Francis Finds Love and Faith

“Why haven’t you been by the house?  Are they working you too hard?  When is the last time you went to confession?  When are you going to settle down and get married?”  Mrs. De Vries demanded as her son, Francis walked out of the courthouse and into the late afternoon sunshine.  It had been a hectic day and all he wanted to do was to go home and crash.

“Mother, I’m perfectly happy with my life,” he told her wearily.  “I haven’t been by the house because I have been very busy on a case which was wrapped up a short while ago.  I haven’t been to confession for over a year and I’m not ready to get married as yet.”

He didn’t tell her that he hadn’t been to confession or the church because he was seriously considering leaving the faith.  And the allegations of sex abuse at the hands of the clergy didn’t help.  He knew of one girl he used to go to school with who was a victim but was afraid to say anything because she was afraid that her parents would kick her out of the house.  The last he heard of her, she had left the church and married a Protestant.

He grew up in a strict Catholic home where he was taught never to question the church because to do so was a grave sin.  So, he kept quiet, went to Mass every Sunday with his family, had his First Communion and Confirmation.  He still remembered what happened to his girlfriend, Sophia when she was 16 and preparing Confirmation.  She was in the Children’s Room and she had to write down the sins she had committed against God.  When she told the priest that he had made out with her boyfriend, the man looked at her and told her that she was going to hell.  Distraught and terrified at the thought of burning for eternity, she ran out of the room in tears. Francis never saw her again.  He just went to church to please his mother.  But he could feel himself becoming more and more disconnected to the faith.

“Francis?  Are you still there?”

“Yes, Mother.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Mother.”

“Marian is having her First Communion next week Sunday.  You are going to come for that, aren’t you?  Everyone will expect to see you.”  Marian was his 7 year old niece.

He didn’t really want to go but he knew he would never hear the end of it if he didn’t show up.  Besides, he didn’t want to disappoint Marian.  “All right, Mother.  I’ll be there.”

“Good.” She sounded very pleased.  “Afterwards, we’ll go over to the house and have a big meal to celebrate.”

“Sounds good.  I have to go now, Mother.”

“All right, Francis.  I will call you again during the week to remind you.”

“I will write it down in my calendar so that I won’t forget.”

“Just the same, I will call and remind you,” she insisted.

He sighed.  “All right, Mother.”

“Have a good weekend.”

“Thanks.  You too.”

“Make sure you go to church on Sunday.  I pray for you everyday, you know.”

“That’s sweet of you, Mother.  I really have to go now.  Goodbye.”

“All right.  Goodbye, Francis. Ik hou van je.”

Ik hou ook van jou.” He ended the call and got into his car.  The sun was setting as he pulled out of the parking lot.  He couldn’t wait to get home and take a long, hot shower before ordering Take Out Thai.  He didn’t have any plans for the weekend.  He was going to be a couch potato for once.

About forty minutes later, he was riding up the elevator.  The doors opened and he headed down the long hallway to his unit.  As he was about to insert the key in the lock, the door opposite his opened and his neighbor, Briana came out of her unit.  Her gaze traveled over his tall frame.   “Hi,” she said.  2451262bc76a34995bfa6c2e7db55843

“Hi.” She had her jacket draped over her arm and her knapsack was on her shoulder.  “Going on a date?” he asked.  He always wanted to find out if she had a boyfriend but never quite knew how to broach the subject without coming across nosy.

She shook her head.  “No.  I’m going to the Living With Hope Evangelistic meetings.  Tonight’s the first meeting.  It ends next week Sunday.”  She showed him the flyer.

He took it from her and studied it.  It looked very interesting.  It started at 7 which was a hour away.  “Do you mind if I come with you?” he asked.

She shook her head again.  “No, not at all.  Have you eaten?”

“No.”

“Neither have I.  I got in a short time ago and didn’t have time to eat anything.  We can grab something on the way.”  They took her car.

As they sped down the high-way, they talked about all sorts of things.  She asked him about his job and he told her about the case he won earlier that day.  His client was found not guilty because of reasonable doubt.  “Do you think he was innocent?” she asked.

“Yes.  And I established that the foreman at the firm as a very possible suspect.  He had motive and opportunity.”

“Well, congratulations.”

“Thanks.  You’re a Physical Therapy Assistant, right?”

“Yes.”  He remembered.  “I love it.  I love helping people.  That’s something you and I have in common.”

He smiled.  “That’s true.”

“So….do you have a girlfriend?”  She knew he wasn’t married.

The question took him by surprise and it took him a moment to reply.  “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.  What about you?  Do you have a boyfriend?”

She shook her head.  “No.  I’ve gone out with a couple of guys but nothing panned out.  We’re approaching Carroll Ave where the church is,” she added. “There are several food places in the area.  What do you feel in the mood for?”

“Is there a Middle Eastern place?”

“Yes.  It’s right up here.”  She pulled into the parking lot and found a parking space in front of the restaurant.  They walked in and over to the Take Out area.  “I’m going to have the Chicken Shawarma.  What about you?”

“I think I will have the Lamb burger.”  His mouth watered as he thought having it with fries.

They ordered and then they went to the car and she drove to the church.  They sat in the car and ate.  He encouraged her to try the fries.  “Next time I think I will try the Lamb Burger.  It looks really good.”

“If you don’t have other plans, I was thinking that tomorrow night after we leave here, we could go a really nice family run Lebanese restaurant in Washington.”

She smiled.  “I would love to.”

They finished eating and then it was time to head inside.  They were hooked the first night and looked forward to going the following night.  Night after night they went to the series together and had dinner afterwards.  By the end of the series, they both decided to regularly attend the church hosting the series.  They each received the Discover Bible Guides from the pastor of the church which they eagerly went through. Then, in the Spring the following year, they were baptized.

At first, Francis’ mother was bitterly disappointed that he had left the Catholic faith but when she saw how happy he was, she relented.  And she was relieved to see that he had a girlfriend.  She became very fond of Briana and even taught her how to make some traditional Dutch dishes.

Two years later, Francis and Briana tied the knot in a simple but elegant ceremony.

 

Sources:  Huff Post; Corpus Christi; Tahoma Park Church

Mia’s Story

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Ours isn’t your typical love story.  I was a victim of human sex trafficking and he’s an FBI agent.  My name is Mia and I’m 28 years old.  I was 18 when I ran away from home.  I was having problems with my mother who always made me feel like I was no good and that she was sorry that she had me.  And my father who was hardly around and when he was, he fought with my mother and ignored me.

Life at home was hell and sometimes I just wished it was a nightmare and that I would wake up in a different house and with different parents–people who loved and cared about me.  It got to the point that I knew that if I didn’t leave, I would kill myself.  One night after my parents had gone to bed, I grabbed my knapsack and sneaked out of the house.  I had some money which I took from my mother’s purse and my father’s wallet.  I didn’t have time to count the amount but it looked like it would last me for a while.

It lasted for a couple of weeks and then I was broke.  I had no idea of what to do.  I had no where to go.  I refused to go back home.  I called other family members but they hung up when they knew that it was me.  I was too ashamed to call my friends.  So, I decided that may be I should find a job at McDonald’s or some other fast food place.  It was better than staying on the streets or going to a homeless shelter.

I stood there trying to figure out where the nearest MacDonald’s was when a really cute guy came up to me.  He had the most incredible blue eyes and an amazing smile.  “Hi,” he said.  “Are you lost?”

“I’m trying to find a McDonald’s,” I explained.  “I’m looking for a job.”

“I see.  It just so happens that I work at a restaurant just around the corner and the manager is looking to hire a cashier.  Are you interested?”

My expression brightened.  “Of course!  I’ve worked as a cashier before.”

“Good.  I’m heading there now so I can introduce you to the manager.”

“Okay.”

“What’s your name?”

“Mia.”

“I’m Joe.”  He held out his hand.

She smiled and shook it.  “Nice to meet you, Joe.”

We headed in the direction of the Space Needle.  I promised myself that one day I would visit it.  As we walked we talked.  He was so charming and easygoing.  I found myself hoping that he didn’t have a girlfriend.  About ten minutes later, we stopped in front of a restaurant.  It was packed.  He pushed the door open for me to enter.  The smell of fried food assailed me and reminded me that I was hungry.

As if he read my mind, he asked, “Are you hungry?”

I nodded.  “I haven’t eaten all day.”

He took me by the elbow and led me down a long corridor and into a room.  “Sit here while I go and get something for you to eat.”

I sat down, grateful for his kindness and to be able to sit down after being on my feet for so long.  Fading light streamed through the windows.  The sun would be setting soon.  I hoped that Joe was right about his manager and that he would hire me.  It would be so cool working there with Joe.  I was feeling a little hot so I removed my jacket.  I pulled my hair back into a ponytail.  I was about to get up and walk over to the window and look out when Joe came in carrying a tray with a burger, fries and a soft drink.  He set them down on the table.  My mouth was watering.  “Thanks, Joe.”

He smiled.  “No problem.  When you’re finished just come to the front where the cashier is and I’ll be there.”

“Thanks.”  I waited until he left before I wolfed down the burger and fries.  They were sooo good.  I drank the Ginger-ale.  It was nice and cold.  I was half-way through it when I started to feel dizzy.  The room started to spin and I squeezed my eyes shut.  When I opened them again, I was in another room and there was a strange man standing over me.  Was this the manager?  Had I passed out or something?  Did I eat too fast?  All sorts of questions whirled around in my mind.  My head was pounding but at least the room wasn’t spinning and the dizziness was gone.  I tried to sit up but the man pushed me down.  Panicking, I cried out but he put something over my nose and mouth and everything went black.res

When I regained consciousness I was alone and I realized that I was lying on a bed.  I managed to sit up and I screamed when I saw that I was wearing red lingerie.  How did I end up here?  Who removed my clothes?  Where are my clothes?  I looked wildly about the room for my clothes.  I tried to get out of the bed but the door opened and Joe came in.  He grabbed me and tried to force me to lie back down.  I struggled wildly and he struck me.  I was so shocked that I fell back against the pillows.  Joe looked like a different person.  His eyes were cold and his expression impassive.  “You’re not going anywhere,” he muttered.  “You’re going to be here for a long time.”

“Where am I?” I asked, tears streaming down my face.  “Who are you and why are you doing this to me?”

“I don’t have time to answer your questions.”

“What is this place?  Why have you brought me here?”

“You wanted a job, remember?  Well, here you are.”

I struggled to get up.  “You told me that it was a cashier’s job at your restaurant.”

“You’re far too pretty to be a cashier.  You will make more money on your back.”

Then, it hit me.  He was forcing me into prostitution.  I felt sick.  I clawed at him until he clamped his hand over my nose and mouth.  Everything went black again.  I don’t know how long I was out but when I came to, I heard Joe say to someone, “She’s all yours.  I broke her in for you and she’s nicely cleaned up.  Remember to wear a rubber.  We practice safe sex here.  She’s no use to me if she gets pregnant and I’m not to spend my hard earned money on an abortion.”

I heard the door open and close.  Then silence.  I opened my eyes and I saw a man leaning over me.  I felt his hot breath on my face.  I struggled to get up but I couldn’t move.  Then, I realize that he was on top of me.  I pushed at him but it was no use.  I lay there helpless while he raped me.

When it was over, he got off me and I heard him moving about the room as he got dressed.  Then, I heard the door open and close.  I lay there for a long time, too terrified to move or make a sound.  Then, I pushed myself up and got up from the bed.  I put on the lingerie bottom which was lying on the floor and stumbled towards the closed door.  It was a washroom.  I felt for the switch and flicked it on.  I went over to the mirror and stared at my reflection.  I didn’t recognize myself.  My eyes were puffy, my jaw was bruised from where Joe struck me and my left shoulder had a bruise as well.  I turned on the tap and splashed water on my face.  I had to get out of there.  I went to the window and opened it.  I pushed my head out.  Outside was a fire escape.  I raised the window higher and climbed onto the ledge.  I reached out and pulled myself onto the fire escape.  I made my way down to the street below and ran as fast as I could.

When I was as far away from that place as possible, I flagged a cab down and when it stopped, I begged the driver to take me to the nearest hospital.  When I got there I went straight to Emergency and told the triage person what happened to me.  I was ushered into a room where I was told to wait.  Minutes later a nurse came in and asked me “Did anyone you worked for or lived with trick or force you into doing anything you did not want to do?” and other questions.  Then, she left and returned.  She asked me to get undressed so that I could be examined and left.  After the examination, I was given a gown.  I sat at the edge of the bed and waited.

The nurse who examined me came in and told me that I was a victim of sex trafficking.  There was evidence of forced penetration and bruising on my wrists as if I were restrained.  She asked if there was anyone I needed to call or somewhere to stay.  I shook my head.  I was in a daze.  I still couldn’t believe what had happened to me.  I had fallen for a pair of blue eyes and a charming smile.  The nurse told me that the hospital would help me with housing, transportation and any necessities I may need.  That was a real load off my shoulders.  I spent the night in the hospital.  I had trouble falling asleep because every time I closed my eyes I saw either Joe’s or that strange man’s face.  And I was afraid that I would wake up and find myself back in that room.

The next day, I was visited by two FBI agents who wanted to question me.  One was an older man with sandy colored hair, sharp eyes and a portly gait.  The other was tall, dark and very handsome.  The older one asked most of the questions and was very quick and direct.  Then, the other one said, “You were lucky to get out of there alive.  You did the right thing coming here.”

“I hope you catch Joe,” I said.  “I wish I knew the other man’s name.”

“It would be very helpful if you can give their descriptions to our artist,” he replied.

“I can,” I assured them tightly.  “I will never forget their faces.”

“Thank you, Miss Bautista,” the older one said.  “We will be in touch.  Good-day.”  He left the room.

The other one lingered for a moment.  “Good-day, Miss Bautista.”

“Good-day, Agent Fowler.”  I watched him leave.

I left the hospital that afternoon and was placed in Catalyst at Straley House where I can stay for 18 months while I work with my case manager to get connected to school and employment, and transition into permanent housing.   It turned out to be a really nice place.  I met a lot of great people.  My case manager, Rita was a tremendous help and support for me.  Before leaving home, I had graduated from high-school with honors but I hadn’t applied to any university.  After my ordeal in Seattle, I decided that I would move to another city in Washington.  I googled the best cities there and chose Spokane.  I applied to Gonzaga University and was accepted.

Before I left to go to live on campus, I received a visit from Agent Fowler who informed me that thanks to my descriptions Joe Cartwright and his cohorts were arrested.   The man who raped me was a prominent businessman who was a regular client.  Joe was a pimp and his victims included under-aged girls.  It turned out that Mr. Murphy had no clue about Joe’s nefarious business dealings.  Joe had used Mr. Murphy’s job posting to gain my trust.  I was very grateful to Agents Fowler and Benson for investigating and catching those monsters.  I hope that they will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.  I told Agent Fowler that I was moving to Spokane.  He smiled and shook my hand.  “I wish you all the best, Miss Bautista.”

As I watched him leave, I found myself hoping that I would see him again.  Years later, I did.  I had graduated from Gonzaga University and was working as a Youth Program Assistant which I loved.  I was on my way to lunch when I saw someone walking in front of me.  From the back he looked very familiar and then I realized who it was.  I quickened my pace until I was right behind him and I called out, “Agent Fowler.”

He stopped and turned to face me.  I could see that he recognized me.  Smiling, he held out his hand.  “Miss Bautista.  It’s good to see you.”

“I didn’t think I would run into you.  What are you doing in Spokane?”

“I’m here for my nephew’s wedding which is tomorrow.”

“Did you fly or drive?”

“I flew.  I didn’t feel like spending over four hours behind the wheel. Are you heading somewhere?”

“I was on my way to lunch.”

“Do you mind if I tag along?”

“I could do with the company.  There’s a bistro right up the road.  They serve the best comfort food.”

“Sounds good.”

We walked to the bistro.  Over local beef and regional fresh fish, we talked.  When it was time for me to head back to the office, he came with me.  As we stood outside the building, he asked me to have dinner with him.  I gladly accepted.  After that first dinner, we made arrangements to see each other again.  He spent the week in Spokane before he flew back.  We had a long distance relationship and saw each other in the summer, at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  Then, one day when we were Riverfront Park, he told me that he was moving to the FBI office in Spokane.

I stared up at him.  “Why?” I asked.  I was thrilled, of course but taken aback.

He reached for my hands, his expression serious as his eyes met mine.  “I want to be where you are, Mia,” he said quietly.

I swallowed hard, my heart was racing now.  “Why?”

“Simple, I love you.”

“I love you too, Nathan.  And I’m happy that you’re moving to Spokane.”

He leaned over and kissed me.  I felt my head explode.  We drew apart several minutes later and holding hands, we continued our walk.  The following spring, he moved to Spokane and following a very short engagement, we got married in September.  The attendees were Rita, my case manager, my friends from Catalyst, my co-workers and his FBI friends and family.  My parents weren’t there because I didn’t invite them.  They are a painful part of my past which I want to forget.

Ten years have passed since my ordeal and what thing that I have learned from it is that “Our pain can be turned into purpose”  This March, I started a support group for former sex and human trafficking victims.

While Mia’s story is fiction, it is real for many.  Trafficking of any kind is an evil that must be wiped out and those responsible for it must be brought to justice.  Check out this video for a grim glimpse into the world of child sex trafficking and what is being done to save victims.

Here is a list of non-profit organizations fighting against Human Trafficking:

Let’s work together to stop trafficking and exploitation.  Let’s fight for freedom.

Sources:  FBI Video; Nurse.com; Nurse.org; FBI; YouthCare; Yelp

Back Together

elliott-law0068-853x1280“Good heavens, Atticus, do you want us to freeze to death?” Mrs. Sutcliffe exclaimed as she shot her son a reproving look.  “Kindly close that window.”

He turned to face her.  “It’s a bit fusty in here, Mother.”

“It is not!” she retorted indignantly.  “These rooms are aired out every day.  Now kindly close it before we all catch colds.”

Muttering under his breath, he shut the windows.  He remained standing there, his back to them, clenched hands buried in his pockets, looking out.

“It is a bit stuffy in here,” his sister, Birgit said.  “However, it has nothing to do with the air.”  She gave him a pointed look.

His lips compressed.  She was his sister but he couldn’t stand her.  She was always so smug and condescending.  “What is that supposed to mean?”

“You’ve been in a foul mood since you broke up with that African woman.”

“That African woman.  You can’t even address her properly by her name.”

“Why should I?  She’s nothing to me.  I can’t say the same for you, though.  You’re still pining for her even though you know she’s no good for you.”

“Who are you to determine whether she’s good for me or not?”

“I’m your older and wiser sister.  Evidently, you agreed with my assessment because you broke up with her.”

“I thought we had put the dreadful business with that charwoman behind us,” Mrs. Sutcliffe interjected, agitated.

“So, did I,” Birgit said, getting up from the sofa and walking over to the fireplace.  “I thought my dear brother had the good sense to move on with his pathetic life but clearly I was wrong.  Here he is pining away for a charwoman when he could be out there meeting reputable women.”  She shook her head in disgust.

Addicus swung around and glared at her.  “For your information, Diarra isn’t a charwoman any more.  She got a job at one of the offices where she cleaned.  And even if she were still a charwoman, it isn’t anything to be ashamed about.  She’s making an honest living.   And how dare you make her out to be less reputable because she’s African and used to be clean offices for a living?  She’s worth far more than your stupid, snooty friends.”

Birgit glowered at him.  “Don’t you dare insult my friends.  And as far as you and that charwoman of yours, you can both go to hell.”

“Children, please,”  Mrs. Sutcliffe wailed.  “Let us stop this bickering.  Atticus, I don’t want to hear anymore about that woman.”

“I wasn’t the one who brought her up,” he was quick to remind her.  “Birgit did.”

“I only brought her up because I could see that you were pining for her.  She really got her hooks in you.  You poor lovesick fool.  While you’re here longing for her, she’s dating another man.”

In a matter of seconds, he was standing beside her, his expression tense as he demanded, “What are you talking about?”

She shrugged.  “I was coming out of the hair salon when I saw her with a tall African man.  She had her arm through his.  She didn’t see me.”

He grabbed her by the shoulders.  “Are you sure it was her?  Birgit, if you’re making this up to hurt me, so help me…”

Her eyes flashed at him.  “Yes, I’m sure it was her and I’m not making this up just to hurt you.  Now, let go of me.”

The color drained from Atticus’s face.  Jealousy clawed at his insides.  “I have to go,” he muttered more to himself than to them.  He released Birgit and turned away.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to see her,” Birgit said.

Mrs. Sutcliffe was alarmed.  “Atticus, can’t you see that’s it’s really over between you?  She has moved on with her life.  Why can’t you do the same?”

“Because I love her,” he muttered tightly before he strode out of the room.

*****************************************************************

Diarra had just finished making dinner when the doorbell rang.  After wiping her hands in the towel hanging on the wall beside the sink, she hurried into the foyer, wondering who it was.  When she peered through the keyhole and saw Atticus standing there, her heart leapt in her chest.  She pulled back the latch and opened the door, her eyes slipping over his tall frame.  It had been months since the break up.  The pain was still there.  “Hello,” she said.  “I never thought I would see you again.” african-woman-4a4a9282-090a-4a64-bbfe-c0960b12d8f4

“I know.  May I come in?”

“Sure.”  She stepped aside for him to enter and then closed the door.  She turned to face him.  “Let’s go into the living-room.”

After he removed his shoes, he followed her into the living-room.  He remained standing with his hands in his pockets.  His expression was tense as he watched her.  “I know I have no right to be here or to ask you any questions but there’s one I really need to ask you.”

“What is it?” she asked.  How she longed to reach up and touch his face.

“Are you dating someone else?”

She shook her head at once.  “No, I’m not dating anyone.”

“My sister, Birgit said she saw you with a man.”  He told her where.

“That’s my brother, Khaan.  He had taken me for lunch to celebrate his promotion.”

Relief washed over him and he sank down onto the sofa.  “I’m sorry.  When Birgit told me that she saw the two of you together, I was out of my mind with jealousy although I had no right to be.  I lost that right when I broke up with you.  Oh, Diarra.  What a bloody fool I’ve been.  I allowed my family to come between us.  I shouldn’t be here. I should leave.”

“Have you eaten?” she asked.

He stared at her blankly.  “Eaten?” he repeated and then, shaking his head, he added, “No, I haven’t eaten.”

“I just finished making dinner.  Why don’t you stay and have some?  There’s more than enough for two.”

“All right.  Thank you.”

“I’ll go and share it out.”  She was about to walk away when he caught her arm.  Her eyes were wide as they met his.

“I’m not dating anyone.  Diarra, is there still a chance…?”

“Let’s talk about it after dinner.”

He released her arm and sank heavily down onto the sofa.

After dinner, he was standing at the window, watching the flickering lights when she joined him.  “Promise me that you will never let your family come between us again,” she said.

He turned to face her.  “I promise.”

She took his hand.  “Good.  Do you want dessert?”

His eyes darkened.  “All I want right now, is you.” Reaching out, he unwrapped the scarf from her head.  After it fell to the floor beside her feet, he buried his fingers in her hair as he lowered his head and kissed her.  His mouth moved passionately on hers as his love and desire for her raged inside him.  She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back as her need for him consumed her.

After a while he broke off the kiss to mutter, “I don’t deserve you.”

“We’ll talk about that afterwards,” she gasped.  And grabbing his hand, she pulled him towards her room.

It took a while for things to return to the way they were before the break-up but time, effort and patience kept them on track.  And at the end of the following year, against his family’s impassioned objections, he married Diarra.

You are my other half. And when you left, a great part of me was missing. And now that you’re back, we are one and I am whole again – Love Quote Messages

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Fusty.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

For Better or For Worse

Man looking through window bw

“How long are you going to continue looking out that window?  She’s not coming back.  Sooner or later you must accept that.”

He didn’t answer.  Her words cut to the core but he refused to believe that Brittany was gone forever.

“She got tired of waiting and decided that it’s time to move on.  Can’t say that I blame her.  I too would get tired of waiting for a man to make up his mind.”

“Marriage isn’t something you take lightly or rush into,” he replied, sounding a tad defensive and resentful.  “I wanted to be sure before I took that step.”

“And are you sure now?”

“Yes!  I’m ready to take that step with Brittany.”

“Well, as they say, too late, too late shall be the cry.”

His mouth tightened in annoyance.  If she had nothing good or helpful to say, he wish she would keep silent.  “Are you going to be much longer?” he asked.  He wanted to be alone to wallow in his pain and misery.

She looked at him.  “Trying to get rid of me, are you?  Well, I’ll be gone in ten minutes.”

Good.  He turned away to look out of the window again.  Any minute, he hoped to see her walking up the street and hear the key turn in the lock.  He had imagined and dreamed of it so many times.  She had to come back.  The night she walked out of the flat and out of his life was still raw and fresh in his mind.  The place felt empty, lonely and dark without her.  He missed her lying in the bed next to him and always fell asleep hugging her pillow.

They had been together for five years and they had been happy years until the subject of marriage came up.  She wanted to get married but he wasn’t ready.  He had seen too many marriages fall apart.  Love wasn’t a guarantee for a lasting marriage.  He had seen couples who loved each other split up.  Was it unreasonable for him to be cautious?  Was it foolish of him to want to wait until he was ready and willing to make that final commitment?

As much as he was in love with Brittany, he was going to let her pressure him into getting married before he was good and ready.  He didn’t regret that decision but he missed her so much that it hurt.  It had been weeks since she walked out but it felt like years.  Yet, hope continued to burn in his heart.  One of these days, she would return and he would be there, waiting for her.

“Well, I’m off now.  Your supper is in the oven, nice and hot.  Your laundry’s done.  I’ll see you in two weeks.  I’m going to visit my daughter in Manchester.”

“Have a safe trip, Hannah.”

“Thank you.  You take care of yourself.  And stop moping about the place.  There are plenty of women out there.”

“I know but there’s only one woman for me.”

“Aye.  Well, I hope for your sake that she’s worth the trouble.  Good afternoon.”

“Good afternoon.”  He got up and saw her to the door.  He reached over and kissed her on the cheek, smiling as she got red in the face.  He watched her walk down the hallway and turn the corner before he closed the door.  He returned to the window.

It was around half-past seven when he decided to get up and have his supper while it was still warm.  As he headed toward the kitchen, he heard the key turn in the lock.  He froze, his heart pounding.  He stood there and watched as the door slowly opened and Brittany step into the foyer.  She closed the door and locked it before turning to face him.  She stood there, watching him.  Beside her were two pieces of luggage.

For several minutes they just stared at each other.  The only sound was the ticking of the clock on the wall.  Then, he was standing in front of her, his eyes restless on her upturned face.  “You came back,” he muttered. 

“Yes.  It was a mistake for me to leave.  I’m sorry.”

“It hurt when you walked out on me.”

“I’m sorry…”

“I was hoping that you would come back.  I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too.  That’s why I came back.”

He moved closer.  “It’s-it’s good to have you back, Brittany.  My life and this place are so empty and miserable without you.  Please promise me that you won’t leave me again.”

“I promise.  And I’m willing to leave our relationship as it is.  If you don’t want to get married, that’s all right with me.”

He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly.  “Oh, Brittany…”

She put her arms around his waist.  “I love you, Cedric.”

“And I love you, Brittany.”  He lowered his head and kissed her with passion and longing.  It had been so long since he had held her in his arms or told her that he loved her.  It was like the bright sunshine after a storm.

Several minutes later, he took her hand and led her to their bedroom where they made up for lost time.  Afterwards, they shared the supper Hannah had left for him and it was while they were relaxing on the sofa watching a movie, that he told her that he was ready for marriage.  “I meant it when I said that I was fine with our relationship the way it is.”

“I know you did and I love you for it but I’m ready to take the plunge with you.”

“For better or for worse.”

“Yes.  We’ve been through the worse.  It can only get better from here on.”

She smiled and gently squeezed his hand.  “I believe so too.”

Marriage does not guarantee you will be together forever, it’s only paper. It takes love, respect, trust, understanding, friendship and faith in your relationship to make it last Marriage.com

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Continue.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

The Lapel

“The interview will commence in ten minutes so you need to go over there and fix his lapel.”  489_bc54ba7c-c087-4d6b-9b4e-e7ffd9bce37d

Rhea was mortified.  “I can’t,” she protested.

“Don’t be silly,” Angela snapped.  “You’re responsible for making sure that the guests look good in front of the camera.  Now get over and fix the lapel or you can kiss your job goodbye.”

“All right,” Rhea muttered under her breath.  “There’s no need to threaten me.”

“I’m not threatening you.  I’m not the one who will fire you if you don’t do your job.”

Rhea took a deep breath and smiling apologetically, she approached Ciaran Dankworth, the popular British television actor.  “Mr. Dankworth, I’m sorry but, I need to adjust your lapel.  May I?”

He smiled and nodded.  “By all means.”

She leaned over and fixed it, catching a whiff of his cologne.  It was unnerving and thrilling at the same time being that close to him.  She was a big fan of his.  She followed him on Facebook, read and watch all of his interviews.  When she learned that he was going to be here today, she was beside herself with excitement.  She wished she could ask him for his autograph or have a photo taken with him but she didn’t want to be a nuisance and her boss, Beth would come down hard on her like a ton of bricks.  Beth always reminded her that she had to be professional at all times and never bother any of their guests with requests for autographs or photos.

She straightened away from him, her heart thudding.  “It’s all fixed now,” she said.

His eyes met hers in a direct gaze.  “Thank you,” he said in that amazing voice of his with the posh British accent, most commonly known as the Queen’s English.

“You’re welcome.”

“What is your name?”

“Rhea.”

“Well, Rhea.  I would like to properly thank you for getting me all fixed up for the camera.  Would you object to having dinner with me?”

She gaped at him.  “Dinner? With you?”

“Yes.  After the interview.  I will have my driver take us to The Ivy.  That is if you don’t already have plans.”

“No, no.  I don’t have any plans at all.”

“So, we’re set for dinner at The Ivy?”

“Yes, yes.”  She heard Beth’s voice and quickly left the stage.  It was all a haze.  She couldn’t believe it.  She was going to have dinner at The Ivy with Ciaran Dankworth.  She was so tempted to tell Angela and Beth just to see the expressions on their faces but she held her tongue.  She stood in the wings, waiting for the interview to commence.

It turned out to be the best one she had seen so far.  Beth was beaming and when the cameras were shut off, she shook his hand again very enthusiastically.  “That was a smashing interview,” she gushed.  “I can see the ratings going through the roof.  Thank you so much, Mr. Dankworth for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to do this.  We are very appreciative.”

“It was my pleasure,” he replied.  “I wouldn’t have gotten to meet you, lovely ladies,” he said looking at her and Angela.  “Or your assistant, Rhea who has agreed to have dinner with me.  I hope you don’t mind me whisking her away,” he added when he saw the expressions on their faces.

Beth shook her head.  “No.  I shan’t be needing her any more for the evening.”

“Wonderful.”  He turned to Rhea who had the satisfaction of seeing the red faces of her boss and Angela.  “Shall we go?”

“Yes.  Good night,” she said to Beth and Angela.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Have good evening, Ladies and thank you again.”

They walked away and into the mild evening.  A stretch limo was waiting for them.  The driver opened the door and she got in first and then he.  As the car pulled away from the curb, he turned to her.  “You know, even if someone else had fixed my lapel, I still would have asked you out for dinner.”

She smiled.  “I’m very pleased to hear that.”

He smiled in return.

Dinner turned out to be lots of fun, despite the attention they got.  When he took her home, he asked her on a second date which she happily accepted.  And they have been dating since.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for today’s word, Commence.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Source:  The Evening Standard; B2

His Type

It was an elaborate dinner for just the two of us, something I hadn’t expected at all.  When I showed up at the mansion, I expected to find other guests but I was the only one.  I was escorted by a butler who walked with his back straight as a rod to the dining-room.

She was sitting at the head of the table but rose gracefully when I entered.  The red shimmering dress with the V-neck flattered her figure and the high slit at the side revealed a pale, shapely thigh.  Her auburn hair tumbled about her shoulders.  Her red lips parted to reveal even white teeth as she reached up and kissed me on the corner of my mouth.

“Her gaze traveled slowly over me.  “You look amazing in that tux,” she remarked, admiration flickering in her eyes.

“Thank you.  And you look ravishing.”

Color suffused her cheeks.  “Thank you.  I hope you don’t mind that it’s just the two of us,” she said when she drew back to look up at me.

“Weren’t the others able to come?”

She studied me for a moment, her green eyes twinkling before she sashayed back over to her seat.  “They were never invited.”

My eyebrows arched.  Amused, I waited until she sat down before I did in the chair on her left.  “I’m flattered,” I said.  “If you wanted to have dinner with me, all you had to do was ask.”

“Would you have accepted if I had?”

“I might have.”

“You don’t sound sure.  Am I not your type?”

*************************************************************

“Well, is she your type?” Jayla interrupted.

He shook his head.  “No.”

“Did you stay and have dinner with her?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why?”

“She went to all of that trouble.  I couldn’t just leave.”

“She got you over there on false pretenses.  You weren’t obligated to stay.  Once you realized that she had tricked you, you should have left.”

“She didn’t trick me.”

“Well, she deceived you, then.  You should have left.”

“Maybe I should have.”

“If she had asked you to have dinner with her, would you have accepted?”

“Maybe.  I don’t know.”

“And did you answer her question?”

“Which one?”

“The one about her not being your type.”

“No, I changed the subject.  I told her that I was working on a new novel.  She asked me all sorts of questions about it.”

“And what happened after you finished having dinner?”

“We went into the drawing-room where we listened to music while having after dinner drinks.”

“And is that all you did–have drinks and listen to music?”

His lips twitched and he said, “You know from this angle that picture looks a bit crooked.”  Putting his glasses down on the counter, he got up and went over to adjust the frame.  When he turned to face her, she was glaring at him.  “Jayla, nothing happened between Vanessa and me.  After the drink, I thanked her for a lovely evening and then left.”  He returned to the stool and sat down.

“You said she looked ravishing.”

“She did.”

“Are you going to see her again?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Before we parted company, I made it very clear, in a tactful way, of course, that I wasn’t romantically interested in her.”

“And how did she react?”

“She was disappointed but there were no hard feelings.  We parted on good terms.”

Jayla got up from the sofa and walked slowly over to him.  “You said she kissed you.”

“Yes, she did.  Right here.”  He pointed to the right corner of his mouth.

“Did-did you feel anything?”

“No.”

She hesitated for a moment and then, leaning over, she kissed him at the corner of his mouth.  When she drew back, their eyes met.  “What about now?” she asked, breathlessly.  “Did you feel anything?”

His eyes were smoldering.  “Yes,” he muttered.  “I felt something.”  And then she was on his lap and he was kissing her.

Jayla wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, her head spinning as all sorts of sensations swept through her body.  She had always fantasized about kissing him but this was beyond her wildest imagination.

Several minutes later, he drew back to gaze at her, his breathing labored and his face flushed.  “I’ve wanted to do that for a long, long time,” he panted.

She smiled.  “Why didn’t you?” she managed to say in between breaths.  Her chest was heaving and her heart was beating so fast.

“I wasn’t sure how you felt about until today when I saw that you were jealous of Vanessa.”

“You’re right I was very jealous.  I thought you were attracted to her because of the way you described her.”

“She is a very beautiful woman but I don’t want her.  I want you.  I have always wanted you.  I think it’s time I showed you just how much.”

She slid off his lap and swallowed hard when she saw the expression on his face before he picked her up and took her to his room.

You’re my type,” he said hours later when they were having dinner.

She smiled.  “And you’re mine.”

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompts for Thursday’s word, Elaborate and today’s word, Angle.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

The Second Date

Marla was taking a stroll on her last vacation day in the summer, enjoying the quiet neighborhood close to where she lived and the beautiful weather when her cell rang.  It was Dean.  Smiling she answered it.  “Hi, Dean.

“Hi, Marla.  I just wanted to call and tell you that I had a really great time last night.”

They had dinner at the swanky Polo Bar.

“Me too.”

“You mentioned that you like Jazz so I was wondering if you would like to go to Bill’s Place with me tonight?”

“Sure, I’d love that.”

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“It’s a date!”

He smiled.  “Yes, it is.  The second of many, I hope.”

Sources:  Trip Advisor; Conde Nast Traveler;