Mmm...first encounters. I love it when characters in both movies and novels meet for the first time. It sets the tone for what's to come. Sometimes there's snap, crackle, sizzle...or maybe there's that slow burn of borderline contempt that you just know is gonna be fun to watch.
Today's encounter is from "Where Love Takes You" by Rebecca Scarberry. Let's see what we think...is is love or lust--or something more complicated--at first sight?
When they first meet...-->
Evelyn looked at the child’s mother, and laughed. The mother then took Charlotte away and the last people in line stepped forward. Evelyn sat up. There were three of them, two men in their fifties, one dark, one fair, but both handsome, and what looked like a twelve-year-old boy. They stepped forward. The fairer of the two men, the one standing closest to the boy said, “Hello, Evelyn. I’m Ben Richards, and this is my grandson, Jamie.” He looked behind him at the slightly shorter dark haired man and smiled. “And trying to hide behind Jamie is my best friend, Alan Denton.”
Evelyn recognized the man’s British accent right away. Alan stepped forward and shook her hand. “You all haven’t come all the way from England to meet Henry have you?” She asked.
Alan answered, “No, ma’am. We’re here on holiday. Jamie’s been following your story, and wanted to meet him. We love pigeons too, so we were more than happy to bring him.”
The British man who had introduced himself as Ben stepped forward, and picked Henry up. He folded the vest back, looked at the registration ring, securely fastened to Henry’s right leg, and inspected his body. “Evelyn, I had no idea that Henry was a racing pigeon.”
Evelyn looked stunned. “My husband trained the pigeons to retrieve and deliver messages, but we’ve never raced them. I have to say, though, Henry does seem faster than all the rest. What makes you think he’s a racing pigeon?”
Ben smiled at her. “Well, his physique, for one thing. He’s lean and muscular. And alert and calm. All qualities that make for a good racing pigeon.” He smiled even more broadly, and Evelyn thought how white his teeth looked. “Besides, he has a racing pigeon’s ring around his leg.”
“What do you mean exactly?” She knew that Henry and Cecilia both had small rings around their legs with letters and numbers on them. They’d been there for as long as she could remember. When she was in possession of her kidnapper, she was always in a hurry to scribble a message for Henry to take to Tammy. She didn’t take the time to tear the note into a size that would fit inside the ring. She would quickly rip some thread from her clothing and tie the note to one of his legs.
Ben pointed to the small ring. “It looks just like the rings on racing pigeons at home. They’re registered when they’re only a few days old, and that registration stays with them for life. If you’ve got a paper and pen, I could write down the details and check up.”
Evelyn felt even more embarrassed. She did have a ‘paper and pen’, as he put it, since she always carried a tiny pad of paper with a small pencil tied to it with string. She was writing her memoirs and always had it handy, stuck in her bra or a pocket. She stood up and made a pretense of searching for it, and while her back was turned, she undid two buttons on her blouse and slipped it out. Unfortunately, with the pad in her right hand, she wasn’t able to do the two buttons back up. Hoping that no one would notice, she handed the pad to Ben. “Here it is. I knew it was here somewhere.”
Ben slipped the pencil out and copied the letters and numbers from Henry’s ring. Both Henry’s and Cecilia’s began with ‘GB’, but Evelyn had never paid much attention to the rest of the letters and numbers. When he’d finished writing, he tore off a sheet and handed the pad and pencil back to Evelyn. “I’m fairly sure they’re British. I’ll check it out and let you know, but I can tell you that if I were given to gambling, I’d put money on Henry in a race. He looks fast, and I can see why he was able to fly such long distances.” Ben smiled at her again. “I’d really like to see your other pigeons at some point, if you don’t mind. Alan and I race pigeons in England. That’s how I knew about the band.”
Evelyn decided not to put the notepad back where she’d found it. “Come with me,” she said, as she gently shooed the bird back into the carrier. Leaving him on stage, she took them to Tammy, sitting in the front row. “Tammy, I’d like you to meet, Ben, his grandson, Jamie, and Alan. Ben and Alan are from England. They race pigeons.”
Tammy stood, smiling. “Nice to meet all of you,” she said, though it was obvious that Alan was the one she was most interested in. He was the first to step forward, but when he shook Tammy’s hand, it made her squawk.
Looking worried, Alan asked her what the matter was.
“Sorry. Nothing. I have a little arthritis in my hands, that’s all.” She smiled up at him. “And you have a very firm handshake.”
“I’m sorry. I’d better kiss it better, then.” He was still holding her hand in his, so he lifted it to his lips and kissed the top of it.
The way Tammy clearly appeared giddy as the two stared into each other’s eyes wasn’t lost on Evelyn, but she didn’t say anything.
Ben took Alan by the forearm and moved him aside. He extended one hand and said, “I’m delighted to meet you too, Tammy.” Having seen what had happened when Alan had shaken her hand, he was obviously being careful.
Ben then turned around and said, “Tammy, this is my grandson, Jamie. Anne, my daughter, moved to America years ago and he’s grown up here. He’s followed the story of Henry from day one.”
“Nice to meet you, Jamie. So happy you could come tonight and meet Evelyn’s hero.”
Without any British accent whatsoever, Jamie replied, “Yeah, pretty cool the way the bird saved her life. You don’t see that every day.” He smiled at Evelyn.
“I think Henry’s cool, too,” said Evelyn, fighting back a tear as she remembered how he and Tammy had saved her life. She turned to the two men. “How long will you be staying in America?” she asked.
Alan answered. “Another ten days. We fly out on the twelfth. Why do you ask?”
Evelyn said, “I’d like to invite all of you to my farm. You said you’d like to see my other birds, and I think Jamie might enjoy getting to see Henry in action.”
Jamie gave a little hop and asked his grandpa, “Can we go see Cecilia and all the others, Grandpa, can we?”
“Don’t you remember, Grandpa? Cecilia is Henry’s true love. They had her picture in the newspaper. She’s totally white, just like Henry.”
“Let me give you my mobile phone number, Evelyn. When you want us to come over, just give me a call.”
Evelyn grabbed her cell from her handbag. “Okay, shoot. I’ll put the number on my phone right now.” Before Ben gave her his number, she turned to Alan. “Of course, you’re welcome to come also, Alan.”
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Is that what you say? I just wish I had my fastest pigeon with me to see if Henry could beat him.” His smile suggested he didn’t think Henry would stand a chance. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you both.”
As the men were walking away, Tammy leaned over to whisper in Evelyn’s ear. “Alan’s cute, isn’t he?”
“Yes. So’s Ben,” replied Evelyn.
“And your blouse is undone. Your bra’s showing.” They both burst out laughing like a couple of teenage girls sharing a joke.
Besides being an ingenious sequel to Messages from Henry, Where Love Takes You is also a light-hearted stand-alone romance novel. A chance encounter in Oregon leads to a four way transatlantic romance, with further adventures for Henry, the pigeon hero in book one; as he tries pigeon racing in England. There's love in the air and on the ground.
Buy the book...
Rebecca Scarberry was born and raised in Southern California. She’s retired, and writes full-time. She lives on a small secluded farm in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas with her husband and five cats. She has devoted her time to writing fiction since 2009, and has self-published six books in four different genres.
She has also written the script for one episode of her Jumper series of children’s books. Once she has the copyright, she’ll be sending it to TV producers per the request of her young readers/fans. She is currently writing book four in the Jumper series, tentatively entitled: Jumper’s Holiday Fun.
The books she has published are: Messages from Henry, Rag Doll, Where Love Takes You, Jumper, Jumper Bounces Back, Jumper Meets Bouncy.Link to Amazon author page: http://smarturl.it/0z9brq