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11th chapter

A Novel Idea - a Soap

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Chapter 11

 

Rupert had settled in nicely at Mildred’s house, he had enjoyed meeting her birth mother, and was very excited about visiting in her studio that she had just opened.  It was good to be able to stay in the one place for a n extended period of time. He had become quite annoyed at having to travel all the time, and not settle down.  He was hoping now after this current job he was working on,  that he could afford to open his own company, and set his own scheduling.

 

Joelle had been around several time for dinner with the two of them, which Rupert thoroughly enjoyed, and was trying to build up the courage to ask her out.  Mildred had informed him of her mistrust of men since Denver left her life so he was just going to take things a step at a time.  Keeping things with other people around until she felt a little more at home.

 

Not long after moving in and starting on his latest project, the opportunity came up to purchase a building he had had he eye on.  It was Heritage listed and was exactly what he was looking for, for his office.  He made enquiries and had done some research  with the help of the Peter new Librarian in the special collections section  They had discovered that the building was once the living quarters for student nurses around 100 years ago.  It had then become, a recovery hospice for returned service men after WWII.  Then it had gone on to be a Residential College for Overseas Students who had come to learn English.

 

In the last few years it had been a retirement home, and was about to be put up for sale.  Rupert, enquired with the agents as to the cost, and what modifications he would and would not be able to do.  The Heritage council was going to send him the information in the next few weeks.  After that he would then decide if he was going to purchase the building.

 

**

 

Peter Bent had settled nicely into his new job.  Tiffany and Dickson both got on well with him, he was a very knowledgeable person when it came to archival storage and had a keen interest in the Medical history collection they had accumulated over the years.  He had recently helped Rupert Mansaw with an assignment in relation to the history of an old building in the town.  It had originally belonged to the Universities nursing program, but was sold a number of years ago to a private hostel.

 

Tiffany came in early on the Monday morning and found Peter hard at work, sorting out a new collection they had recently acquired.  It had been donated to the library by a former Architectural Academic who had retired some 20 years earlier. 

 

“How is the new collection coming? “ she enquired as she settled into her desk.

 

“Oh fabulous, some of these blue prints that Professor Zezek has are amazing,  I will have to contact Rupert and let him know, there is one here in connection with the house that he is interested in purchasing for his offices.”

 

“Hey that is great, he will be ever so pleased.  How old is it.” 

 

“It looks like it was restoration works done around 1935, just before it was taken over as a recovery hostel.”  He sat studying the blueprints carefully.  “Yes I think I will call him, now this is exactly what we were looking for.”

 

Peter headed into his office and phoned Rupert, who was no doubt very happy with the discovery.  They made arrangements for him to come in and see the documents.  Peter in the mean time organised a copy of it to be made for him so he could take it to the Heritage council,  whose copy had gone missing in a minor fire they had several years ago.  After organising the copy to be made, he then had a general managers meeting with the other heads of departments.  So he informed Dickson and Tiffany that he would not be back until at least 2pm.

 

Tiffany emailed Mitchell to let him know that she had returned to work safely,  Mitchell was rather concerned since her kidnapping by Walter earlier, and now that the babies were here, he would have preferred for her to stay at home and look after them.  He was a little old fashioned but he respected her decision to return to work part time.

 

**

 

Joelle had just returned from sick leave.  The week before, she had been struck down with a rather nasty dose of flu.  She still had the lingering affects of a hacking cough.  Numerous other staff and students at the university had been struck down with this flue.  Months later they were still hacking away coughing.

 

“You look heaps better” Mildred commented as they headed for their early morning coffee at the staff café.

 

“I’m feeling heaps better too, if only I could get rid of this cough.  I have already broken 2 ribs with the cough.  The Doctor said to take it easy for a while and no heavy lifting.”

 

“You make sure you follow his advice too.” Mildred warned sternly.

 

“I will thanks Mil.” Joelle replied “and thanks for all the TLC you gave me.  Those meals you bought over

were a blessing.  Last thing I wanted was to get up and cook something.”

 

They were sitting at their usual table when T.J. walked in with Peta Johns who was the new I.T. consultant to the Medical School.  He waved to them, but left them to their chatter and coffee, he had some important things to discuss with Peta.  Peta was a very tall, solidly build lady in her mid 40’s.  Short Brown hair and Stunning blue Eyes.  T.J. and Peta had worked together at one of T.J.’s former employers several years ago.  Last year she had become engaged to T.J.’s brother Sam, who had only just recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour. 

 

“So who is that with T.J.”  Mildred enquired.

 

“Oh she is one of the new IT people only just started last week.”  Joelle replied.

 

“They seem quite chummy”

 

“Yes they do, don’t the”, Joelle thought for a while and then to change the subject ” Oh by the way how are you and Rupert getting on now that he has moved in.”

 

“Oh great! Its really nice to have someone to sit and chat to, eat dinner with, most nights he is up late working,

but we don’t get under each others feet too much.”  Mildred invited Joelle around for dinner on the following Friday. She had a sneaking suspicion that Rupert had a liking for Joelle.  She would be very happy if the two of them ended up married. 

 

“What’s that smile for?” Questioned Joelle

 

“Oh nothing, Gotta dash, will see you later.”

 

With that Mildred headed back to her office for a tele-conference with a very important prospective donor.

 

**

 

Saturday rolled round and Mildred and Rupert were in the middle of preparing for the dinner they were hosting.  Mitchell, Tiffany and the kids were coming they were bringing pre dinner nibbles, Josh and Errol were also coming Josh was making one of his most wonderful deserts.  Joelle was bringing a salad.  They had decided on a BBQ as it had been such lovely weather. 

“You know Rupert its been really fabulous having you here, I did not realise how lonely I was really feeling.” Mildred told him as they were preparing the meat for cooking.

 

“Yes its been great for me, after living in hotels and motels for years it gets too annoying.  Its good to have somewhere where I can call home and not have to look for rental places all the time.”  Rupert replied.

 

The door bell sounded, it was Joelle, and not far behind her coming up the drive way was Errol and Josh.

Rupert answered the door.

 

“Hi Joelle, nice of you to come,…. Oh look there is Errol and Josh too.  Welcome come on in, just take those plates through to the kitchen Mildred is in there just finishing off the meat.”

 

Only 5 minutes later the Hills’s arrived.  The kids were always happy to visit their Aunty Mildred and Uncle Rupert.  Everyone gathered in the kitchen and chatted while Josh and Rupert headed out to get the BBQ underway.  Slowly everyone trickled out the back, the kids had their toys and books.  Edward was growing into a very nice polite young man, and offered to help the men with the BBQ duties.  Mitchell had his hands full with both sets of twins.

 

“So Rupert,  you like Joelle” Commented Josh as they were turning the sausages and stakes.

 

“How did you know?”  Rupert asked

 

“Its not hard to tell the way you look at her.” Josh smiled and nodded in Joelles general direction.

 

“Oh was I that obvious.”  Rupert blushed.

 

Just then Mildred walked over,  “Ok you two what are you scheming “ 

 

“Oh noting just guy talk.”  Josh assured her.  “This meat will be ready soon, so can you start sending everyone over.”

 

Mildred had an inkling about what they were talking, when she saw the blush on Rupert’s face.  “Sure thing” she turned and called “Ok everyone dinners ready, come and help yourself.” 

 

Everyone came over and chose the pieces of meat they wanted, and then gathered around the table to eat, everyone was helping themselves to the selection of salads on offer.  Much talk was flowing freely about work, the latest gossip with who was seeing who and so forth.

 

Joelle was seated in the middle of Mildred and Rupert, which made him happy.  They chattered on and ate, and joked and laughed all afternoon.

 

 

 

At the same time that Mildred and her friends were having their BBQ, T.J. and his friend Peta, her new fiancé and their friends were gathered together celebrating the engagement of Peta and Sam.  Even though Sam had recently been diagnosed with cancer, they were still planning the wedding and honeymoon to fit around his Chemotherapy.

 

“So that’s the girl who has sorted you out, The Blond one you waved to the other day in the Café.” Peta commented, as Sam had just asked T.J. about Joelle, and his latest infatuation. 

 

“Yes that’s her, isn’t she the most wonderful creature.”  T.J. Sighed.

 

“She sure is, its such a shame she had a bad experience with that lecturer.” Sam added.

 

“Yes, I think a little patience and hopefully she will recover and then I can ask her out.”  T.J. looked longingly into the distance and jumped up to help himself to some more salad.”

 

**

 

“Joelle!” Called Bobby, as he saw Joelle enter the office.

 

“Morning Bobby, did you have a good weekend.”

 

“Yes thanks how about you.”

 

“Oh mine was really great we had a BBQ at Mildred’s, Tiffany’s new twins are growing so fast, and the other kids are just such a delight to be around.  Rupert and everyone got on well, so all in all the weekend was realy fabulous.”

 

“Hey guess what the latest rumour is.” Bobby had a sly smile on his face, he had just heard in the lift a conversation with some of the IT consultants mention of T.J. and his liking for Joelle.

 

“Now you know I don’t like to listen to gossip.”

 

“Yes, I know but this one involves you and I thought you should know.”

 

“Ok,” she sighed, “ Astound me”

 

“Well…” Bobby began.  “I was in the lift coming up to the office, and I over heard some of the I.T. staff talking about you and T.J.”

 

“What!!”  she exclaimed.

 

“Yes…”  Bobby took a sip of his coffee.  “They were talking saying that Peta the new girl in their office has recently been engaged to T.J.’s brother Sam and that she had lunch with T.J the other day.  When she came back she told Sue their receptionist that T.J. had a Crush on you, and that he was so in love with you that he had changed his ways, and was not seeing any of his old girlfriends.”

 

“Your are joking ……  aren’t you?” Joelle questioned.

 

“No I’m serious.”  He looked at her with a questioning gaze to see her response. Which was one of great shock and, if he was not mistaken, horror.

 

“Oh no, that is the last thing I need.”  Joelle hung her head into her hands. A feeling of nausea came over her and she turned quite white, that Bobby was convinced that she was about to faint.  Bobby raced out and got her a cold glass of water., “Don’t mention this to anyone else.”  She warned.

 

“Oh don’t worry I wont.”

 

“I cant stand that man, being around him gives me the creeps.  The only decent thing he has done in the time he has been here is help Tiffany out when she was kidnapped.  And after Denver I don’t think I want to be with anyone right now.  The only man I feel comfortable being alone with is Rupert.” 

 

“Yes I know what you mean.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything else.”

 

With a sigh of relief, Joelle went about her daily business and Bobby headed off, feeling a little guilty that he had brought the subject up. 

 

By that late afternoon most of the library was a buzz with the subject of T.J.’s liking for Joelle.  Rumours tended to spread around the library like wild fire, the only talk that seemed to spread faster than gossip was good news.

Mildred was in the middle of her afternoon tea when the news reached her ears and she was rather shocked by the whole thing.  She had suspected that Rupert had a liking for Joelle, but to hear that T.J. was in love with her best friend was another matter.

 

**

 

Tiffany and Dickson had organised a surprise party for Mildred, whose birthdays only 3 weeks away on a Friday.  They had invited her birth mother and her family, all Mildred’s friends from work and others she knew outside.  She was going to turn 45, and they thought it would be nice to have a big party, as her previous birthday her Father had died and not long after her mother.  So Tiffany and Dickson had thought it would be nice for Mildred to have a huge celebration for this coming birthday.

 

Josh, of course, was going to make the Birthday cake, Hilda and Marge were going to assist Josh with the catering and they were hiring out the staff Café for the party.  Peter had suggested that he could get Mildred out of the way and off campus so that she would be non the wiser, by inviting her to assist him with a major donation that was about to arrive.  Mildred still loved to keep her hand in with the Special collections and Peter was all the more happy to have her assistance.  Since he had taken over from Mildred he had gained much knowledge from her on the various aspects to the collection.  There were some very interesting items in the collection, like a Silver pen set that had been used to sign the contract for the construction of the new library.  A death mask of a well known poet.  Along with several other strange but interesting items.  There was a major collection of old Shipping memorabilia that had been donated by a retired shipping magnate.  And yet still the collection was growing.

 

While Peter and Mildred were out, everyone was busy, blowing up balloons and putting up streamers.  Setting the tables and putting up a very large banner that one of the Students casuals had designed and decorated.  There were around 100 people who were invited to attend, and almost all of them were coming, only 5 were not able to make it due to work commitments overseas or illness.

 

When they arrived back, they went straight to the Special collection room via the back stairs, thus avoiding the court yard and the surprise waiting.  At the appointed time Hilda phoned Peter and gave the all clear signal for him to bring Mildred down. 

 

“Why don’t we go and get a coffee and something to eat”  Suggested Peter casually “I could use something by now, and it seems we missed lunch.”

 

“You know your right, Mark was such an interesting person to talk to, and the time did seem to fly past.  Here it is 3.30 and I am rather hungry.  Ill just phone Amy and let her know where I am going.”  Mildred replied.

 

She quickly called Amy at her office, Amy said that there were no messages and that, she would mark down that Mildred would be back after 5pm.  All the while knowing that she would not be.  Amy had cleared Mildred’s schedule for the rest of the day, after Tiffany had contacted her about the party.  On receiving the call when she had hung up, Amy headed down to the party as well, so she could be there before Mildred walked in.

 

At 3.50, as appointed, Mildred and Peter walked into the Café, They were greeted by  “SURPRISE” being shouted out by 95 people, streamers were thrown over them and Mildred was whisked away to her appointed table.

 

Stunned for a moment, she was speechless.  “What on earth…….. who organised all this…….my word, this is a surprise.”  They all burst out singing happy birthday, and then Josh wheeled in the cake.

 

There was a table full of presents and cards waiting for her to open.

 

Slowly she opened them and thanked those who had given her the present.  She was so surprised.  Her birth mother had painted her a family portrait, with herself, Errol, Her husband and Mildred’s adoptive mother and father.  Joelle had provided a photo of them to Hattie so she could include them in the art work.  This totally amazed Mildred and everyone else. 

“Oh Mother Hattie….”   She sobbed.  “this is the most wonderful present I have ever been given.  …”

 

Hattie, was so happy to be able to be at her daughters birthday, the 1st of many more to come, it could never make up for the birthdays she missed when Mildred was child, but now it would be a wonderful time.

 

**

 

T.J. was in the middle of answering an email, when Joelle walked in.  “Hi Joelle, what can I do for you.”

 

“I was wondering if you would be able to swap night shift with me for a few weeks, I’m taking an art course at the college down the road.  And the class I want is on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  It only goes for 8 weeks.”

 

“Sure thing toots.”  He said smiling.

 

“Thanks.  Let me know if I can do the same for you some time.”  With that she turned and walked out.

 

**

 

Rupert finally had gained the courage to contact Joelle about asking her out on a date, he took the opportunity to invite her to a movie then she came over for coffee several weeks after Mildred’s birthday.

 

“Ah….. Joelle…”  He stammered.  “I…. Was wondering if ….. perhaps if your not busy…. If you would like to go to see a movie with me some time…”

 

A little taken aback Joelle was a little stunned, and not sure what to make of this sudden invitation.  “Why sure Rupert, that would be lovely.:”  He was the only man she felt comfortable with these days.  And as a cousin of her best friend he did not seem as threatening.

 

“Great.. there is a new movie starting next Saturday, I have tickets to the premier would that be ok, Mildred is busy that night.”

 

“Oh that new romantic comedy, that they have been advertising.”

 

“Yes that’s the one.”  Rupert started gaining more confidence.

 

“It looks good, that would be great, why don’t we have dinner at the Steak Place before hand.” She suggested.

 

“That a sounds good idea.  Ill pick you up at 6pm is that is convenient.”

 

“Great, see you then.”

 

Rupert was walking on cloud nine for the rest of the day.  He had the courage to ask her out, and scored dinner at the same time.  The following day at the office, T.J. came in and also asked her to go with him to the same movie.

 

“Sorry T.J.  I’m going with a good friend of mine”  she informed him.

 

“Oh,… I may see you there then.”  He turned and left feeling a little uneasy.  There was something in her smile that told him, he was going to have a fight on his hands for her.

 

**

 

Rupert Picked Joelle up at the appointed time, and they headed to the Steak Place, where they had early dinner reservations.  It had been a while since Joelle had felt so at ease with anyone, other than Mildred, Josh, and Errol 

 

“I didn’t think I was ever going to finish that steak off.  It was huge”  Joelle commented as they left the restaurant for the movie theatre.

 

“Yes they sure know how to feed you there.  And the price is so reasonable, must be something to do with the new manager and owner.”  Rupert said as they strolled along the street.

 

“Yes Josh is a real dear isn’t he.” 

 

They both giggled at this, the movie theatre was only a one block walk from the restaurant. So they arrived in good time to get good seats. 

 

“It is so nice to get out again, I do admit I have been closeting myself away in the last few months.” Joelle admitted.

 

“I am so glad you decided to come,” they had decided to go to the expensive, Movie buff seats in the newer section of the Old Town Cinemas.  It was the first time either of them had been there, so there were not too sure as to what they would expect.  On entering they were greeted at the door, with a menu.  “ Oh!” Exclaimed Rupert, “if I had known you could eat here we would have avoided eating earlier.” 

 

“That’s all right sir,” the young lady, whose name tag read ‘Hi my name is Emily’ responded.  “Its only just been brought in this week, and is not yet widely publicised.”  She then led them to a table and brought them a glass of water each.  Ill be back shortly to show you to your seats.”

 

“Oooo, “ exclaimed Joelle, “This is impressive, being shown to our seats.  I read that there are a lot of cinemas around the country doing this sort of thing.”

 

“Yes I did too, cant wait to see what the seating is like.”  They browsed brochure Emily had left and were very impressed. 

 

“If you would like to come with me”  Emily offered  “Ill take you in now.”  She led them in to Cinema 3, the seating was very minimal, only around 30 seats, and they all had tables between every 2 chairs.  When they had paid for their tickets they had selected the centre isle.    “Enjoy your movie”  Emily cheerfully said as she left to bring in the next group of people who had only recently arrived.

 

The movie started not long after the last group came in, there were howls of laughter, mixed with the clink of cutlery on china plates, or glasses on to tables.  When the movie had finished, they  had tears in their eyes from laughing so much.  The movie had turned out to be a romantic comedy.  Which both thoroughly enjoyed, Joelle suggested coffee, which Rupert readily agreed to.  As they were coming out they bumped into T.J.  Joelle Introduced T.J. and Rupert.

 

“So how did you like the movie”  T. J. asked

 

“It was hilarious” responded Joelle, while looking at Rupert and resting her hand on his upper arm.

 

On seeing Joelles touching Rupert in a friendly manner, he felt a pang of jealousy.  He thought to himself ‘hmmm so you’re my rival, ‘  the look on his face did not go unnoticed by Joelle

 

“It sure was” replied Rupert, “Say we are off for a coffee, care to join us.”

 

“No thanks, I have to get home, I’ve got an early start in the morning.” T.J. declined, and left them.

 

“Where shall we go for coffee” asked Joelle

 

“How about that little Italian coffee bar on Terrace Road 

 

“Sounds great Rupert lets go, the night is still young”

They left the cinema in good spirits, Rupert had noticed the way T.J. was looking at Joelle when she had touched his arm.  It had not gone unnoticed by him that T.J. had feelings for her too

 

**

 

Mildred had been working for 18 months in her job as Associate Librarian, in that time, she felt she had really blossomed.  Usually she was rather shy and quiet, and her dress sense had been a little dowdy.  Since taking on this job people had started commenting on how lovely she looked and what lovely clothes she was wearing.  She felt a little unsure of their sincerity at first, but when Rupert her cousin, Joelle and Tiffany had started making the same observations, it was a confirmation of what everyone else had said.

 

She was starting to feel more confident dealing with people, feeling more at ease when having to deal with those she did not know, or with the many heads of departments she had to have daily contact with.

 

Joelle one morning suggested they go for a day at the new spa that had just opened. Che Renou.  It was the latest thing in town.  They booked in and Mildred felt it was time for a change of hairstyle and color.  After much consulting with the stylist and Joelle, she decided on having her hair died a Chestnut color, here natural color was a rather plain brown, and the Chestnut, as Missure le Marteen, would bring out the lovely complexion she had.  After 4 hours in the spa with massages, facials and hair done, both girls walked out feeling like new people.  Joelle had decided to add some auburn highlights and have her hair cut shorter.

 

“You know Mil.”  Joelle said “Im feeling much better now after that, why don’t we treat ourselves to a decadent coffee and cake.”

 

“Sure thing .”  Mildred replied.

 

One there way to the Café Jono they were deep into conversation when they bumped into T.J.

 

“Hello ladies, my don’t you both look lovely, just had a day at the spa.”  He smiled appreciating the new look Joelle

 

“Thank T.J, “  Mildred said.

 

“Say would you two lovely ladies like to join me for a coffee, I’m just on my way Café Jono.”

 

Joelle felt a little uneasy, and Mildred noticed the look in her face.  “We were just going there anyway, but your welcome to join us, we are meeting my cousin Rupert there.”

 

“Oh!” T.J. was disappointed “well lets make it a foursome then.”

 

The three of them walked into Café Jono where Rupert was waiting for them.

 

“Afternoon ladies, my don’t you look fabulous.” He greeted them.

 

“Thanks Rupert, have you ordered yet.” Mildred responded

 

“No I’ve only just got here and was waiting for you.”

 

Joelle sat next to Rupert on the other side of the table, leaving T.J. and Mildred to sit next to each other.

As she sat next to him, she could smell his lovely soft aftershave, and had a bout of butterflies in her stomach.

Various thoughts and feelings started rolling around.  Could she have feelings for him, had she always had feeling for him but never had the opportunity to act on them.  They had always gotten on so well, since they first met.  Feeling confused she thought she would seize the first opportunity to talk to him about it.

 

After they had finished their coffee and cake, Joelle, Mildred and Rupert bid T.J. farewell, Mildred had dinner appointment with the Hills family, so she raced off to shower and dress before going to dinner.  Rupert saw this as his opportunity to confront Joelle about her feelings.

 

‘Ah…. Joelle…… I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while.”  He stammered.

 

“I’ve wanted to talk to you too.”  She gazed into his eyes and saw what she was hoping to see.  He in return saw the compassion and love shining in her eyes too.

 

“Oh… Joelle I’ve wanted for so long to tell you how much  I love you…”  He seized her into his arms and kissed her, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

 

Over the road, T.J. witnessed this all happening, and his heart sank.

 

 

 

©Colleen Hunter 2004

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