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Emily Frankel. All rights reserved.

Rose – page 4
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rosequote4aThe desserts were selling like hot cakes. Re-positioning the plates, Rose caught Edwin Winslow looking at her and looked away. She didn't want him thinking she was sending him signals, but Rose found herself humming a bit of the national anthem.

Watching her, Wynn found himself carrying on an imaginary dialogue with her, about things he observed in the course of the evening.

Suddenly everyone was leaving. The annual fair was over. Unplugging the amp, packing, stacking the station's sound equipment in a corner for the van to pick up tomorrow, Wynn told himself to hurry, get over to her booth and introduce himself.

She was gone by the time Wynn finished. He called goodnight to Hank and heard his voice echoing in the empty corridors. Outside, tiredness took over. The glimmer of excitement and curiosity about a woman that made him feel alive all evening was gone, leaving him in the empty fenced-in place he'd been stuck in for months.

Telling himself in his father's rebuking tone, "You missed the boat, boy," Wynn headed home.
For no reason, except that Mother Nature had surprised central Pennsylvania with a spring night and one unexpected thing breeds another, he took the longer scenic route via the parking lot.

There she was!

In the light from the street lamp, the dandelion fuzz was pale gold. She was sitting cross-legged on the ledge of the brick fence. Hunched over, half hidden by the shopping bags that surrounded her, she looked like a teenager reading some forbidden book. But as he approached he saw that it wasn't anything like that. She was taking off her high-heels, massaging her toes, putting on sneakers.

He cleared his throat.

She looked up.

He blurted out, "It's me, the one who sang the "Star Spangled..." The way her eyes beamed straight into his made him lose track of what he was saying.

"You...you're going jogging?"

"Walking." For a half-second she wondered whether or not to use his name. Used it. Pretending he was a stranger was phony. "My home is just down the street, Mr. Winslow."

"You live on Rose Avenue? So do I. Let me help you." He picked up her shopping bags, wondering how she'd found out his name, pleased, tickled like a kid who'd just gotten a valentine from the prettiest girl in the school.

He latched onto the first thing that came to mind. "Great exercise, walking! And jogging, biking—you like biking?" He took her smile to mean yes, found himself trying to formulate an invitation, at the same time that he was picturing the three bikes—his, his son's, his wife's that were gathering dust in the garage. Suddenly he was afraid he'd offend Mrs. Marechal.

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