Jack watched her approaching from his yard and vowed to himself, once again, to protect Amanda as he had always done, promising she would never find out the terrible secrets surrounding Cherry Hill or the legacy of her birth.
And now we return to Cherry Hill...
"Good evening Amanda," Jack called out giving a friendly wave. Although his insides were churning at the sight of her, no one watching would ever suspect his true feelings. Especially not Amanda.
"Hello Jack," Amanda said smiling. There was something about him that always made her feel happy, and safe, like nothing bad could ever happen while she was with him. This is why Amanda decided to tell him about the phone call. After all, the mysterious stranger had said Jack was the only one who could be trusted.
"Could I speak with you for a few minutes inside? Something unusual has come up and I'd like to get your take on it."
Jack hid his surprise behind a smile. He and Amanda hadn't had a real conversation since before her husband Paul died.
"Of course, come on in. The children can listen to the radio if they like. Superman comes on this evening, and there are still a few of my mother's famous chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar if anyone's still hungry after all that ice cream!
Amid the whoops and cheers from her children, Amanda smiled at Jack in appreciation. He had always been such a nice man, and she wondered once again why no other woman had scooped him up. To her mind, he had every quality someone would look for in a husband and his unlikely status as a bachelor continued to make her wonder - especially on an evening such as this with his hair slightly tousled and the ripple of sturdy biceps straining the fabric of his cotton shirt.
Amanda, shook her head, and feeling flustered, tried to push thoughts of Jack from her mind. But she couldn't help but notice the height of him, the strength of his back, or his easy smile as he opened the front door.
With the evening sun fading to dusk behind a stand of oak trees, Amanda and Jack went inside the house. Neither had any idea they were being watched.
Walt Fischer, Cherry Hill's newest physician stood behind a bank of shrubbery just across from Jack's house. Putting out the cigarette he'd been smoking, he spoke into a walkie talkie held in his other hand.
"Confirmed," he said, never taking his eyes off the door, "She's gone into the house. The children are with her."
He nodded at something being said on the other end and then lit another cigarette. "I'll await further orders."
The inside of Jack's house was a study in efficiency. A craftsman at heart, Jack had built large oak shelves that lined the living room and housed an extensive book and model ship collection. The floors were hard wood and covered with deep burgundy patterned Persian carpets - both in the hallway and the living room.
Against the far living room wall just adjacent to a large stone fireplace sat the radio and next to that, an overstuffed arm chair. Jack liked to sit in the evenings and listen to his favourite programs like Boston Blackie or Charlie Chan.
"Gather over here children," he said, "The Adventures of Superman is just about to begin."
When the children were settled with large burgundy throw cushions on the floor, Jack and Amanda made their way to the kitchen where Jack put the kettle on for tea.
"Tell me Amanda, what is it you wanted to speak to me about?"
"This is going to sound so silly Jack, but I just had to tell someone. I had the oddest phone call earlier on the party line, and though I'm quite certain it's nothing more than a hoax, I can't seem to shake this unsettled feeling I've been having."
Jack's face showed nothing, but inside his mind was on fire. Could it be? No, not possible. Everything was supposed to return to normal after Paul died.
"So what was this mysterious phone call all about?" Jack asked with a smile, masking any concern under a guise of humour.
"That's just it Jack, I'm not certain. A voice on the other end simply said 'All is not what it appears.' He told me to find you and tell you "Zanzibar" - apparently you would know what this means."
Jack's face went white to the lips.
It was finally time...
To visit the next installment in my popular Cherry Hill web series, click here: The Secret Room
Missed an episode? Visit here to get caught up: Cherry Hill
Stay tuned next week to find out what happens next! In the meantime, want to try Mrs. Wilson's famous Chocolate Chip Cookies?
Here's the recipe!
Mrs. Wilson's Chocolate Chip Cookies
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1\2 cup white sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Add baking soda to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto un-greased pans.
3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
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