PAPERBACK BOOKS

BLUEBIRD


 

This is a tangled story of a small town girl who married young, and accepted what life threw at her.

She grew into a proud hardworking woman who knew what a struggle life was. An old teenage love was rekindled, after 30 some years with a world wise man who never married. He spent his life carrying a torch in the knowledge that one day their paths would cross again. 

Years before he had given her a broken heart, a symbol of how hard it was to be apart. 

She now had a nickname Bluebird and this gave her inner strength. Bluebird was a symbol of her freedom, yet she chose to stay close, never spreading her wings. He taught her what love really was and showed her his most private life. He was a  powerful man, feeding her mind and soul with music and self-awareness.  

Unlocking keys to doors, that had never been opened, as he laid out his life in front of her. He challenged her morals and took her to a higher level. She now could stand up and take whatever the world could throw at her. 

In Store Price: $42.00 
Online Price:   $37.00

ISBN: 978-1-921574-74-0   Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 485
Genre:  Fiction

Author: Sheena Horn
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2010
Language: English


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About the author 

S

heena herself grew up on the land, having large pet sheep  growing wool for her own small spinning enterprise, she also very much delighted in the small everyday care that goes into having animals. She enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of silence only broken by the calling of her animals, so drew on a lot of her own rural experiences when penning this.

She was born in a small rural town in the north island of New Zealand, where she brought up two sons. She moved to Australia in the early years of 2000 and is now happily calling Australia home and once again enjoying the rural life with pet animals taking up what spare time she has.

ONE 

A

lthough Meredith and Ben planned, they thought, very well for their future, they got it wrong. Ben died young leaving Meredith the balance of the mortgage to pay. Even though they both worked and had a good lifestyle, like most, it was ‘on tick’. Faced with the reality, she couldn’t keep the house or the land they’d built up from nothing; decisions needed to be made.

Meredith loved the peace and quiet, time to spend out in the paddocks, surrounded by spoilt, oversized sheep that ate bread out of her hand. She also loved the way the ducks glided effortlessly over the pond, as if they had little motors installed underneath. And the goats that bellowed abuse, until they too got some attention. These were all her friends and they waited each day for the time that was special to them too. Since Ben died, she spent a lot more time with them, because they expected nothing more than her company, and the bread. They didn’t expect conversation, or question her tears. Nor did they tell her she looked terrible, or that her face was puffy from crying. She wasn’t so much lonely or even mourning Ben, she was trying to face the reality that these animals, her special friends, wouldn’t get this treatment in the hands of someone else. In fact they’d probably end up in the freezer and her true friends who were even too old for that, would end up as dog food. Reality was, they had no value to anyone else at all. She’d miss them terribly and they would leave a bigger hole in her heart than Ben.

Meredith struggled for a year with little jobs, but she was aware she needed a really good job to pay the mortgage. This was out of her reach now, because she was nearly knocking at 50’s door and more importantly she didn’t have the energy to keep up with the younger ones – so she thought. Besides, she still needed a good couple of daylight hours each day to go around the paddocks, so that alone ruled out the best jobs. It was definitely a vicious circle. Downsizing was an option; but if she downsized, which of her friends did she let go to their fate?

Alone now, she did not want to leave the district, although there was nothing keeping her here. She knew she’d only haunt this place to see if the new owners loved it as she did. With tears in her eyes, Meredith remembered back to when they bought the property; it only had a single tree, the huge walnut tree. She walked around her favourite places remembering; the memories packed into the property were still so strong. The big log at the top of the front hill that used to be a sitting spot to view part of the farm was now way behind a group of established trees. Sitting on it was still fun; it made her remember placing those trees out before planting them, and Jean shifting them all. She was only little and was just trying to help. Smiling as she remembered deciding that it would be easier just to plant them exactly where Jean had placed them. That way, in years to come, Jean could look back at her thicket of trees. Jean had long since left home and now had a life and a family of her own.

Frank’s favourite tree was on the other side of the house. It grew with an irresistibly low softly-bent branch just begging to be climbed, but when it was finally big enough to climb, Frank was too old. He was, by that stage, far more interested in parties, girls and of course cars. In fact every tree was a memory, and Meredith smiled at and caressed different trees as she walked around. Even the fences told their own stories, she smiled again remembering putting this fence up in the pouring rain, and everyone having to pull the netting tight on the count of three, so Ben could bang home the staples.

Meredith made a cup of tea and took it outside. She sat under the beautiful clouds of cherry blossom to drink it along with a box of tissues and the ever-present company of her dear old cat Ronny, who was always only a few steps behind her wherever she went on the farm. These two trees were a protest because Ben wouldn’t let her have flowering cherry trees; he hated them. Maybe that’s why she loved them so much. The day she bought them, she took the labels off and pretended they were plum trees, until Ben was used to them being there and of course, until they flowered. By then it was obvious what she had done. Now they were well-established and the pink clouds reflected in the black water of the large duck pond. All the trees were starting to wake up from winter now and on a nice day the place looked a calendar picture. It was a real credit to Meredith, and to Ben for turning a blind eye and playing along with her games. There had to be a way she could work this out. Meredith glanced over the paddocks at her friends, and smiled through the tears. There just had to be a way. Wiping her eyes again before blowing her nose, she checked the situations vacant column in the paper, just in case that magic job would be there. But no, not today.

Years ago, she opened a small craft shop in the front corner of the woolshed. Maybe she’d give that another kick and see if it would grow into something this time. After all, she still had the odd customer ringing her with an order or two. She loved spinning and knitting, and had even taken the spinning wheel out into the paddock and spun with her sheep all milling around inquisitively, investigating what she was doing. Perhaps there might even be a market in the bigger shops in Wellington for her designer jerseys? 

It was worth a try, after all Meredith still had a dozen or so left over from last winter, she could dust them off for a starter. Deciding this might be an option, Meredith bounced back into action and spent the summer spinning and knitting, but a couple of cold calls sadly proved fruitless. Still feeling this idea had merit, she decided to go right back to the basics. She bit the bullet, put an ad in the paper, and attempted to sell them herself. This felt right, even the animals agreed, and the strange taste of anticipation hung in the air. Meredith seemed intent on finishing yet another jersey and with some urgency.

The phone rang.

They’d seen the ad and wanted a jersey or two. Luckily, she had the sizes and colour range these people wanted. Price wasn’t a problem either. Maybe she was selling too cheap Meredith wondered, but let it go. ‘We’re off!’ she thought, but even Meredith knew not to count on too much. They might not like what they see. All would reveal itself on Saturday when they arrived.

Saturday morning dawned cool and misty. It was perfect weather to find how warm a jersey is, she thought. These customers were coming about eleven. Meredith moved quickly around the paddocks as she tended to the animals, fed the chickens and let the ducks out. She was feeling very confident and couldn’t put a lid on her excitement. Having plenty of time, Meredith put on some better clothes, other than her patched, over-worn farm clothes. She even managed to tie up her long, wavy, uncontrollable hair. Although Meredith was way past worrying what people thought of her, she desperately needed the money. Her time was running out and she couldn’t pay the mortgage this month. Finding herself watching the road as eleven o’clock came closer. She made a quick cup of tea to try to settle herself down while telling herself off. Eleven o'clock finally came around. Almost immediately a late model car came up the road, turned in the gate and drove to the woolshed. ‘This is it!’ thought Meredith, her every step loaded with excitement and speed as she walked over to the woolshed. Ronny had to run to keep up, something he wasn’t very good at any more.

Two people slowly got out of the car and came into the woolshed. Meredith, while trying to stop her knees from shaking, began to show her selection of jerseys. The conversation did not flow freely until Meredith suggested a cuppa. These two people loved what they saw; it turned out they had a shop in Queenstown and needed a good supply of warm New Zealand-made jerseys. Before the morning was over they had loaded half of Meredith’s stock, including the one she had been so intent on finishing, into the car. Lovely people and very fair too, Meredith thought. After seeing the jerseys, and trying one or two on, they told her she was too cheap, and they upped her prices; paid for the jerseys and promised a reorder in a few weeks. Meredith managed somehow to keep her cool, thanked them and saw them off. When the car was out of sight, she let out a loud yell.

“I’ve done it. I’ve broken into the tourist market and in Queenstown no less!” Then she rushed back to the house to safely stash the huge cheque. Meredith just couldn’t work out how someone could pay so much for a jersey. Still, she was glad they had. Twenty jerseys sold in half an hour, that was good going. She was safe in her little world for a bit longer, and now she could pay the mortgage, and for a few months too.  It was chocolate intake time!

Meredith was aware she would have to work steadily to get the numbers back up for the reorder, if it in fact it came. Spinning and knitting isn’t hard work, but it is time consuming. It was worth it because the reorder did come. Another twenty-five this time, and a ticket to come to Queenstown to ski for the week and to see the shop. Meredith turned that part down very politely. She didn’t like that cold, white stuff and used the excuse of lambing time on the farm. Well, it was coming up, although it was still a few weeks off yet.

This jersey money was, over time, starting to build up and was just what was required. The mortgage was at last easily being met for the time being anyway. Still, in the back of her mind Meredith knew it wasn’t going to go on forever. In the meantime she’d try to up the order and save all she could. Luckily only one big shop came out of her ads, but lots of people rang for a jersey, usually for an overseas gift; so again, the price wasn’t an issue.

Her old girls were still giving their all, by producing beautiful top quality wool, and the always adorable, cute, bouncing black lambs in spring. Life had a smile again. The spinning wheel sang as it spun. For years now, Meredith had been concentrating on improving the wool, both for colour and quality; she learnt from her mistakes and put them into action the following year. She expected a lot from her sheep, and they were all spoilt rotten. They were more pets than farm animals, this way Meredith could handle all the farm work on her own. With both Frank and Jean now living their own lives, and neither of them living at home to help, she’d planned it well.

Spring has come early this year, after what didn’t seem to be an overly cold winter here anyway. Meredith loved the spring! She watched the lambs, bouncing carefree around the paddock, and laughed as they all suddenly realised it was lunchtime and raced back to where they had left their mothers, only to find that the sheep had moved on to another part of the paddock in their endless search for more grass. She could pick the daffodils out of the paddock from between the sheep’s feet. Years ago she and Frank spent days planting thousands of bulbs and now they’d completely taken over the orchard with a golden carpet. But most of all, she loved the cheekiness of the pussy willow. Meredith found it hard to believe that these huge trees grew from the little tiny twigs that she and Frank had cut off the side of the road all those years ago. Meredith picked a few stems to take inside as yet another memory resulted in tears at the corner of her eyes. The phone rang, it took Meredith a while to realise what the noise was. Dropping the secateurs, but not the pussy willow, as she ran to the phone she got there just in time to catch it before the answer phone kicked in.

It was another jersey order. Oh great! Luckily, it was only for two men’s jerseys. She was getting sick of knitting big orders. These two jerseys were to particular measurements and Meredith didn’t have a problem with paying extra attention to individual requirements. It took a couple of weeks to get the second one finished, but finally they were both done. Now she could ring back and do the fun part; take the money. The gentleman was grateful at the speed in which Meredith had made the jerseys, and he made a time the next day to come and collect them. When he arrived Meredith knew at first sight, and he did too. Neither of them knew what to say. The silence was long and loud.

It was Trevor!

Their eyes met, melting the years away. They hadn’t seen each other for over thirty years, but they had a connection back then and they had it again today. Meredith invited him to stay for a cuppa, and he smiled. Trevor and Meredith spent hours catching up. Before long he confessed he knew he was coming to see her, the jerseys were just an excuse. Neither noticed the time, and it got dark around them. Suddenly Meredith panicked because she hadn’t done the animals. Trevor was in no hurry and volunteered to help. He was amazed with the rapport she had with the animals. Meredith couldn’t help herself, and invited Trevor to stay for a late meal. Delighted with the invitation he stayed, but all too soon it was time for him to go.

Suddenly the house seemed silent and empty. For the first time in years, Meredith actually felt lonely. She wound up the radio and had a large round of chocolate. This was her treat or pick-me-up, a congratulations to herself or just because she liked chocolate. Half an hour later the phone rang. It was very late, and nearly midnight.

‘Who could it be? Phone calls after 9.30 p.m. were usually family or … she froze … an emergency!’

‘PHEW!’ It was neither of these.

It was Trevor on his car phone ringing up just to thank her for the day and to ask if he could ring her again. Strange, Meredith thought, old fashioned even, but she felt very special and a bit mushy as she gave her permission. He’d enjoyed the day as much as she had.

Meredith felt a strange feeling stirring, a feeling that had been dead for many a long year. She couldn’t sleep so she made a cup of tea, lit a smoke and again turned up the radio. She made her way down to the back bedroom, now a sort of store-anything room, and began searching. In the old glory box, where she kept all her treasures, she found the stack of old photo albums. Full of forgotten pictures, now mostly of people she could no longer remember. Frantically she flicked through the pile to locate just the one album she was looking for. Then turning the pages with uncontrollable urgency she found exactly what she was looking for. The photos of her and Trevor! They were only seventeen, they hadn’t gone out for long – but who did back then and at that age! Two or three months was good going. Both had agreed to remain good friends, but they hadn’t kept in contact. Meredith put the album down to one side, after a long look at the photos and smiled as she kept searching. In the bottom of the glory box, in an old chocolate box of treasures, that’s where it was. Meredith knew exactly where it would be. Shaking as she opened it, there inside was a little rich blue, velvet drawstring bag. Very gently opening it, Meredith took out a sterling silver half a heart with a jagged edge – a broken heart, and it was engraved, ‘TREVOR’. It was tarnished, but still Meredith had kept it all these years. She wondered if he had kept his, and if he even remembered giving it to her. Then she smiled.

The sun was coming up now, and Meredith still wasn’t tired. Making another cup of tea, she went outside to sit in her favourite place. The hanging monkey basket chair on the terrace gave her a good view of the ewes’ paddock, and from this vantage point she could enjoy the dawn chorus. She felt like a teenager again on the inside, with her emotions flowing fast and strong. After a while Meredith went out and tended to the animals. They all seemed to be laughing at her, maybe they were right. It was silly to feel like this after one day, and at her age. She put it behind her and went on with her normal day’s work. Checking the ewes first, because it was lambing time and she still had a lot that hadn’t yet lambed, she found a spot and watched each sheep for a while, then shifted her eyes and watched another. This could be done in minutes, or it could take hours. Meredith liked to take hours, but today her mind was still wandering from time to time.

That afternoon a courier came to the door with a delivery. Meredith was pleasantly surprised. It was a single, gold-coloured carnation – no card, just the gold carnation and a jigsaw piece with a few unlinked letters on it. Meredith smiled; it had to be from Trevor. The same thing happened each day that week and by Friday she had all the jigsaw pieces fitted together. She knew on Monday it was Trevor and she was right. By putting all the jigsaw pieces together there was a message, with little bluebirds holding a daisy chain all around the outside. The card now read:

“See you on Saturday at 10 sharp. Be ready,

love from me.”

 

Meredith picked some more pussy willow to put in the vase with her lovely carnations. It would be the last of it for this year, the leaves had already started to burst open on the tree and the flowering cherry trees had covered the ground in a carpet of blossom. Those feelings raced back again and she flew through the jobs. The ducks were laughing at her loud and constantly. The sheep seemed to have big understanding smiles on their faces. Maybe because there was now no way she could get the huge smile off her face.

 

On Saturday morning Meredith was awake long before the sun came up. She smiled as the birds began to call for the sun to wake up. A beautiful blue sky broke with not a breath of wind. It was warm in the sun, and still cold in the shade, but Meredith avoided being in the shade; even the sun had a big smile. It would be a good day, but she had no idea what was planned. The hours seemed to take forever to roll around; all the farm jobs were done by eight. Waiting was the hardest thing to do.

Meredith wasn’t in her rural clothes today, and as she checked in the mirror, she smiled. Maybe she did brush up okay. As she waited, her nervousness grew, but at last it was nearly ten o'clock and a car came down the road. It was his car, but it didn’t come up the drive to the house. Instead, it stopped at the end of the drive.

‘I’m sure that’s Trevor’s car.’ It didn’t move until bang on ten o'clock, ten o’clock sharp.

Meredith met him at the door and Trevor gave her a hug and a simple kiss on her cheek. “Got my flowers I see.”

“Yes, my favourite,” she replied, but she was curious. “Trevor, why did you stop at the gate?”

“Oh, I was early and since I’d made sure you’d be ready ten sharp, I decided I really couldn’t turn up early.” Then he laughed.

“Can we have a cuppa before we go?” he asked. Meredith put on the kettle. Trevor picked up her phone book and headed for the door.

“I’ll be back in a second,” he said and went out to his car. Trevor made a few phone calls, then came back in with a big box under the other arm.

“Thought you’d like this Meredith,” he said handing it to her, as he put the phone book back. It was a largish box all giftwrapped with a golden ribbon and a huge bow on the top and it was heavy too. Meredith took it over to the coffee table and Trevor made the cup of tea. She opened the paper carefully, it was such pretty paper, she didn’t want to rip it and nor did she want to rush. The paper slowly revealed a strong, plain cardboard box. Meredith looked at Trevor, and he smiled, watching her every move. She opened the box and pulled back the soft tissue paper. Inside was a beautiful hand-blown blue glass vase. Just gorgeous!

A wee card fell out with the same little bluebirds around it and the card simply read:

“Blue and gold look crisp and smart!  Love me.”

 

“I love it, it’s gorgeous.” Meredith gave him a hug and a kiss, but he turned his face and she kissed his cheek. Meredith half filled it with water and put her five golden carnations and the pussy willow in it.

“Looks a bit empty doesn’t it Meredith?” Trevor laughed. But he was right, they looked lovely together. He’d noticed last weekend that she had a lot of blue and gold, but although Meredith loved hand-blown glassware, it was far too expensive for her to be able to buy.

They finished their cuppa and were off on their day out. Date? Maybe, but Meredith thought herself too old for a date, so she told herself it was a day out. Trevor’s car was flash, but not over the top and it still had that new car smell about it. They drove for quite a while, just talking then suddenly he turned off the main road, down what looked like a driveway and stopped at a gate. There was a tiny, thin blue ribbon tied to the gate.

“Can you open the gate for me please?” he said with a smile.

They slowly and carefully drove across to the other side of the paddock where a rug was spread out, and on it was a single, gold carnation.

Trevor appeared at Meredith’s door and opened it for her, taking her by the arm as if she were a queen and he escorted her to the rug. Then, as if surprised, he picked up the carnation. 

 “Oh look what I found, must be for you.” Trevor went back to the car, popped the boot and took out a large cane hamper and gently put it down. Everything you could think of came out of that hamper, and tucked in the side was a block of chocolate. After lunch they went for a walk and found a beautiful waterfall.

“This is just all so wonderful.” Meredith looked straight at him.

“How did you know this was here?” Trevor only smiled and squeezed her hand. They spent the afternoon walking around little tracks and Trevor helped Meredith to jump over little babbling creeks. It was a lovely afternoon. It was all so comfortable and so easy.

“Have you got a spare room I could stay in tonight, or do you want me to go home tonight and come back tomorrow?” Meredith had the back room, but she felt strange. He’d planned to stay all along, although she could have said no.

“I could probably shift some stuff and make you up a bed.”

They took the long way home, but still got home in plenty of time to look after the animals.

“I’ve booked us in for tea at seven is that okay?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye.

“Yes that’s fine.” Meredith smiled in anticipation.

“Have you got anything dark blue, like this dress?” he asked pulling a photo out of his pocket. It was the same photo she’d found the other night of the two of them when they were only seventeen. She looked at him. He didn’t look as old as her. He’d looked after himself, and he was still really something to look at, Meredith coyly smiled.

“So you’ve still got your photos too huh?”

She went to make up Trevor’s bed and came back with the little blue velvet bag.

“But have you remembered this?” she said as she handed it to him. Trevor laughed and pulled out his car keys, on his key chain was his half of the heart with “MEREDITH” engraved on it. It had obviously been on his key ring for a long time. Meredith melted. He stood up, pulled her over towards him and gave her a long hug. She had meant as much to him as he had to her all those years ago. The ducks were not laughing any more and Meredith felt those feelings coming back again.

 

When Trevor got out of the shower, he revealed they were booked into the Park Royal for tea. Meredith worried, what could she wear there? Nothing in her wardrobe was that flash. When she got out of the shower, she found the only blue dress she owned and put it on. It looked good but not stunning. She hoped good enough for Trevor and she quickly put her hair up. If they were, in fact going to Wellington, she’d need to tie her hair down well. She made her way slowly downstairs. Trevor was in a blue suit and he looked fantastic. Dinner was lovely and again there were gold carnations, a huge bunch, lying on the table. Trevor handed them to Meredith.

“Now you’ve got that vase full!” and he laughed.

 

Crunch time was coming fast, two days of reacquainting and he was staying the night. After another late night of talking, Trevor finally stood and kissed Meredith on the top of her head.

“Good night,” and he went off to his own bed. Meredith was surprised, but even she had to admit, she was relieved. The perfect gentleman. He was slowly sweeping Meredith off her feet again, just like he had all those years ago and she began to feel warm inside.

 

Sunday was spent just vegetating around the house, really enjoying each other’s company and laughing about memories of the things they used to do. The day just flew by, but after tea Meredith knew Trevor would soon be gone.

“I’ve really enjoyed this weekend. Thank you Trevor.” Meredith’s eyes were softly sparkling as she spoke.

“So have I.” He reassured her by squeezing her hand, then smiled. “We are good together, we’ll have to do this again sometime.” Then he paused. Trevor watched as the lights just died in her eyes. Meredith got the wrong idea and he knew.  Trevor smiled and gave her a strong hug, before continuing, “Real soon.”

He was playing with her emotions, testing her, seeing if there was anyone out there that Meredith was interested in before committing himself, or expecting her to. He got the answer he was hoping for from her body language, as her whole body smiled back, not just her eyes.

“Just time for one last cup of tea, Meredith,” he said firmly as he went and put the kettle back on. “Then I’ll have to hit the road. I’ve got to get up early tomorrow for work.”

Ronny followed Meredith into the kitchen after she had disturbed his sleep by stroking him. Trevor definitely wasn’t the sort of guy that sat and expected to be waited on hand and foot. This was something she wasn’t used to. This was how she taught Frank to be, always thinking of the other person before himself, but this time Meredith found she was the other person. What’s more she liked it. Trevor had already mastered her cuppa, exactly as she liked it every time. Not a hard job at all, but something most people just made no effort to do. Details, details – he always noticed the smallest details.

A big hug and a kiss on the cheek and he was gone. The house was silent, and Meredith was alone and lonely. It felt strange and so her summer began.

 

Every weekend was spent with Trevor and the weeks in between were peppered with gifts and golden carnations. He always remained the perfect gentleman, but he’d really gotten under her skin.

Meredith danced around the farm, singing happily as she worked. Life was sweet and smiled at her. She started to care about what she looked like, no longer going off to town in her dirty, well-worn farm clothes, she changed into something else first. She started keeping a comb in her back pocket and made a concerted effort to keep her long, troublesome hair under control before jamming on her cowboy hat. She did however, find it hard to keep on task, managing to only get about half the spinning and knitting done that she wanted to. Somehow she just couldn’t concentrate, and when she finally organised herself a set time to spin, a courier would arrive with a package, or at night Trevor would ring and they’d spend hours talking on the phone.

Frank noticed a big difference in his mother and liked what he saw. At last, she was actually happy. Meredith had spent years, just going through the motions of daily life, getting to the end of another day, to start again, doing exactly the same thing the next. Frank and Jean visited their mother often, but life was hard for all of them. Jean had given up work to have Anthony and now was realising just how hard it was to bring up children on one income. Frank was a very kind, soft, caring kind of guy. Not at all like his father, who expected the world to virtually kiss his feet. Frank had put himself though university and had done it mostly with good grades. He had set his sights high, and was determined he would achieve. Now he was fully qualified as a quantity surveyor.

Jean had worked as a receptionist for a big company in Wellington. But she hated it and was glad to finally leave. She had always been Ben’s favourite, and had a lot of his traits in her make up. Ben’s personality could be blamed fair and square at the feet of his parents. Ben had enjoyed a high-paying office job that as far as Meredith could see anyway needed little energy. He had worked steadily, and had mastered the art of networking; this had really worked for him. Still all this accounted for nothing when he died.

Cheryl and Andy, Ben’s parents, were so proud of Ben’s achievements and kept a scrapbook of all the newspaper stories that were written about him. In their eyes he was a saint and they were never told about the real world. Then there was Alan, Ben’s brother; Ben’s parents devoted so much of their time to Ben that Alan went the other way. He didn’t see the need to get a job, and was always on the scrounge for money or something else. Ben seemed to feel sorry for him and would give in. When Ben died Alan started hanging around more and more. He saw the house and farm and thought Ben and Meredith had loads of money. He expected a big, juicy will with a payout in it for him, and when this didn’t happen he changed from being funny to being just plain arrogant.

Ben’s parents had no idea of how hard Meredith was finding it to try to stay on the farm and to just keep up with the mortgage payments. They also felt that Ben had provided well for her, and they didn’t want to realise that everything was mortgaged to the hilt. That was how Ben had afforded the lifestyle they had.

Ben and Meredith did have a life of sorts and for a long time were more than happy. Somewhere along the way, not for any particular reason, they just began to grow apart. They had separate interests and spoke less and less to each other. Strangely, this was about the same time that Allison had died. But no one ever talked about her. It had literally been years since Meredith had been treated to something as simple as a surprise picnic, had her hand held as they walked through a park. This was the side of Meredith Trevor had cottoned onto so quickly. This is why he caught her emotions so fast, and this was why Meredith had changed within herself without even knowing she had. Trevor just loved to make her smile, he loved to spoil her, and she reacted to the smallest kindness or compliment he gave her.

All summer, her big blue vase was always filled with golden carnations. One arrived every day, sometimes with a sweet little message, but more often than not it came with:

“Just for you, love from me.”

 

Meredith told her children about Trevor right from the beginning and it was obvious to Frank, long before she knew it herself, she was falling in love. She had tried to set time aside to do her spinning and knitting, but her mind would wander, she’d smile, make another cup of tea, then take it outside and sit in the monkey basket seat and gaze out over the paddocks in a dream world. More time wasted.

 

It was mid March and summer was just starting to wind itself down into autumn. Trevor rang, and caught Meredith off guard, he’d be down on Friday as usual, and he wanted her to organise herself.

“I’m taking you away for a week, can you organise someone to look after all your animals?” Trevor was aware how important they were to her, and he knew she hadn’t left them before. Meredith couldn’t believe that she was even thinking about going away anywhere with him, and was about to say no, but when she opened her mouth the wrong words came out.

“Wow! I could get next door to feed them for me.” After she’d said it the whole idea didn’t actually sound so … well, outrageous. This time it was a very short phone call and Meredith was left trying to understand how it had happened; how she’d let herself say yes. What were Frank and Jean going to say? They wouldn’t believe that Trevor was just a really good friend any more. Meredith made arrangements for the animals first, they were the crunch. If she couldn’t get anyone to do them, the whole week was off before it was really on. Once they were taken care of, she then made a cup of tea and rang Jean first. Surprisingly, Jean was excited for her mother, not at all the response she had expected. Next it was Frank. Meredith prepared herself for his barrage of sarcasm. Right on queue, yet obviously happy for his mother, Frank unloaded.

“You be careful Mum! I don’t know about you to going off like this for an extended dirty weekend.” Then he laughed.

“Hang on there a minute dear!” Meredith objected to that. “He really is just a very special friend, I don’t even know where he’s taking me.”

“I rest my case, but seriously Mum, have fun. Enjoy yourself. When do you go?” he asked.

“Tomorrow, and I’ll be back next Thursday. So that will be a really nice break away from the farm. There’s nothing to go wrong. The neighbours will just collect the eggs and feed Ronny. Generally just keep an eye on the place, for me while I’m gone.”

“Have a really good time Mum, you deserve it.” And with that he hung up.

Meredith felt that inner warmth again as she fed and put her animals to bed before it got too dark. Once back inside, she began to organise her bags for tomorrow. What should she pack? And how much stuff should she take? But the more pressing problem was obvious to her now. In reality Meredith only had farm clothes, of varying degrees of wear. Some only fit for the dirtiest of jobs and some she called her ‘good’ clothes. She ironed and brushed up the very best of her farm clothes and packed them, and placed her two different denim skirts on top. She slept in a big old baggie t-shirt type thing that didn’t look very attractive, but it was comfortable. Besides, who’d see it anyway? Finally packed, she set her bags to one side before deciding to make tomorrow come faster by having an early night. For her, it would be early anyway. For most people eleven o’clock was late in its own right. Ronny joined her, suspicious of the bags in the corner of her room, but he too settled down for the night once the light was out.

In her excitement, she forgot to lock the doors before going to sleep and at seven o’clock Friday morning Trevor was there. He hadn’t given her a time and caught her still in bed.

“It’s okay Meredith, you go back and get into bed, I’ll make us a cuppa and bring it up.” He spoke softly, but his eyes told Meredith she was safe and she went back to bed as requested. Trevor politely knocked as he got to the bedroom door.

“Come in.” She was nervous. In all the months Trevor had been coming down to visit her, he’d never been in her bedroom. But as soon as he came in she melted. Trevor had a huge smile on his face; he’d done the whole breakfast tray thing complete with a gold carnation and set for two. He saw how tense Meredith was, at having him in her bedroom and he decided to make light of it. They were both really comfortable in each other’s company, so far at least.

“Wow, so this is your room, this is where you come and hide.” He smiled as he walked over and opened the curtains. “I haven’t been up here before, you know you can learn a lot about a person from their bedroom. But no surprises here, not that I expected to find any.” He laughed and came over to her, and lay on the bed beside her.

Meredith in the bed, Trevor on the bed.

“I wish you’d told me you were coming down early, I would have been ready, well at least out of bed.” Then she laughed.

The ice was broken more by what wasn’t said than by what was. Meredith now knew this week was going to be very special. After breakfast, while she tended to the animals, Trevor washed and polished the old van.

“What are you doing that for? I know it needs it but you don’t have to do that.” Meredith was stunned by his answer.

“I’m selling your van for you today, so I decided to give it a bit of a spruce up first.” Trevor didn’t stop while he talked and had nearly finished that section anyway.

“But what will I use then?” Meredith started to get concerned.

Trevor stopped this time, stood up and gave her a hug.

“I’m buying you a decent car,” then he laughed.

“Trevor you don’t have to do that, that van will go for a while yet. Hell, it’s got me this far!” But his response took her back with a bang as he put his strong arm around her.

“No girl of mine should have to drive around in a bomb like this, it might not go, or it might break down. I need to know you’re always safe. I just need to know for sure.” Then he gave her a soft kiss on her cheek as he went back to work on the van.

Meredith hadn’t been able to afford to change her van and she was embarrassed. She couldn’t argue it was unreliable; it was old and way past its use-by date.

“She’s nearly an antique, but she sure doesn’t look her age any more. Thank you Trevor.” Meredith still wasn’t happy with him buying her another car, but she decided to let it go for the moment. Once he’d finished, Trevor threw his keys to her.

“Right, are you ready? I’ll drive your van, you follow in my car.”

“Okay,” she gingerly replied.

“But I’ve never driven your car before, and it’s been years since I’ve driven a car that said okay to anything you ask it to do!”

Trevor just laughed.  “You’ll be okay, the car knows where we are going.”

“One up on me then; I don’t,” Meredith complained.

Trevor stopped short of getting in the van and came back to Meredith; he put his head in the window of his car. Meredith could see something was up, she had said more than she should have but she was always good at doing that.

Trevor spoke softly, “You’re okay with all this aren’t you?” The way he asked gave her no way out. Meredith just looked down; she wasn’t comfortable at all. But when she’d tried to explain before, he’d fobbed her feelings aside.

Trevor opened the car door, took her by the hand and began to just walk. After only a short distance he put his arm around her, to reassure her. Then very quietly he began to explain. “Let me do this for you Meredith. I want to do it for you.” Meredith still felt guilty.

“I know it’s an old van, it does need to be changed, but I can’t accept you doing this for me. It’s a lot of money, I can’t afford to replace it and I can’t afford to be with out a vehicle. I’ll never be able to pay you back.” She blushed and as she looked back up at Trevor, he could see the tears welling up in her eyes and held her closer but Meredith could see by the look in his eye that she wasn’t going to win this.

“You don’t need to, it’s a gift to my special girl.” He stopped walking and gently pulled her around in front of him and hugged her. Meredith still felt embarrassed, but he was Trevor and she melted into him. Then, for the first time, he kissed her on the lips – just a little peck. 

“So it’s settled then?” He smiled.

Meredith thought, then just smiled back at him. “Let’s have a cuppa first Trevor, maybe down by the duck pond.”

Her suggestion was met with a grin, and Trevor fed his biscuits to the ducks. He loved the animals as much as Meredith did. Over the summer he’d found out all about Meredith, without her knowing. He'd got right into her world and loved it, now Meredith was finding out about his world. Trevor watched her every move. Meredith just smiled; she had absolutely no idea that everything today was a test. Almost a pass or fail test, as he watched her reaction to each new challenge he gave her. Today she would learn more about him than anyone had ever known. Except that is, for one person.

Off they went in two vehicles; to sell Meredith’s once trusty, but now just old and tired van. Trevor was in complete control and dealt with the car dealer swiftly. The outcome was quick, and for Meredith, painless.

“Boy you got a good price, it wasn’t worth that much was it?” Meredith was amazed, but Trevor just confidently smiled as he opened the car door for her to get in, and like a true gentleman, closed it behind her. Meredith loved the way Trevor spoilt her; they had a really good relationship and a very deep understanding. A lot of what they did needed no conversation, almost as if it was meant to be, and this was exactly how they had operated as teenagers. United, always together, comfortable and on the same wavelength. Meredith felt very special and Trevor kept her feeling like that, by the little things he kept on doing. Details; always the details.

Once back in the car himself, Trevor looked at Meredith and smiled,   “Right, that wasn’t hard now was it?” He pulled out of the carpark and began driving; he again looked across at her.

“Open the glove box, there’s a wee something in there for you.” His eyes sparkled as he saw the little girl creeping back out in Meredith again as she reached in to the glove box and found a long, skinny box, all beautifully wrapped.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Go on, open it, it’s for you.” Trevor pulled the car over to the side of the road.

Meredith opened it, and to her absolute amazement, inside was a beautiful opal and diamond pendant. Her eyes gleamed as she tried to stop the tears from flowing. She looked across to Trevor.

“Oh, it’s just beautiful. How did you know I love opals Trevor?” Then she reached over and gave him a hug. “It’s just fabulous, Thank you.”

“That’s okay, you’re worth it. Put it on.” His smile broadened as she put it on and then looked in the mirror.

Trevor had showered her with gifts over the summer; money was obviously no problem, but she began to wonder. In the back of her mind something was just starting to niggle. Meredith was wondering where all the money was coming from, and she started to feel guilty all over again.

On the way home they stopped off and bought a few bits and pieces for lunch. Trevor grabbed his opportunity and slipped Meredith the cheque for the van.

“This is yours I believe.” He then turned his back and walked away. Now Meredith was really confused and ran after him, to give it back.

“Don’t you need this for the car?” but Trevor just looked at her.

“No, that’s all taken care of. We’ll go via the bank this afternoon and you can bank it. Okay?” She didn’t understand what was going on, but Trevor had a grin from ear to ear, and he took her hand in his as they continued to get the lunch things.

He had a way of reassuring her without saying a word. It was getting chilly and as they walked back to the car he put his arm around her, Meredith felt safe, and secure. Trevor put the jersey he had bought from her on.

“Ah, that’s better, gee this is such a warm jersey. It warms me right through.”

Meredith felt guiltier now than before, he had given her so much, and yet he had bought the jersey he loved from her way back in spring.

“Where’s your other one? You’ve got two, have you still got it? I haven’t seen you in it ever.”

“Oh, I gave it to a friend,” he quickly said.

“Would you like me to make you another one?” Meredith thought quickly, at least she could try to give him something back. She had no extra money to buy him anything, but even if she did, Trevor seemed to have everything he wanted anyway. He gave her a long hug and kissed her gently on the cheek, “That would be terrific. But not right now, we need to get organised if we’re going to make it to where we’re going before dark.

Trevor packed the car and Meredith fed her animals for the last time, before they pulled out, and as promised, Trevor went via the bank. After she got back in the car he dropped his guard. Meredith was completely relaxed but buzzed about having that money in the bank. That was the mortgage taken care of for a while again. She no longer felt quite so guilty about not having knitted so many jerseys over summer now.  She still had no idea where Trevor was taking her for the week, but she had to admit only to herself, that she really didn’t care. They drove talking and joking and really just enjoying each other’s company, just as they always did. Trevor picked his time; finally he turned the music down, and looked across to Meredith.

“Any idea where we’re going? I’ve spent summer in your world, now you get to see mine. I think you’re ready.” He leaned over and gently took her hand in his. Trevor had planned all this mystery and Meredith had no idea what to expect, but at least she may at last find out what he was all about.

“Oh okay, that’s fine, that will be fun.” All she really knew about Trevor was that he lived in New Plymouth. This week was going to be spent in his territory, and perhaps with his friends. As they got closer he stopped the car and looked at Meredith.

“I have a big favour to ask.” He looked hopeful.

“Okay,” Meredith answered without hesitation.

“You’re sure?” he asked again. Meredith just nodded. Silence filled the car. Then Trevor broke the silence.

“It’s a biggie.” Again he watched her reaction.

“Okay,” she again answered. Trevor had never let her down, never threatened her in any way and he had never put her in any danger. Meredith was safe, she felt safe.

Trevor continued. “I have very nosey neighbours. I need you to put on a really good show. When we get home, just follow my lead, alright?”

“Is that all? I can do that easily.” Meredith smiled although she was relieved that was all he had asked of her. They stopped at a small group of shops, just on the outskirts of town. Trevor took her hand gently, but also took control.

“Come on, we’ll need to get you an outfit.” But he was smiling, and his gentle approach instantly stole away the discomfort of the moment. Once inside, the staff raced around Meredith as if she were a queen. They waited on her hand and foot, and Trevor just smiled at her, watching again for any change in her reaction. He was looking for any sign of expectancy, but to his delight he couldn’t see any. He picked up the tab, and cut it off the dress before paying the lady. Meredith no longer looked rural and as they got back into the car, she began to giggle.

“What’s got you going? You look fabulous.” He leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Once she had managed to stop giggling, she looked him straight in the eye.

“I feel like Cinderella, you know, from rags to riches.” Then she began to laugh. Trevor couldn’t help himself, but he was laughing at her. They finally managed to compose themselves.

“Don’t take this the wrong way. This is all for show. The real you is still underneath isn’t it?” Trevor carefully asked.

“Yes, I could get used to this, but I’d really miss my smelly old gummies.” Then they laughed again before carrying on, Trevor was planning still and as Meredith watched him, trying to figure him out, he turned and caught her looking.

“Right, are you ready? Off to the lions’ den,” he said confidently, his eyes were bright and alert.

“Yes okay, I’m ready.” But Meredith was fighting the butterflies inside as they had a field day, because she still had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. What did Trevor mean by ‘follow my lead, and play along’? She lit a cigarette.

“Yeah,” Trevor said with a smile, as he glanced over and took it from her. “I could do with one of those too. We’re nearly there now.” He reassured her by patting her on her knee.

“You’ll be just fine,” he said softly.

Meredith was amazed that Trevor’s house was a real English cottage, a lovely well-kept garden that put her ramble to shame and it was joined by the garage to the house next door.

“It’s lovely,” she said almost in a whisper.

“Ready?” he asked, gripping her hand as they turned in the drive. Meredith just smiled, nodded and squeezed his hand back as they drove down to the garage. She noticed the neighbour’s curtains instantly starting to move and twitch.

“Told you,” Trevor said sharply.

They got the bags out of the boot and Trevor took them in while Meredith collected up a few things to carry in herself. Trevor appeared behind her, he held her around her waist from behind and whispered in her ear.

“You’re on; ready … go!” With that, he gently spun her round to face him, and he kissed her. They’d been close for months but this was more, much more. This was passion, and Meredith just kissed him back. The old flame was reignited and they couldn’t stop. Without breaking the intensity of the moment, they made it inside. The passion had overtaken them. Silently he took her hand and they walked upstairs to the bedroom, again they embraced in a passionate kiss.

“Are you okay?” he whispered.

Meredith nodded; he continued slowly undressing her, caressing and kissing as he went. Very, very, soft and gentle. They made love. They didn’t have sex; it was definitely making love. Not a word was spoken and Trevor, all the while was very attentive to Meredith’s needs, well before his own. They lay side by side and Meredith snuggled in closer. They held each other for a while and Trevor smiled.

“That was definitely worth waiting for wasn’t it Meredith?” And he kissed her so, so softly again. Meredith positively glowed as she tried to come to terms with what had just happened, finally managing to smile. What was about to happen took her completely by surprise.

“Up for another round?”  Trevor was up on one elbow with an evil look on his face as he grinned at her.

“Are you sure?” Meredith was surprised and delighted. Trevor smiled and began as if it was the first time all over again, soft and reassuring and gentle; oh so gentle. Exhausted, they lay in each other’s arms glistening with sweat.

“Did you plan all this too?” She finally managed to ask.

“No, not at all, I couldn’t have planned this. Brilliant isn’t it?”

Meredith smiled and nodded. Unsure if that actually needed an answer. There was a long silence.

“I need a smoke.” He finally said.

“Have you got any left?”

Meredith took a while to answer, then she seemed to sort of jump back to reality.

“Yes, in my handbag, I think it’s downstairs.”

“I’ll get it for you. Do you want a cold drink or a cuppa while I’m going down?” he asked thoughtfully.

“A long, tall orange juice would be lovely, but water will do.” Meredith was surprised completely by his next question. “Do you want ice?”

But as he opened the curtains Meredith couldn’t help but notice Trevor’s body, Not all muscles, but not all flab either. She suddenly felt very self-conscious of her extra rolls, and pulled up the satin sheet for modesty.

 

 

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