It was a sunny Saturday, and Rickie was driving along Jalan Stampin, ostensibly checking out several properties for sale in the area. In reality, he was heading for Meaghan Torno's neighbourhood. He got her address from Raine, who razzed him good naturedly but shrewdly; luckily, he managed to deflect most of her pointed comments. Still, he was happy to finally be out of her sharp-eyed presence.
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He slowed down as he approached the final turn onto her street. The terrace houses were typical of the area; two-storey attached homes with small front yards and chain link fencing. His palms started to sweat as he realized what he was doing. He pulled over the SUV and stopped; this felt tantamount to stalking. But, he argued to himself, since she hadn't called him and hadn't given him her phone number, the only way to contact her was face to face.
His inner monologue was broken by a tapping on the driver side window. He rolled it down to see the blonde teenager from that evening in Miri. She was grinning from ear to ear, her blue eyes twinkling.
"Hi! I remember you. Was the party fun? I had to wait for my sister to finish that night before we could leave. It was boring, so that's why I went outside so I could practice my music. You said you liked my playing. Do you play the flute too? What are you doing here?" The questions came out rapid-fire, as Rickie sought a way to answer them.
"I'm in the neighbourhood looking for some properties for sale. Do you live nearby?" Rickie asked carefully. The girl put her hand on the door.
"We live a couple of blocks from here. I'm Tina," she added, "but my sister calls me Leaf. She might be home now. Do you want to stop by?"
"If it won't bother anyone. Is it just you and your sister at home?" Rickie couldn't believe his luck. "If you want, I can drive you there."
Tina immediately opened the passenger door and hopped inside, taking in the burlwood dashboard and leather seats. "This is really nice," she said admiringly. "Just take the first right and I'll show you where our house is."
~ ~ ~
Today was payday, and Meaghan had walked home with an armful of groceries. Leaf's birthday was coming up soon, and her favorite cake flavor was chocolate fudge with coconut ice cream. The ice cream would have to wait until right before her birthday; the freezer portion of their old refrigerator wasn't cold enough to keep the ice cream from becoming soft.
She hid the bittersweet chocolate behind some dishes and had begun sorting the rest of the foodstuffs into the pantry when she heard the front door open. Leaf was home, and apparently brought a friend from the way she was chattering. Meaghan wiped her hands on a dishcloth and stepped out of the kitchen to welcome them.
The dishcloth hit the floor with a soft plop as Meaghan looked into the cerulean eyes that had haunted her the past week.