Lorraine had been back from her whirlwind vacation in Puerto Rico for a week, but had still not unpacked her bags. Her trip had been wonderful and postponing unpacking seemed a way to hold the memories close. She had had the good fortune to meet a single doctor on the plane, and they had spent the whole weekend in each other’s company. He was charming, generous, and eligible.

All Lorraine wanted was a man with money and a generous spirit. Her last boyfriend with whom she had wasted four good years of her life had plenty of money, but he planned to take it to the grave with him. He was so cheap that even though he felt entitled to eat dinner at her apartment most nights, would still expect her to pay her share when they ate out. She had once asked him for a short-term loan which she would pay back with interest, but he refused and she lost the condo she was hoping to buy. What a jerk.

The Doctor had wined and dined her and they had danced every night. She could still smell his scent on her clothes when she opened her suitcase. They parted on good terms, but each went back to his or her own home without any promises to see each other again. He lived in St. Augustine, Florida, and she was here in Black Mountain. She loved everything about Black Mountain, but she would have moved to Florida if he had asked her.

Lorraine was raised to be cared for. Her daddy was a sweet and generous man and had given her and her sisters everything they wanted when they we’re growing up. She would occasionally leaf through her photo albums with their Mark Cross leather bindings and relive the past. There she was on her pony. There she was at summer camp. There in her sorority at University of South Carolina. And there at her deb ball. She really was lovely! So how did things unravel so much that she now lived in a one bedroom apartment at 44 Cherry Street with only her dog for company?

Well, she had to say, she had lived well and had many wonderful memories of her adult life as well. She had married three times to successful men and had walked away from all of them when she got tired of them. But her history with each of them had left her richer in many ways. She had also lived in some of the most beautiful homes in Asheville. But taking care of a big house was not something she wanted, and her tiny apartment was a jewel box of her favorite things. Besides, Suki was great company and far less demanding than any man ever was.

The vacation in Old San Juan was brief, but it was perfect. It reminded her that she still had it! The Doctor saw in her the beauty she had to squint to see when she looked in the mirror. Really, she was her own worst critic. He made her feel young and desirable again. And while their time together might have been a vacation fling, it was just what she needed. Even if they never saw each other again, she would treasure this brief interlude.

She loved Black Mountain. She loved her dear dog, Suki. And she loved her life in this small town. She vowed to rent a studio at The Red House so she could start painting again, and she knew that with the improvement in the housing market, she would soon be making more money as a realtor. She looked out the window of her apartment as she sipped a cup of Earl Grey Tea from a paper-thin porcelain cup, and she could see the beautiful pink Japanese Flowering Cherry trees on Cherry Street. She could see Colleen sweeping the fallen blossoms from in front of Mountain Nest. She saw Chelsea in her little covered sitting area in front of Curiosity Shop, chatting with her handsome new boyfriend.  And there was Stephanie sitting in front of Chifferobe so buried in a book that she didn’t notice customers going into her shop.

Lorraine loved Black Mountain, and it would take more than a rich doctor to get her to move away from here.