Love Me Knot

By Rod Stewart

The characters, places and events portrayed within this novel are for fictitious purposes only. Reference to persons either living or dead, is purely coincidental, and is not intended by the author.

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 Rod Stewart

For my parents, Barbara and Colin

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I wish to acknowledge the generous assistance from the North Cumberland Historical Society and the Eaton-Webb Guest House for kindly researching local facts and archival information which have imbued this story with an authentic maritime flavor. I express my gracious debt to my family and the many friends whom we have encountered over the years of vacationing at Pugwash. Nova Scotia. May the reader enjoy these words with a pleasure equal to my revel of those youthful summer times. For they have created the fond unforgettable memories which cheer my heart to this day. ii .

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“Are you a good ghost. “You’re the best pretender.ONE The button thumb pressed pink onto the knot.” “And you are always my Princess. “Remember now.” as the specter floated down the cottage veranda stairs. knowing all too well. and you can’t see me. and danced with giggles. on the apparition’s hood.” breathed her hollow voice.. She wiped away an almost tear. “Now count to ten. although it was real enough for her.two. for you to find out. from the accident long ago. I’m the ghost. hugging Samantha’s bony hairpin frame. how easy it was to become invisible. the cold make-believe one. She wrapped herself into a cloud with a cotton sheet. as her teenage sister pulled the blue bow tight over a dried starfish. “Three.” as she jumped. or a bad ghost?” tugged Natalie. “It’s even better than Daddy’s cane.” played Sam.one. tapping the wand on her puckered crimson painted lips. “Now if I was a smart ghost. still dripping inside.” smiled Sam. where would I hide?” she hummed to herself. . Natalie swished around in circles with her new magic wand. fading lost among the thick scented blackness of spruce. Natalie was very good at finding out things. should not be known in the first place. opening her ocean blue eyes to the summer shrill of pine beetles. kissing her rouge powdered cheek and straightening her lopsided doily tiara.. “That is a secret. which perhaps. Ready or not here I come!” squealed the Princess. and blaring June sun.

a common hazard for fairy princesses. All the same. and then sniffed into the gray maze for any trace of ghost wanderings. The sheet would most likely be torn. a root strewn path led away from the Allen property. Natalie didn’t see any fresh ghost tracks. because the Princess was sure to be following her lead. in any event. fluttering like soft kisses waiting to be held. someone would likely have spotted her. free from her skin. and deer hooves cutting deep into the south side moss. Except for a squirrel prance. Piece by piece she was giving herself away to Natalie. If Samantha had ran along the dusty potholed road. ending their game. It had poured lightning last evening. Carefully. she pricked her elf ears taut. Natalie scooted around the backyard. The humid suffocating canopy of dense birch and old forest pine along the trail was the most logical retreat for a runaway specter. a few rivulets and mirrors still puddled under the cottage. until she was completely unraveled. Samantha ripped off several shreds. sagging slightly.2 Rod Stewart She crept around the corner. nearly tripping over the knee high poison puffed toadstools. Behind the lichen shingled outhouse. Samantha glanced back at the cotton feathers. and although the thirsty ground had drank most of the rain. She had to move quietly and quickly. and down to the beach. over the bank. as a spirit released into the air. Even the scar-faced rotting woodpile snoring alive with fire ants had nothing to say about a passing pale shadow. teetering unsettled among the pungent earthen shadows beneath the deck. From most of the . wound by a mosquito infested bog. by the nettle of overgrown shrubs and dense alder thickets crowding onto the footpath. just in case something was festering in the putrid silence. then skirted along the western barbwire fence of MacMillan’s field and finally punctuated in the ditch by the patch-plagued Route 6. furling away the edge of her royal nightgown robe. she snailed down to her knees. hanging them as tattle tale tongues along her route. like the cement pillar foundations.

before swatting through the bushes to MacMillan’s field. and tucked it away under her T-shirt. by an algae soup pool. spooks roamed in darkness. she spotted a white tail flagging from a branch. It dangled by a twisted wire. it dove with a burp. halfsobbing. “Where or where has our ghost gone. She found the last shred in the middle of dappled nowhere. knotted with an array of sparkplugs and odd bolts. A few teeth were missing from the deer jaw. and disappeared into the emerald fold. She was about to cry. not too far away. and wrapped it carefully inside her robe. Frustrated. at the edge of the swamp. rolled it into a ball. Natalie’s squint was returned by a stare from a pair of glassy pearls. she pulled at a bone swaying in the breeze. Somewhere. her stomach tightened. A breeze rustling near the Indian pear bush behind the outhouse caught her attention. as the humid brightness took her breath away. looking carefully.Love Me Knot 3 bedtime stories Natalie knew. by the alder fingers snatching at her robe. dear Prince?” Insulted by the poke. Of course! She clapped her hands with a chuckle. bearing the rusty scrawl “Find my face. she stopped. “Somewhere. Bending down. and buried her head in a cradle of elbows and knees. she peeled away the gossamer. as she bobbed after the ghost woolies. like a fly in a web. circling slowly on the spot where she stood. She was becoming trapped. . After ten minutes of huffing and puffing over roots and through ankle mud. and began bulldozing her way through the brush along the trail. Then another. The Princess began to melt.” she insisted. She touched the end of her wand softly toward the frog. Her heart lit up with a smile. Looking up. Maybe this was the wrong way. Near the branch where the final feather waved. she was ready to yell “Samantha!” Natalie dropped herself onto a soft mossy stump. when a sparrow chirp broke her tears.” There was only one place where those trinkets could have come from! The Princess eagerly loosened her prize.

under the white sheet. crawling over the ripped leather seat. and wild roses tangled around the engine block. and handed it over to the cottoned palm. like a pair of newly hatched tent caterpillars.” “And secrets?” “Yes! Especially secret secrets!” “Welcome!” as the rear door creaked open. It was swallowed in mud up to the bumpers. I see!” said the Princess. “That’s better.” “How did you lose your ghost voice?” “Nobody thought I was real. A crackle of straw underfoot betrayed her trespassing.4 Rod Stewart At the corner of the clearing. and then laughed “What kind of ghost goes ‘Moo! Moo!’ ” The specter pointed at its face “Mmmmoo! Mmmmoo!” “Oh. like a bad dream. She removed the deer bone from beneath her shirt. “And what are you doing in there?” “I have been trapped in this prison for centuries. Do you believe me?” “I believe in dreams. toward the wrinkled wreck. almost breaking off its last hinge. and slithered low as a snake. you lost your voice?” “That’s right.” “And because they didn’t hear you. The two squirmed together. Without teeth I couldn’t ‘Boo!’ and everyone thought I was just another cow. wallowed a crumpled ’67 Dodge. They didn’t hear me anymore. A white cloud exploded from the backseat roaring “Moo! Moo!” The Princess shrieked. They forgot about me. . and porcupined with various quills of young spruce through the trunk. Thank you!” as the ghoul craned her head to one side. jumped back with startled shock. The Princess smirked. stripped of its former blue and ebony glory.

And they fought. “A little sour. and picked away at the cracked reptilian upholstery. It was capped with tin foil. Then something crashed. Mr. “He was drawing a heart in the sand. Ummm. And that’s when he fell down the front doorstep. just the way I like it. I saw Mom and Mr. Samantha fished for a beer bottle.” “Hmmm. She struggled. From underneath the driver’s seat. “Jake is in love with somebody. Ghostie. It’s hidden by lots of branches. “Can I see?” “Secret first!” “O. with a hopeful quiver in her throat. I could hear them through the window.” rose-smiled the Princess.” as she poured some red lemonade from the thermos. a long time ago. before you were born.” she clammed. Alright. People secrets.” “Then?” “Mom ran out of the house. Then he wiped away the rest before I had a chance. I saw his initials.” “And?” “They were doing something.K. The wasps are building a really big nest by the roof. And broke his arm.” “No Silly.” “May I offer you some fresh cold blood? I am feeling a little pale myself.” teased Natalie.” as she cupped her frowning face within her palms. Real secrets. they tickled and poked. “Your turn. Nelson in his kitchen.” “Who? Who?” flushed Sam’s cheeks.” “What was the fight about?” . and contained a few tinkling items.” “He wouldn’t tell?” “No. Nelson followed.Love Me Knot 5 “You must be thirsty after your long journey.” “Yes it has taken days. After a few drinks. “I’m not really sure.” “Well.

the first of the half-secrets between them.” she made a lightning prick. and left dead in a memory grave. Things which were better not believed. With the pencil stub. Samantha unplugged the bottle. like a delicately unspiraled butterfly feeler.” as she wiggled a scarlet “S” on the bottom.6 Rod Stewart “I don’t know. Samantha did the same to her forefinger. and then storied themselves with imaginings along the trail home. she wrote in tiny gray veins. oozing a ruby bead from her tip. Mom slapped me. and dumped the contents onto the sheet between them. The sisters played tag around the wreck. “Ouch!” winced the Princess. They still had plenty of afternoon sunshine left. Forever. Followed by a nervous “N” beside hers. Promise. .” sniffed Sam. and then pressed both wounds together. Said to never ask her again. “Finger please.” as she undid one from Natalie’s fist. tossed cones at one another. “Now sign after me. “Hold still. It was the only time she ever hit me. and asked Natalie to hold it flat against the glass. The contract was sealed and then rolled away to sleep under the seat for another month. She unrolled a curl of paper. Our sister secrets.

and make them see the roaring lion throttling down on them. They were headed on a cross country migration. over the Cobequid Mountain backbone. All she had to do was tug on Daddy’s perspiring sleeve. to wake them up from the fighting dream. She needed air whistling through a crack. The tires hummed and squealed around tight curves. as they rocketed from the picket fenced suburbia toward summer paradise on the Northumberland Strait. Sparks flew easily between her parents. onto the comic book flapping open on her lap. . It was too late. Before. and things that should have been packed that weren’t. Her eyes headlighted at the behemoth eighteen wheeler barreling down the narrow ribbon. She had to shake her eyes away. Acid remarks dripped about unfinished office business. eating the scant seconds of distance between them. when the single minute replayed in her mind a thousand times over. Samantha watched the trees spike by on the treadmill through her window while her stomach turned dizzy. She fretted. The tedious winding roller coaster drive through the foothills heated tempers after a few hours. as the trees on the shoulder of the road became a blurred watercolor.TWO There was little difference between tonight and the one almost ten years ago. doubts over double checked latches and switches. Bulging suitcases were jammed to the roof inside the family station wagon. otherwise they would be forced to pull over. with a roadside deposit of her lunch. and the front seat mouths boiled at each other.

vainly grasping for an invisible sleeve. attending to a case backload. but Tim refused. and plowed through the railing with a nose dive into the gully. while his aggravated organs and internal tissues pained longer. Her mouth whispered “Thanks. swerved to avoid collision. Kate pleaded for therapy. lost control. The other two passengers fortunately faired only scrapes and bruises. Her long twig fingers combed affectionate curls through her sister’s chocolate hair. Tim routinely prescribed a mild sedative to dull his daughter’s trauma. A cane steadied his left step. The nightmare continued to haunt Samantha. Their eyes met. especially after popping some 292’s to numb the back to back shifts at O’Brien’s Pharmacy. It climbed. Samantha awoke. allowing the fumbling waving hand to flower softly over her cotton pajama chest. She tiptoed into her room.” with a kiss peppered upon the cherub’s cheek. until her delicate nature could no longer cope with a prolonged stupor. . Tonight. Their fingertips met with warm reassurance. The dreadful moment tormented her fingertips with agony for years. It was a miracle that none of them were killed. afraid that one problem would avalanche into an exposed plethora of family misgivings. Natalie heard the familiar whimpers from across the hall.8 Rod Stewart The station wagon veered over the solid line. pleased to mother her Samantha doll. Tim’s fractured hip healed over several months. It was doubtful that Kate would comfort Samantha. which wobbled for the rest of his days. Her hand trembled through the midnight air. Above them a pair of moth wings hung with a tender echo against the moon silvered window screen. Father was away. and turned over the ruffled blanket inviting her sister to curl into the pea pod. Natalie warmed inside. and said more than words ever could. to help Sam fit together the shattered pieces. Kate talked her through the days and nights as best she could. Samantha hugged Natalie to her as a second skin. as usual.

Love Me Knot 9 fell. Samantha’s favorite bedside tales became Natalie’s. for both of them.” sighed Samantha. Summer after summer she lay closer to the edge of their nest. as Natalie swelled from a baby bundle into a svelte young girl. she could feel Natalie’s angel wings folded behind her shoulder blades. A bud. This was the 70’s. year by year. Natalie was the balm that began to close her sister’s wounds from the accident. She had held Natalie within her heart since birth. they would twitch beneath her skin. To be fair. A winter . Sometimes. Her first crush. The single bed for their twin soul was shrinking. unlike her mother’s schedule. against the evening hours which slowly stole her away. that was perpetually full with other agenda. and kangarooed her treasure everywhere in her arms. Kate nursed and bonded with her youngest child. almost ready for flight. Samantha was the companion of all hours when Kate worked marathon shifts. When Samantha squeezed her sister tight. and a modern woman had her responsibilities. It was peculiar that Samantha prepared more baby formula. She cuddled Natalie into herself. which would unfold with hope. as her schedule had allowed. “How about you Sam? Do you have angel wings. her first broken promise. She was the vigor grafted onto her broken stem. Kate made sure the medicine cabinet was well stocked with iodine and bandages. against her blossom breasts. Samantha was the one who healed the tricycle curb rash with hugs and wiped away the tears and blood with a sympathetic kiss. “I am afraid not. her first confessed lie poured from Samantha’s lips into innocent ears. Samantha held her teddy bear’s heartbeat close to her own. Only you are the precious lucky one. with a feather touch back rub during the early hours. sputtered and then rose again toward an unknown silent darkness. laundered more diapers. She was thankful that Samantha could mortar the gaps she left behind. too?” breathed Natalie.

young lady. among the other children at the beach. “Why Jake?” asked Kate. while other teenagers entertained themselves with disreputable notions. and was out the back door with a click of her heels. Mom!” hugged Natalie. who would hold her together? Saturday.10 Rod Stewart thought chilled over Samantha’s neck. as Jake promptly appeared with a soft tap on the screen door by ten.” agreed Kate. She could see Dot’s kindness shining through Jake.K. Kate wondered if the dream child would ever wake up. Jake’s mother. than a neighbor to Kate. he makes great sand castles. Kate had known the Nelson family for years. They didn’t have to count many moths fluttering around the porch bug light. Samantha rarely invited anyone. Dot was more of a sister. “O. She was thankful to have her fledglings still under her thumb. when her husband was hung over from a binge with the boys in town. She was an infantile sixteen-year old shadow trailing after an eight-year old. and take care of the catering.” answered Natalie. Without her Natalie nights. with spaghetti arms encircling her waist. Jake was a fine strapping boy. Samantha belonged within Natalie’s world. Kate assumed that her doting over Natalie would preclude any friendship. as a gentle leader. “Well. Samantha pulled a chair over to the counter for Natalie to stand on. Kate jingled her keys. And plays Fish really good. . to mix the orange juice and fizzy ginger ale punch. and a “Varoom!” down the lane in her black Corolla. They filled the biggest mixing bowl with chips. already hauling lobsters with his father. and peeled open a fresh garlic dip. Kate had regularly visited Dot. Natalie pestered to have a friend over. Of course Samantha would be there to baby-sit. But you be good! And don’t stay up too late. She had seen him play well. without saying. “Thanks.

It was an important lesson that she wisely applied at later times. for a commanding view of her opponents. For Natalie it wasn’t cheating. when you lost on your turn. .Love Me Knot 11 Natalie flew to the door. Jake didn’t mind the suspicious winning streak of six games in a row. huddled together. while the other players had fistfuls. since he only glanced at his cards briefly during his turn. Samantha. The cards were shuffled and dealt over the round table. which would be played out sooner or later anyhow. They smiled at Natalie’s bubbly giggles when she cleaned them out with winning cards. “Glad you could come!” She had the seating all planned. After playing cards with Natalie.” teased Samantha. From her position. “I hear you are the best Fish player in Pugwash. over the summers. and pulled Jake over to the couch. as to why her sister won more often at night. The new house rule was to make a fish face before picking up cards. a way of knowing certain things. opposite on the sofa. Natalie stacked two extra cushions on her high-backed wicker chair. Samantha had quickly caught on. Jake’s hand was more of a challenge. Natalie could read Samantha’s fanned cards mirrored in the window. The incandescent light filled the naturally finished pine room with a warm glow. “Go Fish!” snickered Natalie. Otherwise they were stacked tightly face down. “I guess we will settle who is the champ tonight. “You mean second best!” piped Natalie. “Any Three’s?” asked Jake. and for that matter. especially when she demanded her throne to be placed just so. flicking a curl of jet black hair behind her ear. Natalie’s cards were thinning away.” drawled Jake with a sparkle. rather.

surprised that she came up with a lame excuse so easily.” declined Natalie. Jake ballooned his face red and rolled his googly ping pong eyes.” perked Samantha. as a compromise. with a feigned threat. You can see right down their throat to the tip of the tail. “What’s that?” squealed Natalie. “Looks like someone is ready for bedtime.” asserted Jake. “How about you Natalie?” “No thanks.” said Jake clicking his teeth.” “I have never been out on the ocean. “I can ask Dad. “You guys have fun. I get kinda scared around water over my head. with a jolt from her seat. After a few seconds. “As long as it doesn’t bite. while wiggling finger fins under his chin. She clamped her claws deep into the wicker arms. “The ocean is amazing.” offered Jake.” “Wow. with palm fins flapping by his cheek gills. He glanced over across the table.” replied Jake.” “We’ll bring something back for you. “The fierce wolf eel! A sea snake with iron jaws. On the next round Jake raised an eyebrow. fighting to pry open her eyelids between yawns. If you would like to come along some morning. “Yes. “Don’t suppose you have any Seven’s?” ‘Sorry! Go Fish!” blurted Natalie. . Except their mouth is as wide as a cave. “It blows up like that when you catch one.” joked Natalie. curling back his lips. I suppose there are things at the bottom that we haven’t even imagined.12 Rod Stewart Jake lunged at Natalie. he let out a gasp “A big ugly lumper!” “That’s a good one!” clapped Natalie.” cooed Natalie. “Do you really see all those animals when you go lobster fishing?” spouted Samantha.” remarked Samantha. bracing herself for the seaprise. baring fangs. drawing closer to Jake’s oxen shoulder.

Through the knothole on the far side of the furnace Natalie sighed. onto a pillow. and then raised their palms together. like a shell being filled by an ocean breath.Love Me Knot 13 “Awww!” whined Natalie. awakening as a woman for the first time. “Maybe. “It’s getting late. Sam joined Jake back in the living room. and hovered a lick away from her flushed cheek. for a sea tale or two. One heartbeat dissolved sweetly. “I hope we can play together again. with a clump of lead in her stomach. “I had a great time. Her answer followed. Jake is really nice. weaving his fingers among hers. “Me too. Morning unbuttoned Samantha’s eyelids first.” grinned Natalie. and blackbirds pecked ferociously at the littered gutters near dawn signaling another sweltering day. tomorrow.” she smiled softly into his pooling blue eyes. She pulled his lips gingerly to hers. just a little longer?” he begged. Her dreamy dark eyes became heavy from the weight of the long day. After a hug from Jake. entirely into the other. He held her hand tenderly. settling light as a feather along his robust chest. over his heart. with her palm brushing by his stubbled chin. When Natalie was content. . tucking her sister snug under the covers.” whispered Natalie. The squirrels scampered madly over the roof.” melted Samantha. full taste into him. Samantha coaxed her sister off to bed. “Can I see you tomorrow?” as his syllables slipped like silk from his mouth.” said Sam. She drifted easily into him. my Princess bedbug.” she reminded him. “Can I stay. parting her moist. He eased her from the curve of his shoulder. “We’ll see. and then lightly draped a blanket over her. His mellow voice rolled through her.

the television fuzz dribbled like a shoreline wave that had crested with foam. but never withdrew back into the sea. patting a soft shoulder buried in drowsy cream. and listen to the static. she peeked around the corner into her mother’s bedroom. Kate’s ribs barely rose under the crucifix of her crossed-arm rigor mortis. “Mmm. She clicked past the Indian chief test pattern.” whispered Sam. by the picture window. She would sink into the couch. Mouse quiet. between being given. and the things that were trapped inside of her.” mumbled Natalie between a yawn. Her room. . Turned down low. and greasy finger-printed supper glasses. Her father never warmed those sheets. After a birdbath splash over her face. on the North side. hauling the sheet over her head for another half hour of grey. which never completed their journey to the kitchen sink. It would be a few hours before life stirred from that grave. she slipped over to the fourteen inch black and white TV propped on top of the dented odd drawered bureau.14 Rod Stewart “I’ll wake you for cartoons. The Queen of Darkness. always plunged into black. and into a fresh T-shirt and a pair of skimpies. piled lopsidedly with magazines. and then taken away. to the static drone. It was like a moment held. except during a token family weekend in August. She turned into the pillow. Samantha slid off the foot of the bed.

A few tins of nails and spikes were dropped off to the side.” as he fired a saucer stone.THREE The wiry teenager strode confidently down to the sandbar’s edge. poking a finger into his belly button. skipping it a dozen circles and ten yards across the glassed water.” he chuckled.” “So. “With rocks?” “Yeah. That would be plenty. he thought. I’m going to nail some of that driftwood together into a big pile. Maybe the bigger ones will float more. “Watcha doin’ Mister?” chirped the freckled redhead splashing absently nearby. The last storm had littered the shore with several crushed pallets and a few cords of pulp wood from the local mill. So what’s the rope for?” “Well. you’re going to make an anchor?” “Yeah. and tossed the bundle of coarse netting at his feet. “See. That should be heavy enough. I figure a big bunch of them together…” “That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. The small ones float a little.K. What do you think?” “You’re crazy man!” “No look. I don’t want my boat to float away. as he uncoiled the bristly rope from his leather shoulders. “O. without much effort. A broad calloused hand shaded his cobalt eyes from the sizzling noon glare as he glanced back at the escarpment.” “Can I help with the wooden anchor when you’re done?” . heaving basket-size boulders onto the spread net.” he grinned. where the beach cobbles met the breeze rippled tide pools. “Making a boat.

. They pounded the corroded iron claws into stubs. A few of the older boys with jackknives carved their initials as a christening rite. and decorated the craft with crayon designs. mate. Everyone had a chance to tack lathes onto the deck. trailing away with his stick. The captain listened and calmed any pouts and tears from purpled thumbs or hurt feelings. I should have this tied in no time. as insurance to buoy the craft. after the pallet boards were pried loose. drawing a thick red heart. A few flat rocks were nailed onto starboard. with a big “S” inside. The raft crew set to work removing old rusty nails.” pouted Natalie. “You finish it. He smiled. His eyes bore into the back of her skull. Some of the kids had begged hammers from home. waiting for her to finish. The story about the floating rocks spread like wildfire. pushing away. It was agreed that the castaway barge belonged to everyone at Mitchell’s Beach. drawing a sand snake behind him down the spine of the beach.” as he picked it up. She went blank for a moment. watching. Their shouts rang loud over the ping of steel meeting steel. Captain Jake sauntered over the deck and hunched beside Natalie. or curled them back into the wood. Natalie decorated the raft among the crowd.” “Can’t we do it sooner?” as his temper kicked a sand plume. The crayon dropped from her trembling fingers onto the burning sand. “When is she going to sail?” pestered freckles. arrowing painfully into her thoughts.16 Rod Stewart “Yeah. She had finished the pointed tip. She was crouched in the sand along port side. “Sorry. and the pulp pontoons lined up according to plan. sure.” A buzz of kids swarmed around Jake like sand flies. It’s too heavy to push it that far to the water. Maybe tomorrow. “On the big tide. I didn’t mean to bother. There was a fuss when some of the girls tied on shells with ribbons. blew off the dust and handed it back to her.” “Ohhh!” he fussed. “Sorry.

The new moon would bring two of the highest tides that month. she admitted with resignation.” tested Natalie. Followed by an equal magnitude “N”.” “That’ll be great. “It’s fine. only to her ears. her stern voice mellowed by the cozy natural pine planked room. with hesitation.” “Can I go to the beach to cool down. I’ll see you tonight Jake. “Yeah. as the point of his fishing blade glinted into the “J”. instead? Just for an hour?” “At this time of night?” grumbled Kate. “I’ll tell Sam. lowering his blue eyes softly beneath hers.” reassured Jake. and the other about noon the following day.Love Me Knot 17 “Sure?” softened Jake. “I guess I got too much sun. “Yeah. She stiffened into wood. “Please…” . Come and watch. Sam would have to be there too.!” said Natalie. She won’t mind. poised to carve out the sore. “What’s the matter. “Mom. “I can…” sunk Jake. really. but she knew that Kate would not allow her to be alone at the beach late at night.K. Jake made sure that the rope was secure at both ends before packing up and leaving that afternoon. distracted from her sultry explicit novel.” said Jake. too. “No. as he boldly inscribed an eclipsing cross.” “There’s lotion in the cupboard. “No. I can’t sleep” cried Natalie at bedtime.” she weakly nodded. It would have been nice to share the secret launch with Jake. “I’m launching the raft tonight at eleven.” warmed Natalie. Then. “Listen. I hope you know that. one near midnight.” “You’re my true friend Nat. a dwarf thread “J” at the very bottom. It’s a secret.” he whispered.” she blurted. grabbing the hilt of his hand.” “O.” answered Kate. adding with a pinched heart. I should check with your mom.

. Except for the rare neighborhood bonfire. “Hi. The children were tuckered out from romping in the sandbox by the sea all day. that’s “Can we take the garbage too?” “O.18 all!” Rod Stewart “Alright. A splash of ocean salt would simmer the heat. Kleenex. Huddled downwind. and then slipped on a pullover. the beach was usually dead by eleven. One hour. To make the amber dance last longer. With no time to waste. The screen door clicked open and her mother echoed “One hour!” The cool night air was refreshing. “We can’t stay for long.” they both replied. the two hares hopped quickly after the flashlight beam that bounced off the pine. after pocketing a folder of matches. broken sticks and a few hefty bleached logs. warmly with expectation. Natalie didn’t need to wait for Samantha. She grabbed a windbreaker from the back of the kitchen chair. they set the pile alight. Folks had lived there for generations. “Hi. to the beach. But no mischief from either of you!” Everyone knew everyone at the Beach.” peeped Natalie.” rose his comfortable voice. The paper quickly flared into a fireball. side by side and warmed their hands. She had instantly changed into her two piece bathing suit. Samantha crisscrossed the flames with more tinder. Natalie pulled away her hood that rubbed like sandpaper against the back of her sunburned neck. away from the bustle of their normal urban lives. They sunk their feet into the sand. Take your sister with you. Their parents appreciated the quietness. “Mind if I?” asked Jake. It was one big family when they all arrived by midsummer.K. by the headland stone. Samantha stuffed newspapers. and down into the gully. cardboard packages and other combustibles into the large paper grocery bag. The dragon came to life with a crackle and a hiss. gaining familiar color from the grey shadows.

” “How’s that?” “They burn for a second. Near the ocean. making a spot for him near the “Can you grab a few more branches Natalie?” hinted Samantha. “Oh?” “They’re fireflies. Then flutter away lost into ash. but toward her heart with his eyes. When they are close. gesturing toward the raft with his hand.” “About?” “Them. 19 Samantha slid over. “Yes. Like us.” “That should be enough!” grunted Natalie. I believe that.” taking his arm around her waist. dusting the sand from off her bottom.” as he swam deeper into her eyes. “Sure. “Forever.” rose Samantha. piled up to her chin with dry brush. “Would you mind if Jake and I tried out the new raft. I’ll be back in a minute. to unload the heap from her sister’s arms.” “And nothing’s left. “Will you join me?” asked Jake.” “And which star are you?” “That one.” “We are souls. Above the horizon. Not so bright.” “Uh huh. “Thanks. Always.Love Me Knot fire. Only for a few minutes. Sis.” “Sometimes two stars make one light.” .” “Anything else? “Just thinking.” “Or maybe…” “Yeah?” “We are like the stars.” nodded Natalie. “Sunburn.” as Sam twirled her fingerstick through a blizzard of sparks. too.

Yes.” he sighed. His rolling biceps rapidly reeled in the line. to avoid a scolding.” added Jake.” “Someday. matching the song of her breast to his. his hands. As agreed. trying to brighten Natalie. Her hands. “About time you two showed up. Only with you. the trio devoured the toasted puffs together. feeling. They returned fifteen minutes early.” as another favor owed between sisters. I’ve brought a big bag of marshmallows to toast afterwards. “It’s time. not as man and woman.” “Yeah. The two of them scooted over the beach like a pair of jittery sandpipers. They swam the rest of the way to shore.” as he embraced her breathless.20 Rod Stewart “O. Looking. but as companions. . as twin stars married in the night. flowed tenderly over one another. slowly. Together. they shed down to their under clothes.” shrugged Natalie.” perked Natalie.. “Can’t we cut it?” “And be adrift. living as the souls above them. Not a word said. toweled one another dry between caresses of palm and eyes. “We had a big fire. She was curled completely. with our cousin stars. Paddling together. In knee deep water they pushed the craft out farther. comfortably into his sculptured form. becoming as close as closest friends could be. and piled the rest into a heap among the willowy sand grass. Promise. they tugged the rope to its limits offshore.” “Free.K. Nearby the raft had already gained momentum with the tide. “We won’t be long. and then gently. Samantha hugged Natalie with a deep “Thank you. as the beach rats squeaked through the back door.” echoed Kate from the bedroom. For a brief time they lay as one. Only being completely.

“But you love Jake more than me!” rang Natalie. I’m sorry. Natalie tugged away with a pout.” “I’m sorry. Mom!” apologized Samantha. “No.” threatened Kate. I will always love you the most. In turn. crying a whispered “Please.” trailed Samantha. “O. rolling over and wrenching the covers around herself. They lay in bed. rather than to risk a burn.” wilted Samantha’s watery gaze under Natalie’s frown. sand and salt. they gave Kate their goodnight pecks and squeezes then rounded the corner into the hallway.” as she lit a butterfly kiss upon her temple. Samantha took Natalie’s hand into hers. . as the wings of her moth heart slowly tore apart. biting her tongue. “I’m coming after those mice with my broom. I promise.Love Me Knot 21 “And a quick dip. turning her back. “No my dearest Natalie. “Don’t you love me anymore?” needled Natalie.” remarked Kate.K.” replied Natalie coldly. “You. Natalie conceded. too Natalie?” asked Kate. nodding toward her room. “Probably just as well. as Natalie was frozen inside her own thoughts. Samantha’s tender touch could hardly thaw the statue beside her.” added Samantha. and together they settled into their familiar nest. knowing that it was best to snuff out a flame with a fast pinch. Then she offered her open arms to her sister.” sulked Samantha. Natalie stared anger into the ceiling while Samantha bridged the frigid air between them with her hand as a warm waft over Natalie’s cheek. Samantha’s heart dropped to the floor with her shoulders. I changed my mind about swimming in the dark. “Sorry for keeping you up late Mom. “Of course I do! I will always love you Princess. we’ll be in bed in a flash. having dashed to the bathroom to rinse away the evening’s smoke.

” answered Natalie.” “I’m sorry. Nat.” . “I’m cold.” sniffed Sam. drawing her beloved near her heartbeat with a kiss upon her crown. my darling Princess. “Tomorrow will be our day. her last peep until morning. too.” mooned Sam. Just you and me. “My darling Princess.22 Rod Stewart “I’m really sorry.

His stilted march followed the grasshoppers past the cloaked barbecue. I’ll talk to your mother about it. with the other staff on vacation.” he qualified. than for appearances. wiping the mosquitoes off his brow. as the surgeon’s immaculate pink fingers automatically turned off the ignition. Allen breathed more easily. and grinding his molars. She has been working longer hours. She ketchup fingerprinted the kitchen sill. I thought so.” mumbled Samantha between two gulps of toast. if Kate was working.” remarked Tim coolly. as they flew over the lawn to hang off their father’s neck like two monkeys. noting the absence of the witch’s Corolla. Dr. “Yes. There were other places he was more welcome. Perhaps he could make a day of it. frog-mouthed full with a raw wiener.” informed Sam. which he had strapped as tight as a coffin . her embrace choked his windpipe.FOUR At half past eleven a beige Buick LeSabre emerged from a cough of dust. The girls tumbled over one another down the front steps. The air conditioning wheezed to a vacuum. “Maybe for the day. “She’s gone in to work an early shift. It glided without a jar over the potholes and mowed to a stop upon the weed-paved gravel driveway. “Can you stay?” begged Natalie. “He’s early. loosening his starched collar. “Daddy’s here!” gagged Natalie.

and another seventy-six past a handful of scattered . “Then how about ice cream for dessert?” he suggested. He glimpsed at the five dozen or so worldwide brands of empty rum. The living room fan wobbled oscillations of less stale air from one corner to another. “You gals already had lunch?” remarked Tim. for convenience. Allen critically scanned the quaint quarters for an instant. Somehow he would have to endure a week wallowing in this squalor. He swept a spot clean on the sofa with the back of his hand. piled laundry and dishes hazardously stacked by the sink. agreed with his expectations of teenage hygiene. “Let’s go!” Once they were on the Route 6 pavement. washed his hands scalding red for the third time. would have been a more palatable choice. Inside. Musty beach towels. crackling with ice. disturbing one or two crumbs. Dr. it was about nineteen telephone poles to the Sunset Villa retirement home. He would have postponed it indefinitely if it were not for the sake of his two daughters. for an Oland’s. “Thanks.24 Rod Stewart last August. the thick lime polyester curtains had closed against the oppressive heat. whiskey and scotch marching along the rafters. Any one of those. and called to the girls. They nodded yes. Samantha and Natalie primped themselves for public. noting the general lived-in disarray. After ten minutes his skin was crawling to get out of there. It was only dragged into the clearing from storage in the outhouse. noting the drip of marmalade at the corner of Samantha’s lips. in vain. full. and would likely remain idle for most of the summer. and offered a few discernable degrees of comfort. Samantha poured Tim a tall glass of fizzy ginger ale. while Tim rifled through the moldy produce to the rear of the fridge. He downed another glass of soda. before sitting down. as he sucked a mouthful slowly between his parched adder lips.” he smiled.

They parked off King Street.” requested Tim. Mundle had been a widow since Pugwash came into inception.” . When the trucks were steady ferrying cargo. They stood together drinking the air. continuing. ready to fill an order. Natalie. but Mundle’s was the spot for a special treat. two or three mammoth ships had their house-sized holds brimmed full with either salt or pulp. freshly mixed paint and the sharp bite of carefully honed metal. Did you have anything specific in mind?” “Yes. it seemed.” being married to the store for all of those years. it congested town traffic for an hour or more. The girls and I are going fishing this afternoon. brushing a manly leather hand briefly by her towering wavy auburn mane. Allen?” perked Mrs. and fished for the folded spectacles from her buxom depths. from the freezer.Love Me Knot 25 bungalows.. They could have bought a cheap tub of vanilla at the grocer’s. until they reached the bridge crossing the river at the harbor. She was still addressed as “Mrs. “It’s a beautiful day. Brilliant sunlight beamed through the storefront windows to a spacious interior that was wagon-trained around the perimeter with spotless glass cases of sparkling stainless steel trinkets. Every week. and walked down Water Street to Mundle’s Hardware. The matron’s cheery jingle rang with the bobbing brass door bells. welcoming their footsteps that creaked across the polished oak floor boards. Mundle. delaying passage across the green and rust flecked bridge. “What brings you into town Dr. maybe you can find something to cool down with. “Samantha. Mrs. Their curious eyes roamed along the clapboard walls completely painted by bright. Let’s start with the rods. She caught the thread of silver chain encircling her stout neck.handled weapons for every trade. Perhaps you can outfit us?” “Certainly. which hung thick with the sour scent of new rubber.

” she chirped.26 Rod Stewart “Sure. “And the tip?” “Yes. It hovered. shuffling through several boxes overhead. Allen. Let’s finish off with some lead.” as her hidden fingertips penciled slowly along his engorged male length.” as her cheeks blushed a shade darker than her peacock rouge. please help yourselves. “Do you think that they are big enough?” “Believe me. clearing his composure.” “I’ll take a pair. slowly rolling over a pair of billiard-size red and white bobbers in her sweaty palm. I wouldn’t want to handle anything bigger than that on the business end. “It looks rugged enough. ‘Go big or go home’. “And a couple of these?” she added. hooks and jigs. portable and indestructible?” “Let’s see. she flipped off the shoebox lid. curtained the tissue and top underneath the open box in her left hand. girls. “Give me twelve. Mundle. “Do you have something small.” as she gave a gentle twist to the trouser bulge. In one swift gesture.” she smiled.” “No bait?” . “to twitch at the slightest nibble. sailing over to the fishing sundries counter. sensitive enough.” as his attention favored her pearly laced mounds.” “With telescopic extension. quivering pendulous with her silken movement. She deftly snatched down the Fishomatic with her robust talons. “Five pound? Eight pound?” she asked. You know what they say. in balance at waist level snug between her and Dr.” pondered Mrs. as she dipped down into a drawer for a spool of monofilament. “That’s fine.” he coughed. nodding for Tim to follow her to the rainbow thicket of fiberglass rods. “Let’s fill your tackle box.

. Natalie sucking a banana slurpie. Now it was only a question of how to ferret the weasel out of hiding. After a curt acknowledgement at the front cash. A handful of your rubber wigglies will do for today. was trapped front and centre by the shotgun aim of his eyes.” as Mrs. as the truth bled from her lips. “Kate around?” The assistant pharmacist. They agreed to wait for him in the car. Allen proudly hobbled uptown to O’Brien’s at the corner of Water and Prince Albert. and placed it alongside the spring-loaded Fishomatics.” purred Tim. “When I need anything more. “Can you two manage these bags. Sam lazily licking a nutty chocolate drumstick and Tim with a pocket of stiff change. passing stock through the wicket. etc. Dr. peeling some twenties into her hand as she rang through the total. I’ll be back. or a last minute shift change. Mundle snapped the canary yellow case shut. “Kate’s on from three to eleven. Denise’ doe brown eyes flinched. repulsed at the thought of skewering filthy low life.Love Me Knot 27 “No thanks. if Tim should show up off-shift. He would choose the bait carefully.” “Thanks. after lollygagging their way down Water Street. “Looks like you’re all set. striding from the premises with one strike in his favor.” as he spun about face on his good heel. Kate had slipped Denise a few bills on paydays to cover for her absence. He giraffed his head over the glass partition. while I pop into see your mother?” asked Tim.” said Tim.” he insisted. The proprietor was at her elbow. They left Mundle’s satisfied. Denise. Usually she could fudge an excuse that Kate was on break. he slithered his way through the fluorescent maze of aisles to the dispensing counter dribbling with a cue of potato-faced seniors. “Tell her I’ve got the kids. a pony-tailed sassy blond.

” beamed Tim. Samantha’s face washed pale. in Tim’s rocket. too. anyhow. She opened the car door for Tim. to get her Beginners. Daddy. .” elaborated Sam. she planned on dumping the useless contents. When her father had finished fishing with them. Natalie knew that her father wouldn’t bother to go fishing with them again. “We miss you a lot. marveling at the compact tidy compartments. Tim would drive more sanely.28 Rod Stewart Natalie waved at Tim through the rear window. “Lots of make-believe. and we get a few things for our costume chest. and I was the beautiful Princess. and set course for the government wharf at Port Philip.” bluffed Tim who had played the liar’s game as well as she did. Kate had been pressuring her. “Mom takes us to Frenchy’s. as he approached the driver’s side. We’ll catch up with her tonight. Samantha’s radar would red light. “Mom’s fine. Five. That’s how it had always been. She had opened the tackle box. Hey Nat?” replied Sam. When the girls were with him. “What do your boyfriends think of that?” teased Tim. otherwise they would have been roasted alive. She’s sorry to miss our fishing trip. One big show fizzling out to nothing. They buckled up.” lit Natalie from the backseat. Samantha had cranked up the air conditioning full tilt. begging a “No!” from Natalie. of course!” twinkled Natalie with a chuckle. Sam delayed that forever. It would be perfect for her sea glass and shell collection. “What have you been doing for fun these days?” asked Tim. about ten minutes north of town. “Sam’s the best! She was a really scary ghost. “Nice to be with you today. and her lips quivered in the mirror. She was mortified of driving. and she would whine for her father to ease his lead foot. At five miles over the speed limit.

shooting out the door. Samantha was last. . “Hang on there young lady!” commanded Tim. Her hummingbird heartbeat had almost pushed her feet through the floor. The blast of hot air stunned her for a second. She was like a helpless raindrop falling through a void. chasing after her. “What’s this?” she puzzled. ready to make the first cast. Some of the red and green pompoms had frayed loose from the edges. before the others found out. Tim demonstrated the fine art of casting with Natalie’s rod. to adjust it for Natalie. Tim had brought along the chintzy sombreros they had won at the fair last summer. They tied them on snug. Samantha reached underneath the front passenger seat. and onto the rattling wash board of wharf timbres. Everything poured by. as she rolled her eyes and snaked her tongue. as Samantha got out of the car. Whose was it? Her stomach gnawed itself into knots around the maybes.Love Me Knot 29 “Ewww! Boys! You must be kidding Daddy!” squirmed Natalie. discovering a thin scallop case tightly wedged between the carpet and the seat frame. The other two waved from the corner of the wharf. Later. as she ejected from her seat. With her death grip. Her mother never used that brand. the hats continued to be their sentimental favorites among the beach wear. “Yipee!” shouted Natalie. The autumn squirrels had chewed holes in the peaks. Riding in the front seat was like being swallowed by the oncoming view. promptly hooking the jig into a piling below. She would huddle herself in the backseat when they returned home. coasting the Buick down the last hill. her fingernails had cut into the leather door handle. Samantha made it vanish instantly into her pocket. “We’re there!” exclaimed Tim. while she was frozen in space. Despite the abuse and disintegration. against the fresh breeze stirring white caps offshore.

The whale fought fiercely. exposing the pungent low tide mud and slimy seaweed. “I’m going to be sick Daddy!” wobbled Natalie. as she doubled over the edge. spewing with a violent spasm. They all laughed as she reeled in a small bony perch. Natalie and Samantha crowded over their victim. Samantha strapped herself immobile in front.30 Rod Stewart He cursed under his breath. leaving Samantha to pack away the gear. They cheered her on. She claimed heat exhaustion. Tim swiftly donned surgical gloves from the kit.” comforted Tim. by simply lowering the line. They baked on the wharf for another hour. mesmerized by the boiling whirl of clashing currents. with eyelids welded shut. “We’ll have you home in a flash. Samantha had better luck. The lion passed as quickly as it came. and sunk herself deep into the headrest. broke the hook from its gurgling mouth with the needle nose pliers. and then set it free over the side. until the hook bit firmly. as she tugged and played. and a stampede of roaring white riptides tore the river’s mouth open. . Samantha gathered some of the glittery sequin scales shed from perch. A trio of gulls appeared from nowhere. until it admitted defeat and splashed wildly into the air. honey. and her line whistled taut. arcing the rod. After a few minutes the float danced frantic. and dove at the fresh flotsam. Tim scooped his daughter up in his arms. She gently wrapped them in tissue. the ocean drained away. as the make-up compact pressed a welt into her thigh. Their flavors churned with the raw wieners and ice cream. into the whirpooling black water fifteen feet below. and attached a new leader. Suddenly. broke the line. Her mind raced in every direction. and placed them in a bottom compartment of the tackle box. as he gently laid her in the backseat with an old blanket rolled into a pillow. gasping with a diamond speckled flick onto the wharf. plop.

hi Tim. uncrossing his restless feet scissored across the ottoman.” “You want to talk it over with Kate?” “No that’s fine.” “Tomorrow?” “Jake can pick them up at two-thirty. but otherwise of no importance. Tim. while they’re out fishing.” “I see. “Hello!” he steamed. She’s a sweetie. Jake must be about eighteen.” “Thanks. then one short.” mumbled Tim. Don’t suppose Kate is around?” “She’s on ‘till eleven. thanks. They were friends over the years. She could have her harmless summer fling. during vacations. She’s alright now. She was sick at the wharf today. since anyone’s ears might be glued to the conversation. Kate and you should drop by. as he firmly clicked the receiver dead. This is Dot. . Samantha was sixteen. I’ll tell the kids.” concluded Tim. Samantha wanted to go fishing with Russ and Jake.” “And Natalie?” “She can stay with me. “Got it. I didn’t mean to shout.FIVE Two long rings. How are you and Russell?” “Good.” “You have a good night Dot. The phone trilled once more before he yanked the receiver off the hook. He never trusted the local party line. The Nelson’s were simple village folk.” “Sorry Dot.” “That’s a good idea. “Oh.

talking off the wall to hide the fondness swelling in her cheeks.” said Tim. Tonight she only pecked away at her supper. which meant late night trips to quench her thirst. Once she was back in school. Dad!” finished Samantha. and then gave them both hugs. I just don’t want you to get hurt.” stated Tim. It was one of those rare times when Tim sat down with his family.” cooled Samantha. I’ll tuck you two in. “Dot. then I’ll be on my way. Tim read another bedtime story for Natalie. Waiting for Kate would only bitter the day’s memories. “We’re friends.32 Rod Stewart reasoned Tim. Said you’re going fishing?” leveled Tim ready to pounce on Samantha’s next breath. “So. “No. “Jake will be here at 2:30 a. shrugging his shoulders. We’ve been buddies since our days in diapers. “Thanks. Samantha would forget all about him.” replied Tim. He had forgotten how their giddy chatter had made him feel human. Dad. for the kids.” firmed Sam. reining in her attention. that’s all. “Jake will be by at two-thirty to pick up you and Natalie. in September. if I could go with them sometime. you and Jake are close?” pulled Tim.m. You know that. Natalie drowned everything in plum sauce. knowing that Kate . rubbing the sleep from her eyes. anxious to avoid igniting an argument with Kate. He scribbled. I’ve got surgery scheduled tomorrow morning. They went crazy over Chinese take-out when Tim was around. He had a wonderful day with his two children. “Who was that?” staggered Samantha. “You staying the night?” yawned Sam. She was not ready to play her full hand about Jake. “Jake’s a good kid. Samantha always doused her rice black with soy sauce. Her plate looked like a murder scene. turning toward the kitchen. “I asked the Nelsons last week.” He taped it to the medicine cabinet.

drawing Samantha’s arm tighter around her chest. as if he had never been there. when the rumble of Ford headlights winked out in the driveway. and to confirm the plans. her stomach mumbled in agreement. on her sister’s . and took a few tranquilizers to numb her thoughts.Love Me Knot 33 would eat her usual cocktail of drugs before passing out for the night. thinking about it. and dissolved invisible into the night. “I’m really glad we have each other.” spoke Jake. Samantha turned back the covers for her companion. Dot had agreed to look after the kids for most of the day. “Better roll up the windows tight. “Sorry about the smell. It was well past midnight when Kate crawled home. She was pleased that the only sign of Tim was the smell of greasy fried rice. She wrinkled her bunny nose at the stench humming from behind the cab. She was sorry to have missed her call.” sighed Samantha. and later. They rolled like a bubble on the wind. “Yes.” pleaded Natalie. It was considerate for Dot to phone. as the lone vehicle followed the black ribbon through the hazy pre dawn gray. half asleep. wrapping her arms around him as soon as he stepped onto the veranda.” answered Natalie. He opened the passenger door for Natalie as she climbed onto the front seat. They shared a long soft kiss. She choked back the tears. Natalie had just finished slurping the last mouthful of milk from her cereal bowl.” exclaimed Samantha. Natalie was cushioned.” replied Jake. “Jake’s here. before collecting Natalie and their packed lunches. Tim. He couldn’t remember the last time that he signed a note “Love. too. sis.” He gathered his few things together. “Salted herring?” asked Sam. “Me. the note. as Natalie slipped into her welcome embrace. we’ll load that onboard this morning. trying to stifle her shout into a whisper. She slid toward the door in sock feet. That would give Kate plenty of time to take care of business in Amherst.

” replied Sam. A couple of other pick-ups were parked in front of theirs. The men loaded some gear into the back of the truck. and gently laid her on his bed. my little one. They stopped at the last house along the narrowing spruce lane. from the doorway as Jake bowed. with tender admiration. then carried her over the Nelson threshold. the fishermen moved like clockwork. Her hips rolled pleasantly over his tensed thighs as they jiggled down the lane.” smiled Dot. She followed Jake and Russ. Only the eastern view toward the satin ocean was cleared of the coniferous wind break. Another half hour and they landed at the Pugwash Fisherman’s wharf. permeating the whole room. lighting a moist peck on Dot’s cheek. Take care of our Natalie. The truck lights dimmed on Russ’ barn door silhouette puffing a curl of smoke on the porch. “I will. exchanging hugs with Samantha. Dot waved through the kitchen curtains. Sam had to sit on Jake’s lap. as his tepid breath licked past her neck. Nearby. lowering the gear and bait onto the deck. Samantha and Dot watched him. dear.34 Rod Stewart shoulder. He cradled the sleeping princess in his arms. who carried the crate of herring to the winch. and blushed with an aroused womanly hunger. Samantha reached over with a smile. They all slipped quietly outside. to run her fingertips through Jake’s curly hair. “Shhh!” whispered Jake to the other human shadows standing by. kissing Natalie’s forehead. Without a word. Patsy Cline warbled over the crackling radio static until they swung off the highway and down the graded gravel road to the Nelson’s. “You have a good time. Two other boats nearby came alive with an . being silvered by funnels of halogen mist.” His scent mingled with the briny waft drifting under the curtains. She felt his male oar rise along her plum derriere. and enticed her into a deeper dream. Since Russ’ broad shoulders spanned halfway across the cab. Samantha zipped her jacket against the chilling dampness seeping through her skin. “Sleep well.

” “He must depend upon you a lot. Jake snatched her in his arms. holding up the rubber pants with twice the girth of Sam’s toothpick frame.” joked Jake from arms length mocking her with a wavy eyebrow. with a soft glaze and weighted sigh. “Be careful. When her sneakers met the deck. it’s slippery. enveloping her with the trembling of his . and they’ll be fine. you two. A web of lines was loosened. with plenty of swell to confuse land-steady legs. as she inched lower toward him.” as a silent voice called him.” “It’s been giving him lots of trouble. Inside the cabin.” assured Sam. on a northeast course toward a spatter of coastal shoals. “It’s a spare set.” reassured Jake. Jake ducked around the corner. and then went about the routine of storing lines. my life has been cut from the cloth. “Your Dad seems worse this year. “Not the latest mermaid fashion. “Everything alright?” asked Sam. “Yes. “A little nip and tuck. checking the sump. Sam helped Jake unpack some allweather clothing.” “What do you want Jake.” interrupted Russ with a friendly grunt. pouring his mouth into hers. Arthritis setting in. rolling up the cuffs to her knees and gathering in the waist with a twist of line.” said Jake. checking with Dad. “Catch of the day!” “O.K. ready to haul a few hundred pots. “Excuse me. The smoky sea had a disturbed choppy mood.” “Yeah. and getting everything in order. Dawn woke with a somber grey among thickening drizzle. Jake squeezed Sam lightly. descending the steel rungs stapled down the wharf into the lapping pitch black.Love Me Knot 35 incandescent cabin glow and a diesel rumble. He kept close to Samantha. Russ charted out of the harbor mouth.” cautioned Jake. really?” He answered with a passionate embrace. With his better arm.

bouncing with a Herculean surge toward Sam. Tenderly he plucked out the annoyance. motor to another spot.” shook Sam.36 Rod Stewart soul. smoothly handling traps. “Are you O. hoping for better luck tomorrow. Jake removed her glove. The released line zinged by them. Sam stepped in. If the booty was poor. The showers soon turned into sheets of rain as the morning brooded darker toward noon. as he looked back with pride at his two sea mates.?” worried Jake. A grin cracked across Russ’ swarthy face. She clenched her left wrist.K. Sam stood aside as Jake gaffed aboard the orange float in one lightening stroke. “Yeah. In the cabin. spiraling yellow propylene in coils onto the deck. and wrapped a few . and splash them overboard.” roared Russ over the diesel grumble. as the engine halted in neutral. He wound the lead around the pneumatic head. crusty bait. He groaned. Sam slipped during a rogue pitch astern. Suddenly. who emptied the catch. then hoisted aboard the first trap. they would stack the trap line aft. “Let’s have a look. pinning her to the gunwale. He pushed it astern to Russ. He managed a sliver of space. escorting her to the bow. “Hard aft!” hollered Jake. “Buoy starboard. She was a natural.” insisted Jake. After watching them pull half a dozen lines. A nasty splinter had punctured her palm. The rope between two pots snapped tight. as they struggled to finish the last few trawls. tipping the deck beneath their swaggering balance. with a boiling froth into the depths. trying to catch her breath. hurtling the last trap wildly through the air in a blur. enough for Sam to shimmy free. banded the lobsters and baited the trap. Russ made sure that everyone was alright. dabbed a sting of disinfectant. The southwest breeze festered into a gale. and then set for home. She fell weak and full into him. flapping tails and clicking claws. cutting like wire across her twig waist. in a series of five. flexing all of his strength to pull a few inches of slack.

“That’s O. They dressed themselves and emerged into the pelting rain to help Russ crate the lobsters. between her breasts. “Even with all that.” answered Sam. as his hand warmed a firm petit breast and their tongues melted as soft waves into one another. cable-stitched sweaters.” salivated Jake. He stood behind her. thoroughly soaking her pullover and top. Her pullover was sopping wet. His fingertips fumbled. half frozen.” said Russ. Jake. and . “Please. if only for a few heartbeats. And the echo of other harbor engines had joined theirs. Her top fluttered to the deck. it’s been a good haul. The bitter ocean had poured down her face and neck. From a cubby hole inside the prow he pulled out a knot of musty.” trembled Sam. raising his touch to the final seal.K. as she turned her lips into his. You take care of the lady. “I’m cold. The bra fell away. “Sure.” remarked Russ. He picked up a sweater. for a measure of decency. But the hungry gulls were crying overhead. She cupped herself. “Maybe you want to do the buttons yourself.” chided Jake. with eyes closed. He went topside to tell Russ that he would be a few minutes. to free the clasps on her bra. when he unbuttoned the all-weather jacket.Love Me Knot 37 rounds of gauze around her hand. counting the dollar value from a full tub of markets. son.” trembled Jake. Her milky skin quivered. and gently pulled it down over her. Jake’s fingers were as nervous as they were numb. as he undid her blouse. “Can you give me a hand?” swooned Sam. pressing her round femininity upon his thundering chest. But at least it will keep you warm. They wanted more. “You might have to hold your breath until we get back. as he peeled it over her head. and I’ll get us back to port. as he slipped the straps off her shoulders.

Dot clicked on the darkness. Her child body missed Sam’s familiar contours. the leaf thinness that twinned perfectly with hers over the years. This was one day she always wanted written on her flesh. Her footsteps pattered toward the partially open door. “When can we fish again?” determined Sam. A thigh-thick arm drew Natalie deep into her buxom loaves. cuddled at her side while . A swish through the icy saltwater washed away the blood spot on her palm. “Of course. The best he’s felt in years.” smiled Dot. Perhaps that would somehow lift the lead anchor that tore through his chest. She got up. dear. To see Jake happy made him happy. It was the chance to mend a nine-year old wound. “I can’t sleep. They tied up the boat. worn with lumps and hollows. and followed the amber glow painted across the floor. But nothing about this to the women. It might scar. for Natalie. in a strange bed tossed and turned Natalie awake. Natalie savored every rare motherly night hug that she ever had. as Natalie finally drifted into a dream. beside the wharf. removing the bandage and rolling it into a ball inside of her pocket. and in her heart. Maybe. The three drowned rats finished what had to be done. sweaty dumpling.” grumbled Russ. to have a child again within the womb of her night. then snuggled into Dot like a spoon swallowed by a fleshy. She settled into the bed. nothing at all. Can I come in?” squeaked Natalie. “Soon. and found Dot lost among the yellowed pages of a coverless novel.38 Rod Stewart another one three-quarters to the brim with tinkers. Natalie pushed the crack wider. It was clear that the girl lit his son’s heart. A morning alone. while sausage fingers stroked as plump clouds through her hair. It brought back memories when Samantha was eight years old.” concurred Sam. glancing at her hand. “Nothing. and then piled into the Ford. She puffed up the warm sunken pillow and smoothed a nest among the covers next to her rotund girth. thirsty for that pot of black coffee only twenty minutes away. and crates. Dot would give anything.

Natalie. with her babies having grown into young ladies. to start their lives over. There were times. when Kate flew to Toronto to visit her sister Peggy. The walls and ceiling had to be insulated. There were brutal expenses for renovating the summer bungalow. Those circumstances occurred seldom. and perhaps send Natalie out to gather a bouquet of clover and daises. In a motherly way. Natalie quickly came to the conclusion. she could not pretend nearly as well as Samantha.Love Me Knot 39 Russ helped to winterize Kate’s cottage. Kate and Sam moved from Halifax to Pugwash. such as last Spring. when a year had passed. copper plumbing installed. while Russ and Kate provided for them. The deed to the family cottage was in Kate’s name. Her heart wanted to hold onto them forever. Tim and Kate separated over irreconcilable differences. was born before the cottage was finished. Dot tried to push those thoughts away now. baseboard heaters added. about losing his favorite playmate. Snowdrifts had closed the lane for weeks. she adopted Samantha. until Kate could manage on her own. and the Allens moved out. Shortly after the accident. “Can we make some cookies Auntie Dot?” “Sure. and windows replaced. They played. What kind would you like?” . as she made breakfast for the Princess. while Kate slaved for hours at O’Brien’s to pay for materials. that although Dot was very kind. Their first winter was almost unbearable with the Arctic cold bearing down upon them. The tears poured hard and long. It was different now. Russ and Dot generously opened their home to the Allens. that Dot was blessed with the Allen giggles again. Jake stewed for weeks. Dot loved filling their home with a child’s laughter. ate and slept together. the last communion between Tim and Kate. Later. Russ offered his carpentry services free. Only Dot knew why Kate had gone to Amherst today. and it worried her to no end what might be in store for the two little chicks that she loved. she would busy herself around the house. honey. and she relished every single minute with Sam and Natalie.

even when they are broken. It got broken before you were born. “Better taste the batter. They cooled on wire racks while Dot and Natalie had a tea break. but why? “Oh. Natalie vaguely remembered Sam and her giving Aunt Dot a new jar for Christmas years ago. Dot soldiered the ingredients across the counter.” embraced Dot. Natalie shoveled a heaping spoonful into her greedy mouth. I’m sure we can fit them all in. “Thanks. even when they can’t be fixed right again. “It’s O.” said Dot.K. The waft of baked molasses began to fill the kitchen as Dot made a few sleeves of colored icing. to make sure our people will be sweet enough. Old things have lots of cracks and wrinkles. and missing many of the original embossed rose petals. If there are any leftovers…” “That jar must be very old. She wiped away a few tears from her cream puffed cheeks. than a canister. She still favored this one.” she grinned.” “It’s been in the family a long time.” shook Dot. Soon the gingerbread folk were ready from the oven. It could be messy.40 icing!” Rod Stewart “Some yummy people ones. A real big mess!” chuckled Natalie.” “O.” “And you put it together.. It looked more like an art piece of confused random tiles. “Do you think that cookie jar will hold them all?” asked Natalie. pointing at the gallon size crock. And kept it?” “Some things you love too much.K. “Tastes good to me. hugging Dot half way around her polka dot apron. . splash stained recipe book. barely held together by glue.” soothed Natalie. smacking her lips with satisfaction. with lots of pretty “I will need lots of help. She measured while Natalie stirred. and then checked them twice with the dog-eared. dear.

Love Me Knot 41 They tidied up their gingerbread population. percolating a fresh pot of coffee for the fisher folk who would be home soon. . and made a light lunch.

42 Rod Stewart .

A gardener prodding in prayer among pansied plots looked up with a smile. like a fly being squished beneath a tissue. She pulled into the freshly paved driveway ten minutes early for the life-altering appointment. minus the double breasted jacket. “Thanks for making the time. “How are your parents?” . yet. a stooped. yet sorrowful greeting. She tried to push against her circumstances. Towering cedars cornered the three storey Victorian home looming before her. adding. Andrew.SIX The drive to Amherst seemed to wind forever through monotonous conifer and nameless townships. She didn’t glean any movement beyond the ruffled lace curtains. “Always my pleasure. every previous occasion wrote an indelible mark on her family. Their eyes met with a familiar. The porch railing supported his frail skeleton that was loosely draped with a three-piece suit. The oppressive featureless sky pressed low and hard upon her consciousness. Directly. as Kate turned into a choked artery of commerce among sleepy pastel shingles and gardenia window boxes. She made the required turns through the backstreet grid without a blink of thought. Her knuckles froze bone white on the steering wheel. whose heels nailed with pointed determination along the slate flagstone pathway. balding elderly figure shuffled through the front door. Kate had seldom been there. He waited for Kate. Keyes.” said Kate. her dry throat scratching for words. She would have liked her grave to be as beautiful.” replied Mr. The purgatorial fogged Tantramar marsh haunted the horizon. and waved his trowel at Kate.

yet they live separately and independently of each other. They stepped into history inside. The dim morning light coaxed a warm patina from the mahogany desk between them. The pending file had been drawn and tidily set aside at the corner of the judgment mount.” spoke Andrew.” “Unfortunate. she’s hanging on by a thread at the Villa.” . His wrist joints crackled with fire. “And Mom. when the spouses are still married. but true.” reminded Kate. Around them. before we sign. when his knobby knuckled hand settled upon her shoulder. faded Oriental wallpaper ran through a maze of rooms and closets.” tensed Kate. They both sunk into armchaired leather on opposite sides of a memo plastered green blotter.” paused Andrew. You are good people. Like you. You were wrapped in your mother’s arms in a blanket. sooner or later.44 Rod Stewart “Dad is busy as ever with contracts on the West coast. They were financing their new home.” conceded Andrew. Kate. “I want to go over this with you one last time. Andrew. well. never knowing when to close shop. “And in ’52 you did their divorce. “I am sorry that it didn’t work out. Kate inhaled the stagnant air lingering from another century “In ’42 I met your parents. but much less so from their brows furrowed with concern.” sighed the solicitor.” “We go back a long ways. “Under law.” softened Kate. penetrating with authority through his slipping bifocals.” “I guess we all run out of that. stiffly adjusting his gait through the entrance into the study. We get a few lines from him at Christmas. He’s mainly consulting now. “Alright. Mute grim ancestors imprisoned within gilded ornate frames hung stoically everywhere. Perhaps a little more time. with legal treatises covering every square inch of wall space. Burgundy hallway mats and stair runners were thinned by the thousands of patrons having passed through over the decades.

“Yes. Dorothy Nelson understands the gravity of this issue?” “We have discussed it privately. “And Mrs. dissolving into the drizzle. squeezing her hand. “Here are the signed forms you asked for. “Yes.” sobbed Kate. here. “I understand Kate.” as he signed the documents. and indicated likewise for her.” finished Andrew. They concluded their affair promptly. and then walked down the hallway together arm in arm.” “Only Dot and I know. “And the children have been under the care of a sole parent.” comforted Andrew.” “The Nelsons have been a godsend to you.” continued Andrew with hesitation. You are a wonderful mother. the child rearing parent may appoint an independent guardian in his or her will.” acknowledged Kate. “Then.” blurted Kate.” insisted Kate grinding her jaw.” “He won’t change?” “No.” “Does she have any reservations about being responsible for Samantha and Natalie?” “None whatsoever. I want a stable family for Sam and Natalie if anything happens to me. “Please take care of yourself.” unfolding the documents concealed within her purse. His work and his women come first. wiping a drooling syllable away with a jaundice rumpled handkerchief. and then nudging the tissue box toward her. She will be the mother I never was. “I don’t want Tim ruining their lives. I have to.” “I have to see this through Andrew.” repeated Kate. Kate. “I assume you have not told him.” “I have to Andrew. They always have.” she trailed. in the event of death. In a difficult situation. Kate. .Love Me Knot 45 coughed Andrew. “Here.

Kate could always call ahead. The stabbing inside her cranium became more frequent during recent weeks. Entrance for female physicians was nearly impossible. The throbbing between her temples was always worse in the morning. She had topped her high school class and continued to excel in college. She convinced herself that was unnecessary. Another day and a different road would inevitably detour its way past. as she found herself drifting across the center line. The tenacious. or had a whim for. She would request an increase in the dosage of her painkillers. lovers and thieves of petty opportunity had called upon her. For an hour Kate fell dead into her past. She hoped to better the well being of others. Friends. leaving her nothing. her mother’s health gradually failed. he desired. She spun the air conditioning knob on full and cranked some pop tunes. with only days of shore leave each year. with only a few cement plugs remaining. Her husband was perpetually away on naval service for months. She stopped. like old teeth rupturing through sunken gums. a gray abscess swelling along the curve of nowhere. although her thoughts could not. The seaside view must have been a popular pause in its youth. Through her teenage years.46 Rod Stewart The heavens opened wide upon her windshield. brilliant Dr. The Northumberland fog had billowed through her skull. She had plenty of time to drive home. and heart. She would turn off at the nearest gas bar and double up on the caffeine. so Kate enrolled in a pharmacist program. of raising a family single handedly. but a broken empty place crumbling over the edge. Perhaps it was from exhaustion. before Dot returned the kids. as her head echoed with thunder. Her intelligence and smartly tailored figure caught the attention of a dashing young intern at Dalhousie University. The anonymous roadside stop had long since been torn down to its foundation. Allen could capture any prestigious position. It was ten o’clock. alone in a forgotten parking lot. He quickly established himself with the reputation as the . even if it was too late for her mother.

whether the game of events would still have happened. She lived in a pretty glass house. and build a case of circumstantial evidence against Kate as an alcoholic. With the influence he held. Kate fought with Tim. even at her own peril! Sam and Natalie would know real love. He reigned as the tom cat . but hollow and shadowed on the inside. it was obvious their relationship was disintegrating. She would lose her children and die destitute. She had seen his anger crush colleagues on his ascent up the social ladder. even if she had chosen a better man. and distance herself quietly away from the traitor. with resolve. It was a chain reaction of destiny. Kate’s forehead collapsed upon the steering wheel. and rarely spoke about one another. The inevitable separation was the most reasonable compromise. as the power and wealth from his vocation consumed him. The gossip about town. of Tim having other female company likely held some truth. His new family rapidly dimmed to an after thought. Then the days became hours. the broken back of failure. Drained. where she had not. She let the final sweet taste soak deep into her tongue. he could call a few high profile favors. Tim could keep most of his possessions and honor intact. in the equation of null and void. They were seldom seen together in public. warmed by the sun. as from one generation to the next. Kate had often considered filing for divorce. To anyone.Love Me Knot 47 foremost cardiologist in the province. She was becoming her mother. Kate would bide her time. Tim sacrificed days away from work to be with Kate and Sam. She accidentally set off the horn. with tears streaming from her bloodshot zombie eyes. The accident had brought issues to a climax. drug addict and unsupportive parent. Kate wondered. No messy complicated divorce. the last trace of comfort in the cup between her hands. Maybe she was meant to fall. And finally he was only a voice on the line between surgical commitments. electrocuting her senses awake. That was her hope. to save their family. She would break the circle of defeat. She knew that Tim could easily ruin her.

how someone that she loved had become a criminal to her heart. She glanced at her lying wrist watch. More importantly. for herself. maybe not physically. confusion. It was a tragedy. very ill indeed. If Tim had access to her medical records. but certainly through medical misinformation. Kate wanted the utmost confidentiality. Another internal specialist at the Amherst Hospital was recommended. straightened her pride. However. After numerous laboratory tests. among suspect maladies. That word cut her to the core. and for her children. Yes. she was afraid that Tim might harm her. Kate’s repeated migraines during the past year were killing her faster than the mind bending medications she was taking to ease the pain. He could not be trusted under any circumstances. which provided care for cancer patients. memory loss and persistent headaches could be signs of stroke. since the procedure last March. All of the journals and medical manuals she could get her hands on distilled to the same answer. He had the option to visit his children. Her recurring symptoms of dizziness. To provide a conclusive answer. Kate’s illness was still not completely diagnosed to their satisfaction. It had grown completely back. Dr. On the unlikely chance of her being admitted to the hospital. and tried to identify the woman in the rear view mirror. How could a mother tell her children that she was dying? She would admit that she was very sick. She could not bear to confide about possible brain cancer with Sam and Natalie. and that she would have to . Kate could begin to live. Her fingers combed smoothly through her silver streaked caramel hair. Scott from the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital would have suggested an appointment with a neurologist through the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. Normally. Kate would have to spend a week in Toronto at the Princess Margaret Hospital. perhaps he would use the information against her. and no possible interference or involvement from her estranged spouse. whenever he felt a mere prick of conscience.48 Rod Stewart around town as he pleased.

“It will grow back soon enough.” suggested Kate. the wires are very sensitive. not wanting to say what must be said. feeling and crawling all over her mother’s naked scalp. They both knew the obvious without saying.! And afterwards. “You mean like a grasshopper on my knee? The way it sits there. Words dripped as slow scalding tears. drawing a breath from her heart. It would be about the same as postage stamps dangling with threads being stuck all over you. “O.” pouted Natalie. She added. trying to feel when I might move?” reasoned Natalie. at the Princess Margaret. and she wasn’t far wrong.” smiled Kate. like thread worms in a grave. and hopefully make Mommy well again..K. It should not take long. Natalie thought that it might be like walking into a spider web in the woods. wishing like Natalie that this was only just a pretend game.” .. Samantha had seen her mother age and wither more than ever during the past nine months. Facts and possibilities wound tight like barb wire around inside them. “It’s for. The whispered evening conversation with Samantha beforehand weighed more heavily. “I’m very sick Samantha. can we keep it in our makebelieve chest?” asked Natalie. dear. “They will have to shave off all of my hair.” paused Kate. “Well. “But why Mommy?” protested Natalie.” “How bad is it Mom?” “The tests they will do in Toronto. They would help her to feel better. “Of course. Maybe you and Samantha can help me pick out some pretend hair.” reassured Kate.Love Me Knot 49 make a trip to see some special doctors in Toronto.” replied Kate. and they have to feel what is going on under my skin. She imagined these insect wires. Kate explained that they would hook up machines to her head. “I will miss your hair.” sunk Kate. “Will it hurt?” “Not a bit.

Kate remembered few things clearly these days.." breathed Kate. not wanting to happen what must. Kate took severe precautions. You know that. Kate. Scott immediately called Kate into his office. Only you and I know. his palms folding tenderly over hers.maybe months. “I have talked to Dot. She will be there for us. dear. Her paleness dissolved into the blank white walls with sterile expectation. "I have some bad news." he melted. You name it.all along. "There are treatment options." "The records are held confidential by law. our last summer to be a happy one for her....K Samantha. I need that time.. Scott. In April. "Weeks." lowered Dr.cancer. She knows I might become too sick to look after you and Natalie by myself. “Please don’t tell Natalie. the Toronto test results were sent to the Pugwash Memorial Hospital. for us. O. "I need you to keep this file very confidential." "If Tim finds out. "I thought it was.” They fell sobbing onto each other’s shoulders. It will be our secret until the end of the summer.50 Rod Stewart “Yes. honey?” They held each other together. but those pivotal conversations seared with burning clarity.. that I am too sick to take care of . Dr." "Can you do something for me Ben?" "Sure. lifting the hefty file onto his lap. to lean softly by hers. So many secrets. It seemed as if she could not live without them." trickled Kate. Scott.. He wheeled his armchair around to the other side of the desk.. "You and I both know. I want this summer. in a torrent of tears.. as her quivering fingertips closed the folder.” Kate smothered Samantha to her chest. Thank God!” “Dot knows that you might have…” “No." offered Dr. Kate.

Ben. . I will have to release the file to them. Kate wiped away those conversations with the mascara stains writing defeat down her overcast cheeks. Kate. spin in reverse. as they stood together. "Alright. If something happens." "He might take Samantha and Natalie away from you?" "I know Tim." agreed Ben." pleaded Kate. embracing her shoulder tightly into his. That is all she ever did. he'll pry for information any way he can. and my children. Just the summer.Love Me Knot 51 myself. Kate swung around onto the Route 6 eastbound for Pugwash. God forbid. desperately grasping his wrist and his pooling butterscotch eyes. with no tomorrows. She turned the ignition and pulled the shift into reverse." "All I want is two months. I will lock the test results away in my desk." "I understand Kate. and the authorities ask questions.

52 Rod Stewart .

"Let me give you a hand." rising her wet hungry mouth to his. Her soul gazed through his summersky blues. Jake. closing hot and full upon hers. She clamped tightly onto the rest of the cookies. Natalie sprinted through the cats and dogs. My heart belongs to you. "I love you. Natalie's paw rapped soundly on the aluminum frame. dribbling a gingerbread leg from the corner of her mouth." sparkled Jake. "Promise that you will love me forever Jake." beamed Samantha. "I'd love to.SEVEN Shortly after two o'clock the Nelson truck drove into the Allen driveway. rounding the words into slow kisses. "Hey. The other two dawdled behind on the porch. Sam passed one of the two trough-sized tupperware containers." buttered Sam. sometime soon. promise me. "I hope we can do it again. "Yes." vowed Jake. you two!" . as they folded deeply into one another. Jake. held hostage in the tin squirreled beneath her coat. immersed in passion. The rain poured rivers over their faces. Samantha. "I had a great time." begged Samantha." said Jake. slamming the screen door shut behind her. "I adore you Samantha. My forever love. while her soaking sweatered palms held his sea leathered face." answered his lips. "Me too!" chirped Natalie.

" summarized Samantha. gingerly sitting on the bed corner." slurred Kate. You and Natalie have a good day?" mumbled Kate. Sam and Natalie. otherwise there would have been a navigable clearing to the fridge and bathroom. through the living room. The sister prisoners. . A tide of complete mayhem swept from the kitchen. "Nothing thanks. They were held hostage by the impassable road. Jake threaded through the weave of muddy trenches. Called O'Brien's and cancelled my night shift. of course. and beyond. one over the other. not wasting what would be forgotten within the hour by her mother's stupor. Kate must be very ill. They did an about face in the doorway. waved goodbye. The ditches. "What can I get you?" expecting a request from the bathroom pharmacy. as she rolled into view from the rank perspiring shadows. I have taken most of your day already. with their mother. It would be another evening of serving sentence at home. dripping lakes onto the lumpy kitchen linoleum. as they withdrew. breaking the seal of their lips into the cold wet air. had almost swallowed him several times. "Hi Mom. The patter of rain quickly drowned the Ford's grumble. "Can you come in? For a few minutes?" "Maybe another time. "You be good Natalie." "Can you call me later then?" "Yes. "Yeah. now parallel streams.54 Rod Stewart Their pulses ached. "Hi. dear. It was three days of random human activity. before saying. suffocating into her pillow." she whispered. and barefooted her way to Kate's room. Sam kicked off Jake's borrowed rubber boots." "Eat anything today?" "Couldn't keep it down." painting her mouth with one last light kiss." with a wink. compiled generously and loosely." "Water?" "A small glass please.

" "Natalie and I will tidy up. When she pulled the door closed. "Sometimes there is hurt from knowing. She wished that she had not noticed. dried and swept for an hour. They were tossed by the closet. "Know what?" "What?" "You stink!" "Says who?" as Samantha wrestled Natalie with tickles over the groaning springs of the lime sectional. We'll try to keep it down while you sleep." trailed Samantha." muffled Kate.! O. but because whatever it was. with a very plump purse dangling on its knob. they would certainly explore. not from curiosity. dear. and inhaled fresh fragrant spruce that diluted the trapped worries and sighs which had mothed inside them too long. how about you color in our book." "Maybe I'll try a small bit later. "Tell you what. the last stab of light impaled Kate's mud splashed black pumps. The Cinderella sisters gathered. Dot packed us some potato salad and cooked lobster. While I'm having a soak. washed." mouthed Sam silently to herself. Even the nervous tick from the clock seemed brighter. turning the corner into her gurgling bath. sinking into the grey undulations." "Thanks. They opened windows that cried a little upon their sills. folded. drinking .Love Me Knot 55 "Can you manage supper?" "Sure.! I give up!" she giggled. She peeled off Jake's salty husk. Samantha levitated.K. "O." "That sounds good! And after?" "We'll see. squished helpless between a cushion sandwich.K. If she had Natalie's fingers. smothering her with the briny stench of Jake's sweater. She wanted to erase the chalk questions already scratching themselves on the inside of her skull. had to be known. and more punctual. The hard caked skins from yesterdays had been shed by the afternoon cleansing.

for her touch to ask for him. a claw shot out. and then folded Jake content into a cross-sleeved square near the bathmat. Her palm wavered. to propel it teasingly along the furrowed path. and then rose over her chest toward the pair of slight feminine . She could pour herself full into him. Her lover's groin tensed. "Promise that you won't do that to me!" They toppled with laughter over one another. like shimmering jellyfish floating toward an incandescent misted moon. and nipped the fish by the head. It struggled with a flurry of shed scales. and floated in her watery cocoon. leaving the pulse of pleasure. Then without warning. Her fingertips tinkled against the tub walls. Her long ebony hair waved. She swirled the pool with her blistered heel. She bundled him into her chest. She would dress herself with his scent. or two escaped from between her lips.56 Rod Stewart his scent deep into her heart. Her hand wandered as a cloud shadow over the submerged sandy meadow of her thigh. finding the temperature acceptable. before releasing its life fluid into the water. A bubble. as they rocked with the waves around them. thigh pressed to thigh. as kelp caught by current and tide. The womb enveloped her in a dream. The touch paused within a tangled softness near her mounded cove. as he shuddered softly into her. to stuff herself more snuggly into his feet next time. Waist deep. Saltwater ran up her nose. fondled him softly around her neck. The red skin had bubbled quickly from the chaffing of his boots. in the shallows. his every thought if she could. She imagined the two of them together by the tidal pool. They were hidden away. kicking up the crab into a plume of sand. Sam immersed completely. The tropical ocean tingled prickly kisses over her skin. Its tail wriggled ferociously. alone. She needed another pair of socks. stinging her into a cough. among a weed clad field of boulders at low tide. Her grip upon him was more than minnow tight. as she closed her eyes. Close enough. Their attention was captured by a minnow that deftly scribbled deeper into a tuft of seaweed. their legs entwined. Cold water spewed into the cauldron before Sam dared to enter.

She frowned. he drifted deeper into its spell. lost within the monotony of darning. it was a way of drawing heart things that her mouth couldn't say. a false phrase might trickle along the bottom. In the beginning after . Her fingernail picked at the blister. as they held each other. he was sure that it would be the same as hers. Her message would gain form. Beneath a twinkle. it became a cooperative project. He held the little ghost crawler closer.Love Me Knot 57 lumps. The sun rippled around his drumming boots as he hummed content. to be swallowed by the sea. its microscopic legs like nearly invisible fingers running through a cloud. It could be better described as a chronological pile of loose pages accumulated over the past decade. tearing away a lick of loose skin. a miniscule movement snagged his interest. It traveled around the point. by the shore mending his father's nets. Those intimate secret rhythms beating within them. Its antennae twitched. The earlier leaves were only named with Samantha. Her prayer seeped down through the pipes. its organs beating as lightening under its silver sheen. to remind them of the story it wasn't. before being sucked toward the drain. tumbling like a feather lost in a marine blue sky. When Sam began the Book. For a time it danced in the puddle of his palm. He stared into the black beads of the sea jewel. His palm gently scooped up the shrimp which had pestered around his feet. for another? The itchy heel festered for attention. She wished upon the translucent fleck. Would his eyes fall away from hers. as other girls her age had blossomed fuller than she had. like the mysterious sweet black pearls he had fallen in love with. When Natalie turned five. Sam sketched the drawings. Her wispy figure was nearly devoid of any womanly curve. writing a mischievous desire. Natalie grabbed some of their Book from the pretend trunk. When they finished a page. into the pebbled stream. She dreamed that he would be there. as he lowered the gem back into the water. If he could magnify that infinitesimal touch a thousand fold. and then Natalie applied crayon color. as it scrolled into a curl. Those incredible eyes. Meanwhile. Fascinated.

Tiny tracedaround starfish speckled about the edges. Penetrating deeper into the tight wetness. Then followed too many questions. almost black. as the pearly muscle opened around her delicate . cracking the sand. A moon spiraled in its orbit. When the tide turned. while the other palm shoveled around the opposite side. with lightly penciled squarish veins. She chose one made when Sam was eight. Natalie had a few favorites stashed at the very bottom. the larger quahog clams rose close to the surface. One tiny hand pressed onto the shell. She ran along the rippled sand. (When Sam was fourteen she added the smallest prick of red ink in the centre. In the middle was a pair of eggshell white ellipses. Her body rocked and grunted with sweat as she pushed.58 Rod Stewart the accident. hidden within the outlines and underneath words written for her parents' eyes. almost to the lighthouse on the horizon. The sea was sucked away from the Northern hemisphere. Sam chose to dig after one. The sheet was a sky of thick pliable waves. showing no one but Natalie). there were a lot of crumpled bloody upside down squished boxes. she drew her day-self. They were scotch-taped and smeared with wrinkles over the years. stomping beside every clam hole to make them squirt up her leg. It was very brown. wobbling off centre. and the sandbars extended for miles. And tiny people pieces scattered everywhere." That Samantha page happened when she was Natalie's age. She was soon up to her elbows in warm slurping goo. since the water quickly caved in any hole. or clumped dirty puffs smudged with tired light. like interlaced fingers. the quicker it squirmed away. The drawing was titled "Fairy Wings in Waiting. Sam was sure a finger met the fleshy wiggling tip in the burrow. It is something you do by feeling alone. The more vigorous she thrust. that wouldn't quite fit together. "Why are you drawing that?" "Can't you draw something happy?" When Sam was older. The same kind of darkness when you breathe night through your eyelids. It yielded. for a second.

She dropped the phone. and to be the one holding her insides together. The licorice mane snaked lazily around her perfect alabaster complexion. and touched herself below. The phone rang. Tim galloped at full gait to her rescue with a ten pound iron shovel. "Hello? Yes. For a long while afterwards Sam didn't dig for clams. It was the same at night. as a vital part of herself. and he had dug her free. sand flew. Just a minute. Within seconds. It swung and banged sharply across the pine paneling." Natalie automatically answered. Now it was biting her from the inside every month for just revenge. seeing the basketball sized clam hanging off her wrist. while Tim and Kate withered away as vestigial organs. when she had her first cycle." warned Samantha. without a mouse peep to watch her sister. It was a magnificent Book of Lies. Years later. It amazed Natalie. Samantha wondered if that was how you became an adult. and stretched to shake the receiver from the hook. "Be careful where you poke. breaking the studious silence. froze her cold with fear. Through the years Natalie had grown into her. serrated triangles. Natalie leaped upon the three legged stool. and their hearts talked with one another through warm skin. She often told her Princess Natalie how grateful she was to share the precious secret things with her. With one foul ear shattering clang he smashed the bivalve to bits. she had thought that the clam spirit had crawled under her skin when it was killed. Natalie added a few more crimson drops. She slid softly into the bathroom. away from the suspicious world. how natural Samantha slept underwater. Miraculously his daughter's hand was completely unharmed. The paper whiteness . She screamed louder. Any dark holes. Sam's lungs wailed like a siren. and blackened the squares into sharp.Love Me Knot 59 pinkness. by hiding your inside stories beneath other outside ones. Then it bit shut like a steel vice. when they slept with a hug. "Hold still!" gritted Tim. adding to the arc of previous dents. especially the ones waiting with teeth.

too. "Sorry that I'm calling early." "Anytime is fine. please. Samantha’s lungs burned for air. and her face hovering a hair above the glass stillness. Natalie bent slowly over the rim.. It was a huge mess. "My Dad's going to the tavern now. like an exquisite ivory carving held immortal within a locket." added Natalie. with her ringlets pinned back. echoing with more shouts.K." "Yes. lover. and erupted with a cacophonous tidal wave into midair." she melted. Her eyes burst open. and woke her back into her body. sweet love. Mom. She held her breath and waited. lover. "What's the noise about?" mumbled Kate." "You'll be away late?" "But not too tired to see you tomorrow. I slipped in the tub. lightly tracing over the contours where Jake had kissed with his fingertips." "Thanks! I'll be there in a sec. Their foreheads collided smartly with one another. the painfully calm marble mask beautifully dead on the other side of the liquid mirror. and dragged over the pail and mop." hotly surged Sam. "Hi. to hear you. moistening the ear on the other end of the receiver. wrapping a towel around her sleek salamander torso. Natalie avalanched an armload of towels off the shelf. Jake's on the phone." hurried Sam. her eyes closed." warmed Jake. Between them the mirror surface somehow distanced her from Natalie. "Oww! Sorry!" "Oww! Me. "Nothing. I'm his safe drive home. "We're O. Instinctively she screamed an explosion of bubbles." . and a floor flooded ankle deep in bathwater. surprised by the dark angel shadowing heavily upon her. "Hi.60 Rod Stewart of her lithe corpse blended smoothly into the pale aqueous coffin. a boiled frenzy. Natalie could not release the image of her sister." answered Samantha. Sam would help her. tomorrow.

Wishing her hands were Jake's. of course." "After lunch?" "Sure. and help Natalie clean up a spill. she toweled herself down with a gentle massage. "I gotta run." "Have a good night. love." "You take care. She wicked away the womanly wetness readily swelling as an ocean within her. looking over to see Natalie frowning with the mop." agreed Sam.Love Me Knot 61 "And Natalie. I love you. Jake. ." finished Sam with a kiss. too? She missed out on the boat trip. from the mere mention of his name among her thoughts." "Yes. That's only fair.

62 Rod Stewart .

Natalie counted the square her piece was on as "one". so that it landed leaning edge up. Life was a series of choices to make for yourself. Sometimes she tossed the die. From the options against boredom. It was an unwritten rule that Samantha had fair opportunity to try and win the first round. after persistent random fiddling with the tuning knob. she asked to roll the die again. It seemed the absolute truth for Samantha. which had been previously televised at least four times in as many weeks. Thus Natalie was able to step short of the serpent's head. beside a couch cushion. summer re-runs. as she considered her parents. and the game was too close for comfort. nailed and duct taped along the height of the birch tree beside the cottage shivered less. If the number cast by her die threatened to place her upon a plummeting snake.EIGHT It was nearly nine o'clock when the Southwesterly gale finally coughed out of breath. It gave her the option from either of two possibilities. It was completely fair play according to Natalie. and rolled away with the scudding greasy clouds. Natalie would always be victorious by the end of the championship. Or she took advantage with her moving choices to conveniently ascend a nearby ladder. The antenna which was twisted. They could watch with reasonable clarity. Natalie and Sam decided upon the best two out of three games of "Snakes and Ladders". If neither face was to her advantage. Instead of counting the move to the next square as "one". How her father had laddered to the top with financial and . positioning her closer to the finish. It gave viewable reception for nearly three channels.

And little more hair coloring. maybe. her hands were programmed. like Jake.64 Rod Stewart social acclaim as a doctor. Sometimes it turned Samantha's stomach when Natalie took. and turtle scuffed towards the exit. She would deposit the money towards that trip to Florida she always deserved. a very long arm was doing precisely that. just in case Ben had forgotten something. available information. Then sweet retirement would be hers." as he tipped his hat with a weary smile toward the secretary. at last. squirming through one disaster after another. She blocked them out of her monotonous office hours. and made it belong to herself. and might return. And spoil herself with a new dress or two while she was at it. During the past decade she only heard the same songs of complaint from blank bothersome faces. to square the stacked paper. definitely. to be successful like her father. She wandered through her days patiently. How her mother had slid down through a serpentine hole. closed his office on the evening. for her own sake. I'll finish here in five. absently. and close the three sets of office blinds that she had religiously dusted every Friday for the past thirty years. What squares were Samantha and Natalie on? Samantha had her doubts. Keeping everything in exact . "You go ahead Ben. and accepted the dreams and gifts. It was the easiest five hundred that Thelma ever made from her perch inside the claustrophobic secretarial cage. more or less. Have a good night. taking advantage from. She waited a couple of more minutes. She secretly hoped not. and become a “Natalie”. He didn't. and retrieved Kate Allen's file. On the other side of town. In the meantime. Thelma. What did she care? A few more wrinkles. sort tomorrow into quarter hour slots. you’re a darling. The last standing doctor on duty straightened from his desk hunch with a tedious moan. She fluttered over to the cabinet. He tossed the bleached lab coat over his arm. Maybe Samantha had to grow up." "Thanks. fussing among the desk papers.

Thelma could usually page through her memory of several hundred patients for a particular detail. Scott could validate the drug administration. It might also snuff out their lucrative relationship. Allen’s encyclopedic history. valium. codeine and a few barbiturate sedatives. Allen over the past four months. Unless Dr. with attention to the lengthy record of prescriptions. It expressed with pointed concern about Dr. Allen. including numerous painkillers. that someone with plenty of money to buy people might terminate her career. Kate Allen. Fear washed over her sunken sallow face. trying to ascertain its value. Thelma discovered a brief warning letter from the Canadian Medical Association dated from late May. Allen had some tests done out of province. She stuffed that shuddering thought away with the rest of the copied file into a plain manila envelope. She balanced that correspondence in her bony rheumatic palm.Love Me Knot 65 order. Benjamin Scott having prescribed excessive narcotics for Mrs. How could someone survive. More often than not he silently accepted punishment for someone else’s stumble. Perhaps even two hundred. but she was positive that Mrs. Thelma noted the frightening increase of medication administered to Mrs. He would have done anything for his friends. or for. let alone function with such chemical abuse? She was filled with more pills than a jelly bean dispenser. Compared to the other information. Mrs. If she didn’t know better. Her handwriting trembled as she addressed the . Demanding more money was easy enough. Thelma thought twice. or worse. Wasn’t there a note from a Toronto hospital a few months ago? The specific incident escaped her. it appeared as if Ben was poisoning his patient. it might be worth an additional one hundred dollars. While thumbing through Mrs. he would be investigated immediately. It didn’t make sense why Ben was doing this to. Thelma had known Ben since high school. she photocopied the medical dossier. There was something missing. Thelma would ask Ben about it first thing in the morning.

Then he waited for a moment. pictured with swan tufts swimming through the pond blue sky. Goodbye. “Hello. He glanced over it.66 Rod Stewart carefully sealed contents to Dr. and then handed it back to her for filing. as he flushed with confirmed suspicion. Samantha’s chest butterflied brightly. “Hello?” she perked. . Timothy Allen.” Ben paused for Samantha to hang up. He should know. Mom’s working at the pharmacy until five.” “Bye. Thelma hoped that something good would come out of all of this.” “Thanks Samantha. wanting to taste Jake’s voice. The line buzzed dead.” “Yes?” “Can I speak with your mother. even if it’s very late tonight. having vaguely recollected a letter from Toronto. She extinguished the lone light.” “Any message?” “No thanks. Ben. She inquired about Mrs. please?” “I’m sorry Ben. Was it urgent? No. Please make sure that Kate phones me. Samantha? This is Ben.” “It’s very important that Kate calls me. as she flew over to the receiver. Except for the bother of the awkward envelope paper clipped between her bones. She has my home number. Earlier. Samantha sat cross-legged on the sofa. which appeared to be missing. Ben said that he would search through the paperwork in his office. Tommy Hunter and warm honey chamomile tea steeped for her at home. For the second click. Thelma laid a loose record of Kate’s upon his desk. Allen’s recent records. in Halifax.” “O.K. Even though they had been separated for years. it was a dire situation for his wife. She was stirring clouds of vanilla yogurt into her breakfast cereal when the phone interrupted her. Thelma had clicked off the earlier office hours into pitch darkness. staring past the window.

Perhaps buying her out with a severance package. Who was asking for the records? She had already turned her back to him. In case Tim makes his move. His trust in Thelma totally disintegrated. “Ben?” “Kate. when the phone rang minutes before midnight. Everything he said and did would be under a microscope. He had phoned the Allen home immediately after the awkward exchange with Thelma. and folded away his wire rimmed glasses. You should talk to your lawyer about custody. Twenty years of friendship ruined. “Oh. He knew that she was expecting him to place the call. Just updating our files. I can’t make it without you. he owed her that much. now that he caught her monitoring his conversations. I know it’s late.” “Oh?” “I can stall her for awhile.” “Do you think Tim got to her?” “Yes.Love Me Knot 67 Thelma replied.” “What are we going to do?” “Thelma will have to go. Kate dear. no one. Ben’s career was at stake.” “That’s alright. I caught her listening in on my office phone. Thank you.” “Did she say why?” “She was very strange about it. Or maybe by some other means? He would see this through with Kate.” “I’m here for you. always. She avoided saying why she needed the files. I like to be accurate.” “I’ll get back to you next week when the heat in the . He toyed with the idea of getting rid of Thelma.” “I need you Ben.” “What’s up?” “Thelma is digging for the Toronto tests.” “Sorry.” “Thank you Ben. She is up to something.” Now he sat there and stewed as a toad with a fly crawling down in its throat. Thank God you called. Ben had slid the hardcover Atwood into his maple nightstand.

He would have given his soul to be her companion. He could not push Kate through a divorce. When the children came over. Ben lived modestly.” Ben’s empty heart stared toward the starless ceiling. shaking uncontrollably within his embrace. not for her. Ben had given a spare house key to Kate. She would cry. Ben would hold her tight with his life. It would have killed their love for one another. Just to hold her. Samantha and Natalie as his own family. planning to finish his practice when he turned fifty. There were times when she needed company. He drank her tears tenderly with his lips. and whispered a circling softness with his fingers over her temples and through her hair. among the handful of friends and relatives who rarely visited him. even when she had better health. The bedroom seemed cold and foreign once the black weight of the evening hours had gathered over him. And times when she needed to clear her head alone. this one selfish time. They tacked one to the wall. they talked about where they might go. as the love he could never have. They dream traveled to Bali. he read a few tropical passages to them in his study. for a physician. at any hour. A rustic Cape Cod tucked away by a secluded shore near Wallace. Natalie on one knee. When she came to him. but for himself. New Guinea and Ouagadougou. His nearest neighbor was a quarter of a mile away. The remainder of his earnings he set aside for travel. with Kate and Samantha snuggled content into his shoulders. He had bought as much forested land around his property as he could afford.68 Rod Stewart office simmers down. They had ten great years together. After they had supper. He wept afresh. This summer would be their last. and pinned the places of exotic desire. . Ben pulled out table size maps from drawers of an oak cabinet. Ben considered Kate. He knew that Kate could never be with him.

like a dazed gopher having popped into daylight. “All set?” smiled Jake. inhaling him into the centre of her heart. Natalie and Samantha had spilled off the veranda. “Just a minute. “You bet!” piped Natalie. plucked a head of timothy. with the windows rolled down.” firmed Samantha. as she swallowed him slow. and claimed her spot beside the driver’s seat. Five minutes. yanking at his pocket. “Let’s go! Now!” fussed Natalie. I’m having my breakfast. and twisted it in his mouth. and a whistle of summer rushing through their hair.NINE The Saturday afternoon air shifted with an unpredictable breath. Clouds billowed dark with frustration along the pouting blue ocean lip. The tires . He looked at the sky. She could have sucked his soul inside of her. and then to the opposite direction. tugging him toward the pick-up before Samantha could wet his mouth with a hello kiss. Jake jumped out of the Ford. “Not so fast cowboy. They exchanged a few light kisses. kicking and slapping at the seat.” purred Samantha. Jake’s pay was burning a hole in his jeans. She opened the door for herself. wheezing from one way. that seemed like an hour. without complaint. long and full into her mouth. and spinning him around into her arms. They motored toward town. Before he took another step. were gone in a day that was already too short for her. before they tore themselves apart into silver wisps overhead. wagging their puppy dog tails. “Come on you two!” complained Natalie. wondering if the weather would hold.

ignoring the other willowy creatures at his side. The clothing store was humanely air conditioned. “Hurry up!” fumed Natalie. almost tripping over themselves. with a twirl to parade her French manicure. like tongues along a lover. Samantha glanced at the hard swelling in his jeans. which were hooked with arms around waists. a lot of money to spoil her with. They passed by the towering collision of end-sale sneakers and flip-flops tumbling in the discount bins. She grinned at the bulge in his pocket. Natalie counted the telephone poles backwards until they had crossed the bridge. Natalie was the first to unbuckle. “Can we have a look at your swim wear?” replied Jake. before Jake geared into park off Victoria. wondering if Jake loved her more than that. A gum-chewing bleached blonde parted from among a curtain of wind breakers. eclipsing Jake’s view of the swaying hips that preceded hers. “We have these. She sparkled into him. Sam’s fingertips gently licked the back of Jake’s neck. as she closed her eyes. like every other pause along the strip. Garish flimsy cotton adorned most of the hangered carousels. Fine leather wafted from another room. opening her silky fair palm. They were worse than a pair of dogs in heat. Samantha followed the clerk first through the aisles.70 Rod Stewart hummed smoothly around the coastal curves. and teased the more expensive tastes.” suggested Jake. her dreamy mouth parched for his. on tack with the rugged chiseled rock standing before her. “Gillis’.” as she introduced them. asking for a nod of approval from his two friends. The ice cream and toy district was a mere three skips away. Her arms teapotted at her waist. The drab wrinkled one-pieces hung wilted from the . “Can I help you with anything?” she mechanically blurted. Natalie hop scotched yards ahead of the slowpokes. She self consciously adjusted the puffed taut sail of her blouse. stopping at every pole and hydrant.

four racks away. very chic. I can’t see anybody wasting that much money on a pair of skin straps. “I don’t know why they bring them in. catching the grey sigh from Samantha. which had molested. you are sweetie. and hopped about. and then shrugged away in disgust. “Am I as pretty as Samantha?” “Yes. Jake. disappointed by the selection. The two-piece foreign imports were exquisitely cut.” agreed Sam. “What about me?” spoke Natalie. Over there. Natalie swung on Jake’s hands. “What do you think?” asked Sam. “My turn next. A woman wouldn’t dare set one foot on the beach. Samantha snubbed at the stitching. Samantha softly brushed through the fabric cascade until she found a junior size aqua blue design splashed with a frenzy of dolphins.Love Me Knot 71 hundreds of hands. “Is that enough bikini?” tomato-faced Jake. “You really shouldn’t. which would have unraveled in a season.” commented Jake. “This is nice Jake! Thanks!” She spun. of course. choosing an elegant revealing cut in black.” announced Sam.” she concluded. Natalie twirled from the room with a watermelon grin. arguably tailored for adults. without a dozen knee-benders offering marriage.” gasped Samantha. giving her a peck and a hug. “Thanks!” lit Natalie.” motioned the tart. zipping to a change room. strutting off in a huff. .” While Sam was changing. “Don’t wander too far. “Anything else?” insisted Jake. draping the licks of noir across her torso. Any young feminine form would be molded angelic within the sheer Barcelona silk. “Yes. admiring herself in the mirror. Natalie flicked her curls and tossed her cute doll head in high fashion. “And those. noticing that Jake’s attention was only from courtesy.” smiled Jake. “You look great Natalie.

love. as she drew her waist tight into his. giving her another light squeeze. loosening the charm from around his waist with a furious tickle. She stood on her toes. and whisked him inside. They parted. “Ready?” Her palm whispered through the crack. offering herself fully to his eyes. “I’ll be right there. ready to pass out with pleasure.” he replied. an imagined herself as a young heart throb beside Jake. She made a slow pirouette.” he stammered. His palms buttercupped her sweet face. ready to die completely with love into him. among a mad rustle of garments. “would I be special.” leaned Natalie. Jake’s tongue grazed tenderly over the rise of her chest. too?” “You are very special.72 Rod Stewart “If I was grown up like Sam. and further stumbling. She breathed soft moans deeply into him.” she winked. as his mouth moistened along her neck. half undone with thunder in their loins. into the hollow of her back. as she statued before him with little more than a few slim lines painted over her private curves. “Gorgeous.” wrapping her tendril limbs around him. “Come here. “The fastener looks tricky. aroused by his throbbing presence pounding beneath his jeans. There was an impatient knee high knock on the door. falling over her shoulders. Natalie beamed.” they melted together. turning lobster red. lover. She sank her talons into his taut derriere. caught his. sweating and hungry. Jake tore himself away with a few .” complimented Jake. “Well?” she flushed. Her mouth fell hot into his.” “You’ll have lots of practice. “Jake?” called Samantha. just the way you are. “Come on guys!” “Coming. His strong hands warmed down. as their thighs rhythmed in gentle waves. as tall as she could in the mirror. He knocked on the door. giggling a kiss upon his mouth. Her voice quivered slightly.

The swim wear was wet from their love. and waved back at Mrs. “Mundle’s then?” offered Jake.Love Me Knot 73 last torrid caresses before exiting the change room. Drenched and panting. with the desire to devour him. she repackaged it very carefully. stepping out into the broiling blinding sunshine.” “They are nice girls. He paled at the prices. Samantha followed Natalie to the frozen goods. Samantha’s temperature had climbed too. dragging herself down the sidewalk griddle like a frying egg. I see you have the company of two lovely ladies. snorkels and fins left. Samantha would be an envelope. The girls smiled. Mrs. sealing Jake’s love within her forever. “Hello there young man.” “I was thinking of underwater. as fast as her spindly legs could scamper two blocks. Embarrassed.” “Sure am! Would you happen to have something to go with swim wear?” “The Red and White up the street carries some beach balls and inflatables. Mundle. “Hello. They opened the freezer. and calculated . “You’re on. Mundle led him to the sporting goods section.” “We do have a few masks. The three of them spilled through the chiming door at once. pressing firmly upon the closure. well pleased with their attractive attire. Mrs. Mundle!” greeted Jake. too. Samantha dressed herself with their amorous scent. although it would take more than ice cream to satisfy her. “Yes.” “Perfect!” cheered Jake. “Race you!” challenged Samantha. Shortly.” she remarked. They left the store. She salivated in her mouth. “I’m hot!” whined Natalie. There were so many choices. I hope that you’re spoiling them rotten. letting a blast of arctic air wash over their faces. both the girls were ready. and below.” bolted Natalie. One angel for each shoulder.

Hordes of fishermen. “Oh! I found this under the rubber johns. It must have fallen from someone’s pocket. Samantha had hoped that Tim was involved with someone from out of town. Two hours later the manure sullied floor would gleam brighter than a mirror. Samantha could not imagine Mrs. which had flipped over and sank into her gut. and every tack and nail would be binned head to head. who might be that close. Mundle had lost it on purpose. Jake paid. He asked Natalie to try on the diving ware. Mrs. Mundle could have denied that the compact belonged to her. For some reason Mrs. for Natalie. hiding her heart. She considered their kind friend Ben. Something inside tugged stubbornly at her. checking out the all-weather wear. I’ll be! Thank you dear. with casual coolness. What was her father doing? Even though Tim and Kate were apart for years. The Metlin store was a universe of utter complete order. The most likely chance for the compact to be found would be by someone . they met together at the front cash. but no one in that way. she admitted the truth. in her own store. Instead. She knew her mother had friends. that it was hers. as she filled the shopping bag. and point to point. just as easily. and thanked Mrs. it was still a shock for Samantha to think that her father was involved with someone else. She must have planted it in Tim’s car to be discovered. Samantha milled around the rest of the store. farmers. especially of all places. “You’re welcome. and miners from Pugwash might have poured through the shop.” spoke Samantha.” she replied.” said Samantha. plus one round of frozen treats. placing the white ladies compact upon the counter. Mundle. I’ve been looking all over for that. Mundle mislaying anything. confirming it as her own. Satisfied with their new undersea exploring gear. with a glance at the near fluorescent pink shade. “Well. and two masks. Samantha would have smelled that lie. for her next anticipated fishing adventure with Jake.74 Rod Stewart that the shopping spree would end with one pair of flippers.

She bugeyed. She spooned him a hilling dollop. and rolling a scoop. as his warm lips accidentally met her fingertips. coughed.Love Me Knot 75 with leaf thin palms adjusting the seat for a child.” sputtered Samantha. when Natalie sat in front. Mundle had seen Sam take care of Natalie since birth. fueling with a dab of sweet coolness.” calmed Jake. “Only one spoon?” he smirked. “Raspberry swirl.” spoke Sam. leaning into him. which she had swallowed too fast. She blushed. “You don’t need one. then pouring her lips over his. It was only in the summer time. He bowed. This all seemed impossible to Samantha. Jake was her only exception. love. “I’m fine now. and waved across her icy breath. rubbing her back.” she cat-grinned. before going into the June furnace. who would not share unless she was told to. with thirsty eyes. Who would help her find the truth? It troubled and excited Samantha at the same time. was responsible for Natalie. She would certainly be assigned as seat adjuster. “What flavor do you have Natalie?” asked Jake. Mrs. Samantha assumed that any of the front seat company in Tim’s vehicle were adults. she was always accused of imagining things. popping the ice cream into her mouth. The honey bubble nearly vaporized in his mouth as her wicked tongue surfed hot and wild inside him. that the seat had to be moved. Why was it so important for Samantha to know about Tim and Mrs. Mundle hiding? No one would believe Samantha anyways.” replied Natalie. “You alright. “Thought you and me could share this one. and nearly dropped her container. Mrs.” assured Samantha. Mundle purposely hiding the compact in Tim’s car for her to find. thanks. enveloping the melting pinkness. by sibling law. The thoughts stung through her with the gulp of frigid ice cream. Samantha. “Went down the wrong way. Mundle? Why did it have to be a secret? What was Mrs. “Take it easy. dear?” alerted Mrs. They assembled themselves at the door. Mundle. .

76 Rod Stewart “Mmm. before it was too late? Mrs. Mundle nodded as they jingled goodbye. “delicious!” “You can’t get that flavor anywhere else. . She had feared the worst. There was too much at stake. Would she find out. Her intuition told her that Samantha had suspected something. Mrs.” teased Samantha. Mundle had to act. She had caught the blinking shift in Samantha’s eyes. kissing away the last drop that pearled from his luscious lips.” licked Jake. and the curious tone in her voice. not only for herself. wheezing the door closed behind them.

a pin striped dressed business man. He hobbled after her through the stockroom. dwarfed by the queensized French Provincial playground sumptuously pillowed with silk. which kept their lights on another four hours. One minute later a naked forty watt bulb dimly brought life to an alcove. past the spartan pantry. At ten minutes past. He peered around the “Closed” sign. except for O’Brien’s. The paisley fawn brocade curtains were heavily lined. insisting that it should turn.” he replied dryly. so clean that it felt invisible. “Patience is not my forte. A hidden corner was illuminated by a frilly table lamp. Mundle. barely suggesting the presence of an imposing maple bureau. The shadow inside surveyed up and down the street. and into the grayness growing by the minute as the hazy sun fell away elsewhere. The cozy chamber quietly whirred with air conditioning. through the glass. and the welcome of a well stocked fridge. “Sorry for keeping you waiting. and then cursed at more stairs as they ascended to the loft. and inquiring evening eyes. to block the morning sun.TEN Downtown was deserted by five. and seeing no one. Not a man to be refused. Thanks. “Scotch?” she assumed. handing her his fedora and blazer.” he countered. dear. .” smoothed Mrs. Every shop on Water Street was locked tight until Monday. hidden beneath his straight set brim climbed the few front steps at Mundle’s. “I’d rather a Tom Collins. he wiggled the handle. unbolted the latches.

” he mulled with a devilish darkness. “Won’t they sell?” “Not likely. It’ll be a quarter million. wary of the dark cloud gathering over his countenance. quietly scheming. threaded with grey. “Speaking of the Nelsons.” continued Helen. “This will cost a king’s fortune. knotting his thick brows together beneath his slick black widow’s peak. Mundle. young Jake was in this afternoon with Samantha and Natalie.” said Helen. Helen. . Paving the lane. dear. elaborating. I will look into it. “She’s a dreamer. love.” “It’s not even a half mile road past eight cottages. “Oh?” questioned Tim. pressing a dimple into the contentious mapped speck. with a tart twist from her lips and a lemon wedge. “You seem off. A graceful sandy arc separated the soft emerald blur.” said Helen. “Yes. We need the right of way for our resort.” she replied.” sighed Tim. He’s taken quite a shine to your daughter. “The poor girl needs to wake out of her shell.” he tensed. unfolding an aerial map from a silk stuffed drawer. “Three more months.” “Assuming we accomplish all of that. to upgrade those shacks into resort chalets.” she replied. With water frontage like that.” “And another two hundred grand. It’s been in their family for three generations.” spoke Mrs. It’ll be good for Samantha. from the Atlantic blue. Whatever suits your pleasure. taking a double shot without mix. there is still one issue at the end. Very posh.” She bit her tongue. who in their right mind would sell?” “We must buy the Nelson property.” “Are they serious?” “A pair of cuddly lovebirds. “I have my doubts. Anything wrong?” he gladly sipped his nightcap after the two hour drive. “Bringing in the town sewer and water.78 Rod Stewart “Fine. having crossed the personal family line. We do want posh don’t we?” “Posh.

and a circle of clock dots fuzzing at something past two. She unbuttoned methodically. and his scent would have dissipated into nothing. melting him like a juicy éclair.” he replied. honey. some pleasurable memories. to engage with an act of passion.” he sternly replied. “The money is bankrolling. sensual and human. “Your generous assets. upon her silver-haired sweet nape.” “When I see your half mill. Tim. Tim. She was the only one who could undress him from his business skin.” “We’re a good team. for her own good. My capital.Love Me Knot 79 “We all need dreams. except for some crown and corporate land. what he had come for. Helen found only herself.” he cooled. “How’s the surveying progressing?” “It’ll be done in a few weeks. dear.” reminded Helen. Not to use someone.” His mouth fell softly from behind. taking his firmness gently within her. “Which won’t ever happen without a plan. Helen. In the morning she would once again rinse the stained emptiness from the glasses and herself. It was a rare occasion for both of them. . She knew that. right?” “I wouldn’t admit to this insanity to anyone else. or to be used. Tim had obtained.” “Trust me. A few more Mundle lines running through the woods are not unusual. Tim buried his face within Helen’s warm milky breasts. believe me. His gaunt pale chest sagged under her doughnut rolls folded forgotten between the satin sheets. as usual.” “Has it raised any eyebrows?” “My relatives own most of Pugwash. as she mounted him. The faint amber bedroom glow was kind to their middle age misgivings.” “No one else knows about this. Within a few days Tim. her hand reaching for his presence among the curled silken waves. The evening with Helen allowed Tim to be tender. as he kneaded her eagerly with his lips and fingers. She turned over. and was wise not to betray him. adding. while his palms rounded beneath her voluminous creamy spheres.

The clapboard shoeboxes were on the peninsula.80 Rod Stewart At times it concerned her. He had convinced himself to make his mark with his private resort. Helen was concerned about his black intent to obtain the land. there was little sustaining their relationship except for information. His life was beyond her realm. typically awakened from its winter slumbers by the summer tourist tide. The project could not happen without the purchase of the Nelson homestead. tossed like marbles along the dirt path. She would not spend another cent on the ludicrous scheme. before the gravel road forked left to the lighthouse. They were only peacock painted shanties. for the most part. to be with Dr. A decent cosmetic improvement and the colony would become a bee hive for wealthier clientele. Did she trust him? No. until Tim showed his share. It was her land. In the beginning. Pugwash was a sleepy seaside town. Mind sex. citing the warmest ocean water along Nova Scotia and the panoramic Atlantic view. Otherwise. It trailed as dust behind him. Tim wanted it all. It wasn’t sensible to Helen. all she wanted was a partner to develop the summer shacks along Abercrombie Lane. They were all low rental Mundle units in dire need of maintenance. He had enough connections and money to start his own country. Whatever stood in his way would be ground into debris. away from the stream of August motor homes and travel trailers. one half million. where she gave more than he offered. Tim pushed for the extravagant villa. She shuddered at the darker . By comparison that was a mere microcosm within his complex tentacled world. like his family. to make an exorbitant investment into an unpredictable seasonable venture. Did he trust her? Absolutely. Tim could taste the new money of his vain empire. She knew every snitch of gossip in Pugwash. Aside from the resort project. Allen. He gloated about the professionals that he could lure from across Canada and the New England States. near the golf course. its pulse plodded along with the reflex activity of local industry. Wisely. She agreed to some preliminary surveys and cost inquiries. Helen did not make a legal commitment with him.

he opened his attaché case. of knowing. He rehearsed his proposition. Their casual friendship naturally became more intimate after her divorce. . it would be another strike by Tim against Kate’s failure.Love Me Knot 81 prospects of Tim’s powerful political leverage that he might exert upon the harmless rural family. He checked. Tim could easily destroy all of that by grinding the Nelsons under his heel. without Tim knowing. as a possession. A Birks diamond solitaire set in platinum. square velvet lump. Both of them were hungry for a companion. at times. now that Jake and Samantha were involved. inside his suit pocket for the small. more intelligent than her father gave her credit for. Once the flight was at cruising altitude. Villeneuve. By hiding her compact in Tim’s car. At seven-thirty Dr. It was a wild shot. Helen could not bear any harm to come to the Nelsons. She realized what Kate had lived through. and make the connection. again. All Helen needed was a response. she hoped that Samantha would find it. calculated the possible scenarios. She had to warn the Nelsons and the Allens somehow. She wondered if his spite against his estranged wife fueled him forward with the ambitious resort. Allen was buckled into executive class shooting through the woolen fog over the Halifax International Airport. It disturbed her that Tim’s greedy focus was without regard to consequence or conscious of others. There was a brighter chance for the Allen family. They had met at a physician’s conference in Toronto four years ago. and unfolded the Pugwash aerials and oceanfront Kodak snapshots. In less than two hours he would land in Montreal to seduce Dr. to be used as a means to an end. She was a clever girl. but Helen took the chance. If the private villa was successful. among the backbone of the community. between women. and postulated how he might manipulate her reaction. She was in too deep to escape from Tim’s strangling control. They were honest hard working folk.

“Thanks. I’m running like a dog.” “Don’t tell me you’re straight from the Sick Children’s Hospital?” he stared incredulously. “Yeah. Tim. and caught a few winks before you landed. “You’ve been down to Quebec for the weekend?” “Actually. I need to freshen up.” “You couldn’t book any more time off?” “Sorry. “Yes. drove six hours. It’s wonderful to have you. He exited at St. She was a tiger behind closed doors.” said Tim slipping his arm around her. no. and into the Valley of the Saints. handing him her keys to the cherry Triumph coupe.” sighed Angela.82 Rod Stewart Angela met him with a cappuccino at the sparsely populated Gate 4B. “Almost there. I’m totally dead. I left Toronto last night. dear.” . and made a few country dog-leg turns through the maze of mushrooming bungalows before diving down a maple shrouded lane that curved around a lake mirrored by poplar. “Three months without you seemed like forever. I had to kill to get these hours with you today.” “Until the pumpkin hour.” “After that. Jerome. Her Bambi doe eyes sugared into his as they shared a few quick formal kisses and airy hugs.” shined Angela. It’s insane. You know how it is. matching her stride with his.” “Maybe I should drive to the cottage then?” “That would be great. Tim zoomed North on Highway 15 for another hour through the Laurentians. He intended to get his airfare’s worth of amusement. and hopefully loosen her purse strings. It steamed against her plunging black silk dress pouring like hot ink down her svelte thirty-ish figure like a second skin.” apologized Tim. you’re mine.” “It’s really great to see you Angela. “My place first?” invited Angela.

and made himself at home by dropping dead onto the leather sofa. and rubbed against his shin. licking her lips content. then reached over for his mug. illuminating the framed shard collages. and his fuzzy plums went firm within her palm. Neither of them had slept more than an hour in the last twenty four. popped a collar button. a book footstool. unfastening his belt. She tingled him with stars and sultry moans behind his closed eyes. “Black?” was all she said. “I thought you took cream?” he remarked. and a plant stand cascading with a twisted mess of tawny leafless vines. but not in my coffee. “I do. as he erupted deep into her mouth. Her tender touch quickly lengthened his telescope. Her porcelain toes climbed. Her scarlet kimono traced with golden cranes waterfalled gracefully over her flawless figure. before whispering alongside him. . catching upon the pert points of interest. as the gurgle of fresh caffeine percolated from the kitchen. and then sinking completely within a cotton ocean. The silk lapped discretely around her curves. and sat up to a steaming mug and a lithe unfocussed presence. He rubbed daylight into his aching sockets. His hips jerked.” mumbled Angela. and sipped a chaser. She was only a feather. Sun bathed gently through the lacy sheers. and lights out since they had left the airport.” she hotly drooled over his nipples. snoring into oblivion. and over the split entry threshold.Love Me Knot 83 “Mmm. and Tim easily cradled her across the mossy pine-needled yard. Her tepid breath burned along his shaft as she painted his tip with her moist full tongue. while her teeth nibbled open his shirt and teased at his chest hair like kitten paws. His hands ran feverish and light through her waves of strawberry blonde. and lowering herself between his tensed unclothed thighs. Before midday his nose flared thirsty. She was limp. After laying her to rest. Meanwhile her coffee was cold and neglected. Tim un-noosed his tie. She drank every groan from him. She felt herself hovering through the pearly morning hallway light. In ten minutes he passed out. past the jungle weed flower beds.

as she squealed. He withdrew the blue velvet cube from the pocket. They rose together. Tim. “It’s been too long. and tangled with each other. knocked over a pedestal lamp. as he slowly disrobed her powder soft body. They rolled off the couch.” as he slipped the platinum ring onto her trembling soapy finger.” “Twice in six months. feeling for his soaked shirt. sucking his lower lip tenderly between hers. He rolled over. They fell into the patiently waiting sudsy lake. They made love with adrenaline. and shattered the glass end table. They circled each other with sweating embraces. leaving a wake of WWIII behind them. arching her back. deaf to the disaster. . He slid smooth and deep inside her. kissed. “Oh.” “And why would I do that?” she taunted. and became very wet. momentarily hiding it within his closed palm. “I’ll take that as a yes.84 Rod Stewart He pretzeled himself tightly around her. She shook like a hooked wild salmon. Tim reached over the bathtub rim. spidering across her lower cleavage. and dislodged paintings. as he kissed her face and entwined his legs with hers. as they collapsed together with an exhausted embrace. His fingertips trickled down her spine. He presented the sparkling two karat crystal to Angela. while his mouth sizzled wet into hers. Tim!” she gasped. as they pinned each other with ferocious amour upon breasts and buttocks en route to the bathroom. while French tongues swirled crazily around one another. Their heartbeats pounded loud inside their mouths.” “Such as?” mused Angela. as his hot pleasure coursed through her. “When you move out East. She encouraged his piston to attention again with lubricated strokes. rocking together with the climaxing rhythm of their breaths. We need a more permanent arrangement. slippery. Her back smoothed into his warm chest.

” asserted Tim.” as he penned the digits inside her thigh. He lay beside her. Tim spread out the map and photographs. love?” “Sure. honey. standing naked in the doorway with his briefcase. I’m going to re-mortgage my penthouse. while his fingertips plucked the familiar file. the drive will be shorter. as she reclined into him. and snapped the double clasps on the attaché. “I’m investing everything for you Angela. “They are cheap rental units along the lane. “And me?” “I’ll have a new job ready for you at the IWK Health Centre in September. gazing into her soul.” “How about my condo and cottage?” “Well. O. Tim. sweetheart. “Ready for business. She held it open. They will pay for themselves in several years. “Show and tell?” she giggled. the pair gently toweled each other down. For our retirement. until they had loved enough within the bath. He kissed her shoulders twice. his rod riding along her derriere furrow.” “It’s a serious decision to sell my cottage. and purchase them. and then turned into the bedroom.” “With our new seaside home. lover. . “Our new seaside home. firstly. Finished.K. “Wait here.” she mused. “which will be on the market very soon. When you’re ready here’s my bank account. and my home in three months. and I will make sure that we have plenty of summer vacation together.” requested Tim. He returned.Love Me Knot 85 Their well pruned bodies embraced again.. how often are you here at the cottage?” “Maybe eight or ten days over the summer.” “And these other cottages?” asked Angela.” “Give me a few weeks to think about it.” emphasized Tim.” “I will make this happen for us.” he explained.

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The afternoon boiled with cumulus among pure azure, and invited them to Mont Tremblant for the remaining hours, before Tim was scheduled to fly back to Halifax. The gay jazz wound its way among the throngs of tourists, through the kiosks, and vivid store-windowed lanes. Scents of laughter and pastry wafted from every other open doorway. Hand in hand they browsed and aimlessly chatted, pausing by the fountain to toss a coin and make a kiss-wish together. As a remembrance of the day, they joined the last group of sightseers to board the sky lift to the hilltop. The clouds thickened, squashing the horizon sun that splashed its final rays upon the French pastel towers below. The colors sang proudly for a moment, before fading, in the fairy tale view. It was a lovely dream for Angela, he thought to himself. Precisely that, only a fleeting dream. The darkness from the distant mountains lurched forward as the couple descended the stairs toward the amber lit village. Sixteen hours had passed since Tim arrived at Montreal. Now they were bidding adieu to one another at the terminal, with an impossible tight embrace. Their mouths tasted of red wine and each other’s tears. Angela could hold nothing back now. Tim slept very well that night, convinced that Angela’s money would soon be his. Once deposited, the funds would be transferred to his untouchable account in the Cayman Islands. Tomorrow he planned to pick up an identical diamond ring from his safety deposit box at the Royal Bank of Canada. He had booked a flight to Calgary, Alberta for the following weekend. Like Angela, Francine’s heart would also pour its riches upon him. He could have financed a large portion of the project by extending his resources. Why do that, when others were willing to pay his way, and with personal pleasure? “You’re a brilliant piece of work, Dr. Timothy Allen,” he laughed darkly to himself.

ELEVEN Dot’s ample midriff spilled with her daisy print apron over the edge of the kitchen counter, as she smiled down the driveway at the approaching dust storm. The horn barped twice, as the pick-up creaked to a halt. The barefoot Allen girls tumbled out, hanging off Jake like a pair of necklace jewels. Natalie was ready with her brand new swimsuit, while Samantha was dressed in her typical T-shirt and cut-off jeans. They barged through the screen door with hugs for Dorothy. “Hi girls. I see that you’re ready for the beach,” grinned Dot, overcome by the sweet scent of coconut lotion. “We’ve got company?” asked Jake, noting the Bonneville half parked on the lawn. “Beach company. A nice couple from Maine, up for a few weeks. They poked down our lane for a view,” replied Dot, wiping her hands, after slicing some watermelon. “Does that happen often?” inquired Natalie, opening her tiny palm for a juicy plate-size piece. “Mostly on the weekends. We get some really unusual ones,” spoke Dot, rolling her eyes. “Like what?” pestered wide-eyed Natalie, slurping over the sink beside Dot. “Well, there are the hippies with their vans covered with flowers and peace signs.” “Yeah?” said Natalie wiping ruby raindrops from her chin. “And the tourists with lobster traps tied to the roof of their car,” continued Dot, offering a succulent section to Samantha and Jake, which they shared.

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“That is weird,” commented Natalie having polished off her first piece, and looking for a second. “Not as strange as the visitor that we had about a week ago,” remembered Dot, packing some lemonade with the remaining watermelon, in a picnic basket. “How’s that?” said Samantha, slipping a wet chunk from her fingertips between Jake’s lips. “This man, at least I thought it was a man, from his fancy hat, drove part way up the lane. I guess he drove far enough in to get a view. We do have a nice view, don’t we Jake? He sat there in his car for a few minutes. Long enough to take some pictures through his car window. He didn’t even bother to wind down the window. Or get out. What’s even stranger, is that he took pictures with his sunglasses on. He didn’t even remove them while he sat there. How can you take pictures with sunglasses on? That seems stupid to me. Anyway, he turned around, and left in his big boxy car without saying anything,” huffed Dot, after going on about the mysterious episode like it was national news. “I guess that you get all kinds,” agreed Samantha, tucking the peculiar tidbit away into the back of her mind. “I suppose you’re right, dear. It’s a changing world. I wonder if it’s for the better sometimes,” sighed Dot. “Speaking of changes, did you find out about the stakes along the lane, Mom?” asked Jake, “A couple of guys from Emerson’s Surveying were working by the road last week.” “The Mundles own the rest of the cottages along Abercrombie. So I figured that if I asked Mrs. Mundle, she would know. It’s her property. She wanted to make sure of her property lines for assessment. You know, the taxes keep going up every year. And no one has done proper boundary lines for ages. I guess that stands to reason,” concluded Dot. Was it only a coincidence thought Samantha? A strange man, in a big car, taking pictures. Mrs. Mundle checking her property lines, which no one had bothered with for generations. Suppose Mrs. Mundle and her father were involved. Could the mystery man be her dad? Did that really

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make sense? It was far fetched. Her father had been friends, indirectly, with Dot and Russell ever since her parents were separated. If it was him taking the pictures, why would he pretend to be a stranger? Only if he was hiding something from the Nelsons. It didn’t seem right. What could be so important that you had to fool someone? Lots. She only had to look inside her own family. “Is there any more to it than that?” questioned Samantha. “Goodness knows. Time will tell, dear. Now you kids have a good afternoon at the shore. I’ll fix you supper, when you get back,” said Dot. “Will Mom be coming over?” peeped Natalie. “I will give her a call later. If she’s not feeling well, I’ll fix her a plate to take home tonight. Don’t you worry. It’s all taken care of sweetie,” replied Dot. “I take it Dad’s at the wharf?” interrupted Jake. “Yes, you know Russ, he likes to shoot the breeze with his buddies. You can’t take the fisherman out of the man, even on Sundays,” said Dot, with a strained laugh. “I’ll change into my trunks,” said Jake, excusing himself. “Aren’t you swimming, dear?” Dot asked Samantha. “I’ve got mine on underneath. I burn so easily,” she replied, fiddling with the bottle of lotion. “What girls wear shows too much of themselves. Some things shouldn’t see the light of day,” remarked Dot, catching Samantha’s blush. “Do you have any more cookies?” piped Natalie. “There might be one or two left,” answered Dot, handing her one from the cracked jar, “Maybe we can make some more together, later?” “O.K.!” jumped Natalie, clapping her hands. Jake emerged from his room, with a towel horsecollared around his muscular tanned neck. Samantha drooled, sculpting his handsome bronze form with her hungry eyes.

They surfed passionately into one another. while her eyes were glazed elsewhere. Drifting lower. his fingers traced along the rise of her back.90 Rod Stewart Natalie and Sam led the way through the rustling knee-high grass on the bank. who turned to mount the stairs. “You go ahead Natalie. and then bolted over the rippled powder toward the distant lapping sea foam. “What are you thinking about?” asked Jake. Natalie couldn’t wait to scamper over the sand flats. ahead of Jake carrying the loaded basket. He squirted a zigzag of cold lotion down her gazelle legs.” His strong tendoned mitts smoothed the cool lotion with shivers over her milky shoulders. Samantha toweled over her chest. Then falling. while Jake fastened her modesty back into place. “I’ll need lots.” as she handed Jake the lotion.” said Sam. boiling a kiss into his mouth. The glistening sandbars tailed out into the bay for miles. although he wasn’t. Samantha slowly undressed before him. Natalie had become bored being alone. Jake spread out the beach blanket. “Undo my top. sensing the lightness of her palms riding lotion over his furry abdomen. as his breast beat raw against hers. and scuffed through the sand. They waved to the tourists. letting her shorts glide from her thighs. his palms firmed around her tight pear bottom. stopped. pulling him down on top of her. then sailed with his fingertips along the curves of her womanly hips. We’ll catch up. wiggled. “Sorry!” exclaimed Jake. . Her ripe peaches popped out of the shadows. Quickly. and lost hold of her top for a second. sulking up the beach toward Sam and Jake. Samantha shrieked.” reddened Sam. lying down beside him. please. weighting its breeze-flapping corners with cobbles. She swiped an orange pail and a green plastic shovel. pressing with gentle circles into her supple creamy flesh. and handed her a towel. They descended the steep stairs. until Jake saw the Maine couple coming their way. The towel slithered free. “You’re a bad boy.

Natalie’s tears dried instantly into a smile.” “You ever call her?” “Not my type. A pot brimmed with mashed potatoes. love. dear. and gathered handfuls of frosty emerald sea glass. She might remember. until their stomachs growled for them to go home. and the table bowled with buttered garden fresh vegetables.” “About?” “What Dot said. before massaging his loins. They built sandcastles with moats guarded by man-eating alligators (shrimp). Mundle. Sunday roast. “Sorry.” apologized Samantha. dabbing a kiss upon his lips. Denise snoops at photos.Love Me Knot 91 “Something’s not quite right.” sighed Sam.” sobbed Natalie. because whenever my folks had film developed she slips her phone number in. “Mum mentioned taking pictures. You’re right. . Sam.” “I know.” brightened Sam. made sand angels. I know. Right? At the drugstore.” as he returned a wet French caress. The Mundle land. The stranger. Somehow the Nelson family circle seemed complete with Samantha and Natalie. as she was piggy-backed on Jake’s shoulders down to the sandbars. sinking full into him. “Well. They centered their attention on Natalie. I’m just imagining things. I wish I could find out for sure. “I’ve waited forever for you guys to come and play with me. the pictures were probably finished a few days ago. Dorothy had prepared a feast for an army. Kate was too ill to join them.” “In what way?” “I think there is a connection.” as she explained to Jake about the ladies compact found in her father’s car. and the land? There are lots of tourists driving around in big cars. Thanks. flopping beside them. “You really think that your father is involved with Mrs.

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games and dozens of toys. when he had none. With the divorce. She compromised to return there in half an hour. he lost his daughter Emily. or rummy. and dragged Samantha with the other toward the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Many years ago. On Water Street. or maybe a brand new game that no one else had ever seen. rainy days. Samantha asked if they could browse around Pugwash for a few hours. penny candy. Someone who rang more than spare change through her till.TWELVE Monday morning the girls went into town with Kate. that she would be just two blocks away at the pharmacy. It broke his heart when his little girl moved to British Columbia. The two of them sat behind the counter and played checkers. He shrunk into his nickel-and-dime corner. Samantha left Natalie by herself. when the tourists had gone. Jake would pick them up later for lunch. as he smiled through his drooping bifocals and pretended to be a . making pleasure for others. Natalie lit up his gloomy days. On the slow. when he landed in port. and everyone else was clocking nine-to-five Samantha treated Burt and Natalie to a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Samantha mentioned to Natalie and the shop owner. She could spend the day gawking among the shelves. After ten minutes of eternity inside the store. his wife left him for someone with more manly ambitions. Emily’s new parents knew that Burt could rarely afford the luxury. Although he was welcome to visit her. Burt. jigsaw puzzles. Burt became the butt of snobbish family jokes. On the lower floor of the brick building there were new comics. Natalie jingled her allowance in one hand.

ignoring the fact that she was paid an extra fifty to call him the moment they were ready. “Hi Denise.” “Yeah. She continued. “Some of the pictures were strange. She found her at the rear. Natalie neatly printed her name on the back of one. “I hear you check over the photos.” “It’s really important.” iced Denise. Samantha marched to O’Brien’s. neatly biting her tongue. Quality control. Scenes of the point. nodding for Samantha to meet Denise outside the rear exit. I do actually. counting pills and minutes until her first coffee break. can I speak to Denise for a minute?” “Sure.” she laughed callously. “I need a favor.” Denise breathed coolly. He was overcome with tears. So. honey. “Tell me about it. “Jake said that you might help.” begged Sam.” “Hi Samantha. the look off from the Nelson’s. and scanned for Denise. but with wiper blades at the bottom. But first. When she had her school pictures done last September. for an hour. My friends make out there on the beach all the time. “So?” “Yeah. You know. and the cottages. about the pictures. “What’s up?” said Denise. Anything. “They were photos of Abercrombie Lane.94 Rod Stewart father again. “Sure. swung open the door. and pitting her shadow against Sam’s. That you might remember some pictures from last week.” “Mom.” “It was a rush order.” “Maybe. and gave it to Burt.” .” “Sometimes.” bargained Denise. and closed the store for the afternoon. But you have to do something for me.” replied Kate. flicking her golden locks.” Denise began. crossing her arms in defense.” “Yeah. handed Natalie a special edition of Parcheesi.” said Denise.

“You’re early. and paid for them.” She turned around.” He embraced her strongly. She gave him up. as she sobbed into him. toward the Ford parked on Queen.” mocked Denise. when a hand warmed upon her shoulder. Samantha snailed in tears down Water Street.” Sam mumbled through tear stained lips. It crushed her. Got it?” said Denise squinting daggers. stupid girl. devastated over losing Jake. as if Samantha should have known about it.” deduced Samantha. holding her in his arms. Since you are friends. laughing to kill herself. “Oh.” wilted Samantha. Sam got her answer about the pictures by promising Denise a date with Jake. and miserable. “Please Denise. I promised. Thanks. I’ll stand her up. “I suppose. locking Samantha outside. We’re going steady. “Jake. Like someone knotted over double. “No. For Friday.” Jake comforted her. I’m so sorry. I want you to fix me up with Jake. Samantha. Anyways. She was shaking. quivering a torrent against his chest.” she cried a river. “I’m sorry.” “Well. . Jake! Jake.” defied Jake. hugging Jake with all of her being. as she slammed the door shut on her pretty balling face. over what? Some pictures that probably meant nothing at all. and her bloated red eyes fell into his. We couldn’t fish this morning. You have to. “Dad has terrible pain in his back.” she steamed. ready to strangle Denise. he came right over on Saturday.” she smirked. “Fine. who was it?” demanded Samantha. I’m glad that I found you. sister. What happened. love?” She told Jake of her encounter with Denise. “Deal’s a deal. What do you want. “Hey. not that. “I won’t do it. “Your dad.Love Me Knot 95 “Guess they were taken from inside a car. Denise was a bomb that could easily tie his heart around her finger.

. with another stream of tears. realizing a full hour had passed. Samantha pulled herself together. Only Kate.96 Rod Stewart “I love you. I promise you. Thank God.” “I love you.” she said. “Samantha. Jake cringed in the drugstore. Jake.” lightly painting Jake with a kiss as they parted. “Maybe you can beat me next time. Samantha. Natalie knew that her sister was upset. Hi. “We always have fun. Denise.” declared Jake. They went to the toy store. He hoped that he could talk with Kate first. when a songbird chirped. Jake. “Thanks for looking after Natalie.” gritted Jake forcing a polite smile.” asked Jake.” nailing him dead on the spot.” chimed the girls. “Oh. Inside the cab. “Hello. He slinked down a far aisle. love. He had just passed the corner.” “You won’t lose me.” “Sure. tenderly rocking the wounded child soul within his care. I’m so sorry. enveloping her broken heart within the strength of his own. She hugged Natalie. plucking out his pegs and packing away the convoy. Jake. as they said goodbye. “I’ve got to stop at the drugstore for Dad. Burt tucked a few mints into Natalie’s pocket. one after the other. and peeked around. Samantha squeezed Natalie’s hand. “Thanks. He could do it in three focused steps. I don’t want to lose you. Samantha told her story again. to see who was on duty at the dispensing counter. I am yours forever. handing a crisp folded bill to Burt for the game. wishing they had come by later. don’t we Natalie?” replied Burt. who understood more than her age.” fussed Natalie. love.” said Jake. Please forgive me. finding Natalie and Burt engaged in Battleship. “Awww! I almost won. could you please take Natalie to the truck. and avoid Denise altogether. as they went around the block. He waved his hand away at the change.

We can stop on the way to Amherst. Jake.” “Now she is a young woman. please.” insisted Denise. “Anything else?” she warmed her bold palm upon his withdrawn arm. stepping back a pace. “Hi Jake. Jake.” Two aisles away glass fell with a distinct showering crash. “Sure. slipping away. hoping to be out of earshot of Denise. ready to claim him. She really cares for you. “You are the best thing in Samantha’s life.” noted Kate. avoiding the issue of Denise and Samantha. “Yes.” “We have always been best buddies. flowering her lips into a friendly kiss. with a sparkle in her eye. Jake!” bubbled Denise. O. “I’m just going to see Kate for a minute. “Is eight fine?” abbreviated Jake. She is delicate.” bowed Jake.” “My heart will wait for her. We couldn’t make it out to sea.” commented Jake. Sam needs more time. At my place. He flinched a weak smile. “Are the girls with you?” “They’re in the truck. Can I get a refill of these.” “Samantha is very special to me. Dad’s back is giving him hell.” replied Jake. “Samantha has changed a lot because of you Jake. and then swiveled away toward Kate..” .” replied Jake. ready to go. Jake. You understand. I want to do what is best. “Make it six. When she finds herself. we’re on for Friday!” raced her hot blood.” “See you Friday. “I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else.K.” “Samantha and you will make a beautiful family. “No thanks. She is more confident.Love Me Knot 97 “So. I want us to be together. Kate. You’re early.” handing her the empty prescription vial. She is lucky to have such a wonderful man to fall in love with.

Tide charts.” “You have a good afternoon with Sam and Natalie. anxious for the infusion of refreshing cold sugar. where they had been. . It was the same as fueling up at the gas bar.” as she gave his arm an affectionate pinch. The mercury boiled over eighty degrees Fahrenheit by eleven. They chose a booth at the rear. In the five minutes between the utensils clanging into formation upon the wobbly table. and where they might venture on the lobster-shaped provincial peninsula.98 Rod Stewart “I know you will. stuffing Jake’s shirt pocket with a rolled bill. with a strawberry shake and coke float to wash it all down. Enjoy your brunch together. Grizzly bearded fishermen perpetually snarled against a churning ocean within nicked and sun-faded wooden frames. they stopped at Orrin’s Restaurant. battered cod and fries. along Route 6. They ordered a table of onion rings. Hot grease and salt poured from the kitchen. and the waitress piling the food in front of them. bulging burgers. Samantha and Jake decided who had the most auspicious horoscope from the place mats. a couple of tables away from the jukebox tremolo of Roy Orbison. inflatable lobsters. canned Nova Scotia air. Natalie metronomed back and forth on her hands.” said Kate. They poked holes with their forks on their waterringed paper maps. It’s a nice day for a drive. while their bare thighs stuck to the leather seats like fly paper. Before driving through the heat wave to a cool water hole. The gleaming white elephant was settled on its haunches. prompt service with the objective of filling an empty tank. opposite a handful of garish salt box cottages with square manicured lawns that bordered a picture view of the hazy Strait.” “Thanks for your support Kate. Jake. assaulting their nostrils. Make my girls happy. The roaring air conditioner iced down the necks of sweating tourists. “Kate!” “I insist. and sea shell key chains littered the shelves behind the front cash. Jake.

” “I don’t care about that.” “We can do it Jake.” “Then I’m coming aboard with you. alone and foreign unto themselves.Love Me Knot 99 Jake nestled Sam under his wing. One good arm is not enough to carry the day. before their bodies turned separate. We have to fish now. And the season will be half over by then. The air which held the intent of hearts. after throwing out his back hoisting bait and gear. after leaving somewhere. “You know the course. please. before words ruptured the permeating silence.” she pleaded with kisses over his disbelief. where to find and set the pots?” “With my eyes closed. love.” replied Jake tightly scrunching up his napkin. “Dad and I would have to work something out. to be safely inside him. Jake. “Will your Dad be able to go fishing tomorrow?” asked Samantha. “I doubt it. lived with more poignant memory than the definitive moments. He followed the frayed hem of her cutoffs. These were the spaces of tender nothingness. To be with you. away from the hurtful world. Her fingertips sailed over the articulated network of veins and tendons weaving under the hairy meadow of his hand. My Dad and I have been doing it for years together. laid calmly aside from the things said and done.” . to register you with the DFO. Their intimate touch of skin within skin.” “You’re joking.” “What?” “You pilot the Jennie Lee. My Dad couldn’t afford to hire you. I’ll haul the pots. and before arriving elsewhere. These in between times. felt the vibrations of life. All I want is to be with you. her cheek listening to his heartbeat. as they breathed. captain. She wanted to slip herself underneath the taut tent of his skin.” “Dad won’t be right for a few weeks.

trying to fathom the situation with as much reason. savoring love’s flavor. wagging her finger. instantly turning a sunburn shade. “But we don’t have our bathing suits.” “No peeking.” persisted Samantha. Jake unfurled his blanket. sauntering west toward Amherst. Jake. They finished their meal with an orchestrated bout of burps.100 Rod Stewart “Natalie. “You two go first. Then I’ll take my turn. and make all the cookies I want. “It’s so hot. “I am saving it for you.” rationalized Jake. as their hands slipped apart. Whistle when you’re done and dressed.” kidded Natalie. and continued on their way past Port Howe.” winked Samantha. He unfastened a kiss from her lips. “How about a dip then?” said Jake. Promise. Jake had been there earlier in the Spring casting for brook trout. The stream was more appealing than the Battleship box appendaged to her side. with her mouth locking firm onto his.” whined Natalie. Upon reaching a secluded knoll. Natalie drooled at the sun swirled shallows below. they pulled over at a roadside clearing among majestic elms towering along the Shiminicus River. dear. as they threaded their way through the under story. spreading her lips for its sweet glaze. Ahead of them narrow deer trails criss-crossed among the ferns and alders. as heart. She plucked the maraschino from the twirled peak on her float. Five miles outside of Linden. would you mind staying with Dot?” “As long as I can sleep in. A brisk southerly breeze sprinkled them with a kaleidoscope of leaf shadows.” blazed Samantha. “Can I have a nibble on your cherry?” spoke Jake. “We will have to see what our parents say. “I don’t think you have much choice.” panted Natalie. You are stuck with me. .

I really hope so. gently rubbing down Natalie’s back.” “Are Natalie hugs as good as Jake hugs?” “Of course they are. until he could only breathe in the present. hugs and all. He cared for Natalie as his own little sister. After drenching each other silly. They clothed themselves in their underwear. “Are you coming?” yawned Natalie. “Are you tired?” “Yes.Love Me Knot 101 Jake cloud watched between the treetop spires. if they were married? Kate appeared ghastly ill. with no time for her daughters. with a soft cheek kiss.” affirmed Sam. it would devastate Natalie to live with her father and rarely be with Sam. His stomach bit into itself with indecision. “I love you. listening to the sisters’ laughter splashing beyond the bushes.” agreed Sam. Jake’s love was a crime to come between them.” “I hope so. He could not purge Samantha from his heart. something happened to Kate. Was he selfish stealing Samantha away from her younger spirit twin? Who would take care of Natalie.” . “Better than night time. Princess. drifting into the sunlit pinkness behind her closed eyelids. He had to push away that tomorrow as far as possible. The two of them had always been joined at the hip. the girls docked themselves by the brook edge. Soon they were toweled dry by the pine perfumed wind.” replied Sam. If God forbid.” cooed Natalie. ready to barefoot over stones and moss. “I think you are much nicer than the girl at the drugstore. A bit. letting the fresh cool ripples lap around their floating vanilla nakedness. “Do you still like our night hugs?” asked Natalie. allowing the oven sun to lick away the beading river drops and goose pimples. “This is like a dream.

His warm mouth soaked her face. with you. and raised her waist above the surface as an altar. The sparrow had fluttered away from her nest. When she was curled content. cuddling alongside her. She was willing for more. . His hummingbird tongue tenderly dipped and circled among her wispy petals. With Jake. gingerly tingling over intimate rises and hollows. His scent fogged into the air that she breathed. If that’s O.” smiled Natalie. And wake you up later. Jake brushed Natalie’s chocolate hair with the sweetness of a delicate waft. He folded his rippling stature into a crescent. He slowly lowered himself into the pool of love. like the wanting wetting her from inside. Their palms and lips became aquatic. and it was not from a breeze. Jake snuggled with Natalie in the shade. as she offered her blushing calla. “And then play Battleship after?” “You bet. He kneeled.” said Sam. He hung his shirt over a branch to block the trickling sunlight. Jake looked up through the alder web and saw the unoccupied blanket. as it oozed from her quivering womb.102 Rod Stewart “I’d like to stay here a little longer. She held him long and deep inside her lungs. The nude river nymph undressed him with her eyes before his clothes fell upon the bank. pearling as a long necklace between her shoulders. he dissolved away into the wind. as a bold raven wing eclipsed the sun. tightening his thighs into hers. lighting a lady bug kiss on her forehead. undulated with power. A burst of emerald shivered beyond them.K. His mouth pressed full upon her lower lips. then dangled over her breasts. He wandered around her navel. His earthly skin. rolling her twin pink pebbles between his lips. We could let you have a cat nap.” “That sounds good to me. She fainted with pleasure into his enveloping embrace. and he drank her moaning nectar. He unfolded her coral blossom with a whisper. like the current weaving around her.

. How patient and tender. MacDonald and the secret touch inside herself paled to the passion melting them together. with this in between time. They were good to her. But their love was not the same as the love they gave her. to be lost on her own. The time they would give their souls to stay the same. pinched away from a mother roundness. like an oil drop. Ones that she could not have. the gray clouds had gathered. When Sam and Jake returned to the teepee-legged Princess plucking blades along the blanket edge. There were different hugs. as her sister nuzzled home into Jake. sniffing. Natalie smothered deep into Samantha’s chest. And no one wanted to play Battleship. severed. They were all afraid that things had changed. How his lips only offered and never demanded. as a tear burned down her cheek. They drove back to Pugwash. as if he had waited. The sun had lost its warmth. They held each other. wanted. each wanting to be closer than they could. The glimpses thieved from the lust soaked pages of her mother’s John D. and needed her more than anything. It was a terrible lie. and that more just might. Natalie knotted inside. and more beautiful than Natalie had wondered.Love Me Knot 103 It was different. Natalie felt their circle closing without her. How he held her as the most precious and fragile gift.

104 Rod Stewart .

Jake was seduced by flowing locks. ready to make her kill. half-sleeve cotton blouse. before flaring with enough swish to bare another two inches of tapered porcelain thigh. like Sam’s. She had seen his hands toying with Samantha’s at the store. without asking for anything more than a compliment. Every alteration was critical for her intentions. Denise wanted Jake to know that she was different. More than different. Venus powdered her cheeks and freshened her blood red lipstick. and needled the fold in place. Her palm warmed over the back of his. She thought of dying her hair black. She considered showing a sliver of lace. They were a big money family managing the local Irving . which sphered her generous feminine proportions with orbiting perfection. Her turquoise floral print skirt rounded snugly. Her palms smoothed down the hourglass Barbie doll figure reflected in the full length mirror. as she accepted the yellow rose among a puff of baby’s breath at the doorway.THIRTEEN Denise pulled free one of the dozen pins that bristled from her pursed ruby lips. Denise primped her Goldilocks curls rolling down her shoulders. For the hundredth time. when the doorbell above the spacious oak foyer downstairs rang promptly at six. The neckline had to dive enough to draw interest. He looked as comfortable as a clown in his beige corduroy sports coat. She creased another half inch arrow from the side of her open. Cordial exchanges were made with Denise’s parents. no doubt with the Gillis price tag still stitched to the collar. His khaki bell bottoms were ironed as stiff as tin. drew in her waspish abdomen. Better. She raised the hem another finger length above the knee.

Denise had snubbed every socially groomed candidate they had introduced to her. Some women fished. Unreasonable. Allison. Jake was ripe for love. Denise could have had anyone. it was a beginning. thought Parker-Jones. about refining Denise’s courting tastes. toward the day when she could stand with a real man by her side. Denise was far from a daddy’s girl. at times carrying his parents. She would not marry a puppet to dance for Irving. and caught a man in their pregnant trap. but through his own worth. Denise would rather be alone. like this hobo. Not enough high society for her in this two-bit town. Sometimes the sacrifice didn’t. She was spoiled. and golden purse. John Parker-Jones frowned at his daughter for reeling in this starched salty flounder from the bottom of the ocean. She refused to bend to her father’s will. Allison wished them a wonderful evening. she found out early that most boys were after one thing. about being a proper woman. their daughter was nearly doomed as a spinster.106 Rod Stewart Pulp and Paper. Never the less. for security. It worked both ways. What façade acquaintances she had. Behind John’s back she was very proud of her daughter. There were many teenage confrontations between John and Denise. A few rough turns. She had her job at the pharmacy. might bring her to her senses. soon collapsed to nothing. than buy a veneer of pretty smiles. firmly anchored in family. Later he would have a firm discussion with his wife. It was a pittance. for fighting for who she was. . not behind a title. She believed in a man who proved himself. From her bitter girlfriends. Sometimes the compromise worked. and knowing your place. Even the impenetrable booked walls of the study could not contain their bouts of shouting. Denise was grounded for weeks at a time. and she would not lose him to that airhead Samantha. Gossip spread that Denise was too good for anyone. At twenty-two and still unmarried. Through school she had watched Jake grow. With her Hollywood looks. yoked beside his father.

He parked in a cul de sac. Then he untied his camel oxfords. The bank crumbled away as a forty foot sandstone escarpment to the bleached footprinted softness rippling below.” He escorted her down the three rickety inclined flights. who bandaged the cuts from haranguing insults and intimidation. “Thanks. She prayed for Samantha to choose the right ones.” “Could we stop at Heather Beach?” “Sure. when Jake commented. Allison had loved.Love Me Knot 107 It was Allison who held her wounded daughter.” announced Denise. as long as they abided by his rules. removing her marigold sling back pumps. John was a good provider for his captives.” tensed Jake. against an ash lichen shale fence that meandered along a clover and daisy green hairline. . They leaned against the railing at the shore. one foot after the other. When his solid arm occasionally brushed against her forgiving silkiness.” said Jake.” sulked Denise. and had fallen out of love. Denise would be within his embrace by nightfall. “I know you didn’t want to go out with me. He opened her door. rolled up the white socks inside his shoes. with John for the same reasons.” “Alright. I won’t bite. and steadying himself with a hand on her shoulder. she almost fainted a sigh. “My feet are aching for the beach. “We have lots of time before the late show. She did not want her daughter to become another Allison. turning down a series of doglegged dirt lanes peppered with shoebox cottages. politely holding her hand as she stepped down from the cab. The fragrance of her freshly washed blond waterfall intoxicated him. digging their souls into the sand. They had driven about thirty telephone poles beyond Pugwash. doubting her last statement. and hung it on the back of the seat. Whatever human kindness remained from their pitiful marriage was given to Samantha. a blank servant for thankless years. She was the one to release her hand last. “Loosen up Jake. He slipped off his jacket.

” “Is Sam well enough to work? Part time? She was pretty shook up as a kid.” “Kate and I have often talked about Sam and Natalie. as her shoulders deflated. You have to understand. that everyone asks me for favors all the time. I will apologize to Samantha.” “I know. “That would be nice. Please forgive me.” “Why did you do that Denise?” “I’ve been asking you for a date for months.” warmed Jake.” she explained. No more mind games. to be your friend. I feel used a lot. “How is Samantha these days?” “She seems to be doing better. I am very sorry.” she soured. They are struggling. Denise. You keep ignoring me.” stated Jake. Help with their overdue accounts. Even leaving my phone number with your photos. crossing her fingers. because of my father. “Alright.” she slyly suggested. to take care of them and hold down a job.” sighed Denise. Jake.” “I am trying to help her. And grounded. As one girl to another. “I’m not a snotty bitch. “Promise. Jake. We’ve been fishing together this week. sugar coating the true reason for his prejudice.” mulled Jake. Jake. I admit to being short with Samantha.” “I want to be there for her. She hoped to erode his guard. “I’m not in your class. Be more confident. It will take time. for who I am. I just want a chance. Some things are tough to get over.” as her aquamarine eyes jeweled into his. “All I want is for you to know me. I’m not asking for you to love me. too. We have known them for years.” ruled Jake. . since my Dad is laid up. It has been rough for her. “Let’s go around the point. Denise smiled in gratitude. Jake. I see. Connections for a job.” “I worry about the Allens.” as she teetered over the algae slick boulders.108 Rod Stewart “That was mean trick you played on Samantha. Jake. “Oh.

extending his hand to her for balance. exhaling her scent over his salt kissed face.” said Jake. She held his hand lightly. Forced with the inconvenience. then pillowing him into her open blouse. They made small talk and took baby steps along the sandy arc. as he ploughed through the sea. Go slow. Jake blushed. stinging the abrasions on her virgin instep. Denise would have loved to tumble into the surf with him. “Be careful. and her ample contours oceaning gently within his arms. Denise drew herself firm into his chest. the cobbles sunk away to wet tope sand. and he did not withdraw. When they crossed over the point. Jake cradled her into his arms. “We should be getting back. The tide rose faster than they anticipated. She embraced his bull shoulders. with one polar pink crescent rising over the interstellar lace. It would take nothing. and down his straining nape. . between pressing the treacherous roundness under his feet. Winning his body would be easy. She imagined her skirt jellyfishing over his torso. The brine sloshed above their knees. Her mouth watered a whisper away from his tanned ear swirl. Ten minutes later. their legs entwining.” said Jake. they had to press themselves along the cliff. The shore waves frothed about their ankles. sensing the drumming pulse beneath his sweat blotched shirt. His hot laboring breath sizzled over her creamy moons. One false step and he could easily fall into her. She brought her lips dangerously close. they arrived safely on dry land. subliminally seeding other thoughts. Denise’s fingertips floated over his leather taut skin. Her hair rivered past his cheeks puffed red with exertion. and running her wet hands through his licorice locks. and slung them around his neck. “If you want to make the show. Unfortunately. having unzipped his pants. She wanted to consume his soul first.” His concentration nearly faltered.Love Me Knot 109 “Better hold on. Denise balled her skirt like a ballerina’s tutu.” added Denise. Jake. having shifted. for her mouth to open full over his.

” admitted Jake sheepishly. dangling her mile high legs in front of him.” consoled Denise. “I do!” Denise fought to contain herself. brushing away the wrinkles as best she could. Jake. Denise fussed with her sandy feet. kneeling before her. From a distance. She didn’t care. thrusting forth valiantly from between the unbuttoned sails of his shirt. she would have leaped into his arms with an. then socked and shoed himself. They passed only a few gawking couples on the beach. as she sat on the passenger side. and then reappeared with a damp handkerchief. scratched and chipped like a fourteenth century Renaissance painting. Denise dreamed of rolling naked in the sand. He hen scratched around in the grass to rub away the beach grit. Jake straightened his shirt.110 Rod Stewart She slid down from his embrace. “It’s not that bad. down around his waist.” he shrugged. Denise adjusted her garments. “The stream is handy for rinsing. His animal furry legs were too damp for the trousers. Jake. By the time they had returned to the pick-up. sliding her palm from his shoulder. and stroked away the sand with deliberate attentive softness for each toe. He was a deadly handsome man to love. “I’m a bit shoddy to take out on the town. his boxer shorts didn’t appear that much different than regular swimming trunks. If his next breath was a proposal. her thumping heart only skin away from his. as if she was a living fairy tale. Jake was more than ready for his trousers. He cupped her angel foot in his palm. “You are fine. to have him moisten her clean with his affection. . Her thigh grazed by the tip of his bowsprit. And no one will notice anyway. “It’ll be dark when we get there. Jake’s couture was not as fashionable. and pulled the tails down as far as they could go. as the sun lowered toward the horizon with his pride. Jake vanished for a minute.” he commented. I wouldn’t have anyone else for company.” reassured Denise. Her French pedicure and nail polish were scraped.

” said Denise. “Let’s swing by Lenny’s on the way through Port Howe. “Stop it!” she laughed.” he kidded. “We can leave the beach behind. tugging on her lapel. Most of the T-shirts featured monster lobsters or something bordering on tartan. But I want to have a man beside me. He goofed around with Denise as a muscle bound menacing Hulk. We can grab some drinks. with a slight slap-kiss upon his hand. a lonely cart creaked. Natural. A few stray sugared-up brats wagging thawed Mr. A modest Nova Scotia flag was tattooed over the heart.” she teased. A plain white one was hanging at the back. Freezies chased one another down the can and cereal aisles. before following Jake to the souvenir rack. Nearby. popping the cap off his soda for him. he pulled a can of Right Guard down from the shelf. Not a perfumed doll. accompanied by voices bickering whether it should be hamburger or T-bones on the weekend.” said Jake. and a T-shirt to wear under my jacket.” “I like you as you are. crinkling his nose and fanning his shirt. Jake stretched it over his chest. On the way to the cash.Love Me Knot again. while she fizzed up inside. taking the deodorant away from him.” argued Denise. Jake. . Denise snatched a root beer and cherry soda from the fridge. “The girls will be all over you. “I’m afraid the sea will always be with me.” The corner grocer’s was less than an hour from closing. if you went barechested. “And the guys would do the same with you. and setting it back on the shelf. 111 It was after eight before they were on the highway “Sombody’s going to yell ‘skunk’ in the theatre. nearly ripping the seams.

Jake curled his arm around her shoulders.” “It’s not everyday that I carry an angel. before Jake removed his jacket. They shared the popcorn balanced upon his lap. reeling from a strike across the face of his heart. and draped it around her shoulders. whose telekinetic powers failed to nudge the minute hand. Her dainty piano ivory fingers melted against his lips. inserting herself between the gums of the spring loaded cushions. Denise didn’t even rub her arms once. her palm asking for his. When the soundtrack threatened impending carnage. Above them frigid air blasted through the vents to counter the warmth of sardine stacked bodies that were glued to the opening scene. She leaned into Jake.112 Rod Stewart “How much?” he asked the goldfish bowl spectacled clerk. even after three weeks running. sucking face as if neither of them had eaten with passion in days. The ticket booth swallowed the end of the fish tail queue. feeling his hot breath roll over her open palm. . Denise led him by the flickering glow of the Coke commercial. Finally. At least he allowed her that much. she sank her blond softness further into his chest. while she squeezed by. preferring the inconvenience of making a safe spot for the drink before getting his own handful. for soaking your shirt. “I’ve got it. Once inside. The first few times he passed. to the last pair of seats on the upper left wing. “Fair is fair. he accepted the practical intentions.” interrupted Denise. A piece of Samantha just died inside him. and offer them to him. as she slipped the puffs into his mouth. She was jealous of the couple in front of them.” remarked Jake. They hopped into the cab and roared west over the tar patched grey ribbon. Jake juggled the Mountain Dew and jumbo popcorn. after uttering the words. His other hand was occupied with holding the soft drink. threading through the twilight veil. She would scoop a few crunchy blossoms. as they ran hand in hand down Church Street to the Paramount. as her cheek warmed into him. closing her palm over his billfold. The summer blockbuster Jaws still packed audiences.

” she breathed over his chest. Her tongue massaged around him like a tropical tidal wave. at the approach of her languid touch.” Her palm fluttered down the carton. lingering her hungry tongue along the edge of his hand. “Denise!” he flushed. She pressed gently. The crew scurried to the foredeck. The captain cursed and made ready his harpoon for the Great White. and dipped along his inner thigh. “I know it’s here. wetting his lobe between her lips.” enjoying her more. “A girl’s just having fun. hugging her close again. Denise motioned for the Dew. The popcorn box was nearly empty. She apologized. “He’s coming! He’s coming!” rabidly shouted the scientist. The drink was finished except for the ice cube slurry at the bottom. He couldn’t hurt her feelings. The rise beneath his jeans moved. She probed for the last few kernels. He cooled off after that maneuver. waiting for the next strike. “Don’t move. and relented. On the screen. nibbling with a soft tease upon the tip as he withdrew. taking him slow and deep into her mouth. his hidden length. She took them one at a time. than the mechanical shark swimming among the sea of gasps. I’ve got it. “Thank you. up and down. the giant shark chomped through the stern.” she whisper giggled into his ear. perched atop the sinking cabin. and then it was his turn to cup some kernels for her. dropping them between his loins. Her lips engulfed a buttered finger. The ocean surface rippled. “We don’t want to make a mess.Love Me Knot 113 Jake silently smiled. drinking his racing pulse.” . and began to lift away from him.

as he shot warm cream into his denim. but not much had changed within their bubble of years. “Baby! Oh. turning his torrid breath and searching eyes into hers. Jake’s thighs quivered. pinching and kneading his marvelous girth with her greedy fingertips. The midsummer fluorescence sparked notes across the still nocturne. His sensual thoughts funneled toward the apex of pleasure. Natalie and Samantha were cocooned on the front veranda. shaking with a soft moan that Denise completely devoured into her mouth. roll it along its side. The black drop would only gravitate immobile. engorging between his thighs. and laughed the same. The greater darkness had enveloped them. They were bottled within circumstances. electrocuting the air with brilliant green flashes. They had played. it resigned lifeless in confinement. . Restless. loved. those stars poking through the suffocating ink. or give it a soft shake. Thirty-five miles away at Pugwash. They filled their lungs with the cool cotton midnight air. like the firefly Natalie had caught in a jar. except for the soul twinkles from one another’s gaze. together. she would tip it. They had zipped the twin sleeping bags together into one. windows and other surfaces which gradually became inanimate by the hour. Quickly. beneath the cloudy velvet heavens. and cried for air holes.114 Rod Stewart All of the logical blood in his brain drained downward. The loaded harpoon exploded with a bang. baby!” she trembled. which was already condensing droplets upon the railing. with no stars to wish upon. Sometimes Samantha felt the cold glass. When she had captured the insect. skewering the murderous target. season after season. They had grown older. it had climbed and ticked against the glass. flooding the sea red with a gush of blood. and placed between them. The can opener had stabbed plenty of breathing holes through the tin bottle top. He succumbed completely to her.

Of course he had. her Natalie. A closeness that must never change.” They had almost slipped away into the same dream together. took flight.” replied Sam. “Me. and tipped the contents onto her palm. Natalie shifted onto her back. wondering if he had kissed Denise. tracing her fingertips over Natalie’s baby soft skin. Natalie circled her fairy palm over Sam’s back. Samantha hugged her close. The emerald Christmas light buzzed. releasing her sour sweet fragrance and content infant moans. Wondering if she had lost him. when Natalie took her sister’s palm lower. Samantha’s fingertip slowly encouraged wetness from between Natalie’s downy feminine folds. who stared into pure emptiness. that she needed to fly. soothing her heartbeat. She could have done it herself. with a tear. In seconds she felt a wiggle of life. “You’ll find out when are older. I don’t know. chest and legs.” sighed her sister. All the while Samantha cooed “I love you Princess. It was a closeness they both wanted and needed. Sam kissed her. thankful for her other wing. “Yeah. Samantha unscrewed the cap.” cracked Samantha’s voice. snuggling beside Natalie.” lighting the final evening caress upon her rose bud lips. neither. She embraced Natalie tighter and kissed her cheek hard. . again. more lightly.” mumbled Natalie. allowing her sister’s touch to flow warmly over her arms. turning toward Samantha. braiding her fingers through the Princess curls. Answering again. but Samantha had a special gentleness. and blinked away as a random zigzag into forever. “What’s going to happen?” “I don’t know Princess. “You thinking of Jake?” she peeped.Love Me Knot 115 “I can’t sleep. honey. “What is kissing like?” raised Natalie.

116 Rod Stewart .

In the corner of the window opening to the breathtaking evening panorama. Helen. You remember me telling you about the Nelson boy.” “Any other news?” inquired Tim.” he laughed. “Summer romance.FOURTEEN Tim swirled the ice in his tumbler of scotch.” “Samantha is working for the summer?” “Maybe for another week.” “Really?” remarked Tim. Samantha has been working on the boat with Jake this week. “Samantha and Jake were in on Tuesday. Jake bought Samantha some new boots and all-weather clothing.” emphasized Helen. “Hello. I’ve received your messages. “Yes.” “Great! I’ll be ready for you.” “You’re coming down?” “I can arrange to pass through on Friday. She hoped that it would stir more consideration about the Abercrombie homestead. quite surprised. She mentioned that she was wearing his gear for the first few days. Jake’s father should be recovered by then.” “I see. It comes and goes. and dialed up his next plan. love. the reflection of his answering machine constantly blinked for attention. “They make a lovely couple. while scanning the city lights necklaced around Halifax Harbour from his penthouse suite at Park Victoria. He ignored the Morse code of the red dot.” “She hangs onto him like a dirty shirt. dear.” “How about Natalie?” .

The garden hose hung coiled and dripping. After a few hours. “I’ll see you at six on Friday?” “Yes. and cheerfully obliged for another hundred bucks under the counter. finishing with a spattering smack of kisses.” “The Nelson’s are close friends.118 Rod Stewart “Mrs. He would inquire with his informant at the drugstore. He thought about the details and possible ways of altering the situation. Nelson’s looking after her while Kate is at the pharmacy. if Jake and Samantha get married. The cottage appeared devoid of any signs of activity. Tim noted the skunk chewed garbage lid by the back porch buzzing wild with green bottle flies. If Samantha became engaged to Jake. Tim was counting on two things. definitively. Tim had to make the Nelsons move.” “I suppose so.” said Tim. Residents were responsible for taking their own extra refuse to the landfill site.” she replied. someday. He considered it a measure of personal insurance. All of Natalie’s toys were gathered from the yard. The curtains were drawn against the summer sun. love. Samantha clinging onto her possessions. Tim.” relented Tim. Denise. should a problem arise with Kate. about Kate’s hours. he had a revelation. “Love can make anything possible. and Kate procrastinating with disposing the garbage to the local dump. too. Tim would have to take advantage of everyone being away from the cottage. on the corner. dear. dear. Tim never told Kate about his spare cottage key.” “You. The snippy blond changed her tune. and preferably break up Jake and Samantha before it became ugly.” “That will never happen. that would complicate matters.” “Maybe your family. The Buick crept under the pine shadows of the Allen driveway at half past nine. What was her name? Denise? Yes. Sweet dreams Helen. . He had brought gloves and disposable coveralls in case he had to explore that option.

Tim continued past Pugwash. After thoroughly searching among the jackets. Tim donned his latex gloves. and more importantly for his project on Abercrombie lane. Jake’s red and white toque lay atop the fisherman’s raincoat and trousers. Mission accomplished. Scott’s . He noticed a corner of green rubber poking from under the bed frame. He glanced with a devious smile at the photocopied file of Kate Allen’s medical history next to him on the passenger seat. Stealing his clothes would hurt Samantha. The fish-scaled rubber was worn away at the knees and elbows. he had failed. despite his otherwise admitted Machiavellian tendencies. within reach. Tim still loved his daughters. Samantha would have it hidden nearby. He crouched down on all fours. He turned the key. She would want to touch him in her dreams. Kate would deny it. disturbing nothing on his way to the various family closets. and pulled out the complete set of allweather gear. blouses and dresses.Love Me Knot 119 Tim shuddered. before the whole episode would be forgotten. He envisioned Kate wanting to dispose of the odiferous wear. She was infatuated with Jake. jeans. and slipped inside. Remarkably. On the pretence of delivering the urgent package. Samantha would have a fit. he disappeared down the gravel washboard road leaving a wake of dusty zephyrs. Tim sat on Samantha’s bed. and accuse Kate of throwing out Jake’s clothes. His daughter would fume for a few days. nearly vomiting at the thought. Tim needed to think like Samantha. Particularly pleased with himself. and wanted him close by. and double bagged Jake’s outer wear together with his tread bare size twelve goulashes that he had found at the back of Samantha’s wardrobe. Tim only had to make a few business inquiries before locating Dr. and be too sick to argue. It was necessary for her own good. Ben was well known around Wallace.

“What do you want.120 Rod Stewart secluded private residence. who would look after dear Kate?” sneered Tim. Ben was aware of what could happen if the information fell into the wrong hands.” Silence.” snapped Ben. dead upon returning home after an eleven p. in his lucrative professional position. if I report you to the board. “It is. Dr. twisting the knife deeper. I had my sources check you out. would prey upon Scott’s conscience. after the warning from the CMA. If you lose your license. although . It was no secret around town that Ben cared for her. Allen. until I read the file myself. obviously accessed by someone. “Hello. “I know that you’re good for it Ben.” laughed Tim. Could he stall. Nothing. “I don’t understand why you would continue to heavily medicate my wife.” threatened Tim. “We’ll talk again soon. It would consume his life savings and force him to sell his property. “Hello?” muttered Ben. adding. “Fifty grand. emergency house call. squeezing the country mouse between his paws. Scott!” “Go to Hell. Scott. How much time until the next call? Hours? Days? Maybe a week of grace.m. slamming down the phone receiver. “I own you. Kate’s confidential medical file. Scott. you bastard!” shouted Ben. Allen. More than likely it was a means of severing his personal involvement with Kate. Allen?” gritted Ben. and the balance later? Ben suspected that money meant nothing to the scum.” cooled Tim.” “That’s none of your business. and pay him off with thirty grand cash now. Dr. The dial tone hung speechless in the air. “What?” Ben blew up hysterically. “I didn’t realize that Kate was so ill.” he remarked. I assume you read the Friday afternoon mail on your doorstep. He would be destroyed. Ben knew that Tim was serious.

isn’t it?” “He’s got your file. needing the balm of his love to soften her struggle. as she stepped out of her Toyota.” as she undid his shirt. among the din of chirping crickets. “We’ll see about that. wanting the impossible. She curled deep into him. The last ember from the sunset clouds had died into the steel gray twilight soot. arresting the moment. upon the swing chair. Their mouths folded strongly into each other. “It’s Tim. Her scent seemed less sweet to him now. “I am more than a summer fling. in pendulous silence.” Ben sighed. His heart knelled dull. Ben could only guess at the storm throbbing between her temples. Or lose my license. and poured her lips over his wooly chest. as they leaned together. She was trying to purge her system of the opiate drugs.” he chided. Her caresses failed to release the cord of worry binding his muscles. Kate informed Samantha that she would be home late. Her shift was over at nine.” responded Kate. He wrote kisses with the moonlight across her forehead. than it had been a few weeks ago. Kate raised her lips to Ben’s. They held each other. “I’m not as easy as I look. He opened the door for Kate. Ben wanted to avoid conflict of interest issues. when the Corolla’s lights winked through the spruce gauntlet down Ben’s lane.” “Oh God!” “I have to pay him off.” . With arms around each other. Ben phoned Kate the following evening. they glided onto the screened veranda that smiled with a string of Chinese lanterns.Love Me Knot 121 there was no formal relationship. and other less comforting thought voices rambling inside them. and not to wait up for her. “I bet you say that to all of the girls. as he sailed fingertip caresses over her lined haggard face. and embraced her with warm concern. “If only. Hazelnut tea honeyed the humid night.” joked Ben. among other things.

Hold me. Natalie. to withdraw a syringe and a vial of morphine from his medical bag. Ben. as they fell love spent into one another. Night revealed their vulnerable forms. Somewhere else. “Your love is the only drug I need.” “Will you come with me Kate? The four of us. She was the first to rise. drinking her breath over his face. Their tangled bodies swayed in rhythm to the soft tumble of distant surf. lost in a dream waiting for him. Kate. “If I don’t pay him fifty grand. toward the candlelit bed chamber. and don’t let go. Ben. caressing every subtle feature with his eyes until tomorrow had begun. until they could only breathe with a common soul. his lips only a kiss away from hers. Kate pushed it away. becoming inseparable. She wanted as much as he could give.” shook Kate.” “You can’t give into him. illuminated by the stars. during the smallest hours. “Hold me. He lay awake. and over his. His watery gaze flowed over her opal profile. as she took him hard and tight.” she sobbed. and tomorrow was merely a few sketched lines. coalescing. “I don’t want your name dragged through the mud. as she fell asleep.” cried Ben. traced by feverish hungry fingertips. Their mouths seared tight and full. Ben kneeled.” “You know I can’t. Ben held her. when yesterday was still painted among the shadows. my life here is finished. The hot wax and undone clothes both dripped away.122 Rod Stewart Kate balled on his shoulder.” She nestled as a cloud in his arms. They were like rivers of mercury. as tears rained down her cheeks. I want to be with you. The pleasure of their beings groaned complete. He flowed entirely into her. Ben.” “Then start over. being warmed and loved by her skin rising and falling within his touch. Samantha. shimmering. and the . weaving. sweetheart.” swooned Kate. The flame flickered and died into smoke. “I don’t care what happens.

They both understood darkness. while his angora chest warmed against her back. She cried for just one sweet taste of forever. rocking a lullaby within her womb. as his love fountained full within her. “I love you. and being alone. but she was afraid. . Her fingers whispered in communion with the bobbing antennae of a chocolate gypsy moth that gently hung on the other side of the screen. “Yes.” she quivered. as he brought her melon hips into the heat of his own. She held those words. The cool breeze kissed her skin alive as she dissolved into his embrace. which evaporated into the death of the night. knowing all too well that their intimate touch was as fleeting as the moth wings. His tepid breath rolled over her shoulders.” begged Ben.” pledged Ben with every fiber of his being.” she gulped. Kate. She felt as deeply as she might within her lost self. She wanted to tell him. as Ben buried himself in the scent of her mane cast wildly over his face. when everything about her was disintegrating? “I love you. over her navel. His hands gingerly crossed with hers. as a vase having enveloped a delicate stem. “We are good together. and Ben. “I have to go. and by his simple yet profound love for Kate. Her breasts swayed with his gentle motion. poised and yielding to the ocean waft passing through the window. Kate. He encircled her with his arms. Kate spread herself as a starfish. Would it be another promise snatched away from her lips. as Ben’s passionate tide swelled inside her body and soul. to capture them within her. impossibly tight. and her life? How could she give her love to him.Love Me Knot 123 moon. Her eyes penetrated as far as she could toward the faint horizon. Ben. knotting her palms into the curtain folds. She wanted to sense the perpetual waves beyond.” with everything in her heart. She willowed as an elegant ikebana. His mouth moistened the curve of her nape. her candle silk legs astride. crowned by a precious fragile bud.

They held each other briefly again. The high beams burned Ben’s stark white flesh against the last cinders of night. dwindling away as a lonesome splinter in her rear view mirror. in the middle of nothingness.” said Kate. “Samantha will be worried. She left him. . not wanting anything but the essence of Kate enveloping him. Ben slowly slipped her paisley print dress over Kate’s naked warmth. out of the door. They shared one last deep French caress. He puppy dogged barefoot after her. drenching the cotton skin between them with passionate desire. and across the yard. He clothed himself only with her fragrance of love. finally letting all of him go. his palm desperately dangling within hers. before Kate backed away in her Toyota.124 Rod Stewart Time ultimately loosened their embrace.

” “He has so little time at home. “You love him. as Kate collapsed exhausted onto the bed. How could he look after you. Samantha sat beside her. followed by the tear of fresh gauze and rattled vials. She listened for her mother’s shoes to lightly prance over linoleum. moist passion that perspired about Kate. Her nostrils waited for the whiff of sterilizing alcohol. as it opened and closed.” “You and Natalie?” “A real family would be nice.” “Things were different then. with her undergarments. Ben’s a great guy.” “Then why don’t you?” “There isn’t time. mom.FIFTEEN At quarter past three Samantha heard the suction of air compress from the back door. dear.” “Ben can make you very happy. . and she tiptoed across the hall. Samantha’s fingertips met Kate’s. when we were kids. Samantha’s curiosity carefully peeled away from Natalie. A frigid damp breath dropped through the window. and unbuttoned between her shoulders for her mother. please!” wept Samantha. don’t you mom?” “If only I could. when I’m gone?” stated Kate. musky. She recognized the heady. as she turned around. in Wallace. crumpling around Kate’s grass dewed feet. “There was. The bathroom light blinked for a second. “Don’t talk like that mom. The wrinkled dress fell away. When none of these noises occurred.” sank her voice with regret. Shoes that were left behind. and tap water gurgled down the sink drain.

Kate could only love him madly for a few more months. she knew almost as much gossip as Mrs. Having gained trust and kindness from the townspeople. with two parents. Sooner or later. but also for the opportunity to top off her cache of drugs. not only because of her amorous rendezvous with Ben. one throbbing headache after another. . Kate knew that she had to take matters into her own hands. Her girls would be well loved by the Nelsons. Even if Kate had not been in love with Ben. Several weeks ago. Kate was thankful for working the last evening shift. the misappropriated medication would have jeopardized his career. She had established herself as a valuable liaison between the physicians and the community. Now. Her record at the pharmacy was unblemished. her principles would not allow that breech of conduct against someone else. the years between them were lost forever. When rumors blazed about Kate and Ben. Kate could barely focus into the next hour. The days blended together. Pert and clever just like Denise. Perhaps it might have been a beautiful relationship. when Ben had mentioned the letter from the CMA. Ten years ago. Her children deserved a stable home. Kate kept them guessing. Her tears trickled with Samantha’s until she found peace. she realized her error with burning regret. She wondered how she could survive the summer. When Kate finally found rest. with her terminal illness. without anyone else knowing. knowing that she was loved. Mundle. She chuckled at the smorgasbord of bachelors heaped upon her by relatives and friends of patients. Kate was a sharp looker at O’Brien’s.126 Rod Stewart Kate hugged her more deeply than ever. She couldn’t saddle Ben alone with the care of Natalie and Samantha. She dispensed medication with care and responsibility toward her extended family of Pugwash. Samantha returned to Natalie. you could swear bets were wagered on a marriage date. Ben would have given heaven and earth to be with Kate. and her children. She could have asked him to give her painkillers.

While Kate was alone at the counter filling a prescription. In her darkest solitary corner Kate even contemplated suicide. and be forced to forfeit the custody of her children to Tim. Kate made a silent prayer for herself having survived another day. Kate on the other hand. she was surprised to discover that the stock . Her only chance was for Kate to die. might not. She quickly pocketed it into her lab coat. she could evade persecution for two. By August the anguish would be unbearable. Next week she would begin syringing a few cc’s of Demerol aside for herself. Was Kate selfish. allowing her to avoid the excruciating pain in the coming weeks. Kate would be convicted. Kate realized the addictive nature of these drugs. she popped a few narcotic capsules into an older prescription vial of hers from Ben. When the drugstore closed. She could easily change the number of refills or the dosage of codeine for herself. to keep herself alive. It was a terrible black plot to consider. Discretely. However. Kate risked stealing medication as a last resort. She might even be bold enough to alter the inventory. and later transferred the drugs to her purse. She had to tell herself that her dribble of days left was for them. If Kate was lucky. It would be a clean break. to plan life for others according to her own death. If she was very careful. it was not that clear cut. and Ben? At times it seemed that it was easy to end it all. for the sake of being with her children. If she stole drugs. That would be enough time. The oppressive cloud often hung in her mind. She was a desperate dying woman. The testamentary will ensured that Samantha and Natalie would be cared for by the Nelsons.Love Me Knot 127 Ben had too much to lose. On Wednesday morning. before she was charged for the crime. when Denise dispensed some codeine. maybe three months. she reached for a bottle of Darvon from the locked cabinet. The customer’s pills were tallied and labeled into a plastic vial. She tried to withstand as much agony as possible. There was a long and convoluted paper trail for prescriptions. Kate could alter a digit here or a date there.

She was shocked to find that Kate was medicated to human capacity. By the following weekend she had finished gathering sufficient information. Denise checked through the records of Kate’s prescriptions since last March.” That was impossible. and one was a consecutive refill of the other. weak and exhausted to the extant of struggling to work through a long night. For some strange reason the prescriptions from Dr. and the last yawn of concentration. Logically. She was positive that a fresh inventory of common painkillers had arrived last month. Scott had tapered off to nearly nothing by mid June. a few at a time. They both read. she could possibly make errors in the records. Kate had given herself an extra refill of codeine. Denise stumbled upon two prescriptions of codeine for Mrs. At four o’clock. Why would the medications cease when Kate appeared to be increasingly ill? Denise could understand that if Kate was very sick.128 Rod Stewart was nearly depleted. She observed that Kate was pale. at the time the new one was filled. She distinctly remembered handling the codeine. Denise would need two or three tedious hours to comb through the hefty stack. Without attracting undue attention to herself. when the Parker-Jones mansion was snoring in reverie. Allen. On her coffee break Denise leafed through the records. . Late Saturday night. with bloodshot eyes. She had also begun a separate dossier on Kate. without any complaints from management. the refill count should have decreased from the older prescription. The dates were about a month apart. It was a larger collection of files than she had anticipated. and examined the records. She knew that Kate had been at the drugstore for years. Denise needed an upper hand over Samantha. Denise photocopied the pertinent files. She was determined to decipher the mystery. Apparently. At first glance everything seemed to be accounted for. Denise turned her tri-light on dim. if she was going to win Jake. and folded them away into her jacket. “Three Refills.

If Denise did not report Kate. Dr. Or would she? Denise wondered if there might be a devious connection. Denise had several options to consider. Either there was a mistake in the records. but not outrageous. Kate must be pilfering medication for her severe illness. Kate paid her to creatively lie when Tim appeared at the pharmacy asking for her. When she compiled the number of capsules dispensed over the month. Why would Kate do it? She could lose her children. Denise continued to photocopy the incoming inventory. Darvon and Demerol. she might continue stealing until September before being caught. her home. but being caught in the crossfire might prove disastrous. Denise would not tangle with Tim.Love Me Knot 129 Denise had physically counted out the entire codeine stock at the counter by herself. Denise was sure that it went beyond Kate’s hours. It came together. and find out more about Kate through her. Denise could dig deeper into the affair. A mother in her state would barely be able to cope with her children. The thief knew the system well enough to avoid suspicion. to be absolutely sure. who threw around money to buy anyone. . He would be most interested. let alone keep her wits about herself at the pharmacy. and everything. She had her own file on Kate’s favorites – codeine. There was likely more at stake with the Allen family than she could realize. and Mrs. three times. at Tim’s merciless cruel streak. Her instinct told her not to trust him. Denise froze inside. Allen paid her to know about his wife’s shift hours. she could destroy Kate. She would become a closer friend with Samantha. The quantity of missing pills was significant. Surely Kate knew the chances that she was taking. there was a discrepancy. Allen’s dubious prescriptions. or drugs were being stolen. At the end of August the incriminating evidence could be given to O’Brien’s. Denise could sell the information to Dr. Denise reasoned that after two months of gathering evidence. The RCMP would immediately arraign Kate. and pay her handsomely. Allen.

After six rings a stern male voice answered. if she was losing the battle of love. At the corner. Early Sunday morning Denise told her mother that she was going for a short drive to clear her head. If Samantha did not break up with Jake. At least she had a conscience. She borrowed Allison’s gleaming white Plymouth Fury and powered into town. by the Red and White. But what if Jake later found out why Samantha had ditched him? If Denise blew the whistle on Kate. It would be lonely and cold.130 Rod Stewart Denise might threaten Samantha. losing the respect and friendship of other staff and villagers who were under Kate’s wing.Tim. Sorry about the early call. she would likely be rewarded and despised. Denise would have to know more about Kate and her family before making any accusations. Denise might be branded as a back stabber. What’s up?” “There’s something going on at the pharmacy with Kate. Denise?” “Hi. The drastic measure might work. then she would report Kate. Perhaps the worst blow would be to lose Jake altogether. if Denise threw away the jail key for Samantha’s mother? It was a complex and potentially divisive powder keg that could explode in a hundred directions. or even like her. She would ruin Kate’s established career to advance her own. How could he ever love her. She gave the operator the unlisted phone number. Denise was clever enough to turn a situation to her advantage. “Hello!” “Collect call from Denise Parker-Jones. Hello. Denise could tell Samantha about the evidence against her mother. Do you accept the charges?” monotoned the operator. but she was not a vindictive person.” “Excellent!” “I don’t have enough information yet.” “When?” .” “I’m on my fourth cup of coffee. and moved to a higher rung of management. if she cried foul. “Yes. Denise nipped into the phone booth and placed a call to Halifax.

Denise slipped off her panties. They stopped short at the dead end which broke away to the rumbling Atlantic abyss below. the funds would be well spent on his two daughters. letting her barb twist deeper into his heart. Alder branches parted. Good work!” “I’m trying to find out more. screeching their fingernails along the rust and dents. The Parker-Jones were a rich family. Their mouths boiled madly together. even if it did cost him a pretty penny.” “Alright. Girls love to shop. and then released the front clasp springing free her overflowing lacy cups. as a friend.” “Anything I can do?” “I thought if I was closer to Samantha. Denise was a valuable inside source. On the way back to Pugwash they purred down an abandoned farm lane. Bye Denise. Denise blushed as she remembered that Friday evening with Jake. first a love tug.” “My pleasure. Maybe Denise was too loose with the old man’s money to have a silver spoon bank account.” “Keep on it Denise. The Ford rocked and grunted over the minefield of potholes and ruts. and he did not regret that one iota. She played with him. However. She unbuttoned her blouse. She smothered his sweating face into . Tim. She unsheathed his loins with a minor protest of moans and fumbling fingers. and straddled over his lap. There are lots of records to sift through.” “Yes. she might tell me more about her mother. pulling upon his affections. and turned away cold. The starless view was soon obscured.Love Me Knot 131 “Maybe September. as Jake pushed back the seat to its limit.” “Thanks. then she slackened.” “Maybe a day in town would open her up.” Tim knew that Denise was after money even before she asked for it. as the windows became fogged by more than conversation.

as her channel swallowed him full. as she disappeared into a hollow darkness beyond his touch. He lost all sense of navigation. “But I can love you. and ran her hands as a shivering breeze through his curly raven heather. “Good night. Jake idled in the Ford. “I know you can’t love me. Jake’s fingers sunk deep into her peach ripe bottom.” “Good night Denise. watching her silhouette in the bedroom window.132 Rod Stewart her cumulous puffs. His mast spired tall into her moist heavenly womb. as they pigeoned together by the Parker-Jones threshold. crying for salvation into hers. They separated. Denise savored the fragrant trace of Jake that tickled down her inner thigh. her lips stung one final caress upon his. smacking her lips around his. She turned away. “Swear that you won’t tell Samantha. He had betrayed his true love. She kissed away any words from his lips. I won’t ever ask again.m. His mouth quivered. and began to forget something that should never have happened. She drank his pounding breath until he convulsed uncontrollably and magnificently within her. because he knew that it wasn’t. At two a. before they fell into a long dreamy embrace. as his taillights floated away as sparks . tying her tongue around his words. He grinded the gears into forward. Will you let me love you. like a clap of thunder. For us.” He nodded weakly. Jake?” His eyes jiggled lost. Jake. His eyes drowned in a confusion of love.” sulked Denise.” That name extinguished the raging wildfire. His skin dripped with clammy guilt. until the light was snuffed out.” He could not say goodbye. and dressed themselves somehow as tainted friends or forbidden lovers. her feathery fingertips slipped away from his. “This one night. tortured by pins and needles of syllables. Jake. She swooped down upon him.

A few turns and streetlights later. How Jake talked the night away about Samantha. Samantha and Natalie had not been in Halifax since the Christmas holidays. Those raw grey muffled memories were left far behind. Everyone milled around the eateries. brightly starched sailors and trendy black leather youths. Denise would see Samantha. Tomorrow. until she needed him again. Samantha accepted sisterly hugs from Denise. the Plymouth was parked in the South End.” Samantha brooded.Love Me Knot 133 into the night. Denise and the Allen girls hit the town. their lobster fishing days. Their eyes and steps slowed. and eventually relented for Natalie. Natalie played with her shadow that skipped over the grass on the other side of the black speared iron railing which bordered the Victorian park. He was tucked away secretly. and express her sincerest lies. Denise begged for Samantha to forgive her. Denise had frequented the city often. The brilliant sultry sunshine had enlivened the streets with a bustling crowd of overdressed American tourists. gift shops and corner greens like a mass of bewildered ants streaming in opposite directions. off Birmingham. She apologized over and over. and asked if Samantha and Natalie could come into the city with her. the three ladies were relieved to release the rigor mortis of their seat belted bodies. she jumped up and down with one hundred. “Pleases. times together as kids. and their friendship that blossomed into love. about two blocks away from the Spring Garden Road shopping district. and led them toward the Public Gardens to limber their stiff muscles. When Natalie heard of the invitation. Reluctantly. as they passed by the vendors displaying their idyllic Peggy’s . as they now drove beneath the lush maple canopy along Connaught. offering polite company on a harmless date. On the last weekend of June. She phoned Kate first. for the trouble she stirred. Denise hoped that enough days had passed to dilute the bitterness. He was a true gentleman. After the draining drive from Pugwash. She didn’t want to go by herself.

. pleased at the picture of Natalie floating upon the winged blur. as she realized the Allens predicament. which was almost as tall as she was.134 Rod Stewart Cove oils. “We’ll have the summer together.” trailed Denise. fishing into Samantha’s mind. and squint through the peephole viewfinder. all in peak bloom. After entering the towering scrolled gate. peeled and piled the drying square snapshots. Natalie was thrilled to be appointed the trip photographer. “You know?” “Dr.” “I’m sorry. I have filled out a few of Kate’s. Natalie was intimidated at first by the mute swan. Please don’t tell her. She flicked a fountain of bread tidbits into the deafening ocean of quacking feathers that pecked around her shins. She smiled. sea glass bracelets and necklaces.” “Does Natalie know?” “No. If she found out about mom’s cancer. The paths wound through tangerine. She understood why Kate . Scott phones in prescriptions to the pharmacy.” replied Denise. gold and pink azaleas. “That’s what friends are for.. Samantha clicked a picture of her sister’s laughter.. With your mother. Denise’s heart lumped in her throat. they headed for the canteen and refreshed themselves with a guzzle of soft drinks and ketchup splattered fries from the canteen.” spoke Samantha.” “It must be hard.” lied Denise.” consoled Denise. She showed Natalie how to focus. Samantha paused to drink the sweet fragrance of the rose beds which were beginning to flower. “You have made her day. “She’s a happy kid. Denise had brought along her Polaroid camera for the day.. Two dozen mallards instantly airplaned in from all points of the central pond toward Natalie. and a sketches penciled in progress. Samantha timed. while she sat with Denise underneath the dappled shade of a rustling old chestnut. Even at home. squeezing Samantha’s hand.

the wind and the ring of common land encircling them. Denise cried an inside tear. The canon roared. nearly pumping her twin guns loose. Below them the town clock knelled on the hour with the explosive. That was a small price to pay for a few final family months. they spilled out of the gate onto South Park. The puff of harbor feathers circled. snapped the hilltop flags to attention. ringing their ears for minutes. They perched. By autumn. stole wind. as . and nodded masts. She imagined a broken Samantha having lost both her mother and Jake. The sound finally spun lost with the gulls wheeling above the lighthouse tip on McNab’s that shimmered as a mirage at the hazy edge of summer. like playground friends. She would have to curtail his curiosity. panting against the steel guard rail. gut shuddering noon salute. when it might be all over.Love Me Knot 135 stole a few pills to survive her last crippling months. it was not easy to carve Jake out of her chest. Samantha leaped as a gazelle. She had to keep a piece of him locked away within her. spewing acrid plumes of blue smoke. It was the ocean. too. Denise chased after them a close third. passed. but never touched one another. which clotted the Harbour gullet. from the Basin. chased. which ribboned around the granite cubed fortress. the pharmacy would be in the red by a couple of thousand dollars. and crossed the intersection over to the Citadel. and keep Kate’s secret. which filled the fate of their sails. The fresh briny breeze tousled their hair. through the Narrows. over the sooty brick and sandstone city skyline. and then echoed among the wrinkled azure engulfing George’s Island. The blast and bells reverberated past the cluttered toy traffic. for Samantha. The three of them sprinted to the top of the verdant buttercupped slopes. and paraded the ocean sails around the distant puddle. out to the Approaches and back. Natalie’s arms spun as fast as her egg beater legs. They knived paths. Still. Denise felt guilty for opening the Pandora’s Box with Tim. After a merry-go-round the Gardens and half a pack of Polaroid film later.

and loosened his tie. lobster and steamed greens.” promised Tim with a vacuous smile. Samantha’s friendship was not for sale. “I’m sorry. Allen. The extra water evaporated almost as quickly as it was poured. and checked her watch for the tenth time in as many minutes. They were about to begin their poached salmon. Denise didn’t allow Samantha to open her purse for anything. and portraits of the glorified British Admiral. After catching their breath. The evening of losing Jake to Denise couldn’t be forgiven with money. Denise insisted that they pick up a few small things at Mills Brothers. before walking back up Spring Garden. when a familiar click tapped across the marble tiles. They knew that their course was set within this horizon. and moved over for Tim. “Hello ladies. . They asked the clerk to reserve their cache of bags and boxes. Denise offered a limp fishtail handshake. “Can you spend the afternoon with us Daddy?” begged Natalie. He asked the passing waitress for a martini.136 Rod Stewart sisters. They ordered drinks to quench their thirst before the appetizers arrived. with their eyes and arms shouldered together. a double-knit denim print jacket dress for Kate. a lemon and raspberry shirred blouse with puffed sleeves for Natalie. May I join you?” asked Dr. A pair of suede Wallabees for Jake and Little Miss Mary Jane shoes for Natalie completed the ensemble. Denise glanced from the window booth. Next time you’re in town we’ll make it a date. a teal pastel flower and dot print shirtdress for Samantha. captains wheel. but I have a business appointment. A shadow strode by the shipyard beams. while they went to have their ladies tea at the Lord Nelson. and an apricot tie-on blouse for herself. Natalie and Samantha popped out of their seats with hugs for their father. they rolled down the green. Samantha and Denise shared sips of their virgin Singapore Sling and Marguerita with Natalie. and window shopped along Barrington and the waterfront.

“Except for this one. as he deposited the bills with Denise. Denise allowed his momentary intrusion. rather than lose her meal ticket. They finished their impromptu luncheon with insipid conversation. fanning the photos. What was Tim’s secret? No one dared to ask.Love Me Knot 137 “Look.” remarked Tim. Natalie has the flair for family photos. A clothed mouse which had squirmed down her lap nervously retreated. She heard the soft snap of her under garment elastic that spilled a feminine waft.” replied Tim.” interrupted Denise. . Daddy!” flowered Natalie. as she returned the picture to Denise with a poker face. The photo slipped free from between her fingers. “It’s been years since I’ve taken any snapshots. and not Jake.” said Samantha to Tim. “These are lovely sweetheart. and went their separate ways. She dropped the photo to make Samantha think she had other interests. even Natalie. and glided with a jittery spin beneath the table. handing him the Polaroids. “Did you take them all yourself?” “Every one!” trilled Natalie. “You’ve snapped nice vacation photos when we were small. Before Denise said “Oops!” Samantha ducked under the corner to scoop it up. a man almost twice Denise’s age. and showing one of the Allen sisters beaming in front of a sparkling Venus and cherub ringed fountain. Interest piqued about the recent Abercrombie Lane photos. There was no doubt. as he shuffled through the park scenes. Tim had the pleasure he had paid for. Everyone around the table tasted the lie. Rustling cotton detoured her view toward Denise’s goddess marble knees. as Tim’s hand withdrew in a flash. took a few more family snaps in the lobby. being especially proud of the picture with the swan paddling by the tangerine azalea. She soiled Samantha’s opinion of her father.

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m. painting herself thinly from one corner around to the next. She stretched with the shadows. snoring at the bottom of the fifth in the Blue Jays game. when Dot and Kate were alone. The mothers’ mood seemed different after they had a private chat. Russ poured himself a stiff double whiskey to loosen up. They had eaten as many berries as they had plucked. He sank into his navy lazy boy in the living room. until two in the sweltering afternoon. and raced down to the beach. Those berries were ready to burst through her bowels.SIXTEEN Three blood smeared faces hung near the six wooden flats stacked upon the Nelson porch. Their hands matched the tomato shade of their cheeks. and bunnied into the woods. Four drinks later Russ’ bull head rolled back. when parents shoo away the children. if she did not run. Natalie excused herself. It might be an important discussion. Usually. She had noticed it before. Dot suggested for the kids to go for a splash. The Allen girls had joined them for their annual strawberry u-pick at Knol Farms in Collingwood. saying that she had to return to the house. away from the ocean view of the veranda. Samantha and Jake paired off after half an hour. Natalie had other plans. The spare swim suits that Samantha and Natalie left at the Nelsons were used more often than their new ones at home. and to have some fun before supper. with the Seagrams at his side. In truth. the adults want to talk among themselves. from eight a. They had changed in a flash. Jake paid the farmer for their bloated bellies. through the backyard. flapping their towel capes wildly behind them. Or so she claimed. Natalie . Natalie ascended the stairs. to ease their creased back muscles.

” sighed Dot. Kate’s heart was only faithful to her once. In Pugwash. “Jake is going to set up the tent later. Tim was glad to have sloughed them off his back. It was a miracle Samantha was conceived. for herself. and her daughter Samantha. “I wish that you had been together. Kate became a hollow trophy. When Kate and Tim separated. A full home is a happy home. and listened for the trickle of secrets. with frozen wax tears. avoiding the issue of blackmail.” “You’re a darling. tarnished on a forgotten shelf.” said Kate. too.” “Thanks. Kate stoked her last traces of hope. Inside. “Love has been my curse. Dot.” “How are things. Kate was as cold as an attic candle. when Russ helped her winterize the cottage that the innocent camaraderie changed. The girls can stay over. and the smell of lifelessness upon her breath. Kate. They . before all this happened. “The kids will sleep dead to the world tonight. The car accident was the pivotal point of change. she was dying as a woman. She looked after Samantha when Kate worked at O’Brien’s. Dot was the first friend to rally around her. and the other two voices which hulled and sliced strawberries. She huddled into position by the downspout. The Allens had known the Nelsons for ages.” She split another berry heart in half.” answered Kate. behind a glass family case. It was weeks later. “You should have followed love. years ago. The flame between Tim and her ghosted into smoke during the first year of marriage. In the past twenty years of struggle.” drained Kate.140 Rod Stewart heard the TV through the window.” “They’ll have a great time. but you don’t have to. between Ben and you?” “It’s difficult for both of us. It’ll give you a chance to be with Ben.

. and very well as a team. as he pounded beside her. Kate automatically knew what he wanted. Dot would appreciate the lunch prepared for tomorrow. Russ held her like a fairy tale babe in his arms. and wood scraps. Kate admired his bison shoulders. Her warm breath melted the hair on his neck. level. while he hammered away. and tacked the mitered quarter round in place. Jake had asked Russ if Samantha could come over. Kate. with his mammoth furnace. and the tender precise touch of his bear paws that drew perfect straight lines. behind the lemonade. She still cut a sharp figure. above the sawdust. and passed them into his. At the end of the day. as they trimmed and nailed the panels over the fiberglass insulation. which moved with deliberate graceful purpose. Samantha stuffed a couple of dolls into her windbreaker. and shared soft mouths. Russ kidded her as the cutest carpenter in Pugwash. the bowl might be polished clean by bedtime. with the few times his arm brushed over her thinly cottoned chest. After a fortnight. and opened the doors for Kate. She held the strips. She wondered how Dot could possibly keep her hands off him. who carried a steaming wrapped crock of beans and molasses to the car.Love Me Knot 141 worked closely. drop sheets. Their game turned serious when they stopped with the nails. she swore his lips were asking otherwise. Knowing Russ. Then she would have a dozen ready between her lips. they looked over their accomplishments. Her fragrance aroused him.” Those very same words haunted her again and again. Instead of handing him nails. One evening. Kate was glad to escape the war zone of renovations for a few hours. she placed them gently between his lips. Kate caught herself measuring his fluid strength. when Dot was at church playing bridge with her lady friends. When the hours drew long. or the T-square. and his attention smiled diamonds in her eyes. saying “We are good together. When his mouth turned toward hers for a screw. Kate had a few Molsons set aside for Russ. His musk ox sweat filled the cottage.

down her neck. He whirled her around.” His hands filtered through her hazel hair like a restless flock of doves. He took Samantha’s hand. “And so are we. He bubbled over. and smeared the foam over her cheeks.142 porch. and stole a whiff from under the lid. dressed with linen and frilled French crocheting. kissed her mouth hard. stammering about the bicycle inner tube. while his fingertips freed the top buttons of her fawn paisley print summer dress. I can’t. baring her trembling swan soft legs. as she heard his belt buckle unfasten. being tempted by more than the aroma cradled in her arms. Her skirt rose on its own. “I can’t Russ. He hugged her boa tight. thick elastics. flitting from branch to branch. His mouth dripped with the tepid water. and dragged her toward the forest with bold plans to make a pair of killer slingshots. Russ escorted Kate inside. to have the slingshots ready for the shooting contest before dark. and drop. She swallowed.” smiled Kate. “The kids will be awhile. you’re asking for trouble!” she giggled. Rod Stewart The boys waited for the Allen girls on the back Jake’s crosscut saw flew from his lap when the Toyota parked in their driveway at seven. “Those two are terrific pals. He lifted her gently onto the dining room table. their tongues and eyes flowing dizzy into each other. He untied her apron bow from behind. “Russ. He set the hot crock on top of the stove. dabbing a puff of soap suds onto his nose. and let his palms drift slowly around her hourglass waist. “Can you help me with these?” She started to wash the dishes and tidy up from the rushed supper hour. the rest could be finished in the shed. as she slipped on an apron. and how they might fasten it all together. They needed to work fast. She swatted him with a dish towel.” spoke Russ. .” winked Russ. “Now don’t you start!” said Kate. After they had cut the forked branches.

Jake sawed to and fro. as he ruptured his total love within her. I’ll go inside and get a bandage. Samantha held the broken branch tightly. and knocked forks and spoons onto the floor. Samantha sucked the bleeding wound. as his love pounded inside her. pushing and pulling. perspiring. Kate’s arms swung. Without looking back. Kate whipped her finger into a . Please. and over the yard. She could taste his passion warming the back of her throat. The saw slipped and nicked Sam’s thumb. who was yanked off the lawn like a wilting weed.Love Me Knot 143 His loins tensed between her thighs. and closed her eyes. crashing the ceramic cookie jar to the floor.K. What had she done? In a lash of tears and temper she jumped up. Jake’s tool glinted under the incandescent buzz. when he glimpsed at the shadow beyond the drawn tope curtains. His massive. Kate twisted and pulled the table cloth in contortions. “Ouch!” “Sorry!” “It’s O. No.” willowed Kate. Her eyes needled into Samantha’s. and bolted out the door. and shoved into the car. as they climaxed together. In the shed. Russ’ face bled white. Kate stampeded down the porch stairs. His volcanic stream exploded through her. His forehead beaded. and hardening around her. Her spine arched.” “Russ! Oh! Russ!” screamed Kate. The kitchen table groaned back and forth. on the way to the house. She died within the beautiful muscles rippling. while his tongue licked across his lips at the prize between his knees. iron veined locomotive throbbed deep and wide through her tight burning tunnel. Russ. “Russ. with young virile ambition. as his mouth panted upon her exposed taut nipples. and her mouth moaned agape with molten intense pleasure. Kate saw his shocked expression scrawled across his face. as her hands desperately reached and grasped onto the maple edge.

“I’m falling apart. to the woman who held his marriage and his life together. Samantha was too scared to even whimper. and stabbed upright into the porch. and the events were as clear and bittersweet as yesterday. pursing her lips so tight they bleached white. burst from the shed.” “Russ and I will take care of them. His broken arm was set in a cast for several weeks. crumpling into a heap on the gravel. Jake. Dot. He claimed that it was an argument that ended terribly.” “I’m worried about Sam and Natalie.” “How can I? Russ knows he’s Natalie’s father. barely missing her toes. Russ couldn’t face Dot with any credible excuse. and ran to his father.” They cleaned up the kitchen chaos in silence. after I’m gone. having heard the commotion. Kate wiped her headache upon her juice spotted cotton sleeve.” “We’re here for you. blubbering half nonsense.” trembled Dot. Days passed before anyone spoke. “It was an accident. When the time comes. They sped away in tears. drunken Friday night resurfaced. “He’s suspected it.144 Rod Stewart lightning bolt in front of Samantha’s face. half guilt. “It’s not your fault. . when Russ broke down. and tripped on the last step. which was better than his splintered heart. Later. dear. clutching his drawers. The less said. You have to let that go. Dot drove him to the Memorial Hospital. He was to blame for the incident. the better.” cried Kate.” boiled Dot. That long dead. Russ only confessed.” Dot slumped. Russ stumbled after her. Kate. That was nearly ten ago. by rights. “But you’ve always told him the baby was Tim’s?” “Of course. and apologized to both Dot and Kate.” “Does Russ know? About my will?” “No.” “Natalie belongs with you. Her paring knife fell. who clenched his jaw in agony.

well suited friends. When Natalie was born. Natalie rocked in her corner. and wept into her pounding chest. with responsibility. Natalie froze. Her head throbbed and swirled in muddy confusion. Things will turn out fine. Despite the strained relationship.” answered Dot. She remembered being close with Russ throughout Grade School. A fact which he bore with honor and servitude.” sobbed Kate.” shrunk Kate. “Never. Kate had cared for Tim while he convalesced from the car accident. They were comfortable.” paled Dot. honest country-bred soul. Before he met Kate. She was torn among families. Dorothy was a good. She had heard enough. life was a job to be done. and sadly. Tim had sustained significant internal organ damage. reassuring promise. Natalie hugged herself into a fetal ball and prayed that Samantha knew something. you’ll see. covered her ears deaf tight. and Natalie was about one month premature (after the affair with Russ). She was also told that Tim was rendered impotent. lies and doubts.Love Me Knot 145 “If our families ever found out. dumbfounded. I’m scared. without passion. dear. when she threw a tantrum. from cradle to grave. The only Nelson traces were the wing crested lower lip and a marble dimpled chin. Those memories shook Kate as she cried to Dot. again. when he was imprisoned in bed with plaster and bandages. Russ was a third generation lobster fisherman. “I know. It’s not that they had fallen in love and marched down the aisle after graduation like their classmates. “I’m sorry for bringing all this up. Kate and Tim had copulated three weeks before the accident. She made his . She squeezed Kate’s hand with a firm. Nearby. she was becoming him inside. soaked with wet fear in her eyes. which fit together as weathered gloves upon seasoned hands. Even without the paternal seed from Tim. The wailing child’s tawny curls and caramel eyes were Kate’s. simply and surely. Kate spoke privately with his doctor. Kate was adamant that the baby was conceived before Tim’s injuries.

Fingers pointed at Dr. Dorothy might have done better. He wore his crown of thorns for years. Her banana fingers and elephant trunk arms rolled through any task in short order. Her heart matched her other proportions. Kate claimed the baby was Tim’s. and offered him companionship. He reasoned that Dot would rather endure a barren marriage than starve on welfare. before his lips bled with guilt. or worse. like items on a grocery list. Amid snores and blaring television. The image of Kate showing with child came to mind. and Russ deeper into his booze. It had to be Russ. A man was a man. Even though her breast was softened for him. Those weeks when her husband and Kate .146 Rod Stewart home. Russ took the fall for that fateful evening. wanting to obliterate his aching love for Kate. but kept her mouth shut all the same. She was almost as broad across the beam as Russ. More was broken between Russ and Kate than the heirloom cookie jar. For Dot. Russ had drowned his lust with liquor. and she was generously involved with church and community affairs. Their days began shortly thereafter with a clockwork routine. he risked never seeing Kate again. They had checked each other off. than lose the trust and companionship of Dot. She knew that Kate and Ben were good friends. Dot didn’t believe it. He killed his own heart. Russ drank himself senseless at times. Russ was her reliable provider. If Dot knew that Russ and Kate had cared for each other. No. cut right down the middle. Dot reflected again. The town gossip was ripe with speculation. Scott as the father. Her insistent probing drove Kate to tears. marriage was an inevitable practical event. not to break his wife’s. It was as clear as that. with little more expectation or excitement than passing through puberty. And a woman was a woman. for the rest of her days. The matrimonial date was set. Dot couldn’t pry any sliver of truth from their mouths. He would rather die an alcoholic. fathered his child. Russ fermented about the faded affair with Kate. It didn’t go any further. And that was sufficient.

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worked on the cottage, he had returned with a more summery smile, and slips of affection toward Dot. Kate had stirred a happier man inside Russ, a man which Dot had rarely seen during their marriage. To see Russ alive meant the world to Dot. She was willing to give up a place in his heart for Kate, if that is what made him happy. Dot needed a man to take care of her. Only Russ. They had grown to love each other over fifteen years, in their own unexpressive ways. She made herself come to terms with losing some of Russ. Whatever happened that evening ended everything between Kate and Russ. She wore a mask of tragedy. And he became as cold as the winter sea. Dot came to her own conclusions, as Kate swelled pregnant. Kate had been a sister to her for years. To sever their friendship would be losing family. She pictured her burly husband overpowering willowy, fragile Kate. Defeated by separation from Tim, exhausted by endless hours at work, and frayed nerves from starting all over again by herself, made Kate weak and vulnerable. As distasteful as it was, she did not blame Kate. The two of them bonded together, and found a measure of solace in each other, having lost their husbands. Tim only cursed Kate in disbelief, when she told him that she was bearing child. When Kate’s circumstances became unmanageable during her last term, in December, Dot demanded that Russ open their home to the Allens. The Nelson quarters were cramped for a few months, with a newborn and two youngsters hollering, carousing and teasing each other. The laughter freshened up their home, and their lives. Dot glowed ecstatic at being a nanny. Kate was infinitely grateful. Russ, although condemned, felt that better days ahead were possible, after all. Natalie grew into a rose between the two families. Her beguiling impish charm softened Russ, and bonded Kate with the Nelsons. Natalie thumbsucked into a deep dream in her crib, as Dot emptied the ceramic shards from the pillow case onto

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the kitchen table. Samantha and Jake helped her fit the jigsaw puzzle together. Piece by piece, with the glue of love, the cookie jar was resurrected. Once again, sweetness could be found within a mosaic of pain. She wondered if the children even remembered that afternoon. It was so long ago. The tired today eased with a lighter sigh, and allowed the prickling mosquito whine to thicken around Dot and Kate. After swatting welts with pink splashes over their necks, arms and legs, the women carried their bowls of berries indoors. A few minutes later ghostly white Natalie shuffled through the screen door. “Are you O.K., honey?” spoke Kate. “I don’t feel very good, mom,” she answered, wobbling like a top. “It’s been a big day for you. Maybe after a nap you’ll feel better,” said Dot, taking her by the hand to bed. They kissed Natalie. The whir from the oscillating fan turned from side to side with their unsettled thoughts. The sulphurous melee of hard boiled eggs, vinegary baby beets, corned beef and cabbage curdled within Natalie. She wanted to wretch up the bitter words, wishing she had never heard them. The cross breeze of supper conversation by the family around the table seemed in another world. She drowned with discomfort. When the clink of knives and forks was finished, Samantha and a strawberry shortcake peaked tall with cream sat on the edge of the bed. She coaxed a few bird mouthfuls into Natalie, which bounced from her stomach, and splashed all over her sister’s lap. Vomit dribbled from her pout, “I want to go home.” They were all mistaken, having claimed Natalie suffered from too many hours cooking under the sun in the strawberry fields. She nodded in agreement, with her arms around Jake’s neck, as he carried her out to the car.

SEVENTEEN At quarter past eleven, Kate announced “I’m going to town early tomorrow,” which implied that Natalie was in Samantha’s care for the day. “Say hello to Denise for me,” asked Sam. She sourly pulled on the thread between that shifty blond and her family. “So you are friends?” questioned Kate, honestly surprised that Samantha had anyone beyond Jake, even after the Halifax extravaganza. “We get along, fine,” said Samantha, fighting to push the last word through her lips. “Anything I can get for you? I should be home by seven.” “Maybe some banana custard for Natalie, please. It’s her favorite.” “Sure. Give me a hug,” finished Kate, opening her arms to Samantha, before closing her evening within a raunchy paperback, “Don’t stay up too late.” “I’ll be done in half an hour.” “Good night, dear.” “Good night, Mom.” The milk soaked scroll was dry by now. She carefully unrolled it, tore the edges, and then toasted it brown in spots over a candle flame. Sam inspected the markings and symbols. They appeared clear enough. Next, she finished Natalie’s vest and hat. Sam’s costume was very simple. A few more shells glued in place, and it was done. Before she went to bed, Samantha squeaked open the screen door, and touched the dented squat teapot with her index finger. She left a few prints on the lid. The gold spray paint was still tacky.

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After their mother’s bedroom light blinked dead into the stifling inky hour, Natalie slippered across the hallway to join her sister. Samantha had the covers peeled back, with an extra pillow waiting for her Princess. In spite of the heat, Natalie curled into Samantha like the sweat on her skin. Her tragic eyes thirsted for kisses and “I love you’s.” Natalie wanted to be held tighter than ever. “I’m not stomach sick. I’m heart sick.” “We can talk about it tomorrow,” calmed Sam, stroking through her lamb curls, with light cheek caresses. “O.K.” “I’ve got a pretend time ready for us.” Natalie twinkled with a smile, and soon fell asleep with her heart beating tenderly in rhythm with Samantha’s. The stale taste of Kate’s cold black coffee had completely dissipated through the breeze rolled curtains when the Allen girls squinted into the bright robin chirping light. They yawned and stretched themselves into some underwear, and padded barefoot to the fridge for breakfast. Natalie glugged some Beep into a pair of glasses, while Samantha sawed open the mini cereal boxes across the dotted “H” with a knife. She folded back the waxed flaps and splashed in some milk, licking her finger afterwards. Natalie asked for a spoonful of blueberries with her Sugar Puffs. Sam waited for her Fruit Loops to be just soggy enough. “Ready?” asked Samantha, as Natalie slurped down her last mouthful, and wiped the back of her arm across her milk moustached lips. “Yes!” bounced Natalie. “I’ll help you get dressed,” grinned Sam, leading her sister by the hand to her mother’s bedroom. After she donned her shorts and T-shirt, Sam held the black vest for Natalie. The cufflinks and buttons were gold coins. (Samantha had carefully removed the foil from the chocolates, inserted cardboard wafers, and then sewed them in place). From leftover black suede, she fashioned a sturdy bold captain’s hat with a skull and chicken crossbones. The shoelace was tied firmly behind Natalie’s head, as she

Natalie flipped up her patch and unscrolled the map. It was darker than she had remembered. geysering whales. and then a thundering slam from the screen door. The pirate looked up into the blackness above. The sandcastling children on the beach dropped their pails and shovels. and made a tiny patch for its left eye. Natalie shimmied on her belly. and starred compass bearings centered on an evil eye. by the time she reached twenty. as she gave Natalie the treasure map and closed the door behind her. half sunken galleons with shredded sails. “Count to one hundred. as she poked at her feathered friend.Love Me Knot 151 adjusted the pirate patch. She crouched like a gargoyle beneath the stone overhang. Sam had repainted it with rainbow plumage. She admired herself in Kate’s tarnished mirror. “That’s cute!” chuckled Natalie. Natalie checked her scroll one last time. and then slowed to a hesitant crawl when she began her way around the slick boulders toward the pyramiding slabs of sandstone beveled by the cliff. wound a serpentine trail that led to a bloody Maltese cross. and a cap to match the Captain’s. Among the monster octopus with mile long suckered legs. She had only another minute or two to fly to the point. as Samantha pinned the parrot onto her shoulder. like a snake. The landmarks of their cottage. the gully. and into the grotto. Natalie heard a mad rustle of fabric. punctured by stars and a crescent smile. and shot out of the door at the count of eighty-five. . Natalie rolled up the map. It was a ragged flea market Christmas finch with twisted wire legs. and the rocky headlands cornering the sandy smile made the location of the treasure obvious. Out of breath by the time she hit the beach. as a wild dervish ruffled in black sped by them faster than the wind. She groped in the shadows around her. She walked.” spoke Samantha. Her lungs filled with the pungent ocean fragrance as the surf lapped in gentle echoes outside. over the briny pebbles.

she crackled a flame to life. They sat for awhile. snuggling closer. like squirrels nibbling spruce cones. beginning to break into tears.” “Some things I wish that weren’t. “I wish we could always. “Make me rich! Now!” snarled the little thief. “I love our pretend times. But things change. I’ll die into darkness for another hundred centuries. and stashed it inside the magic lantern. She spun around the pirate with a graceful churning of her butterfly limbs. Curiosity removed its lid. On the third strike. Her fingertips felt a candle. “If you don’t give me my gold.” sniffed Natalie.152 Rod Stewart and fumbled upon a metal container. “Very well!” granted the enchantress.” said Sam. If you do that. swishing by the rogue with her peacock blossom of swirling veils.” hushed a grey voice lost in the farthest corner. “In the depth of depths. It rained a thousand pieces of pure gold.” laughed the apparition. Natalie’s laughter shook the cave. The cave was filled with fresh skylight. She pulled down the evening sky. “Me too. “Master. Natalie counted her horde. embracing her with iridescent wings and warm caresses.” breathed the gossamer spirit.” “I know. I’ll blow out the candle. the Genie. “Where’s my treasure?” rasped the intruder. “Mercuria. Please let me live!” pleaded the Genie. and peeled some chocolate together.” “What do you mean?” asked Samantha. “Who’s there?” growled the captain. and a box of wooden matches inside. hugging her sister. with a soft temple kiss. as the doubloon candies poured over her.” grinned Natalie.” “Oh! No! Please don’t Master. “Yesterday I found out that I’m not your real sister. . It was a teapot.

We hardly ever see him. like us. He said he hadn’t taken pictures for years.” drooped Natalie. “Yes. “I wonder about him. too.” comforted Samantha. Does that mean that she is going to …” blubbered Natalie. ricocheting stone marbles off the faceless wall. “How come there are secrets with Mom and Dot?” “They’ve known each other a long time.” “Yeah. “Mom said she would be gone. Even though Mom tries hard. “Sometimes I think about Dad.Love Me Knot 153 “That’s nonsense.” “He lied. honey. my pirate Princess.” “He’s like a stranger. stroking her sister with downy touches. “Oh.” “And before that I asked Denise about the photos of Abercrombie Lane. They want the best for us. Even though they don’t tell us everything.” “I don’t think it’s fair for Mom not to tell us. They have theirs. embracing her full to her breast. when we were at the Lord Nelson. And they care about each other. not able to finish the horrifying thought.” “Yes. We are like half a family sometimes.” agreed Samantha. shouldering against the mute cold stone.” “You and I have our secrets. wrapping them together in a warm carousel of veils. And I have had a bad feeling lately. You will always be my Princess.” . I’ll share everything with you. She will be with us for awhile.” “Will you promise not to keep any secrets from me?” shivered Natalie. “Mom is very sick. And it was Dad who took the pictures. I am sure.” cried Sam.” “Really?” “You remember. We have to make every day with her the best day.” Natalie explained how she eavesdropped on Kate and Dot.

” “I think that Dad and Mrs.” “Something to do with the Nelsons?” “Maybe. when we went fishing.” “We have our family time on Natal Day weekend. And that it has to do with Abercrombie Lane.” sighed Samantha.” “Exactly! We have to know when Dad is coming to Pugwash. Mundle have a secret. Denise gave you the Polaroid camera.” “Yeah. . I’m not sure. “There is something else.” concurred Samantha.” “You mean…” “Yes.” “I don’t like Denise. But why did he hide himself from Dot like that?” Natalie looked puzzled.” “What?” “You know that make-up case I gave to Mrs. We have to find out. Mundle.” “How?” “Dot talked about the weird man with sunglasses that took pictures from a big car.” “Can Jake help?” “I’m not sure that I trust him anymore. I found that under the seat in Dad’s car. Denise said that some of the pictures had windshield wipers. when we were at the store. It was Dad who took those pictures from inside his car. “He’s not the same after being with Denise.154 Rod Stewart “I am worried that it has something to do with the Nelsons.” “I’ll talk to Mrs.” “How?” asked Natalie.” “Dot said that it was Mrs. Mundle. too. Mundle’s land being surveyed. Mrs.” “Then Dot might recognize the car and Dad. We need a picture of Dad with his sunglasses and the Buick. “We need proof it was Dad. Mundle and Dad are up to something.” “Well.” “Me neither.

Russ belched and cursed over his flat beer. He showed her how to sling a lure.” ordered Russ. as they frolicked in the scintillating ocean shallows. They wiggled between the wet boulder lips. Quickly. Meanwhile. Natalie wants to fish with him. . perched on the edge. “Thanks. fingerprinted with hydraulic oil. They were down at the harbor. worm-bent ones kicking on deck. and emerged into the fresh brightness like a pair of juicy grubs spit free from garden earth.” “I’ll be back in half an hour. and frowned at his cracked watch crystal.” “You sure? Jake can drive you. not realizing his commanding tone. hoses and tools scattered aboard the Jennie Lee tied alongside the Fisherman’s Wharf. that’s alright. and rolled them into a ball. and tease the line between her fingertips. “What size? He tossed her a few loose. or so. Natalie was nestled into Jake’s lap. The approaching surf rose and rattled over the cobbles by the mouth of the cave. “It’s nearly closing.” “Get me half a dozen pipe clamps.” “I’ll get them for you. It was late Thursday afternoon.Love Me Knot 155 For awhile they swam in the soft silence and held each other’s eyes. Samantha. some carriage bolts. Russ was thrashing among lines. He pulled back the ragged plaid sleeve of his unbuttoned greasy shirt. “Can I help?” offered Samantha.” “No. flashing the spinner beneath the surface. I need some fittings. fishing for whatever might nibble. gritty. A few days later. while you finish working. worrisome air of the grotto was left behind. The rank. Samantha and Natalie undressed from their make believe skins. Samantha had her chance. as the only truth left in the world. Their family and friends were tangled with lies and secrets.” She sent airy palm caresses over Jake and Natalie in passing. Their rod twitched to attention. dangling her ribbon legs. and a roll of Teflon tape.

She chimed “Hello?” into the fanned air. The arduous day had pulled her face long and pale. dear. She shook her head in negation. Mundle. “Be very careful Samantha. He’s busy down at the wharf. and turned to leave the store. turning over the door sign to “Closed.” Helen flushed and fumbled with her eyeglass chain. searching into Helen’s. Helen nodded. She gathered the required items and automatically wrote them on the Nelson tab. “Sorry to trouble you. Helen was mortified. “When is Dad coming?” . “Can I please get a few of these for Russ. with heavy eyes ready to pool into tears. Mundle’s voice.156 Rod Stewart At four forty-five Samantha pushed through the wheezing door. “The Nelsons are in trouble. Even the stagnant musty darkness enveloping them listened with suspicious ears. “You know?” “Your make-up compact in Dad’s car. afraid that she had said too much. nearly choking on her own words. crossing her chest with a prayer. You put it there on purpose. Samantha resonated with the palpable dread.” “Yes. gasping from having ran the last three blocks. “Coming!” echoed Mrs.” deepened Samantha’s blazing eyes. dear. without a trace of doubt. Samantha felt a frigid wave of fear wash over her.” breathed Helen. She waddled into view with a forced smile and an armload of assorted boxes. devoid of any presence except her own. as she piled the cartons onto the counter with Mrs. vibrating from somewhere in the stockroom.” sighed Helen. Your father…” trembled Helen. She whispered “About you and Dad. “Anything else?” she added. as she leaned toward Sam. The color drained from her face. motioning her to steal into the private shadows of her pantry. and slipped Samantha’s palm into hers. “How?” gulped Samantha.” “Sure.” said Sam.” stated Sam.

They hugged each other as a pair of waterlogged souls about to perish into a deadly tormenting sea. Samantha nearly forgot the hardware as she dripped through the door. sagging with dismay.Love Me Knot 157 “Next Sunday. Helen handed her the bulging paper bag. and squeezed her hand with understanding.” blipped Helen. .

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crushed traps and torn nets mended.” replied Denise.” brightly answered Allison. warmed by Denise’s new friend. the wind withered east.EIGHTEEN The suffocating humidity broke on the third week of July with a cinder sky that boomed and flashed and drowned everything that couldn’t swim. and the heavens broke into summer blue. “Everyone’s coming. She would kill Denise if she tried anything with Jake. if Denise was there. If you need a ride. shingles were replaced. barely catching the yawn of disinterest escaping from her mouth. Wednesday evening she braced herself with a bitter heart. kingfishers and dories followed after them. In town. Mom can pick you up. Tim would be more likely to come. steaming inside.” she gritted.” “That’s nice. and at home. “Hello? This is Samantha.” “Hi Sam. Jake will be there. She hated saying it. Still. The ocean currents brought the silversides dancing along the shore.” . After three days of pure elemental fury. boiling the surface like thrown chandelier glass. please?” “She’s on her way to the phone now. It was a time of rabid gluttony upon the high seas. what’s up?” “We’re having a barbecue Saturday. “Jake and I are fishing on Saturday morning. and washed out roads were made passable again. dear. “Could I speak with Denise.” “Hello. terns. The bigger fish.

“Are we going to be lucky?” spoke Jake. hamburger. wieners. with both parties being pleased. “Is it us.160 Rod Stewart “My parents will be away. passing a rod loaded with thorny jigs and twirling silver over to Sam. watching his line hang listless in the blank grey. because it already had. Saturday evening. Natalie also chirped with her sweet lilt on Tim’s answering machine earlier in the week. and loaded their poles. Jake jolted the outboard alive with a cough of inky smoke. His heart had shrunk away from the grasp of her love. With a single rip on the engine cord. “I always hope so. In minutes. His eyes fell through her. which had faded ephemeral and distant. At the wharf they slid into their rubber slickers. Your Mom will be busy getting ready. And that won’t ever change. the motor roar was dulled deaf. . wiping her sorry dripping nose.” he shrugged. including the Nelsons and their new friend Denise. Dot and Kate whipped together the potato salad and burgers. as they were swallowed into the harbor soup. When darkness diluted into somber fog on Saturday morning. Jake picked up Sam. They kept within hazy sight of the shoreline to avoid getting lost. That’s even better.” he lied. How about if I call your father? I don’t think he would mind swinging by our place.” “Thanks!” Their conversation ended succinctly and courteously. “With you. She mentioned that everyone was coming. Jake and Russ made the run for steaks. The leather tongue bristling with dewy grass jutted out into the milky emptiness. Jake?” she sniffed. It was their only tangible anchor. “I love you.” hesitated Sam. plus assorted vegetables and condiments.” “I know that I haven’t been myself. Samantha.” “Sure. as if she was as transparent as the drizzling air. buckets and bait into the skiff. I’ll give you his number.

and after picking strawberries. inseparable like vines of twisted ivy. She tingled with a peculiar sensitivity. “She comes from a good family. they still managed to move through their days. and less of dreams and wishful pleasures. The foundation years of building a relationship gnawed away to the bone. taking the reel from her hands.” he replied. not hunger.” added Sam. Jake spoke more of touchable yesterday things. wagering her feelings for Jake were more than an infatuated dream. Since childhood they had grown into each other as true friends. which all shared a common thread of fate. Samantha had faith in stars. that even if they had not known one another as youngsters that the spark would still have ignited between them. She prayed that the fog between them brewed because of Jake’s confused heart. souls and an imperceptible lightness. which triggered the impulse of love? Was the dormant seed always present.” stated Samantha. Samantha gave everything of herself. Even with trust destroyed. . “Denise is a beautiful woman. Was it the risk of losing their closeness. Although it felt like true togetherness from the beginning. Her eyes failed to light a fire within his. His mouth rounded kisses from obligation. “not a plain skinny tomboy. It must strain on the sinews of their hearts. wringing her jacket tighter around her flat chest against the morning chill. of parting ways in the adult world.Love Me Knot 161 By the way he held her. Her embrace didn’t drum inside his chest. His skin no longer desired to know the warmth of hers. How horrible it must have been to lose Russ from an affair. Samantha was not married to Jake. and talked to her on the beach when they were alone. She thought about Dot. The make-believe that she shared with Natalie seemed to be crumbling away as she emerged from her chrysalis as a young woman. waiting for their hearts to ripen with passion? She wanted to believe. “Love is more than being pretty. and warming her clammy blue palms within his hairy mitts. of being torn by two lovers.” she pouted. she knew. while others scoffed at her delusions.

unconditionally. Jake.” warned Samantha. “You deserve better than me.” weakened Jake.” whimpered Jake. to get a photo of Tim. moving beside her. Sam could have reminded him of Denise’s tricks. why?” She explained how Denise was the bait. “You still think there is something to this? That your father and Mrs. with a warm encircling arm.” consoled Sam. Her thoughts completed any other questions. for all of us. “Mrs. Sam would not glorify herself as an angel by tarnishing someone else. Jake. holding him firm to her breast. She didn’t need to ask any more. “She has everything.” “Does Denise know about it?” “I’m not sure. Only myself.” teared Sam.” “Because of what happened?” hinted Samantha. She wanted to be the woman ready to love him. He shook with shame onto her shoulder. “I’m afraid that you’ll have to be in her company one more time. “That is how I feel.” .” “You mean she’s coming to the barbecue?” said Jake with agonizing disbelief. and see those things for himself. doubting whether he was worth forgiveness. “But. as his head fell like lead. Mundle looked like she saw death itself. “I’m not sure about myself.” he fumed. or Tim’s fondling at the Lord Nelson. and told him how she tried to buy friendship. She hoped that Jake would find her again. He nodded. I don’t want to ever see her again. “I have nothing to give you.” she wilted. “Denise means nothing.162 Rod Stewart “It’s what’s inside. I’m scared.” said Jake. “You know who you are. Jake had to open his eyes. Mundle are going to change Abercrombie Lane?” “I am positive. anymore.

which lost line in a blur. “Hold on!” shouted Jake. their lines zinged through the water. She rattled those pinball thoughts free from her mind. Their quivering poles flexed into strained arcs. . preferring the ebony void with a hermetic heartbeat. the torture of being alone. By ten. missing her snuggling companion.” worried Jake. “I don’t want anything to happen to you.” “Watch out Samantha. nearly yanking the forgotten rods overboard. to be clothed by the embrace of another.” The sun gained color in its cheeks. or the pain of lost love.Love Me Knot talk. to have a lover. and never know another empty hour again. with his rubber boot. blew away the mist. Natalie wondered which was worse. they might “That’s what I’m hoping for. as Jake and Samantha hauled in their lines. and turned on the TV cartoons with the volume on mute. got up. The boat pitched and splashed. Natalie wanted to grow up in a blink. then unhooked them. and scattered its diamond breath over the blue expanse. It felt good to be in his arms again. and tossed them into a covered bucket. She needed to be loved. More loneliness would come. Meanwhile.” 163 “If your father and Denise were alone. Natalie tossed and turned alone in bed. Soon Jake would take her away. She turned and kissed him hard in a heartbeat. Between them. Her line snapped free. Hours suspended in singular darkness would grow into weeks and finally years. or a free hand. Suddenly. She was frightened of becoming a creature like her mother. She dreaded the solitary nights. Natalie will be my secret ears. poured herself a bowl of Captain Crunch. they filled two pails with another thirty. They slapped and jumped like hot oil in a frying pan. It was like being one of her dead squished dragonflies coffined inside a cotton pill box. They made a wild fumbled grab for the reels. He grunted and pulled until he flung three jigged mackerel aboard. Samantha squealed with excitement as Jake manhandled her frisky rod. He pinned them one by one. It would be hard to let Samantha go.

peeking over the sill of the picture window like a wary cat. Kate smiled wryly to herself. the graduations.” beamed Kate. Natalie set aside some film for the afternoon. and pried open several crippled aluminum lawn chairs with sun-frayed webbing. “Will Daddy come?” asked Natalie.” replied Kate. “I have lots of new pictures to show Daddy. She patiently waited.” “She’s a special friend. Natalie swished a second pitcher of pink lemonade. en route to wherever the foul winds might blow him. She absently wove her palm through her curls. missing her own youth.” “Don’t worry Mom. I don’t have any boyfriends. “When I was young like Denise. She tried a few shots with the Polaroid. A bawdy blue jay landed and bullied away the few sparrow flits. the weddings and the many grandchildren she would never know. For the moment. Then chattering threats from a squirrel claimed the last morsels. She was counting upon a brief appearance. They wheeled the barbecue into position.164 Rod Stewart Natalie was bored stiff. The animal banter on the front porch stirred Kate. it was probably the last time she had to face him. being disappointed at the fuzzy images. and sprinkled some cereal on the veranda. yet. Eventually she resurrected from the curtained cave. and started her day with Natalie. dear. as she jabbed a croquet hoop into the front lawn.” “Denise was very kind to give you the camera. for you. she painfully blotted out the birthdays. pulled the picnic table into the coniferous scented shade. . In a few hours they had the cottage presentable for company.” fibbed Natalie. we fought over the good looking boys.” “The other girls won’t stand a chance. “I’m sure he will. while Kate crammed the fridge with Oland’s and enough ice trays to freeze the Northumberland Strait. The afternoon would crawl with enough friends to avoid any bloodletting between Tim and her. She stepped outside in her pajamas.

while Sam and Jake bounced in back. like their parents at the cottage. The younger generation scampered to the ocean while the parents lounged and chatted the hour away. They must have known one another for a hundred years. while Sam and Kate took the orders for the first round of drinks. Jake and Russ unloaded the coolers of fish. Tim insisted on taking charge of the barbecue. He apologized . Russ and Dot had squeezed themselves sardine tight into the cab. The small talk made the usual circles. They were just kids. The threesome was bonded together for life. and the coals flared red hot. Natalie brought out some cushions for the Adirondack chairs. Jake handed him the apron honors. The sirens drove him deliriously happy. Both families hoped for marriage. Everyone was starving. being almost as good a fisherman as he was at half his age. The Plymouth finally sailed into the driveway by the time the flames had simmered. Then she spidered playfully in the canvas hammock. like Samantha. At the shore Jake was the centre of attention. Kate thanked him for the opportunity for Sam to work with Jake. summer times. meat and potato salad from the truck.Love Me Knot 165 “I want to grow up pretty and nice. touching upon the lobster season. with the world ahead of them. and how fast their children had grown. He loved it. Russ was well plastered by beer and rum by fourthirty. being kissed and stroked by Samantha or tickled and teased by Natalie.” “I’m sure you will. The name Denise did not come to mind once. Russ bragged about Jake. business downtown. darling. It seemed decreed. Cordial greetings were made to the late guests.” Shortly after three o’clock the Nelson pick-up rumbled with dust clouds down the lane. among the cycles of seasons and generations. impatient for someone to play croquet or go to the beach with her. Dot stationed herself in the kitchen to orchestrate the activity. Jake fired up the barbecue with a fresh bed of coals and a liberal dousing of lighter fluid. ready for the first searing of bloody flesh.

” she proudly commented. Sam and Jake were prodded from the cooler shade to bear their mallets.” he said. and ker-plunk into a tub of water. and he didn’t want anyone getting cut. added a hint of salt. He touted its keen razor blade. It was Tim’s chance to show off his deer antler hunting knife which belonged to his father. then along a mossy fairway under the back porch. over a contortion of roots. Tim claimed that meat would slice itself into slivers by merely waving the scalpel edge in the air. “How much longer to supper?” whined Natalie. . thyme. Denise had mentioned that Jake and Sam went fishing. tugging a sagging. It started at one corner of the cottage. She arranged the utensils. “Let’s play croquet!” she demanded. around pine trees. and through a light thicket of alders. “Twenty minutes. weighing down the flapping tablecloth corners with stones. having already filled herself up to the eyeballs with lemonade and root beer. “A few practice shots. Natalie went first. Tim was insanely possessive of the bone knife. before finishing with a run up a plank. to show them the slalom course. pepper. then wrapped the fillets in foil for the top rack. Denise. and decided where everyone was going to sit. I made a really neat course. and made it clear that no one else but him should use it. dear. a squeeze of lemon. and perfect balance. Tim attended to that while the first Tbones were smoking. de-scaled them. Jake told Tim about the mackerel.” answered Dot. sweaty Jake from his comfortable lawn chair.166 Rod Stewart for the office delay which threw his schedule off. The knife was deadly sharp. angled sharply by the woods. stumbling after Natalie over the postage stamp lawn. They needed last minute preparations. “There’s not enough time for a game. Other eyes drew a different conclusion as Denise fastened a button on her overly exposed cleavage. He lopped off their heads.

to send an opponent’s ball into nether land.” said Tim. Tim uncorked and raised a bottle of Drambuie.” Denise caught Tim’s wink. Natalie crab crawled through to the other side. Tim made for the last call for refills before serving supper.” remarked Denise. According to the rules. which were gathered by the picnic table or the barbecue.” sighed Natalie. watching Samantha take a few snapshots. at everyone’s legs. Kate and Dot started dishing out the salad. and sauntered up the veranda softly closing the door behind her. while Denise waved to the crowd outside. through the lattice. and tapped Natalie’s ball nestled by a maple trunk. . around the cement pillars. it was fair play. and popped out into daylight by the rear porch. as she ducked into the darkness. when she rattled the ice in her glass. as Tim hopped inside to replenish the tray full of empty tumblers. Samantha took skillful aim. The move was part of their plan. Samantha purposely hung onto Jake. She spied underneath. waiting for her sister. to their left and right. From the kitchen window. and both doors. “Natalie’s gone right to town with your Polaroid camera. “They are having fun. Tim and Denise had a clear view of the yard. She slithered without a sound through the back door and crammed herself under the kitchen sink. and with an ear shattering crack sent it careening deep under the cottage foundation. It was the safest vantage point to have a private conversation. get me a flashlight. Since Denise was odd man out she left. She took her ball. except for the croquet players. placed it beside Natalie’s. “I’m going to freshen my cola. “If I’m not back in five minutes. noting the cluster of a dozen fanned photos thumbtacked by the telephone.Love Me Knot 167 It was a dead heat of vicious ball whacking until they reached the shadowed north side.

with a new mortgage and the best view across the Strait from Pugwash.” “I’ll grab my knife.” “Everyone has a price. She would cut her losses. and shuffled through the heaps of pots and dishes and greasy lukewarm sink water. There were a few licks of lemon. Dot marched up the front porch and poked inside.” “Even the Nelsons? Their old rickety homestead was torn down after Russ had just finished building their new home last autumn. “Did anyone see my knife? Can you check by the table. tracing a fingertip below his belt. He glanced at Denise.168 Rod Stewart “Speaking of pictures. can I ask why you took all of those photos of Abercrombie Lane?” inquired Denise with a sultry whisper. Natalie snuck out soon after. cherry and apple pie left for tomorrow. Aside from the cash in her crotch. His palm snaked under her skirt and deposited three hundred dollar notes by her moist golden curls. He hobbled up the steps one last time.” announced Tim.” shouted Tim through the living room window screen. please.” said Tim slyly through the slit of his razor thin lips. then we’ll hit the road. That sort of thing. her mouse ears twitching with shock. He won’t budge. “We’re all set!” “On our way!” rang Denise and Tim. Obviously Jake belonged to Samantha today. Give me a call by the end of next week. “Between us. . “Yeah. me too. when the hour straightened toward six o’clock. I’m involved with a land development. “Fill me in on anything about the Nelsons.” said Tim.” Denise felt a chill and withdrew her advance. Problems. The ice cream tubs were scooped clean to the bottom. They drank and ate until everyone was stuffed like turkeys. it had been a wasted afternoon. Everything on the lane will go. “I’ve got to run. There was no more to be gained by dragging time with the Nelsons and Allens.

Love Me Knot 169 It was nowhere to be found. with your sunglasses and fancy hat. but he refused to lose face. Dot instantly recognized him as the stranger at Abercrombie Lane. Tim and Denise said goodbye. . A blinding flash followed her press of the shutter. He snatched his fedora from the back seat. “One more snapshot. Daddy.” she agreed. and fingered a pretend pistol at Natalie. whipped on his dark glasses. He hugged his daughters and shook the other hands with a meaningless. Buick or not. his mind lapsed with one detail. like the movie gangster. Dot kept it to herself. Samantha saw her owl-eye surprise and drained face. Tim was itching with agitation.” She adored his Cagney impression. when you find it Kate?” “Sure. but in a last second rush. “We’ll get together again soon. when Natalie waved her arms with the Polaroid. You’ll send it to me. Tim avoided driving the Buick. excusing it as a burn of indigestion. “It’ll turn up.” The Fury was ready to pull away.

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and chin upon his chalk knuckles. Two weeks ago Angela had phoned. First he would tighten the tourniquet around Dr. He likely could have leveraged more funds. confirming the sale of her Laurentian cottage.NINETEEN The bank book smashed like a startled pigeon. He wringed the blue blood dribbling coldly through the tensed web of veins that throbbed on the back of his hands. It was enough to make him doubt his amorous prowess. Only fifty thousand had been deposited since July. with a crumpling thud against the penthouse suite window. she gambled that small change on good faith toward his account. Denise had been very thorough with her research. but at least the women had no legal recourse once the money was deposited into his Caribbean account. Tim glared with a gale of outrage from his aloof tower. He would slowly strangle Ben’s resources. The direct fund transfers were less than he anticipated. much the same way that the doctor had sapped Kate’s life away with poison. In the back of his mind he had contemplated creating his own property deeds to make his proposals appear more credible. Now was the time to suck some life from him. The Alberta deal garnered slightly more. Ben had it too easy. and it was . The printed entry listed from Toronto was a paltry ten grand. Tim had to apply pressure. Scott. It had been almost a month since Tim had made his monetary demands known. In Pugwash. Against the advice of her lawyer. while shifting the strategic pieces into play. Then he propped his thoughts. Russ was well liked by the community. The trail of fraudulent paperwork would have eventually caught up with him. Tim decided that his reputation was worth more than risking legal harassment.

For months the sour taste followed Chuck. His father. and be as free as those leathered birds. the queen of gossip. Nelson and company. seeing as he was only idling at the shop. For graduation Murray bought him a second hand Mustang Mach I. she remembered that Mr. Nelson was fined for having berried female lobsters in his catch. Murray. fisticuffs on board. Little changed for him.172 Rod Stewart challenging to unearth any bones of past contention. he wanted to drop it all. Word was returned that four years ago Mr. Strangely. with a . had zippered her lips tight when Mr. and Mr. Nelson’s name was discussed. or the Wallace fish plant would hire him. Denise delved into the Department of Fisheries records. the older lad lasted just one season. enough fiberglassed body to keep out the rain. Nelson being so drunk as to run aground on Ram’s shoal. His son Jake. Technically. The rest of the year he was stuck as a toad in a hole. None of the other fishermen of Pugwash. Nelson had a different mate fishing with him. Nasty rumors floated around town about Mr. wild combative yelling. it had both doors. When the flocks of motorcycles rumbled with reverberation through the Pugwash streets in summer. Chuck grew accustomed to his greased stained coveralls as a comfortable second skin after several years at Langille’s Esso. It must have been covered up very well. It was likely the only black strike against him during his decades of fishing. Rumors. or rather. A few years ago. with the convenient stagnation of a small town mind. Nelson and the youth. since she didn’t recollect that offense being whispered around town. had browbeaten him into getting a mechanics license. all four wheels. pumping gas at the station. replaced Chuck after that incident in 1971. she greased the palm of one of the local officers to sniff through the legal legers for any red ink about Mr. He tossed bales during the hay season in a pinch. Even Mrs. that’s all she had to go on. because Jake was too young at the time. as most things do. The payoff had been worthwhile. Charles Langille was registered as his first mate when it happened. Mundle.

Love Me Knot 173 dead excuse for an engine. but his tongue failed to wag with hell fire and brimstone like Grace’s. Chuck was rarely at home after work. It was meant to be a project. just to get a rise out of bible thumping Grace. He served enough penance on the Ford. and taped a poster of his savior Alice Cooper over the nail holes. which any other keen lad could have completed within a few evenings. His mother demanded him to attend confessional when Chuck pulled down the Catholic cross from his bedroom wall. like Tabasco sauce. He had enough fat from shoulder to rump to cushion any sharp slaps and irritating jabs of reprisal. and Murray’s portly belly rolled off the chair onto the floor in laughter. “He’s out with those devil worshippers.” narrowed her already beady poker hot glare. as to whether the Mustang would ever rumble away from its oil puddle on the back lot. It was pocket change and time that he would rather spend elsewhere. His parents had asked him to move into the basement. Chuck saw it as an impossible feat to earn an escape. The woman’s fury was part of her charm. Murray and Grace only tolerated one midnight of wailing white noise before his amplifier was curtailed into a pair of earphones. some gaskets. which came to a head over the issue of shoulder length hair. One evening he pinned it up into a beehive bun. It was an incentive to push the twenty year old out on his own. Murray tried to keep a straight face. an accomplishment. he would barter for a used header. He saw the same rebellious spark in Chuck. On occasion.” taunted Murray. She had threatened numerous times to shear the black sheep while he was sleeping downstairs. His band buddies knew better . which Murray came to relish. you’ll have to act like a man. Chuck labored for weeks fine tuning a transmission assembly. and also as a practical sound barrier to the super sonic ear piercing squeals and stomach pounding drone from his fetish Gibson guitar. When the hell furnace weather torched everything skeleton dry. “While you’re sitting at this table. over the years. It was the joke of the town. valves or other cannibalized parts from the local auto graveyard.

His mind was somewhere else though. except for his perfect ivory hands that slid a crisp twenty across the tool scored. He replayed the details. His father waved back from the weakly lit grease pit grave under a chassis dripping pipe and wire. Craig’s Chevrolet rumbled into the gas bar about eight. Chuck finally had his chance to even an old score. grabbed his guitar. Chuck stripped off the grunge from his day. The lanky bearded rogue jumped out. slammed the door and tanked up his sleek cobalt blue hotrod. Chuck waited for his motley crew of mophead comrades inside the station. The tape deck was juiced to the max with Black Sabbath shaking the twin custom speakers at bone vibrating decibels. He was dressed completely by the blackness of night. He sucked back on his coke. sweat smudged the print on the pages of last month’s Cycle World. and changed into a wrinkled mess of denim and black cotton from his backpack. turning west to rock and roll nirvana. The 1974 Camaro laid rubber and belched smoke down Durham. coffee stained counter. trigger ready to jet to Amherst. Chuck bobbed his head in syncopated rhythm to Craig’s. from the frothy rasp of “Nelsons” that trespassed his thread thin lips. and he needed to figure out how to keep it under wraps. . Whatever ate his gut must have been cruel. The stranger who drifted into the Esso at eleven o’clock closing last Monday pricked Chuck’s attention. and hummed a few bars of the Doobie Brothers. Inside the office. “You know the Nelsons. driving a new set of wheels that would be his in a fortnight. which was stuffed under the counter among the mildewed library of automotive manuals. He couldn’t believe how it happened all so quickly.” he stated stiffly. He threw ten bucks into the till for the fill up. while he leaned out the window into the sixty mile an hour breeze that twisted tangled vipers of auburn mane over his frowning pockmarked face. and shouted goodnight to Murray. It was a ton of money.174 Rod Stewart than to knock on the Langille’s front door and be branded by a scathing hex from the Hail Mother Grace.

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“Yeah,” mumbled Chuck. “I know they did you wrong,” he seethed. Chuck’s face fell grey. How did the mysterious man suspect his gnawing grudge that had festered raw inside his intestines for years? “Let’s make it right,” his icy black eyes bore straight through his jelly-scared brain. The way the stranger focused the shadows around him into pure malice froze Chuck’s tongue. “Nobody’s going to get hurt,” he whispered in a shifty tone that sounded like bones being slowly ground into powder. A minute of nothing ticked around the clock face as slow as an hour. “Deal?” hissed the nameless one. “Yeah,” agreed Chuck. He offered a pale cold handshake that was promptly refused. “Dr.Scott’s office. Tomorrow at ten,” snapped the figure knotting his trench coat. He slipped him a typed note, “Welcome to the Goldwing club,” with a Springhill address, then turned up his collar against any further words, and dripped away into the drizzly foreign night. He didn’t say what had to be done. It was deadly enough, and tingled Chuck’s nerves raw. He had never done anything criminal. A few stupid tricks; like setting the park bleachers on fire at Halloween, trashing Mr. Withrow’s school room after he had failed, and hot wiring a couple of jalopies for joy rides out of town. Nothing crazier than any other teenage kid might do. This stunt hit his stomach like a sledgehammer. He couldn’t picture himself as a deadbeat grease monkey for another year. Besides, the Nelsons had it coming. Chuck was scheduled as the last appointment for the day, at 9:45 p.m. He was surprised not to see the wizened bird-faced Thelma on the other side of the reception wicket at the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital.

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“You’re a new face,” remarked the leather clad youth, remembering the old hen’s scowl on his monthly visit to stitch up a slash or a tear from a tavern brawl. “I’m Margot, Thelma’s on vacation,” smiled the pert doe-eyed toothy brunette, as she had been told to reply. An extended leave was closer to the truth; after the incident of eavesdropping on Dr. Scott. She added, “You’re Charles Langille,” checking him off the registry, “Go on in, Dr. Scott’s been expecting you.” “Allen sent you?” boiled Ben, X-raying Chuck’s brain with his acid glare for any intent or indication of a liaison with that despicable excuse for a man. “Don’t know the name. I’m here for the pick-up. Period,” he maintained, with a cross-armed, determined stance, three paces away from Ben. “Tell him, if I see him, I’ll kill him,” barked Ben, hurling the envelope across the room at Chuck. The good doctor had no choice. It would buy Kate a little more time, he hoped, until the next call from Tim. Ben promised to keep a lid on it for Kate, even if it meant ruination for him. Langille was a sharp shady smart-ass. He would keep an eye on him. Chuck jammed the manila wad into his biker jacket, spun around without a change of expression, and strutted out closing the door behind him. He winked goodnight to Margot, exited the hospital, and drove back to the Esso. “Thanks for covering for me Roy,” he said, returning his Datsun keys and folding a twenty into his oily shirt pocket. They closed up together at quarter past eleven. Roy dropped Chuck off at home on the way to Port Philip. Chuck pried off his scuffed boots in the hallway, and slinked downstairs with the cool draft, into his concrete cave. He locked his door, flicked his lamp on low, and tossed the envelope onto the swirl of wrinkled sheets mounded upon his bed. His unbathed skin was drenched with perspiration, as his thumb made a ragged rip through the seal. He counted five thousand, twice to be sure, in crisp hundred dollar bills. His cheeks ripened rouge as the money shivered in his nervous hands. For now, he stuffed some bills into his wallet, and then

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shoved the rest into a Kiss album, wedged deep under his mattress. When Chuck had returned to Pugwash with Craig later that weekend, his plan was formulated. A portion of the funds were deposited. He didn’t want to be cornered trying to explain a sudden windfall of wealth. He asked Murray to cosign a modest loan for him at the Bank of Nova Scotia. It took some convincing for his father to agree to the loan, for purchasing a motorcycle. He would gradually pay off the loan, to avoid arousing suspicion. Chuck promised to drive safe, and to get his Mustang rolling before winter. The men kept it to themselves, knowing full well that Grace would be as livid as hell. Early Wednesday morning Chuck and Murray left Roy in charge of Langille’s Esso, while the two of them drove to Springhill. They had phoned ahead for directions to R and D Enterprises, which was a few blocks away off Main Street. They pulled into the lot, parked full with a gleaming chrome army of Hondas. The proprietor, Rob Fraser, a stocky mid-forties fellow, greeted them with jovial palm crushing handshakes. He was ready to pitch the candy red Honda scooter. It was the most popular bike around; reliable, cheap and it ran forever on a tank of gas. Chuck lusted for power and style, and already had his heart set on a fantasy machine. He asked about the Honda Goldwing. It was a magnificent six hundred pound beast. 1000cc’s of pure power purring from an opposed-four cylinder engine block. The one piece silencer box under the swing arm made the ride incredibly quiet. They were pricy, nearly three grand apiece. Chuck didn’t blink once. Rob said that he expected his first dozen to be shipped in by next week. They went into the office, and filled out the paperwork. Timing could not have been better. During the band practices in Amherst over the weekends since last May, Chuck had earned his motorcycle license by driving Victor’s Kawasaki. For months he had squirreled away his paycheck, ready to buy his own bike before September.

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Grace flipped out like an asylum inmate gone native, when the Honda sailed into the driveway the following Thursday evening. Chuck had expected the demon faced hollering episode from his mother. It didn’t phase him in the slightest. Chuck had developed a sort of immunity to her threats and strained gesticulations since his early prepubescent trouble making days. He stood there in silence, with his black helmet hooked in his right arm, and let Grace blow her lungs empty until she didn’t have any breath left. When she was at the point of collapsing in tears, Chuck strode over and gave her an honest hug, saying, “It’ll be fine, Mom.” Murray arrived later, and received a second, less intense storm of concern from his wife. Eventually she simmered to a whimper, and they exchanged more reasonable opinions. Murray sighed, “He’s a man, with his own choices, for better or worse Gracie.” The new Goldwing at Langille’s Esso was a neighborhood magnet for the teenagers and curious aficionado bikers who happened to pass through Pugwash. Chuck had polished the chrome brighter than his mother’s best silverware. The kids pestered him for rides around the block. Chuck bought some decent threads and cleaned himself up like a baptized prophet with his own golden calf. One afternoon Roy was busy tinkering on a Pontiac Grand Am with Murray when the pump bell rang for a service fill. Chuck wiped the grease from his hands with a filthy rag, and stepped outside, squinting into the dry August heat toward the patiently waiting Plymouth. The driver’s window rolled down, and his smile beamed from ear to ear. “Hi Denise. You’re looking great.” “Not bad yourself, cowboy.” “Yeah, but I’ve got the prettier ponytail,” he said swishing his chestnut locks back with a tease. “See your new ride.” “Yeah. She’s a beaut. No offence to present company.” “Take me for a spin sometime?”

Within the hour they swerved by the outskirts of sleepy Amherst.” asserted Denise. and gave her hands a squeeze through his leather grip. Chuck assumed that his reputation had preceded him. Chuck got off a few hours early and landed at the Parker-Jones estate sharply at seven o’clock. He was just a fisherman’s son. She had had enough of the Nelsons and Allens. He was a wild stallion. and defied her curious sapphire glance. Seven?” “You bet. He instantly knew that Denise was born to be a biker.” Denise palmed a twenty tenderly into his longfingered hand for the fuel. which had ended in a damp fizzle after one selfish torrid night. This wasn’t the first time that he was welcomed by a banter of fist shaking from a parent who was afraid of losing his daughter to a drug dealing hippie. “Get me out of here. She sensed his edge. strapped on the helmet. “You free Saturday night?” pounced Chuck. Denise threw up her hands and turned her back flatly to her father. That welt on her heart still stung from the months of pursuing him. It was clear from the barbecue that Jake had dumped Denise. Her father’s beet red jowls shook with the cacophony of obscenities raining upon Denise. encircling her arms firmly around his lean waist with natural ease. Chuck hung out with a different crowd. She zipped up her camel windbreaker. and the pleasure of taming. His hazel eyes roamed unsettled. deflecting his hurricane wrath.Love Me Knot 179 “I thought you and Jake were steady?” “Jake who?” she rolled her eyes with a frown. Maybe that was what she needed to cut loose from Nowhereville. like her own. without a shade of submission from her throaty voice. He grinned over his shoulder. and then drove down a couple of side roads . worth the chase. If she had tied herself to him. “Sure. Denise would likely have been trapped for the rest of her days in Pugwash. and straddled over the seat behind Chuck. He didn’t even have a chance to turn off the ignition before being assaulted by a thundering tirade bursting through the front door.

testing. Different side of the tracks. . “Testing. “Thanks. one…two…three. “You been with Chuck long?” asked Stacy. They motored slowly through a gauntlet of sports cars and choppers parked bumper to bumper in a stream along either side of a paved lane that terminated at a voluminous windowed white ranch house. at a less deafening distance from the speakers. and over the cables to meet the other Lost Disciples. the band’s girlfriends. a rail thin redhead buckled tortuously tight in leather. A pair of Frisbees circled among a handful of tie-dyed flower children on the mowed two acre meadow. The camp was peppered with pathways of torches that burned deep into the night. “This is our lead man. About a half mile away from their countryside destination. It echoed nearly audible above the roar of their ride.” said Chuck. Fuzz on keyboards. taking a sip. Stacy.” she warned.180 Rod Stewart that arrowed through some blueberry fields. groupies and other regular guests. Victor on bass. Craig.” said Craig. blankets and chairs. after she had fluffed her blond waves free from the helmet. Most of the crowd swarmed around the cavernous two door garage that was bordered by a Babel tower of assorted woofers and tweeters. as Chuck coasted into his reserved spot behind the amplifiers.” boomed through the dead evening air. “Hi Denise. looked after Denise while the boys belted out Uriah Heep. The Goldwing parted through the sea of black leather. Be straight with him. and Otis on drums. Chuck introduced Denise to the rest of the rock and roll family. picking at her cheap black polish that flaked off her nails. “You telling me he’s trouble?” “Nothing you can’t handle. Before starting the first set. “We’re from the same town. flowed a rainbow ocean of tents.” They weaved around the microphones. Beyond them. He was ready with two tall iced cokes.” “Chuck’s a good head. Craig’s main squeeze.” smirked Stacy. Thought I’d take a chance.

No ambulances called for passed out drunks or switchblade duels. with a hoarse cough of exhaustion. Less headaches. “Man. Only the band’s allowed indoors. with his arm around Stacy. to a rowdy chorus of intoxicated cheers and hoots from the field.” they answered together.” remarked Denise.” she said.” explained Craig. . Goodnight. They played their own improvisations. she nested upon his shoulder. and renditions of some tracks from the Cheap Thrills album by Janis Joplin. “Sure. last one on the right. “His dad’s chief of the RCMP detachment in town. “Wanna crash inside?” yawned Craig. Thanks. watching the last torch flicker into smoke. They’re out for the weekend.” he said.” replied Denise. Chuck flopped down on the bed with a groan. and met my friends. that was a wicked night. No cherry flashing sirens from disturbing the peace. The crowd was loud. Chuck. but clean.” he said to Denise.” “You’re great on guitar.” glowed Denise from the buzz of beer and Springsteen still quivering her eardrums. along with the staple diet of the Eagles.” mentioned Stacy. Stacy and Chuck inside during halftime. shifting onto his side to admire the faint moon shimmer lingering over her porcelain features. As long as the four walls and roof are still standing. Her head hung limp. “Catch you two in the morning.” “Thanks. I’m glad that you came. “Thanks. “My parent’s pad. Those are the house rules. No drugs. Denise was impressed. They screamed and strummed their final set. “I’m having a good time.Love Me Knot 181 It was well past eleven when the band took a break. everything’s cool. He sends a cruiser by to keep it legit. Craig invited Denise. Tired. “Hardly a whiff of pot. Craig and Stacy softly closed the master bedroom door. “Guest bedroom’s at the top of the stairs.m. finishing at one a.

pulling his full hot lips into the moist folds of her mouth. .” he replied. “If you believe in me. Denise ran her finger along the scar under his jaw.” she whispered. They coupled over and over with passion until dawn. While he was curled asleep into her chest.” said Denise intently. “That’s a dream. venturing a fingertip melody through her golden locks. Chuck was the best ride in town. he won with sincere tenderness. he found the rhythm of her soul and moaned his strength long and deep. completely inside her. as the silk peeled away from her near nakedness.” encouraged Denise. He listened to her sighs. and tuned her heartbeat closer to ecstasy. Denise would keep him. She vowed that no one would ever hurt him again. He slowly poured breath light caresses over her entire milky body. “Stay with me. She felt as if she were suspended in mid air as an instrument held within his love. rise and fall.182 Rod Stewart “You should play full time. What he lacked in experience. Chuck. Finally. It was one of many.” “Then do it. popping loose the top button of her blouse.

He should have pushed aside that old grudge. Finally. more men supported Russ than him. as the line went dead. and it stuck to him for years. “You’re closing. The blame was thickly painted on Chuck. For what? To be marked as a criminal accomplice. Work came and went. She was the only one who really understood him. The fights on deck with Russ were stupid. He recognized the sinister tone. Nelson.” replied Chuck with an agitated swallow. . Make sure you’re alone. It was the captain’s decision. when he looked back on them. He stewed in his thoughts. He didn’t care about his dead end job. A substantial fine was levied against Mr. There was an abrupt click. It was his own fault for showing up late for work at the wharf. It was barely 10:55 p. He couldn’t lose Denise. His memory was chilled again by the mechanical voice that called exactly one week ago. This was the very last stunt Charles would do. whether to fish through choppy swells. Chuck was duly fired. A new bike and a couple of grand set him ahead. Around town. and then puking over the side of the Jennie Lee all morning. while a pair of headlights flashed by the pumps outside and turned alongside the garage. “Good.TWENTY Chuck paced and squirmed like a pigeon trapped behind the counter at Langille’s Esso. next Monday night?” “Yes. Chuck lost it.” he demanded.m. Now he was involved in trouble over his head. Got it. and not his. At eleven o’clock. The thought of her dropping him cold tore at his chest like a jagged knife. and hid seven egg bearing lobsters in Russ’ catch the next day. with a hangover. Too early. He ridiculed Russ for poor judgment.

Denise.” “And if I don’t?” “It would be a terrible shame for you and blondie to have a bike accident. This was no time for surprises. Chuck was in serious trouble. and clenched Denise by the arm. until the devil departed in his Buick that was briefly illuminated by the jaundice halogen buzz of the gas bar. Here’s the instructions.184 Rod Stewart “Hey. pulling her into the car bay. motioned for her to keep low.” He laughed a deadly cackle in Chuck’s petrified face.” stammered Chuck. Five grand.” “What?” whitened Denise. as he tipped his fedora down over his beady. “When?” “Soon. His thin leather driving gloves pushed a putrid cardboard box in front of Chuck. He opened the Firebird door. Precisely at eleven o’clock the darkness molded into a man who pushed through the doorway like a winter draft. into the inky shroud of the evening. . “Inside. wanting him tonight. “Oh my God. She had never seen his bravado so broken. More than he bargained for. lover!” spoke Denise as she sprung through the door. deep socketed eyes on the way out. Quick!” He apologized with a shaking kiss from his lips. “What’s wrong?” “A deal’s going down. with words that were coated by abrasive grit. “Not now!” Chuck cut her off. “Ready to do this?” announced the looming figure. Denise wound down the window and twisted the rear view mirror sideways toward the office. when you do the job. Chuck froze stiff. and then jackrabitted back to the counter. Every ounce of color bled away from his face.

There seemed to be no way out. It’s an old score to settle. can bend people.” “Dad knows that I love you. “I don’t want you to get hurt.” he whimpered. Will you wait for me Denise?” . Her chest filled with dread when she realized the trap she had set for Chuck. “He’s gone. She had put him in peril.” sniffed Denise. you’ll see. I would rather have the cops after me. That was years ago.” exclaimed Chuck. for his own means. He doesn’t give a damn about me. No doubt it had to do with Russ Nelson. Chuck slunk over to the Pontiac. “Why. likely stirring up a problem from his past. Denise might lose him to the hands of the law. Chuck. If she said nothing.” “I don’t want you to go through with this Chuck. He can probably buy anyone. Love always powdered to dust at her touch. Denise. I’ll serve my time. draping his sorry weight on the frame.” said Denise to herself. “I have to do it. and tapped lightly on the door. he’ll be on my back. and her payoffs from Tim. their relationship would be decimated. What if you get caught?” “He said nobody’s going to get killed. Think of us for God’s sake. Five thousand dollars. If I don’t do it.Love Me Knot 185 “Tim. He’ll keep us safe. Chuck?” she stared hard into him like raw blue steel. If I get arrested. “My Dad has connections.” “The guy asking the favor. Tim was using Chuck. His fingers tried to kiss away the sad wetness trickling past her lips. rising slowly with teary cheeks. That counts.” “Maybe you. Could she stop Tim? If she confessed to Chuck about knowing his turbulent past. After walking death departed.” “I heard. That was more money than he ever threw at her for favors. without destroying everything they had. She couldn’t tell Chuck.

The cleaned windows spilled a fresh soft golden .” Denise pushed open the Firebird door. For two decades. and her footsteps died into the black irreproachable fog. disturbing the earth as little as possible. re-puttied the panes. At 2:15 a. For us.” “This one last time Denise. The air between them solidified frigid. the glass had been rimmed by cobwebs. It was past midnight. Chuck. His stomach flipped and groaned with ulcerated somersaults all week. You have to cut free from all of this Chuck. “It’s as dark as a grave downstairs.m. Chuck howled a venomous curse and kicked a stack of worn tires. He hurled whatever loose metal scrap was closest at hand clear across to the other side of the garage with a resounding clang. She was glad to see him taking a hint of interest at home. He scraped off the blisters. so he dug up the last spindly stems while he was at it.186 Rod Stewart “No. Grace’s pansies had finished flowering out front. To escape from his caged mind. You have to choose between him and me. It’ll work out. oiled the hinges. and broke free from his gentle embrace. toppling a wall full of hung tools to the floor. Beaten. teetering on her navy pumps. She fell forward with her fractured heart. I won’t let my life pass away for your mistake.” commented Chuck. I promise.” “I’m sorry. and dabbed on a few licks of fresh whitewash. He dove for Denise and lifted her in his arms. She turned away from his drowning apologetic eyes. and Born to Run had snapped the final tight wire nerve burning like a poker through his headphoned brain. He left the latches open and crawled over the drop sheet unfurled ahead of him. Chuck wormed himself through the basement window. he pounded his fist against the concrete wall. He promised to brighten the bare patch with a flat of tangerine marigolds tomorrow. as her head dropped off her shoulders. Chuck. until Sunday arrived. and crumpled into a sobbing ball. he volunteered to fix all of the basement windows encircling the house foundation. rust and rain splashed dirt.

but he didn’t want to pry it out of him. He had needed the balm of manual diversions from time to time to sort himself out. Saturday’s rain had made the lane a greasy slow wavering ride for his touring bike that was designed for a paved ribbon. Who dared to call at this ungodly hour? There were no elderly relatives in dire health that he knew of. before starting his fifteen minute sprint back along the lane.m. to maneuver through the quagmire. He was already drenched to the bone with sweating worry. which became more elusive as he aged in marriage. He kept the lights off.Love Me Knot 187 morning light into the stale lower realm. smiled Grace. 2:20 a. Prisoners were sheared like sheep. and make it to Murphy’s Point on time. He had to risk it with his headlights on. He remembered teasing Denise at the gas bar about his mane. and stuffed his black leather jacket inside. The minutes were stealing away from him. “Hello?” Click. and through the scrub to Fisherman’s Wharf. as he snapped a bathing cap over his shorn scalp. The two miles from his home to Brickyard Road seemed more like twenty. Things were changing from the ground up. The Nelson phone rang eight times while Jake groped around the kitchen to pick up the receiver. Chuck ripped the backpack off his shoulders. and staggered back to bed. Chuck melded into the shadows and slipped around the corner to the back of the house to start the Honda engine. Sometimes a man needed his own peace. pulled out the sea-scented all-weather gear. like his son. The road was a half mile of mud cutting through the brush toward the shore. inbound to Pugwash. No time to spare. Murray was more doubtful. He dressed himself in the rain wear. stared at him as glowing green slivers and punctuations from his wrist watch. It was important that no . and slinked down the wooded drive like a black leopard stalking its prey. until the tires hit Route 6. He swore at the prankster. It turned over with a purr. Chuck parked his bike near the edge of the grass bank bordering the sea of cobbles that spilled down to the high tide mark.

He switched on the high beam of his football sized flashlight. Chuck was relieved that it was still there. What was he doing? Chuck sloshed gas all over the deck like a drunken madman. He rolled back his rubber sleeve. “Your boat’s on fire. and ducked between the break in the wharf pilings. Slowly it gained momentum with the current. at the Government Wharf. He charged through the alders. It was the same joker. the security guard on patrol spotted the punt launching from the beach. He poured his wretched sleepless form into some clothes. moving fast and methodically with his skin thin gloves. The guard watched Jake. as Jake clicked the receiver hook in frustration. Jake Nelson! The rip tide boiled the harbor with swirls of vortices. as he briskly paced down the shore to the Nelson skiff.188 Rod Stewart trace of his hair or fingerprints become evidence. and picked up a dot of color. The halogen beacons posted on the wharf around him burned with a soft penetration through the faint mist. pushed off. noting it was 2:35 a. . At 2:40 a.m. He put on the woolen toque and rubber boots. Less than five minutes until the second fateful call would be made. He tore off the clumps of seaweed to retrieve the jerry can from its plastic sheath. Damn him. on the opposite side of the narrow harbor. straining on the ropes tethering the moored Cape Islanders. His beam caught the red and white cap. Two hundred yards away. Then he made his presence known. the Nelson phone rang twelve times. as the ocean emptied away from Pugwash. grabbed the Ford keys with a curse. drifting away faster from view. It was most peculiar for anyone to be out on the water.m. Then he jumped back into the skiff.” The Halifax pay phone line went dead. The prow of the Nelson boat swung into the channel. There was enough light to discern a figure on board. “Hello! Who is this!” muttered the groggy teenager. and thundered down the lane at hell speed. and cut the lines.

Love Me Knot 189 Chuck followed it on a parallel course. He would clean her up at morning’s first light. and pitched it onto the Jenny Lee.m. He sped toward Murphy’s Point. He shifted the sputtering guttural engine into neutral. and was told that Jake had left earlier without explanation. Within seconds the boat burst into a raging fireball. The stunned wharf guard dropped his flashlight. the cops had nailed a Ford pick up that roared through four stop signs at eighty miles an hour. A police siren screeched immediately to the pier. He ran to his booth and radioed the RCMP at 2:45 a. His adrenaline still shook him. Another constable called the Nelson home. grabbed the whiskey bottle that was crammed with a gas soaked rag. Chuck throttled into high gear. lit the Molotov cocktail. and slithered through the basement window. winding the engine full out. as he smoothed over the impressions in the flower bed. Meanwhile. Chuck had scuttled the punt at the point. . skipping the punt over the choppy brine. stripped off the rain gear. The Goldwing was bathed in muck when he returned silently into the driveway. and shot home like black lightning in less than four minutes. away from the thirty foot flames and billowing black smoke. Downtown.

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On top of that. The vicious current had swept most of the charred wreckage toward the horizon. A few ash stained boards were found among twisted kelp. and made the evening news three days running. The hat matched the description from the security guard. The townsfolk were abuzz as to why the young man burned the family boat. Shortly after seven they found the bundled rain gear and toque lodged in the bushes. Two constables were assigned to sniff along the lane for any clues. The tide was dead low. Brickyard Road was the nearest lane to Fisherman’s Wharf. The police deduced that it was one possible site for the suspect to land. The news spread like fire upon everyone’s lips.TWENTY-ONE By dawn the police were scouring the shoreline up and down the coast like rabid hounds panting with hot tongues on a fresh bloody trail. Later in the day the RCMP diving team would attempt a reconnaissance with the engine sunken ten fathoms down. Fifty yards away among the seaweed clad boulders were the contorted remains of a crushed and folded aluminum skiff and dangling battered Mercury outboard scratched silver by the blazing sunshine. The preliminary hearing was set in three weeks. . Jake was caught in town at the time of the crime. The evidence had Nelson written all over it. connecting Route 6 and Murphy’s Point. and the rippling sandbars curved for miles from either lip of the harbor. That afternoon the RCMP made a call down Abercrombie Lane. and arrested Jake Nelson for arson. early in September. and make a clear getaway. but little of any apparent significance.

The Nelsons would lose everything if the situation was not remedied. “He’s the only witness we’ve got. as a square shouldered moose of a man oozed his frame from the confines of the driver’s side. “digging into nobody’s business. There was an ongoing internal inquiry by the RCMP. or to pay their mortgage on their new home. So. A hubcap-less rust bucket Volkswagen Rabbit putted into the Pugwash detachment about one o’clock. shared the usual small town pleasantries. and then debriefed him about the Nelson case. and the door creaked open with anguish. Detective Robert MacKenzie was called in from Halifax to pour over the facts. He perpetually wore a half-buttoned tan shirt over his bloated torso to coordinate with the daily coffee stains and melted Mars bars. with his palms knitted behind a full shock of licorice hair.” as he put it. Tuesday. as the rest of him towered and uncreased into a human form.” spoke Officer Cunningham. who was pulled like soft toffee over a leaned back chair. Mac sucked on the salt and pepper hairs of his goatee that crept over his lower lip. He scrutinized the file amid the crossfire of facts and assumptions that shot around the room from the other officers. The car rocked on its suspension. He swaggered into the austere brick building. “The security guard made a positive ID?” “He claimed it was Jake Nelson. by his build. the guard had binoculars and a blinding search light in his back pocket?” grumbled Mac. The crime received plenty of attention from the press.192 Rod Stewart It meant immediate hardship for the Nelsons. “The report says fog. with no income to sustain them. and gruffly introduced himself as “Mac. Plain wrinkled black pants blended with the amorphous palette of grime and grit from.” .” The boys tanked up his haggard bulldog chops with more coffee. and cap. His size twelve Eatons loafers touched down on the egg-frying pavement.

For you. And for me. I want to make this easy.Love Me Knot 193 “Without a conclusive face. just to get out of this hell hole.” Jake sloughed off the remarks. with a trace of a courteous smile over his blubbery cod mouth.” burped Mac. .” Jake mustered a weak nod. and opened the cell for MacKenzie. “Jake’s a good kid. That’s all. Trying to make his own way.” snorted Mac. and cowered against the concrete wall. with his head deep in his arms. how a spunky lad could be trashed by unfortunate events. Jake looked up. At this point he would agree to sign any affidavit.” Both pairs of bloodshot eyes scanned the other through the rank soup air. Harry’s like you. It struck him.” “From what they tell me.” he cracked. Hard working. The sullen man hung at the edge of the vomit splotched mattress. muttering unintelligibly. who was studying for a Bachelor of Commerce at Acadia University. I have my doubts. “Everybody calls me Mac. Honest.” “Yeah. as an officer rattled his ring of brass keys.” “I’ve got nothing else to say. You’ll be back home before you can say John Collins. A few leads. His brain was a blank slate from hours of interrogation. as a swallow of black coffee scalded the back of his throat. No priors. “Detective Robert MacKenzie. My son. Mac saw a broken youth on the other side of the steel cage. “You got a visitor. I think somebody’s stuck you with a bum rap. “I looked at your file. you come from a decent family. Jake was not much younger than his own scraggly cub. kid.” “Listen.” “Let’s see what I can drag out of the horse’s mouth.

The empty Aero wrapper was balled into his hip pocket. My girlfriend signed on to fish with me for two weeks.” “I can’t explain that. or stolen?” “I don’t know.” “Thanks.” “Suit yourself. and took a different tack.” “I didn’t catch your girlfriend’s name. He unconsciously grabbed a couple of bars from the front counter. Is there anybody with a grudge against you or your family that would frame you?” “No.” “Samantha Allen. The last thing he needed was an airhead to waste his time.” MacKenzie scribbled a few notes. The way I see it. He succumbed to his routine mid afternoon chocolate craving. I thought that was your job?” “Let’s say stolen. and waddled around the block to O’Brien’s.194 Rod Stewart “For starters. Her mother. my rain gear got lost after she took it home.” “I didn’t give it. What’s your city connection?” “Got none.” “Your file tell you about the calls?” “Yeah.” “Lost. He hoped that she wasn’t a ditzy sixteen year old. Kate.” “Meaning?” “A month ago my dad was laid up. I gave her my extra gear for a few days. Thing is. and paid the clerk. as the last mouthful of . is the pharmacist at O’Brien’s. the boys pulled you over when you flew through town. an arsonist would have driven away from town ASAP. “Your clothes and cap were found at Murphy’s Point. Maybe the girlfriend could open up an avenue. I’ve already been over this. His spheroid physique was in constant requirement of food for ambulation. They were from a Halifax pay phone.” MacKenzie left with a grunt. after torching the boat. until we outfitted her proper.

“I understand that Jake is close with your daughter.” “Yes.” Kate’s jaw replied with a silent grind. they were likely one of the top tourist destinations. We’ll be in touch. Allen was beaten raw. I’m sure your people have done the background checks.” “Yes.” flashing his grim cop smile quicker than his badge. On the way out. Kate was on shift.” Mac’s pupils flared wide with surprise. Allen? Detective Robert MacKenzie. Ma’am. His mouth twitched sourly at that sarcastic thought. “They’re my angels. He figured walking to the station would burn off the calories. Samantha.” “Who?” “The Nelsons. anyhow.” “Certainly.Love Me Knot 195 melted sugar descended into his gullet by the time he reached the pharmacy at the back. Mrs. He saw her teeth clench beneath her sallow cheek muscles and puffy slit eyes.” “She’s fallen to pieces. His gut cringed at the prospect of enduring another twenty. he’s the world to her. The bungalow nestled among spruce with the ocean view at the end of Abercrombie Lane was the retirement home he always dreamed of. Samantha’s staying with friends. Please. .” “A few more questions.” She motioned for Denise to cover for her while they went into the stockroom. he quietly inquired for directions to the Nelsons. “Mrs. “I’ve been down to the station.” “Now if you’d excuse me. He glanced at the pasty mug in his rearview mirror that drooped exhausted from twenty long years with the force. With the local notoriety.” “She must be pretty shaken up.

I’m sorry to hear about your family. with a blackening glare.196 Rod Stewart After a moment of futile introspection.” “We’ve always been there for each other. Allen. “What do you want?” “Your story. .” “May I come inside?” They smelled Russ through the entrance. and approached the veranda.” “I was hoping to speak with Samantha. She stopped short at spilling her conclusions about Tim being the supicious stranger wearing sunglasses. Dot opened the screen door before he had a chance to knock.” “The police have our statement. She prayed that the secretive development between Tim and Mrs. drowning in Lamb’s Navy rum. At night. and pulled at the pain of her heart string. Dot knew that that her son was not guilty. The spiel was regurgitated verbatim to Mackenzie. to friends. You are looking after her children. like a wind-up doll.” “The private beach is closed. With stone wall determination they would get through this. “I met Mrs. Nelson. she wondered if the trial years ago from Russ’ infidelity was meant to prepare her for now. Mundle had no connection to the arson. MacKenzie killed the engine. detective. “Mrs. “Detective Robert MacKenzie. as it had been rehearsed dozens of times.” Dot stiffened. neighbors and the media. If you do anything to hurt her…” warned Dot. It did not make sense for Tim to turn on their family after all of these years. The past few days had bleached her hopeless. squeezed out of his Rabbit. barricading him on the steps. slumped at the kitchen table. She closed the door. when the ceiling pressed down upon her.” “She’s a delicate soul. There is a chance that she might know something. She held her family together the best that she could under the circumstances.” she sighed. This has truly broken her.

mister. Mackenzie. when I can.” .Love Me Knot 197 “You have my word. “Thanks. fifty steps down to the shore? He owed himself a second dessert tonight after this marathon.” “How is he?” shivered Samantha’s lips.” replied MacKenzie. My friends do. with a curious furrowed brow. again. “Hold this please. “They’re down at the beach. “Hold still. what. like my own. And another. wiping away the ocean of sweat pouring from his armpits. She was hunched like a vulture over the sandy tomb that had consumed her sister’s body. Huffing and wheezing worse than a cracked leather bellows. Natalie smiled and waved her red plastic scoop.” her tomato eyes welled up. I’ll look in on him for you. He’s a fine boy. “Shaken up.” More walking. “Call me Mac. I want Jake cleared as much as you do.” “Dot’s asked visitors to stay away. Nice day. navigating his eclipsing immenseness with an extended groan onto the bone white log nearby. “Hi girls.” remarked Samantha.” placing one perpendicular to the other. to cool her off. but he’s a strong lad. “I’m Detective Robert MacKenzie. ready to break out in a flood of tears. tying the pieces together with a frayed lick of sun beaten rope. Natalie snapped a branch in two. “Mind if I?” asked Mac.” “We’ll find out who did this.” said Natalie. wooly back and ballooned cheeks. MacKenzie wallowed through the sand as if he had crawled over thirty miles of Sahara.” “God speed Mr.” he said. Samantha’s head rolled toward him with pale amusement. Jake sends his love.

and help me.” .” “Dad has something to do with Abercrombie Lane. She’s building new cottages. but we have to prove it. “You’ve talked to Mrs. more convinced that he was a freak lost from a circus. “Jake didn’t do it. “Dot told you about the stranger taking pictures?” led Natalie.198 Rod Stewart “Done!” exclaimed Natalie.” pushed Mac. The unspeakable had happened. He leaned over. “Did Mrs. Mundle mention my Dad?” “No. She took the grave cross. Samantha knew this was coming.” “You’re a real policeman?” asked Natalie. and squeezing her sister’s hand. “Maybe you can be a policewoman. “Let’s see!” said Natalie. wriggling a palm free.” gulped Samantha with her eyes closed. “A lot of good people can be hurt. Mrs. “A special policeman. “It will only get worse if the bad person isn’t stopped.” explained Mac. Tim. Mundle had warned her to be careful.” said Mac. and pinned the badge onto her swimsuit’s shoulder strap with his ten bulbous thumbs. She refused to let her thoughts step over that threshold. She had felt it for days. too?” suggested Mac.” cautioned Samantha. sliding closer. and the Nelsons were bound together into a strangling knot. and promptly stabbed it deep into the ground by Samantha’s crown. “I know. The days that had blended into one long nightmarish hour with various shades of grey. Mundle?” asked Samantha. Mrs. flipping out his badge at the end of his stubby fingertips. We help people like Jake who are in trouble. How could her father be involved with the Nelson disaster? Her heart was smashed into shards. That’s all. “Yes. Mundle. I figure out puzzles.

To amplify the tragedy by incriminating Dr. Allen was beyond devastation. With patient precision. and then folded her hands and eyelids tightly in supplication. and opened his ashtray palm for the return of his grit scratched badge.” “Bring Jake home. She had lost her lover. He needed her to sew this case shut. Samantha. A singular eye jewel beaded to the earth with Samantha’s sigh. and Dot’s expression when Tim left the barbecue wearing the fedora. “Thanks. Samantha was a fragile thread. Even his lizard thick hide was not that insensitive.” Mac answered with a solemn bow.P.I. Soon the storm littered tide would rise and swallow away all of their sins. He struggled like a pregnant cow to get up from his hind quarters. . she spelled R. It was completely circumstantial. with pearly quartz pebbles.Love Me Knot 199 Samantha told MacKenzie about the photos Denise saw. said goodbye. MacKenzie could have prodded Samantha if she thought that her father was capable of arranging the arson. As he left. and plodded with disgust toward the sky high staircase. Natalie rattled the contents of her pail onto Samantha’s sand heaped chest.

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TWENTY-TWO A lion chewed inside Mackenzie’s belly, salivating for slabs of bloody roast beef and mashed potato isles swimming in a turbid sea of gravy. The grumbling beast was ignored, as he left the engine running, trotted into the station, and nabbed Cunningham for a review of the crime scene. The police cruiser pulled off to the side at Fisherman’s Wharf. Together they walked down the cracked mud, and dodged the drying opalescent puddles on Brickyard Road. Some of the tracks traversing the lane’s weedy spine had already blown away to dust over the past forty-eight hours. Once they were past the turn off to the wharf, the jumble of vehicular tracks had diminished to a handful of trails winding toward Murphy’s Point. “No tire match?” conjectured MacKenzie, observing that most of the tracks traveled unpaired down the road. “The Nelson’s Ford must have been parked near the beginning of the lane.” “The security guard said the skiff motored out to the harbor, when the boat was burning. We’re assuming that Jake ditched the boat at the Point. Then he ran to the truck, and sped through town.” “The boot prints are over three feet apart. He was hoofing at a good clip.” “It’s almost a mile to the point. He ran with rubber boots, in slippery muck, in pitch black. Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes.” “You’re saying it’s tight.”

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“The wharf guard said the boat was in flames around 2:30 a.m. The RCMP stopped Jake at 2:53 a.m. Yeah. Too tight.” “The second phone call to the Nelson’s from Halifax was at 2:40 a.m. Jake said he left home then.” “His alibi. If that was the case, he didn’t have enough time to torch the boat, run the lane and take off in his truck.” “Unless Jake lied, and left earlier, while someone else had answered the call.” “What if the arsonist rode a motorcycle?” said MacKenzie, pointing his stick at a weaving single track. “The suspect would first drive the bike to Murphy’s Point, then run back to the wharf, burn the boat, maroon the skiff, and finally beat it to the highway.” “While Jake was being baited into town at the time of the crime.” “Every kid and his dog on the block ride a dirt bike. There is no way we could track him down.” “Off road bikes and street bikes have different treads. This one was made by a trail bike,” as MacKenzie indicated a coarse tread that bit deep into the mud. “And this one is from a touring cycle,” as he ran the shadow of his rod over a shallow smudged wobbling track. “Dirt bikes make a hell of a racket.” “Exactly. No one in the neighborhood reported seeing or hearing anything at 2:30 a.m.” “There is only one street cycle track going to the point, and back.” “Why would someone drive a touring bike through mud? Less traction. A devilish treacherous ride,” puzzled MacKenzie. “Unless it was a quiet running motorcycle.” “Possible. The arsonist theoretically would be about the same size as Jake. The boots and clothes needed to fit; for the run, and to fool the wharf guard.” “The arsonist had a fisherman’s experience. He operated a punt, and was familiar with the local tides and

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currents. If the tide was coming in, then the other boats and the wharf could have gone up in flames.” “A biker, about the same build as Jake, who’s been around the water.” “That narrows our second suspect down to a male from the Northumberland Strait.” “There’s still no explanation how your arsonist obtained Jake’s clothes.” “You’re right. The boots haven’t shown up either.” “When are the prints on the rain gear coming back from the lab?” asked MacKenzie. “With the hair sample report, on Thursday” replied Cunningham. The Laurel and Hardy duo marched back to Fisherman’s Wharf, with enlightened considerations. On Wednesday morning Officer Cunningham took a call. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans had confirmed a fine against Russ Nelson in 1971. Charles Langille was registered as his mate during that time. “You might have something,” lit up Mackenzie, already on his third coffee by ten a.m. “Russ Nelson has a clean record otherwise. I asked around. Langille and Nelson fought on board.” “Anything else on Langille?” “He’s a regular James Dean. A list of misdemeanors as long as your arm. No offenses over the past two years.” “Could be our trouble maker.” “He fits our description. Should we bring him in for questioning?” “Not yet. If he’s the arsonist, my bet there’s been too much heat for a payoff.” “You think he has an accomplice?” “If Langille had a serious grudge against Nelson, he could have torched his boat back in 1971. There must be some other reason why he did it now, four years later.” “Any ideas?” “Abercrombie Lane.” “We’ve talked to Mundle. She’s rebuilding.”

” “You have anything else on Langille?” “His parents. In the meantime I’ll contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles for any other local motorcycles on record. Kate was only able to work short shifts now. Out of nowhere the kid’s been driving a three thousand dollar touring motorcycle. Grace and Murray go to church. Your thoughts Cunningham?” “He is a Person of Interest. Separated from his wife about ten years ago. that if he’s the arsonist.” “We should keep tabs on Langille. The police would eventually sort out the truth. Off duty.” “I’m a familiar face to Chuck. until O’Brien’s management urged her to take a vacation.” “You were saying.” “The predicament that the Nelsons are in now.” “Try Mundle again. they could lose their home. She dripped like a ghost under the fluorescent hum at the pharmacy. I’ll try to catch them on Sunday. Denise . but by then it might be too late. A real shame.” It was not only the RCMP that wanted answers. Her pupils were as wide and black as death.204 Rod Stewart “I’ve got a lead that Mundle and Dr.” “My guess is. Samantha knew that time was against her mother. Applying a little more pressure should squeeze something out.” “I’ll poke around for any other gossip. Mundle and Dr. In this matchbox town everybody lives inside everyone’s head. Mrs. Timothy Allen have a mutual interest at Abercrombie.” “I met Kate yesterday.” “Allen’s a cardiologist from Halifax. Allen have impeccable reputations. Maybe the development along Abercrombie is more than renovating cottages?” “That’s a long shot. he will keep a low profile. She made the excuse of wanting more summer hours with her darlings. I’ll do the surveillance on his activities. The whispers behind her back grew nearly audible. Well known and respected.” “Yeah.

Dot’s story about the disguised stranger. If her father was responsible for destroying the Nelsons. She had played and lost enough from her own games with the Allens and Nelsons. or ever could be. dear. and how it all pieced together to prove that Tim and Mrs. Mundle. She rose from her sorrowful grave. and soundly rapped on the glass door. Kate marched up the steps and pulled most of the wrinkles out of her pancake powdered face and the navy print dress that she wore. the warning from Mrs. Mom. Fire breathed from her mouth and eyes.” “How are you and the girls?” “Samantha’s taking it hard.” Helen locked up again. “Help me. and drank from the bitter cup of revenge. Trembling fingers turned the latches with hesitant expectation.” “Thanks. Helen.” “We have to do something. Natalie eavesdropping from under the sink.Love Me Knot 205 kept quiet about Kate suffering from more than burnout.” “We can’t interfere with the police. She didn’t recognize the reflection of the wretched old woman staring back at her.” . and the life of her soul. Helen.” “My heart goes out to them. “The Nelsons are family. as Samantha accused her father of ruining the Nelsons.” The Corolla snugged into the curb on Water Street outside Mundle’s Hardware at five. she would personally hunt him down. to all of us. More than her father was. Mundle were developing Abercrombie Lane. the property being surveyed. Samantha told Kate everything. “Come in. She wept on her mother’s shoulders with bitter sulphurous tears. and then warmed Kate’s fallen frame with a firm hug. The smoke of arson filled the air of Kate’s bedroom. He was her future. She curled some frizzled grey strands behind her ringing ears. Samantha was determined to redeem Jake. the drugstore photos seen by Denise.

They will be taken care of. which . Don’t worry about me.” “And then leave you cold. You have to trust me Helen. late Saturday.” The evening light filtered like melted butter through the kitchen window lace.” “Are you that deep with him?” “There are no legal ties between us. He will get what he wants. like the Nelsons’.” “What if Tim finds out?” “He won’t know what hit him when I get through with him. I have nothing to lose. I didn’t have any idea that he would go that far. “Tim can destroy anyone.” “Wait here.” focused Kate with a desperate choking warble. and traced softly over Kate’s grey features that had long forgotten affection. Allen. Helen admitted to discussing development on Abercrombie Lane with Dr.” “Yes.” “Before the RCMP question him.” “Do the police know about Tim?” “I told them that I was privately rebuilding on Abercrombie Lane. I suspect so. strictly within Mundle property lines. She was adamant the renovations were her project alone.” “Samantha and Natalie?” “I’ve made arrangements. Then he’s flying out Sunday to the Caribbean for a few weeks.” Helen didn’t want to aggravate the issue by mentioning that detective MacKenzie visited earlier this afternoon. It was a rare warmth. “I need to trap Tim at his own game. Helen. He had tried to intimidate her with snide remarks about obscuring justice and withholding evidence.” “Whatever you have in mind has to be done soon.” “Oh?” “Tim’s coming here. but there was no business relationship.206 Rod Stewart “We both know who is behind this. Not a single penny had passed between them. The honey gingered tea steeped with the fragrance of loyal friendship through the glowing parlor.

I only wanted to fix up some shacks. Helen. Yes. nervously slipping her an unsealed envelope.” “The police would love to investigate these deposits into his private account.” She embraced her village sister with her tormented heart. for the other friends she had loved. Helen closed the door on her.” cried Helen.Love Me Knot 207 miraculously carried her through one day and into the next.” sunk Helen. I called his bluff that he didn’t have enough money. but for her children. if she was lucky. too. Kate realized that the only peace she might ever have was not for herself. He gave me this to prove his intentions. The costs for his project were astronomical. He wanted the Nelsons out. She released Kate with a final squeeze of hope. and watched Kate descend with the heavy shadows of inevitable night. I went ahead and did my property surveying. “You didn’t get this from me. He had crazy ideas about a resort in Pugwash. rattling her cup and spilling tea. Kate listened to Helen’s heels clicking in a semicircle on the oak floorboards overhead. No more!” “God help us all.” said Helen. “Tim and I talked about Abercrombie Lane. failing to comfort the puppet skeleton enveloped by her ample pillowing bosom. “He’s tearing this town apart.” sobbed Kate. and maybe. Benjamin Scott into Tim’s account. If Kate could stop Tim. It was . Kate slowly unfolded the monthly statement from the Royal Bank of Canada. “It’s not fair. Her cheeks flared with rage when she read near the bottom of the list. She scanned the deposit transactions totaling in the thousands of dollars. I tried to discourage him. The leech was sucking him dry. I threatened to end it between us. it might cost her everything. then a squeak and slap from a bureau drawer. “No more.” “I see that Ben is caught up in this mess. There was a branch to branch transfer of ten grand from Dr. everything. followed by a hobbling creak down the stairs to the main floor.

Together they visited Jake as often as the authorities permitted. The future for her daughters flickered like weak candlelight. But what can we do?” “Make him pay with the truth. Will you promise to stand by me. seeing the frail condition of her mother. and their chance for happiness would be completely extinguished.208 Rod Stewart pointless to rebuild what she had already lost for herself. She pulled into the driveway and killed the lights into the dead weighted darkness. dear. as one big family. Arm in arm. Another harsh blow to the Nelsons. She switched on the lava lamp. She needed to make a few calls.” “How?” “You’ll see. Samantha steadied her mother up the porch stairs that were lost within the molasses thick hour. The love between Jake and Samantha was their catalyst for optimism. She knew that Kate was about to wage war with Tim. honey. Mom. as she clicked on the kitchen light. Samantha. “No thanks. That was as clear as noon. falling as another lump onto the sofa.” replied Kate. Samantha tightened with a chill at the burning frown carved upon Kate’s sunken face.” quivered Kate’s voice. no matter what happens. For the next few days the Allens stayed with the Nelsons. Dot bribed Natalie to spend the night with them. and would return early Sunday. saying that she had some personal business to finish with Tim. Mom?” she asked. “Can I get you anything?” squinted Samantha. “What’s going on. Little was said between them on the way home. “Your father. insisted on being with Kate. clenching her claws into the seat. sharing what little they had. and promising themselves that this would all change into brighter times. and lost . remembering the sweeter summers.” hissed Kate. On Saturday Kate plucked a discord. and poured herself a glass of ice water from the tap. “I know. They found a measure of comfort.

“You’ll probably only get his answering machine. Don’t answer the phone when it rings. “We wait.” “He likely has a private number. “I have proof that Tim was behind the arson.” Denise slid to the floor whimpering.” said Kate. or else you’re going down with him. Tell me his number. dear. It was almost eleven.” “They suit each other. Tim slithered inside. Samantha eased under her mother’s wing. “Helen?” “It’s been a hard week.Love Me Knot 209 herself in the bubbling peach balloons.” stung Denise.. “From what I saw under the table in Halifax. She rose to make a call.” snarled Kate. “Now?” shrunk Samantha. apologizing for her outburst. “I heard about the arson on the news. O. and a momentary pause from the other side. “See you in court. “Hello?” “Denise?” “Kate?” “Can you give me Tim’s number?” “I thought you had his home number. crisply adding. “Let’s try to get some sleep. Samantha. “I have to call Tim.” A dark nervous shadow knocked on the back door of Mundle’s Hardware.K.” . He must pay you well. they are very close.” She slammed down the receiver with a deafening bang. concerned. bitch. until it was answered by a yawn.” “Denise would know.” Kate penciled the digits hard into the wall.” spoke Samantha. Stupidity must run in their family. hugging a cushion.” she replied. “Please don’t. It was answered by a labored sigh. flashed into her mind. “What are you talking about?” snarled Denise.” Pause. The phone rang forever. Her space cadet daughter.” resolved Kate. “I want his private number. peeling off his jacket for him.

Kate stared into nothing. His mouth descended ravenously upon her naked flesh. She stopped at Samantha’s doorway. and undressed him with void affection. and listened. and frigid. She jolted when the phone rang. and pried the . embalmed within her cotton casket.” bowed Tim.m.” spoke Helen. It was worth his trip to Pugwash. I wanted the Nelsons out of Abercrombie lane.” That’s what Tim wanted to hear. “I’ll be glad to get away from this until it cools off. and floated across the hall. One short. Two long.210 Rod Stewart “It’s not right for that to happen to the Nelsons. Then silence. and continued around the corner. It was just past 4 a. She slowly rose from bed. and warmed the silver crucifix pricking into the crest of her alabaster breasts. Eight times.” Her clammy fingers trickled down the necklace. He rolled over after his appetite was satiated. She turned the knob. being careful not to press any mouse squeaks from the linoleum. while he pounded groans within her. Helen swallowed her soiled pride with two sleeping pills. Helen had signaled that Tim had left her flat. Kate smiled. frozen in her thoughts. She focused her blurry eyes again upon the Westinghouse clock hands that she had patiently been watching doing semaphore for hours. She made a wish under her breath for the devil to vanish from her parlor. But not this way. and completely shivered her with goose pimples. She poured him a Bloody Mary with a sour slice of lemon cut with a grimace from her lips. avoiding her inquiring eyes.” “You’ve kept my name out of it?” “Yes. She followed the stumbling clamber of his hooves upstairs. dry. She lay there as his slaughtered prey. like a leaf carried upon a dreamy waft. “I know what you’re thinking Helen. distancing herself from him. “The police have been asking around about us and our business on the lane. Her breathing was light and regular.

Tim would be back in the city. “I heard a noise from my bedroom. Whoever it was took off. and crouched by the rear tire on the passenger side.m. near the thicket. It wasn’t the raccoons. Kate gritted her jaws until they nearly broke from throbbing pressure. The kitchen lit up as she stepped onto the porch. She barely withheld the inferno of curses ready to explode from her lungs. at the border of their property. She was startled to see her mother prancing around outdoors in her nightgown. honey.” “You blackmailed Ben. The inner tube bubbled through the laceration like a puff of candy gum. before releasing her wrath. “I’m sorry for waking you. Kate put her gloves and knife back. The cops will make Denise talk. Mom. The sleepy dew licked at her toes with cold mischievous kisses. and over to the Corolla. His phone rang twenty times. By 6:30 a. She held her tongue until seven.” “You shouldn’t take chances like that. Without disturbing the fingerprints. Kate. Expecting you to join us. “Mom?” mumbled Samantha. but only breathed anger. The third jab went deeper. Kate felt her way down the steps.” explained Kate. Kate popped open the compartment and put on her driving gloves. she tossed Tim’s knife into the tall grass. It’s going to be a party. Then she grabbed the second one.” “What do you want?” . as her fingers dialed revenge.” “Go to hell.” joked Kate. There were two hunting knives inside. this time with her flashlight on. The first few stabs glanced off the rubber like cat scratches. I looked out and saw a man. “I know you did it Tim. and swindled your other whores in Toronto and Calgary. I’ve got names and accounts. He picked up.Love Me Knot 211 back door open enough to slide through. you could get hurt.” “I’m a big girl. and then returned to the cottage.

The pill bottles from the bathroom cabinet were slung in a bag at her side. Mom. They had knifed him squarely in the back. and blood red lipstick.” Kate handed her the envelope containing Tim’s bank statement. He would have to cancel his flight. If anything goes wrong.212 Rod Stewart “Be here by ten.” “The police…” “There is no time. and then hugged the wind out of her daughter’s chest. The cancer had likely weakened her physically into a limp rag. “Mom?” “I’m going after Tim. sweetheart. “I love you Samantha!” “I love you. She smashed down the receiver.” . the color of her seething fury. Helen would be a more challenging victim. He looked at his suitcases packed for the Cayman Islands. There was no way to turn this around. He would meet with her. give this to the RCMP.” boiled Kate. She was armed with stiletto heels. Or I’m going to the police. The two hours of driving back to Pugwash should give him enough time to consider some creative possibilities. He had to surrender to Kate’s ultimatum. and improvise somehow to eliminate Kate. Kate was dressed in funeral black silk up to her neck. or lose his empire. before he slips away. Tim reasoned that only Helen had the information. dear.” “Mom! Please don’t go!” “I have to. and swore enough to curl the Asian wallpaper.

and then plunged into the murky harbor depths. Her car hummed along the hilly double lane. curving past the sugar cube houses. and the engine revved louder. It cart wheeled. The stores and businesses were like picture books. out of town. She made a rumbling detour down the dirt road to the dump. moved by the invisible hand of her own will. She must not fail. and threw the second knife into the air. knowing how it must happen. one last time. yet time seemed to blur with a peculiar . Not now. tumbling like a tern wing. She was a decaying shriveled shell ready to disintegrate. The seagull angels circled above in the crystal blue as she lobbed her bag of drugs over the disemboweled heaps of garbage bags and auto bones. She counted the telephone poles into town. But Kate knew if she did that. as she pulled away. where a mélange of conversations. The speedometer needle pushed higher. Her eyes read through their windows and doors. by herself. for her daughters. gossip and personalities came alive from memory. Kate snipped those threads one at a time.m. She always saw her journey as a terminal conclusion at night.TWENTY-THREE For months Kate had replayed the movie through her mind. When Kate clattered over the bridge. rather than a trip beginning at dawn. By eight a. her decision would change. Kate was roaring south along Route 368. There was a sentimental tug that enticed her to drive just once around the town block. and make passage for the next generation. and spruce saturated with ocean scent. and considered this as a mission of hope. she wound down her window. and into the rotting heart of the landfill. She was inside her own surreal diorama. She had a content glow inside now.

” replied MacKenzie.214 Rod Stewart stillness. She remembered the stomach dropping descent snaking wildly through the Cobequid Mountains. She could feel the second hand tick on her wrist. like a watercolor left out in a rainstorm. someday forgive her. Timothy Allen’s Halifax residence. if we need back up. “What about the Langilles?” asked Cunningham. then rammed the gas pedal through the floor. Thanks. Only Samantha and Natalie were left at the core of her thoughts. Kate shot with a reckless swerve at ninety miles an hour blowing out the rear tire. The team labored with pneumatic jaws to cut her mangled ragdoll body free. He phoned the Nelsons next. before an ambulance and the RCMP arrived. bacon and hash browns. and maybe. He had stuffed his chipmunk cheeks with a second round of sunny side up eggs.” click. “You can handle this?” “I’ll call you from the Allens. in its own cruel way. Traffic crawled past the grisly scene of steel and glass shrapnel. The full stop intersection with Route 307 would be upon her in seconds. “We need that information. It was the same fateful place as ten years ago. MacKenzie called his partner with the news. The Corolla flew through the guard rail. His face was buried in the obituaries of Saturday’s Chronicle Herald. I’ll take Constable Bowers with me to inform the next of kin ASAP. The horrific tragedy was relayed from the Pugwash detachment to Detective Mackenzie at the Hillcrest Motel and Restaurant. She prayed that they would eventually understand. The hues of life washed away. It was a numbing anesthetic. The Toyota horn droned until nine. Kate was thankful for the nightmarish pain that blotted out almost every other sensation. and the pulse in her jugular arteries stretching with the rhythm of her breath. She checked. and found the crossroad clear. having assumed that . There was no answer at Dr. and wrapped around the telephone pole like a twist of candy foil.

” “They had a big fight on the phone at seven. She told me to give you this.m. Mom told him to come here or else. Nelson to meet with him at the Allen’s home.” spoke Mackenzie. outside. “Does anyone else have a key to your home?” . MacKenzie and Bowers rumbled into the Allen driveway at 9:20 a. She read death hanging from MacKenzie’s grey eyes and fallen shoulders. when he arrives.m. She went after him. he urgently asked Mr. He’ll be here in a few minutes. We couldn’t contact your father. as the messengers of doom shadowed toward the veranda.” trembled Samantha between sniffles. “I know this is hard. Nelson.” “Mom saw someone prowling around last night.” “I see.” said Samantha.” asked MacKenzie. They stood on the porch as Samantha locked up the cottage.” “When was that?” “Around 4:30 a. Samantha braced herself for the worst. He disappeared before she found out who it was.” “Money.” said MacKenzie.” “What was the argument over. Samantha. Without divulging further details.Love Me Knot 215 Samantha and Natalie were there. MacKenzie was surprised to learn that Samantha was alone at the Allen cottage. “We’ll have a talk with your father.” “Mom said she had to call Dad about something. The Nelson Ford chugged to a halt behind the Rabbit. Her whole body quivered with pain and tears. right now. “Dad is probably on his way. but can you tell us what happened. “One more question. “I called Mr. handing him the envelope. They comforted her inside. “Oh?” “I don’t want to stay with him!” tensed Samantha.

“Do we have enough on Dr.” “Sure. Mom said that she found it the next day. It was lost the night we had a family barbecue.216 keys. There were signs of a superficial puncture.” “The all-weather suit which the arsonist wore.” “I have a witness in mind to verify that. Allen’s car. He gingerly slid the evidence into the pouch.” . there was a silver flash from the shin high weeds.” proclaimed MacKenzie. Allen has a key to the cottage. Please call me if you think of anything else. Allen to make this stick?” “It’s mostly circumstantial. This.” smiled MacKenzie. away from view. That was weeks ago. and requested Bowers to grab a plastic bag from the dash. MacKenzie spotted the knife. Then they returned to stake out the cottage. “and the bank account entries.” “What was the business about the cottage key?” “If Dr. When they walked her over to Russ. should box him in. they departed. “That’s Dad’s hunting knife.” “If it was Dr. marveling at the antler trophy.” Rod Stewart “No.” “You’ve been a great help Samantha. Allen lost control when her rear tire blew. Dad hasn’t been here since the barbecue. Allen who sabotaged Mrs. then he stole Jake’s raingear. Only her and I have “Thanks.” MacKenzie opened the pick-up door for her. we must establish that he was in Pugwash last night. This is Mom’s house.” “The knife?” “It appears that Mrs. and mailed it to him. MacKenzie drove the Volkswagen further down the lane. leaving the investigators in charge.” “How did it land over there?” “I don’t know. After a few softer exchanges. “Do you recognize this?” spoke MacKenzie.

as he questioned the absence of the Toyota.” “My God!” exclaimed Tim. wishfully whispering. with her petulant demands. I’m Detective Robert MacKenzie. He would watch for his chance. as the LeSabre slinked into the Allens at 9:45 a. Tim had fifteen minutes to search for his account statement. “Where are my children. He had ample narcotics in his medicine bag to make it look like a fatal overdose. This is Constable Danny Bowers. “I have nothing further to say without my lawyer.” “We regret to inform you that your wife died in a car accident this morning. He was startled simultaneously by the empty bathroom medicine cabinet.” . Dr. and efficient.” “We suggest you keep yourself available. Dr. “Let’s see if he goes for the cheese. “Where were you last night Dr. without a blink of guilt. Not this time.m.” noted Bowers.” “Our mouse has arrived.Love Me Knot 217 “There were only two sets of prints on the clothes.” said MacKenzie. Tim made a wry pinched grin at how Kate had beaten him. She would be here soon. Simple. Allen. Tim was alert to where these suspicions were leading. Where was the bitch? She said ten. and the impatient rap on the front door. Tim wobbled with strain up the stairs with his cane. Allen. plus any other items which might prove useful. as he dropped onto the sofa. “Hello. “Come on. hiding his pleasure behind a mask of cold shivering fingers. Come on. Allen?” probed MacKenzie.” Before they crammed into the Rabbit. Jake Nelson’s and Samantha Allen’s.” Tim tapped his fingertips on the steering wheel. Tim shouted. The hours of driving had flared his hip pain.” “Come in. “Yes?” said Tim curtly. It was unusually clean indoors. He was usually the one who called the shots. and then overpower her. His eyes sparkled with interest. MacKenzie summarized the matter of fact details about the tragedy on Route 307.

and Samantha’s boyfriend in jail. His alcohol fueled fury was triggered to pulverize Tim at the slightest provocation. Tim swallowed hard. with an accidental fall down her steep stairs would conveniently terminate their relationship. Tim stiffened from the car with one resolute breath. “Samantha and Natalie are coming with me.” cut Tim. Denise and Chuck were very well paid to keep their mouths shut.” demanded Tim. It was all hearsay and rumors. From the argument this morning. His daughters had associated too closely with the Nelsons. The bruised sky had pressed dark and low as Dr. too. Kate clearly blamed him for the arson. She likely poisoned his children against him. Then he planned to visit Helen. Two ton Dot plowed ahead like a tank through the screen door. Tim had reviewed every action done and word uttered. “They girls are in our custody now. Samantha and Natalie stood behind. Allen swung into the Nelsons.218 Rod Stewart “Staying with the Nelsons. and the Nelsons. now.” snapped MacKenzie. as he mustered commanding anger from his churning gut. cracking the glass. He had always favored Natalie. and sucked in his cheeks.” countered Dot. . ready to squash the skinny worm flat into the mud. and strutted off kilter with his cane toward the veranda. The pawns stood firm. He loved Natalie and Samantha dearly. Russ had his plaid sleeves rolled up past his canon elbows. and then stormed off in his Buick to Abercrombie Lane. Helen was the only smudge to be wiped from his slate. There would be necessary complications and adjustments in his personal life. A well placed blow. Tim slammed the cottage door. Tim prepared himself for a stormy reception. Once Tim had them safely under his wing. With the family in ruin. he’d ask Samantha about the bank statement. frowning pale with fear. hatred and injured love. glaring hard as flint at their father. while his eyes speared with lethal intent into the adversary’s. His knuckles welded white around the cane. “Let them speak for themselves. There were no tangible facts to prosecute him. the more sensible one.

vowing to annihilate the Nelsons once and for all.Love Me Knot 219 Russ loomed forward. the polished halos of the Saint Thomas Moore parishioners filed past an ashen robed Father. Peter’s chariot. “He loves his new Honda. “The woman comes with the bike.” said Grace. He’s helping at home. Officer Edward Cunningham warbled a broken.” snorted Murray.” she admitted.” “Where was he Sunday night?” “Truth is. half forgotten sea shanty. “That Parker-Jones girl has been good for him. When the Langilles walked by. “So help me. while you can still walk. and growled to himself. he hooked them with a handshake and a smile. Out at all hours. with a chuckle. and dribbled onto Black Street. How are you and Nancy?” “We’re well. Allen. “He was up with the birds. “With a proper haircut. Shines it brighter than St.” sounded Grace with pride.” he elbowed him.” “This is not over.” “Last Monday?” asked Cunningham.” “Not a creak from the stairs or door. “Good morning Eddie. we don’t get him mixed up with his girlfriend. The only time mud touched that chrome was about a week ago. “Kids are like cats. “Leave now. He must have slipped out real early Monday morning.” frothed Tim. “What’s new with you and Grace?” “Not much. and toyed with the keys in his wrinkled hip pocket while he waited in the grassy shade. washing it down. Dr. Murray.” greeted Murray.” steamed Grace. Murray. “Murray! Chuck’s turned around. downtown. I can’t say.” . And Chuck?” “Gracie’s ready to make him a Catholic.” chided Murray. He sensibly retreated. focusing fire into his eyes. At noon. smoking like Hades.

kiss you ass goodbye. “Where were you on August eighteenth at 4:30 a. But when we make a match with your hair sample. “Seen him around. On Monday morning they hauled Charles Langille into the station for questioning. kid. The cop was bluffing. while his fingers fidgeting with the chipped ash tray craved for a cigarette.” he replied. “Your folks said you were out. spinning it back to the grey hulk who sweated twice as much as he did. and knifed under Chuck’s diaphragm. A hair sample? His mind flashed back to that night. Officer Cunningham reported back to MacKenzie.” admitted Chuck. We’ll give you a ring later.?” demanded MacKenzie. He rubbed his bristly scalp. I ride everywhere. ramming his two hundred and fifty pounds forward. “You know him?” deadpanned MacKenzie.” “Down Brickyard Road torching a boat. . recording the tension within the painfully bright eight by ten concrete hole.” “So?” “Took a spin through mud. Timothy Allen like a blackjack card. I hear. Cunningham and Bowers observed them with stiffly folded arms from behind a two-way mirror. sucking wind into his bruised chest.” he choked.220 Grace.m. “Your prints aren’t on Jake’s rain gear.” spoke “Sure. The hardwood table skidded. Rod Stewart “We’d love to have you and Nancy over. and remembered peeling off the cap.” “Maybe. man.” growled MacKenzie.” Chuck rifled at MacKenzie with a glare to kill. The confrontation was centered around two winding reels of magnetic tape. He played the photo of Dr.” slouched Chuck. “Around. “You’ve got nothing on me. His cowhide boots were tightly wrapped around the warped steel legs of the solitary cracked plywood chair.

and as an accessory to arson.” stalled Chuck. over and over from every conceivable psychological angle. He heard that Cunningham asked questions. Monday night Tim answered the firm knock on his penthouse suite door. and booked him downtown. I’m sure your Parker-Jones girl “I don’t know his name. and hoped that there was still a glimmer of love between them.” 221 “If you don’t talk. Allen his rights. He phoned Denise last night. you are charged with the murder of your wife. Chuck needed a Parker-Jones lawyer to pull him clear of this crap. “Dr. viciously shouting and needling him with the same questions. Langille. The relentless battering interrogation frayed Chuck’s tightrope nerves. “You’re looking at ten to fifteen for arson. free of any charges. Timothy Allen. His jaw gaped speechless when the officers unbuckled a set of handcuffs. Jake was released.” rolled the Constable without a skip in his breath. Your track record isn’t exactly pretty.Love Me Knot will. promising to never ever let him out of her sight again.” MacKenzie roughed him up. They read Dr. Chuck agreed to plea bargain for a reduced sentence in exchange for names and details. . He finally succumbed after eight grueling hours and died into a sobbing leather heap. He’s been by the gas station a few times. Before the weekend. This town won’t want to ever see your face again. They were truly inseparable now. Samantha balled with joy into his eager arms. Katherine Allen.

222 Rod Stewart .

knowing that the circling zephyr no longer carried Russ' rumbling Ford. Every single letter or phone call from Ben during the past ten years cried for Kate. The few gay curling lines penned by Samantha said they would be home by summer. She had . and flew south to the Florida Keys. For nearly three decades. Her heart squeezed. on February 1985. aching for her children's laughter. both having steeped with a comfortable bitterness through the dull restless morning. and Ben's license was summarily revoked. He sold everything. She sipped again from her tea. Jake had promised Dot a house full of grandchildren after they returned from the world cruise with Ben. held it to her breast. He soon prospered with his private yacht charter service. in the veranda shade. as her old bones and the rocking chair creaked in rhythm to the tumbling faraway surf. He never forgot those imaginary sailing evenings with the Allens.EPILOGUE She waited alone. and wished again upon the distant cloud coughing over the winding gravel ribbon. six months ago. It was posted from the Maldives. she almost tasted his presence upon the briny waft stirring past the sun stained curtains. At times. and her wandering thoughts. Dot had patiently watched the dust whirl down Abercrombie Lane. to the isles of their dreams. when Dot closed her eyes. She plucked the coconut tree card from the corner of the wicker table with her worried palm. Dot sighed with the ocean. The court trial had exposed his medical breach. The sea of rum had consumed his tormented mind. and taken away half of her soul. bundled up his marine maps. One of the last requests by Kate was to travel together posthumously.

Timothy Allen and Chuck Langille served their sentences at the Springhill Penitentiary? A month after they were convicted Tim was found in his cell. were bequeathed to Natalie. as he smiled a hello en route to the kitchen. He quickly formed a business partnership with Helen to finally develop her Abercrombie property. dead in a pool of blood. Although most of his contracts were based in Halifax. She had barely turned eighteen. as one true family. The entire proceeds of his will. Five years after his release. and Madagascar. with a shiv sticking from his left side. his love was Natalie. Ceylon." . and married the ambitious architect. when Dr. Over the past year Dot had filled an entire photo album with their Pacific journey.224 Rod Stewart faith in her visions. he still called her from his custom bike shop. including the Cayman Island trust account. Before July it drew them all together again. She hoped that Natalie was with Peter. who shined as O'Brien's manager. Was it a coincidence. and sprinkled her ashes among the tropical waves. Dot opened the door for him. begging her to drop Dullsville. Postcards poured in from Fiji. "ciad mile failte. She asked about Denise. when she became of legal age. when she retired. Maybe in thirty years. laughed Denise. Peter made sure that Dot followed her diabetes prescriptions. He helped her pack away the dry goods and perishables amid the usual small conversation. at the Allen cottage. even beyond death. with a hundred thousand welcomes. At every island they anchored a prayer for Kate. Dot remembered it would be another week before her daughter returned from the Caribbean. The homicide remained unsolved. Peter parked in the Nelson driveway and unloaded two armloads of groceries from the trunk. His freckled boyish grin hid a razor sharp intelligence. and live with him in California. She had mentioned Chuck in passing. The silver Malibu sliced through the dusty puff. The tides of Pugwash had rippled to the ends of the earth.

Love Me Knot 225 .

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