Not a day went by that Danielle Fontaine did not think of John Grimm. Perhaps this was inevitable because of working with Samantha. And at least once a day her heart broke as she thought back to happier times when loving him from a distance had been enough.
She had never been able to not compare herself to Samantha Grimm. Just looking at the attractive older student made her feel bland and insignificant. With nondescript features and at only five foot tall she often thought of herself as colourless and often wished that genetics had blessed her with at least one stand-out feature. Like beautiful eyes or a perfect smile. At the age of nineteen it felt like she was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women and attractive men who did not even realise that she existed. Samantha, however, had always been the exception. From their first introduction on the steps of the university library, she had seen something in her that nobody else had. In that one year together they had been inseparable, and when Samantha left after graduation it was with promises to keep in touch. It was a promise she kept. It was during the Easter holidays of that year that Samantha first introduced her to John. They had gone home to Samantha’s parents’ house in the country eager to spend the holiday in relative peace and quiet. The idea of retreating from their hectic schedules had been Sam’s and Dani had quickly agreed. “The idea of hiding from the world has never appealed as much as it does right now” she told Sam on the way out of the city. “I know what you mean’ Sam said. ‘ I need at least a couple of days without looking at a textbook or touching my computer. I only wish that John had been able to make it for the holiday. I would have liked you to meet him’. Sam looked out the car window and saw the buildings and high rise apartments slowly fade away behind them. She was glad that she didn’t have to face the house alone. It had been more than ten years since her parents’ death but she still felt uneasy being alone in the house. John, she believed, felt it even more acutely than she did. He, however, would never admit it. ‘I’m sure I’ll get to meet him eventually’ Dani smiled.
They arrived at the small cottage less than an hour latter and both felt an immediate sense of peace settle on them. The house sat relatively hid from it’s nearest neighbours. Large trees blocked the view at front and the house itself sat quite a way back from the small country road on which it was found. Out the front an old fashioned letterbox sat lent of balance and beneath grew a posy of daisies that were in full bloom. The old white picket fence that surrounded the house was in desperate need of a paint job, but it gave the overall picture a charming appeal that soothed Dani.
The house had been left virtually abandoned over the last few months and the lawn was overgrown and in desperate need of mowing. Under the two front windows roses grew haphazardly and covered a majority of the front wall.
‘Sorry about the mess’ Samantha apologised sheepishly as she moved slowly up the path leading to the door. ‘I meant to call the local Mowing service and get them to tidy it up but it just slipped my mind’. Dani looked around and couldn’t help feel entranced by how scenic it was. She smiled broadly and laughed. ‘Are you kidding? It’s gorgeous!’ She followed Sam up the path and waited while she unlocked the front door. ‘My mother used to love her roses’ Sam said as she pushed open the door. ‘John was forever getting into trouble with her from climbing on the lattice work’ she remembered laughingly.
Inside the cottage Sam moved quickly to turn on the power and open windows. The house smelt dusty and needed fresh air. Dani moved to help and within moments a cool breeze blew clean air in and stale air out. ‘God I need a coffee’ Sam said five minutes later as the girls made their way to the small kitchen in the back of the house. ‘Just as well we brought along a few food necessities’. Dani pulled up a chair at the cosy dining table that took up most of the kitchen and stretched her arms above her head. ‘coffee sounds good’. The large kitchen window above the sink allowed a perfect view of the back yard and Dani could see the many wild flowers that grew. In the air the scent of jasmine floated and she was unable to help but feel a level of contentment that she had never known before. ‘How easy it would be to live here’ she thought quietly to herself. The sound of a distant car broke her away from her reverie and she saw Sam move quickly out of the kitchen and towards the front of the house. ‘That sounds like John’s old Ford’ she called back over her shoulder as way of explanation. Dani heard the hopefulness in her friends’ words and wished that it was indeed her brother just so that she wouldn’t be disappointed. She wasn’t.
Moving quietly to the front of the house Dani heard the opening and closing of car doors and muffled greetings exchanged. She arrived in time to see Samantha being swept off her feet by a large man that was no doubted the mysterious John. Her heart warmed to see the exchange and she was so caught up in the moment that she was unprepared when he finally put his sister down and turned to look at her. Dani felt her breath catch in her throat. He was, quite simply put, the most handsome man she had ever seen. This was the first thought that managed to go through her mind. Then he smiled and she forgot how to think altogether.