Chapter 6

I was familiar with Mt. Griffin and had little trouble locating Have Some Faythe Soaps and Candles in what was left of an old factory complex.

Mountain Man Brewery had rehabbed one of the last remaining smaller buildings and ran its operation out of there for several years before selling to a bigger corporation that consolidated the brand and moved the operation.

I noticed that Faythe had left the 'Mountain Man Brewery' sign on the side of the building in homage to her predecessor but that the front of the building was remodeled with a lighter and more cheerful color.

The interior lobby was also light and airy and soft music was playing in the gift shop. I signed up for a tour of the production section of the building but I wasn't sure if Faythe would be involved in that. I also nominated The Sun Rise Lake School For Boys Athletic Department as a possible recipient of a Have Some Faythe soap scent.

The tour was interesting - it was certainly a well-run friendly operation and I imagine soap and candles was just as interesting as beer in the large scheme of things.

All the while, I was both hopeful and nervous about the possibility of bumping into Faythe who was, by all accounts, a hands-on owner who was involved in all aspects of the business.

One of the guides mentioned that Ms. O'Brien-Brooks often took a look at the nominations made by tour attendees and so I was hopeful that maybe she would show up for that.

Sure enough, at the end of the tour, the group (there were twelve of us) was brought into a small conference room and a few minutes later in strolled Faythe O'Brien-Brooks, all smiles and happy to answer questions.

I was memorized by her very existence and I stared at her with admiration and fascination. The years fell away as if they had been seconds in passing.

I discreetly stood in the back behind most of the others and it was only when Faythe started going through the index card collection of nominees for possible soap scents that I wondered if she'd notice me.

Faythe read off a couple of suggestions and then she came to mine: "Could Have Some Faythe Soaps and Candles come up with a scent for The Sun Rise Lake School For Boys Athletic Department?" she read aloud.

She made a humorous funny face. "You mean like jock straps, smelly sneakers and gym sweat?" She asked.

"No," I boldly spoke up, stepping out from behind the others. "I was thinking more like the smell of the grassy knoll on the campus, or perhaps the lovely taste of the lake itself, or even the scent of the sun."

She glanced at me with interest, clearly not recognizing me from that night. "And you are?"

"Nestor Toone, Athletic Director and Varsity Basketball Coach at the school," I said.

I'm sure it was the name that caught her attention or at least rang a memory bell. Faythe stared at me for a long moment and I waited for the verdict.

She could pretend that she didn't recognize or remember me, she could go on to the next card and ultimately pick another nominee, or she could end the competition then and there by walking out of the conference room.

"Well, Sun Rise Lake is just down the road," Faythe said, holding me in her line of vision. "We wouldn't mind trying to help out a neighbor."

I nodded in agreement and listened as she read some of the other ideas and when she was finished reading all of them, Faythe announced that she was intrigued by the idea of helping out The Sun Rise Lake School For Boys, a worthy cause.

"Mr. Toone, do you have a moment to further pitch your idea?" She asked as the tour group was led out of the conference room.

"I do," I answered.

"Come with me, please," Faythe requested and I followed her and her aide down the hall into large office with several offices off the main room.

The aide went in another direction and Faythe led me into her President's Office, closing the door behind her.

"This is a very impressive business," I said.

"Thank you," she replied, looking at me with disbelief on her face. "What are you doing here?"

"I read the article in the paper," I explained.

She nodded in understanding as she took a seat on the couch against the wall.

I glanced around the office space and noticed some of the paintings on the wall and soap and candle examples on a table on the other side of the room.

"The school buys cheap soap in bulk," I explained. "I thought it might be nice if the boys had a special soap in a unique wrapper to use in the locker room after big games and meaningful wins."

"E-mail me the school logo" Faythe said. "We'll see what we can come up with."

"And the scent?"

"We already have some lake scents," she said. "That would be easy."

"Congratulations on the success of the business," I said, taking a seat in a chair Katty corner from the couch.

"Thanks," she said. "It's been quite the adventure."

"Thanks for not throwing me out."

"I'm actually kind of intrigued to see you," Faythe admitted. "I probably overreacted that morning."

"No, you had every right to be upset," I said.

"You were just a young, lonely, confused, hopeful kid," she said. "I shouldn't have yelled at you."

"Or thrown the wallet," I added, rubbing my forehead where a dent remained to this day from where the edge of the wallet creased my crown. "I guess we don't have that baggage now," I said. "I wanted to apologize to you one more time for not being truthful."

"I accept your apology," Faythe said with a smile.

Now that we had gotten that out of the way, we quickly caught each other up on our lives. She gave me an expanded version of the newspaper article and I talked about my college career at UCONN and then returning to Sun Rise Lake, starting off as a teacher and working my way into the athletic department.

The conversation was surprisingly comfortable and relaxed.

"You're as lovely as I remember," I said when the conversation had seemed to run its course.

"You're being kind," Faythe said.

"I never forgot that night," I let her know.

"I really liked you," she admitted.

"I liked you too," I said.

"We just naturally clicked," Faythe remarked. "I never did anything that impulsive again."

"I knew you were the perfect one," I said, trying not to get choked up. "That's probably why I'm still single."

"You were the one I let get away," Faythe replied.

"I'm not so young now," I said, stating the obvious.

"You're still younger than me," she joked.

"I'm glad I saw that newspaper article."

"You don't think this is super weird?" She wanted to know.

"It's weird," I admitted. "But it's nice."

Faythe stood to signal that our meeting was over. She handed me her business card from a tray on her desk. "E-mail me the logo and any other ideas you might have," she said.

Then she leaned in and briefly kissed me.

"I've been looking at houses on the lake," she said. "It's closer than Greenville."

"The lake is a great place to live," I let her know.

"I bet," Faythe commented. "Do you Have Some Faythe?"

"I've had some faith all these years," I replied.