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Tax Time

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Tax Time
by DabbaDo

     

Part Four – Old friends

Sheridan walked back to the cottage, thinking about all that had happened over the past few weeks. Luis came all the way to Paris to save her. Together, they brought down one of the biggest drug rings in Europe. They stayed in Paris for an extra week while the French authorities wrapped things up. The extra time in Paris had been wonderful. She showed him the sights. They went for long romantic walks along the Seine. Sheridan took him to all her favorite restaurants. He met some of her friends. It had been a very special time for them. And now they were back in Harmony and ready to build a life together.

She was glad they had no secrets between them. She felt tremendous relief. She knew Luis would stand by her no matter what. Sheridan felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have such a wonderful, devoted, and sexy man like Luis. She opened the door to her cottage and went to the kitchen to make some tea and start dinner.

A smile came to her face when she remembered the letter from Hettie. Hettie Breyer, the little auburn-haired girl with a face full of freckles who had been such a large part of her life. She and Hettie had been best friends as children, but she hadn’t seen her since they were both very young. They had never lost touch, though, and wrote to each other often.

Hettie’s family was originally from Harmony. Her mother had died after a long battle with cancer, and she and her father moved back to Harmony so that Mr. Breyer could take a position as a gardener at the Crane Estate. They lived at the cottage that was now Sheridan’s home. Sheridan was thrilled to have another young girl to play with, and they had so much in common. They both loved horses and dancing and music. It was instant friendship.

While Mr. Breyer worked on the estate, Hettie spent most of her day with Sheridan and Pilar. Sheridan remembered all the wonderful times they had shared. Like the time that Alistair brought back a box of expensive chocolate truffles from France for his daughter. He told her she could have one piece and give one to her friend. Sheridan was supposed to put the rest away.

Instead, Sheridan and Hettie ate the entire box and made themselves quite ill. Pilar witnessed their chocolate covered mouths and asked if the girls had eaten the chocolates. They tried to deny it, but it was obvious. All Pilar could do was laugh. Sheridan was on a high for a week from all the caffeine and sugar. Mr. Breyer called her ‘Shakes’. Hettie was no better. She couldn’t look at another piece of candy for a month.

Sheridan was so envious of Hettie’s relationship with her father. Mr. Breyer, or ‘Pops’ as Hettie called him, would drop anything to be with his daughter. He spent most of his free time playing with the girls. He made up complex stories and funny nicknames. One day, he set up an elaborate tea party for them. Hettie was ‘Miss Dora’ and Sheridan was ‘Miss Flora’. He called them ‘the ladies from Bora Bora’. Little Ethan even got in on the action sometimes. Hettie would put socks on his ears and call him ‘Rex, the dog’. Ethan would follow them around for hours, barking and panting.

The best was when Uncle Mick came by the cottage to pick up Mr. Breyer to go fishing. He was a wonderful man who smelled of wintergreen. Mick always had a special greeting for the girls. He put his hands over their ears, and while they held onto his wrists, he would lift them into the air, saying "Cheers Big Ears!" The girls thought this was hilarious.

While the two men went fishing, Pilar would take the girls up to the stables to go riding. Sheridan and Hettie loved to ride, but always begged to go on the fishing trip. Mick promised that one day soon they would take them with them to the island of Bora Bora. Hettie had been before and talked about the wonder of being at the island. And finally that day came.

It was a beautiful spring morning. Sheridan had spent the night with Hettie the night before. Mick loaded the girls into the truck and said to Sheridan, "Well, Miss Flora, this is your first fishing trip. Are you excited?" Sheridan was excited. Two little girls, both in denim overalls and pigtails, sat in the boat with huge grins as they made their way to the island. But the trip had been cut short. There were other people on the island that day, and Mick and Mr. Breyer insisted they go back home. Sheridan sensed there was more going on, but she didn’t question it. Not long after that day, Hettie went to stay with her grandmother in South Carolina.

Sheridan continued to remember those childhood days with Hettie. One summer day, Sheridan and Hettie climbed to the top of the poplar tree on the Crane Estate. Hettie screamed, "Oh no! It’s The Cat." Sheridan knew that Hettie claimed to be tormented by a young boy she simply called ‘The Cat’. He carried a sports bag with him all the time. Thus, Hettie called the boy Felix the Cat and sang the song to annoy him.

Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat
Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks

Hettie was determined to avoid her adversary, but he saw the girls in the tree and shouted, "Hey Pippy," mocking Hettie’s trademark pigtails. "Why are you hiding from me? You’re not scared, are you?"

Hettie motioned to Sheridan to be quiet, but Sheridan lost her footing and began to fall. The boy caught her and held her for a few moments. Hettie climbed down the tree as fast as she could. When she reached the bottom, she saw him holding Sheridan and said wryly, "Well, Felix, looks like you can catch after all. Maybe you will be a baseball player."

The boy and Sheridan were silent. Their eyes were glued to each other. He placed Sheridan on the ground and smiled, "Who’s your friend, Pip?" Hettie replied, "My name’s not Pip, and this is my very dear friend, Flora." Sheridan and Hettie smiled at each other. "Now if you don’t mind, we have some important matters to attend to." And with that, Hettie turned and walked away. Sheridan followed but turned around to take one last look at the boy who had saved her.

Sheridan sat down on the sofa and opened the letter from Hettie.

Dear Flora Belle,
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written to you. I was thrilled to get your letter finally. As you can see from the return address, I have moved to Savannah, Georgia (not too far from Gran in SC). It took a little while for your letter to reach me. I can’t believe you’ve moved back to Harmony after all your world traveling. I miss you terribly and can’t wait to see you.

I have some news. Better sit down, Shakes. I finally did it. I met a wonderful man, named Ed, and he has asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes. After all, he is the only man I have ever met who makes me laugh as hard as you do. And he keeps me in line, or at least he tries his best. He’s an attorney so he loves to argue (a real selling point with me).

You have to be at the wedding and bring The Cat with you. I read your last letter and was shocked to hear you met up with him again. And crashing into his car? That’s priceless. Hope he isn’t pulling your pigtails. As I remember, Felix liked catching you better. I’ll call you soon.

Love Always,
Dora Belle (soon to be Mrs. Breyer-Meyer – isn’t that awful?)

P.S. Thanks for the picture of you and Rex. He’s certainly not a dog these days. Does he get along with The Cat? Am enclosing a picture of me and Ed. Mark your calendar for the big day and don’t forget to bring The Cat.

Sheridan was in a state of shock.

A knock at the door brought Sheridan back into the present. She ran to get the door. It was Luis. "Hey, baby. What’s wrong? You’re so flushed," he said. Sheridan looked at Luis, examining his face to see if he could be the boy. She explained, "Just reading that letter from my friend. Come in. Sit down."

Sheridan continued looking at Luis. He asked, "What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?" Sheridan replied, "Did you ever watch that cartoon ‘Felix The Cat’?" Luis was confused, "Yeah. Why?" He was starting to wonder how Sheridan might know the significance of that name.

Sheridan showed him the picture she had just received and said, "My best friend, Hettie. She moved away many years ago." Luis was completely shocked. He stated, "Hettie Breyer, Pippy?" Sheridan grinned, "Yes. That’s right." Luis glanced at the letter and saw the greeting, ‘Dear Flora Belle’. Luis was shocked and asked, "Are you…I mean…were you?"

Sheridan answered, "Flora." Luis smiled, "I caught you that day." Sheridan whispered, "You did." Luis continued, "That was the first time I ever remember being interested in girls. You fell straight into my arms and took my breath away." Sheridan blushed, "I never forgot you."

Sheridan and Luis talked about Hettie while they ate dinner. Sheridan told him all about their adventures and how they got those silly nicknames that stuck with them through the years. Luis offered, "Dora and Flora. Leave it up to Tommy Breyer to come up with those. I’m sure it was Uncle Tommy who encouraged Hettie to call me Felix the Cat. He loved to come up with nicknames. He used to call my dad ‘Mick’ because he was Irish."

Sheridan froze and Luis noticed her pale face. He asked, "What’s wrong? Did I say something that upset you?" Sheridan turned to Luis and answered, "Uncle Mick? That was your dad?" Instantly, Luis knew that Sheridan had a connection to his father. She explained how Martin used to pick her up by the ears and how he always smelled of wintergreen. Tears were filling up Luis’s eyes. The stories reminded him of the man he loved. He was so glad that Sheridan knew his father. He was so glad that they could share their memories of him.

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