Copyright© 2011 by A.A. Nemo
December 7, 2012
"May I help you sir?"
I was already taken aback by her beauty as I walked into the small real estate office on Main Street in Kinsale, but when she said those words it was as if an angel had spoken. Well that is if an angel had an Irish accent.
Dark shoulder length auburn hair, emerald eyes, an Irish peaches and cream complexion, dressed in a festive cashmere red sweater which did nothing to hide a pair of very nice breasts. The rest of her was hidden behind a medium sized antique looking wooden desk, the center covered with a green felt blotter and a laptop computer.
"Err ... yes ... I'm looking for a place to rent for the next six months maybe longer..."
Her eyes sparkled at my seeming discomfort. I didn't know if she had this effect on all men, but she certainly caused me to be tongue tied. And that was quite an accomplishment considering I had been involved in hundreds of trials and faced my share of juries and judges, plus I'd given numerous presentations and speeches in public forums. Yes quite an accomplishment indeed!
She seemed amused and I smiled at her.
Then she got up and moved around to the front of the desk. I was stunned. With the red sweater she wore a dark green pencil skirt which came to just below her knees, a thin corded belt and dark hose and black pumps with a very high heel. She was tall and I guess you could describe her as willowy and in the heels we were looking eye to eye.
Gob smacked the Brits say. I certainly was.
"I'm Teresa Flaherty," she held out her hand. "And you are?"
Her hand felt so warm in mine. I might have imagined the spark that passed between us at the touch. I stood holding her hand not wanting to let go.
Finally I did. The look of amusement was still there but also something else.
"Ah ... I'm David..." I'd almost forgotten my new persona. "David Parkes."
I could smell her perfume. I didn't know what she was wearing but it was intoxicating. Of course the same perfume smells different on every woman because of body chemistry and all. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to meet a woman in a business atmosphere who was wearing perfume. It was a sad state that in twentieth first century America most offices were "scent free zones". Very sad.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Parkes. I think we can assist you. Please have a seat." She indicated the wooden chair in front of her desk. She turned and moved back to her place at the desk. The view going away was as spectacular as it was coming. Her legs were spectacular.
I sat, watching her watch me with that amused expression again although I did detect a bit of color in her cheeks. Then she turned away as she consulted her laptop. She was probably no older than thirty, but she looked very young – probably the complexion. I also noticed there was no sign of a wedding or engagement ring.
I chided myself. Here I was on sabbatical from my former life and the last thing I needed was to get involved with a young woman, and one no doubt fifteen years or more my junior. Well she was wonderful to look at I had to admit and just because I was only starting the process to end my marriage, it didn't mean I wasn't allowed to look.
"This time of year we typically have lots of vacancies since not many feel the need to be by the Irish seaside in the winter." She smiled as she said it.
"Will Mrs. Parkes be joining you?" she added looking up from her laptop.
"No." I said and left it at that. I think she caught the sound and look of sadness I could not mask.
She paused and gave me an appraising look and then returned to her computer screen.
"So perhaps an apartment in town?"
I shook my head. "I would rather be somewhere quiet. I don't have a car so perhaps within a mile walk from shopping and such."
She looked at me for a moment and said,
"There is shopping in town of course, but not much "and such" until the spring. It's pretty quiet here."
"That's what I'm looking for ... I'm on sabbatical from University and I'm trying to do some writing..."
"So perhaps a cottage ... with a view of the water for inspiration?"
"Sounds lovely." I replied.
She stood. "I think I know the perfect place. Mind a walk?"
"Actually I would enjoy a walk." I felt like adding "with you."
"If you will excuse me for a moment then."
She grabbed a large tote and moved toward the back of the office.
While I waited I looked over the place, lots of Christmas decorations and crèche in the front window. Everything was very tidy, either because Ms. Flaherty was very neat or perhaps because business was slow this time of year.
When she came back to the front of the shop I was stunned again by her beauty. Now she was wearing skinny jeans that outlined her legs almost as well as the stockings had, low heel black boots and carrying a shearling and leather bomber jacket. It also looked like she had applied fresh lip gloss.
I jumped from the chair in time to help her with the jacket, getting another dose of the scent she was wearing. My gesture got me a "thank you" and a brilliant smile which made my heart race.
Stop it! I told myself.
She locked up the office and we set off in the brisk December air, walking toward the harbor.
The clouds threatened rain.
It didn't take us long to walk out of the small town. Kinsale has only about two-thousand people. Her long legs matched me stride for stride. We followed the curving bay and took a quiet lane in the direction of the sign that said, "Charles Fort". As we walked she told me a little about the town and its economy – fishing, yachting and tourists mostly.
"American?" she asked.
"No actually Canadian." I hated lying to her.
"I've met a fair number of Canadians ... you seem more American."
I've lived in the states a fair bit, may have picked up some bad habits." I laughed
In what I estimated to be about a mile, we reached the village of Summercove. It was a picturesque Irish village with a small harbor overlooking the estuary where the River Bandon meets the sea. Many of the houses were gray slate from local quarries.
She pointed out the Bulman Bar and recommended it as a good place to eat and drink – "if you have a mind to, of course."
She frowned at the "and drink." I suspected there was a story behind that.
Not far off on the hill overlooking the village and the harbor was Charles Fort. "It's one of the best preserved of the Star Forts in Europe, built in the seventeenth century by the British." she explained as we started up the hill just past the village. It was an impressive looking place.
About half way up the hill to the fort Teresa led us on a dirt track that angled away from the village and harbor. Ahead of us near the top of the hill was a simple white house, perhaps best described as a large cottage and to its left was a smaller white-painted stone cottage with a slate roof.
No thatch roof I thought, remembering John Wayne in "The Quiet Man".
Shortly we reached the cottage and she opened the red painted wood door. I noticed there was no lock. Had I ever lived in a place without the ability or need to lock the door? I didn't think so.
Teresa found the switch inside the door and turned on a single overhead light which was off to the right in the kitchen. The inside of the cottage was sparsely furnished; a large cloth-covered vintage looking easy chair and a table next to it plus a coffee table were all the furniture in the small living room. The floor was covered by a faded oval hooked rug. There was a fireplace which I hoped was not the only source of heat, but it did look like it could hold an inviting fire. An old wooden table and two chairs sat in the corner of the small kitchen. I noticed a stove and refrigerator, a small sink and several high glass-fronted cupboards.
"I'm sorry for the chill. There's quite an efficient gas heater ... just doesn't make sense to keep the place warm without anyone here..."
I watched her move to a rotary switch on the wall near an archway to the left of the fireplace that led to a hallway which appeared to run along the front of the house, perhaps to a bath and a bedroom.
"It should be warm in no time." she said. I loved her smile.
"The bedroom is back this way." She indicated the hallway
Did I detect a blush as she said that? It was hard to tell in the dim afternoon light coming through the front windows of the living/sitting room.
I followed her through the archway past a surprisingly well-appointed bath to the single bedroom located at the end of the hall. There was an antique four-poster double bed there with nightstand and lamp, and a battered looking dresser. The bed was covered with a well-worn quilt that was certainly handmade.
As we left the bedroom she pointed into the bath and said, "Lots of hot water too."
We walked back to the living room and I gazed across the water at another seventeenth century fort, and then at the harbor below. This was exactly the place I needed. "Sorry, no television or Wi-Fi ... There's a shop in the village that can set you up if needed. Gas and electric are the responsibility of the renter and there's a separate meter. Water and rubbish collection is included."
I turned to her.
"I'll take it."
"I like a man who's decisive, but how do you know if you can afford it?" she teased.
"I don't think you'd have brought me here – a poor academic, if you thought I couldn't, plus with the season and probably no rent until spring at the earliest I'm sure the owner is anxious to rent it."
That caused a frown. I hated to see her frown. Did she know the owner? Was it someone who had fallen on hard times?
"I do know the owner and even though it's not currently rented she won't let it go for a song."
She smiled again. It was like sun breaking through clouds.
I returned her smile.
"Okay I don't mind being taken advantage of ... I will take it, and for at least six months. "Mr. Parkes..."
"Please call me David."