Ah, the stuff of romance. But with a realistic twist. After all, a lot of us are just plain allergic to long-stemmed roses.
Step up, Alberta (Allie) Hetletved, a farm girl from Fingal, North Dakota, not far from the illustrious Fargo. And you know what that means.
Allie knew the value of hard work, the toughness it took to battle geography and persevere to overcome the flat prairie near Fargo, North Dakota. Believing hard work would banish any obstacle, Allie was unprepared for the emotional ups and down that came with marriage to Jack Humphrey, an agricultural chemist who seemed to prefer lab fumes to home cooking. Her marriage to Jack had degenerated into a series of neither hills nor valleys, more like the supremely flat surrounding prairie, the whole fabric of the marriage devoid of passion.
After eleven years, Jack found a much younger woman at the plant who, as he described her, was "a lot more fun." At five feet eleven and three-quarter's inches tall-and firmly specific about being under six feet, Allie had been prepared to tough out her passionless marriage for the sake of her two boys. Jack's tiny new woman, a comparative pixie next to Allie, had flitted off with her husband in tow, a husband who had been for many years gone in spirit if not in body. Except for Allie's severely damaged self-respect, in truth she hardly missed him.
Ignoring the pain and burying herself in her work transcribing Administrative Law Judge cases in her own home, Allie found it fairly easy to simply pretend she had no personal needs of her own and take great delight in the raising of Mike and Steve, aged 9 and 12. Transcribing allowed her to stay home with the kids and to still manage to pay her bills, but only because she was very good at managing what she had, and she had learned long ago on the farm how to make do with less than you perhaps needed.
Allie allowed herself one passion -- auctions and flea markets. During the past six years she had been very successful at keeping her deep feelings well mothballed in a tight, cold box. She was even getting a bit smug about it.
Until that sultry afternoon, bent over her ancient mower, when she met six-foot two-inch Haaken (Hawk) Jordheim. Hawk churns Allie's calm waters, creating a veritable tidal wave of pent up emotions. Allie finds herself swiftly yanked from her well-honed fight-or-flight response to desire so fierce and deep it startles her.
Hawk had his own problems with his deep attraction to Allie. A CPA on the way up in a large firm in Fargo, he had carefully crafted the image he was supposed to project. Deep inside, he knew the image wasn't the real him, but he had to admit that he liked nice things. It was only when he had too much time to think, like the hours he spent hand-rubbing the finish on his vintage TR-3, that he has trouble beating back the pain of losing Bridget, his first and only love. As a Red Cross nurse, she was down-to-earth and very good at what she did. No pretense. No hypocrisy. No fear, really, when it came to her job. And it had cost her her life to sniper fire in Barundi.
Hawk was well aware that Allie was not the kind of woman a CPA in his firm was supposed to squire about. She wore no makeup. Her sun-streaked hair refused to stay contained in whatever she tried to tie it up with. Her clothes were stricly utilitarian. And well worn. But he found himself unable to keep his mind off of her despite her earthy lack of pretense.
A regular at auctions and flea markets himself, Hawk wins Allie's trust by giving her the ultimate gift, a circa 1900 armoire -- well, that's what the auctioneer called it. It was really a plain old wardrobe, but had caught Allie's eye. The story goes that it was reputedly owned by a Fargo madam who had rescued it from the side of the trail on her way west. Highly doubtful, but anyway Allie had lost it in a bidding war against a dealer. Hawk tracks the wardrobe down, purchases it as an engagement gift for Allie, and Mike and Steve help Hawk out.
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