A Love Story - Part 3

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A Love Story – Part 3

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 So again, I found myself writing from an airplane terminal and soon flying on a jet plane back to Ohio. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I felt a sense of peace. It’s one of those places with no existing pressure. There’s just a sense of calm that comes over you. I feel this same sense in nature hiking, digging around in a garden or riding a horse along a trail.

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The weather was nice, the sky a crystal blue. It was a great day to visit a tomb of a former president. I’ll have you know, McKinley’s tomb is the largest of all the presidents. Fun fact, you’re welcome. I was struck by the McKinley’s love story though. Mrs. McKinley, Ida Saxton, was suspected of early onset dementia. Early, as in her 20’s. It’s really tragic. He kept her with him most of the time to keep an eye on her. Forever, even as president, the devoted husband. When he knew he was dying, he expressly made sure someone told her kindly. It was said that another senator remarked that McKinley made the rest of them look like bad husbands by comparison.  

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This place, the grounds, the tomb itself is a tribute to the people then. We don’t build anything anymore. Nothing like this. Nothing this substantial in both meaning and mass. We’re different now. It’s not a compliment. This monument houses four individuals. Both of the deceased’s infant daughters are also buried within the tomb with their parents. It’s a family tomb. Meant for eternity.

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 Now, the tomb grounds are frequented by runners and those looking for a little exercise. The 108 steps themselves are a great challenge. Believe me, I know. Especially when you run up and down them ten times. It’s not a sad place, reverent but not sad. And having family and people gather there for a little recreation seems a fitting compliment.

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 On the same grounds is a museum that I also visited. It’s basically the history of Ohio. There’s also a little old town mock up in there that I loved visiting. The visit clarified a few ideas I had rumbling around with this new manuscript.

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 Then I visited The First Ladies’ Library. You might wonder why visiting the past has anything to do with a modern-day novel. Always, visiting the past gifts you valuable lessons for the future. What kind of people are these? How has history shaped them? There are lessons there, ones you can use.

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 Connected to The First Ladies tour is Ida McKinley’s house. They’d lived there. It’s certainly been through decades of torment, but the home was refurbished back to its glory days and it was like stepping back into the past. What I already knew of this couple certainly made me feel for them.

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 That was basically my first day back in Ohio. The next day, I worked from a cool coffeeshop and met up with my buddy Kate Morris for the day. I had planned to meet up with my trusty BETA reader, Havelka, too, but those plans fell through.

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 Then, the next day I visited several possible scenes for the coming book, just to get a feel for the area. I love visiting the sites in my books. You never know what you’ll discover. While doing this, I received word from my former attorney asking how things were going and would I be interested in seeing his new office and dinner after that.

I said, sure.

 Just as a side note, in case you’re wondering. I had no idea what said, former attorney’s status was. I had noticed he wasn’t wearing a ring but lots of men don’t wear wedding rings. I wasn’t making any assumptions. To me, this was just a meeting with my former attorney.

 He asked to pick me up from my hotel, it wasn’t easy to park at his new office building. Still, not a date. Just a meet up.

He pulled up and I met him in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at. The first thing I noticed was his smile. He was dressed in gray slacks with a crisp white button-up shirt and tie. He’d come right from work. I sort of felt bad that I was extending his work day and hoped he wasn’t going to too much trouble…but I must say he was quickly becoming the handsome guy in the blue suit, again.

 It was hot that day. One of those days, you welcome a cold glass of white wine or a beer after a long day of work. I’d specifically wore a beige pencil skirt with a sleeveless black top and casual black heels. I was doing my best not to sweat.

 He walked me out to his Jeep. Another side note here…if there is ever a vehicle that would impress me…a Jeep was it. To me…it’s like my Toyota FJ…it symbolizes a sort of freedom. Something out of the ordinary. Nonconforming.

 I told him I liked it.

 He opened the door.

 As he went around to the other side, I was starting to wonder if this was a date?

 On the way to his new office, we talked about Ohio and what I thought of my visit here. How my research was going. Those kinds of things. The conversation was easy and relaxed. Words fell into place effortlessly. I was comfortable in his presence. That’s not normal for me.  Finding out he had a Jeep made me start to wonder what kind of guy he really was. Not just my former attorney now. It was certainly appealing.

 We stopped at this large yellow house converted to office space. In its day, this place would have been a grand residence. I can imagine the family who once lived there. We passed many offices filled with people working. He introduced me to his collogues. Then we went to his office and he showed me around.

 Again, I was surprised how relaxed and unguarded I felt in his presence. We spent a few minutes there talking about what it’s like to take chances embarking on your own. It’s a brave move, no matter the industry you’re in.

 Then, we were back in the Jeep and on our way to, the good sushi place.

Did I mention it was hot and humid?

The restaurant was dark and cool though.

I ordered a glass of white wine.

He ordered an IPA.

We picked a few sushi rolls to share.

Again, the conversation was easy. But I’d noticed his eyes staring at me…into me, a little more as the evening went on.

He’d asked about my divorce. I told him the cliff notes version which left me an opening. I asked him where he was in life. As it turned out, he too was divorced.

Gulp.

In fact, he also had four children. That brought us to a whole new level of conversation. Discussing our families. There were good times and bad. Regrets and special memories. We talked about the journey we were both on. The battles, the failures, the triumphs.

I asked him what helped him through it all. He said running. Turns out he’s a long-distance runner. That, and he’s a Lee Child fan and read Jack Reacher novels. 

I’d met Lee Child once at Thrillerfest, and would see him again soon. I told him how dry humored the guy can be in real life.

After another glass of white wine and beer, we went back to current life and all the silly things you deal with.

At one point in this conversation, he leaned back in his chair. I’ll never forget this. He had this look on his face staring at me. It felt like he was making some kind of decision. I still don’t know what he was thinking, but right there he was deciding something…big.

I…on the other hand started talking like a freaking late freight train because he was making me nervous suddenly. Because at that point, I realized, if this had not started off like a date…it certainly was now.

After that, he drove me back to my hotel and walked me into the hotel lobby.  I said I’d had a good time. He said he did too. I put my arm out to shake his hand, goodbye. 

He put his hand in mine and pulled me in a hug instead and said to have a safe trip back home, and to keep in touch. We’d bonded at least as friends somehow over that sushi dinner.

I must admit when I walked away to the elevators, I was a little weak in the knees.

The next morning, I was on a plane again armed with great research for a coming novel and knowing I’d made a good friend out of my former attorney…and his name is Tony.

To be continued…

Oh, the sushi? Yes, it was good! :-)

 

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