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Mac was ready to leave Black Mt. Pres. He believed he had come up empty this time. There was no hen here in this henhouse prime for the picking. He chuckled to himself as he thought of his own clever metaphor. Yes, he was the fox poised for the snatching of an idiotic chicken from this elaborate henhouse. He was foxy, after all. He had all the right moves and after his previous conquest, he had the proper clothes for the job. That one had dressed him in cashmere sweaters and designer jeans before he left her. She had been a total snob, that one. She hated his polyester short sleeved dress shirts and had given them to Goodwill. She replaced them with all-cotton long-sleeved J. Crew shirts and didn’t care that he was too hot in those long sleeves. What was wrong with short sleeves, anyway? They were invented for a reason.

Maude is not one of Abby’s chickens, but you can buy her at Chifferobe

The fury was building in his head. That bitch! She was always trying to change him. He wasn’t trying to change her, after all! He was so angry he almost missed the scent of expensive perfume of the woman who was walking in his direction. Jo Malone, was it? He snapped to attention. This one took care of herself, he could see. Nothing disheveled or resigned to a life of being single. No ring. Expensive clothes and tiny feet. Sweet! What did small feet correspond with in women? He didn’t know.

Most importantly though, he could feel the waves of loneliness and longing coming off her. This was someone who had been hurt. She was vulnerable and prime for the sweet words of Mac Buchanan. He called out to her, “Hey! Don’t I know you?”

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Lorraine too was lost in her thoughts. She remembered how happy she had been in the hacienda of El Chappo, given anything her heart desired. She remembered Frederick. He was nice to her, even though she had to constantly ride him about his old shabby clothing and his poor table manners. Why had she lost both of them? She was in her seventies now and the likelihood of meeting a new partner was less than the chance of being stuck by lightening. She would certainly live the rest of her life alone. 

The lilting, cultured, Southern accent of a good-looking stranger pierced her thoughts. Was he speaking to her?

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “Were you speaking to me?”

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Mac leaned his head to the side and slightly forward, giving the impression of interest in her. “Yes, I was. I feel as if I know you from somewhere. Were you at Diana Wortham last year for the performance by Asheville Ballet? I know I have seen you somewhere.”

“I do love dance,” replied Lorraine. “I’m not sure if I was at their performance last year or before Covid. Everything is so mixed up now since the pandemic.”

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“So true! I’m not sure if it was a dance performance or opera, but you look so familiar to me. You certainly stand out in a crowd!”

Lorraine stood up straighter and sucked in her stomach. She heard a little bell go off in her head. Was it a bell of celebration or was it a warning alarm? At this point she really didn’t care. “So, what’s your name she asked softly? Do you live in Black Mountain?”