“I’m sorry, but it’s a signature item.” She checked her clipboard once again.
She pointed it out to the man at the door. “See, there’s a special order for it to
be delivered to the addressee only. Mr. Glass will have to sign for it personally.
Otherwise I’ll have to card it and he’ll have to pick it up or call us for re-delivery.”

    Andrea stood patiently in a snowdrift on the doorstep of an opulent turn-of-
the-century mansion in the west end of the city. Warm, cozy lights shone out of
the bevelled windows and cast long shadows across the expansive front yard.
She could see a roaring fire in the huge stone fireplace and beautiful works of
art hanging on the oak panelled walls.

    The lavishness was limited to the visual senses only, for the blaring of rock
music spoiled the tranquillity of the scene. A dour odour of pot and cigarette
smoke hung heavily in the air. There were young scantily dressed women
draped over the laps of men in grungy jeans and long uncombed hair.

    Andrea was a little concerned, both for her own safety and for the safety of
the package she was holding. She hoped no one would give her any trouble if
she couldn’t deliver it to the person named on the label.

    “Hang on. He’s here--he’s asleep. He’s gonna want this. Hell! We all want
this. This is the good stuff.” The burley man turned and shouted up the thickly
carpeted stairs, “Hey, Poe! Get yer sorry butt outta bed and get down here. You’
ve got a package! It’s from Kenora!”

    A barely legal girl at the top of the stairs relayed the message in a screechy
abbreviated form down the hall. She threw an empty beer can and it thunked
against a door; Assumedly Mr. Glass’s door. She heard a crowd of people
laugh drunkenly.

    A few moments later she saw a young man navigate his way through the
assorted drunks and stoners on the stairs. He grinned in the murky hallway and
Andrea would later swear his teeth actually glowed in the dark.

    Wow, she thought when he stepped down into view. How does he fit into this
picture? The man couldn’t quite be described as drop dead gorgeous, but
certainly there was an indescribable charm about him. He was wearing a white t-
shirt under a blue pin striped dress-shirt with three or four top buttons undone.
Blue jeans. There were battered purple bedroom slippers on his feet. His skin
was perfect, not a blemish or a wrinkle. His hair was mussed, as if he had just
woken up. How he could sleep through this ruckus she would never know. He
looked like some kind of a mascot to this motley horde of partiers.

    “Hi,” he said sleepily. “I’m Ed Glass. This is for me?” He removed a pair of
wire rimmed glasses from his pocket, put them on and peered down at the
shipping label.

    “Glad you’re here. Here you go.” She handed him the package with the
cumbersome electronic scanner on top. She plucked the inkless pen from her
breast pocket and offered it to him. He signed the screen. As soon as he
handed the pen back a young woman snatched the parcel from his hands and
disappeared into the crowd.

    “Hey!” He grabbed the scanner off the top of the package and tried to grab
the box itself, but missed. He sighed. “Happens every time.”

    Andrea looked at him quizzically.

    “My mom makes the best cookies. She sends them to me every couple of
weeks, no matter where I am. I’d offer you one, but...” He swept his hand around
without looking back, already knowing the fate of the gift. Behind him, the box
had been opened, passed around and discarded into the fireplace, devoid of its
contents.

    “That’s horrible!” she said.

    “That’s the price I pay for friendship.”

    Again Andrea wondered how he could relate to this bunch, but he called
them friends. There must be something there.

    “Well, I hope someone saved you a couple,” she said, reaching for the
scanner. His fingers lightly brushed hers as he passed the machine over. His
hand was warm, soft and well manicured. It felt nice.

    “No worries. She’ll send another package. I’ll probably get a big box of them
for Christmas. Cookies and underwear.” He blushed when he realized what he’d
just said. She laughed.

    She wished him a happy holiday and with a little wave of her hand, started
down the snowy stairs. She could sense his gaze--he was watching her leave.
She didn’t mind at all. She knew the memory of his smile and his touch would
stay with her for the rest of the evening.

    Suddenly, without a slip or a slide to warn her, she lost her footing on an ice-
encrusted step. She went flying off her feet and landed hard on the cobbled
sidewalk; her scanner, keys and clipboard scattering into the snow. Her head
bounced hard on the concrete walk.

                                                ~*~

    “Ohmigosh,” Poe cried and leapt down the stairs to where Andrea lay. “Are
you okay? Can you hear me?”

    Andrea opened her eyes and looked up at him. She was in obvious
discomfort. She reached out and grasped the lapels of his shirt and tried to pull
herself up.

    “I think I’m in trouble,” she said, trembling, and then she went limp. He had to
catch her and lay her down gently, for she had lost consciousness.

    “Owen! Marty! Call an ambulance! I think she’s hurt pretty badly,” Poe cried,
wrapping an arm around her, trying to keep her from lying in the melting snow.

    Owen grabbed a throw from one of the living room couches and brought it
over to Poe and the girl. He put one skinny hand on Poe’s arm and in a slurry
northern English accent, spoke closely into his ear.

    “I think an ambulance would be a very bad idea right now. Remember what I
told you? You are required to keep a low profile. I don’t think flashing lights and
sirens would be overlooked, especially in this neighbourhood. You’ve got a
reputation to mend, my friend.”

    Poe looked at him incredulously. He took the throw and carefully wrapped
Andrea in it. “I can’t believe you, man. This girl could be dying for all we know.
What are we supposed to do? Leave her here? Let her freeze to death? Give
her an aspirin? She needs to go to the hospital, we have to get her to a
hospital.”

    “Right,” Owen said. “Marty, get the van, please,” he called to the big
bearded man. “We’ll get her there ourselves.”

    Poe agreed grudgingly.

    “Don’t worry, my friend, we’ll see to ‘er.”
Lonely Nevermore
A Sweet Romance Novel
Sample Chapter One
Appearances
Photos
Marya Kalen
Lonely Nevermore
by Marya Kalen

Andrea has always allowed her
circumstances to guide her life.
She longs to fulfill her dreams but
is reluctant to let go of her
obligations. Poe feels trapped in
his misguided musical career.
Together they may change their
futures, if only they can break
free from their pasts.

Marya Kalen
Writer and Artist
End of Chapter One
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