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The Hardest Step

The Hardest Step by Bierce Jane
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They were two voices on the telephone late at night. Burke was a construction engineer in Tampa for an extended assignment, not knowing how lonely he was. Nor did he know that Marti, the voice of Suncoast Answering Service, was disabled, ready to spread her wings in a world that would see her cane and limp before it appreciated her talents. Together they will learn that the hardest step is to learn to trust again.
Awe-Struck Publishing; May 1999
125 pages; ISBN 9781928670056
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Title: The Hardest Step
Author: Bierce Jane
With a little thrill that rippled through her, Marti recognized Burke's deep voice instantly. She abandoned the grant application she had been typing into the computer to look for his messages. "Just Mr. Parmeter's flight number and arrival time for tomorrow," she told him.

"Yes, finally. What a mess. Marti, do you know of a barber who is open late in the evening?"

"No, but a shop two blocks west of your motel opens at seven-thirty on Saturday mornings for men who can't get in during the week. I think he's open until about two. He's pretty good, too. You won't look like you've just gotten out of boot camp."

Burke's laugh was deep and uninhibited, and she thought how good it was to hear someone laugh like that.

"And how do you know about barbers and things like that?" Burke asked.

"Someone was visiting one of our clients to go to a wedding and needed a quick trim," she explained. "I made a few calls to see who was open and got him right in. He called back to thank me and said he was real pleased."

"What would we do without you, Marti? You have an answer to my every need."

"Would you be Irish, Mr. Hildebrand?" she asked. "That sounds suspiciously like Blarney."

His response was another deep, uninhibited laugh and she laughed with him. "Will you need a wake-up call tomorrow?"

"You, too, Mr. Hildebrand." Marti went back to her typing with barely a thought to the words that flowed onto the screen of her word processor. She wondered if Burke Hildebrand waited until he knew she would be on the desk before he called in. So far he had never called in when Carolyn was on the desk; she knew because she had checked the log. There was just something about Burke Hildebrand's voice and his laugh that made her think she would like him. She generally liked her clients, but there were some men who were very condescending. They never took the time to say anything that wasn't absolutely necessary. It was fine to be all business, she supposed, but it got terribly dull. When she finished the work at hand, she did a few of her flexibility exercises. Then she took out the list of employment agencies and reviewed the notes she had made the afternoon before. There seemed to be only one that showed any promise. She studied the bus schedule and decided that she could get there without bothering the driver of the group home's van. She needed to try this on her own, without any help from the home.

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