Diary Excerpts ~ Rebecca L. Fenton
December 2003

by TJ

RATING – G… for now

PAIRING – Eventually… Josiah/OFC


SERIES – Diary Excerpts ~ Rebecca L. Fenton

PREVIOUS STORIES – November comes before December. It started there…

SUMMARY – Josiah Sanchez has a new lady on his arm. She's telling life from her point of view.


DISCLAIMER – If only wishes did come true… Reality is harsh

John Watson and CBS own The Magnificent Seven and all of its characters.
I seek, nor shall receive, profit from this narrative.

I claim All Original Characters as my own.
Please, DO NOT use them without my express permission.

Some of the 'Other Ladies' mentioned here,
belonged to other members of a quiet little group that once was.


WRITER’S NOTES – There used to be a quiet little list where some of us played. We no longer write together, but I just might be persuaded to keep Rebecca telling her story.

Remember, here, in her diary, she's recorded her thoughts.

Shhhhhhhh… we won't tell her we're reading…

A great big thank you to Antoinette, who is always too generous with her time, and gives me a lot of things to think about. Thank you also, to Marnie… you straightened me out on a few things, lady. I really appreciate your touch.



Diary Excerpts ~

Rebecca L. Fenton ~

December 2003

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

December 13th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, Old Friend,

Too early on a Saturday morning for me to be doing this, but goodness gracious me! Just look how long it's been since I've written in your pages… two whole weeks almost.

I'm afraid I'll have to offer up my cold as excuse for some of the time missed. As for the rest… well, all right, I was just so busy…

Isn't this time of year just the best!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I held the organizing meeting for the Children's Hospital Charity Fundraiser. I'm so glad I got it done before my cold set in. I'll say it was a cold, but maybe there was a touch of flu in there, too.

The sign-up sheets for selling the raffle tickets were distributed to all the volunteers and it was organized how they would be allotted throughout the city. It was a lot of work but all of the tickets were prepared and sent on their way.

The rest, as they say, is history…

I've been receiving them back daily… and trying not to get backlogged again. Yet, it brings a smile to my face when I see the full books of tickets sold and the appropriate legal tender exchanged for the correct number of chances. It's a lot of work, but I'm very glad it's going so well. There is only one week left before the draw date and over three-quarters of the tickets have been sold already. I'm so thankful for the generosity of strangers sometimes. The Children's Hospital is a wonderful charity and I'm happy to report that it seems to bring out the best in people.

Evie has been over a few times to help me unstaple and deposit the tickets in the big drum. Checking the money to the stub is the easy part really, and the bank has sent the security van every day to pick up the money as I arranged. It's kept me busy, that's for sure.

Evelyn was very sneaky last week. When we went to empty the collection boxes at the Federal Building, Orin and Josiah were waiting for us. Lunch was on them. A matter which Evie and I did not dispute.

I think it was about that time that I started to take sick. Mr. Sanchez noticed and by the following evening, he insisted on coming out to the house to take care of me.

Well! I'm afraid I wasn't very patient with him when he ignored my 'not necessary' and showed up at my door.

I was NOT dressed for company… heavens, I wasn't dressed at all.

I felt rather uncomfortable having him in the house and me in my nightclothes and housecoat. I couldn't help it though… As I watched that rather 'persistent' man move around my kitchen preparing homemade soup, I was reminded of why it is that I let him in in the first place.

Josiah took me into the living room and settled my weary body into the reclining chair. Bundling a large blanket around me, he proceeded to set the chair back in its extended position and make a rather nice little fire.

I must admit… somewhere in the warmth of the scene I drifted off. I was woken some time later by a gentle tug at my elbow. As my eyes slowly opened, I was greeted by the sparkle in Josiah's deep blue pools.

Have I mentioned before that this man has a fantastic smile? It made coming back into the world even more of a pleasant task. Josiah is a very handsome man with many wonderful attributes. I certainly wasn't thinking about his intricacies at the time, old friend… but thinking now… well, let's just say that I'm more than a little interested in his… personality... yes, that's it…

So… where was I?

Oh, yes… sick little puppy and a 'big dog' for company…

I'm smiling…

I really must control my imagination when I write within your pages, my friend.

Note to self: Save it for the book, girl!!!

I managed to consume the most delicious bowl of vegetable soup, at Josiah's constant urging, I might add. Handing off the tray, I thanked him for his care and concern and tried to insist that he needed to go. After all, it was Thursday and he had work in the morning.

Mr. Sanchez is stubborn. He laid another piece of wood on the flames and sat on the floor at my feet. I was quite shocked, I assure you. We spoke on and off for a while and then I must have drifted off again.

The very next thing I remember was waking up in my bed the following morning. Very late morning, I might add…

Lying there bundled under my covers, it took a few minutes for my head to clear. When my eyes were able to focus too, I found my bedside table occupied with a half-filled pitcher of orange juice, a glass, a serviette, a small package of shortbread biscuits and a soup thermos full of Josiah's homemade offering.

Oh, yes… and a note. A 'don't get out of bed', 'I'll be back around five', 'here's my number incase you need it', 'SLEEP!!!', oh, and 'I like the teddy bears on your pajamas' note.

Needless to say, we had words when Josiah arrived that evening.

I did as I was instructed and stayed in bed most of the day. Honestly, I don't think I could have done anything else. Awaking to a cool hand on my forehead, I was greeted with those beautiful eyes for the second time in twenty-four hours.

I could get used to that!

Oh dear… look what I just wrote. And I can't even blame it on a fever either. Whatever am I going to do about these loose lips of mine?

Pray they don't open when Mr. Sanchez is around, I would hope…


Oh, really! My mind these days…

So… where was I?

Oh yes… to make a long story short, Josiah appeared at my house that evening with an overnight bag, a big heart, and a gorgeous smile. He spent all of last weekend playing nursemaid, and I… I'm sorry to say, enjoyed every minute of it.

I really must tell him sometime…

It's been a very long time since a man took care of me, old friend. I don’t get sick that often, and when I do, I hide it. If Josiah hadn't been here on Thursday, I probably would have done just that. But instead, I let him see me at my worst… and he's still here.

I think I'm beginning to fall for this man…

Oh dear… sidetracked again…

I was on the mend and Mr. Sanchez returned to work on Monday, with only one reassuring telephone call all day. By the evening, I was nearing good health enough to confirm my plans with Mrs. Silverman. I had feared that my illness would prevent me from having her and Johnny over on Wednesday. Thank goodness, that was not the case.

I'm afraid I catered the meal in, explaining my illness and apologizing. I think both Rachel and Johnny forgot about my the dinner completely when I presented him with next year's tuition… a parting gift, and simple token of my affection for Johnny and admiration for his mother.

Rachel Silverman is a brave woman. Raising her son alone after her husband left has not been easy. Johnny is a wonderful young man and I will miss him dearly. I wouldn't hear their words of non-acceptance, or of thanks. I simply sent them on their way with my love and best wishes.

I will miss them!

Thursday I managed to finally catch up on the enormous backlog of tickets that had accumulated. Evie was there at my side. I can always count on her when I'm behind… besides; she did talk me into chairing this charity…

I think they call that 'benevolent blackmail', don't they?

We were also able to go over the master list and start comparing the stubs that we have, against the tickets still outstanding… it was then that I realized that I haven't collected the booklets I handed out after Thanksgiving. Sherri O'Brien, Alicia Harrison, Rain Jackson, and Erin Spencer all took one book each to sell. I gave Mellow two booklets, but she asked me for one more a few days later, saying that Miss Kelly had brought both books and she wanted to feel like she could sell one on her own.

I must admit, Lynn's generosity is appreciated immensely, but I can see Mellow's point. She's a hardworking young lady and I've already grown quite attached to her. Josiah mentioned that she was asking after me last weekend while he was here. Such thoughtfulness... Johnny picked his replacement very well.

I sent out a few e-mails on Friday morning, asking the ladies for convenient times to meet up with them to make the appropriate collections. I have most of it arranged and will do that next week.

The draw date is Sunday, the 21st

I WILL get this all done by then…

Mr. Sanchez surprised me with a dinner and entertainment suggestion on Friday afternoon. It appears that he had arranged with Mr. Larabee and Mr. Dunne for a casual 'date', of sorts. I must admit, I was unsure of dining at a 'bar', but Josiah explained the 'atmosphere' of their favorite establishment and I was most intrigued. 'The Saloon' is done in western style, and, given the 'cowboy' persona that Team Seven seems to adopt at times, I can understand why they call it their favorite 'hang out'.

Quite excited by the prospect of joining Mr. Sanchez on his 'turf', I dug through my cupboard in search of the appropriate attire… Showering, I changed into a pair of Jeans I haven't worn in years and a snug fitting western blouse. I left my hair down and went 'casual'…

Standing in front of my mirror, I hardly recognized myself. Isn't that awful? Perhaps I've become stuffy in my old age. Letting my 'widow status' and 'comfortable lifestyle' take away all the fun I could be having…

I recall a certain conversation I had with Mr. Larabee several weeks ago… Perhaps it's time for me to listen to my own advice, old friend…

Well, at least I did on Friday night. Mr. Sanchez arrived and I do believe he was shocked at my attire. I had to hide my grin. He was speechless and I was amused. Honestly, it felt very good to have him look at me that way.

When we arrived at 'The Saloon' Josiah was very attentive. Mr. Larabee arrived with Miss Kelly and Mellow and her new friend, Mr. Dunne came in shortly after that.

It appears that the owner of the establishment, Miss Inez Recillos has a 'soft spot' for Team Seven. She provided a wonderful meal for the six of us to enjoy and reserved a pool table for us after dinner. She's a very lively lady. It appears that all of Josiah's friends have wonderful personalities. I find myself drawn into their company.

Maybe I've been lonely for company… lively, exciting company…

The games of pool are a good example. It's been quite a while since I've engaged in this lively pursuits. Mr. Sanchez took some time to reacquaint me with the correct positions and angles. During our turns at the pool table, his arm rarely left my waist. I'm not exactly sure if he was 'competing' with Mr. Larabee in their impromptu game of 'get closer' to their lady, but I admit to liking it very much.

I have to say though; Chris seems to be quite taken with Miss Kelly. I'm very happy for them.

Mellow and JD appeared to be enjoying one another's company as well. The evening was going quite well until a little mishap occurred.

If I understand it correctly, Mellow interrupted a mugging during the week. Her vehicle is no longer functional and she's been taking the bus everywhere. I felt rather bad that I had not noticed. If my illness had not kept me in bed, I'm sure I would have…

This 'mugging' took place near a bus stop and fortunately, Mellow was able to assist. Two police officers were checking on the bar and stopped to speak with Mr. Larabee, as they are friends. Although they wished to speak to Mellow further on her statement issue, they were telling Chris out of their concern for her well being.

The silence was very uncomfortable when the officers left. Poor Mellow… I'm sure she was quite embarrassed as each of her friends tried to find something to say, or worse… said nothing at all. I'm afraid she was looking to her best friend for support and all Lynn could manage to do was chastise.

When Mellow retreated to the ladies' room, Miss Kelly followed and then returned. I waited several minutes and then decided I needed to retrieve my young friend from her self-imposed exile.

I did my best to inform Mellow of the feelings that people have for her. She's an extremely well liked young lady. Her personality just draws a family attitude. It doesn't take very long at all to get to know her and it's only natural that we become protective of those that we know and care for. Lynn has known her longer than the rest of us, so therefore, her concern was compounded exponentially. Mellow seemed to understand, although, still plotting revenge, as it were… We shared a quiet laugh at her insistence on 'getting Lynn back'. I hope I was successful in conveying my feelings to Mellow. She is such a dear thing…

Josiah and I left shortly after that. Mr. Sanchez had heard a snowfall warning on the radio and decided it was time for us to leave. I agreed and we said our good-byes.

The drive home was pleasant. We took our time as the snow had already blanketed the area. As he walked me to the veranda, I knew that I didn't want Josiah to leave. I invited him to join me and he accepted.

Josiah gathered some blankets while I prepared some 'Polar Bears'. When I joined him on the porch swing, he snuggled us up warmly in the blankets, and I handed him his mug. Josiah was intrigued at the taste and I had to laugh when the whipped cream stuck to his lip. My fingers removed the cream and… and well, we shared another kiss. It just happened… me wiping away the soft pillows of white and Josiah leaning into my touch.

We snuggled after that… sitting bundled in the blankets, swinging gently and watching the snow as it settled to the cool earth. The Irish Cream and Peppermint Schnapps in the Hot Chocolate made it go down rather smoothly.

I do believe Mr. Sanchez enjoyed his 'Polar Bear', too…

He didn't go home last evening, old friend.

No, we didn't do anything that we shouldn't have. Although, it crossed our minds, I know.

We went inside after a while and sat by the fire… I insisted that he stay over because of the drinking and the snow. Josiah's hands roamed rather innocently as we talked quietly, and cuddled… yet, when his fingers touched my breast… still fully clothed…

I admit, my shyness came spilling out. It seems so funny to admit that I wasn't ready to welcome him to my bed. I suppose that's a good thing about being mature adults. We were able to talk about it. I admitted to Josiah that I had many growing feelings for him. I told him it had been some time and that I found myself 'thinking' about him more and more often… that my thoughts and feelings were naturally progressing to a consummate conclusion…

It would appear that Mr. Sanchez shares the attraction that I feel for him. He also stated, quite calmly and affectionately, that he wouldn't dare rush into anything… that just holding me was enough. Feeling my heartbeat next to him was contentment in his mind…

Old Friend… We slept together, bundled by the fireplace, in a scene that I can only describe as magical. We settled on the pillows and Josiah kissed me very passionately. His mystical voice said good night and his beautiful eyes sparkled as he set his ear to my chest… saying that 'he would listen to me sleep'.

I held him in my arms and drifted away… content in my newfound closeness.

Josiah and I enjoyed breakfast this morning before he left. The first of many, I hope…

Only time will tell…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

December 14th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, Old Friend,

Yes, I know… nothing for two weeks and then two entries in two days.

But, well… it's Sunday afternoon and Mr. Sanchez has just left… again.

I've always come to you when I need to work things out. Somehow, when I write my thoughts down, they become clearer… Perhaps that's why I'm a writer…

Perhaps this is the best way for me to think…

I ended my last entry on Saturday morning… Saturday afternoon I was very happy to see Mellow and Mr. Dunne pull into the drive. She was proud and 'pleased as punch' to display her new vehicle. A silver, four door, Toyota Prius, I believe she called it. Curtsey of Miss Kelly, and a fitting Christmas gift from one who can, to one who needs to accept.

Although, given her enthusiasm for the car, I don't think Mellow is in any further danger of sending it back from whence it came…

Mr. Dunne had accompanied Mellow so that she could complete her tasks quicker. They had plans!

I was also pleased to see that Brutus and Rusty have finally accepted that Johnny will no longer be around. Seeing Mellow arrive, they quickly retrieved their rubber balls and set them down for her to throw. Mr. Dunne seemed amused, yet wasn't at all impressed that the hounds chose to quietly growl at him when he approached Mellow. I let her explain that they are guard dogs, as well as pets. Besides, the young man is safe whilst in Mellow's company… and for more than one reason, I don't think he'd leave her side.

Allowing the young people to see to their tasks , I retreated to the house and discovered an e-mail from Veronica. She and Richard have decided to host an open house on the 27th and they really want me to attend… and bring 'the man'. Conker is such a wonderful sister-in-law. She swears up and down that I've changed so much in the past six weeks and desperately wants to meet the person responsible.

It's a strange idea really… introducing Josiah to Matthew's family. Yet, I suppose it's one of life's ironies, when your husband leaves before his time… before you want him to…

If it weren't for Veronica, I don't know if I could have gotten this far, in this life without her brother…

I love her so much…

And I WILL introduce Veronica to Mr. Sanchez at her open house. He's already been notified on the details…

We spent another wonderful evening together on Saturday. He returned from the clinic just after six o'clock, Nathan and Rain Jackson were close behind. I had the roast chicken dinner all ready and we sat down to enjoy the meal without incident. The food was lovely, the wine perfect, and the company very pleasant. Rain has a wonderful sense of humor and was quite interested in the activities I host at my home. We discussed the possibility of her small group accompanying the hospice gatherings when they begin again in the spring. She thinks her 'children' would enjoy the picnicking and the animals. She also likes the idea of the swimming lessons I sponsor, noting that several of the children from the Purgatory area don't have access to instruction.

I find it absolutely wonderful how charity causes can bring people together. I enjoyed talking with Rain while Nathan and Josiah consumed their desserts and then cleared the table. We could hear them loading the dishwasher, she, remarking humorously at how, for a man with such skilled hands, Nathan was 'lousy with china'.

Mr. Jackson treated us over coffee at just how skilled his hands are though. Seating himself at the piano, he tapped away for almost an hour. Beautiful music, I must say.

The atmosphere that Nathan set was lovely. He and Rain headed home shortly after his final recitation… to enjoy their privacy, no doubt. It was a lovely evening, from beginning to end. An excuse to collect tickets and money, but a wonderful way for us to get to know each other, as well.

Josiah continued the atmosphere for us, too. Setting the stereo on low, he swept me into his arms and we danced several slow numbers. Finally settling to the sofa, we kissed, finished off the wine, and kissed some more.

It was hard for me to go to bed alone that night. I stood at my door and watched as he smiled at me from down the hallway. He has such a wonderful smile… it truly lights up his whole face and makes his blue eyes sparkle like sapphires. I think he was waiting to see if I would invite him to my room instead of the guest bedroom…

A part of me wanted to… yet; some small portion of me still resists. Surely, I can't be nervous of the prospect of sleeping with a man. Granted, it's been over three years, and, well, so David was… all right as a lover. Nothing like Matthew, mind you, but I welcomed his touch for all that time.


I can't help but wonder…

I welcomed his touch… Did I?

I think about it now and I can't help but wonder if I truly did give him a chance… Or did I spend our time together… comparing him to Matthew…

Matthew was my first… And my only true love. David was…

He was so different.

Perhaps we truly were those… 'Ships that pass in the night'. I, his port in the storm… He certainly was mine, in some respects… many respects…


Oh… no, I don't regret my relationship with David… not for one minute. When it was right, it was very good. When it was time to more on… well, we said our good-byes amicably.

And yet…

Well, no matter…

Watching Mr. Sanchez watching me, I…

Chickened out…

No other words for it, old friend. I had him within my grasp and I could have taken him… I know, beyond any doubt, that had I raised my hand in invitation, Josiah would have been at my side instantly.

His eyes told me that!

His soul whispered to mine in the darkness as I lowered my head, opened my door, and slipped inside.

I just need a little more time.

I know Josiah will give me that time…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

December 15th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, Old Friend,

Good heavens, I think this is going to be an interesting week! All in preparation for Sunday, as well. I certainly hope I've thought of everything…

I enjoyed a quiet evening on yesterday… coming to some semblance of 'terms' concerning Mr. Sanchez, writing a little more on my poor neglected book and most importantly, making final preparation for the raffle drawing in six days.

I'm so very glad that Josiah and I are able to discuss our feeling openly, or this would certainly be more difficult. He's a wonderful man and more than willing to curb his desires… now, if only I can control mine…

As for the novel, I'll get back to it once all of this commotion with the Children's Hospital Charity is over with. It's been an enjoyable ride, and I've met many interesting and fun people along the way, but I'm certain I won't miss the confusion and general mayhem when everything is concluded. This week is the culmination of all that work and will be the epitome of pandemonium; I'm sure…

I'll survive…

This morning I met with the 'Fun and Games' company president. I'll be renting the equipment for the carnival from them, and hiring their skilled employees, too, of course. We want to make sure that the children, both patients and visitors, are kept safe whilst they enjoy their afternoon of fun. The company has been most gracious with their pricing. After all, it's all for charity and they support the cause most agreeably. I explained the general ideas that the committee has decided on, and Mr. Zuest and his staff countered with everything they can supply. I'm very satisfied with what they can do for us.

I met Evie for lunch and afterwards we drove out to the industrial complex to meet with Horatio and Henrietta Seanix. I wanted to visit the warehouse because it's large enough to display all of the 'Bouncy Castle' varieties that the Seanix Company offers.

To be honest, when Evie told me about the 'blow-up' building that her daughter-in-law, Mary, hired for Billy's birthday last year… Well, I didn't know what to think. I know their grandson is precious to Evie and Orin, but I thought that their descriptions of how much fun the children had might have been slightly exaggerated. However, having seen the 'Castle' in action, I can honestly say that I think the children will have a wonderful time at the carnival.

All of the structures are powered by large exhaust generators which 'blow up' the over-sized construction and keep them inflated. They are all made of durable, yet soft rubber, and have appropriate netting for the children's safety, where necessary. I have hired the standard 'Castle' (which actually looks like a giant English castle from a distance), the 'Slip and Slide Mountain' and the 'Launch Bay'. The children can bounce around inside the 'Castle', climb up the twenty-five foot giant rubber stairs of the 'Mountain' and slide down the giant slippery cushioned face or, put on a special 'Velcro' suit and launch themselves at a wall made of the transposed Velcro material. Each will have a particular appeal to different age groups, I hope…

Along with the structures, the Seanix Company supplies the large tents and safety equipment that will be required to set them up in the parking lot. I've also stipulated that the tents be heated for comfort and that the walkways to and from each tent, as well as the main building, should be enclosed from any harsh weather that may arrive that day. All materials and qualified operators were successfully contracted for Sunday and I breathed a sigh of relief as we left, thanking Evelyn for her wonderful idea.

I dropped Evie at the Federal Building late in the day and had a brief moment with Josiah as we crossed paths. I surprised myself. I swear my heart skipped a beat when I heard his wonderful voice call my name. We chatted pleasantly, confirming our plans for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. He leaned in through the window of my truck and kissed me, and I surprised myself again. I actually kissed him back, not caring about whom might see my display of affection. I'm not one for drawing attention in public, and I wondered afterwards where my disregard had come from.

As my time was running short and darkness had already set in, I stopped by my favorite deli and had them prepare 'my usual'. The 'submarine sandwich' is always far too much for me to eat, but I can't resist the rich blend of meats, cheeses, and assorted vegetables that Hector always puts in it. His 'secret' spread is the best part though, and I've tried many times to get him to tell me what he uses for his concoction. To no avail, I might add. The man is just plain mean, but still, a connoisseur of all things 'deli'…

I consumed my 'dinner' as I fought my way through 'rush hour' traffic. I normally avoid being on the road at that time of day, and what with the snow… well, let's just say that it was a slow drive. I did make it to my destination on time though and, finding a parking space, I ventured into the small complex.

I was quite surprised to see that the building had call buttons at the entrance, secured on the outside beyond the gated foyer. It's a small enough building that I hadn't expected entrance security… nice to see. I also didn't expect to find the top floor marked as 'CDC'. I've heard Josiah refer to his colleague's dwelling as that and thought it quiet amusing. I must admit, I didn't think he was serious. Having the 'Center for Disease Control', as a home, isn't something I desire…

A rather gruff voice answered my summons with a non-committed 'yeah!' and I announced myself, laughing quietly as a young woman's voice could be heard in the background apparently telling Buck off. Amused at the antics, I took to the stairs after being 'buzzed in' and climbed to the fourth floor, wondering what I could expect.

I have to say… the uppermost floor of the building has been converted into one large 'loft' style apartment and it was surprisingly inviting, and clean, given its name. Miss Harrison met me at the door and Mr. Wilmington graced my hand with a kiss, yet again. I don't think Alicia approved of Buck's behavior but I find him very friendly in a warm, almost 'sweet' way. He asked several questions about how 'things' were 'going' and how 'things' were 'with Josiah'. Were we 'getting along'. Miss Harrison kept 'shushing' him, telling Buck to mind his own business.

Through the conversation, we managed to have tea and coffee and some delicious Christmas treats. Alicia is quite the accomplished baker, although she 'chalked it up' to 'the boredom of being under house arrest'. With a congenial smile, she explained that she was having difficulties with a previous acquaintance. Mr. Wilmington lovingly set his arm around Alicia's shoulders and announced that she was at 'his place' so he could 'keep her safe'.

They are a very suited couple, I must say. They appear to get along wonderfully.

Indicating that I had other tickets to retrieve that evening, I watched as Miss Harrison sent Buck to 'find' the tickets and money he'd 'hidden'. He met us at the door and delivered the funds and stubs that I came to collect. Alicia reminded me about her Christmas Eve gathering and I quickly conveyed the details of the 'Carnival' at the hospital on Sunday, as well as the raffle draw. Declining Mr. Wilmington's offer of an escort to my Durango, I thanked them for their time in selling the tickets and, adding my appreciation of the wonderful confections, I departed, smiling at a most enjoyable visit.

My drive to Mellow's apartment was a little more difficult. I'm afraid I'm not that familiar with that part of Denver and I got lost.

Finally locating the correct address, I climbed the stairs and was about to knock when Mellow answered the door, a small Calico cat in hand. She smiled exuberantly and ushered me in from the cold. Directing me to the sofa, she fussed in the small adjoining kitchen for a few moments while her cat and I became aquatinted. I don't think the feline appreciated the smell of canine, but she stayed within petting distance after I initially stroked her ears.

Returning with some wonderfully aromatic herbal tea, Mellow introduced me formally to 'Spock'. She set some homemade cookies on the table, noting that they were still fresh, she having prepared them with her mother the day before. Apparently, she tries to spend most Sunday's with her parents, when not too involved with her studies. She also made mention that her grandmother is now in residence after a mishap and she loves the idea of having 'Grams' here. I'm very pleased to hear of Mellow's closeness with her family.

It was at this point that Miss Stone grew quiet. She slowly expressed her thankfulness for the opportunity to earn extra money at 'my place' and then looked at me rather strangely. I felt a rather unusual connection with Mellow at that point, telling her to say what she need to.

She confidently asked if I could offer her any advice.

I was a little taken aback, I must say. I suggested that perhaps Miss Kelly would be a better source of information; especially given the 'colorful love bites' I could easily see on her neck. I asked if she had encountered Mr. Dunne of late and Mellow could only nod shyly. She said that she honestly wanted to know what an 'older, more experienced woman' could say to a young lady who was looking for words of wisdom.

I laughed quietly, thinking about my answer for a moment and deciding to tell her the truth. I informed Mellow that I really wasn't in a position to offer specific advice… considering that the 'older, more experienced woman' was currently not in an intimate relationship.

I wasn't about to tell her that I was currently contemplating bedding one of Team Seven, myself. Nor was I about to tell her that it had been more than three years since I'd had the pleasure...

In a moment I don't think she quite expected, Mellow completely opened up to me. She mentioned that her last relationship had ended none too pleasantly and that she'd recently 'tested', with clean results.

I took Mellow's honesty to heart, relating how different relationships can be. I told her how some can come on strong and fade fast, whilst others build slowly and stay strong for a very long time.

She seemed to think on that for a while and then her expression became quite curious. She asked a straightforward question… wondering if I'd ever been married.

After a brief pause, I answered her as honestly as I felt appropriate… telling her of Matthew, our eleven years together, and his untimely death. I also told her that if he hadn't 'gone away', I had no doubt that we'd still be together.

I mentioned that this would have been our twenty-fourth year of marriage and that seemed to put Mellow into deep thought. She commented mystically about her only being twenty-three and that was a big 'wow'!

I admit that my mind wandered for a minute… as I considered the 'facts'… and Matthew…

Mellow's next question brought me back to reality. She looked quite knowledgeable as she asked if that's what I meant by a relationship 'building slow and staying strong'.

I confess. I was astounded at Mellow's insight at that point. I admitted that Matthew was my first love... my first lover, too. I told her that I probably wasn't as free then, as some young women are now. I told her that it didn't really matter though, to just remember one thing. Holding my hand over my heart, I told her to 'feel it there'. 'If it felt right in there... then it was right'.

I took the opportunity to get up at that point; feeling slightly embarrassed at my 'emotional response'. Mellow's apartment is small but suited for her needs. She keeps it tidy and I told her of my observation.

My comment made her laugh. She stated that 'dust' and her 'computer' don't mix.

She has quite an extensive computer array and explained that she 'dabbles'.

I didn't pursue the topic, sensing that she rather I not.

I chose, instead, to comment on the numerous small figurines displayed on different components of the electronics. Mellow informed me that they were various goddess representations, and mythology figures, naming two as the 'Willendorf Venus', and the 'Snake Goddess of the Minoans'.

The ideologies that Mellow talked of were quite astounding. She's a very interesting and complex young lady. The more I find out about her, the more I like my young friend.

As the visit drew to a close, Mellow went to her bedroom to retrieve the $300.00 and the ticket booklets. As I tucked them into my purse, she murmured several 'Umm's' and I smiled, telling her to 'just ask'.

And she did… asking plainly if I thought it would be okay if she called me by my first name. She quickly cited about our recent 'triple date' and now my visit to her home as her reasons.

Honestly, I hadn't given it much thought, but her request made perfect sense, given our proximity to one another... not to mention the fact that 'our men' are more than friends... I informed her that I thought it would be more than acceptable. I told her I liked the idea very much.

Concluding my visit with a warm and welcomed hug, Mellow thanked me for taking the time to talk to her. She watched from her balcony as I got into my car and I watched her from there to make sure she was safely inside.

This day ended on an inviting note, my friend. Mellow Stone has officially become more than someone I employ… she's now officially someone I watch over…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

December 20th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, Old Friend,

Excuse me while I take a deep breath. The last five days have been somewhat busy and I think I need that breather…

Tuesday was a repeat of Monday. An e-mail from Miss O'Brien, first thing in the morning, suggested that Josiah and I join her and Ezra for a light supper while we were over collecting the money and ticket stubs for the raffle. I sent a quick reply, indicating that we would love to.

After informing Mr. Sanchez of that fact, I drove across town to meet with the 'Crafts and Novelties' owner, Mr. Wilks. This company will be supplying all of the little arts and crafts for the children to construct during the carnival. Everything from the glue and sparkles to face paints and clown costumes. The children will have a variety of things to 'make'… everything from small Christmas cards to necklaces. Finger painting for the little ones and small statuettes for the older children made out of modeling clay. Mr. Wilks and his staff have been extremely helpful with all of their ideas. The last thing I need to do for these activities is confirm my volunteers to be the 'carnival clowns'…

My next stop was quick. I went back to see Mr. Zuest from 'Fun and Games'. He'd shown me something yesterday that intrigued me. A few quick telephone calls to committee members told me of their enthusiasm and then I spoke with Mr. Sanchez to ask for his help. He agreed to my plan, volunteering Mr. Jackson as well. I do hope that will be alright… I also hope that Josiah informed Nathan that he was being volunteered for 'Dunk Tank' duty. Perhaps I can arrange a few more volunteers so that no one person is spending too long being wet.

After lunch I called over to the Seanix Company and ordered a larger tent for the 'Bouncy Castle'. I explained about the 'dunk tank' and Mr. Seanix agreed to provide a rectangular shaped canopy, one activity at either end. I think that will work out nicely.

Most of the arrangements made, I took a few hours to do some shopping. I wandered the downtown streets, stopping in to various outlets and picking up a few things here and there. I have to admit, I'm at a loss as to what I should pick up for a certain gentleman.

Resting my feet at a local confectionery, I considered my dilemma carefully and concluded that I really do need to see Josiah's home. I will have to be decidedly sneaky in getting an invite since he's become so comfortable at the farm.

Not that this is a bad thing, mind you… It will just require a little more deception on my part… I wonder if I'm still up to this type of challenge?

I made a dash for home and deposited my parcels just in time. The intercom sounded and I gathered my coat, scarf and mittens while Josiah called the dogs. I'm so glad that Brutus and Rusty are now responding to Mr. Sanchez… not to mention that they no longer growl when he puts his arms around me…

Sherri made a wonderful dinner. I delighted in the smell of their home as Ezra waved us in. The fresh baked bread smelled absolutely wonderful and went perfectly with a homemade vegetable soup that rivals Josiah's. Such a perfect meal for a cold winter's day! I received several nudges as Josiah smiled his way through three thick slices of the 'still warm' loaf. He kept reminding me about it on the way home, too. Very subtle is my Josiah…

Miss O'Brien and I chatted as we cleaned up. She was very complimentary as I filled her in on the details of the upcoming carnival. I remember when Evelyn asked me to chair the Children's Hospital Charity, but I failed to make the connection until Sherri mentioned that she was the one who'd brought it to Evie because she, unfortunately, didn't have the necessary time available. I joked with her about my whole week being one 'disaster' after another and it being all her fault! Her reply informed me that if this was how I handled a 'disaster' then she wanted to be around when something really 'catastrophic' happened!

Our laughing brought the men with coffee cups to refill. Their offer to help with the dishes came secondary, of course!

Finishing with the 'chores', Sherri retrieved the ticket stubs and money and we visited for a while longer discussing the carnival again. Apparently Ezra does magic, and would very much like to donate his time at the event. I loved the idea, and knowing the perfect place for his 'show' to be performed, we set about making mutually agreeable arrangements. Sherri, too, wanted to help and professed her abilities at face painting. I was glad to hear this and welcomed her offer as well. Now I have enough people to operate that booth. I hate to have someone stuck in one place without the opportunity to enjoy the event.

All details gathered, I informed them that I would send an e-mail later in the week, confirming schedules for Sunday. Josiah and I collected the dogs and departed, very happy and content, I might add.

The whole evening was most enjoyable and I was glad to get to know Sherri a little better. She's suggested that we get together when the weather warms again. We both have horses and our dogs not only get along together, but both sets behave well with our mounts. The whole idea sounds most enjoyable and I will most definitely pursue it come spring.

Mr. Sanchez didn't stay when we arrived home. It was beginning to snow again and while I wished he could, I suggested he not.

Wednesday was a much slower day, thank goodness! I e-mailed Miss Spencer to confirm that she and Mr. Tanner would be dropping by later in the day. I decided I'd make some fresh apple pies to go with the coffee and tea I planned to serve. Venturing to the cellar, I brought up enough fruit for four pies and then went back to collect several bottles of wine that I store there as well. I'm sure the Chardonnay's and Bordeaux's will be used over the coming weeks.

I was able to pop the pies in the oven just before noon. Setting the timer, I took my sandwich to the study and relaxed a while, reading over the last few pages of this book. It's a good thing I don't have a deadline on this one… I swear, this novel may take record time to accomplish…

I wasted away the afternoon wrapping presents and trying to come up with more ideas. With everything in my brain so completely dedicated to the Children's Hospital Charity… Honestly, I can't think of much else. I will have to kick-start my gray matter eventually.

Before it's too late, I hope…

Mr. Sanchez arrived after work and I had dinner waiting. It felt rather strange having a man to cook for when he comes home from work… I do, however, think I could get used to it again…

Josiah devoured the beef stew and dumplings I served. He also took the opportunity to tell me how nice some fresh baked bread would have gone with the meal… over and over again, I might add.

That man!

We sat cuddled by the fire until Erin and Vin arrived shortly before seven. Miss Spencer seemed quite reserved when they first came in. She reminded me of myself at Thanksgiving. I stuck pretty close to Josiah until Evie dragged me out to the ladies. Erin clung shyly to her man as we stood looking out the patio window. She seemed curious about all the paths visible through the window and I explained how they led out to the picnic and pool area. After that, they meandered through my flower gardens and small orchard to the barnyard, its animals, and the riding arena, before hitting open fields.

I think Miss Spencer was intrigued with the idea of strolling along the wandering paths… perhaps with a certain young man…

I confess, I can't wait for spring either…

Somewhat more relaxed, Erin told me she'd heard about my 'petting zoo' from Mellow and quite to my surprise, volunteered her time when we begin that activity again. I was happy to accept…

I also offered a tour of my home and property when things settle down. She accepted with a smile.

At my suggestion of coffee, tea, and homemade deep-dish apple pie, Mr. Tanner appeared rather enthusiastic. Leaving Miss Spencer with Josiah, he followed me into the kitchen, apparently eager to help…

The 'help' and the way Vin devoured his first slice leads me to believe that this young man favors the dessert I served. I was pleased to offer seconds and Josiah quickly finished off his slice so he could partake as well. It's very nice to see men with good appetites, even if Miss Spencer seemed slightly embarrassed…

Erin gave me the ticket stubs and money they had collected and I gave them a quick run-down of events for Sunday. They assured me they would be able to make it and I was very pleased, both for their help with the raffle and that they would be able to attend the carnival.

We spent some time discussing charities and Mr. Tanner seemed happy to hear about my work with the clinic in Purgatory. I offered to take any suggestions Vin would care to send my way and he volunteered to help out anytime I need assistance with the children.

As with Sherri and Ezra, I'm amazed at the wonderful people who are involved in such worthwhile and important charities. Erin and Vin are clearly, no exception, and very giving of their time.

As they prepared to leave, I offered a pie for their further enjoyment, stating I'd 'made too many'. Before Miss Spencer could say a word, Mr. Tanner presented a brilliant grin. His eyes sparkled as I went to collected his prize. Erin was standing shaking her head when I returned with my wrapped offering. I'm sure she was a little embarrassed, but I assured her I was happy to oblige.

It was at that point that Vin took possession of his pie and leaned over to give me a kiss. It was on my cheek, quite innocent and certainly welcomed, but Mr. Sanchez apparently 'staked his claim' at that moment, stepping in to 'break it up'. I was a little shocked at his behavior. Erin and Vin also appeared a little surprise; at least until Josiah's gruff frown broke into a brilliant smile.

Smacking his shoulder rather cutely, we saw them off safely, lingering on the porch as they drove out of sight. I scolded Mr. Sanchez for his behavior as we cuddled. He kissed me playfully, telling me I was now officially his and not to forget.

Honestly… how could I?

Josiah left within the hour… and I contemplated his words as I drifted off to sleep.

I do believe I like the idea on belonging… once again…

Thursday and Friday were comparably quieter than the beginning of the week, although I did seem to spend an awful lot of time on the computer and telephone. I was able to reconfirm all of my arrangements for Sunday, as well as finalize the schedules for those volunteering their services at the carnival.

I sent out an e-mail to Miss O'Brien, as promised, letting Ezra know that I'd arranged for three 'Magic Shows' and where in the hospital he was to perform. I left the content and length of his performances entirely in his capable hands as he indicated he has 'done this' before. I situated the face painting in the same general area so that he and Sherri could be reasonably co-located.

Confirming with Mrs. Jackson on Nathan's 'times' in the dunk tank, I was amused to find out that he hadn't even told Rain that he was involved in that booth. I told her to make sure and 'blame' Josiah as well; after all, Mr. Jackson might not have 'volunteered' had he not been 'volunteered'…

A brief e-mail conversation with Miss Harrison hinted at the fact that she was still trying to convince Mr. Wilmington to act as one of my clowns. She also implied that it wouldn't be much of a 'stretch' for him.

Being the diplomat that I am, I thought it best not to reply to that. I will, however, leave one costume aside just in case; Buck should 'change his mind'…

I didn't see Mr. Sanchez on Thursday. We did, however, spend some time on the telephone. My dilemma over Christmas gifts actually managed to rise to the forefront of my cerebrum and when Josiah asked about 'coming over' Friday, I asked him if we could do something different. Suggesting that I REALLY needed a 'break' from being ME and perhaps he could show me his home for a change.

The silence on the other end of the telephone had me worried for a moment.

Josiah explained that he lived in a large Victoria-Era style home on the South side of Denver. He noted, quite seriously, that he was slowly restoring it and that sometimes, it really wasn't habitably. This particular point is time, was one of those.

Well ! To say I was intrigued would be an understatement…

I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was now dying to see where he lived. Not only did the very idea of restoration intrigue me, but also my mind whirled with possibilities when it came to Christmas.

With a resounding sigh, Mr. Sanchez agreed to a guided tour and dinner on Friday.

I was so excited… Honestly!

Friday morning the Security Van arrived from the bank and took possession of the last funds collected from the raffle. Although the money has been secured in my safe since the regular pick-ups stopped, I was glad to be rid of it.

My personal advisor telephoned after lunch to confirm that the deposit had been made. She's donating her services to manage the raffle. We discussed the profit totals, and it appears that the raffle has been as successful as hoped. All of the five thousand tickets sold and therefore, the Children's Hospital can expect a deposit of $50,000.00 to their charitable Fund.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Denver this year. It's incredible how wonderful that makes me feel…

I whittled away the afternoon stuffing the drum with the last of the tickets and then did some writing. I was totally engrossed when Brutus went dashing to the door; Rusty hot on his heals. Mr. Sanchez had arrived and I wasn't ready.

I made quick work of getting that way, taking Josiah's advice, not to dress up. He was concerned about the 'dust' that apparently occupies his residence.

I shrugged it off, telling him not to fret.

He certainly has nothing to worry about, let me assure you. Josiah's home is magnificent, and although his restoration is only partially completed, I can see the character in the house. It was obviously a grand residence in its day and clearly, will be again.

As Mr. Sanchez took me on a personally guided tour, I listened to him speak, feeling the emotions in his words and the grandeur that he sees from the past… and for the future. The house came alive for me at the moment, and I couldn't help but hold Josiah close… enveloped by the images that he sees, as well as his strong arms.

We dined by the fire that evening, enjoying the meal, the wine, and the atmosphere. Somewhere in the conversation an idea developed for my Christmas gift for Mr. Sanchez. His casual mention of the bare walls and what he'd like to hang there eventually, more than sparked my imagination. My equally offhanded queries about what he liked, brought about his citing of my Stephen Lyman prints. I have several and Josiah has mentioned them before.

Why is it that we have to be hit over the head with the obvious sometimes…?

Driving home without Josiah's lights to follow, I found my mind wandering. It occurred to me that long days and lonely nights have become a way of life for me, and that Mr. Sanchez has given me something back that I didn't know I missed, until now.

There are still many hurdles for us to cross… yet; I feel strongly that we will get there, eventually.

And that, old friend, brings me to today. Saturdays around here are never, ever, this frantic… thank heavens for that mercy…

I swear my telephone has never been that busy. I had countless e-mails as well, everything from people wanting to confirm details to Evelyn wanting to know if I was doing all right. I answered with a resounding Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think she got the message.

She and Orin showed up at my door an hour later, ready willing and able to help. I was glad for their company in the afternoon. We went over the site maps of the hospital and they gave me some good advice about where to have the craft tables and booths set up.

Orin took it upon himself to speak with the chief of police about traffic problems in the area. I've been assured that some volunteer officers will handle that aspect and probably, make the parking attendants jobs a little easier, too.

The Travis' departed and my telephone stopped ringing about an hour ago. I've just finished my dinner and have spent far too long filling your pages…

You've helped, as you always do. But as much as I needed to get these thoughts on paper… I think I need to go soak in the bathtub for a while.

Wish me luck for tomorrow, Old friend. I'm surely going to need it.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~


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