Elish Maloney pulled her dark blue Ford Mondeo into the first available parking space. Reaching over to the passenger seat she grabbed the handle of her brown leather briefcase and pulled it towards her as she exited her car. One day she mused to herself, she knew the well worn handle would snap, its days were clearly numbered, but she was loath to give up on it, it had served her well. Unlike her car she thought dismally. She slammed the door shut on the four-year-old model; lamenting the day she had chosen it. Thank God her brother was a mechanic! Next time she went car hunting, she would take him along. She knew he would agree, as it would save them both a lot of potential grief later.
Foregoing her jacket, due to the continuation of some of the best sunshine Ireland had seen in years, Elish wanted to make the most of every ray she could catch. She glanced around the car park while making her way towards the community centre, there parked just a few spaces away was the car of her dreams. The silver Mercedes convertible had been making an almost daily appearance in the car park for the last two months. She easily recalled the first time she set eyes on it. Having parked right next to it she instantly wanted to get back in her car and move it to another space. Brenda, her chain-smoking secretary was outside grabbing her first cigarette of what was sure to be many that day.
"Nice car." Elish said aloud.
"Belongs to a gorgeous blonde," Brenda replied lazily.
Brenda shrugged feigning nonchalance. It would be less than cool for her to be seen drooling over a car, a guy, sure, but not a vehicle. Elish took a closer look at her laidback secretary. Her hair was dyed with a combination of red over black, a pierced tongue completing the look. Predominantly black clothing was a recurring theme, her makeup just the right side of presentable, not too much black around the eyes and the lips were still holding a hint of red, but they were veering a bit towards blue. Elish made a mental note to keep an eye on the lips. The discussion about Brenda's appearance had been an amicable one, where they reached an agreement on the shading, but Brenda did tend to add a little extra over the course of time.
"Who is this blonde?" Elish enquired.
Brenda had just taken a long drag on her cigarette; she exhaled the smoke while shaking her head. "I have no idea. I saw her get out of the car about half an hour ago. First time I've seen her."
Since that morning two months ago, Elish had not once seen the blonde owner of the beautiful car. At first she assumed that the blonde had started working at the drug rehab centre next door as a Psychiatrist or counsellor. Her friend Naomi had shot down that idea during one of their frequent flirting sessions. It was a harmless hobby, which they both found mutually satisfying. Elish being a lesbian looking for another lesbian and Naomi being a happily married straight woman, it had become a joke between them that had been born out of a drunken staff night out when they confessed their mutual appreciation of the others looks. They were both very striking in their own way, El, with her dark hair and blue eyes, standing almost six feet tall. Naomi with her ebony skin and brown almond shaped eyes not much shorter. They had been quickly dubbed the supermodels when Naomi started the job managing the drug rehab centre, well with the names El and Naomi it was only a matter of time.
The only information that El had managed to get in two months was from Molly, one of the community workers, who told Elish that she had seen the blonde go into the butchers a few times. Now El knew she was a gorgeous blonde with a beautiful car, who was probably not a vegetarian. Why Elish was so interested in this mystery woman was a mystery in itself. She consoled herself with the knowledge that she wasn't the only one curious. Even laidback Brenda and supermodel Naomi would mention the mystery blonde. She didn't even want to think about what the guys had been saying.
Elish sat at her desk and removed the folders she had been working on the night before from the trusty battered briefcase. Putting on a pair of reading glasses she booted up her computer and immersed herself in her work. The continual challenge of offering quality services to the local community while working within the constraints of a tight budget was one that El relished with a passion. She had become very adept at securing additional resources through donations and grants by virtue of good marketing and presentation. Seeing her labours bear fruit as direct benefits for the community offered its own reward for El. It kept her striving for more.
A knock at the door interrupted El's cycle of typing and phone calls. She raised her head and removed her glasses.
"Come in Molly, what can I do for you?" El took the opportunity to stretch her stiff back. Molly had been working at the centre for years, long before El started her current post. Despite wearing the hats of wife, mother, grandmother and fulltime community worker, Molly seemed to find the time and energy for everyone she met. It was a skill Elish both envied and admired.
"Are you all set for Saturday?" Molly enquired, offering El a knowing look.
Oh God, El groaned internally, she had almost forgotten about the barbeque. It wouldn't be so bad, but she was hosting it at her house this year. The annual summer barbeque had become almost legendary since its inception by El nearly five years ago. All the staff from the community and the rehab centre was invited along with their partners. They saved for the first six months of the year just for this one event.
El plastered a smile to her face and tried to sound convincing. "Just about."
Molly, never one to be fooled easily smiled and sat down in the chair next to El's. "That's a pity, cause I was going to offer to help."
El let out a sigh of relief, "Would you?" She said hopefully, her face clearly showing her gratitude.
"Here's the list of what we need, all you have to do is get it and keep the receipts."
"Molly, you are a lifesaver! Thank-you."
Molly watched as El settled back down to work, putting her glasses back on. "Just one more thing El."
"If you don't get to the Butchers and the off licence soon, come Saturday they won't have what you need." Molly grinned as she watched El grab her bag and make her way out the door.
"Be back in a little while!" She called as she exited the door in a hurry.
After a quick trip to the off licence El found herself standing in a short queue in the Butchers shop. She popped in here a couple of times a week but never at this time of day. She idly wondered if she would see the mysterious blonde this time.
"Morning El, what can I get ye?"
"Hi Johnnie, I have a list for our summer barbeque, I'll pick everything up on Saturday morning?" she explained while handing Johnnie the list Molly had given her.
"No problem El. I'll have it all ready by ten. Is there anything else I can get you?'
El, was now the only customer in the shop and that was probably the only reason she could think of that would explain what she said next.
"Actually Johnnie, there is. Where is the gorgeous blonde that drives the sports car?" El rocked back on the balls of her feet arms crossed as she waited for the expected gossip from Johnnie. He was a friend of two of El's six brothers and had been coming round the Maloney household for years. When Johnnie just stood there with his mouth open El wondered if he had some sort of affliction. The man was never short for words.
"Eh?she's right behind you." Johnnie looked rather stunned.
El turned round and sure enough, there standing right behind her was indeed a gorgeous blonde. A not very tall blonde, with lovely full lips and a cute little nose, whose green eyes stared passively at Elish. Oh. My. God. Kill me. Kill me now!
El was completely mortified. She had opened her big mouth at the worst possible moment.
"I am soooo sorry." El hoped her apology would suffice, but the option of running away was looking more and more enticing.
The blonde said nothing; she just continued to stare intently at El, with her arms folded across her chest.
"Can we start again?" El pleaded.
"Sure," was the simple reply she received. El wasn't certain if the blonde was offended or angry with her. She could read nothing in the intense look she was receiving beyond a quiet patience.
"Hi! I'm Elish Maloney." El offered her hand for the blonde to shake, along with a pained smile.
"Pleased to meet you Elish, I'm Aisling Keenan." Aisling took El's hand and grasped it in her own warm appendage.
El smiled with relief. It appeared that she hadn't overly offend Aisling, despite her less than candid question to Johnnie. She took a moment to let her eyes wander over the blonde. Beyond her face there really wasn't much to see as a white coat that had some suspicious Looking pink bits on it covered the rest of her.
"So?you work here?" El asked tentatively.
Aisling nodded, "yep, I make the sausages."
Aisling smiled at Elish' disbelief. She held her arms open to indicate her attire. "I sure do."
Elish was living a version of her own personal hell. Here she was standing right in front of a beautiful woman who was giving her every opportunity to chat and she could not come up with anything that would impress the green eyed beauty. Yep, those are beautiful green eyes.
"So, interesting line of work you have." El heard Johnnie snigger and she turned her head to throw him a dirty look only to find that he was occupied with something. Turning back to Aisling, El offered a charming smile to try to cover her feeling of ineptness.
She could tell that Aisling was trying valiantly to hide her own merriment. Oh, great, she must think I'm a moron.
"Well, I get to mince around and it's provided a few new links."
Johnnie howled with laughter and El knew that all her family would know about her worst chat up attempt ever before that nights evening meal. She wondered if her mother would let her skip Sunday lunch. She doubted embarrassment would be a good enough excuse. Looking into those green eyes that held her own with a confidence that almost unnerved El, she saw the amusement there and they both began to laugh.
"So Elish what do you do?" The blonde had taken pity on her and El was grateful.
"I'm the manager of the local community centre." El was beginning to feel more relaxed.
"Now I'm sure that is an interesting job." Aisling stated with real interest.
"It can be. Listen, I could show you around, let you see what we do. The centre is always on the look out for volunteers in any capacity, or there might be something we offer that's of interest to you? I can even throw in a free cup of coffee." El was mentally patting herself on the back for managing to string an adult sentence together that wasn't likely to offend Aisling or make El feel stupid.
"I'd like that." Aisling removed her white coat and threw it at Johnnie. "Johnnie I'm off to visit the community centre with Elish." With that they both walked out the door, El making sure to throw a smug look at a bewildered Johnnie. Maybe Sunday lunch wouldn't be so bad after all.
As they exited the butchers shop El got her first real look at Aisling's figure. It was in a word, magnificent. A tight red T-shirt covered a toned torso and figure hugging hipster jeans showed of a cute butt and trim waist. Two thoughts were running through El's mind, please be gay, please be single.
El held open the door to the community centre to allow Aisling to enter. She received a polite thank you for her trouble. She could hear the voice of her mother at that very moment Remember. Good manners cost nothing, so use them. It had been a piece of advice Elish had taken to heart from a young age. Today she was especially grateful for that advice.
The reception area walls were covered with leaflet holders, offering a wide selection of leaflets containing information on a variety of subjects from healthy eating to debt management. Elish left Aisling to peruse them as she went over to talk to Brenda.
"Hi Bren, can you hold all my calls for the next thirty minutes? I'm showing Aisling around the centre."
Brenda glanced behind her boss to see the blonde who owned the sports car standing reading a leaflet. She quickly glanced back at Elish with a look of disbelief on her face.
"How?" Brenda managed to croak out.
"Natural charm." El responded with a wink. "Hold my calls?"
"Sure," Brenda had morphed back into her cool laidback fašade.
"One more thing Bren?Lose the blue lips." El chortled as Brenda used those blue lips to affect a pout.
Elish made her way back to her blonde visitor. "As you can see, the leaflets are the first things you come across when you enter the building. Brenda's idea," El motioned towards her secretary. "It works well for folks who just want to get a little information and Brenda can get on with her job, with fewer interruptions. People only approach her if they need further information."
"Very practical and efficient." Aisling commented.
El smiled, "Brenda's appearance may not be to everyone's taste, but she certainly does a great job."
"Yeah, looks can be deceiving." Aisling responded.
"They sure can." Their eyes held for just a fraction longer than normal for a meeting between strangers. El hoped it was a good sign. Elish quickly introduced Brenda to the mystery woman before setting of on the tour.
"Here we have employment services. Folks can come here for all things work related. Anything from assistance with putting together a C.V to free postage stamps and use of the telephone to contact prospective employers. I'll introduce you to Adam, the section head and he can show you around."
Elish looked on as Adam introduced Aisling to all the members of his team. He was very solicitous, as she would expect him to be with a beautiful woman. El noticed that the blonde was very at ease around all the people she was being introduced to. Frequently offering a warm smile and a friendly word she seemed to have everyone eating out of the palm of her hand with her humour and easy going nature. After her brief visit was over with Adam's staff they left the room to a chorus of affectionate goodbye's and a rather indiscreet leer from Adam. When his eyes met El's frowning features he quickly buried his head in some paperwork.
"Where to next?" Aisling asked with an enthusiasm that El found both refreshing and infectious. She continued to show her round, explaining the various needs the community had for each service offered by the centre. They eventually made their way upstairs to the community education offices.
"Hi Molly, where is everyone?" El looked around the empty office.
"Mostly out on visits or at meetings, can I help?" El genuinely thought the world of Molly. Nearing retirement, she would be missed by everyone when that day came.
"Molly, I'd like you to meet Aisling Keenan, she's come for a look around the place."
"Lovely to meet you Aisling," she replied as she offered her hand to the blonde. Molly stopped and peered a little closer at the Aisling. "You drive the sports car."
Aisling laughed, "I do indeed. Nice to meet you Molly."
"Have a seat I'll tell you a little about what I'm working on." Molly proceeded to tell Aisling all about her latest project. She had set up a twice-weekly tea dance for the pensioners at the Town Hall. Outlining the project for Aisling, Molly provided the information as to how she got the entire project of the ground from funding to advertising. Elish listened closely to the conversation. When Molly had came to her with the idea she had at first been reluctant to commit to the budget required. The town hall wasn't a cheap place to rent out, but it had so far proven to be a great success with the over sixty age group and Elish was delighted for Molly. Why the?she wouldn't? Would she?
"What's that look for?" Molly enquired.
"A thought just occurred to me Molly."
"Congratulations." Aisling laughed at Molly's cheeky reply.
El narrowed her eyes and looked at the older woman suspiciously, Molly sat there looking like the cat that got the cream. In that moment El knew her suspicions were correct. Molly had gone and set up a hobby for herself that she could indulge in when she retired. Well good on you Molly. She could hardly complain when Molly had made such a success of the dances. A few minutes later they were ready to move on.
"We'll talk later Molly, bye."
"Oh. Elish, could I have a quick word before you leave?"
El glanced to Aisling who took her cue easily. "I'll wait just outside for you." She left the office and closed the door behind her.
"I know what you did," El stated, with a distinct twinkle in her eye.
"Oh, forget that El, besides you'll never prove it." Molly waved her off.
"Invite her to the barbeque?
"Who?" El asked, confused.
"Aisling of course. Invite her along El."
"Have you lost your mind?"
"Mind your manners Elish Maloney, don't forget I see your Mam twice a week now."
"I'll tell her you've been chatting up the nuns again."
"You wouldn't?" Elish looked horrified. Her mother would be furious if she found out she had been teasing the sisters.
"No I wouldn't, but I had you going." Molly laughed.
"God, Molly. Don't do that to me."
"Tsk, tsk. Taking the Lords name in vain as well." Molly loved to tease her boss, El groaned and she took pity on her.
"El, invite her along." Molly softened her tone. "She's lovely, and don't think I didn't notice the way you looked at her." She accused gently.
"We'll see, Molly." With that El left to finish the tour.
"So, what did you think?" They were both sitting in El's office drinking coffee.
"I'm impressed. The set up is fantastic." Aisling enthused, "I have a question?"
"Sure, ask away."
"If there was one thing that you could wish for this place, what would it be?"
El certainly never expected that, but she already knew the answer, it was her constant wish.
"That's easy, more money. The simple fact is, the more we have, the more we can do for the community." She continued, "It's the most important and time consuming part of my job. Trying to secure grants and donations is a constant battle; there will just never be enough.
Aisling nodded, it was a familiar story.
"Do you think you might want to participate in anything the centre offers, or perhaps volunteer?" El prodded, always trying to encourage people to get involved, and make use of the community centre.
"Perhaps, but I need to think about it a little more. I would sure like to see one of Molly's tea dances."
"You and me both." They shared a laugh at that.
After they finished their coffee Aisling took here leave, El walked her to the door, wishing that she could spend more time with the cute blonde.
"Thanks for showing me around."
"It was my pleasure." El replied readily, Aisling had been a charming guest.
"I look forward to seeing you again." It was a statement that held a hint of something more, El echoed that feeling.
"Me too." They shared one last lingering look and a smile before saying their goodbyes.
El stood just inside the door and watched through the glass as Aisling made her way across the car park back to the butchers. When she turned round to go back to her office she was confronted by a grinning Brenda who gave her a knowing wink.
"Nice blonde." Brenda joked.
"Lucky car," was her grinning bosses reply.
El heard a soft knocking at her door. She turned to see Naomi striking a provocative pose in her doorway. Removing her reading glasses, El made a show of running her eyes over the dark skinned beauty.
"Verrry nice." She purred. "Good afternoon Ms Campbell."
"Likewise Ms MacPherson."
"Please, have a seat." El indicated the empty chair in her office, so Naomi opted for her desk instead. She perched on the end, arms braced behind her.
"Who's the blonde?" Naomi, never one to hang back, always cut to the chase.
"My, my. Do I detect a hint of jealousy?" El teased.
"Well that depends." Naomi leaned closer to El, "Does she know you come as a package deal?"
El burst out laughing. "Damn you're good Ms Campbell."
"But I can be very bad." Naomi dropped her voice on the last word, hoping to get some reaction from El.
El, made a show of licking her lips and raising one elegant eyebrow. "How bad?"
"You're a dog El." Naomi laughed.
"I wish." El scoffed.
"So come on, I want details. Don't think you can spend time in the company of a beautiful woman without me hearing about it."
"You know, she only left here about ten minutes ago."
"I know, I've been wanting to come over for the last half hour, but I thought I should at least wait until she's gone."
El laughed. "This place is unbelievable, you're all a bunch of gossips."
"Yeah, yeah. So come on, spill it." Naomi waved her friend's protests aside.
"The blonde is the mystery blonde, owner of the beautiful sports car. Her name is Aisling."
"Really?" El nodded. "Way to go El, so mystery solved?"
"Well kind of, a little."
"What do you mean? Did you not ask her about herself?" Naomi was puzzled.
El sighed, "Okay, tell me what you think? She's a smart, confident, funny, articulate woman who drives a lovely car and makes sausages for a living."
Naomi looked at El, "Sausages?" She drawled, clearly not believing her. "Pull the other one, El. It's got bells on."
"No, honestly Naomi, she makes the sausages for the butcher, she only works mornings."
"Well just what kind of sausages is she making? They must be some nouvelle cuisine speciality ones, otherwise we are both in the wrong job."
"As far as I can tell, it's the same ones that Johnnie sells over the counter, there's nothing special about them. Nice enough, but, well they're just sausages." El shrugged.
"Hmm, so tell me, is she gay? Single? Interested in you? And when are you seeing her again?"
"I don't know to all of the above." El responded casually, but she wasn't fooling her friend.
Naomi rolled her eyes, "El, usually if you're interested in a woman you have her naked within an hour."
El looked horrified. "That is a complete exaggeration!" El held up a finger, part for show and part protest. "Once that happened. And I still regret telling you about it!"
"Calm down stud. Your secrets safe with me." Naomi grinned, delighted to have thrown her friend of balance.
"I was on holiday in another country and I was horny." El answered defensively.
"And the lovely American ladies just fell for your quaint Irish accent."
"I like to think it was my other charms that swayed them." She replied saucily.
"Well you do have a fine pair to be sure." Naomi leered at the charms in question.
"And you have the gall to call me a dog." El scoffed.
Naomi gave her a saucy wink, "well it's been lovely chatting with you Ms MacPherson, but alas I must take my leave of your fine establishment."
"Likewise Ms Campbell, enjoy your hovel next door. I daresay the scenery will be much maligned."
"Not nice El, not nice." Naomi chastised.
"I don't do nice."
"We'll see." Naomi said cryptically then left.
El's eyes narrowed with suspicion as she watched her friend depart.
El slipped between the sheets of her queen-sized bed. Tomorrow was going to be a big day. She went over the preparations in her head, making sure there was nothing she had left out. Molly had been a terrific help, producing yet another list that El could use to make sure she got all the right condiments from the supermarket. She had been to the off licence that afternoon and picked up all the alcohol that would be required for the following day. Now she just had to make a trip to the butchers tomorrow morning to pick up the meat order. That brought forward thoughts of Aisling and Elish wondered if she would see the blonde tomorrow at the Butchers. She fell into a fitful sleep, with thoughts of the barbeque and a certain mystery blonde swimming around her head.
"Hi Johnnie, you got my order ready?"
"Sure do, El. I'm a bit busy can you just pop through the back and pick it up yourself?"
Strange, El thought as she made her way behind the counter and through to the back of the butcher shop.
"Oh my!" El gasped. There standing before her wearing nothing but a striped Butchers apron was Aisling, the mysterious blonde sausage maker.
"Hello El." Aisling greeted in sultry tones. "I thought that since you were so considerate the other day, I would return the favour and show you a little of what I do here." Aisling's smile was predatory and El could only nod a mute reply.
Aisling removed a butcher's apron identical to the one she wore from a hook and handed it to El. "Why don't you slip that on, while I start to prepare the ingredients."
"S?sure." El stammered. Without further thought she stripped of her clothing and put on the apron.
"Well, El, you certainly look the part, lets see how good your sausage making skills are, hmm."
Elish swallowed hard. "Okay," she managed to squeak out.
"I'm going to show you how to make wonderful pork sausages." El watched on in rapt attention as Aisling pulled a wooden stool close to the table where the sausage making equipment stood. Aisling removed a large piece of meat from a steel tray and put it onto a stainless steel work surface. "Now this is pork tenderloin," El continued to watch as Aisling ran a clean sharp knife over the piece of meat. "It is the most expensive cut of pork because it's lean, tender and boneless." she finished in a breathy whisper. Aisling began to cut the large piece of meat into smaller cuts, removing any fat as she went. "This is what makes me a good sausage maker, El. I care about what I put into them, much like a winemaker selects the best grapes for a fine wine." El nodded and licked her lips watching the way Aisling caressed her specially selected pork. "You see El. Good sausage making is a highly respected culinary art." Aisling looked at El, "Come closer, I want you to see everything I do." El moved to stand next to Aisling, her heart rate increasing as her proximity to the sexy blonde decreased. "Now we use the grinder to grind the meat coarsely, like so." Aisling demonstrated. "Then we add the other ingredients, I prepared those earlier and mixed them with water. I wish I could tell you what was in these dishes, but alas El, I can't. It's my special secret recipe, or as I like to call it, the magic ingredients that got me a sports car. "El felt like she was being hypnotised. "Now watch as I grind all the ingredients together, this distributes all the ingredients evenly throughout the mixture. It might not sound it, but this is a very important part of the sausage making process. Achieving the correct flavour balance is critical in producing the best sausages. And El?my sausages are the best." She finished in a breathy whisper as she pinned El with a deep penetrating stare.
Elish found herself in a quandary. She was standing watching an almost naked beautiful woman fondle raw meat. Could a situation be anymore ambiguous for her? This was the question running around her head as she watched Aisling transfer the ground meat into the sausage-making machine. Aisling stood up from the wooden stool and offered the seat to Elish.
"Now for some hands on experience, you can do the stuffing." She whispered sensually into El's ear. Aisling smiled as she stood behind El and guided her through the necessary steps involved in the final process.
"That's it, feed the mixture slowly into the casing. Turn the handle at a steady rate. Feel your body become one with the meat and the machinery."
"Hmmm," El groaned as she felt Aisling's body press against her back. Watching the long chain of unlinked sausage appear and curl into the metal bowl, she could feel the blondes breathing grow rapid and shallow as the bowl filled with her artistic endeavours."
"Oh yesssss." Aisling hissed. "It's beautiful, I can't wait to taste it."
El's eyes flew open in disbelief. She looked around her bedroom not quite believing the content of the dream she was remembering. Oh my God. I just had an erotic dream about sausages!
Elish stood in her kitchen glancing out the back door into the garden. The sun was shining. Her barbeque grill stood on the patio ready for action. The patio and lawn were covered with various forms of chairs that she owned or had borrowed for today. She glanced at her wristwatch; it was 1:45 pm, not long till her guests started to arrive. Thinking back to previous years, El was prepared for the worst. The annual staff barbeque was always a boisterous affair; it was a day of letting your hair down and blowing off steam. El was glad that her nearest neighbour was about fifty yards further down the lane. Her cottage was on the outskirts of town, offering more privacy, added to that old Mrs Fitzgibbon, El's nearest neighbour, was a bit hard of hearing, which was sure to be an added bonus after a few hours of drinking. Elish fondly recalled the conversation she had shared with her neighbour yesterday.
Elish walked along the lane to the cottage where Mrs Fitzgibbon lived alone after her husband passed away a few years ago. She rang the bell and hoped that her hard of hearing neighbour would actually hear it. It was certainly loud enough, reminding Elish of a church bell!
"Hello Elish. Come on in dear."
El smiled politely and followed Mrs Fitzgibbon into her home. Knowing that Mrs Fitzgibbon didn't have a lot of visitors, El always accepted the invitation offered by the kind older woman whenever possible. Sitting on the comfortable sofa sipping tea and eating biscuits, Elish listened to Mrs Fitzgibbon talk She was an interesting lady with an at times fascinating history.
"How are you keeping Elish?"
"Very well Mrs Fitzgibbon. Thanks for asking. How about you? How's the arthritis?"
"Oh, that's awful dear. Have you taken something for it? You know, I thought there was something wrong with your voice; it's not sounding the same. I was just saying to Karen the other day, you know Karen? She works at the post office. Well the post is just not arriving on time?"
And so it went on. Which was one of the main reasons Elish had taken to listening rather than talking with Mrs Fitzgibbon.
Elish recalled that she left the house without telling her neighbour about the barbeque. She decided to pop a card through her letterbox instead, which she had done that very morning. On the off chance that Mrs Fitzgibbon should hear anything, at least she knew that it could be coming from El's cottage.
Elish was pulled out of her musings by the sound of her own doorbell ringing. And so it begins. She took a deep breath before answering her front door to the first of her many guests that would arrive this day.
"Oh, you look well organised Elish." Molly pronounced as she set down a bowl of tuna pasta, her contribution to the side dishes. El hadn't been surprised to find that the first arrivals of the afternoon were Molly and her husband Bill; she could always rely on Molly to make sure she had things under control.
"I hope so Molly, I've been fretting over this since you reminded me." El replied, looking slightly anxious.
"Don't worry Elish, just have a few drinks and relax for the day. Now is there anything I can help with?"
The next forty-five minutes saw Elish constantly back and forth greeting her guests as they arrived. A quick head count assured her almost everyone was there. Just before three o'clock saw the arrival of Naomi, her husband Declan and one very unexpected guest, Aisling, the sports car driving, mystery blonde sausage maker. Elish greeted her guests and gave Naomi a look that clearly warned you have some explaining to do.
A hastily whispered, "She thinks she was invited," let El know where she stood, so she opted for a greeting that played along with the charade. "Hi Aisling, glad you could make it."
"Thanks for inviting me." Aisling beamed.
El smiled wondering when exactly she had begun to suffer from her current bout of amnesia. "You're welcome."
After that El's day took an unexpected turn as she tried to corner the usual suspects without raising suspicion. First up was Naomi, since Aisling arrived in her car, it didn't take Miss Marple to work out she was involved.
El had been patient. She was conversing with her guests while covertly observing Naomi, waiting for the right opening. She spent the rest of her time discretely observing Aisling. After all multi tasking was her forte. She watched as Naomi headed for the Kitchen, El excused herself from a boring in-depth conversation on consumerism with Michael the social worker under the pretext of getting herself another glass of wine.
"What took you so long?" Naomi asked, a smile on her face.
"I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about." El sniffed.
"I only came in here because I was fed up with you watching me, I thought I would do us both a favour and put you out of your misery."
"Fine, spill it?" El demanded.
Naomi mock shivered, "I love with when you get all dominant on me." El just glared.
Naomi sighed, "Okay, I went to the butchers and invited Aisling to your barbeque."
"That much is clear, so tell me why she thanked me for the invite?"
"Oh, that would be because when I extended the invite, I told her I was doing so on your behalf." Naomi replied casually.
"What possessed you to do that?" El sputtered.
"Well, duh! Because you like her." Naomi answered clearly stating the obvious.
"And you did all this of your own back?" Her enquiry held more than a hint of suspicion.
Naomi looked at the ground briefly and Elish knew instantly that she was contemplating what to tell her.
"The truth Naomi."
"Look she didn't mean any harm, she just wants to see you happy." Naomi pleaded.
"Who?" Elish demanded.
"Molly." She raised her hands in a placating gesture," She really only has your best interests at heart. She called me telling me all about Aisling and how the two of you were perfect for each other. After I spoke with you I called her back and she told me about asking you to invite her. I said you would never do it, so..."
"So the two of you came up with a plan." El finished, clearly seeing how this had played out.
Naomi looked sheepish, "Eh, yeah."
"Naomi." El dragged her name out, showing her exasperation with her meddling friend.
"Don't blame Molly, El. She really does just want to see you happy.
"I would threaten to string her up, but she has something on me. She knows I can't touch her," El, mumbled to herself.
Naomi raised her eyebrows, "Oh this I have to hear."
"She's threatening to tell my Mam that I've been chatting up the nuns."
Naomi burst out laughing. "The minx! Serves you right though, you shouldn't be chatting up women of the cloth."
"They enjoy it." El defended, "If I stopped they would be disappointed, besides it's a h?"
Naomi cut her off, "Don't you dare say it."
"Habit." El finished, impishly.
"That joke is as corny as the lines you feed the nuns."
"You're just jealous."
Naomi became serious for a moment. "Promise me you will make the most of this opportunity, El? Don't think I haven't seen you looking at her for the last hour." El mused that she wasn't the only one who could multi task. So much for being discreet!
"I'll think about it."
"Good girl." Naomi grinned, believing her work was complete.
By five o'clock the party was in full swing. Everyone had eaten his or her fill and the alcohol was in full flow. El's back garden was full to bursting with her guests either perched on chairs or sitting on the grass. The place was full of laughter and conversation. For the first time that afternoon El found herself sitting next to Aisling on the grass. The blonde had sat down beside her after returning from a visit to the bathroom.
"This is a lot of fun." Aisling said as she sat back a bit on the grass. El took a moment to let her eyes run over the exposed flesh before her. Aisling was wearing shorts and a cute cotton sleeveless top. El could see the muscle definition in Aisling's arms and legs. Nothing too bulky, but she clearly kept herself in shape. She had a light dusting of freckles on her arms. El thought they were cute, not an unusual sight in Ireland for sure, but Aisling's freckles were more fascinating than anyone else's. Even her feet were cute El thought as she trailed her eyes down Aisling's legs to where her feet were crossed over at the ankles. A pair of flip-flops leaving her toes open to the air.
They were both drinking white wine and El reached for the bottle nearby to top up their plastic cups. All thoughts of keeping the bottles chilled long forgotten.
"You trying to get me drunk?" Aisling teased.
El smiled, "Just being a good hostess."
They sipped their wine in companionable silence until Elish plucked up the courage to ask the question that had been nagging at her ever since they met in the butcher shop.
"I hope you don't think that I'm being to forward, but how is it that a part time sausage maker can afford to drive such an expensive car?"
Aisling smiled, she wasn't surprised to hear the question.
"My father bought the car for me. It was a present for my twenty first birthday."
"Wow, that's some gift."
"It sure is." Aisling replied softly, but Elish detected a hint of something underlying in her tone.
"You didn't want it," Elish stated. Knowing it was true.
Aisling looked at her, a little surprised that Elish had been so perceptive. She had been impressed by the way Elish handled the people around her during the short visit a few days ago. She had terrific people skills, but she had noticed that El also had a caring side to her. She seemed to really know people.
"I don't want to sound ungrateful. I did want a car, I was delighted to get a car, but the truth is, I would have been more content with something less showy, you know?"
Elish did know, she had sensed there was more to the car than it being a flashy status symbol. Aisling just didn't seem that type of person; El had known that within five minutes of meeting her.
"I'm still puzzled by something?"
Aisling grinned, "Why am I making sausages?"
Aisling cleared her throat, it was time to come clean, "I don't."
El looked puzzled, "but you said??"
"I know, but I just couldn't help stringing you along El. I mean you had just asked Johnnie about me?" Aisling sensed that El was not yet seeing the funny side of things.
"You were wearing a white coat." El gestured towards the blonde to emphasis her point.
"I know, I have to wear it whenever I pass through the butchers because of the raw meat in the back. I use it as a short cut to the offices above the shop; I can't access them from the pub due to the renovations. Whenever I'm in the pub, I wear a hard hat. I have to wear the clothing appropriate to my surroundings."
El was becoming more puzzled by the second, "So you don't make sausages?"
"Ah, no, I work for my father, as his accountant. He owns the shopping complex, he's your landlord El."
El's eyes widened in disbelief at what she was hearing, this little minx had strung her along big time!
"I'm sorry El, I just couldn't help myself the day we met. I mean, you had just asked Johnnie about me, I was wearing the white coat and?" Aisling shrugged her shoulders as she tried desperately to keep her laughter in, her face contorting with the effort. El was just about to say something when, her words were cut off by the shouting of some of her guests.
"Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!"
El groaned as she realised the night was about to be elevated to the next level. The games were about to begin. She turned to see Rosie, another community education worker and Adam racing each other to down a pint of Guinness. Rosie beat him easily, he would never learn. No one had ever beaten big Rosie when it came to downing a pint. His forfeit was to drink a glass of whiskey. Normally that wouldn't be too bad, but these were home measures. El knew Adam was going to be regretting this.
Every year someone came up with some new and inventive game, this year was no exception when after a game of truth and dare the Community Education workers produced two bin bags full of clothing that they had borrowed from the local charity shop. You had to select a card that had a style of music written on it, dress appropriately then sing until someone guessed the style. First up was Steve one of the drug counsellors, he stood dressed in a shirt and tie, holding a pint of beer and sang old songs for over five minutes until someone guessed he was a pub singer.
Aisling came out dressed in a ripped T-shirt, and some bleached jeans that were way too big. She started jumping up and down and screaming anarchy while playing air guitar, it only took seconds for folks to guess she was a punk rocker. El was impressed with the way Aisling threw herself into the game. She clearly liked to have fun. When Elish pulled out a card and read the word 'rapper' she couldn't believe it. There would be prizes for certain performances and the worst ones were sure to involve forfeits. She drank a bit more wine and decided to give it all she had. Ruffling through the clothing she found a baseball cap, some baggy tracksuit bottoms and a hooded top. It would have to do.
Elish walked with as much attitude as she could muster and swaggered into the back garden, her baseball cap on sideways. She started her rap, which she was just making up as she went.
"My name is Elish, that's with an E.
I know what I want so don't fuck with me
I like doctors, nuns, and accountants too
So you better watch out 'cause I'm coming for you"
The garden erupted into gales of laughter as she punctuated her performance with hand movements and crotch grabbing. She recalled seeing Eminem do that on MTV, it had struck her as odd, but she thought maybe he just needed to reassure himself that it was still there. Everyone guessed her song style easily and she ended up grinning and pumping her hips a little just to ham it up. It was only when she went to take her outfit off that she recalled her line about accountants. Oh, shit!
Come ten o'clock the party was still going strong, but a few folks were beginning to look a bit worse for wear. Adam had tried to chat up Aisling, then shortly afterwards he vomited on El's rose bushes. She made a quick note to get the garden hose out tomorrow. Two of the drug rehab counsellors were smoking hash. When El pointed this out to Naomi she had put her hands over her ears saying, "La la la, I can't hear you." Rosie had joined them, but El reasoned she wasn't a drugs counsellor!
Elish needed to pee, so she headed to the toilet inside only to find it full. Not wanting to wait in the small queue that had formed she decided to head to the bathroom upstairs. There she found Naomi standing outside with an ear to the door.
"What are you doing?" she asked, clearly puzzled by her friends behaviour.
"Shh." Putting a finger to her lips she beckoned El to the door and moved closer. "Listen."
"Oh my god, someone is having sex in my bathroom!" El squeaked.
"Don't be such a prude, El. I wanna find out who it is."
"Don't be such a pervert." El, retorted.
Naomi scoffed, she knew Elish was as interested as she was, only protesting because it was her bathroom. "Like you don't want to know as well."
"Maybe." El reached down near the door handle and pushed a keyhole cover aside, "Go on then, pervert, have a look."
Under normal circumstances, El would never have shown her the keyhole and Naomi would never have taken El up on the opportunity to look, but they were both drunk, so Naomi looked with El leaning over her trying to look as well.
"What can you see?" El whispered.
"Hang on, nothing yet." She looked again, "Oh my god, I see feet!"
"Who's? Describe the footwear?" El was definitely interested now.
"Hang on, both sets are going in the same direction."
El looked puzzled, "What does that mean?"
"It means?" Naomi wiggled her hips, "they are in the same position we are."
El looked down to see her pelvis nestled behind Naomi's backside, "Ooh, kinky." In a fit of playfulness El grabbed her friends hips and pretended to hump her backside. Naomi started laughing and trying to get free of El. Next thing the bathroom door lurched open and they both fell inside, El landing on top of Naomi.
El looked up to see a stunned and clearly embarrassed Brenda grab her boyfriends hand and haul him out of the bathroom.
"Oops!" El exclaimed.
"That's what I was trying to tell you, but you were too busy thrusting against me." They both burst out laughing at what had just happened, El was still sprawled on top of Naomi, "Oh but your ass is so irresistible."
"Get of me El!" Naomi screeched while squirming beneath her friend, unable to muster the strength to free herself, because she was still laughing. Only the sound of a throat clearing behind them brought El to a stop. There standing against the wall with her arms folded across her chest was Aisling. One eyebrow raised and a smirk on her face.
"Don't stop on my account, I was enjoying the show."
El scrambled to her feet, a mixture of horror and embarrassment warring for territory on her face. She stood staring at Aisling with her mouth open and no words coming out.
Naomi jumped to her feet glaring at El, "Oh that's great, have your wicked way with me and don't even help me up." She winked at Aisling as she passed her heading back downstairs to leave them alone.
El cleared her throat, "Ahem, ah how much of that did you see?"
"Enough." Aisling answered with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Naomi and I aren't ah, you know, we just flirt, harmlessly."
"Oh, is that what you call it?" El said nothing, "And I thought that the two of you were trying to spy on two people having sex. I would call that voyeurism, or being a peeping Tom, or Tomassina as the case may be."
"But we?" El gestured feebly.
"Ohh, I see. You mean the part where you were humping Naomi's backside? Harmless flirting huh, I'm just not sure that would stand up in a court of law."
El stood rooted to the spot, her jaw slack.
"I've seen a lot of you tonight Elish Maloney. I've heard a lot about you too. Do you know there are quite a few people keen to impart information about you?"
"The snakes!" El interrupted.
Aisling continued, "I might even pop round to chapel tomorrow to see the nuns, I've heard they will have a few stories to tell also."
"The nuns are the only people I trust to give you good information." El stated worried about the kinds of stories Aisling had been told.
"Really? That's a shame, cause I've been hearing what a terrific boss you are, a fantastic catch. I could go on?"
"Maybe some of them know what they're talking about." El hedged.
"It wouldn't really matter to me what they say, I've seen enough for myself."
"You have?" El's voice held a hint of the dread she was feeling.
Aisling smiled, "Definitely."
Releasing a breath she wasn't aware she had been holding, El relaxed into an easy smile. Seeing an opening she decided to take a chance.
"So, I was thinking, maybe we could, go out sometime." She asked hesitantly.
"I would like that."
"I'm free on Wednesday."
"Great." El felt relief, "Would you like to go for a drink or maybe see a film?"
Aisling smiled, "Either is fine El." "I'll give you my number and you can call and confirm?"
"Great, give me a moment, I'll be right back." El walked to her bedroom next door and picked up the pen and pad she kept next to her bed, as she turned to leave she saw Aisling standing just inside the door."
"I'm sorry, someone was coming up the stairs, so I?" Aisling trailed of, she wasn't sure what to do when she heard someone coming up the stairs, in hindsight it seemed a dumb idea to wander into El's bedroom. She was attracted to El; but she just didn't want to give her the wrong idea, or come across as easy.
"No, that's fine. Come on in." Aisling walked into the bedroom and perched on the end of El's bed. El sat next to her and handed Aisling the pen and paper, to write down her details.
"That's my home and my mobile number."
"Thanks." El took the pen and paper from Aisling and wrote her own details on a piece of paper for the blonde. "This is my numbers."
"Thanks," Aisling hesitated a moment. "Did you really invite me here today El?" Her hand idly smoothed over El's duvet cover. "It's just that when you first saw me today, you kind of looked surprised, well, actually you looked stunned."
Elish knew she couldn't lie to Aisling. Telling the truth was the only real option she had. "No, I didn't. We were set up and under other circumstances I may have been a little upset with the meddling of a couple of friends, but I'm not. I really wanted to invite you myself."
"Why didn't you?"
Elish took a moment to consider that question. "I was feeling a little shy. I know that might be difficult to believe after what you witnessed a few moments ago," El added wryly, "but you seem to bring out the shy girl in me."
"Really?" Aisling questioned a little surprised by El's admission.
El nodded, "Really. I like you Aisling; you're smart, funny and beautiful. I guess that made me a little more nervous."
Aisling blushed a beautiful pink, much to El's delight, "I guess since you're being so honest with me I should return the favour." El's ears perked up at this; she was very interested in what Aisling had to say. "When I was standing behind you in the butchers the other day, it was no accident." El's eyebrows shot up at this confession. "I've seen you before a few times and I thought you were a knockout. I've been driving Johnnie crazy at the butchers asking questions about you. He suggested that I find a way to introduce myself and that's what I was about to do that day, but you asked Johnnie about me first."
They both laughed at the way things had played out. "Much though I would love to stay here chatting I suppose I better go see how my guests are doing."
"Yes, of course. I've really had a lot of fun today."
"Me too." They both looked at each other, neither really wanting to move from their quiet sanctuary. El, simply because she was the host forced herself to her feet. She offered Aisling her hand to assist her to stand.
"I'll call you Monday to confirm details for Wednesday?"
Aisling nodded, "I look forward to it."
El felt herself lean forward slowly, she knew she was drunk and that was a major factor in the risk she was taking but she just had to taste the blonde's lips.
She slowly brushed her lips over Aisling's. It was the softest of touches. El leaned back a fraction, leaving mere millimetres between them, when Aisling made no move to withdraw El kissed her again, this time lingering longer. Aisling hands made there way onto El's hips offering further encouragement. El deepened the kiss as Aisling responded to her touch. Someone moaned, El wasn't sure who. Her hand moved into Aisling's hair, fingers gently caressing the back of her neck. A throat clearing caused them to break apart. El looked towards the door to see an unapologetic smile on Naomi's face.
"I hate to break up your little party, but some of your guests are starting to leave."
"Okay, thanks Naomi." El looked at Aisling, "I guess I better get back downstairs."
Almost two hours later and the last guests were leaving. It had been a very long day, but one that El had enjoyed immensely. Naomi, Declan and Aisling were the only guests remaining. El had just gone into the kitchen putting some glasses into the sink for washing up later. Naomi popped up behind her. "That's us leaving now stud, I ah, assume we are giving Aisling a lift home?"
"Of course!" El spluttered.
"Well you know, after what I saw in your bedroom?"
"I like her a lot Naomi. I'm not going to risk blowing it by trying to sleep with her before we even go on a date."
"Just teasing El, I'm really happy for you. I hope things work out."
"Thanks Naomi." El lightened the mood again. "You realise that I'm off limits now, no more flirting?"
"We'll see." Naomi leered and El chuckled. "Listen, we'll give you a little privacy to say goodnight properly to Aisling. I'll send her through here."
"Wai?" El never got to finish her protest. Aisling walked into the kitchen moments later.
"We've been set up again. I tried to stop her, but she insisted that we have some privacy to say goodnight."
"Ah, I see." Aisling ducked her head. The moment was a bit awkward for both of them.
"I'll call you Monday." El said softly.
"I look forward to it."
They both chuckled, a little nervous.
"I better get going." Aisling stated.
El nodded, "Sure." she walked forward to lead Aisling back to her friends, when the accountants hand on her arm stopped her forward momentum their arms slid around each other as they melted into a warm embrace. El leaned back and looked down into Aisling's eyes, she stroked her cheek and leaned down for another kiss. With the full length of their bodies pressed together this kiss was a little more intimate than the previous one they shared.
El groaned in dismay and pulled back from Aisling. "God, I don't want to stop kissing you." She said a little breathless from the activity and arousal beginning to seep through her body.
"Me neither?but I suppose we have to." Aisling lamented.
"Yeah." El took Aisling's hand and led her towards the front door and a waiting Naomi and Declan.
"Ah, here they are," Declan said, "Naomi said you two would be at least twenty minutes." He laughed as they both looked too Naomi, who just shrugged. They said their goodbyes and El and Aisling shared one last chaste kiss before they headed out to the car.
"Safe journey home you guys." El called and with a final wave the car began to move away.
El locked up downstairs, glancing around as she went. Her place didn't look too bad considering the party she had hosted. She climbed the stairs to the bathroom, going through her nightly routine before slipping under the duvet and hoping for sweet dreams about a certain green eyed blonde, sports car driving?accountant.