Aunt Marie's Date


EmmaLynn Rose



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I needed cat food. You know what that means. Back to the store. Have I mentioned that I hate shopping? No? Okay, I hate shopping. Of course, my last shopping experience turned about a little better than I had expected. Two dates, can you believe it? Dark dark and handsome and tall blond and Nordic. What kind of luck is that?

I had a breakfast date with Chip next Friday. He found out I collected antique books and he said he knew of a couple of great shops up the coast that I had never heard of. Saturday, Lee wanted to take me to dinner and if I was game, maybe a movie. Personally, I was holding out for Lee. He had the most amazing eyes. Maybe I could convince my cousin she needed a life and I could hook her up with Chip, if he didn't turn out to have weird mental condition. Course that could be the case with Lee, since I'd only met them each once, and talked to them briefly on the phone.

Back to my problem at hand. I needed cat food. And shampoo. And razors. If I had a hot date and was going all out, I needed razors. Hairy legs on a hot date? Not a good mix.

“Aunt Marie! I'm going to town, you need anything?” I had dropped in on my aunt, just to check on things and make sure she was doing alright. Uncle Tony had died two years and Aunt Marie hadn't taken it well. They'd been married for nearly thirty-five years, had one daughter, my cousin, Dana. We were both trying to get Aunt Marie to get out more, but she was just as stubborn as her daughter. She surprised me when she came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel.

“You know, I do need a few things. Dana and I were going shopping this weekend, but she got called to Little Rock and won't be back will Tuesday. I don't suppose you'd mind if I tagged along?”

I beamed. “Of course not. I keep telling you, you need to get out more.”

Aunt Marie shot me that half grin and shook her head. “Yes, you told me all about your two young men. If you don't mind, I'll leave the dating field to you and Dana, I am no spring chicken. I'm too set in my ways at this point.”

“You don't have to get married again, Aunt Marie, you just need a few friends your own age.”

As usual, my argument went in one ear and out the other. I could see where Dana gets it from. I let my aunt put together a small list. She had some baking for an upcoming church function, and needed spices and the like. We made a stop at my favorite little place and she made a suggestion about a little gourmet shop down the road that she got most of her cooking things at. I pulled in to the small parking lot and we got out. She snagged a basket at the door and took off down an isle. I had never been in this place before, and I was fascinated. I slowly wondered around, looking over cooking utensils, pot and pans, cookie cutters and things I couldn't even put a name to. I could bake a chicken, but beyond the the world of cooking was like a mystery for me. Aunt Marie was the cook, that gene must have skipped my branch of the family.

I was looking over some really cute potholders, thinking about Christmas, when I heard Aunt Marie laughing.

Not a laugh as in, 'oh how amusing', but a 'that's the funnest thing I've ever heard' laugh. I hadn't heard that in nearly two years. Was some creepo hitting on my Aunt? Death to the interloper. I eased around the corner, ready to head of some Charles Manson dude, when I saw my aunt talking with this very distinguished looking older gentlemen.

No doubt about it, he was a looker. Broad shoulders and a nice chest, he had a full head of auburn hair, not a hint of gray. He had a strong jawline, and features that I could only describe as rugged. He had a presence about him that made you set up a take notice, that grabbed your attention and wouldn't let go. Maybe it was that voice. He was talking to Aunt Marie, some story, I guess, and his voice was like velvet, deep and rich. You know the kind, he could read you the phone book and make it sound like Shakespeare. In the middle of his story, he looked up in my direction. He had the most amazing eyes, a deep blue that didn't look at you so much as look through you. Nice catch, Aunt Marie.

My Aunt turned and smiled at me. A real smile. “Katie, there you are. I'd like you to met Harry. Harry, my niece, Katie. 

I extended a hand and we shook, feeling callouses on his strong hands. This was a man who was no stranger to work. Despite my first initial response, I was beginning to like him. Just a little.

“Katrina, Katrina Morgan. My friends all call me Katie.” I introduced myself.

“Harry Nelson. It's a pleasure to met you.”

“You two seem to have quite a bit to talk about,” I said, fishing. If this old coot was barking for a rich old widow to latch onto, he'd have a fight on his hands.

“Harry is retired from the Navy. I was just telling him I was thinking of looking for a good wine for dinner tonight and he mentioned a lovely little place that had a very nice selection of wines.”

Retired from the Navy? I could handle that. Her uncle Johnny had been Navy; she and Harry would have a lot to talk about. Maybe he was on the up and up then. Aunt Marie was giving me that look. You know, the one that said, 'get lost, I'm trying to score here'.

“What do you do with yourself, being retired and all?” I asked giving this Harry dude the sternest look I could muster. He smiled at me. I think I lost about a dozen IQ points with that smile. He could melt the polar ice caps with that smile.

“Semi-retired, so to speak. I sort of work for a marine research firm in Santa Barbara. You can ask anyone there about me, I'm sure they could tell you I'm a trust worthy sort.”  

Smart man. He recognized my concern for my aunt and was trying to defuse my suspicious nature. Okay. Well, Aunt Marie was a grown woman, she could make her own decisions about who she wanted to be associated with.

“I'm sure that won't be necessary. Aunt, you have your cellphone if you need me.” I said finally. Aunt Marie shifted her basket of spice and things and smiled back up at me.

“Yes dear. You run along now, I have everything under control here,” she said, turning that smile back to Harry.

“We'll I guess I'll finish up my shopping. I'll see you when you get home. Mr. Nelson, pleasure meeting you.” I said with a nod.

“Same here. I'll have your aunt home before dark, I promise.” I grinned at that, just like he knew I would. Chivalry wasn't dead after all.

I walked out of the little store, the scene still playing in my head. There was only research firm I knew of in Santa Barbara. The Nelson Institute for Marine Research.

Wait a minute. Nelson. Nelson Institute. Harry Nelson.

No way. It couldn't be. Impossible. It had to be a coincidence. Nelson was a pretty common name, wasn't it?

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