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Tommy was still recovering from the meeting.

He couldn't believe his eyes when he'd seen Miss Parker in front of that cigarette machine. He'd been visiting the gas station for days since he came back from Dover. He'd been waiting for Miss Parker to show up, and finally she had arrived. He'd never seen a more beautiful woman. She was even better than in Jarod's picture.

When he'd noticed she was craving for a pack of cigarettes, he'd understood that was the right time. Jarod hadn't mentioned her smoking problem, but being an ex-smoker himself, had given Tommy an advantage.

His heart had been beating so fast while talking to her.

What had she said?

I don't have any friends.

That was the only moment he'd wanted to spell the beans about Jarod, he had struggled to stop the words coming out from his mouth. He had managed to keep the secret when he had remembered the only condition that Jarod had imposed.

"Whatever she tells you, wherever the conversation leads, it doesn't matter. You must never – ever – talk about me with her."


Jarod sighed, "She wouldn't understand. This is –"

"Complicated, I know." Tommy answered with a smile.
"It's very important, Thomas. Promise me."
Jarod was hanging on his words.
"Not a word about you, Jarod. I promise."

And Thomas had kept his promise.

Even if their first encounter hadn't been as agreeable as he had hoped, Tommy had the feeling that Miss Parker had been surprised. He had that strange feeling she would come back.

And in fact, she had.

And a couple of minutes had been enough to figure out how she really was. Every sentence spoken by that woman had reminded him of all the adjectives Jarod had used to describe her.


"Here, let me get that for you."
"I can do it myself. Thank you."

"So, you live up on Brier, don't you?"
"Careful. They have stalking laws in this state."

The sharpest tongue ever.
"I'm restoring a split level just north of you."
"That dump on the hill?"

"There's nothing quite like discovering a 17th century hardwood floor under a sheet of lime green linoleum."
"I can only imagine."

"Don't you have any passions, Miss Parker?"
"You know my name."
"People talk."

Uses jokes as a defense mechanism.
"Gates Restoration. Where everything old is new again."
"I wrote that myself."
"Move over, Hemingway."


That she was, indeed. She looked like an angel, even if she was more like a devil, inside.

Tommy knew he had a hard job to do. Helping her lowering the walls she had built to protect herself would be harder than he had imagined.

While he was waiting for Miss Parker to come back, he called Jarod. He wanted to let him know he'd finally met her.

After a couple of rings, the pretender answered the phone.

"What?" he asked. Tommy would realize only later that Jarod often answered the phone like Miss Parker used to.

"It's me, man. I met Parker."

Tommy told him everything they had said to each other while walking inside the shop at the gas station.

"That's great, buddy, when are you asking her out?"

"I don't know if she's ever going to accept, Jarod. She's so – God, she's so beautiful."

Jarod felt his heart breaking into a thousand of pieces, but he couldn't blame Tommy for that. He'd been the one to push him towards Miss Parker, hadn't he?

"Don't worry. If I know her well, and I'm sure I do –"

Tommy chuckled.

"She's wondering who you are and why you approached her."

"And then?"

Jarod smiled.

"And then she's coming back."

Tommy ended the call with a huge grin on his face.

A couple of hours later, he was getting ready for his night to the bluffs. He truly wanted to try his new telescope, but he had a strange feeling.

'What if she doesn't come?'

Their last conversation had been abruptly interrupted by that weird woman, and since then he'd been wondering what Parker had to do with her.

The February sky was amazing. The evening wasn't very cold, but the sky was very clear, with no clouds in sight. He thought that Parker would enjoy this, should she come.

He'd almost implored her.

"Do I look like a hanging out in the woods kind of gal to you?"
"Well uh, not in those shoes, no, but uh, you can never tell when people are ready to dive into a new experience. Know what I mean?"

And he really hoped that she would kick off those shoes, that night.

When his phone rang, he answered as fast as he could, "This is Thomas."

"Hey buddy, how's the night going?"

Jarod was really hoping that Miss Parker would show up at the appointment.

"I don't know, Jarod. She's not here yet, and it's almost midnight. I think she's not coming."

Jarod sighed. He was still at the Luna Park where he had just left Rachel and her kids. So, the music around him was very loud.

"Where are you?" Tommy asked.

"Uhm, spending the night in a Luna Park." he replied. 'Well, it's true!', he thought.

Tommy smiled to himself, "You always surprise me, Jarod. So, what should I do?"

Jarod knew what he had to do. But he couldn't tell Thomas he intended to call Miss Parker. Tommy didn't know about their weird relationship and the late-night phone calls.

"Have faith, buddy. I'm sure she's coming."

"Thanks, Jarod."

A minute later, Jarod dialed Miss Parker's office number. Hoping not to hear her picking up the phone, he was really upset when she did.


Forgetting his real intentions, Jarod put on his pain-in-the-ass façade.

"It's midnight, Miss Parker. What a shock to find you still at the office."

Obviously, Miss Parker couldn't know that Jarod was upset for her decision not to get out with Thomas, he needed to change her mind with a different kind of approach.

"I was just on my way out." she replied, more gently than usual.

Jarod looked inside his mind – and heart. He inhaled slowly and decided what were the best things to say to her.

"I met a woman who reminds me of you. She was smart, compassionate…and tortured."

He lingered voluntary on the last word.

"Is that what I am?"

Jarod felt he could talk more.

"Like you, she was a prisoner of her past, of people who wanted to control her future. Instead of fighting back, she almost let them destroy her."

"Doesn't sound like a happy ending."

Jarod felt her disappointment and realized there was still hope for her. She was still caring. For everything. For her life. For her future. For her happy ending.

"Oh, it all worked out in the end. I hope the same thing happens for you." he confessed to her, and he meant it.


Jarod could hear expectation in Miss Parker's voice. Even if they were enemies, even if they pretended to hate each other, he knew she listened to every word he said. He knew she still cared about him.

Then he told her the most beautiful thing she'd ever heard in her whole adult life.

"Trust your heart Miss Parker. Don't let them take away your happiness."

When she hung up, Jarod was really hoping that his words had done the trick.

Later, when Thomas saw her coming, he couldn't believe his eyes.

"I didn't think you'd come."

When Parker smiled, Thomas felt his heart almost exploding in happiness and emotion.

"Tell me about yourself."

"What do you want to know?"

Tommy honestly didn't know where to start.


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