It was Sunday evening. I was on my way to meet Janelle. I was looking forward to seeing her again. Since meeting her at the pub last night, she has been on my mind constantly. This morning, I called my mother and told her about going to the pub and meeting Janelle.
“I’m so relieved to hear that, Dear,” she said. “You need to be among friends. And this Janelle sounds like she’s just what you need. Life is too short. Enjoy it while you still can.”
Janelle was waiting outside for me. Her face broke into a big smile when she saw me. She looked smart in her hat. “Hello, Colin,” she greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. “You look very handsome,” she remarked when she drew back and gave me a look over.
I blushed. “Thank you.”
We went into the restaurant and got a seat by the window. The ambiance was warm and inviting. The place was packed. “I’ve been living in London all of these years and I had no idea that this place even existed.”
She smiled. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” she said. “But, I can easily fix that.”
“How?” I asked after we ordered our drinks and were looking through the menu. “Everything looks interesting. What do you recommend?”
“The Vegan Gumbo.”
“Okay. I’ll have that.”
“What time did you end up leaving the pub last night?” I asked as we waited for the waitress to return with our drinks and to take our orders.
“Around twelve-thirty. What did you do when you got home?”
“I read for a bit and then went to bed.”
“Do you miss having a woman to share your bed?”
I was taken aback by her bluntness. “Sometimes,” I admitted after a few minutes.
“Tell me about her?”
I stiffened. “About whom?”
“The woman who let you get away.”
“There isn’t much to tell. We weren’t right for each other.”
“Did you love her?”
“Sometimes love isn’t enough.”
I didn’t answer. And was relieved when our drinks came and the waitress took our orders.
Janelle raised her glass. “Let’s make a toast,” she suggested.
“To the present and to new friendships.”
We toasted and then over dinner we had animated discussions about so many things. I really enjoyed her company. As long as we kept the conversation away from a certain area of my life, I was completely relaxed. We each had a serving of the Key Lime pie for dessert followed by two Lattes before we left.
We stood outside on the sidewalk, facing each other. It was still early. “Let’s go for a walk,” I suggested.
She smiled. “Sure.”
The temperature had dropped a little but it was still mild. As we strolled, I asked her about her family.
“My parents moved to Fort Myers, Florida two years ago when they retired. My older sister lives in New York with her family and my brother lives with his in Seattle. We all fly down to Fort Myers for Christmas. How about you? Is your family here?”
“My mother is. My father died.”
“What about siblings?”
“I had a sister but she died.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a brother or a sister. Was she older or younger than you?”
“Were you close?”
“I was very close to my brother too while we were growing up together and then he left. It was right after that when I decided to take up modeling. I wanted to be out of the house. I wanted to travel–to spread my wings–see the world.”
“And now you’re going to quit because it wasn’t what you expected it to be.”
“Right. And I’m thinking of quitting sooner than I said I would.”
“How did your family feel when you decided to go into modeling after leaving university?”
“My parents weren’t pleased. They wanted me to find a regular, good paying job. My brother said that it was my decision what I wanted to do with my life and I think my sister liked the idea of having a model in the family.”
“So, after you quit modeling, will you stay here in London?”
“Yes. And that means you and I are going to see a lot more of each other, unless you have a problem with that.”
I smiled. “No, I don’t have a problem with that,” I replied.
We continued walking and talking for a while longer and then I offered her a ride home. This time she accepted. Twenty minutes later, we were standing on the sidewalk outside of her building. My car was parked on the street. “Well, thanks for a wonderful evening,” she said.
“I should be thanking you.”
“I really like being with you, Colin.”
“I like being with you too.”
She slipped something into my pocket. “Make sure you don’t lose it. Goodnight, Colin.” She reached up and kissed me on the cheek before walking away.
I got into my car and switched on the light. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a neatly folded piece of note paper. It had her telephone number written on it. I tucked it into my wallet. The next morning, I called. “Are you free tonight?”
“Have dinner with me.”
“I’d love to.”
“I’ll pick you up at seven.”
“Does this mean that you’re ready?” she asked.
“Yes, ready to start dating again.”
Without the slightest hesitation, I replied, “Yes, I am.”
This is the sequel for Laughing Again.