The euphoria Lorraine had felt when she returned from her trip to Puerto Rico had faded. She thought she’d hear from the sexy Cuban doctor she had met, even though they had agreed not to keep in touch when they parted. He obviously wasn’t thinking about her even though hardly an hour went by when she did not think of him.

She told herself again and again that she did not need a man in her life, yet she was lonely. She’d love a man friend whom she could join for dinner or a movie night. She buried herself instead in her work as a realtor. The market was so hot that the hardest part was locating properties to sell. People were asking insane prices for houses in Black Mountain, and if your property was walking-distance to Lake Tomahawk, the price went through the roof.

She had one listing of a property in town on a tiny lot that some customers were considering. She called in a friend in construction to check it out for her. The asking price was $350,000, and she asked him what they should offer for the house in light of its rather shabby condition. He had said, “Don’t offer more than $70K, because this house should be torn down. It can’t be saved!”

Needless to say, her customer did not buy that house. She, like most of her out-of-town customers had a romanic vision of what they could find in Black Mountain. They “needed” three bedrooms-two baths, mountain views, flat lot, room for a garden, stream or pond, easy access, and walking distance to the Dripolator. All this for under $200,000. Of course, they were appalled at what that small sum could actually buy, and after she had driven couples around for weekend after weekend, they often gave up and stopped looking.

She had a new client and was determined to find the perfect house for her. She grabbed her laptop and called Suki to her and they took off for the Dripolator so she could scour the MLS listings to locate just what this client wanted. She seemed more reasonable and realistic than many of her clients. Her name was Carolyn, and she lived in Miami but was trying to leave there and move up to WNC. She wanted a fixer-upper for around $100K and wasn’t that picky about location.

Lorraine and Suki strolled up Cherry Street and looked in the window of Periwinkle. Lorraine had decided that her summer “uniform” was going to be loose white shirts and black linen trousers. She already had a good selection of both, but was feeling blue and she needed some retail therapy. She hadn’t had a good closing in a while, and had no business spending money, but she decided to go inside, where Connie greeted her warmly. Knowing Lorraine well, Connie grabbed an assortment of beautiful cotton shirts and fanned them out for Lorraine to peruse. One shirt in particular called to Lorraine; It was made of the softest white cotton and had beautiful old-fashioned pearl buttons. She hated trying on clothes because she detested looking at herself in the mirror. She felt so chubby, even though friends reassured her that she was just right, so without trying it on, she handed over her credit card to Connie and left the store with a crisp new white shirt in a Periwinkle’s shopping bag.

Lorraine ordered a Skinny Horchatta Latte at the Drip and took it out front where she and Suki settled in so she could look for a great fixer-upper for Carolyn. She was a sucker for any item that had “skinny” in the name. Her belief was that if she consumed enough “skinny” foods and wore enough “skinny” jeans, she would become skinny. So far, however, she was still hiding inside oversized shirts.

Looking over the top of her laptop, Lorraine could see the outline of the Seven Sisters mountains. A thunderstorm was sitting on the ridge, making its slow journey to Ridgecrest, Old Fort, and Marion. The wind picked up, and the leaves turned over, and Lorraine wrapped her Gucci scarf a big tighter around her throat. She always wore a scarf, even after she had the lift and didn’t need it to hide her sagging. She had become accustomed to wearing scarves and had a large collection of them, so they were her shot of color in her monochromatic wardrobe. She was happy she had a silk scarf on today, because the temperature was dropping. Even though she was a little chilly, she was happy. She had been reminded that Black Mountain is a beautiful place, and she was lucky to live here. And 44 Cherry Street was as snug and cozy place as she could imagine.shirt