Another’s Treasure: Chapter 3

An hour later after seeing her walk into the lodge he entered his house. The place was a mess with canvases and easels littering the hardwood floors but thankfully it was warmer than outside.  Telling himself he’d straighten up in the morning he grabbed some colors, picked up a canvas off the ground, turned on the fireplace and got to work.

It was 6 a.m by time he’d finished the painting. He added his signature at the bottom right and left it to dry. “Alone at Sea” might not be the most original title but when he thought of the woman with whom he’d shared dinner, he couldn’t think of a better description.

When she’d arrived back at the lodge she was surprised by how exhausted but happy she felt. Just hours before she thought her life was over. Now…now? Now she’d stumbled across the most stubble faced man she’d ever met with who also happened to live with more conviction than she had ideas. He was certainly a fascinating man she thought as she prepared for a shower. He was hilarious one moment and serious the next. With a depth of perception that made her wonder why he wasn’t a shrink. As she dried off and dressed for bed it hit her, he never did answer that question about what he did for a living. He kind of danced around it. Turning off the light she grabbed the remote and turned on the fireplace. Feeling some fabric under the pillow beside her she threw off the bed not realizing it had belonged to her ex. In the bed she’d just this morning shared with one man she thought of another. Her last thought before drifting off to sleep was what a difference a day makes.

She awoke to the sun shining brightly in her eyes and glared at the clock beside her 9 o’clock. Ugh…so sleepy…wait, what?! 9 o’clock? Hopping out the bed she slipped into her slippers and called the front desk to see if Jack had arrived already or had left a message for her. To relief he hadn’t, so she set about getting ready for the day. When she’d arrived the previous day, the clerk had told her that there would be an indoor market in the afternoon for a few hours and she should try to catch some of it. With that in mind she searched her suitcase to see if she’d packed any sensible clothes for walking around town. Pulling out black jeans, ankle heeled boots, and a champagne colored sweater that brought out the red undertones of her brown skin, she hopped into the shower. Forty-five minutes later she was dressed with her auburn hair pulled back into a chic chignon. She kept her makeup light, shooting for a natural look and choosing bronzer instead of blush to add a little glow to her cheeks. A final glance in the mirror and she grabbed her coat and headed downstairs.

Jack walked into the winter lodge at 9:30. New comers called the place by its name, The Yorkdon Hotel but locals who’d known the place before still called it the Demarcus Winter lodge. It was a closely guarded secret, for him anyway, that the place had once belonged to his family. Few knew he still owned some shares in the hotel and that’s the way he wanted to keep it. Though he knew the locals loved him like family, he knew some still held a grudge against his father and his father’s side of the family. Not that he blamed them. The man was a cad who broken his mother’s heart and almost left them bankrupt, which considering the money her side of the family had was saying something. Breaking away from his thoughts he greeted the clerk.

“Good morning Susan, how are you?” He asked with a warm smile.

“Jack! How are you? I haven’t seen you around lately? Are you back in town?”

He was about to respond when he saw her out of the corner of his eye. Turning his head he watched her descend the stairs, head held high, heeled boots clip-clopping on the ground, headed towards the dining hall. Lost in thought, he barely registered Susan’s soft, yet deliberate cough. Turning around he offered a sheepish smile.

“She’s off limits Jack. The girl came here to meet her boyfriend. A rather handsome guy too. Hazel eyes.” Susan added with a wicked smirk.

Jack couldn’t help the involuntary clench of his jaw, he relaxed however as he recalled what Susan didn’t know. “Well Susan, you needn’t worry about me ruining a happy home. She and Mr. Wonderful broke-up last night.” He smiled cheerfully.

“Oh?” Susan said with said with a raised brow. “And just how do you know that?” She said with smile.

“She told me last night over dinner. See ya Sue.”

With that Jack turned to walk away, leaving the gaping Susan behind. He knew he’d probably just started the gossip wheel turning but he never could resist taking a jab at Susan. They were simply had that type of friendship. He’d grown up with Susan. His mother and her mother had been best friends so they’d practically grown up in each other’s homes. They’d shared holidays, birthdays, they’d gone on double dates, and comforted each other over breakups. Sue was one of the few people who hadn’t turned on his family after his father’s betrayal and for that he’d always be grateful.

Right now though, his mind was focused on the beautiful woman seated at the farthest corner of the dining room. He wondered if she’d chosen it intentional. The square table she’d chosen was centered in giant square of a window that looked out onto the lake, the morning mist and barren trees forming a forlorn hallow around her. Her head, rested on her window she looked content, yet alone. Isolated in a solace that he wondered if he should break.

But, they had a date. One she’d made, he thought with a smile. He had a few questions of his own starting with her name. He couldn’t believe they’d talked for hours and he’d forgotten to ask her name. Although, someone in my position could understand how easy it would be to forget the basics with the view he’d had. Thanking his lucky stars that he wouldn’t have to walk around town asking about her or worse yet, ask Susan for her name, he walked towards her table. He was looking forward to learning more about the mystery woman with the inquisitive mind and a seeming penchant for solitude.