Category Archives: An Old Love Story

Fiction: An Old Love Story [Part 10] (452 words)

We turned back to our respective letters, eager to continue on with the stories.  I let Grandpa Dougie from the way past help me forget that it was possible that Hamish was currently reading a world full of embarrassing stories from my past.  The man had been buried for the better part of four years, and he was still finding ways to embarrass me in front of cute boys.  That took some serious dedication on his part. Though, if anyone could, it didn’t surprise me it at all that it was grandpa Dougie.

We read through most of the morning.  I didn’t even realize how long it had been until Hamish brought me a room service menu.  “Get whatever you want, remember it’s my treat.”

“So, one of everything, huh?” I teased.

Hamish laughed and rolled his eyes.  “Funny.  You are a funny person, Fiona Carson.  I’ll give you that much credit.”

“I’m also a fast reader.  I’m going to finish my half of the letters well before you are.”

“Yeah, that I don’t doubt.  Your grandfather really liked to write, didn’t he?  There are a lot of pages here.  We won’t finish today.”

I looked at the stacks in front of me. “You’re telling me.”

“So, what do you think? Should we go ahead and make plans for tomorrow?”

The part of my brain that read way too many romance novels was dying to scream yes. A beautiful, rich, foreign man showed up with a mission to complete. We spend all our days together and fall madly in love and then I am set for the rest of my life and my happily ever after.

But reality was more of a driving force than fantasy had ever been.

“I don’t know, Hamish.  I have bills to pay. I have to find a real job so I can get a better apartment and become that ‘functional adult’ thing everyone keeps talking about.” I tried to give Hamish an honest smile, “As much as I would love to dedicate all my time and energy to a family history mystery, I’m just not sure I can justify it.”

“Oh. Right. Yeah.” Hamish was suddenly very interested with his food service menu, “Of course. We’ll finish up today, and I’ll keep working tomorrow and you just give me a call whenever you’ve got time to spare.”

“Yeah.”  And then for any topic change at all, I handed him back my menu. “I’ll just take the burger. And a coke.”

“Burger and a coke,” he repeated, “I’ll just go make the call,” and he moved quickly into the hall.  I didn’t have the heart to ask him why he didn’t use the phone in the room.

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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in An Old Love Story


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Fiction: An Old Love Story [Part 9] (843 words)

My letters were relatively uniform at first.  More than anything else they were letters about how he missed Lilly and her brother, and how sorry he was.  Eventually the Sorrys faded, though the ‘I miss you’s tended to stay strongly.

Apparently, Grandma Maureen and Grandpa Dougie were already married by the time that Grandpa Dougie sent Lilly Duncan, then Lilly Boyle, the first letter.  They had been wed quickly and quietly after the discovery that Grandma Maureen was pregnant, because it was easier for Maureen’s church going parents to admit that Maureen had been trapped in a whirlwind romance with the handsome man from down the road who swept her off her feet to elope without her father’s blessing, than it was to admit that Maureen had the hots for the guy and slept with him after having a bit too much to drink, leading to an out of wedlock baby.  Grandpa Dougie, determined to do the right thing by Maureen, especially following the fact that Lilly promised never to see him again, agreed to the wedding, and stuck to the lie that Maureen was pregnant with a honeymoon baby come a bit early, claiming he was oh-so-crazy about his new wife.   A lie so pervasive, that it carried down to his own grandchildren, because that was certainly the story that I grew up hearing.  Grandpa Dougie seemed to be reluctant to talk about Maureen and the upcoming baby, but from the way he phrased the information, and the fact that there always seemed to be a little bit more in each letter, I had the feeling that Miss Lilly Boyle was asking him about Maureen and the baby.  And with each passing letter, he did seem to speak of them more fondly, almost like he was properly falling in love with Maureen.  Although, when my mother was born, you could tell right away that my grandpa Dougie loved her with all his heart. He spoke of her like she was the world’s one and only perfect child.  And I’d bet to him she was.  Andrew and I would probably make for a close second, but he loved that little baby girl more than anything.  I could practically feel it radiating through the pages.  I could almost see that gentle loving smile that would dance across his features when we’d done something that he was particularly proud of, even if it was as simple as bringing home an ‘A’ on a test, or as hard as winning nationals in the sport of our choice.

But then for a moment, I had to consider Lilly Boyle.  I wanted to believe that she’d found her own happiness, maybe already falling in love with her Mister Duncan who would make sure that she and her child and  grandchildren were taken care of for the majority of their lives– but I’ve got to imagine that getting those letters still hurt quite a bit.  If Hamish’s theories were to believe, this was a woman who was in love with my Grandpa Dougie, no one knows for how long, a man who she might have believed was truly dedicated to her, a man for whom she was considering giving up everything she knew to run away with.  But–for whatever reason–he’d gone off and knocked up another woman, married her, and was completely in love with the child they’d created.  Maybe none of it was her fault and Grandpa Dougie was completely to blame, but I had to imagine that some part of her was thinking “that should have been me.”  Heaven knows I would have thought it.

“Fiona? Are you okay?  Hello there, Earth to Fiona.”  I hadn’t realized that I had stopped reading the letters and was staring off into space somewhere to the left of the table.

I blinked up at Hamish for a second, just for a moment stuck between my imagined Scotland of the 1970s and the here and now.  “Sorry. Hi, yes. Got stuck in the past for a moment.”

“Yeah. That happens from time to time. I keep getting stuck in your past.  Apparently,” He waved the letter he was reading at me, “You’ve just gone to Ring Dance.  What’s ring dance?”

“It’s like senior prom, but for juniors. A bunch of sixteen and seventeen years old running around in fancy clothes.”

“Ah, well.  Apparently you looked ‘Rather stunning’ in your dress–just like Douglas’ mother on her wedding day.”

“Did I now?”

“Yes.  And even though it’s not kosher to hope for in this day and age, you could do a lot worse than that Paul kid.   Douglas thought that if you stuck with him til marriage he’d be okay with it.  Did you stick with that Paul kid?”

“Oh, Paul. God, haven’t thought about him in a while.  No, caught him making out with a senior at the mall day after Ring Dance, so that ended that.  But he was a beautiful man. Made for some very attractive pre-dance photos.”

“Ah. Well, I suppose that has to count for something, doesn’t it?”

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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in An Old Love Story


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Fiction: An Old Love Story [part 8] (554 words)

Hamish grinned at my request, and it was good to know that I hadn’t offended him. He only gave a little cough before going into his story.

“I suppose fair is fair, huh? Well, Dad knocked up Mum with twins when they were seventeen, and my Grandda forced them into a sort of de facto marriage situation, setting them up with their own little apartment with the hopes that they would both get their heads screwed on straight when faced with actual responsibility. Mum didn’t make it til 2003 before jumping ship–she was gone before our first birthday. When she left, Grandda and Nana took us all back in, not trusting Dad to take care of us on his own, which was probably a wise decision on their part. Dad died when we were five of a drug overdose, and Grandda and Nan raised us until Grandda died when we were sixteen. Lizzie, my twin sister in case I didn’t mention it before, got married right after we turned 18, to a guy who is sweet enough if a bit of a idiot. They had a baby just before we turned twenty one–a little girl they call Lilly after Nan who is about the sweetest child you will ever meet, and I think they’re thinking about trying to give her a little brother or sister. That’s my family history in a nutshell.”

“Wow. To parents that abandoned us, eh?”

“And to those who never will.” Hamish countered.

I tried to imagine what that might be like, and found that I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. To have both parents gone by five, and to have the people as close as parents to you gone by twenty five–that’d be too much. Sure–I couldn’t say I had a lot in the way of family, but at the very least I still had my mom. And that was worth quite a lot in the long run.

“Right–anyway. Enough with the sob stories–lets figure out our little romantic tragedy that we have here before us, huh? Want to explain to me your organization system that you’ve got here so I can help read over the letters?”

“Oh. Yeah.”

The system was rather basic, all things considered. The letters from 1969 were at one side of the table, stretching out to the letters from 2010, just before Grandpa Dougie died, on the other side.

We decided to go through as many of the letters as we could, reading them for any details or references to their stay in Virginia besides the fact that Douglas had made a mistake and that Lilly had forgiven him for it. Apparently, Hamish had taken all the time to sort the letters and get them in these protective cover things, but he hadn’t had the chance to read them all. Not that I could really blame him. There were a lot of letters there.

I opted to start with 1969 and work towards the future while Hamish was taking the 2010 and working his way into the past. Perhaps it wasn’t quite fair to Hamish to leave him with that end of the time line knowing what I knew, but I also know that I couldn’t handle it. Not yet. Not right after hashing out the whole thing about my dad. Only one family tragedy at a time.

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in An Old Love Story


Fiction: An Old Love Story [part 7] (1166 words)

11/4 (An Old Love Story)

“Can  I ask you a potentially awkward and personal question?”  Hamish asked quietly as I put down the letter, “Normally, I would shy away from the social unacceptable questions—but this is a unique situation and, and I mean this with the best of intentions, you don’t seem to have too many qualms about potentially awkward questions.”

“You make an excellent point, and turnabout is fair play I suppose.”

Hamish nodded and then pointed at the letter. “That says Fiona Lucille Carson-Scott, but your mom said to ask for Fiona Carson when I called, and I’ve only heard you introduce yourself as Fiona Carson, so—What happened there?”

“Oh, Well,” I picked at my nails, even though I knew it was a really bad habit, but I just couldn’t help myself.  “My Dad’s kind of a dick.  When Mom changed her name back to just Carson, I changed mine to Carson as well.  I didn’t really want to be associated with him anymore.  Andrew is still a Carson-Scott, because he doesn’t believe in denying our past or some other bullshit that he’s got in his head, and he’ll introduce himself as such when on his own, but he doesn’t mind when people assume that he’s just Andrew Carson like Mom and me.”

“Well, if you don’t mind me prying a little farther–”   Hamish pressed on. I couldn’t fault the boy for trying his luck.  Heaven knows I would have.   But still.

“Did Grandpa Dougie never say anything about my dad leaving?  He really didn’t like my dad–I thought for sure it would be something he’d ‘I told her so’ to everyone he could after Dad left.”

“He–might have said something.”   Hamish was already moving down the row of folders, seeming to follow some organization system that he’d set up earlier.   “When was it that he left?”

“Well, that’s kind of a complicated question.  Uh–I guess the last time would have been 2003.  Yeah, around September of 2003.”

“Two oh oh three, September of Two oh oh–yes–three.”  Hamish muttered to himself as he went about folders, pointing at them and passing them over until he came to a purplish folder around the middle of the table, which he opened and began to leaf through.  “Ah yes.  Here’s something.  He mentioned your father here.”

Dearest Lily,

The most beautiful Thunderbird came into the shop today.  Charlie let me work on it because he knew that out of everyone in the shop, I would have the strongest appreciation for the old girl. He also really wanted me to impress the owner, because apparently he’s got quite the classic collection, and Charlie would love to be the guy’s go to mechanic for that kind of thing.  The guy left with a smile, so I think I did my job well enough.  Let’s see if he comes back, though.  Time will be the real judge.

I am loving that book you suggested, by the way, so go ahead and get your ‘I told you so’ face on. I know you want to.  I’m having a hard time locating the sequel, though—so if you can find it over there in Scotland, feel free to ship it my way.  I’ll send you some money if it’s expensive, okay?

My Best Wishes,


P.S.  Lillian’s Timothy is gone.  He’s been gone for twelve days now.  We don’t think he’s coming back.  The grandkids are coming to say with me for a little while.

“Wow.” I read the letter over two or three more times, and then set it back down.  “Props to Grandpa Dougie, I guess.  I mean, I knew he  never said anything to mom, I think because he knew she was suffering enough, but I can’t believe he didn’t lord the fact that he was right to someone else, someone removed from the situation or whatever.  He tended to be a proud and a bit cocky man my grandfather.”

“Maybe he didn’t want to be right.  He knew how much that was hurting your family, and he’d hoped to be wrong so strongly that he felt no joy in being right.” Hamish suggested gently.

“Yeah.  Yeah. Maybe.  I guess you want to know what happened, huh?” I turned away from the letter and tried my hardest to smile at Hamish.

“I–uh–aye, I’d really like to know.  But if you don’t want to tell me that’s perfectly fine.  I’ve never been very good at minding my own bloody business.”

“Yeah–neither have I.   My dad was never really a settling down type.  He was a nice enough guy in the long run, I guess, but he wasn’t any kind of family man.  He was extremely superstitious, like Grandpa Dougie hinted in the letter about my birthday.  He was a perhaps overly spiritual man, who believed that he should always follow the way the “Winds and Workings” guided him, no matter how inconvenient that might be for other people.  He was stubborn, and although he never meant to be, occasionally quite cruel.  And, on top of it all, He was a gambler and an adulterer.  He’d come and gone a couple of times before in our life following “his winds” to Floyd for a couple of months, or up the coast to Maine for three quarters of a year, but the final straw came when he was supposed to pick Andrew and me up from school.  When Mom could finally get free from work to come get us, we’d been sitting on a bench in front of the school for three hours.  Four and a half days later, we learned that our lovely father was in Melbourne, Australia–literally half way around the world, and “he didn’t know when he’d be free to come back.”  Mom made it easy for him and told him to never get back, there was no way in hell he’d be allowed in our house again.  And–he hasn’t–been back or been in our house.  I haven’t seen him since.  We know he was still alive as of three years ago, because the child support checks came through right up until Andrew’s eighteenth birthday–but that’s all we know. I was so angry–properly angry.  I still kind of am.  I mean, that was a really shit thing to do to a family.  And I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him if even given the chance.  But yeah.  That’s what happened to my dad, and why I dropped the ‘Scott’ from my name.”

“Well.  Yeah, okay. I can follow that.  I think I would have taken the Scott out of my name too.”  Hamish admitted gruffly.

I gave myself a little shake, literally, to snap out of it.  I didn’t tend to get as angry as I used to about my dad, but it still didn’t make me the happiest person in the world to think about him.  “Enough about all that though.  What about you, Hamish? Any skeletons in your family’s closet you’d like to share with the class?”

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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in An Old Love Story


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Fiction: An Old Love Story [Part 6] (681 words)

I took my time getting ready and heading out.  If we had three days to go through the letters and make a plan, I didn’t think I needed to be there ASAP today.  I mean, how many letters could their really be?

It took me about fifteen minutes to get from my house to the 19th street parking garage.  I always parked there because it was free to residents in the off season, (January was considered the dead center of the off season) and It didn’t get robbed as often as some of the more sketchy parking lots in the area.  It was twelve blocks away from Hamish’s hotel, but it wasn’t a bad little walk down the boardwalk.  After all, the tourists were gone, and it rarely got that cold in Virginia Beach.  There was something calming about walking down a nearly deserted beach listening to the waves crash.  It made the whole place feel like home, it made me feel like I was some place safe, someplace I belonged.

But as soon as I stepped foot in the Hilton, I felt like I didn’t belong there.  I’d lived in this city my entire life.   I’d been in the restaurant attached to the hotel once or twice, but the only time I’d ever stepped into the hotel proper before was when I was dressed to the nines for my senior prom.  I felt so odd in my jeans and a t-shirt now. But, I tried to swallow my discomfort and look like this was the kind of thing I was used to doing as I headed towards the front desk.  “Hi, yes. My name is Fiona Carson. I was supposed to be meeting a Hamish Duncan.”

“Oh yes, of course. Right this way, please.”   She led me up a flight of stairs and around a corner before indicating to a conference room where Hamish would be waiting for me.   I walked in, and nearly lost it. There were a lot of papers in that room.  Nearly the entire conference table was covered with folders or binders, all which seemed to be stuffed full of letters.

“Holy shit. How many letters did he write?”

Hamish looked up from where he’d been scratching in a notebook around the middle of the table.  “A lot.  A lot more than a lot.  You see what I think he might have had feelings for my grandmother?”

“Yeah.  I’m starting to get that.  I wish we knew how often she wrote back–or was Grandpa Dougie just a little on the creepy side with a hint of stalker in him.”

“Your words, not mine.”  Hamish replied, before hoping out of his chair and heading towards a folder towards the front of the table.  “Come here, though, I think there’s a letter here that you might find particularly interesting.”

June 22, 1991

My Dearest Lily,

My Lillian had her baby—it was a beautiful wee girl, tiniest thing I think I’ve ever seen.  Only just six pounds. The doctors want to keep her for observation because she is so small even though she was carried to full term.  Lillian is beside herself with worry, but the babe doesn’t seem to be unwell, just small.  She’ll be out in no time.  Still, Lillian won’t tell us her name.  It’s one of those superstitions that her Timothy taught her.   Apparently, it’s bad luck for anyone other than the parents to know a baby’s name until she’s sleep in her own crib.  It’s a load of complete rubbish, but I suppose in this instances I have to accept my daughter’s wishes because what else am I going to do?  She’s just such a strange girl, my Lillian, but I love her.  I wish you’d come and meet her one of these days.

You know how I would love to end this, but you asked me to stop,


PS The little angel came home, fit as a fiddle.  My eldest granddaughter is named Fiona Lucille Carson-Scott.  Isn’t that just a beautiful name?


I couldn’t help but smiled at that.  “Cool.  Very Cool.”

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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in An Old Love Story


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Fiction: An Old Love Story [Part 5] (511 words)

Hamish called me earlier the next day, and although I’d tried to go to bed at a reasonable time, I still found myself exhausted when I reached over to pick up the phone.

“Hello?”  I didn’t even try to disguise the sleep in my voice this time.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you? Is it still early? I think I might still be a little jet lagged.”

“No, no. Any sane person would be out of bed already, I just never claimed to be sane. What’s up?”  I sat up and tried to rub some of the sleep out of my eyes.  I didn’t usually have too much trouble with accents, but his accent was thick, especially when he started talking quickly with excitement and with the phone connection not being as clean as it could be—I needed as much mind power to get there.

“I had a word with some of the people here, and I’ve rented out one of the big business rooms in the hotel for today, tomorrow, and the day after that because they don’t have any big reservations coming in for a while.   I figured we’d had plenty of space to look over the letters, compare notes on what we know about our grandparents’ pasts, and form some sort of plan of action.  To decide when we’re going where, that sort of thing.”

“You rented out an office for this?  And you’re planning to live in the Hilton for the unknowable future?  Hamish, I don’t mean this to sound crude, but–are you rich?”

There was a little cough and a pause at the end of the line.  I thought for a second I might have pushed too fair, but then there was a little laugh, “Uh. Yeah.  Filthy rich, I think the expression would be.  My Grandda, the one who married Lilly, was kind of minted.  When Nana died, my sister and I got all of it.  I gave her a little more than her fair half because she’s married and she’s got a little one–but even still I’ve got more than enough to chase after stupid treasure hunts for another couple of years before I have even consider the possibility of getting a job at some point in the future. So–don’t worry about anything in this quest of ours–It started out as my mission and I fully expect to pay for any and all expenses we may incur.”

“Oh.  Cool.”  There was another long pause as I considered how to address that, but I had nothing.  So–I ignored it. “So–the business center is all ours, huh? Did you have a time when you wanted to start working?”

“Whenever you’re ready, I think.  I can’t wait to figure this all out.”

“Alright–well, I’m going to wash up and maybe get some breakfast, and then I’ll head that way?”

“Sounds good.  I’m going to go ahead and get set up, start writing what I know of a time line.  I’ll tell the people at the front desk to let you in, okay?”

“Sounds good to me.”

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in An Old Love Story


Fiction: An Old Love Story [Part 4] (969 words)

Well, Hamish clearly hadn’t been expecting that answer.  He didn’t speak until the waitress came back, and only then to calmly place his order.    I awkwardly sipped at my soda while I waited for him to collect his thoughts. “I was so sure that they were in love,” He finally mutter, “So sure.”

“Well,” I stirred my straw in my soda and watched the carbonation bubbles rise to the top, “They could have been in love.  I mean, look at the letters.  I would bet that Grandpa Dougie did love you grandmother.  After all, doesn’t he say he made a mistake, that the situation changed things?   I know I’ve made mistakes and hurt people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them.  Haven’t you?”

Hamish looked up at me suddenly sheepish. “I’m sorry.  I might be overreacting a bit.  This is just—not what I anticipated.”

“When did you lose your grandmother?”  Perhaps it was a rude question, but I had a feeling.

“Just over a month ago,” He confessed, “It wasn’t unexpected per se, but it was sudden,” he added with a soft voice.

“I get it.” I answered.  Grandpa Dougie had been gone for a couple of years now, but I remembered when it was just over a month ago.  “Well, Hamish Duncan, you have intrigued me.  There is clearly a story here that I didn’t know about, and I think it will be fun to figure it out.  If you want my help to figure out the love story between your grandmother and my grandfather, then I’m in.  I think it will be an interesting piece of both our families’ history, and even if it ends up not being what we think it’s going to be, I think it will be better to know then to wonder.  At the very least, I’d really like the rest of the letters if you don’t mind.”

“Really?” Hamish looked at me like I’d just given him a life time worth of birthday presents in one sitting. Sure, I’d let him think that I was giving him a present, and it wasn’t just my own selfish desire to know what happen.

“Really.  Let’s make a plan.”

“Where do you think we should start?” Hamish’s seemingly bubbly nature was back, and I was glad for that.   I liked him a lot better when he was smiling.

“Well, I’m not sure where.  You’re the one with all the letters, and therefore all the details on this little madness.”

“Right. Fair point. Okay.”  He took a bite of his hamburger and chewed it thoughtfully.  I picked up a French fry with one hand and continued to stir my soda in its glass with the other.  Understanding Hamish was easy, talking to him was easy, and following his enthusiasm was going to be easy.  That made me nervous.  Good things never came from easy.  “Well, I know my Nan and her brother grew up in this town with their parents who worked in a church.  Apparently that’s where they met and knew Douglas from.  She worked as a secretary in the church before running to Scotland.  Do you think that your grandfather might have been working for the church too?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.   I mean, my grandfather was a good man, and he took us to church most Sundays–but he doesn’t seem the type to work for a church beyond helping out on the occasional handy man day around the building, or help setting up a set for the children’s play or something.  I’m not sure he was even an elder.”

“Oh. Okay.”

I was suddenly very aware of the fact that the only two things I’d told this man about Grandpa Dougie was that he’d knocked up one woman before they were married and while he was in love with another woman, and that he hadn’t been big on being involved with the church.  “Don’t get the wrong idea, now.  Grandpa Dougie was a good man. He worked hard and took care of mom and Andrew and me after my dad dipped out. He was nice to his neighbors and even though we never had much he knew how to make things worthwhile.  He was a much better man then a lot of people I know. So, don’t go thinking—“

“No, no, no. I’d never assume.” He waved his hands quickly in front of me.  “No, I know that is an interesting situation and that things are going to come out in strange orders and implications.”

“Okay. I mean, I just don’t want you coming in here and thinking that my grandpa was something terrible or whatever.  He was a good man. No matter what this story tells us, I know he was a good man.”

“I believe you. I do.  And remember, My Nan and her brother were good people too.”   Hamish set his burger back down on the plate neatly and took a sip of his water.  “Look, we don’t know what we are going to find here.  Things could be really good, but they could be just as terrible.  If we aren’t prepared to face that, maybe I should just lend you the letters to read and then we can go our separate ways once and for all.”

“No–no, it’s too good a mystery now.  I want to know the answer.  I’m prepared to face all possibilities–I just want you to understand he was a good grandfather, and my word should carry some weight on that.”

“Duly acknowledged.”  Hamish reached a hand across the table to shake.  “Both our grandparents were good people in the core, no matter what the mistakes of this investigation tells us.  Deal?”

I took his hand and shook it firmly.  “You’ve got yourself a deal.”  And we returned to our meals.

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in An Old Love Story