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Dueling Parades

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Back in Melbourne Phryne was keeping herself occupied with the usual pursuits, the case of the missing necklace and the women's adventures club. She hadn't thought about going to the station since he left, there wasn't a point really. As much as she loved solving a good murder, he was in large part the reason she had remained so tied to investigations of that nature. She missed their bantering, the way they finished each other's sentences, and most of all his presence. She hadn't realized that he was having that much effect on her, but without him she had taken on a melancholy disposition that those around her had begun to notice.

"Mr. Butler have you noticed how much she seems to sigh lately?"

"I suppose a bit more than usual."

"I think she misses him."

"I'm sure, but perhaps this is a case were the heart may grow fonder." Mr. Butler said with a gleam in his eyes. Dottie smiled back, both hoping that would be the case.

XXX

A few days later, Eleanor decided to delicately revisit the proposal discussion with Jack, this time while Jake was out fishing and couldn't interrupt again. Jack had offered to help her peel some potatoes for dinner, she figured while he was idling about it might be a perfect window of opportunity.

"So Jack, why wouldn't the engagement work out. Was it the family?"

"No, while there was plenty of family drama to go about, I think we could have worked around that. She was the one who rescinded the offer of marriage. I did care for her, but we kissed and…" his voice ran off and Eleanor nearly dropped the potato she was peeling.

"So she changed her mind after all?"

"Well yes, I mean no. I mean she still loves me I think, but yes she called it off. She said I was taken and if she married again it would be for love." He had kept his head down as they spoke, but suddenly looked up and stared into Eleanor's eyes welling up, "I did, I mean I do care for her." He seemed to be in need of affirmation, "I'm sure you do Jack, and I'm sure she knows that. But maybe she decided that you weren't right for her after all." She tried to add encouragingly. Then she recalled the "taken" remark. "What did she mean by your taken? Did she not know you've been divorced for awhile now?"

"No, I mean yes she knows that I'm a divorcee, but that's not what she meant. I think she was referring to taken in a figurative sense. I'm not seeing anyone at present.'

AH now we are getting somewhere she thought to herself. It was beginning to make sense. This woman loved Jack wanted to be with him and he acted like that's what he wanted, and maybe part of him did, but when they kissed she felt no chemistry sensed that he hasn't head over heels in love with her and so she called it off.

"So if you aren't courting anyone then why would she think your heart is taken. Is there someone else in your life?"

"Yes" he said in a near whisper, she nearly didn't hear it. She let the room stay silent for a moment waiting to see if he would expand.

"Yes there is." he said in a stronger voice. "But I have no idea if she feels the same way and even if she did she is quite the modern woman. She has no desire to settle down." Before she could say anything the flood gates opened, "Not that I want her to settle down necessarily. Like I told her I am a liberal minded man, maybe not as liberal minded as she would like me to be or I would like to be for her, but I do need certain things. I don't think it is too much to ask for a monogamous relationship, we don't have to marry or have children but I would like us to be faithful to one another."

Eleanor's head was spinning she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Jack was in love and clearly this was no ordinary woman.

"Oh Ellie, I don't know what to do. My heart will break without her and it will surely break with her." He put down the potato, she grabbed the peeler and gestured for him to take a seat. She wanted to get some more information on this woman before she would share any advice.