Andy thought he was probably the happiest man in the world right now, having Melissa, actually his next door neighbor, as his girlfriend. She fit the picture he had always had in his mind of the perfect woman, both physically, mentally and spiritually. She was wonderful. And the best part was that the feeling was mutual.

His sister, Sammy, had been probing him to let her meet Melissa and he decided that maybe it was time for that to happen. He loved his sister dearly, but she could be a rather loose cannon at times and he was always wary when they were together. Yet, he had sensed from the very first, when he had told Sammy about Melissa, that she was happy for him and might not submit him to the torment and torture that she was so adept at. So, with just a tiny touch of trepidation, he dialed her up on his cell phone and asked her to stop by that evening to meet Melissa.

“Oh my gosh, I’d love to do that. What time?” bubbled through the speaker on the phone. He had to smile at that response.

When he told Melissa about it, when she got home from work, she probed and debated about what to wear and how could she make the best impression on his sister and on and on until he was nearly overwhelmed, not imagining that this simple meeting could be such a momentous event.

“I can tell you she’ll have on very short shorts, some kind of a tight top something and either flip-flops or 3″ heel sandals, depending on how she feels. Probably a pony tail and some makeup, left over from her dressing for work. So, don’t worry too much about it.”

Somehow Melissa didn’t look convinced. She wanted to make a good impression and, since she knew that Andy and his sister were very close, she also wanted Sammy to like her. She sighed and looked at him. “I don’t know,” she mumbled.

“Listen, you go to your house and dress however will make you feel good about yourself. Crap, you’re a freaking cum laude. What to wear shouldn’t be that big a deal.” Of course, he had enough sense to realize that it was a big deal for most females, and quite a few males that he knew as well.

“Okay,” she answered, smiling, and headed out the front door and across the yard to her house.

Thirty minutes later she was back, dressed in a pair of yellow shorts and matching yellow sleeveless blouse that nicely highlighted her tan and hid the tan lines from the sports bra she wore when she ran and rode her bicycle, training for the triathlon that was coming up sooner than she wanted it to. She had on a pair of leather sandals rather than the flip-flops she usually wore when she was just being casual.

“Stop looking at me like that,” she said, grinning. “You’d think you’ve never seen me before.”

“Do you really want me to stop looking at you like that?”

“No,” she said softly. “You better never stop because it would break my heart.”

“That will never happen,” he added, giving her a huge hug. Then his head snapped back. “You smell wonderful. What the heck is that?”

After a giggle she replied, “Some perfume I got for Christmas from my mom a few year ago. Never had an occasion to wear it before.”

“Wait,” he chided. “You can wear perfume for my sister but not for me?”

“I didn’t need perfume to get you, you were easy,” she shot back, winking at him.

He started for her but she was too quick and zipped around the back of the couch, him in hot pursuit. They darted and dashed but the chase ended when he banged his head on the light hanging from the ceiling in the dining room. She ran to him and kissed his head.

“Being 6′-4″ isn’t always an advantage is it,” she pouted to him, kissing his head again. They were cut short by the sound of a car squealing into his driveway. He pulled Melissa to the big living room window so she could watch Sammy’s grand entrance. Actually, her name wasn’t Sammy, it was Samantha, and Andy’s name was really Anderson. But, to most of the world, at least the one outside their mother’s existence, they were Sammy and Andy.

Sammy’s red Acura had stopped and they could see her using the mirror in the sun visor to primp, something which surprised Andy a little. Then the door opened and she uncoiled her 5″-10″ frame from the seat and stepped out. Andy felt a punch on his shoulder.

“Look how she’s dressed,” Melissa said, an exasperated tone to her voice,” and remember what you told me. Oh crap,” but it was too late now. Sammy had on a fairly short skirt with a flowered print, a bright green sleeveless blouse, and little pale green shoes with 1″ heels. She waved as she headed for the front door and, unusual for her since she’d seen them there, she knocked. Andy wondered who this familiar stranger was as he opened the door. Sammy gave him a big hug and the usual kiss on the cheek which he returned, actually happy to see his sister and be able to introduce her to Melissa. But, before he could do anything she turned and threw open her arms.

“You must be Melissa,” she beamed, giving her a huge hug. “I’ve heard so much about you I feel like I’ve known you forever.” Andy knew that wasn’t quite true but also knew that Sammy wasn’t shy about helping out his relationship. “I’m Sammy, the dreaded older sister who constantly embarrasses her little brother.” She grinned at Andy.

“I’m so happy to meet you,” Melissa was finally able to say. “And likewise, Andy has told me so much about you that you seem like my sister too.” Again, not quite true but Andy couldn’t help but beam with pride at her response. Melissa was very awed by Sammy’s look, the green blouse highlighting the green eyes and emphasizing the very ample bosom it hid. With the shoes, she was nearly six feet tall which was emphasized by the very long and shapely legs that extended from the bottom of the flowered skirt, and she stood very straight, obvious proud of her height.

“Plus,” Sammy added, giving Melissa a knowing look, “I’ve never seen my brother happier than he’s been since you moved in.” Now Melissa’s cheeks reddened a little. “Don’t you blush,” Sammy continued. “I’ve been hoping he’d meet someone that would just swoop him away and,” she paused, looking Melissa up and down, “you look exactly as I knew his very special girl would look.”

The red in Melissa’s cheeks only deepened. Sammy put her hands on Melissa’s cheeks. “And that color in those cheeks tells me you’re exactly what he’s always wanted . . . and needed too.” She gave Melissa another big hug.

“Umm, I warned you a little didn’t I,” Andy said, laughing.

“Oh, shut up, Andy. You know I always tell the truth.”

“Yeah, right. How truthful is this way you’re dressed today? It got me in big trouble you know.”

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” She winked at Melissa.

They sat and talked for quite a while, Sammy asking a lot of very astute questions, but questions whose answers she felt would make Melissa more appealing to Andy. It wasn’t really needed but he loved his sister for doing it. And Melissa was totally taken with Sammy. Really, she was so much like Andy that it would be hard not to like her.

“When you going to take her to meet mother?” she asked, a sinister look on her face.

“It’ll happen eventually, but eventually is a long way off right now. Meeting mother is kind of like the triathlon you’re doing,” he said, looking over at Melissa. “It takes a lot of long and hard preparation.”

Sammy laughed. “Well said. Triathlon, huh.” She just smiled a knowing smile. It certainly fit. Then quickly she jumped up and said, “I should be going.” Another big hug and this time a kiss on the cheek for Melissa. “You’re a keeper for sure,” she added, then a hug and kiss for Andy.

As she was going out the door Andy called after her, “Take it easy backing out. I’m getting black marks on the new driveway.” She waved over her shoulder, climbed in and started the engine. He heard it rev up as the tires squealed to the accompaniment of white smoke as she zoomed out into the street. Then she pulled away and was gone.

“My sister,” he grumbled to Melissa’s delightful laugh.

Sammy smiled all the way to her house, happy for her brother’s happiness. And, a little jealous as well since she wanted something like that for herself. She was 26 now, not ancient but she was actually anxious to get started with her next life. Not that she was dissatisfied with the life she was living now. In fact, she knew that tons of girls would trade places with her in a second. It was just that she had a picture in her mind of how her life should progress, each step fairly clearly defined, and she was just anxious to get to the next step, the next phase or whatever it could be called.

She was home though and pulled into the driveway, the circular driveway that also branched around to the back of the house to where the two-car garage was hidden from view. The house was a beautiful log house, partially a graduation gift from her grandma, like Andy’s, but different in that she had begged and cajoled her father into adding money to it so she could get the house she really wanted, this one. It was located in a beautiful section of town, partially wooded and hilly, and was the log house she had dreamed about from her earliest years. It had four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, a lot for a single girl but she didn’t plan to be single forever. She actually loved history and had been tempted by some of the old, historic homes in the city but, she also loved the outdoors and the quiet sounds of the woods at night, so she went with her heart and got this house. It was on four acres of land, 200 feet across the front and about three football fields of depth that stretched up the hill behind the house where she loved to walk and often just sit, leaning against a tree and watching the birds and other animals playing around her.

Now she went inside, through the kitchen and into the great room whose ceiling soared three stories over her head and nearly took her breath away each time she passed through it. Up the stairs to her bedroom, its ceiling only two stories high where she changed from the clothes she had worn to meet Melissa into an old pair of shorts and a Hilton Head t-shirt along with some flip-flops. Back down the steps and through the great room, grabbing her guitar as she went and out the front door to the wrap-around porch. She stopped there, looking around with a big smile on her face as she certainly loved where she lived.

She sat down on the edge of the porch, her legs stretching down the front steps, and strummed a C chord on the guitar. She loved her Gretsch guitar. She had found it at an old music store she had stopped into randomly. A 1934 model, the wood having mellowed over its 80 plus year life, the tone mellowing along with the wood producing a tone she found restful and soothing. She loved music as well, as long as it was really music. When out with her friends she enjoyed their music generally, even some rap if the words were clever and original. But, here, alone with her guitar, it was different. Maybe it was the love of history that gave a clue for she loved 70’s folk and classic country and western things. Nothing was more relaxing or fulfilling that to sit on the porch or steps playing her guitar and singing some of those songs as loud as she wanted for all the neighbors were far enough away that she wouldn’t be bothering any of them.

A couple of chords and she began to sing,

Oh, I’ll twine with my mangels and waving black hair

With the roses so red and the lilies so fair

What was that? She could hear harmony. Was she going crazy. She kept singing. As she sang the next two lines she could still hear the harmony.

Then she saw him, standing at the bottom of her driveway, arms outstretched and beautiful tenor voice echoing through the trees and off the hills, wonderfully accompanying her strong alto. Now she waved for him to come closer and join her, amazed that he would know the words to this old Carter family favorite.

When I woke from my dreaming my idol was clay

All portion of love had all flown away

As he got closer she could see his short-cut blond hair, even the deep blue eyes, and could see that he probably matched her brother’s 6′-4″ inch frame. Plus, he was smiling, a broad and warm smile with white teeth sparkling in the warm light of the evening sun. And that voice, so clear and resonant. She stopped strumming and returned his smile.

“Keep playing and singing,” he said, only she heard, “Keep plying and singing,” and she was instantly fascinated by that voice. And, she remembered something from some of her classmates in college.

“Say bedroom,” she prompted.

He smiled broadly, and said, “bedroom,” and this time she heard “beedroom.”

Now smiling even broader she said, “I can’t believe someone from New Zealand can know the words to Wildwood Flower.”

In return he laughed warmly back to her. “And I can’t believe that you picked up so quickly that I’m from New Zealand,” only, of course, it didn’t all sound like she knew it was spelled.

“A classmate in college, so I got used to hearing it. But still, the words to the song. That’s what surprised me so.”

“I’ve been here four years now and I like those songs and the words are easy to remember as are many of those melodies.”

She began strumming again, then started singing.

If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles

At the second line he joined her in perfect harmony, so beautiful that she kind of tingled all over, those deep blue smiling eyes seeming to swallow her so completely she was almost having trouble remembering the words she knew so well. They sang all three verses, then she just stared at him for long seconds.

“I can tell from that look on your face that you’re wondering who the blazes I am and where the bloody hell did I come from.” More of that huge smile.

“That sums it up pretty well, I think.”

He stuck out his hand. “Malcolm O’Sullivan,” he said. She replied, “Sammy Whitworth,” not wanting to fool with the more formal Samantha, and as she stuck out her own hand she was surprised as he grasped her hand between his thumb and forefinger and turned it, kissing the back.

“M’lady,” he said very gently, “it’s indeed a pleasure to meet you.”

She took a quick breath to recover from her surprise and did nothing to pull her hand away from his which, to her relief, was making no effort to release hers.

“I live a ways up the road there,” he said, gesturing with his other hand, and I was just walking when I heard your beautiful voice drawing me toward it and, when I heard the song you were singing, I just couldn’t resist, so I joined in, hoping you wouldn’t mind.” He still held on to her hand.

“Have you lived here long,” she asked since she certainly didn’t remember ever seeing him before and she certainly would not have forgotten that.

“A month, perhaps. Not long.” That smile again. That and him still holding her hand was beginning to make her knees a little weak, so, she needed to take care of that.

“Come up here and sit down,” she said, gesturing to the big wrap-around porch.

“Ah,” he said, not resisting at all. “That sounds fine to me.” The porch had several comfortable rocking chairs and a swing and it was wide enough that that it moved perpendicular to the house rather than parallel. So, she gestured toward the swing with a questioning look and he responded by pulling on her hand toward that swing. That was fine with her as they would be sitting closer together. The swing had very comfortable seat and back pads and a pillow at each end. As they sat down he released her hand and she tucked her long legs under her, leaning back again the pillow and the arm. That way, she thought, she could look at him. Thankfully he sat down at the other end, leaning much as she had with his arm up on the back of the swing, looking back at her.

“You’ll have to do the work,” she said, laughing and pointing at her legs tucked under her. He gave a huge push with one foot and the swing moved back several feet, Sammy holding on to keep from falling out, and then it swung forward.

“That should last for a while, aye.” She had gotten used to the accent and different words of her Kiwi friend from college and she had actually found it a little annoying. But, hearing it from Malcolm’s lips was entirely different and entirely fascinating.

What was going on here? She’d just met him and, could that be her heart pounding that she felt? She shook her head, not sure what was happening since it had never really happened before.

“Everything okay?” he asked, a concerned look on his face.

“Sorry,” she stammered, “I was just thinking about something and yes, everything is fine.”

“A beautiful house you have here,” he remarked throwing his arm up to take in the entire house.

Should she tell him? Sometimes she was a little ashamed and other times she was very proud. Right now she wasn’t sure just what she was, but she said it anyway. “It was a gift from my grandmother for my graduation from college.”

He turned his head slowly to face her, his eyebrows raised. “I think I got 200 dollars New Zealand for my graduation which is about 150 dollars US.”

He was smiling but her cheeks reddened a little anyway. She had made the wrong choice she decided and wasn’t quite sure what to say in reply, but he was quicker than she was.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, leaning forward toward her. “Now I’ve made you blush and that wasn’t my intention at all. You’re a very lucky lady to get this house and you must have a wonderful grandmother.” He reached out and took her hand and patted it gently. “Again, I’m sorry. I also have a wonderful grandmother, actually had a wonderful grandmother,” he added, looking off over her shoulder.

“Now it’s my turn to be sorry,” she said softly, reaching out and taking his hand in both of hers. “I can’t imagine what it will be like when I lose mine.”

“No, I bet not because I certainly couldn’t have imagined.” Then he sat up and took a deep breath. “But, we move on don’t we. Life moves from one phase to another and we move with it.”

Great minds, she thought. What a coincidence that he would say that. Now she was facing another dilemma, one she was creating herself but, never-the-less . . . The decision made she said, “Would you like to see the house?”

An excited look came on his face. “I’d love that for sure,” he responded, his voice fairly dancing with newfound excitement.

Well, at least she had made the right decision this time. She uncoiled and stood up, bravely reaching out and taking his hand to lead him inside.

Malcolm let his hand be held, but he was also holding hers, and enjoying it. What a weird coincidence that he had decided to take a walk just as she had decided to sit on the porch and sing. And, what a coincidence that she was singing those songs. It couldn’t have been better if he had planned it. She was quite a dish, he thought, particularly those green eyes and, she was tall – he liked tall women. And, it was obvious, the way her eyes sparkled, that she found him pleasing as well. Who knows, he thought. Could turn into something nice given some time for each to decipher what the other was about. He certainly didn’t believe in love at first sight but attraction at first sight happened all the time. And that’s where he was, following those swinging hips in the old shorts into this house he was totally curious to explore. On the way in she grabbed her guitar.