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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Destiny Sealed by a Kiss by Lynne King

The small Catholic Church was almost full. Maggie O’Donnell was much loved within the English village she had made her home thirty years ago.

“Such a lovely sermon.” A small sniff followed.

Placing her hand over her mother's, she gave it a small squeeze.

“Have any of her family from Ireland come over?” Lisa whispered, her gaze having tried in vain to search for the mop of unruly black hair. Of course he was hardly going to resemble anything like the eighteen-year old with the threadbare jeans and leather jacket. In the same way she wasn’t seventeen anymore.

“If you’re meaning Shaun…” She gave a small shrug of her shoulders and dabbed her nose with her handkerchief. “He should be here. Of course Maggie never mentioned him to me. I suppose she thought your father was still mad at him.”

Lisa caught her mother’s knowing glance and lowered her eyes.

The service was over; everyone was standing and beginning to make their way outside, where they congregated into small groups. Lisa had her memories but unlike the others, they were linked to another loss and a regret that never faded.

Was it disappointment or relief that he wasn’t here? Lisa wasn’t sure. She was about to suggest they return to her car when she felt the pressure of a hand on her shoulder. Turning, she was staring back into a face that despite six years hadn’t altered. At twenty-four, he still looked wild and sexy--too good, in fact, came to mind-- with his tousled raven hair and a face that spoke of warmth and laughter even here at such a solemn occasion.

“Hello, Lisa. You’ve grown up some.”

His blue gaze knocked her back and she was that lovestruck teenager again – lightheaded and tongue-tied. She felt stupid now for coming and putting herself through this. There had been several boyfriends since and yet none of them had had this affect on her.

“We’re all a little older, Shaun,” She met his gaze and added, “and a little wiser.”

She was waiting for the rebuff, the shutters to come down but still the warm intensity of his gaze remained on her.

“It’s good to see you. I just wish it could have been on a happier occasion. I’m staying in my aunt’s home so perhaps we could get together.”

What and make me feel worse than I already do? Lisa felt like saying. She was after all, the reason for him fleeing England and the life he had with his aunt.

“I’m pretty busy with work. I’m sorry for your loss, Shaun. Your aunt was a wonderful lady.”

“Yes, she was. Though she could upset a few people with her openness and, dare I admit, her stubborn nature.”

His Irish accent sent a tingling down her spine and that smile. She could almost taste his lips upon hers and those words she spoke of loving him and hearing him tell her he felt the same way. Remembering the comforting arms wrapped around her that night and his promise that he would take the blame. Why hadn’t she argued with him, told him, "no"?

The following day he ignored her – a week later he left for Ireland.

It started raining heavily, Lisa’s excuse to flee this time. “Mum, let’s get you to the car quick. Bye, Shaun.” Taking hold of her mother’s arm, she was nearly carrying her across the car-park such was her hurry.

Her mother leant back heavily into the passenger seat and let out a sigh. “You’re still in love with him.”

“Was I that obvious?” A sad smile formed on Lisa’s lips.

“Your father never told you this and I think at the time he thought he had your best interests at heart but…” she paused.

Lisa turned to her mother. “What didn’t he tell me?”

“He made Shaun promise to break off all contact with you. He said the police wanted to know if he had given permission for Shaun to drive his car and he was going to tell them, no.”

“I took father’s car and crashed it the night you were away. Shaun arrived after I called him and before the police showed up. I only had a provisional license and no insurance.” Lisa shook her head in disbelief. “I told Father Shaun lied to protect me.”

“Your father thought you were lying for him.”

“No wonder he fled to Ireland; his aunt would have crucified him.” Putting the key into the ignition, she started up the engine.

“He did write to you once, a couple of years ago when you were away at college. Your father posted it back unopened. I’m sorry, Lisa.”

Pulling the car out of the car-park, Lisa gave her mother a quick reassuring smile. “It’s all in the past.”

Lisa sat at her desk chewing the end of her pencil, her thoughts far removed from selling houses. When the door opened and footsteps approached her desk, she glanced up; the customary smile already displayed. The smile fell away as her mouth parted.

“I’ve come to put my aunt’s house on the market and for an excuse to see you again. Can you come now and give an evaluation?”

She glanced over at her colleague who was listening. They weren’t busy so she had no excuse. “Shall we go in my car?”

“Good idea, unless we use shank’s pony.”

She gave one of her polite smiles and led the way out to the back of the office and into the small private car park.

“Wow!” He gave an exaggerated rise of his eyebrows on seeing the red sports convertible.

Lisa held back the response that nothing in her life was fully paid for; it was there to create an impression, like her flat in a sought after area where they were all too busy leading their independent lives. The car, the clothes she wore, none of it was her really; she had fallen into it with a need to belong.

They entered the Victorian farm cottage in silence. Everything was how she remembered including the imposing oak sideboard. In the middle was a framed photograph of a man in a British army uniform standing next to a smiling woman dressed in a plain white dress. Another framed photograph stood next to it of a girl holding a baby. Lisa knew it was of Shaun in his mother’s arms, Maggie’s younger sister. She couldn’t help it; tears were beginning to fall unless she got some fresh air.

“Let’s go outside,” she blurted out.

“Sure.” He led the way through to the kitchen. Taking the key from his pocket he unlocked the door and motioned for Lisa to go first.

The first stages of spring were in evidence, crocuses formed colourful groups and daffodil shoots were beginning to break the surface. She heard him come up behind her.

“I felt the same way when I entered the cottage.”

There was such sadness in his voice that it caused Lisa to turn around. Her hand unconsciously touched his arm as he continued speaking.

“She was a lovely lady who taught me not to be angry with life. She had suffered more than most, but still wasn't bitter. You know she once told me that just one kiss and she knew where her destiny lay. She was a brave woman - I on the other hand was the coward.”

Withdrawing her hand, she carried on walking down the pathway, stopping short - she looked over at the thick solid trunk of an oak tree. Her eyes travelled up to rest on worn planks of wood nailed together to take on the guise of a tree house. The two of them would often sit up there for hours.

“I never realised my talent was so good when it came to building. Perhaps I should have turned my talents to that as well as horses.”

“Horses!” Lisa tilted her head.

“Yes, I help run a stud farm in Ireland. My father started it but sort of gave up when my mother left and I was sent to live with Aunt Maggie. Going back home helped us both and last year one of our earlier foals came second in the Irish National, good for business.”

“I’m glad everything worked out for you.” Her bottom lip quivered making her turn away, only his hand came forward and gently turned her face back to him.

“My aunt sacrificed everything for love; her family disowned her and she ended up living in a country that wasn’t her home, but she never regretted falling in love. I now understand why. Some feelings never die." His hand tilted her chin, the blue intensity of his gaze reaching out to her.

“What about you, Shaun. Do you have any regrets?”

“Just one, but I hope you’ll remedy it.” His mouth came down upon hers and in that moment of their lips touching, they knew where their destiny lay.

About the Author: Lynne King - Based in the UK. My short stories cover different genres and have been published in popular UK magazines and on-line. As for my novels, I love writing romantic suspense. Run To You, published by Eternal Press is my latest. Find more about my writing by visiting:

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