The trio bundled into the golf cart and headed toward the pond. Tom kept up a friendly commentary pointing out the petanque court, the fire pit and the dog walking trail. He slowed down and stopped as they approached the pond. Two sandpipers were wading near the banks with their long beaks pecking in the water.
"They are having breakfast," Tom said softly. When the golf cart started again, one of them rose in a flutter.
"We love to walk at sunset to see all the critters feeding at the pond," Tom explained.
Driving through the park, Marti noticed most of the people were over 50. "Is this an adult only park?" She didn't blink twice when a nude man pushed his lawnmower over his grass.
"No," Tom replied. "The kids that live here are at school today. There are more on the weekends when grandkids come to visit. They love to skinny dip in our pool."
"I guess we all have a skinny dip story to tell," Marti said trying to bond with Tom.
"Mine was in Nebraska after driving a tractor in the corn fields. We went to a local watering hole to cool off," he chuckled.
"Mine was on spring break in Key West with a bunch of college kids. Of course, it was midnight."
"A lady never tells," teased Shirley waving at a neighbor as they turned onto Tom’s street.
"Here’s my little slice of paradise," Tom said pulling up to an A-frame house that looks like a small mountain chalet.
"I love how each lot is so individually developed. It really shows the personality of the owner." Marti turned around to take in the small houses.
"What does my place say about me?" asked Tom curiously walking up to his front door.
Marti paused and gave the place a closer look. "Well," she began, "I can tell you like to work with your hands. Look at the detail in your window boxes, and you enjoy gardening."
"Very observant," Tom said. "Shirley told me you’re a TV reporter. I bet you’re good."
Marti smiled, "Thanks. Can we see inside?"
"Sure," leading the way Tom waved the ladies through the door. "I’m home, Winston," he called out. A big English bulldog raised his head to greet the visitors. Walking over to his basket, Tom stroked Winston’s head, "Meet my roommate. He rules this roost."
Bending down, Marti massaged behind Winston’s ear. "I just did a piece on our dog adoption center at home."
"Winston’s been with me a long time through thick and thin. He’s fourteen years old now so he sleeps a lot."
"Was he named after Winston Churchill who loved this breed?"
"Yes, he was." Tom turned to Shirley. "Want to see how my new painting is coming along?"
"Of course," She followed him to the back room that had good lighting. Marti followed along checking out the loft where he had a small library.
Peeking over her aunt’s shoulder, Marti could see the canvas, a sunset in oils. "O-oh-h, I see that outside my picture window in Jacksonville."
"Actually, this is from a photo I took with Shirley as we drove up the coast from Savannah."
"It’s beautiful, Tom," said Shirley admiring the detail in the waves.
"I thought it would look best in your place. Maybe in your bedroom," Tom said looking at Shirley for her reaction.
She beamed at him, "I’d love it. I’ll think of you every time I see it." She touched his hand.
Marti stepped back to let them have a private moment. She could tell they both had happy memories of Savannah.
Everyone was surprised by a loud knock on the front door. Since Marti was closest, she walked to the door to give Tom and Shirley another moment alone.
When she opened the door, she saw a tall, dark handsome man leaning against the door frame. They both stared at each other for a moment. He had on shorts but his chest was glistening from exertion. His face was almost stern from the serious look on his face and his eyes bored right into her – dark and intense.
"Hello, is Tom home?" he asked stepping back to put more space between them.
Walking up behind Marti, Tom said, "Hi, Chuck. Come on in. This is Marti, Shirley’s niece. I’m sure she’s told you about her."
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