Disclaimers: Please See Chapter One
Tap. Tap. Tap.
When the gentle tapping at the bedroom door became louder, Lenora slowly opened her eyes. Unaware of her arousal, she unconsciously closed her eyes without response.
Moments later a slightly louder tapping occurred. Lenora jumped at the persistent knocking, but once again closed her eyes.
Bang. Bang. Bang. “Lenora, you need to wake up. I’ve brought croissants for breakfast and I need to talk to you.
The young mariner sat up in bed, but her head began to hang towards her chest in sleep once more.
“LENORA!” The voice chimed with authority. “LENORA BENEGAN, GET OUT OF BED AND DO IT NOW!”
The young mariner’s head jerked upwards. She isn’t going to give up. She thought as she threw back the cover and placed her feet on the floor. “I’m coming.” She moaned, barely auditable.
“Well, it’s about time. I’ve been pounding on this door for the last five minutes,” chirped the voice from the other side of the door. “The coffee is ready, so hurry up, please.”
“I’ll be right there, Aunt Isabelle,” Lenora stood and headed for the bathroom and her robe.
Isabelle turned her head as her niece entered the kitchen, and did a quick double-take at the young woman’s appearance. Lenora’s eyes were sunk back in her head, her hair was in disarray, and she hadn’t even bothered to tire her robe. “My goodness, honey. You look awful.” She set the coffee mugs down on the table and pushed one to her nieces place.
She pulled out the chair and flopped down. “I didn’t sleep worth a da…”
“Now Lenora, watch your language,” her aunt scolded. “What’s the matter, honey, the dreams again?”
“They are getting to be friggin nightmares, Aunt Isabelle and in Technicolor no less.” She picked up the coffee and sipped.
The banker sighed. Her niece was looking very worn-down, and had her worried. “You want to talk about them?”
“Nothing to talk about. Same things, over and over again, just as I told you before.” She sat the cup on the table and raised her arms over her head and stretched. “I’m beginning to hate fog.” Her neck revolved around in an attempt to get a kink out. “I won’t even say what I feel about that strange mist that over shadows every reverie.”
The older woman passed the croissants, but Lenora declined.
“It’s been three solid weeks this time, and the same stuff, over and over. You’d think if I was going to get jerked back in the past, that I’d at least get some satisfaction from the woman of my dreams.”
“Then the wet dreams portion have ceased?”
“Heck no. But dreams don’t give complete satisfaction Aunt Isabelle.” She raised the cup again.
“Hmm.” Her aunt mumbled.
“What was so doggone important that you are at my house at six in the morning?”
“Is your schedule open for Thursday evening?” Isabelle asked.
Lenora cocked an eyebrow. “Why?
“You know I’ve hired a new Executive Director of the Research Institute and I’m having her for dinner on Thursday. You are about her age and I thought it would be nice if you...”
“Forget it,” the mariner interrupted. “I’m not allowing you to fix me up. I can find my own women.” The mug hit the table harder then she had intended.
Isabelle smiled. “You can be so stubborn. I’m not trying to do any such thing. I simply feel my guest might feel a little more comfortable if someone other than an old fidget like me was around. In two hours, she’d be bored stiff...”
“Un-huh, so you say….but I don’t think so.”
“Lenora, how often do I request favors from you?”
“It isn’t the favor, I’m worried about, Aunt Isabelle. It’s the ‘get Lenora hooked up’ with someone that scares the crap out of me.”
The banker sighed. “Oh, for goodness sake, Lenora. I am only trying to make her feel welcome. She has no family within three thousand miles, and that is sad. Since when do you object to coming to dinner to help with my guests?”
Lenora ran a hand through her hair. “Normally, all your dinner guest are old fogies and I find them quite amusing.”
“Old fogies? Amusing?”
The younger woman stood, taking her mug to the coffeemaker. “You want a refill?”
“No thank you. Old fogies?”
“Yes, old farts, but very witty and how shall I say this…a bit stuffy.” “Oh for goodness sake, Lenora.” “
Don’t get me wrong, Aunt Isabelle. Your friends are the salt of the earth, just too salty for me.” She chuckled.
“All that aside Lenora, you will be there for dinner, won’t you?”
She looked at her aunt and shrugged her shoulders. How could she refuse someone who had raised her since she was a small girl, and loved her so deeply. “Okay, I’ll be there, but don’t expect me to become friendly with her or take her out or anything.” She sat down and placed the mug on the table.
“That is all I ask. I think you will like her, she is from the coast of Washington State, and has won several sailing tournaments while getting her doctorate.”
Lenora cocked her eyebrow again. “Aunt Isabelle.”
The silver headed woman raised her hand. “I was only giving you some information that you might find to be worthy of conversation. That’s all.”
“Un-huh. Just don’t get any ideas.” She leaned over and kissed her aunts cheek.
“Are we still on for sailing this afternoon?” Isabelle asked, smiling.
“Certainly. I’ll have a picnic basket on board and we’ll make an afternoon of it.” “
What, you mean we aren’t going to sail to Mobile Bay for our usual meal?”
“Ah-hah. I knew it. Don’t think I don’t know why you like to sail into Mobile, to one certain pier, along side one certain dock side restaurant.”
Isabelle blushed, but turned her head so her niece couldn’t see. “I have no idea what you are in referring, my dear. I thought you like the Boom Docks seafood platter?”
Lenora’s fingers starting tapping the table. “You betcha, it’s the best. But, I notice that no matter what part of the Gulf we sail in, we always end up in Mobile Bay and Miss Leila is always fussing over us…I mean over you mostly.”
“She does no such thing. You know how much she enjoys seem you and your hearty appetite.” She felt herself blush, but didn’t turn away.
“Give it up, Aunt Isabelle. I’ve noticed you watching her like a hawk. I’ve even caught your eyes giving her backside the once over, and more than once I might add.”
Isabelle swatted her niece’s hand. “Nothing to be upset about. Auntie. Miss Leila is a nice, well preserved, sexy woman.” Lenora said and picked up her mug.
“Lenora, I might look occasionally, but you know there has never been anyone in my life but you.”
“There should have been. You should have someone special, Aunt Isabelle. You deserve to have someone in my life besides me.”
“You have made my life full, honey. I don’t regret a day of your being with me.”
“I know, but you aren’t too old to still have someone nice around.”
“Like I said, I look occasionally. I have my friends…my old fogies and you, so my life is full and what’s more important, honey, is that I’m happy with it.”
“I understand. Okay, so we’ll take a picnic basket full of cheese and crackers to snack on, but sail directly to the Boom Docks,” she laughed and received another swat from her aunt.
“That will be wonderful. Thank you. I have an early morning meeting, and have to go.” She gracefully raised from the chair. “Lenora, don’t worry about the mist or the dreams.”
A puzzled look came over the young woman’s face at her aunt’s declaration. She wasn’t sleeping. She was having nightmares about being drawn into a strange mist and being transformed back in time and she shouldn’t worry? Why did get the feeling her aunt knew something that she wasn’t willing to share with her about the dreams. But she only sighed and said, “Not much sense in worrying is there? I can’t seem to do anything about it.”
Isabelle patted her niece’s hand again. “Good girl. I’ll see you at the dock at 1 P.M.”
“I’ll be there,” she smiled and watched her aunt leave.
Lenora took another sip of coffee and then reached for the croissants her aunt had left. The roll was lifted to her nose and she sniffed it several times before sticking one end of the bread into her mouth. As she chewed, she dunked the remaining part of the roll into her coffee. While it was still dripping and soggy, she shoved half of the bred into her mouth.
Later the mariner rinsed out the mugs and turned them upside down in the sink. She’d wash them later. The slender figure stood gazing out the kitchen window and smiled when a shrimp boat pasted her dock and gave a friendly toot on the boat whistle. The mariner waved, but knew the boat or its occupants could not see through the window box she had installed at the beginning of summer. She knew most of the boat captains that called Pensacola their home port. The shrimper was from the other side of the bay, but could only reach the gulf through the strait of the lagoon. Everyone knew and respected her, not only for her knowledge of the ocean, but her warmth and generosity. She had donated or lent untold sums to needed fishermen and mariners in the area, without demanding it be paid back or even mentioning it to those who benefited from her big heartedness.
She arched her shoulder and stretched. After rubbing her eyes for a few minutes, she took off her robe and headed for the shower.
After drying off and getting dressed, she went into her study and bundled up the charts she had brought home to study the night before.
“Guess I’ll go to the back porch and check these out,” she picked up a pad and pen sitting them on top of the bundle of charts, then picked up the bundle.
Some time later, she moved her protractor over the chart, slowly and deliberately for the third time. Tapping the back of the swing, she lifted her feet off the floor and placed them on the arm of the swing and wiggled her toes. The tapping started up again, as toes keep beat to the tapping. The young mariner was deep in thought when a fog horn sounded .
The boat slowed and an elderly mariner stepped out of the wheelhouse and waved. “Want to go fishing with us Lenora?” He asked taking his pipe out.
“Can’t go today Captain Bob. I have to decide about a salvage job off Norway, and they want my answer today,” she called.
“Heck, girl, tell them no, and I’ll pull in and wait for you.”
She waved. “Thanks, but I have to give this job some real thought.” Lenora responded. “I’ll go the next time, I promise.” She waved again and got a friendly fog horn as a farewell.
Lenora studied the charts for over an hour, then set the protractor down on the charts she had laid on the floor next to the swing. She crossed her feet at the ankles and stared off at the bay.
Off in the distance, she could hear the sound of whispering waves, laughter, seagull yelps, the barely audible Jet Ski that wails in and out, and a breeze that blows just right. It’s was a symphony of rhythmic perfection. She was indeed a lucky woman. To her way of thinking, she had it all; a nice home on the bay, a marvelous aunt that she adored, a profession that suited her to a tee, and to make it even better, several enterprises that were the envy of companies all over the globe. She could name her own price for most salvage jobs, but for some reason, this one just didn’t seem to be a priority.
Perhaps she was tired from the strange dreams she had been having. Her mind just wasn’t with work. It hadn’t been for three weeks now. These dreamscapes had her not only confused, but a little frightened…no…it wasn’t frightening, she thought. It was …it was…then it hit her. It was the uncertainty. The dreams themselves were nothing new. She had been having them since she was ten or eleven years old. Actually she thought about it and realized she had them the first time about a year after her parents disappeared and she came to live with her aunt. In the past, she would have them a night or two and then they wouldn’t reoccur until months later. Never had she had them for more than a couple of days until now.
“Why am I having them for so long this time?” She asked the empty porch. “What does it mean?” There was no answer. Yes, it was the uncertainty and it was beginning to affect her thinking and reasoning and she didn’t like it. She got up and stepped over the charts and paperwork and meandered down to the end of her dock. “At least I’ll check my crab traps.” The mariner squatted down and pulled the rope tied to the last pier piling. Within moments the trap broke the water, but she could see the bait from the night before had not been touched. Slowly, she allowed the rope to slide through her hands and felt it settle on the bottom.
Lenora rubbed her eyes and decided to sit on the dock for a while. She rolled up her jeans legs and lowered her feet into the salty water.
A gentle 2 knot breeze brought in the sweet smell of magnolias from the plush green trees surrounding the edge of her property. A few fluffy white whipped-cream cumulus clouds drift by as sail boats glide gracefully across the water on the other side of the lagoon. The sound of seagulls calling to their mate, the radiant sun beat down upon her skin turning it to a vibrant healthy golden hue. The sounds of joyous laughter came from children playing on the beach two doors down as they sculpt a monolithic castle of Derbyshire filled the air. Yet, in comfortable surroundings, she was uneasy. “
Shoot!” Lenora looked at her watch and stood up. “Should have called Kathy about the Norway salvage job.” She walked quickly back to her house and picked up the kitchen phone, dialing her shipyard office as she picked up the pot from the coffeemaker and filled the mug.
“Good morning, Kathy.” She waited for her administrative assistant to respond. “Before you start on my messages, call Koffenhaver in Norway, and tell them we’ll have to pass on this job. Then call Bart to get his crew ready to sail tomorrow and join Parker off the coast of Venezuela to help him out with that derrick salvage for Sohi Oil.”
“Bart will be so happy you decided to pass on Norway. They really hated the idea of having to stand by instead of helping out the Isabelle crew in South America.” Her assistant of ten years said.
“Well, they can get off their duffs now and get to sea the first thing in the morning.” Lenora laughed..
“They’ve been on standby for over a week, so this will be good news. Are you coming in this morning?” She asked.
“If there isn’t anything urgent, Kathy, I think I’ll just piddle around here and then go do some work on The Empress, before I take Aunt Isabelle sailing this afternoon.” She lifted the mug to her mouth and made an awful face at the strong coffee.
“Nothing urgent here,” Kathy stated. “But you might want to consider sailing to the Pascagoula yard and check out that made to order barge for the Harrell Company. Harry faxed in his schedule this morning and he is still a few days behind. There is a possibility he won’t meet the deadline on this one.”
“Crap.” Lenora set the mug back into the sink. “No, I’m not going to go hold his hand this time. You send him an email, saying schedule unacceptable. Work the shifts an extra hour per day for the next two weeks. That should take care of it. Call me on my cell if he believes that won’t make up the time.”
“Okay boss, that should do it. Anything else?” She asked.
“Yeah. Please call the Cheese Barn, and have my usual order ready in an hour.” “
No problem, Lenora. Do you want the smoked salami this time as well?”
“Thanks for reminding me Kathy, but no, just the regular selected cheeses and crackers.” She turned off the coffeemaker. “Oh yes, there is one more thing Kathy. Send a dozen pink roses to Ms. Leilia Sanchez, Longboat Pier, Doom Docks Grill. Ah..” she coughed slightly, “And sign aunt Isabelle’s name to it.”
“Just her name, no message on the card?” Kathy asked.
“Ah….well, say something like…hmm…let me think.” A devilish grin crossed her face as she scratched her head. “Say something like….Uh…Guess you should keep it simple, so just say…Looking forward t seeing you later today.” That ought to stir things up a bit, she thought.
“Are you sure about this, boss? I wouldn’t want to be in your decks, if this hits your aunt the wrong way.”
“Yeah, send them just that way. I can handle the old darling,” she snickered and hung up the phone.
Lenora raised her hand to help her aunt aboard, then nodded to the dockman to cast off the stern line.
“You want to take her out Aunt Isabelle?” Lenora stepped aside from the wheel.
“No, not today. I think I’ll just sit back, relax and enjoy your sailing expertise.”
“Oh-key-keydoke,” the mariner grinned and turned back to the wheel.
Within minutes, Lenora cut the motor, and motioned for Isabelle to take the wheel while she raised the sails.
Upon her return to the wheel, she saw the immense enjoyment Isabelle’s face expressed of being in control of the boat, so Lenora flopped down on the cushion seat next to the cockpit.
The young captain smiled seeing how much pleasure her aunt was having. After all, she had the older woman to thank for her being the sailor she had become. Isabelle had been a terrific teacher and sailing companion. Her aunt had given her just enough encouragement and guidance to help polish her sailing skills, while leaving enough room for her to safely learn by her mistakes. Her aunt had walked and talked her through the complete operations of the boat and made sure one impressionable, headstrong girl was well versed on everything as she learned by doing.
“You’re still an excellent sailor, Aunt Isabelle,” Lenora said, grinning.
“Why thank you honey, but you are much, much better than I ever was,” Isabelle smiled at her niece, then looked up as the mail sail cracked.
The wind seems to be smiling just right this day as they moved across the water into a wild ride of nature vs. human ingenuity. Both women were in sailing heaven. The wind picked up and they clip in. Each woman lose track of time, distance and life. They were there, in a moment that never seems to end. Trapped out on the side of a 39ft craft tearing from one wave to the next with a bug filled smile; didn’t seem to be real…but it was. It’s unavoidable, no wave, wind or animal could not stop them. Words not even a poet could tinker would describe the experience. Through the crack of an orange filled afternoon, Isabelle and Lenora glided speechless to the pier beside the Boom Dock.
Leilia made such a do about the roses, that Lenora was sure her aunt would cream her on the way home…but she didn’t. Back on the water, the older woman simple kissed her on the cheek and mumbled a soft “Thank you for sending the roses for I would never have gotten up enough nerve,” then sat down to enjoy the cruise back to Pensacola.
They were close-hauled and making fast knots over ground through a three foot sea under a bright, moonlit, starry sky. They enjoyed the warm tropical night air, not talking, but knowing the other was feeling the same way…content. They listened to the steady hiss of hull slicing through water broken only by the slap of an errant beam sea. Starbursts of luminescent plankton trailed like a celestial jet stream off their stern. Orion was marching westward on the starboard bow, Polaris dimly marked the stern and a brilliant crescent moon filled the eastern sky with almost a daylight glow. It was a dreamy state in a dreamy world. Tweaking the sails, double-checking the heads and bilge, and constantly adjusting their perch at the helm, the hours seem to fly by as the Pensacola lighthouse came into view.
Lenora tied up the vessel and assisted her aunt off the boat. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” she said, kissing her aunt on the forehead.
“Drive carefully, honey, and thanks for a wonderful sailing afternoon.” Waving, she stepped into the boardwalk and into the open door of her chauffeured driven limousine.
Each day passed without any particular thoughts of the coming dinner. Lenora appreciated her life and cherished each day as it came and went. Here, in this gulf coast town, the mariner spent her days with the people she loved in a little piece of paradise Lenora would never forget. The dreams continued, but the young woman was determined not to allow them to upset her daily routine or put her in a foul mood. She had to admit, they were becoming more vivid, more detailed and more stressful.
Lenora looked into the mirror and pulled at the turtle neck. “What was that you told me when I was a little girl, Aunt Isabelle?” She tugged at the fabric once more before picking up her jacket and heading to her truck. Settling behind the wheel, she looked into the rear view mirror, allowing her mind to drift back in time to one of her aunts rhetorical, theorizing moments. “Ah, yes, I remember.” She said. “Strawberry shakes and green waters lead the way back home. It seems in our lives that we all have these places. For times of woe, or unseen sadness, we go there to get away and feel again. Maybe not in person, but there in mind, we find ourselves. Everyone has a little place, and you will find yours.”
The mariner sighed. “It doesn’t make anymore sense now than it did then Aunt Isabelle. You have told me that, over and over again.” The truck was put in reverse and backed out of the garage. “You told me it would make sense in time, but it dang sure hasn’t.” She backed the truck on the turn around and headed for the road. “Now, you tell me that all will become clear, but you keep putting me off about exactly what you are talking about.” The driver checked both directions before pulling onto the highway and to her aunts.
The young woman drove in silence, and deep thought. Things just weren’t feeling right in her life right now and she kept on having the most uneasy feelings about the dreams.
As she drove along the bay to her dinner commitment, Lenora glanced off across the water and noticed the weird formations of fog…an inversion resembling pea soup. “The mist seems to be taking on strange….” The young captain didn’t finish her sentence as another odd sensation filled her body and she shivered. Another side glance at the formation across the bay was quickly blocked by her aunts wall of magnolias planted along the banks leading up to the house.
Lenora turned in and parked to one side of the circular drive. “No need to get block in just in case I want to make a quick get away,” she chuckled, getting out of the vehicle.
In the drawing room, she hugged her aunt who was dressed in an elegant gown. “My, don’t you look nice,” Lenora commented. “
Thank you, darling. Is that pants suit new?” Her aunt handed her a glass of cold mint tea.
“No ma’am, but I don’t think I’ve worn it around you before,” she accepted the glass.
“Another New Orleans purchase?”
“Yes. I picked it up last summer when we transferred that yacht to Marror Oil.” She sipped the tea. “Great taste,” she said.
“I’ll tell Margaret you like her new recipe.” The banker also sipped the tea. “Hmm, it is tasty.”
“Aunt Isabelle, I have no intentions of staying one moment after dinner, so don’t try and drag out the evening with some long drawn out conversation about biological research or this new administrators duties, please.”
“You are so unsociable at times, my dear Lenora.”
“Aunt Isabelle!” The mariner gave her aunt that don’t you try that on me look.
“Oh, for heaven sakes. All I want is for you to fill in the empty conversation. She is your age.” The older woman placed her glass back on the serving tray. “She’ll be here soon, so make yourself useful and select some CD of acceptable music while I go and check on dinner.”
“Sure. Just remember what I said,” Lenora warned and watched her aunt leave the room. After drinking the remainder of the mint tea, she went to the entertainment center and pulled out a drawer containing dozens of CD.
The door chime sounded, but Lenora continued her selection process. Momentarily, she heard the sliding doors behind her open and Jeffery, her aunt’s old butler coughed lightly.
“Miss Lenora, your aunt’s dinner guest is in the foyer.” He announced.
“Well, I guess you’d better show her in, Jeffery.” She nodded to the man and turned back to the entertainment center.
“Miss Benegan asked you to join her niece in here. She will be with you momentarily,” Jeffery bowed slightly as the woman entered the room. “Please make yourself comfortable.”
“Thank you, I will,” the administrator stepped into the room and immediately noticed the woman placing a CD into the slot and push the play button.
The mariner turned to greet the newcomer. Her smile faded, and a fragile look of uncertainty replaced it. The remote slipped from her hand and hit the floor. Speechless, she stared. There standing just inside the drawing room was the splitting image of the woman of her nightly dreams. Lenora found it very difficult to breath. All she could do was stare at the image standing there.
“Do you always gawk at your aunt’s guests, or is that your normal reaction to anyone entering this room?” The slender woman shook her head slightly when Lenora didn’t answer and walked quickly to an oversize easy chair and sat down.
The sharp words stopped her heart and rendered her lungs functionless. Her eyes were fixed with emotion long held inside. Her hand came up to touch a strand of her hair sticking to her wet forehead. “I…I…I apologize,” Lenora whispered in a husky voice. Her lips parted slightly and quivered.
Lenora’s eyes drifted shut, as she leaned back against the entertainment center to keep from falling. Her heart thumped, and she knew the woman sitting in the chair could hear it beat frantically. She could feel the pulse point in her neck nearly explode each time her heart beat. It can’t be! It can’t be her. Not real. This just isn’t real. She snatched her thoughts back and focused them again as she opened her eyes.
“Are all you Benegan’s as weird as hell?” asked the seated woman.
Before Lenora could respond, the drawing room doors were opened and Isabelle entered. “Oh, you’ve arrived. Good. So nice for you to accept my invitation.” She walked to the side of the chair as the occupant rose and accepted her extended hand.
“Nice of you to invite me to your home, Ma’am.” She smiled.
“Nonsense. And don’t call me Ma’am. I’m Miss Benegen or just Isabelle.” The banker smiled and turned to her niece. “Have you introduced yourself, Lenora?”
“I’ve just arrived, and your niece…seems the cat has her tongue.”
Isabelle looked curiously towards her niece, who still stood with a look of uncertainty about her. “Oh, I see,” she said softly. “Well, I’ll do the formal introductions,” she smiled and motioned for her niece to come closer. “Lenora, this is my new Research Administrator, Dr. Marquette Danvers. Marquette, this is my own niece and only living relative.”
Marquette extended her smile, “Nice to meet you.”
Lenora gasped and muttered, “Uh, same here.”
Isabelle let out a groan. “Okay, so you will have to excuse my niece. He emotions have been a little out of hand lately.” The banker motioned for Marquette to be seated again. “Margaret tells me we have a few minutes until dinner will be ready, so we might as well get to know each other better.” She sat on the divan and patted the place next to her. “Lenora, please joins us.” She patted the sofa once more.
“Uh…sure.” The mariner sat quickly, but did not take her eyes off the guest. It can’t be. It can’t be. Kept going over and over in Lenora’s mind.
Isabelle chatted endlessly about the research she hoped to have accomplished at the laboratory and how she felt Marquette would more than fulfill her expectations. Lenora only joined in the conversation when elbowed by her aunt, giving only grunts or short responses.
The banker breathed a sigh of relief when her housekeep and cook of twenty years announced that dinner was served.
If Isabelle thought Lenora hasn’t been social before the feast, she wasn’t surprised when her niece only said a handful of words during the seven course feast. Marquette was charming and chatted wittily with her new employer and extended a warm smile in Lenora’s directions several times during the dinner. After desert, the banker announced they would have coffee on the terrace. Her niece was instructed to show her guest the way, while she arranged for the beverage.
“This way,” Lenora opened the French doors of the dinning room to the large open terrace running along the backside of the luxurious bayside home.
The mariner walked past Marquette and stopped at the stone balcony rail overlooking the bay. The scientist joined her, standing next to her, their elbows touching slightly.
“You obviously have something on your mind, Lenora. You stared at me during the entire meal. You want to tell me what you find so interesting, or do you do that to all your aunt’s guests?”
Lenora had never been at lost for words. This was one of those times when she just didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t meant to gawk. She hadn’t meant to be unsociable, but that uneasy feeling had been with her since she turned and saw Marquette standing there. Even the voice was the same as in her dreams, the movement of the head, the smile, the eyes, and the gestures. Everything was the same as in her dreams. It had her completely off balance.
“Aren’t you going to talk to me?” Marquette turned and faced Lenora.
The mariner kept looking out toward the mist on the far side of the bay. The same mist that had shown up every night now for over a month. The same mist that had visited her for years.
“Lenora?” Marquette’s persistent tone brought her back to the terrace.
She turned her head slightly. “You would not believe me if I told you, Dr. Danvers.” She turned back to the bay.
Marquette’s head bent slightly to the right as she watched the beautiful woman standing next to her. “You might be surprised what I would believe,” she said and turned toward the bay also.
Across the bay, a squawking seagull interrupted the silence of the mist; only to give way to the silence again as it flew off. The silence on the terrace remained for several minutes.
“You have a strange fog here, Lenora. Nothing like I’ve every seen before.” Marquette said to break the strain of the silence.
“You don’t have fog in Seattle?” The captain asked.
“Yes, most definitely, but not like that strange mist out there,” she pointed towards the fog which was slowly starting to move across the bay towards them.
“To be honest with you, I’ve not seen this kind of fog before myself.” She said, “Well, not exactly like this except…” She didn’t finish.
“What do you mean, except?”
“Nothing,” she exhaled. “It…it’s just unusual for this area, and especially at this time of year.” “
They were silent again.
“Your aunt is weird.” Marquette said.
Lenora turned to face the young scientist. “You don’t know the half of it.” She finally offered a slight chuckle.
“Actually, I know quite a bit about her. Seems she had had a hand in my life since I was very young.” She twisted her head towards the mariner. “Seems she arranged for my father to have a job at a certain industry in Seattle and even my education was arranged by her.” She stated. “I found out only from my mother recently that your aunt arranged my scholarship and even my first two positions at very prestigious research facilities on the west coast.”
I can believe that,” she said with a weak smile. “She has arranged my entire life.”
“Touché,” Marquette echoed.
A wad of cotton rose to clog Lenora’s throat. It couldn’t be her…couldn’t be.
Marquette’s smile faded.
It was absurd. It was infuriating. But somehow, it was a tiny bit gratifying, and Lenora couldn’t deny the little thrill rising inside her, though she knew she would have to deal with this soon. Again she hauled her thoughts back and looked into Marquette’s eyes. Who was she? Was she a woman who could have all her values and principles turned upside down by a smooth talking scientist?
Marquette lifted her chin and gave Lenora’s face a critical analysis. She saw an attractive woman, full of purpose and intent, a woman she knew what she wanted and had the special talent to make other know what they wanted, too. She saw the mariner as strong and independent, and one that enjoyed her times alone and didn’t year for constant companionship. Like herself, she enjoyed her routine, her quiet and her predictability. So what was going on? Why did she suddenly feel as if she had some sort of decision to make? Hadn’t she already made it? After all, wasn’t the woman before her exactly what she wanted?
She pulled Lenora against her as her mouth ravished her lips.
Lenora wanted to stop time and hold on forever…to demand they unite immediately…But…she wasn’t sure just exactly what was happening to her. This was insane…just like her dreams.
When Marquette’s mouth brushed Lenora’s, she held her breath, waiting to lose herself in the mariner. But she pulled back, roaming over the beautiful face before her. Her lips touched the mariners again, then retreated.
“If there is to be anything between us, Lenora, you have to give yourself over to me completely.” “
“I will not settle for being unrecognized.” She stepped back. “Thank your aunt for the fine dinner for me and extend my apologizes for leaving, but I have an early experiment to begin in the morning.” She turned and walked towards the French doors, stopped and raised her right hand in a mock vow. “I promise nothing will happen as long as you don’t accept the truth about the mist.” Just as quickly, her hand lowered and she hastily exited the terrace.
“What…” Lenora choked.
The mariner staggered back against the rail, catching hold of the top to keep from sinking to the stone floor.
From the other end of the terrace, Isabelle appeared with Margaret pushing a serving cart.
“Just place it here, Margaret. I’ll serve us,” the banker directed her housekeeper and looked around. “Lenora, did Marquette leave already?”
Lenora drew in several deep breaths before she looked in her aunts direction. Finally, when she thought she could walk, she slowly moved towards Isabelle. “She had some kind of experiment to start early tomorrow and left. She thanked you for the dinner.”
“Oh, but I wanted her to taste this special spend of coffee,” she poured two cups and set the pot down. “You don’t want cream or sugar do you, dear?” She asked.
“You know I don’t.” She watched her aunt pour a few drops of the cream into her cup. Her other hand reached for Lenora’s but her niece caught her hand.
“Aunt Isabelle, I want to know about the fog. And just who in the blue blazes are Muriel and Rose Marie?”
The banker’s head jerked up to see staring eyes from her niece. Isabelle became stiffer than a statue.
“Aunt Isabelle, I am not going to let this go. You know what’s going on and by all that is holy, you are going to tell me.”
Isabelle sighed, and placed her hand over that of her niece, patting it gently. “Okay, Lenora. I guess you are ready. Come, bring your coffee and let us sit.” She took her cup and slowly eased to the chaise lounge on the terrace. ”This will take some time, and I’m sure you will have questions.”
Lenora ignored the coffee, and followed her aunt to the chaise, sitting at the foot of her aunt’s recliner.
“You were young…” Isabelle started, and continued to talk as Lenora listened intently to her aunt’s every word.
Across the bay, the silent mist started to slowly churn over the choppy water, making it’s way unhurriedly across the bay towards the women engrossed in conversation on the terrace. It was almost time for it’s visit….Yes, it was almost time, but not tonight…
The mist seemed to smile and say silently…No, not tonight….but soon.
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