The Engagement Party

It was her friend Zoe’s engagement party and it was being held at Lord’s The Home of Cricket.  It was a beautiful venue.  Dinner was to be held in the elegantly furnished and intimate Writing Room.  On the walls hung paintings of cricketing scenes such as an imaginary game between England and Australia watched by high society ladies and gentlemen.  From there one could see the views of the Ground from the north end of the Pavilion.  However, neither of these things held her interest.  All she could see was him.

She stood against the wall watching him now.  He was talking to a couple.  She had noticed him the moment he walked in.  He was easily the most handsome man in the entire room.  Tall, slender with thick black hair dressed in an expensive looking black suit, white shirt and black tie, he looked very stylish.  He probably wouldn’t even notice me, she thought.

Just then, he looked up and their eyes met.   Her heart skipped a beat.  She wanted to look away but couldn’t.  She saw him say something to the couple and then he was walking toward her.  By now her heart was pounding heavily and her breath quickened.  As he approached she saw his eyes travel over her.  She was wearing a red ankle length dress which flattered her with red strappy low heel sandals and her hair was swept up in a pile of curls on top of her head.

He was standing in front of her now and this close he was even more striking.   He had exquisite brown eyes which were riveted on her face.  “Hello,” he said, holding out his hand.  “I’m Cole.”

She put her hand in his and his fingers enclosed hers in a warm handshake.  “Stephanie.”

“Are you here alone?” he asked.  He was staring at her and she could see the admiration in his eyes.

She nodded.  “Yes.”

“Are you Gary’s friend or Zoe’s?”

“Zoe’s.  She and I have been the best of friends since we attended university together.  I’m her maid of honor.”

“I’m her uncle.”  He smiled when he saw her surprised look.  “I get the same reaction from other people.”

He looked rather young to be Zoe’s uncle.  He was most likely in his late thirties which meant that he was a child himself when she was born.  All of her uncles were old enough to be her father.  She wondered what Zoe would say if she knew that she was attracted to hers.  Right now she was captivated by him.  “Zoe mentioned that you’re giving her away.”

“Yes.  Her father, my older brother died two years ago.”

“It’s a pity that he couldn’t be here.  Zoe has told me so much about him.  They seemed very close.”

“Yes, they were.  You’re very beautiful,” he said suddenly, startling her.  His expression was serious.

She swallowed hard, her eyes wide as they met his.  His thumb was caressing the back of her hand causing all sorts of tingling sensations in her.  “Th-thank you,” she managed to say.

“I see you’ve met my dear Uncle Cole,” Zoe’s voice said over his shoulder and he released Stephanie’s hand.

They turned to the smiling redhead who looked radiant in her gold lace maxi dress.  “I was going to introduce you but I see you have beaten me to it.  Isn’t he handsome?” she asked Stephanie, with a twinkle in my eyes.  “I think all of my girlfriends had a crush on him.”

“You’re exaggerating as usual,” Cole said to her.  “Are you having a good time?”

“I’m having a wonderful time, thanks to you and Mother.  They took care of all the arrangements,” she explained to Stephanie.

“It’s a wonderful venue,” Stephanie agreed.  “After dinner I would like to take a walk in the grounds.”  Cole glanced at her when she said that.

“Well, now it’s time to have dinner,” Zoe said.  “The two of you are sitting at my table.”  She slipped an arm in each of theirs and walked with them to the Writing Room.  Stephanie sat between Cole and Zoe.  Dinner was superb.  Afterwards there was dancing.  Stephanie watched as Zoe and Gary danced, thinking how romantic they looked.  Then, she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around.  It was Cole.  He bent down and said in her ear, “Do you still want to take a walk on the grounds?” She nodded.  He straightened up and she got up from the table.

It was a warm evening and still bright.  Cole took her first to the cricket ground where the stands were and then to see the W.G Grace Statue.  “Who’s this?” she asked marveling at the sculpture.

“It’s W.G. Grace.  He was an English amateur cricketer who was important in the development of cricket.  He is considered to be one of the sport’s greatest players.  He played first class cricket for a 44 seasons.  He came from a family of cricketers.”

“Does it look like him?”

“Yes, it’s a remarkable likeness.”

“Are you a cricket fan?”

He shook his head.  “No. I’m more partial to soccer and rugby.  My father, however, was a cricket player and was a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, owner of the Lord’s Ground.”

“It’s really nice out here,” she said.  “Do you mind if we sit for a bit on one of the benches over there?” To be honest, she wanted to rest her feet for a bit.  They were starting to feel sore because of the heels.  She was not used to doing a lot of walking in them and they were still fairly new.

“Not at all,” he said and they went over to one of the benches and sat down.  She was facing forward while he was turned towards her with his arm resting along the back of the bench.  “You know, it feels strange being alone with you like this,” he commented after a moment of silence passed.

She turned to look at him.  “What do you mean?” she asked.  She enjoyed being here alone with him and wished that they could stay there for a long time.

“I’m at least ten years older than you.  I’m deeply attracted to you and you’re my niece’s friend.”

Her pulse began to race.  “I’m twenty-six,” she said.  “How old are you?”

“Thirty-nine.  I will be forty in September.”

“There’s not that much of an age difference between us,” she said.

“It feels strange being attracted to a girl who’s the same age as my niece.”

She got up and looking down at him, she told him, “I’m not a girl.  I’m a woman and I know what I want.”  She saw his expression darken and then, he was up on his feet and pulling her roughly against him.

“And I know what I want,” he muttered before he kissed her passionately, his lips almost devouring hers.  And her arms went up and encircled his neck.  She pressed closer against him as she responded to the onslaught of his kisses.

There they stood for a long while exchanging hungry kisses before he raised his head to gaze down at her, breathing heavily, his eyes dark and stormy and his face flushed.  “We’d better go back before they start to wonder where we are,” he said.

Fighting to catch her breath, she could only nod and he released her.  On trembling legs she walked back to the party with him.  Before they went inside, he paused to look at her.  “When can I see you again?” he asked huskily.

“Any time you want,” she said.  How she longed to kiss him again.

“Good,” he said with a slight smile before he reached out and caressed her cheek with his knuckles.  Before they parted company, she wrote down her phone number and address on the back of his business card and gave it to him.  He thanked her as he put it in his breast pocket.  He joined his mother and other guests while she joined Zoe and their other friends.

It was after mid-night when she left the party.  She got a ride home with a friend.  Before she left, she went over to Cole and said goodnight to him, his mother and the people with them.  She tried to be discreet where he was concerned and so she could only afford to give him a brief glance before walking away.  He watched her go, his expression drawn and a muscle throbbing along his jaw-line.

Weeks passed and she didn’t hear from him.  By the third week she was heartbroken.  Zoe kept asking her what was wrong when they met to fit on the dresses for the wedding but she assured her that she was fine.  She didn’t want to upset her friend.  Why hasn’t he gotten in touch with me?  The wedding was in two weeks.  What was she going to do when she saw him then?  Act as if nothing had happened between them?  Act as if everything was all right when her heart was breaking?  How she ached for him.  She spent sleepless nights, thinking about him and wondering why he hadn’t called or visited her.

It was the night before the wedding and she was feeling terrible.  How she wished she didn’t have to go but how could she not?  Zoe was counting on her being there as her friend and as her maid of honor.  She couldn’t let her down.  But how was she going to face Cole?  What if he showed up with a date?  That would be devastating, to say the least.  She wouldn’t be able to hide her distress and everyone would know that she was in love with him.

She got up from the sofa and went over to the window to look at the flickering lights of London.  He was out there somewhere, she thought.  Was he alone or was he with a woman?  She closed her eyes as fierce jealousy tore through her.  She pressed her head against the cool window pane as the tears ran down her cheeks.

Her eyes flew open when she heard the doorbell.  She moved away from the window, wiping her eyes in her tee shirt.  She looked through the keyhole and her breath caught in her throat.  She quickly pulled back the latch and tugged open the door, her eyes eagerly slipping over Cole’s tall frame.  He was wearing a navy blue suit and a checkered shirt.  Unable to help herself, she reached out and pulled him inside.  She closed the door, locked it and leaned against it, her chest heaving.

He turned to stare at her, his expression drawn.  “I couldn’t stay away,” he muttered thickly.  “I tried to but I just couldn’t stay away from you.”

“But, why did you want to stay away from me?” she asked, bewildered.  “I thought you wanted to see me again.  You said so at the engagement party.”

“Yes, I wanted to see you again so badly but our age difference kept bothering me.”

“I don’t care about the age difference,” she told him angrily.  “I want to be with you, Cole.  And I know that you want to me with me.  That’s why you’re here now.  Have you any idea how miserable I’ve been these past weeks, wondering why I haven’t heard from you?”

“Many times, I wanted to call you or stop by but I managed to convince myself it would be better if I didn’t get in touch.”

“Better for whom?” she was beside herself now.  The emotions were just pouring out now and the hot tears were spilling down her cheeks.  She was angry at him and she began to pummel at his chest.  “How could breaking my heart be better for me?”

His eyes darkened and his eyes were filled with pain.  “I’m sorry,” he said as he caught her fists and held them firmly.  “I’m so sorry.  Please forgive me, Stephanie.  Please forgive me for being such a fool.”

She calmed down and he released her hands which fell at her sides.  He reached up and cupped her face, his thumbs wiping away the tears.  Her eyes met his and the emotion in them made him groan.  He lowered his head and kissed her.  Moaning, she closed her eyes and kissed him back, her arms wrapping themselves tightly about his waist.

After several minutes, he broke off the kiss to look into her eyes.  “I love you,” he muttered huskily.  “I love you so much.”

Fresh tears sprang to her eyes.  “I love you too,” she whispered.

“Will you go to the wedding with me tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes, I would love to but everyone will know that you and I…”

“I don’t care,” he declared.  “They will find out soon enough.”

“What about Zoe?”

“It may take some time but she’ll get used to her uncle dating her best friend.  Do you have any more objections?”

She shook her head.

“Good,” he murmured before he kissed her again.

 

Source:  Lord’s the Home of Cricket; Wikipedia; MCC;

The Party

 

It was a Saturday night and she was at a launch party at an industrial gallery in Soho. She stood in the rear studio, away from the main gallery and the crowd.  She leaned against the wall, facing the windows and wishing she were at home instead of here.  She had only come at Evan’s insistence.   From the moment she arrived, she was sorry that she let him talk her into coming and was tempted to walk right back out, especially when she saw Dominic talking to a group of people and the beautiful brunette beside him.

She didn’t want to go over and say hello but she had no choice but to follow Evan across the room.  With each step, dread filled her.   Evan greeted them and introduced her.  She forced a smile as she acknowledged them and shook hands.  While Evan was talking to them, her eyes strayed irresistibly over to Dominic and her heart skipped a beat when she found him staring at her.  He was wearing a charcoal suit on charcoal shirt and no tie.  He looked amazing.

She saw his eyes travel over her and hoped that she looked good in her black off-the-Shoulder Midi Dress with the long bell sleeves.  It fitted her snugly, flattering her shape.  Her only jewelry was the pair of dangling earrings that she wished now she hadn’t worn.   She had decided to wear her hair up to give herself an elegant appearance.  A pair of black, strappy sandals completed the outfit.  She stood there feeling self-conscious and when his eyes returned to her face, there was a strange expression on his.  Before she had time to understand what it meant, Evan took her by the elbow and took her over to another group of people.

The first opportunity she got, she slipped away.   And she found this spot where she had been for the past several minutes.

“Why is it that every time I see you, you’re with my brother?” The voice came suddenly from behind her, startling her.

She turned to find Dominic standing there and watching her, his expression one of displeasure.  She raised her chin, her eyes defiant and guarded at the same time.  He must never know that she was deeply attracted to him.  “Does it bother you?” she asked.

His expression darkened and his eyes flashed at her.  “Yes, it does,” he admitted tightly.

“Do you object to our relationship because you don’t approve of me?”

“So, you admit that there is a relationship?”

“I am not admitting anything,” she retorted and would have turned away when he caught her arm.  Her skin tingled and her pulse began to race, especially when he drew her closer to him.  Her gaze flew up from his hand on her arm to his face.  Their eyes met and held for what seemed like eternity.  What beautiful eyes he had.  She couldn’t tell if it was her raspy breathing that she heard or his.

His eyes dropped to her lips and she saw his part. “You infuriate and inflame me at the same time,” he muttered before releasing her arm and walking away, leaving her staring after him, confused and flustered.

“What was that all about?” Evan asked as he joined her a few minutes later.  “It looked pretty intense and Helen was not at all amused.”  Helen was the woman Dominic was dating.  She watched them together now, jealousy eating away at her.

“Nothing,” she mumbled, not wanting to talk about it.  “We had a little disagreement, that’s all.  I think I’ll go home now.  I’m tired.”

“I’ll give you a ride,” Evan offered.  “I insist,” he added when she was about to protest.

She wished she didn’t have to walk past Dominic and his date but she couldn’t very well leave without saying goodnight.  Her heart began to thud as she crossed the room.  She looked first at Helen who gave her a disdainful look then she turned to Dominic who was watching her, his expression guarded.  “Good night,” she said quietly before she left the room as quickly as her trembling legs permitted.

On the ride home, she didn’t say much.  Her thoughts were swirling in her head and she kept replaying what Dominic said to her before he walked away.  You infuriate and inflame me at the same time.  And she remembered the way he looked her before he said those words.

“I don’t think Dominic likes seeing us together,” Evan said, breaking the silence.  “I saw the way he looked at me when we were leaving.”

“He assumes that we are in a relationship because we are seen together a lot.”

“Really?” Evan sounded both surprised and amused.  “But why should he care?  He’s got his hands full with Helen.  Unless…” He glanced at her the same time she glanced at him.

“Unless what?” she asked.

“Unless he has a thing for you.”

She looked at him as if he were crazy.  “You’re talking nonsense,” she scolded him.

“Terri, Dominic is not blind.  He sees what other men and I see.  You’re a gorgeous woman.”

For a moment, she didn’t know what to say.  She thought of telling him what Dominic said to her but decided not to.  “You’re mistaken, Evan,” she said finally.  “Now, let’s talk about something else.”  For the rest of the ride, they talked about the party and other things.

It was a little after ten when she let herself into her flat.  She thankfully slipped off her sandals and walked across the cushiony carpet to her room.  After taking a quick shower, she fixed herself a cup of hot cocoa and was on her way to the living-room to watch the News when the phone rang.  Wondering how it could be calling her so late, she picked up the receiver.  “Hello?”

“It’s Dominic,” came the clipped reply.  “I apologize for calling at such a late hour.”

She set the cup of hot cocoa down on the table because she had almost spilled it and leaned against the wall.  “What do you want?” she asked.

“I want you to stop seeing my brother.”

“Why?” she demanded.

“I can’t bear to see you with him.”

That hurt.  “Is it because you don’t think I’m good enough?” She was agitated now.  “You’re such a snob, Dominic.  You turn your nose down at me because I’m not from high society like you.  In your eyes, I am beneath you and therefore, very unsuitable for your brother.  You and Evan are so different.  He’s charming and witty–”

“I don’t want to hear about Evan’s charm and wit,” he snapped.  “And, I’m not a snob–”

“You can deny it all you want,” she said.  “And as far as Evan is concerned, I will not stop seeing him.  Good night.”  She hung up the phone and taking up her cup of hot cocoa, she went over to the sofa and sat down.  The hot cocoa went untouched as she sat there thinking about what had just happened.

An hour later when she was lying in bed, her mind was still preoccupied.  Whenever she closed her eyes, she saw Dominic’s face and the way he looked at her when they were at the party.  And try as she did, she couldn’t deny that she wanted him.  How she wished she didn’t.  It took a long time for her to fall asleep and when she did, it was fitful.

The next morning, it was a struggle to get up but she managed to.  After a long shower and quick breakfast she left the flat.  All day at work, she kept thinking about Dominic and chiding herself for letting him think that she was in a relationship with Evan.  She was thankful when it was time go home and looked forward to the weekend.  She didn’t plan on going anywhere.

As she sat on the tube, she thought of how different the two brothers were.  Evan was outgoing and funny while Dominic was more reserved.  He was what she would consider a preppy.  Evan was more her type yet, it was not he who made her blood run hot.  It was not his face she saw every time she closed her eyes or him she thought about every day.  She sighed heavily.  Why did she have to fall in love with the wrong brother?

She stopped at the market before walking to her flat.  It was a pleasant evening, perfect for a jog or a long walk but she was not in the mood to do either.  She just wanted to go home and relax.  When she got in, she took a shower and fixed herself a salad and then relaxed on the sofa to watch some television.  She must have dozed off because she was jolted awake at the loud peal of the telephone.  She staggered over to answer it.  Stifling a yawn, she put the receiver to her ear.  “Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Evan.”

“What’s up?”

“I saw Dominic today.  He came to my flat this morning.”

She was wide awake now.  “What did he want?”

“He wanted to talk about my relationship with you.  I’ve never seen him so bent out of shape.  Dominic is usually so sedate that sometimes I’m tempted to check his pulse.  Yet, when it comes to you, it’s a different story.  You’re the first woman I’ve seen get under his skin.”

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him that we’re just friends.  How do you feel about him?”

She swallowed.  “I love him.”

“Good.  Tell him that when you see him.”

Just then, the doorbell rang.  “Someone’s at the door.”

“It’s probably him.  He said that he might be dropping by your place this evening.”

Her heart lurched.  “Why didn’t you call me earlier today to tell me this?”

“I didn’t have a chance.  Now, don’t keep him waiting.  Have a good evening.  I’ll call you tomorrow.”  He hung up before she could say anything.  Flustered, she hung up.  She glanced down at her red silk pajamas, wishing she could change into something else but the bell rang again.  Her heart thudding, she went quickly to the door and peered through the keyhole.  It was Dominic.

He was dressed in a white shirt and khaki pants.  She had never seen him looking this casual before and it was refreshing.  “I needed to see you,” he said simply.  She stepped aside for him to go in before she closed and locked the door.

“Evan called and told me that you might be coming over.”

“Yes, I went to see him this morning.  I’m afraid that I acted like a fool but I couldn’t help it.” His eyes were restless on her face.  “I was out of my mind with jealousy.”

Her eyes widened.  “Jealousy?”

“Yes.  I was jealous, Terri.  I couldn’t bear to see you with him.  That’s why I wanted you to stop seeing him.  I know I came across as an arrogant, pompous fool but I didn’t know what else to do.  Last night at the party, when I saw the two of you together, I had to come over and let you know that it bothered me.  At first you seemed so indifferent toward me that it exasperated me but then I saw the look in your eyes when I was holding your arm and it excited me.  I wanted to kiss you right then and there but common sense made me walk away instead.  I thought about you on my way home and decided that I just couldn’t let the matter rest so I called you.”  He ran his fingers through his hair.  “You called me a snob and accused me of being prejudiced against you.  You were wrong about my motives.  I was acting out of jealousy.  I wanted you so much that it tortured me to see you with him.”

Terri swallowed hard.  “I had no idea you felt this way,” she said.  “You always seemed so cold toward me.”

“That was my poor attempt to suppress my feelings but they were too strong.  Terri, how do you feel about me?” he asked, his expression guarded.

She moved closer to him.  “I want you too,” she said huskily.  “I wanted you the first time I saw you, even though you looked so haughty and full of yourself.”

He reached for her and pulled her against him.  “You really got under my skin,” he muttered before his lips eagerly sought hers and ravaged them as the feelings that had long been held in check poured out and she responded wildly, surrendering to the love that burned in her heart.

 

Sources:  Peerspace; Lulus

 

No Coincidence

We are not here by coincidence.

All around us is evidence that we

are here by design.

We were fearfully and wonderfully

made in the image of our Creator.

In tender love He fashioned us

and gave us the breath of life.

 

We are not here by chance

but for a purpose.  We were

created for God’s glory.

 

We were made a little lower

than the angels yet we are

crowned with glory and honor.

The Lord is mindful of us and

He cares for us.  His eye is on

us as it is on the sparrow.

He can number the very hairs

on our heads.

 

No, we are not here by

coincidence.  We are here

by choice–God’s choice.

Nature is not an accident.

It is intentional.

 

From the unsightly caterpillar

that transforms into a beautiful

and colorful butterfly to the

mighty eagle which soars across

the sky, all of nature reflect and

declare the glory of our Creator.

 

8-an-american-bald-eagle-in-flight-klaus-nigge

An American Bald Eagle In Flight by Klaus Nigge

 

Source:  Blue Letter Bible

The Broken Engagement

Out of all the men on the planet why did she have to fall in love with Riaan, the one man she couldn’t have?  She closed her eyes in despair, the tears hot on her cheeks.  Rolling on to her side, she reached blindly for the pillow next to her and hugging it tightly, she buried her face in it as the memories came unbidden.

Six months ago, Nia met Riaan when she was in Tooting, visiting her friend, Ishani. She had gone for a long walk, enjoying the weather and the buzzing neighborhood.  She ventured into the marketplace and visited a few of the stalls.  She had fun looking through the vintage clothes and handbags of one stall and the African art and exotic masks in another.  She picked up some natural and organic skin products before she left the market, happy to be back in the bright sunlight.

By the time she went back to her friend’s building, it was noon.  She was hungry.  As she approached the entrance, she saw a tall man standing there.  Then, he seemed to drop something on the ground.  He squatted, his eyes searching the area.  As she got closer, he turned his head and their eyes met.  She felt as if her heart had stopped.  He was absolutely gorgeous.  He had thick, raven dark hair an olive complexion and dark brown eyes.  He was dressed in a navy blue jacket, tee shirt and jeans.  A part of her was tempted to ask him if she could help him to find what he was looking for but the rational part reminded her that he was a perfect stranger—no matter how attractive he was.

She dragged her eyes away and walked past him.  Her pulse was still racing when she reached Ishani’s flat.  “Something smells really, really good,” she remarked when her friend opened the door.  “I’m famished.”

Ishani smiled.  “I’m not surprised.  You were gone for a while.  I was beginning to wonder if you had walked all the way back to your place.”

“What is that smell?” Nia asked as she followed her into the kitchen.  “It smells familiar.”

“It’s chicken Madras,” Ishani informed her as she opened the pot to taste its contents.  Satisfied, she turned the stove off.  “Tooting is famous for its curry.  And this is one of my specialties.”  She glanced at the clock.  “I hope Riaan gets here soon.”

Nia frowned.  “Who’s Riaan?”

“My cousin.  I invited him to have lunch with us.  I hope you don’t mind.”

“Why should I mind?  Does he live here in Tooting?”

“No, he lives in the city.  Oh, that must be him now,” she added when the doorbell rang.  She hurried from the kitchen.  Nia went into the living-room, curious to meet this cousin and when she saw who it was, her heart somersaulted.  The gorgeous man she had left downstairs, searching for something was standing there in her friend’s flat. He saw her and a surprised look came over his face.

Ishani introduced them.  “Riaan, this is my friend, Nia.  Nia, my cousin, Riaan.  Riaan, make yourself comfortable while Nia and I get things ready.”

Nia helped Ishani set the table, trying to stay focused on the task at hand but she was acutely aware of him sitting there, watching her.  She prayed that she wouldn’t drop or spill anything.  Finally, the table was set and the food was on the table.  They sat around the table.  Ishani said grace and then they tucked in.  “This is so tasty,” Nia exclaimed.  It was the best curry she had ever had.  How she wished she could cook as well as her friend. This wasn’t the first time she had sampled her cooking.  Ishani was an excellent cook.

Ishani smiled.  “Thanks.”  She turned to Riaan.  “Is it as good as Aunt Faiza’s?”

Riaan grinned at her.  “Almost.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.  Riaan’s mother makes the best curry,” she explained to Nia.  “My brother and I used to love going over to their house just for her cooking.”

As they ate, Nia learned that Riann’s parents and younger sister lived in South India.  Riaan left there to come to London to go to school and university.  He lived with Ishani and her parents until he graduated from university.  He shared a flat with a friend until he got a job.

After they finished eating, they lingered around the table, talking until it was time to clear the things away.  Riaan helped to clear the table. As he and Nia passed each other, he leaned over and whispered, “Have dinner with me tonight.”  When he looked at her, she could tell that he was very serious.  She nodded, wordlessly, her heart pounding.

Ishani served them slices of Chhena Poda which Nia learned were the Indian version of cheesecake.   They were delicious and she had to resist the urge to have another slice. Ishani gave her a few slices to take with her.  “Riaan said he will take you home,” she told her.  “I will call you tomorrow.”

On the ride home, Riaan asked her questions about herself and her family.  He walked her to her flat and outside he reminded her of their dinner date.  “I will pick you up at seven,” he said, his eyes staring into hers.

“I’ll see you then,” she said breathlessly and watched him walk away before she turned and unlocked her door, her hand trembling.

Seven came and so did he.  When she opened the door, she couldn’t help staring.  He was dressed in all black.  There was something about a man wearing all black.  The black suit, black shirt and tie complimented his olive skin, black hair and brown eyes.  Her fingers longed to bury themselves in those thick, silky tresses.  He smelled good too.  The musky scent of his cologne tantalized her senses.  She wondered if he had any idea of the effect he was having on her.

She saw the way his eyes traveled over her and the admiration that shone in them. The dress fitted her snugly and the shade flattered her complexion.  Her hair fell in thick waves about her shoulders.  She had washed it, blow dried it and curled it and was pleased with the results.  “You look amazing,” he said, swallowing hard.  Unable to resist, he leaned over and brushed his lips against her cheek.  His eyes were dark when he raised his head and gazed down at her.  “I want to kiss you but I know that once I start, I won’t be able to stop.”

She wanted him to kiss her but the sound of the doors of the lift opening and voices brought her back to her senses.  Turning, she fumbled with the key as she locked the door.   He moved aside and she preceded him on trembling legs to the lift.  On the ride down, she leaned against the wall, trying to compose herself.  How on earth was she going to get through the night feeling the way she did?  All she could think about was how much she wanted him to kiss her.  She knew if he had, they wouldn’t be going out for dinner now.

On the way to the restaurant, she tried to distract herself by looking out the window and talking to him about all sorts of things.  Over dinner, he asked her questions about herself and her family.   They were at a Lebanese restaurant.  The ambience was warm, friendly and cozy.  She was beginning to relax a little.  After dinner, he took her for a drive and then to her flat.  At the door, they said their goodbyes and this time, he kissed her hand.  The following day, he took her took her to see Windsor Castle and then a bite to eat at Limes Bakery.  And after that they were dating.  He took her all over London and outside of London.

One Saturday evening after they finished having dinner at her flat, he announced, “I’m leaving for India tomorrow.”  They were relaxing on the sofa.

“Tomorrow ?  This is so sudden.  Is everything all right?” she asked, surprised and concerned.

He shook his head.  “No, nothing is wrong.  Something has come up and I need to see my parents.  It’s nothing to worry about.”

“How long will you gone for?”

“Two weeks.”

“Two weeks.”  She sighed.  “Two weeks seem like a long time.  I will miss you.”

His eyes darkened on her face.  “Not as much as I will miss you,” he said.  “I will call you when I get there.”

“You’re leaving tomorrow evening. That doesn’t give us much time.”

“It doesn’t,” he agreed.” He got up from the sofa.  “but, I know just how to spend what little time we have left together.”  Reaching down, he pulled her up and roughly against him, making her catch her breath.  As his mouth closed hungrily over hers, he picked her up and carried her to her room.

The next morning, she woke up and rolling on to her side, she reached for him but he wasn’t there.  There was a note on the pillow.  Dear Nia, I wanted to say goodbye but I didn’t want to wake you.  I wish I didn’t have to leave you but it’s something that I have to take care of.  Don’t worry.  I will see you in two weeks.  Until then, please know that I love you very much and will be thinking of you.  Riaan.   She read and re-read the note and then folded it and placed it on the bedside table.  She missed him already.  How was she going to get through the two weeks?  She didn’t want to get out of the bed but she had lots of things to do and it was back to work tomorrow.  She hoped the two weeks would go quickly and that he would let her know when he was coming back so that she could meet him at the airport.

It was Tuesday evening and she had just finished cleaning up in the kitchen when the phone rang.  It was Ishani.  They spoke about arbitrary things and then, Ishani said, “Riaan is in New Delhi.  I expect he’s gone to see his fiancée.”

Nia nearly dropped the phone.  “His fiancée?” she sank to the floor as her legs gave way.  “Riaan’s engaged?”

“Yes.  Didn’t I mention that?”

“No.” The word came out as a moan.  She closed her eyes, feeling sick.  “How long has he been engaged?”

“I think it’s been nine months.  Nia, are you all right?  You sound strange.”

“I’ve got to go, Ishani.  I’ll call you tomorrow.” She managed to get the words out before she hung up.  Then, she dissolved into tears.

For the next few days, she was a mess.  When she saw Ishani, she told her everything and her friend tried to comfort her.  “If I had suspected that you two would develop feelings for each other, I would have told you about Aisha.  I’m so sorry, Nia.  I blame Riaan.  He should not have gotten involved with you.  I’m going to let him have it when he comes back.”

Nia was so depressed that she called in sick the following day and just spent it lying on the sofa, trying not to think about Riaan and how much she still wanted him.  The first week passed and then the second week was almost over.  Soon he would be back in London and then, what?  She couldn’t face him.  She didn’t have the strength to fight him or her feelings.  Perhaps, she should take a trip…

The phone rang, bringing her back to the present and she stared at it, afraid to answer it.  Then, she reached over and picked it up.  It was Ishani.

“Daya, Riaan’s sister just called me.  She said that her parents have disowned Riaan because he broke off his engagement.  She said that he told them that he couldn’t go through with it.  He said that didn’t love Aisha and that he loved someone else.  Aunt Faiza begged him to reconsider and Uncle Bhagesh threatened him but he refused to change his mind.  Uncle Bhagesh threw him out of the house and told him that he was no longer welcome.  Daya didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him.  She said that whoever this girl was, she must be very special for Riaan to go against their parents’ wishes. She’s right, Nia.  You are very special to Riaan.  Not many men would stand up to their parents like he did.  I’ve heard about men who go through with their arranged marriages even though they are in love with other women.  I expect Riaan will be coming to see you when he’s back in London and that you have a lot to think about.  Call me if you need anything.”

Nia promised to do that and hung up the phone.  She lay there for a moment, her head spinning from what Ishani had just told her.  She got up from the bed and took a quick shower.  It looked nice outside and she thought of going for a walk but changed her mind.  She was heading to the kitchen to fix herself a cup of tea when the doorbell rang.  She went to see who it was and her heart lurched when she saw Riaan.  She fumbled with the lock and pulled open the door.

Without saying anything, she pulled him inside the flat and closed the door.  They stood there for several minutes just staring at each other, the raw emotions on their faces.  Riaan’s looked drawn and his eyes were filled with torment.  His hands were clenched at his sides as he fought the urge to take her in his arms.  “I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you,” he muttered tightly.  “I wanted so much to tell you but I was afraid of losing you.”

“Ishani told me everything, including the part about your parents disowning you.”

“Yes, I told them that I couldn’t marry Aisha when I loved you.”

“I’m sorry about your parents but I’m not sorry that you broke off your engagement.”  The broken engagement had exonerated him.

He reached for her then and pulled her into his arms.  His lips found hers and they exchanged feverish kisses, making up for the time apart and the agony each endured.  “Do you love me?” he asked, when he raised his head, trying to catch his breath.  “I want to hear you say it.”

“I love you, Riaan,” she said huskily, her eyes swimming in tears.  Then, she was swept off her feet and carried to her room.

Sources:  Hindu Names NetBuzz FeedMadh MamaWikipediaEvening Standard; Tooting Market

 

The Ball

Monica was walking on the immaculate grounds of Whitmore Manor where her friend and co-worker Alex invited her to spend the afternoon.  It was the day before the annual charity ball and already there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air.  This was to be her first one since she only started working with Alex in autumn of last year.

As she pondered over what to expect, her gaze drank in the beautiful landscape which spread before and around her.  She was so caught up in her surroundings that she didn’t notice the tall man heading towards her until she almost ran into him.

Her eyes flew up from his broad chest to his face.  Her breath caught in her throat when she found herself looking into classic handsome features.  Dark, wavy hair, dark brown eyes, chiseled nose and his lips…she realized that they were moving which meant he was saying something.  She pulled herself together.

“I–I’m sorry,” she apologized.  “I was so busy admiring the place that I didn’t see you until a moment ago.”

His eyes were riveted to her face.  “And, you are?”

She held out her hand.  “I’m Monica.  I’m here because of Alex.”

“Jared.”  He grasped her hand.  “Does he know you are here?”

“Yes.  He brought me here to spend a quiet afternoon.”

“Where is he?  He’s not a very good host leaving you out here by yourself.”

“He didn’t mean to desert me,” she said, trying to act calm when her heart was racing.  Jared was staring at her with those penetrating eyes of his and he was still holding her hand.  “He had to run an errand and said that he would be back shortly.”

He released her hand then and shoved both of his in the pockets of his trousers.  “So, how long have Alex and you known each other?” he asked.

She put her hands behind her back.  “September will make it a year,” she said.

“You’re different from his other girlfriends,” he noted as he studied her face.

She was about to tell him that she was not Alex’s girlfriend when Alex himself showed up.

He came from behind Jared.  He grinned at Monica.  “I see you have met my big brother,” he told her.  He turned to Jared.  “Thank you for taking care of Monica while I was gone.”

Jared inclined his head.  “It was my pleasure,” he said before his gaze shifted to Monica.  “It was nice meeting you.”

She smiled at him.  “It was nice meeting you too.”

“Excuse me.”  He turned and walked away.  Monica was sorry to see him go.

When they were alone, she turned to Alex, “He thinks I’m your girlfriend,” she told him, looking very displeased.  “What gave him that impression?”

“Well, the only women I brought here to meet Mother and Jared were the ones I dated so when he met you, he naturally assumed that you were my current girlfriend.”  He looked at her.  “Does it bother you that he thinks that we are dating?”

“Yes, it does.”

Alex groaned.  “Don’t tell me that you have fallen for his dark, brooding looks too.”

“Is that why you never mentioned to me that you even had a brother?”

“It must have slipped my mind.  Anyway, let’s talk about something else.  Are you all set for the ball tomorrow evening?  I won’t be able to bring you, I’m afraid.  I have to be here, greeting the guests.”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve never been to a ball before.  Is everyone going to be there?”

“By everyone, you mean Jared.  Yes, he’ll be there–he and his brooding looks which always seems to attract the ladies.”

Monica looked at him.  “Do I detect a little bit of jealousy?”

Alex sighed.  “Yes, I am jealous and have been since we were children.  He was always getting the attention and the girls.  That hasn’t changed.  Just once I would like to find a woman who will be immune to his charms and prefer me instead.”

Monica tucked her arm in his and gave him an encouraging smile.  “I’m sure you will find such a woman.  Now, this woman would like a tour of the grounds, if you don’t mind.”

He smiled.  “It would be my pleasure.”

It was the night of the ball and she entered the room, her eyes wide with wonder as she espied the magnificent room and the beautiful decorations.  When Alex saw her, he whistled.  He was standing by the entrance receiving the guests with his mother and Jared.  She was wearing a strapless cream chiffon gown and her hair was swept up exposing her long, slender neck.   “You look amazing,” he said as he kissed her on the cheek.

She smiled.  “Thank you.”  Her gaze shifted to Jared who was staring at her.  He looked absolutely gorgeous in his black tuxedo.  Even in her heels, she had to tilt her head back to look up at him.  “Hello, Jared,” she said shyly.

“Hello, Monica,” was his quiet reply.  He had a curious expression on his face.  “It’s good to see you again.”

“It’s good to be here.”  She lingered there for a moment before she moved reluctantly away.  She could feel his eyes on her as she greeted his mother.  The older woman beamed at her.  “You look lovely, my Dear,” she said.  “I am delighted that you could come.  I hope you enjoy yourself.”

Monica smiled.  “Thank you, I will.”  She moved on, taking in the atmosphere, the people.  She saw a few of her co-workers milling about and she joined them.  At dinner time, she sat at the same table with the Whitmore family.  She was seated next to Alex and opposite Jared.  Every now and then, she raised her eyes to look at him and found him already looking at her.  Each time their eyes met, she felt her heart race.  No one else seemed to notice.

The food was amazing and afterwards, there was dancing.  She danced a couple of dances with Alex who was in very high spirits.  Then, as she was about to follow Alex back to the table, Jared barred her.  “Dance with me,” he said and wordlessly, she acquiesced.   Her heart did a somersault when he pulled her to him and they moved to the music.

He was a terrific dancer and his movements were fluid.  She was acutely aware of his hand in the small of her back, their bodies inches apart.  He smelled really good.  It felt wonderful dancing with him and she wished that it would last.  At one point she looked up at him and he was looking down at her.  His eyes were dark and smoldering and a muscle throbbed along his jaw line.  They didn’t say anything but the moment was charged as their attraction for each other was palpable.  She saw his gaze lower to her lips and they parted.

“Mind if I cut in?” Alex’s intrusive voice startled her and she felt Jared release her.  Then she was in Alex’s arms and he swirled her away as Jared walked stiffly off the dance floor.  For the rest of the night, Alex tended to her and she didn’t have a chance to dance with Jared again.  She left the ball feeling frustrated, especially after his cold manner toward her when they said goodnight to each other.

She tossed and turned all night and in the morning, she decided that she would go over to Whitmore Manor and straighten things out with him.  She couldn’t let him continue to believe that Alex and she were dating.  Last night it might have seemed that way, though.  She let Alex have it last night when he was driving her home.  He was sorry and he told her to drop by the manor and talk to Jared.

She finished her breakfast, showered and pulling on a pair of dress jeans and a yellow top, she left her condo.  She took the train from London to Surrey and then a short taxi ride to Whitmore Manor.  The place seemed quiet—she supposed it was because it was a Sunday morning.  She hoped Mrs. Whitmore wouldn’t mind her dropping by unexpectedly.  She ran up the steps leading to the front door and rang the bell.  As she waited she looked over at the spot where she first met Jared.  How handsome he looked that day in his denim jacket over a black shirt and tan colored trousers.

The door opened and the butler stood there.  “Good morning,” he said.

“Good morning.  Is Mr. Jared Whitmore at home?” she asked.

“He is but he gave strict instructions not to be disturbed.  Perhaps, you would like to see Mrs. Whitmore, instead.  She’s in the drawing-room.”

“Yes, thank you.” The man stepped aside to let her into the foyer.  He took her to the drawing-room and after informing Mrs. Whitmore that she had a visitor, he left.

Monica went over to the armchair where the woman was seated.  “Good morning, Mrs. Whitmore.”

Mrs. Whitmore smiled when she saw her.  “Good morning, Dear.  How nice of you to drop by this morning.  Did you have a good time at the ball last night?”

Monica nodded.  “I did.”

“It was an extremely good turn out and I believe that this year we received more donations.”

“Mrs. Whitmore, I came to see Jared but was told that he didn’t want to be disturbed.”

Mrs. Whitmore sighed.  “He’s been cooped up in the study all morning.  Can’t imagine what he’s doing in there.  He hasn’t had any breakfast.  I have a good mind to send a tray in to him.  You know, that’s exactly what I will do.”  She pulled the cord beside her.  “He needs to eat something.”

“Mrs. Whitmore, do you mind if I take it to him?”

“No, not at all.  You may be a welcome distraction.”

A few minutes later a maid appeared and Mrs. Whitmore asked her to prepare a tray for Mr. Whitmore and to bring it to the drawing-room.  As they waited, Monica and Mrs. Whitmore exchanged pleasantries and spoke of the ball.

Then, the maid went in carrying the tray.  “Thank you, Janet,” Mrs. Whitmore said. “Set it on the table over there.”  Janet did so and left the room.

Monica went and took it up.  She went to the door but stopped, unsure of where to go.

“The study is down the hall here and on your right.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Whitmore,” she said gratefully before she departed.

Her heart thudded with every step as she went down the hallway.  She set the tray down on the floor, opened the door and pushed it open.  She took up the tray and went inside.  She stood at the door.  Jared was sitting at the desk backing the door but when he heard it open, he said.  “I gave strict instructions not to be disturbed.  I don’t take kindly to having my orders disobeyed…” his voice trailed off when he swung the chair around and saw her standing there.  “What are you doing here?”

She stood there, unsure of what to do next.  He was standing now, his expression guarded.  “I brought this tray for you.  Your mother said you haven’t eaten.  She’s concerned about you.”

His gaze shifted to the tray and then back to her.  “So, she sent you with it instead of sending Janet?”

“I offered,” she told him.   “I needed to speak to you.”

“Set it on the table over there.   What do you need to speak to me about?”

“It’s about Alex and me…”

His expression darkened at once and he dragged his fingers through his hair.  “Never once in all of my years have I ever been jealous of my brother.  Not even when I see how our mother continues to pamper him as if he were still a child, but that all changed when I met you.”

She stared at him.  “What do you mean?” she asked, looking confused.

“I am jealous of him because of you, Monica.  From the moment we met, I wanted you.  That’s why I said that you were different from his other girlfriends.  I was never attracted to any of them.  You were different because I was immediately and deeply attracted to you.  Last night at the ball, I couldn’t take my eyes off you.  I watched you dancing with him and wished that I was the one dancing with you. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and that’s why I asked you to dance with me.  The way you felt in my arms…” he closed his eyes at the memory.  “It felt so right.  I asked myself how could something that felt so right be wrong.  I wanted to kiss you so badly but just then, Alex came and claimed you and I had no choice but to step aside.  I watched you with him for the rest of the night, kicking myself for falling for a woman who belonged to someone else.”

It took a moment for Monica to answer because she was stunned.  She couldn’t believe what she just heard.  “Jared, I don’t belong to Alex,” she told him.  “He and I are just friends who happen to work together.  When you and I met, you assumed that I was another one of his many girlfriends and when I tried to clear up that misunderstanding, Alex joined us.”

“My brother has a knack for interrupting at the most inopportune moment.”

She took a step closer.  “That’s why I came here this morning, Jared.  To clear things up.  I couldn’t go on letting you believe that I was in a relationship with Alex when I am not.  Alex knows how I feel about you.  He knew it since the first time I met you.”

Jared moved around the desk so that he was standing in front of her.  “How do you feel about me?” he asked, his expression tense.  His hands were at his sides, aching to hold her.

“I never thought it was possible but when I met you it was love at first sight,” she said, her feelings unguarded.

He pulled her into his arms then and he muttered, “I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you and I felt like a heel because of Alex.  That’s why I have been cooped up in here all morning.  I was sitting here, thinking about you and feeling guilty.  And now that I know Alex and you are not romantically involved, I feel like a guilty man who has been granted a reprieve.”

She reached up and cupped his face between her hands.  “You have no reason to feel guilty anymore,” she said, “We are both free and we both know what we want…”

“Yes,” he groaned and his head swooped down.  His mouth closed passionately over hers.

She sighed and closed her eyes as she responded to the kiss which she had been dreaming of since last night at the ball.

Source:  Trainline

The Wedding

Her heart was racing.  She hoped she looked presentable in her V-neck floral knee length summer dress and the pair of wedges which she thought looked better than the pumps she had considered wearing.  To complete the look, she wore the lovely olive leaf pendant which Paolo had given her for her birthday.

“Mama, incontrare Roxane, il mio fidanzato,” Paolo announced as he presented Roxane before his mother who was sitting on an expensive looking sofa backing an antique grandfather clock with two small tables on either side on which sat figurines and decorative vases with flowers in them and oil paintings above them.  It was a beautiful room but she didn’t have time to admire it.  She was standing in front of the woman who was soon to be her mother-in-law and a mighty sense of foreboding came over her.  It was as if her happiness depended upon this meeting.

A pair of dark brown eyes stared up at her.  There was no warmth or welcome in her expression.  She just looked Roxane over and then she turned to Paolo and said, “Voglio parlare con te solo.”

Paolo’s expression was grim when he turned to Roxane.  “Would you excuse us, darling?  My mother wishes to have a word with me.”

She nodded and after glancing at his mother whose eyes were still on Paolo, she turned and quickly left the room.  There was an accent chair where she sat down.  It faced the door of the room she had just left.

She sat there on edge, her heart racing as she heard the voices in the next room.  She knew that they were talking about her.  She was the reason why they were in Milan where his mother and sister lived.  They were there to meet them.  Paolo’s sister Annabella had driven them over to the house.  Annabella was very warm and friendly.  Roxane felt better after having met her, however, when they were alone, Annabella used that as an opportunity to warn her not to get her hopes up about her mother accepting her.

“I’m not sure if Paolo told you this but when he was in his twenties, he was engaged to a girl named Gianna.  He brought her here to meet Mama but Mama refused to approve the match and the engagement was broken off.”

Alarmed, she asked, “Why didn’t your mother approve of her?”

“She was Sicilian.  Mama thinks all Sicilians are involved with the Mafia.  I know it sounds foolish but that was her reason.”

“What if she doesn’t approve of me, will Paolo break off our engagement too?”

Annabella shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  He loves you.”

“But didn’t he love Gianna too?”

“It was more of an infatuation.  It would have fizzled out even if Mama had approved of her.”

“Annabella, I’m so nervous and afraid.”

Annabella smiled and squeezed her hand.  “No matter what happens, Paolo loves you and he will marry you.”

At the time Roxane was grateful for the warning but now she was filled with trepidation.  She loved Paolo and was afraid of losing him.  It was clear from their encounter just now that his mother didn’t approve of her.  She had looked her over and didn’t like what she saw.  There was no smile or greeting–nothing but a critical look.  This was the second time his mother disapproved of the woman he wanted to marry.  Will the outcome be the same?

“è troppo scura!” his mother sounded angry.

Paolo said something which she couldn’t make out.

“Aspettare e sposare una ragazza italiana che non è siciliana,” his mother retorted.

“Mama, Io vado a sposare Roxane perché l’amo e non importa quello che dici.”

Shortly afterwards, the door was flung open and Paolo strode out of the room, his expression thunderous.  He strode over to Roxane and muttered, “Let’s go.  Our business here is over.”

Roxane got to her feet and grabbing her hand he hurried from the room.  He looked so angry that she daren’t say anything at the moment.  Annabella was in the courtyard when they came out of the house.  From the expression on her brother’s face, she could tell that things had not gone well.  Like Roxane, she didn’t ask any questions.  Instead, she said, “I’ll drive you back to the hotel.”

Paolo got into the back of the car with Roxane and he held her hand as they sat there not saying anything.  Annabella turned on the radio breaking the silence with news and music.

When they arrived at the hotel, she got out of the car and hugged them both.  “Roxane, it was really nice meeting you.  I hope to see you again very soon.  Paolo, I’m sorry things didn’t go as you hoped but I hope that it wouldn’t spoil the rest of your trip.  Call me if you need anything.”

He nodded with a smile and then she was gone.  He put his arm around Roxane’s shoulders as they walked through the lobby and headed upstairs to their suite.  Once they were alone, he took her over the sofa and they sat down.  “You must know by now that my mother doesn’t approve of you,” he said.  “Her reason was that you are too dark.”

Roxane lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the hurt in them.  All her life she had been conscious of her dark color even among her own relatives.  They were surprised that a man like Paolo would be attracted to her let alone want to marry her.  “What did you say to that?”

“I told her that when I look at you, I don’t see a woman who is too dark but a beautiful woman with lovely dark skin.  The first time I saw you I couldn’t get over how exquisite you were.”  He bent his head then and kissed her on the side of her neck.

“What else did she say?” she asked, breathless, her skin tingling from where his lips had been.  She looked at him then.

“She said that I should wait and marry an Italian girl who is not Sicilian.”

“Annabella told me about Gianna.  Did you love her?”

He shook his head.  “I was infatuated with her but no, I wasn’t in love with her.”

“So, what did you tell your mother after she told you to wait and marry someone else?”

“I told her that I am going to marry you because I love you and it doesn’t matter what she says.”

“So, you are going against her wishes?”

“Yes.  My mother’s wishes are irrelevant.  I’m a grown man, Roxane.  I know what I want and I want you.  I want to marry you.

Putting her arms around his neck, she kissed him and he responded passionately.  A moment later, he raised his head to gaze at her, his eyes dark and smoldering.  “I love you so much,” he murmured huskily.

“I love you too.”

“Let’s get married here in Milan,” he said.

She drew back slightly to look at him, her eyes wide. “Get married here in Milan?” she exclaimed.

He nodded.  “Yes.  We’ll invite just Annabella and a few friends.”

The thought of getting married here in Milan never once occurred to her but she liked it.  “Yes, let’s do it.”

“I’ll call Annabella later and ask her to make the arrangements.  I’m sure she will be thrilled.”

“Not as thrilled as I am at the moment,” she said before she kissed him.

Three days later their wedding day arrived bright and sunny and without any hitch.  They got married in the same church where Paolo was christened.  Afterwards, they were whisked off to a friend’s villa where the reception was held.  Everything was wonderful—the decorations, the food, the music.  Everyone had a great time.  Noticeably missing was Paolo’s mother but that didn’t dampen his spirits.  He didn’t expect her to come even though he had invited her at Roxane’s suggestion.  In spite of how his mother felt about her, she still felt that she should at least be invited to the wedding and it was up to her to accept or refuse the invitation.

“You look absolutely beautiful,” he told Roxane as he took in his arms for their first dance.

She was wearing an elegant off the shoulder wedding gown which she was fortunate to find and purchase at such short notice.  Annabella had gone to the bridal shop with her one morning and the moment she saw the dress, she knew it was the one.  She tried it on and it was a perfect fit.

She smiled now at Paolo who looked very handsome in his tuxedo.  “You don’t look so bad yourself,” she teased. She turned her head and looked at her hand resting on his chest so that he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.  She was so happy.  They had a perfect day for their wedding and tonight was simply magical.  His mother’s absence hadn’t spoiled it for her.  She wished, though, her parents could have been there.

He rested his forehead against hers.  “I’m sorry that your parents couldn’t be here,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

“Me too,” she said.  “But, I’m not sorry that we got married here instead of in London as we had planned.  I loved the church and this villa is amazing.  And we get to have our honeymoon here too.  I couldn’t be happier.”

He smiled.  “I’m relieved to hear that.  I want to make you as happy as you have made me.”

She looked at him then, her eyes shining with tears.  “You have made me extremely happy, Paolo, more than you can ever imagine.”

He lowered his head and kissed her as they swayed to the music.

 

happy new wed interracial couple in wedding mood

Sources:  Glam Radar; eBay

The Nursing Home

It was Saturday morning and Andrea was at the nursing home visiting Mrs. Alvarez, dear woman whom she met through her grandmother.  After her grandmother passed away, Andrea continued to visit Mrs. Alvarez who was always delighted to see her.  She was in a wheelchair and although she was ninety years old, her mind was a sharp as ever.  She reminisced a lot about her life in Buenos Aires and was always telling Andrea, to “go and visit.  You will fall in love with it.”

Mrs. Alvarez moved with her family to Canada when she was a teenager.  She went to University of Toronto where she met her future husband, Miguel. Miguel was from Madrid.  After dating for six months, they got married.  A year later, they had Mateo and then, three years later, Isabella.  Isabella now lived in New York with her husband and their three children while Mateo was here in Toronto.  He was still single.

It was four years ago when Andrea met Mateo the first time.  She and her grandmother were in the courtyard enjoying the lovely weather when Mrs. Alvarez joined them.  Mateo was pushing her wheelchair.   Mrs.  Alvarez introduced him to them, her face beaming.   Andrea smiled at him and when he reached over and shook her hand, they eyes met and held for several minutes.  He didn’t say much but was very pleasant and Andrea warmed to him immediately.

Since that first meeting, they  had been seeing each other at the nursing home. Sometimes she would still be there when he visited and she would observe him with his mother.   His attentiveness toward the elderly woman was so endearing.  He was a bit reserved, not much of a conversationalist but he was very knowledgeable and she found herself enthralled any time he said something.  His mother doted on him. They were very close.

“Mateo will be stopping by this afternoon as usual,” Mrs. Alvarez said now, interrupting her reverie.  “I will be sure to give him the slice of this lovely cake you baked.”  She was still eating her slice, clearly enjoying every morsel.  The crumbs fell on the napkin spread neatly in her lap.  “I used to love baking.  Miguel was always complimenting me on my baking.  He particularly loved my lemon squares.  And Mateo, he loved my banana cake.  Sometimes, I baked Argentine sweets and desserts like Arroz con leche which is a rice pudding and Cubanitos which were chocolate covered biscuit rolls.  Yes, the kitchen always smelled of baking.”

Andrea smiled.  Mrs. Alvarez was always going off on a tangent.  She had grown to love this dear lady and cherished their time together.

“My son loves you, Andrea,” she said suddenly, startling her.  “Yes, I can tell just from the way he looks at you.”

Andrea sighed.  “Then why has his behavior toward me changed?”  Lately, he seemed distant with her and whenever he showed up and his mother was not in the room, he would make some excuse and leave.  It was as if he didn’t want to be alone with her.  Once when they were alone, she reached out and touched his arm, he pulled it away as if she had burned him, his expression darkening.  He mumbled something and left the room, leaving her standing there, hurt and bewildered.  The next time she visited his mother, she told her about it and the old lady didn’t seem at all surprised.

“He thinks you’re too young for him,” she said now.

Andrea looked at her in frustration.  “I’m not that much younger than him,” she protested.  “I love him, Mrs. Alvarez.  I want to be with him.”

Mrs. Alvarez smiled.  “I know, Querida.  Don’t give up.  When two people are meant for each other, things will work out.”

Andrea stood up.  “I have to go now,” she said reluctantly.  “I am sorry that I didn’t get to see Mateo this time.  I was in the area and thought I would visit you earlier than usual.  Please say hello to him for me.”  She pulled on her jacket and her satchel.  She went over to Mrs. Alvarez who had by now finished her slice of cake and took up the napkin which she tossed in the garbage bin.  Then, she hugged the woman and kissed her on the cheek.  “I’ll come by again during the week.  Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

Mrs. Alvarez patted her on the shoulder.  “You too, Querida.”

Andrea left the room and the nursing home.  She walked out to the bus-stop and waited for the bus to take her to the subway station.  As she sat on the bus, all she could think about was Mateo and how much she wished he would stop running away from his feelings.  She had half a mind to go over to his place now and confront him.  She glanced at her watch.  It was twelve-thirty.  He usually visited his mother around four.   She would be at his condo in about half-hour.  Yes, she made up her mind to go there and face him.  Her heart somersaulted at the thought.

Thirty five minutes later she stood outside of his door, nervous but determined. Taking a deep breath, she rang the doorbell, praying that he was home.  A sense of relief washed over her when she heard the lock slide back and the door opened. Mateo stood there.  A tentative smile touched her lips and then it faded when she saw the expression on his face.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“May I come in?” She didn’t want to have this conversation in the hallway.

He moved aside to let her go in.  After closing the door and locking it, he turned to her, his eyes wary as they met hers.  “Why did you come?”

“I needed to see you,” she said.  “Why are you so cold towards me, Mateo?”

He muttered something in Spanish and raked his fingers through his hair.  “Cold towards you?” he exclaimed, his expression darkening.  “When it comes to my feelings for you, cold isn’t the word I would use.”

“You’ve been distant with me lately and avoiding me.  I want to know why.”

“You want to know why I’m acting the way I am.  It’s simple.  You’re twenty-eight and I’m forty-three.”

“What does age have to do with anything?”

“For me it has to do with everything.”

“So, you are saying that you would rather see me with someone closer to my age?”

He closed his eyes then and a pained expression came over his face.  “It would kill me to see you with someone else,” he muttered tightly.

She took a step toward him.  “Mateo, I don’t want to be with anyone else.  I want to be with you because I love you.”

He opened his eyes, raw with the unbridled passion that shone in them.  Reaching for her, he pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp.  “Yo también te amo!  I love you too,” he groaned before he bent his head and kissed her.  She dropped her bag and threw her arms around his neck, kissing him back wildly.

For a long time, they stood there, exchanging passionate kisses until he raised his head and whispered, “Spend the rest of the afternoon with me.  I’ll call Mother and let her know that I will stop by and see her tomorrow.  I don’t think she would mind when I tell her that you’re here.”

Andrea smiled.  “I think you’re right.”

 

 

Sources:  Wikipedia; Spanish Dict

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