Harper and Blaise ate their food in the pleasure of each other’s company. It was hard to talk with the loud music, and they at times had to raise their volume a lot just to be heard, but it was still an enjoyable exchange of ideas and commentary about many different subjects with lots of laughs thrown in. They even shared a decadent dessert with chocolate that was certainly not vegan, but Harper always made exceptions for good chocolate fare.
“Oh, by the way, do you know a good realtor in the area that I can use?” He asked the question as he snatched the bill away, insisting on paying.
“Well, thank you for that. Next time I will treat. Ah, yes, I do. I was happy with the gal that managed the sale of Graham’s and my house. She also found me my duplex.”
“Oh, I guess, I didn’t know you owned it. Do you have a card on her?”
“I do at home, I think. I wanted a smaller place after his death with a rental property built in, so the duplex worked out perfectly. But what do you need a realtor for?” Harper sipped the last of her water.
“I’m moving my mum down here. Her sister Elise, who is twelve years younger, has recently retired and is willing to live with her as a full-time caregiver. I just need to find an affordable house or apartment for them. It will be so much better having her close where I can help more, and getting her out of the board and care will no doubt lift her spirits. My older sister Elise—and I know the names can be confusing. It’s like my family ran out of good names and had to recycle a few. I also have a cousin and an uncle named Blaise.” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned. “Family. Anyways, Elise, my sister, has not been involved physically that much with Mum’s care. She lives back East and has a busy law practice, so she rarely comes out to see her. She and Mum do not get along very well, but she has for years generously contributed to Mum’s housing; so, we are not totally dependent on my meagre part time salary and Mum’s dwindling savings and life insurance monies.”
The waitress took the bill and Blaise’s credit card. As they waited for her to return, before she had even thought it through, Harper blurted out, “The other unit in my duplex is available.”
“Really? No one is in there?”
“I had a nice young couple renting, and they moved out about six months ago. They were not bad renters, but they often played loud music . . .”
“You mean like this?” He motioned dramatically toward the bar.
Harper smiled and raised her voice again to be heard above a raging guitar solo. “Well, not quite this bad. They also made noise coming and going late at night. I think he worked a night shift regularly. So, it wasn’t terrible, but when he got a transfer, and they moved, I just didn’t bother trying to get new renters. I haven’t even gone in and cleaned it. I know that sounds awful.”
“No, not at all. I understand. Are you open to renting it again?”
“Yes, of course. I have thought off and on that I needed to do it because I really could use the extra money. The shop is not exactly raking in the big bucks, except for that group I rent to in the back.” She winked.
“Ah, well . . . at least, you aren’t calling us a cult anymore. That’s an improvement.” He smiled large. “If you could let me know what you need for the place, that would be great. I would even volunteer to help you clean. You do have to understand, though, Mum is quite a character. She won’t be loud or come and go at night–hopefully–but, depending on the day, she might know you or not know you. Her conversations can be quite entertaining.”
“I understand that. I’m sure she would be no problem.”
“So, you won’t mind me hanging out at the duplex more. I promise not to be a bother. I may even work on your front yard. Your roses look like they need a good pruning.”
“You would be welcome to prune all you want. Gardening, except for some herbs in containers, has never been my forte.” Harper folded her napkin and grabbed her purse as she saw the waitress approach with Blaise’s card.
Blaise continued, “I have to warn you, though: When Mum doesn’t know me, as I’ve mentioned before, she comes on to me, like she is looking for a mate. Mildly disturbing.” He smiled. “But when she does know me, she can be grumpy and sweet in turn; but no matter what, she’s always trying to matchmake me with the nearest available female. She sees it as her duty. I’m not totally opposed to it, but her choices have not always been the best. I’ll have to tell you about it some time.” Because the music had increased in volume, Blaise was talking quite loudly.
“But I thought you were celibate!” Harper’s voice filled the momentary silence as the band’s raucous song ended. She froze in place with her mouth wide open, feeling every eye in the place on her.
Blaise grabbed her hand and helped her from the booth. “Time to go.” He grinned. They made their exit as quickly as possible. Once outside the door, Blaise started laughing hysterically, and Harper did, too–once she had caught her breath.
They laughed almost the whole block back to the car, and then Harper said, “I am never going in that restaurant ever again!” Blaise looked her in the eye, trying to keep a straight face, but he burst out laughing again, almost in tears.