Courting Lamara Pt. 02

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All Holes

A Wedding and a holiday.

When Lamara asks Lisa to look after her dog while she and her sister go on a holiday to Europe she agrees. Over the next two weeks things take a dramatic turn with the police investigation. Lisa is drawn further into her world but faces a life-changing decision that could dramatically alter the situation between her and Lamara.

The week before the wedding was busy. The case we’d been building against Barrows was getting stronger. Acting on Mylene’s information, we’d put one of our own under covert observation and it produced results when we filmed Danni meeting Barrows at the pub he was part owner of and it was obvious they were intimately involved. Acting on that we set up a fake telephone survey about banking and finance to ‘gift’ her with a new smartphone with software installed on it that would allow us to monitor her movements more closely. The Friday afternoon was especially fruitful when she called Barrows to tell him she had some information that might help him avoid prosecution. I had a minor anxiety attack when we learned that because she was set to meet him the next day but thankfully my boss decided to let me attend the wedding.

“But be ready to move if we call you,” Byres told me.

That meant taking a change of clothes along with me and Lamara offered to let me keep them at her place because I’d have to take her home first anyway. Her offer surprised because it came from out of the blue after I’d called her on the way to her house to explain the situation.

“So, leave your stuff at my joint, unless of course there’s some reason you can’t.”

“Well no, I mean I’d have to drop you off anyway and I’m not drinking anyway.”

“Okay then, how far away are you?”

“Just about fifteen or so, just coming up to the end of Whitehorse Road.”

“Cool, see you soon, babe.”

Lamara’s choice of outfit was quite nice, a spaghetti strap dress in red silk with an angora wrap and white heels. She examined my outfit with a degree of interest as I stood there with my work clothes dangling over my arm and a Cocker Spaniel sniffing my feet.

“Very nice,” she stepped back, “come on in, I hope you’re not allergic to dogs, this is Milo.”

Lamara’s Canterbury home was small but tastefully decorated, the street was lined with European trees that were shedding their leaves now that autumn had finally arrived. Milo was still sniffing my feet as I stepped inside, Lamara closed the door behind me.

“Well that’s a healthy start.”

“What is?”

“Milo likes you, he usually disappears to his basket if he feels nervous.”

“I’m usually pretty good with dogs.”

“Okay, well if you want to wait in the living room I’ll finish putting on my face.”

Milo was lying on his back when Lamara finally returned from the bedroom, he was twisting back and forth as he scratched his back, I was scratching his front but as soon as Lamara stepped into the room he stopped moving and glanced around to look at her, a moment later he rolled around and getting to his feet, trotted over to her.

“Hey there,” she patted his head, “mum has to go out for a few hours with Lisa, how’s about we put some water in your bowl?”

***

The wedding was held at Yarra Bend Park, not far from the restaurant, which had been booked for the lunchtime reception. I felt somewhat out of place when we first arrived because I didn’t know anyone, apart from Lamara but then Helena turned up in her tuxedo and both of us stared at each other from opposite sides of the outdoor seating area that had been set up. She noticed that I was with Lamara and inclined her head to whisper in a woman’s ear, I’d never seen that other woman either and she certainly wasn’t Helena’s date because she turned up alone.

We didn’t have a chance to catch up until after the ceremony when Jodie and Emma exchanged wedding vows. Even that was somewhat reserved because by then Helena had attracted the eye of another woman, or perhaps she was simply trying to send out a message to either Lamara or me, it’s the way her mind operates and why we only lasted a week together before I ended it.

“You’re not jealous are you?” Lamara asked me as I sucked down a quick fag.

“Not likely,” I grinned, “it’s the way she works, she’ll have one woman lined up for appearances sake while she waits for your response.”

“I was kind of tempted the first time I met her but then she started coming on a bit too strong and I backed off. I got rid of a boyfriend after my divorce because he used to come on too strong, it’s not like I haven’t got a mind of my own.”

“Which is why you asked me to be your plus one.”

“Precisely,” she adjusted her sunglasses, “you get it.”

“Of course I get it, although I was a little confused at first because it seemed as if you were giving out hints but here we are on a beautiful autumn day about to have lunch and so far I haven’t gotten a call to turn up for a shift.”

“And your phone is turned on, isn’t it?”

“It’s always on, that’s the problem. bahis şirketleri I’m married to the job and that puts a strain on relationships,” I butted out the cigarette.

“I was wondering something,” she slipped a hand into the crook of my arm, “if you could do me a small favour, I’d pay you for it.”

“What?”

“I’m going away next week for a two week vacation to Rome and Paris, but I need someone to walk Milo for me, normally my sister does it but she’s coming too and mum isn’t really a dog person and my other sister, Yolanda has kids to look after but she’d do it at a push if I asked her.”

“And you don’t have friends or neighbours who could do it?”

“I do but I’m going out on a limb here,” she tightened her grip, “I’ll pay you fifty dollars a week to walk Milo once a day, you don’t have to worry about feeding him, even though mum isn’t into dogs she’ll at least drop by at night to feed him.”

I stared straight ahead as Helena glanced over her shoulder at us.

“Okay but I don’t need the money, I might just grab a meal or two while I’m there.”

“Done,” she released me, “but if you want the money just say so, I had money put aside for it.”

“Save your money, bring me back a souvenir from Rome or Paris.”

“Jesus, you’re easy pleased.”

“Ha ha, if only you knew.”

She had no way of knowing it but I was the queen of favours. I was always helping someone out and whilst I had ulterior motives when I was younger, age had seen me modify my stance a little and now I tended to just help out when someone needed it. However all that aside, when we got back to her place later that day I had to wonder if I wasn’t trying to relive my youth. There were certainly favours I did for women where I definitely was looking for something else, sometimes I got what I wanted and other times I was disappointed.

Lamara seemed very much at ease now that I’d agreed to walk Milo and with that in mind, we took him for a walk after we’d changed out of our dresses. She wore a pale blue, short-sleeved blouse and jeans, I had to settle for clothes I was going to wear for work, if I was called out, a black blouse and black trousers. It brought a smile to Lamara’s face.

“You really are the woman in black.”

“I am?” I looked down at myself, “I do have other colours at home and the dress I wore today isn’t black.”

“I’m joking,” she smirked, “but seriously you should look at lighter coloured clothes, you’ve got dark brown hair and a brown complexion, lighter colours would add contrast unless you want to look thin and then it’s black.”

“I’m not looking to lose weight,” I reassured her.

Our walk took us to Boroondara Park where she could take Milo off the leash and see how he’d respond to my commands and he did come when I called but that was because Lamara was there as well. Nevertheless she was quite pleased with my efforts.

“Look, if you’re not comfortable letting him off the leash then it’s long enough to let him run,” she held the leash up, “just click the button and it goes out to about five metres or so.”

“Maybe after a few days, he’ll have to get used to me.”

“You’ll be fine,” she looked past me, “besides I’ll give you my router password, if you call me on Messenger or Skype from my joint it’ll go through as a free call, it’s how mum and my sisters keep contact with me whenever I’m overseas.”

“Do you travel a lot?”

“Two to three times a year, I really shouldn’t be doing this trip because finances are a bit tight but it’s Gisette’s birthday and I promised to take her overseas when she turned twenty five, her partner is staying here though.”

“So it’s just you and your sister?”

“Yeah, Gisette’s my baby sister, I’m the oldest and Yolanda is the middle child.”

“I keep saying I should travel more but work being what it is.”

“It’s all right, I understand, my ex boyfriend was in the police force. Gavin and I could never find time for each other because like you, he was married to his job. We had one trip to Japan planned but then he backed out and I ended up transferring the ticket to mum.”

“I can’t recall a Gavin.”

“He worked in Protective Services but then he transferred to Brisbane, his brother bought a block of flats in Jindalee, it’s cheap accommodation,” she tapped her thumb, “he’s close to the prison,” she tapped a finger, “he provides unofficial security for the other residents,” she tapped another finger, “and he’s also out of my life so we win all round,” she tapped the final finger.

“Not your type?”

“I wouldn’t say it quite like that,” she frowned, “it was more like I was trying to fit myself into his life and it seemed like everywhere was taken. He had a strict gym routine, nights out with the boys, his other brother, a sister and then he taught mixed martial arts to underprivileged kids at a local community centre. In the end, as much as I liked him I just couldn’t see where I fitted in,” she whistled to Milo.

“To his credit he tried but even he was struggling towards bahis firmaları the end, we finally agreed to call it a day when he decided to transfer to Brisbane. I did get a postcard from him not long after he moved, he wished I was here and kind of left it open.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Three years ago, I got Milo about then and that’s not an accident. He used to suffer terribly from contact with animals, he’d be on antihistamines so getting a dog was my way of closing the door on the relationship.”

It was food for thought, especially as our investigation took a dramatic turn when Barrows was arrested after bashing a motorist who cut him off at an intersection. Most career criminals would have ignored it or maybe given the woman the finger but Barrows was high on his own product and after running her off the road, he dragged her out of the car and beat her. If not for the timely arrival of two policemen on a routine patrol Samantha Beal might have been put into a coma, he managed to escape, but it was grounds to haul him in for questioning and while we had him locked in an interrogation room we began to ask other questions.

One of the good things to come out of that particular incident was a revised report on his state of mind, especially when it came to people who might have information that could put him away. He had frequently denied bashing the woman even though we had eyewitness accounts from two cops and when he said that the woman would never testify against him the DPP acted decisively and he was charged with other offences. Bail was denied because there was a chance he might try to seek out potential witnesses and we finally had a budget to put people into protection. One of those was Mylene, whose initial testimony, as scattered as it was, led to our wire tap of Danni who had been suspended from duty and even Toni was willing to talk about a deal in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

By the time Danni was suspended I was coming to the end of my first week as a dog sitter and that Friday was the first time I met Lamara’s mum, Danita when I dropped in to take Milo for his walk. She was in the front yard watering the shrubs when I opened the gate, Milo came running to see me and after saying hello I turned to the woman with the hose. I could tell she was Lamara’s mum, she had the same colour hair and you could see Lamara in her features, she also had that same unhurried contentment about herself as she twisted the nozzle.

“You must be Lisa, I’m Danita, Lamara’s mum.”

“Yeah, g’day, I’m here to walk Milo.”

“Are you staying for dinner?”

“Huh?”

“Dinner, it’s a meal that comes after lunch, usually about six but sometimes later. I’ve done the weekly clean and thought I’d stay and make some dinner so you’re welcome to stay.”

“Um, okay, sure.”

“Go on inside and make yourself at home, you can walk Milo afterwards.”

Danita came in not long afterwards, she was on the phone to someone who I assumed must be her partner because she ended the call with, “love you.”

“Men,” she stared at the phone, “they claim to be independent but if you leave them alone for too long they get abandonment syndrome.”

“I wouldn’t know, I’m more into women.”

“She said that,” Danita smiled slyly.

“We’re not,” I stopped.

“Fucking?” Danita lifted the kettle, “it wouldn’t bother me if you were,” she stepped over to the sink, “I have three beautiful daughters and they all have their own mind. She chooses her friends carefully though, especially when it comes to leaving Milo with someone.”

“It did surprise me though, I didn’t know her that well.”

“She’s a therapist, she can read people like a book. Let’s just say she’s probably seen something in you that not even you’re aware of,” she set the kettle on its stand and flicked the switch.

“I was her plus one at the wedding.”

“I saw the pictures,” our eyes met, “you looked beautiful,” she opened the cupboard and took down two cups, “I’d offer you a beer or a wine but she doesn’t drink much.”

“That’s okay,” I shrugged, “coffee is good.”

“White or black?”

“Black and strong, no sugar.”

“Ooh, that’s too much for me,” she winced, “even I need my sugar hit. Why don’t you go on into the living room, I’ll come through in a minute.”

“Don’t you want a hand?”

“Too many cooks spoil the broth,” she shook her head, “I’m a gourmet cook in my spare time,” she glanced at me, “for real, I wrote a cookbook and published it on Amazon as an e-book.”

She showed me the book a few minutes later when she brought my coffee through, it looked quite professional and more out of a sense of curiosity I bought a copy there and then.

Lamara called me while I was reading the introduction on the Kindle app.

“Hiya, you met mum, finally.”

“Yeah,” I leaned back against the back of the couch, “I met her in the front yard. What time is it over there?”

“Just gone past ten thirty in the morning,” she replied, “we’re just about to head out to kaçak bahis siteleri the train station for the train to Paris.”

“Take lots of pictures.”

“I will, providing you comment on them, I’ve been waiting for you to comment all week but I know you’ve been busy with that case. We talked about this, remember?”

It only occurred to me then that her story about Gavin had been told for my benefit. Truth be told I’d been quite busy with the case and as usual I threw myself into it full tilt.

“I remember, and yeah, I have been busy with that case but I’ve got good news on our friend, it seems as if she’ll be given a fresh start after all. We arrested him the day you flew out and since then we’ve been working day and night to tidy up the loose ends, he’s threatened vengeance on any person who testifies against him.”

“Do you think she’ll testify?”

“We’ve taken testimony but I’m not sure what the DPP will do with it, we’ve got other witnesses with more to lose if they don’t testify but even if they don’t give her a completely new identity I’m sure we can work something out.”

“Well don’t break the bank whatever you do, she’s vulnerable and a client but my job stops when I leave the office. I made the mistake of taking my work home when I first started and it nearly cost me my job and my sanity, they’re needy people but at some point you’ve got to pull back.”

It was valuable advice and we talked for a few minutes longer before I took the phone through to her mother and returned to the living room. I was still replaying the conversation when Danita came back through with my phone.

“You all right? You look like you’ve just discovered something.”

“I’m not sure,” I fiddled with the phone.

“Do you want a word of advice from an older woman?”

“Go for it.”

“Play your cards face up. Lamara isn’t homophobic, in fact I’d say she’s probably more bisexual than anything else but she hates secrets. Don’t hide your agenda, if you like her then say it to her face, she may not always respond the way you expect but she’ll go away and think about what you say and come back with her own take on it.”

“I almost feel as if she’s out of my league.”

“Don’t say that,” she sat down opposite me and put her hands between her legs.

“I was a bit like that myself, their father, Brett left me when my youngest, Yolanda was only two. He left me for a much younger woman and here was me, with three girls, trying to juggle my job with child rearing and somewhere along the line a hope that I might find some other guy. It took me years to realise that my self worth couldn’t be dependant on another person’s approval.”

She looked past me.

“I see it a lot in my line of work, I’m a doctor and I’ve got people coming into my surgery for their physical ailments but along the way they’ll unload about their partners, some of it is quite personal and all too often they’re so locked into their partner’s life that they can’t envisage a life without the other person.”

“It’s something I’ve tried to pass onto my daughters, the need to make your own mark. I’m with a man now but I’m also very much aware that if something happens between us I can’t be left there with my head in my hands.”

Another time, another place I might have nodded and come up with an appropriate reply but I guess because of the increased workload I merely let out a sigh and I must have looked tired because she leaned forward to study me intently.

“I understand about trying to keep a good work and leisure balance, I’m a doctor and it’s easy to go home and find yourself worrying about a patient you saw today. It’s another thing I passed onto my daughters, close the door on work when you open the front door, police officers have a reputation for burning the candle at both ends,” she ran a finger along the edge of the coffee table.

“What’re you doing this Sunday afternoon?”

“Um, nothing, so far.”

“Would you like to come to a barbecue at my house? Yolanda will be there along with my partner, Ron and their three kids. It isn’t much to be honest, we’ll have some snags and chops, a few drinks and just relax,” she eyed me for a moment, “and later on we’ll call Lamara and Gisette from home. Bring Milo with you as well, there’s plenty of room in the yard and he can run around to his heart’s content.”

“I don’t,” I stopped, “okay, I’ll come, as long as I’m not getting under anyone’s feet.”

“I’m sure you won’t,” she smiled, “now sit and drink your coffee while I finish preparing dinner, it won’t be long.”

I’m not saying that I have mother issues but I sat on that couch for the next half an hour while she cooked dinner. I couldn’t remember the last time my mum made me a meal, we’re like ships in the night. She’s very involved with her bingo and other activities, and I’ve got two other siblings who take up more of her time. I almost felt guilty, like I should be helping her and when she brought it through to me I thought it was the best dinner I’d seen in a long time.

“It’s just leftover vegetables and some rice, I’ll have to do a little shop for her before she comes back,” she glanced at the television, “now let me get this right,” she thumbed the remote and then picked up another remote.

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