His heart skipped a beat as he watched Traci coming up the path. It had been four years since she walked out of the condo penthouse with the unobstructed views of Puget Sound, Elliott Bay and Olympic and out of his life with no goodbye or explanation. When he came home to an empty place, he was devastated. He missed her like crazy and it tortured him that he had no idea where she was or if she was with another man.
He tried to drown his sorrows in casual relationships with other women but it was no use. He wanted Traci. She was the only woman he wanted to be with.
A mutual friend told him that she was living in Boston and where she was working. Without any hesitation, he sold his place and moved there. He was self-employed. He found a seven-story luxury condo building, Formerly known as the Mount Vernon Congregational . He called the company where Traci worked and left a message for her. Weeks passed and there was no response from her. He tried several times to get in touch with her, left messages but she didn’t return his any of his calls.
Then, out of the blue, she called him and told him that she needed to see him. After he got over the initial shock of finally hearing from her, he invited her to go over to his place that afternoon after six. He would be home by then.
He smoothed his hair down, straightened his tie and went to answer the door as soon as the bell rang. His eyes traveled eagerly over her. He longed to take her in his arms and hold her but, he stepped aside to allow her to enter the foyer.
“Hello, Gerard,” she said quietly.
“It’s really good to see you.”
He saw her eyes rove appreciatively around her surroundings before they alighted on his face once again. “You have a very nice place.”
“Thanks. How have you been?”
“Fine. And you?”
“I know you have been trying to reach me at the office. The entire company is working from home now because of the coronavirus.”
“I thought you weren’t returning my calls because you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“What are you doing here in Boston?” she asked. She didn’t want to admit it but she was happy to see him.
“I came because of you, Traci.”
“Why? I mean there are tons of women in Seattle whom you could have gotten involved with and you left there to come here because of me? Why? Is it the sex you miss?”
“It was never just a sexual thing for me, Traci,” he told her. “I was in love with you. I still am.”
She blinked and turned away. Hearing him say that he was in love with her startled her. He was the only man, aside from her father, who had expressed any feelings for her. He was the only man she willingly gave herself to–physically. Emotionally, she was afraid to let herself go for fear of getting hurt. She had loved her father but he had hurt her when he left her mother and her for his mistress. Her sister whom she had looked up to and whom she thought would always be there to protect her abandoned her too. And her mother who was supposed to take care of her, neglected her and showered all of her love on a worthless man. So, as far as she was concerned she was better off not trusting anyone or giving her love to any man. That was until she met Gerard.
He was nothing like her father or step-father. He was attentive and caring. He treated her like a queen. She went out on dates with him and accepted expensive gifts from him as well as the hefty allowance he gave her each week. She didn’t spend much of it but kept it in her savings account. He took her to expensive restaurants for dinner, the theatre, concerts and to museums. He was a very cultured man, with expensive tastes and a very successful businessman. He took her on several vacations to Europe, Asia and South America. After seeing each other for a year and a half, he asked her to move in with him which she did. She never thought she would ever enjoy sex but she did with him. He was amazing in bed.
He had a lady go in twice a week to do the housekeeping but Traci did the cooking, laundry and ironing. Life with him was pleasant and after a while, she settled in. It was a far cry from the life she had before. Then, things changed when she realized that she was falling in love with him. As graduation approached, she made plans to leave Seattle. She decided that she would go to Boston, a city she had always wanted to visit. On the evening of her graduation, Gerard took her to her favorite restaurant to celebrate. The next day while he was at a business meeting, she packed up and left. Now, four years later, she was standing here, facing him, about to tell him about her past, terrified of what his reaction would be.
He studied her closely. From the play of emotions on her face, he could tell that something was troubling her. “Let’s go into the living-room and talk,” he suggested. He led the way and after they were both seated on the sofa, he gently encouraged her to tell him why she needed to see him.
She fixed her gaze on her clasped hands in her lap and told him everything. She told him all that she had told her co-worker, Abby whom she had been hostile towards from the moment they started working together. As she spoke, she could feel Gerard’s eyes on her. She had his undivided attention. When she was done, she kept her eyes downcast, afraid to look at him. “I didn’t mean what I said to Abby about Nick. I wasn’t interested in him. And I only flirted with him because I wanted to upset her. I was so awful to her because she reminded me of my sister. I know it doesn’t excuse for my behavior but…”
There was a long silence. Only the ticking of the clock was heard. She didn’t realize that she was crying until he reached out and brushed the tears from her cheeks. She raised her eyes to look at him then and her heart stopped when she saw the expression on his face. He covered her hands with his. “Oh, Traci, it breaks my heart to hear what you’ve been through. I wish I had known.”
“I wasn’t sure that you would want to be with me after you learned the truth about my past.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to be with you? You’re not to blame for what that monster did to you. He only told you that so that you wouldn’t say anything to anyone about it. It’s a classic example of the abuser blaming the victim.”
“I know it doesn’t make sense but I was afraid that you would ask me to leave when you learned the truth about me so…”
“So, you left instead.”
“Yes. I figured it would be better to leave before I was asked to like when I was living with my father and his new family.”
“Traci, I never would have asked you to leave. I would have held you and told you that you have nothing to fear or worry about where you and I are concerned. I would never abandon you like your father or sister or mother did. I would have helped you to pick up the pieces. My being here in Boston should make it crystal clear to you that I’m here to stay. I’m not going anywhere.”
The tears started to fall again. “You mean that?”
“Yes, I do. Oh, Traci…” he pulled her into his arms then and hugged her tightly. “I love you. As God is my witness, I promise that I would never hurt you or forsake you.”
She closed her eyes and put her arms around him. “As long as I have God, you and Abby, I’ll be fine.”
They sat there for a long time, hugging. The following week, Traci gave notice to the landlord that she was moving out. She moved in with Gerard. He proposed to her and she accepted. He slipped the ring he had bought when they were living together in Seattle unto her finger.
Deeply moved, she cupped his face between her hands and whispered, “I love you.” It finally felt right to say it and experience it. God once told her that she had so much love to give but she kept it bottled up inside because of all pain and hurt she had suffered. God was right and now, she had the perfect man to give her love to.
Thanks to the God’s unfailing love, Gerard’s devotion, Abby’s friendship and effective therapy, Traci was soon on the road to recovery and to fulfilling the plan God had for her life.
“Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old. See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it? – Isaiah 43:18, 19