew. Finally, she stopped, “Phillip, I’m sorry, I am rambling on, I hope I didn’t bore you.” She gave his hand an apologetic squeeze.

Without thinking, he raised her hand to his lips. Kissing her hand, he said, “My dear, Myra, you could never bore me.” They had already reached the yard, not remembering the pad and pencil.

Myra could feel the heat rise to her face. She knew it was beet red too. Myra tried to withdraw her hand, but Phillip held it tightly. “Don’t go Myra; surely you can feel the attraction. I know it isn’t my imagination,  you must feel it too.”

“We, we just met last week,” she managed to say when she dared to raise her eyes to meet his. A small involuntary sound escaped from her throat when she saw the desire in his eyes.

“Myra, sweet Myra, I can see why my mother loves  you. You are beautiful inside and out. I don’t have to know you a lifetime to find that out. I discovered that the first day we met and for the record, mother talks about you so much, I feel I’ve known you for a long time.” Phillip reached down and touched her face softly. “Please don’t go,” he whispered as he gently raised her chin and kissed her.

Myra thought her knees would give way. Legs don’t fail me now, was her last thought before melting her body into his. Unable to fight, not even wanting to pull away, their hearts mingled into one  on a rocky path in the middle of the back yard.

Grace watched the two out her back window and smiled.