Mary Gets an Idea, Chapter 29, Phantom Love

Mary held the stack of brightly colored brochures in her hands. David’s smiling face gazed back at her. He was so handsome. His online photograph didn’t do him justice. Light brown hair fell over his forehead and his pale blue eyes sparkled.

Mary couldn’t believe he was interested in her. No one else had ever sustained a lengthy correspondence with her before David. Her other online friendships had fizzled out after a few weeks’ back and forth. But after two months, David had asked her to go steady with him. That didn’t seem like the actions of someone who didn’t like her.

The box from Brenda had arrived with the afternoon post stuffed with dozens of full-color brochures, monthly pledge forms, one-time donation forms and information on how to take credit-card pledges and donations. Mary flipped open the brochure and read details on David’s missionary work and facts about Peru.

Might as well get started. Mary mentally rolled up her sleeves and pulled up her desk chair. She fired up her computer and began to compile a list of family, friends, church members, and co-workers to ask about helping David reach his goal of forty-two thousand dollars in six months’ time. She added a list of local churches. Since Bringing Christ to Latin America didn’t have any denomination affiliation, they welcomed participation from any congregation. As Brenda put it, “If they want to give, we are delighted to take.” Which sounded a bit crass to Mary, but Brenda had come across as someone who lacked the niceties of conversation.

Who was she kidding? She had trouble going to the grocery store sometimes; she’d never be able to stand in front of a group and ask for donations. She knew David would also be fund raising, but his time would be limited since he had to take immersion classes in Spanish and Arawakan, one of the major language groups of the Amazonian tribes. She needed to do all she could to help him. Maybe she could host a radio-thon to raise funds. Sighing, she realized that would take too long to plan and execute. There must be some way she could come through for him.

Perhaps a cup of tea would help spark her creativity enough to help her come up with a solution for raising a lot of cash in a short time period. She rose and headed for the stairs. Passing through the living room, she paused to wipe a cobweb off a Dresden shepherdess on the mantel. She should dust more often, but she hated that part of housework. She glanced up at the Eakins painting and stared, struck by a sudden thought.

Her watch beeped, heralding the arrival of her chat time with David. She would definitely pursue that idea as soon as possible. It might just be the answer for which she was looking.

# # #

David cracked his knuckles to release the tension of the past five hours spent typing. He walked downstairs to the kitchen for a fresh cup of coffee. He had many chats to go before he could rest for the night.

Sylvia looked up from the sink when he entered the room. “Just put on some fresh coffee. Be ready in a minute.”

He joined her at the sink and rinsed the dregs from his cup. “Good. I could use some fresh fuel.”

“How’s it going?”

He shrugged. “You know, same old, same old.” He leaned against the counter and sighed with his hand over his heart. “I think I’m in love.”

Sylvia raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “You? In love? That’s rich. Aren’t I enough for you these days?”

David didn’t crack a smile. “I’m serious, Sylvia. Mary’s not like other women.”

Sylvia leaned closer to David, her hand on his arm. “Remember Daniella? Frances? Dolores? You’ll move on from this one, too. You always do.”

David looked down at her hand, which had begun to caress his bare forearm. He looked into her eyes and saw a spark of attraction leap to life. “I’m serious,” he repeated, not moving away from her tantalizing touch.

“You’re always serious about falling in love, David.” Sylvia purred in his ear, her lips touching his hairline. “That’s why you’re so good at your job.”

He moved away from her and opened the fridge, staring at the bare shelves. “At least women like Mary make my job a whole lot more pleasant.” He leaned down to snag a yogurt from the shelf. Sniffing it, he found the expiration date and made a face. “Isn’t there anything to eat that’s not rotting?”

Sylvia shook her head. “We need to order in more groceries. I’ll do that right now.” She checked the coffee maker. “Coffee’s ready.”

“At least that’s something.” He handed her his mug and watched her pour the steaming black liquid into the cup. “I think there’s Mary’s not telling me everything.”

“Really? Mousy little Mary? I thought you said her chats were pretty transparent.”

David added a splash of cream and stirred it into the coffee. “Usually that’s true, but tonight I got the distinct impression that she’s excited about something she didn’t want to share with me.” He tore open a packet of Splenda and shook it over his cup.

“Didn’t you say there’s some childhood friend living in an apartment on her property?”

“That’s what worries me. He’s much too close for comfort. I don’t need Mary’s attention divided at this crucial juncture.”

“Maybe it’s a good sign, that she’s thought of you-know-what.” Sylvia paused in the doorway, her hand cupping her mug.

“Possibly. She seemed somewhat distracted, which can mean several things.”

“Maybe she’s just tired.”

“Maybe we to find out all we can about who’s renting her apartment and run a background check.” Their eyes met. “I know it might be overkill, but I think we need to know who my competition is.”

Sylvia nodded. “I’ll submit the request this afternoon, right after I order some groceries.”

David watched her leave, his mind on Mary. Hopefully, there was nothing to worry about, but he would definitely sleep better once he knew all there was to know about Jared.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.

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