Sky did not take the news that Bobie was missing very well, at first she denied it, thinking that someone was playing a cruel joke but when this didn't seem to be the case, she became furious. The fury soon led to tears. Barbara had never seen her like this, she did all she could to calm the woman, try to be a voice of reason but this time Skylar Richmond would have none of this. She told the woman to leave, that she had packing to do and places to call. So Barbara did as her boss asked.
But before she walked out the door of the apartment on the top floor of Majestic Towers, she said, "I will go, not because you huffed and puffed but because it may do you some good to think this out. We both know that Bobie would not just vanish, use your skills, I am sure there is a trail out there that only you could find. I will take care of the office, you find Bobie, get yourself together. Oh and call me."
Sky watched the woman walk out the door, it was obvious Barbara was hurting as well and she could have kicked herself for being so insensitive. Her friend, the woman that kept Global together needed a friend at that moment and she could not be one. She was sorry for the way she spoke to her and only hoped that Barbara would understand.
Closing and strapping the last suitcase, the phone rang and she hurried over to pick up the receiver, though her heart was racing she hoped it was good news. "Richmond here."
"Bern here. Sky, where are you? We were supposed to meet, or have you forgotten?"
Subconsciously she ran her left hand through the lustrous locks of red hair that had found their way onto her face. As the hair fell back in place she bit at her lower lip before saying, "No, I had not forgot but something has come up and . . ."
"Don't tell me you broke a nail and need to get a manicure."
Sky wasn't sure if Bern was joking or serious and so she said, "Not funny. Besides, it is more you than me that is always running to get a manicure."
There was silence before the man said, "Got me there Richmond. Trying to add a little levity but I can see you are all serious so tell me what is going on?"
"It is too much to go over on the phone, I just need to let you know I can't handle the thing you wanted."
"Just can't. You know me, I wouldn't just bail on you unless there was a good reason, well there is and I need to take care of this. Get Larry to go. Get Sam, get anyone else. They can do it."
"It's not that they can't do it, but we have a contract."
For a second it sounded like Sky may have been crying or trying her best to hold back tears.
He was upset, at the same time concerned. "Tell me what is wrong? I will do whatever I can to fix it."
"Can't, but nice of you to offer. Believe me when I say, I have to go out of town for a while, and it is something I cannot avoid. Something I have to do, something I want to do. Cripes sake Bern! Can't you give a woman some leeway!"
"All right Skylar, you do whatever it is you have to do, but if there is anything I can do to help, just let me know and I will call in the troops. From the sound of your voice, it might be a good thing."
"Bern, I apologize for leaving you in the lurch like this, I hope you know, this is important to me, I would not do this unless it was."
Bernie Herbella sat behind his massive oak desk, the pencil in his hand tapping on the veneer as if sending Morse code. He knew Skylar Richmond, he knew her well and the one thing she could always be counted on was her work. There was no one he would trust with this delicate assignment that could have handled it as well as she. He also knew by the tone in her voice, something was amiss and if she would not tell him, then he would stop by Global and have a heart to heart talk with Barbara. "All right, I give. You do whatever it is and just promise me you will be careful. We will talk when you get back and just when might I expect that?"
Sky felt a smile cross her lips for an instant before she replied, "Thanks, you're a good friend. Ciao."
"Wait . . . Wait . . .Sky?" All he could hear was the dial tone. His hand held the receiver as if it was the last connection to a woman he always knew he could count on. The last time he might ever hear the melodic sound of Skylar Richmond, even when she was upset, he knew she didn't mean a word she said. Shaking his head, he placed the receiver back on the phone, sighed before muttering, "You got it bad old man and that isn't good. She'll be back and with stories that will probably curl your toes. Now, I must go pay Global a visit." He stood, picked up his keys and left the office.
Sky had changed her mind about the luggage. She realized carrying it around would just make it harder on what she had to do, deciding to use her old faithful duffel bag and one small carry on case. After re-packing, she walked out of the room stopping once to glance back at the mess she had left. Closing the door, she made sure that the do not disturb sign was showing and made a mental note to talk to the Concierge about this. Walking toward the elevator, all Sky could think about was what Barbara had said, 'you have skills use them.' As she stepped into the elevator, Skylar Richmond inhaled deeply then murmured, "I just hope some of them pay off now. I'm coming Bobie, wherever you are, hold on."
Barbara was standing at a cabinet, filing, doing her best to keep her mind occupied when Bernie Herbella strode into the office. "Barbara, I need to talk to you. Now!" She stopped what she was doing, turned toward the direction of his voice. The man looked like a God the way he stood, so confident, and the way the sun light was bouncing off his golden locks it looked like he even had of all things, a halo.
Walking toward her desk, she set the folders down then said, "What brings you clear over here? I know you are a busy man."
Bernie's blue eyes held a shade of darkness to them as she said, "It's about Sky and if anyone knows what is going on, it has to be you."
Sitting, she placed her arms on a calendar that lay open on her desk and said, "I have no idea what you are talking about. Sky is . . ."
He leaned down, his face within an inch of hers and whispered, "Sky is in trouble and we both know it."
The fragrance of the man's after shave cologne was lifting Barbara to a lovely place and all she wanted to do was drift that is until he continued, "Get your head out of the clouds, come back down to earth and tell me everything." He had pulled up a chair, sat and folded his arms across his chest in a very relaxed manner. The sparkle had come back in his eyes, this followed by a grin when the woman's color went from pink to red.
"I . . . I, you caught me off guard. There is nothing to tell. If you want to know about Miss. Richmond, I suggest you talk to her."
He gazed at the woman, for the first time, he actually took Barbara and her attributes into his realm. She was striking, why had he never noticed this before? He was certainly going to change this if Sky's loyal friend would allow him. "You know, if you let your hair down more often, it would give you a more open persona."
"Look who is talking. What most people see of you is a stern, disciplined man. One that lives the high life, one who not only talks the talk but does the walk too. I know you very well Bernie Herbella. If you recall, I worked for you at one time. I also have witnessed and heard about your exploits. And this is one woman that will not fall under your spell."
He tossed his head back and laughed, it was more of a tickled laugh than anything else. "Why have I not noticed how passionate you are, how dedicated you are, how much I would like to take you to lunch?"
Leaning back in her chair, she studied the man. He was so sure of himself it almost made her sick to her stomach but at the same time, she was drawn to him. "Look, I am sure you are a nice man, that you treat your women wonderfully, however I am not one of them nor will I be. So if all this is to get me to loosen up about Sky. The answer is the same and you need to talk to her."
He stood, "I did and she wouldn't tell me anything. Just that she had to go out of town and it was important. Since Sky is gone for a few days can, you tell me when her partner, Parker will be in? I will just have to work with her."
Barbara stood and walked to the door, she held it open and said, "Don't know. Guess you will just have to talk to Parker yourself."
As he approached her, the man gazed into the woman's eyes, then reached out took her right hand in his and said, "Till we meet again. And when you talk to either of the elusive women, tell them, I am looking for them and if I don't hear anything more by tomorrow, I will start my own search party."
Barbara watched the man walk out the door, he even walked like he had the world in his hands. Though he seemed so confident, she knew there was a side to Bernie Herbella that was not all show and for an instance she thought she caught sight of it. Closing the door she walked back to the desk and sat. The pile of folders that lay in front of her was nothing to what Sky was probably going through. She hoped Bobie was fine and that the two women would soon meet up then things could get back to business as usual.
After talking to Steve Coulier, she left the Majestic, carrying a duffel bag over one shoulder and the small carry on case in the other hand. Steve Coulier watched the woman stride from the building and marveled at Skylar Richmond who seemed to be oblivious of the passerby's that stopped to stare. He had seen many when in the service, but never anyone that brought about feelings of wonder. He too wondered just what it would be like to know her even for a small time, for those that had contact with her on a more personal schedule, he knew they were the lucky few.
Sky hailed a cab and had the man take her to Walmart. When the cab driver turned to gaze at the beauty that sat looking every bit like a movie star, he had to ask, "Walmart? Are you sure Miss?"
Sky nodded. "I am. Take me to the closest one."
He shook his head, muttering under his breath, "All right, it's your quarter."
Once he pulled onto the parking lot, Sky reached over and tapped him on the shoulder. "Can you take me around back? I'd rather go in that way, less noticeable."
He smiled. "Sure, but I have to tell you, front or back, you will be noticed."
When she stepped from the cab, she handed the man a hundred and said, "I'll try to hurry but please wait for me, I will make it worth your while."
Taking the money he said, "I'll be right here. Take your time. The meter is running and humming right along."
Sky took her purse and stepped from the cab, she was anxious to get a few items and wanted to do her best to hurry. There were so many things she needed to do and time was not waiting. The store was full, it seemed like half the citizens of Los Angeles were shopping in this one store. She looked around at the massiveness of the place, Bobie was right they seemed to have just about anything a person would ever want and good prices too.
Taking a cart she headed for the women's clothing, after going up and down aisles and not finding what she was looking for, she decided to ask the nice lady that seemed to man the front entrance. She pointed Sky in the right direction and before long, Skylar Richmond had changed from form fitting leather pants to loose jeans, her low cut leather fringed top replaced by what was called a big shirt. Gazing at her image in the mirror she nodded, it was exactly what she was going for. Her next stop was in the shoe section. Here she looked for a pair of white casual sneakers. Once she had gathered up all the items, she headed for a cashier. People stared, some stopping to look, even one man walked into a metal divider.
She was patient, though it seemed to take forever, the line was long as they all were, and everyone had to wait their turn. Sky was not used to waiting, and all the time her mind was racing ahead of her. When she unloaded the basket, the cashier smiled and asked, "Aren't you Skyar Richmond the woman that . . ."
Sky glanced around and could see that a lot of people were staring, she smiled then said to the cashier, if I were, do you think you would find me in Walmart?"
The woman thought for a second before replying, "I guess you're right, just look so much like a picture I saw in The National Hunter magazine."
"Sky watched the woman ring up the items and said, "Good thing I am not who you say, for I fear there might be problems. A lot of people in here and some could get trampled. Anymore seems many just do not want to be careful when it comes to celebrities or anyone for that matter."
The woman told her how much she owed and as Sky paid her with twenty dollar bills the cashier whispered, "You may not be her, but you could be a ringer." She reached out and placed the change in Sky's hand then said, "I know you must be incognito, I'll keep your secret."
Sky smiled and thanked the woman then took the items in store bags out of the store, leaving people buzzing back and forth. She never got used to this part of her life and only wished she had the time to sit and talk with all the people that were interested in what she did. Hurrying to the cab, she tossed the bags in the back seat, then opened the front passenger side door and scooted in next to the cab driver.
"You're not supposed to be up here, " he said as he stared at the woman.
"I need to go to Lady Clair's house of Beauty in Beverly Hills and don't spare the horses."
He shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, "What has horses got to do with it."
Didn't take long to leave the parking lot and soon they were on the way to Beverly Hills. Sky sat back, all the time thinking about Bobie. Where was she? It was not like her to just vanish, she knew Sky would be worried as well as Max Fletcher. Something was wrong. She just had not pin-pointed it yet. Sure from all reports Mary Trenton had made a good escape but why would the woman gain her freedom and go after of all people Bobie? Sure, they brought her down as well as others, still on one hand freedom and on the other, go after Bobie Parker and bring down the wrath of Skylar Richmond, not a good choice.
Swerving in and out of traffic, the cab driver asked, "What you doing, measuring invisible things in your hands?"
Sky realized she had been going through the motions and turned to the man, "Pete, keep both eyes on the traffic and quit watching me."
He squared his jaw, looked forward and said, "Name's not Pete. Why did you call me that?"
Sky reached over and touched the embroidered name on his shirt replying, "That is what is says there."
He smiled. "The shirt was available and so I put it on, but my name is Bill. Look I know you probably have a good reason for all this secretive stuff, just don't blame a guy for being curious."
She nodded and said, "Just have to get a few things that's all."
He suddenly hit the brakes of the cab, sending it skidding sideways while barely missing a car that ran a red light. "With all the people, seems they would quit running lights," he grumbled and eased the car back onto the roadway proceeding toward Beverly Hills. "The way you are dressed, I knew the second you got in the cab you are Skylar Richmond, just have not been able to figure out why me, why my cab? From all I have read and heard, you have cars, even a fancy motorcycle, so why a cab?"
Sky marveled at the man he certainly wanted answers, answers she could not give and so she said, I didn't want to drive, didn't want to hire a chauffeur, just wanted a cab to get me to a few places. Is that all right with you?"
He nodded and said, "Fine, just seems unusual that's all. Don't tell me, at anytime we may be in the middle of some covert operation."
Sky heaved a sigh before replying, "No, just me shopping and doing a few things, sorry to disappoint you."
He saw the Beauty shop coming into view and said, "We are here, once more I have a question, why here? You look great, nothing they can do for you in there."
As the car pulled to a stop, Sky removed her seat belt and said, "They can do what I need done, once again, please wait. Not sure how long I will be, but I will make it up to you."
He nodded, "After all this time, I will call in, let them know where I am and that I will not be available for any pickups. Take your time, but hurry."
She nodded and headed for the back door to the shop.
Once inside, the smell of shampoo, and many other fragrances was certainly a giveaway as to what they did there. Making her way toward the front, she spied, Kim Clair standing behind a desk talking on the phone. Before Long Kim saw the woman who was partly hid by the curtain that kept people from seeing what went on in the back room and it was obvious, Skylar Richmond wanted to talk to her. The come hither look, the long elegant finger that kept pointing at her and then back. She finished the call then headed for the back room to see what Sky was up to.
Once she stepped into the room and spied Sky she put her hands on her hips and said, "What are you up to Richmond? Come out and chat with the gang."
Sky smiled then said, "I need your opinion."
Kim was about five four. She was small framed, but very well endowed. Her dark hair was loose and straight, she wore bangs and had the look of the Oriental Star, Kim Loo. Sky felt at any time Kim might go into a karate stance. The woman's dark eyes were now fixed on Sky, she seemed to be a bit perplexed. "If I can help. Tell me what it is you need?"
Sky reached out and placed her hands on the woman's shoulders then said, "Don't laugh but I need you to change me."
Kim reached up and removed Sky's hands then said, "Change you? Have you been drinking some sort of wild punch? Do you know how many people would love to look like you? Don't be silly. I have work to do, and you probably do too. So go, shoo, away with you."
Sky did not budge and Kim's smile vanished. "All right, Tell me what is wrong, what you want changed and I'll see if it is feasible."
Sky laughed before she replied, "Nothing drastic, just want to look a bit different."
Kim knew Skylar was on the level, she was not sure why but decided to go along with the woman. "Come sit, tell me what you want."
Someone knocking on the cab window woke Bill from what looked like a pleasant dream. When he opened his eyes and gazed at the person he motioned them away saying, "Cab is taken, go away."
The person continued to tap at the window and he unlocked the door, stepped out to confront the woman that dared wake him from a very sweet dream and Skylar Richmond. The second his feet touched the pavement, he realized the woman was taller than him and asked, "What do you want?"
"You don't recognize me. It's Skylar."
He cracked a smile and said, "And I'm the Easter Bunny, now go bother someone else."
Sky reached out and grasped the door handle, then said, "Bill, it is me."
He squinted his eyes, surveyed the tall women and seemed to be lost in thought for a few minutes then said, "If you are Miss. Richmond, then how about paying me for having to sit out here all this time."
"Gave you a hundred already how much more do I owe?"
He seemed to fall back against the car, looking up at the woman. She wore the same clothes or close but there was no beautiful long flaming hair, instead this woman had dark hair and it was shorter and tapered, more like what Kate Havens wore. It looked nice but definitely he knew it could not be Skylar Richmond.
"Look Miss, I am waiting for a very tall, well-proportioned woman, long flaming red hair, eyes that would melt a person in their shoes, skin . . ."
"Enough! I thought you were driving the cab, not taking in . . . well other things that really were none of your business. At least I know it worked."
He asked, "What worked?"
"If I can fool you, than I can do what I plan and no one will be aware it is me."
"Lady, if you go fooling around, it has to be you, who else could it be?"
She reached up and removed the wig allowing her flaming hair to fall down, it seemed to be dancing on her shoulders and if hair can be happy, at that moment, it was. The man's eyes widened, his mouth fell open and all he could say was, "Ah."
Sky smiled and said, "Satisfied, it is me. Now take me to the airport."
He got in the car, motioned for her to go around and seemed to be in shock.
Sky slid in next to him, then said, "Had to see if it worked. Any way, looked to me like you were having a good dream so you were not bored."
He started the car before saying, "Anyone around you can never be bored, I just have that feeling. Where do you want to go at the airport?"
Sky gave him directions to the private plane area then sat back in the seat and said, "It has been interesting, Bill, thank you."
When he pulled the cab onto the private air field he stared at all the planes before saying, "I take it you are going on a flight."
She smiled, "You take it right but I have a few other things to do first. How much do I owe you?"
He got out of the cab, opened the back door to get her bags out and help her with them. Sky thanked the man but said she could take it from there.
Bill had his hands on his hips as he said, "The hundred is fine. It is a day I will not forget. I know we are not close but if you can, try to be careful in whatever has you being so covert."
She said she would and waved goodbye as the man drove away. Once he was out of sight she managed to grasp the bags, the duffel bag and small carry on then headed for the hangar.
The woman that stepped off her private plane did not look like the woman that had gone in. She was dressed in loose jeans, a light blue striped big shirt, that was not tucked in, and wore sneakers. Her dark hair matched the color of her brown eyes and she wore little makeup. Perched on her nose was a pair of black rimmed reading glasses but It was the baseball cap that adorned her head that really set this ensemble off. Sky had been able to leave the flaming hair persona behind, and now looked like anyone else. She wanted to fit in and from Bill's reaction, she knew she had succeeded. Now all she needed to do was go to the US Airways terminal, find out if Bobie took the flight she had made arrangements for and if not, perhaps find someone that had seen her.
If there was anyone in the terminal that might be looking for Skylar Richmond, they would have a long wait for at that moment, sky had vanished and Sheila Cantrell had been born.
It never made any difference what time a person happened to go to LAX, it was busy. People coming and going, people waiting for a loved one or friend, then those that seemed to just be there. One had to watch where they were going, be alert at all times. The way things were now, never knowing just when something could happen. Sky knew many at the airport but this day she wanted to walk around, ask questions, show a picture of Bobie and see if anyone had seen her.
Her first step was to go to the ticket desk, and find out if Bobie Parker got on the plane like she was supposed to have done. Didn't take long to find out that Bobie had been there but she did not board the plane, instead a man with graying hair dressed in a business suit had approached the woman and after a short conversation they left to go to the Encounter. Sky thanked the woman, then made her way to the Encounter.
As Sky neared, she stopped to read one of the large signs. Whether you're between flights, between appointments, between husbands, or between The Valley and Orange County, why not join us at the Encounter. It's one alien abduction you'll look forward to again & again!
They certainly had a way about them. How could anyone with time to spare not check this place out. She had been there before, it was several years back but she was sure it had not changed that much.
Sky recalled the Encounters Signature Martinis, and the Austin Powers movie wrap party that was held there. The full top-shelf bar with its extensive martini list featuring the Austin's Apple
which was created for the wrap party and the many deliciously exotic collection of martinis. The agency had been approached to do surveillance, make sure no one entered that was not invited. It was more of a meet and greet, mingle and enjoy than anything else. Entertainment, fun, it was a night to recall. Now she stood at the door, chewing at her lower lip, not sure how she would handle this.
"Might take your mind off what seems to be weighing heavy on it." The voice came from behind and Sky whirled to see who it was. The woman was not quite as tall as Sky, her hair was blond, pulled back in a pony tail. She wore shorts, a zipped up Levi jacket and tennis shoes. When she smiled the cutest dimples seemed to dance in her cheeks. And it took Sky a few minutes before she managed to say, "Who . . .?"
The woman held out her right hand and said, "Jill Bennett, are you thinking about a drink to calm the fear of flying?"
Sky shook her hand then replied, "No, just reading and thinking."
The woman pointed to the door and asked, "I have an hour lay over, would you like to join me for a cocktail or perhaps something to eat?"
Sky pointed to a sign and said, "Hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 4.p.m., 7 days a week. Dinner Friday and Saturday only served from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Doubt there would be anything to eat."
"Then we can have a drink and chat."
The woman was persistent, Sky would give her that. She was going to go in anyway so perhaps with someone it would be better. "All right, why not. I guess they have coke or some sort of soda."
Jill patted Sky's right hand and said, "On the wagon huh? Sure they probably have some sort of soft drink. But we don't really have to go in there if it will be too hard, you know, being around the temptation."
This time it was Sky's turn to smile as she said, "Nope no wagon. Just want a clear head when I fly that's all. Come on. Lets go in."
Once they walked into the area, the intergalactic-themed interior was not to be missed. The look of a futuristic L. A. as symbolized by the landmark building's exterior. Sky enjoyed watching Jill gaze around as if star struck. The restaurant's other-worldly features were the moonstone quarry walls and the crater-shaped bar with bar guns that emitted laser lights and futuristic sound effects when the bartender poured a drink. The bar stools appeared to float in the air and combined with customized lava lights provided a flowing, levitating effect.
After the two were seated and had ordered, Sky asked the woman where she was going. Before she could answer the bartender had served their drinks and Jill immediately began concentrating on her martini.
Sky asked if she would excuse her for a few minutes and left to talk to one of the bartenders. When he saw the woman approaching his first thought was that some school teacher had come in there and was lost but the woman's voice tossed that thought right out the window. Sky showed the man Bobie's picture and asked if he had seen her come into the Encounter.
He stared at it for what seemed like hours but was only a few minutes before he replied, "Yes, she was in here with some guy. Friend of yours?"
"Yes. What can you tell me about the time she was in here? How long did she stay? The man, did he seem nice? Do you know him?"
"Whoa, hold up there lady. You're going to fast for me. Let's take this one question at a time."
"Sorry, sometimes I get carried away. She didn't make the flight she was supposed to be on and no one has heard from her. So whatever you can tell me may be a big help."
He stopped what he was doing and gazed at the woman. "Shouldn't the police be involved in this, sounds like a missing person's case to me."
Sky glanced toward Jill and could see she was chatting up the bartender and from the laughing, she was sure the woman would not miss her. She turned her attention on the young man and said, "It is important to me. So please tell me what you can."
The bartender said, the man and woman seemed to know one another, they stayed by themselves while there. The woman had one martini then left to use the phone. The man stayed but watched her go. When she came back, they talked for a while, then after downing their drinks they both left.
Sky had listened to the man and when he finished she asked, "Was the woman all right when they left?"
He placed a finger to his chin and looked up as if trying to visualize this before he replied, "Seemed a bit tipsy other that fine."
"Did you see him put anything in her drink?"
"Look lady we run an upscale place here, there is none of that stuff happening."
Sky felt her cheek muscles twitch as she reached out grabbed the young man by the front of his shirt and said, "Don't give me that!"
His eyes grew wide as he said, "Whoa, not sure what you've been drinking, but strong arming me will get you no where. Who do you think you are, Wonder Woman
She released the hold she had and said, "I apologize, but this is very important to me, you might say, life and death important. The stuff happens, upscale or not. I doubt you all keep an eye on the patrons, a close one that is."
He reached up and tried to smooth his shirt then said, "I have tried to help, I've told you all I know, if you want anything else you need to take it up with the . . ."
"Never mind, you have been a big help and sorry about the shirt."
He watched the woman walk away and shook his head. She did not look like she could toss a brick much less grab a person like she did. Before he went back to working he mumbled, "Someone has been watching too much television lately."
Jill turned to wave at her and pointed to the drink Sky had walked away from. "Come sit, finish your drink."
Sky walked up to her and replied, "I think I have had enough. It was nice meeting you Jill, but I have a plane to catch. Good Flying to you."
Jill raised the martini glass and saluted Sky as she said, "You too."
When Sky left the Encounter she hoped that Jill did not get too out of it and was able to catch her flight. A layover can lead to things happening that one may not count on. As she headed for an escalator to go down to the main floor she could not stop thinking about Jill and finally realized it was not so much the woman, but that she resembled Bobie some and at that moment she missed her so much, it hurt.
The man that was with Bobie could have been anyone. As far as she knew Bobie hadn't made any close friends the short time she had moved to L. A. So who this guy was, how he managed to talk Bobie into going to the Encounter was anyone's guess. Her mind was mulling over the young man's words, Bobie left the man to go use the phone, who did she call? What happened when they left the Encounter? As many times as she would think of this, all it was doing was making her more frustrated.
As her plane circled the landing field near Springfield, Skylar felt herself yawn. It had been a long day, the rushing, the questioning, looking, hoping to find Bobie, hoping to get a clue where she was and getting nowhere was not only frustrating but it was also taking a toll on her body. She was thankful there was not a lot of air turbulence and the flight went smoothly. Upon calling the airfield, she knew soon the journey to find Bobie Parker would get even harder.
Once having landed, and disembarking, Sky picked up her duffel bag, carry on case and other bags then began walking toward the Quonset hut. When she entered the building, a man came walking toward her, he put out his hand and said, "Name's Bill, you figuring on staying long?"
Sky shook his hand then answered, "Not sure, have a few things to do, visit a few people. Why?"
He shook his head. "No reason, mostly curiosity. Not used to getting foreigners here."
Sky chuckled. It was obvious, the man did not recall her. But then how could he dressed the way she was. "Foreigner, I think I like that. I called ahead for a car, is it here?"
He looked at Bob then said, "Depends on who you are."
Sky reached up and pushed the eye glasses back as they had fallen and were perched on the end of her nose like an eagle getting ready to take flight. "It's Cantrell, Sheila."
Bob nodded and said, "Yup, car is in the back. Bill give her the keys to Ol Yella."
Sky's right eyebrow arched and she asked, "Ol Yella? Fellas, I need a dependable vehicle."
Bill walked toward a large key display and removed a set, then walked to her and said, "Ol Yella will get you where you want to go, no problems. If you have any, just let out a holler and we will be there." The two men chuckled like they were the only ones in on some sort of joke.
Sky took the keys and said, "Thanks." She turned and left the building.
Bill looked at Bob and said, "What do you think she is doing here, really?"
Bob shook his head and replied, "Don't know, don't care. Now let's get back to work on that plane engine.
Sky stepped around and to the back of the hangar, she was looking forward to settling down even for a short time. When she spied the yellow pickup setting near a pile of old tires she stopped. Her first thought was it must be at least from the 1959 era. Guess those good Ol boys thought they could pull one on a city woman. Dropping the duffel bag, the carry on case and the store bags she walked up to the truck. "Well, Ol Yella, lets see if you have anything under this hood." Opening the door she reached in and pulled out the release. Then walked to the front and held up the hood. She was surprised to see a motor that looked fairly new. After checking a few other things like oil and water, she dropped the hood and put her belonging in the bed of the pickup before climbing inside the cab.
The seat was covered with black leather she was grateful it was not too hard. The smell of new was refreshing, even though it was an older model, seemed they did keep it up, but only time would tell. It was a stick shift. Sky had driven many different vehicles so this would not be a stretch. She only hoped it ran and would get her where she needed to go.
The drive to the cabin near Willow Lake was one of remembrance. There was not a spot or a turn in the road that did not bring fond memories of the woman she had fallen unexpectedly but deeply in love, Bobie Parker. Her smile, eyes warm, laugh that was contagious, the way her nose would crinkle when she recalled a certain rabbit. Or when she was in a teasing way. Sky slowed the pickup bringing it to a stop as she stared at the spot where Bobie had the encounter with a very mysterious deer.
The two started out having to work together for a common cause, they were more or less put in the position of getting the job done. Perhaps Bobie did not like the idea of a stranger walking into her realm. Sky seemed to find herself in many tabloids, or the topic of talk shows. Some papers even printing what they wanted many times just to sell headlines. While Bobie was used to a daily routine, far away from the spotlight.
Sighing, Sky gazed at the area, the boulder, if she didn't know better it seemed nothing had changed and for a second she felt she was back in time. Shaking her head, she mumbled to herself, "No jeep, no Bobie. Though you would like to go back in time, the time is now. So quit these silly thoughts and get on with it." She turned the key in the ignition and started up the road. But no matter how hard she tried, Bobie and the past kept crawling back into her thoughts.
Before long, the cabin came into view. It was dark, no lights but what did she expect, no one knew she was coming. She quickly gathered the duffel bag, the small case and the store bags that contained her other clothing. Finding the key to the cabin under a rock near the porch, she soon was inside. Flipping on the light switch and being very happy the two had decided to keep the electricity on as well as the phone. She set everything down and walked to the fireplace. Finding paper, some chips, small pieces of wood, she got a fire started and when it was ready, added some larger pieces to keep it going, then walked into the kitchen area.
Opening the refrigerator and taking out a beer, Sky walked back into the front room. Stood gazing at the sofa, the chair, the room. Removing the cap, she took a long drink, the coolness of the liquid was a treat to her taste buds and a very tired body. After a few minutes she walked to the bedroom, and with each step she sipped the beer hoping it would give her courage.
Opening the door, tears filled her eyes as she reached up to brush them away. Her eyes fixed on their picture setting on the night stand. It was taken with a Nikon, and she still recalled the time spend at the hot springs. Bobie wanted a picture of the two of them and wanted to try out the timer. Both women were smiling, eyes filled with happiness, arms around one another as they gazed toward the camera.
Bobie's painting of Sky standing near Willow Lake hung as Bobie said, 'in the light of day and night.' On the wall where it hung, it would get the first glimpse, touch of sunlight and also the light of the moon when it shone as it always did in this spectacular area of pine trees, wild flowers, natures own world of fragrances and beauty.
She walked back into the living room, picked up the duffel bag and headed for the bedroom again. Setting it on the bed, she walked toward the bathroom, hoping to get a shower. It would be good to get rid of the dust, the travel hang on of the day. It was like yesterday the two had been shot at, the tires on Bobie's vehicle slashed and they were stranded at Devil's Mesa. The long walk, rounding up the horses, still so fresh in her mind as well as the fact, Bobie did not tell her there was no bathtub at the cabin. This she had to find out for herself, but only after they got back, both tired, aching and in much need of a good soak. Sky chuckled as she removed the wig, the glasses and tossed off her clothes before stepping into the shower.
The warm water fell over her like many calming hands, touching, caressing, each one trying to ease the ache and relax the body. She stayed until the water began to cool down before getting out and drying off. Putting on a robe, she stepped into a pair of slippers and walked toward the front room. Checking the fire, she placed another log on it then went and retrieved another beer.
True to her word, she did call Barbara and let her know where she was and that she was fine. Barbara filled her in on Bernie Herbella's visit before they hung up. Sky stared at the phone, she hoped that Bernie did not do something stupid like follow her there and get in the way. At this time she did not need any distractions. After several more drinks and stoking the fire, she headed off to bed only to return in a short time with a pillow and a blanket. Sky could not sleep in the bed. Bobie was not there and until she was back, the couch would do just fine.
The tall redhead was knee deep in water, the fishing pole she used had been flashing back and forth when she heard the words, "What ya think you're goin to catch with all that fancy tossing?"
Skylar Richmond turned to gaze at Bobie Parker, smiled and replied, "I hope a fish or two. Would make good eating, that is if you clean and cook it."
Bobie was holding a 12 inch bamboo rod in her hand. She placed one hand over her eyes to shade them from the glaring sun then said, "Don't tell me the great Skylar Richmond is afraid to clean fish?"
Sky began to walk back toward shore, the wading boots she wore made a sloshing sound as she approached Bobie. "Make a deal, I clean the fish, you cook them?"
"All right. But first you have to catch them."
Sky gazed at the small pole in Bobie's hand then reached out and touched it. "What are you going to do with the stick?"
Bobie was running line through several small eyes on the pole and as she finished, she said, "Catch a fish."
"I've seen everything now." Sky threw back her head, and laughed.
Bobie put a worm on the makeshift hook then raised an eyebrow and stared up at the woman. "How about a bet, the first one to catch a fish gets . . ."
Sky stepped close, leaned over, and said, "Deal. But does that mean I get what I want for one night?"
"Sure, I guess. I was going to say gets to be waited on, no cleaning no cooking."
Sky stood, seemed content as she said, "Like mine better, so best get to it Parker, I plan on catching a fish real soon." Before she walked back into the water, she turned and winked.
Bobie watched her wade out, then she walked toward the water and tossed out the line from the pole. It didn't go to far but far enough to get a bite immediately. Sky heard the woman yell and turned to see what was going on. There stood Bobie, pole bending, doing the best she could to keep control of what she had hooked. "Well, I'll be . . ." She headed back to shore to help her land the fish.
Bobie's hands were turning red from the grip while trying to control the line. Sky set her pole down and went to help the woman. The fish was not going to give up without a struggle, it leaped into the air, it ran as far as it could go, then came back with a vengeance. Sky reached out to help Bobie hold the pole and the woman slapped at it muttering, "Hand's off, Richmond, this one is mine."
Sky stood back, raised both hands in the air before saying, "It's your show have at it."
After about thirty minutes, she was not sure if the fish or Bobie was showing signs of quitting. "Want any help yet?"
"Nope, I feel it is giving and soon will be on shore."
Sky had sit, the enjoyment of watching the match between human and fish was one she would not soon forget. She stood when she saw the fish. "There it is, you are right. Got to hand it to you, you never give up." She had grabbed the fish net and made her way to be close so she could scoop up the fighting fish.
Perspiration was running down Bobie's face and the joy that shown when she saw the fish near, endearing. Without warning, the fish got loose, and Bobie yelled, "No!" She tossed the small pole and ran into the water after it. Sky was dumbfounded, this beautiful stunning woman was actually chasing the fish. Several times, Bobie had it in her grasp but it didn't take long to slip away.
"Give it up Parker. Fish is not worth it." Sky barely got the words out as Bobie disappeared under water. "Oh my god!" Sky tossed off her boots and ran into the water, but by the time she reached the spot where Bobie had been the woman was coming up spitting out water at the same time steaming. The two bobbed up and down in the water staring at one another for a few seconds before both began to laugh.
Once they were back on land and had gathered their things they sloshed up to the cabin laughing all the way.
Once inside, fishing gear was tossed aside, and it was a race to the shower. Wet clothes on the floor began at the doorway and ended by the shower door. The warm water cascading over them was most welcome. Sky's offer of, you wash my back and I'll wash yours was the beginning of a wondrous night for both women.