Chapter 5

Patterson's Construction leveled the house in less than a day, though it took a few more to haul away the debris. A tow truck hauled away the old Rambler before the garage was taken down.

Willis watched the demolition from his porch, witnessing a life time of memories fold up like a falling tent. He grieved for Lindsey and her family and he said a prayer for poor wild Uncle Bob who left such a sad legacy behind – a cement slab where the proud family summer home once stood.

Before the dust of the torn down house had even settled, Willis paid a visit to Jim Grady at the real estate office, purchasing the land for twenty thousand dollars more than Lindsey was asking, but buying it through Grady so Lindsey would never know he was the buyer.

Willis liked the idea of having Snuggles Point to himself instead of watching a new modern monstrosity being built next door but he also wanted Lindsey to have the best second chance possible with the inheritance gained from the sad sale of the property.

Willis hoped that Lindsey would return and he waited patiently but no word came even after the sale of the property went through. Six months passed since Willis last saw her and he finally came to terms with the reality that Lindsey had moved on with her life and had started anew, giving up on his fantasy that perhaps she had felt the same tingling and attraction for him that he had felt for her from the moment he laid eyes on her. He even hoped that his perceived celebrity or fame might induce her to return since she was the one who had said she had never met a famous person before.

Perhaps a return to Snuggles Point would be too much for Lindsey, especially with the house gone. It was time for Willis to let go of her just as she had let go of her family's house. But Lindsey had left her mark on him, that's for sure.

Instead of hiding from his notoriety of throwing the home run ball to ruin a season, living in shame and disgrace, Willis decided to embrace his career and promote it whenever he was given a chance. He volunteered for a couple of radio interviews, one of which was picked up by the New England Red Sox Radio network which got him an invite to Fenway Park, nearly nine years after last playing for the Sox. He wrote a humorous essay about being "self-exiled to the wilderness" and that led to a possible book deal to write about his baseball career. He accepted a one-time shot as a fill in studio analysist for the New England Sports Network which carried the Red Sox games and he received positive feedback for his performance.

But Willis was still feeling lonely and he found himself thinking about Lindsey often. He toyed with the idea of going to Franklin and looking her up but he realized that if she had been interested in him, she knew where to find him. So he lived his life as best he could while hoping that Lindsey had finally found happiness in her life and was able to bury her ghosts with the sale of the family property.

It was barely dawn when the car pulled into Willis' driveway. Lindsey got out and stared at the cement slab where her grandparent's house once stood. She let out a sigh while breathing in the fresh September morning air and glancing at the glass-topped pond that looked more peaceful and inviting than ever. The birds greeted her with song and she smiled, glad to be back to the point and pond once again. It was enough to make her want to snuggle!

Lindsey heard the slam of the screen door and she turned to see the surprised Willis walking toward his unexpected visitor. She smiled and gave him a friendly wave.

"I gave up on you," Willis admitted as he came down the porch steps, wearing a robe as the early morning sun struggled to make its way up over the eastern tree line.

"I needed some time to sort stuff out," Lindsey said.

"Where's Jake?"

"School," Lindsey said. "He's staying with his father these days."

"Oh?"

"I sold my house," she said. "Quit my job. Went and spent some time with my father. Asked him some questions, got some answers that helped."

"Good for you," Willis smiled.

"Sure does look different with the house gone," Lindsey observed, throwing a glance at the cement slab.

"It does," Willis agreed. "Would you like to come in for breakfast?"

"This used to be my own private little world," Lindsey said with a sad smile. "My personal paradise of warm embrace, touching my heart in just the right place to help me survive my childhood and adolescence."

Willis noticed that her hair was darker now, curly too, lazily falling beyond her shoulders. She was as beautiful as ever.

"Snuggles Pond is still as special to me as it was to my grandparents," Lindsey told him. "I'm still that little girl, yearning to return to paradise with wide eyes and an open heart. I dreamed of returning here. It's a longing that never goes away."

"Even with the house gone?" Willis asked.

"I was destined to come whether the house was here or not," Lindsey remarked. She gave him a long look as they stood on the crest overlooking the pond. "Because you're here now," she added softly.

Willis realized that she had taken his breath away. He stared at her, staying nothing. Lindsey closed her eyes and breathed in the fresh morning air while listening to the rhythm of her heart beating in her chest. After a moment, she opened her eyes and glanced at him, laughing happily.

"It's been a long time since I've swam in the pond," She told him, stepping closer to the water's edge. "I think I'm unable to resist the temptation," she announced as she began to strip out of her khaki shorts and long tee shirt.

The sun was higher in the eastern sky now, brighter and warmer. They were surrounded by the trees of Snuggles Point, the beauty of nature, private and hidden. Willis said nothing as Lindsey stood naked at the water's edge, dipping her toes in the water.

"It feels perfect," She determined as she walked slowly and gracefully into the water until she immersed herself in the snuggle of the water as contentment and bliss soothed her as naturally as the pond water. "There was always a magical spell to this place," she said to Willis who stood at the shore watching her. "Are you coming in?"

Lindsey watched the ballplayer disrobe and she smiled when she saw him in all his glory as he dove into the pond and swam underwater until he reached her. She wrapped her arms around his neck when he surfaced in front of her and they both touched each other's mouth with their lips. The touch was electrifying for both of them and Lindsey closed her eyes, her heart pounding and her breath labored as she happily felt his body, his arms, his breath.

"I'm lonely no more," Lindsey announced as they floated together in the pond.

"Snuggle," Willis said quietly as he kissed her.

Glancing over his shoulder as Willis held her, Lindsey saw a cat sitting on the crest watching them.