tagRomanceLove is the Strangest Thing

Love is the Strangest Thing


Hi my name's Jim Sanderson, I'm six foot dead, thin, blond'ish and a Baker. At Thirty two I am still single, as was Pam, my twenty seven year old sister. I lived in a small village called Himpton at the old bakery, which I had resurrected with my share of the money from mums estate. Pam had bought a new house in a development about five miles away.

Pam tended to mother me, but I couldn't get mad with her. She was a bubbly natural blonde with a to die for figure, but a distinct lack of boyfriends. She had a job in London, commuting daily. Me, I liked the simple life, and baking made me happy. Over three years I had built up a good reputation, now I thought I might need assistance as the demands of baking and selling were becoming a bit of a chore.

I pulled the blind down in the window and went to lock the door, It opened just before I got there, a smart middle aged woman, well dressed, big smile came in.

"Jim Sanderson?"

"Yes, can I help you?"

"I've come about the job, the assistant shop keeper?"

"Oh yes, I thought the agency were handling it, could you wait a minute please?"

"Sure." she edged in the door and stood by the counter. I closed and locked the door, drawing the blind down.

"Please come through, I'll just be a minute."

I sat her in the back room and walked up the stairs, fishing my phone out, I rang the Agency.

"Hi, Lucy, yes it's Jim, Jim Sanderson. Yes, thanks, how are you? good, good. Lucy I have a lady here who's come about the vacancy, what! Okay, okay. I'm not sure how she knows then, okay thanks, no I'll deal with it. Bye, bye-bye."

I clanked down the stairs, she still sat at the table as I'd left her. She smiled, it was a good smile, making her look very attractive. I grinned back, then assumed a more serious face.

"Err, I just talked to the agency and they don't have any details for you, so I'd be interested to know how you found out about the vacancy?"

"Oh! You haven't spoken to Pam then? She said it would be alright to come over, she'd have a word with you."

She looked a bit taken aback, almost tearful. I smiled and looked at the land line, saw the flashing light, I had a voice-mail. I lifted my hand to gesture to her to keep sitting and walked to it. Pressing the button, we both heard my sisters voice asking me to see her friend Jenny about the vacancy, she's very nice and needs a job to make ends meet, she said. After saying she'd see me soon, the player clicked off. I turned and smiled at her and made an "I'm such an idiot" gesture, she shook her head and smiled again.

"So Jenny, I know now you're Pam's friend and you need a job, so why not tell me some more about yourself?"

"Well! err... phewth, umm, well I'm thirty nine and single, well divorced actually, thankfully no children. I live over in Bilton next door to Pam, and I'm jobless after my firm made me redundant in June last year. I've had a lot of temporary jobs since but haven't been able to find anything permanent."

"Okay, so this is a small one man business, I make and sell bread, cakes and pastries, I need someone who can be here on time all the time, isn't afraid of hard work and is personable and can strike up a rapport with customers. Can you do that?"

"I can, trust me, I'm a people person, I like meeting people and talking to them."

"I'd like you to sell them cakes and pastries too," I grinned.

She giggled and I felt that she would fit right in, there was something basically nice about her. I liked her straight away, I said I would phone the agency and say the post was filled, when could she start?

"Ohh, how about tomorrow, is that too soon?"

"That Jenny would be perfect, so shall we say about seven thirty tomorrow morning. I'll be down at five to start up and get the first batches in. I bake three times a day dependent on trade, so we'll be busy all day. Finally we need to talk money, I can afford about six pounds an hour, I will work out overtime with you and holidays as we go, is that OK?"

"Sure, I've no holiday plans so we can leave that for the time being, what should I wear?"

"I've got overalls and stuff, so if you come in and change that's best. I'll put any dirty clothing through my machine so don't worry about that. It can get mucky, so I find a need to change at least three or four times a day. I'm a stickler for clean clothing in front of customers. I have hats and nets too as we'll need to keep your hair covered. If you cut yourself, I have blue band aid's which must be worn. So you'll need to change any dressing when you arrive in the morning."

"Okay got that, well see you tomorrow morning."

"Oh finally, wear thin clothes as it gets extremely hot in the kitchen area. I tend to wear just boxers under my overalls, but you must wear whatever you feel is appropriate, but remember it's comfort over fashion OK?"

"Gotcha Boss," she grinned. I laughed and walked her to the door.

"Don't ever call me boss again, " I said smiling, "It makes me feel ancient, night Jenny see you tomorrow."

I closed up and began to sort the stock, what could be refrigerated, what would be scrapped. The stuff that couldn't be sold tomorrow I placed in crates by the back door. At six fifteen there was a knock at the back door and Sister Alice-Maria and another nun came in, I helped them load the crates into their van. I knew it went to help the homeless and I was glad to help. I hated wasting food, and this way at least someone deserving got some food in their belly.

I finished tidying and went upstairs to my flat. Opening the fridge I took out some pate and salad items, finding the bread I constructed a three layer sandwich, found a beer and went to the lounge. Sitting in my favourite chair, I sat back to enjoy a meal in the peace and quite. I must have dozed off because it was nine thirty and bedtime. I trotted to the bathroom, cleaned my teeth, had a strip wash and a pee. I went to bed and went off almost immediately.

At five I woke and showered and put on clean boxers and socks. I looked in the mirror, I'd leave shaving today, with light colour hair and skin, I could get away without shaving for a day or so. Going downstairs I pulled on a fresh pair of overalls and slipped into my clogs. I put the oven on, a big commercial beast, which took the trays of baking in on a wheeled trolley.

I started a dough mix and found my previously mixed dough from yesterday. I set it up to finish its prove and made my way to the mixers. I started to mix in the ingredients for the cakes for today. Busying myself I lost track of time until the front doorbell went. Remembering Jenny, I walked to the door and let her in. She grinned and pulled her coat off. I showed her the overalls and she went in the back to change.

She came back in and was pinning her hair up under a net. I showed her around and started her on transferring the proving loaves into the racks. When she'd done that I showed her how the oven worked and we pushed the first batch in. Closing the door, I saw her face reddening in the heat and she blew out her cheeks, as the door closed.

"I warned you about the heat," I said grinning, she nodded and fanned herself with a hand.

"Phew, you did, but it still a surprise," she said and grinned.

We worked steadily through the day. True to her word she seemed eager to go into the shop and talk to the customers and take their orders. At the end of the day the stock had sold well, better than the day before, some shelves were empty.

"Okay, well now we need to work out what we can refrigerate and sell tomorrow and what is going to the convent for the homeless run they do."

Jenny seemed pretty impressed I had an arrangement for the out of date stock. I explained how Sister Angela-Mary, the Mother Superior, had come to me and asked for my help. I liked her at first meeting and was glad to join her band of suppliers. I'm not at all religious but her faith and enthusiasm got me straight away.

Jenny nodded and we set too. Soon we were tidied and finished. I told her we were done and left her to change. When I came back she had the overalls she'd worn during the day folded on the table. I let her out and locked up. I put all the overalls in the machine and set the cycle for wash and dry. Turning off the lights downstairs I went up to my flat.

This continued happily for some weeks, Jenny and I worked out a pattern of work and seemed to know which way the other would go, thus avoiding banging into each other and losing a batch. Jenny was a big hit with the customers and more and more came to trust her advice on what was good that day. Lunch was taken in the backroom, a hurried ten minutes each, just time to shovel down a sandwich and a quick drink. Jenny also proved adept at managing to find a few minutes to make a hot drink for both of us, although I frowned on having it in the shop area.

She was also brilliant at appearing to go out one door and come in the other having changed overalls. I always grinned at her as she reappeared buttoning up the top two buttons.

"You must tell me your secret?" I said once, she grinned,

"I'm wearing four sets of overalls," she answered with a laugh.

She had been working for me for about six months when she asked for a couple of days off, her mother was ill and she wanted to visit. Despite the extra load it would cause, I immediately said yes and she touched my arm, mumbling a thanks. So from Wednesday until the end of the week, I don't open Sundays, I worked alone. I was then reminded how hard it was doing this by myself. I also missed her being there, her smile, her chatter with customers. They missed her too. I had lots of good wishes for her Mum to pass on to her.

Saturday evening I had a call from Pam, telling me that Jenny's Mum had died and she wouldn't be in next week, the funeral was Thursday. Pam would get flowers from us and attend as well. I was sad for Jenny, since Pam and I had lost our mother several years ago and it still hurt. I said it was OK, jokingly asking if Pam could fill in for Jenny. She giggled and said no it was a nice offer, but she had a day job.

We chatted some more and I promised to come over for a meal, she pressed and before I could say no, she got me to agree to tomorrow week for lunch. I sighed, how did my little sister do this to me. Ever since she was born that minx had me wrapped round her finger. I grinned into the phone,

"Poo, how do you do it, I can never, ever say no to you, can I?"

Poo was a family nickname from way back. She laughed heartily,

""Cos I am your bestest wickle sister," She said in her little girl voice.

"You are Poo and I love you for it."

"So say eleven thirty for drinks, lunch at midday, then you can get back and get ready for Monday."

"You are the best little sister ever Poo, thanks, see you next week."

"Come by taxi, don't drive here, promise?"

"I promise, now I'm knackered and I'm going to bed, see you next Sunday,"

"Nighty-night big brother, sleep well."

She clicked off and I put the receiver down. My first thought was for poor Jenny. She must be devastated, could I do anything? I scratched around for any ideas, flowers, a card, what? On impulse I dialed Pam again,

"..Four two eight, hallo?"

"Poo, do you think it would be a good idea to ask Jenny to lunch too, she's probably in need of company and she shouldn't be on her own."

"Jim, that's a great idea, leave it with me, that's so kind big brother, I'm proud of you."

"It's just.. well she's a lovely lady and.."

"Sweet, no problems Jim, I'll arrange it, bring flowers, for her."

"Yes, good, right OK, see you."

I put the phone down grinning. Then an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion came over me, I sat down at the table and put my head in my arms. I must have dropped off, it was dark and quiet. I checked the locks again, and went upstairs, dragging my clothes off I climbed into bed and pulled the duvet over me. I was out for the count and didn't wake until eight thirty. A real lay-in for me. I lazed around in my bathrobe and boxers all day and watched TV and read the book I'd started months ago. I loved a free Sunday.

The next week was hectic and I was flat out on my feet every evening, if anything showed the workrate Jenny put in this did, I owed her a bonus, that's for sure. By Saturday I'd had it, closing up I tidied and put everything away ready for Monday, then staggered upstairs to bed.

Getting up on Sunday I treated myself to a long lazy shower, shaved and inspected myself in the mirror. Despite my crap diet, I was pretty fit, almost athletic, I inspected myself carefully, not bad I thought. Dressing casually I collected my keys and wallet, put on a light jacket and phoned the cab company.

I then remembered the flowers I'd said I'd bring, or rather that Poo said I should bring. I walked two doors down to the florists, and told the lady what I needed. On impulse I said cost wasn't a problem. So ten minutes later I was standing outside my shop with sixty quids worth of greenery in a beautifully wrapped bouquet. The cab driver pulled over and we carefully put them in the boot. I belted up and to my surprise he drove with care and speed over to my sisters. I saw her car but no other on the driveway next door and wondered if Jenny would be there.

I paid the driver and walked across the lawn to the door. Ringing the bell I stood behind the bouquet. I heard the door open and Poo's laugh, I peeked round the flowers grinning. She pulled me in and I allowed her to steer me to the kitchen. I caught a glimpse of Jenny through the foliage, she gasped and stood. I pressed the flowers to her. Felt her hands touch mine as she gathered the bouquet into her body. I felt her tremble, then heard the sobs. Felt her move away, saw Poo put an arm round her and flick her head at me, leave us for a minute I heard Poo say in my mind. I nodded and moved to the back door, placing the flowers in the sink and walking out into the sunshine. Her garden was small but well tended, because that's how my sister was. I saw again the care she put into everything she did.

In a few minutes I heard a few steps behind me and turned, Jenny came towards me and I opened my arms as she reached for me. We hugged and I swayed slightly. She held me tight for ages, I felt her body pressing tightly to me.

"Thank you, the flowers are lovely, I certainly didn't expect that. I'm sorry about..."

"Don't, I know that at the moment you're feeling pretty raw, I was when we lost our mother. No need to apologise. Are you OK, do you need anything?"

"I could do with a stiff drink."

She relaxed a little, but I continued to hold her.

"Guys, drinks in the lounge, unless you want to stay outside."

"Coming Poo," I shouted, feeling Jenny giggle against me.

"What did you call her?"

"Poo, it's a family thing, I got muddled telling people her name and said Poo, it stuck, sorry it probably sounds a bit stupid now."

"No, it doesn't, you obviously really love your little sister."

"That I do, but I need to find her a man," I said as I leaned in to her, "so she can mother him instead of me." I whispered in her ear.

Jenny punched me lightly and moved away, without thinking I grabbed her hand, she stopped, looked down, then slid her fingers through mine, we gripped each others fingers tightly. We walked in hand in hand, Pam was sitting in the lounge. She smiled as we came in, gesturing to the sofa. We sat side by side and slipped our hands together instinctively.

"So, lunch will be about thirty minutes, time to relax, kick off your shoes and unwind."

Pam slipped her loafers off and lifted her legs up and under her, a drink held in her right hand.

"Thanks for asking me over Pam, I haven't managed to shop since I got back, cheese on toast would be the only thing I could scratch together at the moment."

She squeezed my hand, I squeezed back. I could get used to this. I had girlfriends before, but nothing major, so I wasn't sure how we were supposed to progress. Or maybe she was just grateful for the flowers and lunch. Perhaps I was reading more into this than I thought. I sat puzzled, what could I do to sort this out? I examined my feelings, Jenny was certainly pretty good looking, no she was beautiful, I risked a look at her. She must have felt my gaze as she turned to me and I saw her lips move. I smiled.

"Jim, are you listening, I said I would come in tomorrow."

"What? Sorry, I was miles away, you sure, I mean you can take whatever time you need."

"No, I want to carry on, I need to work, I need to be busy, I'm coming in, OK?"

"Err, sure, if you're sure it's what you want, I mean..."

"Jim, I'm sure Jenny knows what's best for her, so that's sorted. Big Brother are you okay, you seem a bit preoccupied, nothing worrying you is there?"

"No, why.. I'm sorry, look I think I need some fresh air, please excuse me."

I stood feeling Jenny's hand slip out of mine. I walked outside and stood in the garden. What was I thinking, the poor girl had just lost her mother and I was jumping to seriously stupid conclusions.


I looked up Jenny walked towards me, a look of fear on her face. I faced her, not knowing what to say or do.

"Jim, I need to talk to you, I'm sure you're as confused as I am, but..."

"I love you!"

It came out without prompting, my heart thumped, I'd said it, out loud, I'd said it. I knew it was true, I knew it from the moment I saw her smile, as she'd slipped in the door that day.


"I love you Jenny, I have from the moment we met, I love you totally, completely, utterly."

"Jim, this is such a big thing, I...Oh God! I love you too. I love being with you, working with you, everything about you."

"I was worried that I was making too much of the..."

"I know, me too, I thought you were embarrassed holding my hand, because.."

"No, No I thought you were just grateful for the support and I was leaping to stupid conclusions. I'm so sorry about your mother, I really am."

"I know, that's part of your charm. I know you genuinely care. You've a big heart Jim Sanderson, a very big heart."

Then we were kissing, there in my little sisters lovely garden. God it felt good. We held each other and time seemed to slip away. Finally we broke away and we were aware my little sister was stood in the back door frame, a wistful look on her face.

"Okay young lovers, lunch is served, or I can plate it up and you can pop in when you're ready."

"No, No, we're definitely coming now." Jenny giggled and I grabbed her hand as we walked up the pathway.

Lunch, as prepared by Poo was magnificent, perfectly cooked and served, we fell silent as we ate and drank. Dessert was like my sister, light, sweet and delicious. We finished with a superb dessert wine and then settled down to coffee in the lounge. I excused myself and slipped back into the kitchen, proceeding to load the dishwasher and do the pots and pans. Finishing I wiped all the surfaces down and made sure everything was sparkly clean. I walked back to the lounge a grin on my face.

"You've cleaned up haven't you?" Pam said with a grin.

"Big brother you don't have to do it, I can clean up after myself."

"I hate an untidy kitchen, anyway look on it as a little thank you for yet again a fantastic meal and company."

"My pleasure Jim, now why don't you two take yourself off and sort yourselves out."

"What ever do you mean?"

"Jenny, you're nuts about him, he's nuts about you, go on, go home and take him to bed."


"Jim, I'm an adult, so are you, go get her tiger, Jenny you are a very lovely woman, go home with this man and enjoy yourselves."

I looked at Jenny, she at me, I grinned, she laughed, I laughed, she grabbed me. I grabbed her and suddenly we were staggering to the door, Pam behind chortling out loud. We lurched onto the step, kissed Pam effusively and Jenny dragged me next door, as I shouted a million thank you's to Poo. Jenny opened the door and pulled me in. I heard Pam's laugh disappear as Jenny whirled me round and shut the door. Next thing we were all over each other

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