Chapter 9A – Blue Cottage–Part 1

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My one week was almost up. And I had still not come to a decision. The hospital wanted my voice. And they, in turn, were willing to teach me what I needed to learn. I could live with that. But Dr. Wilson wants me to head a brand new department that would be in charge of decorating radiation masks. The pay sounded great but I just didn’t know if I could boss somebody around. Especially if they were older than me. I decided to text Dr. Willowby.

“Dear Dr. Willowby,

I need your advice. Maybe it’s a friend to talk to. I’m having a really difficult time deciding what to do. Can we chat somewhere outside of the hospital? Somewhere where you feel relaxed and can be yourself. I want to work at the hospital. But with two offers, one from you and the other from Dr. Wilson, well I’m kind of overwhelmed. Help!   Cassie Carter.”

It wasn’t until a few hours later that I got a response. It was one I never expected to get. It was an invitation to dinner. Dr. Willowby and his wife invited Peter and me to dinner at his cottage on Balsam Lake which was just south of Coboconk. Now, this was the first time Peter and I had been invited to dinner as a couple. I got a new dress for the occasion from that wonderful dress shop in Lindsay. I also made sure Peter was cleaned and pressed. The invitation included directions. After I got the dress Dr. Willowby sent me another message.

“Dear Cassie,

Wilma has asked me to text you that you are to dress casually. We have the wine covered. Don’t be shocked if I’m in shorts. Bring your swimsuits.  Bill & Wilma. PS Don’t forget the iPad.”

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I showed the directions and the message to Peter. He got out a map of the area and after tracing out the route with his finger typed “No problem” on the iPad. I remembered what Dr. Willowby had said about his first name. I warned Peter not to call him by his first name.

I’ve known his name was Bill for months. I checked him out just after I met him. I wasn’t going to let just anybody zap me without knowing something about the person. I’ve known longer than you have but you don’t have to worry m’lady”. Peter typed his response to me out on the iPad.

Wilma Willowby texted me that they were going to be serving Roast Beef. She added “Bill has insisted on getting the wine. But he’s terrible when it comes to picking wine. Could you and Peter bring a Mateus red with you?”

I said Peter and I would get two bottles in Coboconk – one for us and the other for the dinner. The trip was also the first time Peter was behind the wheel in almost two months. He liked to call the short trips into Norland or Coby “expeditions”. And, in a way they were. They never went exactly the way you expected. They were usually far more entertaining.

When we in Coboconk we got the wine Wilma Willowby suggested. On the way back to the car we walked past a bakery and the smell coming out of it was just heavenly. As we passed the large window at the front Peter noticed a rhubarb pie. He knew it was my favorite. He tugged on my sleeve and pointed it out. We got two. One for us and one for Dr. Willowby and his wife. As we were waiting to pay we saw two Chelsea Buns. I convinced Peter they needed a new home. We got those as well.

During the drive home I watched Peter like a hawk from the passenger seat. I was surprised how quickly his hand-eye coordination had returned. Maybe the digital stimulation I introduced him to had something to do with it. I also discovered something about him. He liked to imagine he was a race car driver. When the highway was clear, which was most of the time in the late fall, he liked to speed. His face was so serious and he scowled a bit when he shifted gears. During the ride home I started teasing him saying he looked like a little boy when he drove.

Peter was being really good and wasn’t saying a word. It also drove him crazy not being able to say anything. The iPad was doing its job wonderfully. Every day we had to remember to charge it . Conversations are slower but it makes the waiting made a little more interesting. Sometimes exciting. Sometimes when he trying to type on the iPad I liked to distract him. Sometimes I’d unbutton my blouse and give the girls have some air. Other times I’d unbutton my jeans. He knows when I’m trying to distract him and when I’m trying to get him in the mood. One time I was sitting cross legged on the floor with the girls in full view. Suddenly Peter put his head in between my legs and started sucking them.

“Enjoying yourself?” I looked down at him and asked him in a sarcastic manner. He nodded with a nipple firmly lodged between two lips.

“Are you comfy? Can I do anything else for you” Peter sucked on one while he fondled the other. I gave “Tab” a gentle squeeze. He started kissing and sucking both of my breasts.

“Peter, you know what this does to me. Why are you doing this?” Oops. Too late. I raised my head and closed my eyes when I felt a pleasant little shiver. When I opened them Peter had written a new message.

I love looking at them and you know what they do to me!”.

Well, one thing led to another and I think you know what happened. I know I shouldn’t distract him like that but I like being bad from time to time. I really hope his vocal cords start to return to normal. One sided conversations with an iPad are pretty boring. I want to hear my man again.

A few days before the dinner Peter started doing something out of the norm. He started going for drives alone. He also became somewhat secretive. He drove only for a few miles at first and that didn’t really concern me. He would usually drive into Norland for the paper and then he’d come back. Ten miles tops. Peter is a creature of habit. He usually got the paper around five in the afternoon. Mr. Lemay usually put a copy of the Toronto Star aside just for him. A drive to Norland and back could be accomplished in half an hour. But one day the trip took a lot longer. It was for an entire hour! When I asked Peter what he was doing he would gave me a very flimsy excuse. One day he mouthed the word “thinking”. The next day he mouthed the word “book”. Both were things he could have done at home. After three days of this nonsense, I confronted him. I wanted to know what was going on.

“Why are you becoming so distant?. Is it something I said?”

I was worried I was losing him. All he did was shake his head. I held the iPad out in front of him and pleaded with him to tell me. At first, he refused to type anything. Then he started typing something.

This is really bothering you isn’t it?

That’s when I really lost it. I was furious. I screamed at him.

“Peter James Christopher, if you don’t me tell me this instant I’m packing my bags and you can take your proposal of marriage and shove it! You’ll be suddenly single!”

He saw the tears in my eyes and started typing very quickly.

I’m sorry. I wanted to surprise you on Christmas Day. Tomorrow I’m driving to Kinmount. I need you and this finger.” He pointed at my ring finger. That’s when I figured it out.

“Were you building up your driving stamina?” Peter nodded.

“And you’re driving to Kinmount to go to a jeweler?” Peter nodded again.  

Then he pulled a ring I rarely wear out of his pocket. I ruined the biggest surprise a single woman can have.

“I really did it this time didn’t I?” He started typing yet another message.

Look at it this way. We’ll definitely have a story to tell our daughter. But I’m kind of glad you lost your temper. Now I don’t have to sneak around, get you upset and hurt your feelings anymore. Tomorrow we can drive to Kinmount, you pick the ring and I pay. You get the ring you want. No sizing, no fuss, no muss.”

I looked into his eyes and tried to say what every girl hopes for.

“Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been looking forward to this moment and all the romantic things a girl dreams of. Things I won’t be experiencing now. I was hoping you get down on bended knee. I was hoping you’d have a little box in your hand and you’d put the ring on my finger.”

You mean these sort of things?” was suddenly on the iPad.

All of sudden Peter got down on one knee. Oh my god!

I was jumping up and down in anticipation and excitement. It was actually happening. And to me!

Then he pulled a small blue Birks box out of his jacket pocket. The box was the size of an engagement ring. Peter opened it. He mouthed the words “Will you marry me?”. My heart was going a million miles an hour as Peter the slipped the ring over my finger. The band felt so cool and smooth. And the diamond was gorgeous. The deal was well and truly sealed.

***

We sped down the road to Lightning Point. We followed the directions to the letter. The cottage belonging to Dr. And Mrs. Willowby was at the end of the road we were on. When we arrived we were treated to the sight of Dr. Willowby raking leaves with Wilma directing. Peter honked the horn a couple of times to get their attention. Wilma walked down to the driveway while Dr. Willowby put the rake away.

Before the car came to a stop I noticed Dr. Willowby was not wearing the shorts he warned us about. I did notice  a woman I assumed to be Wilma Willowby approaching the car. She was about my height, brownish shoulder length hair, and piercing Hazel eyes.

“I’m so glad you could make it. Welcome to Chez Willowby. Bill has told me so much about you two.” said Wilma.

As I got out of the car I picked up the box containing the pie and shopping bag with the football size Chelsea Bun.

“Beware of guests bearing gifts. From the Coby bakery one recently liberated Chelsea Bun. And in case you’re allergic to some of the fruit in the Chelsea bun I brought a Rhubarb Pie also recently liberated.” I handed the pie box and the Chelsea Bun to Wilma. “Ooh, the box is till warm. Cassie you’re a life saver. I love Rhubarb pie and Bill loves Chelsea Buns. Personally, I think he’s developing a bit of a sweet tooth.” Then I told her that Peter already had one. “Uh oh. Something tells we’re both going to be busy.”

Peter held my hand as he handed the bottle of wine to Dr. Willowby. He was dressed in an old blue track suit while Mrs. Willowby wore jeans and a mans shirt. Dr. Willowby looked at the label and smiled. “Peter my boy, you have excellent taste in wine.”

Peter went back to the MG and got the iPad. When he came back he had already typed his answer. “This bottle seems to have the ability to talk. When Cassie and I were in the LCBO it said “Take me to Casa Willowby.” It was then Dr. Willowby spotted something glimmering on my finger.

“Look at the size of that rock! Wilma, I may be wrong but I think there has been a rather recent romantic development between these two. You might want to inspect.”

Wilma reached out and closely inspected my ring. I beamed with immense pride as my engagement ring was being inspected for the first time. After inspecting it and my finger for a short time she came to an interesting conclusion.

“Hasn’t been there very long. Skin under the ring is the same color as her hand. The ring also hasn’t been on her finger long enough to leave an impression. I think we have a newly engaged couple on our hands Bill.” Dr. Willowby pretended to inspect. “Nice color, perfect size. Did he surprise you?”

“He sure did. There’s a story to this ring. An R rated story.”

Wilma clasped her hands together and smiled.

“Oh goodie. Those are best kind. I want to hear all about it. A racy story for dinner. But Peter I must ask a favor of you. Captain Ahab here”  She pointed directly at Dr. Willowby “flipped the damn boat again and got the mast stuck in the lake bottom. Can you please dislodge the mast from the muck for us. The last time this happened we needed some boy scouts to help us out.”

Peter nodded and went back to the car. He opened the trunk and pulled out his wetsuit. Balsam Lake is pretty murky at the best of times. He typed out a short message. “Have you got a face mask?”

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“I don’t have one but you can use my grandsons. I’m very sure he won’t mind. His name is Kenny.” When I heard that my jaw fell open and you could have knocked me over with a feather. Dr. Willowby started chuckling.

“Yes Cassie. That ten year old boy. Please don’t tell anyone at the hospital he’s related to me. The ethics committee frowns on family members treating one another. He really should be treated elsewhere but a temporary move would put an undue financial hardship on his family. Plus he’s scared silly and he finds being near his grandfather comforting.” All of a sudden I felt a hug. It was from  Wilma. “And was that his grandmother saying thank you. Bill told me what you did. Bill and I don’t have a son of our own so that little boy’s pretty special to us.”

Just then Peter tugged on Dr. Willowby’s arm. Peter pointed at the wetsuit. Dr. Willowby looked at me to translate. “I think Peters wants to know where you want him to change.” Peter smiled, put his hands together, and bowed. Dr. Willowby led Peter to the guest bedroom. After putting a lot of baby power on the wet suit went on. About ten minutes later he emerged from Chez Willowby. Wilma was not prepared for the sight.

“Hell’s teeth!. Does he always look that way Cassie?”

It took me a while to form a response.

“He only uses the wetsuit when the water’s cold or he’s going to be under for for than a few seconds. He can’t afford to get a cramp underwater.”

Then she started pointing at Peter. “What’s he got around his waist? They almost look like weights”.

My answer was quicker in coming.

“They are. They’re two ten pound weights. If he didn’t have those on he’d pop up like a cork. The suit he’s wearing is made out of neoprene which you can’t see and a thin layer of black rubber. The neoprene absorbs a thin layer of water and warms it to near body temperature. Peters cottage is on Shadow Lake. Its a lot deeper than Balsam Lake. It’s 350 feet deep and the deeper portions of the lake hold colder water much longer. You could be swimming along with the water in your suit around 85 degrees when all of a sudden the water temperature around you drops to about 50 degrees.”

Wilma was not expecting such a detailed answer. It caught her by surprise.

“You must have doing this for years. That almost sounded like an answer out of some kind of text.”

I explained that Peter taught me and I’d only been diving a few months. She was silent for a while then she asked a question I think she’d been repressing for a while.

“Do you think an old lady like me could learn to dive? I love being in the water. Bill calls me a water baby.”

I found it hard to believe that a woman in her early fifties would consider herself old. I turned and faced her.

“Wilma Willowby you are not old.” That’s when I started wagging my finger at her too.

“Have you any chronic disorders of the heart or lungs?”

“No” she quickly replied.

“Then there’s no reason you shouldn’t learn to dive. And don’t let Dr. Willowby browbeat you by saying skin diving is sport for the young. You are young and don’t let anybody tell you any different.” Without any warning Wilma put her arms around me and hugged me.

“I’d knew I’d like you.”

Just then the mast of the sailboat popped out the water and the boat righted itself. An old baseball cap was at the top of the mast.

“So that’s where the little stinker has been all these years. I got that hat the first year the Toronto Blue Jays started playing professional baseball.” said Dr. Willowby.

Mrs. Willowby was suddenly interested and clearly moved by the discovery of the hat. She moved gingerly towards the beach. The water was cool.

“What are you talking about dear?” looking at her husband.

“Remember the very first time you came up here? I was out in the sailboat showing off and trying to impress the hell out of you. I was wearing that cap. As the boat was approaching the dock a sudden gust of wind blew the cap off my head. If only it could talk.”

Wilma crossed her arms and sighed a bit.

“Well, I for one, am glad it can’t. There are enough blabbermouths around here.” She turned and walked towards the cottage.

Dr. Willowby looked at the baseball cap and I stood beside him. “What’s so special about that cap?”

“It’s the memories it reminds you of. Wilma and I weren’t married yet. Hell, we weren’t even engaged. But I knew I wanted her in my life. We were at the stage where you and Peter are now. This is yet another example of why I see so much of Wilma and me in you and Peter.”

I suddenly got an idea. I went to the dock and waved Peter over. I told him I wanted that cap. I explained what I wanted it for and he liked the idea. We had it mounted on a plaque. It eventually became known as the Willowby Trophy.

…yes, there is more in part 2!

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