A few minutes before eight, I parked my car just down from the bookshop and walked back on the opposite side of the street. There was no black sedan or figure in hiding, but there was no police car either.
I figured now we were on our own, for better or worse, and, for my part, I intended to do everything I could to protect Marilyn.
I rang the doorbell and waited until the lock clicked open. I then entered and closed the door behind me, making sure it was secure, before ascending the narrow stairs to the second level.
Marilyn was sitting having tea with an elegant, white-haired woman who looked to be in her seventies. I would find out later Ella Whitcombe was the same age as Harry—making her ninety. She certainly didn’t look it.
As soon as I emerged from the steep stairway, Marilyn smiled delightedly and met me with a quick kiss. Then, taking my arm and almost puling me, she excitedly introduced me to Ella.
“Gran—this is the young man I’ve been telling you about—Scott Lennox.”
The older woman smiled graciously. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Scott.”
“I’m delighted to meet you, Mrs. Whitcombe—Marilyn’s told me so much about you.”
She gave a snort, a kind of self-deprecating laugh, “Can’t say as there’s much to say about me—but I must say, she was dead-on with you—you’re right, Mar,” she called out to Marilyn, who was now back in the kitchen fixing me tea, “he is quite good-looking.”
I could see Marilyn blush and I did too—right up to the roots of my hair.
“You two are so charming,” she gushed, “it’s so nice to see young people nowadays with a sense of modesty.”
Marilyn came back into the living room carrying my tea, “Now Gran, don’t tease poor Scott—you might scare him off.”
“Hrmph—I doubt that,” she said, eyeing the two of us, “You two were made for each other—anyone can see that.”
“Now, here you go, Scott, creamed Earl Grey.” She handed me a fragile cup and saucer.
“Maybe Scott would like something stronger than that, Mar—why don’t you offer him some of that Whyte and Mackay 40yr Old Scotch I gave you?”
“Oh no, Mrs. Whitcombe—tea is fine.” The rich aroma wafting up from the cup smelled heavenly.
Ella wasn’t convinced, but she grudgingly relented. “Please, call me Ella,” she rasped in her husky voice, “—Mrs. Whitcombe makes me sound like an old dowager.”
“You certainly don’t resemble that,” I laughed.
“Well, I grew up in the Depression and turned ninety last month—so who’s fooling who?”
I was shocked, and she looked pleasantly pleased, despite her admission of being old.
“Seriously, Ella—you look twenty years younger than your age.”
Marilyn was back in the kitchen putting Peak Frean cookies on a plate. She called out, “Now Scott—stop complimenting Gran—you’re going to make me jealous.”
Ella, however, was not one to be flattered. “Oh now, Mar—don’t use soft soap—it doesn’t work on me.”
Marilyn pretended to pout.
Ella carried on, “Besides, look at the poor fellow—he’s only got eyes for you.”
I blushed again, and Marilyn rescued me.
“Now, Gran—I invited Scott over so you could meet him, not embarrass him. I thought you could fill him in on some details about me—after all, I haven’t really been able to tell him much.”
The older woman smiled. “You reveal yourself every time you smile, my Dear—but, you’re right—the poor boy should at least know what he’s getting into.”
I was curious myself to know the answer to that.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.