"Melba? Like the toast?"
Argh. What was it with these Aussies? I sighed, rolled my eyes and replied, "Melba, like the Dame."
Jackeroo grinned and nudged my shoulder. "You're not plannin' on leavin' and makin' a big fuss when you get back?"
"Not planning on it."
He laughed, then sobered a bit. "Didn't mean to doubt your dependability, love."
"I know you weren't, Jackeroo, and I appreciate it," I said, managing a smile. Usually, it was the other way round: being dumped by your employer, then being "wooed" and "invited" back, with stipulations.
Sometimes, being a contractor sucked.
Jackeroo, bless him, was more subtle than people gave him credit. "Well, I don't see any reason to make a fuss. Lemme know if you need anythin'."
"Much appreciated, mate."
"Love is not what I'm looking for right now. In fact, I'm happier without it."
"That's pretty sad. How can you live with someone, sleep with someone, share their life, without being in love?"
"Easy." She flashed her diamond bracelet at me and the light threw rainbows on the ceiling. "There are other things in life to live for. Things a lot more tangible, my dear. I'm what you educational types call--what is it?--a kinesthetic learner, a visual learner. I need to see, to feel, my reassurance of his love and devotion."
I stared down at my cold tomato soup. THe cool, matter-of-fact tone just appalled me. How empty Mrs. Wallace's life was, with all of her possessions, but without a soul.
And I had to humor her to ensure Keith had a job.
This was going to be more trouble than it was worth to me. But unfortunately, it was necessary.
"It seems funny to say so cliche', but there has to be a reason why we keep meeting like this."
He laughed and extended a hand. "Someone's either trying to tell us something, or we're the victims of a massive cosmic joke." He smiled to take the sting out of his words. "Constable John Brrennan, RCMP."
She blinked and shook his hand. "Um...you're a Mountie?"
Brennan laughed again. "Yes, but I don't have a dog named Diefenbaker. Otherwise, I've got the uniform and the hat."
Karen rolled her eyes. "You're probably sick of all the 'Due South' jokes."
"Eh, I'm used to it. I get a lot of flack, being from Up North, but I just let 'em roll off my back." Brennan shrugged good-naturedly.
"No offense, but what's a Canadian doing this far south? The weather?"
He sighed and replied, "I'll have you know that the sun does make an occasional stop in Halifax on the way from Toronto. I have relatives here."
"Hey, so do I. We already have a few things in common." Karen chuckled and thought, This is going to be an interesting vacation.
Note: RCMP stands for 'Royal Canadian Mounted Police', the national police force of Canada. "Due South" was a Canadian crime show (with comedic humor) that ran from 1994-99. It featured Constable Benton Fraser (with a deaf wolf-dog named Diefenbaker) of the RCMP, who teamed up with Chicago Detective Ray Vecchio. It plays on the stereotypical 'gentle, polite' Mountie's partnership with the more emotional, gritty American cop.